“Down on Your Knees”


Thomas Fitzgerald enters hell. He is accused: "While on earth your shortlived reign All your delights were torture's dreadful pain." Lucifer prepares him for sentence: "Down on your knees." He is sentenced to eternal pain


Moylan: Thomas Judkin Fitzgerald was High Sheriff for County Tipperary in 1798. "He would have people seized on the street, and, ignoring all and any protestations or proof of innocence, would have them savagely flogged.... Bernard Wright of Clonmel, commemorated his experiences in this acrostic piece of verse upon reading of Fitzgerald's death. Fitzgerald's words to Wright -- 'Down on your knees, rebellious scoundrel, and receive your sentence' -- are the reason for the title." - BS

Thomas Pakenham gives a generally pro-British history of 1798 in _The Year of Liberty_, but on p. 283, he gives this description of Fitzgerald, a later-day Judge Jeffries: "At his trial in 1799 [for his brutality] Fitzgerald was to claim that only by 'cutting off their heads' could some people be made to talk. There was laughter in the court. The terrible thing was that Fitzgerald was not joking. His judicial policy, as summed up by the judge in his own case, reads like a speech of the Red Queen's: sentence first, then execution, then trial." (Pakenham's refence is actually to the Queen of Hearts in _Alice in Wonderland_, the chapter "Alice's Evidence": "Sentence first -- verdict afterward." Not that it matters who said it. What matters is who practiced it.) - RBW


  1. Moylan 98, "Down on Your Knees" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BI, Moyl098


Author: Bernard Wright (source: Moylan)
Earliest date: 1981 (O hOgain's _Duanaire Thiobraid Arainn_, according to Moylan)