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A play by Seumas O'Brien

Jurisprudence: A Comedy In One Act

Title:     Jurisprudence: A Comedy In One Act
Author: Seumas O'Brien [More Titles by O'Brien]


MARTIN O'FLYNN A Resident Magistrate
PHELAN DUFFY A Barrister-at-Law
PETER DWYER Clerk of the Petty Sessions Court
MARGARET FENNELL Wife of Richard Fennell
SERGEANT HEALY A Member of the Royal Irish Constabulary
CONSTABLE O'RYAN A Member of the R.I.C.



Scene: Room in courthouse at Ballybraggan. Magistrates
and clerk of court seated on the Bench. Barristers,
townspeople, and police in body of the court

(rises and wipes his brow with a red handkerchief)

Members of the Munster Bar, Members
of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and--gentlemen
(pauses), and ladies also, before the Court opens
for the dispensation of justice, I would like to say a
few short words about a matter that concerns not
only ourselves here present, and the town of Ballybraggan
in particular, but everybody alive to their
own interests and the whole world in general. We
have with us to-day one who is no stranger to the
people of this historic town, and it is with feelings of
the highest regard that I stand before you in my privileged
capacity as resident magistrate to perform what
seems to me to be the most pleasing and likewise the
most joyous of duties that could fall to the lot of any
man, whether he might come from where the waves of
the tumultuous Pacific wash the shores of the great
Western world or from the town of Mallow itself. And
that is to have the honor and glorification of introducing
to you our new and worthy magistrate, Mr. Cornelius
John Michael O'Crowley. (Applause) Far be
it from me indeed to flatter any man, but there are
times when we must tell the truth. (Applause) And
when I say that there is no one more humble for a
man of his achievements from here to Honolulu than
Mr. O'Crowley himself, I am only telling the truth
in a plain and unadorned form. Every effort put
forth by Mr. O'Crowley for the welfare of mankind
has been characterised by success, and what greater
proof of his ability could we have than the fact that
he is one of the largest wine merchants and hotel
proprietors in the length and breadth of Munster?
Indeed, if Mr. O'Crowley wasn't fully qualified for
upholding and sustaining the dignity of the coveted
title, Justice of the Peace, His Excellency the Lord
Lieutenant, who is both a scholar, a gentleman, and a
Scotchman to boot, would not be so pleased and
delighted to confer on him an honor only worthy of a
man of his attainments, sentiments, and quality of


On behalf of the legal profession of which I have the
honor of being the oldest member, I am not only
desirous but extremely overjoyed to have the golden
opportunity of congratulating our worthy townsman
Mr. Cornelius John Michael O'Crowley on the great
distinction that has befallen him. We all have heard
of that Englishman who said one time, with all the
cleverness of an Irishman and a native of Ballybraggan
at that: "Some are born great, others acquire greatness,
and more have greatness thrust upon them."
Now to say that Mr. O'Crowley had greatness thrust
upon him would not be a fact, and whether or not
he was born great we don't know, but one thing is
certain, and that is, he has acquired greatness.
And when I say so, I wish it to be distinctly
understood that I am not talking idly or glibly,
but with all the sincerity of my heart. With the
same sincerity that has characterised all my actions
since I was first called to the Bar, and made of me
what I am to-day. With the same sincerity that
characterises every successful member of the legal
profession, be he Irish, Scotch, or American. Let
critics say what they will, but the fact remains that
success is the best answer to adverse criticism. A
man's true worth may not always be appreciated in a
cold and heartless world like ours, but there will ever
be found a few who can always sympathise with us in
our sorrows and rejoice with us in our triumphs. And
Mr. O'Crowley has the rare gift which enables him to
do both. (Applause) He is a man of large and noble
ideals, of sterling qualities and knows human nature
in all its many phases. He knows the wants of the
people and what's more, he knows how to satisfy them.
He would not allow any man's light to be hidden
under a bushel, so to speak, and why should we allow
the bushel to bide his? (Applause) Let credit be
given where credit is due, was ever his motto. And
only one month has elapsed since he said to me, after
defending his own brother on a breach of the Sunday
Closing Act in this very courthouse, "My heartiest
thanks and warmest congratulations for your splendid
victory. There isn't another man in the whole country,
not even Tim Healy himself, who could win that case."

