Dr. Tuckerman. --Dr. Follen. --House of Industry. --Pauperism in Massachusetts. --House of Correction. --Juvenile Offenders. --Reformatory School of Mr. Welles. --War between Patricians and Plebeians. --"Thrice told tale" of Canterbury. --System of "Strikes." --Travelling Incognito. --Reception of George Thompson from England. --Progress of Abolition Doctrines.
SOON after my return I was introduced to Dr. Tuckerman, with whom I had a long and very interesting conversation on a subject to which he has devoted the best energies of an enlightened mind and a feeling heart. Every thing that he said relative to the method he had adopted of reclaiming the most vicious portion of the community, breathed the spirit of pure and consistent philanthropy. The domiciliary visits he had paid in pursuit of his benevolent object, had brought under his notice, he told me, many instances of docility and generosity among those who are too often supposed incapable of either. He had succeeded in enlisting in this excellent work the professors of the most discordant sects, the peculiar tenets of which had proved no bar to a cheerful and effective co-operation. A great and marked improvement had resulted from their joint labors; and he had reason to anticipate a much higher standard of behavior from the extension of a system which teaches men self-respect by connecting it with the sense of religious responsibility in every action, whether of a social or of a personal nature.
The doctor was no "respecter of persons;" exhibiting the same solicitude for every child of Adam. I was anxious to hear, from a man of such experience in the calamities and infirmities of our nature, what impression had been left on his mind by an acquaintance with the despised and degraded class of the community. He replied to my inquiry, that he had met with many instances of exemplary virtue among them; and that there was no reason to suppose they were morally or intellectually below the level of the other race in similar circumstances. One example he detailed with great feeling. It was that of a poor woman who had nursed a sick neighbor for five months, during the absence of the invalid's husband. The patient was a most deplorable spectacle, being afflicted with dropsy in its most aggravated form. "I know not what would have become of me," said the poor sufferer, "if it had not been for the kindness of this excellent woman. She has sat up with me three nights in succession; and I fear that want of rest, and the fatigue she has to go through on my account, will be too much for her." The other expressed herself in the most modest and unpretending terms, and appeared to think she was merely discharging the common offices of kindness to her afflicted friend. "It was a sight," added the amiable philanthropist, "that might well have stopped a ministering angel on his errand of mercy --to look at and admire."
This reverend Doctor was not contented with professing an exemption from the vulgar prejudices of his age and nation. No distinction was made at his servants' table; nor were those ever divided in his house, whom he had taught, by his example, to live, as they were to die, in Christian love and affection.
The Doctor very politely offered me a seat in his gig the next day, for the purpose of viewing the public establishments for paupers and juvenile offenders.
The intervening evening I passed, as I can hope to pass few in future, with professor Follen, of Cambridge, and his lady. The professor, who had been driven across the Atlantic, by the enemies of political liberty in his own country, had not, like too many exiles from Europe, attempted to conciliate the friends of personal slavery in the land of his Adoption, by open advocacy or servile indifference.
He had "chosen the better part," after mature deliberation; and had come out with a manly courage, tempered by mildness, and sustained by principles that placed him above the influence or imputation of worldly and interested motives, as an abolitionist. His "Address to the people of the United States" on the subject, is a master-piece of sound logic, and literary composition. His zeal and good sense were amply and ably seconded by his lady; and if a pure love of freedom, a sincere conviction that the happiness of every one is the happiness of all, and a heartfelt sympathy with the injured and the oppressed, could have disarmed animosity, it might have been expected, that the enemies of the cause would have spared the advocate, and that Dr. Follen would have escaped the obloquy and insult that have been heaped upon him. But perhaps the injustice done to the man is the strongest testimony in favor of his reasoning. Scurrilous paragraphs in the public prints, and threats of vengeance, are the natural weapons of those who dare not deny facts, and cannot answer arguments. What may we not hope to see on the side of emancipation, when persons most distinguished for scientific attainments and social refinements, are in its ranks, --prepared to make every sacrifice in the performance of a duty which colder hearts and less logical heads, consider superfluous or premature? Such minds are "enthusiastic" to those only who make the imputed "fanaticism" of others a cloak for their own apathy. From Mrs. Follen I had still further proof of the little value to be placed on the received estimate of the tawney man's real character. Colonel May, who has had frequent opportunities of observation, assured her that he had never known more than two confirmed cases in Boston of drunkenness among the blacks. This testimony is the less to be suspected; because it comes from one who is not an abolitionist.
The next day, Dr. Tuckerman took me with him to the house of industry; which, with the buildings appropriated to the reception of young offenders, stands on the other side of the water, and at the distance of two or three miles from the city, in a very beautiful situation, combining the advantages of salubrious air and charming views. Those paupers who do not receive relief at their own houses, (and it is rarely given there, except from peculiar considerations,) are sent to this establishment; where they are, if able, set to work, on the land which adjoins it, or in the house: and the produce of their labor, beyond what is wanted for domestic use, is sold. The institution appeared to be well conducted, with the exception of the department assigned to the insane; the treatment of whose complaint interferes with the arrangements of the house, while it is itself impeded by the vicinity of the paupers. It adjoins the apartment in which the colored people, with the usual disregard of their feelings, are lodged apart, and must, from the noise and confusion which prevail, be the source of great annoyance to them, particularly to the sick. Separated by a thin boarding from one room we visited, was an idiotic old woman, whose shrill and monotonous cry, "give me my dinner --I want my dinner," was inexpressibly painful and offensive. Though not so badly managed as in the alms-house at New York, the lunatics are far from being in a satisfactory condition. The patients are from time to time, removed to Worcester Asylum, where they are cured in a large proportion of cases, in the early stages of the disorder.In the infant school here, the stain of color is visible among the pupils. "The common class shun their society." In the infirmary, where these poor creatures were, I remarked, as I did in almost every place of the kind, strong indications of assiduous attention to the helpless and infirm. A woman was brushing away the flies from a child who was sick in bed. Upon inquiry, I was told there were not many of this class of paupers. One of them, an old man, ninety-seven years of age, had served in the American navy, during the whole of the revolutionary war. He had no pension; and he could find no Greenwich Hospital*
in the Sailor's Snug Harbor.
