The introduction of martial law has added greatly to the comfort of this community.
So much satisfaction has it given that we expect it soon to become fashionable throughout the State
, and have no doubt but aspiring villages in the interior will speedily petition for the creation of a Provost Marshal
We have long entertained an opinion that civil law, as administered in this country, is the most uncivil of all laws, and that the oracular Mr. Bumb
was right when he pronounced the law ‘"an ass."’ Under the polite dominion of the civil law, as administered in Republics, the officer being elective, takes good heed how he affronts the citizen who elects him, and that his recognized designation of ‘"public servant" ’ be not an empty name, but that it comprehend every degree of servility and bootlicking, and the most barefaced flattery of his master's virtues, and the most shameless connivance at his vices.
Under the late United States
, from Old Abe Lincoln
down to the pettiest policeman, and from the juries in the courts of the Union
down to the least intelligent twelve that ever sat on the fate of a chicken thief, the law was administered with a degree of civility that encouraged such an amount of public and private profligacy, peculation, plunder, street fights, and murders, as the annals of no other country in Christendom, pretending to be civilized, has ever exhibited.
And so craftily have the people been befooled by their public servants, that in the midst of such political and social corruption as might well provoke the Almighty to visit us with his heaviest judgments, we have looked down with contempt upon the poor, oppressed, and benighted subjects of. European
monarchy and despotism, where life and property were a hundred fold more secure than on our own continent, and whose, people, if deprived of a master, would have relapsed into barbarism.
Our own city, before the beginning of the war, was the most quiet, and orderly city of its size in America
, with the exception, perhaps, of Charleston
Its streets were as silent at night as any rural district in the country.--Not a sound was to be heard, save the deep roar of the fiver as it rushed over the falls, and the deeper snoring of the night watch
from porches and cellar doors.
There was no occasion in those days for any watch at all save now and then to participate in the arrest of some predatory African
, who would be escorted atstrurise to the Mayor
by the whole body of the guardians of the night, each looking majestically indignant at the violator of the law, and the interruption of their accustomed slumbers.
After introducing the offender to the whipping post, there was a general dispersion of the city functionaries of high and low degree till the next morning, the city governing itself in general without any difficulty, and keeping up the mayoralty at some expense, as an ornamental weathercock to the municipal spire, which should add variety to its proportions, and enable every one to discover which way the wind blew.
But since those calm and somewhat monotonous days, when we smoked our cigar and talked at street corners, as if smoking and spinning street yarns were the great business of life, a change has come over this once placid and domestic old city, so thorough and wonderful that we sometimes wonder whether it is not all a dream, and have to take several pinches of ourselves before we can fully establish to our own satisfaction the fact of our identity.
We scarcely meet a familiar face in the streets, or in any of the public places of amusement and resort.
The old population has been completely submerged by the tide which has set in since a year ago. The vast influx has not been an trusingled blessing.
The establishment of the Confederate
capital in Richmond
and the stirring times have not only brought among us many persons eminent in talent, virtue, and social position, but that multitude of birds of prey, from the eagle to the buzzard, which always follow the scent of spoils and battle.
The consequence has been not only an amount of ruffianism, drunkenness, and bloodshed, unprecedented in our annals, but emissaries of Lincoln
have had full sweep amongst a crowd where all were strangers to each other, and spies and traitors have held high holiday.
The civil law, with its gracious courtesy, was unceremoniously kicked from the pavement, and its functionaries, including the most soporific of the watchmen, actually opened their eyes with amazement.
But behold the wonders that martial law has accomplished.
Ever since civil law has been placed on the retired list, his martial brother has given us a taste of his quality which makes us almost wish that cities were always governed by martial law. The rascals, dowdies, and ricters, have disappeared as mysteriously as the sora; the dram shope have come to an untimely end; elderly gentlemen can venture out at night with a reasonable expectation of not being brought home in a comatose condition from the effects of bludgeons and bottles; spies and traitors have felt that they can no longer carry on their underground diabolism with safety.
The sober, honest, and loyal portion of the community cheerfully submit to some temporary inconveniences for the sake of a great good, and only regret that martial law was not established a year ago in Richmond