Pitmans Pay


See hewers, putters, drivers too,

With pleasure hail this happy day —

All, clean washed up^ their way pursue
To drink, and crack, and get their pay.

The Buck, the Black Horse, and the Keys,
Have witnessed many a comic scene,

Where's yel to cheer, and mirth to please,
And drollery that would cure the spleen.

With parched tongues, and geyzen d throats,
They reach the place where barleycorn

Soon down the dusty cayem floats.
From pewter pot or homely horn.

The dust wash'd down, then comes the care
To find that all is rightly biU'd,^

And each to get his hard-eam'd share.
From some one in division skill'd.

The money-matters thus decided.

They push the pot more briskly round :

With hearts elate, and hobbies strided.
Their cares are in the nappy drown'd.

" Here, lass," says Jack, " help this agyen,
" It 's better yel than's i' the toun ;

" But then the road's se het it *s tyen,
" It fizz'd, aw think, as it went doun."

Thus many a foaming pot's required
To quench the dry and dusty spark j

When ev ry tongue, as if inspir d.

Wags on about their wives and wark —


The famouf feats doae m tbetr youth,
At bowling, ba^ and chibby-thaw —

Camp-meetings, Banters, Gosp^tnitb,
Religion, politics, and law.

With such raviety of matter,

Opinions, too, as yarious quite,
We need not wonder at the clatter,

When ev'ry tongme wags — wrong or right.

The gifted few, in langs and Ure,
At length, insensibly, divide 'era ;

And, from a ^ree-legg'd stod, or chair,
Each draws his faroni^d few beside him.

Now let ns er'ry face sirrey,

Whi<^ seems as big with grave debate.
As if each word ^y had to say

Was pregntuit with impending fate.

Mark these in that seduded place,
8et snng aroaltd the sto^ of oak,

All labouring at some knotty case,
Envelop'd in tobacco smoke.

These are the piotu^, faitMal few,
Who pierce the dark decrees of fate :

They 'reread the "Pilgrim's Progress/' through.
As well as " Boston's Fourfold State."

They *ll point you out the day and heur
When they experienc'd sin forgirren —

Convince you that they 're safe, and sure
To die in peace, and go to heaven.


The moral road 'b ioo*£ur about—

They like a surer, diorter out,
Which frees the end from every doubt,

And sares tiiem many a weary foot.

The first 's commensurate with our yeurs,
And must be traTell'd day by day ;

And to the " new-bom" few appears
A very dull aad tedious way.

The other 8 length always depends
Upon the time ^en we begin it :—

Get but set out before life ends,

Fcnr all *a set right when once we 're in it.

They 're now cbbating which is best :
The short-cot yotes the other's double —

For this good reason^ 'moi^st the rest,
It reaUrf saves a world of trouble.

He* ihitt ir&ixk goodness farthest strays.
Becomes a saint of first degree ;

And RAirrtat Jbremiah^ says,
^' Let bad ones only come to me."

Old fiARTHWORM soou obcys the call,
Conscious, perhaps, he wanted mending ;

For some few ftaws from Adam's Ml,
Oloss'd o'er by caal and gdieer pretending.

Still stick to him, afield or hoBM,
The Methadistio brush defying ;

So that the Ranter s curry-comb

Is now the only means worth trying.


In habits form'd since sixty years,

The hope of change won't weigh a feather :

Their power so o'er him domineers,
That they and life must end together.

See On their right a gambling few,
Whose every word and look display

A desperate, dark, designing crew.
Intent upon each other's pay.

They 're racers, cockers, carders, keen

As ever o'er a tankard met.
Or ever bowl'd a match between

The PoppLiN WELL and Mawvin's yett.*

On cock-fight, dog-fight, cuddy-race.
Or pitch-and-toss, trippet-and-coit,

Or on a soap-tail'd grunter's chaae,
They'll risk the last-remaining doit.

They're now at cards, and Gibby Gripe
Is peeping into Harry's hand ;

And ev'ry puff, blown from his pipe.
His party easily understand.

Some for the^ odd-trick pushing hard —
Some that they lose it pale with fear —

Some betting on the turn-up card —
Some drawing cuts for pints of beer.

Whilst others brawl about Jack's* brock.
That all the Chowden dogs can bang ;

Or praise Lang Wilson's " piley cock,"
Or Dixon's* feats upon the swang.'


Here Tom, the pink of bowlers, gain'd

Himself a never-dying name,
By deeds wherein an ardour reign'd

Which neither age nor toil could tame.

For, labour done, and o'er his doze,
Tom took his place upon the hill ;

And at the very evening's close.
You faintly saw him bowling still.

All thi^ display of pith and zeal
Was so completely habit-grown.

That many an hour from sleep he 'd steal,
To bowl upon the hill alone.

The night wears late— the wives drop in
To take a peep at what is doing ;

For many would not c^re a pin

To lose at cards a fortnight's hewing.

Poor Will had just his plagues dismiss'd.
And had " Begone dull care" begun,

With face as grave as Methodist,
And voice most sadly out of tune ;

But soon as e'er he Nellt saw,

With brows a dreadful storm portending,
He dropp'd at once his under jaw.

As if his mortal race was ending ;

For had the grim Destroyer stood.
In all his ghastliness, before him.

It could not more have froze his blood.
Nor thrown a deadlier paleness o'er him.