* Every one who has seen this place, knows that there are plenty of colored pensioners among its inmates.
The children were shortly to be removed into a separate building, where more attention can be paid to their education. Here, as at other places, they are (nine in ten) affected, soon after their first entrance, with sore eyes. The remedies applied, usually remove the complaint in a week or ten days. They are bound out at a proper age, as apprentices, with a good prospect of doing well; as the demand for them is greater than can be supplied from the establishment. There are about fifty acres of land attached to the house, the inmates of which amounted to 528; --120 men, 103 women, and three children, being permanently on the establishment, from their age and infirmities. The number of native poor has diminished, while that of foreign poor has increased. Out of 1273 adults and young admitted at different times, 705 were foreigners, and thirty-nine of unknown origin; while 529 only were Americans. In the last three months there had been twenty-six. from Boston, forty-four from other States, and 140 of foreign "growth." Of 132 children in the house, there were but twenty-five whose parents were American. The emigrants were chiefly of recent arrival, from New York and the British provinces.
The close connexion between pauperism and intemperance has long been seen here. A recent change in the law had poured in from the country, where they were no longer entitled to relief, a large influx of casual poor, who look to Boston as a place of refuge. Many, too, are sent to the city, in order to get rid of a burthen. The most vicious and intractable class are composed of occasional paupers --a floating mass of fraud and filth. If not discharged, they generally get tired of the confinement, and elope with what property they can lay their hands on. It is not long before they contrive to be re-admitted. There were 350 the preceding year, of this description. They average thirty-four at one time in the house, and usually remain about six weeks. The medium term of their age is thirty-four or thirty-five --shewing pretty plainly that they are not all disabled or infirm. The facility with which their wants are supplied, is a direct premium upon idleness and begging. Indiscriminate alms-giving is found to have the same effect. It is much to be feared that the feeling of disgrace attached to those who are pensioners on the public charity, has less influence on the general mass of society than it had. The relatives of the paupers, during the visits they make to the house, are too apt to contrast its comforts and good fare with the hardships they sometimes have to encounter at home. The superintendant was fully aware of the frauds practised by many of the Irish, who conceal, either about their persons, or. with a friend, whatever property they have been able to save, and remain in the Boston "asylum" till they can obtain employment. Their number increases with the fund for their maintenance; and the difficulty of avoiding to encourage the disease, by the means used for its relief; is sensibly felt by the guardians of the poor. Of those last year in the house, 159 had been admitted for the second time; seventy-six for the third, thirty-two for the fourth, twenty-seven for the fifth, twelve for the sixth, &c.
According to a report, laid before the House of Representatives in Massachusetts, by the Commissioners it had appointed, in February, 1832, to inquire into the state of pauperism in that commonwealth, it appears that one in twenty-one and a half was receiving relief; the number being 12,331 out of 264,327, the whole population of sixty-eight towns, or districts. Of these, 5927 were States' poor, that is, persons supported not by the parishes or towns, but out of the public fund, in accordance with the existing law and practice. The amount of their allowance had increased from 14,000 dollars in 1792, to 72,000 in 1820. Many of these consisted of "wandering or travelling poor," who, speculating on the provision made by the State for casual poor, came into it from other States, and roamed from place to place, during the summer; claiming what they conceived a right, and sheltering themselves in the alms-houses or other asylums in the winter months. A direct encouragement was thus given to pauperism and fraud, as idleness was fed by legal enactment, and each town endeavored to throw off' the burthen from its own shoulders upon those of its neighbors. There were three modes of providing for the poor: --in poor-houses, by out-door allowances, and on farms, where land could be obtained for their employment. When they were boarded out by the overseers in private families, the expense was much greater than when they were under the care of a contractor, by whom they were set to work.
In one town, the annual cost, which had been from 1000 to 1200 dollars, was reduced to an average, during three years, of 535. In another, the average cost, which for twelve years had been, while they were boarded out, 1600 dollars a-year, was reduced to 1050, when they were maintained under the same roof by a contractor. A third case, that of Sheffield, was more remarkable, the reduction having been from 1967 dollars to 665. Out of forty-nine, who had enjoyed their share of the former sum, no more than seventeen were willing to receive relief at the alms-house; where alone, except they were ill, it was to be had; and two of the States' poor immediately removed to an adjoining town, where they might receive their allowance without restraint or confinement. This diminution, in the expenditure for the poor, was effected in the course of four years; at the end of which time there were but eight inmates of the alms-house.
The result of employing the poor on farms, appropriated to that object, was highly satisfactory. By this expedient, the average expense at Salem was, for ten years; one half of what it had been, during the same period, when the poor had no work; while the establishment got rid of fifty of its inmates, and was more easily conducted. The expenditure at Waltham and Littleton, which had been 675 and 800 dollars respectively, was brought down, part by the farm, and partly by interdicting the use of spirituous liquors, to 239 dollars four cents, and 244 dollars, thirty-eight cents. By means of the farm; Marlborough, instead of paying 1550 dollars per annum, was charged but 310 dollars seventy-eight cents for its poor.
Many instances of a similar kind, were cited by the committee: --In one case, the profits of the pauper-farm exceeded the outlay, by the sum of 228 dollars seventy-five cents.
