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Settlers and Songs — Early Immigration to Victoria

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					         Settlers and Songs — Early Immigration to Victoria.
                             Dr. Terence Fitzsimons
                                  November 2010


[Music in: Do They Miss Me at Home — fade.]


It has long been argued that songs illuminate the sentiment and
sensibilities of their times, and music being thus affected gives us a
particular insight into historical events, and it is from this perspective
that these settler and emigrant songs are presentedi — a vocal essay, if
you will, using song as a primary source to afford us a glimpse of the
people who migrated to Australia, and to say something about their
hopes and aspirations — whether they intended to settle on the land,
follow a trade, or seek for gold!


[Music in: Far, Far Upon the Sea.]


Some of the songs were written by migrants, while others were the
product of composers who, while not seeking themselves to emigrate,
were prepared to proclaim the merits, and dangers, of travelling to
Australia.


The potential immigrants, and they were many, were drawn from all
stations of life — ‗families struggling with numerous difficulties to gain a
precarious livelihood … and some few persons who had been better off in
the world, but reduced by unforeseen circumstances‘ sought to recover
their position in society.   ii   In one such instance donations were raised
locally to allow a ‗distressed mother‘, embarking for Australia, ‗to
purchase a pianoforte by means of which she could obtain a livelihood
amongst the colonists by instructing their children in music.‘   iii



                                         9
[Music in: Bound for Australia.]


Though a goodly number of emigrants made the journey to the other side
of the world so as to better themselves, and provide an imagined secure
future for their children, this in no way diminished the distress
experienced in taking leave of their families, friends and homeland. At
many a leave taking the painful silence all around such a departure
would be broken by sobs, ‗with tears flowing freely down many a cheek‘
as emigrants left behind them parents and relatives.iv


Allied to the miseries of leave-taking were the hazards facing intending
emigrants, even before committing themselves to the dangers of a long
ocean voyage. As they waited at their ports of departure they had to
contend with conditions that one contemporary described as ‗deplorable‘
and ‗the cause of great anxieties.v Not only was the intending immigrant
beset by an army of touts and grog sellers, the men folk also faced with
the danger of being pressed as unwilling crew members on board
Australia bound emigrant ships,vi described in some cases as being ‗no
better than tubs.‘vii


Once on board married couples were allocated a bunk space of six feet by
three, while unmarried females were obliged to sleep two by two in the
same space; single men slept alone in bunks measuring a mere six feet
by two!viii And the distress of leaving one‘s home and loved ones was
compounded by what was for many the terrifying strangeness of craft on
which the journey was to be made — as ‗chains and ropes rattled and
seamen … ran and hollowed about and women cried and prayed.‘    ix




                                   10
The famous balladeer and entertainer Charles Thatcher would later
record the miseries of a protracted sea voyage in his wonderful
gallimaufry, ‗ ‗Tween Decks.‘


[Music in: „Tween Decks.]


But for the new settlers ties to home were not easily broken; as one
emigrant wrote:
      A flight of swallows passed over our vessel today. Someone said,
‗Mayhap those birds will soon be in Ireland‘ … I stood and   watched
them out of sight, and God knows, my heart went with         them.x
So it was that in spite of all the hardships experienced in the Old
Country and now left behind, many of the emigrants harboured a fond
hope of returning ‗home‘ once they had made their fortune, or as an
alternative at least placing themselves in a position where they could
raise sufficient funds to pay for the fare and bring out members of their
family to the colony.


[Music in: The Australian Emigrant‟s Song.]


Over time English newspapers were able to report the increasing
prosperity of the Port Phillip district, and remark on the growing
importance of Melbourne, ‗which is but a few miles from Port Phillip and
has flourished wonderfully.‘    xi




This situation of development and increased prosperity gave rise to a
demand for female domestic servants, and young males to be trained up
as ‗mechanics‘ — that is to say workers adept at using machinery.


