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The Devil's Dictionary:    

Definition of Sheriff

  SHERIFF   noun
In America the chief executive office of a country, whose most characteristic duties, in some of the Western and Southern States, are the catching and hanging of rogues.
  John Elmer Pettibone Cajee
  (I write of him with little glee)
  Was just as bad as he could be.

  'Twas frequently remarked:  'I swon!
  The sun has never looked upon
  So bad a man as Neighbor John.'

  A sinner through and through, he had
  This added fault:  it made him mad
  To know another man was bad.

  In such a case he thought it right
  To rise at any hour of night
  And quench that wicked person's light.

  Despite the town's entreaties, he
  Would hale him to the nearest tree
  And leave him swinging wide and free.

  Or sometimes, if the humor came,
  A luckless wight's reluctant frame
  Was given to the cheerful flame.

  While it was turning nice and brown,
  All unconcerned John met the frown
  Of that austere and righteous town.

  'How sad,' his neighbors said, 'that he
  So scornful of the law should be --
  An anar c, h, i, s, t.'

  (That is the way that they preferred
  To utter the abhorrent word,
  So strong the aversion that it stirred.)

  'Resolved,' they said, continuing,
  'That Badman John must cease this thing
  Of having his unlawful fling.

  'Now, by these sacred relics' -- here
  Each man had out a souvenir
  Got at a lynching yesteryear --

  'By these we swear he shall forsake
  His ways, nor cause our hearts to ache
  By sins of rope and torch and stake.

  'We'll tie his red right hand until
  He'll have small freedom to fulfil
  The mandates of his lawless will.'

  So, in convention then and there,
  They named him Sheriff.  The affair
  Was opened, it is said, with prayer.

J. Milton Sloluck

Devil's Dictionarydefinition from:
The Devil's Dictionary
by Ambrose Bierce, 1911


Last updated: 9/3/2011 12:48:30