Fo‘c’s’le Yarns – Captain Tom & Captain Hugh
CAPTAIN TOM & CAPTAIN HUGH
You’re wantin to hear about them two,
Captain Tom and Captain Hugh,
Very well! Very well!
But it isn much of a story to tell;
But — however — it’s lek you know who you’ve got —
Middlin willin whether or not.
Now these two Captains they were all allowin
Was the best that was sailin out of Castletown;
And the two of them went to school together,
And never no relations either —
But up the Claddagh agate o’ buck-kyones,2
And ticklin troutses under the stones.
Or down at the Race, or out at the Mull,
Or over plaguin Lukish’s bull,
Or any fun that was goin, ye see,
Where the one was, the other would be;
And stickin mortal close, and backin
One another up, whatever was actin3 —
Backin one another still,
And reared though very respectable,
Lek accordin to their station;
And goin a teachin navigation,
At4 Masthar Cowin that was general known
For the grandest masther that was goin,
A one-armed man — aw, I’ll be bound
You had to look slippy5 if you went to Cowin;
That’s the man that could trim a scholar;
Only wink, and the hook in your collar,
And wouldn listen to no excuse.
And workin the kiddhag6 like the deuce.
2 A kind of fish.
3 Going on.
6 Left hand.
So these two lads got on though, aye!
Got on, I tell ye, and passin by
Ouldher men, and very much lek’d,1
And studdier till2 you’d expect.
So from one thing to another they came
To be skippers of smacks, the two of them —
Masther Corteen’s — you’ll have heard of him —
No? Well, raely! but that’s the way,
And every dog must have his day.
2 Steadier than.
So when they got married, they wouldn be beat,
But it was two sisthers they were schamin to get,
And got them, by the name of Sayle,
And a nice bit of money to their tail;
And right enough, and not felt on the farm —
Aw a little money ‘ll do no harm,
Not it, but only just to take care
You’ll have it on the land, d’ye hear?
Aye that’s your sort — aw very nice,
And the bigger the loaf the bigger the slice;
But still there’s some ‘ll take the huff,
And grab will never have enough :
But what with the lean, and what with the fat,
Maybe a hundherd pound or that;
And a little inthress1 in the will.
Aye — bless ye! very comfible.
Good wives they were, let alone the tin.
And chrizzenin2 for chrizzenin.
And as handsome a breed as ever you’d see,
And very nice and orderly.
For the sisthers was livin next door to each other,
And civil to all, but cautious rather;
And wouldn have their childher tearin
Out on the sthreet, and cussin, and swearin,
And raggin their clothes. And Ned Ballachrink,
The uncle, that was mostly in dhrink,
Wasn never suffered to come nigh them,
As if his very look would desthroy them.
And still they might have been his own
He was that fond of them; and you’ll never be knowin
What the lek is feelin; but either woman —
No matter — let her see the uncle comin
And it was up the stair with the childher straight,
And longin shockin, but not a sight
To be seen of the one of them : and maybe he’d catch
A sound like little birds under the thatch,
Or the way they stirs themselves in bushes
Of a moonlight night — you’ll hear these thrushes —
And the Ballachrink he’d look and he’d listen,
And them knowin parfec1 what was he missin,
But he darn say a word, or if he did,
It was — some chickens they’d got on the laff2 they said;
And no lie for all, just a way to spake —
Aw, exlen3 women, and no mistake.
Now, it wasn often the husbands would chance,
To be at home together, may be once
On the summer, ye know; and you’d see the whole crew o’ them
Out in the garden that was doin for the two o’ them.
They were looking fuss-rate was yandhar chaps,
And the women wearin their Sunday caps,
And all the little things as nate, ye know —
‘Deed it was worth your while to go
Of an everin there, and look over the wall,
And as nice and as happy though, for all;1
And every one with his little bason
Under the trammon,2 aw, putty amazing.3
2 Elder tree.
3 Amazingly pretty.
And even the poor Ballachrink ‘d be gettin
Admission them times, and the way he’d be sittin,
And eyin the childher, and axin to taste,
Half tight, you know, but the love in his face —
The sowl — and well it’s a pity too
Of the lek, and puzzlin what to do —
A good-nathured craythur, and would allis be hevvin’1
His pockets stuffed with knobs to be gevvin2
To the youngsters; and watchin, you know, and ‘d try
To pop them in their porridge on the sly.
But big at the talk, aw very big;
And disputin there about the rig
Of a vessel, and reefin, and lee shores.
And this and that, and to work their course —
Aw, it’s him that ‘d larn them — and “Look!” he’d say,
“D’ye see the thing?” — and — “Here’s the bay;”
And — such a wind, and how he’d contrive her —
“Up peak, my lads, down jib, and jive3 her!”
Chut! of all the foolishness!
And Captain Tom with the chin on the bress’,4
And smookin studdy all the while.
And maybe just a little smile.
But that’s the when1 you’d see, mind you!
The difference of Captain Hugh,
That ‘d turn very sharp, and walk a bit.
And rux2 the shouldhers, and blow the spit,
Lek contemptible lek, and growl
Like a savage dog, and couldn hould3
To hear such stuff — aw, that was the man —
Impatient mostly, you’ll understand —
Hot, very hot, in general —
That was Captain Hugh, for all.
So the years went by, and the childher grew,
And the ouldest boy of Captain Hugh
Fell in love with the ouldest gel
Of Captain Tom — aw terrible!
“Love again?” now steady! steady!
Fell in love though did this laddie.
And the nither of them knew a bit
How they ever come to think of it —
Bein reared like a sisther with a brother,
And used, you know, of one another.
Well this Hughie though was a reg’lar bould chap-
They were callin him Hughie after the ould chap —
Hughie, not Hugh, for a differ1 lek —
Aw, a plucky lad and no mistake;
A splendid hand aboord of a boat—
Aw, he’d stick to anything that ‘d float —
Would Hughie — aye — and none of your sauce
Nor brag; and the proud the father was
To see him when he was only a little mossel
With his two reefs tied, and his jib and fo’sail —
Stole2 of coorse; and the sea tha’d3 be there!
And the owner shoutin on the pier —
And my lad with the taffystick4 in his fist,
And strainin his back against the list5 —
Aw, into the rail! into the rail!
And as sollum as if he was carryin the mail —
And all the sheets trained aft to his hand —
And to see him lie to was raelly grand,
Waitin his chance to come over the bar,
And the father would call, and the owner would swear;
And the little rascal would keek6 like a gull
Under his boom, and wait for a lull.
And humoured the boat, and pacified her,
Feelin everything like a spider,
Till he saw the nick7 and afore you’d be knowin,
His helm was up, his jib was drawin.
