[Editor: This article, which espouses republicanism and political Australianism, was published in The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 2 July 1887.]
“Australia for the Australians!”
This is the policy which these southern colonies should persistently strive to realise. Already are the people of Australia awakening to the fact, albeit slowly, that their continent is becoming a mere appanage of a vast and unwieldy Empire — a recruiting ground set apart for the benefit of the hangers-on of Imperialism. Already are the people of these colonies becoming alive to the fatal truth that their interests are utterly subordinated to those of a power separated from them by thousands of leagues of ocean.
Let there be no mistaking the issue! The recent Sydney troubles have been between the people of Australia and Imperial Officialdom; between the Native Australian of Republican instincts and tendencies and the imported Royalist. It is the old question of Freetrade versus Protection — Home Rule versus foreign domination, and the traitors to the cause of the colonies have been paid, if not with Imperial gold, with at least Imperial titles.
A little while since a young Alsatian was conscripted at Strasburg to serve in the German army. His face gave no token of his Gallic heart — thousands of Teuton mercenaries have French faces. He was stripped to undergo the usual medical examination. All over his body was found tattooed the legend, “Viva la France!”
Like that young Frenchman are the men who to-day control our political fate. Their lips phrase Australian sentiment, and their faces are bronzed by an Australian sun. But their votes have been purchased by a foreign power. Strip from their alleged Australian figures the tinsel trappings filched from the Royal old-clothes shop of England! Tear from their forms the meretricious finery they have purchased with lip-loyalty and royal-toe-beslobberment! What do you see? These men are no Australians! They are the hired Imperial slave-gangers of Downing-street! Their bodies are covered with the tattoo-marks, V. R., flanking a coronet.
* * *
We are constantly being to note the process of amalgamation the wide world over. Great states are absorbing little states. Prussia and Bavaria disappear in the realisation of a German Empire. It is claimed that this is an amalgamation of races, of peoples akin in blood and tradition. We deny it! We are conjured to follow the universal example. We refuse!
This wholesale absorption of the small power by the great is the ogre gulping the pigmies. It is the great railroad-syndicate breaking the small lines. It is Mr. Whiteley, of Westbourne Grove, London, swallowing up the little retail shops.
What common interests have the Germans with the Slavs and the Franks, the Austrians and Magyars with the Italians, the Russians with the Poles and the Turks? What similarity of race or aspirations exists between Australians, Burmese, Hindoos, Chinese, Maltese, and the hundred or so distinct peoples which combine to make up that heterogeneous Empire known as the British? If England cannot convince Ireland that the two countries have an identity of interests, how much less can she convince us that the centre of political gravity is London?
The fact is, and it is a fact accentuated by all history, that amalgamation of nations into empires always precedes immediate and fatal dismemberment. Once the known world was Phœnician, Assyrian, Scythian, Grecian, Roman, Tartar, Ottoman, Gothic, Frankish, Austrian, French, German. Each in turn and nothing long. It is the mode and not the principle that differs. The teachings of history are as pertinent to the problems of to-day, as they were when the Turk sat down before the gates of Byzantium.
Great Empires are founded in war. They are the product of great battles and of great lies. They are conceived in diplomacy and begotten in blood. Their aim is the consolidation of vast military power beneath an individual head. They are erected to conserve vested interests and to embastion a dynasty. The great military empire is a foe to human progress. The rights of the small state are lost sight of in the interests of the overgrown dominion. The policy of freedom is a policy which gives to a people — say, for instance, the brave and happy people of the Swiss Republic — the direct government of its own land. Poland for the Poles, Egypt for the Egyptians, Ireland for the Irish, and Australia for the Australians!
* * *
By the term Australian we mean not those who have been merely born in Australia. All white men who come to these shores — with a clean record — and who leave behind them the memory of the class-distinctions and the religious differences of the old world; all men who place the happiness, the prosperity, the advancement of their adopted country before the interests of Imperialism, are Australian. In this regard all men who leave the tyrant-ridden lands of Europe for freedom of speech and right of personal liberty are Australians before they set foot on the ship which brings them hither.
