Part 3 out of 5
"Oh no, indeed! I could eat twice as much-that's the worst on't: 't
wouldn't be bad only for that. I git me loaf' in the mornin', and me
soup at twelve, but I don't git nothin' to eat at night, and a
feller's mighty hungry afore it's time to lay down," said he.
We looked around the room, and not seeing any thing to sleep upon,
curiosity led us to ask him where he slept.
"The jail allows us a blanket-that's mine in the corner: I spread it
at night when I wants to go to bed," he answered, quite contentedly.
We left the poor wretch, for our feelings could withstand it no
longer. The state of society that would thus reduce a human being,
needed more pity than the calloused bones reduced to such a bed. His
name was Bergen.
The other was a young Irishman, who had been dragged to jail in his
shirt, pantaloons, and hat, on suspicion of having stolen seven
dollars from a comrade. He had been in jail very near four months,
and in regard to filth and vermin was a counterpart of the other. A
death-like smell, so offensive that we stopped upon the threshold,
escaped from the room as soon as the door opened, enough to destroy
a common constitution, which his emaciated limbs bore the strongest
The prisoners upon the second story were allowed the privilege of
the yard during certain hours in the day, and the debtors at all
hours in the day; yet, all were subjected to the same fare. In the
yard were a number of very close cells, which, as we have said
before, were kept for negroes, refractory criminals, and those
condemned to capital punishment. These cells seemed to be held as a
terror over the criminals, and well they might, for we never
witnessed any thing more dismal for the tenement of man.
HOW IT IS.
IT is our object to show the reader how many gross abuses of power
exist in Charleston, and to point him to the source. In doing this,
the task becomes a delicate one, for there are so many things we
could wish were not so, because we know there are many good men in
the community whose feelings are enlisted in the right, but their
power is not coequal; and if it were, it is checked by an opposite
The more intelligent of the lower classes look upon the subject of
politics in its proper light--they see the crashing effect the
doctrine of nullification has upon their interests; yet, though
their numbers are not few, their voice is small, and cannot sound
through the channels that make popular influence. Thus all castes of
society are governed by impracticable abstractions.
The jail belongs to the county--the municipal authorities have no
voice in it; and the State, in its legislative benevolence, has
provided thirty cents a day for the maintenance of each prisoner.
This small sum, in the State of South Carolina, where provision is
extremely high, may be considered as a paltry pittance; but more
especially so when the magnificent pretensions of South Carolina are
taken into consideration, and a comparison is made between this
meagre allowance and that of other States. Even Georgia, her sister
State, and one whose plain modesty is really worthy of her
enterprising citizens, takes a more enlightened view of a criminal's
circumstances-allows forty-four cents a day for his maintenance, and
treats him as if he was really a human being. But for this disparity
and the wanton neglect of humane feelings South Carolinians excuse
themselves upon the ground that they have no penitentiary; nor do
they believe in that system of punishment, contending that it
creates an improper competition with the honest mechanic, and gives
countenance to crime, because it attempts to improve criminals. The
common jail is made the place of confinement, while the
whipping-post and starvation supply the correctives.
The sheriff being created an absolute functionary, with unlimited
powers to control the jail in all its varied functions, without
either commissioners or jail-committee, what state of management may
be expected? The court gives no specific direction as to the
apartment or mode of confinement when sentencing a criminal;
consequently, it becomes an established fact that the legislative
confidence deposed in the sheriff is used as a medium of favors, to
be dispensed as best suits the feelings or interests of the
incumbent. Such power in the hands of an arbitrary, vindictive, or
avaricious man, affords unlimited means of abuse, and without fear
It may be inferred from what we have said that the jailer was relax
in his duty. This is not the case, for we have good authority that a
more kind-hearted and benevolent man never filled the office. But
his power was so restricted by those in absolute control, that his
office became a mere turnkey's duty, for which he was paid the
pittance of five hundred dollars a year or thereabouts. Thus he
discharged his duty according to the instructions of the sheriff,
who, it was well known, looked upon the jail as a means of
speculation; and in carrying out his purposes, he would give very
benevolent instructions in words, and at the same time withhold the
means of carrying them out, like the very good man who always
preached but never practised.
Now, how is it? What is the regimen of this jail-prison and how is
it provided? We will say nothing of that arduous duty which the
jailer performs for his small sum; nor the report that the sheriff's
office is worth fourteen thousand dollars a year: these things are
too well established. But the law provides thirty cents a day for
the prisoner's maintenance, which shall be received by the sheriff,
who is to procure one pound of good bread, and one pound of good
beef per day for each man. Now this provision is capable of a very
elastic construction. The poor criminal is given a loaf of bad
bread, costing about three cents, and a pound of meat, the most
unwholesome and sickly in its appearance, costing five cents.
Allowing a margin, however, and we may say the incumbent has a very
nice profit of from eighteen to twenty cents per day on each
prisoner. But, as no provision is made against the possibility of
the criminal eating his meat raw, he is very delicately forced to an
alternative which has another profitable issue for the sheriff; that
of taking a pint of diluted water, very improperly called soup. Thus
is carried out that ancient law of England which even she is now
ashamed to own. Our feelings are naturally roused against the
perpetration of such abuses upon suffering humanity. We struggle
between a wish to speak well of her whose power it is to practise
them, and an imperative duty that commands us to speak for those who
cannot speak for themselves.
These things could not exist if the public mind was properly
enlightened. It is unnecessary to spend many words in exposing such
palpable abuses, or to trace the cause of their existence and
continuance. One cause of this is the wilful blindness and silly
gasconade of some of those who lead and form public opinion. With
South Carolinians, nothing is done in South Carolina that is not
greater than ever was done in the United States-no battles were ever
fought that South Carolina did not win-no statesman was ever equal
to Mr. Calhoun-no confederacy would be equal to the Southern, with
South Carolina at its head-no political doctrines contain so much
vital element as secession, and no society in the Union is equal to
South Carolina for caste and elegance-not excepting the worthy and
learned aristocracy of Boston.
A will to do as it pleases and act as it pleases, without national
restraint, is the great drawback under which South Carolina sends
forth her groaning tale of political distress. Let her look upon her
dubious glory in its proper light-let her observe the rights of
others, and found her acts in justice!--annihilate her grasping
spirit, and she will find a power adequate to her own preservation.
She can then show to the world that she gives encouragement to the
masses, and is determined to persevere in that moderate and
forbearing policy which creates its own protection, merits
admiration abroad, instead of rebuke, and which needs no gorgeous
military display to marshal peace at the point of the bayonet.
MANUEL PEREIRA COMMITTED.
IT was nearly eleven o'clock as they ascended the jail steps and
rang the bell for admittance. The jailer, a stout, rough-looking
man, opened the iron door, and as Manuel was about to step over the
stone sill, Dunn gave him a sudden push that sent him headlong upon
the floor. "Heavens! what now?" inquired the jailer with a look of
astonishment, and at the next moment Dunn raised his foot to kick
Manuel in the face.
"You infernal beast!" said the jailer, "you are more like a savage
than a man-you are drunk now, you vagabond," and jumped in between
them to save him from the effect of the blow. As he did this, the
gentleman who accompanied them from the "corner-shop," as a
protection against Dunn's cruelty, fetched Dunn a blow on the back
of the neck that made him stagger against a door, and created such
confusion as to arouse the whole jail. Turning to Manuel, he, with
the assistance of the jailer, raised him from the ground and led him
into the jail-office. "Mister jailer," said Dunn, "the prisoner is
mine until such times as you receipt the commitment, and I demand
protection from you against this man. He has committed two violent
assaults upon me, when I'd be doing me duty."
"You have violated all duty, and are more like an incarnate fiend.
You first decoy men into rum-shops, and then you plunder and abuse
them, because you think they are black and can get no redress. You
abused that man unmercifully, because you knew his evidence was not
valid against you!" said the gentleman, turning to the jailer, and
giving him the particulars of what he saw in the "corner-shop," and
what cruelties he had seen practised by Dunn on former occasions.
The jailer looked upon Manuel with commiseration, and handed him a
chair to sit down on. The poor fellow was excited and fatigued, for
he had eaten nothing that day, and been treated more like a brute
than a human being from the time, he left the ship until he arrived
at the jail. He readily accepted the kind offer, and commenced to
tell the story of his treatment.
"You need' not tell me,--I know too much of that man already. It has
long been a mystery to me why he is retained in office."--
Here Dunn interrupted. "Sure it's yer master I'd obey and not
yerself, an' I'd do what I'd plase with prisoners, and, it's his
business and not yeers. If ye had yer way, sure you'd be makin'
white men of every nigger that ye turned a key upon."
"Give me none of your insolence," said the jailer. "You have no
authority beyond my door. Your brutal treatment to prisoners has
caused me an immense deal of trouble-more than my paltry pay would
induce me to stay for. Suppose you were indicted for these outrages?
What would be the result?" asked the jailer.
"Sure it's meself could answer for the sheriff, without yer
bothering yerself. I'd not work for yer, but for him; and he's yer
master anyhow, and knows all about it. Give me the receipt, and
that's all I'd ax yer. When a nigger don't mind me, I just makes him
feel the delight of a hickory stick."
"Yes, if you had the shame of a man in you, you'd not make a beast
of yourself with liquor, and treat these poor stewards as if they
were dogs," said the jailer.
"Indeed, ye might learn a thing or two if ye was a politician like
meself, and belonged to the secession party. An' if his honor the
sheriff-for he's a dacent man-knew ye'd be preachin' in that shape,
ye wouldn't keep the jail f'nent the morning. Be letting me out, and
make much of the nigger; ye have him there."
The jailer unlocked the door and allowed him to pass out, with a
pertinent rebuke. This was but a trifling affair in Dunn's ear, for
he knew his master's feelings too well, and was backed by him in his
most intolerable proceedings. Returning to the office, he looked at
the commitment, and then again at Manuel. "This is a 'contrary to
law' case, I see, Mr. Manuel; you are a likely fellow too, to come
within that," said he.
"Yes. If I understand him right, he's a shipwrecked sailor,
belonging to a foreign vessel that was driven in here in distress,"
said the man. "It's a hard law that imprisons a colored seaman who
comes here voluntarily; but it seems beyond all manner of precedent
to imprison a shipwrecked man like this, especially when he seems so
respectable. There are no circumstances to warrant the enforcement
of such a law." Thus saying, he left the jail.
Be it said of the jailer, to his honor, so far as personal kindness
went, he did his utmost--brought him water to wash himself, and gave
him some clean clothes. After which, he was registered upon the
criminal calendar as follows:--
"March 24, 1852.--Manuel Peirire.--[Committed by] Sheriff--Sheriff.
Crime--Contrary to law."
Now the jailer had done his duty, so far as his feelings were
concerned; but, such were the stern requirements of the law, and his
functions so restricted by Mr. Grimshaw, that he dare not make
distinctions. He called Daley, one of the criminal assistants, and
ordered him to show the prisoner his room.
