The criminal code was that of the common law. It was so radically different from that which had heretofore prevailed in the country, that it was absolutely necessary, in order to secure to the accused the trial by jury, that this change should be made.
Owing to the extended commerce of New Orleans, many cases arose of contracts made in the common-law States, and this must control these cases. To reconcile and blend the two systems became, in many of these, a necessity. To do this required a knowledge of both on the part of the judges, and this knowledge, in order that no error might misdirect, should be thorough. It was happily accomplished, and now the system is clear and fixed, and will remain a monument to the learning and genius of this court.
Of the three judges, Matthews alone left descendants, and he but two—a son, who soon followed him to the grave, and a daughter, who is still living, the accomplished lady of Major Chase, formerly of the engineer corps of the army of the United States.
POWERS OF LOUISIANA COURTS—GOVERNOR WILLIAM C.C. CLAIBORNE—CRUEL O'REILLY—LEFRENIER AND NOYAN EXECUTED—A DUTCH JUSTICE—EDWARD LIVINGSTON—A CARICATURE OF GENERAL JACKSON—STEPHEN MAZEREAU—A SPEECH IN THREE LANGUAGES—JOHN R. GRYMES—SETTLING A CA. SA.—BATTURE PROPERTY—A HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLAR FEE.
The Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana differs in this from that of the other States: it has jurisdiction as well of the facts as of the law.
In the trial of all cases in the district or lower courts, the testimony is made a part of the record, and goes up to the Supreme Court for supervision, as well as for the enlightenment of the court, which passes upon the facts as well as the law; thus making the judges in the lower courts merely masters in chancery, with the exception, that where the decision of the judge is considered correct, it is approved and made the judgment of the Supreme Court.
This court, by reason of its very extraordinary powers, becomes of the highest importance to every citizen, and is really by far the most important, as it is the most responsible branch of the Government.
The executive can only execute the law; the legislative acts are revisable and amendable, so often as the Legislature holds its sessions; but the judicial decisions of the Supreme Court become the permanent law of the land. True, these decisions may be revised and overruled, but this is not likely to be done by those judges who have made them, and the tenure of office is such as practically to make them permanent.
Under the first Constitution of the State, these judges were nominated by the executive, and confirmed by the Senate. This Senate consisted of seventeen members, chosen by the people from senatorial districts containing a large area of territory and a numerous population. This concentration of responsibility insured the selection of men of the first abilities, attainments, and moral character. So long as this system obtained, the Supreme Bench was ably filled, and its duties faithfully and wisely discharged, with one exception only; but for the sake of those who, though not blamable, would be deeply wounded, I forbear further remark.
Governor William C.C. Claiborne, who was the Territorial Governor, was elected by acclamation the first Governor of the State. He was a Virginian and a man of fine attainments. His peculiar temperament was well suited to the Creole population, and identifying himself with that population by intermarrying with one of the most respectable families of New Orleans, and studiously devoting himself to the discharge of the duties of his office, he assumed some state in his style of living, and when going abroad kept up something of the regality of his colonial predecessors. Thus suiting the taste and genius of the people, and in some degree comporting with what they had been accustomed to, at the same time assuming great affability of manner, both in private and in the discharge of his public duties, he rendered himself extremely popular with both populations.
Governor Claiborne studiously promoted harmony between the people of the different races constituting the population of the State, and especially that of New Orleans. The State had been under the dominion of three separate nations. The mass of the population, originally French, very reluctantly yielded to Spanish domination, and not without an attempt at resistance. For a time this had been successful in expelling a hated Governor; but the famous O'Reilly, succeeding to the governorship of the colony, came with such a force as was irresistible, suppressing the armed attempt to reclaim the colony from Spanish rule. He made prisoners of the chiefs of the malcontents, with Lefrenier at their head, and condemned them to be shot. One of these was Noyan, the son-in-law of Lefrenier. He was a young man, and but recently united to the beautiful and accomplished daughter of the gallant Lefrenier. His youth, his chivalry, and extraordinary intrepidity excited the admiration of the cold, cruel O'Reilly, and he was offered a pardon. He refused to accept it, unless mercy should be extended to his father-in-law: this having been denied, he was executed, holding in his own the hand of Lefrenier, defiantly facing his executioners and dying with Roman firmness.
This bloody tragedy was transacted upon the square in front of the Cathedral, where now stands the colossal statue of Andrew Jackson, in the midst of the most lovely and beautiful shrubs and flowers indigenous to the soil of Louisiana. The orange, with her pale green foliage, and sweet, modest white flowers, so delicate and so delicious; the oleander, the petisporum, and roses of every hue unite their foliage and blend their fragrance to enchant and delight the eye and sense, and to contrast too the scene of carnage once deforming and outraging this Eden spot.
Scarcely had the people become reconciled to Spanish domination, before the colony was retroceded to France, and again in no great while ceded to the United States.
The French were prejudiced against the Spaniards and despised them, and now the Americans were flowing into the country and city, with manners and customs intolerable to both French and Spaniards, hating both and being hated by both, creating a state of society painfully unpleasant, and apparently irreconcilable.
This state of affairs made the Governor's position anything but pleasant. But distressing as it was, he accomplished more in preserving harmony than one well acquainted with the facts would have deemed possible.
In doing this he was skilful enough to preserve his popularity, and secure his election to the Gubernatorial chair upon the formation of the State. Indeed, so great was his popularity, that it was said some aspirants to Gubernatorial honors incorporated the clause in the Constitution which makes the Governor ineligible to succeed himself, lest Claiborne should be perpetual Governor.
Few men ever lived who could so suit themselves to circumstances as Governor Claiborne. There was a strange fascination in his manners, and a real goodness of heart, which spell-bound every one who came within the range of his acquaintance. He granted a favor in a manner that the recipient forever felt the obligation, and when he refused one, it was with such apparent regret as to make a friend. He sincerely desired the best interest of every one, and promoted it whenever he could. It was said of him that he never refused, but always promised, and always fulfilled his promise whenever it was in his power.
When coming to take charge of the Territorial Government he stopped at Baton Rouge, and spent the night with an honest Dutchman who kept entertainment for travellers. In the morning, when his guest was leaving, learning his official character, he took him aside, and solicited the appointment of justice of the peace for Baton Rouge. "Certainly, sir," said the Governor, "certainly;" and the Dutchman, supposing the appointment made, hoisted his sign above his door, and continued to administer justice in his way until his death, without ever being questioned as to the nature of his appointment. The Governor never thought a second time of the promise.
The selection and appointment of Governor Claiborne for the very delicate duties devolving on an American governor, with such a population as then peopled Louisiana, showed great wisdom and prudence in Mr. Jefferson: he was to reconcile discordant materials within the Territory, and reconcile all to the dominion of the United States. He was to introduce, with great caution, the institutions of a representative republican form of government among a people who had never known any but a despotic government; whose language and religion were alien to the great mass of the people of the nation. An American Protestant population was hurrying to the country, and of all difficulties most difficult, to reconcile into harmonious action two antagonistic religions in the same community is certainly the one. Claiborne accomplished all this. His long continuance in office showed his popularity, and the prosperity of the people and Territory, his wisdom.
In all his appointments he exercised great discretion, and in almost every case his judgment and wisdom were manifested in the result; and to this, day his name is revered and his memory cherished as a benefactor. He was twice married, and left two sons—one by each marriage; both live, highly respected, and very worthy citizens of the city of their birth. His name is borne by one of the finest parishes of the State and one of the most beautiful streets in the city of New Orleans, and no man ever deserved more this high and honorable commemoration from a grateful people than did William C.C. Claiborne.
Among those most conspicuous in Americanizing the State and city at the early commencement of the American domination, after the Governor and Supreme Court, were Henry Johnson, Edward Livingston, James Brown, John R. Grymes, Thomas Urquhart, Boling Robinson, and General Philemon Thomas.
Edward Livingston was a citizen at the time of the cession, having emigrated from New York in 1801, where he had already acquired fame as a lawyer. He was the brother of the celebrated Chancellor Livingston, and had, as an officer of the General Government, in the city of New York, defaulted in a large amount. To avoid the penalties of the law he came to New Orleans, then a colony of a foreign government, and there commenced the practice of his profession. After the cession he was not disturbed by the Government, and continued actively to pursue his profession.
