Vincent Otto Nolte.

Fifty years in both hemispheres; [microform] or, Reminiscences of the life of a former merchant. Translated from the German online

. (page 9 of 47)
Online LibraryVincent Otto NolteFifty years in both hemispheres; [microform] or, Reminiscences of the life of a former merchant. Translated from the German → online text (page 9 of 47)
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to give the management 6f this, business over to the hands of Mr.
Samuel P. Laboudi^re, already named, who was t^ien conducting
the Frettdti correspondence of their house ; but his elder brother,
who, as head of the Hope eltablishm^it, had concluded the con-
tract with Ouviard, pointed out David Parish (^rfio, after the
peace of Amiens, }fad founded a mercantile concern at Antwerp),
as the man who, all the droumstanoes considered, would be the
most suitable — ^lir. Samuel Pi Laboudbere not appearing to be a
pmon thoroughly fitted lor the po^ Mr. P. C. Labouchere had
got to know the man of whom I speak — ^the third son of a John
Parish, a Scotch merchant established at Hamburgh, shortly
afler the opening of his Antwerp J^ouse in Paris, and had very
quickly discovered his keenness of perception, his skill, and his
remarkable, nay, almost instinctive knowledge of human nature.
Besides^possessing all these valuable qualities, he was a pleasant
companion without being a very well read man, had agreeable
manners, and was a most excellent whist-player. It was generally
hinted, although I could never positively verify the story, nor
even credit it, tiiat he was indebted to his large winning at play
in Hamburgh for a considerable*portion of the capital with which
he had commenced his establishment One thing, however, is
quite certain, and Mr. Labouch^re was well acquainted with the
ftct, that within a very shdrt tuoie after opening his concern, Par-
ish had managed to more than treble the amount invested, and
this in a very simple way. During his sojourn in Hamburgh,
and before his trip to the United States, the Archbishop Talley-
rand had been very kindly received and entertained by tiu) Parish
fiunily, and had even been provided with fiinds by them.^ When
Napoleon visited Belgium for the first time, and Stopped for some
days in Antwerp,.Mr. David Parish entertained Prince Talley-
rand m his magnificently furnished dwelling ; and this renewed
aoquaintanee with a son of the fiunily who had reeeived him widi

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MEsraa HOPK A oa si

«adi kindneM on a Ibnner occasion, led to an inthnaoy wUeii,
under the agreeable uiflueiioea of the beet table in Antwerp, and
frequent matches at cards for hi^ stakes — ^two things the Prince
especially liked, and couM appreciate as perfeotl j as his host him-
s^^— became daily stronger, and finally prodoeed a confidential
interdiange of sentiment. The Prince, as everybody knows, was
not at all r^ardless ot^be advantages opened to him by his posi-
tion. We all have heard to what excellent account he turned the
first intelligence of the victory at Marengo, and thereby enridied
himael£ A no less certain opportunity to make another similar
q>eeiilation was now thrown in his way. Talleyrand, as Napo-
leon's Minister of Foreign Affiurs, possessed the key of what
passed in the emperor's mind concerning politicd and interna-
tional matttt^ and was well aware that the speedy outbreak of a
war with Great Britain was inevitable. The certain rise of prices
for every species of colonial produce, in such a case, was evi-
dent. The Prince, ere he left Antwerp, came to an understanding
with his young friend, and the latter made use of the hint he got,
to employ all the capital and credit he could conmiand in large
purduses of colonial goods ath Antwerp and elsewhefe. Soon
afW Napoleon's return to Paris, the memorable scene in the
Tttilleries with Lord Whitworth occurred ; and a dedaraticm of
war and an important rise in the price of all colonial products fol-
lowed. The first very striking result had given Mr. David Parish
consid^vble weight in the eyes of Mr. Labouch^re ; and the fiict
<^ his having, young as he was, managed to ingratiate hims^
into the confidence of such a man as TiJleyrand, was regarded as
a {ffoof of undeniable merit, and his capacity lor the management
of the greatest interests. Of course it was not difficult for Mr.
Labouch^re to prevul upon Parish to intrust the interests of his
Antwerp house entirely in the hands of his partner, G. Agie, and
accept the agency of his projected business in America. The
badness itself held out great faiducements, and the conditions
under which tfie agency was arranged were no less fiivorable.
Th»e conditions were : Firstly, that Mr. David Parish should
enjoy one fiill fourth of the business advantages and profits ariung
from theaetransaeltens; saeondly, that Pariah was not to under-

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take any separate business that did not go to Ae eomnon account
of both die partners interested, namely, Hope & Co., and David
y Parisdi ; thirdly, all the trayelling and other necessary expenses

were to be oharged.

