Quick quiz

A splendid outburst from a judge:

What is to be done with him? Is he to walk away as if nothing had happened? If his father would give him a good flogging, that would be the best way out of the difficulty, but that is not done now; it has gone out of fashion. Boys are allowed to do what they like. Then they are brought here charged with these offences, and then a passionate appeal, an eloquent appeal, or a pathetic appeal, is made to the judge not to send them to prison because it will ruin them for life.

What date do you think this is?

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6 Responses to Quick quiz

  1. I’m going to guess early 18c. Mostly because I think you’re surprised to find these sentiments so early….

  2. The language seems rather modern so I’ll take a foolhardy guess that it’s translated from Latin and that the original speech is Roman.

  3. Chris Williams says:


  4. Chris Williams says:

    No Steve – it’s more likely about ten to seven. By quarter past eight, the judge is halfway down the first bottle of claret, and feeling far more mellow.

  5. Sharon says:

    Sorry to leave you in suspense (or whatever), got bogged down and now I’ve gone and mislaid the file… it wasn’t that much of a trick question, really. It was about 1905.* I haven’t decided yet whether it really is timeless or whether the sentiments (beyond the general ‘everything’s going to the dogs these days’), about the behaviour of ‘boys’ anyway, are actually quite modern. (I ought to read Heather Shore’s book on juvenile delinquency, I suppose.) But it’s certainly something you feel you could encounter in any decade in the 20th century…

    * And it was a case of railway vandalism, which seem to have started as soon as there were railways. Wherever there’s a railway, it seems, there are people who think ‘Here’s a railway line, let’s put things on it and see what happens when the train turns up!’

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