Charles Robert Thatcher,
music hall entertainer, folk musician, songwriter
Born: 1831 Brighton, Sussex, England
Arrived in Melbourne in 1852 and made his way to Bendigo and had some success and then began his career performing witty commentaries.
He married Annie Vitelli in 1861 and headed for Otago.
On 1 March 1862 he held his first concert in Dunedin in the concert room of the Commercial hotel. He toured New Zealand for the next five years. He was accompanied by Joe Small b. 1831 songwriter, balladeer.
Active: 1862-1865 New Zealand
Active: 1869-1870 New Zealand
In 1870 he returned to England.
Died: 17 Sep 1878 Shanghai, China of cholera.
The Olden Days of Lake Wakatipu
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 6 September 1862, Page 4
Thatcher's entertainments appear to be highly popular in Canterbury. Every peculiarity of the public men of the province, every incident of public interest, is seized upon by this satirist and shown up in song. The Lyttelton Times says of him : " There is such a genial humour about this man that his keenest satire provokes only an agreeable titillation, leaving no sting ; such a flow of wit and universality of application, that no shaft of his falls aimless, no event escapes his Argus eyes. Does any man at a public meeting spout nonsense, let him look out for Thatcher ; if any one strives to cover his meanness by a glozing exterior, it is no go, Thatcher lays him bare ; would you clothe small thoughts in pompous utterances, Thatcher's blade will anatomise you and reveal the dry bones beneath. There is really something extraordinary in the man, as all felt who heard him this week showing up both movements and individuals, presenting before the eyes of the mind a long procession of portraits (somewhat caricatured, of course) of all our notabilities. Merely to enumerate them would take up more space than we can afford ; we can only say that councillors, lawyers, magistrates, newspaper editors, teetotallers, publicans and sinners of all sorts, are placed upon his easel and sketched by a few graphic lines. He is happy in prose, and admirable in his rhymings. Here is a specimen of the former. He calls it Thatcher's summary, and it is evidently a satire on our late summary :
THATCHERS SUMMARY For ENGLAND.
We beg to present our readers with our first summary for transmission to England. This being our first effort of the kind it is only fair we should give some idea of the province and its capabilities. Canterbury, as our readers are aware, is a large island on the main land of New Zealand. It is bounded on the north by Cook Strait, on the south by Timaru, on the east by Papanui, and on the west by Riccarton. The first batch of immigrants arrived at Port Cooper in 1850, consisting of 795 souls, one cow, five pigs, seventeen cocks and hens, and a bishop. Lyttelton, the port, is a magnificent city, with a population of 50,000, and is beautifully laid out with parks, public gardens and fountains. Our readers, who have visited Paris will have some faint idea of the beauty and size of this magnificent city. Although not possessing so large a building as the Tuileries or even the Louvre, still the Town Hall may vie with either in point of architectural beauty. There are three large banks, doing an immense business; the B.N.Z. is similar in appearance to the Bank of England. The Hospital is a noble erection, though not so commodious as St. Bartholomew's. The Post Office is not unlike the one in St. Martin's le Grand, in fact, many new arrivals have been struck with the extraordinary resemblance.
The jetty is a monument of provincial industry. Large ships arrive daily and discharge their cargoes into railway trucks alongside. The depth at low water is thirty feet. Besides the Government jetty there is a wharf at the west end of the shore abutting from Norwich Quay. This wharf is very picturesque and is relieved by the appearance of a large peacock who occasionally may be seen strutting there. The Resident Magistrate's Court and Custom House are magnificent structures and a credit to the city. We leave Lyttelton by the bridle path, and after a gentle ascent we reach the top of the hill over-looking the plains of Canterbury. The weary traveller in descending is struck by the noble appearance of a large hotel at the foot of the hill, erected at great expense by J. Birdsey, Esq. This building is four stories high and makes up 325 beds. Another mile brings us to the river Heathcote, which is spanned by a fine suspension bridge after the model of the one at Hungerford.
A good metalled road brings us to the city of Christchurch, which has a population of 100,000. It has two rivers, the Avon and the Heathcote, both navigable to the city for vessels of 1,000 tons. It has several streets ; Cashel-street is similiar to Regentstreet, London. Cathedral-square is very much like Belgrave-square, Pimlico, and contains the mansions of the aristocracy. The Government buildings are superior to the Royal Exchange, and built on a style of great magnificence. The principal hotel is the Lyttelton : being close to the Court-house, it is convenient as a retiring room during the adjournment of the court. Prize-fights are of frequent occurrence. The last was attended by the elite of Christchurch. The Provincial Solicitor acted as bottle-holder, and the Auditor as referee. The R.M., in a neat speech presented a purse of sovs. to the victor for his endurance and pluck. It seldom rains in Christchurch, but we have heavy dews. The bell-tower of St. Michael's is one of the lions of the place. The chief products of Christchurch are mud, Maoris, watercresses, wool, mountebanks, and lawyers.
Thatcher's song Gold fever
Thatcher's Coming by Citoyen
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 20 June 1863, Page 3
THATCHER'S LAKE WAKATIPU SONGSTER.
Most of our readers must have heard of Thatcher the inimitable, styled by some, the impudent Thatcher by others. By whatever name or designation known, one thing is certain, that wherever this humourist presents himself he has a wonderful knack of discovering the weak sides of all the local notables, and turning them into amusing verse, which he sings with wondrous applause to nightly crowded audiences. Thatcher made his appearance at Otago about fifteen months ago, and immortalized the old body of Scotch settlers by a song named the "Old Identity," and by this name, so long as there shall remain alive a single individual of that class in Otago, he will assuredly be known. At the end of last winter our humourist visited several of the other provinces of the colony, but we regret to say we have never had a taste of his fun in Nelson. In Canterbury, Thatcher came into collision with a man of law, but the latter had manifestly the worst of the encounter ; for who can arm against satire, and fight on equal terms with a man who can turn all your follies into rhyme, and find always an audience willing to laugh at them ? We must, however, say, on behalf of Thatcher, that he generally avoids personalities ; or, when persons are named in his verses, it is in a good-natured style. We have now before us the first number of "Thatcher's Lake Wakatipu Songster, containing many of the popular local songs as written and sung by him at the Theatre Royal, Queenstown." Our readers will naturally ask where " Queenstown " is, that boasts a Theatre Royal. We can only reply by saying, that we suppose it to be near Lake Wakatipu, in the Province of Otago, but a couple of Mr. Thatcher's stanzas, taken from one of his songs, styled, "The Olden Days of Lake Wakatipu," will tell our readers all we know about it ourselves :
The Olden Days of Lake Wakatipu
Gold's a wonderful thing, what a change it can make,
Who'd have thought we should ever have come to this Lake?
Like magic there springs in a populous town,
And hundreds to get gold are here settling down.
Oh! how it must knock off his perch, Mister Rees,
To see such a township and buildings like these!
Within a few months ago lie was here all alone,
And the fact of gold-fields near the Lake was unknown.
But just look around and you'll quickly behold,
The magical changes effected by gold ;
We keep shifting about, and a fellow's perplexed,
The question is, Where shall we have to rush next?
Rees settled down here on this nice quiet station,
The Lake was a place then of calm desolation ;
He'd cross the Shotover his cattle to find,
But that nuggets were there never entered his mind.
His shepherds here daily unconsciously trod
Over tons of bright gold lying hid in the sod ;
And Rees drove in bullocks, and branded away,
Never thinking what money they'd fetch him some day.
Chorus But just look around, &c.....
No Queenstown was formed with its noisy hotels,
And no restaurants with their loud dinner bells ;
No Port Chalmers' boats could be seen on the Lake,
But the ducks had it all to themselves, no mistake!
No bellman here shouted as he walked along,
That Thatcher was going to sing a new song ;
If you told Thatcher then hero his time he would spend,
He'd have thought you were booked for the fam'd Yarra Bend.
Chorus But just look around, &c.
The above tells us what gold has done in a few months in the far interior of the Province of Otago : a new version of the celebrated " Old Identity," enlightens us as to what it has done in Dunedin:
The old Otago settlers,
That came here long ago,
Are distinguished for their being
So very dull and slow ;
The greater number of them
Have a Scottish pedigree,
And by Thatcher they were christened The "Old Identity."
When folks rushed to Otago,
It filled their hearts with fear
They said to us Victorians, "
We dinna want you here."
But bands of sturdy diggers
Soon let those natives see
New Zealand wasn't made The " Old Identity."
