Aw’ve just neaw bin putting meh studdyin cap on,
An tryin to foid eawt a way, uv aw con,
To tell heaw id is us aw’ve toyl’d loike slave,
Ever sin aw cud crawl, till aw’ve one foot i’ th’ grave;
Fro week end to week end, fro morning o neet,
Aw’ve worked loike a – wod-dun-yo-cawt? – uts noan reet;
An yet after doin an suffering so mich,
Though meh yure’s turned to silver, aw’ve nod getten rich.
An still, i’ me loifetime, aw’ve known one or two
Uz never wod werk when they hed wek to do,
Bud olez contrived to be at a loce end,
Nother wanting for bacco nor money to spend,
Nor keerin a coss wod tornd up or mut drop,
If they cud bud wriggle into a snug shop;
When they dud id meant brass witheawt werking a stitch,
For a chap us loikes werking ull never ged rich.
Aw feels ids a fact, an aw know ids a trewth,
A bit o God’s gospel, aw lernt i meh yewth:
Men should “win ther bred bi the swet o ther broo;”
Bud them as swets th’ hardest is olez th’ bigg’st foo! [sic]
The reason is this, an ids yesy to tell,
Two drops for ther maister, bud one for thersel!
Iv yo wodn’t be durted, keep eawt o the ditch;
Watch others werk, iv yo want to ged rich.
Pud th’ screw-key i’ th’ cubbert; fling th’ reed-hook away
Ged a stick an a pack an hawk coffee an tay;
Keep a shop, be religious, yo’ll droive a gud trade
Bi cant a hypocrisy; join some brigade
O the cowd wayter army, an bray loike an ass,
There’s foos uz ull soon fill yer pockets wi brass;
Bud ged your exchecker as full as a fitch,
Ony way bonny, yo’re reet iv yo’re rich!
Or beawnce into bisness, ged guds uppo strap!
Place yore paw upon o yo con rend or con rap;
Then play fast and loce in an underhand way,
Be th’ fost mon to porchase, bud th’ last mon to pay;
If there’s a skoo-meetin, be shure to be cheer[mon?],
An jungle yore tin at a charity sermon;
An shud yo at last ged yore streng among th’ [p?]itch,
Ged a frend and ged whitewashed, and still yo’ll be rich.
Wod yo keep a conshuns and loise by id? pshaw!
Honour is everything! Honesty – bah!
Find a mon iv yo con, bud then where is ther one
Us ull stick to sich stuff tell his living is gone;
Soa button yore pockets an look to yoresels,
Do[o?]n’d keer a button for nobuddy else;
Be us mild us a child, bud us foce us a witch,
Oily-toungued an two-faced, an yore sure to ged rich!

Title:Heaw to Ged Rich

Author:W. Billington

Publication:The Blackburn Times

Published in:Blackburn

Date:July 16, 1864

Keywords:comic, dialect, morality, politics, poverty, religion, work


Published after the end of American Civil war but before full economic recovery, this dialect poem by William Billington functions to create a sense of moral superiority in the working classes by suggesting that most people who are wealthy are morally suspect. The poem is humorously bitter in tone and takes aim at several professions and institutions in its satirical advice on how to get rich. Included amongst its targets are the followers of the Temperance Movement, whom the speaker accuses of profiting from their campaign. Billington was a committed and diligent drinker, who eventually bought a pub with the proceeds of his writings. – SR