On behalf of the Royal Irish Constabulary, I wish to
be associated with the hearty and unanimous welcome
extended to Mr. O'Crowley, whom I have known
since the first night I came to the town. And my
only regret is that I did not know him before, because
men with his rare traits of character are not to be
met with every day. His genial and kindly disposition
has endeared him to us all. His doors are never closed
on either Saturday, Sunday, Christmas Day, or any
other day. Friend or foe, stranger or native of Ballybraggan,
are all the same to Mr. O'Crowley. Each
and every one is received with the same hearty welcome.
He is a man whom we think of in our hours
of suffering, whether it be on the scorching heat of a
summer's day or the blighting cold of a winter's
night. It is my earnest wish, and I am sure that I am
only expressing the sentiments of the whole of Munster,
that the success which has attended Mr. O'Crowley
in all the ventures of his useful life will be doubled
in his capacity as Justice of the Peace.


In all the long years that I have acted as clerk of this
court, I never felt more pleased at the coming of a
new magistrate than when I heard of the discretion
of His Excellency in selecting Mr. O'Crowley for this
most exalted position. All that I might say in my
congratulations and welcome has already been said,
and I can only concur in the good wishes that have
been offered, and though a lot more might have been
said of one so praiseworthy, I know that Mr.
O'Crowley will understand, it is not that we like
him less but that we respect him more. Mr.
O'Crowley is a man who is above pride and does not
want the walls of Rome or the stones of the Munster
roads to know what he does for mankind. So I will
now conclude by wishing him all the success that he
deserves, in the future and hereafter.

Brother magistrates, members of the Bar, members of
the Royal Irish Constabulary, and gentlemen: From
the bottom of my heart I thank you for all the high
compliments you have paid me this day, and I only
hope that I will be long spared to be a source of comfort
and consolation to the men and women of Ballybraggan.
I know, of course, that I am not a pararagom
of perfection, but I have the wonderful satisfaction of
knowing that I have been appreciated in my own
time, and that's more than some of the world's best
poets, philosophers, and other servants of mankind
could have said. The superdalliance of some and the
pomposity and congential insufficiency of others have
always been a warning to me, and when opportunity
sallied forth from her hiding place I never failed to
recognise her queenly presence and extend a cead-mile-failte,
and make of her my own, so to speak.
Such was the way of Wellington and his contemporary
Hannibal, and such must be the way of every man
who must serve his country and himself. And believe
me, much as the people of Ballybraggan think
about me, I think every bit as much about them. It
is hardly necessary for me to say that we only get
what we deserve in this world, and sometimes a little
more or a little less as the case may be. The desirable
propensities of the people of the town have endeared
me to them with a spirit as strong as that which
makes the ivy cling to the oak, and as we see the ivy
fondly clinging to that monarch of trees, whether it
sprouts its green leaves in the glorious sunshine or
falls to the ground with decay, so will I cling to the
people of Ballybraggan. Once again, I thank you,
but in conclusion I must say that I will do all in my
power to prove worthy of the reliance and confidence
placed in me. (Applause)

The court is now open for the dispensation of justice.
The only case before us to-day is one of house-breaking,
drunkenness from excessive use of poteen, which
is an illegal drink, and resisting arrest by the police.
The charge is laid against one Richard Fennell, and
cross-summonses have been issued to Mr. and Mrs.

