BEFORE offering any
excuses or making any apology for having ventured to place this
volume before the public, I want to thank very sincerely the friends
who have rendered me their valuable assistance in compiling this
book of sketches and poems.
The ready way in which they have so kindly offered me their services
has been most gratifying, more especially as they were gentlemen of
experience, not only in writing prose sketches and poems, but in
having had practical experience in the publication of their
effusions in book form. They, therefore, knew a great deal more
about the compiling and issuing of a book than I could know,
concerning which I was entirely ignorant, my only experience having
been to send occasionally a sketch or poem to some local paper or
magazine, and latterly in the Manchester City News.
My dear friend MR. DAVID LAWTON, author of “Warty Rhymes for Warty
Foaks,” who also writes under the nom-de-plume of “TH’ OWD
WAYVER,” was the first to notice what he considered merit in my
lyrics and sketches, and he has for a considerable time published
one of my pieces each month in the Wheat Sheaf, issued by the
Co-operative Society at Greenfield, of which body he is secretary
and editor of their magazine. The story “Dingle Cottage” I
sent to him as I wrote it, before publishing it in the Burnley and
Hyde papers. He has also rendered me great assistance in
helping me to select pieces he considered would be of general
interest. In many other ways he has always been willing to
place both his time and experience at my service. Whether
walking with him along the beautiful Chew Valley, near to his home,
or chatting with him at his own ﬁreside, his conversation and advice
have never failed to have an inspiring effect upon me.
Then I owe my thanks to MR. THOMAS BOOTH, Librarian of the Burnley
Co-operative Society. He has written much in prose and verse
in, both the dialect and modern English, and is a thorough dialect
enthusiast, having lectured over a hundred times on Lancashire
authors; he is without doubt the greatest authority on this subject
that I have met. Like MR. DAVID LAWTON, he has given me every
encouragement and advice. For some time he has published
monthly, in the Burnley Record, one of my sketches or poems,
and also my story “Dingle Cottage.”
MR. THOMAS MIDDLETON, the Hyde historian and antiquarian, author of
“Annals of Hyde,” “Old Godley,” and many other books, was one of the
first to advise me to publish my efforts in book form. He has
placed many of my lyrics and sketches in the North Cheshire
Herald and the Cheshire Post. He has taken a keen
interest in much that I have written during the last two or three
years. The kindly advice and experience of one who has written
serial stories for the local press, and is the author also of many
beautiful lyrics, some of which have been set to music, have been of
great benefit to me.
Then, lastly, there is my friend MR. SIM SCHOFIELD, of Failsworth,
author of that charming book, which has run through two editions,
“Short Stories about Failsworth Folk.” He has proved his worth
to me in many ways. MR. SCHOFIELD, who is the son-in-law of
the late MR. SAMUEL LAYCOCK, assisted the poet greatly in the
preparation for the press of LACOCK’S book, “Warblin’s fro’ an Owd
Songster.” Like MR. THOMAS BOOTH, he has had much experience
in lecturing on Lancashire authors. What MR. SCHOFIELD does
not know about the dialect of South-East Lancashire is not worth the
telling, for both he and MR. DAVID LAWTON have carried the “wallet,”
being hand-loom weavers in their younger days. MR. SCHOFIELD
has ever been willing to assist me, and was the first to introduce
my pieces to the editor of the City News, he himself being a
frequent contributor to the columns of this well-known Manchester
And now, dear reader, after all the good things that have been said
of me in the following notes, it would be useless for me to say
anything further about the contents of this book. But I may
just add that I am conscious of my many failings. Had I been
an educated man, some of the pieces would perhaps not have been so
crude in their expression. I do not claim to rank with such
classic writers as WAUGH, BRIERLEY, or LAYCOCK; nor do I presume to
place before my readers the dialect in its broadest sense, my only
excuse being that I have lived forty-five years of my life in
Ancoats. The wonder to many is how I can write or speak the
dialect at all.
It will be readily understood why I speak the dialect so fluently
when I say that for over thirty years I have recited from the
platform poems and sketches from WAUGH, BRIERLEY, LAYCOCK and other
Lancashire authors. Then my parents spoke the South-East
Lancashire dialect to perfection. And now I must leave my work
to speak for itself, fully conscious that my readers will not judge
me too harshly for any shortcomings or defects.
