[A8] "City Police," Spirit of the Times, March 3, 1842: The Love of Nancy Phillips

City Police.

Wednesday, March 2, 1842.

The Love of Nancy Phillips—A Novel—Edited by Brier.

            The light of a damp morning in March, struggling through a heavy mist, came dimly through the dirty window panes of a Police Office, revealing the figure of the Mayor seated at his high elevation, the good looking clerk scratching away at his low desk, while grouped around were some dozen watchmen, the good humored Levin Smith, the gentlemanly Bennet, and the eye-twinkling Craige.  Scattered among them were two reporters—the unobtrusive Brier, and the witty Grig—pencilling away in their note books.  Outside of the bar, a watchman with an expressive face was marshalling some dozen negroes, to wit:—a short nosed female African, with a piccaninny, side by side with a flat nosed negress with a bit of a roundabout round her head; then came a flat nosed feminine with a tattered straw bonnet, then a he Ethiopian in a grey jacket, then a sharp featured female with a meal bag for a head dress, and terminating the group was a big Sambo with charcoal countenance and fleecy hair, and dressed in blue round jacket, check shirt and grey pantaloons.

            Now, my friends, there's a description for you, done up in Bulwerian style, with a small spice of the Bozian picturesqueness.  I sometimes think I'm cut out for a novelist, I could give such accounts of tender misses falling about two feet deep in love with nice young men, and then as for the hair breadth escapes,—why I'd daub the brush so thick that the paint couldn't be laid on any thicker.

            To go on with my novel.

            As for my heroine, take Nancy Phillips, a stout female negro, composed of a tattered cloak, check handkerchief, headdress and copper kettle face.  The villain of my story is Jo Robinson, a long bandy-legged mulatto, of refined manners and dashing appearance.  He obtained the rich treasure of kind-hearted Nancy's affections, and deserted her for another sable goddess.  Fired by jealousy, Nancy last night called the watchman, took him up an alley that was between Mary street and Redford's alley, then took him up a couple of pairs of stairs into a low, dirty, dingy room, where he found a lot of negroes, of all ages, sizes, hues, lights, shades, all doubled up into knots, and mixed into one another in quite a confusion.  Charity Brown, who keeps the house, was brought along with the batch to the Mayor's office.  Nancy said that "she had once seen Charity give a little boy a fip's worth o' breakfast," and that she had also seen "Louis Brown in Charity's house, with an instrument about as thick as her wrist, and so long, in his hand," and this she supposed sufficient evidence of the house being a den of thieves, robbers, and bad people.  They were all remanded.

            That beautiful and pathetic interrogatory which Oliver Cromwell applied to Charles the Second, "Does your mother know you're out?" might be strictly used in reference to Charley Smith, who was found lying on a cellar door at a late hour last night, with his face turned to heaven, studying astronomy with creditable energy and intentness.  Charley paid the price of his studies.

            Clarissa Davis and James Smith, blue.  Fined.

Billy Brier.