State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 70 Spring 2002


The “Britishah” Abroad

Not the English Gentleman — there is no truer or more considerate in the world; not the English workman — I admire him for his honesty; not the British newchum — be he his mother's white-haired boy, or blacksheep, who goes out into the aweful lonliness of the Bush to make his own liv an independant living or to work out his own salvation — I admire him for his pluck: but the English tourist and globe-trotting cad, and the Jackaroo There are several types of him.who comes out with a few pounds — and, oh yes, that careless and contemptable article, the remittance man.
There are several types of “Britishah” abroad: There's the stout man with a thick neck who made his money in the crooked-provision line or something in England, who has crawled and cringed to customers all his life, and finds, as he thinks, in the Australians, a class he can look down upon & crow over — simply because he regards them as “Colonials”.* In his own opinion Australia is a country only fit for breeding mongrel sheep and larrikins. Sometimes he settles down and occasionally He says “Hi'm a Hinglishman!“ also that he's a man as fears God and honours his King. In his opinion Australia's a country only fit for breeding mongrel sheep and larrikins. Sometimes he settles down, and occasionly he starts a business in Australia, and, not infrequently he does well enough; for he is comparitively harmless after all, his British opinions are met with good humoured chaff, and possibly in the end, and even after middle life, something of the Australian atmosphere works its way into him.
There's the little, fat, pimply suub-nosed young Britisher of the pug-dog breed; he has quite a good public-school education and no brains; he says he is a gentleman
and a Britisher, and is related to a lord; he comes out on the remittance system as often as not, and he is frankly, brutally insulting — for a while. I met him in Australia years ago: he went Out Back and knocked about the Bush for several years working for surveyors &c, and when I met him again, he said:
“Wasn't I a cad when I first came out to Australia!”
Then there's the cultured ignorance, the educated snob. He wears a tourist suit, a cap with a peak fore-and-aft and a [cancelled] spy-glass fastened on to him. He belongs to a type that must either bully or crawl to be happy — bully inferiors or crawl to superiors — and, if forced to a neutral position, appears sullen and [cancelled] morose. And mere “Colonials” are his inferiors of course. He wears, most times, an expression of resentment, as if he's honouring a country he doesn't like at great personal inconvenience — or as if he thinks a stranger is going to talk to him.Often seen something of the sam The expression [cancelled] in itself is an insult to the country he happens to be in. [bracket cancelled] I've seen something of the same expression on the face of half-castes — but they have the excuse that they were ever brought into the world at all. Pity for England that this sort of Britisher was brought into the world — he is responsible, more than you would think for her “splendid isolation” for it is he, I believe, more than anything else, who makes the name of Englishmen hated on the continent. He can't stand the “blawsted Kawlinies”. There's no culchaw, don't-cher-no — no refinement about the country. The Australians are little better than savages. “But what can you expect of a people descended from — ah — convicts?“ as I once heard a Britishah say.
The worst of it is that we can't kidnap This Britisher him and take him out into the Bush [cancelled] and keep him there for a year or two: he escapes and goes home
Notes on ‘The “Britishah” Abroad’
The only version of this article is a three page manuscript, written in ink, with three pencilled additions — which, to judge by the difference in handwriting, were made some time after the original composition.
The footnote implies that this piece a was written for an English readership; that is, during Lawson's stay in England. It is not mentioned in Lawson's correspondence with his agent, J.B. Pinkerror his friend Edward Garnett, but it could have been intended for ‘the proposed “sarcastic” book’ — an ill-conceived project (to which Lawson gave the title, ‘As Far As l'm Concerned / A Book on Prretty Prattle, Cackle, Fiddle Faddle and Diddle Daddle in Art and Literature') that he discussed with Garnett in 1902. Some of the unpublished texts in the Lothian Papers, such as ‘The Birth of Culchaw in a New Land’ and the unflinished ‘Doodle Do Club’ (a facetious account of ‘Boy Authors’ in London) were obviously intended for that aborted collection.
The phrase ‘crimson bonds’ is a reference to Sir Henry Parkes's muchquoted phrase — ‘the crimson thread of kinship’ — in a speech advocating Federation.
to talk slightingly of the Australians — or, what is worse, to write ignorantly and patronisingly about Australia; and we hear and read and it doesn't strengthen the [cancelled] “silken crimson bonds”. Pity England couldn't sort out the Britishah and chain him up, or put a label on him to the effect that she isnt responsible for him; {for he is regarded abroad as a representative Englishman.}.
It wouldn't be fair to stop here. There's another type of “Britishah” — Australian this time (I first struck him in New Zealand by the way). It is the Australian, Tasmanian or New Zealand born who goes “home” and comes back a Britishah and can't stand his native land. “Can't stand the Cawlinies! — can't stand the Cawlinies! There's nothing out hee-ah!” (“here” I suppose he means) “Couldn't stand the Kawlinies after London! I'll go “home” again next yee-ah!“ The Australian born Britisher. Damn him for a mongrel Australian and a disgrace to the big free open-hearted land of his birth. {What would you think of an Englishman who went to France and comes back a “Frenchy”?}
Henry Lawson


It is many years since I last heard an Australian call himself a “colonial”; the term is seldom or never used in print {in Australia}.