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´╗┐Title: Home-Life of the Lancashire Factory Folk during the Cotton Famine
Author: Waugh, Edwin, 1817-1890
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Home-Life of the Lancashire Factory Folk during the Cotton Famine" ***

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Many thanks to Peter Moulding who transcribed this eText.
email: p e t e r @ m o u l d i n g n a m e . i n f o







Author of "Lancashire Sketches", "Poems and Lancashire Songs",
"Tufts of Heather from the Northern Moors", etc, etc.

"Hopdance cries in poor Tom's belly for two white herrings.
Croak not, black angel:  I have no food for thee."
--King Lear.


Chap.  Page
I      1     Among the Blackburn Operatives
II     13          "     "
III    23    Among the Preston Operatives
IV     32          "     "
V      40          "     "
VI     48          "     "
VII    59          "     "
VIII   69          "     "
IX     79          "     "
X      87          "     "
XI     97          "     "
XII    107         "     "
XIII   115         "     "
XIV    123         "     "
XV     132   Among the Wigan Operatives
XVI    139         "     "
XVII   147         "     "
XVIII  155         "     "
XIX    163         "     "
XX     171         "     "
XXI    179         "     "
XXII   189   An Incident by the Wayside
XXIII  197   Wandering Minstrels; or, Wails of the Workless Poor


       209   Letters of a Lancashire Lad
       217   Mr Cobden's Speech
       227   Speech of the Earl of Derby

       253   Songs of Distress chiefly written during the Cotton


The following chapters are reprinted from the columns of the
Manchester Examiner and Times, to which Paper they were contributed
by the Author during the year 1862.

(Reprinted from the Manchester Examiner and Times of 1862)


"Poor Tom's a-cold. Who gives anything to poor Tom?"
--King Lear.

Blackburn is one of the towns which has suffered more than the rest
in the present crisis, and yet a stranger to the place would not see
anything in its outward appearance indicative of this adverse nip of
the times. But to any one familiar with the town in its prosperity,
the first glance shows that there is now something different on foot
there, as it did to me on Friday last. The morning was wet and raw,
a state of weather in which Blackburn does not wear an Arcadian
aspect, when trade is good. Looking round from the front of the
railway station, the first thing which struck me was the great
number of tall chimneys which were smokeless, and the unusual
clearness of the air. Compared with the appearance of the town when
in full activity, there is now a look of doleful holiday, an
unnatural fast-day quietness about everything. There were few carts
astir, and not so many people in the streets as usual, although so
many are out of work there. Several, in the garb of factory
operatives, were leaning upon the bridge, and others were trailing
along in twos and threes, looking listless and cold; but nobody
seemed in a hurry. Very little of the old briskness was visible.
When the mills are in full work, the streets are busy with heavy
loads of twist and cloth; and the workpeople hurry in blithe crowds
to and from the factories, full of life and glee, for factory labour
is not so hurtful to healthy life as it was thirty years ago, nor as
some people think it now, who don't know much about it. There were
few people at the shop windows, and fewer inside. I went into some
of the shops to buy trifling things of different kinds, making
inquiries about the state of trade meanwhile, and, wherever I went,
I met with the same gloomy answers. They were doing nothing, taking
nothing; and they didn't know how things would end. They had the
usual expenses going on, with increasing rates, and a fearfully
lessened income, still growing less. And yet they durst not
complain; but had to contribute towards the relief of their starving
neighbours, sometimes even when they themselves ought to be
receiving relief, if their true condition was known. I heard of
several shopkeepers who had not taken more across their counters for
weeks past than would pay their rents, and some were not doing even
so much as that. This is one painful bit of the kernel of life in
Blackburn just now, which is concealed by the quiet shell of outward
appearance. Beyond this unusual quietness, a stranger will not see
much of the pinch of the times, unless he goes deeper; for the
people of Lancashire never were remarkable for hawking their
troubles much about the world. In the present untoward pass, their
deportment, as a whole, has been worthy of themselves, and their
wants have been worthily met by their own neighbours. What it may
become necessary to do hereafter, does not yet appear. It is a
calamity arising, partly from a wise national forbearance, which
will repay itself richly in the long run. But, apart from that wide-
spread poverty which is already known and relieved, there is, in
times like the present, always a certain small proportion, even of
the poorest, who will "eat their cake to th' edge," and then starve
bitterly before they will complain. These are the flower of our
working population; they are of finer stuff than the common staple
of human nature. Amongst such there must be many touching cases of
distress which do not come to light, even by accident. If they did,
nobody can doubt the existence of a generous will to relieve them
generously. To meet such cases, it is pleasant to learn, however, as
I did, that there is a large amount of private benevolence at work
in Blackburn, industriously searching out the most deserving cases
of distress. Of course, this kind of benevolence never gets into the
statistics of relief, but it will not the less meet with its reward.
I heard also of one or two wealthy men whose names do not appear as
contributors to the public relief fund, who have preferred to spend
considerable sums of money in this private way. In my wanderings
about the town I heard also of several instances of poor people
holding relief tickets, who, upon meeting with some temporary
employment, have returned their tickets to the committee for the
benefit of those less fortunate than themselves. Waiving for the
present all mention of the opposite picture; these things are alike
honourable to both rich and poor.

A little past noon, on Friday, I set out to visit the great stone
quarries on the southern edge of the town, where upwards of six
hundred of the more robust factory operatives are employed in the
lighter work of the quarries. This labour consists principally of
breaking up the small stone found in the facings of the solid rock,
for the purpose of road-mending and the like. Some, also, are
employed in agricultural work, on the ground belonging to the fine
new workhouse there. These factory operatives, at the workhouse
grounds, and in the quarries, are paid one shilling a day--not much,
but much better than the bread of idleness; and for the most part,
the men like it better, I am told. The first quarry I walked into
was the one known by the name of "Hacking's Shorrock Delph." There I
sauntered about, looking at the scene. It was not difficult to
distinguish the trained quarrymen from the rest. The latter did not
seem to be working very hard at their new employment, and it can
hardly be expected that they should, considering the great
difference between it and their usual labour. Leaning on their
spades and hammers, they watched me with a natural curiosity, as if
wondering whether I was a new ganger, or a contractor come to buy
stone. There were men of all ages amongst them, from about eighteen
years old to white-headed men past sixty. Most of them looked
healthy and a little embrowned by recent exposure to the weather;
and here and there was a pinched face which told its own tale. I got
into talk with a quiet, hardy-looking man, dressed in soil-stained
corduroy. He was a kind of overlooker. He told me that there were
from eighty to ninety factory hands employed in that quarry. "But,"
said he, "it varies a bit, yo known. Some on 'em gets knocked up
neaw an' then, an' they han to stop a-whoam a day or two; an' some
on 'em connot ston gettin' weet through--it mays 'em ill; an' here
an' theer one turns up at doesn't like the job at o'--they'd rayther
clem. There is at's both willin' an' able; thoose are likely to get
a better job, somewheer. There's othersome at's willin' enough, but
connot ston th' racket. They dun middlin', tak 'em one wi' another,
an' considerin' that they're noan use't to th' wark. Th' hommer fo's
leet wi' 'em; but we dunnot like to push 'em so mich, yo known--for
what's a shillin' a day? Aw know some odd uns i' this delph at never
tastes fro mornin' till they'n done at neet,--an' says nought abeawt
it, noather. But they'n families. Beside, fro wake lads, sick as
yon, at's bin train't to nought but leet wark, an' a warm place to
wortch in, what con yo expect? We'n had a deeal o' bother wi 'em
abeawt bein' paid for weet days, when they couldn't wortch. They wur
not paid for weet days at th' furst; an' they geet it into their
yeds at Shorrock were to blame. Shorrock's th' paymaister, under th'
Guardians, But, then, he nobbut went accordin' to orders, yo known.
At last, th' Board sattle't that they mut be paid for weet and dry,-
-an' there's bin quietness sin'. They wortchen fro eight till five;
an', sometimes, when they'n done, they drilln o' together i'th road
yon--just like sodiurs--an' then they walken away i' procession. But
stop a bit;--just go in yon, an' aw'll come to yo in a two-thre
minutes." He returned, accompanied by the paymaster, who offered to
conduct me through the other delphs. Running over his pay-book, he
showed me, by figures opposite each man's name, that, with not more
than a dozen exceptions, they had all families of children, ranging
in number from two to nine. He then pointed out the way over a
knoll, to the next quarry, which is called "Hacking's Gillies'
Delph," saying that he would follow me thither. I walked on,
stopping for him on the nearest edge of the quarry, which commanded
a full view of the men below. They seemed to be waiting very hard
for something just then, and they stared at me, as the rest had
done; but in a few minutes, just as I began to hear the paymaster's
footsteps behind me, the man at the nearest end of the quarry called
"Shorrock!" and a sudden activity woke up along the line. Shorrock
then pointed to a corner of the delph where two of these poor
fellows had been killed the week before, by stones thrown out from a
fall of earth. We went down through the delph, and up the slope, by
the place where the older men were at work in the poorhouse grounds.
Crossing the Darwen road, we passed the other delphs, where the
scene was much the same as in the rest, except that more men were
employed there. As we went on, one poor fellow was trolling a snatch
of song, as he hammered away at the stones. "Thir't merry, owd mon,"
said I, in passing. "Well," replied he, "cryin' 'll do nought,
wilt?" And then, as I walked away, he shouted after me, with a sort
of sad smile, "It's a poor heart at never rejoices, maister."
Leaving the quarries, we waited below, until the men had struck work
for the day, and the whole six hundred came trooping down the road,
looking hard at me as they went by, and stopping here and there, in
whispering groups. The paymaster told me that one-half of the men's
wages was paid to them in tickets for bread--in each case given to
the shopkeeper to whom the receiver of the ticket owed most money--
the other half was paid to them in money every Saturday. Before
returning to town I learnt that twenty of the more robust men, who
had worked well for their shilling a day in the quarries, had been
picked out by order of the Board of Guardians, to be sent to the
scene of the late disaster, in Lincolnshire, where employment had
been obtained for them, at the rate of 3s. 4d. per day. They were to
muster at six o'clock next morning to breakfast at the soup kitchen,
after which they were to leave town by the seven o'clock train. I
resolved to be up and see them off. On retiring to bed at the "Old
Bull," a good-tempered fellow, known by the name of "Stockings,"
from the fact of his being "under-boots," promised to waken me by
six o'clock; and so I ended the day, after watching "Stockings"
write "18" on the soles of my boots, with a lump of chalk.

