Extract of a letter from William Hunt, esq.” To H. Hunt, esq.
“Washington Hotel, New Orleans, Dec. 25. 1818.
” My Dear Brother – We arrived safe in the mouth of the Mississippi on the 10th of this month, after a voyage of 82 days from Gravesend. Your son and myself are in excellent health, and very happy. There are 35 English vessels from Liverpool now here, and a great many English emigrants from Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, Wiltshire, Hampshire, and Somersetshire ; and, in fact, from almost all parts of the heavily-taxed island we have left behind us ! Our ship was detained near a week in the river, about 80 miles below New Orleans ; we all went on shore, and had plenty of rabbit shooting. I killed the most with my double-barrelled gun, by Knock, corner of Fetter-lane. Henry, myself, and Mr Blake went one day into the woods to kill deer, by night coming on, we lost our road ; and, differing in opinions, we separated, Henry and Mr Blake taking one road, and myself the other. I reached the ship (about five miles) at ten o’clock ; but they remained lost all night in the woods, and did not return to us till the next morning. It being wet, and Henry sleeping on the marshy ground, in spite of the remonstrances of Mr Blake, caught a severe cold, and suffered much with rheumatic pains for four days, but he is now perfectly recovered : he is grown fat. In the river there are thousands of wild swans, wild geese, wild ducks, woodcocks, snipes, and other wild fowl. If you were there, you would kill a waggon load in a day, as I know you have frequently killed a horse load in England ; but they are a thousand times more numerous here than I ever saw them in England ; this market swarms with them, and very cheap. No game certificate required here. Myself, Henry, Mr Blake, and the other passengers, visited a French farmer, about six miles below New Orleans : he has got 3000 acres of his own land, whereon are sugar plantations, sugar-houses, & c. ; he made 250 hogsheads of molasses of sugar last year. He offers five hundred acres of good land with his pretty daughter, as a fortune on her marriage. There are plenty of French settlements on the banks of the Mississippi ; but they are the most slovenly and the worst farmers I ever saw. – They are very lazy, bad managers, and appear to use their negroes very cruel, and work them very hard. The Europeans generally leave New Orleans in the summer, as it is very unhealthy in the hot weather and the deaths are frequently seventy in a week. The scenery of this country is very picturesque ; it is very much like the banks of the river Thames about Richmond and Staines, and many of the buildings are as handsome as those of Bath. Here is one Church, which is a very beautiful building. On Sunday the French and Spanish shops are all open, and it is a market during the whole day ; balls and the theatre open in the evening, gambling & c. We are at the Washington Hotel, the best in the city ; it is expensive, although very good living here : we pay ten dollars a-week each, including claret and rum and water. There is no beer here in warm weather as in England, and it is as warm here now as it was in England in July, although not half so oppressive and stinking as it was in Covent Garden during the election : 60 persons dine and sleep in this hotel, most of them English. We do not trouble ourselves about politics in this country ; our object is to cultivate the soil, and to reap the fair reward of our labour. On Saturday we were charged 100 dollars each for passage, and four dollars six cents for every hundred weight. We have three and a half tons weight with us. Do pray send me four quarters of the best peas, rye, grass seed, and some more of Hill’s Scots ploughs, to be left at Messrs Brown and Co. who will forward them carefully to me at the Illinois. Mr Trimmer, an Englishman, has purchased 20,000 acres of land near Mr Birkbeck, and has taken twenty couple of hounds with him, so that we shall have some hunting as well as shooting if we like. It is said that he is about to marry one of Mr B.’s daughters. He is now here : he tells me that there are plenty of English farmers settled all over the Illinois territory. He is here to get labourers ; they are the only thing wanting there. I should have brought over some with me, but they may follow us ; as I understand the labourers, with the pay of a dollar a day, can live better than a Hampshire or Wiltshire renting farmer of L.300 or L.400 a year. Mr Riply, and others that I have seen from Illinois, report that the farmer can get a sure profit the first year. Mr Ripley says there is a good sure market, and a fair profit and only one penny per acre land tax ; this is all the taxes we shall have to pay. Price of labour is very dear here ; we pay a dollar for washing every dozen of shirts, cravats, pocket handkerchiefs, & c. & c. The price of a gallon of best rum is one and a half dollar. The custom-house duty on my things shipped from England, I have paid 92 dollars for. Although I should like England very well if it was not for the taxes, yet, from what I have seen hitherto, I like America ten times better
Citation: Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, United Kingdom), 27 May 1819, available at the Scissors and Paste Database, http://www.scissorsandpaste.net/141.