The Mercenary View
I knew a poor remittance man,
A decent chap, but funny,
In days when my ideas began
To be controlled by money
He wore a swank, patrician air;
But, oh, his life was filled with care,
For he had seldom cash to spare;
His mien was far from sunny.
I fear I was a snobbish youth
Who led a prig's existence.
I snubbed the chap, to tell the truth,
And kept him at a distance.
His clothes, well cut, were often worn
Threadbare. Tho' he was gently born
His friendship I refused with scorn
Despite his soft insistence.
But now the whirligig of time
Sees fit to elevate him.
While, lo, the money that was mine
Is shrinking, seriatim;
And faced by serious mishap.
While he reclines in Fortune's lap.
I'd like to find the dear old chap
I'd want to cultivate him.
Brightness Breaches And The Beak
Bright young thing: Thou on the beaches
Life is gay and pleasure laden
All in vain the law beseeches
Courtesy from man and maiden
When a car, adorned with beauty
Unadorned, swings down the road,
There's a certain civic duty,
There's a cop, and there's a code,
There's Dame Caution - stuffy ogress -
Who deplores your carefree progress.
Bright young thing, who, with one finger
Nonchalantly on the steering,
(Ever indisposed to linger)
Down the beach road goes careering -
Youth's high claims need no endorsement,
Ever at convention scoffing;
But the fiends of law-enforcement
Lurk obscurely in the offing,
Prone to pounce on any stir made
Even by a scorching mermaid.
Bright young thing: Life can be brighter
When devoid of traffic danger.
E'en this poor pedestrian blighter,
E'en that slow and aged stranger
Has some right to go on living,
On this earth superfluous lagging.
But not the Law, so far forgiving,
Tires of its paternal nagging,
Ill-content to look askance
On sun-tanned insouciance.
Bright young thing upon the beaches,
Youth is urgent, youth is eager.
But no more the Law beseeches
With its admonitions meagre
Your observance of its ruling,
Your respect for cop, and Code,
But, if you must still go fooling,
'Stepping on it' up the road,
At its end, for flapper, shiek,
Lurks, relentlessly, The Beak.
The Lure Of Trees
I honour all trees well; but, best of all,
I love those scarred old veterans, proud and tall,
Gazing from eminences, kingly wise,
Across great sweeps of changing earth and skies;
Gazing with seeming scorn upon the race
Of midgets who despoil this forest place
The restless race of men who, with edged tools,
With fire, have come to serve the end of fools.
Well these patricians know their own high worth;
Well know their task in serving Mother Earth:
Beckoning rain-clouds sailing overhead
That earth may drink and living things be fed,
Clutching with myriad roots the precious soil
The sun or sudden flood else would despoil,
Bending to tempests, spreading to the sky,
Remote, untamed, unconquered till they die.
I know them in the rose light of the dawn,
Sharp-etched upon the hill-tops, boldly drawn
Against the light. I know them at high noon,
Their gleaming arms held up, as for the boon
Of life they offer thanks; know them at night
When, out against the moon's enriching light,
Some bold phalanger launches from their tops
And, like a falling leaf, swings down and drops.
And still come stupid men with axe and fire
Scattering death to serve some brief desire.
'More than our lives are forfeit,' says the tree,
'For as we go, so man's prosperity
Goes with us, till this once green, gracious hill
Shall thirst in vain, when you have wrought your fill.'
I love, I honour all those forest kings;
They are such wise, such proudly scornful things.
The Creed Of Old George Jones
A little of fretting, a little of getting,
A little of slaving and saving, may be;
A little of spending, a little of lending
And giving up living be easy and free:
But a man gathers, and all a man owns
Goes out at the finish (said old George Jones)
Like a spark in the dark, and the sum of his trying,
A name and a memory drifting and dying.
A little of blund'ring, a little of wond'ring,
A little of scheming and dreaming when young;
A little of grieving; a little believing,
In secret, strange things that come slow to the tongue;
For every man is a being apart,
And none may look deep in his fellow-man's heart
Scholars and strangers, chance met in life's college;
But tolerance grows with the sum of our knowledge.
And I, who have tarried o'er long with the living,
Have come to a creed that gives hope of content;
In getting and spending is grief; but in giving
Is all that this riddle of life ever meant.
For life is a riddle; an, tho' I grow old,
Still fit as a fiddle, to one creed I hold:
'Tis getting moves man while to life he is cleaving;
But giving looms large when it comes to his leaving.
