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Title: Recollections of Bytown and Its Old Inhabitants
Author: Lett, William Pittman
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                            RECOLLECTIONS

                                 OF

                               BYTOWN

                              AND ITS

                          OLD INHABITANTS

                                 BY

                        WILLIAM PITTMAN LETT.

                               OTTAWA:

      "CITIZIEN" PRINTING AND PUBLISHING COMPANY, SPARKS STREET

                                  1874.



INTRODUCTION.


As no book, small or great--gay or grave, witty or sublime, scientific,
dramatic, poetic, tragic, historical, metaphysical, philosophical,
polemical, wise or otherwise--can be considered complete, particularly
at the beginning, without a preface; I have deemed it expedient that the
contents of the following pages should be dignified by a few lines of an
introductory nature.

It was not my intention when I commenced these reminiscences to publish
them in their present form, neither had I any idea of their extending
beyond a few hundred lines. That I have changed my mind is entirely
owing to the solicitations of friends desirous of having them in compact
shape, and not to any particular ambition of my own to write a book.

I do not pretend to present the reader with anything perfect in rhythm,
polished in measure, or labored in style of construction. I have aimed
at the truth, and imagine I have hit it.

My object has been, simply, to gather together as many of the names and
incidents connected with Bytown's early history as memory alone could
recal. My desire has been to rescue from oblivion--as far as my humble
efforts could conduce to such a desirable end--what otherwise might
possibly have been forgotten. In the contemplation of those names and
incidents, I have often, recently, overlooked the fact that I now live
in a City with nearly thirty thousand inhabitants, and that its name is
Ottawa. It has, nevertheless, been to me a pleasant labor of love to
walk in memory among the men and the habitations of byegone times.

Doubtless, of the inhabitants of dear old Bytown, there are some among
the dead and others among the living, whose names may not be found in
this little work. These broken links in the chain will be to me a source
of regret. To the shades of the departed and to the ears of the living,
whom I would not willingly have overlooked without

    "A smile or a grasp of the hand passing on."

I shall only say, as an atonement for the unwitting lapses of an
imperfect memory, in the language once used by a friend and countryman
in my hearing, as he passed a very pretty girl: "Remember, my dear, that
I do not pass you with my heart."


                         WILLIAM PITTMAN LETT.

OTTAWA, MARCH, 1873.



BYTOWN.

CHAPTER I.


In '28, on Patrick's Day,
At one p.m., there came this way
From Richmond, in the dawn of spring,
He who doth now the glories sing
Of ancient Bytown, as 'twas then,
A place of busy working men,
Who handled barrows and pickaxes,
Tamping irons and broadaxes,
And paid no Corporation taxes;
Who, without license onward carried
All kinds of trade, but getting married;
Stout, sinewy, and hardy chaps,
Who'd take and pay back adverse raps,
Nor ever think of such a thing
As squaring off outside the ring,
Those little disagreements, which
Make wearers of the long robe rich.
Such were the men, and such alone,
Who quarried the vast piles of stone,
Those mighty, ponderous, cut-stone blocks,
With which Mackay built up the Locks.
The road wound round the Barrack Hill,
By the old Graveyard, calm and still;
It would have sounded snobbish, very,
To call it then a Cemetery--
Crossed the Canal below the Bridge,
And then struck up the rising ridge
On Rideau Street, where Stewart's Store
Stood in the good old days of yore;
There William Stewart flourished then,
A _man_ among old Bytown's men;
And there, Ben Gordon ruled the roast,
Evoking many a hearty toast,
And purchase from the throngs who came
To buy cheap goods in friendship's name.
Friend Ben, dates back a warm and true heart
To days of Mackintosh and Stewart.
Beside where Aumond and Barreille
Their fate together erst did try,
In the old "French Store," on whose card
_Imprimis_ was J. D. Bernard.
"_Grande Joe_," still sturdy, stout and strong.
Long be he so! Will o'er my song,
Bend kindly, and perhaps may sigh,
While rapidly o'er days gone by,
He wanders back in memory.
Aye, sigh, for when he look's around,
How few, alas! can now be found,
Who heard the shrill meridian sound
Of Cameron's bugle from the hill,
How few, alas! are living still--
How few who saw in pride pass on
The Sappers with their scarlet on,
Their hackle plumes and scales of brass,
Their stately tread as on they pass.
I seem to see them through the shade
Of years, in warlike pomp arrayed,
Marching in splendid order past,
Their bugles ringing on the blast,
Their bayonets glittering in the sun,
The vision fades, the dream is done.
Below the Bridge, at least below,
Where stands the Sappers' structure now,
You had to pass in going down
From Upper to the Lower Town;
For, reader, then, no bridge was there,
Where afterwards with wondrous care,
And skilful hands; the Sappers made
That arch which casts into the shade
All other arches in the land,
By which Canals and streams are span'd;
The passing wayfarer sees nought
But a stone bridge by labor wrought,
The Poet's retrospective eye
Searching the depths of memory,
A monument to Colonel By,
Beholds, enduring as each pile
Which stands beside the Ancient Nile,
As o'er the past my vision runs,
Gazing on Bytown's elder sons,
The portly Colonel I behold
Plainly as in the days of old,
Conjured before me at this hour
By memory's undying power;
Seated upon, his great black steed
Of stately form and noble breed.
A man who knew not how to flinch--
A British soldier every inch.
Courteous alike to low and high
A gentleman was Colonel By!
And did I write of lines three score
About him, I could say no more.
Howard and Thompson then kept store
Down by "the Creek," almost next door,
George Patterson must claim a line
Among the men of auld lang syne;
A man of very ancient fame,
Who in old '27 came.
One of the first firm doth remain,
He is our worthy Chamberlain,
Who ne'er in life's farce cut a dash
On other people's errant cash;
Who guards, as it is right well known,
Better than e'er he did his own,
The people's money, firm and sure,
To the last cent, safe and secure.
And opposite across the street,
A friend or foe could always meet
A man deserving hero's title,
Uncompromising Watson Litle!
A stern upholder of the law
Who ne'er in justice found a flaw,
With well charged blunderbuss in hand
He asked not order or command,
But sallied forth _semper paratus_
To aid the _Posse Comitatus_!
"Peace to his ashes!" many a score
Of heads he smashed in days of yore!
Where is the marble slab to show
Where Watson Litle's dust lies low?
Close by "the Creek," on the south side
Of Rideau Street, did then reside
John Cuzner, a British tar,
For pluck renown'd both near and far!
Nor would I willingly forget
While tracing recollections met
Of other days, and from the past
Collecting memories fading fast,
Of lines our earliest purveyor,
John MacNaughton, the Surveyor,
The only one who then was quite
At home with the theodolite,
And boxed the trembling compass well,
Before the days of Robert Bell.
A little further up the street,
James Martin's name the eye did greet
A round faced Caledonian, who
Good eating and good drinking knew;
And "Four-pence-half-penny" McKenzie
Daily vended wolsey linsey,
Next door to one of comic cheer
Acknowledged the best auctioneer,
That ever knock'd a bargain down,
Or bidder if he chanced to frown;
He set himself up in the end
As Carleton's most worthy friend
And by _vox populi_ was sent
To Parliament to represent
The men of Carleton, one and all,
In ancient Legislative Hall.
And by "The Tiger" sleek and fat,
Our old friend "Jimmy Johnston" sat,
The corner stock'd with silks and ribbon,
Was kept and owned by Miss Fitzgibbon.
A good stand it has ever been
For commerce in this busy scene;
Stand oft of idler and of scorner,
I mean the modern "Howell's Corner,"
Called after "Roderick of the sword,"
Once well known Chairman of School Board.
And down below near Nicholas Street,
A quiet man each morn you'd meet
At ten a.m., his pathway wending,
With steps to Ordnance office bending,
A mild man and an unassuming,
Health and good nature ever blooming
Seem'd stamped upon his smiling face,
Where time had scarcely left its trace;
_Semper idem_ let me beg
Thy pardon, honest William Clegg!
Nor must, although his bones are rotten,
The ancient Mosgrove be forgotten,
A man of kindly nature, he
Has left a spot in memory
While gazing on each vanish'd scene
That still remains both fresh and green
For when in heat of hurling bent
The ball oft through his window went,
He pitch'd it to us out again,
And ask'd no payment for the pane.
On Sussex Street, James Inglis flourish'd,
A cannie Scot, and well he nourish'd
A very thriving dry goods trade,
And "piles" of good hard silver made,
Almost amongst the forest trees,
By furs from Aborigines.
No "Hotel" then was in the town,
"The British" in its old renown,
Of our Hotels the ancient mother
Had not one stone laid on another;
Donald McArthur in a cavern
Of wood sustained his ancient tavern,
And there the best of cheer was found
Within old Bytown's classic ground;
And now I'll close my roll of fame
With a most well-remember'd name,
A man of dignity supreme
Rises to view in memory's dream,
Ultra in Toryism's tariff,
Was Simon Fraser, Carleton's Sheriff,
Personified by the third vowel,
Forerunner of W.F. Powell,
A high and most important man
In the renown'd old Fraser Clan,
Who well had worn the Highland tartan,
For he was bold as any Spartan,
And did his duty mildly, gravely,
And wore the sword and cocked hat bravely.



CHAPTER II.


Come, now, my gentle Muse, once more,
Come with me to the days of yore,
And let us wake, with friendly hand
The memories of that distant land,
The past; and while thy minstrel weaves
A chaplet from the Sybil leaves
Of recollection--let the light
Of truth upon his lines be bright.
May he with reverential tread
Approach the dwellings of the dead,
Seeking for some sweet flower of good
Within their solemn solitude:
And if he finds in fadeless bloom
Around some well remember'd tomb,
Some cherish'd record of the past
Which has defied time's rudes blast,
And down futurity's deep vale
Shed fragrance on the passing gale,
Love's labor, then, the task will be,
My gentle Muse, for thee and me.
'Mongst those of old remember'd well,
John Wade doth in my memory dwell,
A wit of most undoubted feather--
A mighty advocate of leather--
A solemn man too, when required.
With healing instincts deeply fired,
He with claw-instrument could draw
Teeth deftly from an aching jaw,
And ready was his lancet too
When nothing short of blood would do;
Relieved he many a racking pain,
When shall we see his like again?
And William Tormey, stern and straight,
A man who came ere '28,
Chief of the men who kept the fire on
And hammer'd the strong bands of iron,
Which first securely bound together
The old lock gates through wind and weather,
The old Town Council minutes bear
The record that his name is there.
And Thomas Hanly, loud the praise
I gave him in my early days
For bread, that Eve might tempted be
To eat, had it grown on that tree,
On which hung the forbidden fruit
Whose seed gave earth's ills their sad root.
Friend Tom dealt in the rising leaven
In the old days of '27,
With "Jemmy Lang," an ancient Scot,
Who ne'er the barley bree forgot;
An honest, simple man was he
As ever loved good company;
And Tom McDermott, while I twine
The names of yore in song of mine,
Can I forget a name like thine?
Ah, no! although thine ashes rest
Beneath our common mother's breast,
No name more spotless doth engage
My muse, or grace my tuneful page.
Stern Matthew Connell, fiery Celt,
Below the present Bywash dwelt,
Beside John Cowan, o'er whose grave
The grass of '32 did wave.
No man got in a passion faster
Than did old Bytown's first postmaster;
Yet was he a most upright man,
And well the old machinery "ran"
When mail bags came on horse's back
Before we had a railway track,
And their arrival on each morn
Was signall'd by an old tin horn.
Peace to his shade! in '32
The cholera Matthew Connell slew.
Kind reader, let me pass awhile,
Beside the "Bywash," deem'd so vile,
Then called "the Creek"--though now the pest--
The festering miasmatic nest
Of Boards of Health, who dread infection--
My very heart's sincere affection
Clings fondly to that old creek still;
For oft in boyhood's joyous thrill,
O'er its ice-bosom in wild play
I chased the ball in youth's bright day.
With young companions loved and dear!
How few of such, alas! are here
To listen to the bye-gone story
Of the old Creek's vanish'd glory!
'Twixt "wooden lock" and Rideau Street,
Young Bytown oft was wont to meet--
To struggle in the "shinny game;"
Ah! then it was a place of fame,
Full sixty feet from shore to shore,
While now it measures scarce a score;
Modern improvement has prevail'd--
Its fair proportions are curtail'd;
Its banks filled in, more space to gain.
Its stream, by many a filthy drain,
Which once was rapid, always clear,
Changed into color worse than beer,
To cool and icy scowling scan,
Of rigid, total abstinence man.
Gone is its fair renown of yore,
It's schoolboy battles all are o'er,
Which made it then a "Campo Bello"
For many an embryo daring fellow--
Too young to know what men of sense
Have called the art of self-defence;
There buttons flew, from stitching riven,
Black eyes and bloody noses given--
Even conflicts national took place,
Among old Bytown's youthful race.
Why not? for children bigger grown
I rave sometimes down the gauntlet thrown
For cause as small, and launch'd afar
The fierce and fiery bolts of war,
Simply to find out which was best.
Cæsar or Pompey by the test.
In those past combats "rich and rare"
Luke Cuzner always had his share.
For Luke in days of _auld lang syne_
Did most pugnaciously incline,
Never to challenge slack or slow,
And never stain'd by "coward's blow."
The Joyces too, Mick, John and Walter,
In battle's path did seldom falter,
But "Jimmy," in those days of grace
Held a peacemaker's blessed place,
Nor has he wander'd far astray
From the same calm and tranquil way.
The belt was worn by any one
Who had the latest battle won,
'Till Simon Murphy's springing bound
Lit on that ancient battle ground,
And from that hour he was King
Of our young pugilistic ring!
But here I'd like to pause a minute
And go to Hull--there's something in it
That to the hour of life's December
I shall endeavor to remember.
The old "Columbian" schoolhouse, where
In childhood's dawn I did repair;
It was a famous strict old school
Sway'd by the ancient birchen rule,
The place where youthful ignorance brought us,
The spot where famed James Agnew taught us;
A Scot was he of good condition,
A man of nerve and erudition,
A strict disciplinarian, who
Knew well what any boy could do,
And woe to him who did not do it
For he got certain cause to rue it.
No sinner ever dreaded Charon,
Nor was the mighty rod of Aaron,
By ancient Egypt's magic men,
In Pharoah's old despotic reign,
More feared as symbol of a God
Than was by us James Agnew's rod;
With it he batter'd arithmetic,
Lore practical and theoretic
Latin too, and English grammar
Into your head, a perfect "crammar,"
Was Agnew's most persuasive rod,
Nor less his magisterial nod.
How would such stern tuition suit
In our Collegiate Institute?
Amongst the unforgotten few
Who rise to memory's magic view,
While winging on her backward flight,
My schoolfellow, Alonzo Wright,
Appears a lad of slender frame,
I cannot say he's still the same,
Except in soul, for that sublime
Has soar'd above the touch of time,
And in "immortal youth" appears,
Unchanged by circumstance or years,
A good fellow, this was his name
At school, methinks he's still the same.
May he give powers of swift volition
To all who offer opposition
To him in the approaching "scrimmage,"
For what is but a brazen image
At best, a people's approbation,
Which sometimes with the situation,
Changes as egg in hand of wizard,
Or color in chameleon lizard.
There too, are Job and David Moore,
Bill Northgraves mentioned not before,
Who in the little school-house red
On early education fed.
And Thomas Curtis Brigham, too,
Lennox and Christopher in view,
Arise before my sight,
Strongly defined in memory's light,
And Wright both Ruggles and Tiberias,
And Wyman who was seldom serious,
Poor fellow! in life's manly bloom
He slept in an untimely tomb.
Time fails me, or I fain would tell
Of many more remembered well,
But end I here my present strain
Till memory wakes it up again.



