YORKSHIRE DIALECT POEMS
By F.W. Moorman
(1673-1915) and Traditional Poems
Compiled with an Historical Introduction by F. W. Moorman (Professor of English Language, University of Leeds)
London Published for the Yorkshire Dialect Society by Sidgwick and Jackson, Ltd., 1916, 1917
To The Yorkshiremen Serving their Country in Trench or on Battleship I respectfully dedicate this collection of Songs from the Homeland
Contents: Preface to Etext Edition Preface Preface (To the Second Edition) Introduction Poems A Yorkshire Dialogue between an awd Wife a Lass and a butcher . Anonymous An Honest Yorkshireman. Henry Carey From "Snaith Marsh" Anonymous When at Hame wi' Dad Anonymous I'm Yorkshire too Anonymous The Wensleydale Lad Anonymous A Song 1. Thomas Browne A Song 2. Thomas Browne The Invasion: An Ecologue Thomas Browne Elegy on the Death of a Frog David Lewis Sheffield Cutler's Song Abel Bywater Address to Poverty Anonymous The Collingham Ghost Anonymous The Yorkshire Horse Dealers Anonymous The Lucky Dream John Castillo The Milkin'-Time J. H. Dixon I Niver can call Her my Wife Ben Preston Come to thy Gronny, Doy Ben Preston Owd Moxy Ben Preston Dean't mak gam o' me Florence Tweddell Coom, stop at yam to-neet Bob Florence Tweddell Ode to t' Mooin J. H. Eccles Aunt Nancy J. H. Eccles Coom, don on thy Bonnet an' Shawl Thomas Blackah My awd hat Thomas Blackah Reeth Bartle Fair John Harland The Christmas Party Tom Twistleton Nelly o' Bob's John Hartley Bite Bigger John Hartley Rollickin' Jack John Hartley Jim's Letter James Burnley A Yorkshire Farmer's Address to a Schoolmaster George Lancaster The Window on the Cliff Top W. H. Oxley Aar Maggie Edmund Hatton T' First o' t' Sooart John Hartley Pateley Reaces Anonymous Play Cricket Ben Turner The File-cutter's Lament to Liberty E. Downing A Kuss John Malham-Dembleby Huntin' Song Richard Blakeborough Spring F. J. Newboult Heam, Sweet Heam A. C. Watson Then an' Nae E. A. Lodge Owd England Walter Hampson. Love and Pie J. A. Carill I's Gotten t' Bliss George H. Cowling A Natterin' Wife George H. Cowling O! What do ye Wesh i' the Beck George H. Cowling
Traditional Poems Cleveland Lyke-wake Dirge 1 Cleveland Lyke-wake Dirge 2 Sir Walter Scott's version A Dree Neet The Bridal Bands The Bridal Garter Nance and Tom The Witch's Curse Ridin' t' Stang Elphi Bandy-legs Singing Games Stepping up the green grass Sally made a pudden Sally Water, Sally Water Diller a dollar Hagmana Song Round the Year New Year's Day Lucky-bird, lucky-bird, chuck, chuck, chuck! Candlemas On Can'lemas, a February day A Can'lemas crack If Can'lemas be lound an' fair, February Fill-Dike February fill-dyke Palm Sunday Palm Sunday, palm away; Good Friday On Good Friday rist thy pleaf Royal Oak Day It's Royal Oak Day, Harvest Home and the Mell-Sheaf We have her, we have her, Here we coom at oor toon-end, Weel bun' an' better shorn Blest be t' day that Christ was born, Guy Fawkes Day A Stick and a stake, Awd Grimey sits upon yon hill, Christmas I wish you a merry Kessenmas an' a happy New Year, Cleveland Christmas Song A Christmas Wassail Sheffield Mumming Song Charms, "Nominies," and Popular Rhymes Wilful weaste maks weasome want A rollin' stone gethers no moss Than awn a crawin' hen Nowt bud ill-luck 'll fester where Meeat maks The Miller's Thumb Miller, miller, mooter-poke Down i' yon lum we have a mill, Hob-Trush Hob "Hob-Trush Hob, wheer is thoo?" Gin Hob mun hae nowt but a hardin' hamp, Nanny Button-Cap The New Moon A Setterday's mean I see t' mean an' t' mean sees me, New mean, new mean, I hail thee, Eevein' red an' mornin' gray Souther, wind, souther! Friday Unlucky Dean't o' Friday buy your ring An Omen Blest is t' bride at t' sun shines on A Charm Tak twea at's red an' yan at's blake A gift o' my finger Sunday clipt, Sunday shorn A Monday's bairn 'll grow up fair A cobweb i' t' kitchen, Snaw, snaw, coom faster Julius Caesar made a law A weddin', a woo, a clog an' a shoe Chimley-sweeper, blackymoor The Lady-bird Cow-lady, cow-lady, hie thy way wum, The Magpie I cross'd pynot,(1) an' t' pynot cross'd me Tell-pie-tit The Bat Black-black-bearaway The Snail Sneel, sneel, put oot your horn, Hallamshire When all the world shall be aloft, Harrogate When lords an' ladies stinking water soss, The River Don The shelvin', slimy river Don
Original Transcriber's Note:
This is a mixture of the First and Second editions as noted.
The name of the author has been inserted after every title, so that it will be included when poems are copied individually.
The footnotes have been renumbered and placed at the bottom of each individual poem.
The sequence of the poems in the second edition has generally been adhered to, and the contents list has been built on this basis. The Indexes have been omitted because of the lack of pagination in etext. Computer searches also make them redundant,
Several anthologies of poems by Yorkshiremen, or about Yorkshiremen, have passed through the press since Joseph Ritson published his Yorkshire Garland in 1786. Most of these have included a number of dialect poems, but I believe that the volume which the reader now holds in his hand is the first which is made up entirely of poems written in "broad Yorkshire." In my choice of poems I have been governed entirely by the literary quality and popular appeal of the material which lay at my disposal. This anthology has not been compiled for the philologist, but for those who have learnt to speak "broad Yorkshire" at their mother's knee, and have not wholly unlearnt it at their schoolmaster's desk. To such the variety and interest of these poems, no less than the considerable range of time over which their composition extends, will, I believe, come as a surprise.
It is in some ways a misfortune that there is no such thing as a standard Yorkshire dialect. The speech of the North and East Ridings is far removed from that of the industrial south-west. The difference consists, not so much in idiom or vocabulary, as in pronunciation—especially in the pronunciation of the long vowels and diphthongs.(1) As a consequence of this, I have found it impossible, in bringing together dialect poems from all parts of the county, to reduce their forms to what might be called Standard Yorkshire. Had I attempted to do this, I should have destroyed what was most characteristic. My purpose throughout has been to preserve the distinguishing marks of dialect possessed by the poems, but to normalise the spelling of those writers who belong to one and the same dialect area.
The spelling of "broad Yorkshire" will always be one of the problems which the dialect-writer has to face. At best he can only hope for a broadly accurate representation of his mode of speech, but he can take comfort in the thought that most of those who read his verses know by habit how the words should be pronounced far better than he can teach them by adopting strange phonetic devices. A recognition of this fact has guided me in fixing the text of this anthology, and every spelling device which seemed to me unnecessary, or clumsy, or pedantic, I have ruthlessly discarded. On the other hand, where the dialect-writer has chosen the Standard English spelling of any word, I have as a rule not thought fit to alter its form and spell it as it would be pronounced in his dialect.
I am afraid I may have given offence to those whom I should most of all like to please—the living contributors to this anthology—by tampering in this way with the text of their poems. In defence of what I have done, I must put forward the plea of consistency. If I had preserved every poet's text as I found it, I should have reduced my readers to despair.
In conclusion, I should—like to thank the contributors to this volume, and also their publishers, for the permission to reproduce copyright work. Special thanks are due to Mr. Richard Blakeborough, who has placed Yorkshiremen under a debt, by the great service which he has rendered in recovering much of the traditional poetry of Yorkshire and in giving it the permanence of the printed page. In compiling the so-called traditional poems at the end of this volume, I have largely drawn upon his Wit, Character, Folklore, and Customs of the North Riding.
F. W. Moorman
1. Thus in the south-west fool and soon are pronounced fooil and sooin, in the north-east feeal and seean. Both the south-west and the north-east have a word praad—with a vowel—sound like the a in father—but whereas in the south- west it stands for proud, in the north-east it stands for pride,
Preface (To the Second Edition)
The demand for a second edition of this anthology of Yorkshire dialect verse gives me an opportunity of correcting two rather serious error's which crept into the first edition. The poem entitled "Hunting Song" on page 86, which I attributed to Mr. Richard Blakeborough, is the work of Mr. Malham-Dembleby", whose poem, "A Kuss," immediately precedes it in the volume.
The poem on page 75, which in the first edition was marked Anonymous and entitled "Parson Drew thro' Pudsey," is the work of the late John Hartley; its proper' title is "T' First o' t' Sooar't," and it includes eight introductory stanzas which are now added as Appendix II.
Through the kindness of: Fr W. A. Craigie, Dr. M. Denby, and Mr. E. G. Bayford, I have also been able to make a few changes in the glossarial footnotes, The most important of these is the change from "Ember's" to "Floor" as the meaning of the word, "Fleet" in the second line of "A Lyke-wake Dirge." The note which Dr. Craigie sen't me on this word is so interesting that I reproduce it here verbatim:
"The word fleet in the 'Lyke-wake Dirge' has been much misunderstood, but it is certain1y the same thing as flet-floor; see the O.E.D. and E.D.D. under. FLET. The form is not necessarily 'erroneous,' as is said in the O.E.D., for it might represent ,the O.N. dative fleti, which must have been common in the phrase a fleti (cf. the first verse of 'Havamal'). The collocation with 'fire' occurs in 'Sir Gawayne' (l. 1653): 'Aboute the fyre upon flet.' 'Fire and fleet and candle-light' are a summary of the comforts of the house, which the dead person still enjoys for 'this ae night,' and then goes out into the dark and cold."
F. W. Moorman
The publication of an anthology of Yorkshire dialect poetry seems to demand a brief introduction in which something shall be said of the history and general character of that poetry. It is hardly necessary to state that Yorkshire has produced neither a Robert Burns, a William Barnes, nor even an Edwin Waugh. Its singers are as yet known only among their own folk; the names of John Castillo and Florence Tweddell are household words among the peasants of the Cleveland dales, as are those of Ben Preston and John Hartley among the artisans of the Aire and Calder valleys; but, outside of the county, they are almost unknown, except to those who are of Yorkshire descent and who cherish the dialect because of its association with the homes of their childhood.
At the same time there is no body of dialect verse which better deserves the honour of an anthology. In volume and variety the dialect poetry of Yorkshire surpasses that of all other English counties. Moreover, when the rise of the Standard English idiom crushed out our dialect literature, it was the Yorkshire dialect which first reasserted its claims upon the muse of poetry; hence, whereas the dialect literature of most of the English counties dates only from the beginning of the nineteenth century, that of Yorkshire reaches back to the second half of the seventeenth.
