[From Ben Brierley's Journal, 1869]
AB-O'TH'-YATE AT THE ISLE OF MAN.
(Two Letters from Ab-o'-th'-Yate to the Editor of Ben Brierley's journal in the year 1869).
Walmsley Fowt, August, 1869.
IT'S a common sayin' ut after a storm comes a calm. It wur so wi' me after londin' at Port Erin. If yo' recollecten it wur Setterday when we went, an' th' day after wur Sunday-that grand day o' rest, when if a mon doesno' feel different to what he does other days, ther's summat wrung wi his clockwark.
As it happened, aw'd a good deeal o'th' mornin' to misel'. Th' owd Rib had made up her mind to see an' yer as mich as hoo could ; so hoo wur up an' eaut as soon as th' larks had wesht an' donned the'rsels ; an' aw conno' say but hoo went upo' th' wisest plan. Aw lee a good while collectin' my Sunday feelin's t'gether, an' harkenin' a jackdaw praich upo' th' window-stone, ut put me i' mind of owd Pa'son -yo' known whoa aw meean. Aw could just mak' as mich eaut o' what this fithert praicher said, as aw could of ony sarmon ut he ever geet folk asleep wi' !
Aw're havin' a bit o' my vowage o'er agen. Aw could feel th' bed rock like a ship ; an' aw fancied aw could yer th' plungin' o'th' engines, an' th' squeakin' o'th' little pigs, an' th' wynt makkin' bagpipes o'th' chimdies. Th' jackdaw did for th' captain; so ut my bedchamber wur as weel fitted eaut as th' owd Tinwil. Then aw'd a wakken dreeam abeaut a sleepy ride in a coach ; a great sheaut, an' a deeal o' hondshakin'. An' it coom o'er mi abeaut a straw hat, an' summat under it like a piece o' red gutty-perchy, ut had a deeal o' strain on it betimes ; an' lower still a waistcooat ut had getten St. Vitus' doance, an' wouldno' be cured; but kept jowtin' up an' deawn, like that little engine ut used to grind coffee in a shop window i' Manchester.
Well, aw swung misel' eaut o' bed at last, an' fund aw wurno' quite as weel as aw'd calkilated on. My yead wur a good weight, an' my legs wur bad to steer. Aw reckon it wur th' change o' air ut made me feel poorly, though eaur Sal said it wur summat else, moore likely. Aw'd bin playin' wi' a tae-spoon to mich th' neet afore ! Tae-spoons are dangerous playthings when they're i' company wi' owt beside cups an' saucers. They met knit comfortable neet-caps wi' 'em, but they didno' fit so weel in a mornin'.
Bein' Sunday aw thowt aw'd don me in my best black short-legs, so ut if aw went to th' church ther' wouldno' be so mich starin' at me. So aw sit misel' deawn upo' th' bedside, an' looked at my box. Whether change of air didno' agree wi' it, or my e'en wur a bit quare, aw couldno' tell, but th' owd bit o' lumber looked as if it had bin havin' a marlock, an' knocked itsel' into a fresh shape. Then th' rope ut wur reaund it seemed to ha' wasted itsel' oather wi' frettin' or sae-sickness, an' gone thinner. It wur a weight-rope when aw put it reaund ; but neaw it wur gone quite genteel, as if it wanted to be a clooas-line. Th' knots aw'd teed on it wur quite changed, as if th' Davenport Brothers had bin abeaut, doin' some sperrit conjurin'. Heawever, aw set too, an' untee'd th' rope wi' mich ado, an' hove th' box lid up, an' had a peep inside.
