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touched by it.

When the fire occurred in the Park Avenue Hotel last winter, I
learned that the Tombs Angel was Mrs. Bebecca Salome Foster; that
she had lived there for a number of years, and was killed in the dis-
aster. This was in itself a surprise, but the tone of the newspapers
in recording ber death was a greater one. The usual newspaper obit-
uary is, at best, perfunctory. However great or good the deceased
may have been, the records of his deeds, the eulogy of his character,
are usually gleaned from books and files and put into form by some
one assigned to the work. It is to him a part of the day's demand

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408 THK BAft.

He writes it as he would ao aooouot of a Board meeting. There were
DO * "Obituaries*' gi?eo to Mrs. Fbster. The hotel Are was made Utile
of. Her death was the tragedy. Bvery accooot was a lament— sio-
oere, almost pathetic. There was a note of sorrow, simple and genu-
ioe, seldom foand Id the oolumos of the oewspapers. Such a oote is
struck when the President is murdered, for then the whole country,
by horror of the deed and by the magnitude of the eyent, is shocked
out of its indifference. It is a simultaneous feeling by a whole peo-
ple that stirs in the blood of the scribe.

The day before Mrs. Foster was killed she was unknown to hun-
dreds of thousands of eyen the people of New York. Ton could hare
cried her name in vain up the crowded Bruadwio^ and through the
shopping district, on a bright day, when all the multitudes were out.
But e?en the stranger reading the accounts of her that day must have
been moTed by them, and felt, without knowing, that they were Jus

.Her death was not treated as a sensation, a good story thrown by
fate in the reporter's wi^ to-day, to be forgotten to-morrow. It was
the singular tone of respect, bordering on Teneration, that stirred my
interest. I wanted to know the woman we had lost.

The police reporters seldom call at the offices of the newspapers
they represent. There are two or three old buildings on Mulberry
street, across the way from Police Headquarters, where they haye
their desks and offices. They make the daily rounds of courts and
officials, looking up certain captains, detectiyes, or roundsmen, io
quest of special stories, dropping into the Tombs to see an. interesting
prisoner, and when the details of the di^^'s criminal news haye been
gathered, they return to their deslu in Mulberry street, write what
their paper expects, and send it in.

I found a friend of mine at his desk one afternoon after his routine
work was done. He was smoking his pipe, his feet on the window-
sill, his eyes fixed in reverie on the ugly front of the Headquarters.
He has occupied this corner for over fifteen years, serying one of the
old evening papers. He is looked upon as one of the best-posted news-
paper men in all criminal and police matters in the city, and I confi-
dently expect to get from him a complete picture of the Tombs Angel,
and incidents enough to give the picture life.

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•*Dld yoa Iniow Mrs. Foster?" I aaked.

••Tea," he replied.

•*Wbat was she like?"

*^She was a floe woman."

'*! know, but Id what way?"

**Why, io eyery way. She was the best woman I eyer knew."

**Gome, now old man," I urged, **I want to know about her. Ton
would not describe her it that way in your paper."

**I wouldn't say much about her in the paper. She wouldn't
like it."

**Well tell me some of the interesting things she did — not excep-
tional, you know, but characteristic."

He puffed at his pipe and thought for a long while.

'•I don't think I can do it," he said, at last. **She never talked
about the things she did. We never thought of going to her for a
story — ^It would do no good*"

'*And still she was popular with the reporters?"

**She was one of the best women I ever knew."

And this was all I could get out of him.

William Travers Jerome, now District Attorney for New York, was
for a number of years one of the Judges of the court in which Mrs.
Foster served as probation officer. I have been acquainted with
Judge Jerome for some time, and I know him to be a close observer.
I found him recently at his East Side residence.

*a want to know all sbout Mrs. Foster," I said. **What sort of a
woman was she? What did she look like?"

**She was a small, nice looking woman, very quiet and unobtrusive.
And yet that is hardly right>, either, for she was very active and al-
ways busy. But she went about her affairs in a direct and simple
way. Her value to the court itself was in the fact that she had rare
good jndgment. Tou find not a few philanthropic people, and not a
few people with good Judgment, but it often seems as if these two
elements were not found in the same person.

