Heathen Chinese: 0050.0178


            The London Mail says of a recent “Heathen Chinese” poem brought out by Bret Harte in London: Mr. Harte has revived the “Heathen Chinese” in a new poem in the Batch Mansfield Quarterly, with  Abner Dean, Brown of Calaveras, and Truthful James, who says:

            “It was raining up at Ange’s – we were sitting round the bar,

            Discussin’ of ‘Free Silver’ that was ‘going soon to par,’

            And Ah Sin stood thar a listenin’ like a simple guileless child,

            That hears the Angels sigin’ – so dreamy like he smiled.”

            Brown of Calaveras, who had come “waltzing upon his bike,” demonstrated with Bryanite eloquence how the ratio of silver to gold should be 16 to 1, and drew out of his pocket a heap of silver and laid it on the counter.

            “The Heathen in his blindness bows down to wood and stone,”

            Said Brown, “but this poor Heathen won’t bow to gold alone:

            So speak, my poor Mongolian, and show us your idée,

            Of what we call ‘Free Silver’ and what is meant by ‘Free’.

            Swift was the smile that stole across that Heathen’s face I grieve

            That swifter was the hand that swept those dollars up his sleeve.

            ‘Me shabbee ‘silvel’ all same as Mellican man,’ says he,

            ‘Me shabbee ‘Flee’ means ‘belongs to none’, so Chinaman catch he.”

            This action of Ah Sin was adjudged extreme, and Abner Dean proposed as punishment that Ah Sin should “strike the bi-metallic balance on Mr. Brown’s new bike.”  Ah Sin endeavors to adjust equilibrium, but his pigtail is caught in the wheel and comes to grief.

            “My poor Mongolian friend,’ said Dean. It’s plain that in your case

            Your center point of gravity don’t fall within your base.

            We’ll tie the silver in a bag and hang it to your queue,

            And then – by scientific law – yot’ll (sic.) keep your balance true!

            And here I would remark how vain are all deceitful tricks –

            The boomerang we throw comes back to give us its last licks –

            And that same weight on Ah Sin’s queue set him up straight and plumb,

            And he scooted past us down the grade and left us cold and dumb!

            But not again we saw his face – nor Brown his ‘Silver Free!’

            And I marvel in my simple mind howe’er these things can be!

            But I do not reproduce the speech of Brown who saw him go

            For my words are pure and simple – and I never yet was low.”

0050.0178: Heathen Chinese

Newspaper article in form of poem describing sneaky heathen chinaman.

Medium:  Newspaper - Text
Date:  April 22, 1897
Pages:  2
Publisher:  The Ledge (New Denver)
Collection:  Columbia Basin Institute (0050)


heathen chinese free silver gold pigtail queue


People arrow Hartearrow
Communications arrow Poetryarrow
Social arrow Racism arrow Chinesearrow


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