Colonial Education [song by Charles Thatcher, 1857]

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

Colonial Education.

New Original Song, written and sung by Thatcher.
Tune — “Drops of Brandy.

Oh, what a discussion there’s been,
On the subject of State Education;
Some people consider it good,
And others a great innovation.
The National system, it seems,
Has met with immense opposition;
And for knowledge, the children out here
Seem in a most woeful condition.

With two stools we come to the ground,
And as there is so much heart-burning,
The matter remains as before,
And children still go without learning.
The National system’s worked well,
And prospered with many a nation;
So away with all prejudice now,
Give the boys a good sound education.

To most of the children out here
Arithmetic seems quite a mystery;
It’s true they can reckon you up,
But what do they know about history?
Julius Caesar, for all that they know,
May have been an Egyptian or Saxon;
And the wife-killing Henry the Eighth,
A brother of General Jackson.

You might tell them King Charles was a Dane;
George the Fourth, too, a badly used martyr;
And that Mary, a Protestant Queen,
Was the one who first signed Magna Charta.
Or that learned young Alfred the Great,
Was most unmistakably cranky;
And Queen Anne a Spaniard by birth,
And King John a ’cute down-east Yankee.

And grammar is foreign to them,
Of course, as regards the strict letter;
Though I must say that some M.L.C.’s,
Than the children are not a wit better.
Of geography what do they know?
Of that science I swear in reality,
Their acquaintance is strictly confined
To the gullies all round the locality.

How should they know Vienna’s in France,
And Paris a city in Prussia?
They may, p’raps, have heard of the Rhine;
They don’t know it’s a river in Russia.
Or that Constantinople’s in Spain,
And Leghorn in South Carolina;
Or that the snow-clad Pyrenees
Are in the interior of China.

Solomon —and he knew what was right —
(In language that’s truly commanding),
Exhorts with all that we get,
To be sure and obtain understanding:
Some one has said knowledge is power —
If so, let us prize education,
And give all the assistance we can
To this rising and ’cute generation.

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 33-35

Editor’s notes:
Magna Charta = the Magna Carta, also known as the Magna Charta

M.L.C.’s = MLCs; Members of the Legislative Council

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