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Patrick Mc Keever.

Patrick was a poor Irishman in Philadelphia. He and another man were arrested on a charge of burglary, [226] convicted and sentenced to be hung. I am ignorant of the details of his crime, or why the sentence was not carried into execution. There were probably some palliating circumstances in his case; for though he was carried to the gallows, seated on his coffin, he was spared for some reason, and his companion was hung. He was afterward sentenced to ten years imprisonment, and this was eventually shortened one year. During the last three years of his term, Friend Hopper was one of the inspectors, and frequently talked with him in a gentle, fatherly manner. The convict was a man of few words, and hope seemed almost dead within him; but though he made no large promises, his heart was evidently touched by the voice of kindness. As soon as he was released, he went immediately to work at his trade of tanning leather, and conducted himself in the most exemplary manner. Being remarkable for capability, and the amount of work he could accomplish, he soon had plenty of employment. He passed Friend Hopper's house every day, as he went to his work, and often received from him words of friendly encouragement.

Things were going on thus satisfactorily, when his friend heard that constables were in pursuit of him, on account of a robbery committed the night before. He went straight to the mayor, and inquired [227] why orders had been given to arrest Patrick Mc-Keever.

‘Because there has been a robbery committed in his neighborhood,’ replied the magistrate.

He inquired what proof there was that Patrick had been concerned in it.

‘None at all,’ rejoined the mayor. ‘But he is an old convict, and that is enough to condemn him.’

‘It is not enough, by any means,’ answered Friend Hopper. ‘Thou hast no right to arrest any citizen without a shadow of proof against him. In this case, I advise thee by all means to proceed with humane caution. This man has severely atoned for the crime he did commit; and since he wishes to reform, his past history ought never to be mentioned against him. He has been perfectly honest, sober, and industrious, since he came out of prison. I think I know his state of mind; and I am willing to take the responsibility of saying that he is guiltless in this matter.’

The mayor commended Friend Hopper's benevolence, but remained unconvinced. To all arguments he replied, ‘He is an old convict, and that is enough.’

Patrick's kind friend watched for him as he passed to his daily labors, and told him that he would probably be arrested for the robbery that had been committed in his neighborhood. The poor fellow bowed [228] down his head, the light vanished from his countenance, and hope seemed to have forsaken him utterly. ‘Well,’ said he, with a deep sigh, ‘I suppose I must make up my mind to spend the remainder of my days in prison.’.

‘Thou wert not concerned in this robbery, wert thou?’ inquired Friend Hopper, looking earnestly in his face.

‘No, indeed I was not,’ he replied. ‘God be my witness, I want to lead an honest life, and be at peace with all men. But what good will that do me? Everybody will say, he has been in the State Prison, and that is enough.’

His friend did not ask him twice; for he felt assured that he had spoken truly. He advised him to go directly to the mayor, deliver himself up, and declare his innocence. This wholesome advice was received with deep dejection. He had lost faith in his fellow-men; for they had been to him as enemies. ‘I know what will come of it,’ said he. ‘They will put me in prison whether there is any proof against me, or not. They won't let me out without somebody will be security for me; and who will be security for an old convict?’

‘Keep up a good heart,’ replied Friend Hopper. ‘Go to the mayor and speak as I have advised thee. If they talk of putting thee in prison, send for me.’

Patrick acted in obedience to this advice, and was [229] treated just as he had expected. Though there was not a shadow of proof against him, his being an old convict was deemed sufficient reason for sending him to jail.

Friend Hopper appeared in his behalf. ‘I am ready to affirm that I believe this man to be innocent,’ said he. ‘It will be a very serious injury for him to be taken from his business and detained in prison until this can be proved. Moreover, the effect upon his mind may be completely discouraging. I will be security for his appearance when called for; and I know very well that he will not think of giving me the slip.’

The gratitude of the poor fellow was overwhelming. He sobbed till his strong frame shook like a leaf in the wind. The real culprits were soon after discovered. For thirty years after and to the day of his death, Patrick continued to lead a virtuous and useful life; for which he always thanked Friend Hopper, as the instrument of Divine Providence.

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