Daily Express, Thursday, January 11, 1906



II.—Dear Old Johnny.


(Air “Dolly Gray.”)

Now you’re in the Cabinet, Johnny Burns,
And two thousand pounds you get, Johnny Burns;
  But five hundred is too much
  For a single man to touch—
 That was what you used to say, don’t forget.


 Dear old Johnny, think it over,
  ’Ere your money you refuse;
 Now you find yourself in clover,
  You’ll hold quite different views;
 You won’t pay quite so much attention
  To what a fellow earns—
 Stick to all that you can collar,
  Honest Johnny Burns.

There are unemployed you meet, Johnny Burns,
Cold and hungry in the street, Johnny Burns;
  Fifteen hundred pounds a year
  Would do much their lot to cheer—
 Don’t you want to give the poor men a treat?


Then you know the rates have grown, Johnny Burns,
And it’s due to you alone, Johnny Burns;
  Your expenditure is rash
  When it’s other people’s cash—
 But you stick like a leech to your own.





Signed “P. C. W.” in newspaper (at least as it appears as scanned for online newspaper archive); Wodehouse entered it as “Dear Old Johnnie” in Money Received for Literary Work for January 1906 in the Daily Express.

John Burns (1858–1943) was at the time President of the Local Government Board, a Cabinet post in Campbell-Bannerman’s Liberal government, having serving as a Liberal M.P. since 1892. Burns is quoted as saying that “the man does not live who is worth a salary of five hundred pounds a year.” (Socialism: An Examination of Its Nature, Its Strength and Its Weakness, R. Ely, 1894)

—Neil Midkiff