In one sense it may be said that Yorkshire dialect poetry dates, not from the seventeenth, but from the seventh century, and that the first Yorkshire dialect poet was Caedmon, the neat-herd of Whitby Abbey. But to the ordinary person the reference to a dialect implies the existence of a standard mode of speech almost as certainly as odd implies even. Accordingly, this is not the place to speak of that great heritage of song which Yorkshire bequeathed to the nation between the seventh century and the fifteenth. After the Caedmonic poems, its chief glories are the religious lyrics of Richard Rolle, the mystic, and the great cycles of scriptural plays which are associated with the trade-guilds of York and Wakefield. But in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the all-conquering Standard English spread like a mighty spring-tide over England and found no check to its progress till the Cheviots were reached. The new "King's English" was of little avail in silencing dialect as a means of intercourse between man and man, but it checked for centuries the development of dialect literature. The old traditional ballads and songs, which were handed down orally from generation to generation in the speech of the district to which they belonged, escaped to some extent this movement towards uniformity; but the deliberate artificers of verse showed themselves eager above all things to get rid of their provincialisms and use only the language of the Court. Shakespeare may introduce a few Warwickshire words into his plays, but his English is none the less the Standard English of his day, while Spenser is sharply brought to task by Ben Jonson for using archaisms and provincialisms in his poems. A notable song of the Elizabethan age is that entitled "York, York, for my Monie," which was first published in 1584; only a Yorkshireman could have written it, and it was plainly intended for the gratification of Yorkshire pride; yet its language is without trace of local colour, either in spelling or vocabulary. Again, there appeared in the year 1615 a poem by Richard Brathwaite, entitled, "The Yorkshire Cottoneers," and addressed to "all true-bred Northerne Sparks, of the generous society of the Cottoneers, who hold their High-roade by the Pinder of Wakefield, the Shoo-maker of Bradford, and the white Coate of Kendall"; but Brathwaite, though a Kendal man by birth, makes no attempt to win the hearts of his "true-bred Northern Sparks" by addressing them in the dialect that was their daily wear. In a word, the use of the Yorkshire dialect for literary purposes died out early in the Tudor period.
As already stated, its rebirth dates from the second half of the seventeenth century. That was an age of scientific investigation and antiquarian research. John Ray, the father of natural history, not content with his achievements in the classification of plants, took up also the collection of outlandish words, and in the year 1674 he published a work entitled, A Collection of English Words, not generally used, with their Significations and Original, in two Alphabetical Catalogues, the one of such as are proper to the Northern, the other to the Southern Counties. Later he entered into correspondence with the Leeds antiquary, Ralph Thoresby, who, in a letter dated April 27, 1703, sends him a list of dialect words current in and about Leeds.(1)
Side by side with this new interest in the dialect vocabulary comes also the dialect poem. One year before the appearance of Ray's Collection of English Words the York printer, Stephen Bulkby, had issued, as a humble broadside without author's name, a poem which bore the following title: A Yorkshire Dialogue in Yorkshire Dialect; Between an Awd Wife, a Lass, and a Butcher. This dialogue occupies the first place in our anthology, and it is, from several points of view, a significant work. It marks the beginning, not only of modern Yorkshire, but also of modern English, dialect poetry. It appeared just a thousand years after Caedmon had sung the Creator's praise in Whitby Abbey, and its dialect is that of northeast Yorkshire—in other words, the lineal descendant of that speech which was used by Caedmon in the seventh century, by Richard Rolle in the fourteenth, and which may be heard to this day in the streets of Whitby and among the hamlets of the Cleveland Hills.
The dialogue is a piece of boldest realism. Written in an age when classic restraint and classic elegance were in the ascendant, and when English poets were taking only too readily to heart the warning of Boileau against allowing shepherds to speak "comme on parle au village," the author of this rustic dialogue flings to the winds every convention of poetic elegance. His lines "baisent la terre" in a way that would have inexpressibly shocked Boileau and the Parisian salons. The poem reeks of the byre and the shambles; its theme is the misadventure which befalls an ox in its stall and its final despatch by the butcher's mallet! One might perhaps find something comparable to it in theme and treatment in the paintings of the contemporary school of Dutch realists, but in poetry it is unique. Yet, gross as is its realism, it cannot be called crude as a work of poetic art. In rhyme and rhythm it is quite regular, and the impression which it leaves upon the mind is that it was the work of an educated man, keenly interested in the unvarnished life of a Yorkshire farm, keenly interested in the vocabulary and idioms of his district, and determined to produce a poem which should bid defiance to all the proprieties of the poetic art.
Eleven years later—in 1684—appeared two more poems, in a dialect akin to but not identical with that of the above and very similar in theme and treatment. These are A Yorkshire Dialogue in its pure Natural Dialect as it is now commonly spoken in the North Parts of Yorkeshire, and A Scould between Bess and Nell, two Yorkshire Women. These two poems were also published at York, though by a different printer, and in the following year a second edition appeared, followed by a third in 1697. To the poems is appended Francis Brokesby's "Observations on the Dialect and Pronunciation of Words in the East Riding of Yorkshire," which he had previously sent to Ray,(1) together with a collection of Yorkshire proverbs and a "Clavis," or Glossary, also by Brokesby. The author of these two poems, who signs himself" G. M. Gent" on the title-page, is generally supposed to be a certain George Meriton, an attorney by profession, though Francis Douce, the antiquary, claims George Morrinton of Northallerton as the author.
"G. M." is a deliberate imitator of the man who wrote the Dialogue Between an Awd Wife, a Lass, and a Butcher. All that has been said about the trenchant realism of farmlife in the dialogue of 1673 applies with equal force to the dialogues of 1684. The later poet, having a larger canvas at his disposal, is able to introduce more characters and more incident; but in all that pertains to style and atmosphere he keeps closely to his model. What is still more apparent is that the author is consciously employing dialect words and idioms with the set purpose of illustrating what he calls the "pure Natural Dialect" of Yorkshire; above all, he delights in the proverbial lore of his native county and never misses an opportunity of tagging his conversations with one or other of these homespun proverbs. The poem is too long for our anthology,(2) but I cannot forbear quoting some of these proverbs:
"There's neay carrion can kill a craw." "It's a good horse that duz never stumble, And a good wife that duz never grumble." "Neare is my sarke, but nearer is my skin." "It's an ill-made bargain whore beath parties rue." "A curst cow hes short horns." "Wilfull fowkes duz never want weay." "For change of pastures macks fat cawves, it's said, But change of women macks lean knaves, I'se flaid
The excellent example set by the authors of the Yorkshire Dialogues was not followed all at once. Early in the eighteenth century, however, Allan Ramsay rendered conspicuous service to dialect poetry generally by the publication of his pastoral drama, The Gentle Shepherd (1725), as well as by his collections of Scottish songs, known as The Evergreen and Tea Table miscellanies. Scotland awoke to song, and the charm of Lowland Scots was recognised even by Pope and the wits of the coffee-houses. One can well believe that lovers of dialect south of the Tweed were thereby moved to emulation, and in the year 1736 Henry Carey, the reputed son of the Marquis of Halifax, produced a ballad-opera bearing the equivocal title, A Wonder, or An Honest Yorkshireman.(3) Popular in its day, this opera is now forgotten, but its song, "An Honest Yorkshireman" has found a place in many collections of Yorkshire songs. It lacks the charm of the same author's famous "Sally in our Alley," but there is a fine manly ring about its sentiments, and it deserves wider recognition. The dialect is that of north-east Yorkshire.
In 1754 appeared the anonymous dialect poem, Snaith Marsh.(4) This is a much more conventional piece of work than the seventeenth- century dialogues, and the use which is made of the local idiom is more restricted. Yet it is not without historic interest. Composed at a time when the Enclosure Acts were robbing the peasant farmer of his rights of common, the poem is an elegiac lament on the part of the Snaith farmer who sees himself suddenly brought to the brink of ruin by the enclosure of Snaith Marsh. To add to his misery, his bride, Susan, has deserted him for the more prosperous rival, Roger. As much of the poem is in standard English, it would be out of place to reprint it in its entirety in this collection, but, inasmuch as the author grows bolder in his use of dialect as the poem proceeds, I have chosen the concluding section to illustrate the quality of the work and the use which is made of dialect.
From the date of the publication of Snaith Marsh to the close of the eighteenth century it is difficult to trace chronologically the progress of Yorkshire dialect poetry. The songs which follow in our anthology— "When at Hame wi' Dad" and "I'm Yorkshire, too "—appear to have an eighteenth-century flavour, though they may be a little later. Their theme is somewhat similar to that of Carey's song. The inexperienced but canny Yorkshire lad finds himself exposed to the snares and temptations of " Lunnon city." He is dazzled by the spectacular glories of the capital, but his native stock of cannyness renders him proof against seduction. The songs are what we should now call music-hall songs, and may possibly have been written for the delights of the visitors to Ranelagh or Vauxhall Gardens.
"The Wensleydale Lad" seems to be of about the same period, for we learn from the song that the reigning monarch was one of the Georges. Its opening line is a clear repetition—or anticipation—of the opening line of "When at Hame wi' Dad"; but whereas the hero of the latter poem, on leaving home, seeks out the glories of Piccadilly and Hyde Park, the Wensleydale lad is content with the lesser splendours; of Leeds. The broad humour of this song has made it exceedingly popular; I first heard it on the lips of a Runswick fisherman, and since then have met with it in different parts of the county.
In the year 1786 Joseph Ritson, the antiquary, published a slender collection of short poems which he entitled The Yorkshire Garland. This is the first attempt at an anthology of Yorkshire poetry, and the forerunner of many other anthologies. All the poems have a connection with Yorkshire, but none of them can, in the strict sense of the word, be called a dialect poem.
In the year 1800 the composition of Yorkshire dialect poetry received an important stimulus through the appearance of a volume entitled, Poems on Several Occasions. This was the posthumous work of the Rev. Thomas Browne, the son of the vicar of Lastingham. The author, born at Lastingham in 1771, started life as a school-master, first of all at Yeddingham, and later at Bridlington; in the year 1797 he removed to Hull in order to engage in journalistic work as editor of the recently established newspaper, The Hull Advertiser. About the same time he took orders and married, but in the following year he died. Most of the poems in the little volume which his friends put through the press in the year 1800 are written in standard English. They display a mind of considerable refinement, but little originality. In the form of ode, elegy, eclogue, or sonnet, we have verses which show tender feeling and a genuine appreciation of nature. But the human interest is slight, and the author is unable to escape from the conventional poetic diction of the eighteenth century. Phrases like "vocal groves," "Pomona's rich bounties," or "the sylvan choir's responsive notes" meet the reader at every turn; direct observation and concrete imagery are sacrificed to trite abstractions, until we feel that the poet becomes a mere echo of other and greater poets who had gone before him. But at the end of the volume appear the "Specimens of the Yorkshire Dialect," consisting of three songs and two eclogues. Here convention is swept aside; the author comes face to face with life as he saw it around him in Yorkshire town and village. We have the song of the peasant girl impatiently awaiting the country fair at which she is to shine in all the glory of "new cauf leather shoon" and white stockings, or declaring her intention of escaping from a mother who "scaulds and flytes" by marrying the sweetheart who comes courting her on "Setterday neets." What is interesting to notice in these songs'is the influence of Burns. Browne has caught something of the Scottish poet's racy vigour, and in his use of a broken line of refrain in the song, "Ye loit'ring minutes faster flee," he is employing a metrical device which Burns had used with great success in his "Holy Fair" and "Halloween." The eclogue, "Awd Daisy," the theme of which is a Yorkshire farmer's lament for his dead mare, exhibits that affection for faithful animals which we meet with in Cowper, Burns, and other poets of the Romantic Revival. In the sincerity of its emotion it is poles apart from the studied sentimentality of the famous lament over the dead ass in Sterne's Sentimental Journey; indeed, in spirit it is much nearer to Burns's "Death of Poor Mailie," though Browne is wholly lacking in that delicate humour which Burns possesses, and which overtakes the tenderness of the poem as the lights and shadows overtake one another among the hills. The other eclogue, " The Invasion," has something of a topical interest at a time like the present, when England is once more engaged in war with a continental power; for it was written when the fear of a French invasion of our shores weighed heavily upon the people's minds. In the eclogue this danger is earnestly discussed by the two Yorkshire farmers, Roger and Willie. If the French effect a landing, Willy has decided to send Mally and the bairns away from the farm, while he will sharpen his old "lea" (scythe) and remain behind to defend his homestead. As long as wife and children are safe, he is prepared to lay down his life for his country.
