Many of our readers will be glad to learn
that Mr. Thatcher, the popular comic vocalist, has determined to rescue some of his latest and most successful productions from that oblivion to which they would otherwise, in all probability, have been consigned, and has recently published them at Auckland, under the title of " Songs of the War." We are most of us sufficiently well acquainted with these songs to be aware that, as specimens of literary composition, they can claim but slight pretensions to merit. They are, however, familiar and popular, contain much that is amusing > not to say, occasionally, something that almost approaches to brilliancy. They certainly hare a special character of their own, and as such, they possibly possess sufficiently antiseptic qualities to warrant their publication. There is nothing so enduring as the seemingly volatile essence of a joke, which circulates everywhere and is never out of season. In the very nature of caricature there is a substance which cannot be extinguished, apart from the realities of which it is the mockery and the burlesque. In a relative sense, caricature is the reductio ad abturdum of some of our gravest acts and imaginings ; it is the average Bense taking stock of our would-be pretensions, stripping our majesty of its externals, and reducing them to a jest. But, to accomplish its ends, it employs a positive amount of invention, and it leaves as a residuum a creation of its own. Such creations, if felicitous in their conception and handling, and devoid of scurrilous personalities, are as permanent as many fabrications of the poet and romancers which boast far higher pretensions to immortality. Such caricatures, as wo all know, are, in some sense, his' torical records of local events, and fill up the omissions in our histories proper. Furthermore' ephemeral and insignificant as they appear to be' they help to make history by their influence on pub"
lie opinion. Not only do they indicate the passions
and illusions of the hour, but they contribute mate- \ rially to the conclusions of the hour about to follow- \' Give me the making of a people's songs, and I care not who makes its laws," is a sentence which may be applied equally to the influence even of the loca2 ballad-writer. Amongst the contents of the little brochure before us, we find eongs written upon the various events, both in military and social life, which have figured in the history of the present war, and also upon other local subjects. From amongst therm we select one, which may be taken as a fair specimen of the whole, and which will be invested with an especial interest at this moment for many of our readers, whose reminiscences of the Wakamarina gold-field are not of the most pleasurable nature : — THE WAKAMARINA.
Alß— Twig of thb SHAinroir. On the banks of the Wakamarina, From Nelson some thirty-two miles, A splendid gold-field's been discovered, Where dozens are making their piles ; They work on the bars of the river, And in many a crevice, I'm told, With their knives they can pick out the nuggets, A nice easy way to get gold. Chorus. I'm waiting for fresh information, If the gold is all there you will tee I'm off to the golden location, Zbe Wakamaruw for mt.
It's affecting the City of Nelson, Provisions have gone up in price, And servants and tradesmen have started To the gold-field, all scorning advice. Milkmen give their customers warning, They're leaving their usual walks, And off to the Wakamarina, Old Skyblue is walking his chalks. I'm waiting for fresh information, &c. The crews all desert from the vessels, The skipper on board vainly grieves, And to help to discharge the ship's cargo He has to turn to, in shirt sleeves. Blacksmiths and bakers get cheeky When they think of the new golden ground, And the butchers are talking of raising Pleuro to a shilling a pound. I'm waiting for fresh information, &c. The new chums start off for the diggings, But some of them never get there, When others arrive and look at it One glance sinks them into despair ; No comforts they got in that quarter, For home again, oh, how they yearn ! They can't stomach working in water, And they curse it and quickly return. I'm waiting for fresh information, &c. On the road there was many a fellow That the special reporter there twigged, One new chum had got an umbrella, And in a bell-topper was rigged ; And a fat cove was blown with hard walking, He made the reporter quite grin, For he tells us his swag consisted Of just a square bottle of gin. I'm waiting for fresh information, &c. A new chum, of course very silly, And green as the foliage around, We're told lost the run of his billy, On his journey to Tom Tiddler s ground. To find it he put down his swag there, A trick, alas ! he did deplore, For hunting about tor his billy, Lost his swag which he never saw more. I'm waiting for fresh information, &c. This rush will clear out Otago, For passengers, ships advertise, And each steamer will bring up a cargo, Of Victorian diggers, no flies, They're the boys that can drop on the metal, And when from Dunedin they come, They'll get all the gold from the river, And there'll be no chance for New Chum. I'm waiting for fresh information, &c.
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Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XXIII, Issue 64, 28 May 1864
THATCHER'S SONGS. Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Volume XXIII, Issue 64, 28 May 1864
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