"Here, my boy, take yer blanket," said Daley; and throwing him a
coarse, filthy-looking blanket, told him to roll it up and follow
him. "It's on the second floor we'll put ye, among the stewards;
there's a nice lot on 'em to keep yer company, and ye'll have a
jolly time, my boy." Manuel followed through the second iron door
until he came to a large door secured with heavy bolts and bars,
which Daley began to withdraw and unlock. "Don't be takin' it amiss;
it's a right good crib, savin' the' bed, an' it's that's the worst
of it. Bad luck to old Grimshaw, an' himself thinks everybody's
bones be's as tuf as his own," said Daley, and threw open the heavy
doors, sending forth those ominous prison sounds. "All here? Ah! yer
a pretty set of lambs, as the British consul calls yees. Have ye
ever a drop to spare?" At this, three or four respectable-looking
black men came to the door and greeted Manuel. "Come, talk her out,
for th' auld man'll be on the scent." At this, one of the confined
stewards, a tall, good-looking mulatto man, ran his hand into a
large opening in the wall, and drew forth a little soda-bottle
filled with Monongahela whisky. Without giving reasonable time for
politeness, Daley seized the bottle, and putting it to his mouth,
gauged about half its contents into his homony dep“t, smacked his
lips, wiped his mouth with his cuff, and, passing the balance back,
shut and rebolted the door, after saying, "Good luck till yees, an'
I wish yees a merry time." The reader may imagine what provision the
State or the sheriff had made for the comfort of these poor men, one
of whom was imprisoned because it was "contrary to law" to be driven
into the port of Charleston in distress, and the rest, peaceable,
unoffending citizens belonging to distant States and countries, and
guilty of no crime, when we describe the room and regimen to which
they were subjected. The room was about twenty-six feet long and ten
feet wide. The brick walls were plastered and colored with some kind
of blue wash, which, however, was so nearly obliterated with dirt
and the damp of a southern climate, as to leave but little to show
what its original color was. The walls were covered with the
condensed moisture of the atmosphere, spiders hung their festooned
network overhead, and cockroaches and ants, those domesticated pests
of South Carolina, were running about the floor in swarms, and
holding all legal rights to rations in superlative contempt. Two
small apertures in the wall, about fourteen inches square, and
double-barred with heavy flat iron, served to admit light and air.
The reader may thus judge of its gloomy appearance, and what a
miserable unhealthy cell it must have been in which to place men
just arrived from sea. There was not the first vestige of furniture
in the room, not; even a bench to sit upon, for the State, with its
gracious hospitality, forgot that men in jail ever sit down; but it
was in keeping with all other things that the State left to the
control of its officials.
"Am I to be punished in this miserable place? Why, I cannot see
where I'm going; and have I nothing to lay down upon but the floor,
and that creeping with live creatures?" inquired Manuel of those who
were already inured to the hardship.
"Nothing! nothing! Bring your mind to realize the worst, and forget
the cruelty while you are suffering it; they let us out a part of
the day. We are locked up to-day because one of the assistants stole
my friend's liquor, and he dared to accuse him of the theft, because
he was a white man," said a tall, fine-looking mulatto man by the
name of James Redman, who was steward on board a Thomastown (Maine)
ship, and declared that he had visited Charleston on a former
occasion, and by paying five dollars to one of the officers,
remained on board of the ship unmolested.
"And how long shall I have to suffer in this manner?" inquired
Manuel. "Can I not have my own bed and clothing?"
"Oh, yes," said Redman; "you can have them, but if you bring them
here, they'll not be worth anything when you leave; and the
prisoners upon this floor are so starved and destitute, that
necessity forces them to steal whatever comes in their way; and the
assistants are as much implicated as the prisoners. You'll fare
hard; but just do as we do in a calm, wait for the wind to blow, and
pray for the best. If you say any thing, or grumble about it, the
sheriff will order you locked, up on the third story, and that's
worse than death itself. The first thing you do, make preparations
for something to eat. We pay for it here, but don't get it; and
you'd starve afore you'd eat what they give them poor white
prisoners. They suffer worse than we do, only they have cleaner
"I pray for my deliverance from such a place as this."
His manners and appearance at once enlisted the respect of those
present, and they immediately set to work, with all the means at
hand, to make him comfortable. Joseph Jociquei, a young man who had
been taken from a vessel just arrived from Rio, and was more
fortunate than the rest, in having a mattrass, seeing Manuel's weak
condition, immediately removed it from its place, and spreading it
upon the floor, invited him to lay down. The invitation was as
acceptable as it was kind on the part of Jociquei, and the poor
fellow laid his weary limbs upon it, and almost simultaneously fell
into a profound sleep. Manuel continued to sleep. His face and head
were scarred in several places; which were dressed and covered with
pieces of plaster that the jailer had supplied. His companions, for
such we shall call those who were confined with him, sat around him,
discussing the circumstances that brought him there, and the manner
in which they could best relieve his suffering. "It's just as I was
sarved," said Redman. "And I'll bet that red-headed constable, Dunn,
brought him up: and abused him in all them Dutch shops. I didn't
know the law, and he made me give him three dollars not to put the
handcuffs upon me, and then I had to treat him in every grog-shop we
came to. Yes, and the last shop we were in, he throw'd liquor in me
face, cursed the Dutchman that kept the shop, kick'd me, and tried
every way in the world to raise a fuss. If I hadn't know'd the law
here too well, I'd whipt him sure. I have suffered the want of that
three dollars since I bin here. 'Twould sarved me for coffee. We
have neither coffee nor bread to-night, for we gave our allowance of
bad bread to the white prisoners, but we must do something to make
the poor fellow comfortable. I know the constable has kept him all
day coming up, and he'll be hungry as soon as he awakes."
"Won't he receive his allowance to-day like another prisoner?"
inquired Copeland, a thick-set, well made, dark-skinned negro
steward, who had formerly conducted a barber shop in Fleet street,
Boston, but was now attached to the schooner Oscar Jones, Kellogg,
"Oh! no, sir," said Redman, "that's against the rules of the
jail-every thing is done by rule here, even to paying for what we
don't get, and starving the prisoners. A man that don't come in
before eleven o'clock gets no ration until the next morning. I know,
because I had a fuss with the jailer about it, the first day I was
brought in; but he gin me a loaf out of his own house. The old
sheriff never allows any thing done outside the rules, for he's
tighter than a mantrap. 'T a'n't what ye suffers in this cell, but
it's what ye don't get to eat; and if that poor feller a'n't got
money, he'll wish himself alongside the caboose again 'fore he gets
out." The poor fellows were driven to the extreme of providing
sustenance to sustain life. They mustered their little means
together, and by giving a sum to the sheriff's black boy, (a man
more intelligent, gentlemanly, and generous-hearted than his
master,) had a measure of coffee, sugar, and bread brought in.
Necessity was the mother of invention with them, for they had
procured a barrel for twenty-five cents, and made it supply the
place of a table. With a few chips that were brought to them by a
kind-hearted colored woman that did their washing, and bestowed many
little acts of kindness, they made a fire, endured the annoyance of
a dense smoke from the old fire-place, and prepared their little
supper. As soon as it was upon the table, they awoke Manuel, and
invited him to join in their humble fare. The poor fellow arose, and
looking around the gloomy, cavern-like place, heaved a deep sigh.
"It's hard to be brought to this for nothing!" said he; "and my
bones are so sore that I can scarcely move. I must see the Captain
"That won't do any good; you might as well keep quiet and drink your
coffee. A prisoner that says the least in this jail is best off,"
Manuel took his bowl of coffee and a piece of bread, eating it with
a good appetite, and asking what time they got breakfast. "It's the
first time I was abused in a foreign country. I'm Portuguese, but a
citizen of Great Britain, and got my protection.-When it won't save
me, I'll never come to South Carolina again, nor sail where a flag
won't protect me. When I go among Patagonians, I know what they do;
but when I sail to United States or be cast away on them, I don't
know what they do, because I expect good people." * * *
"Never mind, my good fellow," said Redman; "cheer up, take it as a
good sailor would a storm, and in the morning you'll get a small
loaf of sour bread and a bucket of water for breakfast, if you go to
the pump for it. Be careful to moderate your appetite when you
breakfast according to the State's rules; for you must save enough
to last you during the day, and if you can keep "banyan day," as the
Bluenose calls it, you're just the man for this institution, and no
mistake. Come, I see you're hungry; drink another bowl of coffee,
and eat plenty of bread; then you'll be all right for another good
"Yes, but I don't expect to be in here long. But tell me, do we get
nothing more than a loaf? didn't the jail give us this supper?" he
inquired with surprise.
"Supper, indeed!--it's against the rules for prisoners to have
coffee; that's our private fixings; but you'll get a pound of bloody
neck-bone, they call beef, in the morning. I have twice thrown mine
to the dog, but he doesn't seem to thank me for it; so I told the
cook he needn't trouble his steelyards for me again."
Redman's conversation was interrupted by a noise that seemed to be a
ring of the prison bell, and an anxious expression which Manuel gave
utterance to, indicated that he expected somebody would come to see
him. He was not disappointed, for a few minutes after, the bolts
were heard to withdraw and the heavy door swung back. There, true to
his charge, was little Tommy, in his nicest blue rig, tipped off a
la man-o'-war touch, with his palmetto-braid hat,--a long black
ribbon displayed over the rim,--his hair combed so slick, and his
little round face and red cheeks so plump and full of the sailor-boy
pertness, with his blue, braided shirt-collar laid over his jacket,
and set off around the neck, with a black India handkerchief,
secured at the throat with the joint of a shark's backbone. He
looked the very picture and pattern of a Simon-Pure salt. He had
wended his way through strange streets and lanes, with a big
haversack under his arm, which Daley had relieved him of at the
door, and brought into the room under his arm. As soon as Manuel
caught a glimpse of him, he rose and clasped the little fellow in
his arms with a fond embrace. No greeting could be more affecting.
Manuel exulted at seeing his little companion; but Tommy looked
grieved, and asked, "But what has scarred your face so, Manuel? You
didn't look that way when you left the brig. We have had a site o'
folks down to see us to-day."
"Oh, that's nothing!--just a little fall I got; don't tell the
Captain: it'll all be well to-morrow."
"Here, Jack, take your knapsack; did yer bring ever a drop o' liquor
for the steward?" said Daley, addressing himself to Tommy, and
putting the package upon the floor.
"Yes, Manuel!" said Tommy, "the Captain sent you some nice bread and
ham, some oranges and raisins, and a bottle of nice claret,--for he
was told by the consul that they didn't give 'em nothing to eat at
the jail. And I had a tug with 'em, I tell you. I got lost once, and
got a good-natured black boy to pilot me for a Victoria
threepence,--but he did not like to carry the bundle to the jail,
for fear of his master. Captain 'll be up first thing in the
morning, if he can get away from business," said the little tar,
opening the haversack and pulling out its contents to tempt the
hungry appetites of those around him.