Those who fly from an odious military conscription; those who leave their fatherland because they cannot swallow the worm-eaten lie of the divine right of kings to murder peasants, are Australians by instinct — Australian and Republican are synonymous.
No nigger, no Chinaman, no lascar, no kanaka, no purveyor of cheap coloured labour, is an Australian. True to his grovelling and lickspittle nature, the Chinaman in Australia is a toady and a “loyalist,” and at least a pretended worshipper of his friend Missa Parkes, who poll-taxes him, and of the régime under which thousands of his countrymen have been slaughtered in order that Imperial opium might be stuffed down their brothers’ throats.
* * *
The Imperialists are striving sans démordre to efface the Australian sentiment. Once the name Australian was a “red-hot burning brand of shame,” the scarlet letter flaming on the breast of every colonist. In those days it was a title written with a lash, and the “i” was dotted and the “t” was crossed with the gyves and the gallows. England did not want our company — then. Returned colonists were prima facie more likely to be accommodated with a shakedown in Bow Street or Newgate than to be fed with champagne and pâté de foie gras in Royal quarters — without the option of a five-shilling fine for the repair of the Imperial cooking-stove.
But all that is changed now! England has discovered that the colonies are likely to be useful, or some of England’s earth-hungering statesmen have cast a lustful eye on our broad acres, so we are to be propitiated. Australians, or the better types of English colonists which are termed Australians, no longer snap eagerly at the paltry distinctions of Michael and George, so a nobler bait is in preparation. Already, according to the London correspondence of several of the daily papers, there are signs of the coming establishment of Wentworth’s “hereditary” colonial aristocracy! Returned colonists are beginning to find out that a “jook” is, after all, a more important thing than a C.M.G., hence there is a movement afoot to procure a baronetcy for that phenomenally backboneless squirmer, Sir Patrick Jenkins.
Lord Rosebery is working very hard towards this apotheosis of gristle. Lord Rosebery, remember, who is trying to foist an hereditary aristocracy on to the shoulders of this country is the man who wired “Well done, Australia!” on the consummation of the Soudan crime. In England, no matter what he might be here, Rosebery is a Liberal of the Liberals. Yet he is endeavouring to procure for Jenkins — to whom Parkes, the whilom Chartist, gave £1000 to represent New South Wales — a baronetcy. Is this not enough? If the Liberal Rosebery would give Jenkins a lift into a titular seat, what would not a Tory do? Let Australians set their faces resolutely against this title farce! No more distinctions, no more ribbons, no more C.M.G.s! The man who can stoop so low as to accept a C.M.G.-ship or anything of the kind should be sent to Coventry. Let no honest man hold political converse or do political business with him. From an Australian standpoint he is in the scale of creation beneath a formless, organless, boneless, stomachless, brainless polype.
* * *
When England, or the dear Prince, or a limited section of England’s Tory statesmen — whoever it may have been — awakened to an idea of the importance of colonial co-operation to the successful accomplishment of their little schemes, Governors were sent out as Imperialistic scouts. Their business was to foster grovel and give balls; encourage sport and the firing of blank cartridges; sympathise with poverty and suffering in a truly patrician manner; open church-bazaars and grocery stores; flatter wealthy decrepitude, and erect a gorgeous popularity in the hearts of pugilistic loyalty generally.
These were selected with private means, with a view of their attaining the above desirable popularity by a liberal expenditure of the coin drawn from the colonial treasury. So the Imperialistic Governor speedily becomes a patron of rum-begotten wealth and a sort of grand panjandrum and lord high admiral of every species of vested interests in the colony over which he is sent to govern. He has even been known to enter into brotherhood with the gilded whisky-retailer and the pious usurer who has constructed his massive pile.