CHAPTER III.


I cross the Ottawa once more.
From Hull again to Bytown's shore.
And for a moment I behold
The river as it was of old,
Swelling, majestic in its pride,
A glorious stream from side to side!
A "Grand River" was Ottawa then,
The pride of ancient lumbermen,
By slabs and sawdust undefiled.
The joy of nature's dusky child,
Who's matchless, perfect bark canoe
Oft o'er its crystal bosom flew--
Not bridged all o'er like shaking bogs
By endless booms of dirty logs,
Which to the thrifty and the wise
Are doubtless marks of enterprise,
And evidences too of health,
Of pocket and commercial wealth,
Yet sadly, sometimes out of place,
And serious blots on Nature's face.
What would big Indian "Clouthier" say--
The red-skinn'd Samson could he stray
From the happy hunting ground away--
Could he behold the stream to-day--
The great Kah-nah-jo, where the God
Of the Algonquins used to nod
In dreamy slumber 'mid the smoke
Which from the mighty cataract broke,
Hemm'd in by sawmills, booms and piers--
The features of a thousand years
Of beauty ruthlessly defaced--
The landmarks of the past displaced,
And little left to tell the story
Of Ottawa's departed glory;
But water running where it ran
When the red deer chase began.
'Twould startle even Philemon Wright
With all his wisdom and foresight.
Could he arise, good man of old,
And modern Ottawa behold,
He'd feel himself a stranger too--
'Mid scenes of wonder strange and new--
In Hull, of little worth for tillage,
The spot on which he built his village.
Return I now, this slight digression
Was worth the time, I've an impression;
Clouthier, the Indian, was a giant,
And "Squire Wright," strong, self-reliant,
Was he who o'er the border came
And gave to Hull its ancient fame;
A man of enterprise and spirit
Who in this history well doth merit,
Such place of prominence as can
Be given to such a stirring man.
On the way back I see the ground
Where ferrying Odium was found,
And afterwards, next in progression,
Friend John Bedard came in possession,
And certainly much money made
By a successful carrying trade.
The place seems alter'd, art and skill
Have built up Wright and Batson's mill
At the old wharf, or near at hand,
Where the first steamer used to land,
Before even that small craft could ride
At any wharf on Bytown's side.
And not far off, in days of yore
A cottage stood--'tis there no more,
And if there ever was a spot
Where friend and foe a welcome got--
Where generous hospitality
Presided o'er the banquet free,
And friendship's hand for rich and poor
Was ever opening the door--
That spot was where that cottage stood,
Embowered in the cedar wood,
And he who there resided with
An open heart, was old Ralph Smith!
In memory I behold him now,
With sparkling eye and lofty brow,
And round the table amply spread,
Are Patton, Henry, Ralph and Ned,
And Dolly--blessed be her shade!
Who, such nice things for schoolboys made,
And made them feel just as no other
On earth could do except their mother.
But I must hurry, or I own,
I ne'er shall reach the Upper Town,
For there I'll find an ancient throng
To link together in my song,
And I shall wake them up ere long.
'Mongst those of olden time who came
Was one whose engineering fame
Was brilliant--let none call be braggart
While speaking thus of John MacTaggart,
A genius of the highest grade
In that most scientific trade,
Who plann'd with wise, consummate skill,
Even from the lock-gates lowest sill
To Kingston Mills, the undertaking
Which cost such time and cash in making,
Rideau Canal, the work of years,
And England's Royal Engineers.
Brother of Isaac, once known hero
As Corporation Engineer,
Or Street Surveyor in that time
When Ottawa's fur was not so prime,
Whom well of old the writer knew,
And as he comes up for review--
Like volume taken from the shelf--
He harm'd no one but himself,
Is all his bitterest foe can say
Of Isaac who has passed away.
And James Fitzgibbon, where is he?
Beneath the weeping willow tree,
Retired, quiet-going man
Who ne'er his head 'gainst faction ran.
And close upon his fading track
I see the shadow of James Black,
Who once on Rideau Street kept store
In the remember'd days of yore,
A stirring, active man was he,
Genteel, polite to a degree,
That customers were always fain
Who saw him once to call again;
His wife in the old churchyard lay--
Her epitaph I know to-day.
And there stands Thomas Burrows, too,
As he appeared before my view,
Leaning upon his garden gate
Beside the Creek in '28;
He held of trust, an office high
Under the reign of Colonel By.
And Tom McDonald, as we then
Were wont to call the best of men;
A man of spirit rare was he
Who never had an enemy.
And there, too, Captain Victor goes
With most aristocratic nose,
And manners haughty with the ring
Of _ton_ when George the Fourth was king.
And Lieut. Pooley, for whose skill
The "Gully" bridge is named so still,
Ask Lyman Perkins, if you doubt it,
And he will tell you all about it.
And Dr. Tuthill, who with skill
Could cure more readily than kill,
Physic'd, emetic'd, too, and clyster'd,
And _con amore_, bled and blister'd,
In the old Hospital, which stood
Unscathed by tempest, fire, or flood,
For fifty years, to be down cast,
By chance, or carelessness, at last,
Theme for conjecture, most prolific,
Another phase of the Pacific
Railway which will cause a broil,
Unless 'tis built on British soil!
And there, too, Joseph Coombs was found,
With solemn step his march around
Among the patients, pacing slowly--
Disciple of the meek and lowly,
Who afterwards oft turned the key
On many a goodly company.
In that strong work of mason's trowel,
Ruled now by Alexander Powell.
And William Addison, no more--
As trim a soldier as e'er wore
The uniform, or bravely bore
His head erect, with step as light
As wings that touch the air in flight.
Well had he won and kept from harm
The honor'd stripes upon his arm.
Such men as he have been the stay
Of Britain in her darkest day!
And Sergeant Johnston who, with skill,
The raw and awkward squad could drill--
A warrior in air and tone,
Who had his country service done--
Straight as a ramrod, and his might
Of voice would Lambkin's soul delight.
And brave John Murphy--champion John!
I can't forget as I pass on.
As fine a fellow as e'er wore
The scarlet coat in days of yore.
With upright form of manliest grace,
With wondrous beauty in his face,
And perfect symmetry of limb;
Appollo might have envied him!
And then he was as brave and true
As e'er the sword or bayonet drew,
Full many a battle did he fight,
His injured comrade's wrongs to right;
For well he knew each mood and tense
Of the old art of self-defence;
And woe to him who dared a fling
With bold John Murphy in the ring.
There many a pugilistic martyr
Met his match and caught a Tartar.



CHAPTER IV.


Near where the George Street market stood
Lived William Northgraves, then a good
And skilful watch-maker, who's chime
Did regulate the march of time,
And Arthur Hopper, sporting blade,
Was in the same time serving trade,
Though guiltless of the modern tricks
Of time serving in politics;
He made gold rings for bridal matches,
As well as cleaned and mended watches.
And last of old watchmakers three,
I mention mild Maurice Dupuis,
Who's even tenor ne'er did vary
From the upright and exemplary,
At Corcoran's corner, now the stand
For carters, very near at hand,
Dwelt one who's unforgotten name
Is worthy of poetic fame;
With scientific sleight he bled,
And then anatomized the dead.
With hand so wonderfully skill'd,
Victims delighted to be killed,
Came willingly to yield up life,
An offering to Tom Hickey's knife;
So high his sense of honor ran,
The butcher in the gentleman
Merged so completely, you'd be lost,
Which in him to admire the most;
By ancient poets it was sung
Those whom the gods love all die young,
Tom Hickey's early death did prove
That those die young whom all men love.
I must not here omit the name
Of Heubach from my roll of fame,
He passes under memory's scan
A simple minded honest man,
With manners quiet, mild and bland,
An emigrant from fatherland.
And Joseph Nadeau, far and near
Famed 'mongst the boys for good _La Tir_
And old John Cochran stern and tall,
Immoveable as a stone wall!
Staunch to his principles stood he,
No matter what the cost might be;
Oh! for a few of his old stamp,
To trim with fire the waning lamp!
And Louis Grison, worthy man,
In "Maville's village," first began
His little trade, which wider spread
As ancient Bytown went ahead.
Two rows of houses built of wood,
Near Enoch Walkley's brewery stood
With narrow little street between,
This was the village that I mean.
Then William Graham kept the peace
Of all the town with perfect ease;
Potato whiskey then was cheap,
And we had little peace to keep.
Such monstrous practice was unknown
As kicking when a man was down,
Though many a stunning blow was felt,
None ever struck below the belt;
The ring was form'd, and fair play
Reign'd without challenge at each fray,
And never yet, that I could hear,
Did constable e'er interfere,
Or even think that amongst crimes
Rank'd this brave pastime of old times.
Then Martin Hennessy was young,
A Hercules with sinews strung;
You might as well an anvil "lick,"
Or stand against a horse's kick
And fear not shattered rib or jaw
As risk a smash from Martin's paw.
I've seen him in the days of yore
His fist crash through a panel door.
Martin soon ran his wild race out,
For "Doctor" Whitney with a "clout"
Of a great bludgeon laid him out
Heady for _post mortem_ and bier,
Thus ended Martin's rough career.
Ah! those were happy halcyon days,
Well worthy of immortal lays.
Here I must summon from the band
Of the departed shadowy land
George Parsons, and his name entwine
In this poetic wreath of mine.
Beside the creek his name I meet
On the west side of William street,
Twas called "the lane," ere legislation
Gave it its present designation;
Admirers of steeds fleet and game
Will not forget George Parson's name.
And I would be worse than a Turk,
Did I forget George Robert Burke,
A man who mingled not in strife,
Nor ever did in all his life
An act to cause a blush of shame
On any face that bears his name!
Nor can I Archie Foster pass,
Too soon departed, too, alas!
A man of feelings warm and kind--
A friend who never left behind
A friendly act, if in his power
To act the friend in trouble's hour,
Ah! 'twas a melancholy day
When Archie Foster passed away.
And now a man with learning's grace
And mildness pictured in his face
Stands forth in retrospection's ray
As if it was but yesterday,
It is the good Hugh Hagan's shade
Who's precepts many a scholar made.
Nor would my reminiscent eye
While scanning erudition's sky,
Fail to perceive through cloud and storm
Friend James Maloney's stately form--
A fixed star in the Teacher's heaven
Since the old days of '27,
When learning's every art and rule,
In the old Mathematic School,
According to education laws
He taught--and ne'er forget the "taws."
The handle was just two feet long,
And well he trounced the noisy throng!
At the west border of the swamp
Where cedars grew mid mosses damp,
Just at the corner where to-day
Ben Huckell doth his name display,
In other days dwelt William May,
A member of the old "Alliance"
Which easily put at defiance
The conflagrations that were seen
"Like Angel's visits far between,"
For Bytown then was almost free
From an Insurance Company!
Poor fellow! by a sudden stroke
Death's gloomy shadow o'er him broke,
Upon that well remembered day--
When the old town was wild and gay.
From verdant vale to sunny ridge,
On which the new Suspension Bridge
Was opened--and crowds congregated
To see it then "inaugurated."
To use a word from Uncle Sam,
The concourse was a perfect jam.
'Twas built by Alexander Christie,
From the land of mountains misty;
And though the whirlwind and the storm
For years have revelled on its form--
Though ponderous loads for many a year
Have passed it o'er from from far and near,
It stands in strength unshaken still,
A monument of art and skill;
Long may the builder dash the tide
Of Jordan's swelling surge aside;
And when the lot of all mankind
Overtakes him, may he safely find
A bridge across to Canaan's shore,
To pass in peace death's valley o'er.
While rambling backwards up life's hill,
I meet the stern Paul Joseph Gill,
A man with much tuition fraught,
Who youth at the old creek side taught,
Where Thomas Dowsley doth display,
His maps of land for sale to-day.
Paul Joseph Gill could with a frown
Keep juvenile offenders down;
His ruler flat I can't forget,
My fingers seem to tingle yet,
As recollection o'er me brings
That ruler amongst other things,
Which come around me link by link,
While of the vanished past I think.
John Frost, too, rises up before
My vision of the time that's o'er;
He built upon foundation damp,
In Lower Town's great cedar swamp,
Which stretched from Sussex Street to where
That engineering structure fair--
The fond-admiring eye doth greet,
Spanning the stream at Ottawa Street.
And "Sandy" Graham, strange it is,
That I thus far his name should miss,
While tracing from the scenes gone by
Each unforgotten memory
Sandy was, aye, a joyous blade,
And many a good stroke of trade
He with commercial wisdom made,
In other times when he was young,
And Yankee silver round was flung
With lavish hand by low and high
In the good days of Colonel By.
And William Hunton, who came late,
If I am right, in '28,
And many a good quart of whiskey,
To make the old Bytonians frisky--
And many a pound of Twankay tea
And Muscovado vended he,
For Howard and Thompson in the time
When cash was plenty and trade prime.
Friend Tom a little later came,
A youth then of quite slender frame.
In form he's something still the same--
Though time has taken from his heel
The spring it used of old to feel.
And streaked his locks with silver, too,
Which long withstood all time could do,
Yet in the dream that's passed away
I see Tom Hunton of to-day.



