A Journey to Philadelphia: or, Memoirs of Charles Coleman Saunders.
An Original Tale—By Adelio.
A Journey to Philadelphia, or, Memoirs of Charles Coleman Saunders was first serialized in The Philadelphia Repository and Weekly Register in
The Philadelphia Repository and Weekly Register was a Philadelphia-based weekly magazine which was published from 1800-1805. According to its terms, a subscription cost four dollars per year, and half that for subscribers in the country outside Philadelphia (“Terms of the Repository 72”). Women’s interests were frequent topics in the magazine. According to Lucia McMahon’s study of female roles in American society, venues like The Philadelphia Repository expanded the network of communication in order to propagate and advocate for women’s education. “The early republic’s government, institutions, and society depended on the presence of properly educated women—and thus, the public had an obligation to support women’s education” (488). The Philadelphia Repository was a miscellany, committed to publishing a variety of topics, so it is unsurprising the editors would publish pieces which contributed to the national conversation of women’s roles in the nascent republic.
Adelio’s contributions are not excluded from the conversations on women. In one April 7^th^, 1804 Adelio letter, a case is made against men who bemoan their wives. He warns readers against choosing a marriage partner for beauty and fortune only.
Let those who write against marriage, pause, and reflect–let them enquire with care, listen candidly, and decide impartially, and I am much mistaken, if they do not find themselves erring in a most egregious manner; they will find, that where there are unhappy couples, it has as frequently been owing to an improper choice; in many instances the female has been selected for beauty of fortune only, without any regard to disposition, virtue, or solid accomplishments. (“For the Philadelphia Repository 71”)
In other words, Adelio echoes other writers of the Early National period by advocating for a filial marriage pairing instead of marriage for financial gain. The April 7^th^ letter sparks a response from L’ami, another contributor, who disagrees with Adelio’s forgiving stance toward women in unhappy marriages. L’ami instead blames incessant female chatter, financial excess, and domineering female spirits to marital strife (“To Adelio”). Adelio responds by reproaching the writer, and suggesting he read more closely in order to fully understand his points (“To L’ami”).
In another entry, Adelio claims a motto, initially in German, then translated to English. “When you write, write so your reader may understand” (“For the Philadelphia Repository” 71). Following the German heading, Adelio’s article is a denouncement of foreign language mottos or headings, and he describes them, in essence, as pretentious displays of education.
Varied articles like Adelio’s are common to The Philadelphia Repository and Weekly Register. As a miscellany, the magazine ran various entries, including essays, fiction, birth and death announcements, poetry, biographical sketches, theatre information, and music. It was also known to re-print and re-run previous material or material from other periodicals. Edited first by David Hogan, successive editors were John W. Scott and Thomas Irwin. In 1802, the magazine was suspended from July to October due to the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia.
A Journey to Philadelphia’s protagonist, Charles Coleman Saunders, an idealistic youth from the countryside north of Philadelphia. Saunders, while in search for his trade, is arrested for a murder he witnessed, but did not commit. The true culprit is his double in almost every way, a Freudian unheimlich. The double, whose name is Carson, attempts a crime due to an unhappy marriage. The stranger’s doubling represents Saunders’ options to choose an unhappy marriage and suffer the consequences, or to choose well and be happy. Emila represents a good marriage pairing, while the marriage of Saunders’ double represents what can happen if prudence and wisdom is not exercised in romantic pursuits.
In another subplot, Charles Saunders, like protagonists in Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland (1798), faces trials at the hands of a malicious villain, one who threatens his existence and happiness. Like Brown’s Carwin, Carnell has insights to Saunders’ life, his home, and his closest friends. Saunders cannot rid himself of the villain, but unlike Brown’s novel, Saunders’ wrongful conviction shields him from Carnell, while Brown’s Wieland family (of German descent) falls to madness and violence. The Journey to Philadelphia’s parallels to other popular texts at the time suggests the influence of those works on the writer, and provides ample evidence for the short novel as a gothic tale.
Shortly after its appearance in The Philadelphia Repository and Weekly Register, A Journey to Philadelphia was collected and published as a book by publishers Lincoln and Gleason in 1804. Included in the book was An Interesting Narrative, another short, anonymously printed tale. That A Journey to Philadelphia was collected and sold as a text so soon after its initial publication suggests its popularity.
Adelio. *A Journey to Philadelphia. Philadelphia Repository and *
Weekly Register, 1804.
Brown, Charles. Wieland. Ægypan Press, 2006.
“For the Philadelphia Repository.” *Philadelphia Repository and *
Weekly Register, 7 April 1804, pp. 71.
McMahon, Linda. “’Of the Utmost Importance to Our Country’:
Women, Education, and Society,1780–1820.” *Journal of the *
Early Republic, vol. 29, no. 3, 2009, pp. 475-506.
“Noble.” Pocket Oxford German Dictionary: English German. 4^th^
“Publication Information: *Philadelphia Repository and Weekly *
*Register.” American Periodicals. *
“Terms for the Repository.” *Philadelphia Repository and Weekly *
Register, 2 March 1805, pp. 72.
“To Adelio.” Philadelphia Repository and Weekly Register, 14
April, 1804, pp. 118.
“To L’ami” Philadelphia Repository and Weekly Register, 21 April,
Waterman, Bryan. “Introduction: Reading Early America with
Charles Brockden Brown.” Early American Literature, vol.
44, no. 2, 2009, pp. 235-242.
AN ORIGINAL TALE– BY ADELIO.
JOURNEY TO PHILADELPHIA:
CHARLES COLEMAN SAUNDERS.
