The Outrage at Mount Beckworth

from "Convict Paradise" (Collaborative project, 2012) by Taylor Project

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The song “The Outrage at Mount Beckworth” was written and recorded by Andrew for the “Convict Paradise” collaborative CD and show, based on Liz’s research into the last words of executed prisoners in Victoria. The song is largely based on the reported last words of Oscar Wallace, who was executed at Ballarat Gaol in August 1873. The crime for which Oscar was hanged was coined “The Outrage at Mount Beckworth”.
The newspaper articles the song draws upon were found using the "Trove" database. Described variously by the oldendays press as “the negro”, “the ruffian”, “the unrepentant criminal”, “the American Black” or “the negro Wallace”, Wallace broke several then-standard rules of last rites for prisoners. The agog press reported that he had “danced a kind of jig to a tune he hummed to himself” in his cell the night before his execution. His last words on the gallows began with "I cannot speak with this rope around my neck..." and culminated with "Then I'll go to hell!".


I cannot speak with this rope around my neck
Take it off - I’ve got a deal to say
The outrages I’ve suffered in this colony
There’s no show for a man in this country
Then I’ll go to hell
And dance a final jig
In this cell
I’ll use the foulest words against your pale god
And dance to the hum of my home land
You say I’m of the lowest and most savage kind
I’ll whistle and sing this tune until the end
Then I’ll go to hell
And dance a final jig
In this cell
I’ll whistle this tune until the end
I’ll whistle this tune until the end.


from "Convict Paradise" (Collaborative project, 2012), track released May 7, 2012
By Andrew Bonnici for Taylor Project as part of the "Convict Paradise" event
Based on press coverage of the last words of Oscar Wallace
Recorded and mixed by Andrew Bonnici
Whistling by Sarah Taylor


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