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AOTA POPULL

By The Flaneur.

Evbkyone has heard of the London Alderman who, after loading himself up with luxuries at a Lord Mayor's banquet, inspected a workhouse, took a sip of the ' skilly,' and then declared with greasy enthusiasm that it was excel'ent food for paupers,

civilized world for the bountiful provision she had made for her poor. A precisely similar song of praise is now being sung by our returned Premiers, and the most enthusiastic warbler of the lot is Premier Reid. He ' rejoices to say he saw no sign of coming decline in England.' Even in the humble parts of the East End of London he ' saw no signs of decay—no dark clouds'— everything seemed bright and rosy; everyone appeared to be well-fed, liappy, and com fortable. That is the way matters generally look when seen through the medium of a sparkling goblet of champagne, or from the soft seat of a Royal carriage, but the view is fearfully different to the unfortunate wretch who looks at it from a work

house window, or while he is battling with dogs for the garbage of the gutters. Quite a different tale has, in fact, been told by Miss Sutherland, a practical philanthropist from Melbourne, who went down to the depths where London's poor rot in wretchedness, and most of the sights she saw during the Jubilee jollifications were terrible enough to make even the very stones of the streets rise in mutiny. Writing to the London Daily News, this good lady plainly said : ' Ever since I have been in London I have not been able to get the fate of Sodom out of my head. Nothing short of a consuming fire from Heaven, which will wipe London off the face of the earth, will do any good. I have walked through your streets and your slums, and seen them swarming with children as thick as bees in a hive. I have visited the houses where these children and their parents live. I have asked myself what future can these children have to look forward to. There is nothing for them but the

same miserable existence in which they have been born and bred.' That is all tjue, but it is not new. Hundreds of trumpet tongues have long proclaimed that of all the slaves on earth to-day none are more wretched, none are ground down with more brital tyranny than the white slaves of England. In very plain English, indeed, one of England's foremost ment Professor Huxley, told her rulers straight : ' I have walked in your great towns, and I have seen fully as many savages as degraded as those of Australia. Nay, worse ; in the primitive savage there remains a certain manliness derived from lengthened contact with Nature and struggles with it which is absent in those outcast and degraded citizens of your civilization.' Where is it all to end ? I don't know, and I don't think I'll pursue the subject any further, for fear it might endanger my digestion. The man who sees things as they ought to te is a great deal happier than he who sees them as they are. That is the reason why all our Premiers are ' jolly and fat,' while poor Miss Sutherland is a small, spare spinster of sixty summers. Dropping London's ' ojus' poor, therefore, it affords me great pleasure to say that the fancy-dress ball recently given by the Duchess of Devonshire resulted in a bill which exceeded one million pounds sterling. The Queen has also given a spread which cost someone £45,000, and probably the unfortunate Royal family cat is now being severely whipped to atone for this extravagance ; for her Majesty's penny letter is not going off quite as rapidly as hot pancakes would, and although the poor lady has twenty millions stowed away in her private stocking, still she draws only £400,000 a

year salary, ana tnat isn t mucii to keep up appear ances on a throne, and meet the pressing demands of a crowd of poor relations. London must be a wonderful city, indeed, for while the people in the West End revel in all the voluptuous delights of a Mahomraedan Paradise, the people in the East End simply stew in the seething fcctid lakes of an Inferno. Well may the poor of England throw up their shrunken arms and cry, ' How long, O Lord, how long?' Now that the bottom has fallen out of the Anglican Church Jubilee Funds' contribution-box, and the few odd pence and trousars-buttons so generously donated have rolled down some of the many cracks in the Anglican Church floor, it occurs to me that many a really good church cause has been spoilt by the long-winded orations of those who were told off to boom it up. Anyway, here is a story with a moral which seems to fit in nicely at * his point. Mark Twain once went to hear a sensational sermon-spouter, who was lecturing on behalf of the New York poor— and drawing the usual percentage for himself, of course. So touching was the tale told of a starving family that the lecturer had visited* that it drew tears from his audience, and Mark Twain, who had four 5o-dollar bills with, him, saia to himself, '? I'll give one of those bills when the plate comes round,' The preacher's story became

