The two young offenders.
In the neighborhood of Carlisle, Pennsylvania
, there lived a man whose temper was vindictive and badly governed.
Having become deeply offended with one of his neighbors, he induced his two sons to swear falsely that he had committed an infamous crime.
One of the lads was about fifteen years old, and the other about seventeen.
The alleged offence was of so gross a nature, and was so at variance
with the fair character of the person accused that the witnesses were subjected to a very careful and shrewd examination.
They became embarrassed, and the flaws in their evidence were very obvious.
They were indicted for conspiracy against an innocent man; and being taken by surprise, they were thrown into confusion, acknowledged their guilt, and declined the offer of a trial.
They were sentenced to two years imprisonment at hard labor in the Penitentiary of Philadelphia
Isaac T. Hopper
, who was at that time one of the inspectors, happened to be at the prison when they arrived at dusk, hand-cuffed and chained together, in custody of the sheriff.
Their youth and desolate appearance excited his compassion.
‘Keep up a good heart, my poor lads,’ said he. ‘You can retrieve this one false step, if you will but make the effort.
It is still in your power to become respectable and useful men. I will help you all I can.’
He gave particular directions that they should be placed in a room by themselves, apart from the contagion of more hardened offenders.
To prevent unprofitable conversation, they were constantly employed in the noisy occupation of heading nails.
From time to time, the humane inspector spoke soothing and encouraging words to them, and commended their good behavior.
When the Board of Inspectors met, he proposed that the lads should be
recommended to the governor for pardon.
Not succeeding in this effort, he wrote an article on the impropriety of confining juvenile offenders with old hardened convicts.
He published this in the daily papers, and it produced considerable effect.
When the Board again met, Isaac T. Hopper
and Thomas Dobson
were appointed to wait on the governor, to obtain a pardon for the lads if possible.
After considerable hesitation, the request was granted on condition that worthy men could be found, who would take them as apprentices.
agreed to find such persons; and he kept his word.
One of them was bound to a tanner, the other to a carpenter.
But their excellent friend did not lose sight of them.
He reminded them that they were now going among strangers, and their success and happiness would mainly depend on their own conduct.
He begged of them, if they should ever get entangled with unprofitable company, or become involved in difficulty of any kind, to come to him, as they would to a considerate father.
He invited them to spend all their leisure evenings at his house.
For a long time, it was their constant practice to take tea with him every Sunday, and join the family in reading the Bible
and other serious books.
At the end of a year, they expressed a strong desire to visit their father.
Some fears were entertained lest his influence over them should prove injurious;
and that being once freed from restraint, they would not willingly return to constant industry and regular habits.
They, however, promised faithfully that they would, and Friend Hopper
thought it might have a good effect upon them to know that they were trusted.
He accordingly entered into bonds for them; thinking this additional claim on their gratitude would strengthen his influence over them, and help to confirm their good resolutions.
They returned punctually at the day and hour they had promised, and their exemplary conduct continued to give entire satisfaction to their employers.
A short time after the oldest had fulfilled the term of his indenture, the tanner with whom he worked bought a farm, and sold his stock and tools to his former apprentice.
took him to the governor's house, dressed in his new suit of freedom clothes, and introduced him as one of the lads whom he had pardoned several years before; testifying that he had been a faithful apprentice, and much respected by his master.
The governor was well pleased to see him, shook hands with him very cordially, and told him that he who was resolute enough to turn back from vicious ways, into the paths of virtue and usefulness, deserved even more respect than one who had never been tempted.
He afterward married a worthy young woman with a small property, which enabled him to build a
neat two-story brick house.
He always remained sober and industrious, and they lived in great comfort and respectability.
The younger brother likewise passed through his apprenticeship in a manner very satisfactory to his friends; and at twenty-one years of age, he also was introduced to the governor with testimonials of his good conduct.
He was united to a very respectable young woman, but died a few years after his marriage.
Both these young men always cherished warm gratitude and strong attachment for Isaac T. Hopper
They both regularly attended the meetings of the Society of Friends, which had become pleasantly associated in their minds with the good influences they had received from their benefactor.
was a strict disciplinarian while he was inspector, and it was extremely difficult for the prisoners to deceive him by any artful devices, or hypocritical pretences.
But he was always in the habit of talking with them in friendly style, inquiring into their history and plans, sympathizing with their troubles and temptations, encouraging them to reform, and promising to assist them if they would try to help themselves.
