Botany Bay [poem, January 1787]

[Editor: A poem published in The New London Magazine, January 1787.]

Botany Bay.

Away with these whimsical bubbles of air,
With only excite a momentary stare,
Attention to plans of utility pay,
Weigh anchor, and steer off for Botany Bay.

Let no one think much of trifling expense,
Who knows what may happen a hundred years hence!
The loss of America what can repay?
New colonies seek for at Botany Bay.

O’er Neptune’s domain, how extensive the scope!
Of quickly returning, how defiant the hope!
The Capes must be doubled, and then bear away,
Three thousand good leagues to reach Botany Bay.

Of those precious souls who for nobody care,
It seems a large cargo the kingdom can spare;
To ship off a gross or two make no delay,
They cannot too soon go to Botany Bay.

They go of an island to take special charge,
Much warmer than Britain, and ten times as large;
No Custom-house duty, no freightage to pay,
And tax-free they’ll live when at Botany Bay.

This garden of Eden, this new promis’d land,
The time to set sail for will soon be at hand;
Ye worst of land lubbers, make ready for sea,
There’s room for you all about Botany Bay.

As scores of each sex to this place must proceed,
In twenty years time — only think of the breed;
Major Semple, should fortune much kindness display,
May live to be King over Botany Bay.

For a general good make a general sweep,
The beauty of life is good order to keep;
With night-prowling hateful disturbers away,
And send the whole tribe unto Botany Bay.

Ye chiefs who go out on this naval exploit,
The work to accomplish, and set matters right;
To Ireland be kind, call at Cork on your way,
And take some White Boys unto Botany Bay.

Commercial arrangements give prospect of joy,
Fair and firm may be kept ev’ry national tie;
And mutual confidence those who betray,
Be sent to the bottom of Botany Bay.

R. B.

Dec. 19, 1786

The New London Magazine; Being an Universal and Complete Monthly Repository of Knowledge, Instruction, and Entertainment (London, England), supplement to vol. II, January 1787, pages 709-710

Also published in:
John Freeth, The Political Songster: Or, a Touch on the Times, on Various Subjects, and Adapted to Common Tunes (sixth edition), Birmingham (England): Thomas Pearson, 1790, pages 124-125 [“Tune — A Cobbler there was.”]

Walker’s Hibernian Magazine: Or, Compendium of Entertaining Knowledge (Dublin, Ireland), January 1787, page 11

Editor’s notes:
Semple = Major James Semple Lisle was a con man and mercenary who was sentenced to transportation to Australia for defrauding tradesmen (however, he never arrived as, following a mutiny at sea, Semple and 28 other non-mutineers were put to sea in a boat and made their way to Brazil)
See: 1) John Alexander Ferguson, Bibliography of Australia, Volume 1: 1784-1830 (facsimile reprint of 1941 edition), Burwood (Victoria): Brown Prior Anderson, 1986, page 101
2) “Major James George Semple Lisle and his wives”, Innehåll (accessed 19 March 2014)
3) “John Black (privateer)”, Wikipedia (accessed 19 March 2014)
4) J. G. Semple Lisle, The Life of Major J. G. Semple Lisle: Containing a Faithful Narrative of his Alternate Vicissitudes of Splendor and Misfortune, London: W. Stewart, 1800, pages 185-211
5) “Convict Ship Lady Shore 1797”, Free Settler or Felon (accessed 19 March 2014)

White Boys = an Irish rural secret society which used violent tactics in their advocacy of the rights of tenant farmers (called “White Boys” from the white hooded smocks which they wore during their raids)
See: 1) “White Boys and other vigilante groups”, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University (accessed 19 March 2014)
2) “Whiteboys”, Wikipedia (accessed 19 March 2014)
3) The Nuttall Encyclopædia, Project Gutenberg (accessed 19 March 2014) [see entry: “Whiteboys”]

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