Works in the Bulletin 1908

The big landlord comprises the bulk of the local government bodies in the country, and he values his land for rating purposes at from one-eighth to a half of its real value, so that his nominal rate of (say) 1s. in the £ is really a rate of from 1½d. to 6d. in the £. And as this isn't sufficient to keep his roads in order he applies to BENT for subsidies, and gets them. These subsidies come, to a great extent, out of the scantily-lined pockets of city workers who have not only to pay the whole cost (running in some cases to about 2s. or 2s.6d in the £) of their own municipal government, but to subscribe towards that of the outside districts where the semi-millionaire landlords have their habitat and their palaces. There isn't a hard-worked, over-taxed, underpaid corporation labourer or bootmaker or drayman in Footscray or Richmond or Collingwood who isn't, by reason of the subsidy system, regularly giving his copper or two in charity to the enormously rich CLARKES and MANIFOLDS and their kind. And there isn't a careworn, over-worked hod-carrier's wife in the cheapest Melbourne suburb who hasn't to live on a more skimpy fare or to lie on a harder bed becasue, by reason of the subsidy system, she has to pay her copper or two that the loafing, greedy women of the CLARKE and MANIFOLD clans may lie soft, and have more money to burn and more motor cars. - BULLETIN (8/10/'08 on Vic. Land Monopoly.)

Charity, Charity - parson and priest
   Ever in church and in chapel have taught -
"Give ye in charity e'en to the least,
   So may the favor of Heaven be bought.
Strive ye in Virtue, for Him that we call
Master has named it the greatest of all.
         Strive ye in holiness;
         Walking in lowliness,
Charity, Charity - answer the call."

Proud Squatter REX is a lord of the land, Owner of acres and breeder of sheep. Cleaning his wealth with a masterful hand, Scheming for profit with schemes that are deep. Yet is the squatter a generous soul - A generous donor, and this be more: He never begrudges - nor misses - the dole Of gratuitous guineas he flings from his store.
Charity, Charity - purchase your fame! All the world honors a giver of alms. Noble philanthropist! Publish his name! Scatter his gift to the suppliant palms. Nay! Would you ask how his guineas are won? Mark his benificence? See what he's done! Thank him, ye lowly ones; Bless him you holy ones. Charity, Charity - worthily done!
Humble BILL HODMAN is agèd and poor; Owning no riches and owning no lands, Living the life of a laboring boor, Earning his bread by the toil of his hands. Yet is the toiler an obstinate soul - An obstinate pauper, and this be more: He'd answer with curses if offered a dole In charity out of a rich man's store.
Charity, Charity - ignorant clowns! What should ye know of personal pride? Shame on your surliness! Shame on your frowns! Spuring the gifts that the wealthy provide! Are they not generous? Are they not kind? Pride is their privilege, why should ye mind? Study servility; Practise humility. Charity, Charity - fools, ye are blind!
Proud Squatter REX has a charming wife - Queen of society, lady of birth; Nurtured in luxury, smiling thro' life, Ever enjoying the sweets of the earth. Ah, but she pities the poor o' the land - Sweet benefactress, as kind as her lord. Patroness she of a slum-working band, President, too, of a hospital board.
Charity, Charity - down in the slums Misery stalks 'mid the lean o' the land. Angel beneficient! See where she comes, Scattering gifts with a generous hand. Sweet Lady Bountiful, draw in your skirt; Shrink from the misery squalor and dirt. Pity is lured to it? Nay, they're inured to it. Charity, Charity is their desert.
Laborer BILL has a toil-worn wife - Drudge of the lower class, cradled in care; Nutured in poverty, struggling through life, Knowing too well all the bitterness there. Ah, but she nurses a foolish old pride - Wife of a laborer barren of lands - Knowing the "comforts" they humbly divide Are earned, doubly earned, by the toil of their hands.
Charity, Charity - nay, foolish drudge! Why should you slave till the end of your day? Think of the wealthy who never begrudge Gifts to the "Home" where the indigent stay. Why should mendicity shame such as you? Indigence, beggary - these are not new. Where is the blame for it? What's in the name of it? Charity, Charity - it is your due.
Proud Squatter REX, does your lordly soul Shrink from the thought of a medicant whine? Are you too proud to solicit a dole Won by the sweat of a fellow of thine? What of the subsidy sued for and paid? - Paid at a word from a tool of the "class"; Earned, hardly earned, at a laborer's trade - Charity wrung from the toil of the mass.
Charity, Charity - what's in a name? Whine for a subsidy, lo, and it comes! Still it is charity ever the same - Begged from a palace or cadged from the slums. Call it a clever political game - Yours is the sordidness, yours is the shame. Moneyed mendacity, Skilled in duplicity. Charity, Charity! - this is its name.
Sweet lady Bountiful, queen of your set, Selfish for pleasure and greedy for show, When come the toys and the treasures you get/ Have you considered or wanted to know? Nay, would you stoop to take pence from the poor, Soiled with the sweat of an overworked wife - Loaf on the toil of a laboring boor, Squander his pittance to lighten your life?
Charity, Charity - cover your face! This is your charity, this is your pride: To laugh, and to live, and to know the disgrace Of squandering pence that the needy provide. Some toiling sister, some work-weary soul, Is slaving the harder to eke out your dole. Blush for the shame of it! Shrink form the name of it! Blush for your name upon Charity's roll!

"C.J. Dennis"
The Bulletin, 19 November 1908, p36

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002