Pierre Lavere and Mary Lavere, alias McFeal, were the two characters, of those who appeared before the Recorder yesterday, that are entitled to a place in our Police Court Picture Gallery. By way of shading to these, the more prominent characters, we may add the name of Marie, a rather good looking quadroon, whose name it will be necessary to introduce in the filling up of the outline.
Pierre was a coffee-colored little French tailor, with a dry, singed sort of moustache on his upper lip—like the faded grass on a burned prairie; he wore a bonnet-rouge, and sort of blouse frock, and seemed as nervous as if his body concealed an electrifying machine. Mary Lavere, alias McFeal, was an athletic, red-faced, fiery-haired, fiery-tempered Irish woman, who graduated as a fish-woman in that beautiful city called Cork, and now devotes her industrial powers to the sale of new pit-a-ties in the lower market. Marie, the third, and less prominent personage, was a dark olive-colored damsel, of semi-African origin, whose head was hidden in the tasteful folds of a parti-colored bandanna; a pair of large gold rings were suspended from her ears, and her glossy, lemon-colored cheeks, and dark, plum-like eyes, made her appear to Mary Levere, or Mary McFeal, at least—forbidden fruit.
“Watchman Burnet,” said the Recorder, when he felt prepared to commence the investigation of the case to which the trio were parties.
“Present, your Honor!” said Watchman Burnet, a very maudlin, unmajestic-looking personage, but who, in this instance, represented the majesty of the law.
“On what grounds,” said the Recorder, addressing the Watchman, “did you arrest these people?”
“Ah, yesse, yesse,” said Pierre, shrugging up his shoulders, and throwing out his hands, as if he were preparing to receive a young infant in his arms, “on what ground, Monsieur Watchman? that be the one gran’ questione?”
“Hould your tongue, you little chattering Frinch magpie,” said Mary McFeal, speaking ‘aside’ to Pierre, “or I’ll choke you, when you go home, with your own goose.”
“Vhy, your Honor,” said the Watchman, in reply to the Recorder’s question, speaking as soon as he could be heard—“Vhy, your Honor, they was all a-disturbin’ the peace, I’m bless’d—that ain’t no oath, your Honor—I’m bless’d, if it vasn’t a reg’lar domestic rewolution. This here little man as vears the red-cap, vy, he seemed jest as mad as a Millerite. I’m blowed—no, I ain’t blowed—but I’m blessed, if I b’lieve he didn’t think the end o’ the world was a-comin’—but instead of ascendin’, he vas a-descendin’, for when I came up, he vas right flat on the floor, a lyin’ under a table.”
Recorder.—Well, and this woman, Mrs. Lafere or McFeal, what was she doing?
Watchman.—Vell, your Honor, I tell you, she’s a buster—she’s some in a promiscuous flight, I tell you. This here little man is a tailor, and the sign over his door says he is good at a fit; but if she can’t at any time knock him into fits, I ain’t no preserwer of the peace—that’s all.
Recorder.—And what part did this colored girl take in the affray, that you arrested her?
Watchman.—I didn’t see her do nothin—but Mrs. vat-do-you-call-her, here, called on me, in the name of the law, to arrest her, and that bein’ a purfessional appeal, of course, I couldn’t resist it, no how—so, I took her along with the others.
Recorder.—Well, so far, I know very little of the merits of the case. Mr. Lavere, will you tell me how this disturbance commenced?
“Oh! Monsieur President,” said the little Frenchman, “dere be”—pointing to his bellicose partner, the big Irish woman—“dere be de commence—de middle—de finale—de all. I know de art of cuttin’ and make up; but she, begare, know de art of cuttin’ and knock down. Dere be one specimen of her science”—and here the little Frenchman pulled his red cap up off his forehead, and exposed a cut right over his “bump” of “self-esteem.”
Recorder—That is certainly a severe cut, Mr. Lavere; but did you do nothing to defend yourself?
Lavere---(In a tone of astonishment)---Defen’ myself, Monsieur Presidente! Oh Mon Dieu! I might as well think to defen’ myself ‘gainst one thirty-two pounder. Yes, I did try to defen’ myself; but it was what you Americans call no come---I means no go. I was sittin’ sewin’ on my board; Marie, there, (the colored girl) had just sold me a bouquet, which I bought to present madame. I say, vera polite, madame, accept one bouquet---all sweet flowers; vera like you, vera! She fling dem at my head, and den she fling her big fist after dem; I dodge da blow, and retreat into bed-room; she, like good gen’ral, pursue: I raise barricade at door---one big table; she knock it down and den she knock me down. I cut my head ‘gainst table, and cry murdere! urdere! and watchman come and take her and take me, and take Marie too, who do notin’ but sell me bouquet. That no justice---no fair to be put in culaboose for havin’ my head cut. I marry that one one womans; I call her one angel, but I find her de vera diable---an Irelandaise diable, and dey be de wickedest of all diables.
Recorder.---Mrs. Lavere---is that your name?
Mary.---I ashumed the appellation for conveyance, your Honor; but like a French shirt, that’s all ruffles and nobody, it looked much better than in fact it is.
Recorder.---Well, madame, whatever may be the relation between this man and you, you appear to have treated him with great violence.
Mary.---The relation betune him and me!---betune that lavins [remains] of a man and me! O murther! has it come to that? that I’m to be taken for the relation of a little foreign Frinchman of that kind, who can’t spaik the King’s English half so well as Madam Duval’s parrot. Oh musha! what ‘ud me rael relations in Ireland say, if they heard such an impitation as that cast upon me character. May I never knock down the little spalpoon agin, Recorder, jewel, if that isn’t addin’ insult to injury. Relation of mine, indeed! O, dirty butther from Ballin-a-dad!
Recorder.—Well, madam, I cannot now stop to discuss that matter with you. He charges you with a violent assault, the particulars of which you have heard. What defence have you to make for yourself?
Mary.—Defince! I’d scorn to make a defince; I wouldn’t condescend to do it. Why had he the assurince to bring this jaundice-faced jade into me house---the house for which I pay every crass of the rint, and he don’t pay a brass farthin’? Let him take his boord somewhere else, for pershumin’ to me, if ever he crasses his legs on a table in me house agin and that’s as good as if I took my davy [my oath] of it.
Recorder.---I find, Mary, that you are a very violent woman. I shall remand you till you find bail to appear on the charge of assault and battery, and till you also give security to keep the peace. Take her out.
Mary.---[To the Recorder, as she went out in charge of the Constable]---Isn’t there any thing else your Honor could do for me in the mane time! You’re so kind, I’ll remembir you in my prayers!
Source: Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner 20 October 1848: 4 (Library of Virginia Archives)
Erin Bartels prepared and proofread this typescript.
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