[1. 14 April 1804]
SOME time in the year–, I fre- quently visit the prison at Philadelphia, for no other purpose than to satisfy curi- osity, in one of which visits, I noticed a man sitting in a retired part: Something in his appearance made me wish for a nearer view, to accomplish my purpose, I resolved to address him and offer such little services, as I knew were agreeable to persons in his situation; his counten- ance was remarkably interesting, it bore the traces of sorrow resisted by a manly fortitude; his dress was plain in a much greater degree, than was common for persons at his age (he appeared about twenty;) his manners were mild and pre- possessing, and his conversation plainly evinced that he possessed no common share of intelligence; I afterwards fre- quently visited him in his prison and did him any little services my power: – I would describe his character; but this will be better done, representing the fol- lowing memoirs of him, written by him- self.
TO you my friend who have not suffered appearances to make you impen- etrable to the voice of truth; and whose humanity has alleviated the miseries of my situation; I will relate the adven- tures of my life; you will find them singu- lar and unfortunate, and it will require an exertion of all your candor to enable you to give credit to the relation; – but I have now no motive, even if I had the inclination, to deceive you; I shall short- ly suffer the punishment due to the crime of which I have been convicted, if you think he who is standing on the verge of eternity, and deeply impressed with a proper sense of his situation, will not de- ceive you, you will give my story a pa- tient and accredited hearing.
The first part of my life was passed on the banks of the Susquehanna in Penn- Sylvania; my father had retired to this place to pass his days in the quiet of an agricultural life: He was one, who, like myself, had early struggled in the thorny paths of adversity and misfortune; he had once filled a station better suited to his talents and industry, and it was chief- ly from this excellent being I received the little knowledge I have acquired; but on this is unnecessary to dwell:– Pro- fiting by his instructions, and aided by a disposition to enquire into the causes of all I saw in the works of nature and art, and generally to add to my fund of knowledge, I early contracted an aver- sion to the dull uniform, and as I then thought, uninstructive round of pursuits which mark the progress of an agricultu- ral life; I sought to distinguish myself by becoming eminently useful to man- kind; I had read of men who, with no unusual talents, but by a proper exertion of them, had become celebrated for some singular services they had performed; and why, thought I, could not I, like them become distinguished; the path of fame was open to all who have the cour- age to tread it; could I not, by application and a strenuous exertion of my powers give my ideas a greater expansion? If I reflected on what I saw, what I did, and what was done by others, would it not at last lead me to the accomplishment of my wishes? There were various methods by which I might acquire celebrity and honor; in the field, in the cabinet, in the study of the arts and sciences; for the first I had neither inclination nor taste, my disposition was peaceable, I possessed none of that terrible kind of courage, better called ferocity, which would ena- ble me to distinguish myself as a soldier, and had I possessed it, I did not enter- tain the idea that honest fame could be acquired by becoming the greatest of the destroyers of the human race, and an in- creaser of their already too numerous calamities.
Politics pleased me as little, I thought it would be impossible to preserve my integrity, amidst the dangers and tempta- tions which usually surround an impor- tant political station, I saw that even the preservation of this invaluable possession would not perhaps eventually accomplish my purpose; the best of politicians had not all been famous for their virtue; even those who had preserved it untaint- ed, while they had been extolled by one party of men, had been vilified by ano- ther; to become celebrated in the pro- motion of the arts and sciences, was the only path left open to my footsteps, my success in this pursuit would displease no one, and the applause I might merit would be willingly awarded by all. Many of my leisure hours had been oc- cupied by reflections of this nature, and time only served to add strength to my resolution; I had already become ac- quainted with some of the principles of experimental philosophy, my father’s books had supplied me with much use- ful knowledge in mechanics, hydraulics, &c. many an unoccupied hour had been passed in applying my theoretical know- ledge to practice; I had constructed clocks of wood, I had made mills, pumps, &c. it is true, they were rude and un- finished, but they were my first essays and much could not be expected, where the only tools used were a saw, hatchet, and knife; yet my success served to add vigor to my ruling passion; I flattered myself that my little machines were con- structed on an improved plan, and if I could make improvements here, under so many disadvantages, what should I not be able to perform in the city, where these attempts might be made on a more extensive scale, and would receive the reward due to their merit.