He was the intimate friend of Daniel Clark, who was the first Territorial representative in Congress; and it has been supposed that, through the instrumentality of Clark, the Government declined pursuing the claim against him. He first emerged to public view in a contest with Mr. Jefferson relative to the batture property in the city of New Orleans. Livingston had purchased a property above Canal Street, and claimed all the batture between his property and the river as riparian proprietor. This was contested by Mr. Jefferson as President of the United States. He claimed this as public land belonging to the United States under the treaty of purchase. The question was very ably argued by both parties; but the title to this immensely valuable property remained unsettled for many years after the death of both Jefferson and Livingston, and finally was decreed by the Supreme Court of the United States to belong to the city of New Orleans.
When, during the invasion of New Orleans by the English forces in the war of 1812 and '15, General Jackson came to its defence, Livingston volunteered as one of his aids, and rendered distinguished services to Jackson and the country in that memorable affair, the battle of New Orleans. A friendship grew up between Jackson and Livingston, which continued during their lives. Soon after the war, Livingston was elected to represent the New Orleans or First Congressional District in Congress. He continued for some time to represent this district; but was finally, about 1829, beaten by Edward D. White. At the succeeding session of the Legislature, however, he was elected a senator to Congress in the place of Henry Johnson. From the Senate he was sent as Minister to France, and was afterward Secretary of State during the administration of General Jackson. It was in his case that Jackson exercised the extraordinary power of directing the Treasurer of the United States to receipt Mr. Livingston for the sum of his defalcation thirty-four years before. At the time this was done, Tobias Watkins was in prison in Washington for a defalcation of only a few hundreds to the Government. These two events gave rise to the ludicrous caricature, which caused much amusement at the time, of General Jackson's walking with his arm in Livingston's by the jail, when Watkins, looking from the window, points to Livingston, saying to the General: "You should turn me out, or put him in."
Immediately upon this receipt being recorded, Livingston presented an account for mileage and per diem for all the time he had served in Congress, and received it. So long as he was a defaulter to the Government, he could receive no pay for public services.
As a lawyer, Mr. Livingston had no superior. He was master of every system prevailing in the civilized world; he spoke fluently four languages, and read double that number. As a statesman he ranked with the first of his country, and was skilled as a diplomatist. In every situation where placed by fortune or accident, he displayed ample ability for the discharge of its duties. It is not known, but is generally believed that, as Secretary of State, he wrote the state papers of General Jackson. The same has been said of that veteran Amos Kendall. There was one for which Livingston obtained the credit, which he certainly did not write—the celebrated proclamation to the people of South Carolina upon the subject of nullification. This was written by Mr. Webster. Upon one occasion, Mr. Webster, per invitation, with many members of Congress, dined with the President. When the company was about retiring, General Jackson requested Mr. Webster to remain, as he desired some conversation with him. The subject of South Carolina nullification had been discussed cursorily by the guests at dinner, and Jackson had been impressed with some of Webster's remarks; and when alone together, he requested Webster's opinions on the subject at length.
Mr. Webster replied, that the time was wanting for a full discussion of the question; but if it would be agreeable to the President, he would put them in writing and send them to him. He did so. These opinions, expressing fully Mr. Webster's views, were handed to Mr. Livingston, who, approving them, made a few verbal alterations, and submitted the document, which was issued as the President's proclamation. The doctrines politically enunciated in this paper are identical with those entertained in the great speech of Mr. Webster, in the famous contest with Robert T. Hayne, on Foote's Resolutions, some years before; and are eminently Federal. They came like midnight at noon upon the States-Rights men of the South, and a Virginian, wherever found, groaned as he read them.
Mr. Livingston, though a Jeffersonian Democrat in his early life, and now a Jackson Democrat, held very strong Federal notions in regard to the relations between the States and the United States Government, and was disposed to have these sanctioned by the adoption of General Jackson.
Jackson, probably, never read this paper; and if he did, did not exactly comprehend its tenor; for General Jackson's political opinions were never very fixed or clear. What he willed, he executed, and though it cut across the Constitution, or the laws, his friends and followers threw up their caps and cheered him.
Mr. Livingston was charged with the delicate duty of discussing the claims of our Government, representing its citizens, for spoliations committed upon our commerce under the celebrated Milan and Berlin decrees of Napoleon, and, backed by the determination of Jackson, happily succeeded in finally settling this vexatious question. A sum was agreed upon, and paid into the United States Treasury; but if I am not mistaken, none, or very little of it, has ever reached the hands of the sufferers. Upon the proof of the justice of their claims, France was compelled to pay them to the Government; but now the Government wants additional proof of this same fact, before the money is paid over to them.
Mr. Livingston's learning was varied and extensive; he was a fine classical scholar, and equally as accomplished in belles-lettres. In the literature of France, Germany, and Spain he was quite as well versed as in that of his native tongue. His historical knowledge was more extensive and more accurate than that of any public man of the day, except, perhaps, Mr. Benton. At the Bar, he met those eminent jurists, Grymes, Lilly, Brown, and Mazereau, and successfully. This is great praise, for nowhere, in any city or country, were to be found their superiors in talent and legal lore.
Livingston never had the full confidence of his party, and perhaps with the exception of General Jackson, that of any individual. In moneyed matters, he was eminently unreliable; but all admitted his great abilities. In social qualities, he was entirely deficient. He had no powers of attraction to collect about him friends, or to attach even his political partisans. These were proud of his talents, and felt honored in his representation, and with the rest of the world honored and admired the statesman, while they despised the man. He was illiberal, without generosity, unsocial, and soulless, with every attribute of mind to be admired, without one quality of the heart to be loved. In person he was tall and slender, and without grace in his movements, or dignity in his manners. With a most intellectual face, his brow was extremely arched, his eye gray, and his prominent forehead narrow but high and receding; his mouth was large and well formed, and was as uncertain and restless as his eye. No one could mistake from his face the talent of the man; yet there lurked through its every feature an unpleasant something, which forced an unfavorable opinion of the individual. Mr. Livingston lived very many years in Louisiana, and rendered her great services in codifying her laws, and making them clear and easy of comprehension. He shed lustre upon her name, by his eminent abilities as a jurist and statesman, and thus has identified his name most prominently with her history. But without those shining qualities which clasp to the heart in devoted affection the great man, and which constitute one great essential of true greatness. And now that he is in the grave, he is remembered with cold respect alone.
Stephen Mazereau was a Frenchman, a Parisian, and a lawyer there of the first eminence. When about to emigrate to Madrid, in Spain, the Bar of his native city presented him with a splendid set of silver, in respect for his position as a lawyer and his virtues as a man. He remained ten years in Spain's capital, and was at the head of the Bar of that city; and when leaving it to come to New Orleans, received a similar testimonial from his brethren there to his worth and talents. Immediately upon coming to New Orleans, he commenced the practice of the law, and at once took rank with Livingston, Lilly, Brown, and Grymes, who, though then a very young man, had already gained eminence in his profession.
Mr. Mazereau, except giving his State, in the Legislature, the benefit of his abilities, avoided politics, confining himself exclusively to his profession. In the argument of great questions before the Supreme Court of the State between these eminent jurists, was to be seen the combat of giants. Mazereau was a short, stout man, with an enormous head, which made his appearance singularly unique. In his arguments he was considerate, cautious, and eminently learned. Sometimes he would address the people on great political questions, and then all the fervor of the Frenchman would burst forth in eloquent and impressive appeals. I remember hearing him, when he was old, address an immense gathering of the people. He looked over the crowd, when he rose, and said: "I see three nations before me. Americans, I shall speak to you first. Frenchmen, to you next—and to you, my Spanish friends, last. I shall probably occupy two hours with each of you. It will be the same speech; so you who do not understand the English language, need not remain. You who understand French, may return when I shall dismiss these Americans—and you, my Spanish friends, when I am through with these Frenchmen." This he fulfilled to the letter in a six-hours' speech, and I never knew a political speech effect so much.
For many years he was attorney-general of the State, and legal adviser and counsellor of the Governor. Although his practice was eminently profitable, he was so careless and extravagant in money matters, that he was always poor and necessitous, especially in his old age.