There were schemes set afoot whereby the Colonial Authorities made
fund available to those wishing to bring out female domestic servants


                                     11
from the British Isles.xii The British Government also arranged to ‗send
out orphan girls, and others whose parents are consenting parties, to the
Australian colonies as emigrants.‘xiii         In Britain the local parish
authorities would pay £5 towards the passage of the child emigrants and
the balance would be defrayed from Colonial funds. Clearly the orphan
girls, and the ‗others‘ had little say in this scheme. While the Port Phillip
Herald lauded the undertaking as a ‗beneficial arrangement‘,xiv some who
were sent to the colony bitterly complained of poor treatment and
appalling conditions; Caroline Arnold, a domestic servant, complained of
the outrageous conduct, fornication, assault and the selling of spirits
that occurred on her vessel on the voyage out.xv          Another Caroline,
Caroline Chisholm, was distressed by the number of immigrant girls
who, on arrival in the colony, were left without employment as a result of
their real or imagined unsuitability for domestic work. She set about
providing   accommodation      and       arranging   employment   for   these
unfortunates.


[Music in: The Poor Orphan Maid.]


Agriculture was all the go in the Port Phillip district, and Melbourne was
booming, and as a one immigrant observed in a letter to a British
newspaper; ‗for the persevering, and such as are not afraid of work, there
is a good chance of success,‘ but he warned how, through bitter
experience, he had discovered that, ‗one man cannot trust to another.‘xvi
It was true that the new chum always risked being gulled by a canny
local.


[Music in: Billy Barlow in Australia.]


In 1851 the Port Phillip District, was separated from New South Wales,
and granted colonial status.         Within a short time gold had been


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discovered   and   there   was   a   massive   influx   of   fortune-seeking
immigrants. The new colony‘s population swell to over five hundred
thousand.


The gold diggings were the site of robust, rough and rollicking
settlements, and a digger‘s life was attended by no little danger. All of
this was reflected in songs of the time, that have their own peculiar
themes and insights — but, then, that is another story.


[Music in: Do They Miss Me at Home.]




                                     13
                  Far, Far Upon the Sea!
  Henry Russell‟s popular entertainment, „The Emigrant‟s Progress‟.
                                        Lyrics by Charles MacKay.



1. Far, far upon the sea,
The good ship speeding free,
Upon the deck we gather young and old;
And view the flapping sail,
Swelling out before the gale,
Full and round without a wrinkle or a fold,
Or watch the waves that glide,
By the vessels stately side,
Or the wild sea birds that follow thro‘ the air;
Or we gather in a ring,
And with cheerful voices sing,
Oh, gaily goes the ship when the wind blows fair.
             Far, far upon the sea,
             The good ship speeding free,
             We watch the sea birds follow thro‘ the air,
             Or we gather in a ring,
             And with cheerful voices sing,
             Oh, gaily goes the ship when the wind blows fair.



2. Far, far upon the sea,
With the sunshine on our lee,
We talk of pleasant days when we were young,
And remember though we roam,
The sweet melodies of home,
The songs of happy childhood that we sung.
And though we quit our shore,
To return to it no more;
Sound the glories that Britannia yet shall hear;
That Britons rule the waves,
And never shall be slaves,
Oh, how gaily goes the ship when the wind blows fair.
             Far, far upon the sea,
             With the sunshine on our lee,
             Sound the glories that Britannia yet shall hear,
             That Britons rule the waves,
             And never shall be slaves,xvii
             Oh, gaily goes the ship when the wind blows fair.



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3. Far, far upon the sea,
Whate‘er our country be,
The through of it shall cheer us as we go,
And Scotland‘s sons shall join
In the song of Auld Lang Syne,
With voice by memory softened, clear and low.
And the men of Erin‘s Isle,
Battling sorrow with a smile,
Shall sing ‗Saint Patrick‘s Morning‘, void of care.
And thus we pass the day
As we journey on our way,
Oh, how gaily goes the ship when the wind blows fair.
             Far, far upon the sea,
             Whate‘er out country be,
             We‘ll sing our native music void of care.
             And thus we pass the day,
             As we journey on our way,
             Oh, how gaily goes the ship when the wind blows free.




                             15
                           Bound to Australia
                                       Melody: Matthew Locke. c. 1640 xviii
                                                       Lyrics: Broadside
1. I‘m leaving old England the land that I love
And I‘m bound far across o‘er the sea.
Oh, I‘m bound for Australia, the land of the free
Where there‘ll be a welcome for me.

      Chorus: So fill you your glasses, and drink what you please
      For whatever the damage I‘ll pay,
      So be aisy and free, whilst yer drinkin‘ with me,
      Sure, I‘m a man you don‘t meet every day!

