With some account of his First Court.

Under the late election law of Florida, which confers on the sovereign people the right of electing their own Magistrates, an individual who gloried in the name of Napoleon Bonaparte Spriggins, was declared to be duly elected Justice of the Peace, for the 47th District, Coon county, Fla.

So soon as Justice Napoleon Bonaparte Spriggins had obtained his Commission, he determined honestly and rigidly to perform all the duties of the office, and enjoy the dignities, emolument and perquisites thereof. He hung up a pine board at the side of his door, on which was scrawled in chalk, the following words, to wit :

napoleon bonaparte spriggins, ESQUIRE,
gusTIs of The pEAS.

Then he appointed his own constable, and called a Court.

He received from his predecessor, certain documents, folded in legal form, on which legal action had been commenced, and which under the law, our new Justice was called on to perfect.

The Court House was a certain groggery, grocery or confectionary, as the case may be, at The Cross Roads, of which Justice Napoleon [1] Bonaparte Spriggins was the owner and occupant.

“ Mr. Constable,” said the Justice, taking his seat beside a large box, which was turned up to answer the purposes of a table, and assuming a dignity becoming his station, “ Mr. Constable,” said he, “ this ere court is now sot, and ready for biznes, let any one what wants justis and the lor, cum in. You Dave Scutes ! let alone that ere whiskey barrel—we’re not now a ‘lectioneering !—this ere is a Court—and we’ll have no drinking in Court—except as to those who pay down."

“ The first case, Mr. Constable, is Roach varsus Snell. Call John Roach.”

“ John Roach, John Roach, come into court,” bawled the constable. “ Don’t answer, please your honor.”

“ Don’t answer ! bring a sute in these ere court, and don’t answer ! I fine him the dollar, Mr. Constable, for contempt. Such is the lorr.

“ Call Snell.”

“ Simon Snell, Simon Snell, come into court. Don’t answer, please your worship.”

“ Gone to Texas,” cried some of the bystanders.

“ Gone to Texas in contempt of this ere court ! I order him to be taken to jail forthwith, Mr. Constable. Such is the lorr.

“ ‘The State varsus Teddy O’Rielly.’ Where’s Teddy O’Rielly, Mr. Constable ?”

“ In the shavens before the door, your honor—he’s oller's on hand.”

“ Then call the State.”

“ Well, I reckon as how it’ll trouble you a leetle,” said a bystander, “ to bring the State into these here diggins !”

“ All the same, Mr. Constable, the parties must be called ! That’s the lorr.”

“ The State of Florida, come into court,” cried the officer. “ Don’t answer, your honor.”

“ Well, this is a serious matter, Mr. Constable ! Charged with an oath,” mumbled the dignitary, casting his eye over the warrant, “ John Smith, affray, riotus conduct, big-a-my—Who, in hell, is Big Amy, Mr. Constable ?”

“ Can’t say, your honor.”

“ Call her into court.”

“ Big Amy, Big Amy ! come into court ! Don’t answer. But here’s Teddy O’Rielly.”

Here Teddy O’Rielly, a little chuffy, red faced man, approached the dignitary at the box.

“ Well, Teddy,” demanded the Justice, with an awful frown, “ what is this affair between you and Big Amy ?”

“ Divil of a bit, your worship’s honor ! as the good woman who owns can testify, your honor.”

“ So then, there is a woman in the affair ! and where is she, Mr. Teddy O’Rielly ?”

“ The Lord knows, your worship’s honor, unless she be in the dear city of Cork, where I left here some nine years last Michælmas, with the childer’s, the little O’Rielly’s.”

“ But Big Amy, with whom it seems you had a spree the other day—where’s she ?”

“ All flam, your worship, of that spalpeen John Smith. If I could only get hold of him, with a dhrop of the shillalah, saving your honor’s riverence, I’d teach him to take away an honest man’s character. May the divil burn him !”

“ Where’s John Smith, Mr. Constable ?”

“ Which one, your honor ?”

“ Why, the one that can tell all about this affair with Big Amy.”

“ Can’t find any such one ; nobody knows nothin about her.”

“ This is a very mesterous affair ! Teddy O’Rielly, we shall have to send you to jail.”

“ Divil a bit, saving your worship’s reverence, unless they keep good whiskey there.”

Some one observed that the prisoner could give security for his appearance.

“ Yes, that is the lorr,” said the Justice. “ And now Teddy O’Rielly we order that you give a bond to keep the peace for the next year, against every body, and Big Amy in perticular, wherever she is.”

“ And now, Mr. Constable, you may proklame that this court is riz !

“ Gentlemen, we’re gettin dry, let’s licker. The people have made me a Justis, and I’m detarmined to give ‘em the lorr.”

“ I rather reckon, Squire, it was the whiskey that made you a Justice, and that you may be considered, A ‘ rum’ justice,” said a lean looking bystander.

Star of Florida.


Source: New York Spirit of the Times 15.47 (17 January 1846): 550. University of Virginia Alderman Library.

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] Original text reads “ Napolean.”

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