ONWARD SALT WHARF,
CANNEL STREET, ANCOATS,
TO THE SECOND EDITION.
In submitting this second edition of “Dingle Cottage,” or “A Voice
from Ancoats," I will now take the opportunity of expressing my
gratitude to the many friends, known and unknown, who have admired
the contents of my book so much as to make by their advertisement
the sale of the first edition so easy of accomplishment in so short
Not having before printed a smaller book or issued any of my pieces
in broad-sheet or pamphlet form, to dispose of so large an edition
has been most gratifying.
Many thanks are due to the Lancashire folk in America, not only for
their patronage, but also for the kindly letters of appreciation
sent to the City News and Oldham Chronicle, which the
editors were kind enough to print in their respective organs.
It was also most gratifying to find the book was not over-looked by
the various library committees, who thought it of sufficient merit
to place along-side those of our late Lancashire worthies; nor have
many Sunday School officials neglected to place it among their books
for prize distribution.
ONWARD SALT WHARF.
CANNEL STREET, ANCOATS,
From Mr. David Lawton, Secretary Co-operative Stores, Author of
“Warty Rhymes for Warty Foaks,” etc.
It gives me great pleasure to know that my friend Mr. Joseph
Cronshaw has at last decided to publish his many excellent lyrics
and pleasing recitations in book form, and so make them accessible
to the public, who will find in them much to admire and enjoy and
nothing whatever of a coarse or objectionable nature; for Mr.
Cronshaw knows how to be both merry and wise; and whether grave or
gay, his verse is as clear as at limpid brook, and as pure as driven
It was my privilege to read “Dingle Cottage” in MS. as it
left Mr. Cronshaw’s pen, and I was greatly struck by its originality
of conception, and deeply moved by its tragedy and pathos. The
narrative is told in touching language, and the everyday joys and
sorrows of the everyday folk who figure in the story appeal to the
heart, and stir the imagination in a way that arrests and holds the
attention of the reader from opening to close. But Mr,
Cronshaw is something more — something greater even — than a good
story-teller: it is as a Lancashire Poet that Mr. Cronshaw appeals
to the public; nor will he appeal in vain, for very much of his work
will compare favourably with the best lyrics of either Waugh,
Brierley, or Laycock. In fact, one cannot help feeling that
these departed worthies, if they were here, would be the first to
welcome him to a high place on the roll of Lancashire bards.
Mr. Cronshaw is no mere imitator. His songs are not echoes of
other men’s works, but creations of his own vivid and elevated
imagination. He has gone to nature for much of his
inspiration, and his descriptive verse is the spontaneous expression
of a heart in sympathy with her varying moods. He is at home
amongst the birds, flowers, trees, and fields. In proof of
this, take the following stanzas from the poem, “Yon Bonnie Dell”: —
Ther’s a bonnie little dingle
Abeawt a mile fro’ here,
An’ when mi wark an’ baggin’s o’er
Aw’m welly awlus theer;
Ther’s a summat seems to draw me
Where Nature weaves her spell,
That’s why aw like to wander in
Yon bonnie little dell.
Th’ owd throstle greets me every neet
Wi’ sitch a grand salute,
An’ th’ blackbird’s voice, soa sweet an’ nice,
Seawnds like a magic ﬂute.
When t’other brids run through their score,
The harmony to swell,
Ther’s a Hallelujah Chorus in
Yon bonnie little dell.
The foxgloves, tall an’ stately, bow
An’ shake their purple bells,
While butterflees an’ hummibees
Sip nectar fro’ their cells.
The primrose shy peeps slyly at
The blue an’ heather bell,
While daffodils dance gaily in
Yon bonnie little dell.
The mention of a throstle reminds me that of all the feathered
songsters the throstle is evidently our author’s favourite, and so
this herald of spring is accorded a poem all to himself. This
poem, by the way, is a good example of Mr. Cronshaw’s happy style: —
Neaw, lads, just yer yon throstle sing;
Let’s ceawr us deawn awhile,
An’ hearken nature’s music
Sung in a gradely style;
He’ll bother noan wi’ semitone;
He’s noather ﬂat nor sharp;
He’s just as sweet, booath morn an’ neet,
As David’s famous harp.
Aw awlus like to yer him sing
When th’ twilight’s growin’ dim:
When t’other brids are gone to roost
He pipes his Vesper hymn;
He tries to cheer his little mate —
Just watch him tak’ a peep!