CHAPTER V.


And John McGraves, the chandler, why
Could I so long have passed him by?
By accident I've turned a leaf
Which brings him out in bold relief
A plain and unassuming man
Was John; his candles never ran.
And many in this ancient place
Owed him a debt for a clean face.
William Kipp, too, doth memory greet,
In a small shop on Rideau Street,
A man of gentlemanly kind,
With a well-cultivated mind;
And Commissary Strachan, too,
And Oriel, who had much to do
Paying the debts of Waterloo,
And many another battle field
Where Britons fought and did not yield.
And old John Ring, "good gracious me!"
I had almost forgotten thee--
Thou "Silky" John of other years,
Gone from this dreary vale of tears,
A passing shade, and more's the pity,
For thou wert ever gay and witty.
And Charles Baines, an old time lawyer,
Stood here professional top sawyer;
He owned a bull dog, arrant thief!
Who plundered Agar Yielding's beef;
And when friend Yielding sought for law,
To deal with canine of such maw,
"Why, there is just one simple way,"
Said Charley, "Make the owner pay;"
"I thank you for your judgment brief,"
Said Agar, "pay me for the beef."
"Seven and sixpence worth of prog,
Was bolted by _your_ big bull dog."
"All right," said Charley, like a flash,
And quickly handed o'er the cash;
But, as friend Yielding turned to go,
"Come back," said Charley, "for you owe
Just seven and sixpence for advice,
So hand it over in a trice."
While on the past I now reflect,
I well and clearly recollect
John Wilson, who kept office here,
And afterwards a Judge austere
Of the Queen's Bench or Common Pleas,
Sat with much dignity and ease.
'Tis past, I shall not here relate
Young Robert Lyon's luckless fate,
Nor shall I stir the tomb and tell
Why he an early victim fell
At folly's shrine, as he who bends
A martyr to ill-judging friends,
Will always fall; but end I here
This record of his short career.
Honor, indeed! thy shrine appears,
Surrounded by a sea of tears.
George Shouldice is a man of old,
Henry was too, who 'neath the mould
Lies slumbering in solemn rest--
He many a pompous body drest
With garments fine and quite exotic,
When fashion was not so despotic.
And Charles Friel, an early man
With Bytown's history began,
A man of ready tongue and wit,
A politician who could hit
And sway with eloquence the throng,
Which shouts alike for right or wrong.
Father of Henry James, who died.
Just as his eye of hope descried
The goal he labored to attain--
The honors he had fought to gain.
Tis no uncommon thing to find
A little man with full grown mind:
And 'mongst those who have gone to rest--
Who of their chances made the best
In life's o'er turning changing reel,
I freely rank Henry J. Friel.
And Daniel Fisher, too, is gone,
Of Scotia's children he was one
Who clothed the naked in his day--
That is, the naked who could pay.
I have a friendly feeling yet
For him, for I can ne'er forget
The jacket blue which first I wore
In the old cherished days of yore,
That jacket which I don'd with pride.
Caused me to feel a man beside
The urchin in the pinafore
Which I had just arisen o'er;
In Daniel Fisher's shop 'twas made--
Headquarters of the fig-leaf trade.--
In that most ancient grand device
Which had its rise in Paradise.
I see as on I hurry past,
Pat Duggan, who blew vulcan's blast,
And friend Kehoe, who with hand neat
Fitted the shoes to horse's feet;
And John McGivern, the baker,
And Robert Wanless, harness-maker;
And William Atkins, who is still
Holding his own upon the hill
Of life, though slowly wending
Towards the goal that has no ending;
And Silas Burpee, pious man,
Who in the early ages ran
With drums and belts and wheels complete
A turning mill on old York Street--
Upon the very spot, now thought of
Where gander's head George Shouldice shot off,
With an old smooth-bore, but would not
That day attempt a second shot;
'Twas wise of George, a second shot
Might have consigned to luckless pot,
His marksman's name, and half a shilling,
His renown in the art of killing.
It was a stirring place of trade
Where famous spinning tops were made.
And splendid water power was found
Where now there's nought but solid ground,
Covered with numerous loads of wood,
A costly item bad or good.
In modern times--of old it stood,
Maple at ninety cents a cord,
Just four and six-pence, by my word!
And Julius Burpee, gone! well, well!
He kept the old Rideau Hotel,
Where man and beast could get the best
And truly find the traveller's rest.
Julius still might living be
Were it not for the "barley bree."
And Edward Darcey too, appears.
And Jeffry Nolan, who in years
Gone by, was stout and strong in fight.
And in the conflict always right,
Before the days when frolic's King
McDougall "made Dungarven ring!"
Frank's arm then, as mine, was strong,
None but himself in all the throng
So far the ponderous sledge could hurl,
Until at last with dexterous whirl,
"The school master" defiant came
And walked off champion of the game.
From first to last I've found him true,
McDougal _ciamar tha sibhn dieugh_?
And Charles Sparrow, where, oh, where
Is he who once was Bytown's Mayor,
Ere, J.B. Turgeon took the chair?
Lost 'mid the overwhelming blaze
Of changes new; gone from the gaze
Of public life, like many a man
Who, once for public honors ran.
And George and Robert Lang are gone,
Men of intelligence and tone,
Who held positions marked and high
In Bytown's old society.
Nor has amongst the ancient few
Captain McKinnon from my view--
Though long a tenant of the tomb--
Faded into oblivion's gloom.
If Roderick Stewart now was near,
He'd pour into my listening ear
A tale I would delight to hear,
Of other men of other times,
Who's names may have escaped my rhymes.
The Captain lived, a man discreet,
Near where the ancient arch did meet
O'er famous little Sussex Street,
For there a tragedy took place
Which here the muse with truth shall trace.
A boy stood near that arch of old
Upon a wintry day--'twas cold,
Tired of sleighing down the hill,
He for a moment there stood still,
That boy sits now with pen in hand,
From memory's photographic land
Painting in colors fair and true
The vanished scenes which once he knew.
As thus he rested taking breath,
He little dreamed of blood or death.
Up Rideau Street a man there came,
Charles McStravick was his name.
A tall, lithe, active fellow, he,
As in a thousand you could see;
A white blanket _capote_ he wore,
And jauntily himself he bore,
He stepped beneath the arch, and then
Rushed at him fiercely two strong men.
Both with surprise and dread were scan'd.
One had a loaded whip in hand,
The other a short bludgeon bore,
And in a moment, all was o'er!
Three blows, a crash, a stream of blood.
All of the victim bad or good
In life, was in an instant crushed
To dust--off the assailants rushed,
And none can tell from then 'till now
The hands that laid McStravick low,
Nor does he who relates the story
Know more of that occurrence gory
My history would be faithless here
Did "Happy Jimmy" not appear,
An innocent good natured soul
As ever loved the flowing bowl--
An institution of the day
That like himself hath passed away,
Was "Happy Jimmy," he who made
A vagrant's life a merry trade.



CHAPTER VI.

And now, kind reader, I behold
Before me, as in days of old,
Bold Paddy Whelan, Wexford Paddy
Surely of noisy men the daddy;
A man of most Herculean form,
Who roamed through sunshine and through storm,
And sounded loud in other days
His notes in Hamnett Pinhey's praise--
And well he might sing with loud swell,
"The Lamb of March" deserved it well!
A man of learning, wit, and sense,
No shallow thing of vain pretence,
The true stamp of the current guinea
Bore March's Father, Hamnett Pinhey.
To "Muddy Little York" went he,
The Independent and the Free
To represent with power effective
Amid the wisdom most collective,
In the old days of Compact Rule
Ere Grittism yet had gone to school;
Dalhousie District's Archives too,
Can show what he was wont to do.
Paddy, though not of _genus feræ,_
Was yet a queer _lusus naturæ_;
His vital organs played beneath
A shield of solid bone 'till death,
Without a yielding space between,
Where ribs in other men are seen,
Though not a feathered bird, his toes
Were web'd as well the writer knows,
And joined in one in style most rare
His molars and incisors were;
His voice, when at its loudest swell,
Was like a railway whistle's yell;
In stature he was six feet tall,
So there is Paddy for you all!
But strike I now a strain sublime,
A touch heroic into rhyme.
As memory doth with truth uncoil
The history of old Bob Boyle,
A British soldier, bold and free,
Of the old Ninety-Ninth was he,
Who bravely fought and 'scaped from harm,
At Lundy's Lane and Crysler's Farm,
And gallantly his bayonet bore,
At Fort Niagara, and the shore
Of Sackett's Harbor trod of yore,
When "Uncle Sam," our friend and brother,
Or cousin, kicked up such a "bother"
In 1812, and tried
In vain to lower Britain's pride,
By cutting from her parent side,
By a Cæsarean operation,
The proudest offspring of the nation!
The Union Jack, thank heaven! still
Floats proudly over vale and hill,
Of this Dominion grand of ours;
And shattered be the vital powers,
By fatal stroke, like that which slew,
Sennacherib's Assyrian crew,
Of him who's traitor hand shall dare
To furl one fold that flutters there!
And palsied be the traitor tongue,
And from its root uptorn and wrung,
That dares to utter but one word
To weaken the soul-anchored cord,
Which binds Canadians heart and hand
In love to the old Mother Land!
Bob Boyle, "I thank thee" that thy name
Hath stirred the patriotic flame,
In days like these, when treason's veil
Drops when passions fierce assail,
And leaves exposed to public view
The traitor double-dyed in hue!
Hear, spawn of disaffection's thrall!
Rouge, Annexationist and all
This--ere the Union Jack shall fall,
The path of treason red with blood
Shall sink beneath a crimson flood,
While o'er it from the highest crag,
Will wave the glorious meteor flag!
I've wandered somewhat from my track,
But quietly I now come back;
Into my train of thought there blew
A passing spark, away it flew,
And I was gone before I knew--
Like nitro-glycerine it sprung,
And from the pathway I was flung.
Yet no uncertain sound give I,
I risk it as a prophecy.
By George Street north, I pass and see
There Pierre Desloges, a man was he,
But little known beyond the spot
Where first he built his little cot.
And Alexander Ethier too,
A carpenter, both good and true
Beside him dwelt, where busy feet,
Pass onward to Dalhousie Street.
And now I think it passing strange
That in wild fancy's flitting range
I have not seen and mark'd before
John Litle standing at his door--
In Sussex Street where erst, kept he
An Inn of quite a good degree
Of excellence in the old time
Which has evoked this lengthy rhyme,
John was a man of sturdy frame
As any that hath borne his name.
Even Brave Bob Elliot would delight
His prowess to behold in fight;
And Robert Elliott was not slow
To give or to resent a blow
In other days, when not as now.
The olive branch of peace is seen
Between the orange and the green.
And Richard Stethem in the haze
Of Bytown's distant early days
Before my vision doth appear,
To claim his right of entry here.
And Robert Stethem, too, his brother,
Of village denizens another;
John Miller too, of leather fame,
Who from the County Wexford came,
And first made here such boots and shoes
As fashion could not now refuse
In this fastidious age to take
And wear them for their matchless make.
And how have I not had before
James Anderson, a man of yore,
Who pitched his tent in days gone by
'Mong Bytown's ancient company,
An honest hearted jovial Scot
As e'er in exile cast his lot
'Mongst those who pioneered the track
Down which my memory's muse looks back.
And now as I stretch forth my hand
In search of one from Paddy's land,
A man of wit and humour rare,
I touch him still and find him there.
From Erin, scarcely from Armagh,
To Carleton came Denis McGrath,
Loud has his North Hibernian tongue
Upon the Byward market rung
For six and thirty years; in truth,
I've known him since the days of youth,
John Litle can my tale review
Of Denis, he will find it true.
And John Macdonald, of the Isles,
With face clad in perennial smiles,
Knight of the knock-down hammer, he
Claims passing notice now from me--
A well read man, for truth to tell,
He studied Burns and Byron well;
And which two of the wizard few
Have touched with tuneful hand so true.
The throbbing pulses of the soul,
Which vibrate 'neath their wild control.
Friend John Macdonald, here's my hand,
Thou relic of the vanished land!
Michael McBean I can't pass by,
He kept of old a grocery--
Just opposite McDougal's gate,
Where the big auger hangs in state.
Richard McCann, too, did abide
In peace the Sappers' Bridge beside,
In house we ne'er shall see again,
Once tenanted by Andrew Main--
A cannie, sober, honest Scot,
Was Andrew Main--an humble lot,
With patient industry he bore,
Till fortune smiled, and then a store
He opened, in extensive way,
Where William Fingland keeps to-day.
Peter A. Egleson to boot,
The young idea how to shoot,
On George Street north, in days gone by
Taught in his own academy;
At length the birch he threw aside,
And floated proudly on the tide
Of commerce--and his name appears
Where it was found in other years.
Next Richard Thomas comes to view,
And Nat and Jonas Barry too,
All plasterers of the old time
Who made their bread by sand and lime.
Joachim Valiquette, a baker,
And Joseph Valiquette, shoemaker,
A votary of the rod and line
When summer evenings are fine,
He like a nightingale can sing
A holy strain--as well as bring
From well known spot--a goodly string
Of fish upon a Thursday night
That Friday may be kept all right.
Gone is our friend Peter Riel
Whom old Bytonians once knew well;
An innocent good man was he,
Given sometimes to a little spree;
Once member of the Council here,
He gave forth many a loyal cheer,
And sat triumphal carriage on,
In state with Queen Victoria's Son,
When Albert Edward came this way
A royal visit here to pay.
My song complete would not appear
Unless "the Major's" name were here;
His regimental number now
I can't recall--but this I know,
He bravely marched with battle brand
Among the guardians of the land,
Ready alike to fall or stand
As duty's accents gave command;
Far might yon seek, and find not then
A soul more genial amongst men,
A lot unmarked by mortal ills
Is all I wish to Major Wills.



