MR. SNIVEL PURSUES HIS SEARCH FOR THE VOTE-CRIBBER.
WHILE Mrs. Swiggs is being entertained by Sister Scudder and her clerical friends in New York, Mr. Snivel is making good his demand on her property in Charleston. As the agent of Keepum, he has attached her old slaves, and what few pieces of furniture he could find; they will in a few days be sold for the satisfaction of her debts. Mrs. Swiggs, it must be said, never had any very nice appreciation of debt-paying, holding it much more legitimate that her creditors accept her dignity in satisfaction of any demand they chanced to have against her. As for her little old house, the last abode of the last of the great Swiggs family,—that, like numerous other houses of our "very first families," is mortgaged for more than it is worth, to Mr. Staple the grocer. We must, however, turn to Mr. Snivel.
Mr. Snivel is seen, on the night after the secret interview at the Charleston Hotel, in a happy mood, passing down King street. A little, ill-featured man, with a small, but florid face, a keen, lecherous eye, leans on his arm. They are in earnest conversation.
"I think the mystery is nearly cleared up, Keepum" says Snivel.
"There seems no getting a clue to the early history of this Madame Montford, 'tis true. Even those who introduced her to Charleston society know nothing of her beyond a certain period. All anterior to that is wrapped in suspicion," returns Keepum, fingering his massive gold chain and seals, that pend from his vest, then releasing his hold of Mr. Snivel's arm, and commencing to button closely his blue dress coat, which is profusely decorated with large gilt buttons. "She's the mother of the dashing harlot, or I'm no prophet, nevertheless," he concludes, shaking his head significantly.
"You may almost swear it-a bad conscience is a horrid bore; d-n me, if I can't see through the thing. (Mr. Snivel laughs.) Better put our female friends on their guard, eh?"
"They had better drop her as quietly as possible," rejoins Mr. Keepum, drawing his white glove from off his right hand, and extending his cigar case.
Mr. Snivel having helped himself to a cigar, says: "D-n me, if she didn't faint in my arms last night. I made a discovery that brought something of deep interest back to her mind, and gave her timbers such a shock! I watched, and read the whole story in her emotions. One accustomed to the sharps of the legal profession can do this sort of thing. She is afraid of approaching this beautiful creature, Anna Bonard, seeing the life she lives, and the suspicions it might create in fashionable society, did she pursue such a course to the end of finding out whether she be really the lost child of the relative she refers to so often. Her object is to find one Mag Munday, who used to knock about here, and with whom the child was left. But enough of this for the present." Thus saying, they enter the house of the old antiquary, and finding no one but Maria at home, Mr. Snivel takes the liberty of throwing his arms about her waist. This done, he attempts to drag her across the room and upon the sofa. "Neither your father nor you ever had a better friend," he says, as the girl struggles from his grasp, shrinks at his feet, and, with a look of disdain, upbraids him for his attempt to take advantage of a lone female.
"High, ho!" interposes Keepum, "what airs these sort of people put on, eh? Don't amount to much, no how; they soon get over them, you know. A blasted deal of assumption, as you say. Ha, ha, ha! I rather like this sort of modesty. 'Tis n't every one can put it on cleverly." Mr. Snivel winks to Keepum, who makes an ineffectual attempt to extinguish the light, which Maria seizes in her hand, and summoning her courage, stands before them in a defiant attitude, an expression of hate and scorn on her countenance. "Ah, fiend! you take this liberty-you seek to destroy me because I am poor-because you think me humble-an easy object to prey upon. I am neither a stranger to the world nor your cowardly designs; and so long as I have life you shall not gloat over the destruction of my virtue. Approach me at your peril-knaves! You have compromised my father; you have got him in your grasp, that you may the more easily destroy me. But you will be disappointed, your perfidy will recoil on yourselves: though stripped of all else, I will die protecting that virtue you would not dare to offend but for my poverty." This unexpected display of resolution has the effect of making the position of the intruders somewhat uncomfortable. Mr. Keepum, whose designs Snivel would put in execution, sinks, cowardly, upon the sofa, while his compatriot (both are celebrated for their chivalry) stands off apace endeavoring to palliate the insult with facetious remarks. (This chivalry of ours is a mockery, a convenient word in the foul mouths of fouler ruffians.) Mr. Snivel makes a second attempt to overcome the unprotected girl. With every expression of hate and scorn rising to her face, she bids him defiance. Seeing himself thus firmly repulsed, he begs to assure her, on the word of a gentleman-a commodity always on hand, and exceedingly cheap with us-he was far from intending an insult. He meant it for a bit of a good turn-nothing more. "Always fractious at first-these sort of people are," pursues Keepum, relighting his cigar as he sits on the sofa, squinting his right eye. "Take bravely to gentlemen after a little display of modesty-always! Try her again, Squire." Mr. Snivel dashes the candle from her hand, and in the darkness grasps her wrists. The enraged girl shrieks, and calls aloud for assistance. Simultaneously a blow fells Mr. Snivel to the floor. The voice of Tom Swiggs is heard, crying: "Wretch! villain!—what brings you here? (Mr. Keepum, like the coward, who fears the vengeance he has merited, makes good his escape.) Will you never cease polluting the habitations of the poor? Would to God there was justice for the poor, as well as law for the rich; then I would make thee bite the dust, like a dying viper. You should no longer banquet on poor virtue. Wretch!—I would teach thee that virtue has its value with the poor as well as the rich;—that with the true gentleman it is equally sacred." Tom stands a few moments over the trembling miscreant, Maria sinks into a chair, and with her elbows resting on the table, buries her face in her hands and gives vent to her tears.
"Never did criminal so merit punishment; but I will prove thee not worth my hand. Go, wretch, go! and know that he who proves himself worthy of entering the habitations of the humble is more to be prized than kings and princes." Tom relights the candle in time to see Mr. Snivel rushing into the street.
The moon sheds a pale light over the city as the two chivalric gentlemen, having rejoined and sworn to have revenge, are seen entering a little gate that opens to a dilapidated old building, fronted by a neglected garden, situate on the north side of Queen street, and in days gone by called "Rogues' Retreat." "Rogues' Retreat" has seared vines creeping over its black, clap-boarded front, which viewed from the street appears in a squatting mood, while its broken door, closed shutters-the neglected branches of grape vines that depend upon decayed trellice and arbors, invest it with a forlorn air: indeed, one might without prejudicing his faculties imagine it a fit receptacle for our deceased politicians and our whiskey-drinking congressmen-the last resting-place of our departed chivalry. Nevertheless, generous reader, we will show you that "Rogues' Retreat" serves a very different purpose. Our mob-politicians, who make their lungs and fists supply the want of brains, use it as their favorite haunt, and may be seen on the eve of an election passing in and out of a door in the rear. Hogsheads of bad whiskey have been drunk in "Rogues' Retreat;" it reeks with the fumes of uncounted cigars; it has been the scene of untold villanies. Follow us; we will forego politeness, and peep in through a little, suspicious-looking window, in the rear of the building. This window looks into a cavern-like room, some sixteen feet by thirty, the ceiling of which is low, and blotched here and there with lamp-smoke and water-stains, the plastering hanging in festoons from the walls, and lighted by the faint blaze of a small globular lamp, depending from the centre, and shedding a lurid glare over fourteen grotesque faces, formed round a broad deal-table. Here, at one side of the table sits Judge Sleepyhorn, Milman Mingle, the vote-cribber, on his right; there, on the other, sits Mr. Snivel and Mr. Keepum. More conspicuous than anything else, stands, in the centre of the table, bottles and decanters of whiskey, of which each man is armed with a stout glass. "I am as well aware of the law as my friend who has just taken his seat can be. But we all know that the law can be made subordinate; and it must be made subordinate to party ends. We must not (understand me, I do not say this in my judicial capacity) be too scrupulous when momentous issues are upon us. The man who has not nerve enough to make citizens by the dozen-to stuff double-drawered ballot-boxes, is not equal to the times we live in;—this is a great moral fact." This is said by the Judge, who, having risen with an easy air, sits down and resumes his glass and cigar.
"Them's my sentiments-exactly," interposes the vote-cribber, his burly, scarred face, and crispy red hair and beard, forming a striking picture in the pale light. "I have given up the trade of making Presidents, what I used to foller when, you see, I lived in North Caroliner; but I tell you on the faith of my experience, that to carry the day we must let the law slide, and crib with a free chain: there's no gettin' over this."
"It is due," interrupts the Judge, again rising to his feet and bowing to the cribber, "to this worthy man, whose patriotism has been tried so often within prison-walls, that we give weight to his advice. Hie bears the brunt of the battle like a hero-he is a hero!" (The vote-cribber acknowledges the compliment by filling his glass and drinking to the Judge.)
"Of this worthy gentleman I have, as a member of the learned profession, an exalted opinion. His services are as necessary to our success as steam to the speed of a locomotive. I am in favor of leaving the law entirely out of the question. What society sanctions as a means to party ends, the law in most cases fails to reach," rejoins a tall, sandy-complexioned man, of the name of Booper, very distinguished among lawyers and ladies. Never was truth spoken with stronger testimony at hand. Mr. Keepum could boast of killing two poor men; Mr. Snivel could testify to the fallacy of the law by gaining him an honorable acquittal. There were numerous indictments against Mr. Keepum for his dealings in lottery tickets, but they found their way into the Attorney-General's pocket, and it was whispered he meant to keep them there. It was indeed pretty well known he could not get them out in consequence of the gold Keepum poured in. Not a week passes but men kill each other in the open streets. We call these little affairs, "rencontres;" the fact is, we are become so accustomed to them that we rather like them, and regard them as evidences of our advanced civilization. We are infested with slave-hunters, and slave-killers, who daily disgrace us with their barbarities; yet the law is weak when the victor is strong. So we continue to live in the harmless belief that we are the most chivalrous people in the world.
