Part 2 out of 5
Mercury and Courier.
At Baker's the place was literally crowded with all kinds and
characters, graded from the honorable judge down to the pot-boy; a
pot-pouri of courtesy and companionship only exhibited in England on
the near approach of elections. The reader may think this strange,
but we can assure him that distinctions are strangely maintained; an
exclusive arrogance being observed in private life, while a too
frequent and general resort to bar-rooms has established plebeianism
in public. Voices were sounding at all parts of the counter, and for
as many different voices as many different mixtures were named. The
Captain received a great many introductions, and almost as many
invitations to drink; but the little man, Master George, claimed the
exclusive honor, and keeping an eye wide awake, took the advantage
of his own dimensions, and began working his way through a barricade
of bodies and elbows, until he had reached the counter. His party
followed close, at his heels. Altogether, they called for cocktails,
smashes, toddies, cobblers, juleps, and legitimates. These disposed
of, the company repaired to what is called a "box up-stairs."
Scarcely seated, Master George rang the bell with such violence that
he disjointed the cord and tassel, and gave such an alarm that three
or four darkies came poking their alarmed countenances through the
curtains at once.
"There's nothing like making the fellows mind; they've got so
infernal independent here, and old Tom thinks so much of his young
wife, that his niggers have begun to imitate him. One's enough at a
time!" said Master George, with all the importance of his character.
A "bright boy," with his hair nicely parted on the middle of his
head, and frizzed for the occasion, made a polite bow, while the
"What have you choice for supper, to-night? We want something ripe
for the palate-none of your leavings, now, you infernal nigger, and
don't tell us none of your lies."
"Birds, sir, grouse, woodcock, partridge, canvas-backs, and quails;
meats, venison, and oysters, master-did up in any shape what the
gentlemen wish. Wines, &c., if they want," replied the servant,
without any of the negro dialect, at the same time making a low bow
to Master George.
"Name it! name your dishes, gentlemen! Don't be backward. I suppose
his birds are as usual, without age to flavor them. It's perfectly
heathenish to eat birds as they are served here: we never get a bird
here that is sufficiently changed to suit a gentleman o' taste;
their beef's tough, and such steak as they make is only fit for
shoemakers and blacksmiths. I never come into the place but I think
of my journey in France, where they know the style and taste of a
gentleman, and things are served to suit your choice." Thus our
little friend continued his connoisseur remarks, to give the Captain
a particular idea of his proficiency in the requisite qualities,
age, and time of keeping necessary to make the adjuncts of a supper
fit for a gentleman. "D--me! we don't know when edibles are choice,
and the Yankees are perfect brutes in these things, and have no more
taste than a cow. Our folks ought to all go to France for a year or
two, to learn the style of cooking. It's perfect murder to eat a
bird the very day after it's killed; yes, sir! no man that considers
his stomach will do it," said George.
The servant waited impatiently-the Captain rubbed his eyes, and
began to pour out a glass of water; and dryly said he'd no choice,
which was responded to by the rest. It was left to Master George,
and he ordered a bountiful supply of grouse, partridges, oyster, and
champagne of his favourite brand-none other. There was also a
billiard-room, reading-room, a room for more important gambling, and
a bar-room, up-stairs. All these were well filled with very well-
dressed and very noisy people; the latter being a very convenient
place, the party sent to it for tipplers to fill up time.
"This is but a small portion of what constitutes life in Charleston,
Captain. We live for living's sake, and don't stand upon those
blueskin theories of temperance and religion that Yankees do, and
blame the Father of generations for not making the world better. I
never saw one of them that wasn't worse than we Southerners before
he'd been in Charleston a year, and was perfect death on niggers.
Yes, sir, it's only the extreme goodness of the Southern people's
hearts that makes the niggers like them so. I never saw a Northerner
yet that wouldn't work his niggers to death in two years. D--me,
sir, my servants all love me as if I was a prince. Have you ever
been in France, sir?" said he, suddenly breaking off. The Captain
replied in the affirmative.
"Ah! then you can speak French! the most polished language known to
refined society. I wouldn't part with my French for the world. All
the first families in Charleston are familiar with it. It's the
modern gentleman's curt-blanche to society here. There's no language
like it for beauty and flexibility; but one must go to France and
learn to acquire its grace and ease," said he, in rapid succession,
rolling out his words in imitation of a London sprig of the Inner
Temple, and working his little mastiff mouth.
"No, sir," said the Captain quaintly. "I never stopped long enough
in France to get hold of the lingo."
"God bless me, what a misfortune! and can't speak it yet, ah? Why,
Captain, if you wanted to court a petit‚ madmoselle, you'd be in a
sad fix-she wouldn't understand what you were talking about and
would take your love-pledges for gammon."
"You're mistaken there, my good fellow. Love grows on trees in
France, and a French woman can see it. before you begin to tell her
about it!" retorted the Captain, which brought a "Good! good! hit
him again!" from the whole party. At this, Master George commenced
reading the Captain a disquisition upon the best mode of acquiring
the French language. Supper was brought-in old Tom Baker's best
flourish-and the party begun to discuss its merits with great gusto.
What the little, chivalrous fellows lacked in physical dimension,
they made up in patriotic sentiment in behalf of the grand sove-
reignty of South Carolina, which they continued to pour out until a
late hour, every man backing his sayings by the authority of the
great and wonderful Calhoun.
The Captain sat eating away, and seeming more disposed to enjoy the
physical consolation of his supper than to elevate his ideas upon
South Carolina's politics.
"Now, Captain," said Master George, in a very serious tone, after he
had been striking his hand upon the marble table for more than an
hour to confirm the points of his reasoning,--"what is your opinion
of the great question at issue between the Federal Government and
South Carolina? And what do you think of the Old Dominion? how will
she stand upon the test-question?"
The poor Captain looked confounded-took another oyster, and began to
get his mouth. in a fix, while little George worked his fingers
through his nice curly hair, and the young bloods awaited the
rejoinder with anxiety.
"Really, sir, you have the advantage of me in your question. It is
so much beyond my profession that I am entirely ignorant of the
subject-therefore could not give an opinion. In truth, sir, I do not
know the purport of the question. It has given me pleasure and
information to listen to your conversation and the ability you
displayed in argument, but, as a stranger, I could take no part,"
replied the Captain very sincerely.
Not content with this, Master George wished to be more direct. "It's
the right of secession, Captain-the power to maintain the right by
"Probably; but may I expose my ignorance by inquiring what is meant
by secession? and to what it is applied so frequently?" inquired the
"Oh! murder Captain; have you never heard of nullification times!
Well, sir, you must be posted on the affairs of our government." So
he commenced an analysis of nearly an hour long, and in it gave some
astonishing accounts of the wonderful statesmanship of Calhoun,
Butler, and Rhett, tapering down with a perfect fire-and-thunder
account of the military exploits of General Quattlebum and Captain
Blanding. The Captain began to stretch and gape, for he labored
under the fatigue of a perilous voyage, and repose was the only
sovereign remedy. He felt that the limits of propriety were entirely
overstepped, and that he would have reason to remember the first
night spent with little George the secessionist.
"But, Captain! my dear fellow. I see you don't understand our
position yet. We've been insulted; yes, most rascally insulted by
the Federal Government, and they keep it up every year. We can't get
our rights. Oh! no, sir, there's no such thing in the knowledge of
the Federal officers as justice for South Carolina; and you must
understand, Captain, that she is the greatest State in the Union,
and there a'n't nothing like her people for bravery. The political
power's got North and West, the old constitution is being dissected
to suit the abolitionists, and they're drawing the cordon around us
faster and faster; and they're now out like a warrior boldly to the
conquest, sounding their voices in the halls of Congress, appealing
to human and divine power to protect their nonsense, and bidding
defiance to our constitutional rights, Our slaves are our property,
protected by the law of God-by that inspired and superhuman wisdom
that founded our great and glorious constitution. Yes, sir! it was
an institution entailed upon us by our forefathers, and a wise
providence has provided proper laws by which we shall protect and
see these poor miserable devils of helpless slaves, that can't take
care of themselves, straight through."
"But how does this affect you and the Federal Government?" inquired
"Why, sir, most directly!" replied Master George, screwing his mouth
and giving his head a very learned attitude. "Directly, sir!--the
Federal Government is acquiescing in every abolition scheme that is
put forward by that intriguing Northern compact for the
establishment of new governments in the territories. She is granting
unconstitutional privileges to designing politicians, whose chief
aim is to uproot our domestic institution and destroy the allegiance
of the slave to his master, by which the slaves would be cast upon
the world unprotected, and we disarmed of power to protect them. Ah!
sir, I tell you, of all fruits of the imagination that would be the
most damnable, and the slave would be the sufferer. It would be
worse for him, poor fellow; it would be an abuse of human power
without precedent. So far as political power is concerned, we are
nearly disarmed. The influx of population finds its way into the
opened avenues of the North and West. And with opinions predisposed
against our institutions, and the contaminating influence standing
ready with open arms to embrace the great current, what can we
expect? It's the increasing power made by foreign influx that's
giving tone to our government. If our Southern Convention stand firm
we are saved; but I'm fearful there's too many doubtful shadows in
it that won't stand to the gun. That's what's always played the
devil with us," said George, striking his hand upon the table.
"There's no limitation to their interpositions, and their resolves,
and their adjournments; which don't come up to my principles of
making the issue, and standing to the question with our coffins on
our backs. These condescensions of thought and feeling arise from
the misconceived notions of a few, who are always ready to join, but
never willing to march to action, and must not be taken as a
specimen of South Carolina bravery. The Federal Government has
become vicious and even puerile toward South Carolina; and since the
Herculean power of the great Calhoun is gone, it treats us like a
semi-barbarous and secluded people, mistaking our character. But
we'll learn the Federal Government a lesson yet."
"Do not your legislators make laws for your government, or how is it
that you express such a restive dissatisfaction? Do not the same
laws which govern you, govern the whole of the slave States?"
Little George had previously monopolized all the conversation, but
at this juncture five or six voices broke out, each fired with a
reply to the Captain's question; and yet the answer was of the same
old stamp: What South Carolina had done-how she had fought and
gained the Mexican war-how she was interested in slaves, and how she
yet feared to strike the blow because a set of mere adventurers had
got the power to vote in her elections, and cowards through them had
got into the legislature.
"Why, gentlemen, listen to me in this particular. If"--
"Your oysters are getting cold, George," interrupted a blood at his
left, rather facetiously.
"I claim the respect due a gentleman, sir! A South Carolinian will
transgress no rules of etiquette," said George, grasping his tumbler
in a passionate manner and smashing it upon the marble slab, causing
a sudden emeute in the camp. "Order! order! order!" was sounded from
every tongue. "You mustn't be afeard, Captain," said one of the
party. "This is perfectly South Carolinian-just the oscillating of
the champagne; it won't last long."
The noise was more loud than ordinary, and brought a score of people
around to hear the trouble. George had got in high dudgeon, and it
took several persons to hold him, while the remainder, not excepting
the Captain, were engaged in a pacification. The scene was very
extravagant in folly; and through the kind interposition of friends,
the matter was settled to the honorable satisfaction of both
parties-the question was called for-the Captain called for a
legitimate, rubbed his eyes, and little George proceeded. "If my
friend Thomas Y. Simmons, Jr., had been elected to the legislature
he'd altered the position of things in South Carolina. All these
corruptions would have been exposed, and the disparity of party
would have dwindled into obscurity. Every true Carolinian voted for
him to the hilt, but how was he defeated? Gentlemen, can you answer?
it will be a favor highly gratifying to me to hear your opinions!" A
voice answered, "Because he wasn't big enough!" "No, sir," said
George, "it was because there was intrigue in the party, and the
Yankee influence went to put him down. The world'll hear from him
yet. He's my particular friend, and will stand in the halls of
Congress as great a statesman as ever lisped a political sentiment."
