[C2] "Our Talisman, No. 2," Spirit of the Times, Jan. 12, 1842: A Peep at the Sessions

Our Talisman—No. 2.


Yesterday our Flib was missing during the morning, and with him we missed the magic ring.-Being somewhat familiar with the movements of the eccentric youth, we were prepared to receive the following account of a visit which he made to the General Sessions during his absence. "I made the wish, rubbed the ring, and in a minute I found myself in the Court of General Sessions, safely ensconsed behind the Judge's big arm chair, seeing every body, without any body seeing me.

At precisely twenty-five minutes before eleven o'clock, the attention of the audience who daily throng to this Court, was concentrated upon two actors in the grand melo-drama of Justice. One was the good-humored and gentlemanly senior deputy Attorney General, who, leaning over the bar, proceeded to arraign a short, stout, thick set negro, with a countenance of no particular meaning, for the daring larceny of a toy box, from the store of Messrs. Jones, up Second street, and of the astounding value of twenty-five cents.

The mulatto plead not guilty. Several witnesses were examined, and the fearful larceny was established beyond the possibility of a doubt. The case was submitted to the jury without argument; the mulatto was found guilty, and immediately stood up for sentence.

"Why did you commit this crime?" asked Mr. Badger, in his usual penetrating way. "What was your reason?"

The prisoner didn't know. A little boy outside the bar suggested the possibility of the negro's having stolen the monkey (that was the toy) for bread.

"I suppose," said Mr. Badger, "you stole the monkey to take care of it—didn't you?"

This pointed remark created universal laughter, and every body seemed to think it the most pleasurable thing in the world, to make the most fun out of the fellow who could so atrociously commit so deliberate a crime.

With great lenity the Court, his honor Joseph M. Doran being on the bench, sentenced the prisoner to six months imprisonment in Moyamensing, with the remark that his winter lodgings were now safely provided, which ought to have exercised a very reforming effect on the criminal's mind. He will come out of prison with a good principle implanted in his head, viz.—never again to steal a paltry toy, but—following illustrious examples—to rob, (scratch that word out) to abstract the funds of any particular bank, whether the property of widows, orphans, or any body else.

Here was the next scene. A short, broad-shouldered laboring man, with stiff straight hair, relieving a very ruddy, honest, and rugged face, with a turned up nose, and dressed in a coarse white beaverteen round jacket and pantaloons, stood up before the Attorney, with the evident intention of taking part in any thing that might be about to come off.

He was arraigned for an assault and battery, committed upon one Frederick Disthmal, (we believe that was the name,) who keeps a tavern somewhere up town.

Frederick, a plain looking German, testified that a few weeks since defendant "come into de tavern, and," continued he, "and hit me hard upon de belly, and den he whacked me on de back, and den he git me down and tramp me so. I vas much hurt—and abused too bad."

The prisoner hadn't any lawyer, and so he got up, and made his own statement.

"Gentlemen of the Jury," he said-"the fact is—that I—because you know—I mean—that I didn't know any thing about this here row until three days afterwards—you see I'm a friend of this man—in fact I was on a spree—and there's no knowing but what I did have a little shindy with him—I didn't mean any thing—and I've been in prison two months—and gentlemen of the jury,—Judge, your honor, I'm a poor man—and this is true."

Here the prisoner sat down, and pulled a temperance pledge from his pocket, which he showed to Mr. Badger, who encouraged him in his good beginning, and warned him against the evils of intoxicating liquors.

The Jury returned a verdict of guilty.

"It is the sentence of the Court," said Judge Doran, "that you undergo an imprisonment of five days in the County Prison—"

"Thankee sir," interrupted the prisoner.

"And stand committed for the costs of prosecution, until paid."

The prisoner's mouth dropped, and he was hauled off. So ends the first lesson. Flib came away just then.