Legal v Illegal Smoke

This is a little verse that featured in the Sydney Punch magazine  about steam trams on 26 May 1883;

As it fell upon a day,

In this wintry month of May, Sitting in judicial court,

A merry Judge, and fond of sport,

With two lesser lights agreed,

And pronounced what laws decreed!

‘The law in Toohey versus Queen,

By me is very clearly seen;

And their Honors both concur

In the rule, without demur,

We find, in ancient times ’twas writ,

A highway, Oxford Street, to wit,

Was but a public road, a course

Which might be used by man or horse.

It too makes mention of an ass

To enter, exit, pass, repass;

But to us it does not seem

That people ever thought of steam,

It was unknown, we take it so –

Sine prejudicio.

Altho’ while sitting here we choke

With this illegal engine smoke,

And the fearful noise and rumble,

Whistling, ringing, all a jumble,

We are Honors not – divided –

But against the Queen decided.

Give complainant what she claims,

And stop at once these noisy trams.’

The Premier, frightened into fits,

Has since been served with fifty writs;

Each Barrister receives his brief,

The law thanks Justice and her Chief;

While Cohen dreams the entire nation

Is ruined with tram litigation.

Members are summoned to attend,

And public Ways and Means defend;

So PUNCH expects abuse invective,

As the work is retrospective,

Questions, Motions and Replies

Order, Chair, and Noes and Ayes;

Days and nights of toil and trouble,

A tramway Act will end the bubble.

But PUNCH, pro bono, here will venture,

On one to call down public censure;

Let him who introduced the Bill,

Say why his task he didn’t fill? ‘

Tis certainly a sad mishap,

Tho’ no fault of our old Goodchap.

This article is courtesy of the great book called  ‘Juggernaut’, by david Burke’ and is brought to you by Tram Scrolls Australia, specialists in premium quality replica tram and bus destination art. 1300 632 332 or

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