George's account of his particular friend, Thomas Y. S--, Jr., was
so extravagant, and not having heard of him before, the Captain's
curiosity was aroused to know who he was and where he resided. We
will not tax the reader with George's wonderful memoir of his
friend, but merely inform him that "little Tommy Simmons," as he is
usually styled in Charleston, is an exact pattern of Master George,
with the exception of his mouth, which is straight and regular; and
if we may be allowed to condescend to the extremes, we should say
that the cordwainer had done more for his heels. Otherwise, no
daguerreotype could give a counterpart more correct. Tommy is a very
small member of the Charleston bar, who, though he can seldom be
seen when the court is crowded, makes a great deal of noise without
displaying power of elucidation or legal abilities, yet always
acquitting himself cleverly. Tommy was little George in two
particulars-he had studied law, and was a great secessionist; and if
George had never practised, it was only from inclination, which he
asserted arose from a humane feeling which he never could
overcome-that he never wished to oppress anybody. But the greatest
contrast that the reader can picture to himself between mental and
physical objects existed between Tommy's aspirations and the
physical man. His mind was big enough, and so was his self-
confidence, to have led the Assyrian and Chaldean army against the
Hebrews. To this end, and to further the formula of his
statesmanship, no sooner was he twenty-one, and the corner just
turned, than he sounded his war-trumpet-secession or death!--mounted
the rostrum and "stump'd it," to sound the goodness and greatness of
South Carolina, and total annihilation to all unbelievers in
nullification. It was like Jonah and the whale, except the
swallowing, which spunky Tommy promised should be his office, if the
Federal Government didn't toe the mark. Yes, Tommy was a candidate
for the legislature, and for the Southern Congress, (which latter
was exclusively chivalrous;) and the reader must not be surprised
when we tell him that he lacked but a few votes of being elected to
the former. Such was the voice of the Charleston district.
Supper had been discussed down to the fragments, and all expressed
their satisfaction of the quantity and declined any more; but George
called on another bottle of champagne, and insisted that the party
should take a parting glass. The servant had begun to extinguish the
lights-a sure sign that the success of the bar was ended for the
night. George reprimanded the negro-the sparkling beverage was
brought, glasses filled up, touched, and drunk with the standing
toast of South Carolina. A motion to adjourn was made and seconded,
and the party, feeling satisfied with their evening's recreation,
moved off accordingly.
A FEW POINTS OF THE LAW.
IN Charleston, such an adjournment at a bar-room or an eating-house,
when parties are enjoying what is termed a "pleasant occasion," does
not mean an adjournment to the domestic fireside; nor are the
distinctions between married and single men regarded, though
domestic attachments may be considered as governing the thoughts and
feelings. The practical definition of such an adjournment means to
some place where beauty secludes itself to waste in shame.
The party descended into the lower bar-room, which, though rather
thinned, presented a picture of characters stimulated to the
tottering point. A motion had been made and strongly seconded to
visit the voluptuous house of a certain lady, which it is considered
a stranger has not seen Charleston until he has visited. The Captain
remonstrated against this, assuring the party that he must go to the
ship and needed rest. Again and again they insisted, setting forth
the charms and beauty of the denizens, but he as often declined in
the most positive manner. Unable to move him in his resolution, one
by one began to give him a hearty shake of the hand and bid him
good-night, leaving little Master George to the exclusive honor of
seeing him home.
Standing in the centre of the room, surrounded by five or six
persons well-dressed but very weak in the knees, was a
portly-looking gentleman; with very florid countenance, keen dark
eyes, and aquiline nose which he frequently fingered. There was an
air of respectability about him, though his countenance was not
marked with any particularly prominent feature to distinguish him
from the ordinary class of respectable men. He spoke well, yet
without taste or discrimination in his language, was rather bald and
gray, with small head. and low perceptive powers; and judging from
the particular tone of his voice and. the cant terms he used, we
should think he had figured among the Kentucky horse-traders, or
made stump speeches in Arkansas. His dress was inclined to the
gaudy. He wore a flashy brown-colored frock-coat with the collar
laid very far back, a foppish white vest exposing his shirt-bosom
nearly down to the waistbands of his pants, which were of gray
stripes. But the more fanciful portions of his dress were a large
and costly fob-chain, which hung very low and supported an immense
seal containing a glistening stone, which he seemed very fond of
dangling with his left hand. Attached to this was a very prominently
displayed black ribbon, answering the purpose of a guard-chain, and
laid with great contrasting care over the bosom of his shirt. This,
with a neckerchief of more flashy colors than Joseph's coat, and a
late style Parisian hat, with the rim very exquisitely turned upon
the sides, make up our man.
He was discussing politics, with a great many sensible sayings,
though nothing like close reasoning; and strange as it may seem, he
was strongly opposed to the rabid views of several staggering
secessionists, who surrounded him, and advocated the views set forth
in convention by Mr. Butler. We remarked this more particularly, for
it was about the only instance we witnessed of a public man being
independent enough to denounce the fanaticism of secession. A more
amusing scene than that presented by the attitudes-the questions in
regard to South Carolina licking the Federal Government-the strange
pomp-ribald gasconade, and high-sounding chivalry of the worthies,
cannot be imagined. They were in a perfect ecstasy with themselves
and South Carolina, and swore, let whatever come, they were ready to
Little Master George seemed very anxious that the Captain should
become acquainted with him, and commenced giving him a monstrous
account of his distinguished abilities. "And that's not all!" said
George; "he's not only one of the greatest characters in Charleston,
or perhaps the State, but he's a right good fellow."
We will interrupt, by informing the reader that he was one of the
good fellows-a numerous family in Charleston-who never use fine
instruments when they select their company; and pay a large amount
of worthy tribute to the liquor-dealers. There is no discriminating
latitude attached to the good-fellow family, for its members may be
found with alike gratifying inclinations, from the highest
aristocracy to the negro population.
"That, sir, is Col. S--e; belongs to one of the first families, sir.
He can beat old Pettigru all hollow; his eloquence is so thrilling
that he always reminds me of Pericles. He can beat little Thomas Y.
Simmons, Jr., all to pieces-make the best stump speech-address a
public assemblage, and rivet all their minds-can make a jury cry
quicker than any other man-can clear the worst criminal that ever
committed crime-and he's good-hearted too-can draw the most
astonishing comparisons to confound the minds of stupid jurors, and
make them believe the d--dest nonsense that ever man invented. Yes,
sir-when he makes a speech, everybody goes to hear him, for he says
what he pleases, and old Judge Withers, whose will is as arbitrary
as Julius C‘sar's, and has got the obstinacy of Tom Boyce's mule,
dar'n't attempt to control the tenor of his plea. And he can tell
the best invented story of any man in town. He cleared the villanous
Doctor Hines once upon the color of his pantaloons."
George waited impatiently for the end of the political controversy,
determined to introduce his friend to the colonel. He soon had an
opportunity, for the colonel, finding himself beset by a set of
unreasonable secessionists, made a sweeping declaration.
"Gentlemen," said he, "let me tell you a modest fact: seven-eighths
of the secession fire-eaters don't know what the proper meaning of
government is: I make the charge against my own people-but it is
true." "Traitor! traitor!--traitor to South Carolina," was sounded at
the top of a dozen voices.
"Then, if I am such in your opinions, I'm gratified to know that my
feelings are my own. Good-night!"
Thus saying, he withdrew from the party, and making his way for the
door, was saluted by George, who introduced him to his friend, the
Captain. The colonel was a very sociable, communicative man; and
taking the Captain's arm, as they walked along, entered into an
interesting conversation about his voyage and first visit to the
city, at the same time displaying his good sense in not trying to
force the great things of South Carolina into his mind.
We, a few weeks afterward, had the good fortune to hear the legal
abilities of this gentleman displayed in a plea at the bar. There
were many good points in it, which, if not legally pointed, were said
well; yet we should class him as belonging to the loud school.
The Captain, thinking it a good opportunity to make some inquiries
about his steward, as they proceeded, commenced in the following
Your laws are very stringent in South Carolina, I believe, sir!"
"Well, no sir," said the colonel, "if we except those which govern
the niggers; they of necessity must be so; we have had so many
emeutes with them, that no law can be made too strict in its
bearings. We have so many bad niggers poured in upon us, that the
whole class is becoming corrupted."
"Your laws, of course, make a distinction between good and bad
niggers, and free negroes?" interposed the Captain.
"We make no distinction between the colors-some are as white as you
are; but the grades are so complex that it would be impossible to
make a sliding-scale law for any fixed complexions. The law which
governs them is distinctive and comprehensive-made in order to
shield the white population from their ignorance of law and
evidence. We never could govern them in their respective spheres,
unless the laws were made stringent in their effect. As for the free
niggers, they're the greatest nuisance we have; it is our policy to
get rid of them, and to that end we tax them severely. The riddance
of this class of niggers would be an essential benefit to our
slaves, as upon account of their influence our negro-laws are made
more stringent. And the worst of it is that they increase faster.
But we make it a principal point to get all the free men we can
married to slaves, and the free women run off. You, that are
accustomed to the free institutions of your country, may think some
of these things singular at first; but you would soon become
accustomed to them, and would really admire them when you saw how
beautifully they worked."
"Is there no discretionary power left?" inquired the Captain. "It
must be oppressive, if carried out; Good men-whether they be white
or black-are entitled to the advantages due them; but where laws
such as you describe are carried out, a good man's evidence being
black, the intention could not be made white. Now, according to my
idea of the law of nature, a man's merits are in his moral integrity
and behaviour; therefore I should establish the rule that a good
black man was better than a bad white man, and was as much entitled
to the respect and government of law."
"Hi!--oh! Captain; it won't do to talk so in South Carolina. Just let
a nigger imagine himself as good as a white man, and all the seven
codes in Christendom wouldn't keep 'em under. Ah! you've got to
learn a thing or two about niggers yet," interrupted Master George,
before the Colonel had time to speak.
"I only speak from my observation of human nature; but I may become
better acquainted with your laws, if I remain among you," said the
"As I have said before sir," replied the Colonel, "our nigger-laws
are such as to require a strict enforcement. If we allowed the
prerogative of a discretionary power, it would open the way to an
endless system of favoritism, just at the mercy and feelings of
those exercising it. As it is now, the white or black nigger, male
or female, gets the same law and the same penalty. We make no
distinction even at the paddle-gallows. The paddle-gallows is a
frame with two uprights, and a wrench screw at the top. The negro's
hands are secured in iron wristlets-similar to handcuffs; a rope is
then attached to an eye in these, and passing over the wrench, which
being turned, the negro is raised in an agonizing position until the
tips of his toes scarcely touch the floor. Thus suspended, with the
skin stretched to its utmost tension, it not unfrequently parts at
the first blow of the paddle. Sometimes the feet are secured, when
the effect of this modern science of demonstrating the tension of
the human body for punishment becomes more painful under the paddle.
