Perceiving, from my payment of fare, and the absence of holes from the elbows and knees of my garments, that I was a scorpion carpet-bagger from the plebeian North, the company on board did not invite me to join in the games of euchre which they were playing for bone-buttons, just abaft the mainstay; and, to keep myself in countenance, I soon repaired to the dissecting-table of the surgeon of the ship, and nearly threw that glassy official into a fit by paying him to make me a strawberry festival.
In coarse Northern cities, a strawberry festival, when gotten-up in aid of some church, or charitable institution, is made as follows: A glass vessel, holding about a pint, is supplied with enough ice to preserve the fruit, and upon the extreme top thereof, two, and sometimes three strawberries are carefully placed. Then, a rich sauce, composed of sherry, a little brandy, a sprig of mint, a slice of orange, a bit of pineapple, and a tall, hollow straw (hence straw-berry festival), is poured over the preserved berries, and the festival is ready for church-members. But, at the South, just now, owing to a momentary difference with the Rothschilds, ice is too expensive to be had; so the surgeon of the ship used some fragments of broken glass bottles instead; and, as his nearest approach to sherry and brandy was some molasses and water, the strawberry festival he made for me was not as stimulating as I have known such festivals to be.
In fact, shortly after partaking of this strawberry festival, I was seized with a serious sea-sickness; and as the vessel was stopping just then at Succotash Court House to land those who had come thither to attend the commencement of the celebrated Susper College, I too went ashore to shake off my illness by a passing glimpse of the Confederate educational pageant.
Susper College boasts a faculty composed almost exclusively of Major-General Southern Confederacies who have not yet been hung for pointing and discharging disloyal artillery against the United States of America, and occupies a large wooden building situated upon one of the largest mortgages in the State. Prior to certain late Federal outrages upon a wealthy and chivalrous people, the Southern youth, attending this institution of learning, wore dress-coats at all hours of the day, and spent nearly as much money for " poker," and other necessaries of life, as would have sufficed to pay the interest on their fathers' debts. During the present season, however, they are attired in coats and continuations, which bear more rags to the acre than ever came before from Sowing tares; and when a young student of sixteen, named Lieutenant-Colonel Montmorency, stood upon the ironing-table, used as a 21* rostrum, to deliver his oration, I noticed that his coat was fastened in front with a wooden skewer.
The orations were impassioned, and scholarly appeals in behalf of State rights and Southern sentiment, showing that what the South now needs are independence and capital. Colonel Chilmondely, a fervid young student of thirteen, spoke of Virginia as the Mother of Mortgages, and drew a fine ideal picture of the future days when all her debts should be paid off, and her railroads and her colleges able to borrow some more money. Major Ilfracombe, aged twelve, and wearing a brass-headed nail for a scarf-pin spoke eloquently of the State-debt, which, he said, like the mighty Mississippi emptying into the sea, emptied into the Bankrupt Act.
Captain Penremington, aged nine years, urged his brethren to go boldly forth from College into the North, and demand - ay, demand ! six months' credit. The time had now arrived when the South should assert herself, and, -in helm and with spear, if necessary, - claim her share of the ill-gotten wealth of the North. (Great sensation.) Let the South say to the North, - " We do not want you yourselves with us; but we have need of your small change, to develop our great resources (tremendous enthusiasm), to educate and exterminate our servile population, and to prepare ourselves for another and mightier struggle with your vandal military scorpions." (Prolonged cheers.) Then, after obtaining the small change, who could doubt that the renovated and newly armed South would.
As victor exalt, or in debt be laid low,
With her note for six months in the hands of the foe;
And, leaving in bottle no drop as it came,
Demand a new deal and begin a new game".
When the enthusiastic applause had subsided, General Hardupton, of South Carolina, mounted the ironing-table, and proceeded to address the Literary Societies of the College upon the "Duties of Citizenship." He told the students that, as citizens of the Republic, it would be their first duty to be devoted exclusively to their own State, which, upon the whole, was the only State in the Union worth mentioning. Let them remember her host of noble sons, who comprised all the United States' Presidents worth speaking about. At present, she was pecuniarily embarrassed, but would yet pass (should the Bankrupt Act be proved Constitutional) from debt into life. In conclusion, he solemnly warned the young man against ever "playing policy" to the detriment of their principal. If the temptation beset them, let them go into the nearest cemetery and consider the examples of those who had preferred to be taken by the knave of spades and await the last trump.*
At the conclusion of these interesting exercises the enthusiasm was unbounded, - some of the worst straw hats I ever saw (made chiefly from the covers of market-baskets) being waved in the air, while the ladies as energetically fluttered the ends of pillow-cases which they carried as handkerchiefs.
*See address of rebel General Wade Hampton, at the recent " Commencement" of General Lee's Washington College, Va.
Depend upon it, my boy, this proud people only need be trusted in order to become nearly as great a comfort to us as they ever were before. Between sections, as between individuals, there can be no real love without trust; and when next your Southern brethren come walking scornfully into your vulgar Northern stores and boarding-houses, trust them, for six months at least; and you will surely get your pay, - if not in this, why, then, in another and a better world to which we are all hastening.
Orpheus C. Kerr.