CHAPTER VII.


Though strictly not of Bytown fame,
I can't forget John Egan's name,
It well deserves what I can give,
To make it unforgotten live;
For 'mongst the sons of enterprise,
Who rose with Bytown's early rise,
When "Norway Pine" was number one,
John Egan stands almost alone--
The king of the Grand River, then
The Wellington of lumber men
A man of boundless energy,
And vast capacity was he,
All difficulties had to fly,
And cower before his dauntless eye!
Right well may Aylmer mourn and boast
The enterprising son she lost,
Upon the day when from earth's toil
He "shuffled off the mortal coil."
And N.H. Baird, of old was here,
A scientific engineer;
And Finland, the contractor, who
With coach and four the streets drove through,
The grandest carriage of the kind
E'er seen in Bytown--with behind--
In gorgeous and artistic glare,
A lion and an eagle--where
Is friend Perkins? he can still
Remember that old eagle's bill.
And Captain Andrew Wilson, O!
I've got an old sea lion now,
Who saw the flash of Nelson's eye,
Amid the smoke of victory,
Both at Trafalgar and the Nile.
Aye, saw the hero's dying smile
Of triumph, when his cruise was o'er,
And to the vast eternal shore,
Launched forth by death's o'erwhelming gale
His gallant spirit spread its sail!
O'er flowing bowl with might and main,
He fought his battle's o'er again,
Talked of chain shot, and "Stinkpot's" stench,
And hated cordially the French,
Whom he believed were but created
To be by sailors killed and hated
What e'er he was, what passage o'er,
He took to the mysterious shore,
Old Charon never cleft the wave.
Yet with a soul more true and brave!
And Baptiste Homier, when alive,
I think had children twenty-five,
Presided o'er a tavern neat,
On the south side of Rideau street.
A place well known both near and far,
And there John Johnston kept the bar,
Related backward up the stream,
To him who had the lucky dream;
With the old Chief, who in "a fix"
Was found before old '76.
Colonial history has told
The story in the days of old.
The Indian dreamed, the General lost
His uniform, but to his cost
The wily chieftain quickly found
The General's dream, bought solid ground,
And Martin, James, and Darby Keally
From the green land of the "Shillaly."
Richard Fitzsimmons, too, was found,
The Paganini of sweet sound
In days gone by, with memories big,
And well he danced an Irish jig.
Most incomplete would be my tale,
Did I not draw aside the veil,
And bring from distant vistas through,
The ancient fiddler into view.
While strolling downward by the locks,
One of those reminiscent knocks
I felt, which brought my eye before
Another of the men of yore;
I gazed, as the dim shadow neared,
And then before my sight appeared
The recollection of a name,
'Twas Commissary Ashworth came.
And not far off, with business look
And pen in hand o'er ponderous book,
I see another friend of youth
Noted for probity and truth;
'Tis Thomas Donelly, worthy man!
Whom now with memory's eye I scan.
Still as the mist of memory clears,
I meet the men of other years;
Another page I now unfold,
And Captain Bolton I behold,
Or Major Bolton, if you will,
Who lived upon the "Major's Hill,"
Which got his rank and bears it still.
It used to be in days gone by,
"The Colonel's Hill," a rank more high,
And worthy of the ancient trees,
Whose foliage rustled in the breeze,
Where pigeons, in their annual flight,
Were wont by thousands to alight,
O! many a fusilade I've seen,
Of flint locks in its bowers green;
It got the name recorded here,
From Colonel By, who first lived there;
'Twas then a grove of thickest shade,
What civilization's hand hath made,
The Indian, with its withering skill,
It has done for the "Colonel's Hill."
Who comes, so centaur like in grace,
Good spirits pictured in his face?
'Tis Isaac Smith, let truth not vary,
A gentleman from Tipperary,
Beloved by all, 'twere hard to mate him,
He had no enemies to hate him,
His friends were neither scarce nor few
They numbered every soul he knew.
Who e'er remembers Isaac Smith,
Mounted top boots and breeches with,
Upon his stately old black mare
Will recollect a horseman rare.
Christopher Carlton, where art thou?
Come here, old friend, I want thee now
To ramble back with me again
To where of old McPherson and Crane,
And Francis Clemow, too, I think,
Did business at the Basin's brink.
And Bindon Burton Alton, who
Has vanished from terrestial view;
The poet with the flashing eye--
The true born son of minstrelsy!
Who sang so sweetly, memory still
Trembles with the undying thrill.
Which throbbed in melting tones of fire
From Bindon Burton Alton's lyre,
Alas! alas! that such a soul
Should sink a victim to the bowl.
Thomas MacKay, who's worthy name
Is well known even to modern fame.
The worth which honest men revere
Deserves a fitting record here.
With mighty gangs he excavated
The ancient quarry situated
On west side of "the Major's Hill."
Which modern hands find hard to till;
The stones from thence by powder rent
To build the seven Canal Locks went.
The Sappers' Bridge, too, was erected
By blocks of limestone thence ejected.
Like many another rising man.
Mackay for ancient Russell "ran"
To use a term, which means to-day
That he runs best who best can pay!
The declaration found him seated
And his antagonist defeated.
New honors came his name to greet,
A Legislative Councillor's seat
Was given next to Russell's pride,
Clad with which dignity he died.
And no more upright man has e'er
Deserving of the post sat there.
And William Stewart, too, who's name
Elsewhere has graced my roll of fame,
Was as the reader will remember,
For Bytown long ago a member,
Good representative he made,
And his constituents ne'er betrayed,
We were by taxes lightly rated
When Bytown was incorporated,
By the Bill by him presented
When he this village represented
In '47, the year, no other,
When to that stingy old step mother,
The County of Carleton we were tied
And had our temper sorely tried.
This was before Lord Sydenham's reign
Which gave that legislative strain
To our Colonial Constitution,
And made a legal institution,
The Bill Municipal in Legislation,
The often tinkered act which rules the nation.
And James Stewart, a medico
Of the old school of long ago,
A votary of potent pill,
And lancet too for many an ill.
And not a whit more given to kill
His patients, say these truthful rhymes.
Than M.D's of more modern times,
And now I think it only fair
To mention here Doctor O'Hare,
Who of old Bytown formed a part,
And practised the assuaging art
Before the time of Scanlon's tarry,
Before the days of Edward Barry
Who in his person did combine
The medical and legal line,
Exhibiting as his degree
Upon his card J.P.M.D."
He gave to Bytown's sporting men
Such Fox-hunt as we ne'er again
Shall see; ah! 'twas a joyful day,
When Barry with tin horn away,
In glory on "Bob Logie's" back,
Followed the variegated pack
Yelping in chorus o'er the plain,
We'll never see such sport again!
Who would at length the story hear,
Can ask the Sheriff, he was there,
And bravely in his headlong way
Did "Shamrock" carry him that day,
Close in the terror stricken wake
Of Reynard, over bush and brake,
James Fraser, too, can tell the tale,
For he went over hill and dale,
And swamp and fence and ditch and bush,
Foremost in the determined rush.
To get up first and win the brush,
While loud above the yelling din,
Sounded the Doctor's horn of tin,
That hunt the public health to save
Was the best prescription e'er he gave.



CHAPTER VIII.


Can I, an ancient friend, pass by,
Who even to-day still greets my eye,
And brings up among modern men
The dearly cherish'd past again?
'Tis far, far back, I scarce can fix
The date, perhaps, 'twas '26,
When he, in Huntly, on a farm,
Once tried his unaccustomed arm
At work for which 'twas never made,
In that most independent trade.
He left Bucolics, trees, and all,
And moved away to Montreal,
To teach, as better him did suit,
"The young idea how to shoot."
And many a youth has blest the day
Of Alexander Workman's sway.
I'll say no more, lest I should be
Accused, perhaps, of flattery.
'Twould scarcely here be out of place
If Edward Griffin's smiling face
I should present in colors true--
In good Samaritanic view;
The patron of Joe Lee, whose name
Is known to histrionic fame;
Who play'd at Shylock on the stage,
When tragedy was more the rage
Than in this sad degenerate age.
And where art thou, my friend, George Story,
A man of yore, though not yet hoary?
The even tenor of thy way
Hast thou maintain'd for many a day;
They tell us within human range
That mortal things are given to change,
It may be so, yet thou art still
But little changed, though down the hill
Quietly gliding, still thou hast
An air about thee of the past;
Who knew thee thirty years ago
At the first glance would know thee now.
And Thomas Story--modest man--
As well as any other can,
Or, he may think, much better too,
Suit habit's taste in me or you,
In coat artistically made
According to that ancient trade,
Which had its rise in solitude,
Where Adam lived before the flood--
Is still Tom Story of the past,
Long may his life's fair measure last
And Sandy Mowat, here's a line
To thee, in memory of lang syne;
Fond wert thou of the target ground--
Fond of a rifle and a hound;
Dost thou remember Bearbrook's brink
And the old shanty without "chink,"
Or door to stop the piercing gale
That whirled along the snow-clad vale,
Where Peter McArthur, you and I,
Once slept beneath a wintry sky;
While through the roof in splendor bright
We saw the guardians of the night--
The snow-storm of the coming day--
The savage wounded buck at bay--
And how we lost and found our way?
Dost thou forget the strain of glee
That from deep slumber's arms roused thee?
Dost thou remember who did ride
The bounding wounded buck astride,
And whose the crimsoned hunting knife
That ended there the quarry's life.
Then "Eastman's Springs" were little known
To few beyond we three alone.
And Malcolm Ferguson, oh why,
Should memory's record pass thee by?
An artist of the gentle trade,
By whom Bytonians were arrayed
Most fashionably in old times.
When dross among the social crimes
Held not the rank which modern art
Hath given it in fashion's mart.
An agile fireman, danger-proof,
As ever struggled up a roof,
Or to the midnight summons sprang
When the alarm signal rang;
As cat or squirrel of active limb--
A "ridge-pole" was a street to him.
The old extinguishers of flame
Will well remember Malcolm's name.
As the long past I wander through,
Michael O'Reilly comes to view;
A man of stature, somewhat brief,
Who largely dealt of old in beef,
In that cheap time when scanty coin
Was ample for the fattest loin,
Rounds, chops, and beefsteaks were not gold
In those delightful days of old.
'Tis true the tallow-candle's light
Was all the ray that cheered the night,
Before our first assizes term
Was dignified by actual sperm--
The real thing--no "Belmont's" then
Were found among the sons of men.
Another name remembrance brings,
The muse of old John Darcey sings,
In numbers almost a magician--
A wonderful arithmetician,
Whose mode with all others "collided,"
Who added, multiplied, divided,
And even substracted by such rules
As ne'er were known or taught at schools.
No learned professor of the birch
E'er left John Darcey in the lurch;
No pedagogue was ever able
To con his arithmetic table.
And Edward Darcey--no relation--
Except in name, to old Equation,
A son of Crispin, a sole nailer,
Who owned a curly dog called "Sailor"--
A noble, liver-hue'd retriever,
Who'd make one almost a believer
In canine intellectual merit
Which dogs as well as men inherit.
Louis Pinard, in ancient times,
Was always ready with the "dimes"--
Excuse the slang--which a disgrace is--
At gallopping or trotting races,
And A.P. Lesperance beside him,
A good horse kept, and well could ride him,
When horsemanship was more in fashion
Than sitting still and laying lash on,
In four-wheeled vehicle at ease,
Which modern Jehuism doth please.
And Galipean, who kept good whiskey,
And old Jamaica to make frisky
The visitors to his retreat,
On the east side of Sussex Street,
Close to the very spot, I think,
Where now James Thompson deals in mink,
Otter and other kinds of fur,
Prime and unprime, without demur.
'Twas at this inn one afternoon
In '33, the month was June,
That Martin Hennessy once tried
On horseback up the stairs to ride.
And would have done so, but for this,
A pistol shot that did not miss,
Which gave him, oh, most foul disgrace!
A charge of buckshot in the face,
Which spoiled his beauty without doubt.
And knocked his "dexter peeper" out.
And E.S. Lyman, old cathartic!
With lengthy form and features arctic--
Dispenser of blisters, pills and potions,
Boluses and specific lotions,
And panaceas in variety
To cram the ailing to satiety--
Succeeded Auld, Apothecary,
A scientific quoiter, very,
Who righted phisiologic faults
With Calomel and Epsom Salts,
And made prescriptions up with skill
Of _aqua pura_, which doth still
Maintain its place as chief ingredient,
In every mixture, quite expedient,
He kept his drug shop at the spot
Where hospitality has got
Her Shiboleth from land of Tara,
Under the rule of Pat. O'Meara!
And Richard Kneeshaw, man of science,
Who placed in _reason_ such reliance,
As made him almost think salvation
Could not be found in revelation:
Chemist and druggist by profession,
He held within his mind's possession
Vast stores of knowledge, ever breeding
Ideas new from constant reading.
And Henry Bishoprick, a wise man,
Who acted druggist and exciseman,
And seized at loaded pistol's muzzle
Contrabandistas, who could puzzle
An ordinary Gager's cunning
When tea and whiskey they were running.
And William Henry Baldwin, too,
Who first appeared in public view
At the old Albion, where in state,
Bob Graham rules the roast of late;
Son of a U.E. Loyalist,
Who found his way out of the mist
Republican which played such tricks
With loyalty in '76,
He came, as many another came
To Canada, in Britain's name,
To live his life and die beside
The flag that's still his country's pride!
Thomas Gillespie Burns, "T.G.,"
I have not quite forgotten thee;
Thou wert an early importation
From Erin's Isle, and thy migration
Did little damp in heart or hand
Thy love for the old parent land,
Who's green is greener in its pride
Of bloom than all the world beside!
Thy boast has always been true blue--
To British institutions true!
And William Rogerson, 'tis well
That I of him should something tell--
A tall, majestic, looking son
Of Caledonia--he was one,
In early times, who carried on
The lumber traffic with a will,
When such names as Price and McGill
Were standards in the staple trade
Which Bytown Ottawa hath made.
And William Dunning, who kept store
The first old County Gaol before,
Where now the Albion proudly stands
And flourishes in other hands,
And Clements Bradley, who lived near
The border long ago, was here;
An agriculturist of yore,
Who settled near the Rideau's shore,
And opened 'mid primeval trees
A pathway for the passing breeze.
Full half a century has flown
Since the first tree he tumbled down,
And yet his strength seems still unspent,
His step is firm, his back unbent.