South Carolinians deny this mode of punishment generally, and never
allow strangers to witness it. It is not, as some writers have
stated, practised in Georgia, where, we are happy to say, that so
far as punishment is conducted in a legal manner, at the jails and
prisons, it is administered in a humane manner; and instead of
turning modern barbarity into a science, as is, done in South
Carolina, a strict regard for the criminal is observed. I will
relate some singular facts connected with the strictness with which
we South Carolinians carry out our laws. And now that we are on the
spot connected with it, its associations are more forcibly impressed
on my mind. It brings with it many painful remembrances, and, were
we differently situated, I should wish the cause to be removed. But
it cannot be, and we must carry out the law without making
allowances, for in these little leniencies all those evils which
threaten the destruction of our peculiar institution creep in. In
fact, Captain, they are points of law upon which all our domestic
quietude stands; and as such, we are bound to strengthen our means
of enforcing them to the strictest letter. Our laws are founded upon
the ancient wisdom of our forefathers, and South Carolina has never
traduced herself or injured her legal purity. We have reduced our
system almost to a practical science, so complete in its bearings
and points of government as to be worthy the highest and noblest
purposes of our country. And at the same time, such is the spirit
and magnanimity of our people, that in framing laws to guard against
the dangerous influences of that wing of our country that spreads
its ambitious fallacies--its tempting attractions-shallow criticisms
upon minute and isolated cases-redundant theories without measure or
observation, and making a standard for the government of slaves upon
foolish and capricious prejudices, we have been careful to preserve
a conservative moderation toward the slave. But, to my remarks."
The party had now arrived opposite to what was formerly known as
Jones's Hotel, where the Colonel made a halt to relate the singular
case that had pained his feelings, though he held very tenaciously
to the law as it was, because he believed strongly in the wisdom of
the South Carolina judiciary.
"Our first and great object is to prevent the interchange of
sentiment between our domestic niggers, whether bond or free, and
niggers who reside abroad or have left our State; To do this, it
became imperative to establish a law prohibiting free negroes from
coming into the State, and those in the State from going out, under
penalty of imprisonment and fine, if they returned. The penalty
amounted to sale upon a peon form; and subjected the offender to the
slave system in a manner that he seldom retrieved himself. You will
observe, Captain, the penalty is not desired by our people, the
object being to prevent them from returning, and as such it must
be taken in the spirit of its origin. Another very wise provision
was made by our legislators, and which has prevented a great deal of
suffering on the part of the slave. A few years ago, our wise
legislature made a law to revert the power of emancipation from the
board of magistrates where it had been very much abused, to the
House itself. And such is the law at the present day, that no master
can give his slaves their freedom, except by special act of the
legislature, and that with such a multiplicity of provisions and
conditions that few even attempt it. But I'm about to refer to cases
in which some modification might be said to have been necessary,
because in them are embodied the worst germs for abolition
"That, Captain, is Jones's Hotel," said the Colonel, pointing to an
odd-looking house of antique and mixed architecture, with a large
convex window above the hall-entrance, in the second story. This
house is situated in Broad street, next to the aristocratic St.
Michael's Church, one of the most public places in the city. "In
years past, that house was kept by Jones, a free nigger. Jones was
almost white, a fine portly-looking man, active, enterprising,
intelligent, honest to the letter, and whose integrity and
responsibility was never doubted. He lived in every way like a white
man, and, I think, with few exceptions, never kept company with even
bright folks. His house was unquestionably the best in the city, and
had a widespread reputation. Few persons of note ever visited
Charleston without putting up at Jones's, where they found, not only
the comforts of a private house, but a table spread with every
luxury that the county afforded. The Governor always put up at
Jones's; and when you were travelling abroad, strangers would speak
of the sumptuous fare at Jones's in Charleston, and the elegance and
correctness of his house. But if his house and fare were the boast
of Carolinians, and the remark of strangers, his civility and
courteous attention could not be outdone. Jones continued in the
popularity of his house for many years, reared a beautiful,
intelligent, and interesting family; at the same time accumulated
about forty thousand dollars. The most interesting part of his
family was three beautiful daughters, the eldest of whom was married
to a person now in New York. She was fairer than seven-eighths of
those ladies who term themselves aristocracy in Charleston, and
promenade King street in the afternoon.
"She removed to New York with her husband, who now resides in that
city, engaged in lucrative and respectable business. A short time
after, her second sister-not dreaming that the law would be so
stringent as to class her with the lowest nigger, or even lay its
painful bearings at her door; for the family were very high-minded,
and would have considered themselves grossly insulted to have the
opprobrious name of nigger applied to them-paid her a visit. The
public became acquainted with the fact, and to his surprise, Jones
was informed by authority that upon no condition could she be
allowed to return-that the law was imperative, and no consideration
could be given to the circumstances, for such would be virtually
destroying its validity, and furnishing a precedent that would be
followed by innumerable cases. In spite of all the remonstrances
which Jones could set forth, and the influence of several friends of
high standing, he was compelled to relinquish all hope of his
daughter's being allowed to return to the family. The reasoning set
forth had every plausibility; but such is our respect for the law,
that we were compelled to forego our hospitality, and maintain it,
even though the case was painful to our feelings. Thus, you see, we
maintain the point and spirit of the law above every thing else.
"But the end is not here! A few years after this, Jones received a
letter, that his daughter was very sick and not expected to
live-accompanied with a desire to have the last soothing comfort of
seeing her parents. Jones being an affectionate man, and dotingly
fond of his children, without regarding the former admonition,
immediately prepared himself, and left in disguise for New York.
Mature consideration would have convinced him of the error of one so
well known as himself trying to elude recognition.
"His son-in-law, Lee, a noble fellow, kept the house, and when Jones
was inquired for, it was reported that he was confined to his room.
It would have been well if Jones had kept himself secluded in New
York; but he was recognised by a Charlestonian, and, as such reports
have uncommon wings, the news of it soon reached the authorities;
when a mandate was issued accordingly, and Jones subjected to the
fate of his daughter. There are many painful circumstances connected
with the affair, which, if well told, would make quite a romance,"
said the Colonel, all of which the Captain listened to with profound
attention. "His family all moved to New York, and his affairs were
put into the hands of attorneys here, for settlement, by his son-
in-law, who continued the business for some years."
"Of course he got his property restored to him?" interrupted the
"Most certainly, Captain! The spirit of justice is coequal with that
of honorable law, in South Carolina," said George, anxious to
relieve the Colonel of the answer.
"It is somewhat difficult to settle a man's business by legal
process when the principal is not present. The law's delay and
lawyers' spoils make time hallowed and costly," said the Captain.
"You're right there, Captain," said the Colonel; "and I doubt-to
speak honestly-whether Jones ever got much of his property. There's
a good many stories told, and a great deal of mystery about it
that's got to be explained to my mind. But you're a stranger,
Captain, and it would not be interesting to the feelings of a
Scotchman. I may give you the details more minutely at some future
"Why, Colonel!" said George, "you should be considerate in your
statements. Remember the immense difficulty that has attended
Jones's affairs-they're not all settled yet."
"True, George; and I'm afraid they never will be;--but there are
some very singular appearances connected with it. I mean no personal
disrespect toward those cousins of yours who have figured in the
case. 'Tis bad to call names, but there is a mystery about a certain
member of our profession getting rich, when poor Jones declares he's
got nothing, and Lee has had to give up the house,--I don't say what
for." * * *
"Yes, strange things must be kept strangely secret in some parts of
the world, and only whispered when there's no wind," said the
"But that's the only case, Captain," said George; "and the Colonel
was indiscreet in recounting it; for from that you may conceive
wrong impressions of the best institutions and laws in the world.
Jones was an old fool, led away by his nigger-like affections for
them gals of his. He never knew when he was well off, and always
wanted to be with white folk when he was here. 'Twould been a great
deal better if he'd let them youngest gals gone with Pingree and
Allston. They'd have made the tip-top mistresses--been kept like
ladies, and not been bothered, and brought all this trouble upon
their heads through these infernal abolitionists. I really believe
the old fool thought some white man would marry them at one time."
"What harm would there've been in that, providing they're as white
as anybody, and got plenty of money, and were handsome? There must
be a singular sensibility, that I don't understand, exerting itself
in your society," said the Captain laconically.
"Harm! You'd find out the harm. Just live in South Carolina a year
or two. 'Tisn't the fair complexion-we don't dispute that-but it's
"Oh! then the legal objection," said the Captain, "is what is so
revolting to society, eh! It may be sown broadcast in
licentiousness, then, and custom sustains an immoral element that is
devouring the essential bond of society."
"Excuse me, Captain," interrupted the Colonel. "George, you are
always taking me upon suppositions. I only related it to the Captain
in order to show the power and integrity of our law, and how South
Carolinians frequently sacrifice their own interests to maintain it
intact. Nothing could be more fatal to its vitality than to make
provisions which would entail legal preferences. The law in regard
to free niggers leaving the State should be looked upon in the light
of protection rather than alienation, for it is made to protect
property and society. Yet where a case is attended with such
circumstances as that of Jones's, some disposition to accommodate
might have been evinced without endangering the State's sovereignty.
And I must also differ with you, George, so far as the girls
maintained their self-respect. It was commendable in them to get
husbands whom they could live with in the bonds of matrimony. My
word for it, George, though I am a Southerner, and may give rein to
improprieties at times, nothing can be more pernicious to our
society than this destructive system of our first people in keeping
mistresses. It's a source of misery at best, depending upon
expediency instead of obligation, and results in bringing forth
children and heirs with an entailed burden upon their lives, to be
disowned, cast off from paternal rights, and left to the tender
mercies of the law. We see the curse, yet countenance it-and while
it devours domestic affections and has cankered the core of social
obligations, we look upon it as a flowery garden as we pass by the
wayside.. There may be but a shadow between the rightful heir and
the doubtful son-the former may enjoy the bounty of his inheritance,
but the latter is doomed to know not his sire nor his kinsman, but
to suffer the doubts and fears and the dark gloom which broods over
a bondman's life."
"By-je-w-hu! Colonel, what in scissors are you preaching about. You
must a' got a pull too much at Bakers's. You're giving vent to real
abolition sentiments. Exercise your knowledge of the provision that
is made for such children. The Captain will certainly draw incorrect
notions about us," said George, with anxiety pictured on his
countenance. He knew the Colonel's free, open, and frank manner of
expressing himself, and feared lest the famous name of the chivalry
should suffer from his unconscious disclosures.
"Provisions! George, you know my feelings concerning that vice which
is so universally practised in our community. If you know of any
provision, it's more than I do. Perhaps you are older and have had
more experience. 'Tis the want of such a provision that is just
destroying our institution of slavery!"
At this juncture the Captain interrupted them, and begging that the
Colonel would finish the story about Jones, said he had a few
questions to ask them after it was through.
"Well," said the Colonel, "Jones died, I believe; but his family are
as industrious as ever, and have made money enough to live
comfortable; but the scamps have turned out perfect helpmates of the
abolitionists, and make their intelligence figure at the bottom of
many an escape. But Lee's case is as hard as Jones's. His son went
to New York to see his grandfather, and was debarred by the same
statute of limitations. Lee, however, was a very capable fellow, and
after trying for two years, and finding it would be impossible to
return to his father, very shrewdly set about some kind of business,
and is now largely engaged in the preserve and pickle business.
