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This eBook was edited by Charles Aldarondo (www.aldarondo.net).




JUSTICE IN THE BY-WAYS. A TALE OF LIFE.

BY F. COLBURN ADAMS,

AUTHOR
OF "OUR WORLD," ETC., ETC., ETC.

"A rebellion or an invasion alarms,
And puts the people upon its defence;
But a corruption of principles
Works its ruin more slowly perhaps,
But more surely."

NEW YORK:
LONDON:

1856.






PREFACE.





PREFACES, like long sermons to fashionable congregations, are
distasteful to most readers, and in no very high favor with us. A
deep interest in the welfare of South Carolina, and the high esteem
in which we held the better, and more sensible class of her
citizens, prompted us to sit down in Charleston, some four years ago
(as a few of our friends are aware), and write this history. The
malady of her chivalry had then broken out, and such was its
virulence that very serious consequences were apprehended. We had
done something, and were unwise enough to think we could do more, to
stay its spread. We say unwise, inasmuch as we see, and regret that
we do see, the malady breaking out anew, in a more virulent type-one
which threatens dire consequences to this glorious Union, and bids
fair soon to see the Insane Hospital of South Carolina crammed with
her mad-politicians.

Our purpose, the reader will not fail to discover, was a high moral
one. He must overlook the means we have called to our aid in some
instances, remember that the spirit of the work is in harmony with a
just sense of duty to a people among whom we have long resided, and
whose follies deserve our pity, perhaps, rather than our
condemnation. To remain blind to their own follies, is the sin of
weak States; and we venture nothing when we say that it would be
difficult to find a people more dragged down by their own ignorance
than are the South Carolinians. And yet, strange as it may seem, no
people are more energetic in laying claim to a high intellectual
standard. For a stranger to level his shafts against the very evils
they themselves most deprecate, is to consign himself an exile
worthy only of that domestic garment

Tar and feathers. in which all who think and write too freely, are
clothed and sent away.

And though the sentiments we have put forth in this work may not be
in fashion with our Southern friends, they will give us credit for
at least one thing-picturing in truthful colors the errors that, by
their own confessions, are sapping the very foundations of their
society. Our aim is to suggest reforms, and in carrying it out we
have consulted no popular prejudice, enlarged upon no enormities to
please the lover of tragedy, regarded neither beauty nor the art of
novel making, nor created suffering heroines to excite an outpouring
of sorrow and tears. The incidents of our story, which at best is
but a mere thread, are founded in facts; and these facts we have so
modified as to make them acceptable to the reader, while shielding
ourself from the charge of exaggeration. And, too, we are conscious
that our humble influence, heretofore exerted, has contributed to
the benefit of a certain class in Charleston, and trust that in this
instance it may have a wider field.

Three years and upwards, then, has the MS. of this work laid in the
hands of a Philadelphia publisher, who was kind enough to say more
good things of it than it deserved, and only (as he said, and what
publishers say no one ever thinks of doubting) regretted that fear
of offending his Southern customers, who were exceedingly stiff in
some places, and tender in others, prevented him publishing it.
Thankful for the very flattering but undeserved reception two works
from our pen (both written at a subsequent period) met, in England
as well as this country, we resolved a few weeks ago to drag the MS.
from the obscurity in which it had so long remained, and having
resigned it to the rude hands of our printer, let it pass to the
public. But there seemed another difficulty in the way: the time,
every one said, and every one ought to know, was a hazardous one for
works of a light character. Splash & Dash, my old publishers, (noble
fellows), had no less than three Presidents on their shoulders, and
could not be expected to take up anything "light" for several
months. Brick, of the very respectable but somewhat slow firm of
Brick & Brother, a firm that had singular scruples about publishing
a work not thickly sprinkled with the author's knowledge of French,
had one candidate by the neck, and had made a large bet that he
could carry him into the "White House" with a rush, while the junior
partner was deeply immersed in the study of Greek. Puff, of the firm
of Puff & Bluff, a house that had recently moved into the city to
teach the art of blowing books into the market, was foaming over
with his two Presidential candidates, and thought the public could
not be got to read a book without at least one candidate in it. It
was not prudent to give the reading world more than a book of
travels or so, said Munch, of the house of Munch & Muddle, until the
candidates for the White House were got nicely out of the way.
Indeed, there were good reasons for being alarmed, seeing that the
publishing world had given up literature, and, following the example
set by the New York Corporation, taken itself very generally to the
trade of President-making. Wilkins, whose publications were so
highly respectable that they invariably remained on his shelves, and
had in more than one instance become so weighty that they had
dragged the house down, thought the pretty feet of some few of the
female characters in this volume a little too much exposed to suit
the delicate sensibilities of his fair readers. Applejack, than
whose taste none could be more exquisite, and who only wanted to
feel a manuscript to tell whether it would do to publish it, made it
a point, he said, not to publish novels with characters in them that
would drink to excess. As for the very fast firm of Blowers &
Windspin, celebrated for flooding the country with cheap books of a
very tragic character, why, it had work enough on hand for the
present. Blowers was blessed with a wife of a literary turn of mind,
which was very convenient, inasmuch as all the novels with which the
house astonished the world were submitted to her, and what she could
not read she was sure to pass a favorable judgment upon. The house
had in press four highly worked up novels of Mrs. Blowers' own, Mr.
Blowers said, - all written in the very short space of six weeks. She
was a remarkable woman, and extraordinary clever at novels, Blowers
concluded with an air of magnificent self-satisfaction. These works,
having been written by steam, Mr. Windspin, the unior partner, was
expected to put into the market with a very large amount of high
pressure.

