The Diary of Philip Hone, 1828-1851 - Vol. 2

By Phillip Hone; Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

1842
Dickens's Visit; Dorr's Rebellion; Croton Water

Hone spent a sunny and balmy New Year's Day, as usual, "fairly on the go from noon until five o'clock," paying visits. He thought that financially the city and the nation had gone from bad to worse during the twelvemonth just passed. "Real and personal property is diminished greatly in value, and the confidence which promotes success in the dealings of men seems to have fled.Here, in the city of New York, trade is stagnant. Local stocks are lower than ever. Real estate is unsalable at any price; rents have fallen and are not punctually paid, and taxes have increased most ruinously." The Federal Government was, he wrote, upon the verge of bankruptcy, while some of the States were resolving upon the repudiation of their debts. "Elections have gone in favor of this damnable principle, and we shall stand before a jury of nations, a nation of swindlers, not entitled to the ordinary courtesies of the civilized world, and a byword and a reproach ; all of which New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio must suffer for the rascality of Mississippi, Michigan, and I greatly fear, Pennsylvania."

During January the diarist was much interested in the famous trial of Samuel Colt for the murder of Samuel Adams.The previous September a box addressed to New Orleans had been delivered aboard a vessel about to sail from the harbor; its noisome odor had attracted the attention of the mate ; and opening it, he had found dissected portions of a human body, wrapped and salted.The police made an investigation, and suspicion fell upon Colt.The occupant of an office next Colt's testified that he had seen Colt acting in a queer manner, and that peering through the keyhole of the door, he had beheld him wiping a pool of blood from the floor. Judge William Kent presided over the trial, at which Hone was a constant attendant.At the close of the month the jury unexpectedly brought in a verdict of willful murder. Nobody doubted that Colt had

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