New Orleans at Night

From "Eight Days in New Orleans"
Published in 1847
In February, 1847, Albert J. Pickett, of Montgomery, Alabama, spent eight days
in New Orleans.  It was his first visit to the city and he recorded his
observations in an essay which first appeared in serial form in the "Alabama
Journal of Montgomery."  Soon afterward, he had these sketches of New
Orleans published in book form.  The following is an excerpt from his book,
"Eight Days in New Orleans," published in 1847.  -- Nancy
New Orleans at Night:

When the sun sheds his last rays behind the hills of peaceful Alabama, then it is that
the farmer whistles a note over his last furrow, and thanks himself that the toils of
day are nearly over; it's then the angler rises from the green bank, strings his silvery
fish, winds up his lines and quits the quiet stream; it's then the children cease to
"gambol o'er the plain," and night soon shrouds all objects in darkness and repose.

Not so with New Orleans. Over her massive buildings and pretty streets, the veil of
night is cast in vain!  Anon a soft and yellow light issues from a thousand lamps, and
tells that untiring man is still abroad.  Has the merchant pored over his books the
whole day, he at this happy hour sups his tea, and thinks in anticipation of Monsieur
Malet's delightful party.  Has the lawyer attended upon the courts and given
audience to clients, he now forms plans for this night's amusement.  Has the
laborious editor written copy by the long hour until exhausted, he now kicks the
exchange papers under the table, throws aside his pen, and recal
ls with delight the
Orleans Theatre and the sweet music of Norma.  Has the matron visited and shopped,
and shopped and visited for the last eight hours, she now once more attires herself
for the splendid "route" of Solon.  Has the creole maiden danced and sung, and slept
and read, and lounged, she now rises from her ottoman and for the St. Louis
masquerade, once more adorns herself.  Has the good and pious man toiled all day in
honorable trade in behalf of his virtuous wife and smiling children, he now sits
around his evening meal, blesses his Maker for "all the good He gives," and catches
with joy the sound of the deep-toned bell, calling him to the worship of his God.  Thus
may all tastes and dispositions find accommodation by "New Orleans at night."
The cabs and coaches moving in all directions, with lights attached, resemble at a
distance so many 'ignuis fatuis,' or jack o' the lanterns.  They never stop, but go the
whole night; for the gay and dissipated, surfeited with one amusement, seek another,
and it is not uncommon for the same person to have made the entire rounds of the
public amusements in one night.  Stepping out of the theatre at eleven o'clock, they
are escorted by the eager cabmen proposing to convey them to the Quadroon Ball,
the St. Louis Masquerade, and many other places.  By the way, these cabs are most
delightful inventions, easy to get in, fine to ride in.  To prevent cheating on the part
of the driver, the police have arranged the fare, so that the visitor pays one dollar
per hour, as long as he rides.  The city is supplied with one thousand cabs and
coaches for public hire.  There are fifteen hundred milk and market wagons.  The
quantity of milk consumed at the St. Charles Hotel alone, is eighty gallons per day!
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