Our friends in South Carolina, we knew, would be anxious to see what
we had written of them in this volume, and we have made and shall
continue to make it a point to gratify them: hence our haste in this
instance. Conscious, too, that life is the great schoolmaster, and
that public taste is neither to be regulated by a few, nor kept at
any one point, we caught up a publisher with only one candidate for
the "White House" on his shoulders, and with his assistance, now
respectfully submit this our humble effort.

NEW YORK, Sept., 1856.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I. - Tom Swiggs' Seventh Introduction on board of the Brig
Standfast,

CHAPTER II. - Madame Flamingo-Her Distinguished Patrons, and her very
respectable House,

CHAPTER III. - In which the Reader is presented with a Varied Picture,

CHAPTER IV. - A few Reflections on the Cure of Vice,

CHAPTER V. - In which Mr. Snivel, commonly called the Accommodation
Man, is introduced, and what takes place between him and Mrs.
Swiggs.

CHAPTER VI. - Containing Sundry Matters appertaining to this History,

CHAPTER VII. - In which is seen a Commingling of Citizens,

CHAPTER VIII. - What takes place between George Mullholland and Mr.
Snivel,

CHAPTER IX. - In which a Gleam of Light is shed on the History of Anna
Bonard,

CHAPTER X. - A Continuation of George Mullholland's History,

CHAPTER XI. - In which the Reader is introduced to Mr. Absalom
McArthur,

CHAPTER XII. - In which are Matters the Reader may have anticipated,

CHAPTER XIII. - Mrs. Swiggs comes to the Rescue of the House of the
Foreign Missions,

CHAPTER XIV. - Mr. McArthur makes a Discovery,

CHAPTER XV. - What Madame Flamingo wants to be,

CHAPTER XVI. - In which Tom Swiggs gains his Liberty, and what befalls
him,

CHAPTER XVII. - In which there is an Interesting Meeting,

CHAPTER XVIII. - Anna Bonard seeks an Interview with the Antiquary,

CHAPTER XIX. - A Secret Interview,

CHAPTER XX. - Lady Swiggs encounters Difficulties on her Arrival in
New York,

CHAPTER XXI. - Mr. Snivel pursues his Search for the Vote-Cribber,

CHAPTER XXII. - Mrs. Swiggs falls upon a Modern Heathen World,

CHAPTER XXIII. - In which the very best Intentions are seen to fail,

CHAPTER XXIV. - Mr. Snivel advises George Mullholland how to make
Strong Love,

CHAPTER XXV. - A Slight Change in the Picture,

CHAPTER XXVI. - In which a High Functionary is made to play a Singular
Part,

CHAPTER XXVII. - The House of the Nine Nations, and what may be seen
in it,

CHAPTER XXVIII. - In which is presented Another Picture of the House
of the Nine Nations,

CHAPTER XXIX. - In which may be seen a few of our Common Evils,

CHAPTER XXX. - Containing Various Things appertaining to this History,

CHAPTER XXXI. - The Keno Den, and what may be seen in it,

CHAPTER XXXII. - In which a State of Society is slighty Revealed,

CHAPTER XXXIII. - In which there is a Singular Revelation,

CHAPTER XXXIV. - The Two Pictures,

CHAPTER XXXV. - In which a Little Light is shed upon the Character of
our Chivalry,

