Rapides Parish, La., June 28, 1859.

Dear Old “Spirit”—An incident which I have lately read in the “National Intelligencer” reminds me of a circumstance which once happened to that elegant and courtly old Kentucky gentleman, Col. H.∞[1] , of Louisville.

Col. H., returning from a Northern tour, encountered on his way to Cincinnati a large number of Quakers, of both sexes, returning from an abolition celebration at Cleveland, Ohio. As the cars moved on, the Colonel became engaged in conversation [2] with one of the friends, and in its course the subject of slavery naturally arose. The conversation increased in warmth and interest, and enlisted the attention of every one present—the Quakers asserting their utmost horror of slavery, and the Southerner maintaining with equal feeling its justice and humanity. Stopping finally at a way-station, a new passenger entered—a large fine looking mulatto woman, holding a baby in her arms. Looking around to find a seat, and observing one of the few vacant occupied in part by Col. H. she proceeded to seat herself. The Colonel, with characteristic courtesy, made room for the ample display of crinoline. A few moments had elapsed when the dark-skinned Venus turned suddenly to the Colonel and inquired:

“Mister, did you see ary yaller trunk put aboard this train?”

“Well, really, Madam,” rejoined the Kentuckian, “there are so many yellow trunks that I am unable to say whether the one to which you allude was put aboard or not.”

This did not suffice our heroine. In a moment or two, the Colonel having declined an invitation to go out and look up her yaller trunk,[3] she arose suddenly, and extending the infant African in her arms in the direction of our friend, exclaimed: “Mister, will you hold this ere babe while I go and see after that ere trunk of mine?” The Colonel assuring her, with ineffable grace and dignity, that he would be only too happy to oblige her, proceeded to dandle in his arms the sooty offspring of my lady. By this time mirth pervaded every countenance, and an ineffectual effort to suppress a general titter told of the amusement the picture afforded. Moments fled—the whistle sounded—but Venus did not make her appearance. Matters seemed coming to a crisis. At last one of the venerable Broadbrims, inspired by a benevolent comprehension of the burden the Kentuckian’s politeness seemed about to entail upon him, and perhaps not unwilling to add to the slightly malicious and excusable merriment of his anti-Southern associates, crept up to the seat occupied by the subject of this anecdote, and whispered, in a tone audible to all:

“Friend, art thou not afraid that she will leave it with thee?”

“Leave it with me, my dear sir,” rejoined Col. H., turning around so that he could be distinctly heard by all present, and dropping his voice to a loud whisper: “Why, that is just what I should like. It’s worth a hundred dollars in Kentucky!”

The few Southerners present shouted with laughter, and the discomfiture of the disciples of Brotherly Love and sly fun was delightful to behold.



Source: New York Spirit of the Times, 29.23 (16 July 1859): 269. University of Virginia Alderman Library.
Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] Original reads "Col. Hoooo." Typsetter error possible.

[2] Original reads "coversatton." Typesetter error probable.

[3] Original reads "trnnk." Typesetter error probable.

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