His better-balf, all fire »nd tow,

Caird him a sliiAh-^-his ooanfadae raff —

Swore thai lie could a brewni^ «tow,
Asd after tiiat cope all tke diaffl

Will gathered up his seatter'd powers —
Drew up his &llen chops again —

Seiz'd Nell, aud puah'd her out of doors —
Then broke lorth in this ptteoufl strain : —

'^ O ! Nell, thoa 's rung me mony a peal :
" Nyea but mjsel could bide Ay yammer :

^*' Thy tongue runs like wor pally wheel,
'^ And dirls my big like wor smith's hammer.

^^ Thoju '11 driTe me daft, aw oftea dmad ;

" For now aw*« nobbut Tuiry silly,
^^ Just like a geuss ent i the heed,

" Like Jemmt Minii or PRBACBist Willy.®

^'Aw tbought wwt Nell, when Nelly Dale,
" The varry thing to myek me happy :

'^ She curl'd maw hair, she tied maw tail,
"And clapt and stuped maw little Cappy.

" But suin as e'er the knot was tied,
" And we were yok*d for lUe together —

" When Nell had km^'d, aiBd Mgcny oried —
"And aw was faiiiy i' the tether —

" Then fieroe ae ^ i^ seized the breeks,
'^ And roun' maw heed flew stuils a^od chairs:

" Mafw tail hung low«e, like eamnd weeks,
"An aAfd pit ended Oappy's eares.


** Just like wor maisters when we're bun,

" If men and lads be varry scant,
" They wheedle us wi' yel and fun,

" And coax us into what they want.

" But myek yor mark, then snuffs and sneers
" Suin stop yor gob and lay yor braggin* :

" When yence yor feet are i* the geers,

" Maw soul ! they keep yor painches waggin'.

" Aw toil maw byens, till through maw clay
" They peep, to please maw dowly kavel :

*' Aw's at the coal waU a' the day,
" And neetly i* the waiter level.

" Aw hammer on till effcemuin,

" Wi' weary byens and empty wyem :

" Nay, varry oft the pit's just duin
" Before aw weel get wannel'd hyem.

" But this is a' of little use,

" For what aw de is niver reet :
" She 's like a *larm-bell i* the house,

" Ding-dongin at me, day and neet.

" If aw sud get maw wark ower suin,

" She's flaid te deeth aw've left some byet.'

" And if aw's till the eftemuin,

" Aw's drunk because aw is se lyet.

" Feed us and deed us weel, she may,
" As she gets a' ways money plenty ;

" For ev'ry day, for mony a pay,

" Aw 've hew'd and putten twee-and-twenty.

10 THE pitman's fay,

" 'Tis true aw sometimes get a gill,
" But then she aVays hez her grog ;

" And if aw din 't her bottle fill,

" Aw*s then a skin-flint, sneck-drawn dog.

" She buys me, tee, the warst o' meat,
" Bad bullock's liver, houghs, and knees,

" Teugh, stinkin tripe, and awd cows' feet,
" Shanks full o' mawks, and half-nowt cheese.*®

" Off sic she feeds the bairns and me—
" The tyesty bits she tyeks hersel',

" In which ne share nor lot hev we,
" Exceptin* sometimes i' the smell.

" The crowdy is wor daily dish,

" But Tarry different is their Minny's ;

" For she gets a' her heart can wish,

" In strang-lyced tea and singin' hinnies.

" Maw canny bairns luik pale and wan,
" Their bits and brats are varry scant :

" The mother s feasts rob them o' scran,
" For wilfii' wyest myeks woefu want.

" She peels the taties wiv her teeth,

" And spreeds the butter wiv her thoom :

" She blaws the kyel \n stinkin' breeth,
" Where mawks and caterpillars soom !

" She's just a movin heap o' muck,
" Where durts of a' description muster ;

" For dishclout serves her apron nuik,
^^ As weel as enotter-clout and duster !

THE pitman's pay. 11

^' She lays out ponds in manadge" things,
^' Like mony a thriftless, thoughtless bein' ;

" Yet bairns and me, as if we 'd wings,
'^ Are a' in rags and tatters fleein'.

^' Just mark wor dress — b, lapless coat

" Wi' byeth the elbows steekin' through —

" A hat that niver cost a groat —
'*• A neckless sark — a clog and shoe.

^' She chalks up ^ scores' at a' the shops,
" Wheriver we *ve a twel'month stay d ;

" And when we flit, the landlord stops
^^ Maw sticks, till a' the rent be paid.

^' Aw's call'd a henpeck'd, pluckless calf,
" For lettin' her the breeches weer ;

" And tell'd aw dinnet thresh her half,
" "Wi' mony a bitter gibe and jeer."

" Aw think," says Dick, " aw wad her towen,
*' And varry suin her courage cuil :

" Aw'd dook her in wor engine pown,"
" Then clap her on repentance' stuil.

^^ If that sud nut her tantrums check,
" Aw'd peel her te the varry sark ;

" Then 'noint her wiv a twig o' yeck,
" And effcer myek her eat the bark."

" Eneugh like this aw've heerd thro' life ;

" For ey'ry body hez a plan
" Te guide a rackle ram-stam wife,

" Except the poor tormented man."

12 THB pitman's pay.

Will could not now his feelings stay,

The tear roU'd down his care-worn cheek :

He thiimmerd out what he *d to pay,

And sobbing said, " Maw heart '11 breek."

Here Nanny, modest, mild, and shy,
Took Neddy gently by the sleeve —

*' Aw just luik'd in as aw went by —
*' Is it not, thinks te, time te leave ?"