''A woman would be brought up to the bar, plead guilty, and be
remanded. We would ask Mrs. Foster to look into the case and report
to us. She would find out where the woman worked — what her life
Was, what her interests were, who her people were, what her sur-
roundings had been, how she came to get into this trouble; and her

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Judgment was so good, and her ezperieDce so great, that it was the
very rarest thing for any of these people to be able to deceive her.
She was, of course, constantly told untruths, but she was sagacious
enough to detect the fact that they were untruths, so that when she
reported to the court, the court felt that, as far as it was possible to
ascertain them, all the facts of the case had been learned, and that it
might act with perfect safety upon her report, and the question
whether sentence should be suspenedor imposed, or where the prisoner
should be sent, was generally decided by her."

**But, with all hergood Judgment," 1 interposed, **sbe must have
been deeply sympathetic."

**I suppose she was," be replied. *'A great many women who en-
deavor to do philanthropic work of this Icind are unselfish and warm-
hearted, but they are frequently misled by the class of people with
whom they have to deal, and their statements to the courts can
rarely be relied upon — not that they willfully falsify, but they are in-
capable of ascertaining the real facts of the case. Their duty seems
to them to be rather to exlend sjrmpathy to the person in trouble than
to make a thorough investigation of the person's case, so that it can
be dealt with in the wisest way, looking not only to the good of the
individual, but the general good of the community.

**It was not an infrequent thing to have Mrs. Foster report that
the person was of such a character that she did not think there should
be a suspension of sentence. And frequently, before the prisoner
was convicted, she would make an investigation, and if Judgment was
suspended she would, especially in the case of young women, take
them into her charge, procure situations for them, and exercise a
general supervision over them for a considerable time, helping them
wisely. She had a little place, up somewhere on the Sound, where
she took some of these. For others she would procure lodgings, and
frequently, when a woman was sentenced and sent to prison, she
would lookout for her children; and where men were sentenced she
would look out for their wives, procure means to help them — give
them food and clothing, procure work for them. Her ministra-
tions were not by any means devoted entirely to women, although
they were the principal objects of charity. She worked at all times —
in the heat of summer and the cold of winter. She would go to the
very limit of her strength, until, absolutely exhausted, she would

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THE BAR. 411

faint. ThecourtofBcers. were all very food of her, and when she
was overcome some big policemau would lift her up and carry her to a
place of rest as tenderly as though she were a baby.

*'Her absolute sincerity and purity of motive impressed itself upon
every one and led them to trust her. She would never take any money
from the Judges. Lots of times I have tried to give her money for
some particular case — where she had made expenditures to talce care
of the family while the man was in Jail . She would say: *No, I can-
not take any money from any of the Judges. I know the Judges who
are here now would not think I was coming to them with the hope
of getting some, but there might come Judges here who would not feel
that way about it. They would get to look upon me as a nuisance,
and they would feel they ought to offer me money.' "

Here was a little liglU on the character I was seeking to know, but I
felt that it wa;^ only a partial revelation. Gk)od Judgment and an in-
sight not readily deceived were the qualities that had impressed the
Judges. They might make her a valuable ally to the court, but they
could not explain the reason for her labor. No woman would have de-
voted years of her life to such exhausting toil In so lugubrious a world,
without pay, simply for love of exercisiog her powers of discrimination.
The Judge put these first, but it was evident that they must have
been incidental so far as she was concerned. They served to make her
more effective in what the deeper qualities of her nature prompted
her to do.

** Where did she get the money that she used? She did not receive
much as probation oiBGer,'did she?"

** The law creating probation oiBcers was passed only about a year
ago. She was doing this work many years before that, and she served
out of pure benevolence, without pay. I don't know where the money
she spent came from. I think she had some means of her own."

I went to the iron-barred door of the Tombs, and was admitted.

The sheriff received me in his dingy office, in the rear of a long, nar-
row room, an ill-lighted, poorly ventilated passage to the cells.

The sheriff, a big-boned, heavily built Irishman, met me with a
challenging stare from his suspicious, cold blue eyes, but when I told
him my errand his attitude became less harsh and forbidding.

HHow long have jon known Mrs. Foeter?" I asked.

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412 THE BAR.