He’s lookin’ if his little brood
Are snug an’ fast asleep.
Mr. Cronshaw is not only a lover of nature, but be is also a lover
of human nature, and a keen observer of men and things. So, when he
turns from the birds and flowers, he is equally happy in his
pourtrayal of the homely folks amongst whom he has spent his
strenuous life. Here, too, he is natural and unaffected.
His characters are real, not painted puppets, but happy types of
sturdy Lancashire manhood, and true, hearty, healthy Lancashire
womanhood, who command our admiration and win our esteem as soon as
we make their acquaintance.
In the narrative verse it is frequently the husband who addresses
his wife. The two pieces, “Goin’ Off” and “Comin’ Whoam” are
good examples. The husband urges his wife to go away for her
health to the sea-side, and confidently assures her that he will be
quite able to manage the children and the house. When he has
had some three weeks of housework, he details in the second piece
the many misadventures which have brought home to him the fact that
house-keeping is by no means the sinecure he had thought it to be
before he tried it for himself, and, half whimsically, half
pathetically he writes to his absent spouse :—
Theau’ll hardly know me when theau comes,
Aw’ve gone so pale an’ thin;
Ther hasna bin mitch wark, mi lass,
Between mi nose an’ chin.
Folk shake ther yeds, an’ whisper low—
Aw feel aw’m gradely ill,
An’ iv theau doesna come back soon,
Ther'll be a doctor’s bill.
Neaw mind theau doesna miss thi train,
Aw’ll meet thi iv aw con;
Do catch it, lass, or else, bi th’ mass,
Theau’ll want another mon.
Aw’ve had three week — aw’m satisﬁed —
A day’s abeawt enoof;
Before aw’ll tak’ it on ogen
Aw’ll hang misel’ i’th’ cloof.
In the poem, “When Thee an’ Me wer Yung,” Mr. Cronshaw touches a
very high note. Here again it is the man who speaks to his
wife, and pictures the days of their happy courtship, when he
whistled and she sang as together they plied their looms. Then
he lightly sketches their married life, and closes with the
following masterly touches : —
We’n seen eawr precious little bairns
Pray softly at thi knee;
We’n felt their warm an‘ lovin' kiss;
We’n watched ’em droop an’ dee.
Ther’s little een ’at’s watchin’, lass.
Wheer neet is changed to noon;
Their little honds oft beckon us
To that breet lond aboon.
Come, dry thi een! theau munnot let
Eawr darlin’s see thee cry;
Aw know full weel they’re watchin’, lass;
We’st meet ’em by-an‘-by.
When God sees ﬁt to co’ us whoam
To that sweet lond o’ bliss.
Aw know eawr precious little lambs
Will greet us wi’ a kiss.
In this poem Mr. Cronshaw excels himself. In genuine pathos,
beauty of thought and expression, it has few equals in any author’s
His women, however, are not all silent — it would be a pity if they
were. In “Social Reform” it is a homely, sensible Lancashire
matron who speaks her mind in vigorous style:—
Aw’ve just bin a-seechin’ eawr ]ack,
Aw fun’ him drunk as a foo’;
He’re sit wi' a rook o’th’ same mak’,
Enough to sup a whole brew.
They made sitch a clatter an’ din,
Ther notions aw couldn’t weel gawm;
Till Clinker sheawts, “Lads, let’s begin
An’ go in for Social Reform.”
She describes the muddle-headed talk of the tap-room politicians,
and roundly declares at the close :—
If aw live while yon mon comes i’ seet,
Aw’ll bet he’s noan lung eawt o’ bed
Ther’s summat bin waiting o’ neet,
At’s itchin’ to get at his yed.
If yo’ see eawr Jack lookin’ bad —
He happen may walk a bit lawm —
Just tak’ it fro’ me ’at he’s had
Th’ fost lesson i’ Social Reform.
A mother is the speaker in “Dunno’ be a Foo’,” and she gives her son
some excellent advice; but we must hasten to notice the winsome lass
who is the speaker in “Whistlin’ ‘Waitin’ Here.’” This piece, a good
sample of Mr. Cronshaw’s sly humour, reminds us of Waugh’s little
gem, “The Dule’s i’ this Bonnet o’ mine.” In both poems the speakers
are in the same state of excited half-conﬁdent expectation of a
proposal, and are equally ready to accept the hoped-for offer.
