The Political Forum
The Secret People
This poem was written in 1907 as an angry protest against the appalling treatment of England’s poor working class at the hands of the elitist, sanctimonious, and self-righteous British ruling class during the glory days between Waterloo and World War I. Some of it, naturally, is not pertinent to today’s world. But the following excerpts can be viewed today as a battle cry of conservative middle-Americans, who are likewise tired of their appalling ruling class. They are tired of the attacks by the liberal elite on a duly elected president, one who pays attention to the wishes and needs of the men and women who do the work, fight the wars, protect the public against crime and mayhem, and pay the taxes that keep this nation going in the face of bureaucratic bloat, moral rot, corruption at the highest levels of government, and massive waste of hard earned tax dollars.
Excerpts from “The Secret People” by G.K. Chesterton
Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget; For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet. There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfully, There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than we. There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or so wise. There is hunger in our bellies, there is laughter in our eyes; You laugh at us and love us, both mugs and eyes are wet: Only you do not know us. For we have not spoken yet . . . .
A war that we understood not came over the world and woke Americans, Frenchmen, Irish; but we knew not the things they spoke. They talked about rights and nature and peace and the people's reign: And the squires, our masters, bade us fight; and scorned us never again. Weak if we be forever, could none condemn us then; Men called us serfs and drudges; men knew that we were men. In foam and flame at Trafalgar, on Albuera plains, We did and died like lions, to keep ourselves in chains, We lay in living ruins; firing and fearing not The strange fierce face of the Frenchmen who knew for what they fought, And the man who seemed to be more than a man we strained against and broke; And we broke our own rights with him. And still we never spoke.
They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords, Lords without anger or honour, who dare not carry their swords. They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes; They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies. And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs, Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.
We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet, Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street. It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first, Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath be the worst. It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best. But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet. Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.