Sunday, June 26, 2016

Diary of William Howard Russell: May 19, 1861

The heat out of doors was so great that I felt little tempted to stir out, but at two o'clock Mr. Magee drove me to a pretty place, call Spring Hill, where Mr. Stein, a German merchant of the city, has his country residence. The houses of Mobile merchants are scattered around the rising ground in that vicinity; they look like marble at a distance, but a nearer approach resolves them into painted wood.

Stone is almost unknown on all this seaboard region. The worthy German was very hospitable, and I enjoyed a cool walk before dinner under the shade of his grapes, which formed pleasant walks in his garden. The Scuppernung grape, which grew in profusion — a native of North Carolina — has a remarkable appearance. The stalk, which is smooth, and covered with a close-grained gray bark, has not the character of a vine, but grows straight and stiff like the branch of a tree, and is crowded with delicious grapes. Cherokee plum and rose-trees, and magnificent magnolias, clustered round his house, and beneath their shadow I listened to the worthy German comparing the Fatherland to his adopted country, and now and then letting out the secret love of his heart for the old place. He, like all of the better classes in the South, has the utmost dread of universal suffrage, and would restrict the franchise largely to-morrow if he could.

SOURCE: William Howard Russell, My Diary North and South, p. 226-7

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