Lehigh University
The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
Previous Issue Next Issue
Previous Page Next Page
0 matches

Text for Page 196 [02-25-1861]

              185

[newspaper clipping continued]
to the surveillance of the Vigilance Committee;
that within an hour of dinner-time he had
been waited upon by an individual member of
it, who advised his immediate departure for the
North.  Asserting his innocence, the Englishman
obtained this grace, that if within a specified num-
ber of days he could clear himself of the charge
he might remain, during which interim, however,
the Vigilant insisted on his banishment from
Charleston.  He started, therefore, at once for Co-
lumbia, and it is to be presumed that he expe-
rienced some difficulty in procuring the required
vouchers, for he never returned.  He went off so
hastily, indeed, as to leave his baggage behind him.
Not one of the dinner party was cognizant of the
reason of his disappearance; to the best of my belief
they are ignorant at this moment.  The thing was
managed with equal secrecy and efficacy, qualities
characterizing in the highest degree the proceed-
ings of the Charleston Vigilance Committee.

[newspaper clipping: first column]
         SLAVE LIFE AND CHARACTERISTS.
		�����������
         SCENES IN A CHARLESTON HOTEL.
		�����������
	{Correspondence of the Evening Post.}
		CHARLESTON, S. C., March 8, 1861.
  Hotel life throughout the South is in the aggre-
gate uncomfortable, slovenly and repulsive, with rare
exceptions involving the opposite of these charac-
teristics, of which truths I could relate instances
enough.  I once sojourned in a Nashville hotel
where a sick traveller, having lain for a day and a 
half unattended in his chamber, and having pulled
down the bell-rope in his ineffectual endeavors to
make known his condition, at last succeeded in
doing so by discharging the contents of his six-
barrelled Colt�s navy revolver into the wall.
  I once put up at an Alabama establishment, in 
which I and three companions were obliged, regu-
larly, to enter our bed-room�the top of a ricketty
piazza�by the window, for the door wouldn�t open,
and to which apartment there once ascended at two
A. M. an inebriated acquaintance of one of the oc-
cupants of the four beds, for the purpose of engag-
ing him in a friendly and facetious conversation,
during which he dropped candle-grease all over the
counterpane!  At present, however, no such expe-
riences are mine.  An inmate of the Charleston
Hotel, in the city of that name, South Carolina, I
think its domestic economy presents some pictures
of slave life which may prove entertaining to your
readers.
  My apartment is on the fourth story, at the rear,
just in the middle of the topmost corridor, thereby

[newspaper clipping: second column]
necessitating as long a journey, upwards or down-
wards, as is practicable; had the room either to my
right or left been assigned to me, I should have
saved some steps.  My window commands a quad-
rangular prospect, including the servants� quarters,
and, over the roof of that building, the bay and
harbor looking bright enough of a fine day, dull
and misty on a wet one.  Outside, the long corri-
dors, lit with gas (which isn�t supplied in the rooms
above the second story,) with their numbered doors,
have rather a prison-like aspect, an impression in-
creased by the constant locking and unlocking on
the part of the guests or servants.
 	       THE WAITERS.
  At 7 o�clock A. M. the gong (that abominable in-
strument, the invention of which stamps the
Chinese as the most atrocious of people) announces
breakfast, a meal procurable until 11.  Purchasing
the morning�s Mercury or Courier in the hall, and
entering a long and spacious dining room (remind-
ing you of that of the Ocean House, Newport), you
proceed to your place and order breakfast.  At first,
if ignorant of the manners and customs of southern
hotel life, you fare but indifferently, but presently,
finding the Turkish system of backsheesh in general
operation, you adopt it, selecting one particular
�boy� for your personal attendant.  Him you fee,
say twice a week, with quarter dollars, when he
waits on your royally, considering himself your
servant for the time being.  You hear him say to
his fellows, �That�s my boss;� as you pass along
the corridors.
  He and they are slaves, of course.  There are
over a hundred waiters at the Charleston Hotel,
hired from their masters by the landlord at $10 per
month.  (One, almost white, and possessing some
special accomplishment, obtains a $6 bonus, I am
told.)  When a planter or traveller brings his own
slaves to the hotel they are allowed their board
free of charge, giving in return their services, first
to their owners, then to the guests in general.
       SUBMISSIVENESS OF THE SLAVES.
  Knowing the above, you equally obey the dic-
tates of good-nature and prudence in feeing your
waiter, under which stimulant he becomes an assid-
uous and deferential as he would be dilatory and
indifferent, lacking it.  He remembers your culi-
nary likings, will, indeed, sometimes zealously
duplicate your yesterday�s breakfast without orders,
while you read your newspaper.  Approbative in
the extremest degree, if you preface a request
with �I�ll thank you,� or, �Will you oblige me,�
or any such unexpected courtesy, he absolutely
cuts a caper of delight before rushing off to obey
the mandate, comporting himself in other respects               
  •  
Loading content ...