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From a Small Family Vineyard near Nuriootpa




































Use & Abuse
Literary World Abuzz
Wednesday, 8th November, 2006  - Richard Farmer

The world of literature has been electrified by the news that a long lost play by Scottish author William McGonagall has been discovered and is about to be published. Penned in 1886, Jack o' the Cudgel, or The Hero of a Hundred Fights, is believed to be inspired by Shakespeare.

McGonagall was a life-long campaigner against the evils of drink as is illustrated by this famous poem:

The Demon Drink

Oh, thou demon Drink, thou fell destroyer;
Thou curse of society, and its greatest annoyer.
What hast thou done to society, let me think?
I answer thou hast caused the most of ills, thou demon Drink.

Thou causeth the mother to neglect her child,
Also the father to act as he were wild,
So that he neglects his loving wife and family dear,
By spending his earnings foolishly on whisky, rum and beer.

And after spending his earnings foolishly he beats his wife-
The man that promised to protect her during life-
And so the man would if there was no drink in society,
For seldom a man beats his wife in a state of sobriety.

And if he does, perhaps he finds his wife fou',
Then that causes, no doubt, a great hullaballo;
When he finds his wife drunk he begins to frown,
And in a fury of passion he knocks her down.

And in that knock down she fractures her head,
And perhaps the poor wife she is killed dead,
Whereas, if there was no strong drink to be got,
To be killed wouldn't have been the poor wife's lot.

Then the unfortunate husband is arrested and cast into jail,
And sadly his fate he does bewail;
And he curses the hour that ever was born,
And paces his cell up and down very forlorn.

And when the day of his trial draws near,
No doubt for the murdering of his wife he drops a tear,
And he exclaims, "Oh, thou demon Drink, through thee I must die,"
And on the scaffold he warns the people from drink to fly,

Because whenever a father or a mother takes to drink,
Step by step on in crime they do sink,
Until their children loses all affection for them,
And in justice we cannot their children condemn.

The man that gets drunk is little else than a fool,
And is in the habit, no doubt, of advocating for Home Rule;
But the best Home Rule for him, as far as I can understand,
Is the abolition of strong drink from the land.

And the men that get drunk in general wants Home Rule;
But such men, I rather think, should keep their heads cool,
And try and learn more sense, I most earnestlty do pray,
And help to get strong drink abolished without delay.

If drink was abolished how many peaceful homes would there be,
Just, for instance in the beautiful town of Dundee;
then this world would be heaven, whereas it's a hell,
An the people would have more peace in it to dwell

Alas! strong drink makes men and women fanatics,
And helps to fill our prisons and lunatics;
And if there was no strong drink such cases wouldn't be,
Which would be a very glad sight for all christians to see.

O admit, a man may be a very good man,
But in my opinion he cannot be a true Christian
As long as he partakes of strong drink,
The more that he may differently think.

But no matter what he thinks, I say nay,
For by taking it he helps to lead his brither astray,
Whereas, if he didn't drink, he would help to reform society,
And we would soon do away with all inebriety.

Then, for the sake of society and the Church of God,
Let each one try to abolish it at home and abroad;
Then poverty and crime would decrease and be at a stand,
And Christ's Kingdom would soon be established throughout the land.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, pause and think,
And try to abolish the foul fiend, Drink.
Let such doctrine be taught in church and school,
That the abolition of strong drink is the only Home Rule.
.......


McGonagall died penniless in 1902. The Dundonian wordsmith famously walked to Balmoral Castle in a vain effort to persuade Queen Victoria to appoint him poet laureate.

The Scotsman reported this week that Chris Hunt, editor of the recently published William McGonagall Collected Poems, said: "McGonagall tried his hand at acting before turning to poetry. He thought he could write a play with a brilliant part for himself.

"I would very much imagine that he saw himself playing the role of Jack, but as usual he didn't get anywhere with it."

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