The Imperialistic Governor does his work pretty thoroughly. He has been sent out to Australia to perpetuate a system which, in some colonies at least, had its foundation in convict rum and convict chains. And he does his work — not always wisely, or with any considerable amount of tact — but as well as he knows how. It is a beautiful system, this which he attempts to hand down to the ages. It is the system of brute force, and it is supported in N.S.W. by Orangemen with clubs and with yellow livers; by footballers with hob-nailed kicking boots; and by University undergrads. with walking-sticks and the intellects of capons.
* * *
Lord Loftus was worth ten Imperialistic Governors of the sort we are to have henceforth, and The Bulletin is ashamed though not afraid to confess that it never made a greater mistake than when it helped to hold up to ridicule this straight-going, honest old man, characterised alike by his simplicity and his humanity.
We can well imagine how differently the gubernatorial prerogative would have been exercised in the matter of the Mount Rennie youths had Lord Loftus held the veto of life or death — for he at any rate was not a man who, when approached by a deputation of representative intellect insulted it by reading out a cut-and-dried reply prepared hours beforehand, and having as much bearing upon the arguments advanced by his interviewers as has the appetite of the Chinese Emperor upon the Australian rabbit question. It is true he made many ludicrous blunders, but, taking him all through, Lord Loftus was a man beneath whose administration or by whose manipulation Imperialism would thrive little in a colony such as New South Wales.
He was a worn-out aristocrat, a true blue-blood, who flattered no whisky-mill snobocracy. A good-hearted, cultured man, who had seen the best years of a past vigorous life long before he came to the colony, he was little calculated to please or to pander to a set of social parasites whose paradise is the lawn in front of Government House and whose hell is a peep through the barred gates of Macquarie-street into the vice-regal heaven they are not permitted to enter.
The present Goveror, Lord Carington, is affable to everyone. Probably on the principle that if he does not know Mr. Smith he administers a cut to himself; he hob-nobs with Mr. Smith on every possible occasion. But his lordship charges for his condescension. The price of the vice-regal nod or the gubernatorial hand-shake is in the long run a genuine Imperial grovel that would dislocate every single vertebra in a Republican back-bone.
No! We do not yearn for a Downing-street Governor; but if we are to continue to take our Governors from England let us have representatives of the Loftus type — so long as they are not quite so near their intellectual end.
* * *
Yet the Governor is only one move in the scheme of Imperialism. An English admiral directs the movements of the Australian fleet, and an English general is put forward to command an Australian army. Every important office is filled by a representative of St. Jingo or by a man nominally Australian who looks across the water for advancement and for kudos. The sons of the old country — the noisy, truculent scions of pretentious rascaldom — flock hither and wed their poverty to our prosperity and then strike an attitude of surprise because we object to British Toryism.
The Australian native looks upon England not as a mother — we have too much experience of her bumptious children. We are wooed and wedded by her hectoring offspring, and even if we do tolerate them as husbands we object to the introduction of our mother-in-law into our homes — we cannot live peaceably in the same political house with England.
The Governor England sends us retains his Imperialistic ascendancy by two methods — he stars in “society” and he patronises sport. The latter because he is too often good for little else than to smile approvingly as beasts are being urged past a winning-post. The rule of England is made popular in Australia through the vanity of the women and the “horsey-ness” of the men. If the colony’s “boss” social light were to discontinue his receptions and balls at Government House, or his attendance at race-meetings, he would be contemptuously hustled out of the colony. He flatters the weakness of noodles who are fonder of show than of freedom. We had this admirably exemplified on 24th May last, when Lord Carington first ministered to the toy-soldier vanity of the millinery officers who took part in the red-ochre display in Moore Park, and afterwards proceeded to the Randwick Racecourse to lend the mellifluousness of the vice-regal smile to a gathering largely composed of that vulgar brutality and brainless vanity which seem ever inseparable from the turf.