"Mr. Booper!" ejaculates Mr. Snivel, knocking the ashes from his cigar and rising to his feet, "you have paid no more than a merited compliment to the masterly completeness of this excellent man's cribbing. (He points to the cribber, and bows.) Now, permit me to say here, I have at my disposal a set of fellows, (he smiles,) who can fight their way into Congress, duplicate any system of sharps, and stand in fear of nothing. Oh! gentlemen, (Mr. Snivel becomes enthusiastic,) I was-as I have said, I believe-enjoying a bottle of champagne with my friend Keepum here, when we overheard two Dutchmen-the Dutch always go with the wrong party-discoursing about a villanous caucus held to-night in King street. There is villany up with these Dutch! But, you see, we-that is, I mean I-made some forty or more citizens last year. We have the patent process; we can make as many this year."
Mr. Sharp, an exceedingly clever politician, who has meekly born any number of cudgellings at the polls, and hopes ere long to get the appointment of Minister to Paris, interrupts by begging that Mr. Soloman will fill his glass, and resume his seat. Mr. Snivel having taking his seat, Mr. Sharp proceeds: "I tell you all what it is, says I, the other day to a friend-these ponderous Dutch ain't to be depended on. Then, says I, you must separate the Irish into three classes, and to each class you must hold out a different inducement, says I. There's the Rev. Father Flaherty, says I, and he is a trump card at electioneering. He can form a breach between his people and the Dutch, and, says I, by the means of this breach we will gain the whole tribe of Emeralds over to our party. I confess I hate these vagabonds right soundly; but necessity demands that we butter and sugar the mover until we carry our ends. You must not look at the means, says I, when the ends are momentous."
"The staunch Irish," pursues the Judge, rising as Mr. Sharp sits down, "are noble fellows, and with us. To the middle class-the grocers and shopkeepers-we must, however, hold out flattering inducements; such as the reduction of taxes, the repeal of our oppressive license laws, taking the power out of the hands of our aristocracy-they are very tender here-and giving equal rights to emigrants. These points we must put as Paul did his sermons-with force and ingenuity. As for the low Irish, all we have to do is to crib them, feed and pickle them in whiskey for a week. To gain an Irishman's generosity, you cannot use a better instrument than meat, drink, and blarney. I often contemplate these fellows when I am passing sentence upon them for crime."
"True! I have the same dislike to them personally; but politically, the matter assumes quite a different form of attraction. The laboring Irish-the dull-headed-are what we have to do with. We must work them over, and over, and over, until we get them just right. Then we must turn them all into legal voting citizens—"
"That depends on how long they have been in the country," interrupts a brisk little man, rising quickly to his feet, and assuming a legal air.
"Mr. Sprig! you are entirely behind the age. It matters not how long these gentlemen from Ireland have been in the country. They take to politics like rats to good cheese. A few months' residence, and a little working over you know, and they become trump voters. The Dutch are a different sort of animal; the fellows are thinkers," resumes the Judge.
Mr. Snivel, who has been sipping his whiskey, and listening very attentively to the Judge, rises to what he calls the most important order. He has got the papers all ready, and proposes the gentlemen he thinks best qualified for the naturalization committee. This done, Mr. Snivel draws from his pocket a copy of the forged papers, which are examined, and approved by every one present. This instrument is surmounted with the eagle and arms of the United States, and reads thus: "STATE OF NEW YORK.
"In the Court of Common Pleas for the city and county of New York:
"I—do declare on oath, that it is bona fide my intention to become a citizen of the United States, and to renounce forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, State or sovereignty whatever, and particularly to the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, of whom I am a subject.
"Signed this —day of —184-.
"JAMES CONNOR, Clerk. Clerk's office, Court of Common Pleas for the city and county of New York."
"I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true copy of an original declaration of intention remaining on record in my office, &c., &c., &c."
"There! it required skill and practice to imitate like that" Mr. Snivel exultingly exclaims. "We require to make thirty-seven citizens, and have prepared the exact number of papers. If the cribbers do their duty, the day is ours." Thus is revealed one of the scenes common to "Rogues' Retreat." We shrink at the multiplicity of crime in our midst; we too seldom trace the source from whence it flows. If we did but turn our eyes in the right direction we would find the very men we have elected our guardians, protecting the vicious, whose power they covet-sacrificing their high trust to a low political ambition. You cannot serve a political end by committing a wrong without inflicting a moral degradation on some one. Political intrigue begets laxity of habits; it dispels that integrity without which the unfixed mind becomes vicious; it acts as a festering sore in the body politic.
Having concluded their arrangements for the Mayor's election, the party drinks itself into a noisy mood, each outshouting the other for the right to speak, each refilling and emptying his glass, each asserting with vile imprecations, his dignity as a gentleman. Midnight finds the reeling party adjourning in the midst of confusion.
Mr. Snivel winks the vote-cribber into a corner, and commences interrogating him concerning Mag Munday. The implacable face of the vote-cribber reddens, he contorts his brows, frets his jagged beard with the fingers of his left hand, runs his right over the crown of his head, and stammers: "I know'd her, lived with her-she used to run sort of wild, and was twice flogged. She got crazed at last!" He shrugs his stalworth shoulders and pauses. "Being a politician, you see, a body can't divest their minds of State affairs sufficiently to keep up on women matters," he pursues: "She got into the poor-house, that I knows—"
"She is dead then?" interposes Mr. Snivel.
"As like as not. The poor relatives of our 'first families' rot and die there without much being said about it. Just look in at that institution-it's a terrible place to kill folks off!—and if she be not there then come to me. Don't let the keepers put you off. Pass through the outer gate, into and through the main building, then turn sharp to the left, and advance some twenty feet up a filthy passage, then enter a passage on the right, (have a light with you,) that leads to a dozen or fourteen steps, wet and slippery. Then you must descend into a sort of grotto, or sickly vault, which you will cross and find yourself in a spacious passage, crawling with beetles and lizards. Don't be frightened, sir; keep on till you hear moanings and clankings of chains. Then you will come upon a row of horrid cells, only suited for dog kennels. In these cells our crazy folks are chained and left to die. Give Glentworthy few shillings for liquor, sir, and he, having these poor devils in charge, will put you through. It's a terrible place, sir, but our authorities never look into it, and few of our people know of its existence."
Mr. Snivel thanks the vote-cribber, who pledges his honor he would accompany him, but for the reason that he opens crib to-morrow, and has in his eye a dozen voters he intends to look up. He has also a few recently-arrived sons of the Emerald Isle he purposes turning into citizens.
MRS. SWIGGS FALLS UPON A MODERN HEATHEN WORLD.
PURGED of all the ill-humors of her mind, Mrs. Swiggs finds herself, on the morning following the excellent little gathering at Sister Scudder's, restored to the happiest of tempers. The flattery administered by Brother Spyke, and so charmingly sprinkled with his pious designs on the heathen world, has had the desired effect. This sort of drug has, indeed, a wonderful efficacy in setting disordered constitutions to rights. It would not become us to question the innocence, or the right to indulge in such correctives; it is enough that our venerable friend finds herself in a happy vein, and is resolved to spend the day for the benefit of that heathen world, the darkness of which Brother Spyke pictured in colors so terrible.
Breakfast is scarcely over when Sister Slocum, in great agitation, comes bustling into the parlor, offers the most acceptable apologies for her absence, and pours forth such a vast profusion of solicitude for Mrs. Swiggs' welfare, that that lady is scarce able to withstand the kindness. She recounts the numerous duties that absorb her attention, the missions she has on hand, the means she uses to keep up an interest in them, the amount of funds necessary to their maintenance. A large portion of these funds she raises with her own energy. She will drag up the heathen world; she will drag down Satan. Furnishing Mrs. Swiggs with the address of the House of the Foreign Missions, in Centre street, she excuses herself. How superlatively happy she would be to accompany Mrs. Swiggs. A report to present to the committee on finance, she regrets, will prevent this. However, she will join her precisely at twelve o'clock, at the House. She must receive the congratulations of the Board. She must have a reception that will show how much the North respects her co-laborers of the South. And with this, Sister Slocum takes leave of her guest, assuring her that all she has to do is to get into the cars in the Bowery. They will set her down at the door.
Ten o'clock finds our indomitable lady, having preferred the less expensive mode of walking, entering a strange world. Sauntering along the Bowery she turns down Bayard street. Bayard street she finds lined with filthy looking houses, swarming with sickly, ragged, and besotted poor; the street is knee-deep with corrupting mire; carts are tilted here and there at intervals; the very air seems hurling its pestilence into your blood. Ghastly-eyed and squallid children, like ants in quest of food, creep and swarm over the pavement, begging for bread or uttering profane oaths at one another. Mothers who never heard the Word of God, nor can be expected to teach it to their children, protrude their vicious faces from out reeking gin shops, and with bare breasts and uncombed hair, sweep wildly along the muddy pavement, disappear into some cavern-like cellar, and seek on some filthy straw a resting place for their wasting bodies. A whiskey-drinking Corporation might feast its peculative eyes upon hogs wallowing in mud; and cellars where swarming beggars, for six cents a night, cover with rags their hideous heads—where vice and crime are fostered, and into which your sensitive policeman prefers not to go, are giving out their seething miasma. The very neighborhood seems vegetating in mire. In the streets, in the cellars, in the filthy lanes, in the dwellings of the honest poor, as well as the vicious, muck and mire is the predominating order. The besotted remnants of depraved men, covered with rags and bedaubed with mire, sit, half sleeping in disease and hunger on decayed door-stoops. Men with bruised faces, men with bleared eyes; men in whose every feature crime and dissipation is stamped, now drag their waning bodies from out filthy alleys, as if to gasp some breath of air, then drag themselves back, as if to die in a desolate hiding-place. Engines of pestilence and death the corporation might see and remove, if it would, are left here to fester—to serve a church-yard as gluttonous as its own belly. The corporation keeps its eyes in its belly, its little sense in its big boots, and its dull action in the whiskey-jug. Like Mrs. Swiggs, it cannot afford to do anything for this heathen world in the heart of home. No, sir! The corporation has the most delicate sense of its duties. It is well paid to nurture the nucleus of a pestilence that may some day break out and sweep over the city like an avenging enemy. It thanks kind Providence, eating oysters and making Presidents the while, for averting the dire scourge it encourages with its apathy. Like our humane and very fashionable preachers, it contents itself with looking into the Points from Broadway. What more would you ask of it?
