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PROFLIGACY OF MANNERS.
er Canada, who had come here to confer with the American government previous to his going to England.
The longer we remained in Washington, the more we saw and heard of the recklessness and profligacy which characterize the manners both of its resident and fluctuating population. In addition to the fact of all the parties to the late duel going at large, and being unaccountable to any tribunal of law for their conduct in that transaction-of itself a sufficient proof of the laxity of morals and the weak, ness of magisterial power-it was matter of notoriety, that a resident of the city who kept a boarding-house, and who entertained a strong feeling of resentment towards Mr. Wise, one of the members for Virginia, went constantly armed with loaded pistols and a long bowie-knife, watching his opportunity to assassinate him. He had been foiled in the attempt on two or three occasions by finding this gentleman armed also, and generally accompanied by friends; but though the magistrates of the city were warned of this intended assassination, they were either afraid to apprehend the individual, or from some other motive declined or neg. lected to do so; and he accordingly walked abroad armed as usual.
Mr. Wise himself, as well as many others of the members from the South and West, go habitually armed into the House of Representatives and Senate; concealed pistols and dirks being the usual instruments worn by them beneath their clothes. On his recent examination before a committee of the House, he was asked by the chairman of the committee whether he had arms on his person or not; and answering that he always carried them, he was requested to give them up while the committee was sitting, which he did ; but on their rising he was presented with his arms, and he continued constantly to wear them as before.
This practice of carrying arms on the person is no doubt one of the reasons why so many atrocious acts are done under the immediate influence of passion; which, were no arms at hand, would waste itself in words, or blows at the utmost; but now too often results in death. A medical gentleman, resident in the city, told me he was recently called in to see a young girl who had been shot at with a pistol by one of her paramours, the ball grazing her cheek with a deep wound, and disfiguring her for life; and yet nothing whatever was done to the individual, who had only failed by accident in his intention to destroy her life. In this city are many establishments where young girls are collected by procuresses, and one of these was said to be kept by a young man who had persuaded or coerced all his sisters into prostitution, and lived on the wages of their infamy. These houses are frequented in open day, and hackney. coaches may be seen almost constantly before their doors. In fact, the total absence of all restraint upon the actions of men here, either legal or moral, occasions such open and unblushing displays of recklessness and profligacy as would hardly be credited if mentioned in detail. Unhappily, too, the influence of this is more or less felt in the deteriorated characters of almost all persons who come often to Washington, or live a long period there. Gentlemen from the Northern and Eastern States, who, before they left their homes, were accounted moral, and even pious men, undergo such a change at Washington by a removal of all restraint, that they very often come back quite altered characters; and, while they are at Washington, contract habits, the very mention of which is quite revolting to chaste and unpolluted ears.
There can be no doubt that the existence of slavery in this district has much to do with creating such a state of things as this; and as Washington is one of the great slavemarts of the country, where buyers and sellers of their fellow-creatures come to traffic in human flesh, and where men, women, and children are put up to auction and sold to the highest bidder, like so many head of cattle, this brings together such a collection of speculators, slave-dealers, gamblers, and adventurers as to taint the whole social atmosphere with their vices. All this is freely acknowledged in private conversation; but, when people talk of it, they speak in whispers, and look around to see that no one is listening; for it is at the peril of life that such things are ventured to be spoken of publicly at all.
An instance of this occurred not long since in one of the steamboats navigating the Western rivers. A gentleman who had been to the South was describing to another, in confidential conversation, his impressions as to the state of society there, and happened to express his great abhorrence of gamblers, when a fashionably dressed person in the same boat, who had overheard this conversation, came up to the individual who had used these expressions, and said, “Sir, you have been speaking disparagingly of gamblers; I am a gambler by profession, and I insist upon your apologizing, and retracting all you have said." The person thus addressed replied that, as the conversation was confidential, and ad. dressed only to his friend, without being intended for any
TOLERANCE OF SLAVERY BY THE CLERGY
other ear, he could not have meant any personal offence; but as what he had said was perfectly true, he could neither apologize nor retract; whereupon ihe gambler drew the concealed dagger which almost every one in the South carries about his person, and stabbed this individual to the heart. His death was the immediate consequence, and yet no far. ther notice was taken of this affair by the captain or any other of the passengers except to land the murderer at the next town, where he passed unmolested, and ready, no doubt, to repeat a similar atrocity.
