Put up wi' it. (Prose)

A poem by John Hartley

Aw think aw could tell what day it wor th o' aw didn't know if aw could see a lot o' factry fowk gooin to ther wark. Mondy's easy to tell, becoss th' lasses have all clean approns on, an' ther hair hasn't lost its Sundy twists, an' twines ther faces luk ruddier an' ther een breeter. Tuesdy, ther's a change; they're not quite as prim lukkin! ther topping luk fruzzier, an' ther's net as monny shignons as ther wor th' day before. Wednesday, - they just luk like hard-workin fowk 'at live to wark an' wark to live. Ther's varry few faces have a smile on 'em, an' th' varry way they set daan ther clogs seems to say, "Wark-a-day, Live-a-day, Laik-a-day, Get-noa-pay; Rain-or-noa, Bun-to-goa." Thursdy. - They luk cross, an' ther heeads are abaat hauf-a-yard i' advance o' ther tooas. Ther clogs seem to ha made up ther mind net to goa unless they're made. Friday. - That's pay day. Noa matter ha full ther belly may be, ther's a hungry luk abaat ther een; an'ther's a lot on 'em huggin baskets; an' yo can see it written i' ther faces 'at if they dar leeave as sooin as they've getten ther bit o' brass they wod. Then comes Setterday - Short day - an' yo can tell th' difference as sooin as yo clap een on' em. They're all i' gooid spirits. They luk at th' church clock as they pass, an' think it'll sooin be nooin, an' then! - An' then what? Why, then they'll have a day an' a hauf for thersen - abaat one fifth o' ther life - one fifth o' ther health an' strength for thersen. That doesn't luk mich, but ther fain on it. They owt to be thankful becoss they live in a free country. They can suit thersen's whether they do that, or go to th' workhaase. Justice, they say, is blind, an' if Freedom isn't, shoo must be put to th' blush sometimes.

Who'd be a slave, when Freedom smiling stands,
To strike the gyves from of his fettered hands?
Who'd be a slave, and cringe, and bow the knee,
And kiss the hand that steals his liberty?
Behold the bird that flits from bough to bough;
What though at times the wintry blasts may blow, -
Happier it feels, half frozen in its nest,
Than caged, though fed and fondled and caressed.
'Tis said, 'on Briton's shore no slave shall dwell,'
But have you heard not the harsh clanging bell,
Or the discordant whistles' yelling voice,
That says, 'Work slave, or starve! That is your choice!'
And have you never seen the aged and grey,
Panting along its summons to obey;
Whilst little children run scarce half awake,
Sobbing as tho' ther little hearts would break
And stalwart men, with features stern and grave,
That seem to say, "I scorn to be a slave."
He is no slave; - he is a Briton free,
A noble sample of humanity.
This may be liberty, - the ass, the horse,
Wear out their lives in routine none the worse.
They only toil all day, - then eat and sleep,
They have no wife or children dear to keep.
Better, far better, is the tattered lout,
Who, tho' all so-called luxuries without,
Can stand upon the hill-side in the morn,
And watch the shadows flee as day is born.
Tho' with a frugal meal his fast he breaks,
And from the spring his crystal draught he takes,
Better, far better, seems that man to mel
For he owns Heaven's best gift, - his liberty.

Aw dooant believe i' idleness - aw hate a chap 'at's too lazy to do his share - but what aw dooant like is 'at he should have to wark just exactly when, an' whear, an' for just soa mich (or, aw owt to say, just soa little) as another chap thinks fit. They'll say, if he doesn't like it he can leave it. Happen net - may be he can't get owt else, an' he's a haase an' family to luk after. Then they'll say, 'if he can't better hissen he mun put up wi' it.' That's what he is dooin, an' it's puttin up wi' it 'at's makkin him soa raand shouldered. It's puttin up wi' it 'at's made them hollow cheeks an' dull heavy een.

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