Poems (Chesterton, 1915)/The Horrible History of Jones
THE HORRIBLE HISTORY OF JONES
JONES had a dog; it had a chain;
Not often worn, not causing pain;
But, as the I.K.L. had passed
Their "Unleashed Cousins Act" at last,
Inspectors took the chain away;
Whereat the canine barked "hurray"!
At which, of course, the S.P.U.
(Whose Nervous Motorists' Bill was through),
Were forced to give the dog in charge
For being Audibly at Large.
None, you will say, were now annoyed,
Save, haply, Jones—the yard was void.
But something being in the lease
About "alarms to aid the police,"
The U.S.U. annexed the yard
For having no sufficient guard;
Now if there's one condition
The C.C.P. are strong upon
It is that every house one buys
Must have a yard for exercise;
So Jones, as tenant, was unfit,
His state of health was proof of it.
Two doctors of the T.T.U.'s
Told him his legs from long disuse,
Were atrophied; and saying "So
From step to higher step we go
Till everything is New and True,"
They cut his legs off and withdrew.
You know the E.T.S.T.'s views
Are stronger than the T.T.U.'s:
And soon (as one may say) took wing
The Arms, though not the Man, I sing.
To see him sitting limbless there
Was more than the K.K. could bear
"In mercy silence with all speed
That mouth there are no hands to feed;
What cruel sentimentalist,
O Jones, would doom thee to exist—
Clinging to selfish Selfhood yet?
Weak one! Such reasoning might upset
The Pump Act, and the accumulation
Of all constructive legislation;
Let us construct you up a bit—"
The head fell off when it was hit:
Then words did rise and honest doubt,
And four Commissions sat about
Whether the slash that left him dead
Cut off his body or his head.
An author in the Isle of Wight
Observed with unconcealed delight
A land of just and old renown
Where Freedom slowly broadened down
From Precedent to Precedent . . .
And this, I think, was what he meant.