To go to the city became my most earnest wish; but my father was very averse to the scheme, his experience had taught him to believe a greater share of felicity was attainable in his situation, than in the accomplishment of the object of my pursuit; I knew he entertained this opinion and therefore resolved not to consult him, but to act in obedience to the dictates of my inclination, without his knowledge; it would do him no in- jury, my brother was a sufficient assist- ant in the ordinary labors of the planta- tion, and his circumstances enabled him to hire in the case of inability. – My resolu- tion was taken, and I had but to put it in execution; a journey of a few days would bear me to the city: I was well acquainted with the roads, accustomed to pedestrian feats, and dreaded no danger, from a nightly elopement. A circum- stance which happened some time before, was an additional motive; it had been my delight to take a nightly ramble to a rock which commanded a fine view of the river and surrounding country, here I used to sit, or walk, and contemplate the beauties of nature, when the mild ra- diance of the moon displayed all the ro- mantic beauties of the surrounding scene, in its richest, though softest tints; nor was this my only employment, I had a smattering of astronomy, I could name most of the constellations, and loved to gaze over, and reflect on the innumera- ble glories of the heavens; returning from an excursion of this kind, I was alarmed by a cry of distress, I started– the natural timidity of my disposition gave way to the idea, that I might per- haps, be serviceable to some person in distress, the voice was that of a female, but from whence could it proceed? I knew no female would willingly be abroad at this solitary hour, in a country but thinly settled; the idea of robbers occurred, – the shriek was heard again, it was near me; and I quickly saw a man attempting to bear a struggling fe- male from the public road; I rushed up- on him, – a desperate struggle ensued, in which I proved victorious; mean- while, the lady had fled, but the momen- tary view I had of her features awaken- ed sensations of a new and unaccountable kind; the first wish they produced was, a desire to behold again, the object which had excited them; the man who had yielded to my superior strength had fled, I had no right to detain him, I had ac- complished my object; but now a new one occupied my attention: I hasted to search after the female, I searched the road, the wood, but in vain, she was no where to be found; and I returned home weary, dissatisfied and perplexed. All my enquiries with regard to the lady, were fruitless, – my affairs pro- ceded in their wonted course for some time; my nocturnal rambles were con- tinued, and my speculations with regard to the future were still indulged; one night I was returning home from my favorite spot, I noticed a man crossing the path which led to my father’s dwell- ing; surprised at an appearance so un- common, I was endeavoring to guess what could induce anyone, besides my- self, to wander through the woods at this late hour; from these reflections, I was roused by a pistol shot, which deprived me for a time, of sentation1; I know not how long I remained in this state, and when I recovered, found I had sustained but little injury; how I happened to es- cape so well, I know not, whether it had been fired from a great distance, had spent its force by striking against a tree, or been deadened by the resistance of my hat and a large handkerchief, which I had bound round my head to relieve a violent head-ache, I am unable to deter- mine; but I was happy I had received so small an injury.
A new train of reflections and surmis- es were new exited; I asked myself who could be the person that fired; it was evident it was an enemy; every con- current circumstance, the hour, the place, seemed to impress this belief; but who would it be? I had injured no being on earth, I was almost a stranger (owing to my romantic notions) even to my nearest neighbors; I was totally unable to form any rational conjecture; I soon recover- ed the slight injury I had sustained; the circumstance no longer caused any anxi- ety, and I again ventured to revisit my favorite retreat;–returning home one night, as I passed through my brother’s chamber to gain my own, I saw by the light of the moon, the figure of a man standing near the bed of my brother, armed with a dagger; I stood almost pe- trified with fear and astonishment; I had imbibed from our rustic neighbors, some superstitious ideas, it was near, “the noon of night,” that solemn hour, when the dead forsake their graves, and wander forth to revisit scenes once dear to them; I believed I saw a spectre; I made no alarm, my tongue clave to the roof of my mouth, horror almost froze the blood in my veins, and my limbs scarcely supported my tottering frame! The figure moved towards me, – I made a desperate effort, reached my chamber and locked the door; the silence of death reigned in the house, – not a sound reach- ed my ear; I gave myself up to reflec- tion: could, I asked, this figure be an in- habitant of the grave? Was it probable that the dead could leave the earth, and rise to sport with the terrors of mankind? Would they come armed with the wea- pons of death? My reason would not suffer me to cherish the thought, my cou- rage returned, I left the room and search- ed the house in silence, for now I believ- ed it must be a robber I had seen; but I found no one, every thing was save, and returning to my bed, I puzzled myself with fain conjectures, till sleep wrapped my senses in forgetfulness.
In the morning, I enquired if any noise had been heard in the night? And No, was the answer; no one had heard any thing, their slumbers had been sound and uninterrupted; I evaded answering with truth to the consequent enquiries, by say- ing I had dreamed a frightful dream. The next night I again saw the same figure, but I was now convinced it was no spectre, but a man; at the sight of me he fled, and passed through the door which I had by accident left unfastened; a new cause of wonder here presented it- self: who could this man be? and what was his object? were questions which naturally occurred; my father frequently left his bed and traversed the house in his sleep; but it was certain this was not him. By what means could he have entered the house? I had fastened the door and had the key in my pock- et; he was armed; this gave birth to a new idea; it was evident his intentions were dreadful; my adventure on a pre- ceding night was remembered; my life had been aimed at, and it was probable it was again attempted; my thoughts however, fixed themselves on no deter- minate object, until I recalled the remem- brance of the female whose rescue I had effected; that man whom I had defeat- ed, he then, I concluded, must be the one who had fired the pistol, and whom I twice met armed in my brother’s cham- ber, – he wished to revenge himself on the author of his defeat, he had attempted to destroy my brother through mistake, and my appearance had alone saved his life. There now appeared to be an ab- solute necessity of taking some measures to counteract his schemes; and in form- ing plans of this nature I busied myself, till a new thought displaced my former ones. It now appeared plain to me, that this man had discovered his error, or why did he not (believing I slept in the bed of my brother) pierce his bosom with the dagger; there was nothing to pre- vent him, my brother was sleeping, he might have killed him, retired in silence, and the dark mantle of oblivion, would have hidden the secret from the know- ledge of man. It was now evident my life was attempted; he had found means to descend the chimney, and enter my brother’s chamber, as by this means only, he could enter mine.
(to be continued)
[ 2. 21 April 1804]
There is no fear which acts so powerfully on the mind of man, as that which bids him guard against no deter- minate object or attempt; my death was certainly intended. To meet it face to face in any form (though constitutionally timid) I thought possible; but to be for- ever in danger, to be taken off by a bullet while I believed myself safe, to drink the draught of death, when I thought myself restoring vigor to my exhausted frame, or to perish when lying defenceless and reposing in the arms of sleep – these were dangers to encounter for which all my courage was unequal, and which could only be avoided by removing from my present abode; once gone, my enemy’s scheme of revenge would be relinquish- ed; if I remained, I should one time or other, become its victim. My journey to the city was again resolved upon and executed. At midnight I left my father’s house, but without any intention to re- turn: I took nothing with me except a small sum of money: I imparted my in- tention to no one: I may be blamed for leaving my friends thus abruptly, in anx- iety and suspense respecting my fate; but I thought it wrong to alarm them, as they could not possibly remove the cause of my danger; they would have persuad- ed me to remain, or by their means my future residence would be discovered, CARNELL (the being whom I believed to be my secret enemy) would pursue me, and I should be subject to incessant alarms; perhaps you may think my con- clusions unwarranted; if so, remember they were the conclusions of one, who was unable, from the singularity of the case, to receive advantages from the judg- ement of others.