But here the comparison ends, for Mr. Cronshaw’s heroine is in quite
a different set of surroundings from Waugh’s. One is
half-tempted to suspect that the father’s threat to “shoot that
furrin’ brid” is not made in earnest; whilst it is quite evident
that the mother knows all about the whistler outside, and is in full
sympathy with her daughter’s feelings. At the close of this
excellent little comedy, the girl sensibly consoles herself with the
Aw dunno’ think he’ll be so lung
Afore he axes me:
He nobbo’ use’t to want one kiss,
Neaw he tak’s two or three.
He wouldna need to stand i’th’ cloof,
Nor whistle “Waitin’ Here”;
Just let th’ owd parson tee that knot,
He’ll ﬁnd me awlus theer.
Space fails, or more than passing mention might be made of such
moving poems as “When We Buried Little Jack,” “Aw winno’ Stir To-neet,”
and some others; but enough has been advanced to prove Mr.
Cronshaw’s right to take a high and honoured place amongst the bards
of his native county.
From Mr. Thomas Booth, Librarian Burnley Co-operative Stores,
Author and Lecturer on Lancashire Poets.
I WAS pleased to hear that my friend Mr.
Joseph Cronshaw intended to publish his poems in book form, and I
could not refrain from writing a line or two in commendation of the
project, and in appreciation of the many beautiful lyrics that have
come from his pen.
The first of Mr. Cronshaw’s poems to attract my attention was the
one entitled “I’m Lonely, an’ Weary, an’ Sad,” which may be
described as a sequel to Waugh’s well-known “Come Whoam to thi
Childer an’ Me.”
It goes without saying that if Waugh had never written the latter,
Mr. Cronshaw would not have been inspired to pen his delightful
sequel; and this implies no depreciation of the poem, for “I’m
Lonely, an’ Weary, an’ Sad” is in every way worthy of the one which
inspired its production. Mr. Cronshaw has indeed caught the
spirit of the master.
In this poem the idea permeating Waugh’s lyric is carried a step
further, and the old man, left “lonely an’ weary,” still seems to
hear the voice of his loved one calling to him from a brighter
sphere, “Come Whoam to thi Childer an’ Me.” As he sits by his
ﬁreside he sees the “empty chair,” and listens to the lonely ticking
of the clock; he sees the “trumpet an’ drum” he brought from the
fair for Dick in the days gone by, and an angel’s voice whispers,
“My lad, arto ready? Come Whoam to thi Childer an’ Me; ” and,
as he sits musing, feeling that life’s eventide is fast falling, and
that his days are now “in the sere and yellow leaf,” he feels that
his good dame will not have long to await his coming, for he
replies: “Aw conno’ come yet, but aw’m comin’-- theau’ll noan have
so lung, lass, to wait.” The whole poem is a delightful
picture, and has a happy conceit running through it from beginning
I have dwelt somewhat at length upon this poem, but others of Mr.
Cronshaw’s productions are worthy contributions to Lancashire
literature. One and all have a quaint pathetic humour running
through them, such for instance as “We want yon Lads Awhoam,”
“Little Billy’s Crutch,” “When Thee an’ Me were Yung,” etc.
In his search for subjects on which to exercise his poetic fancies,
Mr. Cronshaw never goes far afield; the home and the ﬁreside, the
lovely glens of his native county, or the toils and cares of the
dwellers in our work-a-day towns are the themes which please him
most. He has the happy knack of extracting the poetic essence
from the humblest scenes and incidents of every-day life. But
this power is the poet’s wand of enchantment which transforms the
common-place scenes of life, and invests its humblest attributes
with a halo of imaginative beauty that deepens our interest in the
“world of God around us,” and thereby purifies and elevates the
“world of God within us.” By the exercise of this power the
poet fulfils the noblest behests of his high calling, and life is
made brighter to the earth-pilgrim by the “summer land of song”
which is made to blossom around him.
Just listen as he sings of “The Sunny Month o’ June” —
Aw like to roam at early morn
I’th’ bonny month o’ June,
When hay lies shorn, an’ rising corn,
Looks up to th’ sky aboon;
To hear the thrush pipe in the bush,
It puts one’s heart i’ tune,
Where daisies sweet grow at one’s feet,
I’th’ sunny month o’ June.