CHAPTER IX.


Pierre Rocque, thou ancient man of stone!
I had almost let thee alone;
But 'twere not well to leave behind,
A man of such a rocky kind;
Thy Christian name is stone--that's hard,
Rock is thy surname, saith the Bard
Thou art an adamantine card.
And Baptist Cantin, too, it seems,
Appears 'mongst recollections' dreams,
A carpenter of worth and note,
Who ne'er asked sixpence for his vote.
Helaire Pinard presents his face,
And cheerfully I give him place,
A quiet, rare man, be it known,
Who minds no business but his own.
Joseph Paquette, to thee I give
A line to make thy memory live,
'Mid earliest recollections, thou
Art not the one least thought of now;
Something far better than mere fame
Is thine, it is an honest name!
Thomas E. Woodbury, who made
Tin cans and stovepipes, when the trade
And town was in an infant state,
Back in the days of '28.
And Fletcher, an old Yankee, who
Taught school and flogged his scholars, too
With a good health-inspiring cat,
My blessing on his old white hat!
Tho' scarce, entitled like the rest
By early advent, I think best
To name "The Orator of the West,"
James Spencer Lidstone, child of song,
The "man of memory," vast and long,
Who had, reader you need not start,
All Milton's Paradise by heart;
Strange mixture he of prose and rhyme,
Ridiculous, and the sublime
In him were singularly blended;
Where one began or the other ended,
It would be difficult to tell.
He played his part in each so well,
James Spencer Lidstone, fare thee well!
And 'mongst the ancient sons of fame
Who says that Dinny Cantlin's name
Does not deserve a line or two
In these old chronicles most true?
Dinny was just four feet in length,
Although a man of pith and strength,
His arm was always ready, too,
All rowdyism to subdue.
When special constable one day,
He captured in some sudden fray
A fellow six feet high, or taller,
And held him firmly by the collar;
And Dinny, as he upward gazed
At the colossus, o'er him raised,
Exclaimed, "escape now, if you can,
You're in the clutches of a man!"
Dinny had a commanding eye,
His hat was eighteen inches high
Come next to view, Denis O'Neill,
A ship carpenter, who laid the keel
Of many a vessel in his day,
And still he clinks and caulks away.
James Finch, too, who died here of late,
Was one of those of '28,
Or '27 it may be,
Comes nearer to the certainty;
James Finch sledged stoutly with a will,
In the old forge on "Major's Hill,"
In '29, he once lay still
For fifteen minutes on the ground
Insensible to sight or sound,
'Twas a stone that almost killed him quite,
In a most lively faction fight
In Bytown's celebrated fair,
When stones flew thickly through the air,
I can't forget it, I was there;
Its history I'll not jot down
Until I get to Upper Town.
And Charles Rowan, well I know,
The reader sought for him ere now,
What shall I of friend Charlie say,
Who came from Connaught all the way?
Who well can speak the celtic tongue
In which the Irish mintrels sung.
When famous Malachi of old
The collar wore of beaten gold,
Torn fiercely from the haughty Dane
By his right arm in battle slain!
Charlie is mild and full of meekness,
Horses with him have been a weakness:
A clipper spanking between traces
He used to drive at trotting races,
And then his powers of selection
In liquor almost touch perfection.
Next comes James Whitty, man of old,
Who once was a young sailor bold,
A quiet, little Wexford man,
Who warmed his jacket at Japan,
And "dashed his buttons" gaily, too,
In China with the pig-tailed crew;
Ere he in times that are no more
On Ottawa's bosom tugged an oar.
John Ashfield now in sight appears,
A gunsmith of the faded years;
Just as flint locks began to lapse,
He came in with percussion caps.
Here, too, is William Graham, the same,
Who from Fermanagh County came,
And many a hard earned shilling made
By groceries and general trade;
Father of him once called "Black Bill,"
That we might designate him still,
From him of Madawaska note,
Who oft on timber was afloat,
And who has claim in song of mine
To something o'er a passing line.
Companion of my early youth,
When time with us was young; and truth
Was all we knew in life's fair spring,
Thy name doth recollections bring
Long slumbering in "oblivions vale,"
'Till waked by memory's passing gale;
With thee I strayed in days of yore
Beside old "Goodwood's" pleasant shore;
Each unforgotten scene by thee
Is brought to life again for me;
A child again with thee I stand,
Among that childish happy band,
Who thought not, dreamt not, that the day
Of early bliss would pass away;
No retrospect can be more fair
That that I see behind me there,
Friend William Graham, I wish thee well,
But this to thee I need not tell.
Who is he with the cassock on,
Who bursts my second sight upon,
A merry twinkle in his eye,
Not sanctimonious, nor yet sly,
His country, one can scarcely miss
Such pure Hibernian brogue is his?
Tis surely Father Heron's gait,
Bytown's first priest in '28.
Close in canonical degree,
John Cannon's stately form I see,
In bigotry no stern red-tapist,
Favorite of Protestant and Papist;
A jovial blade with soul elastic,
No gloomy-faced ecclesiastic,
He ruled his congregation well,
Nor taught them that the path to hell
Was thronged by those who made digression
From penance, fasting and confession.
And there with academic birch,
Stands Anslie of the English Church,
Who preached in Hull and Bytown too,
Of old, to many a godless crew,
Assembled on each Sabbath day
To pass an idle hour away,
Though doubtless some went there to pray,
While here I pass in swift review
The reverend and pious few,
Who stood as finger posts of yore,
Pointing the way to Canaan's shore,
John Carroll surely should appear,
And take his proper station here,
An honest Wesleyan was he,
Who never knew hypocrisy.
George Poole in days more distant still,
In the little church on "Sandy Hill,"
Which gave its name to "Chapel Street,"
His congregation oft did meet.
And John C. Davidson, also,
Was one of those who long ago
'Mid primal darkness, thick and gross,
Unfurled the banner of the cross;
A Methodist both sound and prime
He was esteemed in the old time,
'Till something gave his faith a lurch,
And he bolted to the English Church,
In which 'tis said that he is quite
"A burning and a shining light."



CHAPTER X.


And now another man I seek,
Who lived on George Street, by the creek,
Lo! memory's telescopic eye
At once John Taillon's shade brings nigh,
And as his form approaches near,
His laugh I almost seem to hear.
One of those lost with much regret,
James Leamy, I would not forget,
Though not a man of '28,
His early and untimely fate--
His merry life and tragic fall,
Are in the memory of all.
And Andrew Leamy in his time,
Was head of many a stirring "shine;"
A man of mark he might be singled,
In whom the good and bad commingled,
In equal balance in such way,
That each in turn had its sway;
He's gone! the grass grows o'er his head;
The muse deals gently with the dead.
James Devlin, where are you old man,
Whose fingers o'er the catgut ran?
Professor of the art to foil
Both "treason, stratagem and spoil,"
In days which now are but a riddle,
When William Murphy played the fiddle
So merrily, long, long ago,
To trip of "light fantastic toe."
Fond were you of the rod and line
When sport and profit did combine
In other days, when mighty Bass
And Pickerel lay upon the grass
Beside you, as with practised hand,
You hauled the scaly kings to land
Night-lines and gill-nets, may they be
Accurst--have ruined you and me!
And left us nought but "tommy cods"
As trophies for our idle rods.
Who is he with such pompous air--
Such magic curl of scented hair,
With glass stuck tightly o'er one eye
To scan the common passer by,
While every air betokens well
The presence of a "howling swell?"
'Tis Henry Howard Burgess, O!
To him Dundreary's self were slow.
And Thomas Burgess, too, was here,
A swell, though not quite so severe.
And the two Johnston's, born twins,
As like each other as two pins,
Clerks in the Ordnance Office were
And surely a most proper pair.
John Grant, too, who quite early came,
A constable of ancient fame,
Who kept the peace, right well, 'tis true,
When he had nothing else to do.
Few were the summonses he got,
Warrants fell seldom to his lot;
The town was not by courts infested,
People liked not to be arrested,
And seldom were--for to the Ring
Complainants did their troubles bring,
And there found justice, sometimes too much
Redress, of which they oft did rue much.
J.B. Lavois, with thee I close
My lengthy memories of those
I knew of old in Lower Town,
Though last, not least in size, I own.
A butcher of the olden time,
Who furnished roasts and steaks most prime,
In the old George Street Market House,
Where cats held many a grand carouse,
Ere rats to Bytown emigrated
In swarms pestiferous and hated.
And if I have forgotten one,
Whom memory could not fasten on,
Let him feel no neglecting smart,
I have not passed him with my heart,
I've done my best 'neath friendship's spoil,
So Lower Bytown now farewell!



UPPER TOWN.

CHAPTER I.


And now, kind reader, westward ho!
Across the Sappers' Bridge we go;
When first in youth I cross'd it o'er,
The arch was wood, "and nothing more"--
As Edgar A. Poe doth remark
About that raven big and dark--
The wooden span, I mean, stretched o'er
The channel's width from shore to shore,
On which skilled artificers laid
The arch of stone, so truly made,
And strong, that it to-day appears,
After the crush of forty years
And more, impervious to decay,
As if 'twere built but yesterday.
I stand upon the western side,
And see in all its verdant pride
The hill crowned with its ancient trees,
Who's foliage rustled in the breeze
For centuries, all branching wide,
Standing untouched on every side;
A spot where the Algonquin _magi_,
May have reclined "_sub tegmine fagi_;"
For when across the Sapper's Bridge,
The prospect was a fine beech ridge,
And "Gibson's corner," in old time,
For squirrel hunting was most prime,
"Prime" is a somewhat slangy phrase
For these high philologic days,
And in connexion, be it stated,
With a spot to science dedicated.
J.H.P. Gibson's astral lecture
Will place this fact beyond conjecture.
Bound that old spot now thronged by all,
Has many a chipmonk met his fall
By dart from youthful sportsman's bow,
Which laid the striped beech-nutter low.
No central Ottawa was then,
As now, resort of busy men--
The first stone of our centre town
By Mason's hand was not laid down;
A forest path across the hill
To Bank Street led--the place was still;
No noisy vehicle passed there,
The dwellers of the wood to scare.
The road for carriages led round
Old Bytown's ancient burial ground,
Upon the hill's south eastern base,
Of which there is not now a trace;
And spreading off in endless green
To the canal the bush was seen--
The ancient forest--then the deer
To Bank Street Church's site was near,
And ruffed-grouse, wrongly named partridges,
Whirled and drum'd between the ridges,
Black ducks and Teal did oft alight
In ponds round Corkstown from their flight,
And when the swamp down Slater Street
Was cleared, a dozen snipes would greet
At every step the sportman's eye,
O! glorious spot of days gone by.
To listen, ah! 'twas splendid fun!
To Commissary Oriel's gun,
As with a quick well practiced eye
He made the quivering feathers fly!
There was not then one cabin sill
Laid down on famed Ashburnham Hill,
Who's heights with pine and hemlock crowned,
Towered o'er the wooded landscape round.
Then Bradish Billings farmed away
Where his descendants live to-day,
A man of enterprising fame,
Who from the land of pumpkin's came,
And pitched his tent in honor's track
Beneath the glorious Union Jack!
Then Colonel By was in a jam
Erecting the first hogsback dam,
Which vanished with Spring's sweeping flood;
But science made the structure good
By the advice of one, no civil
Engineer, with whom a level
Or other instrument of science,
Had not the most remote alliance.
'Twas built as he proposed--I'm sorry
His name from memory I can't worry,
If Lyman Perkins was beside me,
To it he certainly could guide me.
For he has got, of ancient bore,
A well authenticated store.
Now first among our old landmarks,
Comes Laird of Bytown, Nicholas Sparks,
Who came across in '26
From Hull, his lucky fate to fix
Upon a bush farm which he bought
For sixty pounds--and little thought,
While grumbling at a price so high,
That fortune had not passed him by.
He little dreamed of Ottawa now,
When 'mongst the stumps his wooden plough
Stir'd the first sod in times of old;
He knew not then, that 'twas not mould
He turne'd up, and tilled, but gold.
'Tis not my business here to flatter,
Or with enconiums to bespatter
The shadows of departed men
Whom we shall never see again.
Yet I may say, who knew him well,
And of him would not falsehood tell,
That as poor human nature ran,
He was an honest upright man,
"Close fisted" as the need occurred,
Yet one who always kept his word.
Whate'er the cost--I say no more
Of Nicholas Sparks--who for the shore
Unknown, has shaken out his sail
Where riches are of no avail
To win calm sea or favoring gale
And Lyman Perkins, what of thee,
Will pass for current coin from me?
Thou art a man of early date--
Of '27 or '28--
in Bytown's history, and 'tis said,
Though hard to drive, thou may'st be led,
That is, if one could just agree
In view and argument with thee;
When standing in the days of yore
At "Pooley's Bridge," thine eye ran o'er
The picture with a prescient glance;
Experience taught thee that thy chance
Was then--thy foresight came
To aid thee in life's winning game.
Although no silver spoon was in
Thy mouth, when to this world of sin
Thou camest, thou hast forged from fate
A path in life most fortunate;
To praise thee I shall take no pains,
Thy enterprise has brought thee gains--
'Tis something to be born with brains!
Daniel O'Connor there doth stand,
One of the old departed band--
Another of the pioneers
Of Bytown in its early years;
In memory's magic glass I see
Him as he first appeared to me
In '28 when passing down
Through the main street in Upper Town.
A merchant of a distant date
Before the days of '28,
And County Treasurer was he,
Long, too, a Carleton J.P.,
Ere Courts of Justice were installed,
When Bytown "Nepean Point" was called;
In politics he was a Tory,
And thus doth end of him my story.
Nathaniel Sherrold Blasdell, too,
Who once a blacksmith's bellows blew
In the old forge, which in the shade
Of the Russell House still undecayed,
Stands firm a landmark of the past,
How long will such old memories last?
He, too, was one of those who's hand
Built up the bulwarks of the land,
I say unto such men as he,
_Requiescat in pace_.
And Doctor Rankin, there he goes,
With solemn brow and turned out toes
Upon his mottled bob-tailed horse,
Who's canter said, the patients worse,
Or better, as the trusty steed
Did indicate by passing speed.
John Burrows, too, with serious air,
Sung hymns and offered frequent prayer,
And taught a Sunday School with might,
To spread religion's early light,
He held a post in other years
Among the Royal Engineers,
With Colonel By, a right-hand man,
His course of favor he began,
And once owned much of the wild land
Upon which Ottawa doth stand.
John Ghitty is a favorite name,
His old hotel was known to fame,
And travellers from far and near,
Called at his temple of good cheer.
A mason of most high degree,
In the craft's early dawn was he.
So much respected was he here,
That unbought friendship o'er his bier
Shed many a sad regretful tear.
And surly old James Doran, too,
A warrior of Waterloo,
Kept with a despot's iron hand,
The best hotel in all the land;
Who entered there of human kind
Was forced to leave his dog behind,
For Doran had a frowning face
For each and all the canine race.
And Daniel Fisher, who kept store
On Wellington's west side of yore,
A most experienced auctioneer
In somewhat more contracted sphere,
Than circles trade's expanding flow
Round Bermingham, McLean and Rowe
And Michael Burke, who kept a still--
And made beer down below the hill
Where malt and hops together came,
And gave the "Brewery Hill" its name--
That hill with pathway to the right,
Where Bank Street ends upon the height.
And many a barrel of his beer
Went down, the Irish heart to cheer,
When ancient crowds did celebrate
St. Patrick's Day in '28.
But patriotism's spirit rose;
From words contention went to blows,
And ere the little "scrimmage" ended
A crack that never could be mended,
Was in a luckless cranium made,
By one whom justice never paid;
I cannot tell what colored ribbon
He wore--his name was Dan McGibbon.