" Now, Nan, what myeks thee fash me her^—
" Gan hyem and get the bairns te bed :

" Thou knaws thou promis'd me maw beer,
" The varry neet before we wed."

" Hout, hinny, had thy blabbin' jaw,
" Thou s full o' nought but fun and lees :

*' At sic a kittle time, ye knaw,
" Yen tells ye ony-thing te please.

*' Besides, thou's had enough o' drink,
" And mair wad ony myek thee bad :

" Aw see thy een begin te blink —
" Gan wi' me, like a canny lad."

" O, Nan, thou hez a witchin way
" O' myekin* me de what thou will :

" Thou needs but speak, and aw obey ;
" Yet there 's ne doubt aw's maister still.

" But tyest the yel, and stop a bit —
" Here, tyek a seat upon maw knee ;

" For 'mang the hewers i' wor pit,
♦• There's nyen hez sic a wife as me«

THE pitman's pay. 13

" For if maw ' top' comes badly down,
" Or owt else keeps me lang away,

" Slie cheers me wi' the weel-fcnawn soun' —
" ' Thou s had a lang and weary day/

" If aw be naggy, Nanny's smile
" Suin myeks me blithe as ony lark,

" And fit te loup a yett or stile —
" Maw varry byens forget te wark.

" Maw Nan — ^maw bairns — ^maw happy hyem —
" Set ower hard labour's bitter pill :

" O, Providence ! but spare me them,
" The warld may then wag as it will.

" She waits upon me hand and foot —
" I want for nowt that she can gie me :

" She fills maw pipe wi' paten cut —
" Leets it, and hands it kindly te me.

" She tells me all her bits o' news,

*' Pick'd up the time aw've been away ;

" And frae maw mouth the cuttie pons,
" When sleep owercomes maw weary clay.

" However poor or plain wor fare,

" The better bits come a' te me :
" The last o' coffee's Nanny's share,

^^ And mine the hindmost o' the tea.

" And when the warld runs sair agyen us,
" When wark is slack and money duin,

" When want has a' but ower-tyen us,
*^ She a'ways keeps maw heart abuin.

14 THE pitman's pay.

" Se weel she ettks what aw get,
" Se far she a' ways gars it gan,

" That nyen can say we are i* debt,
" Or want for owther claes or scran.

" And though myest twenty years are past
" Sin Nanny left her mother s hyem,

" Ower me and mine, frae furst te last,
" Her care haa a' ways been the syem.

" Then drink about — ^whe minds a jot ?

" Let's drown wor cares i' barleycorn :
*' Here, lass, come bring another pot,

" The * caller dizn't call te-mom."

" Nay, hinny, Ned, ne langer stay —
" We mun be hyem te little Neddy :

" He's just a twelvemonth awd to-day,
" And will be cryin for his Deddy.

" Aw'U tyek thee hyem a pot o' beer,
" A nice clean pipe, and backey tee :

" Thou knaws aw like te hae thee near—
" Come, hinny, come ! gan hyem wi' me."

Like music's soft and soothing powers,
These honey'd sounds dropt on his ear ;

Or like the warm and fertile showers
That leave the face of nature clear.

Here was the power of woman shown,
"When women use it properly :

He threw his pipe and reck'ning down —
*' Aw will, aw will, gan hyem wi' thee."

THE PITMAM's pay. . 15

At home arriyed, right cheerfully

She set him in his easy chair —
Clapt little Neddy on his knee,

And bid him see. his image there.

The mother pleas'd — ^the £a,ther glad.
Swore Neddy had twee bonny een :

" There ne'er was, Ned, a finer lad ;
'' And then, he's like thee as a bean.

" Aw 've Inick'd for Wilson" a' this day,
" Te cut the pig down 'fore it's dark ;

" But he 11 be guzzlin at the ' pay,'
^^ And windin' on about his wark.

" What lengths aw've often heard him gan,
" Sweerin — ^and he's not fond o' fibbin' —

^' He 11 turn his back on ne'er a man,
" For owther killin' pigs or libben.

" Still Jack's an honest, canty cock,
" As iver drain'd the juice o' barley :

" Aw've knawn him sit myest roun the clock,
" Swattlin and clatterin' on wi' Charley.

" Now, Deddy, let me ease yor airm :
" Gie me the bairn, lay down yor pipe,

" And get thy supper when its warm-—
" It's just a bit o' gissy's tripe.

" Then come to me, maw little lammy !

" Come, thou apple o' my e'e !
" Come, maw Neddy, te thy mammy—

" Come, maw darlin', come to me I"

16 THE pitman's pay.

Here ! see a woman truly blest

Beyond the reach of pomp and pride !

Her infant happy at her breast —
Her husband happy by her side.

Then take a lesson, pamper d wealth.
And learn how little it requires

To make us happy, when we've health,
Content, and moderate desires.

" Thy faither, Ned, is far frae weel :
" He luicks, poor body, varry bad :

" A' ower he hez a cawdrife feel,
" But thinks it's but a waff o' cawd.

" Aw Ve just been ower wi' somethin' warm,
*' Te try te ease the weary cough,

" Which baffles byeth the drugs and charm,"
" And threetens oft te tyek him off.

" He says, ' O, Nan, maw life thou s spar'd —
" ' The good its duin me 's past belieyin* :

" ' The Lord will richly thee rewaird —
" ' Thy care o' me will win thee heeven.'

