“ Awake ! awake !
Ring the alarm bell !—Murder and treason !
Banquo and Donalbain ! Malcom ! awake !
Shake off this drowsy sleep, Death’s counterfeit.”

One of our crowded river packets arrived at the Levee on Thursday, bringing several hundred visitors to the city. On the way down the river, at Natchez, Vidalia, and other large towns and “ intermediate landings,” new crowds of passengers were taken on board, and on Wednesday night it was utterly impossible for all to obtain sleeping accommodation. The berths were all occupied at an early hour, some of them being made to “ carry double” on this occasion, and the floor of the cabin was piled deep when night came on.

When the card tables broke up, and every body was at length disposed for slumber, there remained just ten who could find lodging room no where. They had left off “ bragging” and “ pokering,” and now peeped into every state room, and tumbled around in every corner of the cabin and social hall, but not a space of four feet by six inches could they find anywhere ; to be useful in some manner, they constituted themselves a mysterious committee, or grand “ Council of Ten,” for the purpose of guarding the slumbers of those who had gone to bed. Striking their sticks upon the cabin floor, and making a prodigious clatter, they told them all to go to sleep, giving, at the same time, serious assurances that no body should be disturbed.”

One of these “ watchmen of the night” created a tremendous racket by slapping his cane lengthwise against a state-room door. People lifted their heads up all round the cabin, and the occupants of the state-rooms opened their doors.

“ What is the matter ?” inquired a personage in a night cap.

“ Nothing ! nothing !” said the watchman ; “ I only wish to tell you to go to sleep—nobody shall disturb you.” [1]

Muttering many maledictions, the passengers composed themselves again ; but in a few moments another outrageous clatter arose.

“ What is the matter ?” inquired several voices. “ What is the meaning of this ?”

“ Let me beg of you all to compose yourselves,” said the watchman, in a tone as loud as his lungs could reach. “ Go to sleep, and nobody shall disturb you.”

One or two more ludicrous experiments of the same nature followed, and then a recumbent individual demanded to know “ what in thunder was the meaning of the rumpus ?”

“ Don’t be uneasy,” exclaimed the watchman ; “ we are here on duty, and wish you to keep yourselves comfortable. Shut up and go to sleep—nobody will disturb you !”

The Council of Ten walked up and down among the sleepers on the floor, planting their sticks indiscriminately every where, and eliciting every sort of noctoral sounds from the oblivious people around, as if sheep, calves, cats, dogs, &c. were breathing their innocent ejaculations of unhappiness.

“ What do I want ?” said the watchman.

“ Yes, sir ; what do you want ?”

“ I want you, my friend, to go to sleep ; I am here on guard, and nobody shall disturb you.”

“ We shan’t be disturbed, eh ?”

“ You shan’t.”

“ I’d like to know what you call disturbance, stranger. Can’t you go to bed and be quiet ?”

Another of the council found the pole with which the clerk measured wood, and picking out a fat pursey individual snoring away upon the floor, straightway commenced “ stirring him up” pricking him in the side.

“ What’s the matter now ?” said the fat man, half rising upon his right elbow, while with his left hand he shaded his eyes and peered into the face of the disturber with earnest scrutiny.

“ Nothing,” said the mad wag. “ I was only going to tell you not to disturb yourself. Go to sleep—I mean nothing.”

Nothing ! You be d—d. Punch a man in the ribs with a long pole, and call that nothing. Why don’t you go the bed ?”

“ I’m going—don’t disturb yourself.” After hearing this consoling advice, the fat man turned over on his side and again composed himself to sleep.

Silence now reigned for the space of some ten minutes, but it was not destined to be of long continuance ; for one of the merry wights caught a glimpse of the breakfast bell quietly resting on the table. This was just the thing, and ting-a-ling ! ting-a-ling ! soon resounded from one end of the boat to the other.

Every body jumped from bed, anxious to be prepared early for the great festival of the Twenty-second ; and no sooner were a sufficient number of berths vacated than the mischievous “ Council of Ten” quietly took them for their own special purposes and were soon enjoying a freshening morning nap—and thus ended one scene of fun upon the Mississippi.

New Orleans paper.


Source: Source: New York Spirit of the Times 14.9 (27 April 1844): 106. (University of Virginia Alderman Library).

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] Original text omits final quotation mark.

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