Two years ago Dunedin
Was a quiet town, I vow ;
It astonishes the natives
To see the improvements now.
Restaurants, hotels, and cafes,
All round about they see, And French girls, quite a caution
To the "Old Identity."
THE OLD IDENTITY.
Otago Witness, 31 March 1898, Page 11
The influx of diggers to the quiet waters of Wakatipu has brought with it from Australia loose characters as well as thousands of enterprising earnest men, and Thatcher celebrates one of that class under the well known name of "Cockatoo Jack." The words, it will be seen, flow naturally to the well known air of the " Unfortunate Man :"
Through the camp to'ther day I was taking my way,
Here's a new subject, Thatcher, some diggers did say;
So I pricked up my ears, and I opened my eyes,
And I saw a sight that filled me with surprise.
Four men were conveying a body along,
Says I, "It's too mournful a theme for a song ;"
Another poor fellow found dead here, thinks I,
Who has left friends and home in these mountains to die.
I felt sad at heart as I looked at the dead,
How nicely they manage, I to myself said ;
No hospital here where the sick can repair,
But alone and unfriended they die in despair.
Alas ! ye poor diggers who fortune pursue,
What careth the New Zealand Government for you ?
And I mournfully went up and mixed with the throng,
To see who it was they were taking along.
The man wasn't dead, for he opened his eyes
"Don't take him so roughly," I said, with surprise :
I addressed the detective, my brows, too, I knit,
And added, " I think the poor man's in a fit."
The detective then winked, and looked slyly at me
" I think we've got something to fit him," says he ;
And they let him, come down such a lump on his back,
And said, " Don't you know him ? It's Cookatoo Jack."
Says the leary detective, " I went bobbing round,
And this cove in the act prigging WIPES there I found ;
So I collars my nabs to bring him to the camp ;
But Jack wouldn't walk, though it's but a short tramp.
So I got assistance he'd not stir a peg ;
It takes four to carry him one to each leg,
One cove to his cocoa-nut, one to his back ;
And we're going to chain up this ' Cockatoo Jack.' "
We must conclude our extracts with a few verses from "John Chinaman, my jo," from which it appears that Thatcher does not share in the popular prejudice against the Celestials :
John Chinaman, my jo, John,
Oh, what can you be at ?
To stay there in Victoria,
It strikes me you're a flat.
New Zealand is the place, John,
But to come you're very slow;
Why don't you try the diggings here,
John Chinaman, my jo ?
John Chinaman, my jo, John,
Come here you really should ;
If you could see the gold, John,
You'd sing out " welly good."
Why stay at Ballanrat, John,
Or worked-out Bendigo,
When there's such pickings for you here,
John Chinaman, my jo?
John Chinaman, my jo, John,
The Argus, I dare say,
Has had the effect of stopping you
From coming down this way.
I've no doubt that you're scared, John,
By reports of frost and snow ;
And per'aps you've heard that pigs are scarce,
John Chinaman, my jo?
John Chinaman, my jo, John,
If you came here there would be
A wonderful commotion 'mongst
The "Old Identity."
You'd frighten them to fits, John,
And they'd exclaim, I know,
"Eh, mon, what awfu' brutes are these!"
John Chinaman, my jo.
As we shall next summer see a large digging population on the banks of the Buller and Karamea, there will doubtless spring up on the Matakitaki plain a township which will rival, and perhaps eclipse, the Otago Queenstown ; so that, before this time next year, we may have the satisfaction of welcoming the publication of a " Buller," or " Lake Rotorua Songster," and have suffered from " sore sides " at laughing at Thatcher's locals, sung in a Theatre Royal, at Matakitaki.
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 16 July 1864, Page 3
MR. THATCHER'S ENTERTAINMENTS.
Welcome, my friends, it gives me great delight,
To see so many on our opening night,
Eager to hear what Thatcher has to say
About the various topics of the day.
I'm a " New chum " here, and I've scarce had time
To put my observations into rhyme.
'Tis a relief from Auckland to come down,
And stay awhile in this clean, healthy town,
Where, luckily, rain don't fall like a flood,
And where we are not ankle deep in mud.
Your public buildings really please the eyes ;
Your College, also, takes me by surprise ;
My P's and Q's I'll have to look to now
I'm in a town that's classical, I vow ;
Where boys are taught Greek and in Latin got it;
Where the Examiner keeps a real lire poet,
Ready to drop on Thatcher in the papers
If he should go too far in local capers.
I've had a look round in this quiet town :
Some observations, too, I've jotted down:
It puzzles some of you, I have no doubt,
To know what Thatcher has to sing about.
What he can satirize, you can't conjecture ;
He can't abuse the Nelson architecture.
The Government buildings, how can he run down.
For are they not an ornament to the town ?
His liking for the place cannot be small
He begs the use of the Provincial Hall ;
The streets are clean he can't pitch into them ;
The climate, too, of course, he can't condemn ;
What is there, then, remaining to run down
In this nice model of an English town ?
These are the questions, doubtless, some will ask,
And wonder what there is to take to task.
To solve it all, some rubs I'm going to give
Unto your somnolent Executive ;
For, I must own to you, in them I see
A savour of the " Old Identity."
With hits satirical I'm going to shake them,
And hope to goodnesss I may only we them.
They're very sleepy and seem quite content,
About the future Seat of Government.
They don't want diggings lots of gold to yield ;
What is the use, say they, of a coal-field ?
Why bother, too, about a patent slip ?
If they're at work upon it, let 'em rip;
Fun at us in the papers let 'em poke,
Leave us to do the fine old " Government stroke."
Adams must look out for the satirizer,
He's only Superintendent's law adviser.
The Super's not a bad sort of a chap,
But, if he's drowsy, he must have a rap.
There's Richmond, his arrangement's rather funny,
I'll have to find out if he earns his money :
He must have lots of business on his hands
Provincial Sec, Commissioner of Crown Lands.
When wanted in the Crown Lands, he's not there,
He's then Provincial Secretary, I declare ;
And when you to the Secretary go,
He's occupied with the Crown Lands below.
The Board of Works I'll have to satirize,
There's room for great improvement, and "no flies."
I must warm Bailey, and, when I have leisure,
Ferret out Webb, and take the tailor's measure.
Official drones in song I must expose,
And show the way the Nelson money goes.
Inspect each bridge the Government provide,
Give my opinion, spite of Handyside ;
Watch the Post Office, and though no exactor,
Keep a sharp look out after the contractor.
The Bobbies, too, will catch it rather warm ;
How is it they are not in uniform ?
And, though you'll think 'tis no affair of mine,
I'll tune up Shallcrass, and inspect Old Shine.
For the Dun Mountain leave my Bridge-street home,
And see how they manipulate the chrome ;
Look at their works, and find out if it's proper
To spend so much gold in their search for copper.
View your race-horses and the Nelson blood,
Then descend lower, and look at Andrews' stud ;
Go lower still, though it may seem absurd,
And twig the hanimals of Mrs. Bird.
View the Court House, now superannuated,
See how the skylarks there are acclimated.
Pay a short visit unto Poynter's Court,
And be a setter to enjoy the sport.
Upon the sly at the Goal be a peeper,
And take stock of the lame and aged keeper ;
Go to the kitchen through which they broke out,
And view the handy water-butt and spout ;
Take a look round, and see the amount of diet
And 'bacca that they give to keep them quiet.
Keep a sharp look out as I go along,
And put my observations into song.
Not walk, like Catley, who keeps looking down
As if he tried to find a lost half-crown.
Yes, yes, while here, although it won't be long,
My frank opinion I'll give you in song ;
And you will find 'twill be my " little game "
To be impartial, praise as well as blame.
At what I say you mustn't take offence ;
Take my good-natured rubs like men of sense.
You'll find, that Thatcher's is but harmless chaff,
His only wish is to create a laugh.
On our shortcomings don't be too severe,
Give us but time, we'll try and please you here.
And thus, I end this rather long address.
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 30 July 1864, Page 3
News of the Day. NELSON BOARD OF WORKS.
Thursday, July 28. Present : Messrs. Burn, Graham, Bentley, and Carter, On the proposition of Mr. Graham, seconded by Mr. Carter, Mr. Bentley was elected as Chairman. A certificate of the election of Messrs. Bentley, Webb, Burn, and Carter, as members of the Board, was read by the Secretary. The following letter was also read by the Secretary. " Nelson, July 24, 1864. " To the Secretary of the Board of Works. " Sir In consequence of the result of this day's election, I beg leave to tender my resignation as a member of the Board. "I am, &c, "Joseph Webb." Mr. Burn moved, and Mr. Graham seconded, " That this Board declines to accept the resignation of Mr, Webb, as he was duly elected, and that Mr. Webb be requested to take his place at the Board."
