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,