Recollections of John Pounds: New Years Eve by Reverend Henry Hawkes
Monday evening; – the last evening in the year: – meeting John Pounds in St. Mary’s Street, as he was crossing over into Crown Street; – “Yer sarvant, Sir! – Sharp frost!” “Yes, Mr. Pounds; but you don’t seem to feel it much; with your bare arms, and open chest, and no hat on!” “I likes it! It makes me feel fresh and brisk like! I’se been to the King’s Bastion, to see the sun set: – the last sun, you know, Sir, in the old year. He goes down very grand; all crimson and gold: – bright – to the last!”
“Yes Mr. Pounds, we’ve had a glorious sunset, to close the old year; – full of splendour! And I am very glad you are so well and hearty to enjoy it”.
“Never better in my life; – bless the Lord! – And I’se be up betimes i’ the morning, to see the first sun o’ the new year rise! – I’se now a-going to Mrs. More’s to give her little child’s foot another bit of a push out like. It’s the one in arms. You knows ’em; – the bigger ons come to your Sunday-school.”
“Yes, I know them.”
“Well; – one day I sees Mrs. More a-coming with her child in her arms. ‘Missus,’ I says, ‘your child’s foot turns in.’ ‘Yes, Mr. Pounds,’ she says; ‘it’s bom so.’ ‘I’se cure that child’s foot,’ I says; ‘if you’s let me try.’ ‘Yes, Mr. Pounds, an thank y’;’ she says. So I takes it in hand; an I makes it a little boot out o’ old shoe-leather; like my little Johnny’s. Poor little thing! – It cries very much, it does, – every time I gives it another bit of a push out.
But I goes on with it; it’s all for its good. It’s a long time about; but I’se make a good job of it, before I’se done with it. “An then – ” and he paused; – and looked up at me with a comical smile; – resting with both hands on his strong hazel stick. – “Then, ye sees, Sir; – when I’se given Mrs. More’s child’s foot another bit of a push out, – I’se a-going to buy me a pint o’ sprats for my dinner to-morrow!” – And he laughed at the thought. “I doesn’t often cook a nice dinner for myself. But to-morrow’s New Years Day; an my Neffy’s have a holiday; – poor lad! – an he’s a-going to dine out wi’ some friends of his.
So, – thinks I to myself; – I’se be alone to-morrow; – I’se go an buy me a pint o’ sprats for my dinner! – Yer sarvant, Sir!” – And he strode off, full of glee and energy; making the ice splinter – as he struck down his strong hazel stick.
“Good evening, Mr Pounds. I hope you enjoy your sprats to-morrow!”
“No fear o’ that!” he said, with a lively tone; looking back for a moment, and smiling. And he strode away with bright alacrity.
People came out of their houses – crowding towards us – all along the street. Poor creatures came pouring out from the back courts and alleys. It was one scene of excitement and loud lamentation. All had lost a Friend.
“We carried the body up-stairs, and laid him on his bed. And I went to tell Lemmon what had happened. Poor Lemmon! – You’d have thought – his heart was broken. They had been friends from childhood. They were playfellows together as little children.”
A Coroners inquest was held in the afternoon. The Jury gave it as their verdict, that the death was caused by “an affection of the heart.”