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Saltbush Bill, J.P.

Discussion in 'Humor - Jokes - Games and Diversions' started by chelloveck, Apr 2, 2016.

  1. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    The SM alias @saltbush puts my in mind of a poem by an Australian poet by the name of A.B. (Banjo) Patterson.....I thought that you and others might appreciate it.

    Saltbush Bill, J.P.

    Beyond the land where Leichhardt went,

    Beyond Sturt's Western track,

    The rolling tide of change has sent

    Some strange J.P.s out back.

    And Saltbush Bill, grown old and grey,

    And worn with want of sleep,

    Received the news in camp one day

    Behind the travelling sheep

    That Edward Rex, confiding in

    His known integrity,

    By hand and seal on parchment skin

    Had made him a J.P.

    He read the news with eager face

    But found no word of pay.

    “I'd like to see my sister's place

    And kids on Christmas day.

    “I'd like to see green grass again,

    And watch clear water run,

    Away from this unholy plain,

    And flies, and dust, and sun.”

    At last one little clause he found

    That might some hope inspire,

    “A magistrate may charge a pound

    For inquest on a fire.”

    A big blacks' camp was built close by,

    And Saltbush Bill, says he,

    “I think that camp might well supply

    A job for a J.P.”

    That night, by strange coincidence,

    A most disastrous fire

    Destroyed the country residence

    Of Jacky Jack, Esquire.

    'Twas mostly leaves, and bark, and dirt;

    The party most concerned

    Appeared to think it wouldn't hurt

    If forty such were burned.

    Quite otherwise thought Saltbush Bill,

    Who watched the leaping flame.

    “The home is small,” said he, “but still

    The principle's the same.

    “Midst palaces though you should roam,

    Or follow pleasure's tracks,

    You'll find,” he said, “no place like home,

    At least like Jacky Jack's.

    “Tell every man in camp ‘Come quick,’

    Tell every black Maria

    I give tobacco half a stick —

    Hold inquest long-a fire.”

    Each juryman received a name

    Well suited to a Court.

    “Long Jack” and “Stumpy Bill” became

    “John Long” and “William Short”.

    While such as “Tarpot”, “Bullock Dray”,

    And “Tommy Wait-a-While”,

    Became, for ever and a day,

    “Scott”, “Dickens”, and “Carlyle”.

    And twelve good sable men and true

    Were soon engaged upon

    The conflagration that o'erthrew

    The home of John A. John.

    Their verdict, “Burnt by act of Fate”,

    They scarcely had returned

    When, just behind the magistrate,

    Another humpy burned!

    The jury sat again and drew

    Another stick of plug.

    Said Saltbush Bill, “It's up to you

    Put some one long-a Jug.”

    “I'll camp the sheep,” he said, “and sift

    The evidence about.”

    For quite a week he couldn't shift,

    The way the fires broke out.

    The jury thought the whole concern

    As good as any play.

    They used to “take him oath” and earn

    Three sticks of plug a day.

    At last the tribe lay down to sleep

    Homeless, beneath a tree;

    And onward with his travelling sheep

    Went Saltbush Bill, J.P.

    The sheep delivered, safe and sound,

    His horse to town he turned,

    And drew some five-and-twenty pound

    For fees that he had earned.

    And where Monaro's ranges hide

    Their little farms away —

    His sister's children by his side —

    He spent his Christmas Day.

    The next J.P. that went out back

    Was shocked, or pained, or both,

    At hearing every pagan black

    Repeat the juror's oath.

    No matter though he turned and fled

    They followed faster still;

    “You make it inkwich, boss,” they said,

    “All same like Saltbush Bill.”

    They even said they'd let him see

    The fires originate.

    When he refused they said that he

    Was “No good magistrate.”

    And out beyond Sturt's Western track,

    And Leichhardt's farthest tree,

    They wait till fate shall send them back

    Their Saltbush Bill, J.P.


    The poem, published with illustrations can be viewed at the Australian National Library's Trove website via the following link.

    SALTBUSH BILL, J.P. - Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931) - 16 Dec 1905
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