A Law-Abiding Citizen and the Betting Act by W. T. Goodge

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Of all the worthy gentlemen
   Whom one would wish to see
There was no better citizen  
   Than William J. Magee.

His character was so precise,
   It seemed without a flaw,
And he was full of sound advice
   To those who loved the law!

He was a private gentleman
   Of independent means;
Or, as the coarse expression ran,
   "A cove with whips o' beans!"

Some men would lead a life of ease
   If they were in his place!
(Don't think he was a lawyer, please,
   For such was not the case!)

Of moral Acts of Parliament
   He stood in constant awe,
And wrathfully would he resent
   Infractions of the law!

He never was a man to scoff
   At any law! In fact,
He was a strict observer of
   The Sunday Closing Act!

Supreme Court Judgments he'd obey
   Just as they came along,   
Until the High Court said that they
   Were absolutely wrong!
To local laws, good, bad, and worse
   One always found him leal
Until the usual reverse 
   Was granted on appeal!

He often said he really thought
   (This was his playful way)
That many Bills were merely brought
   For leading him astray!

Yet every time he would obey
   What laws they might arrange,
And read the papers every day,
   To note the slightest change!

Perhaps you'll say: "Well, that's all right!"
   But just you wait a bit!
That might be right, perhaps it might,
   But that's not all of it!

Not only did this person hold
   A breach of law a shame;
He also held, or so I'm told,
   That all should think the same!

And when a citizen began
   To be a trifle "slim,"
This very worthy gentleman
   Would soon admonish him!

I cannot say this always pleased
   The folks he would correct;
But if he felt his conscience eased,
   What more could man expect?

The bookies used to pull his leg,
   And ask in anxious tone
If it were wrong to lay an egg
   Or a foundation stone!

He'd watch the builders at their tricks,
   And say, with knowing nods,
"I's right enough to lay the bricks,
   But do not lay the hods!"

One day his buggy-wheel got jammed,
   Right in the tramway track.
A car came up, and it was crammed! 
   The tramguard cried, "Pull back!"

"Pull back your dromedary!" cried
   The passengers in force.
"I can't!" the worthy man replied;
   "It's wrong to back a horse!"

When someone else backed out the horse
   With promptitude and tact,
Our hero "took a certain course!"
   Under the Gaming Act!

And William J.
Magee would say,
   When he had time to pause:
"At least I am as sensible
   As those who make the Laws!"

First published in The Australian Town and Country Journal, 7 November 1906

Author reference sites: AustlitAustralian Poetry Library

See also.  

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 7, 2012 8:09 AM.

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