And a lift and a leap and a jerk and a joult,
And he sent her in like a thunderboult.
3 That would.
4 Tiller, lit. stick of toffy.
5 Leaning over of the boat.
7 Of time.
Then of coorse he’d have to make the best of it,
Jawin and lickin and all the rest of it.
And done him no harm, the little midge.
And the Captain sthooin1 him over the bridge —
But aisy to see, whatever he done,
It’s proud enough he was of the son.
He was rather silent lek was the Captain,
And not the sort of a man to be rapt in
A son or a gun — but he said one day
To the ould High-Bailiff down on the quay
That Hughie ‘d take a boat through the Sound
With any man in Castletown.
So the High-Bailiff gave a little laugh,
And, “What!” he says, “through the Sound of the Calf!
I doubt it. Captain!” he says, “I doubt it:”
And the people was tellin they had words about it.
But that may be — but still, dear heart!
There’s no doubt at all the lad was smart.
I’ve seen him myself coming under our quarter,
And the skiff at1 him there nearly full of water;
And he’d lay alongside for a bit to bail her,
And then he’d cast off, and take and sail her.
And just a little latteen with a hook at2 it,
And he’d make the harbour when we couldn look at it.
Smart he was, but silent very,
Like the father, you know, and never merry
Nor frisky lek, but thoughtful still —
For the skipper could talk when he had the will;
Aw, it’s himself that had the bitter tongue,
Partikler when he was a little sprung,
And terrible standin on his right;
But as for the boy he was allis quite. 1
And if the father loved the lad,
He wasn showin it much, bedad —
Short and sharp and hard to plaze —
Aw, he wasn a lovin man in his ways
At all — no! no! But the lad was lovin;
Even when he was a little thing he’d be shovin
Hisself betwixt the father’s legs,
The way a little puppy begs;
And the Captain’s hand on the little mop2
Just absent-lek, and wouldn stop
Whatever he was doin, or maybe
Doin nothin at all; and the little baby
Rubbin and rubbin and feelin him.
And the Captain sittin very grim —
And never a kiss for the little sowl.
Nor nothin, the craythur! so I’m tould.
But there’s pessons like that though, isn there, John?
Starin out at the horizon!
Some people’s allis up the mast
Cockin their eye to a spyin-glass.
It’s well to look a little nearer.
And — bits of infants — what’s more dearer?
2 Of hair.
But the son was lovin the father greatly —
Aw took up in him complately;
And grew to be the very prent1
Of the skipper — he did — lek took and bent
To the shape of him — and the face and the walk,
And the turn and the look, and the nose like a hawk
And the chin like an egg, and the throat like a bell —
Grew lek, grew; and of coorse you will;
Not thinkin, you know, but lookin — aye!
Lookin, lookin, and takin joy —
There’s childher that doesn, and childher that does —
A surt of comedher,2 I wouldn thrus’;3
But still a father you know — that way —
And the fond and all, but it’s hard to say —
There’s men that’s charmin other men,
And hardly knowin the lek is in4 —
Hard men too, and gove5 to be close —
Some power that’s at them, I suppose,
Like rubbed with somethin — what’s it’s name?
Loadstun — aye; and women the same.
Hapes — that you wouldn be givin two screws for,
And gettin more love till they’ve got any use for,
And others aequal goin without,
And still a dale of it about.
3 I would not trust, I rather think.
4 That they exist.
Now this lad was a very gentle sort,
And hadn none of the fiery spir’t
That was in the father — it’s faithful he was.
Faithful, and houldin terrible fast
To them he liked, and perseverin
Uncommon — look at the either steerin,
And you’d know the odds;1 for Hughie was all
For humourin, but the skipper would haul
On a wind no matter how it was blow’n,
Just like a dog would be peelin a bone,
Greedy, you know, like a hungry dog,
Greedy, suckin his luff like grog.
That’s the way, and Hughie would look
On the sea like a man would read in a book,
Spellin big spells, and gettin them right.
But the Captain would stand like sniffin a fight
Far off — he would — like challengin.
Suspicious lek, like sayin — “Now then!
You’re at it! are ye? Who’ll strike first?
Come on ould stockin! do your worst!”
Like the sea and himself was swore in their teeth
To fight it out to the bitter death —
Half in anger, half in scorn,
Defyin it, as if he was born
A purpose to triumph and have the rule of it,
Or draw its cork,2 and make a fool of it.
2 Get the better of it.
Chut! there’s no luck with yandhar kind
But never mind! never mind!
Lookin so proud — but the lek will get lave!1
Rather like lookin for a grave —
Seemin to me — but — very well!
And — maybe a notion — but time will tell.
And just the same ashore as afloat,
Allis restless, and facin to ‘t.
Like doubtin if he turned his back
The sea ‘d be takin advantage lek.
1 Such people will get leave = may do what they like . . . yet, etc.
Do you see the men? — well — does or doesn,
Annie they were callin the cousin —
A shockin nice gel, but slandhar though,
Slandhar, and very soople, you know;
And the hair she had, aw bless my sowl,
Cables and cables, and ‘d take and rowl
And rowl them there, and stick a pin.
And the nice and the smooth astonishin.
She was a terr’ble modest gel was that,
And clane uncommon, and the little brat,1
And the little strings, and altogether —
Not azackly handsome either —
No, she wasn; but to see her smile —
Aw deed!2 I’d have walked a hunderd mile—
I would — the sudden it come to be sure.
The sudden and the sweet and pure,
And spreadin out like some lovely rose,
And fadin away like the sunset goes,
When you ‘d think it wasn willin to die.
And it’s fit to make a body cry.
So they fell in love like birds in the spring,
And the mothers began to see the thing —
And lookin and signin, and hummin and hemmin,
And terrible plased — the way with women.
Aw, then the colloguing1 that was done,
And her with the daughter, and her with the son,
And took a opportunity,
And had it out as nice as could be —
Hughie’s mother that was spakin —
And — whatever capers2 were they takin!
And — “Why don’t you laugh, and why don’t you talk?
And why don’t you hev a little walk?”
And — “Come, man! give your cousin a kiss!”
And — “Bless my heart! what foolishness!”
Aw, if Hughie didn make for the door
Like a shot, and Annie on the floor;
But made her tell, and aised her shockin
The way her heart was goin a knockin —
Aw, yis! — and people should be kind
To the lek, and get them to clear their mind.
So she tould them though, and then they went
And looked for Hughie, and found him lent
Against the trammon;4 and “Why, man, why?”
And — “Nonsense! Hughie!” and “Try, man! try!”
And got him in, you ‘ll understand,
And put them sittin hand in hand.
