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A New Version of Ben Bolt (1855)

Oh, don't you remember La Trobe, Ben Bolt,
Poor La Trobe whom we all so assailed;
He wept with delight at the smallest success,
And trembled with fear when he failed.
In the "ancien regime" of the ill-managed past,
With little respect we must own;
We have buried the memory of poor old La Trobe,
And henceforth we should let him alone.


Oh, don't you remember old Melbourne, Ben Bolt,
When gold diggings first were found out,
When we'd five feet of mud in the wharves and the streets
And each night stickers-up roamed about.
Ah, those were the days, I believe you, Ben Bolt!
When money could quickly be made;
We might buy what we liked in both market and store,
For we couldn't go wrong in a trade.


Oh, don't you perceive Sir Charles Hotham, Ben Bolt,
And the change that has since taken place :
There are lots of us now, I am sadly afraid,
Who've been left much behind in the race.
We may trade, we may speak, we may write, we may work,
But it's not as it once "used to were,"
For wages and profits alike have gone down,
And we don't go-a-head I declare.


Oh, don't you believe it, my own Ben Bolt,
That we won't forge ahead once again;
There's a glorious future in store for us yet,
In spite of our trouble and pain.
Charles Hotham can't thwart us for long, Ben Bolt,
Though his eggs and his pork be sold dear,
If he take himself off in good time old boy,
We need not rejoice o'er his bier.


From the Victorian magazine the Melbourne Punch 2 Aug 1855 p. 17.

Sir Charles Hotham, KCB, RN (14 January 1806 - 31 December 1855) was Lieutenant-Governor and, later, Governor of Victoria, Australia from 22 June 1854 to 10 November 1855. -- He died in Melbourne 4 Months after this mocking verse was published.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory