How dear to some hearts is the old oaken doctrine
Of the misinformed plaintiff’s election to sue
The contracting agent or undisclosed principal
Whom research or fortune presents to full view.
If, having full knowledge, you proceed to judgment
You may have imperiled your chance to collect.
Should the jury’s discretion absolve your defendant,
Your suit ‘gainst the other is totally wrecked.

The old oaken doctrine,
The iron-bound doctrine,
The moss-covered doctrine,
That hangs on so well.

How gladly from judges of old some receive it,
Reinforced by approval of courts “very strong”;
Neither reason nor justice will tempt them to leave it.
Thus ancient decision lends credit to wrong.
And even Restaters submit to its power,
Unable to break with the voice of the past;
Ill-fated the judgment and rueful its hour—
The doctrine established makes Justice aghast.