It was his custom to take a ramble in the country with his children every Saturday afternoon. All who were old enough to walk joined the troop.
They always stopped at the prison,
and were well pleased to deliver to the poor inmates, with their own small hands, such little comforts as their father had provided for the purpose.
He was accustomed to say that there was not one among the convicts, however desperate they might be, with whom he should be afraid to trust himself alone at midnight with large sums of money in his pocket.
An acquaintance once cautioned him against a prisoner, whose temper was extremely violent and revengeful, and who had been heard to swear that he would take the life of some of the keepers.
Soon after this warning, Friend Hopper
summoned the desperate fellow, and told him he was wanted to pile a quantity of lumber in the cellar.
He went down with him to hold the light, and they remained more than an hour alone together, out of hearing of everybody.
When he told this to the man who had cautioned him, he replied, ‘Well, I confess you have good courage.
I would n't have done it for the price of the prison and all the ground it stands upon; for I do assure you he is a terrible fellow.’
‘I don't doubt he is,’ rejoined the courageous inspector; ‘but I knew he would n't kill me
. I have always been a friend to him, and he is aware of it. What motive could he have for harming me?’
One of the prisoners, who had been convicted of man-slaughter, became furious, in consequence of
being threatened with a whipping.
When they attempted to bring him out of his dungeon to receive punishment, he seized a knife and a club, rushed back again, and swore he would kill the first person who came near him. Being a very strong man, and in a state of madness, no one dared to approach him. They tried to starve him into submission; but finding he was not to be subdued in that way, they sent for Friend Hopper
, as they were accustomed to do in all such difficult emergencies.
He went boldly into the cell, looked the desperado calmly in the face, and said, ‘It is foolish for thee to contend with the authorities.
Thou wilt be compelled to yield at last.
I will inquire into thy case.
If thou hast been unjustly dealt by, I promise thee it shall be remedied.’
This kind and sensible remonstrance had the desired effect.
From that time forward, he had great influence over the ferocious fellow, who was always willing to be guided by his advice, and finally became one of the most reasonable and orderly inmates of the prison.
I have heard Friend Hopper
say that while he was inspector he aided and encouraged about fifty young convicts, as nearly as he could recollect; and all, except two, conducted in such a manner as to satisfy the respectable citizens whom he had induced to employ them.
He was a shrewd observer of the countenances and manners of men, and doubtless
that was one reason why he was not often disappointed in those he trusted.
The humor which characterized his boyhood, remained with him in maturer years, and often effervesced on the surface of his acquired gravity; as will appear in the following anecdotes.
Upon a certain occasion, a man called on him with a due bill for twenty dollars against an estate he had been employed to settle.
put it away, saying he would examine it and attend to it as soon as he had leisure.
The man called again a short time after, and stated that he had need of six dollars, and was willing to give a receipt for the whole if that sum were advanced.
This proposition excited suspicion, and the administrator decided in his own mind that he would pay nothing till he had examined the papers of the deceased.
Searching carefully among these, he found a receipt for the money, mentioning the identical items, date, and circumstances of the transaction; stating that a due-bill had been given and lost, and was to be restored by the creditor when found.
When the man called again for payment, Isaac said to him, in a quiet way, ‘Friend Jones
, I understand thou hast become pious lately.’
He replied in a solemn tone, ‘Yes, thanks to the Lord Jesus
, I have found out the way of salvation.’
‘And thou hast been dipped I hear,’ continued the Quaker
‘Dost thou know James Hunter
answered in the affirmative.
‘Well, he also was dipped some time ago,’ rejoined Friend Hopper
; ‘but his neighbors say they did n't get the crown of his head under water.
The devil crept into the unbaptized part, and has been busy within him ever since.
I am afraid they did n't get thee
quite under water.
I think thou hadst better be dipped again.’
As he spoke, he held up the receipt for twenty dollars. The countenance of the professedly pious man became scarlet, and he disappeared instantly.
A Dutchman once called upon Friend Hopper
, and said, ‘A tief have stole mine goots.
They tell me you can help me, may be.’
Upon inquiring the when and the where, Friend Hopper
concluded that the articles had been stolen by a man whom he happened to know the police had taken up a few hours previous.
But being disposed to amuse himself, he inquired very seriously, “What time of the moon was it, when thy goods were stolen?”
Having received information concerning that particular, he took a slate and began to cipher diligently.
