Thus it happened .... Let me mention, lest I raise an unsought quarrel,
This occurred in times long vanished, in the land of Git-yer-gun.
'Tis a quaint, unlikely story; some folk say it has a moral;
But that's a little matter you may settle when I'm done.
Mr. Foodle led a party that was strongly democratic,
And it represented people with the Christian name of Bill.
And in all his hustings speeches Mr. Foodle was emphatic
That his crowd existed solely to uphold the people's will.
Mr. Boodle led a party that was Liberal - or Tory -
(Just according to your view-point) - and it represented those
Christened (by immersion) Percy, whose hot socks proclaimed their glory;
And its policy was such as you may readily suppose.
So they strove in an election .... (Now, I wish it noted plainly
That this happened years ago, and in the land of Git-yer-gun) ....
And each side employed its talent to upbraid the other mainly,
While the voters cheered them madly, and the crowd enjoyed the fun.
The Democratic Party (Bill by name) supported Foodle -
For such was the convention with this quaint old Party Plan -
While the Tories fought like fury to promote the cause of Boodle,
And, of course, the crowd named Percy voted for him to a man.
And the others of the nation - all the Johns and Jeremiahs,
All the Peters, Pauls and Paddys, all the Colins and Carews,
All the Richards and the Roberts, and the Hanks and Hezekiahs
Voted for some bloque or other, each according to his views.
Then they counted up the numbers, when at last the fight was over,
And both Democrats and Tories - Bills and Percys - looked quite sour
When the numbers showed them clearly neither party stood in clover;
For a few odd Independents held the balance of the power.
Mr. Foodle called his Caucus .... And he put it to them plainly:
"Never mind the Bills," said Foodle; "we have got them in the box.
If we would escape extinction 'tis our plan to pander mainly -
But with caution - to the Percys and the cause of fancy socks.
"For," said Mr. Foodle gravely, "understand me, votes are needed!
How to catch and how to keep them is the question of the hour.
Never mind your Public Questions; let the Big Things go unheeded;
We must compromise a little if we mean to hold the power."
Mr. Boodle called his Caucus ... And he put it to them clearly"
"Gentlemen, ignore the Percys! We have got them in the bag!
But the Bills, we must remember, have the votes we covet dearly;
And till we contrive to get them we must let the Big Things lag."
So began the op'ning session, with both sides electioneering;
Boodle grew more democratic; Foodle watered down his views;
Bit by bit they drew together, more and more alike appearing,
Till the voters, looking at them, vowed there wasn't much to choose.
Sometimes Foodle reigned in office, sometimes it was Mr. Boodle.
'Twas the Grand Old Party System, for the shibboleth held still.
And they vowed that ev'ry voter - (as was plain to any noodle) -
Must most palpably be Percy if he wasn't christened Bill.
Meantime all the Dicks and Davids, all the Johns and Jeremiahs,
All the Mats and Pats and Peters, surnamed Smith or Brown or Burke,
Shouted with the Ned and Normans and the Hanks and Hezekiahs,
"What of those Big Public Questions? When do you begin to work?"
Still the factions went on fighting - ('Tis a right that factions cherish) -
But on one important matter both the parties were agreed;
In this world of sin and sorrow Bills may die and Percys perish,
But the votes to hold his billet are a politician's need.
Boodle battled strenuously, on his rival's ground encroaching;
Fearlessly the Foodle faction sneaked the other Party's views;
Full of fight were both opponents; the elections were approaching;
And upon mere Public Business none had any time to lose.
With the public patience straining, and quite half the nation scoffing
At the Bill and Percy parties, and the voters in despair.
Lo, a party led by Doodle rose serenely in the offing;
And it said it represented folk who sported Ginger Hair.
Doodle soon became the fashion: thousands flocked around his banner;
Scores of Antonys and Arthurs, Joes and Jacobs, Mats and Micks,
(Even some stray Bills and Percys renegaded). In like manner
Flocked the Hanks and Hezekiahs, and the Davids and the Dicks.
All the Red-haired of the nation joined the mighty Doodle party;
And the Brown-haired and the Black-haired and the Grey-haired sought him too;
For, they said, "What does it matter? He has our support most hearty.
Never mind what shade your hair is. He will see the Big Things through!"
Then, when that great Doodle Party swept the polls at next election,
What a great rejoicing followed! Heavens, how the people cheered!
And the Boodle-Foodle party - (fused for general protection) -
Was so absolutely routed that it almost disappeared.
How the Dicks and Davids shouted with the Johns and Jeremiahs:
"We don't care what shade his hair is - black or brown or pink or blue!"
"Glory!" cried the Mats and Michaels with the Hals and Hezekiahs.
"Hail to Doodle! Red-haired Doodle! He will see the Big Things through!"
Mr. Doodle called his Caucus .... And he put it to them tersely:
"Gentlemen, it now behoves us, seeing all the votes we've got,
To be very, very careful lest we're criticised adversely.
Never mind the Red-haired voters; we have got them in the pot.
"But," continued Mr. Doodle, "there are others - perfect snorters.
There's this new Bald-headed Party led by Snoodle! Statesmanship
Now demands we do our utmost to win over his supporters.
Meantime, gentlemen, I'm thinking we must let the Big Things rip.
"Or, if we must tackle something to allay the public clamor,
Let us not be over-zealous and this alientate support
From our Party when the...Gracious!!!!"
I should like to go on telling how they fared; but foreign raiders
At this very hour descended on the land of Git-yer-gun;
And the Red-heads and the Bald-heads fell beneath the fierce invaders -
Men who bore aloft a banner blazoned with a Rising Sun.
And they smote the Pats and Percys, and the Jims and Jeremiahs.
Bashed the Doodles, smashed the Snoodles, left the Mats and Micks for dead.
Thrust cold steel into the vitals of the Hanks and Hezekiahs,
And plugged all the Johns and Jacobs and the Josephs full of lead.
Thus it happened .... As I've mentioned, some folk think it has a moral.
You may judge that little matter, as I said when I began.
'Tis to me the simple story of a very ancient quarrel
'Mid the Git-yer-gun debaters with their quaint old Party Plan.
First published in The Bulletin, 26 June 1913