2. When I board me the ship for the south‘ard to go
She‘ll be lookin‘ so trim and so fine,
And I‘ll land me aboard with me bags and me stores
From the dockside they‘ll cast off each line.

3. Round the Cape we will roll, take our flyin‘ kites in
For the Forties will sure roar their best,
And then run out our Eastin‘ with yards all square set
With the wind roaring out of the west.

4. When I‘ve worked in Australia for twenty long years
One day I will head homeward bound
With a nice little fortune tucked under me wing,
By steamship I‘ll travel, I‘m bound.

5. So, ‗tis goodbye to Sally and goodbye to Sue,
When I‘m leaving Australia so free,
Where the gals are so kind, but the one left behind
Is the one that will one day splice me.




                                    16
                         ‘Tween Decks — Medley
                                           All Lyrics: Charles Thatcher
                                         Tune: Sich a Getting‟ Up Stairs
                                                   Joe Blackburn 1837

Good people, listen to my text,
I‘ll sing the troubles of ‗tween decks,
Of Mrs Jones and Mrs Stigging;
And a lot of other folks a-going to the Diggings.
        There‘s such a falling down the stairs,
        And calling for the steward,
        Yes, such a-falling down the stairs
        And calling for the steward;
        Such a-falling down the stairs as never you did see,
        Yes, a-falling down the stairs as never you did see.

Late one night when the storm was at its height,
And we all felt rather so — so!
There was great perturbation — not a little consternation;
It brought the steerage passengers below.
      Said Mrs Brown, ‗Oh, dear, oh, dear, I feel so very queer,
      You see I can not stand upright, tho‘ I try with all my might.
      I‘m sure I‘ll die,‘ said Mrs Brown,
      ‗For I can‘t keep anything down,
      I know I‘ll die,‘ said Mrs Brown,
      ‗For I can‘t keep anything down.‘


                                                   Tune: I‟ve Been Roaming
                                                         C. E. Horn c. 1840

I‘ve been reeling — I‘ve been reeling,
Where the sailor men did grin;
And I‘m feeling — and I‘m feeling,
Like a glove turned outside in;
Like a glove turned outside in.


                                                     Tune: Coal Black Rose
                                                       Anonymous c. 1830

Is that you, Thompson? Don‘t stand too near,
Move a little further, or I shall — Oh, dear!
I warn you, Thompson, don‘t stand too near,
Move a little further, or I shall — Oh, dear!
Oh, dear, what giddiness and pain,


                                     17
I wish I may be drowned if I come to sea again,
Oh, dear, what giddiness and pain,
I wish I may be drowned if I come to sea again.



                                                          Tune: The Sea
                                             Sigismond Neukomm c. 1834

The deck — the deck —
The slippery slanting deck;
The wet, the cold, the treacherous deck —
The crowded treacherous deck.
Without a rail my hand to guide,
I stagger and slip from side to side;
I try to look cheerful and hide my pain,
I whistle a lively tune in vain,
I try to look cheerful and hide my pain,
I whistle a lively tune in vain.


                                                           Tune: Love Not
                                                       J. Blockley c. 1843

Laugh not, laugh not, it may be your turn next,
Where others lay, yourself may shortly be;
The cabin-boy, the jack-tars on the deck,
May smile at you as you now smile at me,
May smile at you as you now smile at me.
Laugh not, laugh not!


                                                  Tune: All Round My Hat
                                                    John Valentine 1834.

All round the ship, I wear a huge mackintosh,
All around the deck, creating cruel mirth;
And if e‘er the Captain asks of me, why I don‘t go below and sleep,
I tell him I‘m afeared of a-dying in my (birth) berth.


                                                        Tune: Fra Diavolo
                                                      D. F. E. Auber 1830

On yonder cask reclining,
That pale and sickly form behold!


                                    18
Fast his hands a bucket holds,
The largest one I‘m told.
This way his head inclining,
His mackintosh lies on his knee!
His wide awake I see,
And it‘s wider awake than he.
Steward! Steward! E‘en while that sound is dying,
Afar hear others crying — afar hear others cry;
Steward! Steward! E‘en while that sound is dying,
Afar hear others crying — afar hear others cry;
Steward oh! Steward oh! Steward oh!