CHAPTER XXXVI. - In which a Law is seen to serve Base Purposes,

CHAPTER XXXVII. - A Short Chapter of Ordinary Events,

CHAPTER XXXVIII. - A Story without which this History would be found
wanting,

CHAPTER XXXIX. - A Story with many Counterparts,

CHAPTER XL. - In which the Law is seen to Conflict with our Cherished
Chivalry,

CHAPTER XLI. - In which Justice is seen to be very accommodating,

CHAPTER XLII. - In which Some Light is thrown on the Plot of this
History,

CHAPTER XLIII. - In which is revealed the One Error that brought so
much Suffering upon many,

CHAPTER XLIV. - In which is recorded Events the Reader may not have
Expected,

CHAPTER XLV. - Another Shade of the Picture,

CHAPTER XLVI. - The Soul may gain Strength in a dreary Cell,

CHAPTER XLVII. - In which is a Happy Meeting, and something Pleasing,

CHAPTER XLVIII. - A Few Words With the Reader,






JUSTICE IN THE BY-WAYS.

CHAPTER I.

TOM SWIGGS' SEVENTH INTRODUCTION ON BOARD OF THE BRIG STANDFAST.





IT is in the spring of 1847 this history commences.

"Steady a bit! Here I am, boys, turned up again-a subject of this
moral reform school, of moral old Charleston. If my good old mother
thinks it'll reform a cast-off remnant of human patchwork like me,
I've nothing to say in protest. Yes, here I am, comrades (poor Tom
Swiggs, as you used to call me), with rum my victor, and modern
vengeance hastening my destruction." This is the exclamation of poor
Tom Swiggs (as his jail companions are pleased to call him), who, in
charge of two officers of the law, neither of whom are inclined to
regard him with sympathy, is being dragged back again to the
Charleston jail. The loathsome wreck of a once respectable man, he
staggers into the corridor, utters a wild shriek as the iron gate
closes upon him, and falls headlong upon the floor of the vestibule,
muttering, incoherently, "there is no hope for one like me." And the
old walls re-echo his lamentation.

"His mother, otherwise a kind sort of woman, sends him here. She
believes it will work his reform. I pity her error-for it is an
error to believe reform can come of punishment, or that virtue may
be nurtured among vice." Thus responds the brusque but kind-hearted
old jailer, who view swith an air of compassion his new comer, as he
lays, a forlorn mass, exposed to the gaze of the prisoners gathering
eagerly about him.

The dejected man gives a struggle, raises himself to his haunches,
and with his coarse, begrimed hands resting on his knees, returns
the salutation of several of his old friends. "This, boys, is the
seventh time," he pursues, as if his scorched brain were tossed on a
sea of fire, "and yet I'm my mother's friend. I love her still-yes,
I love her still!" and he shakes his head, as his bleared eyes fill
with tears. "She is my mother," he interpolates, and again gives
vent to his frenzy: "fellows! bring me brandy-whiskey-rum-anything
to quench this flame that burns me up. Bring it, and when I'm free
of this place of torment, I will stand enough for you all to swim
in."

"Shut your whiskey-pipe. You don't appreciate the respectability of
the company you've got among. I've heard of you," ejaculates a voice
in the crowd of lookers-on.

"What of a citizen are you?" inquires Tom, his head dropping
sleepily.

"A vote-cribber-Milman Mingle by name; and, like yourself, in for
formal reform," retorts the voice. And the burly figure of a red,
sullen-faced man, comes forward, folds his arms, and looks for some
minutes with an air of contempt upon the poor inebriate.

"You're no better than you ought to be," incoherently continues Tom,
raising his glassy eyes as if to sight his seemingly querulous
companion.

"Better, at all events, than you," emphatically replies the man.
"I'm only in for cribbing voters; which, be it known, is commonly
called a laudable enterprise just before our elections come off, and
a henious offence when office-seekers have gained their ends. But
what use is it discussing the affairs of State with a thing like
you?" The vote-cribber, inclined to regard the new-comer as an
inferior mortal, shrugs his shoulders, and walks away,
contemplatively humming an air.

"If here ain't Tom Swiggs again!" exclaims a lean, parchment-faced
prisoner, pressing eagerly his way through the circle of bystanders,
and raising his hands as he beholds the wreck upon the floor.

"Fate, and my mother, have ordered it so," replies Tom, recognizing
the voice, and again imploring the jailer to bring him some brandy
to quench the fires of his brain. The thought of his mother floated
uppermost, and recurred brightest to the wandering imagination of
this poor outcast.

