CHATTY METHODS ON THE BENCH.
Punch, March 20, 1907
[“How silly you chaps are to get into debt with moneylenders,” said Judge Bacon to a batch of railway clerks, who were sued at the Bloomsbury County Court.—Daily Express.]
From a daily paper of the week after next:—
Before Mr. Justice Jones, James Michael Peabody (19), and Edward Pennefather (21), were accused of stealing goods to the value of eighteenpence from a fruiterer’s stall in the Commercial Road. Constable X 15 deposed that, when arrested, accused endeavoured to conceal the stolen goods by swallowing them. (His Honour: “Rotters!”). The owner of the stall, on entering the witness-box to give evidence, appeared nervous.
His Honour (encouragingly). Come along, old son, pull yourself together and get it off your chest. Now, what’s all this about these two chaps bagging your fruit?
Witness. It’s this way, your Honour. One of them threw snuff in my face and, while I was sneezing, off they ran with my fruit.
His Honour (to prisoners). I say, you fellows, what! Hardly the game, that, was it? I call that a pretty thick sort of thing to do.
[Applause in court, which was instantly suppressed when it showed signs of stopping.
In defence the prisoners said they were sorry, and would not do it again.
His Honour then summed up:—While, he said, it was a bit off if fellows were allowed to rot about and play the goat all over the shop, yet, in consideration of the fact that this was a first offence, he was inclined to allow justice to be tempered with mercy. (Applause.) The prisoners must jolly well get it into their fat heads that, if ever they were caught at that sort of game again, they would get it pretty hot. The law was not to be trifled with. It was merciful within limits, but when chaps asked for it, they got it in the neck. (Cheers.) And he was prepared to give the prisoners his solemn word that gaol was not all beer and skittles. If they didn’t believe him, let them jolly well try and see. In the present case, taking everything into account, he would merely require them to shell out two quid apiece. If they declined to brass up, then they’d find themselves in Chokey before they could say Jack Robinson. And, if they wanted his candid opinion, they were a pair of crocks who ought to be ashamed of themselves; and he hoped they would never be such utter footlers as to let themselves be lugged into his Court again.
The prisoners, having paid their fine and thanked his Honour, then left the Court.
Unsigned story as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 132 of Punch.