The Chinese Situation
by Finley Peter Dunne
21 July 2004
[originally published in 1900]
"Well, sir," said Mr. Hennessy, "to think iv th' audacity iv thim Chinymen! It do bate all."
"It do that," said Mr. Dooley. "It bates th' worruld. An' what's it comin' to? You an' me looks at a Chinyman as though he wasn't good f'r annything but washin' shirts, an' not very good at that. 'Tis wan iv th' spoorts iv th' youth iv our gr-reat cities to rowl an impty beer keg down th' steps iv a Chinee laundhry, an' if e'er a Chinyman come out to resint it they'd take him be th' pigtail an' do th' joynt swing with him. But th' Chinyman at home's a diff'rent la-ad. He's with his frinds an' they're manny iv thim an' he's rowlin' th' beer kegs himsilf an' Westhren Civilization is down in th' laundhry wondhrin' whin th' police'll come along.
"Th' Lord f'rgive f'r sayin' it, Hinnissy, but if I was a Chinyman, which I will fight anny man f'r sayin', an' was livin' at home, I'd tuck me shirt into me pants, put me braid up in a net, an' go out an' take a fall out iv th' in-vader if it cost me me life. Here am I, Hop Lung Dooley, r-runnin' me little liquor store an' p'rhaps raisin' a family in th' town iv Koochoo. I don't like foreigners there anny more thin I do here. Along comes a bald-headed man with chin whiskers from Baraboo, Wisconsin, an' says he: 'Benighted an' haythen Dooley,' says he, 'ye have no God,' he says. 'I have,' says I. 'I have a lot iv thim,' says I. 'Ye ar-re an oncultivated an' foul crather,' he says. 'I have come six thousan' miles f'r to hist ye fr'm th' mire iv ignorance an' irrellijon in which ye live to th' lofty plane iv Baraboo,' he says. An' he sets down on an aisy chair, an' his wife an' her friends come in an' they inthrojooce Mrs. Dooley to th' modhren improvements iv th' corset an' th' hat with th' blue bur-rd onto it, an' put shame into her because she hasn't let her feet grow, while th' head mission'ry reads me a pome out iv th' Northwesthren Christyan Advocate. 'Well,' says I, 'look here, me good fellow,' I says. 'Me an' me people has occypied these here primises f'r manny years,' I says, 'an' here we mean to stay,' I says. 'We're doin' th' best we can in th' matther iv gods,' says I. 'We have thim cast at a first-rate foundhry,' I says, 'an' we sandpa-aper thim ivry week,' says I. 'As f'r knowin' things,' I says, 'me people wrote pomes with a markin' brush whin th' likes iv ye was r-runnin' ar-round wearin' a short pelisse iv sheep-skins an' batin' each other to death with stone hammers,' says I. An' I'm f'r firin' him out, but bein' a quite man I lave him stay.
"Th' nex' day in comes a man with a suit iv clothes that looks like a tablecloth in a section house, an' says he: 'Poor ignorant haythen,' he says, 'what manner iv food d'ye ate?' he says. 'Rice,' says I, 'an' rats is me fav'rite dish,' I says. 'Deluded wretch,' says he. 'I riprisint Armour an' Company, an' I'm here to make ye change ye'er dite,' he says. 'Hinceforth ye'll ate th' canned roast beef iv merry ol' stock yards or I'll have a file iv sojers in to fill ye full iv ondygistible lead,' he says. An' afther him comes th' man with Aunt Miranda's Pan Cakes an' Flaked Bran an' Ye'll-perish-if-ye-don't-eat-a-biscuit an' other riprisintatives iv Western Civilization, an I'm to be shot if I don't take thim all.
"Thin a la-ad runs down with a chain an' a small glass on three sticks an' a gang iv section men that answers to th' name iv Casey, an pro-ceeds f'r to put down a railroad. 'What's this f'r?' says I. 'We ar-re th' advance guard iv Westhren Civilization,' he says, 'an' we're goin' to give ye a railroad so ye can go swiftly to places that ye don't want to see,' he says. 'A counthry that has no railroads is beneath contimpt,' he says. 'Casey,' he says, 'sthretch th' chain acrost yon graveyard,' he says. 'I aim f'r to put th' thrack just befure that large tombstone marked Riquiescat in Pace, James H. Chung-a-lung,' he says. 'But,' says I, 'ye will disturb pah's bones,' says I, 'if ye go to layin' ties,' I says. 'Ye'll be mixin' up me ol' man with th' Cassidy's in th' nex' lot that,' I says, 'he niver spoke to save in anger in his life,' I says. 'Ye're an ancestor worshiper, heathen,' says the la-ad, an' he goes on to tamp th' mounds in th' cimitry an' ballast th' thrack with th' remains iv th' deceased. An' afther he's got through along comes a Fr-rinchman, an' an Englishman, an' a Rooshan, an' a Dutchman, an' says wan iv them: 'This is a comfortable lookin' saloon,' he says. 'I'll take th' bar, ye take th' ice-box an' th' r-rest iv th' fixtures.' 'What f'r?' says I. 'I've paid th' rent an' th' license,' says I. 'Niver mind,' says he. 'We're th' riprisintatives iv Westhren Civilization,' he says, 'an' 'tis th' business iv Westhren Civilization to cut up th' belongings iv Easthren Civilization,' he says. 'Be off,' he says, 'or I'll pull ye'er hair,' he says. 'Well,' says I, 'this thing has gone far enough,' I says. 'I've heerd me good ol' cast-iron gods or josses abused,' I says, 'an' I've been packed full iv canned goods, an' th' Peking Lightnin' Express is r-runnin' sthraight through th' lot where th' bones iv me ancesthors lies,' I says. 'I've shtud it all,' I says, 'but whin ye come here to bounce me off iv me own primises,' I says, 'I'll have to take th' leg iv th' chair to ye,' I says. An' we're to th' flure.
"That's the way it stands in Chiny, Hinnissy, an' it looks to me as though Westhren Civilization was in f'r a bump. I mind wanst whin a dhrunk prize fighter come up th' r-rroad and wint to sleep on Slavin's steps. Some iv th' good sthrong la-ads happened along an' they were near bein' at blows over who shud have his watch an' who shud take his hat. While they were debatin' he woke up an' begin cuttin' loose with hands an' feet, an' whin he got through he made a collection iv things they dhropped in escapin' an' marched ca'mly down th' sthreet. Mebbe 'twill tur-rn out so in Chiny, Hinnissy. I see be th' pa-apers that they'se four hundred millyons iv thim boys an' be hivins! 'twudden't surprise me if whin they got through batin' us at home, they might say to thimsilves: 'Well, here goes f'r a jaunt ar-roun' the wurruld.' Th' time may come, Hinnissy, whin ye'll be squirtin' wather over Hop Lee's shirt while a man named Chow Fung kicks down ye'er sign an' heaves rocks through ye'er windy. The time may come, Hinnissy. Who knows?"
"End ye'er blather," said Mr. Hennessy. "They won't be many Chinymen left whin Imp'ror Willum gets through."
"Mebbe not," says Mr. Dooley. "He's a sthrong man. But th' Chinymen have been on earth a long time, an' I don't see how we can push so manny iv thim off iv it. Annyhow, 'tis a good thing f'r us they ain't Christyans an' haven't larned properly to sight a gun."
FINLEY PETER DUNNE