It really seems one of the attributes of genius to be indifferent to this world's goods, and when time and labor have done their work, and the imbecility of years obscures its brilliancy, to droop neglected, and, if not in want, in despised poverty. Such was the fate for a short time of this great man—but only for a short time. His powerful intellect retained its vigor, and his brilliant wit all its edges, to within a little while of his death. Sadly I turn back, in memory, to the day he communicated to me that his necessities would compel him to dispose of the beautiful and valuable testimonials of the Bar of two proud nations to his character and abilities. His great intellect was beginning to fade out; but, as the sun, declining to rest canopied with increasing clouds, will sometimes pierce through the interstices of the dark masses, and dart for a moment the intensity of his light upon the earth, the mind of Mazereau would flash in all its youthful grandeur and power from the dimness that was darkening it out.
He was a noble specimen of a French gentleman: a French scholar, and a Frenchman. His memory is embalmed in the hearts of his friends of every nation who knew him in New Orleans. Strictly moral in his habits, full of truth and honor, and overflowing with generosity, social in his habits, and kindly in his feelings, he made friends of all who came in contact with him; and yet he had his enemies. His intolerance of everything that was little or mean, and his scorn and hatred of men of such character, was never concealed, either in his conversation or conduct. Such men were his enemies, and some, too, were his foes from the intolerance of political antagonism; but the grave obliterated these animosities, and the generous political antagonist cherishes now only respect for this truly great man. With deep gratitude my heart turns to his memory: his generous kindness, his warm friendship was mine for long years, and to me his memory is an incense.
John R. Grymes was a Virginian and close connection of John Randolph, of Roanoke, whose name he bore; but of this he never boasted, nor did any one hear him claim alliance of blood with Pocahontas. Mr. Madison appointed him district attorney of the United States for the district of Louisiana, when a very young man. This appointment introduced him to the Bar and the practice immediately. He was one of those extraordinary creations, who leap into manhood without the probation of youth: at twenty-two he was eminent and in full practice, ranking with the leading members of the Bar. Truly, Grymes was born great, for no one can remember when he was not great! Never, in company, in social life, with a private friend, at the Bar, or anywhere, was he even apparently simple or like other men; in private, with his best friend, he spoke, he looked, and he was the great man. He was great in his frivolities, great in his burlesques, great in his humor, great in common conversation; the great lawyer, the great orator, the great blackguard, and the great companion, the great beau, and the great spendthrift: in nothing was he little.
His language was ornate, his style was terse and beautiful; in conversation he was voluble and transcendently entertaining; knew everybody and everything; never seemed to read, and yet was always prepared in his cases, and seemed to be a lawyer by intuition. He was rarely in his office, but always on the street, and always dressed in the extreme of the fashion; lived nowhere, boarded nowhere, slept nowhere, and ate everywhere. He dined at a restaurant, but scarcely ever at the same twice in succession; would search for hours to find a genial friend to dine with him, and then, if he was in the mood, there was a feast of the body and flow of the soul; went to every ball, danced with everybody, visited the ladies; was learned or frivolous, as suited the ladies' capacities or attainments; appeared fond of their society, and always spoke of them with ridicule or contempt; married, and separated from his wife, no one knew for what cause, yet still claimed and supported her. She was the widow of Governor Claiborne, and a magnificent woman; she was a Spaniard by blood, aristocratic in her feelings, eccentric, and, intellectually, a fit companion for Grymes. She was to Claiborne an admirable wife, but there was little congeniality between her and Grymes. Grymes knew that it was not possible for any woman to tolerate him as a husband, and was contented to live apart from his wife. They were never divorced, but lived—she in New York, or at her villa on Staten Island; Grymes in New Orleans. He never complained of her; always spoke kindly, and sometimes affectionately of her; denied the separation, and annually visited her. Their relations were perfectly amicable, but they could not live together. Grymes could have lived with no woman. In all things he was sui generis; with no one like him in any one thing, for he was never the same being two consecutive days. He had no fixed opinions that any one knew of; he was a blatant Democrat, and yet never agreed with them in anything; a great advocate of universal equality, and the veriest aristocrat on earth; he would urge to-day as a great moral or political truth certain principles, and ridicule them with contemptuous scorn to-morrow. He was the most devout of Christians to-day, the most abandoned infidel to-morrow; and always, and with everybody, striving to appear as base and as abandoned as profligate man could be: to believe all he said of himself, was to believe him the worst man on earth. He despised public opinion and mankind generally; still he was kind in his nature, and generous to profligacy; was deeply sympathetic, and never turned from the necessitous without dropping a tear or giving a dollar—the one he bestowed generously, the other he rarely had to give; but, if an acquaintance was at hand, he would borrow and give, and the charity of heart was as sincere as though the money had been his own.
On one occasion I was with him when charity was solicited of him by a wretched old woman. "Give me five dollars," he said to me; the money was handed the woman, and she was sent away, to be drunk and in a police-station within the hour. I remarked: "That old wretch has brought all this upon her by an abandoned profligacy." "Then I owe her sympathy as well as charity," was his reply; "I do not know the cause of her suffering, but I know she is suffering: it may be for food, it may be for drink; if either obliterates her misery, your money is well spent."
He had no idea of the value of money; was constantly in the receipt of large fees, with a most lucrative practice, but was always embarrassed, owed everybody, loaned to everybody, gave to everybody, and paid nobody.
During the existence of the law which imprisoned for debt, he was constantly in the sheriff's hands, but always settling, by the most ingenious devices, the claim at the jail-door. It is told of him, that the sheriff on one occasion notified him that there was a ca. sa. in his hands, and that he did not want to arrest him. The sum was large, some two thousand dollars—Grymes had not a dollar. He paused a moment, then said, "Come to me to-morrow. I have a case of Milliadon's for trial to-morrow; he is greatly interested in it. When it is called, I will give you the wink, then arrest me." In obedience to directions, the sheriff came, the case was called, and Grymes arrested. Milliadon was in court, his hopes were in Grymes, and when he was informed that Grymes was in custody of the sheriff, he groaned aloud.
"Oh! Mr. Grymes, vat am I to do?"
"Why, you must employ other counsel," said Grymes.
"Mon dieu! but I have pay you for attend this case, and I want you. You know about it, and it must be try now."
"Yes," continued the imperturbable Grymes, "you have paid me, I know, and I know it would be dangerous to trust it to other counsel, but it is your only hope. I have no money, and here is a ca. sa., and I am on my way to jail."
"Oh! mon dieu! mon dieu! vat is de amount of de ca. sa.?"
"Two thousand dollars," said the sheriff.
"Two thousand dollars!" repeated Milliadon.
"Goodall vs. Milliadon," said the Judge, "Preston, for plaintiff—Grymes, for defendant. What do you do with this case, gentlemen?"
"We are ready," said Preston.
"And you, Mr. Grymes?" asked the court.
"Vill you take my check for de ca. sa., Mr. Sheriff?"
"Certainly, sir," replied the officer.
"Say we is ready too, Mr. Grymes—all my witness be here."
"I believe we are ready, your honor," answered Grymes. Milliadon was writing his check. "Enter satisfaction on the ca. sa.," said Grymes. The sheriff did so, as Milliadon handed him the check. Grymes now turned his attention to the case as coolly as though nothing had occurred. That was the last Milliadon ever heard of his two thousand dollars.
Laurent Milliadon and the millionaire John McDonough were litigious in their characters; and their names occur in the report of the Supreme Court decisions more frequently than those of any ten other men in the State. Grymes was the attorney for both of them for many years. They were both men of great shrewdness, and both speculative in their characters, and both had accumulated large fortunes. Without any assignable cause, McDonough ceased to employ Grymes, and intrusted his business to other counsel, who did not value their services so extravagantly. Mentioning the fact upon one occasion to Grymes, "Ah! yes," said he, "I can explain to your satisfaction the cause. In a certain case of his, in which he had law and justice with him, he suddenly became very uneasy. 'I shall certainly lose it, Grymes,' he said excitedly to me. I told him it was impossible; he had never had so sure a thing since I had been his attorney. In his dogmatical manner, which you know, he still persisted in saying, he was no great lawyer as I was, but some things he knew better than any lawyer, and 'I shall lose that case.' At the same time he significantly touched his pocket and then his palm, signifying that money had been paid by his adversary to the court, or some member of it. 'Ah!' said I, 'are you sure—very sure?' 'Very sure—I know it; and you will see I shall lose this suit.' He was not wont to speak so positively, without the best evidence of any fact. 'Well, Mac,' said I, jestingly, 'if that is the game, who can play it better than you can—you have a larger stake than any of them, and of course better ability?' Well, sir, he did lose one of the plainest cases I ever presented to a court. From that day forward I have not received a fee from him: and now the secret is before the world. He has been detected in bribing one of the judges of the Supreme Court."