A little of sorrow, of plans for tomorrow,
A little of helping the weak and the fool;
A little of laughter, and all that comes after
Is one lesson learned in life's arduous school,
For all a man gathers, and all a man owns
But ends in a heartache (said old George Jones),
Like a spark in the dark comes an end to his living,
And all that live after, the sum of his giving.
A Song Of Anzac
'When I'm sittin' in me dug-out, with me rifle on me knees,
An' a yowlin', 'owlin' chorus comes a-floatin' up the breeze
Just a bit o' 'Bonnie Mary'
Or 'Long Way to Tipperary'
Then I know I'm in Australia took an' planted overseas...'
So we sang in days remembered - fateful days of pain and war
When the young lads went forth singing, ship-bound for an unknown shore.
They were singing, ever singing, careless lads in careworn days,
Sturdy youths, but yet unblooded to red war's unholy ways.
From a land untouched by slaughter
Fared they forth across the water:
Some to Destiny's grim gateway where the scarlet poppy sways.
* * * *
'They were singin' on the troopship, they were singin' in the train;
When they left their land behind them they were shoutin' a refrain.
An' I'll bet they have a chorus
Gay an' glad in greetin' for us
When their bit of scrappin's over an' they sail back home again...'
So we sang to dull the aching that was looming even then
When the boys went out to battle, to come back stern fighting men.
So we strove to keep hope buoyant while they lived untouched by war,
But they came back, not with singing, when those anxious days were o'er
Disillusioned and war-weary,
And, for all their smiles were cheery,
Some came bitter, some came broken, some, they came back nevermore.
And today again they're marching, rugged veterans, grey and grave
These, who joined the carefree chorus, shouting many an olden stave
To the tramping cohorts' motion;
To the rolling of the ocean;
In their singing seeking kinship that high youth must ever crave.
Aye, today again they're marching with old faith and fellowship;
Grave and grey, with memory marching, but no song lifts to the lip.
Year by year the Boys are gathered; year by year the count grows fewer;
But the flame, new-lit on Anzac, goes before them burning pure;
And the Song of Anzac ringing
High above them, sounding, swinging,
Tells that memory of Anzac shall endure while these endure.
* * * *
They are marching with the old days, with the singing in their hearts,
With the memory of mateship that for not one hour departs:
Silent men, with sober faces,
Marking now the vacant places
Yearly growing, yearly showing where life ends and hope re-starts.
That trimphant Song of Anzac that the living Anzac hears -
Hears imperfectly and dimly,
As he tramps on gravely, grimly
Haunts the old familiar roadway he has trodden thro' the years.
Done are these with youth's vain dreaming who have yet to pay earth's price,
These who harked to young mates singing,
These who saw their young souls winging,
Ever singing, blithely singing, to the gates of Paradise.
The Boon Of Discontent
Once an anthropoidal ape,
Hairy, savage, strange of shape,
On a day that was excessively B.C.,
In a forest damp and dim,
With his tail round a limb,
Hung head downward from a neolithic tree;
And appeared to be lost in gloomy introspection.
In his dull primeval style,
He considered quite a while
A comparatively thoughtful ape was he
Then he drummed upon his chest,
And remarked: 'I give it best!
Strike me lucky! This 'ere game's no good to me!
And I'm full up of the whole damn business!'
To the father of the tribe
He proceeded to describe
How upon a change of living he was bent.
Said the Tory anthropoid:
'Son, such thoughts you should avoid:
They are obviously born of discontent.
And such revolutionary notions would rend the whole social fabric.'
Since the Eocene,
Till this age of biplanes,
Man has ever been
Yearning toward the high planes.
And while the Tory lags behind in by-ways worn and narrow,
'Tis the discontented section that shoves on the old world's barrow.
Once a naked troglodyte,
On a bitter Winter's night,
Sat and shivered in his cave the whole night through!
For his scanty coat of hair
In no manner could compare
With the matted clothes his late forefather grew.
(Meaning the meditative anthropoidal ape I mentioned previously.)
And the troglodyte remarked,
As without a wild dog barked,
And a dinosaurus lumbered through the fog,
'I am sick of nakedness,
And I'd like, I must confess,
To be shielded in the clothing of a dog.
And, hang me, if I don't go after one in the morning.'
He was met with scoffs and grins,
When he walked abroad in skins:
And the troglodyte Conservatives cried: 'Shame!
Thus to hide the healthy nude
Is obscene, indecent rude!'
But the malcontent felt warmer, all the same.
And so began the evolution of the split skirt and the hot sock.
Since the Age of Stone,
To these Days of Reason,
Man has keener grown
In and out of season.
'Tis through being discontented that humanity progresses.
If you're satisfied with dog skins you will ne'er have satin dresses.