I did not, however, leave my father’s house without emotion, I could not de- ny myself the secret satisfaction of vis- iting every spot, which recollection made dear to my heart, the nocturnal seat was not forgotten; once more I repair- ed thither and seated myself in the usual place; – the night was calm and clear, not a cloud obscured the splendors of the etherial vault of heaven, the moon was full and her beams seemed to repose on the tranquil bosom of the water; every sound was hushed, save when the zephyr sighed through the foliage of the venera- ble oaks. – It brought to my recollection the celebrated night-piece of Homer, – thus translated by Pope:–
As when the moon, refulgent lamp of night, O’er heav’n’s clear azure casts her sacred light, When not a breeze disturbs the blue serene, And not a cloud o’ercasts the solemn scene; Around her throne the vivid planets roll, And stars unnumber’d gild the glowing pole; O’er the dark trees a yellower lustre shed, And tip with silver ev’ry mountain’s head.– Then shine the vales, the rocks in prospect rise; A flood of glory bursts from all the skies; The conscious swains exulting in the sight, Eye the blue vault, and bless the useful light.
To me who was about to leave it, per- haps forever, this scene appeared unusu- ally interesting; I knew not how long I sat occupied with various reflections, when I was roused by the sound of ap- proaching footsteps; I started, and look- ed around, I saw a young woman at no great distance from me, in her hand she held an open letter; her movements were wild, irregular, she would look on the letter, and then on heaven; I watched her with attention and solicitude; the adventure was of a singular nature; this was a place not frequented by any human being except myself, at least I had not seen any one here at this hour. Could she be seeking any one here! This seemed improbable, and her attention seemed wholly absorbed by the letter. – Suddenly she exclaimed, I can bear this torture no longer, rushed towards the river; I started from my seat, and flew to prevent her; I seized her but she eluded my grasp, shrieked, and leaped into the water! In a moment all was again silent; to descend to the river at this spot, could not be accomplished without immanent risk; I looked down on the stream, but the overhanging rocks cast a deep shade over it, and I saw her no more: Some distressing occurrence had probably overpowered her reason, and in a moment of despair and insani- ty she had put an end to her existence; she had chosen the hour of midnight for this purpose, when she thought the deed would be concealed from every human eye; I however, had been a melancholy witness to the shocking catastrophe. Her friends would wonder whither she had fled – I only could tell; her corse would be borne down the stream, it would perhaps be found when corruption had made the features indistinguisha- ble; conjectures would be formed as to who it had been, and how it came there; and I alone, could answer all these ques- tions; but should I endeavor to discover who it was, should I inform her friends, what had been her fate; I should be seized as the perpetrator of the deed: I might indeed discover the truth, but they would not believe it; I should suf- fer by my sincerity, I should at least be blamed for not preventing it; this I might have done, but how was I to ima- gine her intention? Self-destruction was a deed of which I thought mankind in- capable, and when convinced of the con- trary, it was too late – the deed was done; the past could not be recalled. I resolved to leave every thing to its course; no one had witnessed her end but myself, and I would, for many re- asons, be induced to conceal it, her friends would be benefited by this pro- cedure, they would suppose her death, (if the intelligence of it reached them) ac- cidental, and be spared the dreadful cer- tainty of its being intentionally effected. I pursued my journey, and reached the city in safety; here new difficulties pre- sented themselves; my object had been to offer myself as an apprentice to a watchmaker; but who would take me? I was acquainted with no human being, though surrounded by so many thou- sands, I was unknown and unrecommend- ded; in the mean time I might be ap- prehended as a thief, or confined as a vagrant or runaway; this might be pre- vented by a disclosure of the truth, but its concealment was necessary to my pur- pose; in addition to this, food was abso- lutely necessary; my stock of money was almost exhausted.
Those who have lived remote from cities, have not a just conception of the real necessity of money; provisions for a day, lodgings for a night, might be had in many parts of the country gratis, and would be received as the offering of hos- pitality, a virtue more practised in the country, than in town: The little cash I had yet remaining would not, here, pur- chase more food than was necessary for a single meal; the haughty indepen- dence of my spirit would not permit me to ask a favor, and my soul revolted at the thought of stealing; I shuddered when I reflected on the condition to which my imprudence had reduced me; a secret voice whispered, “you have done wrong;” but to return was too late, and the evils I had fled from would again be encountered; my situation was sim- ilar to that of a man in the midst of a rapid stream; it was at least as easy to proceed as to return, my course was pointed out, and I could do nothing more than rush on boldly to the endur- ance of whatever ills I was doomed to suffer.