The importance of Browne's dialect poems consists not only in their intrinsic worth, but also in the interest which they aroused in dialect poetry in Yorkshire, and the stimulus which they gave to poets in succeeding generations. There is no evidence that the dialogues of George Meriton, or Snaith Marsh, had any wide circulation among the Yorkshire peasantry, but there is abundant evidence that such was the case with these five poems of Thomas Browne. Early in the nineteenth century enterprising booksellers at York, Northallerton, Bedale, Otley, and ,Knaresborough were turning out little chap-books, generally bearing the title, Specimens of the Yorkshire Dialect, and consisting largely of the dialect poems of Browne. These circulated widely in the country districts of Yorkshire, and to this day one meets with peasants who take a delight in reciting Browne's songs and eclogues.
Down to the close of the eighteenth century the authors of Yorkshire dialect poetry had been men of education, and even writers by profession. With the coming, of the nineteenth century the composition of such poetry extends to men in a humbler social position. The working-man poet appears on the scene and makes his presence felt in many ways. Early in the century, David Lewis, a Knaresborough gardener, published, in one of the chap-books to which reference has just been made, two dialect poems, "The Sweeper and Thieves" and "An Elegy on the Death of a Frog"; they were afterwards republished, together with some non-dialect verses, in a volume entitled The Landscape and Other Poems (York, 1815) by the same author. A dialogue poem by Lewis, entitled The Pocket Books," appears in later chap-books. It cannot be claimed for him that his poetic power is of a high standard, but as the first Yorkshire peasant poet to write dialect verse he calls for notice here. His "Elegy on the Death of a Frog" is perhaps chiefly interesting as showing the influence of Burns upon Yorkshire poets at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In idea, and in the choice of verse, it is directly modelled on the famous "To a Mouse."
The reader will doubtless have noticed that in this historic review of Yorkshire dialect poetry it has always been the life of rural Yorkshire which is depicted, and that the great bulk of the poetry has belonged to the North Riding. What we have now to trace is the extension of this revival of vernacular poetry to the densely populated West Riding, where a dialect differing radically from that of the, north and east is spoken, and where, an astonishing variety of industries has created an equally varied outlook upon life and habit of thought. Was the Sheffield cutler, the Barnsley miner, the Bradford handloom-weaver, and the Leeds forge-man to find no outlet in dialect verse for his thoughts and emotions, his hopes and his fears? Or, if dialect poetry must be concerned only with rustic life, was the Craven dalesman to have no voice in the matter? Questions such as these may well have passed through the minds of West Riding men as they saw the steady growth of North Riding poetry in the first forty years of the nineteenth century, and passed from hand to hand the well-thumbed chap-books wherein were included poems like "Awd Daisy," "The Sweeper and Thieves," and the dialect-songs. The desire to have a share in the movement became more and more urgent, and when the West Riding joined in, it was inevitable that it should widen the scope of dialect poetry both in spirit and in form.
A West Riding dialect literature seems to have arisen first of all in Barnsley and Sheffield in the fourth decade of the nineteenth century. Between 1830 and 1834 a number of prose "conversations" entitled, The Sheffield Dialect.' Be a Shevvild Chap, passed through the press. The author of these also published in 1832 The Wheelswarf Chronicle, and in 1836 appeared the first number of The Shevvild Chap's Annual in which the writer throws aside his nom-de-plume and signs himself Abel Bywater. This annual, which lived for about twenty years, is the first of the many "Annuals" or "Almanacs" which are the most characteristic product of the West Riding dialect movement. Their history is a subject to itself, and inasmuch as the contributions to them are largely in prose, they can only be referred to very lightly here. Their popularity and ever-increasing circulation is a sure proof of their wide appeal, and there can be no doubt that they have done an immense service in endearing the local idiom in which they are written to those who speak it, and also in interpreting the life and thought of the, great industrial communities for whom they are written. The literary quality of these almanacs varies greatly, but among their pages will be found many poems, and many prose tales and sketches, which vividly portray the West Riding artisan. Abundant justice is done to his sense of humour, which, if broad and at times even crude, is always good-natured and healthy, as well as to his intense love of the sentimental, which to the stranger lurks hidden beneath a mask of indifference. Incidentally, these almanacs also present a faithful picture of the social history of the West Riding during the greater part of a century. As we study their pages, we realise what impression events such as the introduction of the railroad, the Chartist Movement, the Repeal of the Corn Laws, mid-Victorian factory legislation, Trade- Unionism, the Co-operative movement and Temperance reform made upon the minds of nineteenth-century Yorkshiremen; in other words, these almanacs furnish us with just such a mirror of nineteenth-century industrial Yorkshire as the bound volumes of Punch furnish of the nation as a whole. Among the most famous of these annual productions is The Bairnsla Foak's Annual, an Pogmoor Olmenack, started by Charles Rogers (Tom, Treddlehoyle) in 1838, and The Halifax Original Illuminated Clock Almanac begun by John Hartley in 1867. The number of these almanacs is very large; most of them are published and circulated chiefly in the industrial districts of the Riding, but not the least interesting among them is The Nidderdill Olminac, edited by "Nattie Nidds" at Pateley Bridge; it began in 1864 and ran until 1880. Wherever published, all of these almanacs conform more or less to the same pattern, as it was first laid down by the founder of the dialect almanac, Abel Bywater of Sheffield, in the year 1836. Widely popular in the West Riding, the almanac has never obtained foothold in the other Ridings, and is little known outside of the county. The "Bibliographical List" of dialect literature, published by the English Dialect Society' in 1877, mentions only two annuals or almanacs, in addition to those published in the West Riding, and both of these belong to Tyneside.
Abel Bywater finds a place in our anthology by virtue of his "Sheffield Cutler's Song." In its rollicking swing and boisterous humour it serves admirably to illustrate the new note which is heard when we pass from rural Yorkshire to the noisy manufacturing cities. We exchange the farm, or the country fair, for the gallery of the city music-hall, where the cutler sits armed with stones, red herrings, "flat-backs," and other missiles ready to be hurled at the performers "if they don't play' Nancy's Fancy' or onay tune we fix."
We are not concerned here with the linguistic side of Yorkshire dialect literature, but the reader will notice how different is the phonology, and to a less extent the vocabulary and idiom, of this song from that of the North Riding specimens.
Returning once more to the North Riding, we must first of all draw attention to the poet, John Castillo. In the country round Whitby and Pickering, and throughout the Hambledon Hills, his name is very familiar. Born near Dublin, in 1792, of Roman Catholic parents, he was brought up at Lealholm Bridge, in the Cleveland country, and learnt the trade of a journeyman stone-mason. Having abjured the faith of his childhood, he joined, in 1818, the Wesleyan Methodist Society and acquired great popularity in the North Riding as a local preacher. His well-known poem, "Awd Isaac," seems to have been first printed at Northallerton in 1831. Twelve years later it occupies the first place in a volume of poems published by the author at Whitby under the title, Awd Isaac, The Steeplechase, and Other Poems. Like most of his other poems, "Awd Isaac" is strongly didactic and religious; its homely piety and directness of speach have won for it a warm welcome among the North Yorkshire peasantry, and many a farmer and farm-labourer still living knows much of the poem by heart. As "Awd Isaac " is too long for an anthology, I have chosen "The Lucky Dream" as an illustration of Castillo's workmanship. Apart from its narrative interest, this poem calls for attention as a Yorkshire variant of an ancient and widely dispersed folk-tale, the earliest known version of which is to be found in the works of the thirteenth-century Persian poet Jalalu'd-Din. Castillo died at Pickering in 1845, and five years later a complete edition of his poems was published at Kirkby Moorside.
Less popular than "Awd Isaac," but often met with in collections of dialect verse, is the poem entitled "The York Minster Screen." This was the work of George Newton Brown, a lawyer by profession, who lived at Nunnington in Ryedale. The poem, which is in the form of a dialogue between two Yorkshire farmers, was first published at Malton in 1833. The conversation, which is of the raciest description, is supposed to take place in York Minster and turns on the repairs which were made in 1832 to the famous organ-screen which separates the nave and transepts from the chancel. The question of altering the position of the screen is debated with much humour and vivacity.
Before leaving the North Riding, reference must be made to Elizabeth Tweddell, the gifted poetess of the Cleveland Hills. Born at Stokesley in 1833, the daughter of Thomas Cole, the parish-clerk of that town, she married George Markham Tweddell, the author of The People's History of Cleveland, and in 1875 she published a slender volume of dialect verse and prose entitled Rhymes and Sketches to Illustrate the Cleveland Dialect. In her modest preface Mrs. Tweddell declares that the only merit of her work lies in "the stringing together of a good many Cleveland words and expressions that are fast becoming obsolete"; but the volume has far deeper claims on our gratitude than this. There is much homely charm in her rhymes and sketches, and the two extracts which find a place in this collection are models of what simple dialect-poems should be. Above all, Mrs. Tweddell has the gift of humour; this is well illustrated by the song, "Dean't mak gam o' me," and also by her well-known prose story, "Awd Gab o' Steers." Her most sustained effort in verse is the poem entitled " T' Awd Cleveland Customs," in which she gives us a delightful picture of the festive seasons of the Cleveland year from " Newery Day," with its "lucky bod," to "Kessamus," with its "sooard dancers."
The western portion of the North Riding, including Swale and Wensleydale, has been less fruitful in dialect poetry than the eastern. Apart from the anonymous "Wensleydale Lad" already noticed, it is represented in this anthology only by the spirited poem, "Reeth Bartle Fair," the work of a true lover of dialect speech, Captain John Harland, who published for the English Dialect Society a valuable glossary of Swaledale words (1873). The Craven country, the dialect of which differs materially from that spoken in the manufacturing districts of the West, Riding, is not without its bards. These include James Henry Dixon (1803-1876),—a local historian and antiquary of scholarly tastes, who edited for the Percy Society the delightful collection of folk-poetry entitled, Ancient Poems, Ballads, and Songs of the Peasantry of England (1846). Mr. Dixon wrote comparatively little poetry himself, but his song, "The Milkin'-time," has the lilt of the best Scottish folk-songs and well deserves its inclusion here. In a longer poem, "Slaadburn Faar" (1871), he gives a humorous and racy description of the adventures of a farmer and his wife on their journey from Grassington to Slaidburn to attend the local fair. In general idea it resembles Harland's "Reeth Bartle Fair," which appeared in the preceding year.
But the typical poet of the Craven country was Tom Twistleton, a farmer near Settle, whose Poems in the Craven, Dialect first appeared in 1869, and soon ran through several editions. He was a disciple of Burns, and his poem "The Christmas-Party" (see below) daringly challenges comparison with the immortal "Halloween." His description of the dancing in the farm-house kitchen, and of the adventures of the pair of lovers who escape from the merry throng, is singularly vivid, and illustrates the author's ready humour and keen observation of rustic life and character.