"Stockings" might as well have kept his bed on Saturday morning. My
room was close to the ancient tower, left standing in the parish
churchyard; and, at five o'clock, the beautiful bells of St Marie's
struck up, filling my little chamber with that heart-stirring music,
which, as somebody has well said, "sounds like a voice from the
middle ages." I could not make out what all this early melody meant;
for I had forgotten that it was the Queen's birthday. The old tower
was in full view from my bed, and I lay there a while looking at it,
and listening to the bells, and dreaming of Whalley Abbey, and of
old features of life in picturesque Blackburnshire, now passed away.
I felt no more inclination for sleep; and when the knock came to my
door, I was dressed and ready. There were more people in the streets
than I expected, and the bells were still ringing merrily. I found
the soup kitchen a lively scene. The twenty men were busy at
breakfast, and there was a crowd waiting outside to see them off.
There were several members of the committee in the kitchen, and
amongst them the Rev. Joseph V. Meaney, Catholic priest, went to and
fro in cheerful chat. After breakfast, each man received four pounds
of bread and one pound of cheese for the day's consumption. In
addition to this, each man received one shilling; to which a certain
active member of the committee added threepence in each case.
Another member of the committee then handed a letter to each of the
only three or four out of the twenty who were able to write,
desiring each man to write back to the committee,--not all at once,
but on different days, after their arrival. After this, he addressed
them in the following words:--"Now, I hope that every man will
conduct himself so as to be a credit to himself and an honour to
Blackburn. This work may not prove to be such as you will like, and
you must not expect it to be so. But, do your best; and, if you find
that there is any chance of employment for more men of the same
class as yourselves, you must write and let us know, so as to
relieve the distress of others who are left behind you. There will
be people waiting to meet you before you get to your journey's end;
and, I have no doubt, you will meet with every fair encouragement.
One-half of your wages will be paid over to each man there; the
other half will be forwarded here, for the benefit of your families,
as you all know. Now go, and do your duty to the best of your power,
and you will never regret it. I wish you all success." At half-past
six the men left the kitchen for the station. I lingered behind to
get a basin of the soup, which I relished mightily. At the station I
found a crowd of wives, children, and friends of those who were
going away. Amongst the rest, Dr Rushton, the vicar of Blackburn,
and his lady, had come to see them off. Here a sweet little young
wife stood on the edge of the platform, with a pretty bareheaded
child in her arms, crying as if her heart would break. Her husband
now and then spoke a consoling word to her from the carriage window.
They had been noticed sharing their breakfast together at the
kitchen. A little farther on, a poor old Irishwoman was weeping
bitterly. The Rev. Mr Meaney went up to her, and said, "Now, Mrs
Davis, I thought you had more sense than to cry." "Oh," said a young
Irishwoman, standing beside her, "sure, she's losin' her son from
her." "Well," said the clergyman, cheeringly, "it's not your
husband, woman." "Ah, thin," replied the young woman, "sure, it's
all she has left of him." On the door of one compartment of the
carriage there was the following written label:--"Fragile, with
care." " How's this, Dennis?" said the Catholic priest to a young
fellow nearest the door; "I suppose it's because you're all Irishmen
inside there." In another compartment the lads kept popping their
heads out, one after another, shouting farewells to their relatives
and friends, after which they struck up, "There's a good time
coming!" One wag of a fellow suddenly called out to his wife on the
platform, "Aw say, Molly, just run for thoose tother breeches o'
mine. They'n come in rarely for weet weather." One of his companions
replied, "Thae knows hoo cannot get 'em, Jack. Th' pop-shops are
noan oppen yet." One hearty cheer arose as the train started, after
which the crowd dribbled away from the platform. I returned to the
soup kitchen, where the wives, children, and mothers of the men who
had gone were at breakfast in the inner compartment of the kitchen.
On the outer side of the partition five or six pinched-looking men
had straggled in to get their morning meal.

When they had all done but one, who was left reared against the
wooden partition finishing his soup, the last of those going away
turned round and said, "Sam, theaw'rt noan as tickle abeawt thi mate
as thae use't to be." "Naw," replied the other, "it'll not do to be
nice these times, owd mon. But, thae use't to think thisel' aboon
porritch, too, Jone. Aw'll shake honds wi' tho i' thae's a mind, owd
dog." "Get forrud wi' that stuff, an' say nought," answered Jone. I
left Sam at his soup, and went up into the town. In the course of
the day I sat some hours in the Boardroom, listening to the relief
cases; but of this, and other things, I will say more in my next.


A little after ten o'clock on Saturday forenoon, I went into the
Boardroom, in the hope of catching there some glimpses of the real
state of the poor in Blackburn just now, and I was not disappointed;
for amongst the short, sad complainings of those who may always be
heard of in such a place, there was many a case presented itself
which gave affecting proof of the pressure of the times. Although it
is not here where one must look for the most enduring and
unobtrusive of those who suffer; nor for the poor traders, who
cannot afford to wear their distress upon their sleeves, so long as
things will hold together with them at all; nor for that rare class
which is now living upon the savings of past labour--yet, there were
many persons, belonging to one or other of these classes, who
applied for relief evidently because they had been driven
unwillingly to this last bitter haven by a stress of weather which
they could not bide any longer. There was a large attendance of the
guardians; and they certainly evinced a strong wish to inquire
carefully into each case, and to relieve every case of real need.
The rate of relief given is this (as you will have seen stated by Mr
Farnall elsewhere):--"To single able bodied men, 3s. for three days'
work. To the man who had a wife and two children, 6s. for six days'
work, and he would have 2s. 6d. added to the 6s., and perhaps a pair
of clogs for one of his children. To a man who had a wife and four
children, 10s. was paid for six days' labour, and in addition 4s.,
and sometimes 4s. 6d., was given to him, and also bits of clothing
and other things which he absolutely wanted." Sitting at that Board
I saw some curious--some painful things. It was, as one of the Board
said to me, "Hard work being there." In one case, a poor, pale,
clean-looking, and almost speechless woman presented herself. Her
thin and sunken eyes, as well as her known circumstances, explained
her want sufficiently, and I heard one of the guardians whisper to
another, "That's a bad case. If it wasn't for private charity they'd
die of starvation." "Yes," replied another; "that woman's punished,
I can see." Now and then a case came on in which the guardians were
surprised to see a man ask for relief whom everybody had supposed to
be in good circumstances. The first applicant, after I entered the
room, was a man apparently under forty years of age, a beerhouse
keeper, who had been comparatively well off until lately. The tide
of trouble had whelmed him over. His children were all factory
operatives, and all out of work; and his wife was ill. "What; are
you here, John?" said the chairman to a decent-looking man who
stepped up in answer to his name. The poor fellow blushed with
evident pain, and faltered out his story in few and simple words, as
if ashamed that anything on earth should have driven him at last to
such an extremity as this. In another case, a clean old decrepid man
presented himself. "What's brought you here, Joseph?" said the
chairman. "Why; aw've nought to do,--nor nought to tak to." "What's
your daughter, Ellen, doing, Joseph?" "Hoo's eawt o' wark." "And
what's your wife doing?" "Hoo's bin bed-fast aboon five year." The
old man was relieved at once; but, as he walked away, he looked hard
at his ticket, as if it wasn't exactly the kind of thing; and,
turning round, he said, "Couldn't yo let me be a sweeper i'th
streets, istid, Mr Eccles?" A clean old woman came up, with a snow-
white nightcap on her head. "Well, Mary; what do you want?" "Aw
could like yo to gi mo a bit o' summat, Mr Eccles,--for aw need it"
"Well, but you've some lodgers, haven't you, Mary?" "Yigh; aw've
three." "Well; what do they pay you?" "They pay'n mo nought. They'n
no wark,--an' one connot turn 'em eawt."

