The Latest Chinese Outrage

A poem by Francis Bret Harte

It was noon by the sun; we had finished our game,
And was passin’ remarks goin’ back to our claim;
Jones was countin’ his chips, Smith relievin’ his mind
Of ideas that a “straight” should beat “three of a kind,”
When Johnson of Elko came gallopin’ down,
With a look on his face ’twixt a grin and a frown,
And he calls, “Drop your shovels and face right about,
For them Chinees from Murphy’s are cleanin’ us out
With their ching-a-ring-chow
And their chic-colorow
They’re bent upon making
No slouch of a row.”

Then Jones my own pardner looks up with a sigh;
“It’s your wash-bill,” sez he, and I answers, “You lie!”
But afore he could draw or the others could arm,
Up tumbles the Bates boys, who heard the alarm.
And a yell from the hill-top and roar of a gong,
Mixed up with remarks like “Hi! yi! Chang-a-wong,”
And bombs, shells, and crackers, that crashed through the trees,
Revealed in their war-togs four hundred Chinees!
Four hundred Chinee;
We are eight, don’t ye see!
That made a square fifty
To just one o’ we.

They were dressed in their best, but I grieve that that same
Was largely made up of our own, to their shame;
And my pardner’s best shirt and his trousers were hung
On a spear, and above him were tauntingly swung;
While that beggar, Chey Lee, like a conjurer sat
Pullin’ out eggs and chickens from Johnson’s best hat;
And Bates’s game rooster was part of their “loot,”
And all of Smith’s pigs were skyugled to boot;
But the climax was reached and I like to have died
When my demijohn, empty, came down the hillside,
Down the hillside
What once held the pride
Of Robertson County
Pitched down the hillside!

Then we axed for a parley. When out of the din
To the front comes a-rockin’ that heathen, Ah Sin!
“You owe flowty dollee me washee you camp,
You catchee my washee me catchee no stamp;
One dollar hap dozen, me no catchee yet,
Now that flowty dollee no hab? how can get?
Me catchee you piggee me sellee for cash,
It catchee me licee you catchee no ‘hash;’
Me belly good Sheliff me lebbee when can,
Me allee same halp pin as Melican man!
But Melican man
He washee him pan
On bottom side hillee
And catchee how can?”

“Are we men?” says Joe Johnson, “and list to this jaw,
Without process of warrant or color of law?
Are we men or a-chew!” here be gasped in his speech,
For a stink-pot had fallen just out of his reach.
“Shall we stand here as idle, and let Asia pour
Her barbaric hordes on this civilized shore?
Has the White Man no country? Are we left in the lurch?
And likewise what’s gone of the Established Church?
One man to four hundred is great odds, I own,
But this ’yer’s a White Man I plays it alone!”
And he sprang up the hillside to stop him none dare
Till a yell from the top told a “White Man was there!”
A White Man was there!
We prayed he might spare
Those misguided heathens
The few clothes they wear.

They fled, and he followed, but no matter where;
They fled to escape him, the “White Man was there,”
Till we missed first his voice on the pine-wooded slope,
And we knew for the heathen henceforth was no hope;
And the yells they grew fainter, when Petersen said,
“It simply was human to bury his dead.”
And then, with slow tread,
We crept up, in dread,
But found nary mortal there,
Living or dead.

But there was his trail, and the way that they came,
And yonder, no doubt, he was bagging his game.
When Jones drops his pickaxe, and Thompson says “Shoo!”
And both of ’em points to a cage of bamboo
Hanging down from a tree, with a label that swung
Conspicuous, with letters in some foreign tongue,
Which, when freely translated, the same did appear
Was the Chinese for saying, “A White Man is here!”
And as we drew near,
In anger and fear,
Bound hand and foot, Johnson
Looked down with a leer!

In his mouth was an opium pipe which was why
He leered at us so with a drunken-like eye!
They had shaved off his eyebrows, and tacked on a cue,
They had painted his face of a coppery hue,
And rigged him all up in a heathenish suit,
Then softly departed, each man with his “loot.”
Yes, every galoot,
And Ah Sin, to boot,
Had left him there hanging
Like ripening fruit.

At a mass meeting held up at Murphy’s next day
There were seventeen speakers and each had his say;
There were twelve resolutions that instantly passed,
And each resolution was worse than the last;
There were fourteen petitions, which, granting the same,
Will determine what Governor Murphy’s shall name;
And the man from our district that goes up next year
Goes up on one issue that’s patent and clear:
“Can the work of a mean,
Degraded, unclean
Believer in Buddha
Be held as a lien?”

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