Strange ! my best Sunday short-legs had changed fro' black karseymere to white calico, wi' summat like window curtains reaund th' bottoms, i'stead o' buttons an' ribbins ! Thoose ud never do for me to go to th' church in, at onyrate. Aw thowt aw should be sheauted wi' th' childer, as if aw're a pace-egger paradin' th' lones. Aw threw 'em o' one side, an' put my studyin' cap on, an' wondert heaw this had bin browt abeaut. Then aw looked a bit furr to see if owt else had changed. Divin' deawn i'th' box aw fished up a shirt beaut oather sleeves or collar ; an' another thing ut wur like a balloon wi' palisades reaund th' bottom. Then aw coome on a square box made o' pastbooart, ut had summat inside on't like a white capscreen wi' silk strings to it! After aw'd getten my spectekles aw made it eaut ut this thing wur a bonnet o' some soart ; but which wur th' back an' which wur th' front wur eaut o'th' peawer o' mon to tell. Aw'd an idea once ut eaur Sal had swapt me boxes ; but aw thowt agen aw'd never seen her wi' no soart o' gears like these abeaut her. Th' next thing aw geet howd on sattled o. It wur a letther ! As it had bin read afore aw thowt ther'd be no hurt i' just lookin' through it ; not as aw wanted to know other folks' consarns, but to find eaut whoa it belunged to. So aw read-
" GEORGE HOTELL, DALE ST.
" Liverpool July 1869
" DEAREST POLLY
" I rite these few loines hopping they will foind you all " right as they've left me. I got in Liverpool all right `° after a very pleasant gorny the train was very punctil " the old chap dosnt know but i am in Yorkshire buying up " pottatus wodnt he be wild if he knew where I was and "what I was doing. O my dear Polly you should seethe " ring Iv boght a regilar bobbydazler it is I do so long for " the toime that I shall put it on your sweet finger I boght " it to fit the propper finger as I got some stuff to fetch the "wart off in an hour's toime. I shall get the lisens " to-morrow and be happy dont be too late you know wat " toime the train leeves Bolton I will meet you at the " station so no more at present from your ever ever ever " loving
" N.B. 50 toimes over these is kisses. " N.B. after the wedding hurray for the Isle of Man."
Theigher ! Aw tbowt to misel' as a put th' letther back, somb'dy's bin makkin' foo's o' the'rsels ! havin' a runaway weddin , as if it wurno' a trial big enoogh doin' it wi' o'th' help they con muster. Aw felt wurr hobbled nur ever when aw fund this eaut. What must be done ? Aw could see plain enoogh ut gooin' to th' church wur sattled for that day; so aw'd a plash i' some wayther, an' donned misel' i' my tother clooas, an' prepared for gooin' deawn th' steers, as ther a bell ringin', an' a scutter gooin' on up an' deawn th' heause, as if everybody bad made it up to go deawn at th' same time. Just as aw're teein my napkin on ther a knock coome to th' dur. " Yo'r at th' wrung shop," aw said, thinkin' it wur somb'dy ut had missed the'r road.
" Is it Ab ? " they said; an' ave could yer it wur a men's voice.
"Well," ave said, " aw'm hardly sure abeaut it. If appearances are owt to go by, aw'm a mixture. What dun yo' want ? "
" Heave's thy yead ? " th' chap said.
" It's a bit on th' ramble," ave said. " It 'll happen be a bit betther when ave getten my bonnet on."
" Well, aw've getten a bonnet for thee here," th' mon said.
What's up neaw ? ave wondert; some moore mystery? Heawever, ave oppent th' dur, an' fund it eaut ut it wur th' londlort vei' a glass o' summat like milk in his bont.
" This is th' bonnet," he said, howdin' th' glass up. " A rare thing to fit on after to' mich neet-cap ! " 'What's it made on ? " ave axt.
" Manx miik," he said. `° Nowt like this i' Walmsley Fowt! just try heave it fits."
So ave did try; an' rare stuff ave fund it wur-warm fro' th' keaw an' o ! Aw never tasted newt like it! Aw thowt if owd Thuston's keaws gan milk o' that soart he'd never get through t' fowt vei' it. He'd be sowd up, snap! Aw axt him what made th' difference; but o ut ave could get eaut on him wur ut they fed keaws at th' Isle o' Man different to what they did i' England. Happen it wur so Aw said newt abeaut me havin' getten a wrung box just then. Aw thowt if ave did ave should never yer th' last on't. So ave bundled misel' deawn th' steers, an had a meawthful o' sae wynt afore breakfast. Aw see'd th' owd Ticket scramblin' up th' broo at th' end o'th' neest, an' a warm job hoo had afore her. Hoo'd bin deawn amung some heauses at th' bottom, cat huntin' ; but had seen noane nobbut what had tails. Folk toved her ut they wurno' owd enoogh yet for 'em t' drop off, so it seems they areno' born beaut. Th' owd lass wanted to know if th' breakfast wur ready; an' ave dar'say hoe met weel, considerin' what hoo'd gone through th' day afore.