By statistical tables annexed to this valuable document, it is shown that the effects of intemperance on the comforts and character of the laboring classes are most deplorable; three fourths, and even nine tenths, of the mendicancy having arisen from drinking.
In pursuance of the recommendations contained in the above report, measures were taken for the gradual, but complete, repeal of the law, which provided for the support of the casual poor out of the funds of the commonwealth; --districts are to be formed with corporate privileges, under the care of a Board of Directors, with the view of providing for the poor by setting them, if able, to work; and each town to have, upon proper application, a share, in proportion to its population, of the fund (300,000 dollars were recommended) to be raised for the purpose.
Having left the house of industry, we crossed over to the house of correction, which, with that of reformation, occupies a building close by. The master was out; but one of the prisoners took me round the institution; Dr. Tuckerman being indisposed. The person, who thus acted as my guide, had been committed for intemperance; his habits of inebriety being so confirmed, as to deprive him of all power to resist temptation, or control his besetting propensity. He acted as clerk, and was exempted from wearing the prison dress, on account of the excellence of his general character, which was unexceptionable in all respects, but that of the unfortunate infirmity to which I have alluded, and which rendered him, when under its influence, perfectly furious and ungovernable. There were in the house, at the time, 174 men and 62 women, --among both of whom was a large proportion of foreigners, --chiefly Irish, --considerably more than of colored persons, in proportion to the relative amount of their numbers in the community. There were but six men and four or five women of the latter. The sexes are placed in different parts of the building. The sleeping cells for both are constructed upon the Singsing plan; and the meals are taken there in a similar manner. On each side of the block of building which contains them, and which has an ample and well-aired passage on all sides, are five tiers, each containing eighteen cells, the opposite cells corresponding to each other, and so built as to prevent any correspondence or communication between the male inmates of the one and the women in the other. There is a watch going his round during the night.
Various kinds of works, suited to the difference of age and of sex, are carried on here. The prisoners are sent hither for minor offences, the term of their detention varying from twenty days to a year or upwards. Adjoining the cells, I observed a placard, containing the names of their occupants. --I took the opportunity of asking my guide, who informed me for what purpose it was stuck up, and who was not aware that I was acquainted with the circumstances of his case, whether this public exposure had not a bad effect on the minds of many, who thus became known both to visitors and to fellow-prisoners. His reply was, that he had no doubt it tended greatly to diminish the chance of recovering self-respect, and retarded the progress of self-improvement. The greatest villain is still a man; and the less there is of humanity left in any one, the greater ought to be our solicitude for its preservation.
Having finished what was necessarily a very cursory inspection of the institution, from the wish I felt not to keep my benevolent companion waiting in the parlor, I proceeded with him to visit the adjoining establishment for juvenile offenders. The mistress of the female department, who received us at the door, seemed, as every one we had met before had been, delighted to see the Doctor. There were sixty-four boys and eighteen girls; the latter of whom do all the work of the house. As they were much straitened for room, the system of labor for the boys was imperfect; proper arrangements, however, were to be made, when a new building, which was intended for them, would admit of it. In the mean time sufficient occupation was given them to employ their time properly. The legislature had granted 20,000 dollars towards the erection of the new establishment. Not much to the credit, however, of the proper authorities; a resolution had been made against admitting any juvenile offender, who might happen to have a drop of the prohibited and proscribed blood in his veins: so that those, who are said to stand most in need of reformation, are excluded from its benefits, by the very persons who complain that they are incorrigible. The average cost of the children, whose age is from nine to eighteen, is twelve cents per diem.
They are sent hither by the police and municipal courts, and are bound out as apprentices at the proper age. Parents, when domestic discipline is found an inefficient iustrument of correction or coercion, avail themselves of this institution to reform their children, --having obtained the requisite conviction.
A vigilant eye is kept upon tbem, after they have been discharged; and three out of four are found to conduct themselves well. More than half are foreigners. The institution resembles the houses of refuge at New York and Philadelphia, as far as the limited number of its inmates, the confined nature of the building, and the temporary system of economy, which characterises its state of transition, will admit of.
Conversing afterwards with Dr. Tuckerman upon the subject of philanthropic projects, he told me that any suggestion for the improvement of society that might require pecuniary aid, was always promptly seconded by the wealthy class of Boston; and that probably no place existed where there was a greater amount of generous sympathy with the ignorant and unfortunate, or a more anxious desire to co-operate, with purse or person, in affording instruction to the one and relief to the other. Would that there were no exception or qualification to be made to this eulogy! There are few cities of equal population where there is less crime and vice than in Boston.
A large part of the following day I spent at the reformatory school of the Rev. Mr. Welles, whose house is not far from the establishment I have just described. He had formerly the charge of one of them, and had been displaced from motives that are too apt, in his country, to influence those who have the appointment to public offices. Many found fault with his system, because they could not understand it: others could not understand it, because they had found fault with it. To be successful in a new course of act, is considered an imputation on the old; and many mistake the hatred of innovation for an attachment to what is. established. Whatever were the causes in operation, the superintendant was removed from his situation, and sought a more independent field of usefulness in a private establishment; where his plans would not be condemned till they had failed, nor thwarted before their completion.