more piteous and harrowing, and Mark said, ' I'll spare two of those 'bills, they'll go in a good cause.' Still the tale of woe went on, and at last Mark, carried off his feet, exclaimed, 'For Heaven's sake send that plate round quick, so that I can pour some of my sympathy into it. I'll give all four bills, and write a hundred-dollar cheque as well !' But the leather-lunged lecturer was thinking more of his own glorification than of the sufferings of the poor, and so, as Mark says : — ' He went on talking and talking, and as he talked my enthu siasm calmed and caltaed, and the red flush of my sympathy became paLer and paler. And when the fellow had been prating for about half an hour I had saved one of my 'bills, and when he had talked five minutes more two of those bills were mine again, and when he had been talking an hour I had won all four back, and, by gosh, when he stopped at last and sent round the plate I borrowed ten cents out of it to pay my car fare home, and the preacher must hive seen that one of the greatest efforts of his life had bumped upon a rock.' A man died in Victoria the other day, and, all things considered, it was just about time he did, for he was 107 years of age, and judging from my own high moral standpoint he was &n unregenerate cuss in general. His name was Aaron Weller, and he might have lived to be 207 years — for he was one of the good, tough, old ironbark build — but in an evil moment he allowed his photo to appear in one of the weekly papers. That is generally quite enough to kill a much younger man than. Aaron was, but still he rallied, and was doing fairly well, when he received the awful intelligence that a deputation of ancient bony beauties from the Women's Temperance Chris tian Union were coming after him to get his views

On wie uucuisuu. Lumtt.a.iiu uue uaiiiLtiU. tuuuuuu ques tions, and tnen poor Aaron rolled over and died on the spot. He had battled bravely for 107 years against the troubles the world had ranged against him, but when he heard the vinegar virgins of the W.T.C.U. were on his track he weakened at once, and gladly took his chances of life in another sphere. It was well for the worrying women that they missed him, too, for Aaron's life was a standing refutation of one of their pet theories. Instead of being a sensible saint who spent half his time read ing tracts and the other half looking after his health, Aaron put in his days working as 'rouseabout' on a station and a deal of his nights playing euchre and telling yarns, each of which was a sort of gauntlet thrown down as a challenge to Ananias. Furthermore, he started smoking in the same j'ear that the French and English were smoking each other at 'Waterloo, and he kept up the pernicious practice until the day before he died. Aaron drank too, and the more he drank the better he thrived. Beer out of a bucket was his favourite beverage, but he never shied at whisky, brandy, rum, or anything else that is supposed to sting like an adder when ever it gets a chance to bite, jffis yearly cheques were ' melted' at the nearest shanty in the good old style peculiar to the ' good old days ;' in fact, Aaion did everything that he should not have done, and he neglected the things that he should have done, and he made the wild bush howl in general) and yet he lived and laboured till he was 107 years of age, and then the very thought of being inter viewed by the sour-faced Sisters of the 'W. T. C. TJ. killed him ' fatally dead' in one pop. There is a great moral stowed away somewhere in the above story, but the weather is too warm to allow me to worry it out just at present Sarcastic Germans have a saying which runs — ' God knows all things ; but the Emperor William knows them better.' William, of course, doesn't know enough to come inside when the bombs are

bursting, and the more he attempts to stamp out Socialism the more the flame spreads. Monarchical matters are badly 'mixed' even now, and unless they brighten soon all the level-headed rulers who can do so will be found selling tbeir rights after the sensible style of Dom Pedro of Brazil, and second hand thrones, more or less damaged, will be found in pawnshops ' marked down' to the price of ol diron. Modern monarchs are a poor lot, and their con duct in times of great danger would, I fear, be very like that of the great Darktown champion pugilist, Julius Ctesar Hannibal Hoots, a bumptious nigger who, on the strength of his immense size, was held by the people of his district to be invincible. One day Wrestler Muldoon, while travelling with a company of wrestlers and boxers, called at Dark town, and hearing of the haughty Hoots's proud 'defy,' Muldoon offered to oack little Bezinah, a 9-8tone slugger, to knock the huge nigger out in ten rounds. The match was made, and in the first round nothing but mild mauling occurred, but in the second round Bezinah caught Julius Caesar a 'beauty' on the jaw that floored him with a mighty thud that shook the country like an earth quake. The moment the crushed champion recovered he rose to his feet and began to scoot round the ring with Bezinah in hot pursuit atthe rate of about a mile a minute. Just as the flying Ccesar shot past