Aw beautiful, and left them there,
And the dark, you know, he could hardly see her.
Then the two women took a sthroull
Along the shore, and the nither5 ould;
But still it’s lek there ‘d be a little sigh,
And I wouldn trust but a little cry,
Lek happy, you know, but middlin plain
Their time would never come again.
And I was tould there was some that seen them too,
And they were sayin that Annie’s mother threw
Her arms very lovin around the sister,
And hung to her a dale, and kissed her —
And so they went together linkin,6
And very peaceful lek, and thinkin.
And tears is tears, no matter the from;7
But he was a fuss-rate husband was Captain Tom.
2 Absurd ideas.
5 Neither of them.
Fuss-rate he was — and gennaler1
There couldn be, nor heartier.
Aw, happy was the people that bred him,
And happy was the woman that had him.
But ‘deed the happiest of the lot
Was the man himself the way he got
To make other people happy; his face
Was reglar bustin with happiness —
My sakes! the laugh! you never heard!
It was allis snugglin in his beard
Somewhere, you know, bein curly very;
But when he gave way, a blast in a quarry
Was just a fool to it — Nebuchadnessar!
Rattlin the very plates on the dresser.
And the same man was terrible wise,
And givin people good advice —
About business lek — there’s some will remember —
But of coorse — dear heart! the judge of timber,
And gardens and that — aw, every craft!
But he’d have his laugh, he’d have his laugh!
But the first these women had to do
Was to tell their story to Captain Hugh —
Mad — did ye say? God bless ye! mad!
No, not him — the mad or the glad.
Nor the yes or the no, nor the good or the bad,
Nor the nothin arrim;1 just a spit,
And a puff o’ the pipe to see was he lit,
And his head on his chin and his eye on the say;
So the women had to go away.
“Well!” says Annie’s mother, “he’s tould!”
“Yes!” says the sisther, but cryin, the sowl!
And it’s allis the same — aw, very nice.
And raisonable to rejoice
When two young things is comin together —
But there’s sure to be a bit of bother
About it someway — aw, by George!
There’s lumps in every body’s porr’dge;
Like ould Jemmy the Red that drove to the packet,
One hoss would go forrit2 and the other backit3 —
“Dear me!” the people said;
“There’s nothin puffeck,”4 says Jemmy the Red.
1 At him, on his part.
Now, Captain Tom was in Ireland over;
But the very minute they saw the Rover
(The smack he was skipper of) makin the Mull,
Aw, then the women took heart to the full —
‘Deed if they were smellin Captain Tom in the ofifin
The whole of Castletown would be laughin
Mostly — the liked,1 you’ll understand —
Aw, a terrible man, a terrible man!
So somebody tould him, and he slapped the thigh.
And come ashore in a blaze of joy —
In a blaze — and “Where is she? where is she, then?
The little rascal!” and — how, and when?
And — bless his sowl! and — to think the deep!
And “Come here! come here! you little sweep!”
And—”Hughie! Hughie! Tyre and Sidon!”
And — “Annie! Annie!” but Annie was hidin.
But caught at2 the mother somewhere in the yard,
“Ha!” he says, ha! ha! my bird!
What!” he says, “you don’t know me, may be!”
And took her off her feet like a baby;
And elapsed her to his besom
And kissed her eyes, and kissed her hair,
And kissed and kissed her everywhere —
Shockin for kissin! noted for it —
Was Captain Tom. There’s people horrit
That way with their shmin and slobberin,
But Captain Tom was differin —
But still — Well, in come Hughie, though,
And he dropt the gel, and he gave a crow
Out of him like a cock, very clear —
Like a cock that way — very pleasant to hear.
Hearty — eh? and gript him straight,4
And stood him off against the light;
And— “the sakes!”5 and— “‘Deed on6 Hughie, for all!7
And his face like the sun. And— “Hould up!” says he,
“Hould up for all! I want to see —
(And Hughie lookin rather simple)
The polished corners of the temple —
What’s this ould David is sayin in the Psalm?
Bless my heart! the stupid I am!
The corner’s, it’s sayin, the polished corners,
And — splendid sheep it’s sayin, and the garners
Full of store. — I like you, my lad!
I like you! you’ll do! you’ll do!” he said.
And — “Where’s your father?” he said to him then;
“Dear me! he isn half a man!”
And a passil of women outside gave a shout —
“You’ve got it!” they said; and he turned about —
“Hulloah!” says he, and a sort of a roar j
“You’re right!” says the women at the door,
“He’s against the match!” says the women, “he is!”
“Come now! I tell ye! be off out of this!”
Says Captain Tom’s wife — Well, dear heart!
And — it was only the truth they were telling. “Start!”
Says Captain Tom’s wife; so the women cut,
And tossin the head, and — A saucy slut!
And, “Says is says, and thinks is thinks!”
And — They were allis high, them Ballachrinks!
1 Because he was so much liked.
5 For all the sakes! an interjection.
6 Only to think of.
7 After all.
And the talk was soon all over the town
That the one Captain knocked the other down,
And — a desperate fight! but of coorse they hadn,
And — the evil eye that was on the weddin
At1 Captain Hugh, and — Careless! chat!2
No use o’ talkin’ — he was a black man that!
But — Captain Tom! and — “Did ye see him there?”
And — that was the man! aw dear! aw dear!
Aw splendid! — the hearty and the kind!
Somethin like a father! aw, no fault to find,
But only them women! — a pair of slinks,
They hadn no patience with them Ballachrinks!
1 On the part of.
And it’s lek there ‘d be words; but — bless their stuff!
Captain Hugh was willin enough!
It wasn that. There’s pessins that bright
The whole of their body is full of light;
Lek it’s sayin in the Bible — “Take care!” it’s sayin,
“If the light that is in thee turn dark again
(Lek some devil’s runnet1 thick’nin it),
Bless me!” it’s sayin, “the dark you’ll get!”
But it wasn that. And still no doubt
There’s people that turns theirselves inside out,
And others that turns theirselves outside in —
Was that the sort? you’ll be wonderin.
No! I don’t think it — or was he haunted
At1 some dirt of a sperrit? or was it wanted
Elsewhere he was? or a crick in his heart
That he had to look another airt?2
Or well, ye see, what you’re knowin, you’re knowin;
But I’ll tell ye what, I’ll lave it alone.
Well — this Masther Corteen I was tellin you of
Wouldn take no rest,1 but it’s a schooner he must have —
Aw, smacks wouldn do for him at all —
Schooners! schooners! that’s the call.
Foolish — you’re sayin? Uplifted just —
Aw, uplifted scandalous!
For what is a schooner, if you come to that?