Lee's celebrated pickle and preserve establishment, New York. The
father is now in this city, making a living for his family at
something or other. He has made several efforts to sell out his
little property, but there's some trouble about the title; and if he
leaves it to go and see his son, he knows what the consequences will
be; and to leave it for settlement would be to abandon it, to the
same fate that swallowed up Jones's. Thus the son cannot come to
visit his father, nor the father go to visit the son. This, in my
opinion, is carrying a prohibition to an extreme point; and although
I believe the law should be maintained, I cannot believe that any
good arises from it upon such people as the Jones's and Lee's, from
the very fact that they never associated with niggers. Hence, where
there is no grounds for fear there can be no cause for action,"
continued the Colonel.
"Just what I wanted to know," said the Captain. "As I informed you,
I am driven into your port in distress. Charleston, as you are
aware, is in an advantageous latitude for vessels to refit that have
met with those disasters which, are frequent in the gulf and among
the Bahamas. Thus I expected to find good facilities here, without
any unkind feeling on the part of the people"--
"Oh! bless me, Captain, you will find us the most hospitable people
in the world," said the Colonel.
"But your pilot told me I would have trouble with my steward, and
that the law would make no distinction between his being cast upon
your shores in distress and subject to your sympathy, and his coming
"What!" said little George. "Is he a nigger, Captain? Old Grimshaw's
just as sure to nab him as you're a white man. He'll buy and sell a
saint for the fees, and gives such an extended construction to the
terms of the act that you need expect no special favor at his hands.
The law's no fiction with him. I'm sorry, Captain: you may judge his
conduct as an index of that of our people, and I know him so well
that I fear the consequences."
"No!" said the Captain. "My steward is a Portuguese, a sort of
mestino, and one of the best men that ever stepped foot aboard a
vessel. He is willing, intelligent, always ready to do his duty, and
is a great favorite with his shipmates, and saves his wages like a
good man-but he is olive complexion, like a Spaniard. He has sailed
under the British flag for a great many years, has been 'most all
over the world, and is as much attached to the service as if he was
a Londoner, and has got a register ticket. Nothing would pain my
feelings more than to see him in a prison, for I think he has as
proud a notion of honesty as any man I've seen, and I know he
wouldn't commit a crime that would subject him to imprisonment for
the world. The boys have been pestering the poor fellow, and telling
him about some old fellow they heard the pilot speak about, called
Norman Gadsden; they tell him if he catches him they'll sell him for
"The question is one about which you need give yourself no concern.
Our people are not so inhuman but that they will shelter a castaway
sailor, and extend those comforts which are due from all humane
people. The act under which seamen are imprisoned is the law
provided to prohibit free niggers from entering our port, and, in my
opinion, was brought into life for the sake of the fees. It's no
more nor less than a tax and restriction upon commerce, and I doubt
whether it was ever the intention of the framers that it should be
construed in this manner. However, so far as your steward is con-
cerned, the question of how far his color will make him amenable to
the law will never be raised; the mere circumstance of his being a
seaman in distress, thrown upon our sympathies, will be all you need
among our hospitable people. I'm not aware of a precedent, but I
will guaranty his safety from a knowledge of the feelings of our
people. Our merchants are, with few exceptions, opposed to the law
in this sense, but such is the power and control of a class of
inexperienced legislators, prompted by a most trifling clique of
office-holders, that their voice has no weight. I am opposed to this
system of dragging people into courts of law upon every pretext. It
is practised too much in our city for the good of its name."
Upon this the Colonel and little George accompanied the Captain to
his ship, and, expressing their heartfelt regrets at her appearance,
bid him good-night-George promising to call upon him in the morning,
and the Colonel charging him to give himself no trouble about his
steward, that he would see Mr. Grimshaw that night, and make all
Thus ended the Captain's first night in Charleston, and represented
a picture from which he might have drawn conclusions somewhat
different from the actual result. Alas! that all the good fellowship
and pleasant associations of a people should be disgraced by an
absurdity arising from their fears.
The Colonel might have given many other instances equally as painful
as that connected with the transportation of Jones and his family,
and the fetters that were placed upon poor Lee. He might have
instanced that of Malcome Brown, a wealthy, industrious, honest,
high-minded, and straightforward man, now living at Aiken, in South
Carolina. Brown conducts a profitable mechanical business, is
unquestionably the best horticulturist in the State, and produces
the best fruit brought to the Charleston market. What has he done to
be degraded in the eyes of the law? Why is he looked upon as a
dangerous citizen and his influence feared? Why is he refused a
hearing through those laws which bad white men take the advantage
of? He is compelled to submit to those which were made to govern the
worst slaves! And why is he subjected to that injustice which gives
him no voice in his own behalf when the most depraved whites are his
accusers? Can it be the little crimp that is in his hair? for he has
a fairer skin than those who make laws to oppress him. If he inhaled
the free atmosphere from abroad, can it be that there is contagion
in it, and Malcome Brown is the dreaded medium of its communication?
And if the statement rung in our ears be true, "that the free
colored of the North suffer while the slave is cared for and
comfortable," why belie ourselves? Malcome's influence is, and
always has been, with the whites, and manifestly good in the
preservation of order and obedience on the part of the slaves. He
pursues his avocation with spirit and enterprise, while he is
subjected to menial and oppressive laws. His father visited New
York, and was forbidden to return. He appealed again and again, set
forth his claims and his integrity to the State and her laws, but
all was of no avail. He was hopelessly banished, as it were, from
ever seeing his son again, unless that son would sacrifice his
property and submit to perpetual banishment from the State. If we
reflect upon the many paternal associations that would gladden the
hearts of father and child to meet in happy affection, we may
realize the effect of that law which makes the separation painful
and which denies even the death-bed scene its last cheering
We have conversed with poor Brown on many occasions, found him a
very intelligent man, full of humour, and fond of relating incidents
in the history of his family-even proud of his good credit in
Charleston. He frequently speaks of his father and the gratifying
hope of meeting him at some future day, when he can give vent to his
feelings in bursts of affection. He wants his father to return and
live with him, because he says he knows they would be more happy
together. "I suppose the law was made in justice, and it's right for
me to submit to it," he would say when conversing upon its
stringency; and it also seems a sort of comfort to him that he is
not the only sufferer.
If South Carolina would awake to her own interest, she would find
more to fear from the stringency of her own laws than from the
influence of a few men coming from abroad.
THE PROSPECT DARKENING.
AFTER the Colonel and little George left the Captain, as we have
stated in the foregoing chapter, he descended into the cabin, and
found Manuel sitting upon one of the lockers, apparently in great
anxiety. He, however, waited for the mate to speak before he
addressed the Captain. The mate awoke and informed the Captain that
a slender, dark-complexioned man had been aboard a few minutes after
he left, making particular inquiries about the steward; that he
spoke like an official man, was dressed in black clothes, and wore
"I asked him if we'd have any trouble with Manuel, and tried to make
him understand that he wasn't a black, and that our situation might
excuse us from any annoyance through their peculiar laws. But the
old chap seemed mighty stupid about every thing, and talked just as
if he didn't know any thing about nothing. 'A nigger's a nigger in
South Carolina,' said he dryly, and inquired for a quid of tobacco,
which I handed him, and he took one big enough for six. Said I,
'Mister, do you call a man a nigger what's a Portugee and a'n't
black?' 'It depends on how he was born,' says he. 'Well, but ye
can't make a white man a nigger nohow, whether it's in South
Carolina or Scotland,' says I. 'Well, we don't stand upon such
things here; we can show you niggers as white as you be, Mr. Mate,'
says he. 'But, Mister, what's to do about our steward, that ye make
yer inquiries about him; he ha'n't did nothing,' said I. 'Well, Mr.
Mate; it's contrary to law to bring nigger stewards into our port.
They're a bad set of fellows generally, and we claim the right to
lock 'em up to insure their good behavior and keep their bad
influence away from our slaves. 'Tis not my office. I observed your
arrival and wrecked condition, and merely came to take a look,' said
he. 'Well now, Mister, our steward thinks as much of himself as
anybody and wouldn't mix with your niggers on any account. But
Mister! won't it make a difference because we're cast upon your
shore in distress,' says I. 'Not a whit! it's contrary to law, and
the law's got nothing to do with wind and weather. We love the
sovereignty of our law too well to make any discrimination. We're a
hospitable people, and always give folks plenty to eat, but we never
allow any favors in the law. I'll call and see you in the, morning,'
said he, and away he went."
This individual was Mr. Grimshaw, the principal mover of the powers
that be, notwithstanding he asserted that it was not his office, and
that he just walked round to take a look.
During his visit on board, Manuel was absent on board a Boston bark,
where he met a white steward, who gave him a sad picture of the
Charleston jail and the cruel treatment that was inflicted upon
prisoners there by starvation. He told him that he was once put in
for a trifling offence, and nearly starved to death before he got
out. "You will be sure to go there, Manuel," said he, "for they make
no distinction; and if a man's a foreigner, and can't speak for
himself, he'll stand no chance at all. I'd give 'em the slip afore
I'd suffer such another punishment," he continued.
This so worked upon the poor fellow's mind, that it became a matter
of little moment whether he jumped overboard or remained on the
ship. He waited until the mate had concluded, and commenced
appealing to the Captain in a most pitiful manner. The disgrace of
being imprisoned seemed worse than the punishment; and he did not
seem to comprehend the intention that he should be imprisoned for no
crime in the United States, when he had sailed around the world and
visited a majority of its ports, both barbarous and civilized,
without molestation. He wanted the Captain to pay him off and let
him leave by some vessel in the morning. The Captain endeavored to
soothe his fears by assuring him that there was no danger of his
being imprisoned; that the people of Charleston had too much good
feeling in them to be cruel to a distressed sailor; that the power
of the consul was a sufficient guarantee of protection. "You are not
among Patagonians, Manuel," said he. "There's no use of working your
mind into a fever, you'll be as well taken care of here and be
thought as much of as you would in London." This assurance had the
effect to soothe his mind, upon which he left the cabin more at
ease, and went into the forecastle to turn in with his little
companion Tommy. Men had been detailed for the pumps as soon as the
flood-tide made, and the Captain retired to his berth.
It seemed there was a mutual understanding between the pilots and
officers in regard to the arrival of colored stewards; and the
pilot, after leaving the vessel, went directly to Mr. Grimshaw's
office and reported a nut for him to crack: this brought him to the
wharf to "look around."
Early in the morning the crew were at their duty. The mate commenced
giving orders to clear away the deck, and Manuel to make
preparations for breakfast. He had scarcely commenced before two
men, Messrs. Dunn and Dusenberry walked up and down the wharf for
several minutes, then they would stand together and gaze as if to
watch the approach of some vessel in the offing. At length,
Dusenberry, seeing Manuel come to the gangway with a bucket in his
hand, walked to her side, and, stepping on board, seized him by the
collar, and drawing a paper from his pocket, said, "You're my
prisoner! you must go to jail-come, be quick, sir; you must not stop
to get your things; you must send for them after you're committed."
The mate and several of the crew being near, at once gathered around
him. At the same time Dunn, who was standing at the end of the wharf
awaiting the result, thinking Dusenberry was opposed, came to his
assistance. The officers and crew knew the respect due to the laws
too well to oppose any obstacles to the constables in executing
their duty. The mate, in a very polite manner, asked as a favor that
they would leave the man a few minutes until the Captain came on
deck. They yielded to his solicitation after a great deal of
grumbling. The arrest made a deep feeling among the seamen, but none
felt it more than little Tommy; he heard the noise upon deck, and
came running with tears in his eyes, and cried, "Oh! Manuel, why
Manuel, what are they going to take you away for? Won't I see you
again, Manuel?" The little fellow's simplicity touched the feelings
of all present. But the lame officer, Dunn, stood with a pair of
handcuffs in his hand, as unmoved as a stoic, while Dusenberry
expressed his impatience, and began to push the boy away, and motion
to march him off.
