Frank The Poet – A Literary Curiosity

The Melbourne Herald – 14 May 1884  p. 4 

In the year 1818, when the Port Arthur Penal Settlement, Tasmania, was at the very depth of its infamy, and prisoners were daily flogged within an inch of their lives for the most trivial offences, a man named Francis Macnamara was flogged to death for writing some doggerel verses, immediately after having left "the triangles" for some slight offence.
The late Marcus Clark, when collecting material for "His Natural Life," tried hard to get a copy of the lines; but they were not extant in any written or printed form. Some of them, however, lived in the memory of the prisoner to whom Macnamara recited them (as narrated below), and who is still a "lifer" in the Hobart gaol. The story is told in the following lines, following as near as possible the words and style of the narrator. As a reminiscence of the wicked old days of Tasmania they are interesting, and the verses in which the original death-costing lines are embalmed are not without power and pathos;—

Yer "want! ter 'ear another, well, well, if I haint durned,
If I hain't since tucker time a dun nothin'' else but yarned ;
Will I take a hextra pint ? that I will Sir, if I knows it.
And I'll spin yer jist one more about Frank we called "the poet."

Frank were, yer twigs, a scholard, an' 'ed sling at any time,
Any pitchin' that yer liked him to fust-rate A 1 rhyme ;
Why the cuss made no more bones hover that there sort o' lingo,
Then me a' swallerin right off o' this ere blooming' sungo."
Wot were 'e lagged out 'ere for? I'm dam'd If can tell,
Frank were yer see a close un, an' a reg'iar tip-top swell.
Ye'd allers get his dander ris, an' draw'r 'is monkey hout.
If yer paid fur to diskiver wot 'is trouble were about.
Well one Monday, " Frank the' Poet" chalkod hup 's "thlrty-six ;"
'Ed a 'bin an' gone an' caught the cat for some mischevous tricks ;
An' wot does Frank but start, wen 'e gits back to 'is Cell,
An' in a yard-long pome the hull blessed yarn tell.
Can I a bit remember ? Well, I might a stave or two—
Let me wet my whistle fust—Sir, my bes' respeks to you—
Ay, now I calls to mind that somewheres right among it,
Were a pitch about the wippin' an "this is 'ow Frank slung it

"You overseers now all beware,
Not against us to falsely swear,
For we might meet you some elsewhere,
Far distant from Port Arthur.
Then next comes in the torturing lash,
Every cut the blood does splash,
It makes the prisoners' teeth to gnash;
the suffering at Port Arthur."

An jist about the 'inder hand, I recollec's a verse.
Wich I think I can, as you swells says, "ableege with a re'erse:--
Wot became o Frank the Poet?" I jolly near forgot
To tell you that for that 'ere same 'e copped it very 'ot.
Frank were a spoutin' it yer see into the nabourin' cell'.
Wen a "trap"a listenin' to the herd, jus' slings his "Very well."

On Tuesday Frank was collared hup before the Commandant.
An on Wen'sday 'e gits "fifty" fur that there little chant;
But it were the last 'e nipped—wen they loosed 'im from the post
'Is checks 'ad bin passed in,— Frank 'ad ante'd up the ghost.

"There is one tyrant here resides,
He flogs us till he's satisfied ;
In human blood his hands are dyed
Since he's been at Port Arthur"