As an orator, Grymes was among the first of the country. All he wanted, to have been exceedingly eloquent, was earnestness and feeling; of this he was devoid. His manner was always collected and cool; his style chaste and beautiful, with but little ornament; he spoke only from the brain—there was nothing from the heart. In argument he was exceedingly cogent and lucid, and when the subject seemed most complicated, the acuteness of his analytical mind seemed to unravel and lay bare the true features of the case, with an ease and power that required scarce an effort. His powers of ratiocination were very great, and this was the forte of his mind; his conclusions were clearly deduced from arguments always logical.
There were times when he would be serious—and then there was a grandeur about him very striking. At such times, bursts of passionate feeling would break from him that seemed like volcanic eruptions. They appeared to come from a deep and intense tenderness of heart. These were momentary—the lightning's flash illuminating the gloom and darkness of its parent cloud. I have thought this was the man's nature, born with a heart capable of intense feeling, which had been educated to believe this weakness. Coming very young away from his home and early associations, to live and mingle with strangers of a different race—leaving the rural scenes and home associations which were forming and developing nature's glorious gifts, to come to a profligate and heartless city—the whole current of his susceptible nature was changed, and the feeling and good perverted and overshadowed, yet not entirely rooted out. Hence the contradictions in his character. Sometimes nature was too strong for art, and would break out in beauty, as the flower, rich in fragrance and delicate loveliness, when touched by the genial sun, will burst from the black and uninviting bud.
Upon one occasion, when there was a United States senator to be elected, and when the Democratic party held a majority in the Legislature, rendering it impossible for the Whigs to elect any member of their own party, yet, with the assistance of three from the Democratic party, could choose from this party any man they would select and unite upon—they determined to propose Grymes, and had secured the requisite assistance from the Democracy. I was a member, and a Whig, and was delegated to communicate the facts to Grymes. I knew the Senate had been his ambition for years. I knew he felt his powers would give him a position with the greatest of that body, and an immediate national reputation, and had no doubt of his cheerful acquiescence. To my astonishment he assumed a grave and most serious manner. "I am grateful, most grateful to you," he said, "for I know this has been brought about by you, and that you sincerely desire to gratify me; but I cannot consent to be a candidate. Most frankly will I tell you my reasons. I admit it has been my desire for years. It has been, I may say to you, my life-long ambition; but I have always coupled the possession of the position with the power of sustaining it reputably. I was never ambitious of the silly vanity of simply being a senator and known as such; but of giving to it the character and dignity due it. Louisiana is a proud State, her people are a noble and a proud people, they have a right to be so—look at her! With a soil and a climate congenial to the production of the richest staples now ministering to the luxuries and necessities of man—with a river emptying into her commercial mart the productions of a world, her planters are princes, in feeling, fortune, and position. At their mansions is dispensed a noble hospitality, rich in the feasts of body and mind, generous and open as was Virginia's in her proudest days. At Washington I would represent these, and the merchant-princes of her metropolis. You have said, as eloquently as truly, 'There is but one Mississippi River; but one Louisiana; but one New Orleans on the face of the earth.' As she is, and as her people are, I would represent her as her senator.
"I am a beggar, and cannot consent, in this character, to be made more conspicuous, by being made a beggarly senator. I cannot take a house in Washington, furnish it, and live in it as a gentleman. I could not, in any other manner, entertain my people visiting Washington, consistently with my ideas of what a senator should do. I cannot go to Washington, and, as one of them, stand among the great men of the Senate, in that magnificent hall, and feel my soul swell to theirs and its proportions, and then dodge you, or any other gentleman from Louisiana, and sneak home to a garret. My means would allow me no better apartment. I could not live in the mean seclusion of a miserable penury, nor otherwise than in a style comporting, in my estimation, with the dignity and the duty of a senator from Louisiana, as some have done, who were able to live and entertain as gentlemen, for the purpose of the degraded saving of half my per diem to swell my coffers at home.
"Now, my friend, I feel how miserably foolish I have been all my life. I have thrown away fortune because I despised it. It was too grovelling a pursuit, too mean a vocation, to make and to hoard money. In my soul I despised it, and now you see it is revenged; for without it, I have learned, there is no gratification for ambition—no independence of a sneering, envious world. A bankrupt is a felon, though his mind, his virtues, and his attainments may be those of a god. He is a useless waif upon the world; for all he has, or all he may be, is, to himself and the world, unavailable without money. I have discarded all my ambitious aspirations long since, and tried to reconcile myself to the fact that my life has been and is a failure. And I am sorry you have come to me to remind me that the aim of my young life was within my reach, when I have no means to grasp it, and, now that I am miserable, to show me what I might have been. No, my friend, I must go on with the drudgery of the law, to earn my bread, and thus eke out a miserable future. I am grateful to you and my other friends, who have delegated you to this mission. Say so to them, if you please. I must go to court. The horse of the bark-mill must go to his daily circle. Good morning!"
Some years after the event above mentioned, Grymes, as the attorney of the city of New Orleans, succeeded, before the Supreme Court of the United States, in making good the title to the batture property in the city. What is termed batture in Louisiana is the land made by accretion or deposits of the Mississippi. One strange feature of this great river is, that it never gets any wider. It is continually wearing and caving on one side or the other, and making a corresponding deposit on the other bank. Opposite a portion of the city of New Orleans this deposit has been going on for many years, while the opposite bank has been wearing away. There are living citizens who saw in youth the river occupying what is now covered by many streets and many blocks of buildings, and is one of the most valuable portions of the city. In truth, what was a century ago entire river, is now one-fourth of the city, and this deposit goes on annually without any decrease in its ratio.
By agreement of all parties, this batture was surveyed into squares and lots, and sold at public auction, and the money deposited in the Bank of Louisiana, to the credit of the Supreme Court of the United States, to abide the decision of that tribunal as to the rightful ownership. The decision gave it to the city. Grymes, as attorney for the city, by order of the court, received a check for the money. The bank paid the check, and Grymes appropriated one hundred thousand dollars of it, as a fee for his services, and then deposited the balance to the credit of the mayor and council of the city. This was a large fee, but was not really what he was entitled to, under the custom of chancery for collecting money. He had agreed to pay Daniel Webster for assistance rendered; but Mr. Webster, some years after, informed me that he had never received a cent, and I am sure he never did, after that.
Grymes was well aware, if the city fathers got their hands upon the money, it would be years before he got this amount, if ever. With a portion of this money he liquidated all claims not antiquated and forgotten by him, and the balance was intrusted to the hands of a friend to invest for his benefit. This, together with his practice, which was now declining, furnished a handsome support for him. Age appeared to effect little change in his personnel. At sixty-seven, he was as erect in person and as elastic in step as at thirty. There was none of that embonpoint usually the consequence of years and luxurious living. He was neither slender nor fat; but what is most agreeable to the eye—between the two, with a most perfectly formed person. His features were manly, and strikingly beautiful; his blue eyes beaming with the hauteur of high breeding and ripe intelligence. These features were too often disfigured with the sneer of scorn, or the curled lip of expressive contempt. His early hopes, his manhood's ambition had been disappointed; and, soured and sore, he sneered at the world, and despised it. He had no confidence in man or woman, and had truly reached Hamlet's condition, when "Man delighted him not, nor woman either." He felt the world was his debtor, and was niggardly in its payments. He grew more and more morose as the things of time receded. Others, full of youth, talent, and vigor, were usurping the positions and enjoying the honors of life, which were slipping away from him unenjoyed. He turned upon these the bitterness engendered by disappointment. Cynicism lent edge to his wit, and bitterness to his sarcasm. He was at war with himself, and consequently with all the world. His mind felt none of the imbecility of age, and to the last retained its perspicuity and power. As he came into life a man, and never knew a boyhood, so he went from it a man, without the date of years. At sixty-eight years of age, he went quietly from life without suffering, and, to himself, without regret. He was a man—take him all in all—whose like we shall not look on soon again.