This was all quite true. "Well, but you live with your son; don't
you?" continued the chairman. "Nay," replied the old woman, "HE
lives wi' ME; an' he's eawt o' wark, too. Aw could like yo to do a
bit o' summat for us. We're hard put to 't." "Don't you think she
would be better in the workhouse?" said one of the guardians. "Oh,
no," replied another; "don't send th' owd woman there. Let her keep
her own little place together, if she can." Another old woman
presented herself, with a threadbare shawl drawn closely round her
gray head. "Well, Ann," said the chairman, "there's nobody but
yourself and your John, is there?" "Nawe." "What age are you?" "Aw'm
seventy." "Seventy!" "Aye, I am." "Well, and what age is your John?"
"He's gooin' i' seventy-four." "Where is he, Ann ?" "Well, aw laft
him deawn i' th' street yon; gettin' a load o' coals in." There was
a murmur of approbation around the Board; and the old woman was sent
away relieved and thankful. There were many other affecting cases of
genuine distress arising from the present temporary severity of the
times. Several applicants were refused relief on its being proved
that they were already in receipt of considerably more income than
the usual amount allowed by the Board to those who have nothing to
depend upon. Of course there are always some who, having lost that
fine edge of feeling to which this kind of relief is revolting, are
not unwilling to live idly upon the rates as much and as long as
possible at any time, and who will even descend to pitiful schemes
to wring from this source whatever miserable income they can get.
There are some, even, with whom this state of mind seems almost
hereditary; and these will not be slow to take advantage of the
present state of affairs. Such cases, however, are not numerous
among the people of Lancashire. It was a curious thing to see the
different demeanours and appearances of the applicants--curious to
hear the little stories of their different troubles. There were
three or four women whose husbands were away in the militia; others
whose husbands had wandered away in search of work weeks ago, and
had never been heard of, since. There were a few very fine,
intelligent countenances among them. There were many of all ages,
clean in person, and bashful in manner, with their poor clothing put
into the tidiest possible trim; others were dirty, and sluttish, and
noisy of speech, as in the case of one woman, who, after receiving
her ticket for relief, partly in money and partly in kind, whipped a
pair of worn clogs from under her shawl, and cried out, "Aw mun ha'
some clogs afore aw go, too; look at thoose! They're a shame to be
sin!" Clogs were freely given; and, in several cases, they were all
that were asked for. In three or four instances, the applicants
said, after receiving other relief, "Aw wish yo'd gi' me a pair o'
clogs, Mr Eccles. Aw've had to borrow these to come in." One woman
pleaded hard for two pair, saying, "Yon chylt's bar-fuut; an' HE'S
witchod (wet-shod), an' as ill as he con be." "Who's witchod?" asked
the chairman. "My husban' is," replied the woman; "an' he connot
ston it just neaw, yo mun let HIM have a pair iv yo con." "Give her
two pairs of clogs," said the chairman. Another woman took her clog
off, and held it up, saying,

"Look at that. We're o' walkin' o'th floor; an' smoor't wi' cowds."
One decent-looking old body, with a starved face, applied. The
chairman said, "Why, what's your son doing now? Has he catched no
rabbits lately?" "Nay, aw dunnot know 'at he does. Aw get nought;
an' it's ME at wants summat, Mr Eccles," replied the old woman, in a
tremulous tone, with the water rising in her eyes. "Well, come; we
mustn't punish th' owd woman for her son," said one of the
guardians. Various forms of the feebleness of age appeared before
the Board that day. "What's your son John getting, Mary?" said the
chairman to one old woman. "Whor?" replied she. "What's your son
John getting?" The old woman put her hand up to her ear, and

"Aw'm rayther deaf. What say'n yo?" It turned out that her son was
taken ill, and they were relieved. In the course of inquiries I
found that the working people of Blackburn, as elsewhere in
Lancashire, nickname their workshops as well as themselves. The
chairman asked a girl where she worked at last, and the girl
replied, "At th' 'Puff-an'-dart.'" "And what made you leave there?"
"Whau, they were woven up." One poor, pale fellow, a widower, said
he had "worched" a bit at "Bang-the-nation," till he was taken ill,
and then they had "shopped his place," that is, they had given his
work to somebody else. Another, when asked where he had been
working, replied, "At Se'nacre Bruck (Seven-acre Brook), wheer th'
wild monkey were catched." It seems that an ourang-outang which once
escaped from some travelling menagerie, was re-taken at this place.
I sat until the last application had been disposed of, which was
about half-past two in the afternoon. The business had taken up
nearly four hours and a half.

I had a good deal of conversation with people who were intimately
acquainted with the town and its people; and I was informed that, in
spite of the struggle for existence which is now going on, and not
unlikely to continue for some time, there are things happening
amongst the working people there, which do not seem wise, under
existing circumstances. The people are much better informed now than
they were twenty years ago; but, still, something of the old
blindness lingers amongst them, here and there. For instance, at one
mill, in Blackburn, where the operatives were receiving 11s. a week
for two looms, the proprietor offered to give his workpeople three
looms each, with a guarantee for constant employment until the end
of next August, if they would accept one and a quarter pence less
for the weaving of each piece. This offer, if taken, would have
raised their wages to an average of 14s. 6d. a week. It was
declined, however, and they are now working, as before, only on two
looms each, with uncertainty of employment, at lls. a week. Perhaps
it is too much to expect that such things should die out all at
once. But I heard also that the bricklayers' labourers at Blackburn
struck work last week for an advance of wages from 3s. 6d. a day to
4s. a day. This seems very untimely, to say the least of it. Apart
from these things, there is, amongst all classes, a kind of cheery
faith in the return of good times, although nobody can see what they
may have to go through yet, before the clouds break. It is a fact
that there are more than forty new places ready, or nearly ready,
for starting, in and about Blackburn, when trade revives.

After dinner, I walked down Darwen Street. Stopping to look at a
music-seller's window, a rough-looking fellow, bareheaded and
without coat, came sauntering across the road from a shop opposite.
As he came near he shouted out, "Nea then Heaw go!" I turned round;
and, seeing that I was a stranger, he said, "Oh; aw thought it had
bin another chap." "Well," said I, "heaw are yo gettin' on, these
times?" "Divulish ill," replied he. "Th' little maisters are runnin'
a bit, some three, some four days. T'other are stopt o' together,
welly. . . . It's thin pikein' for poor folk just neaw. But th'
shopkeepers an' th' ale-heawses are in for it as ill as ony mak.
There'll be crashin' amung some on 'em afore lung." After this, I
spent a few minutes in the market-place, which was "slacker" than
usual, as might be expected, for, as the Scotch proverb says,
"Sillerless folk gang fast through the market." Later on, I went up
to Bank Top, on the eastern edge of the town, where many factory
operatives reside. Of course, there is not any special quarter where
they are clustered in such a manner as to show their condition as a
whole. They are scattered all round the town, living as near as
possible to the mills in which they are employed. Here I talked with
some of the small shopkeepers, and found them all more or less
troubled with the same complaint. One owner of a provision shop said
to me, "Wi'n a deeal o' brass owin'; but it's mostly owin' by folk
at'll pay sometime. An' then, th' part on 'em are doin' a bit yo
known; an' they bring'n their trifle o' ready brass to us; an' so
we're trailin' on. But folk han to trust us a bit for their stuff,
dunnot yo see,--or else it would be 'Wo-up!' soon." I heard of one
beerhouse, the owner of which had only drawn ls. 6d. during a whole
week. His children were all factory operatives, and all out of work.
They were very badly off, and would have been very glad of a few
soup tickets; but, as the man said, "Who'd believe me if aw were to
go an' ax for relief?" I was told of two young fellows, unemployed
factory hands, meeting one day, when one said to the other, "Thae
favvurs hungry, Jone." "Nay, aw's do yet, for that," replied Jone.
"Well," continued the other; "keep thi heart eawt of thi clogs, iv
thi breeches dun eawt-thrive thi carcass a bit, owd lad." "Aye,"
said Jone, "but what mun I do when my clogs gi'n way?" "Whaw, thae
mun go to th' Guardians; they'n gi tho a pair in a minute." "Nay, by
__," replied Jone, "aw'll dee furst!"

