02c

DAMNED ONCE

from

MAIDEN VOYAGE
An Australian Song Cycle

Scored for Mezzo-Soprano and piano

Words and Music: Lorraine Milne
Copyright © 1992

The lyrics

1. 1791 - the Lady Juliana dropped her anchor.
Full of girls unsatisfactory,
Full of women for the factory,
Here's a woman who is actually here...
To await your pleasure.

2. Men of the ruling class are the first to pick their choicest piece.
Then the men who serve the second rank,
Then the convicts walked that Devil's plank,
Here's a whore who should be thanking you for the chance...
To await your pleasure.

Chorus: And I'm damned once, damned twice,
What cost the price of this woman damned?
Then damned again,
At the mercy of convicted men,
Yes, I was seen in the street with three whalers.

3. Sacrifice of girls - prostitution fostered by the system.
Do not talk about morality,
It is just sentimentality,
When a girl has got facility for....
Waiting on your pleasure.

Chorus: And I'm damned once, damned twice,
What cost the price of this woman damned?
Then damned again,
At the mercy of convicted men,
Yes, I was seen in the street with three whalers.

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The story

Damned Once is informed by two different sources – the first, Anne Summers’ book Damned Whores and God’s Police.

“…When the First Fleet arrived at Port Jackson, the female convicts were kept aboard for five days while the other ships were unloaded and elementary shelters were constructed…One settler wrote to England:

It will perhaps scarcely be believed that, on the arrival of a female convict ship, the custom has been to suffer the inhabitants of the colony each to select one at his pleasure, not only as servants but as avowed objects of intercourse […] rendering the whole colony little better than an extensive brothel…” (1)


The second is an early 1840s official report on prostitution in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).

“…In almost all cases I have known them take out [their daughters] about the age of 14 for the work that they are able to do, but in some cases for worse purposes: within the last six weeks one was taken out I have every reason to believe for the purposes of prostitution. The mother of one of the girls in conversation was heard to say that she waited until the whalers could come up when she should take her daughter out; & the day after she took her out she was seen in the streets with three whalers…” (2)

Hobart Town from the wharf
Hobart Town from the wharf
From: Sketches around Hobart Town, 1856. Rex Nan Kivell Collection NK783/1.
National Library of Australia, nla.pic.an4189216
(1) Copyright Anne Summers, Damned Whores and God’s Police, Penguin Books (second revised edition 2002);
Used by kind permission of the author.
(2) From Australian Childhood: An Anthology, edited by Gwyn Dow and June Factor, McPhee Gribble 1991
Used by kind permission of June Factor.