Mrs. Swiggs is seized with fear and trembling. Surely she is in a world of darkness. Can it be that so graphically described by Brother Syngleton Spyke? she questions within herself. It might, indeed, put Antioch to shame: but the benighted denizens with which it swarms speak her own tongue. "It is a deal worse in Orange street."
"Now called Baxter street Marm-a deal, I assure you!" speaks a low, muttering voice. Lady Swiggs is startled. She only paused a moment to view this sea of vice and wretchedness she finds herself surrounded with. Turning quickly round she sees before her a man, or what there is left of a man. His tattered garments, his lean, shrunken figure, his glassy eyes, and pale, haggard face, cause her to shrink back in fright. He bows, touches his shattered hat, and says, "Be not afraid, good Madam. May I ask if you have not mistaken your way?" Mrs. Swiggs looks querulously through her spectacles and says, "Do tell me where I am?" "In the Points, good Madam. You seem confused, and I don't wonder. It's a dreadful place. I know it, madam, to my sorrow." There is a certain politeness in the manner of this man-an absence of rudeness she is surprised to find in one so dejected. The red, distended nose, the wild expression of his countenance, his jagged hair, hanging in tufts over his ragged coat collar, give him a repulsiveness not easily described. In answer to an inquiry he says, "They call me, Madam, and I'm contented with the name,—they call me Tom Toddleworth, the Chronicle. I am well down-not in years, but sorrow. Being sick of the world I came here, have lived, or rather drifted about, in this sea of hopeless misery, homeless and at times foodless, for ten years or more. Oh! I have seen better days, Madam. You are a stranger here. May God always keep you a stranger to the sufferings of those who dwell with us. I never expect to be anything again, owe nothing to the world, and never go into Broadway."
"Never go into Broadway," repeats Mrs. Swiggs, her fingers wandering to her spectacles. Turning into Orange street, Mr. Toddleworth tenders his services in piloting Mrs. Swiggs into Centre street, which, as he adds, will place her beyond harm. As they advance the scene becomes darker and darker. Orange street seems that centre from which radiates the avenues of every vice known to a great city. One might fancy the world's outcasts hurled by some mysterious hand into this pool of crime and misery, and left to feast their wanton appetites and die. "And you have no home, my man?" says Mrs. Swiggs, mechanically. "As to that, Madam," returns the man, with a bow, "I can't exactly say I have no home. I kind of preside over and am looked up to by these people. One says, 'come spend a night with me, Mr. Toddleworth;' another says, 'come spend a night with me, Mr. Tom Toddleworth.' I am a sort of respectable man with them, have a place to lay down free, in any of their houses. They all esteem me, and say, come spend a night with me, Mr. Toddleworth. It's very kind of them. And whenever they get a drop of gin I'm sure of a taste. Surmising what I was once, they look up to me, you see. This gives me heart." And as he says this he smiles, and draws about him the ragged remnants of his coat, as if touched by shame. Arrived at the corner of Orange street, Mr. Toddleworth pauses and begs his charge to survey the prospect. Look whither she will nothing but a scene of desolation-a Babylon of hideous, wasting forms, mucky streets, and reeking dens, meet her eye. The Jews have arranged themselves on one side of Orange street, to speculate on the wasted harlotry of the other. "Look you, Madam!" says Mr. Toddleworth, leaning on his stick and pointing towards Chatham street. "A desert, truly," replies the august old lady, nervously twitching her head. She sees to the right ("it is wantonness warring upon misery," says Mr. Toddleworth) a long line of irregular, wooden buildings, black and besmeared with mud. Little houses with decrepid door-steps; little houses with decayed platforms in front; little dens that seem crammed with rubbish; little houses with black-eyed, curly-haired, and crooked-nosed children looking shyly about the doors; little houses with lusty and lecherous-eyed Jewesses sitting saucily in the open door; little houses with open doors, broken windows, and shattered shutters, where the devil's elixir is being served to ragged and besotted denizens; little houses into which women with blotched faces slip suspiciously, deposit their almost worthless rags, and pass out to seek the gin-shop; little houses with eagle-faced men peering curiously out at broken windows, or beckoning some wayfarer to enter and buy from their door; little houses piled inside with the cast-off garments of the poor and dissolute, and hung outside with smashed bonnets, old gowns, tattered shawls; flaunting-red, blue, and yellow, in the wind, emblematic of those poor wretches, on the opposite side, who have pledged here their last offerings, and blazed down into that stage of human degradation, which finds the next step the grave-all range along, forming a picturesque but sad panorama. Mr. Moses, the man of the eagle face, who keeps the record of death, as the neighbors call it, sits opulently in his door, and smokes his cigar; while his sharp-eyed daughters estimate exactly how much it is safe to advance on the last rag some lean wretch would pledge. He will tell you just how long that brawny harlot, passing on the opposite side, will last, and what the few rags on her back will be worth when she is "shoved into Potters' Field." At the sign of the "Three Martyrs" Mr. Levy is seen, in his fashionable coat, and a massive chain falling over his tight waistcoat, registering the names of his grotesque customers, ticketing their little packages, and advancing each a shilling or two, which they will soon spend at the opposite druggery. Thus bravely wages the war. London has nothing so besotted, Paris nothing so vicious, Naples nothing so dark and despairing, as this heathen world we pass by so heedlessly. Beside it even the purlieus of Rome sink into insignificance. Now run your eye along the East side of Orange street. A sidewalk sinking in mire; a long line of one-story wooden shanties, ready to cave-in with decay; dismal looking groceries, in which the god, gin, is sending his victims by hundreds to the greedy grave-yard; suspicious looking dens with dingy fronts, open doors, and windows stuffed with filthy rags-in which crimes are nightly perpetrated, and where broken-hearted victims of seduction and neglect, seeking here a last refuge, are held in a slavery delicacy forbids our describing; dens where negro dancers nightly revel, and make the very air re-echo their profaning voices; filthy lanes leading to haunts up alleys and in narrow passages, where thieves and burglars hide their vicious heads; mysterious looking steps leading to cavern-like cellars, where swarm and lay prostrate wretched beings made drunk by the "devil's elixir"—all these beset the East side of Orange street. Wasted nature, blanched and despairing, ferments here into one terrible pool. Women in gaudy-colored dresses, their bared breasts and brawny arms contrasting curiously with their wicked faces, hang lasciviously over "half-doors," taunt the dreamy policeman on his round, and beckon the unwary stranger into their dens. Piles of filth one might imagine had been thrown up by the devil or the street commissioners and in which you might bury a dozen fat aldermen without missing one; little shops where unwholesome food is sold; corner shops where idlers of every color, and sharpers of all grades, sit dreaming out the day over their gin-are here to be found. Young Ireland would, indeed, seem to have made this the citadel from which to vomit his vice over the city.
"They're perfectly wild, Madam-these children are," says Mr. Toddleworth, in reply to a question Mrs. Swiggs put respecting the immense number of ragged and profaning urchins that swarm the streets. "They never heard of the Bible, nor God, nor that sort of thing. How could they hear of it? No one ever comes in here-that is, they come in now and then, and throw a bit of a tract in here and there, and are glad to get out with a whole coat. The tracts are all Greek to the dwellers here. Besides that, you see, something must be done for the belly, before you can patch up the head. I say this with a fruitful experience. A good, kind little man, who seems earnest in the welfare of these wild little children that you see running about here-not the half of them know their parents-looks in now and then, acts as if he wasn't afraid of us, (that is a good deal, Madam,) and the boys are beginning to take to him. But, with nothing but his kind heart and earnest resolution, he'll find a rugged mountain to move. If he move it, he will deserve a monument of fairest marble erected to his memory, and letters of gold to emblazon his deeds thereon. He seems to understand the key to some of their affections. It's no use mending the sails without making safe the hull."
"At this moment Mrs. Swiggs' attention is attracted by a crowd of ragged urchins and grotesque-looking men, gathered about a heap of filth at that corner of Orange street that opens into the Points.
"They are disinterring his Honor, the Mayor," says Mr. Toddleworth. "Do this sort of thing every day, Madam; they mean no harm, you see."
Mrs. Swiggs, curious to witness the process of disinterring so distinguished a person, forgets entirely her appointment at the House of the Foreign Missions, crowds her way into the filthy throng, and watches with intense anxiety a vacant-looking idiot, who has seen some sixteen sumers, lean and half clad, and who has dug with his staff a hole deep in the mud, which he is busy piling up at the edges.
"Deeper, deeper!" cries out a dozen voices, of as many mischievous urchins, who are gathered round in a ring, making him the victim of their sport. Having cast his glassy eyes upward, and scanned vacantly his audience, he sets to work again, and continues throwing out dead cats by the dozen, all of which he exults over, and pauses now and then for the approbation of the bystanders, who declare they bear no resemblance to his Honor, or any one of the Board of Aldermen. One chubby urchin, with a bundle of Tribunes under his arm, looks mischievously into the pit, and says, "His 'Onor 'ill want the Tribune." Another, of a more taciturn disposition, shrugs his shoulders, gives his cap a pull over his eyes, and says, spicing his declaration with an oath, "He'll buy two Heralds!—he will." The taciturn urchin draws them from his bundle with an air of independence, flaunts them in the face of his rival, and exults over their merits. A splashing of mud, followed by a deafening shout, announces that the persevering idiot has come upon the object he seeks. One proclaims to his motley neighbors that the whole corporation is come to light; another swears it is only his Honor and a dead Alderman. A third, more astute than the rest, says it is only the head and body of the Corporation-a dead pig and a decaying pumpkin! Shout after shout goes up as the idiot, exultingly, drags out the prostrate pig, following it with the pumpkin. Mr. Toddleworth beckons Lady Swiggs away. The wicked-faced harlots are gathering about her in scores. One has just been seen fingering her dress, and hurrying away, disappearing suspiciously into an Alley.
