Creole Women

Apr 5, 2010, 6:02 PM |

While this posting has little to do directly with chess, as a Morphy girl, I'm interested in anything that pertains to him even peripherally.

French drawing: La Creole

Morphy was a Creole.  His mother was a Creole.  Creole women had been romanticized and extolled in the literature of the time.  However, a contemporary gives a somewhat intriguing view of Creole women:

from The Journal of Latrobe by Benjamin Henry Latrobe,  1876

(Describing female society in New Orleans in 1819)

    My impression then, as to the surface of female society is, that there are. . . more correct and beautiful features, more faces and figures for the sculptor, than I ever recollect to have seen together in the same number. A few of them are perfect and a great majority  are far above the mere agreeable.
The Duke of Saxe-Weimar, visiting the city in the 1820s, praised the Creoles, but Karl Anton Postl, of Germany, noted that Creole women were poorly educated and unable to carry on an intelligent literary conversation. A comparable view came from L. Webb who wrote in April 1853:
   The walks in Jackson Square were crowded with gentlemen and ladies.... The dark complexion, black hair and black eyes would have proclaimed their descent had not their gaiety, excessive politeness and language told me they were all French. I had heard much said of the beauty of the Creole or French population of this city.... After an hour’s scrutiny, I unhesitatingly declare I never saw in so large a crowd so much ugliness. The female faces were positively the worst looking as a general thing I ever before saw among so many.
   There was a degenerated unintellectual cast of countenance and expression that at once engaged my attention and I saw scarcely a single exception.
Eyes black as night but without those charms that led Byron to sing of “the dark eye in woman” for they had a lack lustre, vacant expression and presented so many cases of shortsightedness and obliquity of vision that! could not divest myself of the idea that they were sadly degenerated from some cause.


N.B.  The term Creole has many denotations. For our purposes, the term refers to native born descendants of the French, and sometimes Spanish, settlers/colonist of the Louisiana Territory, particularly, though not exclusively, in New Orleans.