. . .
There’s a rake for every bonny lass,
A fork for every lad;
There’s mony a smile ’ats free fro’ guile,
An’ mony a heart ’ats glad.
It makes one think, to see ’em wink,
There’ll be some weddin’s soon;
For love grows strung when hearts are yung,
I’th’ sunny month o’ June.
About such a poem as this the glint of June sunshine seems to play;
one can almost smell the blossoms and new-mown hay, and one’s heart
seems to dance to the rustle of leafy woods stirred by the soft
breezes of “incense-breathing morn.” The same phase of feeling
runs through his poem “My Bonny Lass,” when he says —
Aw never yerd yon throstle sing
Like he’s sung o’ this day;
Aw never seed yon hawthorn bloom
Look hawve as breet an’ gay.
There’s music fro’ yon little brook,
An’ th’ sky looks breet aboon,
Aw’m certain sure its Mary’s love
’At keeps this heart i’ tune.
. . .
When comes sweet spring, the thrush will sing,
An’ June bring hawthorn spray,
But Mary’s love an’ mine shall last
Until life’s closing day!
And then our author asks the question: “Am I a poet?” But he must
excuse us if we differ from him when he answers the question himself
as follows: —
Am I a poet? Well! I rather think not;
True poets, though dead, sir, are seldom forgot.
Am I a poet? Come now, don’t make me laugh?
I like a good joke, but I’m proof against chaff.
As to stringing my thoughts in homely-put rhymes.
“Thy, then, I confess, I am guilty sometimes:
Just to please a rude fancy, in my leisure time.
I’ve formed the bad habit of trying to rhyme.
But further on in the same poem he writes :—
I’m fond of wild flowers that grow in the dell,
The daisy so modest, and bonny blue-bell —
Where the pale timid primrose peeps from its nook
At the foxglove so stately that bows to the brook.
Where the hawthorn so sweet, resplendent in bloom.
Fills the soft balmy air with fragrant perfume.
And yet in spite of the poetic fancy running through these latter
lines, Mr. Cronshaw modestly says:—“I’m right glad to own, and well
pleased to know it, there’s a gulf, sir, divides the rhymster from
poet.” As to whether our author is a poet or no, perhaps he himself
is not the best judge after all.
Mr. Cronshaw is also imbued with a love of human nature, as deep and
abiding as his ardent love of external nature, as witness the tender
pathos of his poem entitled “Little Billy’s Crutch.”
This poem, descriptive of “two little mites in Ancoats Lane, marred
by affliction’s touch,” will awaken a tender chord in any heart that
is not callous to all the kindlier attributes of our human nature.
When little Nell lay dead—
Someone placed a bunch of ﬂowers where little Nell lay
Someone knelt and said a prayer beside her tiny bed;
No one saw him creep down stairs — it did not matter
No one saw him dry those tears, but they heard a little
And then, when little Bill grew too weak to visit his playmate’s
lonely grave, the angels came to summon him away —
The angels took his pure white soul from that dark
The guardians took his crippled form, and laid it in the
But when he met his playmate Nell, she’d no consumptive
She’d left her pain in Ancoats Lane, with little Billy’s
Of Mr. Cronshaw’s humorous productions we are not going to speak
here, but he has indeed a keen sense of the humorous, and in his
published volume humour and pathos will he found delightfully
The wonder to me is that smoke-begrimed Ancoats should produce men
of such tastes as our author, men with such a keen appreciation of
the beautiful in nature, for he has indeed “found love in huts where
poor men dwell;” and all who peruse his book will find delightful
pleasure in his “rude rhymes, roughly wrought in an unlearnèd loom.”
Fern Cottage, Burnley
May 4th, 1908.
Author of “Legends of Longdendale; ”
“Poets, Poems, and Songs of East Cheshire;”
“Annals of Hyde,” etc., etc.
ADMIRERS of what is
called “Lancashire Dialect” poetry and prose are often heard to
lament the loss of Waugh, Brierley, and Laycock, in terms which seem
to imply that with the decease of these two masters, the decadence
of dialect writing has come to pass. It is a mistake to drop into
this pessimistic vein. The old adage is still true: Le roy est
mort. Vive le roy. And although we mourn the absence from the
literary world of to-day of men like Waugh and Brierley, yet we
ought not to shut our eyes to the fact that other writers have
stepped into the gaps left by the disappearance of the veterans, and
that the best traditions of Lancashire literature are still
maintained by living scribes.
