Boom and Bust is a big part of The Bahamas story. When the American Civil War ended, the good times ended as well in Nassau. American money was gone! Excitement was gone! Jobs were gone! Americans themselves were gone! Smartly dressed soldiers, to court Nassau’s eligible spinsters, were gone as well!
Guest houses, which played host to Confederate soldiers, closed. The Victoria Hotel closed. American dollars and jobs on blockade running boats all ended when the North won the civil war. The Bahamas, as we all know, was helping the side of the slaveowning South, by running its cotton to sellers, then ferrying back their money and supplies.
In 1866, after all that blockade running money ended, poor Bahama Islands’ conchs and negroes alike, had to go back to the fields. Everything became suddenly… boring!
It was so boring, that in 1866, someone in Nassau wrote a poem about it as there was nothing to do all day, but stand around and yawn!
Oh dear! how dreadfully slow,
There’s nothing to do, there’s nowhere to go,
And how to kill time I’m quite puzzled to know.
Yawn. yawn,- nothing but yawning;
As soon as I open my eyes in the morning
I open my mouth and commence with my yawning:
Down to my breakfast, yawn at the fare,
Put on my hat and yawn at the air.
Go down to the Library, yawn away there.
Heigho!- I yawn when I’m smoking,
I’d yawn as I drink, but I can’t without choking
Why things are so dull, that I yawn when I’m joking.
Yawn, yawn,-how I wish I could drop it
But the place is so horribly dull I can’t stop it.
The Merchants are grumbling at dullness of trade
And praying to- (well, we won’t stand for a shade)
Old Harry, to send them another Blockade.
Market-street worthies, you’ll find ‘em in scores
Yawning in front of their customless stores
Forming feeble supports to the post of the doors
Sighing for days, when those swift Blockade runners
Copper bottomed and fastened at LLoyd’s classes A 1-ers
Used to run to and fro, spite of Uncle Sam’s gunners,
Steaming as fast as they could in and out
Scattering Cotton and Dollars about
’Till there came a grand crash, and they went up the spout,
“Heigho! what a collapse
But the South gave the North some pretty hard raps
And what’s in the future we can’t tell-perhaps
They’ll be at it again as hard as before,
We shall make money, if they will make war.”
So meanwhile, Mr Market Street props up his door
Or yawns from some gloomy recess in his store
Thus, you see reader dear
It perfectly clear
One really must yawn for there’s nothing to cheer
When everything looks remarkably drear.
See yonder Maiden, as glum as a Quaker,
The Red Coats have all been packed off to Jamaica
For a walk on the Esplanade who is to take her?
—The reader remarks some beau of the City
Will do the gallant, on the fair one take pity’
But then don’t you see-though its nothing but fit he
Should offer his arm-a Red Coat is more pretty.
Then again ‘Young Nassau’
Is considered a bore
Apathetic and indolent—not to say ‘raw’
He can drink, he can smoke, talk of auction or shop,
Play billiards—but there his accomplishments drop,
Not a lively companion by any means Stop!
(Hold on there Pegasus, we’re going it wild,
It strikes me we’d better be drawing it mild
Ere some gallant young spark takes offence and gets ‘riled’)
Some there are I’ve no doubt
Who have travelled about
Been brought up with care, sent to school, and ‘brought out’
And who always behave with the greatest propriety
Never drink, never smoke, are the essence of piety
And fit for the highest and best of society —
to those I’m quite willing to make the concession
“Young Nassau’s” perhaps a too sweeping expression
After which I’ll proceed without further digression.
Since the Blockade
Attempts have been made
To revive many things which long dormant have laid.
Out of something or other to start up a trade
In short—against yawning to made a crusade
But, a Donkey that never had the vocation
Than turning a mill, gets so used to the station
He’s unfit for aught else but eternal rotation
Those who FIND THE CAPT FITS must not take it ill
(Though I very much fear the most of them will)
When I say they resemble the Ass in the mill
(—An idea occurs to me now as I write
Some readers may thing the above impolite
The simile’s vulgar, I’ll own—but its trite)
Tramp, tramp, round the same spot,
Life’s journey with them never varies a jot,
Tramp, tramp, WHILST THEY MORALLY ROT.
Agricultural meetings they don’t care a pin for
Volunteer movements, they will not go in for
But Dollars and cents they’ll go through thick and thin for.
No interest have they in the growth of the yam
Science and Arts, they consider as ‘sham’
And for Lectures and such things they don’t care a——
—“Halloa! Mr. Printer, that dash is absurd!
What the deuce do you mean, Sir by skipping a word
Putting in the two first rhymes, and missing the third?”
It’s all very fine Sir, to say ‘Never mind it’
You dropped it on purpose, in fact so unkind it
Appears, that I’ll stop and I’ll yawn till you find it.
—Bahamas Herald, March 21 1866