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Justice in the By-Ways, a Tale of Life online

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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."



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

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

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

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.



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

"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

"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,

"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

Online LibraryF. Colburn AdamsJustice in the By-Ways, a Tale of Life → online text (page 17 of 29)