Among the men who are worthy to rank with the great Lancashire
writers of the past must assuredly be placed Mr. Joseph Cronshaw,
the Ancoats Bard; and it comes as a tonic to those who have long
been acquainted with his prose and verse efforts to see that the
Manchester press is at last beginning to recognise his worth. Mr.
Cronshaw is not as other writers; his career is a veritable romance,
and ought to be written at length. It has been a battle against
hardships and odds, but Mr. Cronshaw has won. Born in Newton Heath
on September 20th, 1851, of poor but respectable parents, Joseph
Cronshaw had a rough bringing up during his early boyhood, but by
the time he had attained the age of 13 years, his parents had made
for themselves a good position as provision dealers. At this time
the future poet was sent to work by his father for a gutta-percha
shoemaker, but as this business proved injurious to the lad’s
health, he was taken from it; and, to use his own words, he there
and then determined “never again to work for a master.” To the
consternation and disgust of his parents, he hired a hand-cart and
began selling salt, his capital — one shilling and nine-pence —
being raised by the sale of a quantity of old iron which he had
gathered at various times from a neighbouring rubbish tip. Thus, as
a hawker, he laboured, sometimes for ten to twelve hours per day,
for nine months successfully fulfilling the conditions that his
parents — thinking to discourage him — had imposed, namely, the
making for his mother of a clear shilling per day out of the
business. Besides this, he was able to put by a few shillings
occasionally for himself, and when his savings at last reached £1,
he attended Acres Fair, Knot Mill, on October 1st, 1865, and spent
his capital in the purchase of a donkey. In the space of
twelve months from the purchase of the donkey, he had a sum of £9 to
his credit in the savings bank, besides having paid for a
second-hand donkey cart. Two additional donkeys and carts were
soon added to his stock-in-trade, and these he hired out, thus
making more interest on his money than the bank could pay him.
Even at that early age he had developed the keen acumen which has
since made him famous. He never missed an opportunity of
making money honestly. Advised to take a holiday to Blackpool
for the sake of his health, he bought several donkeys, which he
picked up cheap, and walked them home to Manchester; and the idea
now entered his head that money might be made by keeping a stud of
donkeys on the Blackpool sands during the season. Thus first
one idea and then another was worked out by him. Eventually he
established himself in business as a grease refiner and salt
merchant on a large scale, and he is well known as a successful
business man in most of the big towns of Lancashire and Cheshire.
In an article of this description, a few personal points will not be
out of place. I have known Mr. Cronshaw for some years, have
been often in his company, and can write with confidence concerning
him. He is quite a character, and his business shrewdness is
proverbial. It is a treat to stand within the walls of his
business yard, and see him deal with the many rough and queer folk
whom he is called upon to meet in the way of trade. His
business place is the Onward Salt Wharf, in Ancoats, Manchester;
right in the most crowded, and certainly not the most savoury, part
of the city. But it is here, in the heart of all that is
gloomy and prosaic, amid all that is practical and serious, that the
poetical spirit of our author has been born and nurtured.
As though proving the truth of the saying that “the busiest men have
always the most time,” Mr. Cronshaw has followed several pursuits
apart from his business. In his younger days he was an amateur
actor, and to-day as a successful reciter he has few equals. He is a
born humorist, and it is utterly impossible to imagine anything more
grotesquely funny or more mirth-provoking than his comical
impersonations. I have seen audiences convulsed with laughter all
the time Mr. Cronshaw was on the stage.
Since he took to authorship, Mr. Cronshaw’s pen has never been idle,
and he has written scores of pieces, both in verse and prose.
His prose sketches are well written, and they rank among the best
descriptions of Lancashire life. It would be hard to find
characters more true to life than the homely Lancashire worthies
depicted in his story “Dingle Cottage.” Of his verse much
might be said; it will, however, suffice to state that he is one of
the most successful of modern dialect rhymsters. His poems of
this description are numerous, and it is difficult to make a
selection; but could one ask for a truer sketch of two old-fashioned
Lancashire worthies and their rural surroundings than this? —
OWD POLYANT’ UN’ CHITTY.