A slink of a thing with a side like a latt,2
And bearins — eh? and stowage? my gough!
A bilge like a plane, and a hould hke a trough —
That’s your schooners — idikkilis!3
Give me the little gel that’ll kiss
Ould Bags4 in his teeth, and spin on her heel
Like a top, like your sweetheart dancin a reel
In the harvest moon — aw, a smack for ever!
Chut! you can twis’ her tail like a heifer!
But — of coorse! — and them Douglas chaps ‘d be talkin
And quiverin5 there — aw, big though, shockin6 —
Collister’s ones, and Skillicorn,
And Moores, that was sailin a vessel for’n,7
And the lek of that — aw, brigs and barks!
And galliotts, and Noah’s arks!
Aw, you couldn touch the Douglas fellows —
No! and feelin middlin jealous —
And “I’ll have a schooner, up or down!”
And — all for the honour of the town.
And built at Boyds’, and no mistake,
And goin a launchin up the Lake,
Or the Claddagh — is it? aye! and the scholars
Let out of the school, and terrible colours;
And a cannon there, and would have a try,
And fired, and bust the bellman’s eye —
Juan Jem — a squinty man he was,
And bust in bits — and — not much of a loss,
At all — I’ve heard the women say;
But useful is useful any day.
And a beautiful launch, you may depend,
And off the ways as smooth as a swan;
And Jacks, and Blue Peters, and stars-and-stripes,
And the name they gave her was the Clyps8 —
Or the Clops, or the Clups — what is it — eh?
Well, it’s the Clyps they were callin her anyway.
1 Be satisfied.
4 The wind.
7 To foreign parts.
So then the talk was how would he man her,
And who’d be goin for a captain on her;
Aw, terrible talk — but of coorse they knew
It was either Captain Tom or Captain Hugh.
And a pazil1 of fellows down at the Crow
Was shoutin for Captain Hugh to go;
But the company over at the Crown,
That was general countin2 the best in town,
Ould Mollachreest, and Corkish the baker,
Was all for Captain Tom to take her.
So you see the people was mortal divided,
And a bit of a row, and reglar enjoyed it;
And — Wait then! wait! — and All serene!
He wasn no fool, wasn ould Cor teen —
No! And who was the head man d’ye think?
Who of coorse but the Ballachrink?
Down at the Crow there every night.
And glasses round, and as tight as tight;
And — Healths apiece! and — What’II ye take?
Bless me, the mischief them dunkies ‘ll make!
He got a notion that time, you see,
A notion arrim1 how would it be
If he could just sundher the captains a lill2
That they wouldn be lek that agreeable
Lek they were used to be, on the one hand lek,
That the poor chap hadn the smallest speck
Of a chance, you see, to get his foot in
The either house; for he didn care a button
About the sisthers, but just he was cravin
For the childher — aye! aw, reglar ravin!
But how would it be now, how would it be!
“They’ll have to give me more libbity!”
He says; and then he begun to think,
And he seen there wasn the smallest chink
Bewix Tom and the wife; and — “The smoother the wall
The harder to climb,” says Ned, for all1 —
Aw, Ned was sharp enough in his way —
He could tell was their shuggar in his tay —
Could Ned; he knew where to hammer a tack in,
So it’s Captain Hugh that he was backin.
1 At him, in his head.
Backin uncommon; and terrible truck1
Betwix them too, like an aigle took2
To be friends with a pay-cock — that was about it —
And he puffed and he blowed, and he roored and he shoutit,
And he quivered the fist; and “What!” he said,
“Captain Tom to walk over the head
Of Captain Hugh; What sense!” he was sayin;
And — God bless his sowl! and wasn it plain?
Captain Tom! of coorse! of coorse!
But — Captain Hugh, they were on diff’rin floors
Altogether — Was it blind they were?
Did they know who they had? Was there any compare?
And — “The two of them,” he says, “is relations
Of mine;” he says, “but, look here! my patience!”
And snaps the fingers, and taps the stick.
And gives a nod, and around as quick,
And faces up against one of the men
Behind him there; and at it again —
And over the Craves,3 and all down New Street,
And up Kirk Arbory and Kirk Malew Street,
And the Green, and Cowles, and the Flukin’ pool,
Everywhere you’d hear this fool —
But special at the Crow — Aw, there
He was all in his glory, and took the chair,
And wondherful, consider’n the gin —
You’d had thought it was the High-Bailiff himself that was in —
Proposed and seconded — and — Them
That’s in favour — you know — aw, bless ye! it came
As natheral — amazin though
The way the lek can work the jaw —
And he stuck to Captain Hugh like a leech,
And grips the arm, and over the beach,
And past the quay, and down the pier,
Showin him off lek walkin there.
And the nose on the cock, like snuffin a smell,
Lek — Clear the road! lek something to sell.
1 Communication, intimacy.
2 Who had taken.
3 A street in Castletown.
But howsomedever — Peter or Paul,
Captain Tom was the captain for all —
Aye, he was — of a Saturday night
The orders were out, and a reglar fight
At the Countin-house door — and — “Who then? who?
Is it Captain Tom? Is it Captain Hugh?”
And — “Hip hoorah!” and over the town.
And away to the Crow, and away to the Crown —
And the Ballachrink though, sittin as grand,
And the pipe in his mouth, and the glass in his hand —
Aw, a terrible big man at the Crow,
A sort of a gentleman, you know —
The way with these farmers — and his Sunday hat,
And a frill on his shirt, and all to that.1
And — “Well!” he says, “There’s no mistake
Who’s goin for Captain; it’s all correct,”
He says, “it’s settled,” he says, “my hearties;”
And — Of coorse! and — The influential parties
That was at Corteen, and not once nor twice;
Bui the man knew where to go for advice;
Aye! aye! and got it; and what for wouldn he?
A brother-in-law! and what for shouldn he?
But wait! but still — aw, dear! to think!
“I’II lave it to you then, Ballachrink.”
In the parlour — aye! “But mind ye! my men,”
You’ll never be mentionin this again!”
Aw, all in his glory — and the chaps goin nudgin
And winkin there, the way you’d be judgin
He’d see they were laughin; and did and didn;
Lek you’ll see a cock upon a midden,
Scratchin — lek he was sayin to the hens —
“Look out!” he says, “my gough! there’s grains!
There’s grains!” he says; and the dirt goin flyin;
And he’ll scratch and scratch, and the hens ‘ll be eyein
One another, and smilin lek.
And may be bitendin2 to give a little peck,
For manners, you know, lek knowin his way.
But just the same lek meanin to say —
For all he thinks hisself that clever —
“The ould chap’s gettin wuss till ever!”