Once upon a time, a slave
Had an impulse to behave
In a most unprecedented sort of style.
He threw down his tools, and cried
That he wasn't satisfied,
And all slavery was barbarous and vile.
(They probably boiled him in oil; but that's merely incidental.)
Once again, a man who rode
In a coach disliked the mode
Of that locomotion. 'Twas too slow by far.
He was filled with discontent;
So he - or some other - went
And, in course of time, evolved the motor-car.
And, if ever you've had one scare seven devils out of you, you'll know
it for a very great invention.
So, observe, this discontent
To mankind is wisely sent
That he may be urged along to conquer new things,
They who were quite satisfied,
Like the Dinosaurs, died.
While the discontented anthropoids still do things.
And continue to be discontented, of course; but that's all in the game.
Since the age of apes,
To this generation,
Mankind thus escapes
Here's the only consolation my philosophy is giving:
Discontentment with existence is your sole excuse for living.
The Mooch O' Life
This ev'nin' I was sittin' wiv Doreen,
Peaceful an' 'appy wiv the day's work done,
Watchin', be'ind the orchard's bonzer green,
The flamin' wonder of the settin' sun.
Another day gone by; another night
Creepin' along to douse Day's golden light;
Another dawning when the night is gone,
To live an' love - an' so life mooches on.
Times I 'ave thought, when things was goin' crook,
When 'Ope turned nark an' Love forgot to smile,
Of somethin' I once seen in some old book
Where an ole sorehead arsts, 'Is life worf w'ile? '
But in that stillness, as the day grows dim,
An' I am sittin' there wiv 'er an' 'im-
My wife, my son! an' strength in me to strive,
I only know - it's good to be alive!
Yeh live, yeh love, yeh learn; an' when yeh come
To square the ledger in some thortful hour,
The everlastin' answer to the sum
Must allus be, 'Where's sense in gittin' sour? '
Fer when yeh've come to weigh the good an' bad -
The gladness wiv the sadness you 'ave 'ad -
Then 'im 'oo's faith in 'uman goodness fails
Fergits to put 'is liver in the scales.
Livin' an' loving learnin' day be day;
Pausin' a minute in the barmy strife
To find that 'elpin' others on the way
Is gold coined fer your profit - sich is life.
I've studied books wiv yearnings to improve,
To 'eave meself out of me lowly groove,
An' 'ere is orl the change I ever got:
''Ark at yer 'eart, an' you kin learn the lot.'
I gives it in - that wisdom o' the mind -
I wasn't built to play no lofty part.
Orl such is welkim to the joys they find;
I only know the wisdom o' the 'eart.
An' ever it 'as taught me, day be day,
The one same lesson in the same ole way:
'Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
Fer 'atin' never paid no dividends.'
Life's wot yeh make it; an' the bloke 'oo tries
To grab the shinin' stars frum out the skies
Goes crook on life, an' calls the world a cheat,
An' tramples on the daisies at 'is feet.
But when the moon comes creepin' o'er the hill,
An' when the mopoke calls along the creek,
I takes me cup o' joy an' drinks me fill,
An' arsts meself wot better could I seek.
An' ev'ry song I 'ear the thrushes sing
That everlastin' message seems to bring;
An' ev'ry wind that whispers in the trees
Gives me the tip there ain't no joys like these:
Livin' an' loving wand'rin' on yeh way;
Reapin' the 'arvest of a kind deed done;
An' watching in the sundown of yer day,
Yerself again, grown nobler in yer son.
Knowin' that ev'ry coin o' kindness spent
Bears interest in yer 'eart at cent per cent;
Measurin' wisdom by the peace it brings
To simple minds that values simple things.
An' when I take a look along the way
That I 'ave trod, it seems the man knows best,
Who's met wiv slabs of sorrer in 'is day,
When 'e is truly rich an' truly blest.
An' I am rich, becos me eyes 'ave seen
The lovelight in the eyes of my Doreen;
An' I am blest, becos me feet 'ave trod
A land 'oo's fields reflect the smile o' God.
Livin' an' lovin'; learnin' to fergive
The deeds an' words of some un'appy bloke
Who's missed the bus - so 'ave I come to live,
An' take the 'ole mad world as 'arf a joke.
Sittin' at ev'nin' in this sunset-land,
Wiv 'Er in all the World to 'old me 'and,
A son, to bear me name when I am gone....
Livin' an' lovin' - so life mooches on.
The Corpse That Won'T Lie Still
Aye, call it murder is ye will!
'Tis not the crime I fear.
If his cold curse would but lie still
And silent in its bier,
Then would I be indeed content,
And count it folly to repent.