The virtues and the vices, the loves and the hates of life were strangely blended in the character of John Randolph Grymes; but if we judge from the fact that he had and left many warm and devoted friends, and few enemies, we must suppose the good in his nature greatly preponderated. But notwithstanding the great space he had filled in the eyes of the people of the city, his death startled only for a moment, and straightway he was forgotten; as the falling pebble dimples for a moment the lake's quiet surface—then all is smooth again.
DIVISION OF NEW ORLEANS INTO MUNICIPALITIES.
AMERICAN HOTEL—INTRODUCTION OF STEAMBOATS—FAUBOURG ST. MARY—CANAL STREET—ST. CHARLES HOTEL—SAMUEL J. PETERS—JAMES H. CALDWELL— FATHERS OF THE MUNICIPALITY—BERNARD MARIGNY—AN ASS—A.B. ROMAN.
Forty years ago there was not a public hotel in the city of New Orleans which received and entertained ladies. There was but one respectable American hotel in the city. This was kept by John Richardson, who still lives, and was on Conti Street, between Chartres and the levee. About that time Madame Heries opened the Planter's Hotel on Canal Street, which some years after fell and crushed to death some thirty persons. There were many boarding-houses, where ladies were entertained, and to these were all ladies visiting the city constrained to resort. Some of these were well kept and comfortable, but afforded none or very few of the advantages of public hotels. They were generally kept by decayed females who were constrained to this vocation by pecuniary misfortunes. The liberal accommodation afforded in hotels, especially built and furnished for the purpose, was not to be found in any of them.
At this period all the means of travel between Mobile and New Orleans, across the Lake, consisted of one or two schooners, as regular weekly packets, plying between the two cities. It was about this time that the tide of emigration which had peopled the West, and the rapid increase of production, was stimulating the commerce of New Orleans. It was obeying the impulse, and increasing in equal ratio its population. This commerce was chiefly conducted by Americans, and most of these were of recent establishment in the city. That portion of the city above Canal Street, and then known as the Faubourg St. Mary, was little better than a marsh in its greater portion. Along the river and Canal Street, there was something of a city appearance, in the improvements and business, where there were buildings. In every other part there were shanties, and these were filled with a most miserable population.
About this time, too, steamboats were accumulating upon the Western waters—a new necessity induced by the increase of travel and commerce—affording facilities to the growing population and increasing production of the vast regions developing under the energy of enterprise upon the Mississippi and her numerous great tributaries. It seemed that at this juncture the whole world was moved by a new impulse. The difficulties of navigating the Mississippi River had been overcome, and the consequences of this new triumph of science and man's ingenuity were beginning to assume a more vigorous growth.
The Ohio and its tributaries were peopling with a hardy and industrious race; the Missouri, Arkansas, and Red rivers, too, were filling with a population which was sweeping away the great wild forests, and fields of teeming production were smiling in their stead. New Orleans was the market-point for all that was, and all that was to be, the growth of these almost illimitable regions. It was, as it ever is, the exigencies of man answered by the inspirations of God. The necessities of this extending population along the great rivers demanded means of transportation. These means were to be devised, by whom? The genius of Fulton was inspired, and the steamboat sprang into existence. The necessity existed no longer, and the flood of population poured in and subdued the earth to man's will, to man's wants. Over the hills and valleys, far away it went, crowding back the savage, demanding and taking for civilized uses his domain of wilderness, and creating new necessities—and again the inspired genius of man gave to the world the railroad and locomotive.
The great increase in the production of cotton in the West, and which went for a market to New Orleans, necessitated greater accommodations for the trade in that city—presses for compressing, and houses for merchants, where the business could be conducted with greater facility and greater convenience. American merchants crowded to the city, and located their places of business above Canal Street, beyond which there was not a street paved. There was not a wharf upon which to discharge freights, consequently the cotton bales had to be rolled from the steamers to the levee, which in the almost continued rains of winter were muddy, and almost impassable at times for loaded vehicles. Below Canal Street the levee was made firm by being well shelled, and the depth of water enabled boats and shipping to come close alongside the bank, which the accumulating batture prevented above.
The French, or Creole population greatly preponderated, and this population was all below Canal Street. They elected the mayor, and two-thirds of the council, and these came into office with all the prejudices of that people against the Americans, whom a majority of them did not hesitate to denominate intruders. The consequence was the expenditure of all the revenue of the city upon improvements below Canal Street. Every effort was made to force trade to the lower portion of the city. This was unavailing. The Faubourg St. Mary continued to improve, and most rapidly. Business and cotton-presses sprang up like magic. Americans were purchasing sugar plantations and moving into the French parishes, drawing closer the relations of fellow-citizens, and becoming more and more acquainted with the feelings and opinions of each other, and establishing good neighborhoods and good feelings, and by degrees wearing out these national prejudices, by encouraging social intercourse and fraternity. They were introducing new methods of cultivation, and new modes of making sugar; pushing improvements, stimulating enterprise, and encouraging a community of feeling, as they held a common interest in the country. In the country parishes these prejudices of race had never been so strong as in the city, and were fast giving way; intermarriages and family relations were beginning to identify the people, and this to some extent was true in the city. But here there was a conflict of interest, and this seemed on the increase. The improvements made in the Faubourg were suggested by the necessities of commerce, and this naturally went to these. There was a superior enterprise in the American merchant, there was greater liberality in his dealings: he granted hazardous accommodations to trade, and made greater efforts to secure it. This had the effect of securing the rapidly increasing commerce of the city to the American merchants, and of course was promoting the settlement and improvement of the Faubourg St. Mary. It excited, too, more and more the antipathies of the ancient population. These, controlling the city government constantly in a most envious spirit, refused to extend the public improvements of the Faubourg.
There was not, forty years ago, or in 1828, a paving-stone above Canal Street, nor could any necessity induce the government of the city to pave a single street. Where now stands the great St. Charles Hotel, there was an unsightly and disgusting pond of fetid water, and the locations now occupied by the City Hotel and the St. James were cattle-pens. There was not a wharf in the entire length of the city, and the consequence was an enormous tax levied upon produce, in the shape of drayage and repairs of injuries to packages, from the want of these prime necessities.
The navigation of the Bayou St. John commanded for the lower portion of the city the commerce crossing the lake, and to monopolize the profits of travel, a railroad was proposed from the lake to the river, and speedily completed. The people of the Faubourg, to counteract as much as possible these advantages, constructed a canal from the city to the lake, which was to enter the city, or Faubourg St. Mary, at the foot of Julia Street, one of the broadest and best streets in that quarter of the city. This was of sufficient capacity for schooners and steamboats of two hundred tons burden. When this was completed, with great difficulty the authorities were prevailed upon to pave Julia Street; still the greatly increasing demands of commerce were neglected, and while by these refusals the population of the city proper was doing all it could to force down to the city this increasing trade, they neglected to do anything there for its accommodation. The streets were very narrow; the warehouses small and inconvenient; the merchants close and unenterprising, seemingly unconscious of the great revolution going on in their midst.
From the growing greatness of the surplus products of the immense Valley, this was quadrupling annually. The cotton crop of the United States, forty years ago, scarcely reached half a million of bales, and of this New Orleans did not receive one-third; but in five years after, her receipts were very nearly one-half of the entire crop. At the same period, the sugar crop did not amount to more than twenty thousand hogsheads; five years thereafter, it had quadrupled, and the commerce from the upper rivers had increased a hundred-fold, and was going on in all the products of the soil to increase in like ratio. At this time the antipathy was at its acme between the two races or populations.
Then the Legislature held its sessions in New Orleans, and the American residents, merchants, and property-holders determined to apply to the Legislature for an amendment of the city charter. A bill was introduced accordingly, proposing to divide the city into three municipalities, making Canal and Esplanade streets the lines of division; giving the city proper and each faubourg a separate government: in truth, making three cities where there had been but one. The excitement in the city became intense, and sectional animosities increased in bitterness. To the American population it was a matter of prime necessity; to the property-holders and merchants of the city proper it was a matter of life and death. To these it was apparent that the moment this bill became a law, and the Faubourg St. Mary controlled her own finances, her streets would be paved and warehouses spring up to meet every demand—wharves would be constructed, the quay or levee would be sheltered, capital would flow to the Faubourg, and, in a moment as it were, she would usurp the entire domestic trade of the country: in other words, the Faubourg St. Mary would become the City of New Orleans.
