John Aspinwall as pictured in later editions of Panama Patchwork.
 

John Aspinwall

By James Stanley Gilbert

 

A quaint old moke is John Aspinwall,

Who lives by the Dead-House gate,

And quaint are his thoughts, if thoughts at all

Ever lurk in his woolly pate.

For he's old as the hills, is this old black manó

Thrice doubled with age is he;

And the days when his wanderings first began

Are shrouded in mystery.

 

Perhaps he was living when Morgan's crew

Came lusting for Spanish gold,

And drenched the Isthmus with bloody dew

In the brave, bold days of old.

Perhaps he was here when the pioneers

Of the days almost forgot

Made a trail o'er the land with their bitter tears

And the bones they left to rot.

 

Perhaps he was here when Totten came

And Baldwin and all the rest,

To build thro' the swamps their pathway to fame

From Chagres to Ancon's crest.

And many a night he has lain, no doubt,

By the side of some comrade ill,

Whose corpse, in the morn, he has carried out

To its rest on Monkey Hill.

 

For years upon years he has seen the tide

Of adventurers ebb and flowó

Success and improvidence, side by side,

Seen ceaselessly come and go.

He has seen the gamut of passion run,

Oh, thousands and thousands of times!

And witnessed the brightest, purest sun

Uncover the darkest of crimes.

 

Yet never a word will he answer me

Whenever he passes by,

Though often a curious light I see

In his fathomless, coal-black eye.

A quaint old moke is John Aspinwall,

Who lives by the Dead-House gate,

And quaint are his thoughts, if thoughts at all

Ever lurk in his woolly pate.