In the evening, I ran down to the beautiful suburb called
Pleasington, in the hope of meeting a friend of mine there; not
finding him, I came away by the eight o'clock train. The evening was
splendid, and it was cheering to see the old bounty of nature
gushing forth again in such unusual profusion and beauty, as if in
pitiful charity for the troubles of mankind. I never saw the country
look so rich in its spring robes as it does now.



Proud Preston, or Priest-town, on the banks of the beautiful Ribble,
is a place of many quaint customs, and of great historic fame. Its
character for pride is said to come from the fact of its having
been, in the old time, a favourite residence of the local nobles and
gentry, and of many penniless folk with long pedigrees. It was here
that Richard Arkwright shaved chins at a halfpenny each, in the
meantime working out his bold and ingenious schemes, with patient
faith in their ultimate success. It was here, too, that the teetotal
movement first began, with Anderson for its rhyme-smith. Preston has
had its full share of the changeful fortunes of England, and, like
our motherland, it has risen strongly out of them all. War's mad
havoc has swept over it in many a troubled period of our history.
Plague, pestilence, and famine have afflicted it sorely; and it has
suffered from trade riots, "plug-drawings," panics, and strikes of
most disastrous kinds. Proud Preston--the town of the Stanleys and
the Hoghtons, and of "many a crest that is famous in story"--the
town where silly King Jamie disported himself a little, with his
knights and nobles, during the time of his ruinous visit to Hoghton
Tower,--Proud Preston has seen many a black day. But, from the time
when Roman sentinels kept watch and ward in their old camp at
Walton, down by the Ribble side, it has never seen so much wealth
and so much bitter poverty together as now. The streets do not show
this poverty; but it is there. Looking from Avenham Walks, that
glorious landscape smiles in all the splendour of a rich spring-
tide. In those walks the nursemaids and children, and dainty folk,
are wandering as usual airing their curls in the fresh breeze; and
only now and then a workless operative trails by with chastened
look. The wail of sorrow is not heard in Preston market-place; but
destitution may be found almost anywhere there just now, cowering in
squalid corners, within a few yards of plenty--as I have seen it
many a time this week. The courts and alleys behind even some of the
main streets swarm with people who have hardly a whole nail left to
scratch themselves with.

Before attempting to tell something of what I saw whilst wandering
amongst the poor operatives of Preston, I will say at once, that I
do not intend to meddle with statistics. They have been carefully
gathered, and often given elsewhere, and there is no need for me to
repeat them. But, apart from these, the theme is endless, and full
of painful interest. I hear on all hands that there is hardly any
town in Lancashire suffering so much as Preston. The reason why the
stroke has fallen so heavily here, lies in the nature of the trade.
In the first place, Preston is almost purely a cotton town. There
are two or three flax mills, and two or three ironworks, of no great
extent; but, upon the whole, there is hardly any variety of
employment there to lighten the disaster which has befallen its one
absorbing occupation. There is comparatively little weaving in
Preston; it is a town mostly engaged in spinning. The cotton used
there is nearly all what is called "Middling American," the very
kind which is now most scarce and dear. The yarns of Preston are
known by the name of "Blackburn Counts." They range from 28's up to
60's, and they enter largely into the manufacture of goods for the
India market. These things partly explain why Preston is more deeply
overshadowed by the particular gloom of the times than many other
places in Lancashire. About half-past nine on Tuesday morning last,
I set out with an old acquaintance to call upon a certain member of
the Relief Committee, in George's Ward. He is the manager of a
cotton mill in that quarter, and he is well known and much respected
among the working people. When we entered the mill-yard, all was
quiet there, and the factory was still and silent. But through the
office window we could see the man we wanted. He was accompanied by
one of the proprietors of the mill, turning over the relief books of
the ward. I soon found that he had a strong sense of humour, as well
as a heart welling over with tenderness. He pointed to some of the
cases in his books. The first was that of an old man, an overlooker
of a cotton mill. His family was thirteen in number; three of the
children were under ten years of age; seven of the rest were factory
operatives; but the whole family had been out of work for several
months. When in full employment the joint earnings of the family
amounted to 80s. a week; but, after struggling on in the hope of
better times, and exhausting the savings of past labour, they had
been brought down to the receipt of charity at last, and for sixteen
weeks gone by the whole thirteen had been living upon 6s. a week
from the relief fund. They had no other resource. I went to see them
at their own house afterwards, and it certainly was a pattern of
cleanliness, with the little household gods there still. Seeing that
house, a stranger would never dream that the family was living on an
average income of less than sixpence a head per week. But I know how
hard some decent folk will struggle with the bitterest poverty
before they will give in to it. The old man came in whilst I was
there. He sat down in one corner, quietly tinkering away at
something he had in his hands. His old corduroy trousers were well
patched, and just new washed. He had very little to say to us,
except that "He could like to get summat to do; for he wur tired o'
walkin' abeawt." Another case was that of a poor widow woman, with
five young children. This family had been driven from house to
house, by increasing necessity, till they had sunk at last into a
dingy little hovel, up a dark court, in one of the poorest parts of
the town, where they huddled together about a fireless grate to keep
one another warm. They had nothing left of the wreck of their home
but two rickety chairs, and a little deal table reared against the
wall, because one of the legs was gone. In this miserable hole--
which I saw afterwards--her husband died of sheer starvation, as was
declared by the jury on the inquest. The dark, damp hovel where they
had crept to was scarcely four yards square; and the poor woman
pointed to one corner of the floor, saying, "He dee'd i' that nook."
He died there, with nothing to lie upon but the ground, and nothing
to cover him, in that fireless hovel. His wife and children crept
about him, there, to watch him die; and to keep him as warm as they
could. When the relief committee first found this family out, the
entire clothing of the family of seven persons weighed eight pounds,
and sold for fivepence, as rags. I saw the family afterwards, at
their poor place; and will say more about them hereafter. He told me
of many other cases of a similar kind. But, after agreeing to a time
when we should visit them personally, we set out together to see the
"Stone Yard," where there are many factory hands at work under the
Board of Guardians.

The "Stone Yard" is close by the Preston and Lancaster Canal. Here
there are from one hundred and seventy to one hundred and eighty,
principally young men, employed in breaking, weighing, and wheeling
stone, for road mending. The stones are of a hard kind of blue
boulder, gathered from the land between Kendal and Lancaster. The
"Labour Master" told me that there were thousands of tons of these
boulders upon the land between Kendal and Lancaster. A great deal of
them are brought from a place called "Tewhitt Field," about seven
mile on "t' other side o' Lancaster." At the "Stone Yard" it is all
piece-work, and the men can come and go when they like. As one of
the Guardians told me, "They can oather sit an' break 'em, or kneel
an' break 'em, or lie deawn to it, iv they'n a mind." The men can
choose whether they will fill three tons of the broken stone, and
wheel it to the central heap, for a shilling, or break one ton for a
shilling. The persons employed here are mostly "lads an' leet-
timber't chaps." The stronger men are sent to work upon Preston
Moor. There are great varieties of health and strength amongst them.
"Beside," as the Labour Master said, "yo'd hardly believe what a
difference there it i'th wark o' two men wortchin' at the same heap,
sometimes. There's a great deal i'th breaker, neaw; some on 'em's
more artful nor others. They finden out that they can break 'em as
fast again at after they'n getten to th' wick i'th inside. I have
known an' odd un or two, here, that could break four ton a day,--an'
many that couldn't break one,--but then, yo' know, th' men can only
do accordin' to their ability. There is these differences, and there
always will be." As we stood talking together, one of my friends
said that he wished "Radical Jack" had been there. The latter
gentleman is one of the guardians of the poor, and superintendent of
the "Stone Yard." The men are naturally jealous of
misrepresentation; and, the other day, as "Radical Jack" was
describing the working of the yard to a gentleman who had come to
look at the scene, some of the men overheard his words, and,
misconceiving their meaning, gathered around the superintendent,
clamorously protesting against what he had been saying. "He's
lying!" said one. "Look at these honds!" cried another; "Wi'n they
ever be fit to go to th' factory wi' again?"

