Life of an Auctioneer [song by Charles Thatcher, 1857]

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

Life of an Auctioneer.

New Original Song by Thatcher.
Air — The Teatotaller.

If Mister Brown was an auctioneer, highly respectable,
And unless thing were bad, he was never dejectable;
He’d a mart on the diggings here, and in addition,
No did a great deal selling things on commission.
He was getting on stunning, considered well off, sirs,
And often folks gave him a store to sell off, sirs;
Knew the value of goods, could tell many a crammer,
And was, on the whole, quite a smart knight of the hammer

His mart he enlarged, and thus made it available,
For things that were sometimes considered unsaleable;
There were sardines, soiled books, coils of rope, leather braces,
Kegs of nails, bags of rice, pickled salmon, stay laces,
Thigh boots, navy pork, tin tacks, Whybrow’s pickles,
Camp ovens, sperm candles, and bill-hooks and sickles;
Everything laid about in the wildest confusion,
And your shins as you moved would receive a contusion.

But business grew bad, he got rid of no rice at all,
For most of the things he could not get a price at all,
As one day to a friend he was telling his losses,
Says he, “Why the deuce don’t you take and sell horses?
Ten per cent. you will get from the buyer and seller;”
Says he, “I’ll just take your advice, my dear fellow.”
He thought in a fortune he quickly should revel,
And he wished all the nails and sardines at the devil.

Some stables he built, and with racks soon installed ’em.
And when they were finished a horse bazaar called ’em;
Held sales in the township, on the flat, too, as well, sirs,
And seemed to appearances cutting a swell, sirs.
But one week he’d’ bad luck, be got awfully blamed, sirs,
To his horror, some horses he’d sold had been claimed, sirs;
And though he refunded, and to be careful he tried, sirs,
His banker’s account was upon the wrong side, sirs.

For some time he continued to mourn o’er his losses,
And at last got a man to supply him with horses;
Of course he forgot to enquire whence they came, sirs,
If he had, why you know, ’twould have been all the same, sirs.
His business improved, for of hacks he sold plenty,
Giving ten pounds for horses that fetched more than twenty;
The tin that he made, in the bank, then, he stored it,
And if horses were claimed sometimes, he could afford it.

He cared not a rap, but he carried on glorious,
Till with the detectives he get quite notorious;
He set them at defiance, his cunning ne’er failed him,
But after a great deal of trouble they nailed him.
They brought forward evidence highly conclusive,
And he found to his sorrow such tricks were delusive;
Of him an example the magistrates made now,
And he’s doing eight pen’north in Pentridge stockade now


My moral is plain; auctioneers, take a warning,
Or you may be lumbered some very fine morning;
Keep up all your peckers, spite of bad trade and losses,
Do whatever you like except sell stolen horses;
Your fortune you may, p’raps, be making quite fast, sirs,
But the pitcher, you know, will get broken at last, sirs;
Cut such courses, or else to me ’twont be surprising,
If some day on the roads, you are macadamizing.

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 14-15

Editor’s notes:
macadamizing = constructing a road by using several compacted layers of broken stone, with hot tar or asphalt as a binder

pen’north = a contraction of a penny’s worth; often used to indicate something of a very small amount

Pentridge = Pentridge Prison in Coburg (the suburb itself was previously named Pentridge), just north of Melbourne; Pentridge Prison was opened in 1851 (closed 1997, now a housing development), whilst the Melbourne Gaol had been opened in 1845 (closed 1924, now a museum)

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