"You see, Madam," says Mr. Toddleworth, as they gain the vicinity of Cow Bay, "it is currently reported, and believed by the dwellers here, that our Corporation ate itself out of the world not long since; and seeing how much they suffer by the loss of such—to have a dead Corporation in a great city, is an evil, I assure you—an institution, they adopt this method of finding it. It affords them no little amusement. These swarming urchins will have the filthy things laid out in state, holding with due ceremony an inquest over them, and mischievously proposing to the first policeman who chances along, that he officiate as coroner. Lady Swiggs has not a doubt that light might be valuably reflected over this heathen world. Like many other very excellent ladies, however, she has no candles for a heathen world outside of Antioch."
Mr. Toddleworth escorts her safely into Centre street, and directs her to the House of the Foreign Missions.
"Thank you! thank you!—may God never let you want a shilling," he says, bowing and touching his hat as Mrs. Swiggs puts four shillings into his left hand.
"One shilling, Madam," he pursues, with a smile, "will get me a new collar. A clean collar now and then, it must be said, gives a body a look of respectability."
Mr. Toddleworth has a passion for new collars, regards them as a means of sustaining his respectability. Indeed, he considers himself in full dress with one mounted, no matter how ragged the rest of his wardrobe. And when he walks out of a morning, thus conditioned, his friends greet him with: "Hi! ho!—Mister Toddleworth is uppish this morning." He has bid his charge good morning, and hurries back to his wonted haunts. There is a mysterious and melancholy interest in this man's history, which many have attempted but failed to fathom. He was once heard to say his name was not Toddleworth-that he had sunk his right name in his sorrows. He was sentimental at times, always used good language, and spoke like one who had seen better days and enjoyed a superior education. He wanted, he would say, when in one of his melancholy moods, to forget the world, and have the world forget him. Thus he shut himself up in the Points, and only once or twice had he been seen in the Bowery, and never in Broadway during his sojourn among the denizens who swarm that vortex of death. How he managed to obtain funds, for he was never without a shilling, was equally involved in mystery. He had no very bad habits, seemed inoffensive to all he approached, spoke familiarly on past events, and national affairs, and discovered a general knowledge of the history of the world. And while he was always ready to share his shilling with his more destitute associates, he ever maintained a degree of politeness and civility toward those he was cast among not common to the place. He was ready to serve every one, would seek out the sick and watch over them with a kindness almost paternal, discovering a singular familiarity with the duties of a physician. He had, however, an inveterate hatred of fashionable wives; and whenever the subject was brought up, which it frequently was by the denizens of the Points, he would walk away, with a sigh. "Fashionable wives," he would mutter, his eyes filling with tears, "are never constant. Ah! they have deluged the world with sorrow, and sent me here to seek a hiding place."
IN WHICH THE VERY BEST INTENTIONS ARE SEEN TO FAIL.
THE city clock strikes one as Mrs. Swiggs, nervous and weary, enters the House of the Foreign Missions. Into a comfortably-furnished room on the right, she is ushered by a man meekly dressed, and whose countenance wears an expression of melancholy. Maps and drawings of Palestine, Hindostan, and sundry other fields of missionary labor, hang here and there upon the walls. These are alternated with nicely-framed engravings and lithographs of Mission establishments in the East, all located in some pretty grove, and invested with a warmth and cheerfulness that cannot fail to make a few years' residence in them rather desirable than otherwise. These in turn are relieved with portraits of distinguished missionaries. Earnest-faced busts, in plaster, stand prominently about the room, periodicals and papers are piled on little shelves, and bright bookcases are filled with reports and various documents concerning the society, all bound so exactly. The good-natured man of the kind face sits in refreshing ease behind a little desk; the wise-looking lean man, in the spectacles, is just in front of him, buried in ponderous folios of reports. In the centre of the room stands a highly-polished mahogany table, at which Brother Spyke is seated, his elbow rested, and his head leaning thoughtfully in his hand. The rotund figure and energetic face of Sister Slocum is seen, whisking about conspicuously among a bevy of sleek but rather lean gentlemen, studious of countenance, and in modest cloth. For each she has something cheerful to impart; each in his turn has some compliment to bestow upon her. Several nicely-dressed, but rather meek-looking ladies, two or three accompanied by their knitting work, have arranged themselves on a settee in front of the wise man in the spectacles.
Scarcely has the representative of our chivalry entered the room when Sister Slocum, with all the ardor of a lover of seventeen, runs to her with open arms, embraces her, and kisses her with an affection truly grateful. Choking to relate her curious adventure, she is suddenly heaped with adulations, told how the time of her coming was looked to, as an event of no common occurrence-how Brothers Sharp, Spyke, and Phills, expressed apprehensions for her safety this morning, each in turn offering in the kindest manner to get a carriage and go in pursuit. The good-natured fat man gets down from his high seat, and receives her with pious congratulations; the man in the spectacles looks askant, and advances with extended hand. To use a convenient phrase, she is received with open arms; and so meek and good is the aspect, that she finds her thoughts transported to an higher, a region where only is bliss. Provided with a seat in a conspicuous place, she is told to consider herself the guest of the society. Sundry ovations, Sister Slocum gives her to understand, will be made in her honor, ere long. The fact must here be disclosed that Sister Slocum had prepared the minds of those present for the reception of an embodiment of perfect generosity.
No sooner has Lady Swiggs time to breathe freely, than she changes the wondrous kind aspect of the assembly, and sends it into a paroxysm of fright, by relating her curious adventure among the denizens of the Points. Brother Spyke nearly makes up his mind to faint; the good-natured fat man turns pale; the wise man in the spectacles is seen to tremble; the neatly-attired females, so pious-demeanored, express their horror of such a place; and Sister Slocum stands aghast. "Oh! dear, Sister Swiggs," she says, "your escape from such a vile place is truly marvellous! Thank God you are with us once more." The good-natured fat man says, "A horrible world, truly!" and sighs. Brother Spyke shrugs his shoulders, adding, "No respectable person here ever thinks of going into such a place; the people there are so corrupt." Brother Sharp says he shudders at the very thought of such a place. He has heard much said of the dark deeds nightly committed in it-of the stubborn vileness of the dwellers therein. God knows he never wants to descend into it. "Truly," Brother Phills interposes, "I walked through it once, and beheld with mine eyes such sights, such human deformity! O, God! Since then, I am content to go to my home through Broadway. I never forget to shudder when I look into the vile place from a distance, nevertheless." Brother Phills says this after the manner of a philosopher, fretting his fingers, and contorting his comely face the while. Sister Slocum, having recovered somewhat from the shock (the shock had no permanent effect on any of them), hopes Sister Swiggs did not lend an ear to their false pleadings, nor distribute charity among the vile wretches. "Such would be like scattering chaff to the winds," a dozen voices chime in. "Indeed!" Lady Swiggs ejaculates, giving her head a toss, in token of her satisfaction, "not a shilling, except to the miserable wretch who showed me the way out. And he seemed harmless enough. I never met a more melancholy object, never!" Brother Spyke raises his eyes imploringly, and says he harbors no ill-will against these vile people, but melancholy is an art with them-they make it a study. They affect it while picking one's pocket.
The body now resolves itself into working order. Brother Spyke offers up a prayer. He thanks kind Providence for the happy escape of Sister Swiggs-this generous woman whose kindness of heart has brought her here-from among the hardened wretches who inhabit that slough of despair, so terrible in all its aspects, and so disgraceful to a great and prosperous city. He thanks Him who blessed him with the light of learning-who endowed him with vigor and resolution-and told him to go forth in armor, beating down Satan, and raising up the heathen world. A mustering of spectacles follows. Sister Slocum draws from her bosom a copy of the report the wise man in the spectacles rises to read. A fashionable gold chain and gold-framed eye-glass is called to her aid; and with a massive pencil of gold, she dots and points certain items of dollars and cents her keen eye rests upon every now and then.
The wise man in the spectacles rises, having exchanged glances with Sister Slocum, and commences reading a very long, and in nowise lean report. The anxious gentlemen draw up their chairs, and turn attentive ears. For nearly an hour, he buzzes and bores the contents of this report into their ears, takes sundry sips of water, and informs those present, and the world in general, that nearly forty thousand dollars have recently been consumed for missionary labor. The school at Corsica, the missions at Canton, Ningpo, Pu-kong, Cassaba, Abheokuta, and sundry other places, the names of which could not, by any possibility, aid the reader in discovering their location-all, were doing as well as could be expected, under the circumstances. After many years labor, and a considerable expenditure of money, they were encouraged to go forward, inasmuch as the children of the school at Corsica were beginning to learn to read. At Casaba, Droneyo, the native scholar, had, after many years' teaching, been made conscious of the sin of idol-worship, and had given his solemn promise to relinquish it as soon as he could propitiate two favorite gods bequeathed to him by his great uncle. The furnace of "Satanic cruelty" had been broken down at Dahomey. Brother Smash had, after several years' labor, and much expense-after having broken down his health, and the health of many others-penetrated the dark regions of Arabia, and there found the very seat of Satanic power. It was firmly pegged to Paganism and Mahomedan darkness! This news the world was expected to hail with consternation. Not one word is lisped about that terrible devil holding his court of beggary and crime in the Points. He had all his furnaces in full blast there; his victims were legion! No Brother Spyke is found to venture in and drag him down. The region of the Seven Churches offers inducements more congenial. Round about them all is shady groves, gentle breezes, and rural habitations; in the Points the very air is thick with pestilence!
A pause follows the reading. The wise man in the spectacles-his voice soft and persuasive, and his aspect meekness itself-would like to know if any one present be inclined to offer a remark. General satisfaction prevails. Brother Sharp moves, and Brother Phills seconds, that the report be accepted. The report is accepted without a dissenting voice. A second paper is handed him by Sister Slocum, whose countenance is seen to flash bright with smiles. Then there follows the proclaiming of the fact of funds, to the amount of three thousand six hundred dollars, having been subscribed, and now ready to be appropriated to getting Brother Syngleton Spyke off to Antioch. A din of satisfaction follows; every face is radiant with joy. Sister Swiggs twitches her head, begins to finger her pocket, and finally readjusts her spectacles. Having worked her countenance into a good staring condition, she sets her eyes fixedly upon Brother Spyke, who rises, saying he has a few words to offer.