Daley very coolly took the bottle of claret by the neck, and holding
it between himself and the light, took a lunar squint at it, as if
doubting its contents; and then, putting it down, exclaimed, "Ah!
the divil a red I'd give you for your claret. Sure, why didn't ye
bring a token of good old hardware?" "Hardware! what is hardware?"
inquired Manuel. "Ah! botheration to the bunch of yees--a drap of
old whiskey, that 'd make the delight cum f'nent. Have ye ne'er a
drap among the whole o' yees?" Receiving an answer in the negative,
he turned about with a Kilkenny, "It don't signify," and toddled for
the door, which he left open, to await Tommy's return. Redman knew
Daley's propensity too well, and having ocular proof that he had wet
t'other eye until it required more than ordinary effort to make
either one stay open, he declined recognising his very significant
As soon as Daley withdrew, Manuel invited his companions to partake
of the Captain's present, which they did with general satisfaction.
THE LAW'S INTRICACY.
WHILE the scenes we have described in the foregoing chapter were
being performed, several very interesting ones were going through
the course of performance at the consul's office and other places,
which we must describe. The British Government, in its instructions
to Mr. Mathew, impressed upon him the necessity of being very
cautious lest he should in any manner prejudice the interests of the
local institutions within his consular jurisdiction; to make no
requests that were incompatible with the local laws; but to pursue a
judicious course in bringing the matter of Her Majesty's subjects
properly to the consideration of the legal authorities, and to point
to the true grievance; and as it involved a question of right
affecting the interests and liberties of her citizens, to ask the
exercise of that judicial power from which it had a right to expect
justice. The main object was to test the question whether this
peculiar construction given to that local law which prohibits free
colored men from coming within the limits of the State, was legal in
its application to those who come into its ports connected with the
shipping interests, pursuing an honest vocation, and intending to
leave whenever their ship was ready. The consul was censured by the
press in several of the slaveholding States, because he dared to
bring the matter before the local legislature. We are bound to say
that Consul Mathew, knowing the predominant prejudices of the
Carolinians, acted wisely in so doing. First, he knew the tenacious
value they put upon courtesy; secondly, the point at issue between
South Carolina and the Federal Government, (and, as a learned friend
in Georgia once said, "Whether South Carolina belonged to the United
States, or the United States to South Carolina;") and thirdly, the
right of State sovereignty, which South Carolina held to be of the
first importance. To disregard the first, would have been considered
an insult to the feelings of her people; and if the question had
first been mooted with the Federal Government, the ire of South
Carolinians would have been fired; the slur in placing her in a
secondary position would have sounded the war-trumpet of Abolition
encroachments, while the latter would have been considered a breach
of confidence, and an unwarrantable disregard of her assertion of
State rights. The Executive transmitted the documents to the
Assembly, that body referred them to special committees, and the
Messrs. Mazyck and McCready, reported as everybody in South Carolina
expected, virtually giving the British consul a very significant
invitation to keep his petitions in his pocket for the future, and
his "black lambs" out of the State, or it might disturb their
domesticated ideas. Thus was the right clearly reserved to
themselves, and the question settled, so far as the State
Legislature was concerned. The next course for Mr. Mathew was to
appeal to the Judiciary, and should redress be denied, make it the
medium of bringing the matter, before the Federal courts.
We cannot forbear to say, that the strenuous opposition waged
against this appeal of common humanity arose from political
influence, supported by a set of ultra partisans, whose theoretical
restrictions, assisted by the voice of the press, catered to the
war-spirit of the abstractionists.
The British consul, as the representative of his government, knowing
the personal suffering to which the subjects of his country were
subjected by the wretched state of the Charleston prison, and its
management, sought to remove no restriction that might be necessary
for protecting their dangerous institutions, but to relieve that
suffering. He had pointed the authorities to the wretched state of
the prison, and the inhuman regimen which existed within it; but,
whether through that superlative carelessness which has become so
materialized in the spirit of society--that callousness to
misfortune so strongly manifested by the rich toward the industrious
poor and the slaves-or, a contempt for his opinions, because he had
followed out the instructions of his government, things went on in
the same neglected manner and no attention was paid to them.
Now, we dare assert that a large, portion of the excitement which
the question has caused has arisen from personal suffering,
consequent upon that wretched state of jail provisions which exists
in South Carolina, and which, to say the least, is degrading to the
spirit and character of a proud people. If a plea could be made, for
excuse, upon the shattered finances of the State, we might tolerate
something of the abuse. But this is not the case; and when its
privileges become reposed in men who make suffering the means to
serve their own interests, its existence becomes an outrage.
A stronger evidence of the cause of these remonstrances on the part
of the British Government, is shown by the manner in which it has
been submitted to in Georgia. The British consul of the port of
Savannah, a gentleman whose intelligence and humane feelings are no
less remarkable than Mr. Mathew's, has never had occasion to call
the attention of the Executive of Georgia to the abuse of power
consequent upon the imprisonment of colored seamen belonging to the
ships of Great Britain in that port. The seaman was imprisoned,
consequently deprived of his liberty; but there was no suffering
attendant beyond the loss of liberty during the stay of the vessel;
for the imprisonment itself was a nominal thing; the imprisoned was
well cared for; he had good, comfortable apartments, cleanly and
well ordered, away from the criminals, and plenty of good, wholesome
food to eat. There was even a satisfaction in this, for the man got
what he paid for, and was treated as if he were really a human
being. Thus, with the exception of the restriction on the man's
liberty, and that evil, which those interested in commerce would
reflect upon as a tax upon the marine interests of the port to
support a municipal police, because it imposes a tax and burdensome
annoyance upon owners for that which they have no interest in and
can derive no benefit from, the observance of the law had more
penalty in mental anxiety than bodily suffering. We have sometimes
been at a loss to account for the restriction, even as it existed in
Georgia, and especially when we consider the character of those
controlling and developing the enterprising commercial affairs of
But we must return to South Carolina. If we view this law as a
police regulation, it only gives us broader latitude. If a community
has that within itself which is dangerous to its well-being, it
becomes pertinent to inquire whether there is not an imperfect state
of society existing, and whether this policy is not injurious to the
well-being of the State. The evil, though it be a mortifying fact,
we are bound to say, arises from a strange notion of caste and
color, which measures sympathy according to complexion. There is no
proof that can possibly be adduced, showing that colored seamen have
made any infections among the slaves, or sought to increase the
dangers of her peculiar institution.
PLEA OF JUST CONSIDERATION AND MISTAKEN CONSTANCY OF THE LAWS.
THE consul's office opened at nine o'clock,--the Captain, with his
register-case and shipping papers under his arm, presented himself
to Mr. Mathew, handed him his papers, and reported his condition.
That gentleman immediately set about rendering every facility to
relieve his immediate wants and further his business. The consul was
a man of plain, unassuming manners, frank in his expressions, and
strongly imbued with a sense of his rights, and the faith of his
Government,--willing to take an active part in obtaining justice,
and, a deadly opponent to wrong, regardless of the active hostility
that surrounded him. After relating the incidents of his voyage, and
the circumstances connected with Manuel's being dragged to
prison,--"Can it be possible that the law is to be carried to such
an extreme?" said he, giving vent to his feelings.
"Your people seem to have a strange manner of exhibiting their
hospitality," said the Captain, in reply.
"That is true; but it will not do to appeal to the officials." Thus
saying, the consul prepared the certificate, and putting on his hat,
repaired to the jail. Here he questioned Manuel upon the
circumstances of his arrest, his birthplace, and several other
things. "I am not sure that I can get you out, Manuel, but I will do
my best; the circumstances of your being driven in here in distress
will warrant some consideration in your case; yet the feeling is not
favorable, and we cannot expect much."
From thence he proceeded to the office of Mr. Grimshaw, where he met
that functionary, seated in all the dignity of his office.
"Good morning, Mr. Consul. Another of your darkies in my place, this
morning," said Mr. Grimshaw.
"Yes; it is upon that business I have called to see you. I think you
could not have considered the condition of this man, nor his rights,
or you would not have imprisoned him. Is there no way by which I can
relieve him?" inquired the consul, expecting little at his hands,
but venturing the effort.
"Sir! I never do any thing inconsistent with my office. The law
gives me power in these cases, and I exercise it according to my
judgment. It makes no exceptions for shipwrecks, and I feel that you
have no right to question me in the premises. It's contrary to law
to bring niggers here; and if you can show that he is a white man,
there's the law; but you must await its process."
"But do you not make exceptions?" inquired the consul. "I do not
wish to seek his relief by process of law; that would increase
expense and delay. I have made the request as a favor; if you cannot
consider it in that light, I can only say my expectations are
disappointed. But how is it that the man was abused by your officers
before he was committed?"
"Those are things I've nothing to do with; they are between the
officers and your niggers. If they are stubborn, the officers must
use force, and we have a right to iron the whole of them. Your
niggers give more trouble than our own, and are a set of unruly
fellows. We give 'em advantages which they don't deserve, in
allowing them the yard at certain hours of the day. You Englishmen
are never satisfied with any thing we do," returned Mr. Grimshaw,
with indifference, appearing to satisfy himself that the law gave
him the right to do what he pleased in the premises. There seemed
but one idea in his head, so far as niggers were concerned, nor
could any mode of reasoning arouse him: to a consideration of any
extenuating circumstances. A nigger was a nigger with him, whether
white or black-a creature for hog, homony, and servitude.
"I expected little and got nothing. I might have anticipated it,
knowing the fees you make by imprisonment. I shall seek relief for
the man through a higher tribunal, and I shall seek redress for the
repeated abuses inflicted upon these men by your officers," said the
consul, turning to the door.
"You can do that, sir," said Mr. Grimshaw; "but you must remember
that it will require white evidence to substantiate the charge. We
don't take the testimony of your niggers."
Just as the consul left the office, he met Colonel S--entering. The
colonel always manifested a readiness to relieve the many cases of
oppression and persecution arising from bad laws and abused official
duty. He had called upon Mr. Grimshaw on the morning of the arrest,
and received from him an assurance that the case would be
considered, the most favorable construction given to it, and every
thing done for the man that was in his power. Notwithstanding this
to show how far confidence could be put in such assurances, we have
only to inform the reader that he had despatched the officers an
The colonel knew his man, and felt no hesitation at speaking his
mind. Stepping up to him, "Mr. Grimshaw," said he, "how do you
reconcile your statement and assurances to me this morning with your
"That's my business. I act for the State, and not for you. Are you
counsel for these niggers, that you are so anxious to set them at
liberty among our slaves? You seem to have more interest in it than
that interfering consul. Just let these Yankee niggers and British
niggers out to-night, and we'd have another insurrection before
morning; it's better to prevent than cure," said Grimshaw.
"The only insurrection would have been in your heart, for the loss
of fees. If you did not intend what you said, why did you deceive me
with such statements? I know the feelings of our people, as well as
I do yours for caging people within that jail. Upon that, I
intimated to the Captain what I thought would be the probable
result, and this morning I proceeded to his vessel to reassure him,
upon your statement. Imagine my mortification when he informed me
that his steward had been dragged off to jail early in the morning,
and that those two ruffians whom you disgrace the community with,
behaved in the most outrageous manner. It is in your power to
relieve this man, and I ask it as a favor, and on behalf of what I
know to be the feelings of the citizens of Charleston."