* * *
These are some of the forces and some of the means by which it is endeavoured to foster a sentiment inimical to the growth of Australian Democracy. But the cause of Australia is anything but hopeless.
The recent Jubilee meeting in the Exhibition building was a moral throw-up of the sponge on the part of the so-called “ loyal ” section of the people of Sydney. The successive failures of the laboured illuminatory and fireworks displays are added gall to an overbrimming cup. At the famed Jubilee gagged meeting the chicken-hearted knights and “loyal” braggadocios; the gibbering and chattering old women who fill the official positions took pusillanimous refuge behind the palladium of a woman’s petticoats. They skulked in the shadow of Lady Carington’s name. They called upon a contingent of boys to rally to their rescue — the brainless footballers and brain-crammed University infants — callow-faced youngsters at whose physique a “loyal” paper indulged in sneering comment. They endeavoured to revive the days of the dragonnades and to match Louis XIV. and his enforced observances with Sir Henry Bigot and closed lecture-halls. And the result has been a delirious and mirth-stirring failure.
The cause of Democracy in Australia is gaining daily strength, and every fresh act of repression serves simply to call to the surface the hidden forces that have been hitherto unsuspected. Republicanism in the colonies is as sure, though possibly slower in its consummation, as are intercolonial Freetrade and Protection against the world.
* * *
But after all who is responsible for the attitude of the people? Who is the invader of the rights and privileges sacred to the individual as to the community? When alien organisations are foisted upon our country; when a Primrose League, 700 strong, officered by newly-imported English Tories paid from English Tory funds, marches to a colonial public meeting and attempts to coerce Australian citizens to the rule of its Tory employers, we ask — Who are the aggressors?
When our chief public men are daily being bought by English stars and ribbons, and when the tawdry bait of a Primrose “Dame”-ship League is enticingly dangled under the nose of every silly woman who has helped to make her husband’s fortune by smiling as she pulled the beer-engine; when admittance to a meeting held in a public hall, presided over by a public official, and advertised as “public,” is only to be obtained by a secret password; when foreign man-o’-war’s men crowd into a hall in the guise of citizens; when Colonial Lancers conceal their gimcrack finery with the cloak of the stage bravo; and when these various and dissimilar agents of a Foreign Power are stationed at different points to assist in the work of coercion, we ask — Who are the aggressors?
When we learn that ball-cartridges had been served out on that eventful night to our artillery, a force commanded by British officers who look chiefly to England for their distinction; when we listen to the veiled threats of Tory lawyers and Semitic place-hunters — threats which are reported with such grovelling gusto, and with such sweet approval, in the columns of money-ridden organs written by personages who, with their wives, are patronised by dear Lord Carington, and who wither and die if the gubernatorial smile be withheld from them, we ask — Who are the aggressors?
When we read in the daily press, the purchased type-toadies of Australia, the garbled and lying reports of meetings that never took place, of speeches made by men miles distant, of bogus dynamite and specially-invented Belgian anarchists, we ask — Who are the aggressors? — and whether it be not time to establish a Democratic Club — to fight its way on constitutional lines — at every street comer in every city throughout the length and breadth of the continent, and trumpet out the battle-cry of the coming struggle: “Australia for the Australians!”