" It's just gooin' on th' table neaw," ave said ; for ave could yer a clatter o' pots, an' spoons, an' knives, an' forks, ut made me fair yammer agen.
" That's reet ! " hoe said; an' hoe geet hoved o' mi arm. " Aw're never so hungry i' mi life! We'n goo in linkin', like quality folk dun; for we are a bit quality neaw, when we con ride in a carriage. So come on!"
Well, we went into th' neest; an' ave geet mi knees nicely stabled agen, vei' summat i'th' front on me ut looked like Hazlewo'th bridge on a plate as big as a coal riddle. Black eautside, an' red an' white inside it wur, vei' gravy wheezin' Baut o' bits o' crivices, ut made it so temptin' ave could hardly keep off it.
" Rare stuff for th' yure, Ab! " Sam Smithies said, seein' me grinnin' at it. An' he winked at some chaps across th' table.
Then ave yerd someb'dy to'ard th' bottom sayin' :-" Theau conno' cut that vei' th' scithors ! "
When Sam begun operations, he shoived it deawn i' tremblin' slices as thin as an owd sixpence, an' went through his wark as if he'd bin browt up to it ; an' he bonded a plateful o'er to me, ut ave made to look wizzent in abeaut two minutes or so.
Aw fund ther nob'dy for havin' beef beside me, as ther' wur plenty o' things beside, sich as ham an' eggs, an' cowd summats vei' parsley scattert o'er, an' fresh herrin' as big as yung whales, an' aw dunno' what beside. When aw fund ut nob'dy wanted no beef aw made a deeal o' trouble o' axin 'em, but wur desperately feart on 'em sayin' aye. A gentleman axt th' owd Rib if hoo'd have a mackerel ; but hoo shaked her yead, an' said hoo'd ha' nowt ut ud mak' her ill; hoo'd bin bad enoogh th' day before; but hoo thowt ut hoo could do summat i'th' ham an' egg way. Aw'm o'th' same way o' thinkin' misel' neaw, after seein' th' lot ut hoo polished off. Aw'd abeaut five cups o' coffee, an' as mich beef as would ha' made a leather appron if it would ha' howden t'gether ; an' aw consider ut that wurno' bad doin' !
Well, after abeaut an heaur's good heausin' we finished eaur breakfast, an' thanked Somebody for it, as we'd occasion. Aw stroked mi waistcoat deawn, an' felt as if th' wo'ld an' me wur gettin' on very weel t'gether. If thoose foo's across th' wayther, ut wur gooin' to cut one another's throats, had had rich a breakfast as that, they'd ha' shaked bonds wi' one another, an' gone whoam
Th' day ut had started middlin' breet, had begun o' gleawmin', an' warnin' us 'at it wouldno' be safe to venture far eaut o' civilized quarters. But nowt 'ud stop th' owd Rib fro' gooin' to oather church or chapel or summut o'th' sort. Other folk met carry on as they dar' no' do awhoam, an' couldno' forshawm, if they durst; but for hersel', while th' same Heaven wur spread o'er her, an' th' same Somebody watched whether her feet went reet or wrung, hoo'd do just th' same at Port Erin as hoo would if hoo yerd th' owd Hazelwo'th bells ringin' the'r mornin' peeal, an' th' childer wur musterin' for th' skoo.
So hoo went up th' steears for t' have a word or two wi' th' lookin' glass, an' put a bit moore black abeaut her fithers, for t' mak' her look solem. Aw nipt up afther her, an' wur just i' time for t' see her howdin' up what should ha' bin mi black karseymeres in a way aw didno' like on.
"What's th' meeanin' o' these, Ab ?" hoo said. An' th' way hoo said "these" had the same effect upo' mi nerves as if aw'd clapt mi ear to th' dur of a hummabee cote, after givin' th' inside a bit of a roozer.
Aw put on as innocent a look as aw could weel muster, considerin' ut it looked a very bad case, an' towd her heaw th' mistake had bin made,-heaw ut some woman had takken mi box, an' laft me her's i'th' place, as hoo met see.