"Your request, colonel," said Mr. Grimshaw, with a little more
complacency, "is too much in the shape of a demand. There's no
discretion left me by the State, and if you have a power superior to
that, you better pay the expenses of the nigger, and take the
management into your own hands. I never allow this trifling
philanthropy about niggers to disturb me. I could never follow out
the laws of the State and practise it; and you better not burden
yourself with it, or your successors may suffer for adequate means
to support themselves. Now, sir, take my advice. It's contrary to
law for them niggers to come here; you know our laws cannot be
violated. South Carolina has a great interest at stake in
maintaining the reputation of her laws. Don't excite the nigger's
anxiety, and he'll be better off in jail than he would running about
among the wenches. He won't have luxuries, but we'll make him
comfortable, and he must suit his habits to our way of living. We
must not set a bad example before our own niggers; the whiter they
are the worse they are. They struggle for their existence now, and
think they're above observing our nigger laws. We want to get rid of
them, and you know it," returned Grimshaw.
"Yes; I know it too well, for I have had too many cases to protect
them from being 'run off' and sold in the New Orleans market. But
when you speak of white niggers, I suppose you mean our brightest; I
dispute your assertion, and point you to my proof in the many men of
wealth among them now pursuing their occupations in our city. Can
you set an example more praiseworthy? And notwithstanding they are
imposed upon by taxes, and many of our whites take the advantage of
law to withhold the payment of debts contracted with them, they make
no complaint. They are subject to the same law that restricts the
blackest slave. Where is the white man that would not have yielded
under such inequality? No! Mr. Grimshaw, I am as true a
Southerner-born and bred-as you are; but I have the interests of
these men at heart, because I know they are with us, and their
interests and feelings are identical with our own. They are Native
Americans by birth and blood, and we have no right to dispossess
them by law of what we have given them by blood. We destroy their
feelings by despoiling them of their rights, and by it we weaken our
own cause. Give them the same rights and privileges that we extend
to that miserable class of foreigners who are spreading pestilence
and death over our social institutions, and we would have nothing to
fear from them, but rather find them our strongest protectors. I
want to see a law taking from that class of men the power to lord it
over and abuse them."
A friend, who has resided several years in Charleston, strong in his
feelings of Southern rights, and whose keen observation could not
fail to detect the working of different phases of the slave
institution, informed us that he had conversed with a great many
very intelligent and enterprising men belonging to that large class
of "bright" men in Charleston, and that which appeared to pain them
most was the manner they were treated by foreigners of the lowest
class; that rights which they had inherited by birth and blood were
taken away from them; that, being subjected to the same law which
governed the most abject slave, every construction of it went to
degrade them, while it gave supreme power to the most degraded white
to impose upon them, and exercise his vindictive feelings toward
them; that no consideration being given to circumstances, the least
deviation from the police regulations made to govern negroes, was
taken advantage of by the petty guardmen, who either extorted a fee
to release them, or dragged them to the police-office, where their
oath was nothing, even if supported by testimony of their own color;
but the guardman's word was taken as positive proof. Thus the laws
of South Carolina forced them to be what their feelings revolted at.
And I want to see another making it a penal offence for those men
holding slaves for breeding purposes. Another, which humanity calls
for louder than any other, is one to regulate their food, punish
these grievous cases of starvation, and make the offender suffer for
withholding proper rations."
"Well-pretty well!" said Grimshaw, snapping his fingers very
significantly. "You seem to enjoy the independence of your own
opinion, colonel. Just prove this nigger's a white, and I'll give
you a release for him, after paying the fees. You better move to
Massachusetts, and preach that doctrine to William Lloyd Garrison
and Abby Kelly."
"Give me none of your impudence, or your low insults. You may
protect yourself from personal danger by your own consciousness that
you are beneath the laws of honor; but that will not save you from
what you deserve, if you repeat your language. Our moderation is our
protection, while such unwise restrictions as you would enforce, fan
the flame of danger to our own households," said the colonel,
evidently yielding to his impulses; while Mr. Grimshaw sat
trembling, and began to make a slender apology, saying that the
language was forced upon him, because the colonel had overstepped
the bounds of propriety in his demands.
"I'm somewhat astonished at your demand, colonel, for you don't seem
to comprehend the law, and the imperative manner in which I'm bound
to carry it out. Shipowners should get white stewards, if they want
to avoid all this difficulty. I know the nature of the case, but we
can't be accountable for storms, shipwrecks, old vessels, and all
these things. I'll go and see the fellow to-morrow, and tell the
jailer-he's a pattern of kindness, and that's why I got him for
jailer-to give him good rations and keep his room clean," said
Grimshaw, getting up and looking among some old books that lay on a
dusty shelf. At length he found the one, and drawing it forth,
commenced brushing the dust from it with a dust-brush, and turning
his tobacco-quid. After brushing the old book for a length of time,
he gave it a scientific wipe with his coat-sleeve, again sat down,
and commenced turning over its pages.
"It's in here, somewhere," said he, wetting his finger and thumb at
"What's in there, pray? You don't think I've practised at the
Charleston bar all my life without knowing a law which has called up
so many questions?" inquired the colonel.
"Why, the act and the amendments. I believe this is the right one. I
a'n't practised so long, that I reckon I've lost the run of the
appendix and everything else," adding another stream of tobacco-spit
to the puddle on the floor.
"That's better thought than said. Perhaps you'd better get a
schoolboy to keep his finger on it," continued the colonel,
"Well, well; but I must find it and refresh your memory. Ah! here it
is, and it's just as binding on me as it can be. There's no mistake
about it-it's genuine South Carolina, perfectly aboveboard." Thus
saying, he commenced reading to the colonel as if he was about to
instruct a schoolboy in his rudiments. "Here it is-a very pretty
specimen of enlightened legislation-born in the lap of freedom,
cradled in a land of universal rights, and enforced by the strong
arm of South Carolina."
"An Act for the better regulation and government of free negroes and
persons of color, and for other purposes," &c. &c. &c., Mr. Grimshaw
read; but as the two first sections are really a disgrace to the
delegated powers of man, in their aim to oppress the man of color,
we prefer to pass to the third section, and follow Mr. Grimshaw as
"That if any vessel shall come into any port or harbor of this
State, (South Carolina,) from any other State or foreign port,
having on board any free negroes or persons of color, as cooks,
stewards, or mariners, or in any other employment on board said
vessel, such free negroes or persons of color shall be liable to be
seized and confined in jail until said vessel shall clear out and
depart from this State; and that when said vessel is ready to sail,
the captain of said vessel shall be bound to carry away the said
free negro or person of color, and pay the expenses of detention;
and in case of his refusal or neglect to do so, he shall be liable
to be indicted, and, on conviction thereof, shall be fined in a sum
not less than one thousand dollars, and imprisoned not less than two
months; and such free negroes or persons of color shall be deemed
and taken as absolute slaves, and sold in conformity to the
provisions of the act passed on the twentieth day of December, one
thousand eight hundred and twenty aforesaid.'"
Mr. Grimshaw's coolness in the matter became so intolerable, that
the colonel could stand it no longer; so, getting up while Mr.
Grimshaw was reading the law, he left the office, perfectly
satisfied that further endeavors at that source would be fruitless.
After Mr. Grimshaw had concluded, he looked up, perfectly amazed to
find that he was enjoying the reading of the act to himself. "Had I
not given it all the consideration of my power, and seen the
correctness of the law, I should not have given so much importance
to my opinion. But there it is, all in that section of the Act, and
they can't find no convention in the world to control the
Legislature of South Carolina. There's my principles, and all the
Englishmen and Abolitionists in Christendom wouldn't change me. Now,
I've the power, and let 'em get the nigger out of my place, if they
can," said Grimshaw, shutting the book, kicking a good-sized,
peaceable-looking dog that lay under the table, and deliberately
taking his hat and walking into the street.
Here is an Act, bearing on its face the arrogant will of South
Carolina, setting aside all constitutional rights, and denying the
validity of stipulations made by the United States in her general
commercial laws. She asserts her right to disregard citizenship, to
make criminals of colored men, because they are colored, and to sell
them for slaves to pay the expenses which she had incurred to make
them such. And what is still worse, is, that the exercise of this
misconceived and unjust law is so unrelentingly enforced, and so
abused by those who carry it out.
During this time the consul had been unremitting in his endeavors to
procure the man's release. The mayor had no power in the premises;
the attorney-general was not positive in regard to the extent of his
power in such a case, though he admitted the case to be an
aggravated one; the judges could only recognise him as a nigger,
consequently must govern their proceedings by legislative acts. Upon
the whole, he found that he was wasting his time, for while they all
talked sympathy, they acted tyranny. Cold, measured words about
niggers, "contrary to law," constitutional rights, inviolable laws,
State sovereignty and secession, the necessary police regulations to
protect a peculiar institution, and their right to enforce them,
everywhere greeted his ears. There was about as much in it to
relieve Manuel, as there would have been had a little bird perched
upon the prison-wall and warbled its song of love to him while
strongly secured in his cell-more tantalizing because he could hear
the notes, but not see the songster.
Notwithstanding the commendable energy of the consul, he had the
satisfaction of knowing that several very improbable reports
touching his course, and construing it into an interference with the
institution of slavery, had been widely circulated, and were
creating a feeling against him among a certain class of
"fire-eating" secessionists. He was too well aware of the source
from which they originated to awaken any fears, and instead of
daunting his energy they only increased it, and brought to his aid
the valuable services of the Hon. James L. Petigru, a gentleman of
whom it is said, (notwithstanding his eminence at the bar,) that had
it not been for his purity of character, his opinions in opposition
to the State would have long since consigned him to a traitor's
exile. The truth was-and much against Mr. Petigru's popularity in
his own State-that he was a man of sound logic, practical judgment,
and legal discrimination. Thus endowed with the requisite qualities
of a good statesman, and pursuing a true course to create a
conservative influence in the State, he failed to become popular
beyond his legal sphere. Had he espoused that most popular of all
doctrines in South Carolina-nullification and secession-and carried
abstraction to distraction, James L. Petigru would have added
another "Roman name" to that which has already passed from South
Carolina's field of action.
The consul did his duty, but effected nothing; and such was the
opposition manifested by the officials who were interested in the
spoils of law, and politicians who could not see any thing important
beyond secession, that there was no prospect of it. And, as the last
resort, he appealed to the Judiciary through the "habeas corpus,"
the result of which we shall show in a subsequent chapter.
LITTLE GEORGE, THE CAPTAIN, AND MR. GRIMSHAW.
THE consul had returned to his office rather discomfited at not
being able to relieve Manuel, yet satisfied that he had placed
matters in their proper light before the public. The Captain
reported and left his manifest at the custom-house, after entering
his protest and making the necessary arrangements for survey, &c.