Mr. Welles, while explaining the principles that had guided him, struck me as a man remarkably clearheaded in his views, and practical in his proceedings. He seemed to have elaborated from his own mind those general rules, which are usually obtained by a long and tedious induction from the experience of others; and to have found in his own heart that knowledge of human nature which most men acquire from viewing the actions of those around them. He worked in a narrow circle; but its proportions were perfect. I was introduced, after a preliminary conversation, to his pupils, who were assembled for the exercises of the day in the school-room. There were twenty-eight present. The business of the morning commenced with an inquiry into the conduct of the boys during the preceding day, --an usage which is observed every night, but which had been deferred in consequence of the master's absence. The second assistant, a pupil himself --for at the time there was no undermaster, --accused one of the boys of having been angry in a dispute with another. When interrogated with great mildness and affection by the master, and reminded of his duty to God, who requires "truth in the inward parts," he replied, that he did not think he was angry. Others, who had witnessed the transaction, thought he had been so. He owned he had not felt pleased with his opponent. When asked for a definition of the word "anger," he was confused, and conscious of having prevaricated. Mr. Welles explained its meaning to him. All present were very attentive. An appeal was made to them; and the evidence adduced against him was confirmed by the general sentiment. It was the Jacotot system applied to morals. The defence of the accused was fairly submitted to the consciences of the auditors; as the answers of one under a scientific or literary examination would have been tried by their understandings; and a similar benefit to each individual was derived from the discussion elicited. The poor boy was overpowered by his sense of guilt. He wept aloud. Nothing like exultation or contempt was exhibited by any one. He was then reminded of the forgiveness that had followed a former fault, because it was frankly acknowledged; and as he was already suspended from his grade, as a punishment for previous misconduct, he was told that he must continue so. As the trial advanced, the number and strength of the proofs against him increased; while the generous feelings of the accusers were called forth in favor of a fallen brother. The scene was highly interesting, as the breach of truth involved in his denial became the subject of animadversion. A lie was shewn to be more culpable and degrading than anger. Some admirable observations on the tendency and results of falsehood to the individual addicted to it and to society, were made. The nature of lying was asked of all present, and the answers evinced their thorough acquaintance with the subject; as they agreed that the criminality depended upon the impression left, and not on the language employed. The convicted party was then condemned to be suspended from all the bon grades, and to be placed in the lowest, if proved to have been guilty of intentional deception. When this case was disposed of, one of the monitors accused some of the boys of infringing the discipline of the place. Upon investigation, however, it came out that some mistake had been made.
The master dismissed the case, observing that he had expressed himself imperfectly; it being a principle strictly acted up to, that no punishment is to be inflicted for acts not known to be unlawful. As it is therefore presumed that what is not expressly prohibited is permitted, (except in cases which manifestly do not, from their nature, come within the rule,) some of the pupils, who had been wading in the water, were declared not to be wrong-doers; the restriction which appeared to apply to them being confined to bathing. One boy said he had gone in merely to wash his feet. He was admonished to be careful that he did not deceive himself, and to consider well before he persisted in the explanation. Another, who had been before degraded, was told that his father had been to see him; but when he found what situation his son was placed in, he had left the house without seeing him. This information was conveyed to the offender in such a spirit of kindness and friendship as not to humiliate him in the eyes of the rest, but to urge upon him the propriety of attending more strictly to his duties; He then took his place in tears with his face to the wall. The boy who had been dabbling in the water was again asked why he had done so. He had been playing, he said, with bare feet, and wanted to wash them. He was advised to examine his own heart, and to be sure that he was correct in his assertion, As the case was not clear, no further notice was taken of it.
A long and intricate investigation then followed, and terminated in the conviction of two boys, who were condemned to degradation, and addressed on the offence they had committed. The most considerate and gentle language was used on the occasion; and the regret which was felt for the necessity of applying correction was as perceptible as the remorse it gave rise to. The poor fellows sobbed aloud; and the sympathies of the whole audience were excited to a degree that was most affecting and impressive. After this the names were called over, and responses given successively of good, or bad, or indifferent conduct --each being marked in a book kept for the purpose, according to the statement given, which is voluntary and open to the objections of any one. The places in the grades were then awarded. Wherever reproof was called for, it was always accompanied, under much that was vexatious and painful, with singular forbearance and mildness. It was now one o'clock in the day; and, as it was too late for the usual exercises, the school was dismissed to play.
Of the bon grades the lowest consists of those who have shewn a positive inclination to do well. The second, where the habit of doing well has become regular. The third, where it has become constant and undeviating. The mal grades correspond as to scale and the character of the occupants. For three good marks a counter or franc is given; and these pass as currency, to be withdrawn or augmented, according to an estimate made every Saturday of the week's progress. There must be three left for each pupil, to provide against contingencies. The balance of the account determines the classification. The small punishments are made up of these fines or forfeitures. Certain indulgencies --such as permission to go out --are purchased by them; the reasonableness of the permission being thus fairly tested by these evidences of good conduct. Every one's moral wealth is thus equitably measured, and its value paid on demand. The different grades are kept separate, as far as is practicable, in occupations and amusements. It should be observed that the prohibitions to do wrong, and the privilege to do what is proper, are alike for all --master, monitors, and scholars. The exceptions are where demerit requires an abridgement of natural right. They take their meals together; and when the arrangements are completed, the whole establishment will sleep in the same room with the master. There were then but thirteen thus immediately under his vigilant eye. Seven or eight were waiting for admission.
So confident is the manager of reforming the most depraved and abandoned youth, that he is willing to give bond in any reasonable sum for the complete restoration to good conduct of any lad under sixteen or seventeen years of age, however hopeless his case may seem to be. When first admitted, the pupil is soothed and softened by the most open and parental reception. What has past, he is told, will not be remembered or recalled to his attention. He is exhorted to a life of virtue, and made acquainted with the kind of behavior that will be expected from him. He is not allowed to converse with the others on his first arrival; nor are they to question him on any subject whatever. The average duration of this silence is two days. During the first period of his residence, a pupil must not do any thing without obtaining permission from the proper authorities. Hence he is enabled to observe what is passing, and obtain a knowledge of the customs and rules of the place. He is not embarrassed by inquisitive or impertinent questions; and is spared the difficulty that a novice feels, in applying general instructions, which often appear unintelligible and contradictory. It is found, that what is required to be done is always done ultimately, whatever be the struggle at first against compliance. The most refractory seldom hold out more than twenty-four hours against what their own experience and the testimony of others concur in shewing to be for their advantage. There is no instance of a failure on this head. Nothing but reading, writing, arithmetic, &c., the common course of an elementary education, is taught here. The mode of instruction is by questions, --oral, not from books. The monitors see that the question is clearly worded and comprehended by the pupils. The answer results from the efforts of their own minds. As little as possible is imparted by the master. An appeal to the whole class is made in case of an erroneous, or no reply. The mind is thus led to the attainment of truth by the exercise of its own powers; and all are successively teachers as well as learners. The best parts of Jacotot's system of self instruction, as well as much of what is to be found at Hazlewood School, near Birmingham, are put in practice here; though Mr. Welles never heard the name either of Mr. Hill or of the Louvain schoolmaster.
