An appeal for t' sufferers o' th' Audley Mining Disaster, 1895.

Vanquished Heroes.

By William Baron of Blackburn from 'Echoes of the Loom.'

A bitter wail uv anguish rings on t' winter air! -

Women an' childer wring their hands, an' moan i' deep despair;

Infirm an' aged parents, there een welled up wi' tears,

Mourn for their sons, once th' hope an' prop o' life's declinin' year.

In th' Diglake Pit t Audley, shot off in deepest gloom,

A band o' miners lie at rest - their toilin-place their tomb!

To t' ravages o' t' cruel flood they yielded up their lives,

Leavin' their parents desolate - their childer, an' their wives.

Pictur' these weepin' women their helpless little ones!-

Pictur' distracted parents co'in' vainly for their sons!-

Brothers an' sisters sheawt th' names o' luv'd ones deawn below!-

Where'er yo turn it's one dark scene uv misery an' woe.

Reawnd t' meawth o't' pit they stan' i' groups - grim spectres o' despair;

While sobs, an' sighs, an' pityin' cries, like dirges, float on th' air.

Then men step forth as volunteers, an' t' great creawd howds its breath

As they prepare to gooa below an' hev a bout wi' death.

When t' rescue party mek t' descent, hope resigns in mony a breast,

Om Mercy's mission fully bent, they mean to do their beat;

Some twenty souls are browt to t' top, an' crowd sends up a cheer!

An' sobbin' mothers clasp their sons, an' wives their husbands dear.

Once mooar deawn t' they mek their way - one mooar are dangers braved -

Not once they think abawt themselves, for lives may yet be saved;

An' t' creawd at t' top waits anxiously, till hope gives way to fear,

For heawrs pass on, an' still no mooar are browt to t' surface theer.

Waist deep in th' ice-crowd stream below, these brave man labour on,

Duty's their sole incentive, for good wark may be done.

An' when they stop exhausted, a fresh band teks their place,

An' sooa for five long days an' neets they feight death face to face.

But when t'sixth day dawns on 'em their task they've to resign.

Th' flood vanquishes these heroes then, an' victory rests wi't' mine.

An' as they sadly turn away, their cheeks wi' tears are weet,

Thinkin' o' th' fourscore should 'at lie entombed beneath their feet.

Yo praise yo valiant warriors, but what abeawt these men?

Let t' story o' their gallant deeds be towd wi' voice an' pen!

They're far ahead o' thoose'at's earned their frame o, t' field o' strife.

Their mission wurno' slaughterin' foes, but savin' human life.

Vanquished they wur in t' conflict - mooar's t' pity, be it sed,

They merited a victory weel for th' efforts 'at they med;

In t' pages uv eawr history, some day, shall t' tale be feawnd,

Heaw th' Audley miners fowt wi' death in t' surges undergreawnd.

Scoffers at unskilled labour - Lord mayors, or what yo be -

Pluck's still a place in t' toilers' breast - sooa hes humanity;

These men 'at risked their lives to get their comrades eawt o' th' pit,

Belonging to t' classes at which yo throw yor insults an' coarse wit.

To-day ther's families desolate i' th' Audley district yon;

Ther's close on eighty corpses stretched - as yet unseen bi mon;

If yo'd atone for t' wrongs yo've done, lessen these poor folks' grief

Bi plankin' deawn, an' handsomely, to ' fund for their relief.

Yo men 'at speawt Philanthropy - yo've t' chance within yor reych

To set a breet example, an' to practise what yo' preych;

It isno' platitudes we want, dressed up i' language fine,

But aid for those whose every hope lies buried deep in t' mine.

Prayers wilno' feed th' bereaved ones - prayers connot co' back th' dead -

Ther's need for summat mooar, besides, when hunger cries for bread;

Thonk o' thoose words uv Him divine - then show yor charity:

"As ye have done to th' least of Mine, so have ye done to me!"

To yo, mi toilin' brothers, in vain aw'st not appeal,

Oft yo've responded nobly - yo'll respond this time a sweel;

Oppen yor pockets just once mooar - as wide as 'e'er yo con,

These poor souls munnot starve, yo know, tho' t' bread-winners are gone.

It it's but little yo con spare, it's nooan a fault o' t' will,

But what yo give part freely wi' - it meks t' gift sweeter still;

We want to see these sufferers secured fro' every need,

Sooa let's mek one grond effort, an' we're certain to succeed.