After carefully canvassing the Legislature, it was found very doubtful whether the bill would pass or not; the attempt had heretofore proved eminently unsuccessful, but now it was apparent that it had gained many friends, and it was not certain it could be defeated. Under these circumstances, overtures were made by the city government, to expend all the revenue in improvements above Canal Street, which should be collected from the inhabitants of that quarter. This proposition was declined, and the bill after a most exciting struggle became a law. Under its provisions a new council and recorder were chosen, and a new impetus was given the Faubourg St. Mary, which was now, under this law, the second municipality. Extensive wharves were erected along the front of the municipality; streets were paved, and the whole trading community felt the improvements were assuming gigantic proportions, and trade relieved of onerous and vexatious impositions. Property rose in value rapidly; Canal Street grew speedily into importance. The dry-goods trade, hitherto confined almost exclusively to Chartres Street, came out upon this magnificent street as rapidly as it could be accommodated. From an almost deserted suburb, it became the centre of business and the great boulevard of the city. A company built the great St. Charles Hotel, and here were first opened hotel accommodations for ladies in New Orleans, thirty-one years ago.
The commercial crisis of 1837 retarded temporarily the improvements, but only for a day as it were, and in a few years there was a great American city, fashioned by American energy and American capital from the unsightly and miserable mire of the Faubourg St. Mary.
To the enterprise and perseverance of two men was mostly due this rapid improvement of the city and its new and extended accommodations to commerce—Samuel J. Peters and James H. Caldwell. Mr. Peters was a native of Canada, and came when quite a youth to New Orleans. He married a Creole lady, a native of the city; and, after serving as a clerk for some time in the business house of James H. Leverick & Co., commenced business as a wholesale grocer. In this business he was successful, and continued in it until his death. He was a man of splendid abilities and great business tact, great energy and application, and full of public spirit. New Orleans he viewed as his home; he identified himself and family with the people, and his fame with her prosperity. To this end he devoted his time and energies; around him congregated others who lent willingly and energetically their aid to accomplish his conceptions, and to fashion into realities the projections of his mind. I remember our many walks about the second municipality—when, where now is the City Hall, and Camp and Charles streets, and when these magnificent streets, now stretching for miles away, ornamented with splendid buildings and other improvements, were but muddy roads through open lots, with side-walks of flat-boat gunwales, with only here and there a miserable shanty, with a more miserable tenant—to contemplate and talk of the future we both lived to see of this municipality. Stopping on one occasion in front of what is Lafayette Square, at the time the bill was pending for the division of the city into municipalities, he said: "Here must be the City of New Orleans. You can pass the bill, now before the Legislature; and if you will, I promise you I will make the Faubourg St. Mary the City of New Orleans." Only a few months before his death, we stood again upon the same spot, surrounded by magnificent buildings—Odd-Fellows' Hall, the First Presbyterian Church, the great City Hall, and grand and beautiful buildings of every character. "Do you remember my promise made here?" he said. "Have I fulfilled it? Many days of arduous labor and nights of anxious thought that promise cost me. You did your part well, and when I thought it impossible. Have I done mine?" I could but answer: "Well, and worthily!" I never saw him after—but I shall never cease to remember him as a great, true man.
James H. Caldwell was an Englishman, and by profession a comedian. It was he who first brought a theatrical company to the West. He had built the first theatres in Cincinnati, St. Louis, and New Orleans, and first created a taste for theatricals in the great West. Possessing fine natural abilities, and wonderful enterprise, he pushed his fortunes, as a theatrical manager, successfully for a number of years. He built the Camp Street Theatre, and made it exceedingly profitable. Away back, forty-five years ago, I remember my first meeting with him at Vicksburg, then a little hamlet, with but few houses and many hills, abrupt, and ugly. He and his company were descending to Natchez, and thence, after a short season, to New Orleans. Edwin Forrest, then a youth, was one of his company, which also included Russell and wife, Sol. Smith and brother, with their wives, Mrs. Rose Crampton, and, as a star, Junius Brutus Booth. How wild was the scene around us! The river was low and sluggish; the boat small and dirty; the captain ignorant and surly; the company full of life, wit, and humor. Slowly we labored on. The dense forest came frowning to the river's brink, with only here and there, at long intervals, an opening, where some adventurous pioneer had cut and burned the cane, and built his shanty. The time was whiled away with song, recitation, anecdotes, and laughter, until midnight brought us to Natchez. It was a terrible night—dark, and beginning to rain. Under the hill at Natchez, forty-five years ago, was a terrible place. The road up the bluff was precipitous and muddy. There were no accommodations for decent people under the hill. The dance-houses were in full blast. Boisterous and obscene mirth rang from them; men and women were drunk; some were singing obscene songs; some were shouting profanity in every disgusting term; some, overcome with debauchery, were insensible to shame, and men and women, rushing from house to house, gathered a crowd to meet us as we landed. One tremendous slattern shouted, as she saw us come on shore: "There are the show-folks; now we'll have fun!" If Mrs. Farren—the daughter of Russell—still lives, I will say to her that this was her advent to Natchez. Up that hill, through mire and rain, I bore her in my arms, on that terrible night. Caldwell alone was cheerful; Sol. Smith joked, and Russell swore.
"How many, many memories Sweep o'er my spirit now!"
It was a peculiarity of James H. Caldwell to do whatever he did with all his might. No obstacle seemed to deter or impede the execution of any public or individual enterprise of his. Beside being a splendid performer, he was an accomplished gentleman, and a fine, classic scholar. His reading was select and extensive. At a very early day, he was impressed with the future importance of New Orleans as a commercial city, and commenced to identify himself with the American population, and to make this his future home. His ideas on this subject were in advance of those of many whose business had always been commerce, and they were generally deemed Utopian and extravagant; but his self-reliance was too great to heed any ridicule thrown upon any thought or enterprise of his. He invested his limited means in property in the second municipality, and lent himself, heart and soul, in connection with Peters, to its development into the proportions his imagination conceived it was ultimately capable of attaining, should the extent of its commerce reach the magnitude he supposed it would. Immediately upon the amendment of the city charter, creating the municipalities, and making independent the second, Caldwell conceived the idea of lighting the city with gas, and, at the same time, of building a city hall, and the establishment of a system of public schools.
Edward York, a merchant of the city, gave this idea his special attention, and co-operated with Peters and Caldwell in every project for the advancement of the interests of the municipality. Caldwell set to work in the face of difficulties, which really seemed insurmountable, to effect his scheme of lighting the city with gas. I was at that time a member of the Legislature. Caldwell's scheme was to obtain a charter for a bank, and with this carry into execution rapidly his scheme. He came to me, and opened up his views. He wanted my aid so far as assisting him in drafting the charter, and undertaking its passage through the Legislature. There was no delay, and in a short time the gas-light and banking company was chartered, the stock taken, and the bank in successful operation. Caldwell, though entirely unacquainted with the practical necessities of constructing the proper works to complete his plan, went energetically to work to acquire this, and did so, and in a few months everything was systematically and economically moving forward to completion. He alone conceived, planned, and superintended the whole work. Nor did he abate in energy and perseverance one moment until all was completed. All this while he was a member of the council, and giving his attention to many other matters of prime importance to the municipality.
Peters, Caldwell, and York may justly be said to have been the fathers of the municipality. To Edward York is justly due the system of public schools, which is so prominent a feature in the institutions of New Orleans. These three have passed away, and with them all who co-operated with them in this enterprise, which has effected so much for the city of New Orleans. They were unselfish public benefactors, and deserve this commemoration.
