Duffy's Blunder (MacEdward Leach)

John Martin Duffy was judge of a court,
In a rising young town in the west;
He didn't know much about ways of the law,
Though a judge he was one of the best.

One day a young black was brought to the stand,
For stealing a new pair of pants;
And though we all knew he was guilty of course,
Those words from the judge made him dance:

"Young man, I'll discharge you. Now run along home.
I'll leave you off this time. You're free now to roam.
For the evidence shows me right here with a glance,
That you can't make a suit out of one pair of pants."

Judge Duffy one day bought a pair of blind mules,
To drive him around the town;
One dark stormy night a bold burglar stole one,
And escaped on its back from the grounds.

Now Duffy was great in believing in fate,
And he prayed every night and every day,
That the Lord would be good
and the burglar'd come back,
With the mule he had stolen away.

So he prayed every night and he prayed every day,
And sure the good Lord sent the burglar his way;
But he came in the nighttime for he was no fool,
And while Duffy slept, stole the other blind mule.

One night in the winter a murder occurred,
It was laid to the blacksmith in town;
They caught him red-handed
though he had three trials,
The verdict of guilty they found.

But he was the only blacksmith in town,
And they hated to take his dear life;
So Duffy rose up on the bench like a man,
In a few words he settled the strife.

Saying, "I move we discharge him
for we need him at home."
Then he spoke up these words that gave him renown:
"We have two Chinese laundrymen everyone knows,
So save our poor blacksmith and hang one of those."

####.... Joseph Flynn (M Witmark & Sons, New York, NY; Francis, Day & Hunter, London ©1892. ....####

Collected in 1951 from Cyril O'Brien [1916-1995] of Trepassey, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was also collected in 1953 by Helen Creighton as John Martin Duffy from Neil O'Brien of Pictou County, Nova Scotia (Rec no. 2458, Loc. no. AR 5676, AC 2331, MF no. 289.525).

A shorter variant was collected in 1978 from Clem Adams in Arkansas as Old Judge Duffy and published in Southern Folk Ballads by William Hardy McNeill.


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