1 So forth.
Well, there he was, so in comes a lad,
And — “It’s Captain Tom that’s got her,” he said —
Aw, the poor Ballachrink! “You sniffikin falla!”1
(You could ha heard him up at Ballasalla)
“You blockit!” he says; “how dar ye! ” he says;
“Ger urro that!”2 and quivers the fist —
Aw, the chap made tracks — And — “I must, I must!”
Says the Ballachrink, “or else I’ll bust.”
And he laughed and he laughed — and “Keep her so!”
And — “Certainly! but knowin, you know!”
And the laugh — But it wasn long before
The whole mob-beg3 was outside of the door,
And no mistake, and “Hip Hooraa!
It’s Captain Tom — where’s ould Dadaa?”4
Meanin the Ballachrink — the fond
He was of the childher; and — “Where was he gone?”
And — “Hurroose!” Aw, bless ye! no respeck
At5 these lumps of boys, aw, that’s a fack!
1 Insignificant fellow.
2 Get out of that.
3 Little mob; mob of boys.
5 On the part of.
But the Ballachrink begun to look queer,
And he gave a start, and he gave a stare;
And Corteen’s head clerk come in through the row,
And no mistake about it now —
And the Ballachrink gave a leap and a cry.
Aw, dear! but he made the pint-joughs1 fly.
And his hair all on end, and his mouth all frothin —
“Hugh!” he said; but Hugh said nothin —
“I’ll go myself,” he says, “this minute;
I’ll know what raison is there in it;
What right, what dacency, what sense!
Clear the road! I’ll go at once!”
Aw, stay where you are!” says the clerk; “when a bone
Is picked, it’s better to lave it alone;”
He says, says the clerk — Aw, then the fury —
You never — Herod, King of Jewry,
With all his tantrims, couldn touch him!
“Ruch!2 is he? the dirty ould fool! I’ll ruch him!”
And out in the lobby, but he didn get no furdher —
“Here’s ould Dadaa comin! murdher! murdher!”
The people began; and he strooghed3 his clothes.
And studdied hisself agin the post,
And gave them a speech — aw, didn he though?
And this and that — and — He’d have them to know;
And — who was he! and — a black disgrace,
And a shame and a scandal to the place;
And — “Justice!” he says; and — ” We’ll have it bynby!”4
And — Captain Tom! he wouldn deny —
But him to be captain of a schooner!
Did they think he ever worked a lunar
In his life, or heard of the lek? not him!
And Captain Hugh that knew the trim
Of every craft that ever floated
And could work his distance; and noted, noted!
Noted! he said, for the navigation “God bless me! let every man keep to his station!”
“Hooraa!” says the people, “that’s the stick!
Give it to them? give it to them, Dick!”
And a hiss in his ear—”That ‘ll do! that ‘ll do!”
And turns — and there was Captain Hugh —
Like the thunder itself — and — “Draw these men
Some liquor!” he said to the woman; and then —
“Come!” he says, and just like a stone —
The poor Ballachrink! and liquor goin!
But it wasn no use — like a stone! like a flint!
“Stand back the lot!” and away they went.
1 Ale mugs.
3 Stroked, straightened.
4 By and by.
And — “The childher! aw, the childher though!
Aw, Hugh, good soul!” and — whither1 or no,
And — it wasn his fault —now was it? was it?
“Aw, the childher! aw, the little closet!
Aw, Hugh!” and — “You promised! yes! you did!
Aw, let me see the craythurs in bed!”
And cryin — bless ye! Wasn Billy Fauldher
Sheltrin behind a yawl there?
And didn he hear? and fit to split —
But I’d be thinkin it was rather a bit
Sorrowful lek — but all depandin2 —
And he wouldn go on; and he kept him standin
Agin the boat — and — “Do la!3 do!”
“You’re far too drunk to-night,” says Hugh.
“No! no!” he says; “just look at me then!
The sober I am is astonishin!”
And coaxed and coaxed, and — the careful he’d be!
Till at last the Captain said he’d see.
“In bed! in bed! aw, honour bright!”
Says the Ballachrink! “All right! all right,”
Says Captain Hugh; ”And you’ll get them to say
Their little prayers though anyway —
Yes! yes! aw, Hughie! the little prayers!
Aw, whose is God listnin to, if it isn theirs?
Bless father and mother (the little birds!)
And Uncle Edward! isn them the words?
Eh? Hughie, eh? aw, the lovely things?
Like angels, lek tuckin their little wings
Under their shirts, and the hands it’s lekly4
Coin claspin5 there! aw, let’s start directly!
Come Hughie!” “The dhrunk ye are to be sure!”
Says Hugh; and so they come to the door.
And they axed for a fight, and it’s up they’d go;
But the mistress didn half like it, ye know,
Deed she didn — and What sort of a state
Was that to be comin, and couldn they wait
Till the mornin — and the childher fast —
And it was reglar out of all order it was —
Yes! And she did objeck, she did,
And they’d better take and be off to bed
Theirselves. And — “As for that sot,” says she;
“Aye, woman? Is it erluding to me
You are?” says the Ballachrink, “now is it?
Because, if a gentleman pays a visit
To his brother-in-law,” he says, “he’s expectin
Quite a differin way of actin —
Now look here!” he says, “I’ll tell you what!
It’s just the dirty temper you’ve got —
That’s it! the dirty temper — aye!
Aw, ye needn begin to cry —
You’re the talk o’ the town,” he says, “with your tongue!
Capers!”6 he says; “and you’re not so young
But you might have some sense,” he says, “with it too!”
“Hould your jaw!” says Captain Hugh —
“The light!” he says; “I mean to have it!
The light! the light!” and the woman gave it;
And the brat7 to her face, and followed them there,
And sobbin lek, and up the stair —
And freckened8 of fire, and stood outside
The door — the soul! and cried, and cried.
2 Depending (on circumstances).
So these two divils in to the childher —
And a little boy, and a little gel there —
Aw, beautiful! as white as snow —
The very best of calico!
Bless ye! there wasn no houldin1 them chaps!
And the little frills around their caps
And all — aw, they’d have it! aw, ‘deed they would!
They’d have it, and they’d have it good.
And three bedrooms there, and all with ceilins!
Money! bless ye! like priddha2 peelins!
Aw, square was square, and round was round,
And Castletown was Castletown
Them times — aw, it’s there the money was made —
Hapes! man; hapes! my word! the trade!
1 They couldn’t be held, or restrained.
So the Ballachrink made a run and a dart.
And the little things wakened with a start —
And the big man there! and his face as red!
And the hair goin flyin about his head!
And slobberin, you know — but seein the father —
Aw, he was for atin them altogether,
Clane devourin — “Aw, dear! the soft!