                                               Tune: Home, Sweet Home
                                                      H. R. Bishop 1823

In ‗tween the decks and state saloons, wherever we may stand,
Be it ever such a wretched spot, there‘s no place like land.
In ‗tween the decks and state saloons, wherever we may stand,
Be it ever such a wretched spot, there‘s no place like land.
Land! Land! Land! Sweet, sweet land!
Be it ever so wretched —
There‘s no place like land,




                                   19
                       The English Exile
                    (Leaving Old England)
                                                  English Broadside
                                               Tune: “Am I to Blame”
                                              James G. Maeder 1833

1. I oft see you smiling dear mother,
A loving face beaming with joy;
Oh, why are you weeping dear mother?
Be cheerful and answer your boy;
It‘s hard to believe in old England,
But there‘s the privation to see,
But I‘ll cheerful leave you dear mother,
If I carry your blessing with me.

      Chorus: Then give me your blessing dear mother,
      Weep not, oh weep not for me;
      There‘s a stormy cloud hangs o‘er old England,
      And a fortune across the blue sea.

2. In the cold winter‘s nights dearest mother
Our cottage well thatched with the snow,
But you see us for food to be grieving,
Deserted by all that we know.
There‘s the squire, scarce a pace from our shelter,
Counting his wealth by the score,
Dare you ask but one stick from his dwelling,
He would send you to gaol evermore.

3. Could I see my dear sister repining,
Sick and cold on a palate of straw,
Unable to give her the succour
To keep her from death‘s craving door.
Oh, no, I would rather be leaving
For flattering Australia‘s shore,
So farewell to all those that are grieving,
And England, goodbye evermore.

4. Farewell to the shores of old England,
Farewell to its rulers so brave,
It‘s the boast of an Englishman‘s freedom,
And the first that would make him a slave.
Your liberty has proved you are tyrants,
The dock-yards has you as free —
Take the bread from our wives and our children,
And transport them across the blue sea.


                               20
                        The Poor Orphan Maid
                                      Music & lyrics M. P. King c. 1810
                                              Arranged. T. FitzSimons


1. Tho‘ early misfortune her lot has attended,
And sorrow has claimed her as a favourite child,
Yet the woes of another she still has befriended,
‗Twas then for a moment her woes were beguiled‘
For each tear that was changed to a smile by her aid,
Gave joy to her heart, tho‘ a poor orphan maid;
Gave joy to her heart, tho‘ a poor orphan maid.


2. When in childhood‘s days past she saw destiny frowning,
While hope would forsake as each prospect drew near,
She caught at each leaf, like a wretch who is drowning
Yet others she saved, not as friendless ‗twas clear,
And each tear that was changed to a smile by her aid,
Gave joy to her heart, tho‘ a poor orphan maid;
Gave joy to her heart, tho‘ a poor orphan maid.


3. From experience like hers you this lesson may borrow,
Ne‘er sink unresisting, the victim of grief,
But sooth a friends care, ‗tis the best balm for sorrow,
And, comforting others, you‘ll meet with relief.
Thus each tear that was changed to a smile by her aid,
Cheered her heart, tho‘ she but a poor orphan maid;
Cheered her heart, tho‘ she but a poor orphan maid.




                                   21
Billy Barlow’s Emigration to Australia
                                          Lyrics: Anon
                          „As sung by Mr. Sam Cowell.‟
                         Pub. London, Davidson. 1856.




                 22
1. Ladies and Gentlemen, how do you do?
I‘ve come here you see, with one boot and one shoe;
I don‘t know how it is, but somehow ‗tis so
Now isn‘t that hard up on Billy Barlow?
Oh dear, lack a day oh,
Now, isn‘t it hard up on Billy Barlow

            2. Some time, you must know, I‘ve been so out of luck,
            That I‘d my living to earn by dragging a truck,
            But old aunt died; left me a thousand — oh, oh!
            I‘ll start on my travels, says Billy Barlow.
            Oh dear, lack a day oh,
            So off to Australia went Billy Barlow,

3. When to Sydney I got, there a merchant I met,
Who said he could teach me a fortune to get;
He‘d cattle and sheep past the colony‘s bounds,
Which he sold with the station for my one thousand pounds.
Oh dear, lack a day oh,
He‘d gammoned19 the cash out of Billy Barlow.