On behalf of my client, Mrs. Fennell, I wish to impress
upon the Bench the gravity of the offence with
which the accused Richard Fennell is charged, namely,
drunkenness from excessive use of an illegal intoxicant
known as poteen, house-breaking, terrorizing and almost
paralyzing with fear his highly strung and sensitive
wife, and adding insult to injury in resisting
arrest by his Majesty's guardian of law and order,
Sergeant Healy. These are grave charges indeed, and
who will gainsay that a man gifted with the spirit of
destruction like Mr. Fennell is a menace to the peace-abiding
town of Ballybraggan? Not since the heartless
barbarians made their ruthless descent upon the
Roman Empire was there such havoc wrought in any
one house, or did any individual member of society
suffer so much from nervous prostration as Mrs.


Can't a man dust his own furniture and chastise his
own wife if he feels like doing so?

Order! order! There must be no interruptions in this
court of justice.


You can well imagine how poor Mrs. Fennell thought
that the end of the world was coming when she saw
every bit of ware on the kitchen dresser smashed in
pieces no larger than threepenny bits on the floor.
And the alarm clock that woke Mr. Fennell every
morning and reminded him that it was time to get
up and make his wife's breakfast, which she always
got in bed, struck dumb for ever with its works battered
beyond recognition. Think of this poor woman's
feelings at such an awful moment.


Feelings! She has no more feelings than a tombstone.


Think of this decent, self-respecting, loving wife and
mother, who has had no less than three husbands.


An' I'll have another too, please God!

Think, I say, of three husbands, and ten children.
Six resting in the little churchyard at Ennisbeg, and
four resting in the Royal Irish Constabulary. That
Mr. Fennell was what we would call a model husband,
before he touched this poteen goes without saying.
Everything that his wife told him to do was done,
and done to her satisfaction, and done whether he
liked the doing of it or no.


I always made my husbands do what they were told.

Mr. Fennell is no doubt guilty of a serious offence,
but whoever sold him the base liquor is far more
guilty in the eyes of the law, as well as the public.
Needless to state, this fact does not in any way lessen
the gravity of Mr. Fennell's offence, and I would ask
the Bench not to allow any feelings of sentiment to
interfere with the discharge of their duty. I would
ask that the severest penalty allowed be inflicted on
the accused for his unwarranted, unmanly, and blackguardly

(to Phelan Duffy)

Wisha, bad luck to your impudence to call my husband
a bla'gard. A dacent man that never went to
the likes of you or any one else for anything.

Order, order.

'Tis only the likes of lawyers that have the insolence
to insult dacent people. Sure when they aren't ignorant
they're consated, and their wives and daughters
are no better than themselves.

Order, order. Unless you behave yourself, you must
be placed under arrest.

Sure, you don't think I can stand here with a tongue
in me head and listen to me husband being insulted,
do you?

Order, order, Mrs. Fennell, please.

[She attempts to speak again, and the sergeant places
his hand over her mouth. She resents this action, and
in a struggle which ensues the sergeant falls to the floor.
He is helped to his feet by Mrs. Fennell, and both look
at each other in a scornful way.

(to Mrs. Fennell)

'Tis a good job for you that you're not Mrs. Healy.

And 'tis a blessing for you that you're not Mr. Fennell.

Order, order. This conduct is scandalous, Mrs. Fennell,
and you must keep quiet.

You might as well be asking a whale to whistle "The
Last Rose of Summer" or asking the Kaiser to become
a Trappist monk.

Order, order. Now please, Mrs. Fennell, come forward
and give your evidence.

All I have to say is that my husband got the delirium
tramens from drinking poteen and broke every bit
of furniture in the house, an' he might have killed

(very disgusted)

I wish I knew how.


Only for having the good sense of rushing to the front
door and shouting for the police. I'm an orphan,
your Worship, and that's why I'm here to seek protection
from the court. All the same, I haven't a
word to say to my husband, the cowardly ruffian,
only for his love of poteen, bad temper, and contrary

That will do, Mrs. Fennell.

Thanks, your Worship.