Among the remarkable men of New Orleans, at this period, was Bernard Marigny, a scion of the noble stock of the Marigny de Mandevilles, of France. His ancestor was one of the early settlers of Louisiana, and was a man of great enterprise, and accumulated an immense fortune, which descended to Bernard Marigny. This fortune, at the time it came into the hands of Marigny, was estimated at four millions. His education was sadly neglected in youth; so was his moral training. He was a youth of genius, and proper cultivation would, or might, have made him a man of distinguished fame and great usefulness. Coming into possession of his immense estate immediately upon his majority, with no experience in business matters, flushed with youth and fortune, courted by every one, possessing a brilliant wit, fond to excess of amusements, delighting in play, and flattered by every one, he gave up his time almost entirely to pleasure. A prominent member of the Legislature for many years, he had identified himself with the history of the State, as had his ancestor before him. He was the youngest member of the convention which formed the first Constitution of the State, and was the last survivor of that memorable body. Soon after succeeding to his fortune, and when he was by far the wealthiest man in the State, Louis Philippe, the fugitive son of Louis Egalite, Duke of Orleans, came to New Orleans, an exile from his native land, after his father had perished by the guillotine. Marigny received him, and entertained him as a prince. He gave him splendid apartments in his house, with a suite of servants to attend him, and, opening his purse to him, bade him take ad libitum. For some years he remained his guest, indeed until he deemed it necessary to leave, and when he went, was furnished with ample means. Long years after, when fortune had abandoned the fortunate, and was smiling upon the unfortunate—when the exile was a monarch, and his friend and benefactor was needy and poor—when Louis Philippe was king of France and the wealthiest man in Europe, they met again. Their circumstances were reversed. Marigny was old and destitute. The monarch waited to be importuned, though apprised of his benefactor's necessities and dependence, and answered his appeal with a snuff-box, and the poor old man learned that there was truth in the maxim, "Put not your trust in princes."
Wasteful habits, and the want of economy in every branch of his business, wrought for him what it must for every one—"ruin." During the discussion in the Legislature upon the bill dividing the city into municipalities, Marigny, then a member, exerted himself against the bill. He viewed it as the destruction of the property of the ancient population in value, and their consequent impoverishment, and threw much of his wit and satire at those who were its prominent supporters. Among them was Thomas Green Davidson, a distinguished member of Congress, (still living, and long may he live!) Robert Hale, and myself. Ridicule was Marigny's forte. Upon the meeting of the House, and before its organization for business, one morning, the writer, at his desk, was approached by Alexander Barrow, a member—and who afterward died a member of the United States Senate—who read to me a squib which Marigny was reading, at the same moment, to a group about him. It read thus:
"Sparks, and Thomas Green Davidson, Rascals by nature and profession: Dey can bos go to hell Wid Colonel Bob Hailles."
I saw that the group would, with Marigny, soon approach me, and made haste to reply. It was only a day or two before we were to adjourn. When they came, and the squib was read, I read the following reply:
"Dear Marigny, we're soon to part, So let that parting be in peace: We've not been angered much in heart, But e'en that little soon shall cease.
"When you are sleeping with the dead, The spars we've had I'll not forget: A warmer heart, or weaker head, On earth, I'll own, I never met.
"And on your tomb inscribed shall be, In letters of your favorite brass, Here lies, O Lord! we grieve to see, A man in form, in head an ass."
He arched his brow, and, without speaking, retired. An hour after, he came to me, and said: "Suppose you write no more poetry. I shall stop. You can call me a villain, a knave, a great rascal: every gentleman have dat said about him. Mr. Clay, Mr. Webster, General Jackson, all have been call so. You can say dat; but I tell you, sir, I not like to be call ass."
He was the aggressor, and, though offended, was too chivalrous to quarrel. He had fought nineteen duels, and I did not want to quarrel either.
For many of his latter years he was destitute and miserable. He had seen all his compeers pass away, and he felt that he was in the way of a generation who knew nothing of him, or his history, and who cared nothing for either. At nearly ninety years of age he died in extreme poverty. Nature had done much for Bernard Marigny. His mind was of no ordinary stamp. He was a natural orator, abounding in humor and wit, and was the life of society. His person was symmetry itself, about five feet ten inches, and admirably proportioned; and, to the day of his death, he was truly a handsome man, so symmetrical and well-preserved were his features, and the sparkling light in his eyes. He long enjoyed the luxuries of life, and lived to lament its follies in indigence and imbecility.
Of all the Creole population, A.B. Roman was, at this time, the most prominent, and the most talented. In very early life he was elected Governor of the State, and discharged the duties of the office with great ability, and, after Claiborne, with more satisfaction to the people than any man who ever filled the office. The Constitution did not admit of his being elected a second time as his own successor, but he might be again chosen to fill the chair after the four years' service of another. He was elected to a second term, and when it expired, he was chosen president of the draining company, in which office he rendered most important services to the city, in planning and effecting a system of drainage which relieved the city of the immense swamp immediately in its rear.
In all the relations of life, A.B. Roman was a model—gentle and affable in his manners, punctiliously honorable, faithful in all his transactions, affectionate and indulgent as a husband and father, kind and obliging as a neighbor, faithful to all the duties of a citizen; and ambitious to promote the best interests of his native State, he gave his time and talents for this purpose, wherever and whenever they could be of service. The war, in his old age, left him destitute and heart-broken. I had the opportunity of several conversations with him, and found him despondent in the extreme. Our last interview was the week before his death.
"In my old age," he said, "I am compelled, for a decent support, to accept a petty office—recorder of mortgages—and I feel humiliated. I see no future for me or my people. My days are wellnigh over, and I can't say I regret it."
Only five days after, he fell dead in the street, near his own door. A wise and good man went to his God when A.B. Roman died. He was one of a large and respectable family, long resident in the State, and surely was one of her noblest sons.
BLOWING UP THE LIONESS.
DOCTOR CLAPP—VIEWS AND OPINIONS—UNIVERSAL DESTINY—ALEXANDER BARROW —E.D. WHITE—CROSS-BREED, IRISH RENEGADE AND ACADIAN—HEROIC WOMAN— THE GINSENG TRADE—I-I-I'LL D-D-DIE F-F-FIRST.
Dr. Clapp, so conspicuous in the annals of New Orleans, was from New England, and was located in New Orleans as a Presbyterian minister, as early as 1824, and about the same period that the great and lamented Larned died.
His mind was bold and original, analytical and independent. Soon after his location and the commencement of his ministry, he gave offence to some of his church, and especially to some of his brother pastors, by the enunciation of opinions not deemed orthodox.
There was at this time preaching at Natchez, one Potts, who was a Presbyterian, a Puritan, and extremely straight-laced in doctrine, and eminently puritan in practice, intolerant, bigoted, and presumptuous. Potts had accomplished one great aim of his mission: he had married a lady of fortune, and assumed more purity than any one else, and was a sort of self-constituted exponent of the only true doctrines of his church. Arrogant and conceited, he, though a very young man, thrust himself forward as a censor, and very soon was in controversy with Dr. Clapp. Without a tithe of his talent, or a grain of his piety, he assumed to arraign him on the ground of unfaithfulness to the tenets of the church. This controversy was bitter and continued. The result was, that Dr. Clapp dissolved connection with the Presbyterian Church, and, at the call of the most numerous and talented as well as wealthy congregation ever preached to, up to that time, in New Orleans; established himself as an independent, and continued to preach for many years—indeed, until age and infirmity compelled him to retire.
His peculiar religious opinions were more Unitarian than Presbyterian. They consisted of an enlightened philosophy derived from natural revelation, which elevated Deity above the passions, prejudices, loves, and hates of mortality. His GOD was INFINITE, ALL-PERVADING, and PERFECT.
The purity of his character, and his wonderful intellect, combined, brought around him the most intelligent and moral of the population, and his opinions won many converts. He preached and practised a rational religion, defined a rigid morality as the basis and main requisite to true piety, and the doing good toward his fellow-man, the duty of man toward God.
The faith he exacted was predicated upon works.... That he who had faith in the existence of the soul, and who believed its future dependent upon him, should be taught this faith was best exemplified by a faithful discharge of all the duties imposed by society and law. That he who was pious, was a good husband, father, and friend, a good neighbor, an honest, and sincere man, faithful in the discharge of all his duties as a citizen and member of society: resting here the hope of future reward, and not looking to the merits of any other for that salvation, which the mind hopes, and the heart craves for all eternity; fixing a responsibility individually and indivisibly upon each and every one, to earn salvation by discharging temporal duties which secure the harmony, well-being, and general love of mankind. Any other doctrine, he contended, destroyed man's free agency, and discouraged the idea that virtue and goodness were essential to true piety. God had created him for an especial mission. His existence in time was his chrysalis condition; to make this as nearly perfect as was possible to his nature, he was gifted with mind, passion, and propensities—the former to conceive and control the discharge of the duties imposed upon him in this state: this done, he perished as to time, and awoke prepared for eternity. These ideas were impressed with a logic irresistible to the enlightened mind—not clouded with the bigotry of fanaticism—and an eloquence so persuasive and sweet as to charm the heart and kindle it into love.