Others turned up the soles of their battered shoon, to show their
cut and stockingless feet. They were pacified at last; but, after
the superintendent had gone away, some of the men said much and
more, and "if ever he towd ony moor lies abeawt 'em, they'd fling
him into th' cut." The "Labour Master" told me there was a large
wood shed for the men to shelter in when rain came on. As we were
conversing, one of my friends exclaimed, "He's here now!" "Who's
here?" "Radical Jack." The superintendent was coming down the road.
He told me some interesting things, which I will return to on
another occasion. But our time was up. We had other places to see.
As we came away, three old Irishwomen leaned against the wall at the
corner of the yard, watching the men at work inside. One of them was
saying, "Thim guardians is the awfullest set o' min in the world! A
man had better be transpoorted than come under 'em. An' thin,
they'll try you, an' try you, as if you was goin' to be hanged." The
poor old soul had evidently only a narrow view of the necessities
and difficulties which beset the labours of the Board of Guardians
at a time like this. On our way back to town one of my friends told
me that he "had met a sexton the day before, and had asked him how
trade was with him. The sexton replied that it was "Varra bad--nowt
doin', hardly." "Well, how's that?" asked the other. "Well, thae
sees," answered the sexton, "Poverty seldom dees. There's far more
kilt wi' o'er-heytin' an' o'er-drinkin' nor there is wi' bein'


Leaving the "Stone Yard," to fulfil an engagement in another part of
the town, we agreed to call upon three or four poor folk, who lived
by the way; and I don't know that I could do better than say
something about what I saw of them. As we walked along, one of my
companions told me of an incident which happened to one of the
visitors in another ward, a few days before. In the course of his
round, this visitor called upon a certain destitute family which was
under his care, and he found the husband sitting alone in the house,
pale and silent. His wife had been "brought to bed" two or three
days before; and the visitor inquired how she was getting on. "Hoo's
very ill," said the husband. "And the child," continued the visitor,
"how is it?" "It's deeod," replied the man; "it dee'd yesterday." He
then rose, and walked slowly into the next room, returning with a
basket in his hands, in which the dead child was decently laid out.

"That's o' that's laft on it neaw," said the poor fellow. Then,
putting the basket upon the floor, he sat down in front of it, with
his head between his hands, looking silently at the corpse. Such
things as these were the theme of our conversation as we went along,
and I found afterwards that every visitor whom it was my privilege
to meet, had some special story of distress to relate, which came
within his own appointed range of action. In my first flying visit
to that great melancholy field, I could only glean such things as
lay nearest to my hand, just then; but wherever I went, I heard and
saw things which touchingly testify what noble stuff the working
population of Lancashire, as a whole, is made of. One of the first
cases we called upon, after leaving the "Stone Yard," was that of a
family of ten--man and wife, and eight children. Four of the
children were under ten years of age,--five were capable of working;
and, when the working part of the family was in full employment,
their joint earnings amounted to 61s. per week. But, in this case,
the mother's habitual ill-health had been a great expense in the
household for several years. This family belonged to a class of
operatives--a much larger class than people unacquainted with the
factory districts are likely to suppose--a class of operatives which
will struggle, in a dumb, enduring way, to the death, sometimes,
before they will sacrifice that "immediate jewel of their souls"--
their old independence, and will keep up a decent appearance to the
very last. These suffer more than the rest; for, in addition to the
pains of bitter starvation, they feel a loss which is more
afflicting to them even than the loss of food and furniture ; and
their sufferings are less heard of than the rest, because they do
not like to complain. This family of ten persons had been living,
during the last nine weeks, upon relief amounting to 5s. a week.
When we called, the mother and one or two of her daughters were busy
in the next room, washing their poor bits of well-kept clothing. The
daughters kept out of sight, as if ashamed. It was a good kind of
cottage, in a clean street, called "Maudland Bank," and the whole
place had a tidy, sweet look, though it was washing-day. The mother
told me that she had been severely afflicted with seven successive
attacks of inflammation, and yet, in spite of her long-continued
ill-health, and in spite of the iron teeth of poverty which had been
gnawing at them so long, for the first time, I have rarely seen a
more frank and cheerful countenance than that thin matron's, as she
stood there, wringing her clothes, and telling her little story. The
house they lived in belonged to their late employer, whose mill
stopped some time ago. We asked her how they managed to pay the
rent, and she said, "Why, we dunnot pay it; we cannot pay it, an' he
doesn't push us for it. Aw guess he knows he'll get it sometime. But
we owe'd a deal o' brass beside that. Just look at this shop book.
Aw'm noan freetend ov onybody seein' my acceawnts. An' then, there's
a great lot o' doctor's-bills i' that pot, theer. Thoose are o' for
me. There'll ha' to be some wark done afore things can be fotched up
again. . . . Eh; aw'll tell yo what, William, (this was addressed to
the visitor,) it went ill again th' grain wi' my husband to goo
afore th' Board. An' when he did goo, he wouldn't say so mich. Yo
known, folk doesn't like brastin' off abeawt theirsel' o' at once,
at a shop like that. . . . Aw think sometimes it's very weel that
four ov eawrs are i' heaven,--we'n sich hard tewin' (toiling), to
poo through wi' tother, just neaw. But, aw guess it'll not last for
ever." As we came away, talking of the reluctance shown by the
better sort of working people to ask for relief, or even sometimes
to accept it when offered to them, until thoroughly starved to it, I
was told of a visitor calling upon a poor woman in another ward; no
application had been made for relief, but some kind neighbour had
told the committee that the woman and her husband were "ill off."
The visitor, finding that they were perishing for want, offered the
woman some relief tickets for food; but the poor soul began to cry,
and said; "Eh, aw dar not touch 'em; my husban' would sauce me so!
Aw dar not take 'em; aw should never yer the last on't!" When we got
to the lower end of Hope Street, my guide stopped suddenly, and
said, "Oh, this is close to where that woman lives whose husband
died of starvation. "Leading a few yards up the by-street, he turned
into a low, narrow entry, very dark and damp. Two turns more brought
us to a dirty, pent-up corner, where a low door stood open. We
entered there. It was a cold, gloomy-looking little hovel. In my
allusion to the place last week I said it was "scarcely four yards
square." It is not more than three yards square. There was no fire
in the little rusty grate. The day was sunny, but no sunshine could
ever reach that nook, nor any fresh breezes disturb the pestilent
vapours that harboured there, festering in the sluggish gloom. In
one corner of the place a little worn and broken stair led up to a
room of the same size above, where, I was told, there was now some
straw for the family to sleep upon. But the only furniture in the
house, of any kind, was two rickety chairs and a little broken deal
table, reared against the stairs, because one leg was gone. A quiet-
looking, thin woman, seemingly about fifty years of age, sat there,
when we went in. She told us that she had buried five of her
children, and that she had six yet alive, all living with her in
that poor place. They had no work, no income whatever, save what
came from the Relief Committee. Five of the children were playing in
and out, bare-footed, and, like the mother, miserably clad; but they
seemed quite unconscious that anything ailed them. I never saw finer
children anywhere. The eldest girl, about fourteen, came in whilst
we were there, and she leaned herself bashfully against the wall for
a minute or two, and then slunk slyly out again, as if ashamed of
our presence. The poor widow pointed to the cold corner where her
husband died lately. She said that "his name was Tim Pedder. His
fadder name was Timothy, an' his mudder name was Mary. He was a
driver (a driver of boat-horses on the canal); but he had bin oot o'
wark a lang time afore he dee'd." I found in this case, as in some
others, that the poor body had not much to say about her distress;
but she did not need to say much. My guide told me that when he
first called upon the family, in the depth of last winter, he found
the children all clinging round about their mother in the cold
hovel, trying in that way to keep one another warm. The time for my
next appointment was now hard on, and we hurried towards the shop in
Fishergate, kept by the gentleman I had promised to meet. He is an
active member of the Relief Committee, and a visitor in George's
ward. We found him in. He had just returned from the "Cheese Fair,"
at Lancaster. My purpose was to find out what time on the morrow we
could go together to see some of the cases he was best acquainted
with. But, as the evening was not far spent, he proposed that we
should go at once to see a few of those which were nearest. We set
out together to Walker's Court, in Friargate. The first place we
entered was at the top of the little narrow court. There we found a
good-tempered Irish-woman sitting without fire, in her feverish
hovel. "Well, missis," said the visitor, "how is your husband
getting on?" "Ah, well, now, Mr. T----," replied she, "you know,
he's only a delicate little man, an' a tailor; an' he wint to work
on the moor, an' he couldn't stand it. Sure, it was draggin' the
bare life out of him. So, he says to me, one morning, "Catharine,"
says he, "I'll lave off this a little while, till I see will I be
able to get a job o' work at my own trade; an' maybe God will rise
up some thin' to put a dud o' clothes on us all, an' help us to pull
through till the black time is over us." So, I told him to try his
luck, any way; for he was killin' himself entirely on the moor. An'
so he did try; for there's not an idle bone in that same boy's skin.
But, see this, now; there's nothin' in the world to be had to do
just now--an' a dale too many waitin' to do it--so all he got by the
change was losin' his work on the moor. There is himself, an' me,
an' the seven childer. Five o' the childer is under tin year old. We
are all naked; an' the house is bare; an' our health is gone wi' the
want o' mate. Sure it wasn't in the likes o' this we wor livin' when
times was good." Three of the youngest children were playing about
on the floor. "That's a very fine lad," said I, pointing to one of
them. The little fellow blushed, and smiled, and then became very
still and attentive. "Ah, thin," said his mother, "that villain's
the boy for tuckin' up soup! The Lord be about him, an' save him
alive to me,--the crayter ! . . . An' there's little curly there,--
the rogue! Sure he'll take as much soup as any wan o' them. Maybe he
wouldn't laugh to see a big bowl forninst him this day." "It's very
well they have such good spirits," said the visitor. "So it is,"
replies the woman, "so it is, for God knows it's little else they
have to keep them warm thim bad times."