"Hold a bit!" said the mate. "The Captain will be on deck in a few
minutes; he wants a word or two with you."
"We can't stop unless we're compensated for our time. 'Tis no use to
delay-'twon't do any good; he's a nigger to all intents and
purposes. I know by the curl in his hair-they can't escape me, I've
had too much to do with them!" said Dunn. "Yes, to be sure, I can
tell a nigger by his ear, if his skin's as white as chalk!" said
Dusenberry. "It's all gammon this bringing bright outlandish men
here, and trying to pass them off for white folks. 'Twon't stick-you
must come up and be registered, and you'll have a good time at the
jail, my boy; there's plenty of bright gals in there, and you can
have a wife, if you know how to do the courting."
The Captain now came upon deck; and began to intercede, begging that
they would not take Manuel away until he had seen the British
Consul. "I know I can make every thing straight. There is no
occasion to imprison my steward-he's neither a nigger nor a bad man;
and I'll pledge you my honor that he shall not leave the ship, or
even go upon the wharf, if you will only allow me to see the Consul
before you take any further action," he continued.
"That is beyond our power, sir; you must see the sheriff-you'll find
him in his office bright and early. But you might as well put your
appeal in your pocket, or send it to Queen Victoria, for all Consul
Mathew can do for you. He's been kicking up a fuss for two years;
but he might as well whistle agin a brickbat as to talk his nonsense
about English niggers to South Carolina. He'll get tarred and
feathered yet, if he a'n't mighty shy about his movements. Sorry,
Captain, we can't accommodate you, but we're only actin' for the
sheriff, and his orders are imperative to bring him right up. We
must lock the fellow up. We don't make the law, nor we ha'n't the
power to control it." Thus saying, Dunn took a little key from his
pocket and begun to turn it in the handcuffs.
"What!" said the Captain-"don't attempt to put them things on my
man, upon your peril. Is that the way you treat a poor shipwrecked
sailor in South Carolina, the State of boasted hospitality? No, sir!
I will sacrifice my life before my man shall submit to such a
thing," said the Captain, with his Scotch energy aroused.
"Captain!" said Dunn, "we'd not be takin' the advantage of ye
because ye're a stranger, but 'tis the law; and if we accommodates
ye, sure it'll be at our own risk. But anyhow, Captain, ye'd be
keepin' meself an' this gentleman a long time waiting, 'twouldn't
be. amiss to be giving us the usual perquisite. You won't miss it,
and we've a great deal to do for small fees, that niver compinsate
for the accommodation we be's to give everybody-an' the loss of
time's the loss of money."
"Give you a perquisite!--no, indeed; I never pay for such favors.
Wait a few moments; I will accompany you myself, if you will not
take my honor for his good conduct on the way to prison," continued
"Captain, sure ye needn't trouble yerself anyhow; we'll take yer
honor that he don't run away, and if he does ye'll stand the odds at
the sheriff's. Sure a case would niver pass Mr. Grimshaw s
observation; but to plase ye, and considering' the wreck, meself and
Dusenberry 'll put him up without," said Dunn.
During the conversation, Manuel plead hard to be heard before the
Consul, having a mistaken idea that the Consul could protect him
from all danger; and that if he could get a hearing before him, he
was sure to be released. The Captain shook his hand and told him to
be contented until the Consul's office opened, when he would come to
the jail and see him. Manuel then turned to the crew, and shaking
the hands of each, took his little bundle in one hand, and holding
little Tommy by the other, (who accompanied him to the head of the
wharf,) was soon out of sight.
But will the reader believe what was the practice of these petty
officers? We can assure them that such instances as the one we shall
relate are not only practised in Charleston to an unlimited extent,
but the fact is well known to both magistrates and the public; the
former treat it as moonshine, and the latter rail against it, but
never take proper action.
Scarcely had little Tommy left them at the head of the wharf, before
they intimated that it would be well to consider a morning dram. To
this end, they walked into a "Dutch corner shop," and passing into
the back room, gave sundry insinuations that could not be
misunderstood. "Well! come, who pays the shot?" said Dunn, stepping
up to the counter, and crooking his finger upon his nose at a
dumpling-faced Dutchman, who stood behind the counter, waiting for
his man to name it. The Dutchman was very short and very thick,
leaving the impression that he had been very much depressed in his
own country when young. He rubbed his hands and flirted his fingers
in motion of anxiety, "Every ting vat de shentleman vant him--dare
notin like to my zin and brondty vat him got mit ze zity," said
"Gentlemen, I should be glad to have you drink with me, if it be
proper to ask," said Manuel
"Oh! yes--certainly, yes!--just what we come for, something to cut
away the cobwebs--'twouldn't do to go out in the morning fog without
a lining," said Dunn.
"Name it! name it! shentlemen," exclaimed the Dutchman, as he rapped
his fingers upon the counter, and seemed impatient to draw forth his
filthy stuff. They named their drinks, each with a different name.
Manuel not being a Charleston graduate in the profession of mixing
drinks and attaching slang names to them, Mr. Dusenberry undertook
to instruct him in a choice. The Dutchman was an adept at mixing,
and the "morning pulls" were soon set out to the extreme
satisfaction of Dunn and Dusenberry. "All right! tip her down, my
old fellow; none o' yer screwed faces over such liquor as that. We
drink on the legitimate, in Charleston, and can put it down until we
see stars," said Dusenberry, addressing himself to Manuel, who was
making a wry face, while straining to swallow the cut-throat stuff.
Dusenberry now left Manuel in charge of Dunn, saying he was going
out to attend to some business. Manuel drew from his pocket a
quarter of a Colombian doubloon, and throwing it upon the counter,
told the Dutchman to give him change. The Dutchman picked it up,
turned it over several times, and squinting at it, inquired, in a
very unpretending manner, what its value was. He knew already, yet
this was only done to try Manuel. At the same moment he winked to
Dunn, who, stepping up, gave it a significant toss upon the counter.
"The divil a bit more than two dollars; all right, Swizer," said he.
"'Tis four dollar, West Inge-I want my change," said Manuel,
shrugging his shoulders. "I no want no more than my own; and no man
to cheat-e me."
"Don't be bothering with your four dollars-sure ye a'n't in the West
Inges now; and money's plenty in Charleston, and I can't bring up so
much-half so much. Don't be bothering with yer West Inge nonsense.
If ye try to raise a fuss here, I'll make the Captain suffer. Ye
must learn that it won't do for a nigger to dispute a white man in
Charleston; we'd twitch ye up by the same law; we'd put it to our
own niggers, and ye'd git trised up, and about fifty paddles on yer
bare butt." The Dutchman put down a dollar and seventy cents, but
Manuel refused to take it up; when this fellow, Dunn, pretending to
be the friend of Manuel, held out his hand, and telling the
bar-keeper to put another dollar, which he did, he passed it
hurriedly into Manuel's hand, and making a pass, told him to put it
into his pocket.
It was now about good business time for the Dutchman, and his
customers were coming in with their bottles and pots in great
numbers. The place was a little filthy hole, very black and dirty,
about twelve feet long, and seven feet wide, with a high board
counter almost in the centre. The only stock-in-trade that decorated
it, was a few barrels of lager beer; several kegs, with names to set
forth the different qualities of liquors painted upon them; a bushel
basket about half full of onions, and a few salt fish in a keg that
stood by the door. Around the room were several benches similar to
those in guard-houses. Upon two of them were stretched two ragged
and filthy-looking negroes, who looked as if they had been spending
the night in debauchery. Dunn, as if to show his authority, limped
toward them, and commenced fledging their backs with his hickory
stick in a most unmerciful manner, until one poor old fellow, with a
lame hand, cried out for mercy at the top of his voice.
"It's a bad business keeping these niggers here all night,
Swizer-you know I've done the clean thing with you several times,"
said Dunn, pointing his finger at the Dutchman; who winked, and
coming from behind the counter, slipped something into his hand, and
stepping to the door, assumed some threatning language against the
negroes, should they ever came back to his store. A large portion of
those who came for liquor were negroes, who looked as if they were
parting with their last cent for stimulant, for they were ragged and
dirty, and needed bread more than liquor. Their condition seemed
pitiful in the extreme, and yet the Dutch "corner-shop keeper"
actually got rich from their custom, and so craving was he upon
their patronage, that he treated them with much more courtesy than
his white customers.
These "Dutch corner-shops" are notorious places in Charleston, and
are discountenanced by respectable citizens, because they become the
rendezvous of "niggers," who get into bad habits and neglect their
masters' or mistresses' business. Yet the keepers exert such an
influence at elections, that the officials not only fear them, but
in order to secure their favors, leave their rascality unmolested.
Well might a writer in the Charleston Courier of August 31, 1852,
"We were astonished, with many others, at the sweeping charges made
in the resolutions passed at the HUTCHINSON meeting at Hatch's Hall,
and were ready to enlist at once to lend our voice to turn out an
'administration' that for two years permitted 'moral sentiment to be
abandoned,' 'truthfulness disregarded,' 'reverence for religion
obliterated,' 'protection to religious freedom refused,'
'licentiousness allowed,' 'and a due administration for vice,
neglected.'" These charges stand unrefuted, and with but one or two
exceptions, we have never known one of those unlawful corner shops
prosecuted by the present administration. And those single instances
only where they were driven to notice the most flagrant abuses.
It is strictly "contrary to law in Charleston," to sell liquor to a
negro without an order from a white man; the penalty being fine and
imprisonment. Yet, so flagrant has become the abuse, that it is
notorious that hush-money is paid by a certain class of Dutch
liquor-sellers to the officers. In nearly all the streets of
Charleston, where there is a shanty or nook large enough to hold a
counter and some tumblers, these wretches may be found dealing out
their poisonous drugs to a poor, half-starved class of negroes, who
resort to all kinds of dishonest means to get money to spend at
their counters. These places are nearly all kept by foreigners,
whose merciless avarice scruples at nothing, however mean. They soon
become possessed of considerable means, and through their courtesy
and subserviency to the negro-for they are the only class of whites
that will beg his pardon, if they have offended him-carry on a sort
of active rivalry with each other for his custom. It is from these
miserable hells that seven-tenths of the crimes arise for which the
poor negro is dragged to the work-house and made to suffer under the
And yet these very men, whose connivance at vice and crime is
disregarded by the law, rise and take position in society-not only
entering into more respectable business-but joining in that phalanx
who are seeking the life-blood of the old Southerner, and like a
silent moth, working upon his decay. There is a deep significance in
the answer so frequently given in Charleston to the interrogatory,
"Who lives in that splendid dwelling-it seems to have been the
mansion of a prince, but is somewhat decayed?"
"Oh! bless me, yes! It was once the mansion of the So-and-sos, one
of the first families, but they're very poor now. Mr.
What-you-may-call-em owns it now-they say he didn't get it honestly.
He kept a little grog-shop on the Bay, or sold bacon and whisky on
the Bay, and made awful charges against poor So-and-so, and after a
long trial in Chancery he got his house. He's a big fellow; now, I
tell you, and is going to fit the house up for himself!"
