Poem: The Scribbler to His Son by Allan F. Wilson

Heaven help you, little son of mine; you've not
   A prospect in this world. I'll not deceive you.
Your fond but stony father hasn't got
   A solitary copper coin to leave you.
You'll have to earn your meat before you chew it,
But darned if I know how you're going to do it.

I have no money -- not a maravedi,
   No high-toned friends or powerful influence;
Indeed, I'm so abominably needy
   That all I've got would scarce fetch eighteenpence.
And if I wanted half a crown to-morrow, it
Is a cold fact I'd have a job to borrow it.

You're full of brains as any egg of meat,
   But what's the good of that? You'd better lose 'em.
They'll never get you anything to eat,
   Since you will never have the chance to use 'em.
For, sonny, as already I have stated,
I can't afford to have 'em "eddicated."

You might become a baker man, you know,
   And make bread out of sawdust -- no bad plan,
Or you might be a fish purveyor, though
   I'd loathe to see my son a "sell-fish" man,
Or as a tailor you'd find opportunity
To "take the measure" of the whole community.

A carpenter, or else an auctioneer,
   At one of those trades you might be a gainer:
Either affords a promising career --
   One's a plain dealer, t'other a deal planer:
But, then, again, it must not be forgot
Carpenters always are "an ailing" lot.

Then as a poulterer you might succeed;
   Though, hark ye, son, and mark your father's words,
It takes a very clever man indeed
   To make a pile at dealing in "dead birds."
Brewing's good biz when summer's in the offing,
Yet often puts "an ale into one's coughing."

As undertaker you might roll in gold,
   That yellow dross that all men sweat and sin for,
Since undertakers, as a rule, I'm told,
   "Carry out" everything that they "go in" for,
Which is a principle that needs must win,
For those who act upon it, heaps of tin.

Then there's the publican; his is a game
   Not altogether destitute of merit.
For let who will his occupation blame,
   He's none the
less a man of "public spirit."
And though to be "in spirits" is a curse,
Yet to be out of them is surely worse.

Lastly, my son, you might become a bard,
   And scribble doggerel for the weekly papers;
I trust that you, however, will discard
   All such unholy and pernicious capers.
If you have never scribbled, don't begin it.
I can assure you there is nothing in it.

I cannot tell to what you are destined.
   There is no lack God wot of occupations:
But, then, in almost every case you'll find
   There's but one berth to fifty applications.
Well, well! since you can never be a royal King,
I'd recommend you to become an oil king.

A king of diamonds, rum, wool, iron, oil,
   It matters not a breeches button which.
That man alone, my son, is truly royal
   Who is in this world's goods surpassing rich,
Since there is little money cannot buy him;
And naught that man or woman will deny him.
Wherefore get money: honestly for choice,
   But get it somehow. Do not be afraid --
Your fellow-man will never raise his voice
   To ask rude questions as to how 'twas made,
For like sweet Charity, all hearts it wins,
And covers up a multitude of sins.

First published in Melbourne Punch, 10 December 1907

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on August 11, 2007 9:53 AM.

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