Works in the Bulletin 1908

The Minister of Defence: To confound the Defence Scheme with the European idea of conscription which takes a man away from his social responsibilities and his work, places him under military discipline, and drills him into what might be called a fighting machine, is entirely a mistake.
Mr. Bruce Smith (N.S.W.): It is a matter of degree.
The Minister of Defence: Everything is a matter of degree - and facts. -
Parliamentary Report.

B. SMITH would most undoubtedly be very, very cross
If some rude person called him Jap, and yet, I'm at a loss
To see how he could argue otherwise in that respect:
A Jap is human - or a rumor's rife to that effect.
And he talks and argues much the same as B.
         So, if SMITH is not a twin
         To his cherished Yellow-skin,
Why it's only just a matter of degree,
Just a trifling little matter of degree.

Now, a Jap is not a monkey. though he's oft compared with such, And he doesn't look unlike one, so it hardly matters much. A monkey has a fearsome phiz, and hands that grab at things, And he imitates his betters - all of which the matter brings To a very clear conclusion, seems to me, Which you cannot fairly funk: If a Jap is not a monk - Ey, it's patently a matter of degree. And we needn't mind a matter of degree.
Of native monkeys hereabout, of course, you haven't heard; And a monkey's not a native bear, which, clearly, is absurd, And yet, a bear clings to a tree with young bears on its back (My word! we're getting on a rather interesting tack) - Yes, it clings there like the cheerful chimpanzee. So, if monkeys are not bears Quite exactly - well, who cares? When it's noticing but a matter of degree. You call hardly notice matters of degree!
Well, bears are very plainly never bunyips, at first glance; But wait a bit and give SMITH's reasoning a sporting chance. They are both Australian, purely; there is no denying that; And they both live in the bush, so there you have it, clear and pat. And "bear" and "bunyip" both begin with "b." So, it's clearly in the game That if these are not the same - Well, who'd quarrel with a matter of degree? We ignore these little matters of degree.
I suppose 'twill be admitted that a bunyip is a myth, Without adopting arguments resorted to by SMITH? But we've never seen a bunyip, and the myths are pretty rare; So there seems to be a solid sort of fam'ly likeness there. And it's pretty safe to reason, seems to me, If a bunyip and a sprite Aren't about an equal height, Well, at most, it's but a matter of degree, Just a simple little matter of degree.
So, overlooking certain petty matters of degree, We are forced to these conclusions with undoubted certaintee: B. SMITH'S a Jap, a Jap's an ape (according unto SMITH), An ape's a bear, a bear's a bunyip, and the last's a myth! It's as clear as any argument can be - That if our dear friend SMITH Is not a simple myth It's an unimportant matter of degree, Quite a microscopic matter of degree.

The Bulletin, 15 October 1908, p7

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002