The next house we called at in Walker's Court was much like the
first in appearance--very little left but the walls, and that
little, such as none but the neediest would pick up, if it was
thrown out to the streets. The only person in the place was a pale,
crippled woman; her sick head, lapped in a poor white clout, swayed
languidly to and fro. Besides being a cripple, she had been ill six
years, and now her husband, also, was taken ill. He had just crept
off to fetch medicine for the two. We did not stop here long. The
hand of the Ancient Master was visible in that pallid face; those
sunken eyes, so full of deathly langour, seemed to be wandering
about in dim, flickering gazes, upon the confines of an unknown
world. I think that woman will soon be "where the weary are at
rest." As we came out, she said, slowly, and in broken, painful
utterances, that "she hoped the Lord would open the heavens for
those who had helped them." A little lower down the court, we peeped
in at two other doorways. The people were well known to my
companion, who has the charge of visiting this part of the ward.
Leaning against the door-cheek of one of these dim, unwholesome
hovels, he said, "Well, missis; how are you getting on?" There was a
tall, thin woman inside. She seemed to be far gone in some
exhausting illness. With slow difficulty she rose to her feet, and,
setting her hands to her sides, gasped out, "My coals are done." He
made a note, and said, I'll send you some more." Her other wants
were regularly seen to on a certain day every week. Ours was an
accidental visit. We now turned up to another nook of the court,
where my companion told me there was a very bad case. He found the
door fast. We looked through the window into that miserable man-
nest. It was cold, gloomy, and bare. As Corrigan says, in the
"Colleen Bawn," "There was nobody in--but the fire--and that was
gone out." As we came away, a stalwart Irishman met us at a turn of
the court, and said to my companion, "Sure, ye didn't visit this
house." " Not to-day;" replied the visitor. "I'll come and see you
at the usual time." The people in this house were not so badly off
as some others. We came down the steps of the court into the fresher
air of Friargate again.

Our next walk was to Heatley Street. As we passed by a cluster of
starved loungers, we overheard one of them saying to another,
"Sitho, yon's th' soup-maister, gooin' a-seein' somebry." Our time
was getting short, so we only called at one house in Heatley Street,
where there was a family of eleven--a decent family, a well-kept and
orderly household, though now stript almost to the bare ground of
all worldly possession, sold, bitterly, piecemeal, to help to keep
the bare life together, as sweetly as possible, till better days.
The eldest son is twenty-seven years of age. The whole family has
been out of work for the last seventeen weeks, and before that, they
had been working only short time for seven months. For thirteen
weeks they had lived upon less than one shilling a head per week,
and I am not sure that they did not pay the rent out of that; and
now the income of the whole eleven is under 16s., with rent to pay.
In this house they hold weekly prayer-meetings. Thin picking--one
shilling a week, or less--for all expenses, for one person. It is
easier to write about it than to feel what it means, unless one has
tried it for three or four months. Just round the corner from
Heatley Street, we stopped at the open door of a very little
cottage. A good-looking young Irishwoman sat there, upon a three-
legged stool, suckling her child. She was clean; and had an
intelligent look. "Let's see, missis," said the visitor, "what do
you pay for this nook?" "We pay eighteenpence a week--and they WILL
have it--my word." "Well, an' what income have you now?" "We have
eighteenpence a head in the week, an' the rent to pay out o' that,
or else they'll turn us out." Of course, the visitor knew that this
was true; but he wanted me to hear the people speak for themselves.
"Let's see, Missis Burns, your husband's name is Patrick, isn't it?"
" Yes, sir; Patrick Burns." "What! Patrick Burns, the famous foot-
racer?" The little woman smiled bashfully, and replied, "Yes, sir; I
suppose it is." With respect to what the woman said about having to
pay her rent or turn out, I may remark, in passing, that I have not
hitherto met with an instance in which any millowner, or wealthy
man, having cottage property, has pressed the unemployed poor for
rent. But it is well to remember that there is a great amount of
cottage property in Preston, as in other manufacturing towns, which
belongs to the more provident class of working men. These working
men, now hard pressed by the general distress, have been compelled
to fall back upon their little rentals, clinging to them as their
last independent means of existence. They are compelled to this,
for, if they cannot get work, they cannot get anything else, having
property. These are becoming fewer, however, from day to day. The
poorest are hanging a good deal upon those a little less poor than
themselves; and every link in the lengthening chain of neediness is
helping to pull down the one immediately above it. There is, also, a
considerable amount of cottage property in Preston, belonging to
building societies, which have enough to do to hold their own just
now. And then there is always some cottage property in the hands of

Leaving Heatley Street, we went to a place called "Seed's Yard."
Here we called upon a clean old stately widow, with a calm, sad
face. She had been long known, and highly respected, in a good
street, not far off, where she had lived for twenty-four years, in
fair circumstances, until lately. She had always owned a good
houseful of furniture; but, after making bitter meals upon the
gradual wreck of it, she had been compelled to break up that house,
and retire with her five children to lodge with a lone widow in this
little cot, not over three yards square, in "Seed's Yard," one of
those dark corners into which decent poverty is so often found now,
creeping unwillingly away from the public eye, in the hope of
weathering the storm of adversity, in penurious independence. The
old woman never would accept relief from the parish, although the
whole family had been out of work for many months. One of the
daughters, a clean, intelligent-looking young woman, about eighteen,
sat at the table, eating a little bread and treacle to a cup of
light-coloured tea, when we went in; but she blushed, and left off
until we had gone--which was not long after. It felt almost like
sacrilege to peer thus into the privacies of such people; but I hope
they did not feel as if it had been done offensively. We called next
at the cottage of a hand-loom weaver--a poor trade now in the best
of times--a very poor trade--since the days when tattered old "Jem
Ceawp" sung his pathetic song of "Jone o' Greenfeelt"--

"Aw'm a poor cotton weighver, as ony one knows;
We'n no meight i'th heawse, an' we'n worn eawt er clothes;
We'n live't upo nettles, while nettles were good;
An' Wayterloo porritch is th' most of er food;
This clemmin' and starvin',
Wi' never a farthin'--
It's enough to drive ony mon mad."

