The Origin of Henry Dubb
By RYAN WALKER
Mr. Ryan Walker, the great Amerloan Cartoonist, has specially written for "Forward," the following account of how he came across the original Henry Dubb, that prototype of all that is humble and stupid and easily imposed upon by Capitalist magio and meaningless forms and ceremonies. Beneath the genius of Mr. Walker's pencil, Henry Dubb has figured and Is figuring in the greatest series of economlo and political working class cartoons that the Socialist movement of the world
has seen. "Who is Henry Dubb?" you ask mc. "And how did he originate?" I shall try to give you the story of flow I conceived Henry Dubb. While in a mining district—for the purpose of studying tha conditions of my brother miners—l went to one of the most remote mining camps. I did not go in guest of enjoyment, for long ago I had learned that nothing of happiness, eainshino and contentment was to be found in the isolated settlements where men dig riches from the earth to pour into the pockets of the men who toil not. It goes without saying that when I dropped off the trolley car into the above mentioned) mining camp I fell Into the midst of squalor and unhappiness, for everywhere about mo was wretohodnoss born of Want and Ignorance and nureed by Oppression. There was but one foul street, formed by two rows of dismal shacks—such habitations as we see everywhere that men are employed in vast numbers. Straggling along this street, and coming from a coot-blackened which vomited black breath constant ly, came many men of all ages and degrees of physical infirmity. The latter condition was the toll they paid to their jobs. (Have you ever thought of ilat—the heavy toll the miner pays to his jobP) Their day's work had jnst ended, and in the shadow of the approaching, night they were wearily going to their respective shacks to eat and sleep, preparatory to another long iay'e toil. I was in no fit mood to stop to converse with these miners; for bitterness wfljp in mc against their oppressors, and also in mc against the oppressed themselves — for allowing themselves to be thus oppressed I And I turned my face from them and walked a little way to a fence which encircled a fine pasture in the midst of which stood a great, red barn. About this barn stood mamy splendid mules, big, strong, ejeek.' They were literally in clover, knee-deep. As I leaned on the top board of tlhe fencp, one of the .mules come to mc in the most friendly manner, as though he divined my feeling, of fellowship for him. And ac I gazed first' into the beast's kindly eye, then at his splendid pasture and great secure barn, I was forced to turn about and make the contrast between his Burrc-und'ings and those of the miners . And' suddenly there came labouring through my brain a strange thought, »nd I turned again to the mule and held with him mentally a conversation. "Howdy, Brother." I eaid. "Howdy, Brother," came "his response, most cordially; for the world went well with him, and (he felt nothing but kindness for the wayfarer outside his fence. "That's a nice, red barn you dwell in," I said. "Looks comfortable." The mule smiled. "It is comfortable—cool in summer amd warm in winter, and contains a full manger." "I euppoee you pay a pretty stiff rent for it, seeing it'e kept in such excellent condition?" I eurmised, enquiringly. v "Rentl" ' He gare a mule-laugh. "No, Brother, I pay not a penny in rent." "You look well fed," I nert remarked. "I suppose, since mule-feed is so high, that you are taxed pretty heavily for it." "I am well fed," the mule assured mc, "but I pay nothing for my feed." "Strange," I remarked, "will you tell mc for whom you work?" "For the mine-owners," informed the mule. "Now, aiuppose tie mines close down," I euggested, "what becomes of you? Turned out of the pasture and the big, red barn to pick what grass you may find along the roadside, or starve", I presume?" The' mule gave mc a pitying look. "No, poor fool, whether or not the mines close down I am cared for, for I am INVESTMENT—I AM PROPERTY." Then I said—"Brothor, will you tell mc for whom you vote? What system do you uphold?" "I vote for tie boss, and I uphold the system which TAKES GOOD CARE OF ME." I pondered his answer a moment. Them I eaid, "You're a wise mule.. Good day." ■ Then I went away from the red barn, end down into the wretched street of tho miners' houses; and I met a grimed miner, old with toil and hardship. He bent to the earth as though the burden he forever carried would not permit of his raising his eyes to heaven. I walked behind him for a little, and underneath his filthy I beheld in is bent body the soul of a liero;" perhaps the soul of which the earthly part of him was ignorant. 1 fth'ew th&tr every "tinie that'minor went
into the bowels of the earth to rend from them riches he gambled with death. Yet each day he went, and staked his life. And through him, and such as he, was the world warmed and fed; through him, and such as ho, was the great machinery of civilisation run ; and I eaid to myself: "Ho must realise hie own great importance to the world." And I overtook him and epoke to him: "Good evening, Comrade." Ho glared at mo with an expression of contempt. "Comrade! Don't call mc that; I'm no crazy Socialist." And I said: "Brother, where do you live?" "He pointed to one of the hovels at the end of the street. "I soo," I resumed, "that you are a valuablo member of society. I suppose the mine-owners do not charge you rent for that stiack ; for it isn't worth burning to the ground." "Ah," he said, with a chow of resentment in him, "I,do pay rent for that place—big rent." "You look hungry," 1 ventured. "I a.m hungry," replied he. "My wage is 60 email and the coat of living so high at the Company's Store that not only am I hungry, but my wife and little ones are suffering starvation. It's the damnable over-production that's responsible for our hard times. He leaned on his pick. "I suppose," I continued, "that should the mine close down you would be permitted to remain in the shack you now occupy, rent-free; for you're a valuable member of society, and have given your strength to build) up the fortunes of many in this great land." The miner shook his head. "If the mine closes down I must get out and hunt for another job. If I don't find one I and my family must go to the poorhouKe, or starve." , "Will you tell mc, my friend, for whom you vote, and what system you uphold?" I inquired with eagerness. "I vote as my boss tells mc, and I uphold the system which gives every man an equal chance with his felloWs,our present system."
Then I walekd on beside him a little way without speech; after which I said to him: "Brother, why won't you listen to the message of Socialism, the one Great Thing which will transform your miserable life into one of happiness, your hovel into a comfortable home, your empty cupboard into a full one; Socialism will educate your children and fit them for useful and happy lives, and provide for you in your old age; Socialism which will wipe out poverty and injustice ?" Hβ stopped short and glared at mc. "Say, whatcher giving mc?" He snarled. 'Don't the men in tho public ihouses, the men who run the newspapers, and the men that have the jobs to give mc, tell mc what Socialism is? Socialism would make mc divide up, and would fob mc of my rights." "Say," I cried, 'What's your name?" And he said: ' "My name is HENRY DUBB."
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Maoriland Worker, Maoriland Worker, Volume 5, Issue 176, 17 June 1914
The Origin of Henry Dubb Maoriland Worker, Volume 5, Issue 176, 17 June 1914
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