Banjo Patterson.
Banjo Patterson. Gail Forrer

Banjo Patterson writes about a Bush Christening

On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,

And men of religion are scanty,

On a road never crossed 'cept by folk that are lost,

One Michael Magee had a shanty.

Now this Mike was the dad of a ten-year-old lad,

Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;

He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest

For the youngster had never been christened,

And his wife used to cry, "If the darlin' should die

Saint Peter would not recognise him."

But by luck he survived till a preacher arrived,

Who agreed straightaway to baptise him.

Now the artful young rogue, while they held their collogue,

With his ear to the keyhole was listenin',

And he muttered in fright while his features turned white,

"What the divil and all is this christenin'?"

He was none of your dolts, he had seen them brand colts,

And it seemed to his small understanding,

If the man in the frock made him one of the flock,

It must mean something very like branding.

So away with a rush he set off for the bush,

While the tears in his eyelids they glistened-

"'Tis outrageous," says he, "to brand youngsters like me,

I'll be dashed if I'll stop to be christened!"

Like a young native dog he ran into a log,

And his father with language uncivil,

Never heeding the "praste" cried aloud in his haste,

"Come out and be christened, you divil!"

But he lay there as snug as a bug in a rug,

And his parents in vain might reprove him,

Till his reverence spoke (he was fond of a joke)

"I've a notion," says he, "that'll move him."

"Poke a stick up the log, give the spalpeen a prog;

Poke him aisy-don't hurt him or maim him,

'Tis not long that he'll stand, I've the water at hand,

As he rushes out this end I'll name him.

"Here he comes, and for shame! ye've forgotten the name-

Is it Patsy or Michael or Dinnis?"

Here the youngster ran out, and the priest gave a shout-

"Take your chance, anyhow, wid 'Maginnis'!"

As the howling young cub ran away to the scrub

Where he knew that pursuit would be risky,

The priest, as he fled, flung a flask at his head

That was labelled "Maginnis's Whisky!"

And Maginnis Magee has been made a J.P.,

And the one thing he hates more than sin is

To be asked by the folk who have heard of the joke,

How he came to be christened "Maginnis"!

Published in The Bulletin, 16 December 1893.

GREAT Australian poet Banjo Paterson (whose portrait is imprinted on the Aussie $10 note and, as part of the copy protection microprint, the text of his poem The Man from Snowy River) wrote this POEM together with a collection of more than 150 other poems and ballads. Paterson also authored two novels; An Outback Marriage (1906) and The Shearer's Colt (1936), wrote many short stories; Three Elephant Power and Other Stories (1917), and wrote a book based on his experiences as a war reporter, Happy Dispatches (1934). He wrote a book for children, The Animals Noah Forgot (1933).

Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson (1864-1941), poet, solicitor, journalist, war correspondent and soldier, was born on 17 February 1864 at Narrambla near Orange, New South Wales, eldest of seven children of Andrew Bogle Paterson (d.1889), grazier, and HIS wife Rose Isabella, daughter of Robert Barton of Boree Nyrang station, near Orange.

Patterson's verse focused particularly on outback areas and often presented a romanticized viewpoint. Much of his work is also noted for its sense of humor including Bicycle Bill and A Bush Christening. Some of his best-known lyrics, ballads and poems include Waltzing Matilda, Clancy of the Overflow, Saltbush Bill and A Bush Lawyer.

Paterson's family lived on the isolated Buckinbah Station near Yeoval NSW[4] until he was five when his father lost his wool clip in a flood and was forced to sell up.[5] When Paterson's uncle John Paterson died, his family took over John Paterson's farm in Illalong, near Yass, close to the main route between Melbourne and Sydney. Bullock teams, Cobb and Co coaches and drovers were familiar sights to him. He also saw horsemen from the Murrumbidgee River area and Snowy Mountains country take part in picnic races and polo matches, which led to his fondness of horses and inspired his writings.[2]

Eventually he attended the prestigious Sydney Grammar and went on to become a law clerk with a Sydney-based firm headed by Herbert Salwey and was admitted as a solicitor in 1886.

In the years he practised as a solicitor, Paterson also started a writing career. From 1885, he began submitting and having poetry published in The Bulletin, a literary journal with a nationalist focus.

At the outbreak of the South African War when he was commissioned by the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age as their war correspondent; he sailed for South Africa in October 1899. Attached to General French's column, for nine months Paterson was in the thick of the fighting and his graphic accounts of the key campaigns included the surrender of Bloemfontein (he was the first correspondent to ride into that town), the capture of Pretoria and the relief of Kimberley. Boer' and 'With French to Kimberley'.

Paterson returned to Australia in September 1900 and sailed for China in July 1901 as a roving correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Paterson died of a heart attack in Sydney on February 5,1941 aged 76. Paterson's grave, along with that of his wife, is in Sydney.

Numerous sources.

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