** Brer siDoe I haye been here. IMre been aroand the Tombs here,
one waj and another, for about twelve years."

**Aiid you taw a good deal of her?"

**I taw her about eTery day. She oame here every moroing, regu-
lar as olock work."

**To see the prisoDi>rs lo general?"

**Well, there was always one or more particular cases she was look-
ing after, and then there was always a lot of ez-prlsoners and deed-
beats and people in trouble hanging around outside for her. She al-
ways came around here to see them. Of course, if it was cold or
stormy, we let them wait inside for bet."

*'What did she do for these people— get them work?"

<*Most of 'em didn't want work. Of course, if they did, she would
And 'em something. But most of those hanging round here were
dead-beats looking to her for a stake."

«<What did she do with them?"

*K!)h, she always staked 'em to something— a quarter or a half or so.
There was a fellow named Appo— an ez-con?ict and a regular Bowery
bum — used to show up about so often, and get a half or a dollar
off her."

**FOoling her with promises of reform?"

<*Not much. You could'nt fool Mrs. Fbster. She was on to 'em
all right. She never talked reform to such people. Just slipped a
half or a dollar into their list on the quiet, with a Joke or a pleasant
word, and told 'em to come and see her again."

*<What was her idea?"

**I>on't know as she has any idea. Talk don't do those dead-beats
any good. She seemed to think a lot of them in a queer kind of way
— ^kind of Joking and tender."

**She was tender hearted?"

**Of course she was, but not soft like some. She was always bright
and cheery, and had a laugh or a Joke or a pleasant word for every-
one. She used to come whisking in every morning, and trip through
the place, saying good-morning to every one by name. She always
came bustling into my office as bree«y and chipper as a young girl.
It was always <K3kx)d- morning to you. Sheriff; are you good-natured
to-day?" You could'nt help warming up to her. Another woman
might have seemed bold and forward, but she didn't. Bvety morning

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THE BAR. 413

It was Just the same. Tye got some people to see,' she would say.
<OaQ I go into tbe oells?* she'd always ask. She could have goae right
In, oomtng for twelve years that way, and everybody kuowiDtr her, but
she alw&ys asked, and when I said, 'Why, of course you can,* she'd
say, *ThaDkyou kiodly, Sheriff; thank you kindly."

The big fellow's face flushed up as he spoke of her, and his blue
eyes were warm and moist.

A quiet, unobtrusive little woman in the court-room — ^Just and of
good Judgment. A breezy. Joking, bustling spirit about the Tombs;
full of cajolery and flattery for ofBcials of a brief authority, open-
handed, shrewd, and tender with the odds and ends of poverty, mis-
fortune, worthlessness, and crime that gathered there. Was this
conscious acting, and if so, for what ambition was the effort spent?
Every morning, before going to the Tombs, Mrs. Foster went to Cal-
vary Church, at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Twenty-first Street.
I called there several times to discover why. One afternoon I found
the sexton in. He had served in that capacity for a number of years,
and had known Mrs. Foster well.

The vestibule of Calvery Church is long and wide. Its low celiling
and narrow windows of stained glass give it a resemblance to an an-
cient castle hall. It is a dimly lighted, cool, and somber place, where
people tread softly and seldom speak aloud.

**It is empty now," said the sexton glancing down its length, **but
when Mrs. Foster was alive, there was most always someone here
waiting in the hope of her dropping in. There were twenty or thirty
of 'em here in the morning about her time to come. She used this as
her uptown office, and she kept the clothes and things she gave away
In the basement. She was always collecting every kind of thing and
sending It here. Sometimes a wagon would drive up and unload."

«*How old was she?"

'*Well, to look at her, you would say she was no more than thirty-
eight or nine, but she must have been over fifty."

**Wa8 she attractive? How did she look or dress?"

**She had handsome eyes, kind of dancing and thoughtful too. She
always dressed well, in black, and her clothes fitted. She had a trim
good figure, and ways like a girl— light on her feet, quick and graceful.
It was a wonder to me she could go about at all times of night and in
all kto^B of places alone and neyer have hi^rm come of her. She

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414 THE BAR.

would go anywhere and do aojthing without thinking. One time she
had been to a dinner at some fine place or other and gut back to the
hotel late. An old woman wan waiting for her, and told her about a
daughter that had got astray and was leading a bad life in a low re-
sort on the Bowery. She had been gone from home a litUe over a week,
and they had Just found out where she was, but the dive-keeper had
hid her away and the mother couldn't get to her. Well, Mrs. Foster
got a cab and drove, Just as she was, evening dtess and all, right to
the door of the dive.