(takes out his notebook. A day pipe,
box of snuff, and handkerchief fall to the floor. The
snuff falls on the handkerchief. He replaces the snuff
box and the pipe in his pocket, and wipes his face with
the snuffy handkerchief. He then opens his notebook
for reference and begins

On the night of December third sneezes and says:
God bless us!) I was on me rounds doin' beat duty
in Market Square in the town of Ballybraggan
(Sneezes)--God bless us!--and all of a sudden without
a moment's notice, I was disturbed from me
reverie of pious thought, be a great disturbance like
the falling of porter barrels from the top floor of a
brewery, and without saying as much as the Lord
protect me, I swung to me left from whence the
noise came and beheld Mrs. Fennell (Sneeze)--God
bless us!--rushing out of her own house the way
you'd see a wild Injun rushing in the moving pictures
and shouting like a circus lion before his breakfast:
"Police! police! police!" An' as though it was the
will of Providence, I was in the very place where me
presence was required.

Accidents will happen, Sergeant.

They will, and disasters too, if you don't hold your

Order, order.


Well, in with me to the house without a moment's
delay, and what did I see but Richard Fennell sitting
in an easy chair and smoking a cigar and looking as
happy an' contented as a Protestant after a meal of
corn beef and cabbage on a Friday. An' the house,
the Lord save us!--one would think that 'twas struck
be a cyclone. The only thing that remained whole
was the chair that he sat in and the decanter that fed
the broken glass from which he drank the poteen.
"What brings you here?" ses he, to me. An' only I
had the presence of mind of clapping the handcuffs on
him before I had time to answer such an impertinent
question, there might be one more above in the old
churchyard and one less in this court of justice.
(Sneezes) God bless us! The story is nearly ended.
(Sneezes) God bless us! I--(Sneezes) God bless us!
I--(Waits for an expected sneeze and when disappointed
he says
"Thank God!") I brought the prisoner to
the barrack and have here the poteen that changed
him from a law-abiding townsman into a fiend incarnate.
(The sergeant then places the bottle of poteen on
the counter, looks very hard at it, pretends to faint from
sudden weakness, and asks for a drink of water
) Can
I have a little water, if you please?
[Several rush to assist him. There is no water in the
court, and the clerk gets the kind of inspiration that the
sergeant desires and fetches the poteen. He pours some
out in a glass and gives it to the sergeant

(to the sergeant)

Try a little drop of the spirits, Sergeant, as there
isn't a drop of water to be had. The plumbers are
working at the pipes.


Bad luck to them for plumbers. They are always a
nuisance. (Before putting glass to his lips) I suppose
I must take it, because I am dry as a bona-fide traveller.
(He finishes it all in one drink) It doesn't taste
too bad after all, and water at its best isn't much
good for one who must do a lot of talking. I'll have
a little more, if you please.

You can't have any more, Sergeant. That would be
abusing your privilege.


Alright, your Worship. When a man's as full of the
law as meself, 'tis hard to remember when he's privileged.
[The sergeant recovers and the case proceeds.

(for Mr. Fennell)

On behalf of my client, Mr. Fennell, I wish to point
out the absurdity of the charges brought against him.
For no reason whatever and without a moment's
warning, the sergeant rushed into his house without
an invitation or observing the laws of common propriety
by ringing the bell, and ruthlessly placed handcuffs
on Mr. Fennell and marched him off to prison
like a common felon. And not a shadow of evidence
as to misbehavior against him except the statements
of his wife about the breaking of some furniture.
Now, let us suppose that Mr. Fennell did break the
furniture. Was not that his own affair? The furniture
was his property, and he could do with it as he
pleased. Perhaps he did not like the manner in which
it was designed, and Mr. Fennell, mistaking his aversion
for things not in keeping with his artistic ideals,
came to the conclusion that he was only on a voyage
of destruction when he merely was proving how little
of the philistine there was in his nature by removing
from his home such articles as did not harmonize with
his conception of the beautiful. The fact that the
whole affair happened so hastily only goes to prove
that Mr. Fennell has the artistic temperament.

