Progress. (Prose)

A poem by John Hartley

This is the age of progress; and it is not slo progress nawther. The worst on it is, we're all forced to go on whether we like it or net, for if we stand still a minit, ther's somedy traidin' ov us heels, an' unless we move on they'll walk ovver us, an' then when we see them ommost at top o'th' hill, we shall find us sen grubbin' i'th' muck at th' bottom. A chap mun have his wits abaat him at this day or else he'll sooin' be left behund. Ther's some absent minded fowk think they get on varry weel i'th' owd way an' they're quite content, but its nobbut becoss they're too absent minded to see ha mich better they mud ha done if they'd wakken'd up a bit sooiner. Aw once knew a varry absent minded chap; he wur allus dooin' some sooart o' wrang heeaded tricks. Aw' remember once we'd booath to sleep i' one bed, an aw gate in fust, an' when aw luk'd to see if he wor commin', aw'm blow'd! if he hadn't put his cloas into bed an hung hissen ovver th' cheer back. Awm sure aw connot tell where all this marchin' is likely to lead us to at last, but aw hooap we shall be all reight, for aw do think ther's plenty o' room to mend even yet, but the deuce on it is,' ther's soa monny different notions abaat what is reight wol aw'm flamigaster'd amang it. Some say drink is the besetting sin; another says 'bacca is man's ruination. One says we're all goin' to the devil becoss we goa to church, an' another says we'st niver goa to heaven if we goa to th' chapel, but aw dooant let ony o' them things bother me. 'At ther is a deeal o' sin i'th' world aw dooant deny, an', aw think ther is one 'at just bears th' same relation to other sins as a split ring bears to a bunch o' keys; it's one 'at all t'other things on: an' that's selfishness, an we've all sadly too mich o' that. We follow that "number one" doctrine sadly too mich, - iverybody seems bent o' gettin, but ther's varry few think o' givin' - (unless its advice, ther's any on 'em ready enuff to give that; but if advice wor stuff 'at they could buy potatoes wi', ther' wodn't be as mich o' that knockin' abaat for nowt as ther' is).

We're all varry apt to know the messur o' ivrybody's heead but us own; we can tell when a cap fits them directly, but we con niver tell when ther's one 'at just fits us. Miss Parsnip said last Sunday, when shoo'd been to th' chapel, "at shoo wondered ha Mrs. Cauliflaar could fashion to hold her heead up, for shoo niver heeard a praicher hit onybody harder in all her life," An' Mrs. Cauliflaar tell'd me "'at if shoo wor Miss Parsnip shoo'd niver put her heead i' that chapel ageean, for iverybody knew 'at he meant her' when he wor tawkin' abaat backbitin'." An'soa it is; we luk at other fowk's faults through th' thin end o' th' spy glass, but when we want to look at us own, we turn it raand.

"O, wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us,
It wad fra many a blunder free us
An' foolish notion.
What airs in dress an' g'ait wad lea' us
An' ev'n devotion."

Selfishness may do varry weel for this world, but we should remember it isn't th gooid one does to hissen 'at he gets rewarded for after - it's th' gooid he does to others, an' although we may be able to mak' a spreead here, wi' fine clooas, fine haases, an' sich like; unless we put selfishness o' one side an' practise charity it'll be noa use then.

"For up above there's one 'at sees
Through th' heart o' every man;
An' he'll just find thee as tha dees,
Soa dee as well as t' con."

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