Dunn told Manuel to be seated, that there was no occasion for
hurrying; it would be all right if he got to the sheriffs office at
nine o'clock; and then commenced descanting upon the fine time he
would have at the jail. "There's a right good lot of comrades there,
me boy; ye'll have fiddling and dancing, plenty of gals, and a jolly
time; and ye a'n't a criminal, ye know, so it won't be any thing at
all, only keep up a stiff under-lip. Come, let us take another
drink; I feel mighty husky this morning!" said he.
Just at this time Dusenberry re-entered, puffing and blowing as if
he had been engaged in a foot-race. "Another bird for old Grimshaw,
at Commercial Wharf! I know'd she had one aboard, 'cause I seed him
from the wharf," said he, in perfect ecstasy, pulling out a pencil
and making a note in a little book.
"Don't be a child," said Dunn. "Come, we have just proposed another
drink; you join of course; ye niver says no,--eh, Duse?" They
stepped to the counter, and Dunn, again, pointing his finger upon
his nose at the Dutchman, who stood with his hands spread upon the
counter, called for gin and bitters, Stoughton light. Turning to
Manuel, who was sitting upon a bench with his head reclined upon his
hand, apparently in deep meditation, he took him by the collar in a
rude manner, and dragging him to the counter, said, "Come, by the
pipers, rouse up your spirits, and don't be sulking, my old
Portugee; take another O-be-joyful, and it'll put ye all right, and
ye'll dance a hornpipe like a jim-crack."
"Excuse me, sir; I think I have taken enough; do, please, either
take me back to my vessel, or where you are going to. This is no
place for me!" said Manuel.
"Sure, what signifies; don't be talking your botheration here; a
nigger musn't sauce a white man. Come, there's no use backing out;
you must take a glass of Swizer's lager beer," said Dunn.
Manuel looked around him, and then closing up very reluctantly, the
Dutchman filled his glass with frothy beer, and the three touched
glasses and drank. They then retired to a bench and commenced
discussing the propriety of some point of their official privileges,
while Manuel was left standing at the counter.
"Who pay de drink vat shu get?" inquired the Dutchman, anxious to
serve two little niggers who had just come in with bottles in their
"It was our friend's treat; come, my good fellow, do the clean thing
according to Southern science. We'll put a good word in for you to
the jailer; you won't lose nothing by it," said Dusenberry.
"My friends, I work hard for my money, and have none to spend
foolishly. The small amount is of little consequence, but I would
much sooner make you a present of it, than to be drugged by
pretence. I've no desire to indulge the propensities of others.
Whatever you are going to do with me, do it; and let me know my
fate. I am sick and fatigued, and have need for the doctor. Take me
to a prison or where you please. I have done no crime; I want sleep,
not punishment. Next time I shipwrecked, I get plank and go
overboard 'fore I cum to Charleston." So saying, he pulled out fifty
cents and threw it upon the counter, and the Dutchman swept it into
the drawer, as if it was all right, and "just the change."
"Shut up, you black rascal, you; you musn't talk that way in South
Carolina; we'll have you stretched on the frame and paddled for
insolence to a white man. D--n me, if you're in such a hurry for it,
just come along," said Dusenberry; and reaching his hand over to
Dunn, took the handcuffs from him and attempted to put them on
Manuel's wrists. The poor fellow struggled and begged for more than
ten minutes, and was wellnigh overpowering them, when Dusenberry
drew a long dirk-knife from his bosom, and holding it in a
threatening attitude at his breast, uttered one of those fierce
yells such as are common to slave-hunters, whose business it is to
hunt and run down runaway niggers with bloodhounds. "Submit, you
black villain, or I'll have your heart's blood; bring a rope, and
we'll trise him up here. Jump, be quick, Swizer!" said he,
addressing himself to the Dutchman. The Dutchman ran into the front
apartment; brought out a cord similar to a clothes-line; and
commenced to undo it.
"Do you give up now?" said Dusenberry, still holding the knife
pointed at him. Manuel was in the habit of carrying a poniard when
on shore in foreign countries, and put his hand to his breast-pocket
to feel for it. He remembered that he had left it in his chest, and
that resistance would be useless against a posse giving expression
to such hostility to him. The shackles were put upon his hands with
"Oh! am I a man, or am I a brute? What have I done to receive such
treatment? May God look down upon me and forgive me my
transgressions; for in his hands are my rights, and he will give me
justice," said Manuel, looking his cruel torturers in the face.
"A man! No, by heavens, you're a nigger; an' it's that we'd he
teaching you! Come, none of yer sermons here, trot off! We'll give
you a handkerchief to cover your hands, if you're so d--d delicate
about walking through the streets," said Dunn, throwing him an old
red handkerchief, and marching him along through Broad street.
Dusenberry now left him entirely in the charge of Dunn; while, as he
said, he went to Adger's Wharf to keep his eye on another vessel
that was approaching the dock. The tricks of this man Dunn were well
known to those, connected with the police and sheriff's office; but,
instead of being displaced for his many offences, he was looked upon
by them as the best officer upon the rolls; and in fishing for
mischievous niggers he was held as a perfect paragon. In this
instance he was not contented with the outrages he had inflicted
upon Manuel at the Dutch grog-shop, which he had forced him into,
but he would stop in the public street to hold conversation with
every cove he met, and keep the poor man standing for public gaze,
like chained innocence awaiting the nod of a villain. The picture
would have been complete, if a monster in human form were placed in
the foreground applying the lash, according to the statute laws of
THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE.
IT is nine o'clock, on the morning of the 24th March, 1852. Manuel
was marched into the sheriff's office, situated in the court-house,
on the corner of Broad and Meeting streets. A large table stood in
the centre of the room, covered with sundry old papers and an
inkstand. At one side was an old sofa, bearing strong evidence of
its being worn out at the expense of the State. A few pine-wood and
painted book-stands, several tip-staffs, old broken-backed chairs,
and last, but not least, a wood-sawyer's buck-saw, stood here and
there in beautiful disorder around the room; while, as if to display
the immense importance of the office, a "cocked" hat with the
judicial sword hung conspicuously above the old sofa. A door opened
upon the left hand, leading into the clerk's office, where the books
and archives of the office were kept. Mr. Kanapeaux, the incumbent,
exhibited a great deal of good feeling, which it would have lost the
sheriff none of his reputation to pattern after, and kept his office
in very respectable order.
"Come in 'ere, Manwell, or whatever yer name is," said Dunn, as he
led the way into the presence of Mr. Grimshaw, the lean,
haggard-looking man we have before described. His dark, craven
features, as he sat peering through his glasses at the morning news,
gave him the appearance of a man of whom little was, to be expected
by those who had the misfortune to fall into his hands.
"Ah! Dunn, you are the best officer in the city; 'pon my soul, these
fellows can't escape you! Where did you pick up that nigger?" said
he, with a look of satisfaction.
"A fat fee case, Mr. Grimshaw, 'contrary to law;' he's a Portugee
nigger. Never had so much trouble with a nigger in my life; I didn't
know but the fellow was going to preach a sermon. The Captain-he
belongs to a wrecked Englishman-wanted to come the gammon game with
him, and pass him for a white man; but sure he couldn't come that
game over meself and Duse, anyhow," said Dunn.
Without saying a word, Manuel stood up before his accusers, upon
this strange charge of "contrary to law."
As he looked upon his accusers, he said, "What have I done to suffer
a murderer's fate? Am I to be sold as a slave, because of the
visitation of God? I have done no murder! No!--nor have I stolen in
your land! and why did these men decoy me into"--
"Silence! silence! You are in the sheriff's office," said Dunn,
pointing his finger at his nose. "You can't come your John Bull
nigger in South Carolina."
This brought the sheriff's clerk to the door that led into the
passage. "Dunn, I have warned you about these things several times;
the public are getting wind of them; they'll bring this office into
disrepute yet. You ought to know what effect the association of
officials with these 'corner-shop keepers' is already having in the
community," said he.
"How the divil do ye know what yer talking about; sure it's his
honor's bisniss, and not yours at all, at all," said Dunn,
addressing himself to Mr. Kanapeaux, and then looking at Mr.
"Mr. Kanapeaux, you must not interfere with the officers and their
duty; attend to your business, and get, your book ready to register
this nigger-boy," said Grimshaw.
"Well, now, my good fellow," continued Grimshaw, "I dislike this
business very much; it don't pay me enough for all the bother I have
with it. 'Tis just a little filtering of fees, which makes the duty
of my office exceedingly annoying. But we must respect the law. We
do these things to protect our institutions and make them as light
as possible. I might give you a great deal of trouble; I have the
power, but I make it a point to consider men in your case, and we'll
make you so comfortable that you won't think of being imprisoned.
You must understand that it is 'contrary to law' to come among our
niggers in this way; it gives them fanciful ideas. There's such an
infernal imperfect state of things as these abolitionists are
getting every thing into, behooves us to watch the communications
which are going on between, designing people and our slaves. We are
a hospitable people--the world knows that--and have a religious
respect for our laws, which we enforce without respect to persons.
We'd like to let you go about the city, but then it's 'contrary to
law.' Make up your mind, my good fellow, that you are among humane
people, who will seek to benefit you among men of your class. Make
yourself happy--and look upon me as a friend, and you will never be
deceived. I control the jail, and my prisoners are as much attached
to me as they would be to a father."
"It must be humanity that puts these symbols of ignominy upon my
hands," said Manuel; "that confines me in a dungeon lest I should
breathe a word of liberty to ears that know it only as a fable."
Nobody had asked him to sit down, and, feeling the effect of his
sickness and fatigue, he turned around as if to look for something
to rest against. "You must not sit down,--take off your hat!" said
The poor fellow made an effort, but could not effect it with the
fetters on his hands; at which, Dunn stepped up, and snatching it
from his head, flung it upon the floor. "You should learn manners,
my good fellow," said Grimshaw, "when you come into a sheriff's
office. It's a place of importance, and people always pay respect to
it when they come into it; a few months in Charleston would make you
as polite as our niggers."
"Had you not better take the irons off the poor fellow's hands?--he
looks as if he was tired out," said Mr. Kanapeaux, the clerk, who
again came to the door and looked upon Manuel with an air of pity.
The words of sympathy touched his feelings deeply; it was a simple
word in his favour, so different from what he had met since he left
the vessel, that he felt a kind friend had spoken in his behalf, and
he gave way to his feeling in a gush of tears.
"Good suggestion, Mr. Kanapeaux!" said Grimshaw. "Better take 'em
off, Mr. Dunn; I don't think he'll give you any more difficulty. He
seems like a 'likely fellow,' and knows, if he cuts up any nigger
rascality in Charleston, he'll be snapped up. Now, my good fellow,
put on your best-natured countenance, and stand as straight as a
ramrod. Mr. Kanapeaux, get your book ready to register him,"
Manuel now stood up under a slide, and his height and general
features were noted in the following manner, in order to appease
that sovereign dignity of South Carolina law, which has so many
strange devices to show its importance:--"Contrary to Law."
Violation of the Act of 1821, as amended, &c. &c. Manuel Pereira vs.
State of South Carolina, Steward on board British Brig Janson,
Captain Thompson. Entered 24th March, 1852.
Height, 5 feet 81/2 inches.
Complexion, light olive, (bright.)
Features, sharp and aquiline.
[Hair and eyes, dark and straight; the former inclined to curl.]