It was suggested by some foreigners who had visited the school a year or two before, that the presence of the master would be necessary to insure its success in another country: --an opinion of which Mr. Welles would be the last to admit the justness, while he sees the same materials existing everywhere, as well for the correction as for the curse of immorality.
After dinner I was taken to hear the exercises of the school; and, as the subject of study was natural history, I was requested to put a few questions to the pupils. They were accordingly asked whether the elephant, when described as exhibiting more sagacity than other animals, was possessed of faculties more adapted to the purposes of its existence than theirs? The answer was, that he was not. A similar reply was given to the question, whether one species of animals was naturally more cruel than another; and a proper distinction was drawn between blind instinct and responsible reason. It was agreed on all hands, that we had no more right to kill a tiger than a dove, on account of its ferocity alone; and that the whole brute creation had a claim upon our kindness and forbearance, where our personal safety or comfort was not concerned. I regret that I did not push my inquiries further, and direct their attention to the various forms and tints which distinguish the numerous tribes of human beings; --diversities adapted to their moral and physical condition, --all alike the work of an omnipotent hand, --and all equally entitled to our admiration and respect.
I was highly delighted, and, I hope, instructed, by all that I saw; and regretted that the lateness of the hour (it was past four o'clock, and I had arrived at ten,) compelled me to take my leave of an establishment, the principles of which, if universally put in practice, would do more to advance the well-being and happiness of man, than all the discourses of all the learned doctors, who seem to value learning as misers value wealth, --not for its employment, but its amount. There is nothing exclusive or qualified in the mind of Mr. Welles. His efforts have been directed to the improvement of the human mind; and his benevolence would be enlarged by those very circumstances which would limit that of inferior men. Prejudices which would prompt many to
It has been observed at Boston, that the son of a wealthy man rarely succeeds in commerce. This is the case in most places. A remark I heard connected with this subject, proves, if correct, that riches may injure the family of the possessor as much by giving prudence to others, as by taking it from himself. Few lawyers at Boston, whose fathers have large fortunes, have much practice, --from an apprehension very generally felt, that the chance of professional skill decreases with the necessity for its acquirement; and, perhaps, because most people feel a wish to befriend those who stand more in need of their assistance than others, Many, if not most, of the merchants who are settled in the Southerly cities, are from the East, --to which they generally return to enjoy the fruits of their industry, and to bequeath them to their sons, who not unfrequently, by their extravagance, descend to that rank from which their fathers had risen, and leave their children to pursue the same upward course, and their grandchildren the same decline which have marked the lives of their parents and their own: --thus connecting the alternations of good and bad fortune by a link which may be seen in an almost regular recurrence of the same process under the same circumstances. So much, indeed, is this the case, that the names of those families who were formerly most distinguished for their wealth and their influence, may now be seen over the door-ways of the petty shop-keepers in the lowest parts of the city; while those they have displaced will be found at the "West-end".
In spite of these facts, which are open to the observation of all, however highly colored the picture I have drawn may seem, and which tend to reconcile society to the disparities which unavoidably attend it, the aristocratical feeling prevails in the United States much more extensively than is generally believed in Europe; and symptoms of a retaliatory spirit are not wanting. "I have inquired," says a writer in the Annals of Education, for June 1833, "of intelligent gentlemen who are familiar with some of our most respectable manufacturing establishments in this country, whether some plan could not be devised --perhaps familiar lectures --for giving laborers of all ages such daily instruction on practical subjects, as would be adapted to their means and capacities, and at the same time insure their interest. The reply has always been in the negative, that they are a class of people who could never be brought to desire improvement, or to attend to instruction, even for amusement: -that the only way to get along with such ignorant people, was to keep them from mischief, by keeping them constantly employed." The feeling that dictated these sentiments is openly and freely met by the indignation of the operatives. In "an address to the working men of New England," published by their request, at Boston, in 1832, as it was delivered in various sections and towns of the Union, by Seth Luther, is the following passage: "We observed, that it is becoming fashionable in our country to cry out about 'national glory,' 'national wealth,' 'march of improvement,' 'march of intellect.' We have pointed out to you the occasion why the monopolists of Europe raise this cry; and you will, ere long, probably discover the same design in our own country --to wit, to prevent the 'common people' --the 'lower orders' --by which our 'higher orders' mean farmers, mechanics, and laborers, from thinking, reasoning, and watching the movements of these same 'higher orders'." Again: --"The owners of mills oppose all reduction in the hours of labor, for the purposes of mental culture. Not that they care about hours of labor in cities; but they fear the contagion will reach their slave mills. Hence, they go into the shop of the carpenter and others, who carry on business, and actually forbid them to employ what they sneeringly call 'ten-hour-men' --telling the employers, 'you shall not have our work, unless you do as we say.' We have appealed to their sense of justice, their sense of humanity, their love of country, to consider the evils they are bringing on the poor through ignorance. What has been the reply? One says, 'if a man offers to work for me ten hours, I will kick him off my premises:'another says: `'O! they can't stand it more than a day or two; and they will soon come back to beg to go to work.' "
The speech abounds in charges and insinuations of the same kind. In an appendix, the writer says: "We insist that, if congress have power to protect the owners against foreign competition, in the shape of goods, they have the same right to protect the operative from foreign competition in the shape of importation of foreign mechanics and laborers, to cut down wages of our own citizens. We call upon manufacturers to do justice to the operative, and warn them to remember that working men, the farmer, mechanic, and laborer, are the majority, and are determined to be gulled no longer by the specious and deceptive cry of 'American industry,' while they are ground down into the dust by importation of foreign machinery, foreign workmen, and foreign work, and deprived of improvement for themselves, and an opportunity to educate their children, merely to enable the rich to take care of themselves --while the poor must work for such prices as manufacturers see fit to give, or starve, as a reward for votes given for their oppressors:."