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 13 August 1864, Page 3
PROVINCIAL COUNCIL. Air Kitty Jones.
I stand now in your Nelson House of Representatives,
Where Adams his grave eloquence unto the country gives ;
Where district members fancy they're all there, and rise and spout,
And talk a deal of nonsense too, there's not the slightest doubt.
Just now the Council is adjourned, or else there'd be a spree,
Their wondrous speeches I am sure would be fine food for me.
But as this treat's denied me now, to you I'll just recall
Some of the members who hold forth in this Provincial Hall.
Several of the leading members, beginning with that august personage, the Speaker, are thereupon brought forward, and their individual peculiarities and favouritie hobbies touched with no ill-natured hand. As, on the several occasions on which this song was given, we observed many of the honourable members present, who were heartily enjoying the fun of which they themselves were the themes, we may reasonably conclude that they found little at which they could take objection in these slight personal sketches, though it is but fair to state that the members who were hit the hardest, were the least likely to be present among the audience. " The Bachelors' Ball," although not deficient in point, was not one of Mr. Thatcher's happiest productions, and the same may be said of his " Nelson Curiosities for the Otago Exhibition." Probably the wittiest of all his songs was " Carter, the Publican," written upon the election of that individual as a member of the Board of Works. But, before we quote from this song, we must give a verse or two from one which preceded it, and which was also elicited by the election for the Board of Works :
THE BOARD OF WORKS NOMINATION.
Air Joe Huggins.
Thatcher while in this location,
His vocation never shirks ;
He gives you now the nomination
For the Nelson Board of Works.
By what's in the papers quoted,
Very few assembled there,
And Elliott of th' Examiner's voted,
Unanimously to the chair.
Hibble, then, is an assailer
Of the Nuisance Inspector here ;
The salary of poor Joe Taylor,
Is only twenty pounds a-year.
Hibble says his work's neglected,
Wonders where his nose can be,
That the Maoris he has not inspected,
And Hooper and Aitken's brewery.
'Gainst poor people he's informing,
But the brewery he shirks ;
Aitken doesn't get a warning
'Causo he's on the Board of Works.
# # # #
The tailor, Watts, asks with vexation,
Where the resolution went,
In favour of a corporation,
And if to Government t'was sent ?
" Yes," says Elliott, " and we're waiting,
P'raps some day they'll let us know.
'Bout it they're been cogitating,
Ever since two years ago."
Eight or nine the folks propose now,
'Mongst them Webb triumphant stands,
And it to the meeting goes now,
And there is a show of hands.
Some of them are very dirty ;
Sait got one, how very droll,
Carter gets eight, and he's angry,
And furiously demands a poll.
# # # #
The sequel to this, "Carter the Publican," is the I last song we shall notice, but there are reasons why it may be as well that we should suppress two or three of the verses, which we think bore a little too hardly upon the subject of the song : " CARTER THE PUBLICAN.
Air Nae Luck.
The election for the Board of Works
Is over now I find ;
Carter's in, and Webb and Burn,
I'm told, have both resigned.
# # #
Ye people here in Nelson,
What have you gone and done,
To darken all your prospects now,
By such a Rising Sun ?
With such a person on the Board
I'm sure you'll not be happy ;
He'll have to leave the tap, and go.
And see what's on the tapis.
The publican's a butcher too,
And p'r'aps some of you feel,
A butcher is the man to fight
Now for the common weal.
Your vital interests are at stake,
And when you did appoint
This man (as Shakespeare somewhere says)
The times were out of joint.
# # # #
Now some may joy that Carter's in,
And think it only fair
To elect a person, who for drains,
Is bound to be all there.
And there's another reason, p'r'aps,
Which you may urge on me,
No half measures, it's quite plain,
With Carter there will be.
# # # #
This Carter may suit some of you,
So why should I complain?
Take him, for half-and-half, we shan't
Look on his like again.
But putting him now on the Board
Won't lead to good, I know,
Where there's a Carter, mark my word,
It's sure to end in woe.
There can be no question that, if Mr. Thatcher, in his visits to other localities, exercises the same discretion as characterized his allusions to public individuals in Nelson, his entertainments will be attended with equal success, and leave equally pleasurable and itiugless veininiscencee behind them.
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 12 September 1864, Page 6
Probably every nation under every form of government has developed out of its national life some kind of political satire. It is certain, at all events, that satire itself is one of the oldest things in the world ; and that men learned to knock wit out of a dunce almost as soon as to knock fire out of a flint. The species of it called political, varies, of course, with political forms and phases. Under despotisms we have epigrams. Under free government every sort is produced which the genius of the people can suggest. The influence of popular song and satire lias been a topic upon which the most solid and serious writers have discoursed.
A the songs which were produced by Mr. Thatcher during his brief sojourn in Nelson, not only embody various incidents of considerable interest to its inhabitants, but also mark an epoch in our local history which may not be without its importance hereafter, we have judged it not below our province to rescue some of them from oblivion,
" The Nelson Goal," a medley song, which, in terms which can scarcely be said to be exaggerated, gives a most humorous picture of prison life in Nelson.
THE NELSON GOAL. Air - Norah Creina.
This Nelson goal now, I declare,
Is a stunning place to do your sentence ;
The punishment a chap gets there,
Would neve bring him to repentance.
It seems a nursery for crime,
For prisoners treat it as a joke there,
In it they pass a jolly time,
And tobacco they're allowed to smoke there.
Fresh meat and bread they get galore,
The work they get don't hurt their bones here,
What can the convicts wish for more ?
They prefer it unto cracking stones here.
The hours of work you know ain't long,
In the kitchen they all laugh and joke there,
Amuse themselves too with a song,
Pull out their pipes and have a smoke there.
Rogerson, the goaler, always lets 'em have a spell in the kitchen, and they had a jolly convivial meeting there the other night. Bill Sykes was in the chair, and he called upon a fellow prisoner for a song. I'll give you what he sang on this occasion :
Air Life on the Ocean Wave.
A life in the Nelson goal,
Where us kiddies they kindly keep,
Where the grub's on a liberal scale,
And we've only to eat and sleep.
Who for liberty would pine,
Or rush to the Buller shore ?
My word the tucker's so fine,
I'll never go digging no more.
Chorus A life in the Nelson goal, &c.
The hard labour's nothing but fun,
We do the Government stroke,
Old Ladd stands by with his gun,
All the while the old fellow we joke.
One chap takes the shovel in hand,
Fills the barrow with stones and clay,
While the rest of us laughingly stand,
Watching him wheel it away.
Chorus A life in the Nelson goal, &c.
After this song the following toast was given :"Here's success to the Nelson Province ; may it always be rich enough to provide us coves with the excellent tucker that we has now, and whenever we gets in limbo, may we never have a worse crib to come to." The next ditty was by a party whose experience of the various goals in New Zealand was pretty extensive, consequently the following song was listened to with some interest :
Air Monks of Old.
Many have told of the goals of old,
What horrible cribs they were,
And by jingo it's true, I swear to you,
I've been in lots I declare.
Here we sing, and we laugh, and the keeper we chaff,
And we live on the daintiest fare.
We laugh, ha ! ha ! and we chaff, ha ! ha !
And have on the daintiest fare.
The Sydney side, and Pentridge I've tried,
Where they does a fellow brown ;
I made a long stay in Tas-ma-ni-a
I was lagged out to Hobart Town.
But this is the shop for a cove to pop
Other goals with it can't compare ;
And we laugh, ha ! ha ! &c.
Let other coves dig I means to prig
While in Nelson city I stay ;
And, when I gets free, you won't catch me
Going off to the Buller or Grey.
While I've tucker galore, I reveres no more;
I admires this bracing air ;
And we laugh, ha ! ha ! &c.
A young man in the corner, with a blue neckerchief on, was next called upon. He said he was very glad to oblige ; he'd been quoted, some time ago, in Dunedin, and he didn't approve of the tucker they give there at all, and his constitution had suffered ; but the pure air of Nelson, and the bill of fare of the goal here, had done wonders for him, and he would now give them his song :
Air T'd choose to be a Daisy.
I feels fresh as a daisy ;
This is the crib, my flowers!
We've any amount of tucker,
And werry easy hours.