General remarks:--Age, twenty-nine; Portuguese by birth; speaks
rather broken, but politely; is intelligent, well formed, and good
looking. Fees to Sheriff:
To arrest, $2-Registry, $2 $4 00 To Recog. $1.31-Constable $1 2 31
To Commitment and discharge, 1 00
Jail fees to be added when discharged.
After these remarks were duly entered, and Mr. Grimshaw read another
lecture to him on the importance of South Carolina law, and the
kindness he would receive at his hands if he made himself con-
tented, he was told that he could go and be committed. The poor
fellow had stood up until he was nearly exhausted; yet, it was not
enough to gratify the feelings of that miserable miscreant, Dunn.
Scarcely had he left the sheriff's office, or passed two squares
from the court-house, before he entered another Dutch grog-shop, a
little more respectable in appearance-but not in character. They
entered by a side door, which led into a back apartment provided
with a table and two wooden settees. As Dunn entered, he was
recognised by two negro-fellows, who were playing dominoes at the
table. They arose and ran through the front store, into the street,
as if some evil spirit had descended among them. The Dutchman sprang
for the dominoes, and quickly thrust them into a tin measure which
he secreted under the counter.
"Ah! Drydez!" said Dunn; "you vagabond, you; up to the old tricks
again? Ye Dutchmen are worse than the divil! It's meself'll make ye
put a five for that. Come, fork it over straight, and don't be
muttering yer Dutch lingo!"
"Vat zue drink mit me dis morning? Misser Dunz' te best fellow vat
comez in my shop," said Drydez.
"Ah! stop yer botheration, and don't be comin' yer Dutch logger over
an Irishman! put down the five dollars, and we'll take the drinks
presently; meself and me friend here'll drink yer health," said
Dunn, pointing to Manuel, who shook his head as much as to decline.
The Dutchman now opened his drawer, and rolling a bill up in his
fingers, passed it as if unobserved into the hands of Dunn.
"Now, Drydez," said Dunn, "if ye want to do the clean thing, put a
couple of brandy smashes-none of your d--d Dutch cut-throat brandy-
the best old stuff. Come, me old chuck, (turning to Manuel and
pulling him by the Whiskers,) cheer up, another good stiff'ner will
put you on your taps again. South Carolina's a great State, and a
man what can't be happy in Charleston, ought to be put through by
daylight by the abolitionists."
The Dutchman soon prepared the smashes, and supplying them with
straws, put them upon the table, and seated chairs close at hand.
"Excuse me!" said Manuel, "I've drunk enough already, and should
like to lie down. I am unwell, and feel the effect of what I have
already taken. I am too feeble. Pray tell me how far the prison is
from here, and I will go myself."
"Go, is it?--the divil a go ye'll go from this until ye drink the
smash. None of yer Portugee independence here. We larn niggers the
politeness of gintlemen in Charleston, me buck!" and seizing him by
the collar, dragged him to the table, then grasping the tumbler with
the other hand, he held it before his face. "Do you see that? and,
bedad, ye'll drink it, and not be foolin', or I'd put the contents
in your phiz," said he.
Manuel took the glass, while the Dutchman stood chuckling over the
very nice piece of fun, and the spice of Mr. Dunn's wit, as he
called it. "Vat zu make him vat'e no vants too? You doz make me
laugh so ven zu comes 'ere, I likes to kilt myself," said Drydez.
A bright mulatto-fellow was now seen in the front store, making
quizzical signs to the Dutchman; who understanding its
signification, lost no time in slipping into his pocket a tumbler
nearly half full of brandy and water; and stepping behind the
division door, passed it slily to the mulatto, who equally as slily
passed it down his throat; and putting a piece of money into the
Dutchman's hand, stepped up to the counter, as if to wait for his
change. "All right!" said the Dutchman, looking around at his
shelves, and then again under the counter.
"No so!" said the mulatto; "I want fourpence; you done' dat befor'
several times; I wants my money."
"Get out of my store, or I'll kick you out," said the Dutchman, and
catching up a big club, ran from behind the counter and commenced
belaboring the negro over the head in a most unmerciful manner. At
this, the mulatto retreated into the lane, and with a volley of the
vilest epithets, dared the Dutchman to come out, and he would whip
Dunn ran to the scene, and ordered the negro to be off, and not use
such language to a white man, that it was "contrary to law," and he
would take him to the workhouse.
"Why, massa, I knows what 'em respect white men what be gemmen like
yersef, but dat Dutchman stand da'h a'n't no gentlem', he done gone
tieffe my money seven time; an' I whip him sure-jus' lef' him. come
out here. I doesn't care for true, and God saw me, I be whip at the
wukhouse next minute. He tief, an' lie, an 'e cheat me." The
Dutchman stood at the door with the big stick in his hand-the negro
in the middle of the lane with his fists in a pugilistic attitude,
daring and threatening, while the limping Dunn stood by the side of
the Dutchman, acting as a mediator. Manuel, taking advantage of the
opportunity, emptied his tumbler down a large opening in the
It is a notorious fact in Charleston, that although the negro,
whether he be a black or white one, is held in abject obedience to
the white man proper, no matter what his grade may be, yet such is
the covetous and condescending character of these groggery keepers,
that they become courteous to the negro and submit to an equality of
sociability. The negro, taking advantage of this familiarity, will
use the most insulting and abusive language to this class of
Dutchmen, who, either through cowardice, or fear of losing their
trade, never resent it. We may say, in the language of Dunn, when he
was asked if negroes had such liberties with white men in
Charleston, "A nigger knows a Dutch shopkeeper better than he knows
himself-a nigger dare not speak that way to anybody else."
The Dutchman gets a double profit from the negro, and with it
diffuses a double vice among them, for which they have to suffer the
severest penalty. It is strictly "contrary to law" to purchase any
thing from a negro without a ticket to sell it, from his master. But
how is this regarded? Why, the shopkeeper foregoes the ticket,
encourages the warehouse negro to steal, and purchases his stealings
indiscriminately, at about one-half their value. We might enumerate
fifty different modes practised by "good" legal voting
citizens--totally regardless of the law--and exerting an influence
upon the negro tenfold more direful than that which could possibly
arise from the conversation of a few respectable men belonging to a
Dunn, after driving the mulatto man from the door and upbraiding the
Dutchman for his cowardice, returned to the table, and patting
Manuel upon the back, drank the balance of his smash, saying, "Come,
me good fellow, we must do the thing up brown, now; we've got the
Dutchman nailed on his own hook. We must have another horn; it's
just the stuff in our climate; the 'Old Jug's' close by, and they'll
be makin' a parson of you when you get there. We've had a right
jolly time; and ye can't wet your whistle when ye're fernint the
"I don't ask such favors, and will drink no more," said Manuel.
"Fill her up, Drydez! fill her up! two more smashes-best brandy and
no mistake. You must drink another, my old chuck-we'll bring the
pious notions out o' ye in Charleston," said Dunn, turning around to
The Dutchman filled the glasses, and Dunn, laying his big hickory
stick upon the counter, took one in each hand, and going directly to
Manuel, "There, take it, and drink her off-no humbugging; yer mother
niver gave such milk as that," said he.
"Excuse me, sir; I positively will not!" said Manuel, and no sooner
had he lisped the words, than Dunn threw the whole contents in his
face. Enraged at such outrageous conduct, the poor fellow could
stand it no longer, and fetched him a blow that levelled him upon
The Dutchman ran to the assistance of Dunn, and succeeded in
relieving him from his unenviable situation. Not satisfied, however,
they succeeded, after a hard struggle, in getting him upon the
floor, when the Dutchman-after calling the assistance of a miserable
negro, held him down while Dunn beat him with his stick. His cries
of "Murder" and "Help" resounded throughout the neighbourhood, and
notwithstanding they attempted to gag him, brought several persons
to the spot. Among them was a well-known master builder, in
Charleston-a very muscular and a very humane man. The rascality of
Dunn was no new thing to him, for he had had practical
demonstrations of it upon his own negroes,--who had been enticed
into the "corner shops" for the double purpose of the Dutchmen
getting their money, and the officers getting hush-money from the
The moment he saw Dunn, he exclaimed, "Ah! you vagabond!" and
springing with the nimbleness of a cat, struck the Dutchman a blow
that sent him measuring his length, into a corner among a lot of
empty boxes; then seizing Dunn by the collar, he shook him like a
puppy, and brought him a slap with his open hand that double-dyed
his red face, and brought a stream of claret from his nose; while
the miserable nigger, who had been struggling to hold Manuel down,
let go his hold, and ran as if his life was in danger. The scene was
disgusting in the extreme. Manuel arose, with his face cut in
several places, his clothes bedaubed with filth from the floor, and
his neck and shirt-bosom covered with blood; while the aghast
features of Dunn, with his red, matted hair, and his glaring,
vicious eyes, bespattered with the combined blood of his victim and
his own nasal organ, gave him the most fiendish look imaginable.
The gentleman, after reprimanding the Dutchman for keeping up these
miserable practices, which were disgracing the community, and
bringing suffering, starvation, and death upon the slaves, turned to
Dunn, and addressed him. "You are a pretty officer of the law! A
villain upon the highway-a disgrace to your color, and a stain upon
those who retain you in office. A man who has violated the peace and
every principle of honest duty, a man who every day merits the worst
criminal punishment, kept in the favor of the municipal department,
to pollute its very name. If there is a spark of honesty left in the
police department, I will use my influence to stop your conduct. The
gallows will be your doom yet. You must not think because you are
leagued in the same traffic."
Dunn kept one of the worst and most notorious drinking-shops in
Charleston, but, to reconcile his office with that strict
requirement which never allowed any thing "contrary to law" in
Charleston, he made his wife a "free trader." This special set of
South Carolina may in effect be classed among its many singular
laws. It has an exceedingly accommodating effect among bankrupt
husbands, and acts as a masked battery for innumerable sins in a
business or official line. It so happens, once in a while, that one
of the "fair free dealers" gets into limbo through the force of some
ruthless creditor; and the "Prison Bounds Act," being very delicate
in its bearings, frequently taxes the gallantry of the chivalrous
gentlemen of the Charleston bar. that you are to go unpunished. And
you, Drydez," said he, turning to the Dutchman, "I shall enter you
upon the information docket, as soon as I go down into the city."
"Zeu may tu vat zeu plas mit me-te mayor bees my friend, an' he
knowz vot me ams. Yuz sees zel no bronty, no zin! Vot yu to mit de
fine, ah?" * * *
"I'd like to see you do that same agin Mr.--. It wouldn't be savin'
yerself a pace-warrant, and another for assault and battery! Sure
magistrate Gyles is a first-rate friend of me own, and he'd not
suffer me imposed on. The d--d nigger was obstinate and wouldn't go
to jail," said Dunn in a cowardly, whimpering manner.
"Oh yez, me heard mit 'im swore, vat he no go to zale!" rejoined the
"Tell me none of your lies," said he; "you are both the biggest
rascals in town, and carry on your concerted villany as boldly as if
you had the control of the city in your hands." Manuel was trembling
under the emotions of grief and revenge. His Portuguese blood would
have revenged itself at the poniard's point, but fortunately he had
left it in his chest. He saw that he had a friend at his hand, and
with the earnestness of a child, resigned himself to his charge.
