|The Raffles Merry Neet is a vivid description of a
drinking party, which must have taken place (if at all) pre-1780, when the poem is
supposed to have been written. Raffles, now a suburb of Carlisle, will have been little
more than a few houses on the main road to Thursby and Cockermouth, about a mile from the
town, and evidently with a pub or drinking house. I have never seen this poem published
anywhere other than in the book cited below, and while no one would claim that it's the
highest expression of the poet's arts, it does give a lively impression of the dialect of
the day. Present day natives of Carlisle will have little difficulty with the dialect!
The Raffles Merry Neet
Come listen, I'll
tell the' a stwory,
Eh ! man what a rare du' we've hed
Last neet at Bob Robson's at t'Raffles ---
I declare I've nit yet been a-bed.
Theer was fwoks frae a' parts o' the
Frae Newby, frae Worton, an' Bow,
Frae Mworton, frae Newtown an' Grinsdel ---
An' frae Carel a canny gay few.
The Tinkers 'at camp aboot Millbeck,
An' Potters aboot Worton Green,
Was theer in rags an' in tatters,
Some o' them a sham to be seen.
Lang Charley, the Codogeate bully,
Wad feight ere a yen o' the pleace;
But nin o' them wanted ne' bodder,
Tho' some o' them cud him weel leace.
At last he gat quite past a' bearin',
On t'teable he smash't a girt jug'
Than Billy, the Miller o' Munkel'
Brang him a gud whelt o' the lug;
In t'garden they hed a lang lurry,
For Billy's a strang lytle chap,
At last he gat Charlie on t'buttock,
And whang'd him reet ower t'Bees' Cap.
I' t'loft they were rwoarin' an dancin';
Big Nancy, the greet gammerstang,
Went up an' doon t'fluir lyke a haystack,
An' fain wad hev coddled Ned Strang;
But Ned wad hev nowt to du' wid her ---
They say 'at she's nobbut hawf reet,
Forby, (but I waddent hev t'mentioned,)
She stops far ower leat oot at neet.
The lads at last put oot the candles,
The lasses than raised a greet yell;
Young Lonny, the smith, gat weel hammer'd,
For things it wad nit du' to tell.
The landlord com in i' the meantime,
As wild just as ony March hare,
An' swore he wad whang a' aboot him ---
But to fin' them he cuddent tell where.
The fiddle was brokken to splinters;
The windows went oot wid a smash,
The glass was a' brokken to pieces,
Theer wasn't a yell pane i' the sash.
The fwoks raised a whully ba-lurry;
The landlord was crazy an' mad
The landlady stuid ahint t'teable,
Her luiks wer' beath solemn an' sad.
Odswinge ! says the landlord, I'll
If I hed but nobbut my flail,
I'll batter the'r heids soft as poddish,
If I shou'd for it lig i' th' jail :
A parcel o' Codogeate rubbish,
'At hevvent a penny to spen';
They leeve just by leein' an' steelin' ---
On t'roost yen can scarce keep a hen.
He keav'd reet away to th' haymu',
Still gollerin' as loud as he cud,
An' stagger'd 'gean twea i' th' corner,
Whose object he thowt wasn't good;
Od'dal ! but I'll whelt ye, he shooted ---
An' rwoar'd oot beath loodly an' lang,
Till t'lantern was fetch'd, when th' tweasome
Was priuved to be Nancy and Strang.
Big Nancy was ne' way confoonded,
She said they wer' duin' nowt rang;
She just hed cum oot for a breathin'---
And happen'd to meet wid Ned Strang.
The landlord hed noo gitten t'souple,
He'd mischief 'twas plain in his 'ee;
He struik reet an' left an' aboot him,
An' varra suin meade them a' flee.
He struik at a' maks 'at he com to,
Beath women an' men hed to jump;
An' blinded wi' rage an' wid fury,
He pelted away at the pump.
Some lads wer' ahint the dyke laughin',
To see him quite foamin wi' rage;
They fain wad ha' dabb'd him wi' clabber,
But nin o' them durst him engage.
The lads an' the lasses in t'lonnin'
Wer' pairin' lyke t'sparrows in t'spring,
And parlish things happen'd which ne' doot ---
On some o' them sorrow will bring;
But I's nit th' yen to tell secrets,
Tho' mony a yen I cud tell,
I'll leave the' to guess at my meanin' ---
For t'present I'll bid the' farewell.
Songs And Ballads Of Cumberland And The Lake Country, by Sidney Gilpin, published
in London by John Russell Smith, and in Carlisle by G. & T. Coward, 1874.