" Now, as his bottle's nearly tume,
'' Mind think me on when at the toun

" Te get the drop black-beer and rum,
" As little else will now gan doun.

" We mebby may be awd worsels,

" When povert/s cawd blast is blawin',

'^ And want a frien' when natur fyels,
" And life her laat few threads is drawin'.

THE pitman's IfAY. 17

" Besides, the bits o* good we de

" The yarry happiest moments gi'e us ;

" And mun, aw think, still help a wee
" At last frae awfu* skaith te free us.

" Let cant and rant then rave at will
" Agyen good warks, aw here declare it,

" We U stiU the hungry belly fill,
" 8e lang as iver we can spare it."

Here, then, we' U leave this happy pair,
Their " home affairs" to con and settle—

Their " ways and means," with frugal care,
For marketing next day to ettle.


1 The pitman receives iua wages once a fortnight ; and the Friday
night, which generally ends his labour for that week, is the time
appointed for that purpose, and is called the *^ pay night" One week
is called the " pay week," and the other the *' baff week."

> Hiat is, to know if the sum opposite his name in the bill agrees
with his own account of his work for the fortnight Eight or a dozen


18 THE pitman's pay.

men's eamiug^s are put into one bill, as they call it, ami paid by the
viewer or overman to some one person who attends for that purpose,
and who has sufficient " lare'' to enable him to divide it at the public
house where the others meet him.

3 A Ranter preacher, in the habit of holding forth on Gateshead

^ This was the bowling ground on Gateshead Fell fifty years ago,
and certainly a more unsuitable line for such a purpose was never
chosen. The distance from '* Mawvin's Yett" to the " Popplin' Well"
will not much exceed a mile, and consists of two very steep hills— the
one called Roger's Hill — and the other the Meeting.House Bank,
from its being near the old Methodist chapel. The bowlers com-
menced at " Mawvin's Yett," betwixt the Derwent Crook Pit and the
farm-house now occupied by Mr. John Pattison, and proceeded over
Roger's Hill, past Carter's Well, the old Methodist chapel, and ended
at the '' Popplin' Well," famous then, as well as now, for excellent
washing water. This well is situated two or three hundred yards eaist
of the top of the Meeting-House Bank, about the same distance south
of Sheriff Hill Cottage, and nearly twenty yards west of the High
Plantation, and an equal distance to the east of the present lane lead-
ing to the south.

^ John Crone, a warm-hearted, honest fellow, who took great delight
in all the sports and pastimes of his day. He lost his life by falling
from the corf whilst ascending the shaft of the Centre Pit in Ravens-
worth Colliery, the 1 7th of April, 1824. The melancholy event was
occasioned by the rope slipping over the top edge of the rim of the
gin, and jolting him and John Robson out of the corf. Of course
their death was the immediate consequence.

« Tom Dixon was a famous bowler on Gateshead Fell ; and if
health permitted, was never absent from a bowling- match of any note ;
and even in his old age so strong was this " ruling passion," that he
was frequently seen bowling by himself in the summer evenings.

THE pitman's pay. 19

Nay, it is reported, that on bringing home a coffin for one of his
children, having to pass some young men bowling, he could not resist
taking a single " thraw," and absolutely set down the coffin for that
purpose. The following notice of him appeared in the Tyne Mercury
of January 8th, 1828 :— " Died, at the * Black Raw,' adjoining Gates-
head Low Fell, on the 3rd inst., Thomas Dixon, aged 86. His wife
and her brother died a few years ago at the same place — the former
nearly 90, and the latter 92. . Dixon was a very eccentric character,
and cuts a figure in the * Pitman's Pat,' published in the Netcctutle
Magazine. His great delight was in bowling, in which he invariably
spent the greater part of his vacant hours, as long as age would
permit. But now, in the language of his fayourite amusement, he
will never * stride another trig' — his last * thraw' has been *thrawn,'
without any chance whatever of being * called back ;' and as no man'
had more friends to * show him the reet way,' we sincerely hope that
in the ' match' of life which is now over, he will be found at last among
those who *win."'

^ That part of Roger's Hill running north and south, close past the
west side of the old Sheriff Hill engine, a flat betwixt two slopes, and
a noted place for bowling before the common was enclosed. The
ground here being of a spongy nature, swang, I suppose, is a corrup.
tion of swamp.

B Two idiots, well known on Gateshead Fell upwards of forty years

9 Leaving " some byet," means he has not completed his day's work,
or hewed the number ot corves " placed" him by the overman. It is
no uncommon thing for pitmen, if two or three of them return from
work together, and have to pass a public-house, to sit drinking until
late in the day, and arrive at home '' muzzy."

10 '^ Half-nowt" has long been the price of cheese, bawled in our
ears by the female dualers in this article who have stalls in the streets.
I suppose it means half-price, or half the quantity for nothing;

?0 THB pitman's PAYr

although a neighbour of mine insists upon it ihM it means fifty per
cent. le«i than nothing !

" "A * Box* or * Club* instituted by inferior shopkeepers, generally
linen-drapers, for supplying goods to poor or improYident people, who
agree to pay ibr them by instalments." — BrockeWs Olotsary.

w Pond.

