Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker: Minister of the Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society, Boston - Vol. 1

By John Weiss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII.

To Europe--France, Italy, Germany--Extracts from Journal.

WHILE Mr. Parker was waiting in New York for the ship to sail in which he had taken passage, he made a visit to the city prison called the "Tombs."

The taste which would expend all that architecture on a building so loathsome as a jail is most wretched. Shame that the disgrace of society should be thus arrayed in costly dress, and made to flaunt before the public eye. In New England we hide our jails; for we are ashamed of them, and very justly. You shall go through our shiretowns again and again and never see the jail. I went into the courthouse to see justice administered. A negro was on trial in the Court of Sessions for abusing his wife. It seemed to me the place was well called "Egyptian," for the darkness that covered over justice in that place; and "Tombs," for it appeared the sepulchre of equity. This poor negro at trial for a crime showed me in miniature the whole of our social institutions. 1. He was the victim of Christian cupidity, and had been a slave. 2. From this he had probably escaped, by what was counted a crime by his master. 3. He was cast loose in a society where his colour debarred him the rights of a man, and forced him to count himself a beast, with nothing to excite relf-respect either in his condition, his history, or his prospects. Poor, wretched man, what is life to him! He is more degraded than the savage, has lost much in leaving Sahara, and gained infamy, cold, hunger, and the white man's mercy--a prison of marble. Oh, what wrongs does man heap on man!

Here was a man who had got drunk, and was clapped into the Tombs." His wife and two children were left with no protector. He had waited five days for his trial. This was a hard case, truly. I might have got drunk at the Astor House and have gone to bed every day; the police would take no notice of that. This poor fellow must smart.

He sailed on the 9th in the Ashburton. After five or six days of sea-sickness he attacks books again, and makes observations of a practical nature.

-200-

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Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker: Minister of the Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society, Boston - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Title Page iii
  • Preface. v
  • Contents of Vol. I xi
  • Illustrations to Vol. I. xiii
  • Chapter I 1
  • Chapter II 17
  • Chapter III 27
  • Chapter IV 49
  • Chapter V 89
  • Chapter VI 130
  • Chapter VII 160
  • Chapter VIII 200
  • Chapter IX 221
  • Chapter X 248
  • Chapter XI 282
  • Chapter XII 314
  • Chapter XIII 351
  • Chapter XIV 407
  • Chapter XV 437
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