The lovely!” he says — “Hands off! hands off!”
Says Captain Hugh — “Aw, just a touch!
Aw, one little foot! aw, it isn much!”
“No! no!” says Hugh; “Keep against that wall!”
The women, ye see, was tellin all —
Knowin! God bless ye! Peggy Shimmin!
What ar’n they knowin? catch the women!
So the Ballachrink got quite,1 they were sayin,
Humble lek, and didn complain,
Nor nothin — but “The little prayer,” he says,
“And the little hymn, and the little vess2 —
Blessed Jesus! strong to save!”
Aye! but he promised he’d behave.
So then these little things was riss,3
And put on their knees agin the chiss;4
And “Our Father” they said though, very nice,
But rather trimblin with their little vice;
And then they rose the hymn — aw, dear!
Like little robin redbreasts there —
Aw, the Ballachrink was done complate.
And he cried and cried most desperate,
Puttin them out, you’ll understand;
And then these little mossels began,
And cried treminjus; and the mother couldn hould
Any longer, and she come in, poor soul!
And there was Ned, and the tears goin splatch.
Like the rain is drippin off the thatch:
But Hugh was turned away, and he stood.
And his face was fixed on the risin flood;
And a scran6 of a moon hung dead in the south,
And never a word from either man’s mouth,
But — “Jean myghin orrin, peccee hrie”6 —
The Ballachrink was groanin — aye!
Lek you’d be know’n, if you could understand him,
For the Lord to have mercy lek upon him —
Just so — And “It’s not much myghin7 you’ll get,”
Says the sisther, and hushed the childher a bit —
“Myghin indeed!” But then she thought
He was her brother, and the ould spot,
And the times, you see, when they were young;
And she checked the anger on her tongue,
And she went and put her hand on .his shouldher,
And she saw the man the way he looked ouldher
And broken lek, and “Look up!” she said,
“Look up man, Edward! be comforted!
And come down stairs with me, man, come!
And warm, and then you’ll be goin home!”
“Aw, no!” he says, “I like this place —
There’s a dale of pace,8 a dale of pace
Here,” he says; but she coaxed him though,
And coaxed, and got him persuaded to go.
And sat a bit, but didn spake;
And then the woman got him to take
A basin of milk to steady him,
And took and led him across the strame,
And into the town and very quite,
And got the hoss, and home with him straight.
5 Scrap (properly of a cheese).
6 Lord have mercy upon us, miserable sinners. — Litany.
So you’ll be thinkin? not a bit of it!
Bad blood! bad blood! and they couldn get quit of it
For whatever you might do or say,
You know what was Hugh, so that’s the way.
Bad blood! I tell you. And you’ll aisy suppose
Whenever the Clyps was showin her nose —
Why, bless ye! the very first trip that was arrer1
Captain Hugh was waitin for her
Aback o’ Langlish;2 and the two of them.
The smack and the schooner in ballast trim;
Aw, he gave her a dustin — and raison he would,3
Just a dead beat at them all the road —
Aw, she could have given the schooner ‘crase,4
Mortal slippy in her stays
Was yandhar smack — the Mona’s Pride
There were callin her, and built at Boyd
The same as the Clyps, but a dale more spring,
With the worked,5 you know, and everything
Like shuttles runnin; but new or ould
A smack with a schooner! bless my sowl!
1 At her, she had.
3 Good reason he should.
4 Increase, start.
5 On account of having been worked so much.
So it was allis racin after that,
Racin, racin, for he wouldn be beat :
Blow high, blow low; come fire, come thunder,
Everything she could shiver under —
Sky-rakers, moon-scrapers —
And talk about them in the papers.
And he’d be hidin there with his topsail low’rt1
In Dreshwick somewhere, or under the Fort;
And Captain Tom ‘d be lyin to,
To see would he go ahead, you know;
But the fo’sil ‘d be over like a shot.
And he ‘d wait; and it’s wuss and wuss he got,
Stickin to Captain Tom like a leech.
And they never come to no manner of speech
About it at all — Captain Tom would have lekt,2
But Hugh — well, now, you could hardly expect.
Then the Ballachrink got a notion, you see.
It was his duty to look after the family
When Hugh was away — aw, terrible big!
And he’d come and he’d sit outside in the gig.
And call to the sisther; and — for her to look smart —
And — this and that — and — “Bless my heart!”
And — “Look here!” and — did she understand?
And — mind she wasn extravagan!
And — “hould this boss!” and he’d have a look;
And — was she puttin everythin in a book?
And in with him there; and piffin and puffin,
And op’nin the cupboard, and sniffin and snuffin;
And — “Very well!” he’d say, “but you see
Of coorse your husband is lookin to me!”
And up the stair, and eyein about him.
It’s a wonder to me she didn clout him;
But no! she didn, but held the boss —
A patient craythur if ever there was.
One day he come, and spades and picks,
And the manservant with him, and — They were goin to fix
The garden, he said; and — what did they do
But took and divided the garden in two
With a lump of1 a hedge? so the women said —
“Whatever!” “I’ll tell ye whatever” says Ned :
“The whatever — it’s a sundherin;”
He said, “a separationin!
Come now! that’s the whatever!” says he;
Says the women — “Where’s your ‘torrity?”2
“‘Torrity!” says Ned, “aw, dear!
Is it ‘torrity?” he says, “look here!
Whose writin is that — eh? Chapter and vess!
I think you’d better go in,” he says.
And sure enough he had the letter
From Captain Hugh; so says he “You’d better
Go in,” says the Ballachrink, “and mind
Your business,” he says; and the women cryin,
But went; and the hedge was finished grand —
Separationin! bless the man!
So that’s what Captain Hugh wanted,
And a fuss-rate job, and quicksets planted
By the time he come home — and the Ballachrink
To show him all; and — “See that sink!”
He says, “and the barrel there agen1 it!
See the splendid brass tap that’s in it
This side!” he says, “to share the water!
Aw, .dear!” he says, “look at yandhar daughter
Of Captain Tom’s,” he says, “she’s smilin!
Imprince!” he says; but Hugh was silen.
But the Ballachrink was cock of the walk,
And swellin the breast, and workin the talk —
And wheelin the pipe, and pintin to this,
And pintin to that — and — “It isn amiss!”
And — “Take that handle! turn that tap!
Sherwood’s best! I wouldn give a rap
For your rubbidge,” he says; “just feel that movemen!”
He says, “chut! a terrible improvemen
Altogether, you know! aw, dear!”
And in to get a drop of beer.
And sure enough it was Annie they seen.
That was standin there with Bella Corteen,
A grand-daughter of the owner’s — aye!