The object of his mission to Antioch, so important at this moment, he would not have misunderstood. Turks, Greeks, Jews, Arabs, Armenians, and Kurds, and Yesedees-yes, brethren, Yesedees! inhabit this part of Assyria, which opens up an extensive field of missionary labor, even yet. Much had been done by the ancient Greeks for the people who roamed in these Eastern wilds-much remained for us to do; for it was yet a dark spot on the missionary map. Thousands of these poor souls were without the saving knowledge of the Gospel. He could not shrink from a duty so demanding-wringing his very heart with its pleadings! Giving the light of the Gospel to these vicious Arabs and Kurds was the end and aim of his mission. (A motion of satisfaction was here perceptible.) And while there, he would teach the Jews a just sense of their Lord's design-which was the subjugation of the heathen world. Inward light was very good, old prophecies were very grand; but Judaism was made of stubborn metal, had no missionary element in it, and could only be forced to accept light through strong and energetic movement. He had read with throbbing heart how Rome, while in her greatness, protected those Christian pilgrims who went forth into the East, to do battle with the enemy. Would not America imitate Rome, that mighty mother of Republics? A deeper responsibility rested on her at this moment. Rome, then, was semi-barbarous; America, now, was Christianized and civilized. Hence she would be held more accountable for the dissemination of light.
In those days the wandering Christian Jews undertook to instruct the polished Greeks-why could not Americans at this day inculcate the doctrines of Jesus to these educated heathen? It was a bold and daring experiment, but he was willing to try it. The All-wise worked his wonders in a mysterious way. In this irrelevant and somewhat mystical style, Brother Spyke continues nearly an hour, sending his audience into a highly-edified state. We have said mystical, for, indeed, none but those in the secret could have divined, from Brother Spyke's logic, what was the precise nature of his mission. His speech was very like a country parson's model sermon; one text was selected, and a dozen or more (all different) preached from; while fifty things were said no one could understand.
Brother Spyke sits down-Sister Slocum rises. "Our dear and very generous guest now present," she says, addressing the good-natured fat man in the chair, as Lady Swiggs bows, "moved by the goodness that is in her, and conscious of the terrible condition of the heathen world, has come nobly to our aid. Like a true Christian she has crossed the sea, and is here. Not only is she here, but ready to give her mite toward getting Brother Spyke off to Antioch. Another donation she proposes giving the 'Tract Society,' an excellent institution, in high favor at the South. Indeed I may add, that it never has offended against its social—"
Sister Slocum hesitates. Social slavery will not sound just right, she says to her herself. She must have a term more musical, and less grating to the ear. A smile flashes across her countenance, her gold-framed eye-glasses vibrate in her fingers: "Well! I was going to say, their social arrangements," she pursues.
The assembly is suddenly thrown into a fit of excitement. Lady Swiggs is seen trembling from head to foot, her yellow complexion changing to pale white, her features contorting as with pain, and her hand clutching at her pocket. "O heavens!" she sighs, "all is gone, gone, gone: how vain and uncertain are the things here below." She drops, fainting, into the arms of Sister Slocum, who has overset the wise man in the spectacles, in her haste to catch the prostrate form. On a bench the august body is laid. Fans, water, camphor, hartshorn, and numerous other restoratives are brought into use. Persons get in each other's way, run every way but the right way, causing, as is common in such cases, very unnecessary alarm. The stately representative of the great Swiggs family lies motionless. Like the last of our chivalry, she has nothing left her but a name.
A dash or two of cold water, and the application of a little hartshorn, and that sympathy so necessary to the fainting of distinguished people-proves all-efficient. A slight heaving of the bosom is detected, the hands-they have been well chaffed-quiver and move slowly, her face resumes its color. She opens her eyes, lays her hand solicitously on Sister Slocum's arm: "It must be the will of Heaven," she lisps, motioning her head, regretfully; "it cannot now be undone—"
"Sister! sister! sister!" interrupts Sister Slocum, grasping her hand, and looking inquiringly in the face of the recovering woman, "is it an affection of the heart?-where is the pain?-what has befallen you? We are all so sorry!"
"It was there, there, there! But it is gone now." Regaining her consciousness, she lays her hand nervously upon her pocket, and pursues: "Oh! yes, sister, it was there when I entered that vile place, as you call it. What am I to do? The loss of the money does not so much trouble my mind. Oh! dear, no. It is the thought of going home deprived of the means of aiding these noble institutions."
Had Lady Swiggs inquired into the character of the purchaser of old Dolly she might now have become conscious of the fact, that whatever comes of evil seldom does good. The money she had so struggled to get together to aid her in maintaining her hypocrisy, was the result of crime. Perhaps it were better the wretch purloined it, than that the fair name of a noble institution be stained with its acceptance. Atonement is too often sought to be purchased with the gold got of infamy.
The cause of this fainting being traced to Lady Swiggs' pocket book instead of her heart, the whole scene changes, Sister Slocum becomes as one dumb, the good fat man is seized with a nervous fit, the man in the spectacles hangs his head, and runs his fingers through his crispy hair, as Brother Spyke elongates his lean body, and is seen going into a melancholy mood, the others gathering round with serious faces. Lady Swiggs commences describing with great minuteness the appearance of Mr. Tom Toddleworth. That he is the person who carried off the money, every one is certain. "He is the man!" responds a dozen voices. And as many more volunteer to go in search of Mr. Detective Fitzgerald. Brother Spyke pricks up his courage, and proceeds to initiate his missionary labors by consulting Mr. Detective Fitzgerald, with whom he starts off in pursuit of Mr. Tom Toddleworth.
MR. SNIVEL ADVISES GEORGE MULLHOLLAND HOW TO MAKE STRONG LOVE.
LET us leave for a time the pursuit with which we concluded the foregoing chapter, and return to Charleston. It is the still hour of midnight. There has been a ball at the fashionable house of the Flamingo, which still retains its name. In the great parlour we have before described, standing here and there upon massive tables with Egyptian marble-tops, are half-empty bottles of wine, decanters, tumblers, and viands of various descriptions. Bits of artificial flowers are strewn about the carpet, a shawl is seen thrown over one chair, a mantle over another; the light is half shut off-everything bears evidence of the gaieties of luxurious life, the sumptuous revel and the debauch. The gilded mirrors reflect but two faces, both hectic and moody of dissipation. George Mullholland and Mr. Snivel face each other, at a pier-table. Before them are several half filled bottles, from one of which Mr. Snivel fills George's glass.
"There is something in this champaign (one only gets rubbish in these houses) that compounds and elevates one's ideas," says Mr. Snivel, holding his glass in the light, and squinting his blood-shotten eyes, the lids of which he has scarce power to keep open. "Drink, George-drink! You have had your day-why let such nonsense trouble you? The whole city is in love with the girl. Her beauty makes her capricious; if the old Judge has got her, let him keep her. Indeed, I'm not so sure that she doesn't love him, and (well, I always laugh when I think of it), it is a well laid down principle among us lawyers, that no law stands good against love." Mr. Snivel's leaden eyelids close, and his head drops upon his bosom. "She never can love him-never! His wealth, and some false tale, has beguiled her. He is a hoary-headed lecher, with wealth and position to aid him in his hellish pursuits; I am poor, and an outcast! He has flattered me and showered his favors upon me, only to affect my ruin. I will have—"
"Pshaw! George," interrupts Mr. Snivel, brightening up, "be a philosopher. Chivalry, you know-chivalry! A dashing fellow like you should doff the kid to a knight of his metal: challenge him." Mr. Snivel reaches over the table and pats his opponent on the arm. "These women, George! Funny things, eh? Make any kind of love-have a sample for every sort of gallant, and can make the quantity to suit the purchaser. 'Pon my soul this is my opinion. I'm a lawyer, know pretty well how the sex lay their points. As for these unfortunate devils, as we of the profession call them (he pauses and empties his glass, saying, not bad for a house of this kind), there are so many shades of them, life is such a struggle with them; they dream of broken hopes, and they die sighing to think how good a thing is virtue. You only love this girl because she is beautiful, and beautiful women, at best, are the most capricious things in the world. D-n it, you have gone through enough of this kind of life to be accustomed to it. We think nothing of these things, in Charleston-bless you, nothing! Keep the Judge your friend-his position may give him a means to serve you. A man of the world ought at all times to have the private friendship of as many judges as he can."
"Never! poor as I am-outcast as I feel myself! I want no such friendship. Society may shun me, the community may fear me, necessity may crush me-yea! you may regard me as a villain if you will, but, were I a judge, I would scorn to use my office to serve base ends." As he says this he draws a pistol from his pocket, and throwing it defiantly upon the table, continues as his lip curls with scorn, "poor men's lives are cheap in Charleston-let us see what rich men's are worth!"
"His age, George!—you should respect that!" says Mr. Snivel, laconically.
"His age ought to be my protection."
"Ah!—you forget that the follies of our nature too often go with us to the grave."
"And am I to suffer because public opinion honors him, and gives him power to disgrace me? Can he rob me of the one I love-of the one in whose welfare my whole soul is staked, and do it with impunity?"
"D—d inconvenient, I know, George. Sympathize with you, I do. But, you see, we are governed here by the laws of chivalry. Don't let your (I am a piece of a philosopher, you see) temper get up, keep on a stiff upper lip. You may catch him napping. I respect your feelings, my dear fellow; ready to do you a bit of a good turn-you understand! Now let me tell you, my boy, he has made her his adopted, and to-morrow she moves with him to his quiet little villa near the Magnolia."
"I am a poor, forlorn wretch," interrupts George, with a sigh. "Those of whom I had a right to expect good counsel, and a helping hand, have been first to encourage me in the ways of evil—"
"Get money, Mullholland-get money. It takes money to make love strong. Say what you will, a woman's heart is sure to be sound on the gold question. Mark ye, Mullholland!—there is an easy way to get money. Do you take? (His fingers wander over his forehead, as he watches intently in George's face.) You can make names? Such things are done by men in higher walks, you know. Quite a common affair in these parts. The Judge has carried off your property; make a fair exchange-you can use his name, get money with it, and make it hold fast the woman you love. There are three things, George, you may set down as facts that will be of service to you through life, and they are these: when a man eternally rings in your ears the immoralities of the age, watch him closely; when a man makes what he has done for others a boast, set him down a knave; and when a woman dwells upon the excellent qualities of her many admirers, set her down as wanting. But, get money, and when you have got it, charm back this beautiful creature."