This family was four in number--man, wife, and two children. They
had always lived near to the ground, for the husband's earnings at
the loom were seldom more than 7s. for a full week. The wife told us
that they were not receiving any relief, for she said that when her
husband "had bin eawt o' wark a good while he turn't his hond to
shaving;" and in this way the ingenious struggling fellow had
scraped a thin living for them during many months. "But," said she,
" it brings varra little in, we hev to trust so much. He shaves four
on 'em for a haw-penny, an' there's a deal on 'em connot pay that.
Yo know, they're badly off--(the woman seemed to think her
circumstances rather above the common kind); an' then," continued
she, "when they'n run up a shot for three-hawpence or twopence or
so, they cannot pay it o' no shap, an' so they stoppen away fro th'
shop. They cannot for shame come, that's heaw it is; so we lose'n
their custom till sich times as summat turns up at they can raise a
trifle to pay up wi'. . . . He has nobbut one razzor, but it'll be
like to do." Hearken this, oh, ye spruce Figaros of the city, who
trim the clean, crisp whiskers of the well-to-do! Hearken this, ye
dainty perruquiers, "who look so brisk, and smell so sweet," and
have such an exquisite knack of chirruping, and lisping, and sliding
over the smooth edge of the under lip,--and, sometimes, agreeably
too,--"an infinite deal of nothing,"--ye who clip and anoint the
hair of Old England's curled darlings! Eight chins a penny; and
three months' credit! A bodle a piece for mowing chins overgrown
with hair like pin-wire, and thick with dust; how would you like
that? How would you get through it all, with a family of four, and
only one razor? The next place we called at was what my friend
described, in words that sounded to me, somehow, like melancholy
irony,--as "a poor provision shop." It was, indeed, a poor shop for
provender. In the window, it is true, there were four or five empty
glasses, where children's spice had once been. There was a little
deal shelf here and there; but there were neither sand, salt,
whitening, nor pipes. There was not the ghost of a farthing candle,
nor a herring, nor a marble, nor a match, nor of any other thing,
sour or sweet, eatable or saleable for other uses, except one small
mug full of buttermilk up in a corner--the last relic of a departed
trade, like the "one rose of the wilderness, left on its stalk to
mark where a garden has been." But I will say more about this in the
next chapter.


Returning to the little shop mentioned in my last--the "little
provision shop," where there was nothing left to eat--nothing,
indeed, of any kind, except one mug of buttermilk, and a miserable
remnant of little empty things, which nobody would buy; four or five
glass bottles in the window, two or three poor deal shelves, and a
doleful little counter, rudely put together, and looking as if it
felt, now, that there was nothing in the world left for it but to
become chips at no distant date. Everything in the place had a sad,
subdued look, and seemed conscious of having come down in the world,
without hope of ever rising again; even the stript walls appeared to
look at one another with a stony gaze of settled despair. But there
was a clean, matronly woman in the place, gliding about from side to
side with a cloth in her hands, and wiping first one, then another,
of these poor little relics of better days in a caressing way. The
shop had been her special care when times were good, and she clung
affectionately to its ruins still. Besides, going about cleaning and
arranging the little empty things in this way looked almost like
doing business. But, nevertheless, the woman had a cheerful, good-
humoured countenance. The sunshine of hope was still warm in her
heart; though there was a touch of pathos in the way she gave the
little rough counter another kindly wipe now and then, as if she
wished to keep its spirits up; and in the way she looked, now at the
buttermilk mug, then at the open door, and then at the four glass
bottles in the window, which had been gazed at so oft and so eagerly
by little children outside, in the days when spice was in them. . .
. The husband came in from the little back room. He was a hardy,
frank-looking man, and, like his wife, a trifle past middle age, I
thought; but he had nothing to say, as he stood there with his wife,
by the counter side. She answered our questions freely and simply,
and in an uncomplaining way, not making any attempt to awaken
sympathy by enlarging upon the facts of their condition. Theirs was
a family of seven--man, wife, and five children. The man was a
spinner; and his thrifty wife had managed the little shop, whilst he
worked at the mill. There are many striving people among the factory
operatives, who help up the family earnings by keeping a little shop
in this way. But this family was another of those instances in which
working people have been pulled down by misfortune before the
present crisis came on. Just previous to the mills beginning to work
short time, four of their five children had been lying ill, all at
once, for five months; and, before that trouble befell them, one of
the lads had two of his fingers taken off, whilst working at the
factory, and so was disabled a good while. It takes little
additional weight to sink those whose chins are only just above
water; and these untoward circumstances oiled the way of this
struggling family to the ground, before the mills stopped. A few
months' want of work, with their little stock of shop stuff oozing
away--partly on credit to their poor neighbours, and partly to live
upon themselves --and they become destitute of all, except a few
beggarly remnants of empty shop furniture. Looking round the place,
I said," Well, missis, how's trade?" "Oh, brisk," said she; and then
the man and his wife smiled at one another. "Well," said I, "yo'n
sowd up, I see, heawever." "Ay," answered she, "we'n sowd up, for
sure--a good while sin';" and then she smiled again, as if she
thought she had said a clever thing. They had been receiving relief
from the parish several weeks; but she told me that some ill-natured
neighbour had "set it eawt," that they had sold off their stock out
of the shop, and put the money into the bank. Through this report,
the Board of Guardians had "knocked off" their relief for a
fortnight, until the falsity of the report was made clear. After
that, the Board gave orders for the man and his wife and three of
the children to be admitted to the workhouse, leaving the other two
lads, who were working at the "Stone Yard," to "fend for theirsels,"
and find new nests wherever they could. This, however, was overruled
afterwards; and the family is still holding together in the empty
shop,--receiving from all sources, work and relief, about 13s. a
week for the seven,--not bad, compared with the income of very many
others. It is sad to think how many poor families get sundered and
scattered about the world in a time like this, never to meet again.
And the false report respecting this family in the little shop,
reminds me that the poor are not always kind to the poor. I learnt,
from a gentleman who is Secretary to the Relief Committee of one of
the wards, that it is not uncommon for the committees to receive
anonymous letters, saying that so and so is unworthy of relief, on
some ground or other. These complaints were generally found to be
either wholly false, or founded upon some mistake. I have three such
letters now before me. The first, written on a torn scrap of ruled
paper, runs thus:--"May 19th, 1862.--If you please be so kind as to
look after __ Back Newton Street Formerly a Resident of __ as i
think he is not Deserving Relief.--A Ratepayer." In each case I give
the spelling, and everything else, exactly as in the originals
before me, except the names. The next of these epistles says:--
"Preston, May 29th.--Sir, I beg to inform you that __, of Park Road,
in receipt from the Relief Fund, is a very unworthy person, having
worked two days since the 16 and drunk the remainder and his wife
also; for the most part, he has plenty of work for himself his wife
and a journeyman but that is their regular course of life. And the
S___s have all their family working full time. Yours respectfully."
These last two are anonymous. The next is written in a very good
hand, upon a square piece of very blue writing paper. It has a name
attached, but no address:--"Preston, June 2nd, 1862.--Mr. Dunn,--
Dear Sir, Would you please to inquire into the case of __, of __.
the are a family of 3 the man work four or more days per week on the
moor the woman works 6 days per week at Messrs Simpsons North Road
the third is a daughter 13 or 14 should be a weaver but to lasey she
has good places such as Mr. Hollins and Horrocks and Millers as been
sent a way for being to lasey. the man and woman very fond of drink.
I as a Nabour and a subscriber do not think this a proper case for
your charity. Yours truly, __." The committee could not find out the
writer of this, although a name is given. Such things as these need
no comment.

The next house we called at was inhabited by an old widow and her
only daughter. The daughter had been grievously afflicted with
disease of the heart, and quite incapable of helping herself during
the last eleven years. The poor worn girl sat upon an old tattered
kind of sofa, near the fire, panting for breath in the close
atmosphere. She sat there in feverish helplessness, sallow and
shrunken, and unable to bear up her head. It was a painful thing to
look at her. She had great difficulty in uttering a few words. I can
hardly guess what her age may be now; I should think about twenty-
five. Mr Toulmin, one of the visitors who accompanied me to the
place, reminded the young woman of his having called upon them there
more than four years ago, to leave some bedding which had been
bestowed upon an old woman by a certain charity in the town. He saw
no more of them after that, until the present hard times began, when
he was deputed by the Relief Committee to call at that distressed
corner amongst others in his own neighbourhood; and when he first
opened the door, after a lapse of four years, he was surprised to
find the same young woman, sitting in the same place, gasping
painfully for breath, as he had last seen her. The old widow had
just been able to earn what kept soul and body together in her sick
girl and herself, during the last eleven years, by washing and such
like work. But even this resource had fallen away a good deal during
these bad times; there are so many poor creatures like herself,
driven to extremity, and glad to grasp at any little bit of
employment which can be had. In addition to what the old woman could
get by a day's washing now and then, she received 1s. 6d. a week
from the parish. Think of the poor old soul trailing about the
world, trying to "scratch a living" for herself and her daughter by
washing; and having to hurry home from her labour to attend to that
sick girl through eleven long years. Such a life is a good deal like
a slow funeral. It is struggling for a few breaths more, with the
worms crawling over you. And yet I am told that the old woman was
not accustomed to "make a poor mouth," as the saying goes. How true
it is that "a great many people in this world have only one form of
rhetoric for their profoundest experiences, namely--to waste away
and die."