"There's no rum here, old bloat. The mother having you for a son is
to be pitied-you are to be pitied, too; but the jail is bankrupt,
without a shilling to relieve you in the liquor line," interposes
another, as one by one the prisoners begin to leave and seek their
several retreats.

"That breath of yours," interrupts the vote-cribber, who, having
returned, stands regarding the outcast man with singular interest,
"would make drunk the whole jail. A week in 'Mount Rascal'
The upper story used for the confinement of felons. will be
necessary to transmute you, as they call it, into something
Christian. On 'the Mount' you will have a chance to
philosophize-mollify the temperature of your nervous system-which is
out of fix just now."

There is an inert aristocracy, a love of distinction, among the
lowest dregs of society, as there is also a love of plush and other
insignificant tawdry among our more wealthy republicans. Few would
have thought of one inebriate affecting superiority over another,
(the vote-cribber was an inebriate, as we shall show,) but so it
was, nevertheless.

"I own up," rejoins Tom, "I own up; I love my mother, and am out of
sorts. You may call me a mass of filth-what you please!"

"Never mind; I am your friend, Tom," interrupts the brusque old
jailer, stooping down and taking him gently by the arm. "Good may
come of the worst filth of nature-evil may come of what seemeth the
best; and trees bearing sound pippins may have come of rotten cores.
Cheer up!"

The cool and unexpected admonition of the "vote-cribber" leaves a
deep impression in Tom's feelings. He attempts, heaving a sigh, to
rise, but has not strength, and falls languidly back upon the floor.
His countenance, for a few moments, becomes dark and desponding; but
the kind words that fall from the jailer's lips inspire him with
confidence; and, turning partly on his side, he thrusts his begrimed
hands into a pair of greasy pockets, whistling "Yankee Doodle," with
great composure.

The jailer glances about him for assistance, saying it will be
necessary to get him up and carry him to his cell.

"To a cell-a cell-a cell!" reiterates the inebriate. "Well, as the
legal gentry say," he continues, "I'll enter a 'non-contender.' I
only say this by way of implication, to show my love for the fellow
who gathers fees by making out writs on my account."

In reply to a question from the jailer, he says they mistake Tom
Swiggs, if they think he has no pride left.

"After all, there's something more in you than I thought, Tom. Give
us your hand," says the vote-cribber, extending cordially his hand,
as if a change for the better had come over him, and grasping firmly
that of the inebriate. Raising his besotted head, Tom gazes
distrustfully at the cribber, as if questioning his sincerity. "I am
not dead to shame," he mutters, struggling at the same time to
suppress his emotions.

"There are, Tom," continues the cribber, playfully, "two claims on
you-two patent claims! (He lets go the inebriate's hand, and begins
teasing his long, red beard.) And, are you disposed to come out on
the square, in the liquor line, you may redeem yourself - "

"Name 'em!" interposed Tom, stopping short in his tune.

"The gentleman commonly called Mister Jones, and a soap-chandler,
are contesting a claim upon you. The one wants your body, the other
your clothes. Now, as I am something of a lawyer, having had large
dealings in elections, I may say, as a friend, that it is only a
question of time, so far as you are concerned. Take my advice, then,
and cheat both, by selling out, in advance. The student and the
janitor pay good prices for such things as you. Give the last-named
worthy a respondentia bond on yourself, redeemable before death, or
resign the body after, (any lawyer will make the lien valid,) and
the advance will produce floods of whiskey. Come out, Tom, like a
hero, on the square."

An outcast, hurled deep into the gulf of despair, and surrounded by
victims of poverty and votaries of crime, the poor inebriate has yet
left him one lingering spark of pride. As if somewhat revived, he
scrambles to his feet, staggers into the room of a poor debtor, on
the left of the long, sombre aisle, and drawing from his pocket a
ten-cent piece, throws it upon the table, with an air of great
importance.

"I am not moneyless," he exclaims - "not I!" and he staggers to the
great chimney-place, rebounding to the floor, saying, "Take
that-bring her in-quench my burning thirst!"

Tom is the only surviving, and now the outcast, member of a somewhat
respectable family, that has moved in the better walks of society.
His mother, being scrupulous of her position in society, and
singularly proud withal, has reared and educated her son in
idleness, and ultimately slights and discards him, because he, as
she alleges, sought society inferior to his position and her
dignity. In his better days he had been erect of person, and even
handsome; but the thraldom of the destroyer has brought him to the
dust, a pitiable wreck.