Such is the advice of Mr. Soloman Snivel, the paid intriguer of the venerable Judge.
A SLIGHT CHANGE IN THE PICTURE.
THE two lone revellers remain at the pier-table; moody and hectic. Mr. Snivel drops into a sound sleep, his head resting on the marble. Weak-minded, jealous, contentious-with all the attendants natural to one who leads an unsettled life, sits George Mullholland, his elbow resting on the table, and his head poised thoughtfully in his hand. "I will have revenge-sweet revenge; yes, I will have revenge to-night!" he mutters, and sets his teeth firmly.
In Anna's chamber all is hushed into stillness. The silvery moonbeams play softly through the half-closed windows, lighting up and giving an air of enchantment to the scene. Curtains hang, mist-like, from massive cornices in gilt. Satin drapery, mysteriously underlaid with lace, and floating in bewitching chasteness over a fairy-like bed, makes more voluptuous that ravishing form calmly sleeping-half revealed among the snowy sheets, and forming a picture before which fancy soars, passion unbends itself, and sentiment is led away captive. With such exquisite forms strange nature excites our love;—that love that like a little stream meanders capriciously through our feelings, refreshing life, purifying our thoughts, exciting our ambition, and modulating our actions. That love, too, like a quick-sand, too often proves a destroyer to the weak-minded.
Costly chairs, of various styles, carved in black walnut, stand around the chamber: lounges covered with chastely-designed tapestry are seen half concealed by the gorgeous window curtains. The foot falls upon a soft, Turkey carpet; the ceiling-in French white, and gilt mouldings-is set off with two Cupids in a circle, frescoed by a skilled hand. On a lounge, concealed in an alcove masked by curtains pending from the hands of a fairy in bronze, and nearly opposite Anna's bed, the old Judge sleeps in his judicial dignity. To-day he sentenced three rogues to the whipping-post, and two wretched negroes-one for raising his hand to a white man-to the gallows.
Calmly Anna continues to sleep, the lights in the girandoles shedding a mysterious paleness over the scene. To the eye that scans only the exterior of life, how dazzling! Like a refulgent cloud swelling golden in the evening sky, how soon it passes away into darkness and disappointment! Suddenly there appears, like a vision in the chamber, the stately figure of a female. Advancing slowly to the bed-side, for a minute she stands contemplating the sleeping beauty before her. A dark, languishing eye, an aquiline nose, beautifully-cut mouth, and a finely-oval face, is revealed by the shadow in which she stands. "How willingly," she mutters, raising the jewelled fingers of her right hand to her lips, as her eyes become liquid with emotion, and her every action betokens one whose very soul is goaded with remorse, "would I exchange all these worldly pleasures for one single day in peace of mind." She lays aside her mantle, and keeps her eyes fixed upon the object before her. A finely-rounded shoulder and exactly-developed bust is set off with a light satin boddice or corsage, cut low, opening shawl-fashion at the breast, and relieved with a stomacher of fine Brussels lace. Down the edges are rows of small, unpolished pearls, running into points. A skirt of orange-colored brocade, trimmed with tulle, and surrounded with three flounces, falls, cloud-like, from her girdle, which is set with cameos and unpolished pearls. With her left hand she raises slightly her skirts, revealing the embroidered gimps of a white taffeta underskirt, flashing in the moonlight. Small, unpolished pearls ornament the bands of her short sleeves; on her fingers are rings, set with diamonds and costly emeralds; and her wrists are clasped with bracelets of diamonds, shedding a modest lustre over her marble-like arms.
"Can this be my child? Has this crime that so like a demon haunts me-that curses me even in my dreams, driven her, perhaps against her will, to seek this life of shame?" She takes the sleeper's hand gently in her own, as the tears gush down her cheeks.
The sleeper startles, half raises herself from her pillow, parts her black, silky hair, that lays upon her gently-swelling bosom, and throws it carelessly down her shoulders, wildly setting her great black orbs on the strange figure before her. "Hush, hush!" says the speaker, "I am a friend. One who seeks you for a good purpose. Give me your confidence-do not betray me! I need not tell you by what means I gained access to you."
A glow of sadness flashes across Anna's countenance. With a look of suspicion she scans the mysterious figure from head to foot. "It is the Judge's wife!" she says within herself. "Some one has betrayed me to her; and, as is too often the case, she seeks revenge of the less guilty party." But the figure before her is in full dress, and one seeking revenge would have disguised herself. "Why, and who is it, that seeks me in this mysterious manner?" whispers Anna, holding her delicate hand in the shadow, over her eyes. "I seek you in the hope of finding something to relieve my troubled spirit. I am a mother who has wronged her child-I have no peace of mind-my heart is lacerated—"
"Are you, then, my mother?" inerrupts Anna, with a look of scorn.
"That I would answer if I could. You have occupied my thoughts day and night. I have traced your history up to a certain period. ("What I know of my own, I would fain not contemplate," interrupts Anna.) Beyond that, all is darkness. And yet there are circumstances that go far to prove you the child I seek. Last night I dreamed I saw a gate leading to a dungeon, that into the dungeon I was impelled against my will. While there I was haunted with the figure of a woman of the name of Mag Munday-a maniac, and in chains! My heart bled at the sight, for she, I thought, was the woman in whose charge I left the child I seek. I spoke-I asked her what had become of the child! She pointed with her finger, told me to go seek you here, and vanished as I awoke. I spent the day in unrest, went to the ball to-night, but found no pleasure in its gay circle. Goaded in my conscience, I left the ball-room, and with the aid of a confidant am here."
"I recognize-yes, my lady, I recognize you! You think me your abandoned child, and yet you are too much the slave of society to seek me as a mother ought to do. I am the supposed victim of your crime; you are the favored and flattered ornament of society. Our likenesses have been compared many times:-I am glad we have met. Go, woman, go! I would not, outcast as I am, deign to acknowledge the mother who could enjoy the luxuries of life and see her child a wretch."
"Woman! do not upbraid me. Spare, oh! spare my troubled heart this last pang," (she grasps convulsively at Anna's hand, then shrinks back in fright.) "Tell me! oh, tell me!" she pursues, the tears coursing down her cheeks—
Anna Bonard interrupts by saying, peremptorily, she has nothing to tell one so guilty. To be thus rebuked by an abandoned woman, notwithstanding she might be her own child, wounded her feelings deeply. It was like poison drying up her very blood. Tormented with the thought of her error, (for she evidently labored under the smart of an error in early life,) her very existence now seemed a burden to her. Gloomy and motionless she stood, as if hesitating how best to make her escape.
"Woman! I will not betray your coming here. But you cannot give me back my virtue; you cannot restore me untainted to the world-the world never forgives a fallen woman. Her own sex will be first to lacerate her heart with her shame." These words were spoken with such biting sarcasm, that the Judge, whose nap the loudness of Anna's voice had disturbed, protruded his flushed face and snowy locks from out the curtains of the alcove. "The gay Madame Montford, as I am a Christian," he exclaims in the eagerness of the moment, and the strange figure vanishes out of the door.
"A fashionable, but very mysterious sort of person," pursues the Judge, confusedly. "Ah! ha,—her case, like many others, is the want of a clear conscience. Snivel has it in hand. A great knave, but a capital lawyer, that Snivel—"
The Judge is interrupted in his remarks by the entrance of Mr. Snivel, who, with hectic face, and flushed eyes, comes rushing into the chamber. "Hollo!—old boy, there's a high bid on your head to-night. Ready to do you a bit of a good turn, you see." Mr. Snivel runs his fingers through his hair, and works his shoulders with an air of exultation. "If," he continues, "that weak-minded fellow-that Mullholland we have shown some respect to, hasn't got a pistol! He's been furbishing it up while in the parlor, and swears he will seriously damage you with it. Blasted assurance, those Northerners have. Won't fight, can't make 'em gentlemen; and if you knock 'em down they don't understand enough of chivalry to resent it. They shout to satisfy their fear and not to maintain their honor. Keep an eye out!"
The Judge, in a tone of cool indifference, says he has no fears of the renegade, and will one of these days have the pleasure of sending him to the whipping-post.
"As to that, Judge," interposes Mr. Snivel, "I have already prepared the preliminaries. I gave him the trifle you desired-to-morrow I will nail him at the Keno crib." With this the Judge and the Justice each take an affectionate leave of the frail girl, and, as it is now past one o'clock in the morning, an hour much profaned in Charleston, take their departure.
Armed with a revolver Mullholland has taken up his position in the street, where he awaits the coming of his adversaries. In doubt and anxiety, he reflects and re-reflects, recurs to the associations of his past life, and hesitates. Such reflections only bring more vividly to his mind the wrong he feels himself the victim of, and has no power to resent except with violence. His contemplations only nerve him to revenge.
A click, and the door cautiously opens, as if some votary of crime was about to issue forth in quest of booty. The hostess' heed protrudes suddenly from the door, she scans first up and then down the street, then withdraws it. The Judge and Mr. Snivel, each in turn, shake the landlady by the hand, and emerge into the street. They have scarce stepped upon the sidepath when the report of a pistol resounds through the air. The ball struck a lamp-post, glanced, passed through the collar of Judge Sleepyhorn's coat, and brushed Mr. Snivel's fashionable whiskers. Madame Ashley, successor to Madame Flamingo, shrieks and alarms the house, which is suddenly thrown into a state of confusion. Acting upon the maxim of discretion being the better part of valor, the Judge and the Justice beat a hasty retreat into the house, and secrete themselves in a closet at the further end of the back-parlor.