Two head agents were still necessary : one £>r Meideo, to pm-
sent (he bills of exchange and get them eadied, to sfa^ the coin
at Vera Cmz, and oversee the sale of the ships* cai^oes coming in
under license ; the other at New Orleans, to receive the com as H;
arrived, to dispatch the cargoes of German, EngBsh and Frendi
manu&ctured goods commg in from Europe to Vera Cms under
, accompanying licenses, and to make over to the merchants in the
latter city as many licenses as the opportunity would adnut. For
my owTi part, there was no necessity for any longer delay in Eu-
rope during the financial preparation of the instmctions wMck Mi^.
Parish was to bring over to me. I consequently embat^ted dur-
ing the first days of July, 1805, in the American ship flora, cac^
manded by Captahi Daniel Sterling, for New York. I arrived
after a voyage of 4S^ days, which was looked upon at that tame as
a very rapid one. The astonished oonsignee of the ship, who had
not even heard of Its arrival in Amsterdam, was standii^ on the
quay to welcome me, its only passenger, and his friend ^e cap-
tain. The worid into whidi i found myself now transported, was
entirely new to me. I had, owing to the at that time «ztrMDe
rarity of authentic works oonoeming the United States, eMI 86
little about them, that I had possessed a very imperfect idea about
the country, and had conceived it to be, in consequence of the
thoroughly savage condition in whidi the land had been disoovered
and gradually peopled, much further behindhand in dvilifatioQ
than I found it.

I distinctly remember a circumstance -wbkh wiH give my
readers an excellent conception of the singular ideas I entertained
in regard to the state of thmgs in America, as compared with the
notions of our captain cono^niing the perfection of his native
country. It simply happened one day that an excellent umbrella
was broken on de^ during a violent storm, and I aaked the cap-
tain, if he thou^t I could r^lace it with as good a one in New
York ; when he replied quite aharply : '^God bless me ! ask me

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wfaedier the mm flhioM in New York." It mutt be remembei^d
that tMe occurred ibrty-eeren yeers ago, end at that time in Crer.
many, America was geaeraUj looked upon as a sort of penal ool^
emj or rendezroos for aU kinds of scamps and worthless Mofs.
When I first informed m j parents that I was going thither, my
mother at once ezdaimed : ^ It cannot be possible that yon have
taken into your head this unfortunate idea of going to Anamoal
Who knows what advantage they may take of your inexperieDoe 1"
A few days after my arrivid in New Yoric, ^ yellow fover
broke out in that city. When I was about starting from Amster-
dam, Mr. Labouch^re had asked me if I was aftaii of the yellow
fever; "for" — he added — "if you do foel afraid of it, you must
not go to America, as you will be certain to die thore !" I had
said Uiat I felt no apprehension, and af I really did not foel at all
timid about it, I was determined to push boldly on for New York.
But the houses to which I was recommended gave me to under*
Btand that, as business was generally very quiet in the mcmths of
* July, August and September, and the city was deserted by every
one who could get away, it would be imprudent for me to sttfy
there. I followed their advice and went to Boston ; but after a
six weeks' sojourn there and in Philadelphia, returned to New
York. A few days after my arrival in the latter dty, a rumor
was circulated that a ship from Cadiz had ^tered the bay with the
exiled General Moreau on board. It was not long before all the
militia drams were heard in every part of the dty, and thdr com-
mander-in-chief, a lawyer by the name of M<Mton, went gallopii^
about in all directions, on horseback, in the tmiform of a general,
f<^owed by his adjutants, prindpally young law-students, as if he
imagined that Moreau had also begun his career in the legal pro-
fession. At any rate* he dashed about, conmianding and counter-
manding, and urging the greatest haste in the preparations every
body was making for a grand dl^lay in the long main street of
the dty, called Broadway, which extends to the public promenade
designated as the Battery. It was at the latter point that the dis-
tinguished stranger was to land. His debarkation took place
about an hour later. The general, dad in dtizen's style, with a
blue coat and pantaloons, mounted a horse prepared for him, amid