The artistic temperament, my dear! What next!

The idea of doing away with the furniture, which Mr.
Fennell emphatically states he disliked,--and what
greater proof of the fact could we have than his action
in destroying it?--came to him like an inspiration, and
being a true artist he seized the opportunity, and the
world was made all the lovelier by the riddance of ugly
things. I think, in fact, I know that I have proved
that the charge of house-breaking is absurd.

(Takesout his watch, holds it in the palm of his left hand)

This watch is mine, and if I should choose to smash it
into a thousand fragments, who is there to prevent
me? What power has the law over such matters?
None whatever. Well, it would be just as ridiculous
and absurd to punish my client for smashing his own
furniture, which he purchased with his own hard
earned money, as to punish me for smashing this
watch if I should feel like doing so.

(Applause, which is suppressed)

To charge Mr. Fennell with drinking
poteen is equally absurd. He does not know what
poteen tastes like. The idea of taking a decanter and
a bottle of whiskey out of any gentleman's house
without his permission is tyranny of the very worst
kind. It is a grievous offence in the eyes of the law
as well as a breach of etiquette. What, might I ask,
would happen if any of us were to break into His
Worship's hotel and steal, or take if you will, some
choice samples of his wines? Would we not find ourselves
in a prison cell? Most assuredly we would,
and what's more, our good name would be gone forever.
The finger of scorn would be pointed at our
children and our children's children, and posterity
would never forget us.

'Tis only worse he's getting.

Order, order.

There is only one course for the Bench to adopt, and
that is to discharge Mr. Fennell. He has already
suffered enough and any one with such a ballyragging,
unreasonable, unladylike, and headstrong wife deserves
our sympathy.

(with indignation)

Mr. Cassidy, sir. How dare you stand up there in
my presence and insult my wife! You're no gentleman,
sir. Remember when you offend my wife, you
offend me. Do you hear that?

This conduct is obstreperonious, Mr. Fennell. Mr.
Cassidy is a gentleman, and he must not be either
insulted or interrupted, while he is judiciously discharging
the duties of his high office.


Oh, God help us! The world must be turned upside
down when a lawyer can be a gentleman.

Hold your tongue, woman, or I'll order you to be
arrested for contempt of court.

The next man who says a word to my wife must fight

[Buttons his coat.]

(to the magistrates)

The Bench must make due allowances for the excitement
of the moment.

Of course, of course, Mr. Duffy, but we must not
have a reoccurrence of such conduct.

Meself and herself pulled together all these long years,
and I'll be damned if I'll allow any one to say a word
to her.

[Mrs. Fennell places a handkerchief to her eyes and
commences to cry

Order, order, this is a court of justice, and the case
must proceed without further interruption or the
strictest measures of the law will be adhered to.

(Pauses, speaks to the police)
Any one who interrupts me while
I'm speaking must be ejected from the court.

Your Worship's orders will be obeyed.

Now, it was with the greatest of interest that I have
listened to the speeches pro and con for the prisoner
and never before or since have I heard such logic
and eloquence as was used in this court of justice
to-day. I am nearly sure, in fact I'm certain, that
since the days when Marcus Anthony delivered his
matchless orations before the proud and haughty
Egyptians, did such wisdom flow from the lips of any
man. By the judicious application of words and logic
we have learnt what uses can be made of the law of
the land, and though our reason may convince us
and our conscience too, that right is right and wrong
is wrong, yet, the law's the law for all that, and we
are Justices of the Peace and must respect the law
and abide by it. Mr. Duffy has clearly proved to us
how drink, especially bad and illegal drink, like poteen,
can change a man from a law-abiding, self-respecting,
and obedient husband into a demon and a housebreaker.
And Mr. Cassidy has also clearly proven
on the other hand how that same drink can change a
man from the ordinary humdrum things of life and
turn his mind to noble ideals, and make of him an
artist and an inspired one at that. Now science has
proved to us that in every one man there are two
men,--the artist, if I might be permitted to use the
term, and the house-breaker. But as the two men are
only one man, and the artist is the better of the two,
then to the artist let us pay our respects, and dismiss
the charge of house-breaking.