Reference has already been made to the Nidderdill Olminac which ,vas produced by "Nattie Nidds" between 1864 and 1880 and published at Pateley Bridge. Among the contributors to it was Thomas Blackah, a working miner of Greenhow Hill, who in 1867 published a volume of dialect verse entitled Songs and Poems in the Nidderdale Dialect. In their truth to life, homely charm and freedom from pretentiousness, these dialect poems resemble those of Mrs. Tweddell, and deserve a wider recognition than they have so far won.
After this excursion into the dales of the North and West Riding, where, apart from mining, the life of the people is largely spent on the farm, we must turn once again to the industrial Yorkshire of the south-west, and see to what extent dialect poetry has flourished in the smoke-laden air of chimney-stacks and blast-furnaces, and with what success the Yorkshire dialect poets of the towns and cities have interpreted the life and thoughts of those who work in the mill or at the forge. As we have already seen, the first attempts to interpret in dialect poetry the life of industrial Yorkshire were made at Sheffield early in the nineteenth century by Abel Bywater. As the century advanced, the movement spread northwards, and the great artisan communities of Bradford, Leeds, and Halifax produced their poets. Among these pre-eminence belongs to Ben Preston, the Bradford poet, who stepped swiftly into local fame by the publication of his well-known poem, "Natterin' Nan," which first appeared in a Bradford journal in 1856. This is a vigorous piece of dramatic realism, setting forth the character of a Yorkshire scold and grumbler with infinite zest and humour. But it is in pathos that the genius of Preston chiefly consists. In poems like "Owd Moxy," "T' Lancashire Famine," and "I niver can call her my wife," he gives us pictures of the struggle that went on in the cottage-homes of the West Riding during the "hungry forties." In "Owd Moxy" his subject is the old waller who has to face the pitiless winter wind and rain as he plies his dreary task on the moors; but in most of his poems it is the life of the handloom-weaver that he interprets. The kindliness of his nature is everywhere apparent and gives a sincerity to the poems in which he portrays with rare discernment and sympathy the sufferings of the artisan, toiling from morning to night on eight shillings a week. His pathos has dignity and restraint, and in the poem "I niver can call her my wife" it rises to the heights of great tragedy. This is Ben Preston's masterpiece, and, though scarcely known outside of the county, it deserves to take a place side by side with Hood's " Song of the Shirt" by reason of the poignancy with which it interprets the tragedy of penury.(5)
The example set by Ben Preston has been followed by other dialect poets living in the district round Bradford. Mention may be made of James Burnley, whose poem, "Jim's Letter," is a telling illustration of the fine use which can be made of dialect in the service of the dramatic lyric; and of Abraham Holroyd, who not only wrote original verse, but also made a valuable collection of old Yorkshire songs and ballads.(6)
The rivalry between Bradford and Leeds is proverbial, and, though the latter city has lagged behing Bradford in the production of dialect literature, the Yorkshire Songs of J. H. Eccles, published in 1862, is a notable contribution to the movement whose history is here being recorded. In John Hartley, Halifax possessed the most versatile dialect-writer that Yorkshire has so far produced. For fifty years this writer, who died in 1915, poured forth lyric song and prose tale in unstinted measure. Most of his dialect work found a place in the Original Illuminated Clock Almanac, which he edited from 1867 until his death; but from time to time he gathered the best of his work into book form, and his Yorkshire Lyrics, published in 1898, occupy a place of honour in many a Yorkshire home. The examples from his works here given will serve to illustrate his fine ear for metrical harmony, his imaginative power, and his sympathetic interpretation of Yorkshire character. Of the younger generation of Yorkshire poets, most of them still alive, I must speak more briefly. But it must not be overlooked that, so far from there being any falling off in the volume or quality of dialect-verse, it is safe to say that it has never been in so flourishing a condition as at the present day. Dialect poems are now being written in all parts of the county. Editors of weekly papers welcome them gladly in their columns; the Yorkshire Dialect Society has recently opened the pages of its annual Transactions to original contributions in verse and prose, and every year the printing presses of London and Yorkshire publish volumes of dialect verse. Of individual writers, whose work finds illustration in this anthology, mention may be made of the Rev. W. H. Oxley, whose T' Fisher Folk o' Riley Brig (1888) marks, I believe, the first attempt to interpret in verse the hazardous life of the east-coast fisherman. Farther north, Mr. G. H. Cowling has given us in his A Yorkshire Tyke (1914) a number of spirited and winsome studies of the life and thought of the Hackness peasant. The wold country of the East Riding has found its interpreter in Mr. J. A. Carill, whose Woz'ls (1913) is full of delightful humour, as readers of "Love and Pie" will readily discover for themselves. "The File-cutter's L'ament " (see below), which I have selected from Mr. Downing's volume, Smook thru' a Shevvield Chimla, will show that the Sheffield "blade" is doing his best to carry on the tradition set by Abel Bywater eighty years ago. Airedale still has its poets, among the most ambitious of whom is Mr. Malham-Dembleby, who published in 1912 a volume of verse entitled, Original Tales and Ballads in the Yorkshire Dialect. Mr. F. J. Newboult has deservedly won fame as a prosewriter in dialect; his dialect sketches which have for some years appeared in The Yorkshire Observer are full of broad humour and dramatic power, and his dainty little lyric "Spring" (p. 87) is a sufficient indication that he has also the dower of the poet. In Alderman Ben Turner of Batley Yorkshire possesses a courageous advocate of the social betterment of the working man and woman, and in the midst of a busy life he has, found' time to give utterance to his indignation and his faith in dialect-poems which appeal from the heart to the heart. Mr. Walter Hampson, of Normanton, writes in a lighter vein in his Tykes Abrooad (1911); he is our Yorkshire Mark Twain, and his narrative of the adventures of a little party of Yorkshiremen in Normandy and Brittany is full of humour. Songs are scattered through the story, and one of these, "Owd England," finds a place in this collection. The Colne Valley and the country round Huddersfield has been somewhat slow in responding to the call of the homely muse of dialect but Mr. E. A. Lodge's little volume of verse and prose. entitled Odds an' Ends, marks a successful beginning.
In our account of the history of dialect poetry in Yorkshire it will have been noticed that the chief forms of verse to which local poets have had recourse have been the song, personal or dramatic, the ballad, and the dialogue. Among the most hopeful signs of the times has been the recent extension of dialect to poems of a more sustained character. Within the last twenty years two writers, associated with the far north and the far south of the county respectively, have made the bold attempt to use dialect in narrative poems of larger compass than the simple ballad. These are Mr. Richard Blakeborough, the author of T' Hunt o' Yatton Brigg (1896), and Mr. J. S. Fletcher, who, as recently as 1915, published in the dialect of Osgoldcross his Leet Livvy. These two poems are in general character poles apart: that of Mr. Blakeborough is pure romance, whereas Mr. Fletcher never steps aside from the strait path of realism. T' Hunt o' Yatton Brigg is steeped in all the eerie witch-lore of the Cleveland moors. The plot is laid in the district round the famous Roseberry Topping, and deals with the adventures which befall a certain Johnny Simpson, who, when crossed in love, seeks the aid of the witches to aid him in his work of vengeance on the woman who has cast him off. The story is told with great vividness, and the author has made an effective use of all the malevolent powers of witchcraft, seconded by the elemental forces of thunder and lightning, to aid him in telling a story of great dramatic power. Leet Livvy, on the other hand, is as sober and restrained as one of the verse-tales of Crabbe, and the only resemblance which it bears to Mr. Blakeborough's witch-story lies in the fact that its hero, like Johnny Simpson, belongs to the peasantry and has suffered at the hands of a woman. The tragic story of "Owd Mattha o' Marlby Moor" is recorded by the sexton whose duty it is to toll the passing bell, and Mr. Fletcher, whose reputation as a novelist is deservedly high, has rendered the narrative with consummate art. The use of dialect enhances the directness and dramatic realism of the story at every turn; the characters stand out sharp and clear, and we are brought face to face with the passion that makes for tragedy. The poem is purged clean of all sentiment and moralising: it is narrative pure and simple, but aglow with the lurid flame of a passion that burns to the very roots of life. It is no exaggeration to say that Leet Livvy is the greatest achievement in Yorkshire dialect poetry up to the present time; let us hope that it is an earnest of even greater things yet to come.
The duty still remains of offering a few words of explanation concerning the poems which find a place in the second part of this anthology, and which I have classified as "traditional poems." It is not contended that all of these are folk-poems in the strict sense of the term, but all of them are of unknown authorship, and for most of them a considerable antiquity may be claimed; moreover, like the folk-song, they owe their preservation rather to oral tradition than to the labours of the scribe. Many of these poems enshrine some of the customs and superstitions of the country-side and carry our thoughts back to a time when the Yorkshireman's habit of mind was far more primitive and childlike than it is to-day. Moreover, though many of the old popular beliefs and rites have vanished before the advance of education and industrialism, the Yorkshireman still clings to the past with a tenacity which exceeds that of the people farther to the south. For example, nowhere in England does the old folk-play which enacts the combats of St. George with his Saracen adversaries enjoy such popularity as in the upper waters of the Calder Valley and in busy Rochdale over the border. This play, known locally as "The Peace [or Pasque, i.e. Easter] Egg," was once acted all over England. Driven from the country-side, where old traditions usually live the longest, it survives amid the smoke-laden atmosphere of cotton-mills and in towns which pride themselves, not without reason, on their love of progress and their readiness to receive new ideas. It is, for our purpose, unfortunate that this fine old play preserves little of the local dialect and is therefore excluded from this anthology.(7) Apart from "The Peace Egg," it is the remote Cleveland country in the North Riding in which the old traditional poetry of Yorkshire has been best preserved. This is the land of the sword-dance, the bridal-garter, and the "mell- supper," the land in which primitive faiths and traditions survive with strange tenacity. The late Canon Atkinson has made this land familiar to us by his fascinating Forty Years in a Moorland Parish, and, to the lover of traditional dialect songs, an even greater service has been rendered by a later gleaner in this harvest-field, Mr. Richard Blakeborough of Norton-on-Tees, whose T' Hunt o' Yatton Brigg has already been considered. In his supplement to the little volume which contains that poem, and again in his highly instructive and entertaining Wit, Character, Folklore, and Customs of the North Riding of Yorkshire, Mr. Blakeborough has brought together a number of traditional songs and proverbial rhymes of great interest, and, to some extent at least, of high antiquity. Many of these have been collected by him among the peasantry, others are taken from a manuscript collection of notes on North Riding folklore made by a certain George Calvert early in the nineteenth century, and now in Mr. Blakeborough's possession.
