A Word to Texas Jack
Texas Jack, you are amusin’. By Lord Harry, how I laughed
When I seen yer rig and saddle with its bulwarks fore-and-aft;
Holy smoke! In such a saddle how the dickens can yer fall?
Why, I seen a gal ride bareback with no bridle on at all!
Gosh! so-help-me! strike-me-balmy! if a bit o’ scenery
Like ter you in all yer rig-out on the earth I ever see!
How I’d like ter see a bushman use yer fixins, Texas Jack;
On the remnant of a saddle he can ride to hell and back.
Why, I heerd a mother screamin’ when her kid went tossin’ by
Ridin’ bareback on a bucker that had murder in his eye.
What? yer come to learn the natives how to squat on horse’s back !
Learn the cornstalk ridin’! Blazes! — w’at yer giv’n’us, Texas Jack?
Learn the cornstalk — what the flamin’, jumptup! where’s my country gone?
Why, the cornstalk’s mother often rides the day afore he’s born!
You may talk about your ridin’ in the city, bold an’ free,
Talk o’ ridin’ in the city, Texas Jack, but where’d yer be
When the stock horse snorts an’ bunches all ’is quarters in a hump,
And the saddle climbs a sapling, an’ the horse-shoes split a stump?
No, before yer teach the native you must ride without a fall
Up a gum or down a gully nigh as steep as any wall —
You must swim the roarin’ Darlin’ when the flood is at its height
Bearin’ down the stock an’ stations to the great Australian Bight.
You can’t count the bulls an’ bisons that yer copped with your lassoo —
But a stout old myall bullock p’raps ’ud learn yer somethin’ new;
Yer’d better make yer will an’ leave yer papers neat an’ trim
Before yer make arrangements for the lassooin’ of him;
Ere you’n’ yer horse is catsmeat, fittin’ fate for sich galoots,
And yer saddle’s turned to laces like we put in blucher boots.
And yer say yer death on Injins! We’ve got somethin’in yer line —
If yer think your fitin’s ekal to the likes of Tommy Ryan.
Take yer karkass up to Queensland where the allygators chew
And the carpet-snake is handy with his tail for a lassoo;
Ride across the hazy regins where the lonely emus wail
An’ ye’ll find the black’ll track yer while yer lookin’ for his trail;
He can track yer without stoppin’ for a thousand miles or more —
Come again, and he will show yer where yer spit the year before.
But yer’d best be mighty careful, you’ll be sorry you kem here
When yer skewered to the fakements of yer saddle with a spear —
When the boomerang is sailin’ in the air, may heaven help yer!
It will cut yer head off goin’, an’ come back again and skelp yer.
P.S. — As poet and as Yankee I will greet you, Texas Jack,
For it isn’t no ill-feelin’ that is gettin’ up my back,
But I won’t see this land crowded by each Yank and British cuss
Who takes it in his head to come a-civilisin’ us.
So if you feel like shootin’ now, don’t let yer pistol cough —
(Our Government is very free at chokin’ fellers off);
And though on your great continent there’s misery in the towns
An’ not a few untitled lords and kings without their crowns,
I will admit your countrymen is busted big, an’ free,
An’ great on ekal rites of men and great on liberty ;
I will admit yer fathers punched the gory tyrant’s head,
But then we’ve got our heroes, too, the diggers that is dead —
The plucky men of Ballarat who toed the scratch right well
And broke the nose of Tyranny and made his peepers swell
For yankin’ Lib.’s gold tresses in the roarin’ days gone by,
An’ doublin’ up his dirty fist to black her bonny eye;
So when it comes to ridin’ mokes, or hoistin’ out the Chow,
Or stickin’ up for labour’s rights, we don’t want showin’ how.
They come to learn us cricket in the days of long ago,
An’ Hanlan come from Canada to learn us how to row,
An’ ‘doctors’ come from ’Frisco just to learn us how to skite,
An’ ‘pugs’ from all the lands on earth to learn us how to fight;
An’ when they go, as like or not, we find we’re taken in,
They’ve left behind no larnin’ — but they’ve carried off our tin.
Henry Lawson. Verses Popular and Humorous, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1900, pages 231-236
ekal = equal
Lib. = Liberty
moke = an inferior horse (originally, it was a term for a donkey)
peepers = eyes
pug = a pugilist, someone who fights with their fists, especially applied to professional boxers
tin = money
Tommy Ryan = a notorious Aboriginal criminal, who escaped from police custody after having been arrested for attacking another Aboriginal, was re-captured, and convicted; however, he subsequently escaped from Grafton jail, then was captured again, but escaped once more (by overpowering a policeman and shooting him in the head)
1) “The Aboriginal Tommy Ryan”, The Clarence and Richmond Examiner (Grafton, NSW), Saturday 23 November 1889, page 8
2) “Escape of an Aboriginal prisoner. Murderous attack on a constable”, The Brisbane Courier (Brisbane, Qld.), Tuesday 28 January 1890, page 5
3) “A notorious Aboriginal. Shoots a constable. Escapes again.”, The Northern Star (Lismore, NSW), Wednesday 29 January 1890, page 2
4) “Tommy Ryan in Court”, The Wagga Wagga Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW) Thursday 27 March 1890, page 4
5) “Tommy Ryan again before the court. Sentenced to three months. Saw the door open.”, The Singleton Argus (Singleton, NSW), Saturday 19 April 1890, page 4
6) “New South Wales”, The South Australian Chronicle (Adelaide, SA), Saturday 19 April 1890, page 10
7) “The Tommy Ryan case”, The Burrowa News (Burrowa, NSW), Friday 20 June 1890, page 2