[Editor: This poem, critical of Henry Parkes (Premier of NSW), was published in Sydney Punch (Sydney, NSW), 12 May 1877.]
The Bad Boy.
Young ’Enery was a naughty boy:
It would be hard to find
Another boy of ’Enery’s years
With such an evil mind.
He’d daub black currant jam about
His mother’s best black silk;
At marbles all the other boys
Young ’Enery used to bilk.
And if some weaker boy a tart
Had just commenced to chaw,
Young ’Enery used to go straight up
And hit him in the jaw.
And while the other boy would howl
As if he’d got a fit,
Young ’Enery used to stand and grin,
And eat it every bit.
Yes, he was mean—all (fired mean;)
His sins he would defend,
With tales enough to make your hair
Stand shiverin’ up on end.
While over ’Enery’s face would steal
A calm, seraphic smile;
You’d ’most believe he was a babe
In whom there was no guile.
At length of ’Enery and his tricks
His relatives got full;
Of keeping such a boy at home,
They couldn’t see the pull;
And so they sent him off to school,
To Mrs. New South Wales:
For right and wrong she could impress
On youthful minds and tails.
He’ll have to mind his Ps and Qs:
You bet your best new hat,
Your boots, and socks, and braces too,
He won’t call her “Old cat;”
Nor shirk his work, nor bilk the boys,
In her Acadamee;
And if he gets well flogged, no doubt,
A better boy he’ll be.
Sydney Punch (Sydney, NSW), 12 May 1877, p. 320 (2nd page of that issue)
See the cartoon regarding this poem: A rod in pickle [political cartoon regarding Henry Parkes, 12 May 1877]
Acadamee = (vernacular) Academy
all fired mean = very mean, excessively mean, extremely mean, inordinately mean
babe = baby (can also refer to: a beautiful young woman)
bilk = cheat, defraud, rip off, swindle; obtain money, goods, or advantage by deceitful or unfair means
chaw = chew
daub = paint, smear, coat, or cover with a liquid-based substance which is usually soft, sticky, and/or thick (especially in a careless, roughshod, slapdash, or unskillful manner)
’Enery = (vernacular) Henry
got full = got tired of, got sick of, full to the brim with someone’s poor behaviour
Henry Parkes = Sir Henry Parkes (1815-1896), the owner and editor of The Empire newspaper (Sydney), and Premier of New South Wales for five separate terms (1872-1875, 1877, 1878-1883, 1887-1889, 1889-1891)
’most = (vernacular) almost
Ps and Qs = to mind (be careful of) one’s behaviour, manners, language; an admonishment or warning to act in a polite manner; to mind one’s Ps and Qs is a warning that someone should be on their best behaviour (the origin of the phrase is debatable and unclear; it has been suggested that the phrase stems from a warning to students to not confuse the lowercase “p” and “q” letters of the alphabet; however, there are several other origin theories)
See: 1) Kelly Laycock, “Mind Your Ps and Qs”, Law Society of Saskatchewan, 14 January 2015
2) Gary Martin, “The meaning and origin of the expression: Mind your Ps and Qs”, The Phrase Finder
3) “Mind your Ps and Qs”, Wikipedia
the pull = the allure
seraphic = angel-like; of or relating to a Seraph (an angel)
shiverin’ = (vernacular) shivering
vide = (Latin) see (from the Latin “vidē”, meaning “see!” and “vidēre” meaning “to see”); consult, refer to; an instruction in a book, magazine, newspaper, or other text to refer to another item (such as another page, book, article, paragraph, drawing, graphic, author, issue, publication, etc.) for more information or context
[Editor: Changed “boy at home.” to “boy at home,” (replaced the full stop with a comma). Removed the space before the apostrophe in “he ’d”, “You ’d”, “He ’ll”, “he ’ll”.]
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