The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 2 July 1887, p. 4 (columns 1-4)
alive = aware of, having knowledge of, interested in, seized with a recognition of something’s importance; active, alert, animated, full of emotion; active, busy, exciting
Alsatian = of or relating to the region of Alsace or its people; Alsace is a region of eastern France, located on the border with Germany; Alsace was historically and culturally part of the Rhineland, although it changed hands several times, being ruled by German and French regimes
appanage = a benefit, endowment, property, or resource (or a privilege or right) appropriated by, claimed by, or offered to someone as being something which is due to them by right or by custom (especially a benefit rightfully owed to someone as being appropriate to their rank or station); a grant (usually land, finance, or a source of revenue) given by a monarch or a legislative body to a member of the royal family (especially to children) or to a principal vassal (also spelt: apanage)
Bow Street = a street in London (England); Bow Street has a widely recognised association with the London police, and has been used as a synonymous phrase to refer to the police — as it was the home of the Bow Street Runners (a police-like force connected with the Bow Street Magistrates’ Court, 1749-1839), as well as being the location for the oldest police station of the Metropolitan Police
braggadocio = braggart, boaster, blowhard; much boastfulness, empty boastfulness, pretentious arrogance
callow = immature or inexperienced
capon = a male chicken which has been castrated when young so as to improve the quality of its flesh for human consumption
Chartist = an adherent of the Chartist movement (Chartism), which advocated a People’s Charter, promoting major democratic reforms (the movement originated in England in 1838, and spread to the rest of Great Britain, as well as to the British colonies)
C.M.G. = Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, a British order of chivalry
converse = discuss, talk, to engage in conversation; conversation, discussion
coronet = a small crown, especially one worn by someone of lesser royalty, the nobility, or of the peerage (someone lesser in rank to a monarch); a circular decoration to be worn on someone’s head (such as one made of flowers, or precious metal); a decorative headband (especially one decorated with precious jewels)
Coventry = a city in the West Midlands (England); to “send someone to Coventry” is to deliberately ostracise someone, to refuse to speak to them, to avoid their company, and to act as if they no longer exist (these tactics are used against someone who is disliked, or who has engaged in what is considered to be improper behaviour; sending someone to Coventry can be a form of bullying, punishment, or retaliation)
Downing-street = a reference to the British government (the residence and offices of the British Prime Minister are located at 10 Downing Street, in the City of Westminster, London)
Franks = Germanic tribes which, during the 6th to 9th centuries, ruled much of western Europe (including Germany and France)
Freetrade = (also rendered as “Free Trade”) in economics, a belief in not having tariff barriers, or any other protective measures, so as to enable the free flow of goods into a country, state, or colony (however, some “Free Trade” governments may use a limited amount of tariff barriers or other protective measures)
gild = to cover something with a thin layer of gold, gold leaf, or a gold-coloured substance, or to make something look that way (an archaic meaning is to make something bloody or red)
gubernatorial = of or relating to a governor, a governorship, or the office of a governor
gyve = a U-shaped piece of metal secured with a metal pin or bolt across the opening, usually used to shackle the leg of a prisoner or slave
heterogeneous = consisting of dissimilar or diverse constituents, ingredients, or parts; consisting of many different kinds of people or types of things; a mixed or diverse group of people who are very different from each other; a group or collection which is diverse in character or content (technically, with regards to biology and pathology, “heterogenous” refers to a source or origin outside of an organism or body, i.e. something with a different or foreign origin)
Hindoo = an archaic spelling of “Hindu” (a follower of the religion of Hinduism)
jook = (vernacular) duke
kanaka = a Pacific Islander employed as an indentured labourer in various countries, such as Australia (especially in Queensland), British Columbia (Canada), Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu; in Australia the kanakas were mostly used on the sugar plantations and cotton plantations in Queensland; some kanakas were taken by unscrupulous “recruiters” into virtual slavery (a practice known as “blackbirding”), by kidnapping, being lured with false promises, or being signed up under contracts which were of dubious value (the word “kanaka” derives from the Hawaiian word for “person” or “man”)