Ah, God help us! The town will be full of artists
when the militia comes home.

The charge of house-breaking then will be dismissed,
but I must impose a heavy fine and sentence for using
the illegal intoxicant, poteen.

Will your Worship be good enough before passing
sentence to make sure that the liquor is poteen?

We have it on the testimony of the sergeant that it is poteen.

But with all due respect to the court, we cannot convict
any one on such evidence. What does the sergeant
know about poteen?


What do I know about poteen, is it? How dare you,
sir? Was there a better maker of poteen in the
County Cork than my own father, rest his soul!

Now, isn't that evidence enough for you? Does the
sergeant look like a man who doesn't know the difference
between a good and a bad drop of whiskey?


I beg your Worship's pardon. But my client states
that the evidence is insufficient, and if he should be
convicted, he will bring the case before the Four
Courts of Dublin.

He can bring it to the four courts of--Jericho, if he
likes, but that stuff in the bottle is poteen all the

As Mr. Fennel is so dogmatic about this liquor not
being poteen, why does he not tell us where and from
whom he purchased it?

(To the sergeant)
Are you sure, Sergeant Healy, that this liquor is poteen?

As well as I remember the taste of it, your Worship,
it is. But perhaps 'twould be better to make sure
and try again.

Try again, then.

Very well.

[Pours out a little and drinks it,
smacks his lips, but says nothing

Well, Sergeant, what is it?

Is it or is it not poteen?

I don't get the flavor of it yet.

[Takes another drop.]

What is it, Sergeant, poteen or just bad whiskey?

Bedad, 'tis hard to tell. Sometimes I think 'tis poteen,
and sometimes I think it isn't. But whatever it is, it
isn't so good as the stuff me poor father used to brew.
Maybe the constable could tell us. He comes from
Castletownballymacreedy, where they make the best
poteen in Ireland.

[Hands a glassful to the constable.]

(after drinking)

There's not a shadow of a doubt about it being
poteen, your Worship, and as fine a drop as I have
tasted for many a long day.

Are you satisfied now, Mr. Cassidy?

I think it would be as well to have the opinion of some
one else.

Constable McCarthy, let you take a toothful out of
that decanter and tell us what it is.

Though I am a League of the Cross man, I suppose as
a matter of duty I must break me pledge.

[Pours out a glassful and drinks.]

Well, what is it?

Poteen, your Worship.

Now we have conclusive evidence that this liquor is
poteen, and no more serious charge could be brought
against any man than to be found guilty of using such
obnoxious stuff by a court of justice. As with the law
of nature, so with the law of the land. He who transgresses
any of nature's laws gets duly punished according
to the nature of his offence. And so also
with the law of the country. Mr. Fennell must be
punished, and his punishment must serve as an
example to others and--

I beg your Worship's pardon. We do not always get
punished for disobeying the laws of nature. Nature's
strongest force is self-assertion, and excessive self-assertion
is vanity, and vanity is sinful, and--

You must excuse me interrupting you, Mr. Cassidy,
but that train of argument cannot be followed here.

We have proved that poteen was found in the prisoner's
house, and if he did not make it himself, where
then did he get it from?

Mr. Fennel emphatically denies having anything to
do with the making of the liquor found on his premises.
And so far it has not been proved to either his
or my satisfaction that the intoxicant is poteen.

Does your client mean for a moment to cast a reflection
on the police of this town, and insinuate that they
don't know what poteen is?

We are not satisfied with the decision of the police,
your Worship.

Very well then, we'll give it a further test.

