“Steam-boat explosion.—Loss of life.—Captain Haviland, of the steam-ship ‘Galveston,’ from Galveston, reports that the tow-boat ‘Phoenix,’ Captain Crowell, burst her boilers when near the head of the South-west Pass [which we had but just passed], killing and wounding about twenty-five in number, seven of whom belonged to the boat, the balance to a barque she had alongside; carrying away the foremast of the barque close to her deck, and her mainmast above her cross-trees, together with all her fore-rigging, bulwarks, and injuring her hull considerably. The ship ‘Manchester,’ which she had also alongside, was seriously injured, having her bulwarks carried away, her longboat destroyed,” &c.
Such was the paragraph, with not a syllable of note or comment on cause or consequences. It was evidently an every-day occurrence. What recklessness was here indicated! and how comforting to a sick and nervous man, now near the very spot of the occurrence, and in a vessel about to be placed in the same pleasant relation to one of those grunting monsters as the unfortunate “barque” had but three days before occupied, with the trifling “balance” of eighteen of her crew “killed and wounded!”
The fever having left me, I ventured on deck. At this moment one of these infernal machines came in sight, towing down three large ships. Instead of having them behind, as on the Thames and Mersey, she (like the “Phoenix”) had one on either side, closely lashed to herself, and the other only behind. This terrific monster seemed to be carrying them away arm-in-arm, like two prisoners, to destruction. At all events, it was a position of familiarity and friendship with the “Sprite of Steam” of which I did not at all like the idea; and yet we ourselves were by-and-by to be placed in its perilous embrace!
The dreaded monster gone by, I resumed the perusal of my New Orleans papers. Now (thought I) I am in a slave country! I wonder whether these papers will give any indication of the fact. In a little while my eye, surveying the Bee of January 21, caught sight of an advertisement signed “N. St. Martin, Sheriff, Parish of St. Charles,” and containing a list of 112 human beings offered for sale! The miserable catalogue was full of instruction. In drawing it up the humane sheriff became quite facetious, telling the public that “Frank, 35 years old, American negro, [was] good for everything;” while “Stephen, 46 years old, [was] fit for nothing at all;” that “Salinette, 60 years old, hospital-nurse, [was] a good subject, subject to rheumatisms;” and that “Peter, American negro-man, 38 years old, [was] a good cook, having had two fits of madness.” I will back this against the Dublin Hue and Cry.
American Oysters—Becalmed in the Mississippi—Anchor raised—Ship ashore—Taken off by a Steam-Tug—Slave-Sale Advertisements—Runaway Negroes—Return of Fever—Terrific Storm—Frightful Position—Ashore at New Orleans—A Ship-Chandler’s Store—American Wheels—A Joltification—The St. Charles’s Hotel.