his own corner he shouted to his blackir-g-bottle seconds: ' Frow up de sponge at wonst !' ' Dar ain'tno sponge heah to frow !' roared the bewildered backers, as their horrified hero tore madly round the second time. In the third lap Bezinah was gaining on poor Cuesar so rapidly that the unlucky darkie's eyes bulged out of his head with fear, and he fairly shrieked : ' Wai, if dar's no sponge, frow up de bucket ! Frow up de towels ! Frow up de chars! Frow up de whole, blasted universe! I ain't agwine to stan' heah an' be killed not for all de champion belts in de world !' And then with a wild, despairing yell Julius Ceesar jumped the ropes and tore into the scrub and hid himself up a hollow log. I may be wrong, but my firm belief is that instead of standing their ground bravely in time of trouble, three-parts of the world's present monarchs would do the ' skeddadling' act quite a cq promptly as the Darktown duffer did. I once heard of an unfortunate postman who limped up to a prim old lady's door and with pardonable asperity said : '? Look here, madam, your dog has just bitten a piece clean out of the calf of my leg!' ' Deah me 1' exclaimed the alarmed old lady, with misplaced sympathy— 'I hope he did not swallow the piece. Oh, do not saY poor Fido did that ! We boil all his meat, for fear of those horrid microbes, and I am sure a piece of raw flesh would make the darling seriously ill \' ' Condum your darling !' shouted the injured post man. 'I'll take th-e law on you this very day Postmen are crushed enough as it is, but I'm hanged if you're goin' to turn us into dog's meat with impunity.' And he did take thelasvon theoldlady- and a judge potted her for £30 as 'an encourage ment for others' who think more of measly poodles than they do of Christian postmen. The postal law of the United States decrees that 'letter-carriers are not required to run the risk of being bitten by

vicious dogs while delivering postal matter,' and that would be a very fair lead for our Postal De partment to follow. No dog, or else no delivery. There are several grievances connected with the great dog question, and one of these is based on the fact that if a postman, clad in Khakee clothes, teases a dog out of pure mischief, the animal often makes a dead 'set' at everyone else who is similarly clothed. In the dingo's opinion the uniform makes the man, and a precious poor sort of man at that. Even a billy-goat grows to recognize a similarity in the cut and colour of clothes ; and thereby hangs a tale ; two tales, in fact— the ' billy's' and mv own. J lA certain suburb is honoured by the presence of a patriarchal William-goat who has a squattage on a piece of vacant ground near the main street, and the Khakee-clad postman on that run has long been in the habit of insulting the venerable animal by tugging its beard as he passed, and then skipping off ]ust in time to escape the angry thrust aimed at him. A few days ago one of our returned Jubilee warriors dressed in his Khakee uniform was explaining to a group of open-mouthed admirers some of the won drous sights he had seen at 'Ome, and was standing m a stooping posture describing the Bisley butts with his stick on the pathway when the grand old billy came up behind and, jumping to the conclusion that the man in Khakee was his old tormentor, the postman, William lowered his horns, shouted 11 Faugh- a-ballagh !' in the rich Angora tongue, and then charged with all his chivalry and all his native aromatic aroma. The next instant the honoured re presentative of the great Australian army was flying head foremost in the air, and so rapid was his rise and so heavy his fall that the first question he asked when he recovered consciousness was, « Did that tornado strike anybody else but meP

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New South Wales Government
Digitisation generously supported by
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New South Wales Government
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State Library of NSW Digital Excellence Program
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