&c. And Colonel S--became so well satisfied of the affectation of
law protectors, and that his services in behalf of humanity were
like straws contending against a foaming current, that,
acknowledging his regrets to the Captain, he preferred to make up in
attention what he could not do for Manuel through the law.
Little George paid his respects to the Janson between ten and eleven
o'clock, duly dressed. "Mr. Mate, where's your, skipper?" he
inquired, with an air of consequence that put an extra pucker on his
little twisting mouth.
"Gone to jail, or to see Doctor Jones, I expect, not giving ye an
ill answer," replied the old mate, gruffly.
"Perhaps you don't know who I am, sir. Your answer's not polite. You
must remember, sir, you're in South Carolina, the sunny city of the
South," said the little secessionist.
"I al'a's make my answer to suit myself. I study hard work and
honesty, but never was known to carry a grammar in my pocket. But,
my taut friend, I should know'd I was in South Carolina if you
hadn't said a word about it, for no other nation under the sky would
a dragged a poor cast-away sailor to prison because he had the
misfortune to have a tawny hide. It's a ten-to-one, my hearty, if
you don't find the skipper in jail, and all the rest of us, before
we leave. I'm lookin' now to see some body-grabber coming down with
a pair of handcuffs," continued the mate.
"What! do you mean to insult me again, Mr. Mate? Explain yourself!
I'm not accustomed to this ironical talk!"
"Well, it's something like your laws. They dragged our steward off
to jail this morning, without judge or jury, and with about as much
ceremony as a Smithfield policeman would a pickpocket."
"What! you don't say. Well, I was afraid of that. Our officers are
mighty quick, but I'd hoped differently. But, sir, give my
compliments to the Captain. Tell him I'll make the matter all right;
my influence, sir, and my father's--he is one of the first men in the
city--tells mightily here. I have promised my services to the
Captain, and I'll see him through. Just pledging my word to Grimshaw
will be enough to satisfy the judicial requisites of the law," said
George, switching his little cane on his trowsers.
"My good fellow," said the mate, "if you can get our steward out a
limbo, you'll be doing us all a good turn, and we'll remember you as
long as we pull a brace."
"You may reckon on me, Mister Mate; and if I a'n't down before six
o'clock, my father will certainly take the matter in hand; and he
and Mazyck belong to the secession party, and control things just as
they please at Columbia." So saying, George bid the old mate good
morning, and bent his course for the head of the wharf.
"There," said the old mate, "it's just what I thought all along; I
knew my presentiment would come true. I'll wager a crown they treat
Manuel like a dog in that old prison, and don't get him out until he
is mildewed; or perhaps they'll sell him for a slave a'cos he's got
curly black hair and a yellow skin. Now I'm a hardy sailor, but I've
sailed around the world about three times, and know something of
nature. Now ye may note it as clear as the north star, prisons in
slave countries a'n't fit for dogs. They may tell about their fine,
fat, slick, saucy niggers, but a slave's a slave--his master's
property, a piece of merchandise, his chattel, or his
football-thankful for what his master may please to give him, and
inured to suffer the want of what he withholds. Yes, he must have
his thinking stopped by law, and his back lashed at his master's
will, if he don't toe the mark in work. Men's habits and
associations form their feelings and character, and it's just so
with them fellers; they've become so accustomed to looking upon a
nigger as a mere tool of labor--lordin' it over him, starving him,
and lashing him-that they associate the exercise of the same
feelings and actions with every thing connected with labor, without
paying any respect to a poor white man's feelings," continued the
mate, addressing himself to his second, as they sat upon the
companion, waiting for the Captain to come on board and give further
Never were words spoken with more truth. The negro is reduced to the
lowest and worst restrictions, even by those who are considered
wealthy planters and good masters. We say nothing of those whose
abuse of their negroes by starvation and punishment forms the theme
of complaint among slaveholders themselves. His food is not only the
coarsest that can, be procured, but inadequate to support the system
for the amount of labor required. Recourse to other means becomes
necessary. This is supplied by giving the slave his task, which, so
far as our observation extends, is quite sufficient for any common,
laborer's day's-work. This done, his master is served; and as an act
of kindness, (which Sambo is taught to appreciate as such,) he is
allowed to work on his own little cultivated patch to raise a few
things, which mass'r (in many cases) very condescendingly sells in
the market, and returns those little comforts, which are so much
appreciated by slaves on a plantation-tea, molasses, coffee, and
tobacco-and now and then a little wet of whiskey. This is the
allowance of a good man doing a good week's work, and getting two
pounds of bacon and a peck of corn as his compensation. But, in
grateful consideration, his good master allows him to work nights
and Sundays to maintain himself. In this way was "Bob's bale of
cotton" raised, which that anxious child of popular favor, the
editor of the "Savannah Morning News," so struggled to herald to the
world as something magnificent on the part of the Southern
slave-masters. At best, it was but a speck. If the many extra hours
of toil that poor Bob had spent, and the hours of night that he had
watched and nursed his plants, were taken into account, there would
be a dark picture connected with "Bob's bale of cotton," which the
editor forgot to disclose.
Every form of labor becomes so associated with servitude, that we
may excuse the Southerner for those feelings which condemn those
devoted to mechanical pursuits as beneath his caste and dignity.
Arrogance and idleness foster extravagance, while his pride induces
him to keep up a style of life which his means are inadequate to
support. This induces him to subsist his slaves on the coarsest
fare, and becoming hampered, embarrassed, and fretted in his fast-
decaying circumstances, his slaves, one by one, suffer the penalty
of his extravagance, and finally he himself is reduced to such a
condition that he is unable to do justice to himself or his children
any longer; his slaves are dragged from him, sold to the terrors of
a distant sugar-plantation, and he turned out of doors a miserable
We see this result every day in South Carolina; we hear the comments
in the broadways and public places, while the attorney and bailiff's
offices and notices tell the sad tale of poverty's wasting struggle.
George, in passing from the wharf into the bay, met the Captain, who
was shaping his course for the brig. He immediately ran up to him,
and shook his hands with an appearance of friendship. "Captain, I'm
right sorry to hear about your nigger. I was not prepared for such a
decision on the part of Mr. Grimshaw, but I'm determined to have him
out," said he.
"Well!" said the Captain, "I'm sorry to say, I find things very
different from what I anticipated. My steward is imprisoned, for
nothing, except that he is a Portuguese, and everybody insists that
he's a nigger. Everybody talks very fine, yet nobody can do any
thing; and every thing is left to the will of one man."
"Why, Captain, we've the best system in the world for doing
business; you'd appreciate it after you understood it! Just come
with me, and let me introduce you to my father. If he don't put you
right, I'll stand convicted," said little George.
Accepting the invitation, they walked back to the "old man's"
counting-room. George had given the Captain such an extended account
of his father's business and estates, that the latter had made up
his mind to be introduced to an "India Palace' counting-room. Judge
of his surprise, then, when George led the way into an old,
dirty-looking counting-room, very small and dingy, containing two
dilapidated high desks, standing against the wall. They were made of
pitch pine, painted and grained, but so scarred and whittled as to
have the appearance of long use and abuse. In one corner was an
old-fashioned low desk, provided with an ink-stand, sundry pieces of
blotting-paper, the pigeon-holes filled with loose invoices,
letters, and bills of lading, very promiscuously huddled together;
while hanging suspended on a large nail, driven in the side, and
exposed to view, was an enormous dust-brush. A venerable-looking
subject of some foreign country stood writing at one desk, a little
boy at the other, and George's veritable "old man" at the low desk.
Here and there around the floor were baskets and papers containing
samples of sea-island and upland cotton. George introduced the
Captain to his father with the suavity of a courtier. He was a
grave-looking man, well dressed, and spoke in a tone that at once
enlisted respect. Unlike George, he was a tall, well-formed man,
with bland, yet marked features, and very gray hair. He received the
Captain in a cold, yet dignified manner-inquired about his voyage,
and who he had consigned to, and what steps he had taken to proceed
with his business,--all of which the Captain answered according to
"What! then you have consigned already, have you?" said little
George, with surprise.
"Oh yes," returned the Captain, "I have left my business in the
hands of the consul, and shall follow his directions. It's according
to my sailing orders. But there's so much difficulty, I shouldn't
wonder if I had to leave the port, yet!"
"Not so, Captain; I'll take care of that!" said George, giving his
father a statement of the Captain's trouble about Manuel's
imprisonment, and begging that he would bestow his influence in
behalf of his friend the Captain. Although George coupled his
request with a seeming sincerity, it was evident that he felt
somewhat disappointed at the consignment. The old gentleman looked
very wise upon the subject, lifted his gold-framed spectacles upon
his forehead, gratified his olfactory nerves with a pinch of snuff,
and then said in a cold, measured tone, "Well, if he's a nigger, I
see no alternative,--the circumstances may give a coloring of
severity to the law; but my opinion has always been, that the
construction of the law was right; and the act being founded upon
necessity, I see no reason why we should meddle with its
prerogative. I think the interference of the consul unwarrantable,
and pressed upon mere technical grounds. These stories about the bad
state of our jail, and the sufferings of criminals confined in it,
arise, I must think, from the reports of bad prisoners. I have never
been in it. Our people are opposed to vice, and seldom visit such a
place; but the sheriff tells me it is comfortable enough for
anybody. If this be so, and I have no reason to doubt his word, we
can exercise our sympathy and kindness for his shipwrecked
circumstances, and make him as comfortable there as we could
anywhere else. There are many different opinions, I admit, touching
the effect of this law; but I'm among those who support stringent
measures for better protection. His color can form no excuse,
Captain, so long as there is symptoms of the negro about him. We
might open a wide field for metaphysical investigation, if we
admitted exceptions upon grades of complexion; for many of our own
slaves are as white ar the brightest woman. Consequently, when we
shut the gates entirely, we save ourselves boundless perplexity. Nor
would it be safe to grant an issue upon the score of intelligence,
for experience has taught us that the most intelligent 'bright
fellows' are the worst scamps in creating discontent among the
slaves. I only speak of these things, Captain, in a general sense.
Your man may be very good, noble, generous, and intelligent; and,
more than all, not inclined to meddle with our peculiar
institution,--but it would be a false principle to make him an
exception, setting an example that would be entirely incompatible
with our greatest interests. So far as my word will affect the
sheriff, and enlist his better feelings in making him comfortable, I
will use it," said the 'old man,' again adjusting his specs.
Little George seemed dumbfounded with mortification, and the Captain
felt as though he would give a guinea to be on board his brig. It
was no use for him to enter into the extenuating circumstance of his
voyage, or the character of the man, Manuel. The same cold opinions
about the law, and the faith and importance of South Carolina and
her peculiar institutions, met his ears wherever he went. The
Captain arose, took his hat, and bidding the old gentleman good
morning, again left for his brig.
"Don't be worried about it-I'll do what I can for you," said the old
man, as the Captain was leaving. George followed him into the
street, and made a great many apologies for his father's opinions
and seeming indifference, promising to do himself what his father
did not seem inclined to undertake. The Captain saw no more of him
during his stay in Charleston, and if his influence was exerted in
Manuel's behalf, he did not feel its benefits.