**She went in alone, and as she walked among the tables where men
were drinking they called out U> her all kind of things. She went
right to the bar and asked the keeper for the girl she was after. He
swore at her and ordered her to get out. Then one of ttie men at a
table Jumped up and called out, *Speak cfvil to her. Patsy. Shut up,
you fellows! That's the Tombs Angel your talking to. That's who
she is.'

<*As soon as they heard that, a lot of the men came up, and the
girls crowded around her, and they made Patsy go and get the one
she'd come for."

Birs. Foster was married in Oalvary Ohnroh, in 1865, to the brilliant
Judge Advocate who later tried those accused in the oonspinu^ to
kill Lincoln. The President was not at the wedding beeanse the
stress of the times would not permit, but it is the impression of one of
Mrs. Foster's daughters that one or more members of the Oablnet at*
tended. However that may be, it was a great social event, and the
merry, tender-hearted, Joy-loving young girl who was the center of it
became the Tombs Angel, and for twelve years after her husband's
death used the place of her wedding as « receptlon-tiall for her friends
the outcasts. It has been impossible for me to get from anyone a
statement as to her motives. No one seems to know Just why she be-
came a servant of the court and of the condemned. She was not a
grief-stricken woman, seeking to hide her life and forget herself and
her sorrows in such service: she was not an organizer of societies, nor
a reformer, nor one who loved to be busy about other people's business.
She loved society, and was a bright and active member of a wealthy
and cultured circle, during all the years of her toll in the slums.

**I don't know that I can give you acQr reason for it," said het
daughter, **exoept that she loved such work, and ttiat, as the year^

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THB BAB. 416

1, It gradaally grew of itself and abeorbed her."

'*Did it make her anhappy?"

'*She was the merriest ooe of the family. She seemed yoooger than
her daughters."

*'Did she talk to you about her work, about the people she helped?''

**Ooly wheo she was sick aad needed oicr help. Then she* would
tell us whom to go to and what to do for them. That was all."

These details do not lend theo^iselves to the portrait of a oouTen-
tional missionary, and it is to be hoped that the artist who deslgnes
the monument to be placed in her memory will avoid ancient and ac-
cepted symbols— for here is something striking, significant, and new."

jndloUa Inoolenoe.

THE following account of a scene in a London Court, illustrates
the difference between the prevailing ideas of practical cour-
tesy on the two sides of the sea. If this scene had happen-
ed in an American Court the Judge, instead of getting an apology
would have been in danger of getting his head broken. The
Solicitors Journal says:

During the hearing of judgment summonses before his honor
Judge Shortt, EL, a solicitor, a stranger to .the court, rose, ungown-
ed, and said that he was for the plaintiff in the case under consid-

For a few moments the judge gazed at him in silence, and then
inquired, *'Who and what are you?"

"I am a solicitor, sir,'' replied the lawyer in a tone of surprise.
''Oh^Jiezt case; this is struck out,'' remarked thejudge.
For a few seconds the solicitor stood stupefied, and then
ejaculated, '*What is that for?*'
^Don't interrupt the business of the court,** said hi^honor.
It T)eing privately explained to the solicitor that his honor made
it a practice never to hear counsel or solicitors unless they were
fullj gowned, he exclaimed* ** It is very hard."

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''What iB that yon sayf ^ Demanded the Judge; "* yon had better
be very careftil; I can send yon to prison.'*

The solicitor rose and walked out of court, saying in an audible
''aside'* as he went, " I should like to see you do it**

The Judge, with outstretched hand, called out, " Usher arrest
that man.'*

Immediately two officers sprang forward to do his bidding, and
in a few moments the solicitor, who had by this time left the court,
was brought back.

" Dont hurt him, but take him to some room where he can think
it oyer,*' said the Judge.

. As the officers were removing the solicitor to another part of the
building, he exclaimed; "I am a good sobject and a solicitor. I
did not know the practice of this court.'*

"What is that?** demanded the Judge.

