[Works of John Stowell + note by R.J.Moore]

An Address to SCIPIO and MENTOR:
or, LAW and EQUITY united.

PEACE, peace, ye prattling lads of brass,
For Mona's sake be quiet!
Or we must send for some JUST-ASS,
To quell this furious riot.

O SCIP and MENTOR hear my prayers,
And lanket bth your tongues;
If you've no mercy on my ears,
Have mercy on your lungs !

Thy language Scipio, all avow,
Yet thou must modestly allow,
'Tis coarse compared to mine !

But why should we as some folks say,
Be of our talents vain,
When we see Mentor's genius blaze,
And soar in lofty strain.

'Tis true thy English is divine,
And well deserves a patent;
But never, Scipio, wilt thou shine,
As Mentor does in Lain.

For Mentor skill'd in ancient lore,
'Tis certainly his forte;
Read his quotation o'er and o'er,
Ah! Scipio, - "THAT'S YOUR SORT!"

Say, when wilt ever thou and I,
Be blest with such a boon ?
When raise our humble crests so high,
And each so near the moon ?

Blest Mentor, in thy mantle clad,
Stick laurels round thy wig;
But lest thy rival should go mad,
Grant him a little sprig.

What if this nimble lad of tongue,
(The champion of the Bar,)
Should with a fit of frenzy stung,
Attempt with thee to spar ?

Or, what as he's so brisk and light,
(The threat'ning danger note)
what if he'd take a sudden flight,
And pop right down thy throat ?

Could thou with all thy temper mild,
Withstand the world's dread laugh,
To find thee Mentor, big with child,
Or rather big with calf.

By some perhaps, it might be said,
(Who wish to give thee cuts,)
"What Mentor wanted in his head,
Is now within his guts".


Tip-top of Parnassus, Feb 12 [1793]


These lines appeared in the "Manks Mercury" of the 12th February 1793. Without an explanation, they would be utterly unintelligible. Under the titles of Scipio and Mentor two gentlemen had just had a somewhat lengthened correspondence, and which had been published in the newspaper above named. The subject matter of the controversy was whether or not it was essential that persons who were appointed to official positions on the Bench should be lawyers or 'professionally bred to the law'.

It may be observed that in former days, at that time, and even up to a later period, it was not a sine qua non that the judges of the Island should have any legal qualifications.

For instance - the deemsters, who were then, as at present, the chief expounders and dispensers not only of the Common and Criminal law but (as Assessors to the Chancellor) Equity judges, were usually chosen from amongst the Keys - who were supposed to be the great custodians - the ultimum regium (as they were frequently called) of the Common Law of the land.


But to return to Scipio and Mentor - the immediate cause of the discussion arose from a paragraph which appeared in the "Mercury" of the 8th January - and which ran as follows-

"It is credibly reported that the Honourable the House of Keys at their late meetings, amongst other things resolved that it would be highly injurious to the Island, and of dangerous consequence to the lives, liberties, and properties of his Majesty's loyal subjects within the land if persons not professionally bred, should be appointed to judicial offices; as the purest intentions without knowledge, ought not to be relied on. And that an address should be presented to His Majesty expressive of the sense of the above Resolution".

In the next paper a letter appeared under the signature of "Scipio" eulogizing the keys for having taken action on the matter, and setting forth how ...

 John Stowell


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received MNB Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2003