Of the first importance in this anthology of traditional song are the "Cleveland Lyke-wake Dirge" and "A Dree Neet." The former has been well known to lovers of poetry since Sir Walter Scott included it in his Border Minstrelsy; the latter, I believe, was never published until the appearance of T' Hunt o' Yatton Brigg in 1896. The tragic power and suggestiveness of these two poems is very remarkable. It is, I think, fairly certain that they stand in intimate association with one another and point back to a time when the prevailing creed of Yorkshire was Roman Catholicism. Both depict with deep solemnity the terrors of death and of the Judgment which lies beyond. Whinny Moor appears in either poem as the desolate moorland tract, beset with prickly whin-bushes and flinty stones, which the dead man must traverse on "shoonless feet" on his journey from life. And beyond this moor lies the still more mysterious "Brig o' Dreead," or "' Brig o' Deead," as "A Dree Neet" renders it. It would be tempting to conjecture the precise significance of this allusion, and to connect it with other primitive myths and legends of a similar character; but space fails us, and it may well be that the very vagueness of the allusion is of more haunting tragic power than precise knowledge. It is also interesting to notice the effective use which is made in "A Dree Neet" of all the superstitions which gather about the great pageant of death. The flight of the Gabriel ratchets, or Gabriel hounds, through the sky, the fluttering of bats at the casement and of moths at the candle flame, and the shroud of soot which falls from the chimney of the room where the dying man lies, are introduced with fine effect; while the curious reference to the folk that draw nigh from the other side of the grave has an Homeric ring about it, and recalls the great scene in the Odyssey where the ghosts of Elpenor, Teiresias, and other dead heroes gather about the trench that Odysseus has digged on the other side of the great stream of Oceanus, hard by the dank house of Hades.
It is unnecessary to speak at any length of the other songs, proverbial rhymes, and "nominies" which find a place among the traditional poems in this collection. The mumming-songs, the boisterous "Ridin' t' stang" verses, and all the snatches of folk-song which are, associated with the festive ritual of the circling year either carry their own explanation with them or have been elucidated by those who have written on the subject of Yorkshire customs and folklore. I heartily commend to the reader's notice the three songs entitled "The Bridal Bands," "The Bridal Garter," and "Nance and Tom," which we owe to Mr. Blakeborough, and which present to us in so delightful a manner the picture of the bride tying her garter of wheaten and oaten straws about her left leg and the bride-groom unloosing it after the wedding. It is hoped, too, that the reader may find much that is interesting in the singing-games, verses and the rhymes which throw light upon the vanishing customs, folklore, and faiths of the county. They serve to lift the veil which hides the past from the present, and to give us visions of a world which is fast passing out of sight and out of memory. It is a world where one may still faintly hear the horns of elfland blowing, and where Hob-trush Hob and little Nanny Button-cap wander on printless feet through the star-lit glades; where charms are still recited when the moon is new, and where on St. Agnes' Eve the milkmaid lets the twelve sage-leaves fall from her casement-window and, like Keats's Madeline, peers through "the honey'd middle of the night "for a glimpse of the Porphyro to whom she must pledge her troth.
1. Some years before Thoresby's letter was written, another Yorkshireman, Francis Brokesby, rector of Rowley in the East Riding, communicated with Ray about dialect words in use in his district. See Ray's Collection of English Words, second edition, pp. 170-73 (1691).
2. It has been republished by the late Professor Skeat in the English Dialect Society's volume, Nine Specimens of English Dialects.
3. Two editions of this ballad-opera were published in 1736. The title of the first (? pirated) edition runs as follows: A Wonder; or, An Honest Yorkshire-man. A Ballad Opera; As it is Performed at the Theatres with Universal Applause. In the second edition the words, "A Wonder," disappear from the title.
4. Edited by J. O. Halliwell in his Yorkshire Anthology, 1851.
5. The first edition of Ben Preston's poems appeared in 1860 with the title, Poems and Songs in the Dialect of Bradford Dale.
6. A. Holroyd: A Collection of Yorkshire Ballads, ed. by C. F. Forshaw. (G. Bell, 1892.)
7. The reader will find a reprint of the West Riding version of The Peace Egg, with an attempt by the editor of this anthology to throw light upon its inner meaning, in the second volume of Essays and Studies of the English Association (Clarendon Press, 1911).
A Yorkshire Dialogue between an awd Wife a Lass and a butcher. (1673)
Printed at York as a broadside by Stephen Bulkley in 1673. The original broadside is lost, but a manuscript transcript of it was purchased by the late Professor Skeat at the sale of Sir F. Madden's books and papers, and published by him in volume xxxii. of the Dialect Society's Transactions, 1896.
AWD WIFE. Pretha now, lass, gang into t' hurn(1) An' fetch me heame a skeel o' burn(2); Na, pretha, barn, mak heaste an' gang, I's mar my deagh,(3) thou stays sae lang. LASS. Why, Gom,(4) I's gea, bud, for my pains, You's gie me a frundel(5) o' your grains. AWD WIFE. My grains, my barn! Marry! not I; My draugh's(6) for t' gilts an' galts(7) i' t' sty. Than, pretha, look i t' garth and see What owsen(8) i' the stand-hecks(9) be. LASS. Blukrins! they'll put,(10) I dare not gang Oute'en(11) you'll len' me t' great leap-stang.(12) AWD WIFE. Tak t' frugan,(13) or t' awd maulin-shaft,(14) Coom tite(15) agean an' be not daft. LASS. Gom, t' great bull-segg(16) he's brokken lowse, An' he, he's hiked(17) your broad-horned owse; An' t' owse is fall'n into t' swine-trough, I think he's brokken his cameril-hough.(18) AWD WIFE. Whaw! Whaw! lass, mak heaste to t' smedy,(19) He's noo dead, for he rowts(20) already; He's boun; oh! how it bauks an' stangs!(21) His lisk(22) e'en bumps an' bobs wi' pangs. His weazen-pipe's(23) as dry as dust, His dew-lap's swelled, he cannot hoast.(24) He beals(25); tak t' barghams(26) off o' t' beams An' fetch some breckons(27) frae the clames.(28) Frae t' banks go fetch me a weam-tow(29) My nowt's(30) e'en wrecken'd, he'll not dow.(31) E'en wellanerin!(32) for my nowt, For syke a musan(33) ne'er was wrowt. Put t' wyes(34) amell(35) yon stirks an' steers I' t' owmer,(36) an' sneck the lear-deers.(37) See if Goff Hyldroth be gain-hand (38) Thou helterful,(39) how dares ta stand! LASS. He'll coom belive,(40) or aibles titter,(41) For when he hard i' what a twitter(42) Your poor owse lay, he took his flail An' hang'd 't by t' swipple(43) on a nail; An' teuk a mell(44) fra t' top o' t' wharns(45) An' sware he'd ding your owse i' t' harns.(46) He stack his shak-fork up i' t' esins(47) An' teuk his jerkin off o' t' gresins.(48) Then teuk his mittens, reached his bill, An' off o' t' yune-head(49) teuk a swill(50) To kep t' owse blude in. Leuk, he's coom. AWD WIFE. Than reach a thivel(51) or a strum(52) To stir his blude; stand not to tauk. Hing t' reckans(53) up o' t' rannel-bauk.(54) God ye good-morn, Goff; I's e'en fain You'll put my owse out o' his pain. BUTCHER. Hough-band him, tak thir(55) weevils hine(56) F'rae t' rape's end; this is not a swine We kill, where ilkane hauds a fooit. I's ready now, ilkane leuk to it. Then "Beef!" i' God's name I now cry. Stretch out his legs an' let him lie Till I coom stick him. Where's my swill?(57) Coom hither, lass; haud, haud, haud still. LASS. What mun I do wi' t' blude? BUTCHER. Thou fool, Teem(58) 't down i' t' garth, i' t' midden-pool. Good beef, by t' mass! an' when 'tis hung I's roll it down wi' tooth an' tongue, An' gobble 't down e'en till I worry. An' whan neist mell(59) we mak a lurry(60) A piece o' this frae t' kimlin(61) browt By t' Rood! 't will be as good as owt. AWD WIFE. Maut-hearted(62) fool, I e'en could greet(63) To see my owse dead at my feet. I thank you, Goff; I's wipe my een An', please, you too. BUTCHER. Why, Gom Green?
1. Corner. 2. Bucket of water. 3. Dough. 4. Grand-mother. 5. Handful. 6. Draff. 7. Sows and boars. 8. Oxen. 9. Stalls. 10. Gore. 11. Unless. 12. Pole. 13. Oven-fork. 14. Handle of oven-mop. 15. Quickly. 16. Bullock. 17. Gored. 18. Bend of hind.leg. 19. Smithy. 20. Snorts. 21. Swells and stings. 22. Flank. 23. Windpipe. 24. Cough. 25. Bellows. 26. Horse-collars. 27. Bracken. 28. Heaps. 29. Belly-band. 30. Ox. 31. Recover. 32. Alas! 33. Wonder. 34. Heifers. 35. Among. 36. Shade. 37. Barn-doors. 38. Near at hand. 39. Halter-full. 40. Soon. 41. Perhaps sooner. 42. Perilous state. 43. Flap-end. 44. Mallet. 45. Hand-mill. 46. Brains. 47. Eaves. 48. Stairs. 49. Oven-top. 50. Bucket. 51. Porridge-stick. 52. Stick. 53. Iron chains for pot-hooks. 54. Chimney cross-beam. 55. Those. 56. Away. 57. Bucket. 58. Pour. 59. Next harvest-supper. 60. Merry feast. 61. Tub. 62. Maggot-hearted. 63. Weep.
An Honest Yorkshireman
Henry Carey (Died 1748)
I is i' truth a coontry youth, Nean used to Lunnon fashions; Yet vartue guides, an' still presides Ower all my steps an' passions. Nea coortly leer, bud all sincere, Nea bribe shall iver blinnd me ; If thoo can like a Yorkshire tike, A rogue thoo'll niver finnd me.
Thof envy's tongue, so slimly hung, Would lee aboot oor coonty, Nea men o' t' earth boast greater worth, Or mair extend their boonty. Oor northern breeze wi' us agrees, An' does for wark weel fit us ; I' public cares, an' love affairs, Wi' honour We acquit us.
Sea great a maand(1) is ne'er confaand(2) 'Tiv onny shire or nation, They gie un meast praise whea weel displays A larned eddication; Whaal rancour rolls i' laatle souls, By shallow views dissarnin', They're nobbut wise at awlus prize Good manners, sense, an' larnin'.
1. Mind 2. Confined
From "Snaith Marsh" (1754)
This was written at the time of the Enclosure Acts which robbed the peasent farmer of his rights to use Commons.
Alas! will Roger e'er his sleep forgo, Afore larks sing, or early cocks 'gin Crow, As I've for thee, ungrateful maiden, done, To help thee milking, e'er day wark begun? And when thy well-stripp'd kye(1) would yield no more, Still on my head the reeking kit(2) I bore. And, Oh! bethink thee, then, what lovesome talk We've held together, ganging down the balk, Maund'ring(3) at time which would na for us stay, But now, I ween, maes(4) no such hast away. Yet, O! return eftsoon and ease my woe, And to some distant parish let us go, And there again them leetsome days restore, Where, unassail'd by meety(5) folk in power, Our cattle yet may feed, tho' Snaith Marsh be no more. But wae is me! I wot I fand(6) am grown, Forgetting Susan is already gone, And Roger aims e'er Lady Day to wed; The banns last Sunday in the church were bid. But let me, let me first i' t' churchyard lig, For soon I there must gang, my grief's so big. All others in their loss some comfort find; Though Ned's like me reduc'd, yet Jenny's kind, And though his fleece no more our parson taks, And roast goose, dainty food, our table lacks, Yet he, for tithes ill paid, gets better land, While I am ev'ry o' t' losing hand. My adlings wared,(7) and yet my rent to pay, My geese, like Susan's faith, flown far away; My cattle, like their master, lank and poor, My heart with hopeless love to pieces tore, And all these sorrows came syne(8) Snaith Marsh was no more
1. Well-milked kine (cattle) 2. Pail 3. Finding Fault 4. Makes 5. Mighty 6. Fond, Foolish 7. Earnings spent 8. Since
When at Hame wi' Dad
When at hame wi' dad, We niver had nae fun, sir, Which meade me sae mad, I swore away I'd run, sir. I pack'd up clease(1) sae smart, Ribbed stockings, weastcoats pretty; Wi' money an' leet heart, Tripp'd off to Lunnon city, Fal de ral de ra.