As if suddenly moved by some strange impulse, Madame Ashley runs from room to room, screaming at the very top of her voice, and declaring that she saw the assassin enter her house. Females rush from their rooms and into the great parlor, where they form groups of living statuary, strange and grotesque. Anxious faces-faces half painted, faces hectic of dissipation, faces waning and sallow, eyes glassy and lascivious, dishevelled hair floating over naked shoulders;—the flashing of bewitching drapery, the waving and flitting of embroidered underskirts, the tripping of pretty feet and prettier ankles, the gesticulating and swaying of half-draped bodies-such is the scene occasioned by the bench and the bar.
Madame Ashley, having inherited of Madame Flamingo the value of a scrupulous regard for the good reputation of her house, must needs call in the watch to eject the assassin, whom she swears is concealed somewhere on the premises. Mr. Sergeant Stubbs, a much respected detective, and reputed one of the very best officers of the guard, inasmuch as he never troubles his head about other people's business, and is quite content to let every one fight their own battles,—provided they give him a "nip" of whiskey when they are through, lights his lantern and goes bobbing into every room in the house. We must here inform the reader that the cause of the emeute was kept a profound secret between the judicial gentry. Madame Ashley, at the same time, is fully convinced the ball was intended for her, while Anna lays in a terrible fright in her chamber.
"Ho," says Mr. Stubbs, starting back suddenly as he opened the door of the closet in which the two gentlemen had concealed themselves. "I see! I see!—beg your pardon, gentlemen!" Mr. Stubbs whispers, and bows, and shuts the door quickly.
"An infernal affair this, Judge! D-n me if I wouldn't as soon be in the dock. It will all get out tomorrow," interposes Mr. Snivel, facetiously.
"Blast these improper associations!" the high functionary exclaims, fussily shrugging his shoulders, and wiping the sweat from his forehead. "I love the girl, though, I confess it!"
"Nothing more natural. A man without gallantry is like a pilgrim in the South-West Pass. You can't resist this charming creature. In truth it's a sort of longing weakness, which even the scales of justice fail to bring to a balance."
Mr. Stubbs fails to find the assassin, and enters Madame Ashley's chamber, the door of which leads into the hall. Here Mr. Stubbs's quick eye suddenly discerns a slight motion of the curtains that enclose the great, square bed, standing in one corner. "I ax your pardon, Mam, but may I look in this 'ere bed?" Mr. Stubbs points to the bed, as Madame, having thrown herself into a great rocking chair, proceeds to sway her dignity backward and forward, and give out signs of making up her mind to faint.
Mr. Stubbs draws back the curtains, when, behold! but tell it not in the by-ways, there is revealed the stalworth figure of Simon Patterson, the plantation parson. Our plantation parsons, be it known, are a singular species of depraved humanity, a sort of itinerant sermon-makers, holding forth here and there to the negroes of the rich planters, receiving a paltry pittance in return, and having in lieu of morals an excellent taste for whiskey, an article they invariably call to their aid when discoursing to the ignorant slave-telling him how content with his lot he ought to be, seeing that God intended him only for ignorance and servitude. The parson did, indeed, cut a sorry figure before the gaze of this indescribable group, as it rushed into the room and commenced heaping upon his head epithets delicacy forbids our inserting here-calling him a clerical old lecher, an assassin, and a disturber of the peace and respectability of the house. Indeed, Madame Ashley quite forgot to faint, and with a display of courage amounting almost to heroism, rushed at the poor parson, and had left him in the state he was born but for the timely precautions of Mr. Stubbs, who, finding a revolver in his possession, and wanting no better proof of his guilt, straightway took him off to the guardhouse. Parson Patterson would have entered the most solemn and pious protestations of his innocence but the evidence was so strong against him, and the zeal of Mr. Sargeant Stubbs so apparent, that he held it the better policy to quietly submit to the rough fare of his new lodgings.
"I have a terror of these brawls!" says Mr. Snivel, emerging from his hiding-place, and entering the chamber, followed by the high legal functionary.
"A pretty how-do-ye-do, this is;" returns Madame Ashley, cooling her passion in the rocking-chair, "I never had much respect for parsons—"
"Parsons?" interrupts Mr. Snivel, inquiringly, "you don't mean to say it was all the doings of a parson?"
"As I'm a lady it was no one else. He was discovered behind the curtain there, a terrible pistol in his pocket-the wretch!"
Mr. Snivel exchanges a wink with the Judge, points his thumb over his left shoulder, and says, captiously: "I always had an implacable hatred of that old thief. A bad lot! these plantation parsons."
Mr. Stubbs having discovered and removed the assassin, the terrified damsels return to their chambers, and Madame Ashley proceeds to close her house, as the two legal gentlemen take their departure. Perhaps it would be well to inform the reader that a principal cause of Anna's preference for the Judge, so recently manifested, was the deep impression made on her already suspicious mind by Mr. McArthur, the antiquary, who revealed to her sincerely, as she thought, her future dark destiny.
IN WHICH A HIGH FUNCTIONARY IS MADE TO PLAY A SINGULAR PART.
THE morning following the events detailed in the foregoing chapter, finds the august Sleepyhorn seated on his judgment-seat. The clock strikes ten as he casts his heavy eyes over the grotesque group gathered into his little, dingy court-room; and he bows to his clerk, of whom he gets his law knowledge, and with his right hand makes a sign that he is ready to admonish the erring, or pass sentence on any amount of criminals. History affords no record of a judge so unrelenting of his judgments.
A few dilapidated gentlemen of the "learned profession," with sharp features and anxious faces, fuss about among the crowd, reeking of whiskey and tobacco. Now they whisper suspiciously in the ears of forlorn prisoners, now they struggle to get a market for their legal nostrums. A few, more respectably clothed and less vicious of aspect, sit writing at a table inside the bar, while a dozen or more punch-faced policemen, affecting an air of superiority, drag themselves lazily through the crowd of seedy humanity, looking querulously over the railing encircling the dock, or exchanging recognitions with friends.
Some twenty "negro cases" having been disposed of without much respect to law, and being sent up for punishment (the Judge finds it more convenient to forego testimony in these cases), a daughter of the Emerald Isle, standing nearly six feet in her bare soles, and much shattered about the dress, is, against her inclination, arraigned before his Honor. "I think I have seen you before, Mrs. Donahue?" says the Judge, inquiringly.
"Arrah, good-morning, yer 'onher! Shure, it's only the sixth time these three weeks. Doesn't meself like to see yer smiling face, onyhow!" Here Mrs. Donahue commences complimenting the Judge in one breath, and laying no end of charges at the door of the very diminutive and harmless Mister Donahue in the next.
"This being the sixth time," returns his Honor, somewhat seriously, "I would advise you to compromise the matter with Donahue, and not be seen here again. The state of South Carolina cannot pay your fees so often—"
"Och, bad luck to Donahue! Troth, an' if yer onher'd put the fees down to Donahue, our acquaintance 'ouldn't be so fraquent." Mrs. Donahue says this with great unction, throwing her uncombed hair back, then daintily raising her dress apace, and inquiring of Mr. Sheriff Hardscrabble, who sits on his Honor's left, peering sharply through his spectacles, how he likes the spread of her broad, flat foot; "the charging the fees to Donahue, yer onher, 'd do it!" There was more truth in this remark than his Honor seemed to comprehend, for having heard the charge against her (Mr. Donahue having been caught in the act of taking a drop of her gin, she had well-nigh broken his head with the bottle), and having listened attentively while poor Donahue related his wrongs, and exhibited two very well blacked eyes and a broken nose, he came to the very just conclusion that it were well to save the blood of the Donahues. And to this end did he grant Mrs. Donahue board and lodging for one month in the old prison. Mrs. Donahue is led away, heaping curses on the head of Donahue, and compliments on that of his Honor.
A pale, sickly looking boy, some eleven years old, is next placed upon the stand. Mr. Sergeant Stubbs, who leans his corpulent figure against the clerk's desk, every few minutes bowing his sleepy head to some friend in the crowd, says: "A hard 'un-don't do no good about here. A vagrant; found him sleeping in the market."
His Honor looks at the poor boy for some minutes, a smile of kindliness seems lighting up his face; he says he would there were some place of refuge-a place where reformation rather than punishment might be the aim and end, where such poor creatures could be sent to, instead of confining them in cells occupied by depraved prisoners.
Mr. Sheriff Hardscrabble, always eager to get every one into jail he can, inasmuch as it pays him twenty-two cents a day clear profit on each and every person confined, says: "A hard customer. Found sleeping in the market, eh? Well, we must merge him in a tub of water, and scrub him up a little." Mr. Hardscrabble views him with an air of satisfaction, touches him with a small cane he holds in his hand, as if he were something very common. Indeed, Mr. Hardscrabble seems quite at a loss to know what species of animal he is, or whether he be really intended for any other use than filling up his cells and returning him twenty-two cents a day clear profit. "Probably an incendiary," mutters the sagacious sheriff. The helpless boy would explain how he came to sleep in the market-how he, a poor cabin-boy, walked, foot-sore and hungry, from Wilmington, in the hope of getting a ship; and being moneyless and friendless he laid down in the market to sleep. Mr. Hardscrabble, however, suggests that such stories are extremely common. His Honor thinks it not worth while to differ from this opinion, but to the end that no great legal wisdom may be thrown away, he orders the accused to be sent to the common jail for three months. This, in the opinion of Judge Sleepyhorn, is an extremely mild penalty for being found sleeping in the market.
Next there comes forward a lean, up-country Cracker, (an half-civilized native,) who commences telling his story with commendable simplicity, the Judge in the meanwhile endeavoring to suppress a smile, which the quaintness of his remarks excite. Making a tenement of his cart, as is usual with these people when they visit the city, which they do now and then for the purpose of replenishing their stock of whiskey, he had, about eleven o'clock on the previous night, been set upon by three intoxicated students, who, having driven off his mule, overturned his cart, landing him and his wife prostrate in the ditch. A great noise was the result, and the guard, with their accustomed zeal for seizing upon the innocent party, dragged up the weaker (the Cracker and his wife) and let the guilty go free. He had brought the good wife, he added, as a living evidence of the truth of what he said, and would bring the mule if his honor was not satisfied. The good wife commences a volley of what she is pleased to call voluntary testimony, praising and defending all the good qualities of her much-abused husband, without permitting any one else an opposing word. No sufficient charge being brought against the Cracker (he wisely slipped a five dollar bill into the hands of Stubbs), he joins his good wife and goes on his way rejoicing.
