The Confidence Man by C.J. Dennis

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[During Show week in Adelaide the National League hired the Town Hall, and gave a free show "by invitation" to the farmers.  For disinterested generosity, the National League is truly famous.]

Oh, farmer, when you come to town
   To spend a short vacation,
Be on your guard, and struggle hard,
   And watch against temptation.
Be careful of the wily bar,
   The toteshop and the races,
Keep out of range of Stock Exchange,
   And all such sinful places.

Be careful, too, whate'er you do,
   Of ev'ry smiling dealer,
And shun, oh, shun, the gentle "gun" --
   Ingratiating spieler.
But of the score of wiles or more
   That threaten your position,
Do not forget the cutest yet --
   The Tory politician!

Nay, do not by his smiling eye,
   Or suavity prodigious,
Be taken in: but, with a grin,
   Observe his mien religious.
For while you're down about the town
   He'll make your life worth living
With song and drink; but think, just think --
   Bears he a name for giving?

Is he to us so generous
   In all his little dealings?
Doe she eschew the business view
   With philanthropic feelings,
And strive alway, in manner gay,
   To be the gentle charmer,
With cash he's made in close, keen trade?
   Well, what do you think, farmer?

He'll flatter you, and vow your view
   Identical with his is;
Your family he'll treat, and be
   Attentive to "the missus";
He'll tell you of his boundless love,
  Undying, sir, and tested!
But -- just go slow.  Why is he so
   Infernally int'rested?

He'll take you out, he'll treat and shout,
   In a manner free and hearty.
And, 'tween the drinks, tell what he thinks
   About the "Labah Party";
That robber band, that wants the land,
   And suffers from illusions;
Don't take the bait, don't contemplate,
   And draw your own conclusions.

He is in truth a crafty sleuth,
   A spieler of finesse, sir;
With subtle art he plays the art,
   In manner and in dress, sir.
And, like them all, he keeps the ball
   A-rolling for your pleasure;
A day or two, deceiving you,
   Then plucks you at his leisure.

His talk is grand about "the land,"
   And "folks that want to steal it,"
And if some day they get their way,
   He tells how you will feel it.
And he is so unselfish; oh,
   Ingenuous his patter!
He may own miles, and yet, he smiles
   That's quite another matter.

Yet, 'spite his groans, maybe he owns
   Land that your sons are needing;
But, mark his plight, he holds it tight,
   And yet his heart is bleeding --
Aye, bleeding sore, all for the poor,
   Poor farmer with the hand hard
(But don't, I pray, have aught to say
   Of "cornstacks" or the "standard").

These things are small, no weight at all.
   "Tush, hardly worth a fig, sir!
Mere trifles quite.  We must unite!
   The question is so big, sir!"
So he will smile and talk the while.
   Of "theft" and 'confiscation,"
And weep anew at thoughts of you,
   "The backbone of the nation!"

So on, and on, while at the Show,
   You'll find him on you doting,
And if, perchance, he should advance,
   A hint concerning "Voting,"
Don't be in haste, and pledges waste,
   The while his wine you're drinking,
Just shake his hand then thank him, and --
   Go home and do some thinking.

First published in The Gadfly, 18 September 1907

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 18, 2013 7:22 AM.

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