Monday, December 31, 2007

Ironquill and other lawyer-poets

Quill As 2007 comes to a close, let's note one of the more unusual pieces of legal writing produced and published this year. For example, see Brian Moline & M.H. Hoeflich, Some Kansas Lawyer-Poets, 55 U. Kan. L. Rev. 971 (2007), who examine the writings of 19th-century lawyers like Charles Calhoun Dail and Eugene Ware (nicknamed "Ironquill"). The article reproduces one of Dail's poems, titled "To the Kanass [sic] Digest":
Steal not this book, for on it I rely
To prove a lie the truth, and truth a lie;
To prove that black is white, or white is black,
And what I say to-day, to-morrow take it back.
To prove the court an ass, the judge a fool,
The jury blockhead boys at school,
The law a thing we learn by rote,
And Justice never enters court.
To prove that right is wrong, and wrong is right,
And justify my client in a fight;
To read this book to save a rogue,
Then read again to d---- a lord.
To twist the law to suit the case,
To prove some law-point out of place;
And yet be plain, polite and civil,
Yet more sarcastic then the devil.
Yet in this book the court has spoken,
And its plain rules must not broken;
Or we, who think their rulings funny,
Will lose our case and client's money.

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