Works in the Bulletin 1914

Mr. Churchill despises patriotic sentiment. "What does Australia want with battleships," he coolly inquires, "when Japan is her guarantee from assault?" The First Lord of the Admiralty despises Australian manhood if he thinks it will go into heroics over the prospect of having a colored nation as its guardian angel. - Melbourne Age. The Britons had lost the habit of war,a nd were helpless before these fierce foes. In their despair they asked the Saxons to help them against the Picts and Scots. - English history.

Brothers; even those of you who are already in the sear and yellow leaf, and 
   full of years and iniquity,
Sometimes, I doubt not, let your thoughts go back to those days of antiquity
When mother tucked you into your little bed.
After your little prayers were said;
And, having said goodnight,
She most inconsiderately took away the light.
Then came, my brothers, that dread half-hour in the day of a child;
When your mind was filled with weird imaginings and fancies wild
Of Bogey-men and Hobgoblins, Ogres and Demons; so that, for a space, you lay
Filled with a child's vague fear of the dark, and longing for the day.
Then, to comfort you, there came the thought
That guardian angels, as you had been taught,
Hovered ever near
To watch over timid little boys and girls and still their fear.
Is not that what other said?
And, in your childish mind you pictured a feathered friend roosting benevolently
   at the foot of your bed.
Then were you filled with solace deep;
You sighed contentedly and went to sleep.

Brother: I would speak to you of another kind of mother; Of our political mamma or historical mater: Mrs. Britannia, to wit, who lives on the other side of the equator. You have doubtless seen her pictured upon certain coins of the realm, Sitting on the sharp edge of a shield, holding a picthfork, and wearing an absurd and elaborate helm. That is the lady; our dear old mum; Mother of a large and parti-colored family that has given her much trouble and promises more in the years to come. Hitherto she has tucked us into bed. And, for a trifling cash consideration, to allay our dread, Has, so to speak, left us the light In the shape of a few more or less efficient warships that might or might not be of use in a fight; But that was neither here nor there So long as they served their purpose, and, like a candle of childhood's days, dissipated the shadows and the attendant thoughts that scare. But, behold, my brother, we are no longer an infant nation. We have doffed our swaddling clothes, and have gone into pants, and top-hats, and motor-coats, and split-skirts, and other habilments of adult civilisation. We are no longer young enough to pet and fondle, to nurse and bounce and dandle; And, behold, mother has taken away the candle! This is well enough;
And nobody would be complaining if the dear old lady didn't try to fill us up with the stuff That was designed alone for infant ears, And to allay imaginery fears. She forgets, the poor old worried mum, that we have, so to speak, arrived now at years of discretion, And (if you pardon the expression) Endeavors to pull her trusting offsping's leg with the old, old tale Of the beautiful and ever watchful guardian angel that will never fail To banish the naughty, nasty bogeys, the wicked ogres that lurk Around our little bed.... Brother, that guardian angel gag won't work! We happen to know a little about this saffron-colored seraph, this Mongolian cherub to whose tender care our doting parent would leave us; And, unless our eyes deceive us, He bears a most remarkable reseblance to the ogre that we fear! We have not the least doubt that he will most obligingly hover near Our little cot. But we are very, very anxious concerning certain little childish possessions we have got. We have out own private opinions about the sort of watch he will keep; And we have wisely, if rebelliously, decided that WE WILL NOT GO TO SLEEP!!
Speaking of guardian angels and other birds, I should just like to say a few words In conclusion In reference to this guardian angel illusion. It will be remebered that mother herself, when she was young, and not so handy with the flatiron of war as she is to-day, Had a little experience of her own in that way. It was a Saxon guardian angel, with fierce whiskers and a spear, That poor mother put her maiden trust in: and it would appear That he treated her in a very shameful and ungentlemanly style; For, after he had expelled the Scot burglar or the Pict fowl-thief or whoever it was, he remarked, with a sinister smile: "Well, not that I am here, My dear, I think I'll stay for a while." And that's how mother got married....he did marry her in the end, or so I understand, And made an honest woman of her, and in time they built up a very respectable home in the land. But, after all, despite his morals, he was a white man, and a decent sort of fellow. And things miht have been very different if his color had happened to be yellow. Since then, if any reliance can be placed on the histories that adorn my shelf, Mother has gone in rather largely for the guardian business herself.
And this she has done, I must confess, With considerable success. She has played the benign guardian angel, at one time and another, to quite a number of simple and unsophisticated folk, Who, when her guardianship has become too insistent, have not always appeared to appreciate the joke. But, my brother, this is what I should vey much like to know: Since the old girl knows so much about this thing through personal experience, why does she want to go And put up that rusty old bluff on her innocent and confiding little son? In the circumstances there is only one thing for him to do, and the lesson cannot be learned too soon: The only reliable guardian angel for children of his age IS A GUN! I don't know what you think about it, brother; But, speaking privately and strictly between ourselves, I think it's pretty crook on the part of mother.

The Bulletin, 7 May 1913, p47

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004