13 « lately, at 9edlington, the pl^ce of his birth, John Wilson^ ija the
86th year of his age. He lived the greatest part of hU Ufe on Qates-
head Fell, and earned his living principally in the coal-pits. He was
the vimge-bi:^tcher there for many years, and considered himself at
the head of his profession in all pig-matters. He was usually called
< Lang Jack,* to distinguish him ftqm * Little Jack,' another person
of the same name. He cots a figure in the ' Pitman's Pat.' " — Gates^
head Observer, January 27, 1838.

^^ Quackery is not confined to drugs. The ignorant are oftsn kn-
posed upoAby what designing kQaves call ^^channs;" and when the
former fail, recourse ia 1^ to the latter.




A SKETCH of the latter part of a paj-night, with the drolleries pro-
duced by barleycorn — the commencement of a pitman's career as
" trapper," showing how much the mind of a boy is excited, and
his curiosity roused, on his first descent into a place he has heard
so much about— a digreaidon on roast- goose and giblet-pie— the
confusion and hnbbsb at the bottom of the pit pre^tioiis to the men
and lads being dispersed through the various workings, with the
preparations for *' hingin' on" — Pbtbr at a dead set, or the difficulty
of "placin' the wark?*— the pit <'hinga on" — the "heedsmen"
commence *' putting," when the efforts of the ''waik" to keep pace
with the " Strang" are often distressing to see — two brothers. Jack
and Charlbt, belag " wa*k,»* fi^ht through the whole day—the
cruel treatment of the lads, by the '^ beedsmen," with the Tarious

occurrences which produce strife and stoppage through the day

the trapper, aft^ some time earmug fiyepenee a-day, now becomes
the attendant of the overman or deputy, and increasea his wages to
sixpence, by carrying the axe and hand- saw — properly equipped,
he next becomes a *' putter" — ^tbe misery of ''putting" in the olden
time, with refleettons i^on itr- nearly as bstd. as West Indian
slavery — ^the great improvement made in this, then the most slavish
pari of a pitman's Ufe, by liie introdvetion of cast^meial wheels and
plates fox the tram>ways— ia now bound tor a ** half-manrow," and
the next year gets a set of " geer," and begins to " h6w"-'ihe im-
provement in hewing, by the application of gunpowder, which in
former times was only used to blast stone — ^remailts on* the hardships

22 THE pitman's pay.

of a pitman's life, with a hint that the Devil nqist have been the
author of it — a wish expressed that the " great" would consider the
pitmen's case —the appalling miseries they are subject to from fire and
water — and a hope entertained that some amelioration might be
effected, by the application of steam, now the grand operator in almost
every department of labour — conclusion— the pleasure of having
lived honest lives — the immorality of the higher classes — and the
consolation at the end on reviewing a well-spent life.

We'll now return, a peep to take

At what John Barleycorn had done :

Attempt a faint outline to make
Of all his feats and all his fun.

The remnant left 's a motley crew —
The din they make a perfect Babel —

Contending who the most can hew,
With thump for thump upon the table.

The unsnuflTd lights are now burnt low.
And dimly in their sockets sweeling ;

Whilst pots and glasses, at each blow,
Are quickly off the table reeling.

There 's drouthy Tommy* in the nook, -
For suction hard his elbow shaking ;

And Philip,* up from Derwent Crook,
Remarks the very drollest making.

There 's Dick* that married Barbara Bland,
More famous far for drink than hewing f

And Peel,* as drunk as he can stand.
Reeling and dancing like a new un.

THE pitman's pay. 23

He barely can his balance keep,

Yet still he 's " Play up, fiddler !" roaring ;
But Tommy haying dropt asleep,
' Jack foots away to Tommy's snoring.

Some wicked wag his scraper greas'd,
And stole his rosin, (ill betide him !)

But what his arm completely seiz'd.
Was just the empty pot beside him.

Here lay a stool, and there a chair,

"With pots o'ertum'd, and glasses broken :

Half-chew'd quids strew'd here and there.
And pipes no longer fit for smoking.

And though the yel's resistless power
Had silenc'd many a noisy tongue,

Two yet'rans still, 'midst dust and stour,

Conn'd o'er the days when they were young.

'^ Eh, Jack ! what years ha'e passed away
" Sin we were trapper-lads tegither !

" What endless toil, byeth neet and day,
" Eneugh yen's varry pith te wither.

" Aw put the bait-poke on at eight,

" Wi' sark and hoggers, like maw brothers ;

'^ Maw faither thinkin' aw meet steit
" Ha'e day about alang wi' others.

" The neet afore aw went te wark,
^ " A warld o' wonders cross'd maw brain,
" Through which they did se skelp and yark,
" As if maw wits had run amain.


'^ Aw thowt the time wad ne'er be gyen,
" That doHifi'-coutie wad niver come ;

^^ And when the caller oall'd at yen,
" Aw 'd getten nowther sleep nor slum.

'^ Aw lap ttp, nimmel as a flea

" Or lop, amang wor blankets spangin ;

" And i' the twinklin' of an e'e,

" Was £Eurly ower the bedstook bangih*.

" Wor lads, poor things, were not se gleg,
^' It tuik some time te fettle them :

*•' 8e stiff, they scarce ooold more a peg,
^' And fitter far te stay at hyem.

^^ It was, ne doubt, a cooen seet,
^^ Te see them hirplin' eroSs the floor,

" Wi' anklets shaw'd, and soatlier*d feet,
" Wi' salye and ointment plaistei'd o'er.

" The duds thrawn on, the breakfafrf; tyen,
" The/re ready for another start,

^^ Te slave iot eighteen hours agyen,
*^ Enough to rive atwee the heart.

