While Takin’ A Wift o’ My Pipe.

While takin’ a wift o’ my pipe, ‘tother neet,
A thowt trickled into my pate,
That sulkin’ becose everything isn’t sweet,
Is nobbut a foolish concate;
Iv mon had bin made for a bit of a spree,
An’ th’ world were a marlockin’ schoo,
Wi’ nothin’ but heytin’, an’ drinkin’, an’ glee,
An haliday gam to go through,
He’d sicken afore
His frolic were o’er,
An’ feel he’d bin born for a foo.
Poor crayter, what ails him, he’s never content,
Whatever his fortin may be;
He’s just like a chylt at gwos yeawlin’ abeawt,
“Eawr Johnny’s moor traycle nor me;”
One minute he’s trouble’t, next minute he’s fain,
Qn’ then, they’re so blended i’ one,
It’s hard to tell whether he’s grinnin’ through pain,
Or whether he’s cryin’ for fun; -
He stumbles, an’ grumbles,
An’ struggles, an juggles, -
He capers a bit, - an’ he’s gwon.
It’s wise to be humble i’ prosperous ways,
For trouble may chance to be nee;
It’s wise for to struggle wi’ sorrowful days,
Till sorrow breeds sensible glee;
He’s rich that, contented wi’ little, lives weel,
An’ nurses that little tomoor;
He’s weel off that’s rich, iv nobbut can feel
He’s brother to thoose that are poor;
An’ to him that does fair,
Though his livin’ be bare,
Some comfort shall ever be sure.
We’n nobbut a lifetime a-piece here below,
An’ th’ lungest is very soon spent;
There’s summat aboon, measur’s cuts for us o’.
An’ th’ most on ‘em nobbut a fent;
Lung or short, rough or fine, little matter for that,
We’n make th’ best o’th’ stuff till its done,
An’ when it leets eawt to get rivven a bit,
Let’s darn it as well as we con;
When th’ orders come to us
To doff these owd cloas,
There’ll surely be new uns to don.

Title:While Takin’ A Wift o’ My Pipe.

Author:Edwin Waugh

Publication:Ormskirk Advertiser

Published in:

Date:January 24th 1861

Keywords:morality, poverty


Published just a few months before the outbreak of the American Civil War and the Cotton Famine, this verse by the famous Rochdale dialect poet Edwin Waugh proposes a popular ‘make do and mend’ philosophy in the face of hardship, suggesting that many of the differences between the experiences of wealth and poverty are down to perception. The speaker here is characteristic of a particular type common in Lancashire dialect poetry of the period, avuncular and contemplative, handing out pearls of wisdom. As eventually one of the most important journalistic chroniclers of the devastating effects of the Cotton Famine in subsequent years, Waugh’s attitude to poverty, and his poetic reaction to it, could be seen to shift considerably. See his ‘Home-Life of the Lancashire Factory Folk during the Cotton Famine’ of 1867: https://minorvictorianwriters.org.uk/waugh/b_cotton_famine.htm. – SR