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Contact with an author & a satirical poem some might find useful

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 20 June 2014

I recently enjoyed Peter FitzSimons' book Eureka: The unfinished revolution (listening to the audiobook version in the car) and sent a message via the publisher suggesting that, if he had not encountered it during his research, the author might enjoy the satirical poem of the time shown below.

I received a response advising that the message had been passed on and then a few weeks later received an email from FitzSimons himself with the following in the message line:

  • Garry, I never saw that poem, but I LIKE it! Thanks for sharing, Peter

The poem is as follows. I think I originally encountered it in a collection of documents for teaching Australian history. Perhaps some teachers might like it too and find it useful for teaching about satire.

Captain Bumble’s letter by Charles Thatcher

Don’t talk about Sebastopol,
The Russian War is flat now.
Just listen to despatches
Just come from Ballarat now.
Our noble Governor, Sir Charles,
And where is there a better,
Has permitted us to publish
Captain Bumble’s private letter.

He writes thus to His Excellency,
‘Myself and Major Stiggins
Got our brave fellows all equipped
And started for the diggins.
Our band struck up God Save the Queen,
Into cheers our men were bursting,
And every gallant soldier was
For glorious action thirsting.

‘Our first attack was on two drays
Which we saw in the distance,
But the enemy surrendered
After just a slight resistance.
We were disappointed in our search
Of these two wretched traitors,
For instead of seizing powder
They were loaded with potatoes.

‘We marched but were obliged to halt
On behalf of Sergeant Trunnions,
Who was unable to proceed
On account of having bunions.
We stationed pickets all around
To give us timely warning
And there we bivouacked and slept
Till nine the following morning.

‘At length into the diggins,
Footsore our men did tramp there,
And we took up our position
Within the Gov’ment camp there;
Provisions were served out to all
And my very soul it tickles
To contemplate their ravages
On the cold boiled beef and pickles.

‘We watched at night, but all was still:
For glory we were yearning,
And we fired upon a tent in which
A candle was seen burning.
We killed a woman and a child
Though ‘twas not our intention;
But that slight mistakes occur
Of course I needn’t mention.

‘At length in earnest was the strife:
While buried in their slumbers,
We made a bold and desperate charge
And cut them down in numbers.
Our gallant fellows fought like bricks,
The rebels were defeated,
And then by hundreds off they ran
And to the bush retreated.

‘Thus all is quiet and I now
Subscribe myself your humble
Devoted servant of the Crown,
Frederick Augustus Bumble.

Postscript –
Pray send us up some good cheroots
And anything that’s handy
And by all means, pray don’t forget
We’re nearly out of brandy.’
 

Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past PresidentAuthor:Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President
About: Garry Collins was ETAQ President from mid July 2005 to 15 March 2014. He taught English in state high schools for around 35 years and now tutors in English curriculum courses in the School of Education at the University of Queensland.
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