“The Blood Vote” [letter from J. H. Elshaug, 24 October 1916]

[Editor: This letter to the editor was published in The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 24 October 1916. It was written in response to the widely-distributed anti-conscription poem “The Blood Vote” (which was published in various newspapers and as a widely distributed leaflet).]

“The Blood Vote.”

To the Editor of The Argus.

Sir, — I am enclosing copy of a pamphlet, entitled “The Blood Vote,” with a sketch by Claude Marquet, and issued by the National Executive.

The drawing represents a woman voter dropping a “Yes” ballot-paper in the box. Her face betokens the fears of a stricken conscience. In the background there is the retreating form of His Satanic Majesty. Several verses of doggerel accompany the sketch, explanatory of the poor woman’s awful position; but, like all things grim, this precious document of the devil contains one verse of unconscious humour that should tickle the risibilities of all who are fortunate enough to secure one.

Bearing in mind the important fact that only “single” men, between the ages of 21 and 35, are to be called up, how does this verse strike your readers? —

“I hear his widow cry in the night,
I hear his children weep;
And always within my sight, O God,
The dead man’s blood doth leap.”

To me the suggestion of single men, who are compelled to do their duty having children to leave, to say nothing of their heartbroken widows, shows how ridiculous and low-down the “blood” appeal is that emanates from the enemies of the Empire.

— Yours, &c.,
Benalla, Oct. 21.

The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 24 October 1916, p. 8

Editor’s notes:
doth = (archaic) does

His Satanic Majesty = the Devil, Satan

risibilities = plural of risibility: the ability, disposition, or inclination to laugh; humorous awareness of something which is absurd, ludicrous, or ridiculous; tendency to laughter; hilarity, laughter

[Editor: Changed “striken” to “stricken”; “35” to “35,” (added a comma).]

[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]

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