Hoo looked at th' box, then rummaged it through-natteral enoogh for a woman, aw thowt ; an' when hoo'd done, an' aw'd read her th' leather aw'd fund, hoo set up one o'th' yead cracks o' laafin' ut ever aw yerd for one ut's a bit kilt for her wynt.
" Eh, Ab," hoo said, when hoo'd getten eaut of her laafin' fit, " Aw see neaw what theau wouldno' goo to th' church for. If theau'd "--an' hoo went off agen wi' another brast.
Aw never seed a thunner storm blow o'er so nicely i' mi life, an' gi'e th' matrimonial sky sich a cleean sweep. Th' only bit o' cleaud ther' wur abeaut it wur-heaw must th' mistake be reeted ? When aw towd her ut th' th' londlort said advertizin' i' one o'th' Douglas pappers 'ud put things square, that bit o' dimness past off, an' gan her face sich a polish, ut aw railly think a mistake o' that sort 'ud be wo'th while bein' made every day, just for th' fun o' stretchin' up agen.
Well, after this hoo set off to th' church,-her an' th' londlady, an' that lady fro' Manchester. Aw wondered mony a time while hoo're away if hoo could manage to keep her face i' th' reet shape when hoo should look as sollit as a hommer. Aw know heaw aw should ha' bin misel' when aw thowt abeaut th' mistake.
Th' day glided o'er nicely an' calmly, as Sundays should. I'th' mornin' part i'stead o' gooin' wi' th' wife, aw did mi bit o' th' sarvice by th' sae-side,-hearkenin' th' waves sing the'r anthem, an' watchin' th' sky rowl deawn it's flocks o' cleauds into a grand congregation, ut didno' seem to care whether that great praicher ut spoke to th' sae, an' th' mountains, an' th' woods, an' th' valleys,-praiched in a black geawn or a white un, or brunt candles an' incense, or worshipped as thoose fishermen of owd did, wi' nowt nobbut th' love o' the'r Great Mesther to help 'em. Aw con recommend this sort of a sarvice to mony a one i' England.
Afther breakfast next day (that wur Monday) th' male portion on us went for a sail. We engaged a captain an' made th' londlord into th' steward. We sailed to Th' Cauve o' Mon, wheere th' only seaunds we yerd wur th' slushin' an' bangin' o' th' sae an' th' cry o' th' saegulls as they skimmed abeaut that lonely but bonny bit o' moor-lond purpled o'er wi' heathery blossoms.
Wurno' aw i' fettle for mi' dinner when we geet back Rayther ! an' so wur one or two beside. We fund th' owd Bishop o' Port Erin waitin' for us, an' as straight as a new pin, he wur. Th' fust inklin' aw had ut th' owd laafin' machine wur abeaut, wur a two-thri cracks o' summat comin' up stairs eaut o'th' snug. Aw went deawn, an' fund him i' one o' his humours, havin' a bit of a dust wi' an owd lady ut wur knockin' abeaut. He pur-tends to hate women; but he's a quare way o' showin' it.
" Now, my dear lass! " he're just sayin', " what must I have to drink? Eh! Ha, ha, ha! D'ye hear, you old toad? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Well, well, well-I think I'll have bitter. Ha, ha, ha !"
He'd a mop yured dog wi' him ut he coes " Fido," an' he's taiched it hate women, too, for it never barks nobbut when it sees a skirt.
" Here, Fido ! " he'd say," Fi, Fi, Fi ! There's an old toad coming, Ha, ha, ha !"
" Bow, wow, wow!" an' Fido 'ud skeawl through th' yeald yorn ut hung abeaut it's e'en, an' hutch between it's mesthur's shoon, as if it had getten three or four lion peawer an' wur gooin' to ha' a meauthful o' legs, if a dacent pair coome nee.
As soon as th' owd lad seed me, he fired off some of his best artillery, an' set his senglet buttons o doancin' like mad. He said he're gooin' to dine wi' us, an' then if we'd a mind he'd tak' us to Castleteawn, just for an after-noon's walk. Th' day had breetent up into a good sort o' one, an' as it wurno' so very wot, it ud be a nice walk. just as he're layin' th' plan eaut, th' dinner bell rung; so aw clattered upsteears, an' had howd o' a knife an' fork afore th' owd bishop could get eaut o' th' snug, for aw could yer him tumblin' up after me.