We wake up in the morning,
A stunning smoke we do,
And walk out in the sunshine,
And play an hour or two.
I feels fresh as a daisy, &c.
I got four months' hard labour
But, lor ! I calls it play
They served me werry different
When down Dunedin way ;
I never got no 'bacca
And inwardly I swore,
When I got out I'd never
Trouble that crib no more.
Chorus I feels fresh as a daisy, &c.
The next musical piece was a quartet, by John Perry, Robinson, and two other chaps there, who liked the goal very well, but complained they didn't get grog enough, and, accordingly, resolved to leave it on the sly, and try their luck at the Wakamarina. Robinson sang the following solo, and the others joined in the chorus :
Air Off to Charleston.
We're tired of doing nothing,
So we're going to cut away;
Try the Wakamarina,
And see if it will pay.
We've only in this kitchen
To loosen two or three bricks,
And our escape is easy
So we're going to cut our sticks.
We're off to Canvas Town ;
We start to-morrow morning ;
We're off to Canvas Town,
a little while to stay.
Give our respects to Daddy Ladd and Rogerson ;
We're off to Canvas Town, but keep it quiet, pray.'
We'll squat down on the river,
And stay a little while,
And hope we'll strike it heavy,
And make a stunning pile.
But if things go against us,
'Twon't signify a pin
We'll come and ax the gaoler
Again to take us in.
Chorus We're off to Canvas Town, &c.
We cannot undertake to print all Mr. Thatcher's songs entire, but we shall glance over the principal ones, and cull a verse here and there, to illustrate their general character. From this curtailment we must, however, except the " Trip to the Country," which forcibly exhibits Mr. Thatcher's power of seizing upon subjects which present themselves to his ken, and also the facility with which he detects the weak side of everything that comes under his observation ; two faculties which, combined, enable him to convert his subjects into matter for a useful lesson. We are reminded of Mrs. Barbauld's charming story for children, "Eyes, and No Eyes;" and we venture to say that our amusing rhymster, when at school, was not a boy to allow the objects which surrounded him to pass unobserved :
THATCHER'S TRIP TO THE COUNTRY.
Air Cork Leg.
T'other day I'd a little time to spare,
And I thought I'd enjoy a little fresh air,
So went into the country, I declare ;
And I'll tell you now what I noticed there.
There's an unfinished church at a place called Stoke,
For passers by it serves as a joke ;
It gets along slow, for each carpenter bloke,
I suppose, goes into the Turf to soak.
The roof of it's resting on the ground,
No workmen I saw bobbing round ;
And in a year's time, I'll be bound,
In the very same state, this church will be found.
Of little farms, I saw quite a crowd,
The land was foul, the stubble unploughed ;
And if it's allowed in that state to stop,
Six bushels per acre, will be the crop.
But when I went to Waimea-west,
Everything looked well, it must be confest ;
Sheep like Redwood's I wish I possessed
Or the nice little homestead of Mr. Beat.
The Waimea river I had to ford,
And the rushing waters, Oh ! how they roared ;
The stones were big, we were nearly floored,
And I longed for Peter Levy's sword.*
At Richmond, a rummy crib, I did see,
And a gentleman explained to me,
The Agricultural Society,
Every year there held a jubilee.
Last year it was crowded by farming men,
They had a very grand show then
Six bags of potatoes, four pigs in a pen,
A second hand churn, and a cock and a hen.
Now Stafford's racers I saw by-the-by,
Canterbury its best must try,
Or, the Champion race may testify
That Betty Martin a'nt all my eye.
*Peter Levy, a constable, when recently in pursuit of four prisoners who had escaped from Nelson goal, had to get off his horse, when in the middle of the Maitai river, and remove with his sword some big stones, between which his horse bad got one of his feet jammed.
There can be no question that, Mr. Thatcher, in his visits to other localities, exercises the same discretion as characterized his allusions to public individuals in Nelson, his entertainments will be attended with equal success, and leave; equally pleasurable and timeless reminiscences behind them.
Timaru Herald Saturday, December 17, 1864 page 4
Arrived - Dec. 12 - Wild Wave, schooner, 40 tons, O'Brien, from Lyttelton. Passenger - R. Thatcher, J. Small.
Sailed Dec. 16 - City of Dunedin for Dunedin. Passengers - Mr and Mrs Thatcher, Messrs. Small, Oakey and Thatcher.
Otago Witness Saturday December 17 1864 page 12
Per City of Dunedin, 327 tons, Boyd, master, from the North - Dec. 18:- Thatcher and 5 of a troupe;
Evening Post, Issue 33, 17 March 1865, Page 3
THATCHER'S OTAGO SONGSTER.
We select from Thatcher's collection of amusing songs the following, as a specimen of that gentleman's rhyming powers :
THE HANDING COMMITTEE. Air -There's nae luck.
The Exhibition pictures
A visit will repay,
I had a look at them when I
Was there the other day,
But there was some discussion
The Commissioners among,
Some time back, as regards the way
These pictures should be hung.
The Commissioners could not agree,
And many were offended ;
The whole were now at loggerheads,
How they should be suspended.
Some said this, and some said that ;
Each to his notion clung ;
A committee was then formed, to judge
The way they should be hung.
They elected Branigan and Strode,
And Mister Foreman, too ;
Parson simmonds and Judge Chapman,
Who vowed their best they'd do.
Some pictures were Old Colonists;
The Committee then begun
To see that they were hung, as if
Each one had been a man.
First Branigan is elected ;
He's used to apprehending,
And he looks at the pictures just
As it they'd been offending.
He eyes them with a peeler's glance,
Inside the Exhibition,
And then to Strode the Magistrate
He hands them on suspicion.
Now Strode examines them at length,
And scans their features o'er,
And remarks to (ho Committee he's
Seen some of them before.
He commits them to Judge Chapman,
And the others he harangued,
Shook his head, and then the whole of them
Are sentenced to be hanged.
They're delivered to the Sheriff
A wise plan, there's no doubt ; '
Tis Foreman's duty now to see
The sentence carried out;
Then parson Simmonds visits them
A labour 'tis of love
And there he hopes and prays that they
May safely go aboye.
The hangman comes, adjusts the cords,
And off the ground they're swung.
In this peculiar legal style
The pictures all were hung.
And there they'll swing the allotted time,
And I'm game to bet a crown,
Doctor Hocken holds an inquest
On them when they're cut down.
Otago Witness Saturday 22 April 1865 pg 10
Per Geelong, for Lyttelton and intermediate ports - April 17
Otago Witness June 3 1865 pg4 Disastrous Gales at Hokitika
The Omeo, Capt. Edwards, parted her cable but returned to sea after receiving passengers Mr Thatcher, Madame Vitelli and several women and their families. Captain John Robertson, of the steamer Favourite, and Captain Leys, of the Ruby, also came on board from the Omeo.
Mr Thatcher delivered the following address in aid of the funds for the benefit of the Hokitika Public Hospital.
.....Well then, this is the famed Corinthian Hall
Presided o'er by Thatcher and by Small;
This is the place where diggers nightly stand
And listen to us on the blessed sand.
They pay their shilling, and in here they walk-
Some about business come here to talk,
Making a ro__, and parting by the hour
About the price of candles and of flour.
Alas! our patrons, now all go away,
And leave us for the attractions of the Grey;
But worst of all, for weeks we've been deploring
The want of seats and a good wooden flooring.
The great Reeves comes, how sad to see him there,
And not be able to give him a chair;
Upon the beach he sometimes stands all day,
Knocks down the vessels there, and sells away:
To rest himself no doubt, would be a treat
Alas, alas! I can't give him a scat
But soon, they tell me, he will be our mayor-
I'll have to buy his lordship then a chair....
West Coast Times Saturday 19th August 1865 pg 2
Our local rhymester, it seems, is after all determined to leave Hokitika, for his farewell benefit is announced. He will take his departure by the Wallaby on her next trip. We sincerely regret his determination - not only because the town will be wretchedly off for amusement when he is gone, but also because he is of greater use than generally supposed in a place like this, where not a few reforms that have taken place are traceable directly or indirectly to the effect or dread of Thatcher's satire.