" Wot low rope let, a-field we set,

^^ The tirappin' trade quite eiicmse te laim ;

" Poof mother, pairtin' wi* he* pet,
" Cried, ' Hinnies, mind maw eanny bairn.'

" 'Tis mair than forty years sin sjme,
•* Yet this tipen maw mem'ty hings,

** We met awd NdLi*, aad OtnWn $w%ne^^
'^ Twee vauny far fra tfoUsy ^ings.

THE pitmam's pay. 25

" This boded ill tiy iv ry skin,

** And fix'd us a' like barber's blocks ;

" Yet faither nobbut brack his shin,
" And lost his bran-new backy-box,

" The men were puttin' in their picks
" When we gat there ; and just about

"The time we gat maw faither s six
" Put in, the first were luikin out.

*' Aw star d at iv'ry thing aw saw,

" For iv'ry thing was new te me ;
" And when wor turn te gan belaw

" Was come, aw went on Dbddy's knee.

" They popp'd us iy a jiffy down,

" Through smoke, and styth, and swelt'rin' heat ;
*' And ofteil spinnin roun' and roun,

" Just like a geuss upon a speet.

" We're gaun te get a geuss te mom,
" There's nowse aw get aw like se weel,

" Efter they 're grown, wi' stubble com,
" As fat and plump as ony seal.

" Aw like her stuff'd wi' onions best,

" And roasted tiv a single roun',
" A' nicely scrimpt frae back te breast —

" Not brunt, but beautifully brown.

" Of a' the kinds o' hollow meats

" That greasy cuicks se oft are speetin',

" There's nyen aw tyest that iver beats
" A geuss, the yess o' trumps o' eatin'.

26 THB pitman's pay.

^' She myeks a real royal dish,

^' On which a king meet myek a myel :

" Aw wadn't for a better wish,
" Were aw te mom a king mysel'.

" The oddments, tee, beat boil or fry,
" Provided geussy be a good un —

^^ Eat £Eunou8 in a giblet pie,

" Cribb'd roun wi' coils o' savoury puddin .

• " But stop ! where was aw, thinks te. Jack,
" When aw began this wild-geuss chase ?
" It surely was a good way back :
" Let's try te recollect the place.

" We 'd pass'd the meetin's, aw 've ne doubt :
" Indeed, aw think we 'd reach'd the bottom,

" Efter they 'd bumm'd us roun' about,
'' For a' the warld like a teetotum.

" Wor nose within the bam-styen set,
" We stevell'd te the cabin, where

^^ The men and lads their cannels get,
" The seat o* power and pitmen's lare.

" The durdum now there's nowse can beat :
" ' Hand, Dicky, till aw get a chow !'

" * Here, aw say, Willy, gie *s a leet I"
" ' DxcK, damn ye, ha'd aboot a low !'

" * Come, hinny, Barty, lens a hand
" ' On wi' maw corf!' ' Ye snotty dog,

<< < Put in yor tram, and dinnet stand
" ' There, squeekin' like a half-ring'd hog !*

THE pitman's pay. 27

" The lads are huntin' for their trams —
" The hewers for their picks and clay —

" The heedsman little Dicky damns
" And hlasts, for gettin off the way.

" In bye they bnmm'd me in a crack,
^' And left me i' maw Mther s board,

" Where he was bnffin at a back

" As hard as whinstone, by the Lord.

" He bra/d away byeth lang and sair,
" Before the stannin' corf waa heVd :

" Was droppin sweet frae iv'ry hair,
" And hidden iv a reeky cloud.

" For what he gat was varry sma',

^' Frae out the kirvens and the nickens ;

" The myest of which was left belaw,

" The rest like cmms for feedin' chickens.

" When Dicky's corf was fill'd wi' sic,
" He let his low, and stuck 't agyend —

" Ax'd Deddy te lay down his pick,
^^ And help him.te the heedwis end.

" Suin efler he gat crept outbye,
" And me set down ahint maw door,

" Joe had the wark a' cut and dry,
" And ettled reet for iv'ry hewer.

" This was not a' ways eas'ly duin,

^^ As oft they tum'd ouit kittle maiters,

" Myest like an eclipse o' the mnin
'^ Te wor poor cabin caloulatmrs.

28 THE pitman's pay.

" Aw think aw see poor Peter now
" Bamboozlin' on for hours tegither,

"Cursin a roun him black and blue,
" And fit te fight wiv ony feather.

*' There could not be a richer treat
" Than seein Peter at a pinch ;

" For as he blurr'd his wooden sheets
" His temper left him inch by inch.

" Off went his specks — ^the sweet ran down
" A fyece wi' botheration curst—

" His wig gawn like a pointer roun ,
" Now quite awry, then backside furst.

" The baitin', tee, was deev'lish gallin —
" Rogues axin if he 'd hev a clerk ;

" Or in his lug for iver bawlin ,

" ' Man, will ye-niver place the wark V

" Aw Ve seen him i' this muddled mess,
" Click up his chalk and wooden buick,

*^ Hissell, the picfur o' distress,

" Hidden ahint some awd wa nuik* —

" Where like a cunjurur he 'd sit,

" His black airt at some cantrips tryin',

" Till he gat iv ry pairt te fit,

" Then sally forth the dogs defyin'.

^^ The wark now placed, and pit hung on,
" The heedsmen, whether duin or nut,

" Mun iy ry man and mother s son
^^ Lay doon the pick and start te put.