With these two hands I've slain the knave;
I've watched the red blood drop;
I've rammed him tight into his grave,
And piled the clods atop,
And tramped them down exultingly....
Now back he comes to grin at me.
Once have I slain him in his bed,
Twice by the midnight blaze;
Thrice have I looked upon him dead
All in these seven days.
Yet here, this night, I've seen him stand
And pluck the pen from out my hand.
Nay, never spook nor sprite is he,
But solid flesh and blood,
Who schemes with deep malignity
To stint my livelihood.
And he had vowed a vow my name
Shall never grace the scroll of fame.
My name he bears, my garb he wears,
My pipes he idly smokes;
And, friend-like, he but rarely cares
To praise my sorry jokes.
He spends my money lavishly
With ne'er a thrifty thought for me.
And when my ready cash is gone
He runs me into debt.
Stern duty he will harp upon
When I would fain forget.
But when, through toil, I would be free
He soothes me with rank sophistry.
Whene'er with resolutions stern
I sit me down to work,
And mighty thoughts within me burn,
Then forth comes he to lurk
Here at my elbow, where he clings
And whispers of forbidden things.
So when I woo some lofty theme
Of deep religious tone,
He lures me on to idly dream,
As we sit there alone.
Of girls I have and have not kissed,
Of favors won and chances missed.
He whispers of that tempting book
I have no time to read;
'One peep,' he pleads: 'one hasty look!
Where is the harm, indeed?'
And when I speak of work, and sigh,
''Twill do to-morrow!' is his cry.
And oft - too well I know how oft
Beneath his subtle spell
I fall, and dream of living soft
Who know - aye, none so well
That living soft is but for him
Who earns his ease with labor grim.
Dreams, dreams, and ever idle dreams!
His glowing art I hate!
Yet pleasant for the hour it seems,
His soothing opiate.
And, though I slay him, this I dread:
He oftener alive than dead.
Oh, I have to be so very sure,
No later than last night,
That I had pinned the knave secure,
And I was free to write
Those mighty masterpieces which
To pen my fingers ever itch.
But, with his slouch and lazy leer,
Lo, came back he to-day:
With wheedling lips against mine ear
He tempted me to play
At tennis all the afternoon.
Work and resolve forgot so soon!
Yet, spite his faults, he is, I swear,
A merry knave withal;
And when I have the time to spare
That's seldom, if at all
I'd roam with him 'mid fields and flow'rs
If he'd be still in business hours.
Each morn I bash him on the head
And hide him out of sight.
Full, sure, indeed, that he is dead;
But back he comes each night,
And on the lotus buds we feed
When bread and butter is my need.
Though many ways his death I've planned
And slain him, as I've said,
He takes a lot of killing and
He'll never stay long dead.
And, though, each day i cause his death,
I know he'll live while I have breath.
But let me vow the vow again
The vow I know by heart
And, here and now, with hasty pen,
Stab to some vital part.
And, mocked by his departing laugh,
Rewrite his oft-writ epitaph.
'Here lies the man I should not be
By all stern rules of life.
The man who's plagued and hampered me
All through this mundane strife.
A lazy, loafing knave was he....
But, sooth, he was fine company.'
Charity, Charity - parson and priest
Ever in church and in chapel have taught
'Give ye in charity e'en to the least,
So may the favor of Heaven be bought.
Strive ye in Virtue, for Him that we call
Master has named it the greatest of all.
Strive ye in holiness;
Owner of acres and breeder of sheep.
Cleaning his wealth with a masterful hand,
Scheming for profit with schemes that are deep.
Yet is the squatter a generous soul
A generous donor, and this be more:
He never begrudges - nor misses - the dole
Of gratuitous guineas he flings from his store.
Charity, Charity - purchase your fame!
All the world honours a giver of alms.
Noble philanthropist! Publish his name!
Scatter his gift to the suppliant palms.
Nay! Would you ask how his guineas are won?
Mark his beneficence? See what he's done!
Thank him, ye lowly ones;
Bless him you holy ones.
Charity, Charity - worthily done!
Humble BILL HODMAN is agèd and poor;
Owning no riches and owning no lands,
Living the life of a labouring boor,
Earning his bread by the toil of his hands.
Yet is the toiler an obstinate soul
An obstinate pauper, and this be more:
He'd answer with curses if offered a dole
In charity out of a rich man's store.
Charity, Charity - ignorant clowns!
What should ye know of personal pride?
Shame on your surliness! Shame on your frowns!
Spurring the gifts that the wealthy provide!
Are they not generous? Are they not kind?