I knocked at the door of a watchmaker in market-street, and was soon ushered into the room, where sat the master and his family, in a manner which plainly evinced my embarrassment; I told him my business; his dark, unprepossessing features were contracted, and his pene- trating eyes seemed to pierce my very soul: He asked my name, place of abode, &c. I told him no falsehoods, neither did I tell him the whole truth; I did not tell him my father’s dislike to my pursuit; after much conversation of an uninteresting nature, he said, “your sto- ry does not seem improbable, your ap- pearance seems to evince the truth of some parts of it, but if I take you as an apprentice, what security can you give me, for your good conduct, and indus- try.” All I have to give, I replied, is the word of a man of honor, who values his word too highly, to promise what he does not intend to perform. The term, I believe sounded strangely in his ears, it was indeed ludicrously contrasted with my homely dress, and awkward ap- pearance, and I believe he was about to refuse me, when the entrance of a young lady put an end to this interval of sus- pense, and created another; she cast an enquiring look upon me; I felt still more distressed, and held down my head, confused and confounded, when a sud- den exclamation from her, of “Can it be possible?” effectually roused me, “can what be possible?” said every one in the same instant; she answered not, but hast- ening to me, she seized my hand; I was now convinced my conjectures were right; when she spoke, I thought the voice familiar to my ear, at least that I had somewhere heard it before; a sight of her features told me where, my hand trembled in hers, and I flattered myself she was not without emotion: You have, no doubt, already guessed who this lady was, you will remember my adventure in the wood when I saved her from the violence of CARNELL: An explanation ensued, and I received the thanks of her family; my first request was granted, and I became an apprentice.
(to be continued)
[ 3. 28 April 1804]
TIME rolled rapidly along; my exertions pleased Mr. BRANART; my knowledge increased; my reading, and conversation with man, enlarged my mind, whilst it corrected many of my er- rors; my hopes of distinction were raised, I thought I saw the path of fame open as I travelled: Mean time my leisure hours were passed in the society of the amiable EMILIA BRANART, the first impressions which I had felt at the sight of her, were strengthened and confirmed; nor did I think her opinion of me unfavorable, and I believed I should have no cause to re- pent my journey.
But this pleasing calm, this feast on lively hopes of future prosperity, distinc- tion and happiness, was doomed to be in- terrupted, by an alarming circumstance: I had been sent to repair a clock at the house of a gentleman in race-street; re- turning home, just as I stepped on the pavement, I saw a stage coach arrive at a neighboring house; wishing to see if any of the passengers were known to me, I stopped and to my astonishment, saw CARNELL descend from it; a cold shud- dering seized me; the sight of this be- ing filled me with sensations of a dread- ful nature; they were connected with a sense of the dangers to which I thought myself again exposed; this man I was convinced, had sought to destroy me, and now again haunted me for the same dreadful purpose. Yet, how could he have discovered my residence? I had imparted no hints of the place of my de- stination on quitting my native spot, to any human being; yet he was here; causes with which I was wholly uncon- nected, might have induced him to visit Philadelphia; pleasure, business for aught I knew, this city might be his home, yet I still labored under the conviction that I, and I alone, was the object of his journey, to gratify his revenge, to em- brue his hands in the blood of an innocent man. And was his vengeance to be gra- tified only by my destruction? Was there no method of warding off the impending danger? Could I not cause him to be ap- prehended? I had seen him in my cham- ber, armed with the instruments of death, at the hour of midnight; but I was the only one; my voice alone would not condemn him, and if it would, dare I charge him with meditating a deed, of which he had perhaps never formed an idea? It was at least possible, I might be mistaken, it might have been some other, my apprehensions had probably deceived my senses; these and many more reflections passed rapidly though my mind, but produced no other effect than to confuse it with the uncertainty of probabilities, and the horrors of appre- hension.
Nothing, however could be done; no means could be pursued, to ensure my safety, or lull my fears. I was obliged to wait with patience the unfolding of this mystery, and prepare myself to meet, with firmness, whatever might happen. Walking in the state-house garden2 was a favorite amusement with EMILIA; thither I frequently attended her, when the warmth of the summer days, made the coolness of the evening, and the frag- rance of the garden inviting; here, en- joying the society and conversation of the object of my fondest affections, – I was suddenly seized by two officers of justice: I was surprized[^3], and enquired their business, “Our business, Sir,” said one of them, “is with you.” You have mistaken your object said I, with me you have no possible business; they howev- er, insisted they were right, they men- tioned my name, and even my former place of abode; after a vain altercation I accompanied them to the mayor’s office, and answered many questions, and was finally informed I was charged with the crime of murder! You may form some idea of my astonishment at the informa- tion; EMILIA had accompanied me to the mayor’s she believed the officers la- bored under some mistake, and her feel- ings may easily be conceived when she found me charged with the commission of so detestable a crime; yet what she knew of my character and conduct, seem- ed not to accord with that of a murder- er; she requested I should not be sent to prison; she believed me innocent, and related those events of my life which had fallen under her observation: The mayor was a humane man, but he was compelled to fulfil the duties of his of- fice; “All you have stated,” said he, “may be true,” but I, he observed, was charged with the murder of a young woman, who had long been missing. I had entered the city under very sus- picious circumstances &c. if I was innocent the truth would shortly appear; this was not the place of my trial, his duty, how- ever, obliged him to confine me, and I was sent to prison!