Aw, a reglar lady! but noways high —
Very gennal,1 aw, reglar frens!2
She’s married to a pazon since —
Yes — and indeed it’s smilin she was
Was Annie; and she had a cause;
For she loved her uncle — the sort of a man
That women ‘d love, and not understand
What for were they lovin — the deep, I suppose.
And the dark, and the strong — but, goodness knows!
An uncle anyway — and the poor little woman!
Smilin — eh? and Hughie comin!
And ‘deed he was entrin on the door
That very minute, and happy thallure;3
And out in the garden; and gave a run.
And over the hedge like the shot of a gun,
Hardly mindin the lek was in4 —
But the Ballachrink was noticin,
Watchin there, cocked up in the windher;
And he turns, and “Hulloah!” and “Did ye see yandher?”
He says to Hugh — “You ‘ll jump it, will ye?
Jumpin! jumpin is it, my gillya?5
But for all the jumpin, if I was you,
I’d teach him —” “Drop it! drop it!” says Hugh;
And he turned, and he looked at a picture though
Of the wife afore they were married, you know.
And he looked very long, and then he went
And kissed her there; and then he lent
The head of him against the chimbley;
And then the wife come, very thrimbly.
Very lovin and gentle lek;
And she put her arm around his neck;
And you could see by the way his shouldhers was hove
The terrible the strong man strove —
And never a word! never a word!
But the woman was prayin to the Lord
In her heart, poor soul! fit enough to break —
Aw, bless them! bless them! bless the lek!
And the Ballachrink could only stare.
And got up, and took and left them there.
4 Noticing its existence.
And the hedge — aw, well it was left to stand;
But what d’ye think these sweethearts planned?
Hughie that schamed it — They took and sowed
A passil of plants that as soon as they growed
‘d creep over the hedge, and mix the flowers —
And Hughie was settin convolvolars.
And Annie was setting these — what’s their name?
Painted ladies! aye, the same —
Like butterflies mostly — lovely things,
With their little curly catchy strings!
“So you see,” says Hughie, “whatever there ‘ll be.
These flowers ‘ll be standin for you and me;
And they ‘all be twisted together,” he says,
“And beathin in one another’s face.
And when I’m far away, little gel!
There they ‘ll be whisprin and snugglin still,
Coortin there till the mornin light —
Aw, the hard it is to say good-night!
Aw, Annie —” But bless me! what am I at?
Well — of coorse their talk would be somethin like that —
Just fancyin lek — aw, I wouldn say knowin;
But I’ll be bail there was kisses goin.
So when these flowers begun to grow,
They said you never seen the show!
Astonishin the strenth! like clover!
And the hedge goin cov’rin1 over and over!
And little Annie ‘d come and listen,
And settin two of them a-kissin —
And a notion at her2 she heard them ringin,
Like a sort of a cling-a-ling-a-lingin,
Like a weddin, you know — and she ‘d take and kiss them
Herself, the little bogh!3 and she ‘d bless them;
And she ‘d coo upon them like a little dove,
And all in a wonderment of love —
Longin you know — the little honey!
Aw, dear, the sweet they are and the funny
With their little ways — aw, they’re very nice.
Aw, yes they are. But she heard a vice,
And who was there but poor ould Ned —
And — “This place is goin to ruin,” he said;
“It’s altogether goin to ruin —
What’s these painted-ladies4 doin?
I see!” he says — ” from the other side :
I’ll larn ye,” he says, “I’ll tame your pride!
I’ll make you know your place, ye trash!”
And out with the knife, and he gave a slash —
And — “Uncle! uncle!” — poor little Annie!
“Aw, don’t then! don’t then!” “Don’t! your grannie!”
Says the Ballachrink — “I’ve a very great mind” —
“Aw, uncle, be kind! aw, uncle, be kind!
Lave them, uncle! lave them; will ye?” —
“Very like a trespass, I can tell ye” —
Says the Ballachrink — “indeed it is!”
But, however, he’d consider the case;
But didn do nothin — just puffin and blowin —
And so the flowers was left alone.
1 Getting covered.
2 In her mind.
3 Poor (little thing).
4 Sweet peas.
It was maybe a twelvemonth after that
Captain Hugh come in with a flat —
That he took in tow — I forget her name —
And everybody praisin him.
But the people said he was terrible queer,
Heavier and silenter
Till1 ever, they said; and takin no joy
Of anythin; and the light in his eye
Like a turf, like smouldhrin in a pit;
And there’s plenty said he wasn fit
To be in charge of a vessel at all;
But howsomedever they hadn no call,
And it wasn no business of theirs — but still
Somebody ought to be ‘sponsible.
So the very next tide he was settin sail
For Liverpool; and Billy Quayle,
That was used to work for him, took to his bed;
He didn like his looks, he said —
Just ‘scusin; and, behould ye, though,
The Ballachrink took a notion to go —
Knowin about a vessel? not a cent!
But took a notion, and off he went.
And the son, young Hughie, was servin mate.
Just the three : and, of coorse, the consate
Of the Ballachrink — and criticisin
Terr’ble, you know, and the big advisin,
And all to that — but you know the man,
Cacklin there like an ould hen
All the way — and a beautiful scamper
Before the wind; and the best o’ temper
Comin up the river; and the way he was drast,1
And the style altogether — there was people ast
“Who’s your passenger!” ‘deed they done3
And the ‘spectable — astonishin!
That’s what they were sayin comin up the river —
Aw, a credit to any vessel whatever!
Just lek a Pazon — aw, the coat as black,
And his hands in the tails behind his back
As tight — and the sate of his trousis showin
The tasty, every step he was goin —
For the thieves you know, bein warned that way —
Aw, bless ye, whatever ye may say.
The biggest man on the Prince’s pier
And Maddharell’s and everywhere —
Aw, the Ballachrink was the man that could —
Aw, bless ye! it was in the blood!
I was over there myself that time,
Just a running job with a cargo of lime
For Jefferson’s; and the Clyps was moored
Alongside of us; so I jumps aboard,
And axed them were they wantin a man,
And glad enough of an extra hand.
So ships like a shot, and out of the basin
That tide — and the schooner, the trim for racin
She was in! but never a notion arr4 us
That Captain Hugh was waitin for us
Just outside the Bell bwee;5
But, however, there he was, you see;
And every stitch, and more prepar’d.
And riggin out a stunsil yard
Like a fishin-rod goin slingin across;
But bless me the deep in the water she was!
“She’ll never carry that canvas,” says I:
Didn I see her high and dry
In the harbour only a week afore.
And noticin the strained and the wore
She was in the bottom — and natheral —
Nothin done to the boat at all
For years — and whatever was he at!