When I did git there I geap'd about quite silly, At all the shows to stare I' a spot call'd Piccadilly. Lord! sike charmin' seights: Bods(2) i' cages thrive, sir', Coaches, fiddles, feights, An' crocodiles alive, sir, Fal de ral de ra.
Then I did gan to see The gentry in Hyde Park, sir, When a lass push'd readely(1) by, To whom I did remark, sir: "Tho' your feace be e'en sae fair, I've seen a bear mair civil." Then, the laatle clease they wear! God! Lunnon is the divil, Fal de ral de ra.
To t' play-house then I goes, Whar I seed merry feaces, An' i' the lower rows Were sarvants keepin' pleaces. The players I saw sean, They managed things quite funny; By gock! they'd honey-mean Afore they'd matrimony. Fal de ral de ra.
Now havin' seen all I could An' pass'd away my time, sir, If you think fit an' good, I'll e'en give up my rhyme, sir. An', sud my ditty please, The poppies in this garden To me would be heart's-ease; If not, I axe your pardon. Fal de ral de ra.
1. Clothes 2. Birds 3. Rudely
I'm Yorkshire too
From A Garland of New Songs, published by W. Appleton, Darlington, 1811.
By t' side of a brig, that stands over a brook, I was sent betimes to school; I went wi' the stream, as I studied my book, An' was thought to be no small fool. I never yet bought a pig in a poke, For, to give awd Nick his due, Tho' oft I've dealt wi' Yorkshire folk, Yet I was Yorkshire too.
I was pretty well lik'd by each village maid, At races, wake or fair, For my father had addled a vast(1) in trade, And I were his son and heir. And seeing that I didn't want for brass, Poor girls came first to woo, But tho' I delight in a Yorkshrre lass, Yet I was Yorkshire too!
To Lunnon by father I was sent, Genteeler manners to see; But fashion's so dear, I came back as I went, And so they made nothing o' me My kind relations would soon have found out What was best wi' my money to do: Says I, "My dear cousins, I thank ye for nowt, But I'm not to be cozen'd by you! For I'm Yorkshire too."
1. Earned a lot.
The Wensleydale Lad
When I were at home wi' my fayther an' mother, I niver had na fun; They kept me goin' frae morn to neet, so I thowt frae them I'd run. Leeds Fair were coomin' on, an' I thowt I'd have a spree, So I put on my Sunday cooat an' went right merrily.
First thing I saw were t' factory, I niver seed one afore; There were threads an' tapes, an' tapes an' silks, to sell by monny a score. Owd Ned turn'd iv'ry wheel, an' iv'ry wheel a strap; "Begor!" says I to t' maister-man, "Owd Ned's a rare strong chap."
Next I went to Leeds Owd Church— I were niver i' one i' my days, An' I were maistly ashamed o' misel, for I didn't knaw their ways; There were thirty or forty folk, i' tubs an' boxes sat, When up cooms a saucy owd fellow. Says he, "Noo, lad, tak off thy hat."
Then in there cooms a great Lord Mayor, an' over his shooders a club, An' he gat into a white sack-poke,(1) an gat into t' topmost tub. An' then there cooms anither chap, I thinks they call'd him Ned, An' he gat into t' bottommost tub, an' mock'd all t' other chap said.
So they began to preach an' pray, they prayed for George, oor King; When up jumps t' chap i' t' bottommost tub. Says he, "Good folks, let's sing." I thowt some sang varra weel, while others did grunt an' groan, Ivery man sang what he wad, so I sang " Darby an' Joan."(2)
When preachin' an' prayin' were over, an' folks were gangin' away, I went to t' chap i' t' topmost tub. Says I, "Lad, what's to pay?" "Why, nowt," says he, "my lad." Begor! I were right fain, So I click'd hod(3) o' my gret club stick an' went whistlin' oot again.
1. Corn-sack 2. Another reading is "Bobbing Joan." 3. Took hold
A Song 1.
Thomas Browne (1771-1798)
Ye loit'ring minutes faster flee, Y' are all ower slow by hauf for me, That wait impatient for the mornin'; To-morn's the lang, lang-wish'd-for fair, I'll try to shine the fooremost there, Misen in finest claes adornin', To grace the day.
I'll put my best white stockings on, An' pair o' new cauf-leather shoon, My clane wash'd gown o' printed cotton; Aboot my neck a muslin shawl, A new silk handkerchee ower all, Wi' sike a careless air I'll put on, I'll shine this day.
My partner Ned, I know, thinks he, He'll mak hiss en secure o' me, He's often said he'd treat me rarely; But I's think o' some other fun, I'll aim for some rich farmer's son, And cheat oor simple Neddy fairly, Sae sly this day.
Why mud not I succeed as weel, An' get a man full oot genteel, As awd John Darby's daughter Nelly? I think misen as good as she, She can't mak cheese or spin like me, That's mair 'an(1) beauty, let me tell ye, On onny day.
Then hey! for sports and puppy shows, An' temptin' spice-stalls rang'd i' rows, An' danglin' dolls by t' necks all hangin'; An' thousand other pratty seets, An' lasses traul'd(2) alang the streets, Wi' lads to t' yal-hoose gangin' To drink this day.
Let's leuk at t' winder, I can see 't, It seems as tho' 't was growin' leet, The cloods wi' early rays adornin'; Ye loit'ring minutes faster flee, Y' are all ower slow be hauf for me, At(3) wait impatient for the mornin' O' sike a day.
1. Than 2. Trailed 3. That
A Song 2.
Thomas Browne (1771—1798)
When I was a wee laatle totterin' bairn, An' had nobbud just gitten short frocks, When to gang I at first was beginnin' to lairn, On my brow I gat monny hard knocks. For sae waik, an' sae silly an' helpless was I I was always a tumblin' doon then, While my mother would twattle me(1) gently an' cry, "Honey Jenny, tak care o' thisen."
When I grew bigger, an' got to be strang, At I cannily ran all about By misen, whor I liked, then I always mud gang Bithout(2) bein' tell'd about ought; When, however, I com to be sixteen year awd, An' rattled an' ramp'd amang men, My mother would call o' me in an' would scaud, An' cry—" Huzzy, tak care o' thisen."
I've a sweetheart cooms noo upo' Setterday nights, An' he swears at he'll mak me his wife; My mam grows sae stingy, she scauds an' she flytes,(3) An' twitters(4) me oot o' my life. Bud she may leuk sour, an' consait hersen wise, An' preach agean likin' young men; Sen I's grown a woman her clack(5) I'll despise, An' I's—marry!—tak care o' misen.
1. Prattle to me. 2. Without. 3. Argues, 4. Worries. 5. Talk
The Invasion: An Ecologue
Thomas Browne (1771—1798)
Impius haec tam culta novalia miles habebit?—Virgil.
A wanton wether had disdain'd the bounds That kept him close confin'd to Willy's grounds; Broke through the hedge, he wander'd far astray, He knew not whither on the public way. As Willy strives, with all attentive care, The fence to strengthen and the gap repair, His neighbour, Roger, from the fair return'd, Appears in sight in riding-graith adorn'd; Whom, soon as Willy, fast approaching, spies, Thus to his friend, behind the hedge, he cries.
WILLY How dea ye, Roger? Hae ye been at t' fair? How gangs things? Made ye onny bargains there?
ROGER I knaw not, Willy, things deant look ower weel, Coorn sattles fast, thof beas'(1) 'll fetch a deal. To sell t' awd intak(2) barley I desaagn'd, Bud couldn't git a price to suit my maand. What wi' rack-rents an' sike a want a' trade, I knawn't how yan's to git yan's landloords paid. Mair-ower(3) all that, they say, i' spring o' t' year Franch is intarmin'd on 't to 'tack us here.
WILLY Yea, mon! what are they coomin' hither for? Depend upon 't, they'd better niver stor.(4)
ROGER True, Willy, nobbud Englishmen 'll stand By yan another o' their awwn good land. They'll niver suffer—I's be bun' to say - The Franch to tak a single sheep away. Fightin' for heame, upo' their awn fair field, All power i' France could niver mak 'em yield.
WILLY Whaw! seer(5) you cannot think, when put to t' pinch, At onny Englishmen 'll iver flinch! If Franch dea coom here, Roger, I'll be hang'd An' they deant git theirsens reet soondly bang'd. I can't bud think—thof I may be mistean - Not monny on 'em 'll git back agean.
ROGER I think nut, Willy, bud some fowk 'll say, Oor English fleet let t' Franch ships git away, When they were laid, thou knaws, i' Bantry Bay; At(6) they could niver all have gien 'em t' slip, Bud t' English wanted nut to tak a ship.
WILLY Eh! that's all lees!
ROGER I dinnot say it's true, It's all unknawn to sike as me an' you. How do we knaw when fleets do reet or wrang? I whope it's all on't fause, bud sea talks gang. Howsiver this I knaw, at when they please, Oor sailors always beat 'em upo' t' seas. An' if they nobbut sharply look aboot, T'hey needn't let a single ship coom oat. At least they'll drub 'em weel, I dinnot fear, An' keep 'em fairly off frae landin' here.
WILLY I whope sea, Roger, bud, an' if they dea Coom owerr, I then shall sharpen my awd lea.(7) What thof(8) I can bud of a laatle boast, You knaw van wadn't hae that laatle lost. I's send our Mally an' all t' bairns away, An' I misen 'll by the yamstead(9) stay. I'll fight, if need; an' if I fall, why, then I's suffer all the warst mishap misen. Was I bud seer my wife an' bairns were seafe, I then sud be to dee content eneaf.
ROGER Reet, Willy, mon, what an' they put us tea 't I will misen put forrad my best feat.(10) What thof I's awd, I's nut sae easily scar'd; On his awn midden an awd cock fights hard. They say a Franchman's torn'd a different man, A braver, better soldier, ten to yan. Bud let the Franch be torn'd to what they will, They'll finnd at Englishmen are English still. O' their awn grund they'll nowther flinch nor flee, They'll owther conquer, or they'll bravely dee.
1. Beasts, cattle. 2 Enclosure. 3. Besides. 4. Stir. 5. Surely. 6. That. 7. Scythe. 8. Though. 9. Homestead. 10 Foot.
Elegy on the Death of a Frog (1815)
Ya summer day when I were mowin', When flooers of monny soorts were growin', Which fast befoor my scythe fell bowin', As I advance, A frog I cut widout my knowin'— A sad mischance.
Poor luckless frog, why com thoo here? Thoo sure were destitute o' fear; Some other way could thoo nut steer To shun the grass? For noo that life, which all hod dear, Is gean, alas!
Hadst thoo been freeten'd by the soond With which the mowers strip the groond, Then fled away wi' nimble boond, Thoo'd kept thy state: But I, unknawin', gav a wound, Which browt thy fate.
Sin thoo com frae thy parent spawn, Wi' painted cooat mair fine than lawn, And golden rings round baith ees drawn, All gay an' blithe, Thoo lowpt(1) the fields like onny fawn, But met the scythe.