Business had so occupied the Captain's attention during the day,
that he had no time to visit Manuel at the jail; and when he
returned to the vessel, a message awaited him from the British
consul. One of the seamen had been detailed to fill Manuel's place,
who, with his dinner all prepared, reminded the Captain that it was
awaiting him. He sat down, took dinner, and left to answer the
consul's call. Arriving at the office, he found the consul had left
for his hotel, and would not return until four o'clock. As he passed
the post-office, a knot of men stood in front of it, apparantly in
anxious discussion. Feeling that their conversation might be
interesting to him, or have some connection with his case, he walked
slowly back, and as he approached them, observed that the
conversation had become more excited. The principals were Mr.
Grimshaw, and a factor on the bay, deeply interested in shipping.
"A man acting in your capacity," said the factor, "should never make
use of such expressions-never give encouragement to mob law. It's
not only disgraceful to any city, but ruinous to its interests.
Officials never should set or encourage the example. Want of order
is already in the ascendant, and if the populace is to be led on to
riot by the officials, what check have we? God save us from the
"Well, perhaps I went too far," said Mr. Grimshaw, "for I think as
much of the name of our fair city as you do. But we ought to teach
him that he can't pursue this open, bold, and daring course,
endangering our institutions, because he's consul for Great Britain.
I would, at all events, treat him as we did the Yankee HOAR from
Massachusetts, and let the invitation be given outside of official
character, to save the name; then, if he did not move off, I'd go
for serving him as they did the Spanish consul, in New Orleans.
These English niggers and Yankee niggers are fast destroying the
peace of Charleston."
"You would, would you?" said another. "Then you would incite the
fury of an ungovernable mob to endanger the man's life for carrying
out the instructions of his government."
"That don't begin to be all that he does, for he's meddling with
every thing, and continually making remarks about our society," said
Grimshaw, evidently intending to create ill feeling against the
consul, and to make the matter as bad as possible.
"Now, Mr. Grimshaw," said the factor, "you know your jail is not fit
to put any kind of human beings into, much less respectable men.
It's an old Revolutionary concern, tumbling down with decay,
swarming with insects and vermin; the rooms are damp and unhealthy,
and without means to ventilate them; the mildew and horrible stench
is enough to strike disease into the strongest constitution; and you
aggravate men's appetites with food that's both insufficient and
unwholesome, I know, because I visited a friend who was put in there
on 'mesne process.'"
"There is little confidence to be placed in the stories of
prisoners; they all think they must be treated like princes, instead
of considering that they are put there for cause, and that a jail
was intended for punishment," interrupted Grimshaw, anxious to
change the subject of conversation, and displaying an habitual
coldness to misfortune which never can see the gentleman in a
"Yes, but you must not measure men by that standard. Circumstances
which bring them there are as different as their natures. I've known
many good, honest, and respectable, citizens, who once enjoyed
affluence in our community, put in there, month after month, and
year after year, suffering the persecution of creditors and the
effects of bad laws. Now these men would not all complain if there
was no cause, and they all loved you, as you state. But tell me, Mr.
Grimshaw, would it not be even safer for our institutions to make a
restriction confining them to the wharf, which could be easily done,
and with but small expense to the city? Niggers on the wharves could
have no communication with them, because each is occupied in his
business, and ours are too closely watched and driven during working
hours. As soon as those hours end, they are bound to leave, and the
danger ends. Again, those niggers who work on the wharves are
generally good niggers, while, on the other hand, bad niggers are
put into jail; and during the hours these stewards are allowed the
privilege of the yard, they mix with them without discrimination or
restraint. Their feelings, naturally excited by imprisonment, find
relief in discoursing upon their wrongs with those of their own
color, and making the contamination greater," said the factor, who
seemed inclined to view the matter in its proper light.
"Oh! what sir? That would never do. You mistake a nigger's feelings
entirely. Privileges never create respect with them. Just make a law
to leave 'em upon the wharf, and five hundred policemen wouldn't
keep 'em from spoiling every nigger in town, just destroying the
sovereignty of the law, and yielding a supreme right that we have
always contended for. It's 'contrary to law,' and we must carry out
the law," replied Grimshaw.
"Pshaw! Talk such stuff to me! Just take away the sixteen hundred or
two thousand dollars that you make by the law; and you'd curse it
for a nuisance. It would become obsolete, and the poor devils of
stewards would do what they pleased; you'd never trouble your head
about them. Now, Grimshaw, be honest for once; tell us what you
would do if circumstances compelled the Captain to leave that nigger
"Carry out the letter of the law; there's no alternative. But the
Captain swears he's a white man, and that would give him an
opportunity to prove it."
"How is he to prove it, Grimshaw? We take away the power, and then
ask him to do what we make impossible. Then, of course, you would
carry out the letter of the law and sell him for a slave. * * *
Well, I should like to see the issue upon a question of that kind
carried out upon an English nigger. It would be more of a curse upon
our slave institution than every thing else that could be raised,"
said the factor.
"Gentlemen, you might as well preach abolition at once, and then the
public would know what your sentiments were, and how to guard
against you. I must bid you good-by." So saying, Mr. Grimshaw
twisted his whip, took a large quid of tobacco, and left the company
to discuss the question among themselves.
LITTLE TOMMY AND THE POLICE.
WE must take the reader back to the old jail, and continue our scene
from where we left little Tommy spreading the Captain's present
before the imprisoned stewards, whose grateful thanks were showered
upon the head of the bestower. Kindness, be it ever so small, to a
man in prison, is like the golden rays of the rising sun lighting up
the opening day. They all partook of the refreshments provided for
them with grateful spirits.
It was near ten o'clock when Daley came to announce that it was time
to close the prison, and all strangers must withdraw. Tommy had
insisted upon stopping with Manuel during the night, but Daley,
This man Daley was a proverbial drunkard, a tyrant in the exercise
of his "little brief authority," and a notorious--. Singular as it
may seem, considering his position, he would quarrel with the men
for a glass of whiskey, had given the jailer more trouble than any
other man, and been several times confined in the cells for his
incorrigible vices. If any thing more was wanting to confirm our
note, we could refer to Colonel Condy, the very gentlemanly United
States marshal. in a very rude manner, told him it was against the
rules, and putting his hand to his back, pushed him out of the cell
and secured the bolts. The little fellow felt his way through the
passage and down the stairs in the dark until he reached the
corridor, where the jailer stood awaiting to let him pass the outer
iron-gate. "You've made a long stay, my little fellow. You'll have
a heap o' trouble to find the wharf, at this time o' night. I'd o'
let you stopped all night, but it's strictly against the sheriff's
orders," said the jailer, as, he passed into the street, at the same
time giving him a list of imperfect directions about the course to
The jail is in a distant and obscure part of the city, surrounded by
narrow streets and lanes, imperfectly laid out and undefined. In
leaving the walls of the prison, he mistook his direction, and the
night being very dark, with a light, drizzling rain, which commenced
while he was in the prison, the whole aspect of things seemed
reversed. After travelling about for some time, he found himself
upon a narrow strip of land that crossed a basin of water and led to
Chisholm's mill. The different appearance of things here convinced
him of his error. Bewildered, and not knowing which way to proceed,
he approached a cross road, and sitting down upon a log, wept
bitterly. He soon heard a footstep, and as it approached, his cares
lightened. It proved to be a negro man from the mill,
These mills are worked all night, and the poor negroes, wishing to
follow an example which massa sets on a grand scale, save that they
have an excuse in the fatigue of labor, will delegate some shrewd
one of their number to proceed to a Dutch "corner-shop" in the
suburbs, run the gauntlet of the police, and get a bottle of
whiskey, When interrogated, they are always "going for a bottle of
molasses." They keep a keen watch for the police, and their cunning
modes of eluding their vigilance forms many amusing anecdotes. They
are bound to have a pass from master, or some white man; but if they
can reach the shop in safety, the Dutchman will always furnish them
with one to return. It not unfrequently happens that the guard-men
are much more ignorant than the slaves. The latter knowing this,
will endeavor to find their station and approach by it, taking with
them either an old pass or a forged one, which the guard-man makes a
wonderful piece of importance about examining and countersigning,
though he can neither read nor write. Thus Sambo passes on to get
his molasses, laughing in his sleeve to think how he "fool ignorant
buckra." A change of guard often forms a trap for Sambo, when he is
lugged to the guard-house, kept all night, his master informed in
the morning, and requested to step up and pay a fine, or Sambo's
back catches thirty-nine, thus noting a depression of value upon the
property. Sometimes his master pays the municipal fine, and
administers a domestic castigation less lacerating. bound into the
city on the usual errand of procuring a little of molasses. When
he first discovered Tommy, he started back a few paces, as if in
fear; but on being told by Tommy that he was lost, and wanted to
find his way to the wharves, he approached and recovering,
confidence readily, volunteered to see him to the corner of Broad
street. So, taking him by the hand, they proceeded together until
they reached the termination of the Causeway, and were about to
enter Tradd street, when suddenly a guard-man sprang from behind an
old shed. The negro, recognising his white belt and tap-stick, made
the best of his time, and set off at full speed down a narrow lane.
The watchman proceeded close at his heels, springing his rattle at
every step, and pouring out a volley of vile imprecations. Tommy
stood for a few moments, but soon the cries of the negro and the
beating of clubs broke upon his ear; he became terrified, and ran at
the top of his speed in an opposite direction. Again he had lost his
way, and seemed in a worse dilemma than before; he was weary and
frightened, and hearing so many stories among the sailors about
selling white children for slaves, and knowing the imprisonment of
Manuel, which he did not comprehend, his feelings were excited to
the highest degree. After running for a few minutes, he stopped to
see if he could recognize his position. The first thing that caught
his eye was the old jail, looming its sombre walls in the gloomy
contrast of night. He followed the walls until he reached the main
gate, and then, taking an opposite direction from his former route,
proceeded along the street until he came to a lantern, shedding its
feeble light upon the murky objects at the corner of a narrow lane.
Here he stood for several minutes, not knowing which way to proceed:
the street he was in continued but a few steps farther, and turn
which ever way he would, darkness and obstacles rose to impede his
progress. At length he turned down the lane, and proceeded until he
came to another junction of streets; taking one which he thought
would lead him in the right direction, he wandered through it and
into a narrow, circuitous street, full of little, wretched-looking
houses. A light glimmered from one of them, and he saw a female
passing to and fro before the window. He approached and rapped
gently upon the door. Almost simultaneously the light was
extinguished. He stood for a few minutes, and again rapped louder
than before; all was silent for some minutes. A drenching shower had
commenced, adding to the already gloomy picture; and the rustling
leaves on a tree that stood near gave an ominous sound to the
excited feelings of the child. He listened at the door with anxiety
and fear, as he heard whispers within; and as he was about to repeat
his rapping, a window on the right hand was slowly raised. The
female who had been pacing the floor protruded her head with a
caution that bespoke alarm. Her long, black hair hanging about her
shoulders, and her tawny, Indian countenance, with her ghost-like
figure dressed in a white habiliment, struck him with a sort of
terror that wellnigh made him run.
