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the Law is a Ass in United Kingdom

According to Encyclopedia of Britain, “the law is a ass” is an observation “by Mr Bumble, the beadle in *Oliver Twist, on hearing that he is even more guilty than Mrs Bumble in the matter of Oliver’s mother’s missing locket and gold ring because ‘the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction’. ‘If the law supposes that’, rejoins Bumble, ‘the law is a ass – a idiot.’

If the law supposes that … the law is a ass – a idiot

Quotation taken from Oliver Twist (Chapter 51). Oliver Twist, subtitled The Parish Boy’s Progress, is the second novel by Charles Dickens, published in 1837. Quotation taken from “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass, a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience.”

It was an observation by Mr. Bumble having just been informed (by Mr. Brownlow) that “the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.”

Mr. Bumble was, understandably, very irritated when he made this statement. He had been accused of stealing jewelry belonging to Oliver’s mother; and, after making sure his wife had left the room, he responded: “It was all Mrs. Bumble.” Brownlow, the solicitor, advised Mr. Bumble “that is no excuse” because:

“‘You were present on the occasion…and, indeed, you are the more guilty of the two, in the eye of the law; for the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.

“‘If the law supposes that,’ said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, ‘the law is a ass — a idiot. If that’s the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience.'”

A report, in the Guardian, headed [Pete] Doherty freed on bail after drugs raid, page 4, October 3, claimed that an alleged statement by Doherty, describing the law as “a pain in the arse”, was a paraphrase of a remark by Samuel Johnson. If it was paraphrasing anything it was probably an observation by Mr Bumble in chapter 51 of Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist: “If the law supposes that,” said Mr Bumble, “…the law is a ass – a idiot.”

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  • Article Name: the Law is a Ass
  • Author: International
  • Description: According to Encyclopedia of Britain, the law is a ass is an observation by Mr Bumble, the beadle in *Oliver Twist, on [...]

This entry was last updated: March 21, 2015

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