Pride is their privilege, why should ye mind?
Charity, Charity - fools, ye are blind!
Proud Squatter REX has a charming wife
Queen of society, lady of birth;
Nurtured in luxury, smiling thro' life,
Ever enjoying the sweets of the earth.
Ah, but she pities the poor o' the land
Sweet benefactress, as kind as her lord.
Patroness she of a slum-working band,
President, too, of a hospital board.
Charity, Charity - down in the slums
Misery stalks 'mid the lean o' the land.
Angel beneficent! See where she comes,
Scattering gifts with a generous hand.
Sweet Lady Bountiful, draw in your skirt;
Shrink from the misery squalor and dirt.
Pity is lured to it?
Nay, they're inured to it.
Charity, Charity is their desert.
Labourer BILL has a toil-worn wife
Drudge of the lower class, cradled in care;
Nurtured in poverty, struggling through life,
Knowing too well all the bitterness there.
Ah, but she nurses a foolish old pride
Wife of a labourer barren of lands
Knowing the 'comforts' they humbly divide
Are earned, doubly earned, by the toil of their hands.
Charity, Charity - nay, foolish drudge!
Why should you slave till the end of your day?
Think of the wealthy who never begrudge
Gifts to the 'Home' where the indignent stay.
Why should mendicity shame such as you?
Indigence, beggary - these are not new.
Where is the blame for it?
What's in the name of it?
Charity, Charity - it is your due.
Proud Squatter REX, does your lordly soul
Shrink from the thought of a mendicant whine?
Are you too proud to solicit a dole
Won by the sweat of a fellow of thine?
What of the subsidy sued for and paid?
Paid at a word from a tool of the 'class';
Earned, hardly earned, at a labourer's trade
Charity wrung from the toil of the mass.
Charity, Charity - what's in a name?
Whine for a subsidy, lo, and it comes!
Still it is charity ever the same
Begged from a palace or cadged from the slums.
Call it a clever political game
Yours is the sordidness, yours is the shame.
Skilled in duplicity.
Charity, Charity! - this is its name.
Sweet lady Bountiful, queen of your set,
Selfish for pleasure and greedy for show,
When come the toys and the treasures you get/
Have you considered or wanted to know?
Nay, would you stoop to take pence from the poor,
Soiled with the sweat of an overworked wife
Loaf on the toil of a labouring boor,
Squander his pittance to lighten your life?
Charity, Charity - cover your face!
This is your charity, this is your pride:
To laugh, and to live, and to know the disgrace
Of squandering pence that the needy provide.
Some toiling sister, some work-weary soul,
Is slaving the harder to eke out your dole.
Blush for the shame of it!
Shrink form the name of it!
Blush for your name upon Charity's roll!
He was a Glug of simple charm;
He wished no living creature harm.
His kindly smile like sunlight fell
On all about, and wished them well.
Yet, 'spite the cheerful soul of Sym,
The great Sir Stodge detested him.
The stern Sir Stodge and all his Swanks -
Proud Glugs of divers grades and ranks,
With learning and attainments great
Had never learned to conquer hate.
And, failing in their A. B. C.,
Were whipt by Master Destiny.
'Twas thus that Gosh's famous schools
Turned out great hordes of learned fools:
Turned out the ship without a sail,
Turned out the kite with leaden tail,
Turned out the mind that could not soar
Because of foolish weights it bore.
Because there'd been no father Joi
To guide the quick mind of a boy
Away from thoughts of hate and blame,
Wisdom in these was but a name.
But 'mid the Glugs they count him wise
Who walks with cunning in his eyes.
His task well done, his three rhymes writ,
Sym rose at morn, and packed his kit.
'At last!' he cried. 'Off and away
To meet again the spendthrift Day,
As he comes climbing in the East,
To bless with largesse man and beast.
'Again the fields where wild things run!
And trees, all spreading to the sun,
Run not, because, of all things blest,
Their chosen place contents them best.
0 come, my little prick-eared dog!' . . .
But, 'Halt!' exclaimed his Nibs of Quog.
'Nay,' said the Mayor. 'Not so fast!
The day climbs high, but sinks at last.
And trees, all spreading to the sun,
Are slain because they cannot run.
The great Sir Stodge, filled full of hate,
Has challenged you to hold debate.
'On Monday, in the Market Square,
He and his Swanks will all be there,
Sharp to the tick at half-past two,
To knock the stuffing out of you.
And if your stuffing so be spread,
Then is the Cause of Quog stone dead.
'In this debate I'd have you find,
With all the cunning of your mind,
Sure victory for Quog's great Cause,
And swift defeat for Stodge's laws.'
