(7 September 1876 - 22 June 1938 / Auburn, South Australia)

The Calm

Brothers, have you observed the calm?
Even the leaves of that symbolic palm
That denotes peace, political and otherwise, are scarcely stirred
By the faintest breath of controversy. Not a word
Is heard,
Excepting, here and there, the belated spouting
Of some overcharged politician giving his vocabulary an outing.
Brothers, what does this denote?
Is there no longer any competition for your precious vote?
Nay, have you ever heard that alleged political axiom over which the
wily old campaigners oft make goodly sport:
'The memory of the sap-headed elector is short.'
Do you believe the allegation, brothers, or do you doubt it?
And, anyhow, what are you going to do about it?

Brothers, if ever you hope to know enough to come in out of the wet,
Mark this: They are giving you time to forget!
What of those great National Questions,
Those fine, broad, far-seeing and statesman-like suggestions,
Those urgent matters of life and death,
About which the politicians were so busy talking a while ago that they
had hardly time to draw breath?
Are they dead?
Have they been fatally bashed on the head?
Have they been decently interred attended by those solemn obsequies
usually afforded the remains of respectable and right-thinking
persons who impressed us in this life with their top-hats?
What of the settlement of the Northern Territory?
Is this an abandoned story?
What of our sea defence?
Has this question been cast hence
Into the outer darkness and the gloom
Of the tomb?
What of efficient Protection?
Is this now merely a matter for maundering retrospection.
Amongst senile and toothless old parties whose minds ever dwell amongst
the dead and mouldy things of the past?
Oh, Blast, brothers! BLAST!
Blast those rocks of apathy that bind your sense of true citizenship!
Get a fresh grip.
Spring off your tall!
Give your political perspicaciousness a ball,
Revive it with a long, cool, refreshing drink,
And sit down and THINK....

Do you imagine for one moment that old 'Party Government' is asleep?
Do you picture it sunk in slumbers deep?
If you do, brothers, you never made a bigger mistake.
It is very, very wide awake.
That fine, old British institution, Party Government, that was
introduced into this suffering country before the thistle and
previous to the rabbit,
And nursed so assiduously by politicians till our acceptance of it has
become a sinful habit -
This pestiferous System, my brothers, never sleeps;
Watch and ward it keeps.
And while you are mooning, sporting, smoodging, drinking, dreaming,
It is engineering, planning, plotting, scheming.
The Hon. Mr. Black is aiming at the political downfall of the Hon. Mr.
While the Hon. Mr. White is playing for the shoving of the Hon. Mr.
Black and his friends into the darkness and gloom and solitude of
political night.
But both, my brothers, both are toiling with the energy of a 200-h.p.
triple cylinder motor,
With the object of eventually and effectively sprinkling a little salt
upon the tail of that dull but desirable bird, the free and independent
Brothers, do ye feel like taking tickets on yourselves? Do ye feel
flattered and exalted?
For, behold, ye are to be numbered among the salted!
And, while these plots and plans are brewing,
What, my brothers, are ye doing?
Whilst the wily politician is chewing
The cud of sinful reflection, with his eye upon your votes,
Are uou acting otherwise than after the manner and fashion of unreflective
While you, brother, are canoodling with a soft and fluffy person, in a
Magyarblouse, upon the silvery beach,
Striving to convince her that you think she is a perfect peach;
And while you, brother, are vainly endeavoring at the races,
To watch the impossible nags you back run into places;
And while you, brother, are sinking the long 'un, and the gin-squash, and
the soder-with-dash.
And recklessly doing in your cash;
Sly old Party Government and its minions
Are busy manufacturing your political opinions.
Yes, you, the intelligent electors, fine fellows of quite unusual
brain and brawn,
Are each of you regarded merely as a puppet, a pawn
In the Game.

Attention, and I shall tell you exactly what old Party Government is doing
at this precise moment, if you wish.
He is busily engaged in the manufacture of fish.
Fish, brothers, herrings, red herrings which it is his intention to draw
across the track
Of great National Issues, because he is too tired to deal with them, and
work gives him a pain in the back.
And in full cry, like a foolish and deluded pack
Of unintelligent beagles, you will chase wildly after the remains of that
unpleasant, defunct and odorous fish.
And you will think you are doing it because it is your own free wish.
You will open your mouths and howl, and go and record your votes at the
And fondly imagine that you are expressing the earnest convictions of your
inmost and invincible souls.
I fear me, my brothers, that the tart, and the prad, and the long beer, and
the midnight cray that bringeth early indigestion
Have far more attraction for you than any great National Question.
Go to!
There is no fun and small profit in attempting to act Diogenes to such as

Brothers, I bid ye a sad farewell.
So many poor, misguided people, who grabbed their opinions ready-made at the
last moment, have gone before us that there is, nowadays, some difficulty
in keeping the lid on Hell.
Brothers, with that innate dignity that is characteristic, I retire
To contemplate further insults, which I shall deliver as occasion may

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