Vanity Fair (UK), February 8, 1906

When the Yankee Rhadamanthus isn’t judging,
 His energies he never will refuse
(And give them, mind you, freely, without grudging)
 To gathering the spiciest of news.
If the members of the Smart Set cut their capers,
 His Honour makes them pay for all their fun,
For he writes up all their secrets in the papers:
 A Judge’s life’s an interesting one.

When the Judge has finished all his daily labours,
 When he’s through with all the worries of the Bar,
He loves to find out things about his neighbours,
 And put them in a biting little par.;
And in spite of all the taunts of Mr. Collier,
 And the yarns that trenchant gentleman has spun,
I can hardly think of any life much jollier:
 A Judge’s lot is far the happiest one.



Printed untitled and unsigned in Vanity Fair; entered as “Judge Deuel (16 lines)” by Wodehouse in Money Received for Literary Work. The poem needed no title, because it was preceded in Vanity Fair by three paragraphs of commentary, not by Wodehouse; the first of those is worth quoting:

   To those who have studied the Town Topics case which has caused so much excitement in the United States, it will seem that the quotation “East is East and West is West” is as true of Europe and America as of Europe and Asia. Here we have a benevolent Judge upon the Bench acting in an advisory capacity to a journal which is charged with a cruel form of blackmail, a form which consists in the collection and publication of ancient scandals touching the private lives of men and women who have risen to prominence.


New York. It was announced this evening that action will be taken to remove Mr. Joseph Deuel from the position of Judge of the Court of Special Sessions, mainly on the allegation that, while acting as a justice, he has virtually managed a paper called “Town Topics” from the judicial Bench. It is alleged that “Town Topics” coerced people to subscribe to a book called “Fads and Fancies,” threatening to publish charges against them in “Town Topics” unless they paid sums ranging from £300. Many paid. Mr. Deuel admitted that he received a salary from “Town Topics” for his services, and that he wrote instructions to a canvasser for “Fads and Fancies” on the official court notepaper. (Hull Daily Mail, January 19, 1906)
  The Greek mythological figure Rhadamanthus is one of the judges of the dead in Dante’s Inferno.

John Dawson    


Mr. Collier: Robert J. Collier, publisher of Collier’s Weekly, who encouraged his editor Norman Hapgood to denounce Town Topics and Judge Deuel. The judge brought suit against Hapgood for criminal libel, but a jury found that no libel had been committed.

  The meter and rhyme scheme of these verses parody the lyric “When a felon’s not engaged in his employment” (ending with “A policeman’s lot is not a happy one”) from Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance.

Neil Midkiff