During this little episode between the court and the Cracker's wife, Madame Grace Ashley, arrayed in her most fashionable toilet, comes blazing into Court, bows to the Judge and a few of her most select friends of the Bar. A seat for Madame is provided near his Honor's desk. His Honor's blushes seem somewhat overtaxed; Madame, on the other hand, is not at all disconcerted; indeed, she claims an extensive acquaintance with the most distinguished of the Bar.
The Judge suggests to Mr. Stubbs that it would be as well to waive the charge against the clergyman. Somewhat the worse for his night in the guard-house, Parson Patterson comes forward and commences in the most unintelligible manner to explain the whole affair, when the Judge very blandly interrupts by inquiring if he is a member of the clergy at this moment. "Welle," returns the parson, with characteristic drawl, "can't zactly say I am." The natural seediness of the parson excites suspicion, nevertheless he is scrupulous of his white cravat, and preserves withal a strictly clerical aspect. Having paused a few moments and exchanged glances with the Judge, he continues: "I do nigger preaching on Sunday-that is (Parson Patterson corrects himself), I hold forth, here and there-we are all flesh and blood-on plantations when I have a demand for my services. Our large planters hold it good policy to encourage the piety of their property."
"You make a good thing of it?" inquires the Judge, jocosely. The parson replies, with much meekness of manner, that business is not so good as it was, planters having got it into their heads that sermons can be got at a very low figure. Here he commences to explain his singular position. He happened to meet an old and much-esteemed friend, whom he accompanied home, and while spending the evening conversing on spiritual matters-it was best not to lie-he took a little too much. On his way to the hotel he selected Beresford street as a short cut, and being near the house where he was unfortunately found when the shooting took place, he ran into it to escape the police—"
"Don't believe a word he says," interrupts Madame Ashley, springing suddenly to her feet, and commencing to pour out her phials of wrath on the head of the poor parson, whom she accuses of being a suspicious and extremely unprofitable frequenter of her house, which she describes as exceedingly respectable. "Your Honor can bear me out in what I say!" pursues Madame, bowing with an air of exultation, as the sheriff demands order.
"A sorry lot, these plantation preachers! Punish him right soundly, your honor. It is not the first time he has damaged the respectability of my house!" again interrupts Madame Ashley. His Honor replies only with a blush. Mr. Snivel, who watches with quisical countenance, over the bar, enjoys the joke wonderfully.
Order being restored, the Judge turns to address the parson.
"I see, my friend-I always address my prisoners familiarly-you place but little value on the fact of your being a clergyman, on the ground that you only preach to slaves. This charge brought against you is a grave one-I assure you! And I cannot incline to the view you take of your profession. I may not be as erudite as some; however, I hold it that the ignorant and not the learned have most need of good example."
"Aye! I always told the old reprobate so," interposes Madam Ashley, with great fervor.
"A charge," resumes the Judge, "quite sufficient to warrant me in committing you to durance vile, might be preferred. You may thank my generosity that it is not. These houses, as you know, Mr. Patterson, are not only dangerous, but damaging to men of potent morality like you."
"But, your Honor knows they are much frequented," meekly drawls the parson.
"It affords no palliation," sharply responds the Judge, his face crimsoning with blushes. "Mark ye, my friend of the clergy, these places make sad destruction of our young men. Indeed I may say with becoming sincerity and truth, that they spread a poison over the community, and act as the great enemy of our social system."
"Heigh ho!" ejaculates Madame Ashley, to the great delight of the throng assembled, "Satan has come to rebuke sin." Madame bids his Honor a very polite good morning, and takes her departure, looking disdainfully over her shoulder as she disappears out of the door.
Not a little disturbed in his equanimity, the Judge pursues his charge. "The clergy ought to keep their garments clear of such places, for being the source of all evil, the effect on the community is not good-I mean when such things are brought to light! I would address you frankly and admonish you to go no more into such places. Let your ways merit the approbation of those to whom you preach the Gospel. You can go. Henceforth, live after the ways of the virtuous."
Parson Patterson thanks his Honor, begs to assure him of his innocence, and seems only too anxious to get away. His Honor bows to Mr. Patterson, Mr. Patterson returns it, and adds another for the audience, whereupon the court adjourns, and so ends the episode. His Honor takes Mr. Snivel's arm, and together they proceed to the "most convenient" saloon, where, over a well-compounded punch, "the bench and the bar" compliment each other on the happy disposal of such vexatious cases.
THE HOUSE OF THE NINE NATIONS, AND WHAT MAY BE SEEN IN IT.
ON the corner of Anthony street and the Points,
Now Worth street and Mission Place. in New York, there stands, like a grim savage, the house of the Nine Nations, a dingy wooden tenement, that for twenty years has threatened to tumble away from its more upright neighbor, and before which the stranger wayfarer is seen to stop and contemplate. In a neighborhood redolent of crime, there it stands, its vices thick upon its head, exciting in the mind of the observer its association with some dark and terrible deed. On the one side, opens that area of misery, mud and sombre walls, called "Cow Bay;" on the other a triangular plot, reeking with the garbage of the miserable cellars that flank it, and in which swarms of wasting beings seek a hiding-place, inhale pestilential air, and die. Gutters running with seething matter; homeless outcasts sitting, besotted, on crazy door-steps; the vicious, with savage visage, and keen, watchful eye, loitering at the doors of filthy "groceries;" the sickly and neglected child crawling upon the side-pave, or seeking a crust to appease its hunger-all are found here, gasping, in rags, a breath of air by day, or seeking a shelter, at night, in dens so abject that the world can furnish no counterpart. And this forlorn picture of dilapidated houses, half-clad, squabbish women, blistered-faced men, and sickly children, the house of the Nine Nations overlooks. And yet this house, to the disgrace of an opulent people be it said, is but the sample of an hundred others standing in the same neighborhood.
With its basement-doors opening into its bottomless pit; with its continual outgoing and ingoing of sooty and cruel-visaged denizens; with its rickety old steps leading to the second story; with its battered windows, begrimed walls, demolished shutters, clapboards hanging at sixes and sevens-with its suspicious aspect;—there it stands, with its distained sign over the doors of its bottomless pit. You may read on this sign, that a gentleman from Ireland, who for convenience' sake we will call Mr. Krone, is licensed to sell imported and other liquors.
Indeed the house of the Nine Nations would seem to say within itself: "I am mother of this banquet of death you behold with your eyes." There it stands, its stream of poison hurrying its victims to the grave; its little dark passages leading to curious hiding-places; its caving roof, and its ominous-looking back platform, overlooking the dead walls of Murderers' Yard. How it mocks your philanthropy, your regal edifices, your boasted charities-your gorgeous churches! Everybody but the corporation knows the house of the Nine Nations, a haunt for wasted prostitutes, assassins, burglars, thieves-every grade of criminals known to depraved nature. The corporation would seem either to have a charming sympathy for it, or to look upon it with that good-natured indifference so happily illustrated while eating its oysters and drinking its whiskey. An empty-headed corporation is sure always to have its hands very full, which is the case with yours at this moment. Having the people's money to waste, its own ambition to serve, and its hat to fill with political waste paper-what more would you ask of it?
The man of the house of the Nine Nations, you ought to know, makes criminals by the hundred, deluges your alms houses with paupers, and makes your Potters' field reek with his victims: for this he is become rich. Mr. Krone is an intimate friend of more than one Councilman, and a man of much measure in the political world-that is, Mr. Krone is a politician-maker. When you say there exists too close an intimacy between the pugilist and the politician, Mr. Krone will bet twenty drinks with any one of his customers that he can prove such doctrines at fault. He can secure the election of his favorite candidate with the same facility that he can make an hundred paupers per week. You may well believe him a choice flower in the bouquet of the corporation; we mean the corporation that banquets and becomes jubilant while assassins stab their victims in the broad street-that becomes befogged while bands of ruffians disgrace the city with their fiendish outrages-that makes presidents and drinks whiskey when the city would seem given over to the swell-mobsman-when no security is offered to life, and wholesale harlotry, flaunting with naked arms and bared bosoms, passes along in possession of Broadway by night.
It is the night succeeding the day Lady Swiggs discovered, at the house of the Foreign Missions, the loss of her cherished donations. As this is a world of disappointments, Lady Swiggs resigns herself to this most galling of all, and with her Milton firmly grasped in her hand, may be seen in a little room at Sister Scudder's, rocking herself in the arm-chair, and wondering if Brother Spyke has captured the robber-wretch. A chilly wind howls, and a drizzling rain falls thick over the dingy dwellings of the Points, which, sullen and dark, seem in a dripping mood. A glimmering light, here and there, throws curious shadows over the liquid streets. Now the drenched form of some half-naked and homeless being is reflected, standing shivering in the entrance to some dark and narrow alley; then the half-crazed inebriate hurries into the open door of a dismal cellar, or seeks eagerly a shelter for his bewildered head, in some suspicious den. Flashing through the shadow of the police lamp, in "Cow Bay," a forlorn female is seen, a bottle held tightly under her shawl. Sailing as it were into the bottomless pit of the house of the Nine Nations, then suddenly returning with the drug, seeking the cheerless garret of her dissolute partner, and there striving to blunt her feelings against the horrors of starvation.
Two men stand, an umbrella over their heads, at the corner, in the glare of the bottomless pit, which is in a blaze of light, and crowded with savage-faced figures, of various ages and colors,—all habited in the poison-seller's uniform of rags. "I don't think you'll find him here, sir," says one, addressing the other, who is tall and slender of person, and singularly timid. "God knows I am a stranger here. To-morrow I leave for Antioch," is the reply, delivered in nervous accents. The one is Brother Syngleton Spyke, the other Mr. Detective Fitzgerald, a man of more than middle stature, with compact figure, firmly-knit limbs, and an expression of countenance rather pleasant.