CHAPTER II.


George William Baker, better known
As "Captain Baker" in the town.
Who oft the mailbag's lock untied
Long after Matthew Connell died--
Long after Helen Denny's hand
Sent postal letters o'er the land;
An Englishman of good degree,
A Justice of the Peace was he,
And Captain of Artillery--
If memory has not gone astray--
He was in his life's early day,
He shewed his claims to education
In County Council legislation,
Where he in intellectual pride
Sat long by Hamnett Pinhey's side,
Our Local Parliament's since then
Have seldom witnessed two such men
Paymaster Rudyerd, too, I scan,
A most important gentleman,
Who carried in the days of old
The Governmental bags of gold;
Yet never did one less resemble
He, of the twelve who did dissemble,
And for the thirty pieces paid,
His master cruelly betrayed.
And John McCarthy, who can say
That he's a man of yesterday?
Through the dim maze of vanished year
His name to memory appears,
A dealer in strong leather ware
That stood the worst of wear and tear
Since paths of '27 he trod,
His eye hath seen the grassy sod
O'er many a friend--let's hope no foe--
With whom he started long ago,
In the long race down life's steep hill
On which he treads securely still.
Captain Letreton, too, I see,
An officer of high degree.
The owner, ere the days of rats,
Of that wide district called "the Flats"
In modern times, where I behold,
A pinery as in days of old.
And Isaac Firth, an old John Bull,
Of milk of human kindness full,
Of rotund form and smiling face,
Who kept an entertaining place
For travel-worn and weary fellows
Who landed where Caleb S. Bellows,
Out on "the Point" his habitation
Built in a pleasant situation,
Before the days when piles of lumber
Did first fair nature's face encumber;
Quite near the spot where first with skill
John Perkins built his little mill,
Where Philip Thompson many a year
Ago, commenced his bright career,
And took the ebbing of the tide,
Which into golden waves did glide;
He man'd his craft and steered her well
O'er placid calm and tossing swell,
And independent of the gale
Hath snap'd his oar and furled his sail.
'Twas just above "the whitefish hole,"
How dear that spot is to my soul!
There Allan Cameron and I
Together many a day did hie,
To haul the silvery shining prey
From out the whirling eddy's spray;
In July, '32, to land,
I drew two barrels with my own hand,
The trophies of the hook and line
In the dear days of auld lang syne
That was the fatal month and year
When cholera was rampant here;
Malignant Asiatic type,
Which from the book of life did wipe
The name of many a sturdy one
'Twixt rise and setting of the sun.
Dread terror brooded o'er the land,
While the destroying angel's hand
Smote here and there each deadly blow,
Which laid in dust the proudest low!
As I remember--those fared worst,
Who in that dismal time were curst
With dangerous and insatiate thirst.
And H.V. Noel, surely here
His name is worthy to appear;
'Mongst those whom I so long have known,
Tis strange that he has not outgrown
The friendship of the early few
Into who's confidence he grew,
By the unchanging honest course
He steered for better or for worse,
Well has he worn, long may he bear
Up stoutly 'gainst the world's care!
John Cruickshank of the kirk, who prayed
Beneath the old white birch's shade--
The old white birch--that sacred trust!
Improvement's hand hath to the dust
Upturned to make frontal space
For temple of more modern grace,
A grander altar than of yore,
The ancient "Black mouth's" knelt before.
And Robert Sheriff, stately man,
Who the Crown Timber Office "ran"--
To use a well worn Yankee phrase
Unknown in Bytown's early days.
And A.J. Christie, what shall I
Say of this old celebrity?
An M.D. of exceeding skill
Who dealt in lancet, leech and pill,
Cantharides and laudanum, too,
When milder measures would not do;
A polished scholar and a sage,
A thinker far before his age,
A writer of sarcastic vein
And philosophic depth, who's train
Of thought was comprehensive, deep,
Peace to his ashes! let him sleep!
In ancient times his prophet eye
Saw Bytown's future destiny,
Fools laughed and disbelieved the seer
Who's second sight saw triumph near--
A scene which fortune did fulfil
The Parliament on "Barrack Hill!"
And Lawyer Hagerman I knew,
When lawyers little had to do--
Their briefs were few, their fees were brief,
And brief had been their Sunday beef,
Had they nought else to fill their maw
Than the proceeds of briefless law;
For litigation had not then
Curst Bytown's early race of men!
And Robert Drummond, Engineer,
Who built across the "_Grande Chaudiere_"
The old "Swing Bridge," which many a day
Amid the "Kettle's" curling spray,
From side to side did gently sway.
The adamantine iron tether
Which chained two provinces together,
Ere legislation's fiat came
With moral might to do the same.
Well's and McCrea of lumbering note,
Who had on many a stream afloat
Vast rafts of red pine timber, when
White pine was little thought of; then
Oak, elm, cedar and red pine
And staves, together did combine,
With now and then a mast or spar,
To make up what would go at par,
At Stadacona--old Quebec--
Where brave Montgomery got a check
In a most bootless, foolish strife,
Which cost him his undaunted life--
Where Arnold got a broken thigh,
Ere at West Point his treachery
Brought Major Andre without hope
To Washington's relentless rope!
To Wolfe I'd like to wander back,
But 'twill not do, so to my track
I now reluctantly return,
Who next is ready for the urn?
Adam Hood Burwell is the man,
An English Churchman he began,
But ended a most shining light,
A mystic, full-fledged Irvingite,
With pinions rustling for a sphere
Of usefulness he found not here.
Another of the reverend throng
I'll introduce, 'tis S.S. Strong,
A man who's memory I recall
As one respected here by all,
An honor to his cloth and race,
With whom no strange fire left its trace,
Upon the shrine where truth he found,
Who preached and practiced precepts sound,
Nor wore his shoes on hallowed ground.
William and Hugh Calder's names
Arise, and now present their claims
To immortality in rhyme,
Both merchants of the olden time.
John Anderson, a merchant was,
And dealt with profit and with loss
In groceries and dainty "grub,"
With wine, Jamaica, rum and shrub,
That had no leaves upon its stem,
Though beads like dewdrops did begem
Its ruby rippling diadem.



CHAPTER III.