[Gives the decanter to the clerk, Peter Dwyer.

(after tasting it)

If that's not poteen,
may I never wet my lips with it again.

(to Mr. Cassidy)

Perhaps you are satisfied now.

No, I am not.

Well, taste it yourself and tell us what it is.

(tastes it)

Whatever it is, it is not poteen.

(pours out some in a glass)

I'll soon settle the question.

That's poteen,
and good poteen too.

I beg to disagree with your Worship.

How dare you disagree with me, sir, and I drinking
poteen every day of my life. I'd resign my seat on
the Bench rather than suffer to be insulted in such a
manner again.

I apologise. Nothing could be further from my
thought than offence.

I'm glad to hear you say so, because when I said that
the liquor in the decanter was poteen, I knew what I
was talking about. Unless the prisoner tells us how
he procured this illegal drink, he will be imprisoned
for six months.

For six months, is it?

Yes, for six long months, and you must find bail for
your good behavior at the end of the term for a period
of twelve months.

Well, as you are so anxious to know where I procured
the stuff that you have certified to be poteen, I have
great pleasure in telling you that it was purchased at
Mr. Cornelius John Michael O'Crowley's establishment
under the name of Scotch whiskey, and if there
is any doubt about the matter, I can show you some
of his own sealed bottles with the same stuff in them.

The saints protect us! What a vile fabrication!

Ah, you old hypocrite, 'tis about time that you were
found out.

Place that woman under arrest for contempt of court.

(Mrs. Fennell is placed in the dock)
Now, Mrs. Fennell,
anything that you will say will be used in evidence
against you, so I warn you to hold your tongue and
keep quiet.

I'll try and keep quiet, your Worship.

Gentlemen, I regret to state that a mistake has occurred
somewhere, and there's nothing more plentiful
than mistakes. They commenced long ago in the
Garden of Eden, and they are as inevitable as the day
and night, as inevitable, I might say, as America itself.
Yes, some one has blundered, as Napoleon said
when he woke up and found himself a prisoner on St.
Helena. Mr. Fennell, alas! has erred, but to err is
human, and to forgive is divine. We are reasonable
people, and we must treat this matter in a reasonable
manner. The prisoner has stated that he purchased
poteen at my premises, but what reliance can we
place on the word of a man who is addicted to drinking
poteen? None whatever. We have only the prisoner's
word that the poteen was purchased at my
establishment, but the probability is that he was only
suffering from its ill effects when he imagined that I
was the one who supplied it. Though I'm very sorry
indeed to have anything to say against Mr. Fennell,
his word cannot be taken as evidence, and the case
will be dismissed.

(Applause, which is suppressed)

The dignity of the court must be upheld, and the
next person who applauds will be ejected.

[Mr. Fennett is dismissed and Mrs. Fennett placed in
the dock. She goes through the usual ordeal of swearing,
and Mr. O'Crowley tries her case.

For contempt of court, Mrs. Fennell, you will be
fined ten pounds, and you will be bound to the peace
for twelve months, and you must give two securities
of fifty pounds each, or go to jail for a term of six
months with hard labor. And anything that you
may say after the sentence of the court has been
passed, of a disparaging nature to the Bench, will be
considered as a necessity for further punishment. I
hope that I have made myself perfectly clear.

Yes, your Worship, you have made yourself perfectly
clear. (Starts to cry) Oh, what will I do at all? Is
there no one to go bail for me?

(Mr. Fennell looks
like one who is trying to come to a decision, and Mrs.
Fennell starts to cry again

Is it the way that ye'll
be having me taken to the county jail for doing nothing
at all? Oh, wisha, who's going to go bail for me?
Maybe 'tis yourself, Mr. O'Crowley.

(walking up to the dock)

And I here, is it? Not for likely.
I'll go bail for you, of course.


[The end]
Seumas O'Brien's play: Jurisprudence: A Comedy In One Act