Frae dikes where winter watters steead(2) Thoo com unto the dewy mead, Regardless of the cattle's treead, Wi' pantin' breeath, For to restore thy freezin' bleead, But met wi' deeath.
A Frenchman early seekin' prog,(3) Will oftentimes ransack the bog, To finnd a sneel, or weel-fed frog, To give relief; But I prefer a leg of hog, Or roond o' beef.
But liker far to the poor frog, I's wanderin' through the world for prog, Where deeath gies monny a yan a jog, An' cuts them doon; An' though I think misen incog, That way I's boun.
Time whets his scythe and shakes his glass, And though I know all flesh be grass, Like monny mair I play the ass, Don't seem to know; But here wad sometime langer pass, Befoor I go.
Ye bonnie lasses, livin' flooers, Of cottage mean, or gilded booers, Possessed of attractive pooers, Ye all mun gang Like frogs in meadows fed by shooers, Ere owt be lang.
Though we to stately plants be grown, He easily can mow us doon; It may be late, or may be soon, His scythe we feel; Or is it fittin' to be known? Therefore fareweel.
1. Leaped. 2. Stood. 3. Food.
Sheffield Cutler's Song (1887)
Coom all you cutlin' heroes, where'ersome'er you be, All you what works at flat-backs,(1) coom listen unto me; A basketful for a shillin', To mak 'em we are willin', Or swap 'em for red herrin's, aar bellies to be fillin', Or swap 'em for red herrin's, aar bellies to be fillin'.
A baskitful o' flat-backs, I'm sure we'll mak, or more, To ger(2) reight into t' gallery, wheer we can rant an' roar, Throw flat-backs, stones an' sticks, Red herrin's, bones an' bricks, If they don't play "Nancy's fancy," or onny tune we fix, We'll do the best at e'er we can to break some o' their necks.
Hey! Jont, lad, where art ta waddlin' to? Does ta work at flat-backs yit, as tha's been used to do? Ha! coom, an' tha' s go wi' me, An' a sample I will gie thee, It's one at I've just forged upon Geoffry's bran-new stiddy.(3) Look at it well, it does excel all t' flat-backs i' aar smithy.
Let's send for a pitcher o' ale, lad, for I'm gerrin' varry droy, I'm ommost chok'd wi' smithy sleck,(4) the wind it is so hoigh. Gie Rafe an' Jer a drop, They sen(5) they cannot stop, They're i' sich a moighty hurry to get to t' penny hop, They're i' sich a moighty hurry to get to t' penny hop.
Here's Steem at lives at Heeley, he'll soon be here, I knaw, He's larnt a new maccaroni step, the best you iver saw; He has it so complete, He troies up ivery street, An' ommost breaks all t' pavors(6) wi' swattin'(7) daan his feet. An' Anak troies to beat him, wheniver they doon(8) meet.
We'll raise a tail by Sunda, Steem; I knaw who's one to sell, We'll tee a hammer heead at t' end to mak it balance well. It's a reight new Lunnon tail, We'll wear it kale for kale,(9) Aar Anak browt it wi' him, that neet he coom by t' mail. We'll drink success unto it—hey! Tout, lad, teem(10) aat t' ale.
1 Knives. 2 Get. 3. Anvil. 4. Dust. 5. Say. 6. Paving Stones. 7. Hammering. 8. Do. 9. Turn and about. 10. Pour.
Address to Poverty
Scoolin' maid o' iron broo, Thy sarvant will address thee noo, For thoo invites the freedom By drivin' off my former friends, To leak to their awn private ends, Just when I chanc'd to need 'em.
I've had thy company ower lang, Ill-lookin' wean,(1) thoo must be wrang, Thus to cut short my jerkin. I ken thee weel, I knaw thy ways, Thoo's awlus kept back cash an' claes, An' foorc'd me to hard workin'.
To gain o' thee a yal(2) day's march I straave; bud thoo's sae varra arch. For all I still straave faster, Thoo's tripp'd my heels an' meade me stop, By some slain corn, or failin' crop, Or ivery foul disaster.
If I my maand may freely speak, I really dunnot like thy leak, Whativer shap thoo's slipp'd on; Thoo's awd an' ugly, deeaf an' blinnd, A fiend afoore, a freight behinnd, An' foul as Mother Shipton.
Folks say, an' it is nowt bud truth, Thoo has been wi' me frae my youth, An' gien me monny a thumper; Bud noo thoo cooms wi' all thy weight, Fast fallin' frae a fearful height, A doonreet Milton plumper.
Sud plenty frae her copious horn, Teem(1) oot to me good crops o' corn, An' prosper weel my cattle, An' send a single thoosand pund, 'T wad bring all things completely roond, An' I wad gie thee battle.
Noo, Poverty, ya thing I beg, Like a poor man withoot a leg, Sea, prethee, don't deceive me; I knaw it's i' thy power to grant The laatle favour at I want - At thoo wad gang an' leave me.
1. Child. 2. Whole.
The Collingham Ghost
I'll tell ye aboot the Collingham ghost, An' a rare awd ghost was he; For he could laugh, an' he could talk, An' run, an' jump, an' flee.
He went aboot hither an' thither, An' freeten'd some out o' their wits, He freeten'd the parson as weel as the clerk, An' lots beside them into fits.
The poor awd man wha teak the toll At Collingham bar for monny a year, He dursn't coom out to oppen his yat(2) For fear the ghost sud be near.
He teak to his bed an' there he laid, For monny a neet an' day; His yat was awlus wide oppen thrown, An' nean iver stopp'd to pay.
Awd Jerry wha kept the public hoose, An' sell'd good yal to all, Curs'd the ghost wi' hearty good will, For neabody stopp'd to call.
It made sike a noise all roond aboot, That folks com far to see; Some said it was a dreadful thing, An' sum said 't was a lee.
Gamkeepers com wi' dogs an' guns, Thinkin' 't was some comical beast; An' they wad eyther kill him or catch him, Or drive him awa at least.
Sea into Lady wood right they went Ya beautiful meenleet neet; A lot o' great men an' a lot o' rough dogs, Enew(3) a poor ghost to eat.
They waited lang, the ghost didn't come, They began to laugh an' rail, "If he coom oat of his den," says yan, "We'll clap a bit o' saut of his tail."
"Nay, he knows better than turn oot, When we are here to watch him, He'd git a bullet through his lug, Or Mungo there wad catch him."
When close to their heads wi' a terrible clatter The ghost went whirrin' up, An' owerr the woods he laughed an' shouted, "Bobo, bobo! who whoop, who whoop!"
The gamkeepers all tummled doon, Their hair thrast off their hat, They gaped an' grean'd(4) an' roll'd aboot, An' their hearts went pit-a-pat.
Their feaces were white as onny clout, An' they said niver a word, T'hey couldn't tell what the ghost was like, Whether 'twas a beast or a bird.
They stay'd nea langer i' t' wood that neet, Poor men were niver dafter, They ran awa hame as fast as they could, An' their dogs ran yelping after.
The parson then, a larned man, Said he wad conjure the ghost; He was sure it was nea wandrin' beast, But a spirit that was lost.
All languages this parson knew That onny man can chat in, The Ebrew, Greek, an' Irish too, As weel as Dutch an' Latin.
O! he could talk an' read an' preach, Few men knew mair or better, An' nearly all the bukes he read Were printed in black letter.
He read a neet, he read a day, fo mak him fit for his wark, An' when he thowt he was quite up, He sent for the awd clerk.
The clerk was quickly by his side, He took but little fettlin', An' awa they went wi' right good will To gie the ghost a settlin'.
Aye off they set wi' all their might, Nor stopp'd at thin or thick, The parson wi' his sark(5) an' buke, The clerk wi' a thick stick.
At last by t' side o' t' bank they stopp'd, Where Wharfe runs murmurin' clear, A beautiful river breet an' fine, As onny in wide Yorkshire.
The parson then began to read, An' read full loud an' lang, The rabbits they ran in an' oot, An' wonder'd what was wrang.
The ghost was listnin' in a hole, An' oat he bang'd at last, The fluttrin' o' his mighty wings, Was like a whirlwind blast.
He laughed 'an shooted as he flew, Until the wild woods rang; His who-who-whoop was niver heard Sea load an' clear an' strang.
The parson he fell backwards ower Into a bush o' whins, An' lost his buke, an' rave(6) his sark,(7) An' prick'd his hands an' shins.
The clerk he tried to run awa, But tumml'd ower his stick, An' there he made a nasty smell While he did yell an' fick.(8)
An' lots o' pranks this ghost he play'd That here I darn't tell, For if I did, folks wad declare I was as ill as hissel.
For eighteen months an' mair he stay'd, An' just did as he thowt ; For lord nor duke, parson nor clerk, He fear'd, nor cared nowt.
Efter that time he went awa, Just when it pleas'd hissel; But what he was, or whar he com fra, Nea mortal man can tell.
1. Pour. 2. Gate. 3. Enough. 4. Groaned. 5. Surplice. 6. Tore. 7. Surplice. 8. Kick.
The Yorkshire Horse Dealers
Bain(1) to Clapham town-end lived an owd Yorkshire tike, Who i' dealing i' horseflesh had ne'er met his like; 'T were his pride that i' all the hard bargains he'd hit, He'd bit a girt monny, but niver bin bit.
This owd Tommy Towers (by that name he were known) Had an owd carrion tit(2) that were sheer skin an' bone; To have killed him for t' curs wad have bin quite as well, But 't were Tommy's opinion he'd dee on himsel!
Well! yan Abey Muggins, a neighborin cheat, Thowt to diddle owd Tommy wad be a girt treat; He'd a horse, too, 't were war(3) than owd Tommy's, ye see, For t' neet afore that he'd thowt proper to dee !
Thinks Abey, t' owd codger 'll niver smoke t' trick, I'll swop wi' him my poor deead horse for his wick,(4) An' if Tommy I nobbut can happen to trap, 'T will be a fine feather i' Abraham cap!
So to Tommy he goes, an' the question he pops: "Betwin thy horse and mine, prithee, Tommy, what swops? What wilt gie me to boot? for mine's t' better horse still?" "Nowt," says Tommy, "I'll swop even hands, an' ye will!"
Abey preached a lang time about summat to boot, Insistin' that his were the liveliest brute; But Tommy stuck fast where he first had begun, Till Abey shook hands, an' said, Well, Tommy I done!
"O! Tommy," said Abey, "I's sorry for thee, I thowt thou'd hae hadden mair white i' thy ee; Good luck's wi' thy bargain, for my horse is deead." "Hey!" says Tommy, "my lad, so is mine, an' it's fleead(5)!"
So Tommy got t' better o' t' bargain a vast, An' cam' off wi' a Yorkshireman's triumph at last; For thof 'twixt deead horses there's not mich to choose, Yet Tommy were richer by t' hide an' fower shooes.
