The Squatter’s Dirge to his Ladye Love [song, 11 December 1860]

[Editor: This song is taken from a long letter to the The Sydney Morning Herald of 11 December 1860, in which the writer makes the point that the squatter’s life is not an easy one; the tune is a parody of the then popular song “Come, dwell with me”; some extracts from the letter are given here, to provide some context for the song. The song was also published in Banjo Paterson’s collection, The Old Bush Songs (1905), under the title of “Dwell not with me”, with some variations.]

The “poor man” of New South Wales.

[. . .] Then we have the outcry against the squatter. Now, what is there to envy in this class of our colonial community. How many of the self-styled poor men have refused to live such a life — damper and salt beef one day, and salt beef and damper the next for a change. No church, no schools, no wives, no husbands — an aboriginal life in fact, without any of its advantages. The mind of reasoning men abhors this solitude, and only the almost certain success ever leads the squatter to devote the best of his days to such seclusion from his fellowmen. Take the extensive plains of our more southern colony, hundreds of miles in extent, heaps of stones for boundaries to a run, and a heap of stone erected for protection from the weather and the sun. Squatting, like gold digging, is a life that man undertakes only upon the sanguine hopes of being the lucky man to make his pile and cut it. The following dirge to the squatter’s “Ladye love” may not be uninteresting — it is “Come, dwell with me” parodied:—


Dwell not with me, dwell not with me,
For you’ll never see, for you’ll never see
More than ’possums or a cockatoo,
And now and then a kangaroo;
Your dwelling-place a hut shall be,
All shaded by the wild gum tree.
Of nightingales you must not dream,
Your only music is the cuckoo’s scream.
“Dwell not with me, dwell not with me.”

Wish not to be, wish not to be,
Along with me, along with me,
For instead of balls and a gay saloon
You’ll have a black’s corroboree by light of moon;
And instead of music a horrid din,
Of screams and shouts from black man’s gin,
And three words sung in a grunting chime,
With a beating Heillaman to mark the time.
“Dwell not with me, dwell not with me.”

Oh would you wish, oh would you wish,
Without a dish, without a dish,
Your scanty meal on a bit of bark,
And a black man’s fire to illumine the dark,
’Tis then you miss the soft woodbine,
That round you lattice now doth twine.
Fond friend, don’t leave such scenes as these,
To dwell with me among gum trees.
“Dwell not with me, dwell not with me.”

Dwell not with me, dwell not with me,
For if without good food you’d be,
A bandicoot, or perhaps a snake,
With a damper stale your meal must make;
And then, perhaps, being horribly dry,
With raging thirst you almost die;
And searching through the bush you’d roam,
Some great black savage makes you all his own.
“Dwell not with me, dwell not with me.”

[. . .] The squatter is the pioneer, the explorer of this as yet not half known country, and, like all explorers, should be met with the greatest consideration, and every assistance and encouragement given him by all classes and sections of our community

[. . .] ’POSSUM.
Port Macquarie, 27th November.

The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, NSW), Tuesday 11 December 1860, page 7

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