By John Tabois Tregellas
John Tabois Tregellas (i792-1865), born at St. Agnes. The greatest master of the niceties of the Cornish dialect, in which he wrote largely, both in prose and verse. The piece quoted from is included in a volume of miscellanies published by Mr. Netherton, Truro, and happily indicates the marked difference between the modern dialect of Cornwall and that of Devon, illustrated in "Girt Ofvenders an' Zmal."The hero of "Grammer's Cat" was a miner named Jim Chegwidden.
To wash his hands and save the floshing,
Outside the door Jim did his washing,
But soon returned in haste and fright "Mother, aw come! and see the sight;
Up on our house there's such a row,
Millions of cats es up there now! "
Jim's mother stared, and well she might;
She knew that Jim had not said right.
"' Millions of cats,' you said; now worn't it so? "
"Why, iss," said Jim, "and I beleeve ut too;
Not millions p'rhaps, but thousands must be theere,
And fiercer cats than they you'll never hear;
They're spitting, yowling, and the fur is flying,
Some of 'em's dead, I s'pose, and some is dying;
Such dismal groans I'm sure you never heard,
Aw, mother! ef you ded, you'd be afteered."
"Not I," said Jinny; "no, not I, indeed;
A hundred cats out theere, thee'st never seed."
Said Jim, "I doan't knaw 'zackly to a cat,
They must be laarge wauns, then, to do like that;
They maake such dismal noises when they're fighting, Such scrowling, and such tearing, and such biting." "Count ev'ry cat," says Jinny, " 'round and 'round; Iss, rams and yaws, theer caan't be twenty found." "We'll caall 'em twenty, mother, ef 'twill do; Shut all the cats, say I; let's have my stew." "No, Jimmy, no! - no stew to-night, 'Tell all the cats es counted right" "Heere goes," said Jim; "lev Crammer's cat go fust (Of all the thievish cats, he es the wust). You knaw Mal Digry's cat, he's nither black nor blue, But howsomever, he's a cat, and that maakes two; Theer's that theer short-tailed cat, and she's a he, Short tail or long now, mother, that maakes three; Theer's that theer grayish cat what stawl the flour, Hee's theere, I s'pose, and that, you knaw, maakes fower; Trevenen's black es theere, ef he's alive, Now, mother, doan't 'ee see, why, that maakes five; That no-tailed cat, that wance was uncle Dick's, He's sure theere to-night, and that maakes six; That tabby cat you gove to Georgey Bevan, I knaw his yowl - he's theere, and that maakes seven; That sickly cat we had, cud ait no mait, She's up theere too to-night, and she maakes 'ight; That genteel cat, you knaw, weth fur so fine, She's surely theere, I s'pose, and that maakes nine; Tom Avery's cat es theere, they caall un Ben, A reg'lar fighter he, and he maakes ten; The ould maid's cat, Miss Jinkin broft from Devon, I s'pose she's theere, and that, you knaw, maakes 'leven; Theere's Grace Penrose's cat, got chets, 'tes awnly two, And they're too young to fight as yet; so they waan't do.
Iss, 'leven's all that I can mind, Not more than 'leven you waan't find; So lev me have my supper, mother, And let the cats ait one another." "No, Jimmy, no! It shaan't be so;
No supper shu'st thou have this night Until the cats thee'st counted right; Go taake the lantern from the shelf, And go and count the cats thyself."
See hungry Jimmy with his light, Turned out to count the cats aright; And he who had Hugh Tonkin blamed Did soon return, and, much ashamed, Confessed the number was but two, And both were cats that well he knew.
Jim scratched his head,
And then he said - "Theere's Grammer's cat and ours out theere, And they two cats made all that rout theere; But ef two cats made such a row, 'Tes like a thousand, anyhow."