The Jackson party have managed to "suck no small advantage" out of these prejudices. They are supported by the "operatives," because they are hostile to foreigners, and foreign capital; and the are supported by foreigners, because Jackson is supposed to be an Irishman.
A trip to the United States, is often recommended as a cure for morbid attachment to political equality. It would perhaps be a better remedy for a similar predilection in favor of social disparities. It is not everyone that can reason: but all can feel the force of the ludicrous. Among the many odd questions that are put to Englishmen about the customs of the old country, is one that shews how much the conception of external finery enters into the abstract idea of rank entertained by those, who have no other mode of distinction. "Do not your noblemen wear a great deal of gold about their persons ? "--seems to us a very silly question: --yet it is pregnant with meaning, and proves that the conditions on which respect is to be obtained, are as little understood under a republic, as under a monarchy; and that the imagination is equally inclined to confound the means with the end in both hemispheres. The judgment is misled, in one case by the eye, and in the other by the ear. We listen to the title; while the Americans look to the metal.
I was once asked, by an intelligent person, whether men of rank in England associated with commoners; and another, who had evidently received a good education, assured the company, at an hotel where I was, that a peer of Great Britain would, if he by chance invited an American to dinner, place him at the bottom of the table --to shew his hatred of republican principles. It was in vain that I tried to point out the improbability of a distinction which would necessarily imply the relative superiority of the very person it was intended to depress. He had the best authority for what he said; and his auditors, who were accustomed to elevate themselves by mortifying their own countrymen, would readily believe what they thought I had are interest in denying. His informant had probably, as an English lady afterwards observed to me, mistaken the top of the table for the bottom, and imagined he was "humbled " below his deserts, while he was "exalted" above them. It is somewhat difficult to make a transatlantic republican comprehend that social equality is encouraged, while it is checked, by political inequality; and that rank is respected the more because it is not insisted upon. Englishmen sometimes take advantage of this imperfect idea of our customs to impress on the minds of those who entertain it, a sense of their great importance. A lady, speaking to me of one of my countrymen, whom she had met at Philadelphia, added that he was highly connected, and a frequenter of the very best society at home. "He was a fellow-commoner," she said, "at the same college with the late king." I told her it was an honor easily acquired to be a fellow-commoner at any college though he might perhaps claim the merit of discovery, if he could point out one where the Prince of Wales had been a student. "That might be," she replied; but he had told her so himself --he certainly had been fellow-commoner at the same college with the heir to the throne of the United Kingdom. It is not unlikely that his Majesty had dined, when a young man, in hall at one of our colleges, where this consequential gentleman had purchased the privilege of sitting at the Fellows' table.
The aristocratic feeling is carried further in Philadelphia than in London; or rather, what is thought in the one to be indicative of high standing in society is more insisted on than what is known in the other to be often assumed by pretenders. If an English gentleman were to be reproved by a friend for stopping in Regent Street to speak to one whose dress denoted poverty, he would consider it an impertinent interference, and a mark both of a vulgar mind and of a want of good breeding, to impute to him such an equivocal station in society that freedom of action could not be indulged without the risk of "losing caste." It was hinted to me by a very sensible woman, that my report of American manners and customs would be discredited or undervalued by her countrymen, when it was known that I had travelled with stage-drivers and conversed freely with working people.
I left Boston on the 19th of September for Brooklyn, for the purpose of visiting Canterbury again, on my way back to New York. I had heard that the school was given up; the pupils having been so much alarmed by an attack upon the house during the night, that they would no longer remain exposed to the repetition of outrages by which their comfort was destroyed and their lives endangered.
On my arrival at Canterbury, I was introduced by Mrs. Phileo (late Miss Crandall) to her husband, from whom I received an account of what had passed.
On the 9th of September, about midnight, five separate windows in the house were simultaneously broken, and the frames forced in. No noise preceded or followed the outrage. Mr. Phileo and Mr. Burleigh immediately went out, but could neither see nor hear any one. No alarm was raised in the village; and no one came out to inquire into the cause. There were two windows broken in one sitting room --one in another at the opposite side of the house, and in a chamber on the ground floor, where two of the pupils slept, two windows were completely destroyed, the glass having been thrown upon one of the beds. It was fortunate that the inmates were not injured, as the wood-work was in such a state when I saw it, that it had yielded to the blow, and remained suspended over that part of the bed where the girl's neck must have lain. Crowbars or thick poles must have been employed by powerful men to have produced such destruction. Mr. Phileo, who had previously (Aug. 12) drawn up an address to the select men of the town, offering to quit the village, if the property could be disposed of without loss, and the law of exclusion be repealed, called with another person (Mr. Hinckley, of Plainfield) upon Mr. Judson, the town-clerk, to state what had passed. Mr. Judson opened the door, and was introduced to Mr. Phileo by his companion. The ceremony of shaking hands having been performed, and no invitation given to walk in, the following conversation, as far as my informant could remember the words, took place. Mr. Phileo: --"I should be happy, Sir, to see you for a few moments." Mr. Judson: --"I do not want to see you, Sir, any more than I now see you." "I have business with you." --"I have no business with you." "I have with you, Sir." --"I will do no business with you, Sir. Your conduct has been such lately, that I have no confidence in you." He then shut the door, saying, "good night."
