Fernando de Lemos. Truth and fiction. A novel. Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. New York, G. W. Carleton, 1872.

This book exists at LSU, Tulane, and the Louisiana State Library. I must acquire and read it as it apparently describes the experience of this Louisiana historian and his Creole concubine. I found out about it on the plaçage wiki which, interestingly, locates plaçage in Saint-Domingue and in various other places, but not in Havana. And now, as we know, it is also said that plaçage is a myth.

It is said that bailes de cuna in Havana and New Orleans quadroon balls were similar events with similar purposes, and it is worth noting that New Orleans and Havana are sister cities, facing each other across the Gulf; there were many ships traveling back and forth every day. Cecilia Valdés, published in New York after Villaverde had been in the United States thirty years, could be claimed as an American as well as a Cuban novel.




Filed under Bibliography, News

4 responses to “Fernando de Lemos. Truth and fiction. A novel. Gayarré, Charles, 1805-1895. New York, G. W. Carleton, 1872.

  1. Z

    Delphine Le Maitre was an Octaroon, a slave owned by Charles Gayarre.

    In an envelope labeled “Private notices of my family” in the King collection is a copy of the baptismal record of Carlos Hastus Nicolas Gayarre, son of Carlos (Charles) Gayarre and Delphine Le Maitre. The child was born on August 3, 1825. The record was made on March 5, 1826 and signed by Charles Gayarre and Pere Antoine, the famous padre of New Orleans. The copy was made in 1844, the year after Gayarre returned from Europe, by Cure Maenbout. The following correction was attached:

    Por error se asent este acts Bautismal de Carlos Hastus Nicolas Gayarre y Le Maitre en este registro no debiendo estar sino en el de solo gente de color, por ser tal le madre dicho nino. Pere Antoine.

    Through error this baptism notice of Carlos Hastus Nicolas Gayarre y Le Maitre was set down on this register, the aforesaid child not really belonging there, but on one for colored people, such being the mother. Pere Antoine.

    This shows that Gayarre was the father of a natural son. No trace of this son has been found after this baptismal record.

    A letter written from Paris on March 2, 1844, in French, to Gayarre in New Orleans is entirely concerned about the illnes of “Pauve Charles” and of Charles’ wishing for Gayarre. While the letter shows Gayarre’s close interest in the boy, there is no reference to a paternal relationship. The signature was not decipherable.

    Miss Josie Cerf of the Louisiana Historical Society said in a conversation with the writer of this study that Delphine Le Maitre was an octoroon slave belonging to Gayarre. She was bought by Miss Cerf’s grandfather and sent to their plantation at Osyka, Mississippi. Possessed of venomous temper, she burned the plantation house.

    About 1920, Miss Cerf related, a woman, negroid in features, called on Miss Cerf, seeking information about her great grandfather, Charles Gayarre, the historian.

    ***this is apparently the root of the novel***

  2. Thanks for posting this–very interesting. As for the placage system: if it didn’t exist, a whole lot of 19c. writers sure thought it did.

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