Tom has seen thirty summers, presents a full, rounded figure, and
stands some five feet ten. He wears an old brown coat, cut after the
fashion of a surtout, that might have fitted him, he says, when he
was a man. But it has lost the right cuff, the left flap, and a part
of the collar; the nefarious moths, too, have made a sieve of its
back. His trowsers are of various colors, greasy down the sides,
ragged at the bottoms, and revealing two encrusted ancles, with feet
stuck into old shoes, turned under at the heels for convenience
sake. A remark from the cribber touches his pride, and borrowing a
few pins he commences pinning together the shattered threads of his
nether garment. A rope-yarn secured about his waist gives a
sailor-like air to his outfit. But, notwithstanding Tom affects the
trim of the craft, the skilled eye can easily detect the deception;
for the craftsman, even under a press of head sail, preserves a
becoming rig.

Indeed, Tom might have attempted without effect, during his natural
life, to transform himself into a sailor. The destroyer was his
victor; the inner man was but a reflex of the outer. He pulled an
old cloth cap over his face, which was immersed in a massive black
beard, bordering two red, swollen cheeks; and with his begrimed
hands he rubbed lustily his inflamed eyes - once brown, large, and
earnest - now glassy and sunken.

"I'm all square, ain't I?" he inquires, looking with vacant stare
into the faces of those who tease him with facetious remarks, then
scans his haberdashery. There yet remains something displeasing to
him. His sense of taste is at stake. This something proves to be a
sooty striped shirt, open in front, and disclosing the remains of a
red flannel under-garment. Every few minutes will he, as if touched
with a sense of shame, wriggle his shoulders, and pull forward the
wreck of his collarless coat, apparently much annoyed that it fails
to cover the breastwork of his distress.

Again he thrusts his hands into his pockets, and with an air of
apparent satisfaction, struts twice or thrice across the dingy room,
as if he would show how far he has gained his equilibrium. "I shall
go straight mad; yes, mad, if the whiskey be not brought in," he
pursues, stopping short in one of his sallies, and with a rhetorical
flourish, pointing at the piece of silver he so exultingly tossed
upon the table. As if his brain were again seized by the destroyer's
flame, his countenance becomes livid, his eyes glare wildly upon
each object near him; then he draws himself into a tragic attitude,
contorts hideously his more hideous face, throws his cap scornfully
to the ground, and commences tearing from his head the matted black
hair that confusedly covers it. "If my mother thinks this a fit
place for me - " He pauses in the middle of his sentence, gives an
imploring stare at his companions, shakes and hangs down his head;
then his brain reels, and his frame trembles, and like a lifeless
mass he falls to the floor.

"I'm gone now - gone - gone - gone!" he mutters, with a spasmodic effort,
covering his face with his hands.

"He'll go mad; you can only save him with a hair of the same dog,"
one of the prisoner's measuredly suggests, folding his arms, and
looking mechanically upon the wretched man.

A second agrees with the first; a third says he is past cure, though
a gallon of whiskey were wasted upon him.

Mr. Mingle, the vote-cribber - regarded good authority in such
matters - interposes. He has not the shadow of a doubt but that a
speedy cure can be effected, by his friends drinking the whiskey,
(he will join them, without an objection,) and just letting Tom
smell the glass.

A fifth says, without prejudice to the State of South Carolina, if
he knew Tom's mother, he would honestly recommend her to send him
special minister to Maine. There, drinking is rather an aristocratic
indulgence, enjoyed only on the sly.

Suddenly the poor inebriate gives vent to his frenzy. The color of
his face changes from pale livid to sickly blue; his hands seem more
shrunken and wiry; his body convulses and writhes upon the floor; he
is become more the picture of a wild beast, goaded and aggravated in
his confinement. A narcotic, administered by the hand of the jailer,
produces quiet, and with the assistance of two prisoners is he
raised to his feet, and supported into the corridor, to receive the
benefit of fresh air. Here he remains some twenty minutes, stretched
upon two benches, and eyed sharply by the vote-cribber, who paces in
a circle round him, regarding him with a half suspicious leer, and
twice or thrice pausing to fan his face with the drab felt hat he
carries under his arm.

"A curious mother that sends you here for reform," muses the
vote-cribber; "but he must be a perfect fleshhook on the feelings of
the family."

Send him up into Rogue's Hall," exclaims a deep, sonorous voice,
that echoes along the aisle. The vote-cribber, having paused over
Tom, as if to contemplate his degradation, turns inquiringly, to see
from whence comes the voice. "It is me!" again the voice resounds.



Online LibraryF. Colburn AdamsJustice in the By-Ways, a Tale of Life → online text (page 1 of 29)