'But cunning I have none,' quoth Sym.
The Mayor slowly winked at him.
'Ah!' cried his Worship. 'Sly; so sly!'
(Again he drooped his dexter eye)
'I've read you thro'; I've marked you well.
You're cunning as an imp from Hell . . .
Nay, keep your temper; for I can
Withal admire a clever man.
'Who rhymes with such a subtle art
May never claim a simple part.
I'll make of you a Glug of rank,
With something handy in the bank,
And fixed opinions, which, you know,
With fixed deposits always go.
'I'll give you anything you crave:
A great, high headstone to your grave,
A salary, a scarlet coat,
A handsome wife, a house, a vote,
A title, or a humbled foe.'
But Sym said, 'No,' and ever, 'No.'
'Then,' shouted Quog, 'your aid I claim
For Gosh, and in your country's name
I bid you fight the Cause of Quog,
Or be for ever named a dog!
The Cause of Quog, the weal of Gosh
Are one! Amen. Down with King Splosh!'
Sym looked his Worship in the eye,
As solemnly he made reply:
'If 'tis to serve my native land,
On Monday I shall be at hand.
But what am I 'mid such great men?'
His Worship winked his eye again . . .
'Twas Monday in the Market Square;
Sir Stodge and all his Swanks were there.
And almost every Glug in Gosh
Had bolted lunch and had a wash
And cleaned his boots, and sallied out
To gloat upon Sir Stodge's rout.
And certain sly and knowing Glugs,
With sundry nudges, winks and shrugs,
Passed round the hint that up on high,
Behind some window near the sky,
Where he could see yet not be seen,
King Splosh was present with his Queen.
'Glugs,' said the chairman. 'Glugs of Gosh;
By order of our good King Splosh,
The Tinker and Sir Stodge shall meet,
And here, without unseemly heat,
Debate the question of the day,
Which is - However, let me say -
'I do not wish to waste your time.
So, first shall speak this man of rhyme;
And, when Sir Stodge has voiced his view,
The Glugs shall judge between the two.
This verdict from the folk of Gosh
Will be accepted by King Splosh.'
As when, like teasing vagabonds,
The sly winds buffet sullen ponds,
The face of Stodge grew dark with rage,
When Sym stepped forth upon the stage.
But all the Glugs, with one accord,
A chorus of approval roared.
Said Sym: 'Kind friends, and fellow Glugs;
My trade is mending pots and mugs.
I tinker kettles, and I rhyme
To please myself and pass the time,
Just as my fancy wandereth.'
('He's minel' quoth Stodge, below his breath.)
Said Sym: 'Why I am here to-day
I know not; tho' I've heard them say
That strife and hatred play some part
In this great meeting at the Mart.
Nay, brothers, why should hatred lodge . . .
'That's ultra vires!' thundered Stodge.
''Tis ultra vires!' cried the Knight.
'Besides, it isn't half polite.
And e'en the dullest Glug should know,
'Tis not pro bono publico.
Nay, Glugs, this fellow is no class.
Remember! Vincit veritas!'
With sidelong looks and sheepish grins,
Like men found out in secret sins,
Glug gazed at Glug in nervous dread;
Till one with claims to learning said,
'Sir Stodge is talking Greek, you know.
He may be bad, but never low.'
Then those who had no word of Greek
Felt lifted up to hear him speak.
'Ah, learning, learning,' others said.
'Tis fine to have a clever head.'
And here and there a nervous cheer
Was heard, and someone growled, 'Hear, hear.'
'Kind friends,' said Sym . . . But, at a glance,
The 'cute Sir Stodge had seen his chance.
'Quid nuncl' he cried. 'O noble Glugs,
This fellow takes you all for mugs.
I ask him, where's his quid pro quo?
I ask again, quo warranto?
'Shall this man filch our wits from us
With his furor poeticus?
Nay!' cried Sir Stodge. 'You must agree,
If you will hark a while to me
And at the Glugs' collective head
He flung strange language, ages dead.
With mystic phrases from the Law,
With many an old and rusty saw,
With well-worn mottoes, which he took
Haphazard from the copy-book,
For half an hour the learned Knight
Belaboured them with all his might.
And, as they wakened from their daze,
Their murmurs grew to shouts of praise.
Glugs who'd reviled him overnight
All in a moment saw the light.
'O learned man! 0 seer!' cried they. . . .
And education won the day.
Then, quickly to Sir Stodge's side
There bounded, in a single stride,
His Nibs of Quog; and flinging wide
His arms, 'O victory!' he cried.
'I'm with Sir Stodge, 0 Glugs of Gosh!