He never burned brimstone under the noses of his auditory, nor frenzied their imaginations with impassioned appeals to supernatural agencies. He expounded the Scriptures as the teachings of men. His learning was most profound, especially in the languages. He understood thoroughly the Hebrew and Greek. He read from the originals the Scriptures, and interpreted them to his hearers, as to their meaning in their originals, and disrobed them of the supernatural character which an ignorant fanaticism has thrown over them, and which time and folly has indurated beyond the possibility of learning and science to crack or crush.
A great original thinker, untrammelled by the schools, and independent of precedents, he saw nature before him, and studied closely all her developments. Eminently schooled in the philosophy of life, deeply read in the human mind and the heart, he searched for all the influences operating its conclusions, and the motives of human action: the relations of man to external nature, the connection of mind with matter, the origin of things, their design as developed in their creation, their connection and dependence, one upon the other, and the relation of all to the Creator, and in those the duty of man. It was his idea, that, commencing from the humblest, and ascending to man, through created nature, the design was manifest that these were all, in the animal and the vegetable kingdom, assigned by the Creator for man's uses. To him alone, in all these creations, are given the faculties necessary to a comprehension of the nature of all of these, as well as their uses.
From this fact, so powerfully prominent in all natural developments, he viewed man as the most intimate relation of the Creator on this globe, and discovering in him no designs beyond the cultivation of the great faculty of thought for time, the inference was natural that his future was not for time, or time's uses. That all was only fitting the soul, which his instincts tell him exists within, when, refined by time, and the probation of life, for the independence, and the fruition of the sublime designs of God in eternal life, he should ascend to his destined sphere, etherialized, and know his Creator and the future of his being; when speculation should cease, and reality and unambiguous truth be made manifest. Of this great truth his mind was so fully impressed that all his life was by it governed. His convictions were palpable in his conduct, for it was in strict conformity with these opinions. The aberrations from virtue and the laws of morals, as established by man for the better regulation of his conduct toward his fellow-men, he deemed the result of improper education, and especially the education of the heart, and the want of the training this gives to the natural desires of his organization. That these desires, passions, and instincts, are given as essential to his mission in time, and those properly educated, trained, and directed, are necessary to his fulfilment of life's duties, in the perfection of the Creator's design, and, when so educated and directed, secure to the individual, and to society, the consummation of this design; but when perverted, become a punishment to both society and the individual, for the neglect of a prime duty; and belong alone to time. Similar results he saw from similar causes, in the operations of inanimate life. The design of the tree was to grow upward, but an unnatural obstacle, in the falling of another, bends it away, and its growth is perverted from the original design, yet it grows on and completes the cycle of its destiny.
The stream flows onward, naturally obeying a natural law; but an obstacle interposes and interrupts the design; still it will go on to complete its cycle, obedient to its destiny, though turned from its natural channel: and these are the same in the end with those undisturbed in the fulfilment of their designs. All crime or vice is of time, and made such by the laws of man. The aggregation of men into societies or communities necessitate laws to establish moral, legal, and political duties, and to provide punishments for the infraction of these. The right to acquire and possess the fruits of labor—the right of free thought—the right to enjoy the natural relations of life, and the privileges conferred by society—the right to live undisturbed, all are the objects of legal protection; because the attributes of man's nature, unrestrained in the discharge of his duties to his fellow-man, will invade these rights, and hence the necessity of a universal rule of action. All these attributes are susceptible of education as to what is right, and what is wrong; and it is the duty of religion to impress upon the mind the importance of the one to the security of society, and the evil of the other in its effect upon the design of the Creator. This design is harmony and love universal, and pervades all nature, where a free will is not vouched; but with this free will is given a capacity to cultivate it into that love and harmony, and thus to consummate the great design of the Creator.
He taught, religion was the sublimation of moral thought and moral action; because it was in harmony with nature, and subserved the purposes of the Creator—because it brought man into harmony with every other creation, whose design was apparent to his capacity of understanding—that this design, made manifest to his mind, taught him his duty, and it was the province of the teacher to show to all this design, and illustrate this harmony. The teacher should know before he attempted to teach. He should disabuse his own mind of prejudices and superstitions at variance with nature, and study natural organization to learn the intention of the Creator; learn the nature of plants, the organization of the earth, its components how formed, and of what—all animal creation—the mechanism of the universe, its motions—the exact perfection of every creation for the design of that creation; see and know God's will, and God's wisdom, and God's power in all of them; descend to the minor and most infinitesimal creation; learn its organization, and see God here with a design, and a perfect organization, to work it out—learn truth, where only truth exists, from God in all created nature, and teach this, that all may learn and conserve to the same great end.
When comprehended, this planet, with all its creations, was designed for man, and to perfect him for the use of God's design. These are for consummation in eternity—all that relates to him in time, but subserves the great end. The relationship to him is apparent in all that surrounds him on earth. Step by step it comes up to him, and all is for his use. At this point, all stops except himself. What was his design as manifested in his nature? Surely, not solely to control and appropriate all created matter surrounding him—not simply to probate for a period, and pass away. It must be, that he is the link perfected in this probation for a higher creation, as a part of a more consummate perfection revealed through death. It cannot be, that the mind given to him, alone, was only given to learn in this combination of elements—earth, air, fire, and water—the startling and omnipotent wisdom of the all-wise Creator, and then to perish with knowing no more of that God, which this knowledge has created so consummate a desire to know.
The cycle of man's destiny is not in time, that of all else is; and that destiny centres in his use, and is complete. If for him there is not a future, why were the instincts of his nature given? Why the power to learn so much? To trace in the planetary system divine wisdom, and divine power; to see and know the same in the mite which floats in the sunbeam? If this is all he is ever to know, does this complete a destiny for use? if so, for what? Can it be, simply to propagate his species, and perish? and was all this grand creation of the earth, and all things therein, made to subserve him for so mean a purpose? It cannot be. Life is a probation, death the key which unlocks the portal through which we pass to the perfection of the design of God.
In these views and opinions Dr. Clapp lived and died. When worn out with labor and the ravages of time, he sought to renovate his exhausted energies, by removing to a higher latitude, and selected Louisville, Kentucky, for his future home. He had seen most of his early friends pass into eternity, in the fruition of time, and felt and knew it was only a day that his departure for eternity was delayed; yet how calmly and contentedly he awaited the mandate which should bid him home!
His belief in the universal destiny of man made him universally tolerant. His intimates were of every creed, and the harmony existing with these and himself made his life beautiful as exemplary. With the ministers of every creed he was affectionately social: he had no prejudices, cultivated no animosities, and was universally charitable. He inculcated his principles by example, encouraged social communion with all sects, teaching that he whose life is in the right cannot be in the wrong. To a very great extent he infused his spirit into the people of his adopted city. His most intimate associate was that very remarkable Israelite, Judah Luro. This man was a native of Newport, Rhode Island, and in early life came to New Orleans and commenced a small business, to which he gave his energetic attention. His means, though small at the beginning, were carefully husbanded, and ultimately grew into immense wealth. He was exceedingly liberal in his nature, philanthropic, and devoted to his friends. On the night of the 22d of December, 1814, he was engaged in the battle between the English and American forces, near New Orleans, and was severely wounded. In this condition he was found, when bleeding profusely from his wounds and threatened with speedy death, by a young merchant of the city, Resin D. Shepherd, who generously lifted him to his shoulder, after stanching his wounds, and bore him, through brambles and mire, in the darkness, to a place of security and comfort, some miles distant from the scene of the fight. He never lost sight of this friend. When he came to die, he made him executor to his will, and residuary legatee, after disposing of some half a million of money in other legacies. These were all immediately paid by Mr. Shepherd, who entered upon the possession of all the property the deceased died possessed of—consequently, the extent of his fortune was never publicly known.