"Who is that, at this time of night?" inquired the woman, in a low
"It's only me. I'm lost, and can't find my way to our vessel," said
Tommy, in a half-crying tone.
"Mother," said the woman, shutting the window, "it's only a little
sailor-boy, a stranger, and he's wet through."
She immediately unbarred and opened the door, and invited him to
come in. Stepping beyond the threshold, she closed the door against
the storm, and placing a chair at the fire, told him to sit down and
warm himself. They were mulatto half-breeds, retaining all the
Indian features which that remnant of the tribe now in Charleston
are distinguished by a family well known in the city, yet under the
strictest surveillance of the police. Every thing around the little
room denoted poverty and neatness. The withered remnant of an aged
Indian mother lay stretched upon a bed of sickness, and the
daughter, about nineteen years old, had been watching over her, and
administering those comforts, which her condition required. "Why,
mother, it's a'most twelve o'clock. I don't believe he'll come
She awaited her friend, or rather he whose mistress she had
condescended to be, after passing from several lords. The history of
this female remnant of beautiful Indian girls now left in
Charleston, is a mournful one. The recollection of their noble
sires, when contrasted with their present unhappy associations,
affords a sad subject for reflection. and this little boy can stop
till morning in our room up-stairs," said she, looking up at an old
Connecticut clock that adorned the mantel-piece.
"Oh! I could not stay all night. The mate would be uneasy about me,
and might send the crew to look for me. I'm just as thankful, but I
couldn't stop," said Tommy.
"But you never can find the bay on such a night as this; and I've no
pass, or I would show you into Broad street, and then you could find
the way. I am afraid of the guardmen, and if they caught me and took
me to the station, my friend would abuse me awfully," said Angeline,
for such was her name; and she laid her hand upon his arm to feel
his wet clothes.
He now arose from the chair, and putting on his hat, she followed
him to the door and directed him how to proceed to find Broad
He proceeded according to her directions, and soon found it. Now, he
thought, he was all right; but the wind had increased to a gale, and
having a full sweep through the street, it was as much as he could
do to resist it. He had scarcely reached half the distance of the
street when it came in such sudden gusts that he was forced to seek
a refuge against its fury in the recess of a door. He sat down upon
a step, and buttoning his little jacket around him, rested his head
upon his knees, and while waiting for the storm to abate, fell into
a deep sleep. From this situation he was suddenly aroused by a
guardman, who seized him by the collar, and giving him an unmerciful
twitch, brought, him headlong upon the sidewalk.
"What are you at here? Ah! another miserable vagrant, I suppose.
We'll take care of such rascals as you; come with me. We'll larn ye
to be round stealing at this time o' night."
"No, sir! no, sir! I didn't do nothing"--
"Shut up! None of your lyin' to a policeman, you young rascal. I
don't want to hear, nor I won't stand your infernal lies."
"Oh do, mister, let me tell you all about it, and I know you won't
hurt me. I'm only going to the vessel, if you'll show me the way,"
said the little fellow imploringly.
"Stop yer noise, ye lying young thief, you. Ye wouldn't be prowling
about at this time o' night if ye belonged to a vessel. 'Pon me
soul, I believe yer a nigger. Come to the light," said the guardman,
dragging him up to a lamp near by. "Well, you a'n't a nigger, I
reckon, but yer a strolling vagrant, and that's worse," he
continued, after examining his face very minutely. So, dragging him
to the guardhouse as he would a dog, and thrusting him into a sort
of barrack-room, the captain of the guard and several officials
soon gathered around him to inquire the difficulty. The officers
listened to the guardman's story, with perfect confidence in every
thing he said, but refused to allow the little fellow to reply in
his own behalf. "I watched him for a long time, saw him fumbling
about people's doors, and then go to sleep in Mr. T--'s recess.
These boys are gettin' to be the very mischief-most dangerous
fellows we have to deal with," said the policeman.
"Oh, no! I was only goin' to the brig, and got turned round. I've
been more than two hours trying to find my way in the storm. I'm
sure I a'n't done no harm. If ye'll only let me tell my story," said
"Shut up! We want no stories till morning. The mayor will settle
your hash to-morrow; and if you belong to a ship, you can. tell him
all about it; but you'll have the costs to pay anyhow. Just lay down
upon that bench, and you can sleep there till morning; that's better
than loafing about the streets," said the captain of the guard, a
large, portly-looking man, as he pointed Tommy to a long bench
similar to those used in barrack-rooms.
The little fellow saw it was no use to attempt a hearing, and going
quietly to the bench, he pulled off his man-a-war hat, and laying it
upon a chair, stretched himself out upon it, putting his little
hands under his head to ease it from the hard boards.
But he was not destined to sleep long in this position, for a loud,
groaning noise at the door, broke upon their ears though the pelting
fury of the storm, like one in agonizing distress.
"Heavens! what is that!" said the captain of the guard, suddenly
starting from his seat, and running for the door, followed by the
whole posse. The groans grew louder and more death-like in their
sound, accompanied by strange voices, giving utterance to horrible
imprecations, and a dragging upon the floor. The large door opened,
and what a sight presented itself! Three huge monsters, with
side-arms on, dragged in the poor negro who proffered to show Tommy
into Broad street. His clothes were nearly torn from his back,
besmeared with mud, from head to foot, and his face cut and mangled
in the most shocking manner. His head, neck, and shoulders, were
covered with a gore of blood, and still it kept oozing from his
mouth and the cuts on his head. They dragged him in as if he was a
dying dog that had been beaten with a club, and threw him into a
corner, upon the floor, with just about as much unconcern.
"Oh! massa! massa! kill me, massa, den 'em stop sufferin'!" said the
poor fellow, in a painful murmur, raising his shackled hands to his
head, and grasping the heavy chain that secured his neck, in the
agony of pain.
"What has he done?" inquired the officer.
"Resisted the guard, and ran when we told him to stop!" responded a
trio of voices. "Yes, and attempted to get into a house. Ah! you
vagabond you; that's the way we serve niggers like you!--Attempt to
run again, will you? I'll knock your infernal daylights out, you
nigger you," said one of the party.
"It does seem tome that you might have taken him, and brought him up
with less severity," said the officer.
"What else could we do, sure? Didn't we catch him prowling about
with a white fellow, and he runn'd till we couldn't get him. Indeed
it was nothing good they were after, and it's the like o' them that
bees doing all the mischief beyant the city."
"An' 'imself, too, struck Muldown two pokes, 'efore he lave de
hancuffs be pat upon him, at all!" said another of the guardmen; and
then turning around, caught a glimpse of poor little Tommy, who had
been standing up near a desk, during the scene, nearly "frightened
out of his wits."
"By the pipers,--what! and is't here ye are? The same that was with
himself beyant! Come here, you spalpeen you. Wasn't ye the same what
runn'd whin we bees spaken to that nigger?" said the same guardman,
taking hold of Tommy's arm, and drawing him nearer the light.
"Yes, he was coming along with me, to show me"--
"Stop!--you know you are going to lie already. Better lock 'em both
up for the night, and let them be sent up in the morning," said
"Then you won't let me speak for myself--"
"Hush, sir!" interrupted the officer; "you can tell your story in
the morning! but take care you are not a vagrant. If it's proved
that you were with that nigger at the improper hour, you'll get your
back scarred. Come, you have owned it, and I must lock you up."
Without attempting to wash the blood off the negro, or dress his
wounds, they unlocked the handcuffs, and loosened the chain from his
neck, handling him with less feeling than they would a dumb brute.
Relieved of his chains, they ordered him to get up.
The poor creature looked up imploringly, as if to beg them to spare
his life, for he was too weak to speak. He held up his hands,
drenched with blood, while beneath his head was a pool of gore that
had streamed from his mounds. "None of your infernal humbuggery-you
could run fast enough. Just get up, and be spry about it, or I'll
help you with the cowhide," said the officer, calling to one of the
guardmen to bring it to him. He now made an effort, and had got upon
his knees, when the guardman that seemed foremost in his brutality
fetched him a kick with his heavy boots in the side, that again
felled him to the ground with a deep groan.
"Ot-tut! that will not do. You mus'n't kill the nigger; his master
will come for him in the morning," said the officer, stooping down
and taking hold of his arm with his left hand, while holding a
cowhide in his right. "Come, my boy, you must get up and go into the
lock-up," he continued.
"Massa! oh, good massa, do-don't! I's most dead now, wha'for ye no
lef me whare a be?" said he in a whining manner; and making a second
attempt, fell back upon the floor, at which two of them seized him
by the shoulders, and dragging him into a long, dark, cell-like
room, threw him violently upon the floor. Then returning to the
room, the officer took Tommy by the arm, and marching him into the
same room, shut the door to smother his cries. The little fellow was
so frightened, that he burst into an excitement of tears. The room
was dark, and as gloomy as a cavern. He could neither lie down,
sleep, nor console himself. He thought of Manuel, only to envy his
lot, and would gladly have shared his imprisonment, to be relieved
from such a horrible situation. Morning was to bring, perhaps, worse
terrors. He thought of the happy scenes of his rustic home in
Dunakade, and his poor parents, but nothing could relieve the
anguish of his feelings. And then, how could he get word to his
Captain? If they were so cruel to him now, he could not expect them
to be less so in the morning. In this manner, he sat down upon the
floor with the poor negro, and, if he could do nothing more,
sympathized with his feelings. The poor negro murmured and groaned
in a manner that would have enlisted the feelings of a Patagonian;
and in this way he continued until about three o'clock in the
morning, when his moaning became so loud and pitiful, that the
officer of the guard came to the door with an attendant, and
unbolting it, entered with a lantern in his hand. He held the light
toward his face, and inquired what he was making such a noise about?
"Oh! good massa, good massa, do send for docta; ma head got a pile
o' cuts on him," said he, putting his hand to his head. The officer
passed the lantern to his attendant, and after putting a pair of
gloves on his hands, began to feel his head, turn aside his torn
clothes, and wipe the dirt from the places where the blood seemed to
be clotted. "Good gracious! I didn't conjecture that you were cut so
bad. Here, my good fellow, (addressing himself to Tommy,) hold the
lantern. Michael, go get a pail of water, and some cloths," said he,
very suddenly becoming awakened to the real condition of the man,
after he had exhibited a coldness that bordered on brutality.
Water and cloths were soon brought. The attendant, Michael,
commenced to strip his clothes off, but the poor fellow was so sore
that he screeched, in the greatest agony, every time he attempted to
touch him. "Be easy," said the officer, "he's hurt pretty badly. He
must a' been mighty refractory, or they'd never beaten him in this
manner," he continued, opening a roll of adhesive plaster, and
cutting it into strips. After washing, him with water and whiskey,
they dressed his wounds with the plaster, and bound his head with an
old silk handkerchief which they found in his pocket, after which
they left the light burning and retired.