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musio «iid the aoekmations of the orovd, and rode up, omKMDdad
by his staff of parti-oolored militia, along the main street to the
City HalL £aoh separate oompany of each and every battalioa,
wore their own peonliar and frequently extremely singular uni>
form, and it was impossible to look at the €9uembU oi this mili-
tary assemblage in any other li^t than as a h^lequin parade;
but the officers of this remarkable body were in no slight degree
proud of it, and when Greneral Moreau had reached the City Hall,
he was very gravely asked by General Morton what he really
thought of the American tro<^ 1 The general is said to have re*
plied that he had never seen $ueh soldiers in the whole course of
his life! whidi somewhat ambiguous ccmipliment was several
times repeated io me, at the same time with the greatest serious-
ness, as something hi^y honorable to the American military.*

Some American amateurs had got up a great concert on the
same evening in the long saloon of the ^ City Hotd,'* at that time
the largest public house in the place. General M<H*eau was in-
vited to be present, and promised to comply. The street-comera
iTere at once covered with large hand-bills, announcing in immense
capitals that he would attend the concert I could not deny my-
self the pleasure of getting a near view of this distinguished man,
and so went to the musical entertainiftent. There was a great
crowd present, but the most striking personage in the throng was
by no means General Moreau, of whom ev^ry body remarked
that he did not look at all like a French general, because he sim-
ply wore a blue coat ; but G^eral Morton in his Washington uni-
form, with a blue coat and yellow fedngs, dca The latter intro-
duced to the general every one who wanted to take a good stare
at him, and the shaking of hands with ladies and gentlemen went on
as if it never would end. At length I mamaged to force my way
close up to these two great leaders, Morton the lawyer and militia
hero,' and the hero of Hohenlinden. Just as I got there, a quaker

* When Manhal Bertrmnd wis, some yean ago, yiBiting the DorA-wettero
portioa of the United States, and had arriTedat Buffido, in the State of New
York, a review of the citizen militia was held there in his honor; and the
newspiq>ers, oo that oooasioo, reTived the old aoeodoCe of thirty yaart helbf%
and put in hii month the wnda I have Just attributed to lloreaa.

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MEBSRa HOPS ^00, 65

Ittd hiiBself introdaoed to the latter, and shaking him heartil j by
theiumd, uttered the foUowing words : '* Glad to see jou safe in
America ! — Praj, General — say, do you remember what was the
price of cochineal when you left Cadiz ?" The victor of Hoheo-
hnden shrugged his shoulders and was unable to reply.

Some days after this military ftstival, my Meod Lestapis
snrived ftt>m Amsterdam with a portion of the documents required
to carry on our busings. We passed our time for sereral weeks
very pleasantly. The well-known hospitality shown to erery
stranger, possessing the least cultivation, who arrives in the United
States, made it easy for us to enjoy ourseli^es. At length, in the
b^linning of November, David Parish arrived. The news <^
some very large conmiercial enterprise had already preceded him,
and, although the nature of the undertaking had not become
known, the greatest curiosity followed every step he took. In
New York, the whole combination of the enterprise which had
been fuUy discussed^at Amsterdam, was unfolded and analyzed,
and my friend Lestapis and myself set out, each for his post ; he
to Vera Cruz and I to New Orleans, where a whole cargo of Ger-
man linens had arrived, and was awaiting me. The iast«ailuig
schooner Aspaiia had brought it to its destination. I went over-
land- to GbariestoQ, and as (contrary to all expectation) there was
no suitable craft there on whidi I could take passage for New
Orleans, I purchased the schooner Regulator^ and went in it to the
latter port.

It was on Easter Sunday, 180^, that I first set foot on the soil
of Louisiana, where I, five years later, was invested with tlie
rights of citizenship, and I readied the city of New Orleans before

Louisiana, originally a French col(my, then Spanish, aiid then
again French, had, as every one knows, been sold, diortly before
the time of which I speak, to the United States by the French gov-
ernment, for fifteen millions of Spanish dollars, and had been soon
afterwards organized as a territory. It possessed an elective legis-
lature, chosen by the people, but the Grovemor received his ap-
' pointment from the President of the Confederation, which high
post was at that moment occupied by Thomas Jefferson. The

