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Lowell History: Visitor Observations 1827-1913

Observations of Lowell by Ben Brierley, 1888



After leeavin Manchester we geet to Lowell about th' middle o'th' afternoon, an' fund th' place very mich like other cities--white houses, sond, and trees. We'd a droive i'th' country, as us'al, for goo wheere we choose, Sammy o' Moses's would be at th' back of a tit's tail wi' three sticks howdin a cover up at his elbow. This time Sammy drove hissel. We'd th' cheek for t' goo an' ax a chap for t' lend us a hoss an' buggy, as if he'd known us fro' bein childer; but as soon as he yerd us talk, an' knew we'rn Englishmen, he'd ha' trusted us wi' owt; an' when an owd Irishman ut hostled for him towd him wer'n Lanky, I believe he'd ha' gan us his clooas an' never felt if ther owt in his pockets. I shawm sometimes when I think how forrin folk are o'erseen in us.

An' now for Lowell factory wenches, ut we'n yerd so mich about. We'd gone theere o' purpose o' seein 'em. I know what thou'll think when thou reads that. An' thou'll say to thysel'--"Dear-a-me! travelled I know not how mony thousant mile, an' their yorneyishness no' rubbed out on 'em yet!" But we planked oursels under a tree--we couldno' ha' done that i' Owdham--an' waited till th' factories loced. In a while a procession began a-windin down th' street. We took it to be some ladies' skoo wi' their sweethearts followin 'em for t' know wheere they must meet 'em at neet. On they coome; some on 'em marchin two un' two, but never takkin o th' flags to theirsels. Th' mooest on 'em had blue veils o'er their face, ut prevented us fro' seein what they'rn like; an' they'd printed frocks on, made o'th' same shape, an' nearly o'th' same pattern o' print. I wish they'd begin a-wearin th' same sort i' our country, an' could look as cleean. Th' faces we seed bare wurno' exactly o' my sort. Ther no apple cheeks; no dimpled chins; no e'en rowlin about wi' that sort o' wickedness ut makes a lad feel like a dampt foo, an' act like one; no clogs, wi' summat just above th' insteps neaw an' then peepin fro' under th' region o' frills like a pair o' white mice. Nawe, nowt o' that sort. They look like machine-made uns, so mich a dozen, an' two an' a hauve per cent off when th' bill's paid. Believe me, or believe me not, Sal; but I could look at a crowd o' these Lowell "gals," without my arm bein drawn to'ard any on em; an' thou'll think that's summat for me.

They tell me these wenches con write books, play th' payano like angels, an' talk like saints. But I wonder what they'd do wi' a stockin ut's too much dayleet letten in at one window; if they know which side of a dumplin is th' reet un; if they could tell when a loaf wur baked enoogh by feelin at it wi' th' end o' their nose; if they could mak a new senglet for a youngster out of an owd pair o' pants; if they could get to know everybody's bizness without gooin out o'th' house; if they could "skelp" a three-year-owd till he couldno' sit, an' then give him a buttercake for t' give o'er cryin; if they could fotch a husbant fro' a "saloon" without leeadin him by one ear, an' poo a dish out o'th' oon wi' yesterday's porritch in it for his supper; if they conno' do these things, what's their larnin an' their music wo'th? Nowt. Lanky lasses for my brass, if they are a bit noisy-mouthed, an' conno' write books; they con turn a mon out so ut he'll no' forget whoa he is, an' put him i'th' way o' knowin he isno' someb'dy elze if he goes whoam late o' neets.

After we'd looked through Lowell, an' seen their blocks o' smookless factories, we set out for Boston, an' wurno' long afore we geet theere.