[Editor: This poem by W. T. Goodge was published in Truth, 14 June 1903.]
“The Little Brown Egotist”
(Written for “Truth.”)
[The Bellambi Coal Company entertained the officers of the Japanese Squadron at their mine on Thursday, and the manager, Mr. Waley, before the luncheon (there had to be a luncheon because there were several local politicians with the visitors) was explaining how the machinery for loading cargoes was worked, when he was suddenly interrupted by one of the representatives of the nation which knows everything except the rules of politeness and good manners, who said, “Yes, yes, I see; I understand; but we’re more up-to-date in Japan!” The daily papers do not report the manager’s reply to this piece of Mongolian impudence.]
He’s an entertaining midget, an amusing marionette,
Is the copper-colored kinchen from Japan!
His superior for skiting isn’t likely to be met,
If you travel from Beersheba up to Dan!
He’s been savage forty centuries and civilised a week,
And his swollen self-importance is amazing, so to speak,
And the largest part about him is his monumental cheek,
When he blathers of the greatness of Japan!
You’d think Adam was Mikado of Japan!
Why the self-asserting Yankee whom we used to think a bore,
By comparison is quite a nervous man!
There is nothing you can show the Jap he didn’t know before;
They have just the same or better in Japan!
The American’s retiring! He is modest! He is meek!
He is humble! He is bashful! He is timorous and weak!
He is shy and coy and timid! And his blushes dye his cheek!
As he shrinks before the boaster from Japan!
The United States is nothing to Japan!
He’ll admit that our Australian moon at times is fairly bright!
But it’s nothing like the moon that’s in Japan!
And the sun we have may show a very decent sort of light!
But you ought to see the sun that’s in Japan!
He and Bull, you know, are partners in the ruling of the sea!
Which preposterous alliance from the first has seemed to me
Something very like an elephant assisted by a flea,
Or a mastiff by a pocket black-and-tan!
Just imagine Bull defended by Japan!
Oh, this small brown bunch of bumptiousness is sweet to contemplate!
Such a vain and egotistic little man!
He is very fond of saying that his country’s “up-to-date,”
And he seems to think his country leads the van!
He is “up-to-date” in everything, and likes to tell you so!
“Up-to-date” in army, navy and in commerce! Full of go!
“Up-to-date!” Just like the baby that was born to-day, you know!
And for skite! Don’t talk of Cousin Jonathan!
Uncle Sam was never in it with Japan!
He has three or four small islands, long and narrow, chiefly coast,
And he’s christened them “The Empire of Japan!!”
They’re as big as Garden Island; not much larger at the most,
And their owner is a cocky little man!
But he’s very energetic; you must give him that bit in!
And the wit’s not regulated by the color of the skin!
And the only fault about him is his tendency to “chin”
When he’s blethering on the progress of Japan!
Let’s go there and cuddle O Mimosa San!
W. T. GOODGE.
Truth (Sydney, NSW), 14 June 1903, p. 6
Also published in:
Truth (Brisbane, Qld.), 21 June 1903, p. 2
Beersheba = a city in Israel
blether = (also known as “blather”) to talk a lot, without saying anything of real substance; to talk nonsense in a long-winded fashion; prattle
black-and-tan = a black-and-tan dog (in a British context, a black-and-tan terrier)
Bull = John Bull: a personification of Britain, or of England in particular
chin = to “chinwag”: to chat at length; to talk a lot, especially to talk of matters of little importance; gossip
Cousin Jonathan = (also known as “Brother Jonathan”) a personification of the United States of America (the pictorial depiction of “Cousin Jonathan”, or “Brother Jonathan”, as a man wearing a stove-pipe hat, is regarded as a forerunner to the iconic “Uncle Sam” persona)
Dan = a city in ancient Israel
Garden Island = an island in Sydney harbour, located to the north of Potts Point (the island became connected to Potts Point by land reclamation works carried out during the Second World War); there are also islands of the same name in South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia
Great Scot = an exclamation of surprise (similar to “good heavens”)
O Mimosa San = the name of a fictional geisha (a Japanese hostess, or entertainer), being the leading character in the highly popular play “The Geisha” (originally staged in England in 1896)
skite = boast (skiting is the act of boasting)
to-day = an archaic spelling of “today”
Uncle Sam = a personification of the United States of America (USA)
van = an abbreviation of “vanguard”: in the lead, at the front; the advance unit of a military force; the forefront in an area, field, movement, profession, or science; the leaders of a cultural, intellectual, political, or social movement