It has become in sort of fashion to decry Thatcher, even by those who go regularly and laugh at his jokes; but when the lash falls on themselves, oh! what an outcry they raise. Personalities, forsooth! The best evidence is a public need, lies on the fact of his invariable success whenever he goes, and will doubtless continue so as long as he remains before the public. During his stay here he has been liberally supported; His latest novelty is in reference to a letter of the Hokitika correspondent of the "Lyttelton Times," which stimatises the audience that nightly assemble in the Corinthian Hall as a "noisy, dirty, drinking, smoking, cursing crowd." and which he most happily answered by a song. Folksongs
DEPARTURES. November 10 Per Albion : Cabin Madame Vitelli, Mrs Hilton, Miss Wright, Messrs Hilton, Elmes, F. Thatcher, E. Thatcher, Bett, Fencher, Zohrab, Sutdiffe, Shackleton, and Captain Barnes.
West Coast Times Saturday 9th September 1865
Port of Hokitika - Sailed on Thursday's tide.
Sept. 7 - Wallaby, s.s., for Nelson. Passengers:
Cabin: Mr Thatcher and Madame Vitelli; and 4 in the steerage.
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 21 September 1865, Page 2
ODD-FELLOWS' HALL. TO-NIGHT (THURSDAY), AND SATURDAY.
" Life in Hokitika,"
" Nelson Celebrities,"
"Summary for England,"
AND SEVERAL other LOCAL and CHARACTER SONGS.
MR. OAKEY, Pianist, Tuner, and Regulator, Trafalgar Hotel.
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 23 September 1865, Page 3
On the occasion of Thatcher's first visit to Nelson, we gave a somewhat lengthy notice of his performances, and we are inclined to do so again on this his second visit. Not that we can commend every point which this humourist introduces into his songs, as some of these are too personal, and we cannot justify holding up the private affairs of people to ridicule, however harmless this may be of its kind. On the other hand, the public acts of public men are fair game for good humoured banter, and we have no objection to joining in a laugh where the shortcomings of the " powers that be " are made the theme of a little pleasant merriment. But personal satire is not, we consider, Thatcher's great forte. What pleases us chiefly, is his happy description of events, and the facility with which he weaves these into song, and adapts them to popular aira. Thus, in his " Nelson Goal," which amused us so much last year, the insecurity of the building, and the free and-easy-life of its inmates, was one of the best strictures on our goal discipline and treatment of criminals that could possibly be written.
But we are wandering away from the subject we had in view to notice the entertainment at the Odd-Fellows' Hall, on Thursday evening last, when we were glad to see the house well filled in every part. The first songs of the evening were Balfe's charming trios from the Bohemian Girl, "Happy and Light," and, "Oh! what full Delight," which were very pleasingly sung by Thatcher, Small, and Madame Vitelli. Small, in the course of the evening gave several capital Irish songs, chiefly of a local character, some of which had reference to events on the West Coast, which has proved a rich mine of subjects for them, and we hope it has been as productive to the little company in matters more substantial. "Lanaghan's Ball," is a choice example of roisterous Irish life, and was immensely applauded, as indeed were all the songs of this most popular singer. Madame Vitelli gave us the favourite ballads of "Little Well," "Kathleen Mavourneen," and the " Mocking Bird "" the latter a great favourite, with the pretty bird-accompaniment and all were sung very charmingly. Thatcher was suffering from a cold which had prevented him from appearing on the preceding Tuesday, but although not quite well, he was now better. All his songs were new, and of a local character. In his opening address, he informed the audience that he was tired of his present life, and wished to settle down, and that as Nelson was so nice a place, he gave it the preference over other spots in New Zealand. Finding that we were on the eve of a dissolution of the Provincial Council, and wishing to benefit the province, he offered himself as Superintendent. He proceeded to show that an energetic head was needed for the province, and, after expressing himself pretty freely on the incompetency of the present holder of the office, he stated his own qualifications for the honourable position ; and although the extract will be rather long, we shall let the candidate speak for himself :
P'raps you'd know my various qualifications,
For this most honourable of situations?
To prove at once that I'm the man for you,
Allow me just to mention what I'll do.
Your Province here is in a fearful plight,
I offer you myself to set it right.
The first step I'll make in the proper quarter,
Is to give you, what Curtis couldn't water.
For a good reservoir, how must you yearn ;
Don't throw cold water on me in return.
A ground too you shall have for recreation,
Which Goodman merely had in contemplation.
With a new wharf Nelson shall come out grand,
I'll then raise revenue by reclaiming land.
The mud-flat shall be stagnant ooze no more,
And flowers shall spring where slime prevailed before.
When I've reclaimed the land, to improve the view,
I'll go in for reclaiming some of you ;
For Walter Douglas vows that he cannot,
Because you're such a shocking godless lot.
Nelson shall yet have such a glorious day,
And flourish under my benignant sway.
Country Electors ! friends from the Waimea,
Lend to this Candidate a willing ear.
Ye Maitai folks, great schemes to you I'll mention ;
Might I implore your serious attention.
Listen, you apathetic Muddy wakers,
In these advantages you shall be partakers ;
Don't think that what I promise is a hoax ;
Prick up your ears, ye Hoky-poky folks ;
Upon your luck you've hitherto been down,
A railway soon shall bring you into town ;
Then through the Waimea make its sinuous way,
Down to the Buller and the distant Grey.
I'll do some good for Redwood and old Best ;
I'll bridge the Waimea, down at Waimea-wesfc.
Contracts for wood shall quickly stop the mouth
Of grumblers in the timbered Waimea-south ;
And every voter there will do so fine,
Providing sleepers for my railway line.
Though the best sleepers that could lay down
Would be the sleepers in this drowsy town ;
For nothing on them makes the least impression,
And they're impervious to all progression.
I'll double soon the price of every acre ;
I'll do great things for every Muddywaker.
I'll work for you you only give me tetner,
Parker and M'Mahon we'll put our heads together,
And the result, upon my word 'tis true,
Will be a wooden jetty there for you
Built so secure upon substantial piles,
And stretching out into Blind Bay for miles :
And I shall think it quite a pleasant task
To give you all your modest members ask.
A noted man to England goes away,
And I have made arrangements with Long Wrey
To borrow fifty millions British cash,
And when we get it, wont we make a splash !
The last election here for Saunders shows me,
That Luckie, Hill, and Wilkie may oppose me.
Again they may rush frantically about,
And in the columns of the Colonist spout.
But I'm the man ; I for your votes aspire,
And Saunders in my favour must retire.
New blood is what you want ; give me your vote,
Bad habits ain't cured by a Barnicoat.
Humbug I'll spurn, no matter where it lurks,
I'll have no fakements in the Board of Works ;
I'll stand no gammon from the chairman Bentley,
The Secretary, too, I'll watch intently.
Edwards on the Trust Board no more shall be,
He's far too Bweet on his new " Kennedy,"
Which for him has a deal more fascination,
Than any local scheme of navigation.
If you reject me, you will always be
Bordering upon abject insolvency.
In the Government chest you know it's heavy weather,
There's scarce two sixpences to rub together.
Of my political creed you've heard the features,
So just support me now my " lovely creatures."
Mind what you're at, and recollect in me
Naught savours of the " Old Identity."
Let this Victorian come off victorious,
And your career shall be most bright and glorious.
The candidate was exceedingly well received ;
indeed we never heard an election address receive a more unanimous response.
Thatcher's other songs were, a Chant, in which he manages to introduce a considerable number of Nelson notables; but this, and the song of "That beats me," abound in direct personal allusions, and will be objected to by some persons on that ground. His " Summary for England," was full of point, and is an amusing hodge-podge ; but the best piece of the evening was decidedly the " Experiences of Hokitika," which opens with a dialogue between Thatcher, Small, and Madame Vitelli, and gives a capital description of the manner of living in that far-famed town, very well told in rhyme, and ending with several part songs, of which we give a few examples, as they afford very good specimens of Thatcher's facility in rhyming, and adapting words to popular airs, of which we have already spoken :
Air "To the West."
To the West, to the West, where the diggers repair,
There's no flies about it, the gold is all there,
And chaps who've been digging a very short while
Walk into the Bank and dispose of their pile.
Where the rain falls in torrents, and leaves such a flood,
And you sleep on the ground, and your mattress is mud;
Where a fresh in the river may come down some day,
And very near sweep Hokitika away.
To the West, &c.
To the West, to the West, where the ships run ashore,
Of wrecks we have witnessed two dozen or more ;
Where bushrangers congregate, as you've been told,
And simple bank clerks are deprived of their gold.
Where beef's eighteen-pence, and' where diggers devour
Rusty bacon, and bread made of vile damaged flour :
How pleasant in Nelson to get a nice rest,
'Stead of knocking it out in the Land of the West.