As we sit at th' table th' owd rib said to me-" Ab ! is that a gradely bishop ? "
"To be sure, for owt aw know," aw said ; "look at his skin ;-as red an' as smoot' as an apple. An' look heaw he's filled up at th' back o' th' ears. A curate, or a common pa'son hasno' getten to that yet. Aw reckon he doesno' wear gaiters becose ther's no danger o' his legs gettin' starved this weather. But what made thee to ax if he're a gradely bishop ?"
" Well," hoo said, " aw're talkin' to him a bit sin' an' he co'ed me an' owd tooad, an' aw thowt that wur quare talk for a bishop.
" Oh," aw said," that's just what theau owt to be preawd on. A tooad theau knows, is reckont fort' ha' th' nicest een in it yed ov owt ; an' when he'd seen thine, aw dunno' wonder at him co'in' thee a tooad."
" Aye, well, it may be reet," hoo said; "but it's like a crackt shillin', it's a quare seaund wi' it."
" It matters nowt," aw said, " when we seen he meeans weel. It's nobbut his way."
" But he's aulus laafin'," hoo said. " Aw thowt bishops shouldno' laaf."
" Aw shouldno' like to be one, then," aw said. "If eaur religion taiches us nowt nobbut heaw to poo a long face, it's time we'd a doctor to it. But get on wi' thi atin', if theau doesno' meean to come beheend. Aw'm two plates afore thee neaw. We han to go to Castleteawn, theau knows."
Well, after th' dinner wur fairly heawsed, we made a party up to go to Castleteawn, an' agreed to peg it o' th' road. Manx miles seemed to be lung uns, aw thowt, for they kept stretchin' eaut as we went ; but it's a nice walk, an' that mak's up for th' distance. Ther's nobbut one baitin' shop upo' th' road noather, an' that's th' " Shore Hotel ; " an' snug it is, an' a pleasant body is th' londlady, an' nice uns are th' chickens. We didno' wonder at th' owd Bishop gooin' theere, if he does purtend to hate women. We fund eaut ut he're weel known theere ; for we hadno' bin in above a minute when he co'ed 'em owd tooads an' yung tooads o' reaund.
It wouldno' be possible, even i' this lung ramblin' letther fort' tell yo' everythin' ut we seed an' enjoyed. But Tuesday wur a grand day, an' we spent it grandly ! To Fleshwick Bay i'th' mornin', getherin' shells an' white stones fort' put reaund th' fleawer-pots ; an' to Port St. Mary i'th' afthernoon, wheere we lost th' owd bishop for an heaur or so, an' at last fund him cooartin' an owd damsel in a garden. We should never ha' fund him, noather, if we hadno' yerd someb'dy saying, "you old tooad ! " as we passed.
O' Wednesday th' carriage wur browt eaut agen fort' tak' us back to Douglas. Aw'd yerd abeaut my box, ut it wur o reet at __ Hotel, waitin' for th' swap.
Ther a leaud sheaut for us as we set eaut; th' Owd Rib axt everbody to come a seein' us at Walmsley Fowt ; an' they said we'rn quite as welcome at th' " Falcon's Neest." Farewell !
We see'd moore o'th' place as we drove back. "Rushen Abbey," a ruin stondin' i' one o'th' nicest bits o' country to be fund i'th' island, an' cozy villages scattered here an' theere, an' far away. We drove eaut of eaur road a bit to see "Kirk Braddan ; " an' if ever ther' wur a nook made o' purpose for sleepin' a last snooze in, surely this is one ; for it's like a garden, wheere th' seeds of a past life are sown i' fit company, to spring up in a new life that shall blossom to eternity!
We geet to th' pier i' plenty o' time to get on board th' Tinwil, an' had a nice sail to Liverpool, an' managed to catch a train ut londed us whoam i' time for eaur tae. O Walmsley Fowt turned out to welcome us and to inquire. heaw we'd enjoyed eaur eaut to Isle o' Man.
Your own, AB.