Even the clergy maintain a profound silence on the subject of these enormities, and never mention the subject of slavery in the states where it exists except to apologize for it or to uphold it, and to deprecate all the “schemes," as they call them, of the abolitionists for hastening the period of its annihilation. So tolerant are the clergy of the South on this subject, that, as was shown in the resolutions of the Episcopal-Methodist Conference in Georgia, they publicly declare their belief that slavery, as it exists in the United States, is not a moral evil," and if so, of course they are not called upon to remove it. As a specimen, however, of one of the many modes in which it does operate as a moral evil (notwithstanding these Episcopalian-Methodist resolutions to the contrary), this single fact may be stated : A planter of Virginia had among his slaves a coloured female of handsome figure and agreeable person, who acted as a household attendant; having been present at some religious meetings of the Methodists, she became piously disposed, and at length attached herself to their Church as a member; for members are admitted from the coloured population, though they sit apart in the gallery at public worship, and have a separate table when they receive the sacrament in communion! How the Divine Institutor of this solemn and endearing observ. ance would regard such a separation, has not, perhaps, been often thought of. A short time after this female had joined herself to the Church as a communicant, the son of the planter returned home from completing his studies at college, and, as is usual with sons of that age, communicated to his father the necessity of his having a mistress! The handsome Christian slave was accordingly selected for this purpose, and made a present to the son! She was horrorstruck, and at first resisted; but, as there was no law that could protect her, no tribunal that could help her, her entire person being the property of her master, to do with her what. soever he pleased, and to strip and flog her into compliance
if she refused, there was no alternative but concession and patient resignation. She communicated this fact, however, to her religious teacher, the minister of the Church she had joined, expressed the deepest repugnance at the committal of the sin, and asked him what was her duty. He replied that her duty, as a slave, was clearly passive submission, and that resistance or refusal could not be countenanced by him ! And yet the Methodist-Episcopal Conference of Georgia, met in solemn conclave, publicly proclaim their be. lief to the world, in a resolution formally put and unanimously adopted, that “Slavery, as it exists in the United States, is not a moral evil.” Such is the perversion of Christianity by some of its professed ministers in the slaveholding states of America!
Environs of Washington, Scenery and Views.-Georgetown older in Date than Wash.
ington.-Climate of Washington extremely variable. -Captain Smith's and Jefferson's Account of the Climate.--Last Survey of Washington in an Excursion round it.Visit to the Arsenal, and Description of it.--- Visit to the Navy-yard of Washington.Description of its Resources and Works.- Return to the City of the Capitol.-- Bat. tles of the Giants and the Pigmies.-Last Sunday passed at the Service in the Cape itol.-Admirable Sermon of the Rev. Dr. Fisk.-Excursion to Alexandria across the Potomac.-Embryo City of Jackson, near Washington.-Sale of Lands for non-pay. ment of Taxes. Singular names of new-settled Estates.-History and Description of Alexandria.- Museum and Relics of General Washington.-Mount Vernon, the family Seat and Tomb.-Disinterment of General Washington's Corpse. -- Veneration for Washington and Lafayette.- Native Indians seen at Washington.-- Farewell Visits on leaving the City.
The environs of Washington, though not inviting in winter, must be agreeable in the spring and autumn. The broad Potomac, a mile and a half across where it receives the tributary Anacosta, and still widening below their confluence, is a very noble object from every elevated point of view. The long bridge across it, exceeding a mile, though at the higher part of the river, has a very picturesque effect. The hills on the other side of the Potomac, within the District of Columbia, are well wooded, and those in Maryland, on the other side of the Anacosta, are really beautiful. The small town of Alexandria, on the Virginian side of the Potomac, is visible from Washington, the distance being six miles only; and Georgetown, which may be called a suburb of Washington, though a separate city, is but a contin. uation of the latter, there being an almost unbroken line of
houses connecting the two. Georgetown is older than Washington, having its name from the King of England long before the Revolution, and that name being still retained. It is compactly built, and not straggling, like the younger city. Its population is estimated at about 10,000, but it is diminishing in opulence and consideration. It once enjoyed a direct trade with the West Indies, and many ships came to its port, as well as to Alexandria, from various parts. But both these places have suffered by a diversion of their trade into other channels, especially since railroads, opened from the interior of Maryland and Virginia direct to Baltimore, have made that place the great emporium of commerce for this part of the South. At Georgetown is a large Catholic college, under the direction of very learned and skilful Jesuits, as well as a monastery and a nunnery, both well filled; the professors of the Catholic faith abounding in this quarter, from Baltimore having been originally founded by a Catholic nobleman, and the religion having there taken root, and spread extensively all around.
The line of separation between Washington and Georgetown is a stream called Rock Creek, into which a smaller stream called Goose Creek enters. Mr. Thomas Moore, in one of his epistles from Washington, takes a poetic license with this latter stream when he
says, “ And what was Goose Creek once is Tiber now," because, though it answered his purpose to turn the sharp and pointed satire conveyed in this line, it does not happen to be correct. Goose Creek is still Goose Creek, as it ever has been : Tiber is another stream altogether, and is found under that name in the old maps of Maryland before Columbia was made a district, or the City of Washington was laid out. It is very insignificant, it is true (though even the Tiber of Rome, by-the-way, is an insignificant stream when compared with the Potomac of Washington). It rises in the hills of Maryland, just beyond the boundaries of Washington, flows nearly through the centre of the city in a small rill, which runs underneath the Pennsylvania Avenue, and comes out of an arched conduit a little to the west of the Capitol, where it joins a branch of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and empties itself with it into the Eastern River.
The climate of Washington is complained of by all parties. In the winter the cold is as severe as it is at Boston, though the winter is of shorter duration ; and in the summer the heat is as great as it is in the West Indies ; while in the spring and autumn the sudden oscillations from one Vol. 1.-H.