I often heard my good old friend describe these scenes in the Prison Chapel
, with much emotion.
He used to say, the feeling of confidence and safety which prevailed, was sometimes presented to his mind in forcible contrast with the state of things in Philadelphia
, in 1787, as related by his worthy friend, Dr. William Rogers
, who was on the committee of the first Society formed in this country ‘for relieving the miseries of public prisons.’
That kind-hearted and conscientious clergyman proposed to address some religious exhortation to the prisoners, on Sunday.
But the keeper was so unfriendly to the exertion of such influence, that he assured him his life would be in peril, and the prisoners would doubtless escape, to rob and murder the citizens.
When an order was granted by the sheriff for the performance of religious services, he obeyed it very reluctantly; and he actually had a loaded cannon mounted near the clergyman, and a man standing ready with a lighted match all the time he was preaching.
His audience were arranged in a solid column, directly in front of the cannon's mouth.
This is supposed to have been the first sermon addressed to the assembled inmates of a State Prison in this country.
Notwithstanding Friend Hopper
's extreme benevolence, he was rarely imposed upon.
He made it a rule to give very little money to discharged convicts.