Of all the strange adventures I had met with, this was the furthest above my comprehension: I could recollect no circumstances of my life which could pos- sibly create suspicions of this nature: I did not think myself a dubious charac- ter; during my residence in the city I had led a quiet and inoffensive life; how then was this to be accounted for? It was evident some person had lodged information which would justify my con- finement, in the judgment of the may- or; but here I was almost entirely a stranger, and who, except actuated by the spirit of a demon, would accuse me of any crime, without possessing at least a shadow of proof; the crime too, was so detestable, I had never even meditate- ed it; I was lost and bewildered amidst innumerable and useless conjectures: At length the idea of CARNELL occurred, and with it a train of terrifying images; might not he, I asked, have caused my apprehension? Might he have not sub- orned some desperate villains, to prove me guilty of the crime? The conjecture seemed probable: instigated by revenge, he had already sought my destruction; and was not he who could deliberately meditate the death of an innocent man, capable of any deed, however enormous and detestable? Thus did I bewilder my senses endeavoring to guess why I had been apprehended; my few friends, in the mean time, visited me in prison; they believed me innocent, and endeav- ored to impress a belief, that I would, on trial, be proved so, and be honorably ac- quitted; for this occasion, I summoned all my firmness to my aid, yet I could not avoid reflecting with pain on the misfor- tunes I had encountered in consequence of quitting my paternal home; I had left it, chiefly to avoid assassination, and was now to suffer death, (perhaps) for a crime of the commission of which I was inno- cent.
(to be continued)
[ 4. 5 May 1804]
THE day of trial came; I was con- ducted to the bar of the supreme court; the eyes of hundreds were upon me; the usual question was asked, “Are you guil- ty? or not guilty?” I replied with firm- ness “Not guilty!” when the charge was read, and I was accused of drowning a young woman, by forcibly pushing her into the river Susquehanna! A smother- ed groan was heard from the audience; it was not excited by an emotion of pity for me, but was a proof of their detesta- tion of the author of so shocking a deed; I did not blame it, it was honorable to their feelings, and evinced the rectitude of their hearts. I now found to my sur- prise, I was tried for the murder of her whose life I would gladly have saved, and whose unfortunate end I thought no eye, save mine, had witnessed; it now appeared, some others had witnessed it besides me, but who, and why I was charged with the crime, were circum- stances, to me, inexplicable. The wit- nesses now appeared, but guess, if you can, my sensations, when the first I saw, was (CARNELL) the same dreadful being I had seen in my brother’s chamber, I shuddered; my heart beat tremulously in my bosom; my sight grew dim, and I almost fainted; the spectators seemed to consider my emotion a proof of my guilt, but they were mistaken. The tri- al continued, and new sources of inde- scribable astonishment and wonder were every moment displayed. The sub- stance of the evidence was as follows– “That I had planned and effected the death of SUSAN WARFIELD; I had been heard to say, I would destroy her, by any means in my power; that knowing she had frequented the scene of her death, I had laid in ambush (armed) to effect my purpose, and had been seen by the evidence (who were fishing at a little distance, though in a situation which precluded all possibility of rendering as- sistance) to push her forcibly into the water, where there was little probability of her escaping:” All this was new to me, so far from planning her death, I had scarcely known her, she had consequent- ly never given me any cause of offence, I was certainly ignorant of the visits of any one but myself to the spot I had cho- sen for my nocturnal seat; the exertion I had made to save her, might, it was true, be mistaken for the different one, by persons who had seen the transaction from a distance; but that it should be said, I had declared my intention to de- stroy her, and that I had concealed my- self to effect this purpose, was really as- tonishing: But the witnesses were suf- ficient, respectable, positive and uniform in their depositions. I had nothing to offer in my defence but the truth, but who would give credit to the relation of one who stood convicted of so foul a crime, who had secretly left his native home, and entered the city in a manner not ill calculated to excite suspicion, had concealed his true name and passed un- der a different one (CHARLES COLEMAN) and betrayed evident marks of guilt and confusion, at the sight of his accusers. – Had I said, –I had seen CARNELL offer- Ing violence to EMILIA; had rescued her from his grasp; had seen him in my brother’s chamber armed with a dagger, at midnight &c. would my tale have been credited? No, I had no proofs to offer; I had informed no person, not even my brother of what I had seen. I believed all attempts at defence would prove entirely useless, and therefore for- bore to make any. I thought it better to meet my fate, dreadful and ignominious as it was, with manly firmness and un- yielding fortitude; my story would be treated as the last effort of despairing villainy and impotent malice. The Judge addressed the jury in a solemn and impressive manner; they retired, and in a short time, returned with the ex- pected virdict[^4], “guilty!” They had done their duty. I had no cause to com- plain, the evidence was sufficient to con- demn me; and had I been appointed to judge a similar cause I should have act- ed in the same manner; I listened to my sentence with calmness and composure, and was reconducted for the last time, to the prison. Thus, I had given you a faithful and exact account of my adven- tures. – I shall now shortly suffer an ig- nominious death: the world in general believe me guilty: but the time may come, when what is now hidden from hu- man eyes, will be disclosed, – and then, my friend, when the grave shall hide me from the world, you, I trust, will do jus- tice to my memory.