And we have won! Long live King Splosh!'
Then pointing angrily at Sym,
Cried Quog, 'This is the end of him!
For months I've marked his crafty dodge,
To bring dishonour to Sir Stodge.
I've lured him here, the traitrous dog,
And shamed him!' quoth his Nibs of Quog.
Hoots for the Tinker tore the air,
As Sym went, wisely, otherwhere.
Cheers for Sir Stodge were long and loud;
And, as amid his Swanks he bowed,
To mark his thanks and honest pride,
His Nibs of Quog bowed by his side.
The Thursday after that, at three,
The King invited Quog to tea.
Quoth Quog, 'It was a task to bilk . . .
(I thank you; sugar, please, and milk) . . .
To bilk this Tinker and his pranks.
A scurvy rogue! . . . (Ah, two lumps, thanks.)
'A scurvy rogue!' continued Quog.
'Twas easy to outwit the dog.
Altho', perhaps, I risked my life
I've heard he's handy with a knife.
Ah, well, 'twas for my country's sake . . .
(Thanks; just one slice of currant cake.)'
(That is to say, those of you that are.
For, even in the most altruistic mood, there are some I bar.)
Workers, shirkers, writers, skiters, philosophers and others,
Attend. I address myself only to those
Of the class that habitually looketh even beyond its nose.
To him I speak who shrewdly seeketh for the milk in the cocoanut, while his fellows are repeating the bald assertion that 'The fruit is not yet ripe!'
Him I address who knoweth the sheep from the goats, the chaff from the oats,
the half-quid from the gilded sixpence, and the common sense from common tripe.
To the 'Man in the Street' I speak not, nor to the 'Right-thinking Person,'
nor 'Constant Subscriber,' nor 'Vox Populi,' nor 'The Bloke on the Train,'
nor any of their band.
For of the things I write they wot not, neither may they hope to understand.
But ye whom I, even I, presume to address as brother:-
Journalists, politicians, burglars, company promoters, miners, millers,
navvies, shearers, confidence-men, piano-tuners, paling-splitters,
bookmakers, process-workers, judges, brass-fitters, policemen and others.
Attend. Him who looketh for the hall-mark on every link, and taketh not the say-so of the label, nor the sworn affidavit of the pill advertisement
him who hath it in him to discern the fair thing from that which is over the odds, and shaketh the new-laid egg that he may know what is within it
Him I address. For lo, my brothers, maybe there is one of us born once a week or thereabouts, but we know it is written that one of the others is born every minute.
An ear; for I have planned for you a pleasing diversion.
Come with me, my brothers, and let us make a little excursion
Out over the land, through the cities and the country places, even to the farthest limit of Back-o'-beyond. Hearken brothers! What are these sounds we hear?
Say, what is all this babbling and gabbling, this howling and growling, this muttering and spluttering, that smites the ear?
Listen again. Do you hear them, brothers? Lo, they are the Echoes calling.
They are the multitudinous echoes that sound up and down the land; crying and sighing, squalling and bawling.
In all places they sound; in the city and in the country; upon the high mountains and along the plains, wherever man hideth; and at all times, for the night is loud with the sound of them even as is the day.
Listen again, brothers! What is it that they say?
Lo, this one shouteth. 'The Time is Not Yet Ripe!' And another bawleth.
'Capital is fleeing the Land!' And yet another howleth, 'It is
Inimical to Private Enterprise and Thrift!' And yet another screameth.
'It will Bust up the Home and ruin the Marriage Tie!'
Why do they howl these things, my brothers? I ask ye, why?
For lo, even as they shout, still other Echoes take up the cry till it is increased and multiplied even unto 70,000 times seven;
And a howl, as of 1400 she-elephants simultaneously robbed of their young, assaileth Heaven.
What say ye, brothers? What is the inner significance of these Echoes, and why do they make these divers sounds? What say ye, brothers; is it because they think?
Aha! I apprehend ye! I say ye - nay, verily, I heard ye wink.
For the noise of the falling - of the flapping of your collective eyelid was even as the banging of the bar door what time the clock telleth of eleven thirty p.m., and the voice of Hebe murmureth through the night 'Good-bye, ducky.'....But I digress.
Which is a characteristic failing I must confess!
It hath its compensations, as is plain to any noodle,
When matter is paid for at space rates, for it pileth up the boodle....
However, to resume. Let us isolate a case, my brothers. Let us sample an
Echo. Take Brown.
We all are well acquainted with Brown. Mayhap his name is Smith or Timmins, but no matter. He is the Man in the Street. He hath a domicile in the suburbs and an occupation in town.