Chorus -To the West, &c.
Air - "Beautiful Star."
Perilous bar, to sailors a blight,
Filling new chum's with terrible fright
In a deuce of a state they are
When they get in the surf to cross over the bar;
Perilous bar !
Bar to the West Coast, terrible, perilous bar !
Perilous bar for the Wallaby !
They must mind it don't cook the Kennedy ;
Edwards has done very well so far,
But he dreams every night of this perilous bar.
Perilous bar !
Bar to the West Coast, terrible, perilous bar !
The Nelson's to try her luck once more ;
Walker must mind he don't run her ashore :
The nice little game of old Cross it might mar,
If Two-Thousand-a-Year should get stuck on the bar.
Perilous bar !
Bar to the West Coast, terrible, perilous bar !
Air "The Englishman."
There's a place that bears a well-known name,
It's a very charming spot ;
But in sleepiness it's just the same,
And trade seems gone to pot.
They've come as low as threepenny drinks,
A rum go, no mistake ;
The folks are slow, and Thatcher thinks.
It's time they began to wake.
Chorus. It's a drowsy city, deny it who can,
Tis the home of a sleepy Nelson man.
Farewell to Hokitika
Air "Dixie's Land."
The West Coast puts folks in a fright,
It slews 'em when they first catch sight
Of the sand ;
Awful terrified they are,
When the steamer bumps upon the bar,
On the sand.
Chorus Hurrah for Hokitika,
Oh hi o ;
They look very blue, and they're all wet through
When they land in Hokitika.
It puts the new chums in despair ;
It costs a deal for living there,
On the sand ;
In every blessed thing you eat
No matter whether bread or meat,
You've the sand.
Chorus Farewell to Hokitika,
Oh hi o ;
Now is it not a charming spot ?
Farewell to Hokitika.
The accompaniments to the songs were well played by Mr. Oakey, who had the advantage of possessing one of Broadwood's grand pianofortes, a choice instrument, which had been furnished by Mr. Darby. To persons desirous of enjoying a hearty laugh, and hearing some good music, we can recommend an evening's entertainment at the Odd-Fellows' Hall.
Evening Post, 10 November 1865, Page 2
Shipping Intelligence. PORT OF WELLINGTON.
Evening Post,18 September 1869, Page 2
THATCHER'S LOCAL SONGS. SIGHTS AT GRAHAMSTOWN.
Air Jaunting Car.
This Graharmstown's a wondrous place, and now is all the go,
It is the great mudtropolis of the district here, you know,
It surprises everybody, who to the Thames comes down,
To see the great improvements that are made in Grahamstown...
Evening Post, 17 September 1869, Page 2
THATCHER'S LOCAL SONGS.
Air Drops of Brandy.
The new disease, Quartz on the Brain,
The Provinces South is infeeting;
They've got the complaint very bad,
And in every plica they're prospecting.
They go out with shovels and picks
And bring the stone home in their pockets,
And then to discover some gold
Their eyes will start out of their sockets.
Poor Wellington's caught the complaint,
For down in that used-up location,
The Government chest is quite low,
And of money there's no circulation.
The papers talk nothing but gold,
They expect every day there to pop on it;
They've got a Long Drive there, of course,
If they only just knew where to drop on it.
* * * * * *
The folks down in Hawke's Bay, as well,
Their business affairs are neglecting;
They've got a gold field, they believe,
And to find it they go out prospecting.
They'd like now to open a vein
Of gold, but they find to their sorrow,
They can't go far lest their own veins
Should be opened by Titiko Waru.
At Wellington a digger one day
A specimen brought in in his pocket,
And the hopes of the people down there
You may fancy went up like a rocket.
" We've got gold at last," they all said,
Thank goodness we've finally struck it,
And the stuff is so rich that no doubt
It will go a pound weight to the bucket.
They looked at some shining specks there,
"That's the right stuff" they fill began crying,
For the digger they shouted like fun,
And then hats in the air began shying.
" Go in," they said, " for the reward,"
And applauded the fortunate striker,
It's gold true as gospel, they said,
"Twas the gospel according to Mica.
They've got up a company there,
Twenty shares at ten pounds is the figure,
After what we observe at the Thames,
It's enough now to make a chap snigger.
But the Wellington folks are go slow,
And really from what I can learn there,
A call of a penny a share
Would quickly burst up the concern there.
Evening Post,19 February 1908, Page 3
A VETERAN SHOWMAN. MR. H. P. LYONS
THATCHER AMONG THE DIGGERS. Thatcher, the "Bush Laureate," was not a poet, but he could string doggerel together in a style that pleased the diggers mightily. This -rough-hewn bard was brought to New Zealand in 1861, and bestrode a very buck-jumping Pegasus at Tuapeka and Hokitika. The miners came for miles to hear hear his rhymed quips and cranks on topical subjects ; they were rhymed, and that is the best that can be said for them. However, the halls could not hold all the diggers' who were anxious to pay half a crown or more.
A "cold deck" was put upon Thatcher. His local allusions severely pained one Westland gentleman, and in return he sent a "small token of esteem." unsigned, to the poetaster. When he opened the little package the versifier's eyes gleamed with pleasure. There was a lovely looking watch inside, but close inspection revealed a thing of brass, and the inner works were missing ; a battered penny was in their place.
Look Out Below
A young man left his native shores,
For trade was bad at home;
To seek his fortune in this land
He crossed the briny foam
And when he went to Ballarat,...
The Unsuccessful Swell
I'll now pf a fine young swell
Who in a ship did sail here;
And came and made his fortune,
By digging in Australia...
Hawkes Bay , Poverty Bay Sept 17 1864
BIRTH-THATCHER- at Barrett's Hotel Wellington, on the 5th inst, the wife of Mr C.R. THATCHER, of a daughter.
Timaru Herald, 17 December 1864, Page 4
PORT OF TIMARU.
Arrived. November 11 Dunedin, schooner, 66 tons, from Waikawa.
November 12 Dancing Wave, schooner, o7 tons, Buxton, from Lyttelton.
November 12 Wild Wave, schooner, 40 tons, O'Brien, from Lyttelton. Passengers - R. Thatcher, J. Small.
December 14 Geelong, p. a., 137, tons, Turnbull, from Dune-din, via intermediate ports. Passenger Mr. Pearson, and steerage.
December 15 -Maid of the Yarra, s.s., 97 tons, Elmsly, from Dunedin.
December 16 City of Dunedin, ps., 327 tons, from Havelock, via intermediate ports.
North Otago Times, 23 February 1865, Page 1
MR C. R. THATCHER.
Thatcher's "Otago Songster," containing many of the popular Local Songs, as written and Sung by him at the Corinthian Hall. Dunedin : J. Mackay.
It is with some misgivings that we approach the subject of commenting on the works of Mr Thatcher, and that for two reasons. Firstly, the same theme has occupied so many able pens, both in Victoria and elsewhere, that we run the risk of reiterating what has been said before ; and, secondly, we have not a few prejudices to overcome on the part of those who have been made the subject of his satire, and of those who conscientiously object to others being exposed to the laughter of a miscellaneous audience, and having their cherished hobbies or best friends dissected by an author's trenchant satire, and held up for public ridicule. With regard to the first objectionas our object is impartially to state, for the benefit of those of our readers who may not be too well-informed on the subject, our opinions on a man who, we may say, enjoys the most extensive reputation on this side of the line, and to fairly criticise the above-mentioned we will risk any invidious comparisons that may be made between our observations and those of previous writers. As for the second, we can scarcely expect those who have themselves furnished Mr Thatcher with subject-matter for his songs, to quietly kiss the rod and acquiesce in all we may say ; but neither can we "Believe those critics who themselves are sore," or agree with the wholesale condemnation that has been lavished upon him privately, if not publicly. It is true Thatcher is often unscrupulous in the means of which he avails himself to excite our risible faculties, or in repeatedly castigating men and things on which he has, in colonial parlance, a "down ;" but "to err is human" the Thatcher of Greece ridiculed the wisest and best man of ancient times and his worst foes cannot point out a song he has written (with few exceptions) of a personal nature, unless the subject is a public man, and therefore to a certain extent public property, to worship or laugh at as the case may be. It is, we know, in vain for reason to argue against prejudice, for we all know that "where the judgment's weak the prejudice is strong," and shall therefore confine ourselves chiefly to those whose love for fairness outweighs their spleen.