THE pitman's pay. 29

" Now then the bitter strife begins,
" All pallin , hawlin , pushin , drivin ,

'^ 'Mang blood and dirt and broken shins,
" The waik uns wi* the Strang nns strivin .

" Aw mind a tram byeth walk and slaw,
^' Just streen'd te rags te keep her gannin',

" Frae hingin -on till howdy-maw,
" Ye hardly knew if gawn or stannin*.

" Jnst pinch'd te deeth, they 're tarn and snarly,
" A' yammerin on frae mom till neet —

" Jack off the way, blackgairdin' Charley,
" For at the corf nut lyin reet.

" While Charley damns Jack's hoolet e'en,
" His hick'ry fyece and endless growl ;

" And sweers, if he agyen compleen,

" He 'U splet his nell-kneed, wall-eyed soul.

" A shower o' coals wi' vengeance hurl'd,
'* Suin rattl'd roun' the lugs o' Jack,

" Wi' threets he 'd te the tother world
" Dispatch him sprawlin' iv a crack.

" Jack didn't like the journey then,
" And tried te shun the deedly blast

" By joukin* down — ^nor show'd agyen
" His fyece till a' was ower and past.

" The bits o' lads are badly us'd —

'^ The heedsmen often run them blind —

'* They 're kick'd and cuff'd, and beat and bruis'd,
^^ And sometimes drop for want o' wind.

30 THE pitman's pat.

^^ Sic, tketiy WBB the poor putter s fiftte,
^' Wi' now and then a stannin' fray,

^^ Frae jokens, cawd pies, stowen bait,
" Or cowp'd corves i' the barrow way.

^' Aw tuik for some time day about,

" And when aw wrought, myed fippence sure ;

" Besides full mony a curse and cloot
" Aw gat for sleepin at the door.

" A better berth tum'd up at last —
" The wages still but varry sma' —

" For sixpence did not seem a vast
" For carryin Lukby's aix and saw.

^' But, then, at half-wark aw wa« duin,
" And niver hardly gat maw thumps ;

" Yet he was kittle— out o' tune —
*'' And often gar'd me stur maw stumps.

" Wi' grease-horn ower maw shouthers slung,
" And pockets stuflTd wi* waxy clay,

" Wi' half-shoon at maw bait-poke hung,
" Just fit me for the barrow-way.

" Aw neist tuik Dummy by the lug,

" The putter's purgatory here,
" At which they daily toil and tug,

" Blackgairded by some growlin' bear.

" Whene'er aw Dan the Deevil had —
" Or some sic hell -hound — ^for a marrow,

" Maw life, aw 's sure, was full as bad
" As ony tyed's belaw a harrow.

THE pitman's pat. 31

^^ The filay'ry borne by Blackjmoors
" They Ve lang been ringin' i' wor ears ;

'' But let them tyek a luik at wors,
'^ And tell us which the warst appears.

" If ony, then, o' Blacky s race

" Ha'e harder cairds than wors te play,

" Why, then, poor dogs, ower hard 's their case,
" And truth 's in what wor preachers say.

" Thou knaws for weeks aw Ve gyen away
" At twee o'clock o' Monday momin',

" And niver seen the leet o' day
" Until the Sabbath day's retumin'.

"But then, thou knaws. Jack, we siefree;

" And though we work as nyek'd as them,
" We 're not sell'd inte slavery,

" Far, far away frae frinds and hyem !

" Yet was aw at the point o' deein',
" And meet maw life leeve ower agyen,

" Aw wadn't. Jack, aw think, be 'greein*,
" Unless this pairt was out on 't tyen.

" For what 's in sic a life worth hevin',
, ^' Still toilin, moilin', niver duin,
" Where the bit good weighs not a shavin',
" The load of bad a thousand ton.

" But heavy puttin' 's now forgotten,

" Sic as we had i' former days,
" Ower holey tiiill and dyels a' spletUn: —

" Trams now a' run on metal ways.'

32 THE pitman's pay.

" This waa the wark for tryin' mettle —

" Here ivry tail his level fend :
^^ Sic tassels nobbut pluck could settle,

" For nowse less could the racket stand.

" And had wor bits o' jammerin' yeps,
" That wowl about wor barrow-way,

" Te slave and drudge like langsyne cheps,
" They wadn't worsel out a day.

" God bliss the man wi' peace and plenty,
" That furst invented metal plates !

" Draw out his years te five times twenty,
" Then slide him through the heevenly gates.

" For if the human frame te spare
" Frae toil and pain ayont conceivin,

" Ha'e ought te de wi* gettin there,

" Aw think he mun gan strite te heeven.

" Aw neist te half a tram was bun,
" But gat a marrow gruff and sour.

" A heedsman, then, they myed me, suin ;
" And efter that, a puttin'-hewer.

" Another lang and slavish year

" At last aw fairly struggled through :

" Grat fettled up a set o' geer —

" "Was thowt a man, and bun te hew.

" This myed me maister for mysel',
" Wi' shorter wark and better pays ;

^' And at maw awn hand didn't fyel
" Te suin get bits o' canny claes.^

THE pitman's pay. 33

" Here, agjen, had awd langsynera

*' Mony a weary, warkin byen,
" Now unknawn te coaly-Tyners,

" A' bein' melUand- wedge wark then.'

" Aw've bray'd for hours at woody*° coal,

" Wi' airms myest droppin' frae the shouther ;

" But now they just pop in a hole,

" And flap her doun at yence wi* pouther.