After a while, he looked up, and pronounced in a very oracular manner, ‘Thou wilt find thy goods.’
‘Shall I find mine goots?’
exclaimed the delighted Dutchman
; ‘and where is de tief?’
‘Art thou quite sure about the age of the moon?’
inquired the pretended magician.
Being assured there was no mistake on that point, he ciphered again for a few minutes, and then answered, ‘Thou wilt find the thief in the hands of the police.’
went away, evidently inspired with profound reverence.
Having found his goods and the thief, according to prediction, he returned and asked for a private interview.
‘Tell me dat secret,’ said he, ‘and I will pay you a heap of money.’
inquired Friend Hopper
‘Tell me how you know I will find mine goots, and where I will find de tief?’
‘The plain truth is, I guessed it,’ was the reply; ‘because I had heard there was a thief at the police office, with such goods as thou described.’
‘But what for you ask about de moon?’
inquired the Dutchman.
‘You make figures, and den you say, you will find your goots.
You make figures again, den you tell me where is de tief.
I go, and find mine goots and de tief, just as you say. Tell me how you do dat, and I will pay you a heap of money.’
Though repeatedly assured that it was done only for a joke, he went away unsatisfied: and to the day of his death, he fully believed that the facetious Quaker
was a conjuror.
When Friend Hopper
hired one of two houses
where the back yards were not separated, he found himself considerably incommoded by the disorderly habits of his next neighbor.
The dust and dirt daily swept into the yard were allowed to accumulate there in a heap, which the wind often scattered over the neater premises adjoining.
The mistress of the house was said to be of an irritable temper, likely to take offence if asked to adopt a different system.
He accordingly resolved upon a course, which he thought might cure the evil without provoking a dispute.
One day, when he saw his neighbor in her kitchen, he called his own domestic to come out into the yard.
Pointing to the heap of dirt, he exclaimed, loud enough to be heard in the next house, ‘Betsy, art thou not ashamed to sweep dust and litter into such a heap.
See how it is blowing about our neighbor's yard!
Art thou not ashamed of thyself?’
‘I didn't sweep any dirt there,’ replied the girl.
‘They did it themselves.’
‘Pshaw! Pshaw! don't tell me that,’ rejoined he. ‘Our neighbor wouldn't do such an untidy thing.
I wonder she hasn't complained of thee before now. Be more careful in future; for I should be very sorry to give her any occasion to say she couldn't keep the yard clean on our account.’
The domestic read his meaning in the roguish expression of his eye, and she remained silent.
lesson took effect.
The heap of dirt was soon removed, and never appeared afterward.
Such a character as Isaac T. Hopper
was of course well known throughout the city where he lived.
Every school-boy had heard something of his doings, and as he walked the street, everybody recognized him, from the chief justice
to the chimney-sweep.
His personal appearance was calculated to attract attention, independent of other circumstances.
, who then resided at Bordentown
, was attracted toward him the first moment he saw him, on account of a strong resemblance to his brother Napoleon.
They often met in the steamboat going down the Delaware
, and on such occasions, the ex-king frequently pointed him out as the most remarkable likeness of the emperor, that he had ever met in Europe
He expressed the opinion that with Napoleon
's uniform on, he might be mistaken for him, even by his own household; and if he were to appear thus in Paris
, nothing could be easier than for him to excite a revolution.
But the imperial throne, even if it had been directly offered to him, would have proved no temptation to a soul like his. In some respects, his character, as well as his person, strongly resembled Napoleon
But his powerful will was remarkably under the control of conscience, and his energy was tempered
by an unusual share of benevolence.
If the other elements of his character had not been balanced by these two qualities, he also might have been a skilful diplomatist, and a successful leader of armies.
Fortunately for himself and others, he had a nobler ambition than that of making widows and orphans by wholesale slaughter.
The preceding anecdotes show how warmly he sympathized with the poor, the oppressed, and the erring, without limitation of country, creed, or complexion; and how diligently he labored in their behalf.
But from the great amount of public service that he rendered, it must not be inferred that he neglected private duties.
Perhaps no man was ever more devotedly attached to wife and children than he was. His Sarah, as he was wont to call her, was endowed with qualities well calculated to retain a strong hold on the affections of a sensible and conscientious man. Her kindly disposition, and the regular, simple habits of her life, were favorable to the preservation of that beauty, which had won his boyish admiration.
Her wavy brown hair was softly shaded by the delicate transparent muslin of her