In a few minutes quiet was produced, and the gentleman expressing a
desire to know how the trouble originated, inquired of Manuel how it
was brought about. But no sooner had he commenced his story, than he
was interrupted by Dunn asserting his right, according to the laws
of South Carolina, to make his declaration, which could not be
refuted by the negro's statement, or even testimony at law; and in
another moment jumped up, and taking Manuel by the collar, commanded
him to come along to jail; and turning to the gentleman, dared him
to interfere with his duty.
"I know how you take people to jail, very well. I'll now see that
you perform that duty properly, and not torture prisoners from place
to place before you get there. You inflict a worse punishment in
taking poor, helpless people to jail, than they suffer after they
get there!" said he; and immediately joined Manuel and walked to the
jail with him.
THE OLD JAIL.
THERE are three institutions in Charleston-either of which would be
a stain upon the name of civilization-standing as emblems of the
time-established notions of a people, and their cherished love for
the ancestral relics of a gone-by age. Nothing could point with more
unerring aim than these sombre monuments do, to the distance behind
the age that marks the thoughts and actions of the Charlestonians.
They are the poor-house, hospital, and jail; but as the latter only
pertains to our present subject, we prefer to speak of it alone, and
leave the others for another occasion. The workhouse may be said to
form an exception-that being a new building, recently erected upon a
European plan. It is very spacious, with an extravagant exterior,
surmounted by lofty semi-Gothic watch-towers, similar to the old
castles upon the Rhine. So great was the opposition to building this
magnificent temple of a workhouse, and so inconsistent, beyond the
progress of the age, was it viewed by the "manifest ancestry," that
it caused the mayor his defeat at the following hustings. "Young
Charleston" was rebuked for its daring progress, and the building is
marked by the singular cognomen of "Hutchinson's Folly." What is
somewhat singular, this magnificent building is exclusively for
negroes. One fact will show how progressive has been the science of
law to govern the negro, while those to which the white man is
subjected are such as good old England conferred upon them some
centuries ago. For felonious and burglarious offences, a white man
is confined in the common jail; then dragged to the market-place,
stripped, and whipped, that the negroes may laugh "and go see buckra
catch it;" while a negro is sent to the workhouse, confined in his
cell for a length of time, and then whipped according to modern
science,--but nobody sees it except by special permission. Thus the
negro has the advantage of science and privacy.
The jail is a sombre-looking building, with every mark of antiquity
standing boldly outlined upon its exterior. It is surrounded by a
high brick wall, and its windows are grated with double rows of
bars, sufficiently strong for a modern penitentiary. Altogether, its
dark, gloomy appearance strikes those who approach it, with the
thought and association of some ancient cruelty. You enter through
an iron-barred door, and on both sides of a narrow portal leading to
the right are four small cells and a filthy-looking kitchen,
resembling an old-fashioned smoke-house. These cells are the
debtors'; and as we were passing out, after visiting a friend, a
lame "molatto-fellow" with scarcely rags to cover his nakedness, and
filthy beyond description, stood at what was called the kitchen
door. "That poor dejected object," said our friend, "is the cook. He
is in for misdemeanor-one of the peculiar shades of it, for which a
nigger is honored with the jail." "It seems, then, that cooking is a
punishment in Charleston, and the negro is undergoing the penalty,"
said we. "Yes!" said our friend; "but the poor fellow has a
sovereign consolation, which few niggers in Charleston can boast
of-and none of the prisoners here have-he can get enough to eat."
The poor fellow held out his hand as we passed him, and said,
"Massa, gin poor Abe a piece o' 'bacca'?" We freely gave him all in
On the left side, after passing the main iron door, are the jailer's
apartments. Passing through another iron door, you ascend a narrow,
crooked stairs and reach the second story; here are some eight or
nine miserable cells-some large and some small-badly ventilated, and
entirely destitute of any kind of furniture: and if they are badly
ventilated for summer, they are equally badly provided with means to
warm them in winter. In one of these rooms were nine or ten persons,
when we visited it; and such was the morbid stench escaping from it,
that we were compelled to put our handkerchiefs to our faces. This
floor is appropriated for such crimes as assault and battery;
assault and battery, with intent to kill; refractory seamen;
deserters; violating the statutes; suspicion of arson and murder;
witnesses; all sorts of crimes, varying from the debtor to the
positive murderer, burglar, and felon. We should have enumerated,
among the rest, all stewards, (colored,) whether foreign or
domestic, who are committed on that singular charge, "contrary to
law." And it should have been added, even though cast away upon our
"hospitable shores." Among all these different shades of criminals,
there must be some very bad men. And we could recount three who were
pointed out to us, as very dangerous men, yet were allowed the favor
of this floor and its associations. One was an Irish sailor, who was
sentenced to three years and nine months' imprisonment by the United
States court, for revolt and a desperate attempt to murder the
captain of a ship; the next was a German, a soldier in the United
States army, sentenced to one year and eight months' imprisonment
for killing his comrade; and the third was an English sailor, who
killed a woman-but as she happened to be of doubtful character, the
presiding judge of the sessions sentenced him to a light
imprisonment, which the Governor very condescendingly pardoned after
a few weeks.
The two former acted as attendants, or deputy jailers; with the
exception of turning the key, which privilege the jailer reserved
for himself exclusively. The principle may seem a strange one, that
places men confined upon such grave charges in a superior position
over prisoners; and may be questionable with regard to the
From this floor, another iron door opened, and a winding passage led
into the third and upper story, where a third iron door opened into
a vestibule, on the right and left of which were grated doors
secured with heavy bolts and bars. These opened into narrow portals
with dark, gloomy cells on each side. In the floor of each of these
cells was a large iron ring-bolt, doubtless intended to chain
refractory prisoners to; but we were informed that such prisoners
were kept in close stone cells, in the yard, which were commonly
occupied by negroes and those condemned to capital punishment. The
ominous name of this third story was "Mount Rascal," intended, no
doubt, as significant of the class of prisoners it contained. It is
said that genius is never idle: the floor of these cells bore some
evidence of the fact in a variety of very fine specimens of carving
and flourish work, done with a knife. Among them was a well-executed
crucifix; with the Redeemer, on Calvary-an emblem of hope, showing
how the man marked the weary moments of his durance. We spoke with
many of the prisoners, and heard their different stories, some of
which were really painful. Their crimes were variously stated, from
that of murder, arson, and picking pockets, down to the felon who
had stolen a pair of shoes to cover his feet; one had stolen a pair
of pantaloons, and a little boy had stolen a few door-keys. Three
boys were undergoing their sentence for murder. A man of genteel
appearance, who had been sentenced to three years imprisonment, and
to receive two hundred and twenty lashes in the market, at different
periods, complained bitterly of the injustice of his case. Some had
been flogged in the market, and were awaiting their time to be
flogged again and discharged; and others were confined on suspicion,
and had been kept in this close durance for more than six months,
awaiting trial. We noticed that this worst of injustice, "the law's
delay," was felt worse by those confined on the suspicion of some
paltry theft, who, even were they found guilty by a jury, would not
have been subjected to more than one week imprisonment. Yet such was
the adherence to that ancient system of English criminal
jurisprudence, that it was almost impossible for the most innocent
person to get a hearing, except at the regular sessions, "which sit
seldom, and with large intervals between." There is indeed a city
court in Charleston, somewhat more modern in its jurisprudence than
the sessions. It has its city sheriff, and its city officers, and
holds its terms more frequently. Thus is Charleston doubly provided
with sheriffs and officials. Both aspire to a distinct jurisdiction
in civil and criminal cases. Prisoners seem mere shuttlecocks
between the sheriffs, with a decided advantage in favor of the
county sheriff, who is autocrat in rei over the jail; and any
criminal who has the good fortune to get a hearing before the city
judge, may consider himself under special obligation to the county
sheriff for the favor.
We noticed these cells were much cleaner than those below, yet there
was a fetid smell escaping from them. This we found arose from the
tubs being allowed to stand in the rooms, where the criminals were
closely confined, for twenty-four hours, which, with the action of
the damp, heated atmosphere of that climate, was of itself enough to
breed contagion. We spoke of the want of ventilation and the noxious
fumes that seemed almost pestilential, but they seemed to have
become habituated to it, and told us that the rooms on the south
side were lighter and more comfortable. Many of them spoke
cheerfully, and endeavored to restrain their feelings, but the
furrows upon their haggard countenances needed no tongue to utter
Hunger was the great grievance of which they complained; and if
their stories were true--and we afterward had strong proofs that
they were--there was a wanton disregard of common humanity, and an
abuse of power the most reprehensible. The allowance per day was a
loaf of bad bread, weighing about nine ounces, and a pint of thin,
repulsive soup, so nauseous that only the most necessitated appetite
could be forced to receive it, merely to sustain animal life. This
was served in a dirty-looking tin pan, without even a spoon to serve
it. One man told us that he had subsisted on bread and water for
nearly five weeks-that he had lain down to sleep in the afternoon
and dreamed that he was devouring some wholesome nourishment to stay
the cravings of his appetite, and awoke to grieve that it was but a
dream. In this manner his appetite was doubly aggravated, yet he
could get nothing to appease its wants until the next morning. To
add to this cruelty, we found two men in close confinement, the most
emaciated and abject specimens of humanity we have ever beheld. We
asked ourselves, "Lord God! was it to be that humanity should
descend so low?" The first was a forlorn, dejected-looking creature,
with a downcast countenance, containing little of the human to mark
his features. His face was covered with hair, and so completely
matted with dirt and made fiendish by the tufts of coarse hair that
hung over his forehead, that a thrill of horror invaded our
feelings. He had no shoes on his feet; and a pair of ragged
pantaloons, and the shreds of a striped shirt without sleeves,
secured around the waist with a string, made his only clothing. In
truth, he had scarce enough on to cover his nakedness, and that so
filthy and swarming with vermin, that he kept his shoulders and
hands busily employed; while his skin was so incrusted with dirt as
to leave no trace of its original complexion. In this manner he was
kept closely confined, and was more like a wild beast who saw none
but his keepers when they came to throw him his feed. Whether he was
kept in this manner for his dark deeds or to cover the shame of
those who speculated upon his misery, we leave to the judgment of
We asked this poor mortal what he had done to merit such a
punishment? He held his head down, and motioned his fevered lips.
"Speak out!" said we, "perhaps we can get you out." "I had no shoes,
and I took a pair of boots from the gentleman I worked with," said
he in a low, murmuring tone,
"Gracious, man!" said we, "a pair of boots! and is that all you are
"Yes, sir! he lives on the wharf, is very wealthy, and is a good
man: 't wasn't his fault, because he tried to get me out if I'd pay
for the boots, but they wouldn't let him."
"And how long have you been thus confined?" said we.
"Better than five months-but it's because there a'n't room up
stairs. They've been promising me some clothes for a long time, but
they don't come," he continued.
"And how much longer have you to stop in this condition?"
"Well, they say 'at court sets in October; it's somethin' like two
months off; the grand jury'll visit the jail then, and maybe they'll
find a bill' against me, and I'll be tried. I dont't care if they
only don't flog me in that fish-market."
"Then you have not been tried yet? Well, may God give that man peace
to enjoy his bounty, who would consign a poor object like thee to
such cruelty!" said we.
"I was raised in Charleston-can neither read nor write-I have no
father, and my mother is crazy in the poor-house, and I work about
the city for a living, when I'm out!" said he. There was food for
reflection in this poor fellow's simple story, which we found to be
correct, as corroborated by the jailer.
"Do you get enough to eat?" we asked.