BILLY BARLOW’S ADVICE ABOUT CALIFORNIA


 

BILLY BARLOW’S ADVICE ABOUT CALIFORNIA

 

In the next song, a fascinating comment on the lure of the California gold rushes, ‘Billy’ speaks of Australia’s potential. The reference to ‘Johnny Newcombe’ is interesting as it is slang for Johnny-come-lately or Johnny Newcomer.

 

BILLY BARLOW’S ADVICE ABOUT CALIFORNIA

 

Ye tradesmen and workmen just listen to me,
And don’t be too quick, lads, in going to sea;
But well study the chances before you do go –
‘Tis the advice of your old friend – poor Billy Barlow,

 

Oh! oh! mining’s the go,
You are gold-hunting mad says Billy Barlow.

 

That gold is of value, I do not deny,
And those who possess it most comforts can buy;
But that stupid ass ‘Midas’, we most of us know,
Was starved by his riches, says Billy Barlow.

Oh! oh! California’s the go,
I’ll not be a ‘Midas’ says Billy Barlow.

 

True, the times are not good, and trade it is shy;
Yet many a bright star still shines in the sky;
Just listen to me, and I’ll soon let you know
How you’ll better your fortunes, says Billy Barlow:

It may be in mining – for that is the go,
But don’t be too greedy, says Billy Barlow.

 

‘Prospectors’ to Mexico will flow like a sluice,
To dig for the gold it’s mountains produce;
But food-potations and clothing, I can easily show,
When paid for, in dust, will leave the gain very low.

The merchants will have the most ‘lumpies’ to show,
We’ll have them here too, says Billy Barlow.

 

Diggers’ clothes will wear out, and get ragged and old,
They must barter for new with their bright-shining gold;
And salt-horse, and champagne, and flour but so-so,
Must be paid for, in gold-dust, says Billy Barlow.

Oh! oh! to starve is no go,
And gold-dust won’t feed you, says Billy Barlow.

 

Then in sickness – for miasma, in plenty, is there –
And fevers most fatal, the ‘Johnny Newcombe’s’ won’t spare;
Where’s the friend and the nurse to lessen their woe?
No sympathy ‘mongst gold-hunters, says Billy Barlow.

Oh! oh! the calomel, oh!
Will kill them, for certain, says Billy Barlow.

 

Alone, in the ravines, though many be near,
Each one for himself – all are merciless there;
The dust of the sick man no help will bring nigh,
Unpitied and spurned, he’ll in wretchedness die:

And when his life’s blood ceases to flow,
He’ll be carrion for crows, says Billy Barlow.

 

Let the drones go, who like, to California for gold,
Single, married, or neither, middle-aged, or old –
To dive for the pearls, or to dig in the sand,
Those  best of will be who dig in our land,

Wheat and potatoes, the best crops to grow,
The ‘prospectors’ want feeding, says Billy Barlow.

 

Our graziers must stay, and look after their flocks,
Our farmers do ditto, and attend to their crops;
For much food will be needed, before long, I trow,
Wheat and wool is the ticket, says Billy Barlow.

Our fields and our flocks, I very well know,
Produce the best gold, says Billy Barlow.

 

In our beautiful climate, honest industry’s sure
To be rewarded with plenty, when labour is o’er;
What more can he get, who to the ‘diggings’ will go?                                                            Disease, physic, and death, says Billy Barlow.

Oh! oh! the ‘digging’s’ no go,
“All’s not gold that glitters.” Says Billy Barlow.

 

Published in the Cornwall Chronicle, Tasmania, 16th June, 1849