The Coming Crawl [poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, 5 May 1901]

[Editor: A poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, regarding the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York to Australia in 1901. Published in The West Australian Sunday Times, 5 May 1901. A different version of the same poem, entitled “In the Event”, was written with reference to Kalgoorlie (WA).]

The Coming Crawl.

By Dryblower.

“In the event of a Royal visit great gratification would be expressed by the people, than whom there are no more loyal subjects, the large number of men sent to Africa to defend the Crown proving the same. A loyal reception would be given to those who would thus so signally honor us and who have exhibited such a Royal interest in our welfare.” — The voice of the smoodger, per medium of Senator Stanniforth Smith.

If the Jook should deign to notice us when visiting the West
(Though the chances are particularly small),
Let us satisfy the longing that consumes the loyal breast
Of indulging in an extra-special crawl.
Ignore the bilious croaker who at big expenses jibs;
Don’t invite him to the levee or the luncheon;
Don’t admit him to the grovel to His Most Exalted Nibs
Who’ll someday own and wield the Royal truncheon.

Imagine, if it’s possible, the crowds who’d rush to greet
The Royal wherry entering the Port
To bore the BLASE couple and the long enduring suite,
With queries of a rather private sort.
Did their Highnesses feel qualmish when the Leuwin loomed abeam?
Did they then prefer the leeward of the ship?
Was it there their pink complexions turned a sickly sort of green?
Was the cabin steward busy on the trip?

If these most exalted beings weren’t weary of the sea,
Fremantle has some beauty spots to show,
There’s the rubbish tip in High-street and the evil-smelling quay
Where the rats bubonic gambol to and fro.
A North Fremantle Council brawl should also prove a draw,
Where the “language” for its choiceness stands alone;
Then the pleasant day could finish with a stroll along the shore,
Where the drainage makes its pungent presence known.

All Perth would throng the station as the train came in and stopped
To see a wonder in this Western clime,
Not so much the Royal noddles out of open windows popped
As “a train in West Australia in to time.”
There’d be a languid “how d’ye do?” for membahs of the Club,
Then luncheon and a gorgeous civic spree,
There’d of course be “leading citizens” to wolf the gratis grub
And to gaze upon the swankey which is free.

An English King once lived and thrived on what his soldiers ate,
So George perhaps might so his girth sustain;
But Heav’n defend his vitals if he tried to masticate
The “food” which travellers bolt who use the train.
Let him shun the railway sandwich into which the novice wades,
Which brings the dentist many a thumping fee,
And the cup of hot-and-dirty which as “coffee” masquerades
With the patriarchial egg and smoky tea.

Provided that the Royal couple DO extend their cruise
And patronise the Groper in his haunts,
Besides the town we’ve institutions certain to amuse
And a multitude of interesting jaunts.
If the Jook desired to witness how the outlaws of the bush
Once looted both the traveller and the mail,
He might take a trip to Burswood course when Cockram and his push
Were practising the ancient game of “scale.”

In Perth the young patricians could be surfeited with joy
If driven round the various points of pride,
From Brookman’s Jim-crack villa to the haunts of Tom Molloy,
With the genial Mrs. Tracey for a guide
So come, exalted scion, Come, our mighty nations link,
Perth longs to gaze upon a Royal rover;
But surprised we ever shall be, if within your private “pink”
The Duchess gently whispers, “Git it over.”

The West Australian Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 5 May 1901, p. 4

A different version of the same poem was published in:
The Sun (Kalgoorlie, WA), 5 May 1901, p. 4

Editor’s notes:
“The Coming Crawl” was written with reference to Fremantle and Perth (WA), whereas a different version of the same poem, entitled “In the Event”, was written with reference to Kalgoorlie (WA). “The Coming Crawl” was included in the “Sunday Satires” column, with two sentences between the title and the poem.

Brookman = William Gordon Brookman (1859-1910) an Australian mining entrepreneur and politician; he became rich during the Western Australian gold rush of the 1890s, was Mayor of Perth (1900-1901), and was a member of the Legislative Council of Western Australia (1900-1903)

Burswood = a suburb of Perth, Western Australia; Burswood Island was a peninsula which became separated from the mainland by the digging of the Burswood canal in the 1830s

Cockram = Albert Edmund Cockram (1870-1943); a farmer, businessman and horse racing identity in Western Australia; he built the Belmont Park and Goodwood racecourses on Burswood Island in the 1890s
See: 1) “Mr A. E. Cockram: Death after long illness”, The West Australian (Perth, WA), 15 November 1943, p. 2
2) “Albert Edmund Cockram: King of the racecourse 1870-1943”, Museum of Perth [book summary]
3) “Our history”, Burswood Park
4) “Optus Stadium, Perth”, AS 1979, Flickr

George = Prince George (born 3 June 1865) of the United Kingdom, Duke of York (from 24 May 1892), King George V (from 6 May 1910); he died 20 January 1936

git = (vernacular) get

gratis = free, without charge; something given or a service supplied for nothing, at no cost, without payment, as a favour (derived from the Latin “gratis”, contraction of “gratiis”, meaning “as a kindness” or “as a favour”)

Groper = sandgroper (slang): someone from Western Australia (a term arising from the vast sandy deserts of Western Australia; also, “sandgroper” is the name of a burrowing insect found in Western Australia, belonging to the Cylindrachetidae family)

grub = (slang) food

jib = to be reluctant or unwilling to do something; to balk at carrying on an action; to stop work, to refuse to go on (also: jibbed, jibbing, jibs)

Jook = (vernacular) Duke

Leeuwin = Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia, the most south-westerly point of the Australian mainland

Leuwin = a common misspelling of “Leeuwin” (i.e. Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia)

levee = a formal reception held in honor of someone; a formal reception of guests or visitors at a royal court; an afternoon assembly held by a British monarch (or his/her representative), attended by men only

membah = (vernacular) member

noddle = (slang) head; (archaic meaning: back of the head)

pink = (slang) ear; used in the phrases “a word in your pink ear” (i.e. a private communication) and “on one’s pink ear” (i.e. to be down and out; homeless)

push = a gang; historically, the term refers to a street gang; may also be used to refer to a group

Smellbourne = a deliberate misspelling (with humorous intention) of Melbourne (capital city of Victoria)

swankey = poor quality beer; a drink brewed from with sugar, hops, ginger, wheat, malt, and yeast; any weak fermented drink; sweetened water and vinegar

Tom Molloy = Thomas Molloy: (1852-1938) a Western Australian politician, who was a councilor for the City of Perth from 1884 to World War One (he was Mayor of Perth 1908-1909 and 1911-1912), and was a member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly for the electorate of Perth from 1892 to 1894 (he ran for Parliament many times, from 1901 to 1932, but never won a seat again)

Tracey = Mrs. Eliza Tracey (1842?-1917) (née Kearns), a serial litigant (in Western Australia), who was allegedly the victim of significant legal injustice
See: 1) Rica Erickson, “Tracey, Eliza (1842–1917)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University
2) “Eliza Tracey’s grievance: Issued in booklet form: Thirty years of iniquitous wrong ”, Truth (Perth, WA), 15 July 1916, p. 5 (city edition)

wherry = a long light rowing boat (with sharp ends), mainly used to carry passengers on rivers and around harbours; a racing scull; a skiff; (British) a light half-decked barge or fishing boat (plural: wherries)

[Editor: Changed “Tracy” to “Tracey”.]

Speak Your Mind