As soon as the pupils were able to quit the village, they returned to their parents, leaving but a few in the house, who were waiting for instruction from home. Mr. Phileo had two men for several nights to watch the house. Not one of the authorities of the town had been to inquire into the matter, and none of the neighbors had called to offer assistance, or express sympathy with the sufferers. No reward, except by Mr. Phileo himself, had been offered for the detection of the offenders. Exclusive of the bills owing by the scholars, there was a debt of 1,300 dollars on the house. He had been sued for part of it. The school was in a prosperous state when it was thus suddenly dispersed. There were twenty pupils, and every prospect of increasing the number to thirty, when the profit would have been sufficient to cover the expenses and pay off the incumbrances. Several applications had recently been made for admittance. Two young women had come from the Havana in Cuba to New York, with the intention of proceeding to Canterbury; but returned home as soon as they heard what had taken place. Two more were coming from Hartford, as many from the East, and another from Worcester; while letters had been received from other quarters requesting information about the establishment. One arrived from Boston just after it was broken up. The intention of this much injured and meritorious woman was to quit the scene of her heroism as soon as her debts were liquidated, and leave the actors to torment one another and prepare for the contempt of the world.
Mrs. Phileo talked to me of going to England --an asylum from persecution that more than one American told me would, ere long, be sought by his countrymen. It was Connecticut that Hampden looked to when about to quit his native land, oppressed by regal tyranny, --it is Connecticut that his disciple would now fly from --the victim of a persecution infinitely more galling and cruel. "One refuge seemed to remain," says the American Quarterly Review, "an asylum from the measures of tyranny seemed to be open in the wilds of America. The Star-chamber and the High Commission Court, two of the vilest institutions that had been ever used," (Dagget and Judson had not yet appeared,) "for the purposes of persecution, had already driven great numbers of the Puritans to New England. Saybrook, at the mouth of the Connecticut, so called from its first proprietors, Lords Say and Brooke, who had from their boyhood lived together as brothers, and whose ties of affection had been cemented by a constant agreement in public life, was now selected as the place where they might found a patriarchal community."
I called, as a friend of Mrs. Phileo, on Mr. Judson, with the view of inquiring whether any measures had been, or would be adopted by the town authorities to discover the perpetrators of this disgraceful outrage. He was not, however, at home, and I proceeded to the residence of one of the select men, as I was anxious to hear both sides of the question, --but I was not more fortunate there. My third visit was successful, as Mr. Bacon, another select man, was within. He received me very civilly. I was accompanied by Mr. Parish, a very worthy and sensible old man from Brooklyn. Mr. Bacon told me that no proceedings had been instituted for the detection and prosecution of the offenders, and he had no reason to suppose that there would be any. The matter had not been brought officially before the authorities. I reminded him of Mr. Phileo's application to the only magistrate of the place. I asked him whether the school had given any ground of complaint by misconduct. He replied, not the least, but the inhabitants had been justly indignant with the mistress for introducing a class of people whom they did not wish to see among them; --that remonstrances had been made without effect, --that no notice of her intention had been given to them; and that even her father had not been consulted. I remarked, in reply, that every one in a free country had a right to act as he pleased, providing he did not injure the property or persons of others, whose wishes ought not to influence or determine him in the pursuit of what he might consider the performance of a duty or the gratification of a harmless whim; and that a parent cannot exact implicit obedience from a child who is old enough to judge for himself.
He then said she had acted contrary to the law of the State; and I recalled to his recollection what he seemed to have forgotten, or thought I did not know, that the law to which he had alluded was passed after, and in consequence of the establishment of her school; and that it was hardly fair to expect she would bow to the authority of an enactment, while she was taking the only steps in her power to prove its unconstitutionality. We then took our leave of Mr. Bacon, and returned to Brooklyn.
The following Monday I went to Hartford, where a cause had lately been tried of great importance to the working classes. A suit had been brought by a manufacturing company against some men for conspiring together to raise wages by effecting a strike, and to hinder others from engaging in the employment of the plaintiffs. After a week's hard fighting, the verdict was in favor of the defendants, as the other party could not make out such a case of direct injury as would entitle them to damages. The spirit of combinations by which the whole Union has been for a long time agitated, is likely to be considerably influenced by this decision; since it places the courts of justice in a position of strict impartiality between the contending parties.
It was a novel case, and the lawyers were puzzled to find any analogies to take the place of precedents. The plaintiffs had appealed to a higher court. In the mean time the operatives, it is to be hoped, will discover that strikes are more injurious to them than to their masters. What with the fall of wages, which the derangement of commerce through its carious channels from the producer to the consumer occasions, the loss of labor during the continuance of the "turn out," the introduction of rivals, and the cost of maintaining a greedy and ambitious executive, it is generally found that the termination of a strike finds the workman in a worse situation than he was at its commencement.
