The Country Justice

A poem by Jean de La Fontaine

TWO lawyers to their cause so well adhered,
A country justice quite confused appeared,
By them the facts were rendered so obscure
With which the truth remained he was not sure.
At length, completely tired, two straws he sought
Of diff'rent lengths, and to the parties brought.
These in his hand he held: - the plaintiff drew
(So fate decreed) the shortest of the two.
On this the other homeward took his way,
To boast how nicely he had gained the day.

THE bench complained: the magistrate replied
Don't blame I pray - 'tis nothing new I've tried;
Courts often judge at hazard in the law,
Without deciding by the longest straw.

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