Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Fine Fat Saucy Chinaman




Words: Charles Thatcher
Tune: Henry Russell (The Fine Old English Gentleman)




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I'll sing a little ditty, which
I trust you'll not think flat.
Of a fine fat saucy Chinaman
Who lives on Ballarat,
Whose pigtail is wound round his nut
In a tremendous plait,
And who wears on most occasions
A mushroom-looking hat.

Like a fine fat saucy Chinaman,
One of the present time.

His tent is on the Red Hill, and
He's fossicking all day;
And though he takes what others leave,
Contrives to make it pay;
And sometimes gets big nuggets,
As I've heard people say,
For, by dint of perseverance,
He always pays his way.

But the people on the diggings
Complain of him in shoals -
They say he's always damaging
The splendid waterholes;
And when they catch him at it,
Into a rage they fly;
But, "Welly good no sabby,"
Is all John will reply.

There's an awful insurrection
In China now 'tis said;
He comes away, but finds here too
A price set on his head;
But as the ten pound poll tax
He swears he will not stand,
He goes on shore at Adelaide,
And tramps it overland.

Now John with all his many faults,
Leads an industrious life;
The greatest drawback that he has
Is that he has no wife;
And as he is a bachelor,
Of course he never pops
To spend his tin in any of
The millinery shops.

Now as he's getting lots of gold,
I've not the slightest doubt
That ultimately Chinese girls
By thousands will come out,
Of all sizes and complexions
To please both great and small,
For John says that without a wife,
He can't get on at all.


From the Goldrush Songster.

The largest foreign contingent on the goldfields in Australia was made up of the 40,000 Chinese who made their way to Australia.

In 1861, Chinese immigrants made up 3.3 per cent of the Australian population, the greatest it has ever been. These Chinese were nearly all men (38,337 men and only eleven women!) and most were under contract to Chinese and foreign businessmen. In exchange for their passage money, they worked on the goldfields until their debt was paid off. Most then returned to China. Between 1852 and 1889, there were 40,721 arrivals and 36,049 departures.

The illustration to this post is a photograph from the State Library of Queensland collection, Chinese gold digger starting for work, ca. 1860s.

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