            4. When the bargain was struck and the money was paid,
            He said, ―My dear fellow, your fortune is made —
            I can furnish supplies for the station, you know,
            And your bill is sufficient, good Mister Barlow.‖
            Oh dear, lack a day oh,
            A gentleman settler was Billy Barlow.

5. So I got my supplies and I gave him my bill,
And for New England started, my pocket to fill;
But a few days before, the blacks you must know,
Had speared all the cattle of Billy Barlow.
Oh dear, lack a day oh,
It‘s a beautiful country, said Billy Barlow.

            6. And for nine months before, no rain had there been,
            So the devil a blade of grass could be seen;
            And one third of my wethers the scab they had got,
            And the other two thirds had just died of the rot.
            Oh dear, lack a day oh,
            This will soon be a settler,20 said Billy Barlow.



7. And the matter to mend, now my bills were all due,
So I wrote to my friend, and just asked to renew;
He replied he was sorry, he couldn‘t because
The bills had passed into Tom Latitat‘s21 claws.
Oh dear, lack a day oh,
But perhaps he‘ll renew ‗em, said Billy Barlow.

                                 23
            8. I applied to renew, and he was quite content,
            If secured and allowed just three hundred percent.
            But as I couldn‘t do it, Bore, Rodgers and Co.
            Soon sent their law process for Billy Barlow.
            Oh dear, lack a day oh,
            And so settled the business of Billy Barlow.

9. For a month or six weeks I stewed o‘er my loss,
Till a tall man one day rode up on a black horse;
He says, ―Don‘t you know me?‖ I answered him, No!‖
―Why,‖ says he, ―I‘m a bailiff — just call‘d you must know.‖
Oh dear, lack a day oh,
For the wardrobe and corpus of Billy Barlow.




                                  24
Endnotes:

i  Palmer, Roy. The Sound of History: Songs & Social Comment. London: Pimlico,
   1996. Preface. The proposition that song carried social comment has long been
   argued vide Engel, Carl. An Introduction to the Study of National Music. London:
   Longman, 1866. p.8.
ii "Emigrants on their way to the place of Embarkation." The Illustrated London

    News. London. 21 Dec. 1844: p.2.
iii The Irish Times. Dublin. 26 Aug. 1859: p.2.
iv The Penny Illustrated News. London. 1 Feb. 1862: p.76.
v "A Week Among the Emigrants Ships' at Liverpool." Leader. London. 11 Jan. 1851:

     p.28.
vi The Irish Times. Dublin. 26 Aug. 1859: p.2.
vii Dickens, Charles. "Cheerily, cherrily!." Household Words. London. 25 Sep. 1852:

     p.25.
viii Barlow, Bill. Voyage of the City of Brisbane. Marrickville: Southwood Press, 2001.

     p. 13. The metric equivalents are 183cm X 92cm and 183cm X 61cm.
ix From an emigrants diary quoted in The Long Farewell. Warrandyte: Byrgewood

     Books, 2005. p.21.
x "Extract from an Irish Emigrant's Letter." The Nelson Examiner.Nelson. 1 Aug.

     1846: p.8.
xi Leeds Intelligencer. Leeds. 30 Nov. 1839: .n.p.
xii A grant of £19 was paid to a settler wishing to bring out to the colony a female

     domestic; provided she be single and between 18 and 30 years of age. Immigration
     Regulations: Gov. Notice. 25 Sept. 1837.
xiii The London Nonconformist. London. 4 Oct. 1842: p.9.
xiv The Port Phillip Herald. Melbourne. 1 Aug. 1848: p.4.
xv Weekly Guardian. London. 23 Mar. 1850: p.5.
xvi The British Banner. London. 14 Nov. 1849: p.10.
xvii James Thompson (1700-1748), a Scot, wrote the poem ‗Rule Brittania!‘.
xviii The melody used here is said to be a variation of Locke‘s composition, ‗My

Lodging is
    on the cold, cold ground.‘ Thomas Moore set ‗Believe me if all these endearing
    young charms‘, to this melody – and credited Locke‘s tune as his source.
19 ‗Gammoned‘: to deceive with lies.
20 ‗Settler‘: a knock-down blow.
21 ‗Latitat‘: a writ for the apprehension of a person or, in some cases, property




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