" I did not know the practice of this oourt»*' faltered the

" It is very easy to learn, and you should have done so,** retorted
the Judge, adding impressiyely: "As long as I am here everyone
shall keep order, firom the highest counsel to the lowest litigant**

*' I am very sorry,** said the lawyer.

" Don't appear to be very sincere in your apologies; perhaps you
had better be kept in custody a little longer/* retorted the Judge.

" I offer you my sincere apologies, then, .your honor,*' said the
solicitor after some hesitation.

"Humph ! You had better'repeat that,*' said Judge Shortt The
unfortunate lawyer did so, whereupon his honor remarked: "Ton
can now quietly leave the court**

The solicitor walked out, declining to ftirnish his name to the
reporters. —

%« %is

Mr. DallM said in one of his speeches, *'Now we are sdvuioing from ths
starlight of cironmstancial eyidenoe to the daylight of disooverj; the mm of
certainty has melted the darkness.** To which Onrran retorted, "When man
cannot talk senoe, he talks metaphor.**

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THB BAR. 417

Hhould a Oollege Degree be Required Ibr Admiseioiito Iaw SohooU?

DUBIING the last three or four years at meetings of Bar Assocfa-
tiODS and Legal Educators throughout the oouotry, the question,
what amount of preliminary training should a student have before
entering upon the study of the law? has given rise to much discus-
sion. Probably more than seventy-fiTe per cent, of those admitted to
the Bar at present are graduates of law schools or men who have
studied for some time at a law school. The standard of preliminary
examination before county and state boards throughout the country is
In most cases considerably lower than that required for graduation
from the average high school, and in many localities amounts to little
more than a grammar school examination. In the law schools in the
United States, of which there are now over one hundred, the require-
ments for admission vary from a common school education to a col-
lege degree.

Bach year this subject gives rise to numerous articles, papers, and
discussions as to what standard would be the most fair to all desiring
to enter one of the large law schools. No satisfactory solution of the
problem has yet been reached, and the differences of opinion are per-
haps as great as ever. Some advocate the requiring of college degrees,
many think the training necessary to pass the average college entrance
examinations sufBcient, while others would have each applicant talce
a special course of a few years in college, and still others think a com-
mon school education sufBcient.

Some Interesting statistics have Just been prepared by the Registrar
of the Law Department of the University of Pennsylvania which
would seem to throw considerable light on the subject of what
standard of admission would be the fairest to all applicants and which
would do the least injustice to persons desirgus of pursuing their legal
studies at one of the large university law schools. Among those
studying law at Pennsylvania every kind of preliminary training, of
the higher standard Is well represented; no one, however, being ad-
mitted unless he shows evidence of having done a sufBcient amount of

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418 THE BAB.

prelimioary study to enable him at least to graduate from a high
school of good staadiug.

For the purpose of ascertaialDg the capacity of Tarious classes of
meo, the Registrar takes the total number of students and separates
them into six scholastic divisions, as follows: 1, those who entered
the school on college diplomas from Harvard, Tale, Princeton and
Pennsylvania; 2, those who graduate from the Central High School
of Philadelphia; 3, all college graduates; 4, all men who had spent
some time at college, but failed to graduate; 5, all graduates of pub-
lic high schools; 6, **all others." In the latter he includes all those
who were obliged to take the college entrance examinations, most of
them coming from private preparatory schofils, no certificates what-
ever of such schools being accepted. According to his record 43 per
cent, of the 365 students in the department last year* were college
graduates, 18 per cent, partial college men, 28 per cent, high school
graduates and 10 percent, of **all others." In these, 115 institutions
were represented, of which 58 were colleges or universities. With
these scholastic divisions in mind, he works out the following statis-
tics, which furnish much food for thought.

The marking of examination papers at Pennsylvania is on tho
scale of 100, from 90 to 100 being considered as Distinguished or
♦♦D;" 65 to 89 Passed or •♦T;" 64 and below. Conditioned or •»C." On
this scale the general average made by the students in the entire de-
partment was 75.05, of which 18 per cent, represent **D," 66 per cent.

Online LibraryWest Virginia Bar AssociationThe Bar, Volume 9 → online text (page 40 of 45)