"And "Little Johnny Robertson,"
But lately from amongst us gone,
Took both his "sneeshin" and his glass,
And let the tide of fortune pass.
And Ewen Cameron, who died
By cholera in manhood's pride;
A Caledonian lithe and strong,
As fancy paints the dauntless throng,
Who dashed with claymore down the slope,
On red Culloden's grave of hope.
And Peter Aylen, who could tell
The path he trod of yore as well
As I, who from an early day
Knew Peter Aylen's every way?
'Tis not my purpose to indite
A history of his life; or write
A record of his strange career,
To interest the reader here.
Howe'er his stirring life you scan,
You'll find that Aylen was a man!
Afraid of nought that ever wore
The human shape on Ottawa's shore!
Chief of the "shiners," it was said,
Cæsar or nothing--never led--
But always foremost in the fray,
Was ever Peter Aylen's way.
A heavy lumberer Peter was,
When lumbering was like pitch and toss,
To-day success, to-morrow loss.
But let him rest, he sleeps beside
The Ottawa's majestic tide!
Perhaps I'd better mention here
Who and what the "shiners" were,
Who gave of yore such sturdy thumps,
And brought forth phrenologic bumps
Unknown to scan of craniology,
With bludgeons or aid of geology.
A band of Irish raftsmen, who
Were to each other always true,
Combined together, war they made,
To banish from the lumber trade
All French-Canadian competition
By dooming it to abolition;
They made the wild attempt, at least,
To extirpate poor Jean Baptiste.
Among their victims they enrol'd him,
And made the place too hot to hold him,
Yet were the tales that rumor told,
Worse than the shiners' acts of old,
Though memory's charged with many a fray
That happened in the early day,
When shiners with an iron hand
Reigned here the terror of the land!
Few were the victims of the strife--
If any--and the loss of life,
Was fanciful much more than real
In that blood-letting old ordeal.
Among the medico's of old,
Doctor Stratford I behold,
Who foolishly I thought deemed best
To emigrate towards the West,
And leave behind a work which few
Could with a single lancet do
When venesection--old idea,
Combined with the Phamacopeiæ
Was patent as a panacea
For almost every mortal ill,
Like calomel jalap, or blue pill.
He disappeared from healing fame,
And young Edward Vancortlandt came;
For he was young and active, too,
When first he met the minstrel's view,
And striding rapidly did go
Along full forty years ago!
VanCortlandt's had a long career
Since first he bled and blistered here;
His own hand hath his fortune made--
His own hand the foundation laid--
And if success, with hoards of wealth
He has not now--the public health
Has never suffered at his hand;
Nor has the mystic spirit land
Been peopled by the shades of those
Who in their last dissolving throes,
Gave evidence that power to kill
Was mingled with Vancortlandt's skill--
When to that distant coast he'll steer,
No crowd of ghosts will hover near,
And cry out. "Van, you sent us here!"
Edward McGillivray, how is this,
That I by accident should miss
So long an ancient name like thine,
'Twould be unpardonable, if mine
The fault to leave thy well-known name
Unwritten in my roll of fame?
Bytown was young, and so wert thou,
Years long before the "Shannon's" prow
Cleft Ottawa's bosom on her way
To Grenville in our early day.
No steam whistle's discordant yell
Shrieked on the evening zephyr's swell;
But from her deck the cannon's din
Told Bytown that the boat was in,
And at the sound the signal man
His banner up the flagstaff ran.
It was a good old time when thou
Bought beavers at a price which now,
When beaver skins are somewhat rare,
Would cause even Chauncey Bangs to stare.
Yes, 'twas a fine old time for trade,
Money was plenty--easy made,
And thou wert, aye, a canine blade.
Patrick Delaney home has gone
From earthly toil, and he was one
Of those who in the distant past,
His lot in Upper Town had cast.
James Elder, a majestic Scot!
On whom of old it was my lot
To look with veneration's eye.
Kept Bytown's staid academy;
And here I dwell with fond delight,
And view again with memory's sight
The stately teacher in his chair,
King of the throng assembled there.
Now Allan Cameron comes to view,
And William Stubbs, there he is too.
Wellington Wright, too, I behold,
And wild Jack Adamson, the bold.
The Anderson's, both James and John,
And Stephen Lett, my mother's son,
Who stood upon Parnassus' crown
By might of Genius, and looked down
To where with errant steps I strayed
Around its base beneath the shade.
And many more were pupils there,
Where are they? "echo answers, where?"
In fancy I away have stepped
From where his school James Elder kept,
In that old house remembered well,
After, as Joseph Kirk's Hotel,
Ere it was haunted by a sound
Which shed such melody around,
Sweet almost as the songs of Zion,
From violin of Robinson Lyon,
Who drew such music from its strings,
Scotch reels, strathspeys and highland flings,
And Irish jigs in variation,
As made one feel that "all creation"
Could scarcely match his wizard spell,
'Twas he that played the fiddle well!
And Edward Malloch, gone to rest,
Was not the worst, nor yet the best,
Perhaps, 'mongst those of other days
To whom I dedicate these lays.
I knew him well in '25,
When Richmond Village was alive,
While Bytown's head was scarcely seen,
Emerging from the forest green.
A captain of Artillery
In '37's hot time was he,
When Louis Joseph Papineau
Sought British power to overthrow;
And William L. McKenzie tried
O'er loyalty and truth to ride;
Each found the path, for what he wanted,
Too hot to walk in--and "levanted;"
Von Shoultz, a soldier abler, riper,
Remained behind and "paid the piper!"
Even I, poetic man of peace,
Have often marched and stood at ease,
Beside the Richmond guns, brought here
To thunder o'er the _Grande Chaudière_,
At the great Union celebration,
The new bridge's inauguraton;
One thing is certain, those brass guns
Were ne'er seen more by Richmond's sons.
They fell prey to official nabbing,
And Governmental red tape grabbing,
Like plunder from the vanquished harried,
To Montreal off they were carried!
Malloch was member many a year
For Carleton when votes were not dear--
When damaged eyes, and smashed proboscis
Would follow, as the smallest losses.
The offer of a vile bank note
As price of an elector's vote.
Gold, said the sage, perhaps 'twas law,
On Dian's lap the snow can thaw;
And gold has purchased many a seat
Where the "collective wisdom" meet,
And many go to represent
The weight of cash corrupt which sent
Them wandering wickedly astray
From honor's seldom trodden way.
Where now, is Turner, who of yore,
Kept school near the old Ottawa's shore?
And Heath who came across the line
In able teaching here to shine?
And old John Stilman, who shoes made,
And flourished in St. Crispin's trade?
William McCullough, where is he?
Gone to the unknown country--
A steady, harmless, quiet man,
Who here in '32 began
A race unmixed with hate or strife,
Which ended only with his life.
And Reuben Traveller, who's tongue
Oft in the old assizes rung--
Though given to mirth, a wondrous crier,
Who lived near John Sweetman, the dyer
'Twas all the same, for either side
Or both old Reuben Traveller cried--
Cried for the man who won law's race--
Cried for the man who lost his case--
Cried for the criminal acquitted--
Cried for the guilty when outwitted--
He cried for loss or gain of pelf--
For every one except himself;
Reuben was a celebrity,
We seldom meet with such as he.
John Rochester, a man of old,
Who's life a tale of goodness told,
He steered through time from envy free,
You'd scarcely find an enemy,
Who o'er his honored dust would dare
Defame the ashes resting there;
For such as he laws ne'er were made,
Peace to his gentle vanished shade!
Well, will it be for James and John
If they walk the same path upon
Which their departed sire trod
With love alike to man and God!
James Joynt is 'mong the living yet
A printer of the old _Gazette_.
Who plied the typographic trade
Ably in Bytown's first decade.
And taught the art of Caxton well,
And thoroughly to John George Bell,
Who in our village made a racket,
In the old columns of the _Packet_,
Where every one got "tit for tat"
From dear departed "Old White Hat!"
Who thought Reformers could not err,
And laid the lash on Dawson Kerr,
Whom he in bitter hues did paint
A sinner, and called him "the saint."
A journal of more modern date
Than the _Gazette_, who's early fate,
Was Phoenix-like to rise resplendent
From ashes of the _Independent_,
Which had at periods now and then,
Emitted Sparks from Johnston's pen,
Which meteor-like shot forth in pride,
Blazed, flickered, then collapsed and died.
And Robert Hardy's name I find,
In the old days long left behind.
James Matthews, too, in death's repose,
In early times was one of those
Who helped to build the ancient town,
Which modern taste is pulling down,
Assisted now and then by fires,
Past recollections primal pyres.
John Bennett, cord-wainer of yore,
And volunteer in Rifle corps,
With muzzle-loaders past and gone,
Gallant and brave old Number One!
Our civic army's primal rib,
Once called by Alexander Gibb,
"The Sleepy's," in the good old time
When he dealt in both prose and rhyme,
And made opponents fume and fret
With caustic in the old _Gazette_--
Rhyme, too, in which a critic's claw
Could scarcely fasten on a flaw,
His verse was standard like his law.



CHAPTER IV.


John Cobb, I'll take a glance at thee,
Firm standard of Free Masonry!
Mine eye delights to rest upon
Thy iron frame, old "Uncle John."
If honesty and simple truth
E'er "flourished in Immortal youth,"
Where time can ne'er their glories rob,
They rest with thee, my friend, John Cobb!
And Dudley Booth, what shall I say
Of this strange mortal passed away?
His was a genius burning bright
With brilliant and uncertain light--
Proud in inventive dignity,
And dark in inmate mystery,
It flickered only, when sublime,
It might have left a light for time,
And wondering mortals to admire,
Tis gone! I saw its flame expire.
And John R. Stanley was among
Old Bytown's well remembered throng,
Whom memory's tuneful measure bears
Back from the shades of other years.
R.W. Cruice in ancient days
Was fond of mirth and sporting ways;
I had almost forgot to tell
How he on horseback cut a swell,
And made a fleet and daring rush
At Barry's hunt and won "the brush,"
When sportsmen gathered full of glee
Around the famed J.P., M.D.
And here diverging from my road
Into a little episode,
I'll tear at once with gesture brief
From memory's book a comic leaf,
A tale from cobweb's volume hoary
Of this Sangrado in his glory,
Many will recollect the story.
Edward Barry, grave J.P.,
Sometimes was given to a spree,
Which interfered with the precision
Of magisterial decision.
So Edward Barry jumped the hedge
And took the frigid temperance pledge;
But soon the Justice of the Peace
Found himself often ill at ease;
Pains through his gastric regions ran,
Too hard even for a temperance man.
Then Barry M.D., in a trice,
Gave Barry J.P. an advice,
After a careful diagnosis,
Which placed him on a bed of roses,
And eased his pains beyond description--
A dose of brandy the prescription--
Oft as required to be repeated--
With which the learned J.P. was treated;
And history affirms that he
Oft took the prescribed remedy.
John Cameron, oft called "Black John,"
Comes o'er my dream of old, as one
Who should not now forgotten be
In this memorial strain by me,
In days of yore, his true-nosed hounds
To the Chaudiere with certain bounds,
Oft chased the anther'd buck before
Their deep-mouthed yells to Ottawa's shore.
He was a sportsman keen and true,
Who dearly loved the "view halloo!"
And Graves, who near the old Scotch Kirk
Dwelt 'neath the shadow of the "birk;"
And Isaac Cluff appears in view,
A loyalist, both staunch and true;
James "Kennedy, the carter," too,
Who the first truck through Bytown drew
With the assistance of a horse,
I mean, to be exact, of course.
And "old Ben. Rathwell," now I've hit on,
A true and honest hearted Briton,
As ever crossed Atlantic's wave
To found a home and find a grave.
And William Colter now doth rise
Before my retrospective eyes,
A saddler far from democratic--
Professor most aristocratic,
In art which claims the highest feather
Among the fashioners of leather;
An active springing step had he
As now his form appears to me;
Early he went to that far bourne
"From whence no travellers return."
Thomas M. Blasdell, step this way,
And tell me how you feel to-day?
You thought I'd pass and let you go,
Old twisted groove! but 'tis not so,
Like charcoal, brimstone and salpetre.
I'll touch you off now in short metre.
'Tis long since first your eye, my man,
Along the rifle barrel ran;
The "crotch" or "globe" was all the same,
If you could only see the game.
Or the "bulls-eye," the missile flew
Into its centre straight and true,
In the old days when practiced eye
Was light, shade and trajectory.
Does your keen eye obey your will,
Is your hand quite as steady still
As when you knocked the turkey's o'er,
At twenty rods in days of yore?
My blessing day and night upon
The memory of the time that's gone.
And Sergeant Major Ritchie, there
He stands before my vision, where
In youth I used to see him stand
On Barrack Hill with cane in hand.
For many a year ere death's disaster
He held the post of Barrack Master,
And amongst people who reflected
Most highly always was respected.
I had almost forgotten one
Who's name should not be left alone
In dark oblivion's envious shade
While I the silent past invade--
To light up the forgotten gloom;
To rescue from time's early tomb
And touch with friendly hand, and give
To fading memories power to live.
'Mongst men of enterprising fame,
I can't pass George Buchanan's name;
He built our first old timber slide,
Down which the red pine cribs did glide;
And afterwards with strength and skill,
And an indomitable will,
At the great Rapids of the _Chats_,
Suspended nature's changeless laws,
And by an artificial path
Triumphed o'er the cataract's wrath!
While standing quietly on shore,
Watching the freight the current bore,
A sudden crash from careless oar
Ended his enterprising life,
And made a widow of his wife.
The public mourned, its great heart bled,
With genuine sorrow for the dead.
'Tis but as yesterday to me,
The history of that tragedy.
Ere to the fair green now I go,
I'll stir up the old "Buffalo."
John Heney, who his mark has made
In speculation's shifting trade,
And built up with both brick and stone,
Memorials, which, when he is gone,
In Ottawa will securely stand,
Proofs of his enterprising hand.
Some years ago in learned debate,
In Council Hall he sat in state.
And in his record there you'll find,
Nothing unfriendly or unkind.
And while as gently I jog on,
I cannot, pass by "honest John!"
"Shaun Rhua," designating name,
Who from the County Cavan came,
And in the Upper Town first started.
Young, enterprising, and light hearted.
At Civic Board for many a year,
For By Ward doth his name appear;
And I can say, who ought to know,
As far as my researches go,
No public act has stain left on
The well-earned name of "honest John!"
Turk, Jew, and heathen all the same,
Speak kindly of John Heney's name.
Mark Bishoprick has gone at last,
An aged pilgrim from the past,
Burdened with many years he stood
Almost alone in solitude,
A record of an age that's gone,
Who's lengthened shadow rested on
The present, ere the distant light
Sunk into everlasting night.



CORKSTOWN.


    "Mother McGinty won't forget
    To keep the tally mark."
                         (OLD SONG.)


In days of yore, within a call
Of where stands now the City Hall,
A village built of mud and wood,
In all its glory, Corkstown stood,
Two rows of cabins in the swamp--
Begirt by ponds and vapors damp
And aromatic cedar trees
Who's branches caught the passing breeze--
Stretched upward on the western side
Of the "Deep Cut," where then were plied
The spade and pickaxe side by side;
For, by the shade of Colonel By,
Who shaped this city's destiny!
There delved full many a hard case in,
That channel to the Canal Basin.
There, then dwelt many a sturdy blade,
Adepts at handling the spade,
And bruisers at the wheeling trade,
As witness the vast mounds of clay
Remaining on the banks to-day.
Lovers of poteen strong and clear,
In preference to rum or beer,
Sons of the sod who'd knock you down
For half a word 'gainst Cork's own town,
And kick you then for falling too,
To prove that the old mountain dew
Had frolic in it raw and strong,
As well as music, love and song.
And there in whitewashed shanty grand,
With kegs and bottles on each hand,
Her face decked with a winning smile,
Her head with cap of ancient style,
Crowned arbiter of frolic's fate,
Mother McGinty sat in state,
And measured out the mountain dew
To those whom strong attraction drew
Within the circle of her power,
To while away a leisure hour.
She was the hostess and the host,
She kept the reckoning, ruled the roast,
And swung an arm of potent might
That few would dare to brave in fight;
Yet was she a good-natured soul,
As ever filled the flowing bowl;
In sooth she dealt in goodly cheer,
Half-pints of whiskey, quarts of beer,
Strong doses of sweet peppermint,
Fine old Jamaica without stint,
And shrub--a cordial then well known--
Her thirsty customers poured down,
Nor dreamed of headaches, or of ills,
For nought killed then, but doctors' pills!
The song, the dance, and glass went round,
The precincts of that classic ground;
And when bent on a tearing spree,
Filled full of grog and jollity,
The bacchanalian rant they made
Would please even old Anacreon's shade,
While o'er them the athletic charms
Of the stern hostess's bare arms,
Struck terror and kept order in
The revel's hottest, wildest din!
For cash or credit bartered she,
The prime ingredients of a spree;
And he stood always above par
Who never stone threw at the bar;
And when a man had spent his all,
She chalked the balance on the wall.
Figures or letters she knew not,
But what a customer had got
By hieroglyphics well she knew,
For there exposed to public view
Each debtor's tally great and small
Appeared upon the bar-room wall.
A short stroke for a half-pint stood,
A longer for a quart was good,
While something like an Eagle's talon
Upon her blackboard was a gallon.
And woe to him, who soon or late
His tally did not liquidate;
For when her goodly company
Were all assembled for a spree,
She read off each delinquent's score,
And at his meanness loudly swore,
And threatened when he next appeared,
Unless the entry all was cleaed,
To lay on future drinks a stricture,
And photograph, perhaps, his picture
In pewter, for the unpaid tally,
As given, I think, in C. O'Malley.
Old Corkstown was a merry place
On pay-day, when the soaking race
Assembled full of fun and glee
At Mother McGinty's for a spree,
No total abstinence was known
In those days in that little town,
Nor many nasal organs tainted
For lack of time to get them painted;
No moderate drinker showed his face
Within that much resorted place,
For temperance had not then began
To trench upon the rights of man,
Sure had he trod on danger's edge
Who dared there to propose the pledge.
Such monstrous doctrine there had been
Followed by "wigs upon the green."
None there refused the offered glass,
Or dared to let the bottle pass
For, _casus belli_ this was strong,
Unless with a good roaring song
The recreant could in his defence
Atone for such _most strange_ offence.
Sometimes, nay oft, upon the street
Antagonistic friends would meet
By chance, or by some other charm,
To try each other's strength of arm,
And without legal process settle
Disputes, like men of taste and mettle;
And while strict "Fair Play" ruled the fight,
It was a sort of rough delight
For youthful souls while hanging round
That ancient famous battle ground,
To note who first the claret drew--
who first down his opponent threw--
Who first produced the limner's dyes
Beneath his neighbor's damaged eyes,
Or sowed the trodden ground beneath
With smashed incisors, like the teeth,
The dragon's tusks of ancient ken
From which sprung hosts of armed men.
Such pastime was a frequent thing,
The entertainment of the ring,
Without equestrian or clown
Was often seen in Cork's own town,
And best, for impecunious boys
Who boasted few of modern joys,
Who daily went to see the play
Had no admission fee to pay.
But gone is Corkstown, vanished too
The whitewashed shanty from our view,
Where once the minstrel's youthful eyes
Beheld strange orgies with surprise.
In dust its stalwart hostess now,
Reposes, placid is the brow
That once frowned terror o'er the throng
While revelling in the dance and song,
Gone with them are the fading dyes
Which tinged fair childhood's happy skies,
The brilliant firmament of youth
Has vanished, and but leaves the truth
Written wherever mortals range
That things below are doomed to change.