THUS ended the story of this unfor- tunate young man, it was told with the greatest apparent sincerity, and my heart became deeply interested in his fate. I was astonished at the calmness with which he supported his misfortunes; he was endowed with the keenest sensibili- ty, and even timidity of disposition; his courage had probably never been awak- ened by danger, or perhaps was of that kind, which, though unequal to the en- counter of sudden and alarming attacks, gathered strength by reflection; those who best know the various shades of character which distinguished mankind, know, that there are persons of weak and delicate constitutions, who tremble at the slightest agitation, while their minds re- main firm and undaunted, who, if they have time for reflection, meet danger with an undaunted front: Thus it ap- peared in the present case, here reflection seemed to have inspired a contempt of death in its most terrified and disgraceful form, in the mind of this young man; yet there were moments, when his tran- quility was disturbed, when the images of his father, his friends, and above all, his EMILIA presented themselves to his imagination: EMILIA loved him with the tenderest affection, which even his mis- fortunes, (for she believed him guiltless) were unable to alienate; yet, for him she was doomed to suffer all the evils, flow- ing from disappointed love, and the cru- el taunts of a misjudging world; these causes interrupted his quiet far more than his own misfortunes; “my pain,” said he will “shortly end; death will lull it to rest; but, for them, an ample store of anguish is collected, which time alone can mitigate.” – Some pressing af- fairs obliging me to hasten to Europe, I bade him an eternal adieu! The day of his execution was at hand, which my depar- ture alone spared me the pain of witness- ing. –
(to be continued)
[ 5. 12 May 1804]
SOME years after, I returned to Philadelphia; the misfortunes of SAUN- DERS, though not forgotten, yet the im- pression they made was partly effaced by time and various cares. While walking one day in front-street, I was transported with the sight of SAUN- DERS coming towards me: we instantly recognized each other, and were folded in a mutual embrace; I eagerly interro- gated him on that subject, which my for- mer knowledge of him and my astonish- ment at our present meeting naturally excited, when, after entering his house, he gave me the following information. “The day of my intended execution came, and with it my father: His pre- sence was more distressing to me, than death itself; I wished to spare him the pangs a parent must feel, who is doomed to witness the ignominious death of a son, once dear to his affections: but fate had determined otherwise: Some per- son had informed him to my expected fate, and he hastened to bid me a last adieu. He entered my prison, I flew to embrace him, he received me with emo- tions, which his love of justice had made him desirous of suppressing; but the tide of nature was powerful, and the severity of judge was softened by the tenderness of the parent: Think, my friend, what must be the feelings of a parent who has labored for years to teach his offspring the duties of life, and the exercise of vir- tue, – a parent, venerable for his age, and whose life, was unstained with a crime, when he beholds the object of his love, forsake the paths of rectitude, and become the most detested villain, and your imagination will paint this scene, better than my words can describe it: He believed me guilty, – this impression I strove to remove, and succeeded: falsehood was so mean a crime, that he believed me incapable of it, though pas- sion might have impelled to the perpetra- tion of greater crimes. Yet the convic- tion of my innocence did not dispel his sorrow; to the pain which the death of a son will naturally produce, was added, t he shameful manner by which justice in- flicted the blow: I should die innocent, but would his conviction of this, induce the world to believe me so? – Would not my death load my family with shame and infamy, which an indiscriminating world casts on the relations of a murder er? – But now the appointed hour was come – I bade my friends farewell! and the cart moved towards the place of ex- ecution; the rope was fastened around my neck, the cap was about to be drawn over my eyes, and the signal was about to be given, the execution of which would hide the world from my view for- ever, when a sudden and piercing cry of “Save him! save him!” was heard and a young woman rushed through the crowd, to the foot of the gallows; her distress and agitation soon discovered who she was, it was her for whose mur- der I was about to suffer! whom I thought I had seen perish on the memo- rable night when I left my paternal abode! Yet, here she was, by some means unaccountable to me, at the foot of the gallows, accusing herself as being the cause of my misfortunes, and implore- ing the sheriff to suspend my execution. The crowd pressed tumultuously around, and joined their cries to hers. –The rope was unfastened, and I reconducted to prison.
“I had been saved, in the last moment, from an infamous death; a prospect of life and liberty was open before me; my friends and even the spectators con- gratulated me with that tenderness and joy which will naturally arise in the bo- soms of men, when they behold inno- cence snatched from the fate which is only the punishment of guilt; yet, strange as it may seem, I was the only one who seemed to feel but little emo- tion: I had long contemplated death as certain and inevitable, I had prepared myself to meet it with a manly fortitude; I wished to prove with what dignity I could suffer a fate I had never merited, and conscious innocence brightened my prospect of eternity; the name of death had become familiar and his terrible shaft had lost the keenness of its point; I returned to prison with but little more pleasure than I left it, and some hours elapsed ere I was sufficiently sensible of the blessing of renewed existence to be grateful for the gift; to no one was my life more gratifying than the lovely EMILIA; her joy was not expressed by words, nor displayed by gestures; but was painted in lively colors on her ex- pressive countenance; a sweet satisfaction animated every feature, and gave addi- tional lustre to her beaming eyes. “You will naturally be anxious to know how this change was produced; WARFIELD’S information was as fol- lows; she had, for some reason she did not explain, determined to anticipate the hand of death by drowning herself; that she attempted it, you know; but the fear of death, proved stronger than her dis- gust of life, and with great difficulty she saved herself from that fate she had sought with so much secresy; but, dreading to return home and endure the severity of her parents’ reproaches (who she supposed would be made acquainted with the circumstance) she fled to a rela- tion in Maryland: Meanwhile the intel- ligence of my fate reached her; alarmed at the consequences her folly was likely to occasion, she hastened to Philadel- phia, thinking it probable she might ar- rive in time to avert the fate which hung over me; when she reached the city, she saw the immense concourse of peo- ple, who had assembled to witness my execution; curiosity led her to enquire my crime; the moment was propitious, and my life was preserved. Yet reflec- tion dissipated a greater part of my joy, when I considered my situation, my innocence of the crime of murder was proved and I should probably be liberated in a short time from confine- ment; but who was to prove me inno- cent of meditated guilt? Would not I still be treated as a being dangerous to the community? Would the world consi- der me as much less guilty than before? I should be detested by all mankind, and condemned to wander through the world like an outcast from human society; I was conscious of my innocence, it is true; this had supported me at the most trying moment of my existence; but that proud, unbending spirit I had receiv- ed from nature, and which had been strengthened by education, recoiled at the prospect. I wished to deserve the good opinion of all mankind, to command respect, though I could not inspire love; how then should I be able, when walking through the streets of the city, to bear to be shunned by all good men, and treated as a being with whom no one could safe- ly commune; these reflections gave me intolerable anguish; I was almost tempt- ed to wish I had perished at the hand of justice; I should then have slept quietly with the dead, the grave would have shielded me from the scorn of mankind, and insured my tranquility.