It is lamentable to see the great body of the mechanics united in the pursuit of an unattainable object, calling out for a maximum of rent, and a minimum of wages, accusing the rich of oppressing the poor, and bankers of growing wealthy by preying on the community, insisting upon a metallic currency to the exclusion of paper, deprecating the introduction of every thing foreign, and waging war against invention; --while designing demagogues are climbing on their shoulders to office, flattering them in their illusions, and cajoling them out of their rights. The system of combination is not confined to sex or country. The "young ladies" of Lowell have declared they will no longer submit to the tyranny of the cotton-lord; and the operatives of Canada are making common cause with their brethren on the other side of the lakes. The country has long been distracted with these disputes. In 1828, the journeymen cotton-weavers of New York struck for wages, and several of them cut the webs out of the looms of an establishment, the owner of which refused to comply with their demands, his own workmen having declined joining them. Another set of men, employed on the river, carried their resistance so far, as to attack a packet ship (the Sully) with the view of persuading or compelling her men to desist from their work. The captain was severely injured by them. Two or three other vessels were treated in a similar manner; and it was not till the police had been called in that the riot was quelled. This violence has yielded to a more regular organization and a quieter mode of proceeding, more pernicious, perhaps, to society, as the combination continues longer, and is mixed up with political rancour.
A work, which excited the public mind in England very strongly some years ago, "The Claims of Labor against Capital," was republished in America, and appears, in conjunction with others of a worse tendency, to have had a bad effect upon society by loosening the ties that bind its members together. Some of the doctrines, however, inculcated by the writers of these publications, were of such a revolting and preposterous nature, (such as community of women and equal division of property,) as to carry their own remedy and refutation with them. The good sense of the country preserved it from applying a real and a permanent poison as a cure for imaginary and partial disorders. The "Fanny Wright's men" have dwindled down to a small sect, who have neither mind to reflect nor conscience to feel. The foundress has followed the example of Mary Wolstonecraft, and is now performing the duties of married life in France; while the colony she planted in the West, by pursuing an opposite course, has disgusted every man who has any regard for the decencies and duties of life.
When I left Hartford there were three places taken by the stage, they were marked in the waybill, (1) a lady, (2) a lady, (3) a colored man. I was rather surprised to see the latter "booked." I asked why the names had been omitted. I was told it was to secure the first two against annoyance; and to show those, who applied for places, what sort of a fellow-traveller they were to have in the third; that they might take what steps they thought fit on such an occasion. I thought I had seen most of the "whims and oddities" of the country; --but here was one more amusing than any I had yet met with. Concealment of names employed at the same time to shelter one party from insult and expose another to it! --a general description, serving as a protection and an opprobrium to persons who are in close contact, and people travelling incognito in the same vehicle, because they are respected, and because they are despised!
While I was at New York, I was introduced to an Englishman, (Mr. George Thompson,) who had just arrived with the intention of lecturing upon the subject of slavery, in connexion with the prejudice against color. He was sent out by an anti-slavery association in Scotland; as the Americans send out missionaries to Burmah or Africa; and the reception he met with, like the cannibal propensities of savages, proved the necessity of a remedy by the violence of the diseased against the physician. Threats had long been uttered through the press against him. While boarding at one of the most respectable houses in the city, he was informed by the landlord, with expressions of regret that he was compelled to communicate the illiberal sentiments of his countrymen, that he must forthwith look out for some other establishment; as his guests had all signified to him, in a body, their determination to remain no longer under the same roof with the English agitator. The papers took good care to let the public know what had passed; adding, with a few embellishments, a hint, that they trusted no one would take him in, except upon the condition that he would not address a public audience on the subject of slavery: --a higher tribute of respect to the man than to their own cause. I heard several men conversing upon the matter, and applauding what had been done. Free discussion is not allowed whether to strangers or to citizens. The most enlightened and liberal people in the world are afraid of having the merits of their political and social system submitted to an open investigation. The same persons who call on you to admire, forbid you to condemn. Write against freedom, and your work will be received with the highest honors*;
speak in favor of it, and you run the risk of being tarred and feathered. You may praise America from your hatred of tyranny; but you must not censure her from your hatred to tyrants. If you chance to hint that the cap of liberty, which you see glittering at the top of a long pole, is placed so high that every fifth man cannot reach it, and is so shrunk by exposure to a bad air that the other four cannot wear it, you will soon wish yourself back in a free country.
* The Bill, passed by the British Legislature, for the Abolition of Slavery; is now, with marginal notes by the Committee of the West Indian Planters, in the library of the Athenaeum at Philadelphia.
The new mission of philanthropy has been eminently successful. Such has been the persuasive eloquence, with which its objects have been advocated, that, after sixteen public addresses delivered in the course of a fortnight, urgent applications had been received in February from upwards of 100 different places for immediate lectures. The cause is, indeed, making the most extraordinary progress; the prejudice which seemed to be the chief obstacle, having become its auxiliary, --for all, who are converted, feel that they owe reparation for the injustice they have committed. An anti-Slavery Society has been formed in Kentucky, under more favorable auspices than any that ever attended similar associations in the South.
Two ministers of the Baptist persuasion (Dr. Cox and Mr. Hoby) have just embarked from this country for Richmond in Virginia, on a spiritual mission to their brethren in the United States. They have made up their minds to bear reproach, and persecution, and death itself, in the performance of what they consider a sacred duty. They will remonstrate with the teachers of religion on the neglect of its high duties in their congregations and in themselves and they are sustained by those principles which can alone ensure success to human efforts, or afford consolation under their failure.
tie which supports slavery, by binding together the churches of the South
with those of the North, will now present the best point of attack upon
it. There were, in 1833, 752 Presbyterian churches, with 51,599 communicants
in the slave States. The Baptists had 3007 churches, with 215,513 communicants;
while the Methodists were still more numerous. There was not one society
of orthodox Congregationalists in that section of the Union. We can readily
believe that the Pilgrims never passed the Potomac; for their doctrines
are not to be found on the other side. There are more abolitionists among
the latter than among other religionists. Their independence of ecclesiastical
jurisdiction and of sectarian connexion, will explain the reason, while
it explains also, why they never gained footing among the planters. They
might have proved troublesome, and they could not have exercised any influence
in the North.