This Brown riseth in the morning and donneth the garments of civilisation. In hot socks he garbeth his feet, and upon his back he putteth a coat which hath
a little split in the tail for no sane or accountable reason.
Except that it is an echo of the first and original split that set the fashion for the season.
Then he proceedeth to feed.
And simultaneously to read
His solemn, though occasionally hysterical, morning sheet, which he proppeth
against the cruet.
Remarking to his spouse, inter alia. 'I wish to goodness, Mirabel, you wouldn't cook these things with so much suet!'
(Which rhyme, though labored, is remarkably ingenious and very rare. For you will find, if you try to get a rhyme for cruet - But let that pass. This is more digression.
Time is money; but the space writer must contrive to sneak it with discretion.)
Lo! as Brown peruseth his apper a lugubrious voice speaketh to him from out the type,
Saying: 'Despite the howls of demagogues and the ranting of pseudo-reformers, it is patent to any close student of political economy - nay, it is obvious
even to the Man in the Street that the Time is Not Yet Ripe'
And Brown, with solemn gravity,
Having mainly a cavity
In that part of him where good grey matter should abide,
Pusheth the sheet aside,
And sayeth to the wife of his bosom across the breakfast dish of stewed tripe:
'Verily, this paper speaketh fair. The time is not yet ripe!'
Now, mark ye, brothers, it is the nature of a cavity to give back that which is spoken into it. This doth it repeat.
Wherefore Brown, with rising heat,
Sayeth again: 'Dammit, woman, this Labor Party will ruin the blanky country.
Of COURSE, the time is not yet ripe!
Where's my pipe?
And my umbrella and my goloshes? I'll miss that train again as sure as eggs!'
Then on nimble legs
he hastest to thetrain,
And here again
he meeteth other Echoes surnamed White or Green or Black,
Each with a coat upon his back
Which hath an absurd and altogether unnecessary little split in its tail.
Brothers, do not let the moral fail.
For it is written:
If the tail of the coat of Brown be absurdly split,
So, also, shall th etails of the coats of White also Green and Black be likewise splitten;
And if the mind of Brown with a shibboleth be smit,
So, also, shall th ealleged minds of White and Green and Black be smitten.
For, lo, they use but as hat-racks those knobs or protuberances which Nature has given unto them to think with; and, even as 10,000 others of their type,
They echo again, as the train speedeth onward, the same weird cry: Lo, the
Cost of Living is becoming a Fair Cow! These Trusts will have to be Outed.
But, as the paper says, the Referendum is a dangerous mistake. THE TIME
IS NOT YET RIPE!'
And here and there, and elsewhere, and in divers places, not mentioned in the specifications, the foolish Echo echoeth and re-echoeth and echoeth even yet
again, till it soundeth far and near and in the middle distance from Dan to
Berrsheba. Ay, even from Yarra Bend to Kow Plains:
In hundreds of trams and boats and trains;
In motor-cars and junkers and spring-carts and perambulators and hearses and
Black Marias; in shops and pubs and offices and cow-yards and gaols and
drawing-rooms and paddocks and street corners; and across counters and slip
rails and three-wire fences, and streets and lanes and back fences; and
through telephones and speaking-tubes and pipestems and weird whiskers of
every shade and color: up and down the land, and across it: from the mouths of men of every shape and size and kind and type,
The Echo soundeth and resoundeth: 'THE TIME IS NOT YET RIPE - RIPE - ripe -
And now the Voice - the original anonymous voice that caused these divers Echoes smileth to Itself and saith: 'Verily, that was a good gag. It should help to bump 'em next elections. This unprecedented growth of Public Opinion is
Snaggers, see if you can get a column interview with Sir Ponsonby Stodge on the
Obvious Inripeness of Time.
We must follow this up while we're in luck.'
And the voice of the Chief Reporter answering, saith 'Ribuck.'
Brothers, ye have heard the Echoes. In a multitude of words have I spoken of them to ye. Have I not planned for ye a pleasing diversion? Lo! then, when the Little Blue Devil sitteth upon the right shoulder and whispereth into the ear that the World is a Dead Nark; when the Spice of Life tasteth in the mouth even as the stale beer of yester's revel; when the Soul wilteth for lack of
Go ye forth and give ear unto the Echoes, and thus shall the Spirit be uplifted
and cheered by the fatheadedness of your fellows, and ye shall reap profitable
and unending enjoyment.
I say this unto ye, even I, and my word has never neem broken
More often than has been absolutely necessary or expedient considering the dreadful Socialistic trend of Legislation in this Country. Lo! I have spoken.