If, as has been said, that the man who makes one blade of grass to grow where none grew before, deserves well of his fellow-men, surely he is as great a public benefactor who can at will provoke the coldest to laughter, and make even the long faces at present "ruling" in Dunedin expand into good humor and merriment; and while "shooting folly as it flies" for our amusement, act the part of a public reformer. There are very few who are willing to grant Thatcher his fair due in this respect, and rather affeet to regard him as a sort of travelling mountebank ; but those who know the power of satire for good the indifference of men to reason and their sensitiveness to ridicule will place him in the rank to which he is entitled, by the side of such men as Leech, Lemon, Jerrold, and the others whose names will preserve an undying fame through the immortal pages of "Punch." This may seem to some extravagant adulation, especially to the sore ones before mentioned; but those who so complain might ask themselves this one question whether they would prefer being the butt of an hour, or being pilloried in the pages of a periodical, we may say for ever. For example, we wonder if Mr Vogel, of " Daily Times" and Separation celebrity, would not rather prefer being sung about in the Corinthian Hall, to again figuring in a fanciful portrait in the "Otago Gallery of Illustration," published in the "Saturday Review." In the London and also in the Melbourne charivari, we see constantly our greatest men or our most famous political and general subjects held up to ridicule circulated by tens of thousands perpetuated in prose, in verse, in illustrations and yet we doubt if a millionth part of the reprobation often bestowed on a single song of Thatcher's, has been vented on the whole thirty-odd volumes of " Punch," or the lesser number of its Melbourne prototype. To show that this reprobation, however, comes from but a few, we need only point to a circumstance that occurred in Dunedin about a month ago viz., the stoppage of the Bell Hill works, and the partial riot there, owing to an attempted reduction of the men's even then beggarly wages. It was when the passions of the crowd were excited to the highest pitch that the well-known form of Thatcher was seen approaching the signal for an immediate " roll-up" to his immediate vicinity, the cessation of their defiance of the police under the Commissioner's personal superintendence, and from whom they had but ten minutes before forcibly rescued a prisoner and for acquainting him with the tyranny with which they were treated. A few words from him sufficed to quell what seemed at one time to wear a serious aspect a silent, but how sure a testimony of their confidence both in his will and ability, through the magic of his satire, to aid their cause! So much for his popularity.
We have said, that Thatcher's reputation is perhaps the widest of any man's in this part of the world, and there are few who will gainsay us To Victorians he is as familiar as the gold-fields themselves; and on the breaking-out of the New Zealand rush, one of the earliest arrivals in Otago was Thatcher. Who does not remember the old Commercial Concert Hall in those palmy days of mud and money, or the break-neck descent to the temple of fun ? his tremendous hits on the " Old Identity" (how long will it be before that phrase becomes obsolete ?) the old jetty, the old jail, the land-leases, and a thousand-and-one other telling and humorous characteristics of both the "auld residenters" and the invaders. Then followed the discovery of the famed Arrow and Shotover, and with them appeared the ubiquitous disciple of satire. Doubtless there are a few living even in Oamaru who remember those wonderful fields, and Thatcher's " warning" of " Tater Jackson" and the Southland escort the wreck of the " Nugget," and the Queenstown Court-house and a multitude of others. Then in Invercargill, too, what a furor he created ; but it is useless extending the list suffice it that in New Zealand, as in Victoria, there is scarcely a town of any consequence in which he is not known and appreciated.
The book now before us contains some of his latest productions, the subjects of which are as follows:
"The Great Assault Case," in which, with inimitable humor, the famous case of M'Combe v. Martin is told;
"The Caledonian Gathering;"
"The Government Immigrants;"
"Sights in Dunedin;"
"The Hanging Committee" the gist of which clever skit was given a week or two ago by our Dunedin correspondent;
"Three Years ago"
"Governor Grey's Arrival"
"Lectures at the Exhibition;"
" The Imported Donkeys."
It is to be regretted that so many of Mr Thatcher's songs must necessarily be, lost, in consequence of their essentially local nature, but the foregoing is as good a selection from his "repertoire" as could have been made, and deserve a wide circulation. To criticise each song seriatim, would not be fair. Mr Thatcher's chief defect is that of rhythme ; but when we consider the astonishing rapidity with which his songs are produced, and the quickness with which he seizes on the salient points of a subject, he would be a harsh critic indeed who would carp at them. We shall make one or two extracts from his book, and leave them to speak for themselves. It is a rather difficult matter to make a selection, but the following will no doubt be read with pleasure :
SIGHTS IN DUNEDIN.
It's more than two years since I sang in this town,
When Dunedin with diggers was awarining ;
The poor Old Identity how I ran down,
And gave the Town Board a warming.
But now I've returned after absence so long,
And I hope that I shall be succeeding,
In turning the news of the day into song,
To please the good folks of Dunedin.
Wherever I go new buildings I see,
Everywhere I observe some addition ;
And close to Judge Harris's nice property
They've built such a fine Exhibition.
Some folks have a doubt whether this little fake
Will in the long run be succeeding ;
If it fails, what a stunning workhouse it will make
For the poor people here in Dunedin ! !
You've lots of hotels here, but very few pay,
The landlords are very oppressive ;
Publicans bust up I am told every day,
For the rents in this town are excessive.
In vain do the barmaids tog up very smart,
Their shy glances no one is heeding ;
They used to draw custom, but Lor ' bless your heart!
There's no money now in Dunedin.
Poor Shadrach some time ago had a great fall,
Though unlucky, the little man's clever !
Like a cat he comes down on his feet at Vauxhall,
And he's looking as jolly as ever.
He finds out that too speculative he's been
What a fine thing all through the proceeding
To have a kind banker like Mr M 'Lean,
To shell out the tin in Dunedin !
The election is over, and Bastings has won,
Our good wishes for him are hearty ;
The mercantile Barr like a dinner is done,
To the grief of the family party.
We've a Barr for postmaster, and a poet named Barr,
And the Bar, I mean coves who are pleading,
And the public house bars are too many by far
We're sick of the name in Dunedin.
T'other day I walked through Farley's Arcade again,
At Armstrong's I purchased an apple.
It looks more than ever like Petticoat Lane,
Mixed with a small touch of Whitechapel.
I noticed the very same Sheeney boys there,
"Hallo, vy there's Thatcher," he cried, I declare,
"S'help ma Got he's come back to Dunedin."
On fried fish one of 'em was feeding ;
"Three Years Ago" recalls such pleasant memories of Otago in bygone times, that we must fain give it entire :
THREE YEARS AGO.
The light of other days burns dim,
And in the shade is cast ;
You'll own I'm right, if you will just
Look back upon the past.
Its glories now are faded
And all of you must know,
That times ain't what they used to was
About three years ago.
Gabriel's then was all the rage,
And diggers came to town
And in the public houses here
They knocked the money down.
The steamers came with thousands,
And the money used to flow ;
And Shadrach did a nipping stroke
About three years ago.
'Twas once a dismal city, when
The rain fell like a flood,
Bell Hill was'nt cut away,
And you floundered through the mud.
To the old Commercial Concert Room
They came in shoals you know
And Thatcher didn't do so bad
About three years ago.
The Ports were open at that time,
And in the cattle came,
Before pleuro broke out, and spoilt
That rosy little game.
The meat we got was not so bad,
But pure and sound you know ;
We wanted no Inspector Bust
About three years ago.
At that time Grant was quite unknown,
He'd not begun his capers ;
We had no " aturday Review,"
Or any penny papers.
The Town Board did just they liked,
And our peelers then you know,
Were blue shirt Old Identities,
About three years ago.
To build a Theatre just then,
The folks were all unable,
And Shadrach made the actors pay
For playing in a stable.
The stalls were full of horses,
And in a play you know,
They'd spoil the s[c]entimental parts,
About three years ago.
It was a very-moral town,
No girls to gull the men ;
The upper end of Walker-street
Was no polluted den.
No flaunting damsels walked the streets
Little Bourke-street then you know
Hadn't started for Dunedin
About three years ago.
But how Dunedin has improved,
We're civilised now quite,
We've splendid ashphalte pavements,
And gas to give us light.
And I tell each Old Identity,
If we'd not come, I know,
" Eh mon you'd live on scones the noo,"
As ye did three years ago.