“By my uneasiness was happily re- lieved–on the day succeeding that on which my life was saved, I was saved from a fate which I considered as little better than death, in the following man- ner, several of the persons who were wit- nesses at my trial visited me in prison, one of whom gave me the following wel- come information, which I will give you in his own words.
(to be continued)
[ 6. 19 May 1804]
“THAT the motives of my con- duct, and that of my colleagues may be understood, and our innocence of any de- sign against your life, or the crime of perjury may be proved; I shall relate a few circumstances which happened pre- vious to your unfortunate journey to Phi- ladelphia: Being on a visit of some length in the neighborhood of your late residence, we happened to stop one even- ing at an inn, where we heard a young man (who we then thought was you) express his intention of effecting the death of SUSAN WARFIELD; he said her base treatment of him, would justify any measures, however violent and sanguina- ry; it was such, as no human being, however gentle, would suffer to pass, without the severest punishment; and fi- nally, he said he would effect her destruct- tion in any manner whatever; we saw him, though we were in the next room, through the glazed door; he, I believe, was unconscious of our presence: he de- clared his intention to his companion, while intoxicated with passion and foam- ing with rage and fury; the circumstance made some impression on our minds; but we believed his words proceeded from the violence of his passion, and did not doubt, but during the paroxysms of anger, he had meditated, what when rea- son again regulated his conduct, he would certainly not execute; for these reasons we were silent, until some months after; we were accustomed du- ring the moon-light summer nights to fish for eels in a small stream which emptied into the river Susquehanna, the situation we usually chose commanded a near view of the rocky eminence where we could observe all that passed without being seen; here we saw you frequent- ly arrive, armed with a club in the night; near this place WARFIELD usually pass- ed the evening with her lover, as his vi- sits to her father’s house were forbidden; these circumstance, compared with what we had witnessed at the inn, excited our suspicions, and you were narrowly watch- ed; – one night, while pursuing our usu- al sport, we saw WARFIELD approach you; we saw you rise soon after, rush upon, and push her into the river; all this was done in a few minutes, nor was it in our power, (though in a short distance) to prevent, or to save WAR FIELD; as to reach you, we should have been obliged to take a circuitous rout: we therefore watched you, as you had to pass very near where we were concealed, by the trees, (it should be recollected, that we still believed, you was the same person we had seen at the inn.) That night you absconded, and it was long ere our inquiries traced you to Philadel- phia. We caused your apprehension and conviction. –As we were returning home to Maryland (our place of resi- dence) we lodged at an inn on the road, where, on entering, to our astonishment we saw a man sitting in the room, so much resembling you, that we were ful- ly persuaded you had escaped from pri- son; without a moment’s hesitation we seized him; his astonishment seemed equal to our own; he said he was in search of his wife, who had left his house in Maryland, and he believed had gone to her father’s on the banks of the Sus- quehanna; he told his story with appa- rent sincerity, and with that confidence which innocence, or impudence, only, can assume when charged with a crime; we gazed on each other in silent wonder; with the banks of the Susquehanna we were somewhat acquainted; we asked him many questions which he readily an- swered; but when we charged him with the crime for which you were condemn- ed to suffer, he replied, if possible, with increasing astonishment; SUSAN WAR- FIELD is my wife! Not many days have elapsed since I saw her; he explain- ed to us several circumstances, all which filled us with horror and consternation; in short, we were made acquainted with every circumstance necessary to prove your innocence: Judge then, if you can, what we felt; we had caused the death of a guiltless and deserving man, he had been deceived by an unusual resemblance between two persons. unknown to each other: the day appointed for the exe- cution had already passed and you had probably been punished for a deed you had never committed; but the pangs of death, and the extremest tortures were bliss compared to the horrible sensations we experienced. –Yet there was still a possibility of your execution being defer- red; this had more than once, been the case; the life of a man and our own fu- ture peace were at stake, and while there was the most distant hope it might be saved, it was our duty and our wish to make the experiment. To return to Phila- delphia and to take CARSON with us, was a resolution adopted and instantly put into execution; to our inexpressible joy our journey has not been vain; you will scarcely be able, sufferer as you have been, to forgive us, who have been, though unintentionally, the cause of your misfortunes; but could you know the torments we have felt, when in imagina- tion, we saw your injured spirit rise from the shades of death, and accuse us of des- troying you by deeds perpetrated only by the most abandoned of mankind, and when you have seen the dreadful resem- blance which caused our unfortunate er- ror; you will look on us with less detest- ation than is at present possible.” – He ceased, went out, and soon return- ed with CARSON––here was indeed an extraordinary resemblance, so exact, so striking, that all present were filled with astonishment: but for a small difference in our height, the most intimate friend could have scarcely distinguished us from each other; from these men I learn- ed that the dreadful CARNELL was dead, and thus another cause of uneasiness was removed. I was now soon liberated, re- stored to that respect I had before enjoy- ed, and united to that amiable woman, EMILIA, who had been one of the first causes of my misfortunes. In her I have found a woman of a superior understand- ing, enlightened mind, gentle dispo- sition, her superior judgment has correct- ed many of my errors; she has lessen- ed that love of distinction and celebrity, which I had once indulged, and which I had attained by means, as unwelcome, as unexpected; she has convinced me, that fame is not always the portion of merit, that to deserve the esteem of man- kind, was a superior enjoyment to an en- larged mind, than distinction or fame could bestow. “