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poHtieal rival ei this celebrated man, in the stroggle for IJm Pi«9»
ideney, had been Aaron Burr, and it was said that the vote of a
representatiye from Kentucky, named William Cole Claiborne^
had turned the sci^ at the election, and secured Jefferson's suc-
cess. Such a service as Uiis had been rewarded bj the Presid^t
elect with no less a mark of fiivor than Claibome's appcHntment to
the governorship of Louisiana. To make way for him, the French
prefect, Laussat, a man of education and r^inement, possessing
all the manners of a French courtier, was removed. Qaiborne
was exactly the reverse ; of fine p^'sonal appearance, but, in all
other respects, a coarse, rude man, and, at the same time, v^
sharp and knowing^ as most Ammcans are. The greater part of
the then existing population was of French origin. In the city
itself the French number at least three-fifths of the inhabitants ;
one other fifth was of Spanish race, and another Americana,
among whom were some G^mans. The city numbered about
16,000 souls, of whom one-third were people of color and slaves.
The mercantile class was made up of four or five French estab-
lishments, springing from die neighborhood of the Garonne, and
founded during the continuance of the Frendi rule ; three Scotch
counting-houses, one German concern, and eight or ten oonmiission-
houses, lately opened by young American merchants fix>m New
York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The traces of this dass, who
carried on the early business of New Orleans under the new
regime, are now limited to the sugar-planter Shepherd, who is
still living, ant now very wealthy, and to Hie still more opulent
Mr. W. M. Montgomery, formerly wholesale grocer, and now the
owner of a lai^ portion of the northwestern section of the State,
who lives partly at New York and partly at Paris. Sheph^*d,
whom I have just named, who was but two-and-t¥reQty when he
caitie from Baltimore to New Orleans, was accompanied thither
by a young American fi*om the same place, who could not have
been more than a few years older than himself The latter
brought some six or eight thousand dollars willi him, and after,
for a considerable time, exploring aU sorts of uncultivated lands
lying along the Mississippi, made a choice and purdiased. Hik
young man wa4 John McDonough, who made such constant parade

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of Ae hnds he luid'boii^it, so well un^karstood the game of making
ftetftiou9 flales to^ hi& friend Sh^herd, at very high ratea^ and
through him to otiMra at still higher prices, «id pursued this 9y^
tern, observing, at the same time, great frngalily at home, ad IcMig
ifidsoidd]Aillj,tlistatleiig^real purdiasers fell into his net, and
made themselves part and parcel of it MoDonoogh talked very
fittle, and sddom n^xed in general conversation, espedallj with
ladies, whose society he aviMdsd as much as posnble. When he
did open Ma lips^ 8^ that fell firom thma was praise of certain
lands he had just puvehaaed^ and this theme was kiezhaastiUe.
It was not in LouiBiana alone that he carried on this system, but
idso hi neighboring Slatea, and he ooirtimied it for more than forty
years. He passed Us spai«e time in looking after the education of
some childbren in the neighboriiood of his homdy residence on an
estate, or, as tiiey call it hi ^ South, a pkmtationy bdonging to
Hm. He also oooupied hims^ with Ike amatemr study of modi-
dacb McDonoogh died in October, 1851, and, upon the opening
of his will, it was diseovered, that at the thne of his death he
owned IpfOP^ifiiyis of all the mfcultivated lands in the State of Louis-
kna, and many traota of tcnitorf in other States^ to the very
ooBriderable amomit of fifteen millicHta of dollars. During the
lapse of Mttke^^drty^foor years I saw him very frequently, the
kHt time in 1889, and knew but one relatkn of his, a brother who
was a pilot, and died early, if I am not mistaken, of the y^k>w
fersr. McDonon^ himeelf died without heks, either direct or
collateral, and has made over his whole property to the govern-
ment of llie United Statea, that it shall ezp^ tiie same hi the
ertMishmcnt o( publie sdiools. Bemde this general directicm,
thore are a number of smi^l bequests and codic& of very curious
nature appended to his will. One of the oddest of these is the
bequest made to Leon €k>dan, in Paris. This well<known writer
•cmie years ago pubMshed a romance called the ^' Mededn du
Peoq,** wl^ch, in evwypcAit of view, but especnally by some very
pecuHar and proibund psydiological studies, attracted die greatest
notice throuf^out France. The editor of ^ "* OourrUr d$9 Staf
Uni^' republished it in the feuilleton of that widely dreulated
paper, and ii thus lell into the hands of Mr. McDonoai^ who

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read it at home in his solitary hours, and was so charmed vith
some of the author's observatioDS on the world and men, that he
made him his heir to the amount of ten thousand dollars. Tins
sum was lately handed over to Mr. Godan by lifr. Bives, the
late American Ambassador at Paris, in a cheek on tite house of
Albrecht & Co., in Havre.

