UNBLUSHING, DEGRADED SCOUNDRELS"
G. W. FEATHERSTONHAUGH
[George William Featherstonhaugh, English geologist in the service of the United States, saw much of the Mississippi Valley in the 1830's and later published two works relating his experiences and observations. From his Excursion through the Slave States ... with Sketches of Popular Manners and Geological Notes (2 volumes, London, 1844), II, 237-45, come the following pages describing his impressions of the public manners of fellow passengers on a Mississippi boat late in December, 1834.]
Upon embarking on board of this steamer I was certainly pleased with the prospect that presented itself of enjoying some repose and comfort after the privations and fatigues I had endured; but never was traveller more mistaken in his anticipations! The vexatious conduct of the drunken youth had made a serious innovation upon the slight degree of personal comfort to be obtained in such a place, but I had not the slightest conception that that incident would be entirely thrown into the shade by others a thousand times more offensive, and that, from the moment of our departure from the post of Arkansas until our arrival at New Orleans, I was destined to a series of brutal annoyances that extinguished every hope of repose, or a chance of preserving even the decencies of existence.
I had been told at the post of Arkansas that ten passengers were waiting to come on board, and that several of them were notorious swindlers and gamblers, who, whilst in Arkansas, lived by the most desperate cheating and bullying, and who skulked about alternately betwixt Little Rock, Natchez, and New Orleans, in search of any plunder that violent and base means could bring into their hands. Some of their names were familiar to me, having