The Lay-'Em-Out Brigade
Henry Lawson, 1892
When first this rum old world began to suffer for its sins,
The Tyrant and the Rebel rose, and they, we know, were twins;
The Rebel was "more numerous", and he and Greed were foes,
And so to keep him in his place the "hired assassin" rose.
Thus, when the first foundation stone of Mammon-tower was laid,
The wealthy idlers organised the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade.
Where'er a man of noble mind, but lacking gold or "birth",
With indignation eloquent, attacked the wrongs on earth;
Where'er he left his place and urged the children of the soil
To claim a fairer portion of the harvest of their toil,
As like as not his fiery blood of eloquence was stayed,
And he was perforated by the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade.
Old Greed called out the troops where'er the wolves began to howl
"Call out the Troops," he cries today when workmen strike and growl,
Or "Call the Military out," it's pretty much the same:
The Guards of Mammon shoot as straight by any other name
And when the coward robbers call the soldiers to their aid,
The call is nobly answered by the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade.
When peasants find they cannot "live", no matter how they try,
They stick a pike upon a pole, and strike a blow and die.
They seldom get a victory, but then, what matters it?
'Tis well the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade should thin 'em out a bit.
What matters if, before 'tis due, Dame Nature's debt is paid?
Some misery is ended by the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade.
Britannia learned the lesson from the New World in its youth,
That Truth behind the cannon is a pesky kind of Truth.
The men of Bunker's Hill, behind their barricade of logs
They startled some of those who came to shoot 'em down like dogs.
Britannia came to Bunker's Hill, and "Lay 'em out!" she said;
But there she found another kind of "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade.
And when the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade received a check in France,
The Potentates were taught to dance the dodge-the-bullet dance
When, scarce a hundred years ago, the Frenchmen turned about,
And taught the world that two could play the game of "Lay-'Em-Out".
The common people took a hand and quickly learned the trade,
And had an explanation with the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade.
We'll take a lesson from the rich, and try that "good old plan",
That "they shall take, who have the power, and they shall keep who can",
For as the planet rolls along, emerging from its night,
The toilers of the world grow strong; and Right, at last, is Right.
The theory's in practice now, and rebel barricades
Are growing more unhealthy for those "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigades.
The "Shoot-'Em" Brigadier is here; he swaggers past us now;
(I love the little "drake-tails" that are curled upon his brow.)
He's got 'em on the "cheek" and all he's here, without a doubt
(He lately went to Africa to lay the Arabs out.)
The "military spirit" now is here in every grade,
From "privates" to the cads who boss the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade.
But, in the land we love to call the region of the Dawn,
I do not think the "Shoot-'Em-Downs" had better try it on:
They tried it once in years gone by, 'way down on Ballarat
And shot some early patriots down but we'll remember that.
The monument, where diggers fought, and died in their Stockade
Reminds us still of what we owe the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade.
The thing might pass in Europe, where rebellious peasants lie
With dead eyes staring up into the chilly northern sky
They're used to that in Europe but the Southern rouseabout
Has not been educated up to being stiffened out.
Our drama's just begun, and when the after-part is played,
The Queensland shearers won't forget the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade.
The milingtary spirit! whoop! A pretty day, b' gob!
When we must play "civilyun" to the military snob;
We do not want the men who swear allegiance to the "Crown",
And loaf, at our expense, and learn the way to shoot us down;
We'll pay to keep the men who'll fight for us when foes invade,
But let the wealthy pay to keep their "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade.
P.S. I do not mean to sneer at all our Workmen volunteers,
They mightn't shoot according to their "hofficers' idears",
For when the battle thunder wakes the "Workman's Paradise",
I think they'll fire a little high, and miss, in spite of Price;
Some rifles of Her Majesty's will join the "underpaid",
And shoot in opposition to the "Lay-'Em-Out" Brigade.