Draggin, draggin her like that!
4 At us, in our minds.
So he got the wind of us, you know;
“Let’s give him a hate!”1 says Billy Crow,
That was at the helm — “let’s give him pepper!”
“Aisy! aisy!” says the skipper;
“Aisy,” says Captain Tom, “my lad!
Just keep an eye on him,” he said.
Then says Billy — “He started sooner” —
“Silence! silence aboard this schooner!”
Says Captain Tom; and a look at the clouds,
And twists his arm in the weather shrouds;
And keeps his glass on the Mona’s Pride —
“Silence!” terrible dignified!
Aw, he could be that, for all
The hearty he was in general.
1 Heat, race.
So on we went, but keepin a view of them.
And maybe a mile betwix the two of them.
How was the wind? A leadin wind.
And very little of it to begin —
Hardly a list to it,1 bless your sowl —
But about mid-channel a long dead row!
Come up from the South; and far away
A white mist creepin over the say,
Creepin, creepin, the dirty thief,
Creepin — “All hands stand by to reef!”
Says Captain Tom; and reef we did —
“Get out your storm-jib! quick!” he said —
All right! and then by gough it come
With a rip and a roar, and a hiss and a hum —
Bizzz — and the schooner lept her lenth.
And if there ‘d been another brenth2
Of canvass out, it isn here
I’d ha’ been to tell ye, never fear!
Rip-rip-rip — you know the scranch3 of it,
And into the hatches, every inch of it!
But come to her bearins beautiful,
And shakes herself, and away like a gull.
1 Hardly enough to make her lie over.
And what was the Mona’s Pride about?
Anythin off her? not a clout!
Every stitch — and the green-seas flyin
Over her cross-trees, and never a sign
To shorten sail; but — on you go!
Slash her through it! keep her so!
And us that was sailin as light as light.
And humourin, and only right;
And Captain Hugh with his broadside to ‘t,
Reglar buryin the boat.
“Well, that’s no sailin!” says Dicky Homm,
That was mate o’ the Clypse; but Captain Tom
Kep his eye upon her strick,1
For the free she was sailed she was bearin quick
Upon us, you know, as if she meant
To overhaul us, and make a slant
Across our bows; and every man
On the schooner with a coil in his hand,
For any minute they were knowin
The smack might foundher like a stone.
And Hughie was tellin us, you know,
That the Captain tould him to go below
“Father! father!” says the son,
“Take somethin off her, or we’ll be done!
For God’s sake, father!” — and he made a spring
To the weather halyards — “Touch a thing,”
Says Captain Hugh, “and I’ll strike you dead!
You coward! say your prayers,” he said.
“Look here! look here!” says the Ballachrink;
“If you’ll go on like that, she’s bound to sink!
You’re mad!” he said, and out’s with his knife —
“Villyan! villyan!! for your life”
Says the Captain — “Villyan!” and struck him full,
And down on the combins1 like a bull —
And a lurch and a rowl, and a shake and a shiver,
And the Ballachrink was gone for ever.
“Father! father! you’ve murdered him!”
And he looked, but the Captain’s eye was dim,
Like wakin from sleep, and he gave a yawn.
And — “Hulloah!” he says, “hulloah! that’s one!”
Then Hughie drew a long long breath,
And gripped him there for life or death —
The despard2 grip; and the tiller dropt,
And the smack flew up, and the fo’sail flopt,
And took aback immadient,
And all sheets fast, and down she went.
1 Covering of the hatch.
“Stand by!” says Captain Tom, “stand by!
Listen if you’ll hear a cry!
Look out!” he says; and it wasn long
Afore we saw Hughie swimmin strong,
And heaves him a line, and hauls him in
Like a shot, and — “^Where’s your father, then?”
Says the Captain, but Hughie couldn spake;
And the whole of us strainin our eyes on the wake.
But Billy Crow that seen him fuss,1
Driftin right under our stern he was,
Driftin lyin on his back —
“About! about on the other tack!”
Says Captain Tom, and heaves a rope —
But he didn look at it — “More scope! more scope!”2
Says the chaps, “Hould on! my gough! you’ll lose him!
Noose him! Captain, noose him! noose him!”
And the noose went flyin over his head —
“Studdy! studdy!” the Captain said.
But he turned on his face, and he slipped his neck —
“For God’s-sake, Hugh! for Esther’s sake!”
“Father, father!” says Hughie, “try!”
Then the two clenched fists went up to the sky —
“Never!” he says; and a big sea tore
Right over him with a race and a roar
Like a thousand guns, and just a minute
We saw the black head wrigglin in it —
And round and round — aw, it’s thrue! it’s thrue!
And that was the last of Captain Hugh.
Aw, it’s an ugly job to be comin
Home with news like that to a woman —
And the way she’ll look, and the way she’ll sob —
Aw, bless my heart I it’s an ugly job —
And the childher wondrin, and no help in for it,
And questions axin — aw, it’s horrit!
And poor Annie, you know, and the fond she was
Of Uncle Hugh; but lost is lost.
And that’s a fact, and, do what you will,
The world must go on, and its good and its ill —
So married the chap, and what ‘d prevent her?
Married him that very winter —
Aye — and a nice little lump of jink —
Wasn she heiress to the Ballachrink?
Aw, a beautiful proppity.
And no mistake, and so you see —
But of coorse — and love it was! aw, yes!
But still whatever was hers was his —
Aw, married — and the very weddin day
Yandhar hedge was took away —
And the place where it stood they put a row
Of lihes, crocusars, you know,
Polyanthers — and every thing
That’s comin up early in the spring —
Makin a garden very bright —
And so I think I’ll say good night.
“To sing a song shall please my countrymen; To unlock the treasures of the Island heart”
Published in 1881, T. E. Brown’s Fo’c’s’le Yarns is undoubtedly the single most important work in all of Manx literature. If Brown had written no more than the four poems in this collection, they alone would have earned him the title of The Manx National Poet.
Brown’s narrator for all four of these poems is Tom Baynes, a Manx fisherman who tells these ‘yarns’ to entertain his shipmates in Manx dialect with stories that touch the full range of human emotion, from light comedy through to heart-rending tragedy.
As is correct for the yarns of an old Manx fisherman at the end of the 19th Century, the poems are told in Manx dialect. Although intimidating for some to begin with, the language serves to deepen the reader’s involvement in the story and to increase their power over us. Through this we come to not only better understand the Manx National Poet, but also ourselves and our place in this world – such is the depth of Fo’c’s’le Yarns.
T. E. Brown is the Manx National Poet; a brilliant writer, a wonderful person, and someone with the Isle of Man and Manx identity at the centre of their life and work.