1 Near. 2 Nag. 3 Worse. 4. Quick, living 5. Flayed.
The Lucky Dream
John Castillo (1792-1845)
Ya Kessmas neet, or then aboot, When measons all were frozzen oot, I went to see a country friend, An hospitable hoor to spend. For gains, I cut across o' t' moor, Whoor t' snaw sea furiously did stoor.(1) The hoose I gain'd an' enter'd in, An' were as welcome as a king. The storm agean t' windey patter'd, An' hail-steans doon t' chimley clatter'd. All hands were in, an' seem'd content, An' nean did frost or snaw lament. T' lasses all were at their sewing, Their cheeks wiv health an' beauty glowing. Aroond the hearth, in cheerful chat, Twea or three friendly neighbours sat, Their travels telling, whoor they'd been, An' what they had beath heeard an' seen. Till yan did us all mich amuse, An' thus a story introduce. "I recollect lang saan,"(2) says he, "A story that were tell'd to me, At seems sea strange i' this oor day That true or false I cannot say. A man liv'd i' this neighbourhood, Nea doot of reputation good, An' lang taame strave wi' stiddy care, To keep his hoosehod i' repair. At length he had a curious dream, For three neets runnin' 't were the seame, At(3) if on Lunnon Brig he stood, He'd hear some news would dea him good, He labour'd hard, beath neet an' day, Tryin' to draave those thowts away; Yet daily grew mair discontent Till he at last to Lunnon went. Being quite a stranger to that toon, Lang taame he wander'd up an' doon, Till, led by some mysterious hand, On Lunnon Brig he teak his stand. An' there he waited day by day, An' just were boun(4) to coom away, Sea mich he thowt he were to bleame To gang sea far aboot a dream, When thus a man, as he drew near, Did say, "Good friend, what seek you here, Where I have seen you soon and late?" His dream tiv him he did relate. "Dreams," says the man, " are empty things, Mere thoughts that flit on silver'd wings; Unheeded we should let them pass. I've had a dream, and thus it was, That somewhere round this peopled ball, There's such a place as Lealholm Hall(5); Yet whether such a place there be, Or not, is all unknown to me. There in a cellar, dark and deep, Where slimy creatures nightly creep, And human footsteps never tread, There is a store of treasure hid. If it be so, I have no doubt, Some lucky wight will find it out. Yet so or not is nought to me, For I shall ne'er go there to see." The man did slyly twice or thrice The Cockney thenk for his advice; Then heame agean withoot delay He cherfully did tak his way. An' set aboot the wark, an' sped, Fun' ivvery thing as t' man had said; Were iver efter seen to flourish T' fanest gentleman iv all t' parish. Folks wonder'd sair, an' ,weel they might, Whoor he gat all his guineas bright. If it were true, i' spite o' fame, Tiv him it were a lucky dream."
1. Drive. 2. Long ago. 3. That. 4. Ready. 5. In the neighbourhood of Whitby.
J. H. Dixon (1803-1876)
Meet me at the fowd at the milkin'-time, Whan the dusky sky is gowd at the milkin'-time; Whan the fog(1) is slant(2) wi' dew, An' the clocks(3) go hummin' thro' The wick-sets(4) an' the branches of the owmerin'(5) yew.
Weel ye knaw the hour of the milkin'-time, The girt bell sounds frev t' tower at the milkin'-time; Bud as gowd sooin turns to gray, An' I cannot have delay, Dunnot linger by the way at the milkin'-time.
Ye'll find a lass at's true at the milkin'-time, Shoo thinks of nane bud you at the milkin'-time; Bud my fadder's gittin' owd, An' he's gien a bit to scowd, Whan I's ower lang at the fowd at the milkin'-time.
Happen ye're afeard at the milkin'-time; Mebbe loike ye've heerd at the milkin'-time The green fowk shak their feet, Whan t' moon on Heeside's breet, An' it chances so to-neet, at the milkin'-time.
There's yan, an' he knaws weel whan it's milkin'-time; He'd feace the varra de'il at the milkin'-time. He'd nut be yan to wait Tho' a barguest(6) war i' t' gate,(7) If the word I'd nobbud say 't at the milkin'-time.
1. Aftermath. 2. Wet. 3. Beetles 4. Quick-sets. 5. Overshadowing 6. The barguest is an apparition, taking usually the form of a big black dog with saucer eyes. 7. Way, road.
I Niver can call Her my Wife
Ben Preston (1819-1902)
I'm a weyver, ye knaw, an' awf deead, So I do all at iver I can To put away aat o' my heead The thowts an' the aims of a man. Eight shillin' i' t'wick's what I arn, When I've varry gooid wark an' full time, An' I think it's a sorry consarn For a fella at's just in his prime.
Bud aar maister says things is as weel As they have been or iver can be, An' I happen sud think so misel If he'd nobbud swop places wi' me. Bud he's welcome ta all he can get, I begrudge him o' noan of his brass, An' I'm nowt bud a madlin(1) to fret, Or to think o' yon beautiful lass.
I niver can call her my wife, My love I sal niver mak knawn, Yit the sarra that darkens her life Thraws its shadda across o' my awn. When I knaw at her heart is at eease, Theer is sunshine an' singin' i' mine; An' misfortunes may come as they pleease, Yit they seldom can mak me repine.
Bud that Chartist wor nowt bud a slope(2)— I were fooild by his speeches an' rhymes, For his promises wattered my hope, An' I leng'd for his sunshiny times; Bud I feel at my dearest desire Within me 'll wither away; Like an ivy-stem trailin' i' t' mire, It's deein for t' want of a stay.
When I laid i' my bed day an' neet, An' were geen up by t' doctors for deead, God bless her! shoo'd coom wi' a leet An' a basin o' grewil an' breead. An' I once thowt I'd aat wi' it all, Bud so kindly shoo chatted an' smiled, I were fain to turn ovver to t' wall, An' to bluther an' roar like a child.
An' I said, as I thowt of her een, Each breeter for t' tear at were in 't, It's a sin to be niver forgeen, To yoke her to famine an' stint; So I'll e'en travel forrad throo life, Like a man throo a desert unknawn; I mun ne'er have a home nor a wife, Bud my sorras 'll all be my awn.
So I trudge on alone as I owt, An' whativer my troubles may be, They'll be sweetened, poor lass, wi' the thowt At I've niver browt trouble to thee. Yit a bird has its young uns to guard, A wild beast a mate in his den, An' I cannot bud think at it's hard- Nay, deng it, I'm roarin' agen!
1. Fool 2. Impostor.
Come to thy Gronny, Doy(1)
Come to thy gronny, doy, come to thy gronny, Bless thee, to me tha'rt as pratty as onny; Mutherlass barn of a dowter unwed, Little tha knaws, doy, the tears at I've shed; Trials I've knawn both for t' heart an' for t' heead, Shortness o' wark, ay, an' shortness o' breead.
These I could bide, bud tho' tha'rt noan to blame, Bless thee, tha browt me both sorra an' shame; Gronny, poor sowl, for a two month or more Hardly could feshion to lewk aat. o' t' door; T' neighbours called aat to me, "Dunnot stand that, Aat wi' that hussy an' aat wi' her brat."
Deary me, deary me! what could I say? T' furst thing of all, I thowt, let me go pray; T' next time I slept I'd a dream, do ye see, Ay, an' I knew at that dream were for me. Tears of Christ Jesus, I saw 'em that neet, Fall drop by drop on to one at His feet.
After that, saw Him wi' barns raand His knee, Some on 'em, happen, poor crayturs like thee; Says I at last, though I sorely were tried, Surely a sinner a sinner sud bide; Neighbours may think or may say what they will, T' muther an' t' dowter sal stop wi' me still.
Come on 't what will, i' my cot they sal caar,(2) Woe be to them at maks bad into waar(3); Some fowk may call thee a name at I hate, Wishin' fra t' heart tha were weel aat o' t' gate; Oft this hard world into t' gutter 'll shove thee, Poor little lamb, wi' no daddy to love thee.
Dunnot thee freeat, doy, whol granny hods up, Niver sal tha want a bite or a sup; What if I work these owd fingers to t' boan, Happen tha'll love me long after I'm goan; T' last bite i' t' cupboard wi' thee I could share't, Hay! bud tha's stown(4) a rare slice o' my heart.
Spite of all t' sorra, all t' shame at I've seen, Sunshine comes back to my heart throo thy een; Cuddle thy gronny, doy, Bless thee, tha'rt bonny, doy, Rosy an' sweet fra thy braa to thy feet, Kingdoms an' craans wodn't buy thee to-neet.
1 Darling. 2. Cower, take shelter. 3. Worse. 4. Stolen.
Owd Moxy wrowt hard for his morsil o' breead, An' to keep up his courage he'd sing, Tho' Time wi' his scythe hed mawn t' crop on his heead An' then puffed it away wi' his wing.
Reight slavish his labour an' little his wage, His path tuv his grave were bud rough, Poor livin' an' hardships, a deal more nor age, Hed swealed(1) daan his can'le to t' snuff.
One cowd winter morn, as he crept aat o' bed, T' owd waller felt dizzy an' sore:- "Come, frame(2) us some breykfast, Owd Duckfooit, he said, "An' I'll finish yond fence up at t' moor;
"I'll tew(3) like a brick wi' my hammer an' mall,(4) An' I'll bring home my honey to t' hive, An' I'll pay t' bit o' rent an' wer(5) shop-score an' all, An' I'll dee aat o' debt if I live."
So Peg made his pobs(6) an' then futtered(7) abaat, An' temm'd(8) him his tea into 't can, Then teed up some bacon an' breead in a claat, For dearly shoo liked her owd man.
Then Moxy set aat on his wearisome way, Wadin' bravely throo t' snaw-broth i' t' dark; It's a pity when fellas at's wakely an' grey Hes to walk for a mile to their wark.
Bud summat that mornin' made Moxy turn back, Tho' he hardly knew what it could meean, So, cudlin' Owd Peggy, he gave her a smack, An' then started for t' common ageean.
All t' day a wild hurricane wuther'd(9) throo t' glen, An' then rush'd like a fiend up to t' heeath; An' as Peggy sat knittin' shoo said tuv hersen, "Aw dear! he'll be starruv'd to t' deeath."
An' shoo felt all that day as shoo'd ne'er felt afore, An' shoo dreeaded yit hunger'd for neet ; When harknin' an' tremlin' shoo heeard abaat t' door A mutterin, an' shufflin o' feet.
Five minutes at after,(10) Owd Peg, on her knees, Were kussin' a forehead like stone; An' to t' men at stood by her wi' tears i' their ees, Shoo said, "Go, lads, an' leave me alone."
When they straightened his body, all ready for t' kist,(11) It were seen at he'd thowt of his plan; For t' shop-score an' t' rent war safe locked in his fist, So he deed aat o' debt, like a man.
1. Melted. 2. Prepare. 3. Toil. 4. Mallet. 5. Our. 6. Porridge. 7. Bustled. 8. Poured. 9. Roared. 10. Afterwards, 11. Coffin.
Dean't mak gam o' me (1875)
I went last week to Stowslay(1) Fair, My sweetheart for to see; She promis'd she would meet me there- Bud dean't mak gam o' me: Oh, dean't mak gam o' me!
I rigg'd misel' all i' my best, As fine as fine could be; An' little thowt how things would to'n(2); Bud dean't mak gam o' me: Oh, dean't mak gam o' me!
I walk'd to t' toon, an' bowt a cane, To cut a dash, ye see; An' how I swagger'd up an' doon! Bud dean't mak gam o' me: Oh, dean't mak gam o' me!
I thowt, if nobbut Poll would come, How happy we sud be! I'd treat her into t' penny show, Bud dean't mak gam o' me : Oh, dean't mak gam o' me!
At last I saw her coomin' in; Bud what else did I see? Jack Hodge was walkin' biv her saade! Bud dean't mak gam o' me: Oh, dean't mak gam o' me!
Stright up I went, an' "Poll!" says I, "I's waiting, lass, for thee!" "Then thoo mun wait!" was all she said, Bud dean't mak gam o' me: Oh, dean't mak gam o' me!