The Shade of Judge Jeffreys to the English Bench
“I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury,
Said cunning old Fury,
I’ll judge you, condemn you, and put you to death.”
—Alice in Wonderland
Bravo my masters! So ye still inherit
A portion of your father Jeffreys’ again!
It glads my ghost, in these degenerate days
Of manners mild and philanthropic ways,
That still my true-born children of the ermine
Can twist a law to snare these pestilent vermin,
These noisy, stubborn, socialistic knaves,
Who crack their crowns upon policemen’s staves,
Because, forsooth (may gallows’ grace betide ’em!)
Their precious British birthright is denied ’em—
The right of bawling in the highways. Fudge!
Would they had come to Jeffreys as their judge!
For then, I vow, ere justice had been baffled,
The rogues had known the pillory of scaffold,
And paid such price for treasonable guile,
As erst paid Sidney and the Lady Lisle.
Heigh-ho; I mind me, times are changed since then!
But ye, my hearties, quit ye still like men
In this same flight wherein I fought of yore—
The worthy rich against the worthless poor.
Flinch not, my big-wig bullies of the bench!
’Tis your inheritance to wrest and wrench
The sense o’ the laws, intimidate the jury,
And win by fraud where I prevailed by fury.
Flinch not, nor question they deserve it well,
But sentence, sentence to the felon’s cell;
Till every factious rascal sees with awe
’Tis Jeffreys’ self still animates the law!
H. S. S.
The Commonweal, February 19, 1888