James Patrick O’Hara, the Justice of Peace,
He bossed the P.M. and he bossed the police;
A parent, a deacon, a landlord was he —
A townsman of weight was O’Hara, J.P.
He gave out the prizes, foundation-stones laid,
He shone when the Governor’s visit was paid;
And twice re-elected as Mayor was he —
The flies couldn’t roost on O’Hara, J.P.
Now Sandy M‘Fly, of the Axe-and-the-Saw,
Was charged with a breach of the licensing law —
He sold after hours whilst talking too free
On matters concerning O’Hara, J.P.
And each contradicted the next witness flat,
Concerning back parlours, side-doors, and all that;
’Twas very conflicting, as all must agree —
‘Ye’d better take care!’ said O’Hara, J.P.
But ‘Baby,’ the barmaid, her evidence gave —
A poor, timid darling who tried to be brave —
‘Now, don’t be afraid — if it’s frightened ye be —
‘Speak out, my good girl,’ said O’Hara, J.P.
Her hair was so golden, her eyes were so blue,
Her face was so fair and her words seemed so true —
So green in the ways of sweet women was he
That she jolted the heart of O’Hara, J P.
He turned to the other grave Justice of Peace,
And whispered, ‘You can’t always trust the police;
‘I’ll visit the premises during the day,
‘And see for myself,’ said O’Hara, Jay Pay.
* * * * * *
’Twas early next morning, or late the same night —
‘’Twas early next morning’ we think would be right —
And sounds that betokened a breach of the law
Escaped through the cracks of the Axe-and-the-Saw.
And Constable Dogherty, out in the street,
Met Constable Clancy a bit off his beat;
He took him with finger and thumb by the ear,
And led him around to a lane in the rear.
He pointed a blind where strange shadows were seen —
Wild pantomime hinting of revels within —
‘We’ll drop on M‘Fly, if you’ll listen to me,
‘And prove we are right to O’Hara, J. P.’
But Clancy was up to the lay of the land,
He cautiously shaded his mouth with his hand —
‘Wisht, man! Howld yer whisht! or it’s ruined we’ll be,
‘It’s the justice himself — it’s O’Hara, J.P.’
They hish’d and they whishted, and turned themselves round,
And got themselves off like two cats on wet ground;
Agreeing to be, on their honour as men,
A deaf-dumb-and-blind institution just then.
Inside on a sofa, two barmaids between,
With one on his knee was a gentleman seen;
And any chance eye at the keyhole could see
In less than a wink ’twas O’Hara, J.P.
The first in the chorus of songs that were sung,
The loudest that laughed at the jokes that were sprung,
The guest of the evening, the soul of the spree —
The daddy of all was O’Hara, J.P.
And hard-cases chuckled, and hard-cases said
That Baby and Alice conveyed him to bed —
In subsequent storms it was painful to see
Those hard-cases side with the sinful J.P.
Next day, in the court, when the case came in sight,
O’Hara declared he was satisfied quite;
The case was dismissed — it was destined to be
The final ukase of O’Hara, J.P.
The law and religion came down on him first —
The Christian was hard but his wife was the worst!
Half ruined and half driven crazy was he —
It made an old man of O’Hara, J. P.
Now, young men who come from the bush, do you hear?
Who know not the power of barmaids and beer —
Don’t see for yourself! from temptation steer free,
Remember the fall of O’Hara, J.P.
Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 134-137
J. P. = Justice of the Peace
ukase = a decree, edict, or proclamation (from “ukase” in Russia, being a proclamation by a Tsar or government which had the force of law)