Daily Chronicle, February 4, 1904

1 [A man was sent to gaol for five days at Jamaica, New York, for uttering the word “damn” once in the public street.]

As Constable X of Jamaica,
 (The State’s firmest pillar, its rock),
Did duty one day in the usual way,
 He got a most terrible shock.
He reeled to the handiest lamp-post,
 Too weak to proceed on his beat,
Till five minutes had passed he stood helpless, aghast,
 For a man had said “. . . .” in the street!

Then Constable X of Jamaica
 (Much praise did his hardihood win),
Alert, unafraid, blew his whistle for aid,
 And gathered the reprobate in,
When he stated the charge the next morning,
 The magistrate sprang from his seat.
And with agonised stare he cried, “What! Did he swear?
 Did he really say ‘. . . .’ in the street?”

There’s a cell in the gaol of Jamaica,
 Of steel is constructed the door,
The windows are barred, and the bedding is hard:
 Inside is the party who swore.
For days has he battened on skilly,
 In lieu of his puddings and meat,
For the law is so stern when it wants you to learn
 That you mustn’t say “. . . .” in the street.
You may do what you please in Jamaica,
 And the law will have nothing to say:
If you’re out of a job you may burgle and rob;
 If you wish to pick pockets you may:
You may forge, if you feel that you need to,
 Or murder, perhaps—as a treat,
But to prison you’re haled and securely you’re gaoled,
 If you chance to say “. . . .” in the street.

P. G. W. 




“Profanity is punished severely in Jamaica, New York. Jacob Walter went to gaol for five days on Saturday for publicly uttering the word ‘damn’ in the street.” (Portsmouth Evening News, Monday, 25 January 1904)

John Dawson