" A ' back* or ' knowe*" sometimes, 'tis true,
" Set doon maw top wi* ease eneugh ;

" But oftener far we had te tew
" On wi' a nasty, scabby reuf."

" Here's just a swatch of pitmen's life,
" Frae bein' breek'd till fit te marry :

" A scene o* ceaseless pain and strife,

" Hatch'd by wor deedly foe, Awd Harry :

" For there's ne imp iv a' his hell
" That could sic tortur hev invented :

" It mun ha'e been Awd Nicky's sel —
'^ He likes te see us se tormented.

" Then ye that sleep on beds o' doon,
" An niver Jack the Caller dreedin' —

" Gan finely clad the hydl year roun,
" And a' ways upon dainties feedin'— •

" Think on us, hinnies, if ye please,

" An it were but te dbow yor pity ;
" For a' the toils and tears it gi'es,

" Te warm the shins o' Lunnun city.


34 THE pitman's pay.

" The fieiy ' blast' cuts short wor liyes»
^' And steeps wor hjems in deep distress ;

" Myeks widows o' wor canny wires,
^* And a' wor bairns leaves faitherless.

" The wait'ry * wyest'," mair dreedfdl still,

" Alive oft harries huz belaw :
" O dear ! it myeks yen's blood run chill !

*' May we sic mis'ry niver knaw !

*'*' Te be cut off frae kith and kin,
" The leet o' day te see ne mair,

'* And left frae help and hope shut in,
*' Te pine and parish in despair !

" If ye could on'y tyek a view,

" And see the sweet frae off us poorin* —

" The daily dangers we gan through,
" The daily hardships we 're endurin —

*' Ye wad send doon, aw ha'e ne doubt,

" Some chops on what they call a ' mission,'

" Te try if they could ferret out
" Somethin' te better wor condition.

" They wad, wi' layin' their brains asteep,
" Suin hit upon some happy scheme,

" (Which meet be duin, aw think, quite cheap,)
" Te myek us kirve and nick by steam.

" "Wor factories now gan a' by steamin,
'' Steam gars wor boats and packets sail ; ^

" And now, they say, they're busy schemin'
^' Te myek him run the Lunnun mail 1^^

THB pitman's pay. 35

" How nice and funny it wad be,

" Te sit and see yen s jud myed riddy ;

" For then we'd ha'e nowt else te de

^' But get his geer sharp'd at the smiddy.

**ffe grunds the com te myek wor breed,

" He boils wor soup (yence thought a dream) :

" Begock ! aw's often flay'd te deed

'' They'll myek us eat and sleep by steam !

" A' this he diz wi' parfet ease,

" (The sting o' gallin' labour pouin') :

" Then, hinny maisters, if ye please,
^' Just let him try his hand at hewin'.

^^ Eh, man ! aw 's dry : hand here the pot :
" Aw 's just wi' talkin' fit te gyzen ;

" Nor will maw tongue move on a jot —
" It *s dry wark, varry, moralizin'.

" Then reach thy hand, awd honest truth,
'^ An' let me gied a hearty shakin' ;

*' An' may the frindship o* wor youth
" Be ne'er in hirplin age forsaken.

" And may the bairns o' byeth wor hyema
" Prove ^honest men and bonny lasses :'

" The former handin doon wor nyems,
" As patterns te the workin' classes :

" The lasses choosin sober men,

^ But seldom seen the warse o' nappy :

" Blyth, kind, and good tiv ivry yen,
" And myekin' a' about them happy.

36 THB pitman's pat.

<^ It is nut geer that mjeks the man,

" Nor fine broad claith the cliver fellow :

" A fail's a fuil, howiver gran' —

" The pouther'd pyte is often shallow.

" For happiness is not confin'd

" Te folks in halls or cassels leevin ;

" And if wor lives be good, ye'll mind
" There '11 nyen ax how we gat te heeven.

■ " We labour hard te myek ends meet,

" Which baffles oft the gentry's schemin' ;
" And though wor sleep be short, it 's sweet,
" Whilst they're on bums and bailies dreamin.

" There is a charm aw cannot nyem,

" That's little knawn te quality :
" Ye'll find it in the happy hyem

" Of honest-hearted poverty.

" Yor high-flown cheps oft fyel and brick,
" But we hev a' ways yet been yable

" Te keep the wheelband i' the nick,
" Though oft wi' but a barish tyeble.

" O dear ! but they lead wicked lives,
" If a' be true that's i' the papers :

"Oft kissin' yen another's wives,
" And cuttin other idle capers.

" They run up debts they cannot pay —
" Whiles pay off Paul wi' robbin Peter ;

" But, thank God, Jack, there's nyen can say
" We iver wrang'd a leevin' creatur.

THE pitman's pay. 37

'* Aw dinnet mean te brag o' this —
" It's but the way we a' should treed ;

" But where the greet se often miss,
" We may luick up when we succeed.

" For, raither sic disgrace te share,
" An' bring a stain upon wor freends,

" We'd wark, on breed-an'-waiter fare,
" Till blood drops frae wor finger ends.

" Besides, when a' is fadin' fast

" That cheer'd the droopin' spirits here —
" When we luick backwards at the past,

" Te see how we '11 at last appear —

" 'Twill form a breet and sunny place

" On which the mind may rest wi' pleasur ;

" An' then de mair te help wor case,

" Than hoarded heaps o* yearthly treasur."