Vanity Fair (UK), May 10, 1906

[“Cannot the Proclamation be put in simpler language?” asked Dr. Macnamara. Mr. Winston Churchill thought not. We have, however, tried to do so, while preserving as far as possible the chaste style of the original.]

WALK up, walk up, my little dears,
   And lend me your attentive ears:
   No giggling, if you please.
All listen carefully to what
Your kind old Uncle Winston’s got
   To say to good Chinese.

Some people have been giving out,
(Strange how these things will get about)
   That you dislike your lot;
They say that you desire to shirk
All purely manual jobs of work,
   That digging makes you hot.

And consequently some of you
Think that the wisest thing to do
   Is home again to go,
To leave the mines and go your ways
And, if I may employ the phrase,
   Chuck up the bally show.

There was a time, you know, when I
Called your condition slavery,
   And said you must be freed:
I got quite warm about your wrongs;
I spoke of whips with knotted thongs
   And Randlords’ brutal greed.

The Tories daily I would rend.
My views were known from far Land’s End
   To distant John o’ Groats.
Your treatment, I declared, was vile
(It came in very useful while
   I wanted people’s votes).

But now that the election’s done
It seems absurd that anyone
   Should bring you up once more.
It would have been so clearly best
Simply to let the matter rest
   Just where it was before.

But, mark my words! Perhaps you’ll yearn,
When back in China, to return
   To slavery again:
But retribution waits for him
Who gratifies this foolish whim.
   I hope I’ve made this plain.

Perhaps in time to come you’ll miss
The grubby bed, the cheery hiss
   Of sjamboks through the air;
And with regretful sighs you’ll pine
To be ill-treated in the mine
   As in the past you were.

But once again I tell you flat
That if you do I can’t help that;
   So ponder on the brink,
Pause ere you leave; for if you do,
No slavery again for you,
   So there! . . .   That’s all, I think.

P. G. Wodehouse.





“TEXT AND CONDITIONS OF REPATRIATION. The terms on which Chinese coolies engaged in the Transvaal mines will be entitled to claim repatriation were announced in the House of Commons yesterday by Mr. Churchill. Dr. MACNAMARA – Cannot the proclamation be put in simpler language. Mr. CHURCHILL – I do not profess to be a judge of simplicity of language but I do not see in what terms the offer could be more accurately conveyed to people like the coolies.” (Dundee Courier, May 4, 1906)


John Dawson