I now return from this episode to the many-colored scenes of
my own changeful .life. What notions were entertained, in the
northern part of the Union, of such a community as made up the
population of New Orleans, is clearly conveyed by an anecdote
of my friend, Mr. M. Amory, of Boston^ whose newly-established
house, under the firm of Amory tit CaUmder, had received the
cargo of Schleswig lineioa sent from Europe, and then held it in
charge for me. Just as he was on the point of starting from
Boston for New Orleans he had seen in the newspf^pers an adver-
tisement of a ship about to sail direct to the latter port, and then
looking for passengers and freight Amory called upon Um
owner to recommend to him his young house as consignee. The
owner told him in confidwce that he Bad not at all intended to send
his ship to New Orleans, but that he had published the advertise-
ment only for the purpose of discovering amoi^ the passoig^rs
who would apply for berths, a rascal who had swindled his l»o-
ther of a considerable sum of money. ^ For," added the owner,
" I consider it probable that he will try to leave for New Orleans,
whidi, as evwybody knows, is a regular r^dezvous for all sorts
of rogues and rabble.*^

Among these people, thus generally looked upon as the c^booiv-
ings of the northern States, I found a man of remarkable faital-
lectual powers and real talent This man was the celebrated
Edward Livingston, originally from the State of New York. He
had been a lawyer in the city of New Yoik, and had there, as a
member of the Municipal Council, performed the fonctions of
Recorder. In that reqpect he had played a highly important parl^
and had once represented the State itself m the Senate at Wash-
ington. At length there was suddenly discovered, in the manage-
ment of the municipal income of the city, then in the hands of the
Beoorder, an inexplicable deficit of $60,000. Under these cuv

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HOPK 4 00. 89

^iiinstaiicefl, it "vnm knpoflsible for Livifigstoii to remain any longw
in the place.* He then emigrated to New Orleans, and there
began his career anew with the most remarkable suooess. He
there marriA the yomig and &soinating widow of a legitimist and
legist by the name of Moreau, from St Domingo. The lady's
maiden name had been Davezac, and, after the destruction of the
colony, she had fled with her mother, sister, and one brother, first
to Jamaica, and then to Louisiana. I shall hereafter find fturther
occasion to speak oi Livingstcm's brother-in-law, Auguste Dave-
saa He was the same person who, some years after, was ap-
pomted, by President Jackson, to the post of American Ambas-
sador, and was from there summoned to Naples to draw the
indemnity moneys, but was soon afterward obliged to^ give up his
place at the Hague, on account of what we will call-7-to use a mild
term — ^irregularities in the arrangement of his accounts.* Dave-
zac was of French origin, but had attained great readiness in the
English language, and was employed at the time of my own arri-
val as a sworn interpreter in the Courts, and he was afterwards' in
the Legislatiye Assembly of Louisiana. He had at l^igth be-
come Livingston's &ctotum, and had made himself almost indis-
pensable to that gentleman, in hunting up the evidence among the
. £unily papers of the French planters, and in procuring witnesses
who were ready at all times to swear to anything that might be
required of them. I recoUect particularly a remarkable criminal
suit against a certain Beleurgey, the editor of one of the first
American papers, '' LeTelegraphe*' by name, which was published
at New Orleans, in the French and English languages, during
180d-'07. The accused had forged the signature of a wealthy
planter for the purpose of raising money, and when he was de-
tected had confessed his guilt to the planter in writing, and
urgently besought him not to appear as prosecutor. Ihe planter
felt disposed to accede to this request, but the letter was already
in the hands of justice. How, then, did Livingston manage, as the
attorney and advocate of Beleurgey, to secure th^ discharge of
the accused, notwithstanding this confession, thb damning evidence
of his guilt 1 Davezac got together witnesses, who swore before
the Court, that they had long known Beleurgey to be the greatest
* See Appendix.

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of liars, from whose lips there never fell a word of trulit ** Lodk
at this !" said Livingston to his Frendi jury ; " the man oould not
tell the truth ; the very acknowledgment of his guilt is a lie, for
only a fool would be his own accuser. So then oeAeatgej has
either lied, or he has not the control of his own understanding, and
in either case has not been conscious of what lie was doii^, and
cannot be found guilty !" So the jury brought in a verdict by
which he was discharged !

When I first arrived in New Orleans, th^e was not a sin^e
house there possessed of any capital worth mentioning, and an hem-
orable diaracter seemed to me quite as great a rarity. I believed
just as much as I pleased of the representations mad^ by the
merdiants just established there ; and with all their boasting, and
great parade of clearness, it was quite remarkable that my expe-
rience was not enriched at the beginning, by the knowledge of
some unhandsome trick in trade, like those wit^ which every

Online LibraryVincent Otto NolteFifty years in both hemispheres; [microform] or, Reminiscences of the life of a former merchant. Translated from the German → online text (page 9 of 47)