Aspell And Carter (Lehr and Best)

Come all ye sons of Newfoundland
who ofttimes life do save,
While I'll relate in language great
about a hero brave,
Who nobly tried to save a boy
and in the act went down -
Young Aspell from the Battery Road,
a boy from St John's town.

Young Carter that sad afternoon
lighthearted left the town
To take a bath, the day being warm,
near Bennett's Grove went down;
He divested of his clothing
and boldly did leap in
When soon the boys around the bank
saw Carter could not swim.

He must have went beyond his depth,
the overfall did pass
Two youngsters sitting on the bank
saw he was sinking fast.
"O save me, save me,' Carter cried;
the boys for aid did bawl
Young Aspell strolling near the lake
did hear the youngsters call.

He threw his coat upon the bank,
rushed in the lake to try
With outstretched arms a brave attempt
to save the drowning boy.
He caught his hand in death-like grasp
and never reached the shore
But held him in is dying grasp
and sank to rise no more.

Young Aspell was a model youth
both religious, good, and kind
A fine and blooming clever lad
his equals hard to find.
Hard luck he had betimes,
perhaps his manner did not show
Just budding into manhood's bloom,
it was a trying blow.

The prayer of many a sad, sad heart
is gone to God on high
For to receive the pure young soul
of that good saintly boy,
And fervent prayers from every home
are offered, too, I'm sure
For mercy on young Aspell's soul
to Him who loves the poor.

####.... Johnny Burke of St John's, NL [1851-1930] ....####

See more songs by Johnny Burke.

Collected by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best in 1976 from Francis Joseph (Frankie) Nash [1908-1976] of Branch, NL, and published as #4 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.7-8, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted this song concerns the drowning of John Aspell and Edward F Carter in July, 1902, when Aspell attempted to save Carter's life at Quidi Vidi, a small outport community near St John's. The composer, Johnny Burke, was a well-known St John's balladeer who composed numerous popular songs including The Kelligrews Soiree and The Trinity Cake.

See more Lehr and Best songs.

From Interesting Transcripts of Newfoundland Cemetery Headstones: Entry STJ56-9709: "Our darling Thomas Francis (Carter) who was drowned while bathing in Quidi Vidi Lake, July 16, 1902, aged 15 years & 9 months. (Son of) Edward F & Mary Carter."


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