Owd chitty wer a merry brid,
His voice wer alus ringin’;
Booath neet an’ day he’d pipe away —
Th’ owd lad wer alus singin’.
Owd chitty lived wi’ Polyant’,
At th’ eend o’ Daisy Lone,
An‘ as they’d noather wife or choilt,
Th’ owd couple lived alone.
They’d a little cot a storey heigh,
Weel covert o’er wi’ thatch;
It had little teeny windows,
An’ th’ dur a wooden latch.
Shepsters neested under th’ thatch,
Sparrows built i’th’ speawt,
While swallows, through a hole i’th’ wo’,
Kept dartin’ in an’ eawt.
They’d th’ nicest garden reawnd abeawt;
Yo’ talk abeawt perfume!
It swarmed wi’ bees an’ butterﬂees,
When th’ posies wer i’ bloom.
They doated on that little plot,
They knowed each tree an’ plant;
It wur like a little paradise
To Chit an’ Polyant’.
Much of Mr. Cronshaw’s dialect verse is devoted to expressions of
his fondness for bird life and for nature; and there are few dialect
writers who have surpassed him in the treatment of these subjects.
Here is a fragment — a little gem — from his poem on a “Throstle.”
Yo’ talk abeawt th’ owd chapel choir,
Or th’ philharmonic band;
Yo’re madam this or signor that —
They arno’ hawve as grand;
He doesna need invitin’ lads,
He starts off free an’ bowd,
An’ he maks no lawn excuses
For havin’ catched a cowd.
Many of his dialect pieces touch a rare vein of pathos, and two of
his latest and best productions are of this class, namely: “We want
yon Lads Awhoam,” and its sequel: “Eawr Lads are comin’ Whoam.”
Mr. Cronshaw has also written largely in English, and many of his
verses possess the spirit of true poetry. Want of space
unfortunately prevents lengthy quotation, but the following lines,
in which the author deals with the question, “Am I a poet?” will
give evidence sufficient to show that Joseph Cronshaw is not
unworthy to take a place by the side of some of the best of the
Now should I stroll out in the gay summer time,
My heart fills with rapture at nature sublime —
The hills and the valleys, the moorland and clough,
And the clear rippling streams are subjects enough;
Though lacking in poesy, I think it no crime
To tell what I feel in a simple crude rhyme,
I’m fond of good music; the sweetest I’ve heard
Salutes me in spring from the wild singing bird:
The blackbird so sweet, and the throstle so coy,
Respond to the notes of the lark in the sky;
And should it be winter, with snow or frost rime,
The voice of the robin compels me to rhyme.
I’m fond of wild flowers that grow in the dell,
The daisy so modest, and the bonny blue bell —
Where the pale timid primrose peeps from its nook
At the foxglove so stately that bows to the brook;
Where the hawthorn so sweet, resplendent in bloom,
Fills the soft balmy air with fragrant perfume.
Vain critics may blame for the license I take,
When I tell of sweet maids, with fork and hay rake,
And the reapers’ refrain so jolly and blythe,
Keeping time to the music of sickle and scythe;
Though lacking in poesy, and my writing’s but rhyme,
To the sickle and scythe my heart’s keeping time.
I’m thankful to God for these bright sunny hours
Spent in the woodlands, ’midst birds and wild flowers;
For the cornfield and meadow, so plenteous in wealth;
For raiment and food, and a store of good health;
With a heart ever grateful, I think it sublime
To praise my Creator in blank verse or rhyme.
In a brief sketch it is impossible to give anything like an adequate
review of the many excellencies of Mr. Cronshaw’s work.
Suffice it to say that he covers every phase of human thought and
emotion from grave to gay, and is always effective in the treatment
of his subjects. His claims to authorship are of course based
upon his merits as a writer of Lancashire verse and prose, and as
such he holds a high place among modern scribes, — indeed it would
be hard to find among the writers of to-day a better representative
of the school of Edwin Waugh, Ben Brierley and Sam Laycock.
Mr. Cronshaw cannot be called a young man, but it almost seems as
though his best work was still to come. If anything, his
writings increase in power and interest, and his latest productions
seem to promise even greater and more interesting things for the
future. That this promise may be fulfilled will be the
heart-felt wish of thousands of Lancashire artisans, who have for
many years been delighted with the songs and sketches that have come
from his pen.
May 18th, 1908.