lascar = an artilleryman, militiaman, sailor, or army officer’s servant, primarily regarding men hired by British employers from India, but also used to refer to men hired from countries in or near to the Indian subcontinent (“lascar” is derived from the Hindi and Urdu word “lashkar”, meaning “army”)
Lord Loftus = Augustus Loftus (1817-1904), Governor of NSW 1879-1885
Louis XIV. = (1638-1715), King of France 1643-1715 (also known as Louis the Great, or the Sun King)
Magyars = Hungarians; the Magyar tribes which settled in Eastern Europe
man-o’-war = a sailing ship designed or outfitted for combat, a naval fighting ship equipped with cannons and powered by sails
Michael and George = a reference to the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, a British order of chivalry
Missa = (vernacular) Mister
the Mount Rennie youths = a reference to twelve young men of the Waterloo Push (a street gang) who were charged in 1886 with having raped Mary Jane Hicks; four of the accused were hung, whilst most of the others received long prison sentences (several were sentenced to life imprisonment), with two being acquitted (the case was widely referred to by contemporary newspapers as the Mount Rennie Outrage)
Newgate = a reference to Newgate Prison, a prison located at the corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey Street, in London (England); Newgate Prison was originally built in 1188, was closed in 1902, and demolished in 1904
nigger = a black person; someone of black African racial background
N.S.W. = an abbreviation of New South Wales (a colony in Australia from 1788, then a state in 1901)
Orangemen = members of the Loyal Orange Institution (commonly known as the Orange Order, also known as the Orange Institution), a Protestant fraternal organisation (it was founded by Ulster Protestants in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, in 1795)
panjandrum = someone who has, or lays claim to, a lot of authority, influence, or power; a pompous, pretentious, or self-important official or person of rank
Parkes = Sir Henry Parkes, who was the owner and editor of The Empire (Sydney) newspaper, and Premier of New South Wales for five separate terms (1872-1875, 1877, 1878-1883, 1887-1889, 1889-1891)
pâté de foie gras = a pâté (a rich, smooth, soft, thick paste) made from the liver of a goose which has been specially fattened (“foie gras” is French for “fat liver”), commonly made by force-feeding geese; the product can also be made from duck liver
pile = a pile of money (a lot of money)
prima facie = Latin for “at first face”, referring to something that it is obvious “at first sight”, or to facts that bear out an argument “on the face of it” (in legal terms, it denotes evidence that would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or accusation, unless rebutted)
Protection = Protectionism; in economics, a belief in using tariff barriers, and sometimes other protective measures, so as to protect the industries and workforce of a country, state, or colony
sans démordre = (French) without giving up, without abandoning, without letting go, without wavering, without yielding (sans: without; démordre: to give up)
scion = a young member of a wealthy, famous, or important family
society = high society, the realm of the rich and famous
the Soudan crime = a reference to the Anglo-Sudan War (1885), to which the colony of New South Wales sent 758 soldiers to aid the British military (“Soudan” is an archaic spelling of “Sudan”)
St. Jingo = a reference to “jingoism”: a bullish patriotism, especially regarding a belligerent foreign policy or giving very strong support to a policy of war
toady = sycophant; crawler; a fawning self-serving person who uses flattery and servility to win favour from people of influence
Tories = plural of “Tory”: someone who is politically conservative (especially used in Britain, but also used in places settled by the British)
Tory = someone who is politically conservative (especially used in Britain, but also used in places settled by the British)
undergrads. = an abbreviation of “undergraduates” (university undergraduates, being students who have not as yet graduated with a degree)
V. R. = Victoria Regina, a reference to Queen Victoria (“regina” is Latin for “queen”); a reference to, or initials placed upon, property owned by the British Crown during the reign of Queen Victoria (often using a stylised “VR” logo, monogram, or royal cypher); initials used on property made or patented during the reign of Queen Victoria
Wentworth = William Charles Wentworth (1790-1872), an Australian explorer, lawyer, poet, and politician
whilom = formerly; former; erstwhile; in the past
Whiteley = William Whiteley (1831-1907), an English entrepreneur, who created London’s first department store
[Editor: Changed “the men who to day control” to “the men who to-day control” (added a hyphen); “Whitely” to “Whiteley”; “foi gras” to “foie gras”, “no more C.M.G’s.!” to “no more C.M.G.s!”; “whisky–retailer” to “whisky-retailer”; “to himself he hob-nobs” to “to himself; he hob-nobs” (added a semi-colon).]
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]