We feel remarkably inclined to quote at some length, but it would really be unfair to the author, and we have no desire to reprint his book here, when our readers can obtain it for one shilling in Dunedin. The song " Governor Grey's Arrival," reminds us of the absence of one of his best, as we think, and must regret its non-appearance viz., the description of the magnificent hoax perpetrated on the people of Dunedin by firing off the gun and turning out the whole town on the occasion of the supposed arrival of Sir George Grey to open the Exhibition. We should certainly have quoted it had it been in the collection ; but as it is not we must content ourselves by giving the following as a substitute, and conclude by promising Mr Thatcher a hearty welcome from the people of Oamaru, when his 'prior engagements will permit him to favor this town with a visit :
THE IMPORTED DONKEYS.
I was on the wharf the other day,
And had a little sport
Down there, on the arrival of
The steamer from the Port.
Three donkeys from the North,
To Otago had been sent ;
And when they landed here they caused
Some fun and merriment.-
These donkeys were all four-lagged ones,
And when this town they saw,
They all pricked up their ears and gave
A very loud hee-haw.
Some fellows who were there
Now criticised each moke,
And 'midst a roar of laughter
Their fun at them did poke.
Says one, "I think that they belong
To the Opera Company,
They'll be a. great improvement
In the choruses you'll see."
Says another, " You are right,
In trappings they'll array 'em,
And the fattest donkey I've no doubt,
Would remind a chap of BRAHAM."
Says another fellow-standing there,
" I'm certain that they're not
In any way connected
With Mister Lyster's lot.
These donkeys that you see,
I'm certain represent
The three who pitched on Wellington
"For the seat of Government.
"The brown one's Mister Docker,
And I swear the farther one
Is like Sir Francis Murphy,
And the little one is Gunn."
The alleged Sir Francis then
Gave such a startling bray,
Says the speaker, " He's confirming now
The truth of what I say."
Another chap says, " Not at all,
You're very wrong, I vow,
They're members of the Assembly,
I'll bet upon it now.
That long-eared one is Fox,
Oh don't I know him well !
And the big moke is exactly like
The noted Dillon Bell.
Another says, "That can't be right,
These donkeys that you see,
Have come to help the Town Board here
Ass-ess our property.
They'll sit with them, no doubt,
And my word, won't they bray,
When Barnes gets up, and second
Every word he has to say."
Now having heard these views,
I thought That I'd put in a word.
Says I "I think your theories
Are all of them absurd.
I'll state my firm belief
To all you criticisers,
8ir George not coming down, has sent
HIS RESPONSIBLE ADVISERS"
Timaru Herald, 11 May 1870, Page 2
Thatcher. An entertainment by Thatcher and Company was given on Monday evening at the Royal Assembly Rooms. The hall was not so well filled as on Friday and Saturday, but the entertainment was thoroughly appreciated by the audience. A local song on the Washdyke specially called forth loud plaudits.
Daily Southern Cross, 26 May 1870, Page 4
Mr. THATCHER'S LATEST EXPLOIT.
The editor of the Oamaru Times received last evening, at about half-past six o'clock, the letter given below. It will be observed that Mr. Thatcher did not pen this epistle until he was safe out of Oamaru. Before the receipt of the letter referred to, we had written our local anent Mr. Thatcher's entertainment, which appears in another column, and we scorn to abate one jot of the truth for any threat of personal violence he may choose to make. As to the insinuations with regard to the editor "when in business in Christchurch," he defies Mr. Thatcher, or Mr. Anybody else, to say truthfully that he ever behaved dishonestly in his life. If the Press is to be coerced by such throats as these, the sooner pistols and knuckledusters become part of the furniture of an editor's office the better. At any rate, the editor is not "such a cur" as to be deterred from writing what he pleases by any such threats as these. Finally, for Mr. Thatcher's information, we have no objection to inform him that the editor did not write the letter at which he appears to have taken umbrage, nor did he go round the town showing it, as alleged. "Oamaru, Thursday, 6th May, 1870. Sir, This is to inform you that if you allude to me in your paper again in any uncomplimentary way, I will pull your nose in the most public place I can find you in Oamaru, and will return from Timaru on purpose to do it ; and I know I can, for none but a mean cur would have gone round the town showing the letter you wrote. Had I said all I could of you, I could have alluded to your letting in the people of Christchurch when you were a draper. Whatever appears in your paper I will hold you responsible for I care very little for anything you can say, as I am too well known in all parts of New Zealand to be injured ; but I want you to give me one more chance, so that if you pull me to Court you will have no excuse to say you were not warned. I am, &c., Charles R. Thatcher." The following in the local referred to above : "Mr. Thatcher gave his farewell performance on Tuesday evening, in the Masonic Hall. During the day he made the mistake of ringing about the town the name of a gentleman well known in Oamaru, as the proposed subject of a local song, and was rewarded with a very thin house. Messrs. Small and Daniels were loudly applauded in all their songs, and Mr. Thatcher as loudly hissed, and, when the Inimitable appeared to ting the last song of the evening, he was hooted and hissed, and pelted with bad eggs and rotten apples." Oamaru Times.
North Otago Times, 17 May 1870, Page 2 Timaru
The Thatcher Company bare been playing here to good houses. The local songs of the "Inimitable" caused much amusement, although the victims of his personalities might not see the fun of it. I hear the troupe has broken up, Mr Thatcher returning to Melbourne.
Daily Southern Cross, 30 May 1870, Page 3
Thatcher, it appears, has repented of his conduct towards the editor of the Oamaru Times, for that journal of 17th May has the following paragraph :
North Otago Times, 17 May 1870, Page 2
Apology. Mr Thatcher called at our office on Friday evening, having arrived per Maori from Timaru, and tendered the editor a full apology for the threatening letter written by him (Mr Thatcher). The apology was cheerfully accepted. It being known, however, that Mr Thatcher was within, quite a crowd gathered outside the office, and refused to disperse unless the apology were publicly made. To this Mr Thatcher acceded, and in a very gentlemanly manner expressed his regret at having acted unadvisedly, and under a mistaken impression. Having made this avowal, he was greeted with loud cheers. He left for Dunedin, per coach, on the following morning.
North Otago Times, 28 October 1870, Page 3
Thatcher. We learn from an exchange that this well-known caricaturist has gone to California, and intends returning to the colonies with some attractive company of performers should he succeed in meeting with a good company. He is reported to have bestowed a valuable property in Australia upon Madame Vitelli, who has retired into private life in Victoria.
Timaru Herald, 3 April 1879, Page 2
The late C. R. Thatcher. Nature, a high-class scientific journal, published in England, has a very eulogistic obituary notice of the late Charles Robert Thatcher, who will be well remembered as a vocalist on the Australian diggings and throughout New Zealand. After referring to his discovery of an entirely new genus of shell, which Mr G. F. Angas named "Thatcher mirabilis," the notice conclude " There is no greater lost to conchological science than this gentleman's death, as he was undoubtedly the most successful collector of his day." It appears from this that Mr Thatcher was something more than a mere rhymester.
Otago Witness 24 September 1896, Page 38
The Squatter Man.:
Eight hundred miles I had to face
Hump my drum with a lagging pace,
And sleep in the bush with the sable race.
You must do the best you can,
For at a shanty you dare not stop,
Your paltry goods they're sure to cop,
Tha peeler says, " Then let him. hop,
His career is nearly run."
The squatter's well known by his beard
For every other year he's sheared,
And up to one I boldly steered
To be a squatter's man.
Daily Southern Cross, 3 November 1862, Page 1
BRUNSWICK MUSIC HALL.
IMMENSE ATTRACTION FOR ONE WEEK ONLY.
Commencing Monday (THIS DAY), 3rd November.
THATCHER, THE INIMITABLE LOCAL VOCALIST!!!
Will appear as above in their
GRAND MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT.
THATCHER, WILL INTRODUCE SEVERAL LOCAL SONG
(Written expressly for the occasion) ;
"Sir George Grey's visit to Otaki,"
"The Volunteer Meeting,"
" Auckland Celebrities,"
"Rush to Coromandel,"
"The Auckland Loafing Society,"
"The Volunteer Bazaar,"
"Summary for England," &c, &c.
In her Scotch Ballads,
"Sound the Pibroch," "My boy Tammy!"
"The Captain with his whiskers," &c.
THATCHER AND MADAME VITELLI
In a new Local Medley Duet,
"IMPRESSIONS OF AUCKLAND,"
Introducing the popular melodies, of the day
(Written for the occasion).
Pianist Mr. Herz.
CHANGE OF PROGRAMME NIGHTLY.
Doors open at half-past seven ;
commence at eight.
ADMISSION - TWO SHILLINGS. RESERVED SEATS, FOUR SHILLINGS.