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- Justice in the By-Ways - 2/64 -
CHAPTER XXII.--Mrs. Swiggs falls upon a Modern Heathen World,
CHAPTER XXIII.--In which the very best Intentions are seen to fail,
CHAPTER XXIV.--Mr. Snivel advises George Mullholland how to make Strong Love,
CHAPTER XXV.--A Slight Change in the Picture,
CHAPTER XXVI.--In which a High Functionary is made to play a Singular Part,
CHAPTER XXVII.--The House of the Nine Nations, and what may be seen in it,
CHAPTER XXVIII.--In which is presented Another Picture of the House of the Nine Nations,
CHAPTER XXIX.--In which may be seen a few of our Common Evils,
CHAPTER XXX.--Containing Various Things appertaining to this History,
CHAPTER XXXI.--The Keno Den, and what may be seen in it,
CHAPTER XXXII.--In which a State of Society is slighty Revealed,
CHAPTER XXXIII.--In which there is a Singular Revelation,
CHAPTER XXXIV.--The Two Pictures,
CHAPTER XXXV.--In which a Little Light is shed upon the Character of our Chivalry,
CHAPTER XXXVI.--In which a Law is seen to serve Base Purposes,
CHAPTER XXXVII.--A Short Chapter of Ordinary Events,
CHAPTER XXXVIII.--A Story without which this History would be found wanting,
CHAPTER XXXIX.--A Story with many Counterparts,
CHAPTER XL.--In which the Law is seen to Conflict with our Cherished Chivalry,
CHAPTER XLI.--In which Justice is seen to be very accommodating,
CHAPTER XLII.--In which Some Light is thrown on the Plot of this History,
CHAPTER XLIII.--In which is revealed the One Error that brought so much Suffering upon many,
CHAPTER XLIV.--In which is recorded Events the Reader may not have Expected,
CHAPTER XLV.--Another Shade of the Picture,
CHAPTER XLVI.--The Soul may gain Strength in a dreary Cell,
CHAPTER XLVII.--In which is a Happy Meeting, and something Pleasing,
CHAPTER XLVIII.--A Few Words With the Reader,
JUSTICE IN THE BY-WAYS.
TOM SWIGGS' SEVENTH INTRODUCTION ON BOARD OF THE BRIG STANDFAST.
IT is in the spring of 1847 this history commences.
"Steady a bit! Here I am, boys, turned up again-a subject of this moral reform school, of moral old Charleston. If my good old mother thinks it'll reform a cast-off remnant of human patchwork like me, I've nothing to say in protest. Yes, here I am, comrades (poor Tom Swiggs, as you used to call me), with rum my victor, and modern vengeance hastening my destruction." This is the exclamation of poor Tom Swiggs (as his jail companions are pleased to call him), who, in charge of two officers of the law, neither of whom are inclined to regard him with sympathy, is being dragged back again to the Charleston jail. The loathsome wreck of a once respectable man, he staggers into the corridor, utters a wild shriek as the iron gate closes upon him, and falls headlong upon the floor of the vestibule, muttering, incoherently, "there is no hope for one like me." And the old walls re-echo his lamentation.
"His mother, otherwise a kind sort of woman, sends him here. She believes it will work his reform. I pity her error-for it is an error to believe reform can come of punishment, or that virtue may be nurtured among vice." Thus responds the brusque but kind-hearted old jailer, who view swith an air of compassion his new comer, as he lays, a forlorn mass, exposed to the gaze of the prisoners gathering eagerly about him.
The dejected man gives a struggle, raises himself to his haunches, and with his coarse, begrimed hands resting on his knees, returns the salutation of several of his old friends. "This, boys, is the seventh time," he pursues, as if his scorched brain were tossed on a sea of fire, "and yet I'm my mother's friend. I love her still-yes, I love her still!" and he shakes his head, as his bleared eyes fill with tears. "She is my mother," he interpolates, and again gives vent to his frenzy: "fellows! bring me brandy-whiskey-rum-anything to quench this flame that burns me up. Bring it, and when I'm free of this place of torment, I will stand enough for you all to swim in."
"Shut your whiskey-pipe. You don't appreciate the respectability of the company you've got among. I've heard of you," ejaculates a voice in the crowd of lookers-on.
"What of a citizen are you?" inquires Tom, his head dropping sleepily.
"A vote-cribber-Milman Mingle by name; and, like yourself, in for formal reform," retorts the voice. And the burly figure of a red, sullen-faced man, comes forward, folds his arms, and looks for some minutes with an air of contempt upon the poor inebriate.
"You're no better than you ought to be," incoherently continues Tom, raising his glassy eyes as if to sight his seemingly querulous companion.
"Better, at all events, than you," emphatically replies the man. "I'm only in for cribbing voters; which, be it known, is commonly called a laudable enterprise just before our elections come off, and a henious offence when office-seekers have gained their ends. But what use is it discussing the affairs of State with a thing like you?" The vote-cribber, inclined to regard the new-comer as an inferior mortal, shrugs his shoulders, and walks away, contemplatively humming an air.
"If here ain't Tom Swiggs again!" exclaims a lean, parchment-faced prisoner, pressing eagerly his way through the circle of bystanders, and raising his hands as he beholds the wreck upon the floor.
"Fate, and my mother, have ordered it so," replies Tom, recognizing the voice, and again imploring the jailer to bring him some brandy to quench the fires of his brain. The thought of his mother floated uppermost, and recurred brightest to the wandering imagination of this poor outcast.
"There's no rum here, old bloat. The mother having you for a son is to be pitied-you are to be pitied, too; but the jail is bankrupt, without a shilling to relieve you in the liquor line," interposes another, as one by one the prisoners begin to leave and seek their several retreats.
"That breath of yours," interrupts the vote-cribber, who, having returned, stands regarding the outcast man with singular interest, "would make drunk the whole jail. A week in 'Mount Rascal' The upper story used for the confinement of felons. will be necessary to transmute you, as they call it, into something Christian. On 'the Mount' you will have a chance to philosophize-mollify the temperature of your nervous system-which is out of fix just now."
There is an inert aristocracy, a love of distinction, among the lowest dregs of society, as there is also a love of plush and other insignificant tawdry among our more wealthy republicans. Few would have thought of one inebriate affecting superiority over another, (the vote-cribber was an inebriate, as we shall show,) but so it was, nevertheless.
"I own up," rejoins Tom, "I own up; I love my mother, and am out of sorts. You may call me a mass of filth-what you please!"
"Never mind; I am your friend, Tom," interrupts the brusque old jailer, stooping down and taking him gently by the arm. "Good may come of the worst filth of nature-evil may come of what seemeth the best; and trees bearing sound pippins may have come of rotten cores. Cheer up!"
The cool and unexpected admonition of the "vote-cribber" leaves a deep impression in Tom's feelings. He attempts, heaving a sigh, to rise, but has not strength, and falls languidly back upon the floor. His countenance, for a few moments, becomes dark and desponding; but the kind words that fall from the jailer's lips inspire him with confidence; and, turning partly on his side, he thrusts his begrimed hands into a pair of greasy pockets, whistling "Yankee Doodle," with great composure.
The jailer glances about him for assistance, saying it will be necessary to get him up and carry him to his cell.
"To a cell-a cell-a cell!" reiterates the inebriate. "Well, as the legal gentry say," he continues, "I'll enter a 'non-contender.' I only say this by way of implication, to show my love for the fellow who gathers fees by making out writs on my account."
In reply to a question from the jailer, he says they mistake Tom
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