Paddy’s Letter, 1857
I’ve had all sorts of luck, sometimes bad, sometimes better,
But now I have somebody’s luck and my own,
For I stooped in the street and I picked up a letter,
Which some one had written to send away home.
The old adage says, “What you find, you may keep it,”
And as most of these old sayings are very true,
I straight broke the seal, and then, having read it,
The contents of this letter I tell unto you.
Dear Dermot, I hope when this letter gets to you
’Twill find you in health, as now it leaves me;
But I hope you’re more happy than I am in Australia —
If not, it’s small comfort that you have, achree!
Hard fortune’s been mine since crossing the line,
Though that same I ne’er saw, for we crossed it at night;
But they say ’twas laid down at expense of the Crown,
To divide the wrong side of the world from the right.
But what should a boy placed in my situation
Know about lines laid across the big sea!
But, faith, this I know, and without navigation,
I’m at the wrong side of the line, anyway.
I’m telling you now how strange seasons fall.
We have here rain and sleet in the month of July,
And hailstones as big as a small cannon-ball —
And they do as much harm — not a word of a lie!
But the making of magistrates now all the rage is,
And every flockmaster’s a justice of peace;
They find it so easy to cancel the wages,
The law is their own and they rob whom they please.
Pat Murphy’s boy Tim, that married Moll Casey,
Lives on the Barcoo that’s away in the bush.
Himself and the wife, why they lived mighty aisy,
Till one day on Tim, oh, the blacks they did rush.
They killed little Paddy, but spared the young baby,
Because it was sickly — I think it was that —
And while Molly was crying, a gin said, “No habbie
Your thin picaninny — we’ll wait till it’s fat.”
’Tis a beautiful country to practise economy.
Though the houses out here are not quite waterproof,
But they’re illigant houses for studying astronomy —
You can lie on your back and read stars through the roof.
P.S. — This is cramped — if there’s no one to read it.
Send for Tim Murphy, he’ll know every stroke.
Ye all have my blessing, I know that ye’ll need it,
So no more at present from Teddy O’Rourke.
The above to an old tune called “Barney O’Keefe,” 1848.
A. B. Paterson (editor), The Old Bush Songs, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1905, pp. 9-11