Recollections of Bytown and Its Old Inhabitants eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 78 pages of information about Recollections of Bytown and Its Old Inhabitants.


    “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

Project Gutenberg
Recollections of Bytown and Its Old Inhabitants from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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