After they retired, Tommy inquired of the negro how they came to
keep him so long, before they brought him to the guard-house? It
proved, that as soon as they came up with him, the first one knocked
him down with a club; and they all at once commenced beating him
with their bludgeons, and continued until they had satisfied their
mad fury. And while he lay groaning in the streets, they left one of
their number in charge, while the others proceeded to get handcuffs
and chains, in which they bound him, and dragged him, as it were,
the distance of four squares to the guard-house. What a sublime
picture for the meditations of a people who boast of their bravery
THE NEXT MORNING, AND THE MAYOR'S VERDICT.
SHORTLY after daylight, Tommy fell into a dozing sleep, from which
he was awakened by the mustering of the prisoners who had been
brought up during the night, and were to appear before the mayor at
nine o'clock. A few minutes before eight o'clock, an officer opened
the cell-door, and they were ordered to march out into a long room.
In this room they found all the prisoners gathered. There were three
blacks and five whites, who had been arrested on different charges;
and as the mayor's court was merely a tribunal of commitment-not
judgment-if the charges upon which the prisoners were brought up
were sustained-which they generally were, because the policeman who
made the arrest was the important witness, they were committed to
await the tardy process of the law.
Considerable uneasiness had been felt on board of the Janson for
Tommy, and the Captain suggested that he might have got astray among
the dark lanes of the city, and that the mate had better send some
of the crew to look for him. The mate, better acquainted with
Tommy's feelings and attachment for Manuel than he was with the
rules of the prison and Mr. Grimshaw's arbitrary orders, assured the
Captain that such a course would be entirely unnecessary, for he
knew when he left that he would stop all night with Manuel. This
quieted the Captain's apprehensions, and he said no more about it
until he sat down to breakfast. "I miss Tommy amazingly," said the
Captain. "If he stopped all night, he should be here by this time. I
think some one had better be sent to the jail to inquire for him."
Just as he arose from the table, one of the crew announced at the
companion that a person on deck wished to see the Captain. On going
up, he found a policeman, who informed him that a little boy had
been arrested as a vagrant in the street, last night, and when
brought before the mayor a few minutes ago, stated that he belonged
to his vessel, and the mayor had despatched him to notify the
master. "Circumstances are suspicious; he was seen in company with a
negro of very bad habits; but if you can identify the boy, you had
better come quick, or he'll be sent to jail, and you'll have some
trouble to get him out," said the messenger, giving the Captain a
description of the boy.
"Oh yes!" said the Captain, "that's my Tommy. I verily believe
they'll have us all in jail before we get away from the port."
Numerous appointments engrossed his time, and he had promised to
meet the consul at an early hour that morning. Notwithstanding this,
he gave a few orders to the mate about getting the hatches ready and
receiving the port-wardens, and then immediately repaired to the
all-important guard-house. He was just in time to receive the
mortifying intelligence that the mayor's court had concluded its
sitting, and to see little Tommy, with a pair of handcuffs on his
hand, in the act of being committed to jail by a Dutch constable. He
stopped the constable, and being told that his honor was yet in the
room, put a couple of dollars into his hand to await his
intercession. Another fortunate circumstance favored him; just as he
stopped the constable, he saw his friend, Colonel S--, approaching.
The colonel saw there was trouble, and with his usual,
characteristic kindness, hastened up and volunteered his services.
We must now return to the arraignment, as it proceeded after the
messenger had been despatched.
The negro confined with Tommy presented a wretched picture when
brought into the light room among the other prisoners. His head was
so swollen that no trace of feature was left in his face. Cuts and
gashes were marked with plaster all over his neck and face; his head
tied up with an old red handkerchief; his eyes, what could be seen
of them, more like balls of blood than organs of sight; while the
whiskey and water with which his head had been washed, had mixed
with the blood upon his clothes, and only served to make its
appearance more disgusting. Altogether, a more pitiful object never
was presented to human sight.
Some minutes before the clock struck nine, an intelligent-looking
gentleman, very well dressed, and portly in his appearance, entered
the room. He was evidently kindly disposed, but one of those men
whose feelings prompt them to get through business with despatch,
rather than inquire into the circumstances of aggravated cases. He
held a consultation with the officer for some minutes with reference
to the prisoners. After which he mounted a little tribune, and
addressing a few words to the white prisoners, (a person who acted
the part of clerk announced court by rapping upon a desk with a
little mallet,) inquired whether the officers had notified the
owners of the negroes. Being informed that they had, he proceeded
with the negroes first. One, by some good fortune, was taken away by
his master, who paid the usual fee to swell the city treasury;
another was sentenced to receive twenty paddles on the frame at the
workhouse; and the third, the man we have described, being brought
forward, weak with the loss of blood, leaned his hand upon the back
of a chair. "Stand up straight!" said the officer, in a commanding
"Now, my boy, this is twice you have been before this court. Your
master has left you to the mercy of the law, and given strict orders
to the police in the event that you were caught a third time. Your
crime is worse now, for you were caught in company with that white
boy-probably on some errand of villany, prowling about the streets
after drum-beat. I shall, in consideration of the facts here stated
by the police, whose evidence I am bound to recognise, sentence you
to nineteen paddles on the frame, and to be committed to jail, in
accordance with your master's orders, there to await his further
"Arraign the white prisoners according to the roll, Mr.--. Have you
sent a message to the Captain about that boy?" inquired the mayor.
"No, yer honor; but I will send at once," said the officer, stepping
into the passage and calling an attendant.
The little fellow was arraigned first. He stood up before the mayor
while the ruffianly policeman who arrested him preferred the charges
and swore to them, adding as much to give coloring as possible.
"Now, my man, let me hear what you have got to say for yourself. I
have sent for your captain," said the mayor, looking as if he really
felt pity for the little fellow.
He commenced to tell his simple story, but soon became so convulsed
with tears that he could proceed no further. "I only went to the
jail to see Manuel, the steward, and I got lost, and begged the
black man to show me the way"--said he, sobbing.
"Well, I have heard enough," said the mayor, interrupting him. "You
could not have been at the jail at that time o' night-impossible. It
was after hours-contrary to rules-and only makes the matter worse
for yourself. You can stand aside, and if the Captain comes before
court is through, we will see further; if not, you must be committed
as a vagrant. I'm afraid of you young strollers."
The officer of the guard, as if the poor boy's feelings were not
already sufficiently harassed, took him by the arm, and pushing him
into a corner, said, "There, you young scamp, sit down. You'll get
your deserts when you get to the jail."
He sat down, but could not restrain his feelings. The presence of
the Captain was his only hope. He saw the prisoners arraigned one by
one, and join him as they were ordered for committal. He was
handcuffed like the rest, and delivered to the constable. The reader
can imagine the smile of gladness that welcomed the Captain's timely
appearance. The latter's exhibition of feeling, and the simple
exclamation of the child's joy, formed a striking picture of that
fondness which a loving child manifests when meeting its parents
after a long absence.
"Take the irons off that child," said the colonel to the constable.
"A man like you should not put such symbols of ignominy upon a youth
"I would do any thing to oblige you, colonel; but I cannot without
orders from the mayor," returned the man, very civilly.
"I'll see that you do, very quick," rejoined the colonel,
impatiently; and taking the little fellow by the arm in a
compassionate manner, led him back into the presence of the mayor,
followed by the Captain.
"I want to know what you are committing this lad for," said the
colonel, setting his hat upon the table, while his face flushed with
"Vagrancy, and caught prowling about the streets with a negro at
midnight. That is the charge, colonel," replied the mayor, with
particular condescension and suavity.
"Was there any proof adduced to substantiate that fact?"
"None but the policeman's; you know we are bound to take that as
"Then it was entirely ex parte. But you know the character of these
policemen, and the many aggravated circumstances that have arisen
from their false testimony. I wish to cast no disrespect, your
honor; but really they will swear to any thing for a fee, while
their unscrupulous bribery has become so glaring, that it is a
disgrace to our police system. Have you heard the boy's story?" said
"Well, he began to tell a crooked story, so full of admissions, and
then made such a blubbering about it, that I couldn't make head or
tail of it."
"Well, here is the Captain of his vessel, a friend of mine, whom I
esteem a gentleman-for all captains ought to be gentlemen, not
excepting Georgia captains and majors," said the colonel, jocosely,
turning round and introducing the Captain to his honor. "Now, your
honor, you will indulge me by listening to the little fellow's
story, which will be corroborated in its material points by the
statements of the Captain, which, I trust, will be sufficient; if
not, we shall recur to the jailer."
"It will be sufficient. I am only sorry there has been so much
trouble about it," said the mayor.
The boy now commenced to tell his story, which the mayor listened to
with all learned attention. No sooner had Tommy finished, and the
Captain arose to confirm his statements, than the mayor declared
himself satisfied, apologized for the trouble it had caused, and
discharged the boy upon paying the costs, the amount of which the
colonel took from his pocket and threw upon the table. Thus was
Tommy's joy complete; not so the poor negro whose ill luck he
shared. This high-sounding mayor's court was like C‘sar's court,
with the exceptions in C‘sar's favor.
EMEUTE AMONG THE STEWARDS.
SEVERAL days had passed ere we again introduce the reader to the
cell of the imprisoned stewards. The captain of the Janson had been
assured by Mr. Grimshaw that every thing was comfortable at the
jail, and Manuel would be well cared for. Confiding in this, the
activity of the consul to bring the matter before the proper
authorities-and the manner in which his own time was engrossed with
his business-left him no opportunity to visit Manuel at the jail.
Tommy and one of the sailors had carried him his hammock, and a few
things from the ship's stores; and with this exception, they had but
little to eat for several days. Copeland had but a few days more to
remain, and, together with those who were with him, had exhausted
their means, in providing from day to day, during their
imprisonment. The poor woman who did their washing, a
generous-hearted mulatto, had brought them many things, for which
she asked no compensation. Her name was Jane Bee, and when the rules
of the jail made every man his own washerwoman, she frequently
washed for those who had nothing to pay her. But her means were
small, and she worked hard for a small pittance, and had nothing to
bring them for several days. They were forced to take the allowance
of bread, but could not muster resolution to eat the sickly meat.
Those who had suffered from it before, took it as a natural
consequence, looking to the time of their release, as if it was to
bring a happy change in their lives. But Manuel felt that it was an
unprecedented outrage upon his feelings, and was determined to
remonstrate against it. He knocked loudly at the door, and some of
the prisoners hearing it, reported to the jailer, who sent Daley to
answer it. As soon as the door was opened, he rushed past, and
succeeded in gaining the iron door that opened into the vestibule,
where he could converse with the Jailer, through the grating, before
Daley could stop him.
The jailer seeing him at the grating, anticipated his complaint.
"Well, Pereira,--what's the matter up-stairs?" said he.
"For God's sake, jailer, what am I put in here for-to starve? We
cannot eat the meat you send us, and we have had little else than
bread and water for three days. Do give us something to eat, and
charge it to consul, or Captain, an' I'll pay it from my wages when
I get out, if I ever do," said he.
"My dear fellow!" said the jailer, "no one knows your case better