[Editor: This song was published in Old Bush Songs: Composed and Sung in the Bushranging, Digging, and Overlanding Days (8th edition, 1932), edited by Banjo Paterson.]
The Death of Morgan
Throughout Australian History no tongue or pen can tell
Of such preconcerted treachery — there is no parallel —
As the tragic deed of Morgan’s death; without warning he was shot,
On Peechelba Station it will never be forgot.
I have oft-times heard of murders in Australia’s Golden Land,
But such an open daylight scene of thirty in a band,
Assembled at the dawn of day, and then to separate,
Behind the trees, some on their knees, awaiting Morgan’s fate.
Too busy was a servant-maid; she trotted half the night
From Macpherson’s down to Rutherford’s the tidings to recite.
A messenger was sent away who for his neck had no regard,
He returned with a troop of Traps in hopes of their reward.
But they were all disappointed; McQuinlan was the man
Who fired from his rifle and shot rebellious Dan.
Concealed he stood behind a tree till his victim came in view,
And as Morgan passed his doom was cast — the unhappy man he slew.
There was a rush for trophies, soon as the man was dead;
They cut off his beard, his ears, and the hair from off his head.
In truth it was a hideous sight as he struggled on the ground,
They tore the clothes from off his back and exposed the fatal wound.
Oh, Morgan was the travellers’ friend; the squatters all rejoice
That the outlaw’s life is at an end, no more they’ll hear his voice.
Success attend all highwaymen who do the poor some good;
But my curse attend a treacherous man who’d shed another’s blood.
Farewell to Burke, O’Meally, Young Gilbert and Ben Hall,
Likewise to Daniel Morgan, who fell by rifle-ball;
So all young men be warned and never take up arms,
Remember this, how true it is, bushranging hath no charms!
A. B. Paterson (editor), Old Bush Songs: Composed and Sung in the Bushranging, Digging, and Overlanding Days (8th edition), Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1932, pp. 44-46
arms = armaments, firearms, weapons
Ben Hall = (1837-1865) an Australian bushranger
Burke = Robert Burke (1842-1866), an Australian bushranger
Gilbert = John Gilbert (1842-1865), an Australian bushranger
hath = (archaic) has
highwaymen = plural of “highwayman”: an armed robber, usually mounted on a horse (an unmounted robber was called a “footpad”), who would rob people, especially those travelling on highways (main roads, or public roads)
Morgan = Daniel (Dan) Morgan (1830-1865), bushranger; also known as “Mad Dan” Morgan
oft-times = (also spelt: ofttimes) oftentimes, often, on many occasions; frequently, repeatedly (from Old English, “oft” meaning “often” or “frequently”)
O’Meally = John (Jack) O’Meally (1840-1863), an Australian bushranger
Peechelba Station = a station (rural holding, farm), situated in the area of the modern town of Peechelba (Victoria), located north of Wangaratta and south-west of Rutherglen
preconcerted = pre-arranged; arranged, organised, agreed to, or settled in advance; performed by concerted effort (combined or coordinated agreement or planning) in advance
rifle-ball = (usually simply called a “ball”) a ball of lead (i.e. a bullet) used in old rifles
squatter = in the context of Australian history, a squatter was originally someone who kept their livestock (mostly cattle and sheep) upon Crown land without permission to do so (thus illegally occupying land, or “squatting”); however, the practice became so widespread that eventually the authorities decided to formalise it by granting leases or licenses to occupy or use the land; and, with the growth of the Australian economy, many of the squatters became quite rich, and the term “squatter” came to refer to someone with a large amount of farm land (they were often regarded as rich and powerful)
take up arms = to arm oneself (with firearms or weapons)
trap = policeman (plural: “traps”, policemen)