Billy Barlow in Australia by Benjamin Griffin

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When I was at home I was down on my luck,
And I yearnt a poor living by drawing a truck;
But old aunt died and left me a thousand --' Oh, oh,
I'll start on my travels,' said Billy Barlow.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh;
   So off to Australia came Billy Barlow.

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 thousand pounds.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   He gammon'd the cash out of Billy Barlow.

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 Mr. Barlow.'
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   A gentleman settler was Billy Barlow.

So I got my supplies, and I gave him my bill,
And for New England started, my pockets to fill;
But by bushrangers met, with my traps they made free,
Took my horse, and left Billy bailed up to a tree.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   I shall die of starvation, thought Billy Barlow.

At last I got loose, and I walked on my way;
A constable came up, and to me did say,
'Are you free?' Says I 'Yes, to be sure, don't you know?'
And I handed my card, 'Mr. William Barlow.'
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   He said 'That's all gammon' to Billy Barlow.

Then he put on the handcuffs, and brought me away
Right back down to Maitland, before Mr. Day;
When I said I was free, why the J.P. replied,
'I must send you down to be i-dentified.'
   Oh dear, lackaday oh,
   So to Sydney once more went poor Billy Barlow.

They at last let me go, and I then did repair
For my station once more, and at length I got there;
But a few days before the blacks, you must know,
Had spear'd all the cattle of Billy Barlow.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   It's a beautiful country, said Billy Barlow.

And for nine months before no rain there had 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, lackaday, oh,
   I shall soon be a settler, said Billy Barlow.

And the matter to mend, now my bill was near due,
So I wrote to my friend, and just asked to renew;
He replied he was sorry he couldn't, because
The bill had pass'd into Tom Burdekin's claws.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   But perhaps he'll renew it, said Billy Barlow.

I applied ; to renew it he was quite content,
If secured, and allowed just 300 per cent;
But as I couldn't do it, Carr, Rogers, and Co.,
Soon sent up a summons for Billy Barlow.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
They soon settled the business of Billy Barlow.

For a month or six weeks I stewed over my loss,
And a tall man rode up one day on a black horse;
He asked 'Don't you know me?' I answered him ' No.'
'Why,' says he, 'my name's Kingsmill ; how are you, Barlow?'
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   He'd got a fi. fa. for poor Billy Barlow.

What I'd left of my sheep, and my traps, he did seize,
And he said, 'They won't pay all the costs and my fees:'
Then he sold off the lot, and I'm sure 'twas a sin,
At sixpence a head, and the station given in.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   I'll go back to England, said Billy Barlow.


My sheep being sold, and my money all gone,
Oh, I wandered about then quite sad and forlorn
How I managed to live it would shock you to know,   
And as thin as a lath got poor Billy Barlow.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   Quite down on his luck was poor Billy Barlow.

And in a few weeks more the sheriff, you see,
Sent the 'tall man on horseback' once more unto me,
Having got all he could by the writ of fi. fa.,
By way of a change he'd brought up a ca. sa.
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   He seized on the body of Billy Barlow.

He took me to Sydney, and there they did lock
Poor unfortunate Billy fast 'under the clock ;'
And to get myself out I was forced, you must know,
The schedule to file of poor Billy Barlow.

   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   In the list of insolvents was Billy Barlow.

Then once more I got free, but in poverty's toil;
I've no 'cattle for salting,' no 'sheep for to boil;'
I can't get a job -- tho' to any I'd stoop,
If 'twas only the making of 'portable soup.'
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   Pray give some employment to Billy Barlow.

But there's still 'a spec' left may set me on my stumps,
If a wife I could get with a few of the dumps;
So if any lass here has 'ten thousand,' or so,
She can just drop a line addressed 'Mr. Barlow.'
   Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
   The dear angel shall be 'Mrs. William Barlow.'

First published in The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, 2 September 1843;
and later in
Old Bush Songs: Composed and Sung in Bushranging, Digging and Overlanding Days edited by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson, 1905;
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads edited by Will Lawson, 1944;
Songs of Billy Barlow edited by Hugh Anderson, 1956;
The Penguin Australian Song Book compiled by J. S. Manifold, 1964;
The Overlander Songbook edited by Ronald George Edwards, 1971; and
Old Bush Songs and Rhymes of Colonial Times edited by Douglas Stewart, 1976.

Note: "fi. fa.", or "fieri facias" is a writ ordering a levy on the belongings of a debtor to satisfy the debt;
"Ca. sa", or "capias ad satisfaciendum" a writ or process commanding an officer to place a person (as a debtor) under civil arrest until a claim is satisfied.

Author: nothing is known about the author of this poem.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on September 2, 2011 6:41 AM.

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