MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Hawco the Hero (recitation)
Charles Dawe NFLD 1 Tape 16 Track 7
Flatrock Audio:

…Jim fished and tilled his ground
And he cut his wood for the winter when the fall of the year come round
Cut it over yonder, spelled it on his back
To the brow of the hill where he threw it down onto the railway track
But he never hove it over till danger wasn't nigh
And the blue smoke of the evening train towards St. John's passed by

One evening last September Jim comes to the brow of the hill
Twas after the usual train time and all was quiet and still
He fired his wood right over not thinking of any harm
Till he heard the whistle of No. 10 coming around the northern arm
He barely stopped for an instant: he thought of the hundred lives
He thought of the little children and the broken-hearted wives

And then he off with his coat and waistcoat and he tied his braces round
And he cleared that hill like a deer, sir almost in a single bound
And he worked like the very devil and he made them timbers fly
And never stopped for an instant to see if the train was nigh
"Clear the track," the brakesman shouted and a wild effort made
To slow the pace of the engine as she snorted down the grade

Jim made one more endeavour although it were his life's last chance
And he just got the last stick over when the cow-catcher found his pants
He jumped to a place of safety and he breathed a "Thank-God" sigh
When he seed the danger over and the train going merrily by
But what do you think they done, sir when that train to St. John's got back
Sent out and had Jim arrested for impeding the railway track

And early the next morning he was summoned before the judge
Lawyers policemen and loafers and a whole little […]
Now he prayed in his soul of souls, sir to be tried by his honour Judge Prowse
Because when his honour went shooting he stayed at Hawco's house
But when he got in the courthouse he bid good bye to joy
There on the bench before him was his honour Judge Conroy

Now the witnesses took the stand, sir and they kissed a book and they swore
And the lawyers tangled them up so much they had to swear more
The judge sat stern and silent while the lawyers fired away
Well, when he. when they'd done with their arguing twas then he had his say
"They brought you here as a scoundrel, to prove you as such I'm told
But viewing the matter different I think you're a hero bold

Tis true you erred through ignorance when wood on the track you'd thrown
But to save the lives of other's you bravely risked your own
So viewing the evidence over in every way I can
Instead of being a scoundrel I think you're a true brave man
And throughout all time and ages your name it should go down
With the men [Tape ends]


This is a well-known recitation by M.A. Devine, which appeared in the Gerald S. Doyle songster of 1940. The events occurred just after the turn of the century. There are three verses preceding the point where the tape was started which tell of Jim Hawco, who lived in a white washed cottage, and how "all he had in the world, sir, was what by his arms he got." The first line of the recording would have begun "Throughout the live-long summer …" and the last line ends "that fired Dina's temple and the man that burnt the town."

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