Life of a Colonial Quack Doctor [song by Charles Thatcher, 1857]

[Editor: This song by Charles Thatcher was published in Thatcher’s Colonial Songster, 1857.]

Life of a Colonial Quack Doctor.

New Original Song by Thatcher. Air — “Tatur Can.

I’ll give you my whole history now,
Pay attention everyone,
And I’ll quickly tell you how
The credulous public here are done.
A London chemist was my master;
I was a sharp lad no doubt,
For I learnt to spread a plaster,
Make pills, and take the physic out.

Chorus — Go a-head, my brother quack,
Gull the public while you can;
A thousand.pounds a year I sack,
By passing for a medical man.

When I arrived on Ballarat,
At digging, sirs, I did not shine;
So thinks I, “I’ll take in the flats,
And open in the physic line.”
’Tis true that I had no diploma,
But competency’s all my eye;
For many an impudent assumer
Did splendidly, and why not I?
Then go a-head, &c.

A frame tent down the road I built,
And got a cove to paint for me,
A whopping sign, all done in gilt —
“Doctor Diddleum, M.D.”
Four bottles, full of colored water,
My shabby little window graced;
And a pestle and a mortar,
On the counter just inside were placed.
Then go a head, &c.

This is the stock in trade I’d got —
Black draught mixture, and blue pills,
Some spermaceti in a pot,
Magnesia, and a little squills;
A lump of rhubarb and some senna,
An ounce or so of calomel,
A little ipecachuana,
And a lot of Epsom salts as well.
Then go a-head, &c.

Pill boxes stood upon the shelf;
The place lined with green baize, but still
There’s wanting, says I to myself,
Some testimonial of my skill;
A marrow-bone I sawed asunder,
Called it a tibia, by Jove;
And people handled it with wonder,
And said I was a clever cove.
Then go a-head, &c.

This rule I made in every case —
It gulls the public, don’t you see —
I used to pull a solemn face,
Saying, “’Twas fortunate you came to me.”
I’d pitch hard words to every ninny,
Do up bread pills to ease his pain;
And tell him as I took his guinea,
Not to forget to call again.

Spoken — Why, my dear air, I perceive that you’ve got a ferun-culurn (aside, a little pimple), and inflammation of the duodenum, which, if not arrested now, might ultimately spread over the entire region of the epigastrium. However, by the use of my celebrated medicine (aside, sarsaparilla), you’ll get well in a short time.

Then go a-head, &c.

To have teeth drawn folks would come in,
Which was a job I could not bear;
But it wouldn’t signify a pin,
To hesitate I did not dare.
The forceps I’d thrust in their jaw, sirs,
And a tooth short off sometimes I’d break;
And not unfrequently I’d draw, sirs,
The wrong one out quite by mistake.
Then go a-head, &c.

I’ll leave for England with my hoard,
In the colony I’ll not abide;
They’re forming now a medical beard,
To discover who’re not qualified.
So all you quacks just take a warning,
Like poachers run you down they will;
And they’ll slew you some fine morning,
If you’ve no certificate to kill.
Then go a-head, &c.

Charles R. Thatcher. Thatcher’s Colonial Songster, Containing All the Choice Local Songs, Parodies, &c., of the Celebrated Chas. R. Thatcher, Charlwood & Son, Melbourne, 1857, pages 28-29

Editor’s notes:
Diddleum = a tongue in cheek (satirical) surname, as in “Diddle them” (cheat them)

ipecachuana = a medicinal preparation made from the dried roots and rhizomes of a tropical flowering American shrub (especially from around Mexico), used to induce vomiting, especially for instances of drug overdoses and poisoning

spermaceti = a pearly white, waxy, translucent solid obtained from the oil of cetaceans, especially sperm whales, used mostly in cosmetics and candles (especially as a constituent of ointments, in pharmacology, in earlier times)

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