THE FAIR OF 1829.


Now, reader, you and I must start
Together with both hand and heart,
Off to the far-famed level of green,
Which once in verdure lay between
The old Scotch Kirk, and where now Hall
Confectionery sells to all;
And we shall pass as something new,
Old scenes before us in review,
And I shall fire up these rhymes
With battles of the good old times;
And out of what I shall relate
No single case for magistrate,
Or stern judge to adjudicate
Arose, for then, a bloody nose,
Or broken head, between fair foes,
Was counted neither loss nor gain,
Nor thought of 'till they met again.
'Twas in the glorious olden time
When smashing craniums was no crime--
When people got no invitation
At half-past nine for presentation
Of damaged eye and broken skin,
To answer for nocturnal sin
Before that tribunal where bail
Can't always keep one out of jail.
'Twas in July in '29,
If true this memory of mine,
At early morn upon that green
Were many tents of canvas seen
Within which might be found good cheer
In whiskey kegs and kegs of beer;
And on a little table, too,
Tin measures were exposed to view,
For thirsty souls their clay to slake,
And draughts of inspiration take--
For then the numbers were but few,
Who shun'd the sparkling mountain dew,
And people under no pretence
Could dream of total abstinence:
Even John B. Gough's most magic sway
Had failed in Bytown's early day.
Vast was the throng assembled there
At Bytown's first and greatest Fair,
And merry were the antics seen
Upon that famous ancient green.
'Twas not to buy or sell they came
From far and near, the blind and lame,
The grave, the merry, sad and gay,
Upon that old eventful day;
They all assembled, wild and free,
To have a ranting, roaring spree!
And, by the shadows of the past!
Frolic flew furious and fast,
And many a head was pillowed on
Old mother earth ere set of sun.
A fiddler here the catgut drew,
And there a highland piper, too,
Shrieked forth with loud and stirring bar,
The boding battle-notes of war!
And lavishly the whiskey flew
Among that mirth devoted crew,
As oft into the tents they ran
To renovate the inner man.
'Twas twelve o'clock, and all was well,
"And merry as a marriage bell,"
Thought one might see just here and there
Legs seeming somewhat worse of wear,
And in the air perhaps might hear
The prescient sounds of conflict near,
For Irish accents there were many,
Cork, Tipperary, and Kilkenny.
'Twas afternoon, and frolic's pacing
Was then diversified by racing,
Then soon was cleared of busy feet
The race course, old Wellington street,
Bets then were made, and up the money,
Pat Ryan's horse, and Davy's pony,
Together entered for the match--
Perhaps it would be called a "scratch"
Race in the turfs expressive phrase
Unknown in Bytown's early days.
Fair, free and gallantly they started,
And headlong up the street they darted,
While loudly sounded cheer on cheer
As swift the winning post they near;
They ran together without check,
And passed it almost neck and neck,
So close, the judges, though they tried,
The winning horse could not decide.
The race was o'er and down the brakes,
Each party shouted for the stakes;
And loud and fierce the clamor rose,
And words soon lost themselves in blows;
The very stones began to speak,
And skulls, of course, began to break,
And black thorns and maple sticks
Played such fantastic ugly tricks,
That soon the well thronged battle plain
Was strewn with bodies of the slain--
The "Kilt," who fell to rise again
Without the doctor's mystic aid,
And plunge once more into the raid.
Stones flew in showers, the windows shook
Around that famous Donnybrook,
While Tipperary's battle yell,
Did loudly o'er the conflict swell!
And many a celt with accent racy
Roared for a Sleavin or a Casey!
And fierce the struggle raged around
Where the seven Sleavin's stood their ground--
Seven brothers, back to back they stood
Like hero's, though their streaming blood
Told how they bravely turned at bay
'Gainst hundreds in that savage fray!
O'erpowered at last they did retreat
Face to the foe, still in defeat,
Defiant as they moved along
Pursued by the relentless throng!
They reached their home, shut fast the door,
And stood within upon the floor,
Ready to meet the coming foe,
Who in their vengeance were not slow.
Stones showered from the assailing crew,
In pieces every window flew,
Then, with a loud and savage yell
They rushed to storm the citadel!
A gun-barrel through a broken pane
Made the invaders pause again,
A sharp axe sticking through another,
Their thirst for slaughter seemed to smother;
A battle council then took place,
And very soon there was no trace,
Of conflict or of bloody fray
Round where the Sleavin's stood at bay!
Thus ended By-town's first old Fair,
A Donnybrook most rich and rare;
This annal of the olden time
Was not premeditated crime,
It sprung from what forms quite a part
Of every genuine Irish heart,
A sort of _Faugh a-Ballagh_ way
That sticks to Irishmen to-day.



LINES

_Recited by the author in "Her Majesty's Theatre," at a
Festival of the Mechanics' Institute in March_, 1868.


In such a gay and festive scene as this,
My worthy friends, it may not be amiss
To mingle with the general notes of glee,
A rhyme or too, even if not poesy.
Indulge me while in rude unpolished verse,
The promptings of the muse I now rehearse,
And O! deal gently with me while I try
To bring the vanished past before your eye,
Fond recollections rapidly takes wing
The fading scenes of other days to sing,
The good old days, the dear old times of yore,
Which you and I, alas! shall see no more:
When all around the spot on which I stand
Was trackless forest and primeval land--
The "Barrack Hill," a wilderness all o'er,
And Lower Town to Rideau's ancient shore
A gloomy cedar swamp, the haunt of deer,
In which the ruffed grouse drum'd when spring was near,
While here and there a giant pine on high
Towered with its spreading branches to the sky!
I have the little village in my eye,
Before the locks were built by Colonel By,
Before the Sappers threw the ponderous arch,
O'er the Canal, to aid improvement's march,
Ere by the muscular canaller's spade
The ground was broken where the "Deep Cut's" made--
Long ere the iron bond of union span'd
The vast _Kah-nah-jo_, wonder of our land!
Here mighty Ottawa, in its grandest phase
Bears some resemblance to its better days,
Ere sawdust, slabs, and stern improvement gave
A turbid deathstroke to its limpid wave!
That good old time, 'tis pleasant to recal,
When one religion almost served for all--
When men together could in friendship join--
When battered buttons passed for genuine coin--
And silver pieces, do not think it strange,
Were cut in too, and four, to make small change,
When banks were few, suspensions heard of not,
And specie was the only cash we got,
Hard silver with no discount on our dollars,
Ere brokers reigned, or flourished paper collars.
Tho' dim the light of learning's genial rays
Amongst the masses in those bygone days--
Tho' daily papers, modern luxury's food,
The bold apostles of the public good,
The tribunes of the people were not found
On guard our infant liberties around,
Tho' institutions based on mental light,
Shed scanty radiance o'er that primal night,
Tho' science, wealth and philosophic lore
Were _rara aves_ upon Ottawa's shore;
Tho' commerce scarce had spread her gilded wings,
The herald of a costlier state of things;
Tho' such an institution as our own,
Was to our early pioneers unknown,
An institution, let me say, in short,
Worthy of every patriot's support;
Established on a comprehensive base.
Where every man of worth may find his place--
temple of intelligence to give
To mind the sustenance on which to live,
Tho' all such modern glories then were rare,
Yet old Bytonians did not badly fare.
Churches were few in that benighted time,
Seldom was heard the Sabbath's welcome chime--
Yet brotherhood abounded in the land,
And charity with soft and tender hand
Relieved distress, and made the weeper smile,
Scarce conscious of the good she did the while,
And not the worst among poor sons of men,
Money was plenty in the village then,
For Mother Britain with a lavish hand
Scattered her treasures over all the land.
Simplicity then held her peaceful reign,
And vice and crime were seldom in her train.
No litigation marked our young career,
No Police Magistrate with brow severe,
And frown of justice upon trembling crime,
Made culprits shiver in that happy time;
Neighbor to neighbor owed so little grudge,
Disputes were settled then without the Judge--
The learned profession boasted not one gown,
And but one lancet was in all the town--
And it was busy, and got wondrous praise,
For venesection flourished in those days.
People owed little, and were seldom sued,
No bailiff marred our ancient solitude;
Duns were a nuisance in our soil not grown,
Fifteen per cent, was totally unknown!
Things then were taken as they happened quite,
And insults were decided by a fight,
In boyhood I have witnessed many a fray
Within the ring by daylight and fair play--
No constable poked his unwelcome nose
Between the pastime of two transient foes,
Who choose like Sayers and Heenan to decide
Their difference with strong sinews on each side.
We had no sidewalks then, not much taxation,
No lock-up, county gaol, no corporation,
No aldermanic wisdom, and no mayor,
To fill with dignity the civic chair;
No tax collector with his pressing bill
To cause consumption in an empty till;
Corrupt electors trod not freedom's ground,
No purchaseable franchise could be found--
Money was not the "altar and the God,"
Before which manhood bowed a venal clod!
The reign of truth, ere politics was made
By infamy a money-making trade!
No costly vehicles with horses gay,
In gilded trappings graced that ancient day;
Pedestrianism was fashionable then,
For boys were boys, as 'twas, and men were men.
And girls were what they always were, the best
Blossoms in the gardens of the blest!
One steamer only cleft the Ottawa's spray,
But did not, like the "Queen," come every day.
No railroad engine snorted o'er the plain,
Dragging along behind its ponderous train--
No telegraphic line with speed of light
Scattered intelligence with lightning flight;
No gas-flame shed its artificial ray,
Turning nocturnal darkness into day--
The tallow candle blazed away supreme,
And of the age of coal oil did not dream;
Yet, 'twas "a gay old time," a happy time,
And could I strike an upward note sublime,
I'd strain my very heartstrings with the blast
Of glory that I'd give the fine old past!
But times are changed, and things are altered too,
Fair civilization bursts upon our view;
The old men of the old time have been laid
In peace beneath the weeping willow's shade;
The middle-aged are in the yellow leaf,
Life's evening evanescent, sad and brief--
The little children who flourished then
Are now the mothers of our land, and men--
The wilderness has vanished, the old trees
Have disappeared before improvement's breeze;
Commercial enterprise is busy now,
The Ottawa's breast is cleft by many a prow,
The roaring, rushing locomotives scour
Along the track at forty miles an hour--
The electric current cleaves the ambient air,
Shooting the rays of thought round everywhere,
Darting like sunbeams to the left and right,
The swift-winged messengers of mental light!
Disturbing 'neath the billows of the deep,
The ocean monsters from their dreamy sleep;
Cleaving resistless through the watery waste
A miracle not dreamt of in the past,
Annihilating time, and leaving space,
Like Noah's dove, without a resting place!
Thy fame, too, "old brown Bess," hath passed away,
And rifled guns in war and peace hold sway,
And Britain's wooden walls with all their glories,
Are now but one of fame's immortal stories!
But while I cast my wondering eyes around
How grand the sight which doth their vision bound;
A city stands in fair and youthful grace,
Where once old Bytown had its primal place;
And lo! in grandeur towering the skies
In marbled splendor upon yonder hill,
Our Legislative Temples proudly rise,
A columned glory of the artist's skill!
Thanks to our gracious Queen, who's royal hand
Made Ottawa chief city of the land!
Thanks to the men who fought through good and ill
The fight of right, and bravely battled still;
Who stood unshaken, firm in their adhesion,
Till victory crowned Her Majesty's decision!
God bless our New Dominion! may it be
Granted a proud and happy destiny;
Ontario and Quebec go hand in hand
With Nova Scotia and New Brunswick's land;
Those noble borderers of the rushing wave
Grand, fitting birthplace of the free and brave!
May Newfoundland, British Columbia true,
Prince Edward Island join the Union, too,
And the vast regions of the far North-West,
Awake to form a nation great and blest!
May all in common brotherhood unite
To live in peace, or for our freedom fight
Beneath the flag for which our fathers died,
And left us as their legacy and pride!
May heaven give strength and energy to those
Who from political convulsion's throes--
A proud example to the sons of earth,
Brought union and an empire into birth!
May wisdom guide them as they onward steer
The vessel of the State in her career--
Smooth be the wave and gentle be the gales
That fill our ark of safety's well trim'd sails--
Strong be the vision of the pilot, too,
To keep the port of union full in view,
Until the anchor's cast, the sails are furled,
A spectacle of envy to the world!





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