Our next visit was to an Irish family. There was an old woman in,
and a flaxen-headed lad about ten years of age. She was sitting upon
a low chair,--the only seat in the place,--and the tattered lad was
kneeling on the ground before her, whilst she combed his hair out.
"Well, missis, how are you getting on amongst it?" "Oh, well, then,
just middlin', Mr T. Ye see, I am busy combin' this boy's hair a
bit, for 'tis gettin' like a wisp o' hay." There was not a vestige
of furniture in the cottage, except the chair the old woman sat on.
She said, "I did sell the childer's bedstead for 2s. 6d.; an' after
that I sold the bed from under them for 1s. 6d., just to keep them
from starvin' to death. The childer had been two days without mate
then, an' faith I couldn't bear it any longer. After that I did sell
the big pan, an' then the new rockin' chair, an' so on, one thing
after another, till all wint entirely, barrin' this I am sittin' on,
an' they wint for next to nothin' too. Sure, I paid 9s. 6d. for the
bed itself, which was sold for 1s. 6d. We all sleep on straw now."
This family was seven in number. The mill at which they used to work
had been stopped about ten months. One of the family had found
employment at another mill, three months out of the ten, and the old
man himself had got a few days' work in that time. The rest of the
family had been wholly unemployed, during the ten months. Except the
little money this work brought in, and a trifle raised now and then
by the sale of a bit of furniture when hunger and cold pressed them
hard, the whole family had been living upon 5s. a week for the last
ten months. The rent was running on. The eldest daughter was twenty-
eight years of age. As we came away Mr Toulmin said to me, "Well, I
have called at that house regularly for the last sixteen weeks, and
this is the first time I ever saw a fire in the place. But the old
man has got two days' work this week--that may account for the

It was now close upon half-past seven in the evening, at which time
I had promised to call upon the Secretary of the Trinity Ward Relief
Committee, whose admirable letter in the London Times, attracted so
much attention about a month ago. I met several members of the
committee at his lodgings, and we had an hour's interesting
conversation. I learnt that, in cases of sickness arising from mere
weakness, from poorness of diet, or from unsuitableness of the food
commonly provided by the committee, orders were now issued for such
kind of "kitchen physic" as was recommended by the doctors. The
committee had many cases of this kind. One instance was mentioned,
in which, by the doctor's advice, four ounces of mutton chop daily
had been ordered to be given to a certain sick man, until further
notice. The thing went on and was forgotten, until one day, when the
distributor of food said to the committeeman who had issued the
order, "I suppose I must continue that daily mutton chop to so-and-
so?" "Eh, no; he's been quite well two months?" The chop had been
going on for ninety-five days. We had some talk with that class of
operatives who are both clean, provident, and "heawse-preawd," as
Lancashire folk call it. The Secretary told me that he was averse to
such people living upon the sale of their furniture; and the
committee had generally relieved the distress of such people, just
as if they had no furniture, at all. He mentioned the case of a
family of factory operatives, who were all fervent lovers of music,
as so many of the working people of Lancashire are. Whilst in full
work, they had scraped up money to buy a piano; and, long after the
ploughshare of ruin had begun to drive over the little household,
they clung to the darling instrument, which was such a source of
pure pleasure to them, and they were advised to keep it by the
committee which relieved them. "Yes," said another member of the
committee," but I called there lately, and the piano's gone at
last." Many interesting things came out in the course of our
conversation. One mentioned a house he had called at, where there
was neither chair, table, nor bed; and one of the little lads had to
hold up a piece of board for him to write upon. Another spoke of the
difficulties which "lone women" have to encounter in these hard
times. "I knocked so-and-so off my list," said one of the committee,
"till I had inquired into an ill report I heard of her. But she came
crying to me; and I found out that the woman had been grossly
belied." Another (Mr Nowell) told of a house on his list, where they
had no less than one hundred and fifty pawn tickets. He told, also,
of a moulder's family, who had been all out of work and starving so
long, that their poor neighbours came at last and recommended the
committee to relieve them, as they would not apply for relief
themselves. They accepted relief just one week, and then the man
came and said that he had a PROSPECT of work; and he shouldn't need
relief tickets any longer. It was here that I heard so much about
anonymous letters, of which I have given you three samples. Having
said that I should like to see the soup kitchen, one of the
committee offered to go with me thither at six o'clock the next
morning; and so I came away from the meeting in the cool twilight.

Old Preston looked fine to me in the clear air of that declining
day. I stood a while at the end of the "Bull" gateway. There was a
comical-looking little knock-kneed fellow in the middle of the
street --a wandering minstrel, well known in Preston by the name of
"Whistling Jack." There he stood, warbling and waving his band, and
looking from side to side,--in vain. At last I got him to whistle
the "Flowers of Edinburgh." He did it, vigorously; and earned his
penny well. But even "Whistling Jack" complained of the times. He
said Preston folk had "no taste for music." But he assured me the
time would come when there would be a monument to him in that town.


About half-past six I found my friend waiting at the end of the
"Bull" gateway. It was a lovely morning. The air was cool and clear,
and the sky was bright. It was easy to see which was the way to the
soup kitchen, by the stragglers going and coming. We passed the
famous "Orchard," now a kind of fairground, which has been the scene
of so many popular excitements in troubled times. All was quiet in
the "Orchard" that morning, except that, here, a starved-looking
woman, with a bit of old shawl tucked round her head, and a pitcher
in her hand, and there, a bare-footed lass, carrying a tin can,
hurried across the sunny space towards the soup kitchen. We passed a
new inn, called "The Port Admiral." On the top of the building there
were three life-sized statues--Wellington and Nelson, with the Greek
slave between them--a curious companionship. These statues reminded
me of a certain Englishman riding through Dublin, for the first
time, upon an Irish car. "What are the three figures yonder?" said
he to the car-boy, pointing to the top of some public building.
"Thim three is the twelve apostles, your honour," answered the
driver. "Nay, nay," said the traveller,"that'll not do. How do you
make twelve out of three?" "Bedad," replied the driver, "your honour
couldn't expect the whole twelve to be out at once such a murtherin'
wet day as this." But we had other things than these to think of
that day. As we drew near the baths and washhouses, where the soup
kitchen is, the stream of people increased. About the gate there was
a cluster of melancholy loungers, looking cold and hungry. They were
neither going in nor going away. I was told afterwards that many of
these were people who had neither money nor tickets for food--some
of them wanderers from town to town; anybody may meet them limping,
footsore and forlorn, upon the roads in Lancashire, just now--
houseless wanderers, who had made their way to the soup kitchen to
beg a mouthful from those who were themselves at death's door. In
the best of times there are such wanderers; and, in spite of the
generous provision made for the relief of the poor, there must be,
in a time like the present, a great number who let go their hold of
home (if they have any), and drift away in search of better fortune,
and, sometimes, into irregular courses of life, never to settle
more. Entering the yard, we found the wooden sheds crowded with
people at breakfast--all ages, from white-haired men, bent with
years, to eager childhood, yammering over its morning meal, and
careless till the next nip of hunger came. Here and there a bonny
lass had crept into the shade with her basin; and there was many a
brown-faced man, who had been hardened by working upon the moor or
at the "stone-yard." "Theer, thae's shap't that at last, as how?"
said one of these to his friend, who had just finished and stood
wiping his mouth complacently. "Shap't that," replied the other,
"ay, lad, aw can do a ticket and a hafe (three pints of soup) every
morning." Five hundred people breakfast in the sheds alone, every
day. The soup kitchen opens at five in the morning, and there is
always a crowd waiting to get in. This looks like the eagerness of
hunger. I was told that they often deliver 3000 quarts of soup at
this kitchen in two hours. The superintendent of the bread
department informed me that, on that morning, he had served out two
thousand loaves, of 3lb. 11oz. each. There was a window at one end,
where soup was delivered to such as brought money for it instead of
tickets. Those who came with tickets--by far the greatest number--
had to pass in single file through a strong wooden maze, which
restrained their eagerness, and compelled them to order. I noticed
that only a small proportion of men went through the maze; they were
mostly women and children. There was many a fine, intelligent young
face hurried blushing through that maze--many a bonny lad and lass
who will be heard of honourably hereafter. The variety of utensils
presented showed that some of the poor souls had been hard put to it
for things to fetch their soup in. One brought a pitcher; another a
bowl; and another a tin can, a world too big for what it had to
hold. "Yo mun mind th' jug," said one old woman; "it's cracked, an'
it's noan o' mine." "Will ye bring me some?" said a little, light-
haired lass, holding up her rosy neb to the soupmaster. "Aw want a
ha'poth," said a lad with a three-quart can in his hand. The
benevolent-looking old gentleman who had taken the superintendence
of the soup department as a labour of love, told me that there had
been a woman there by half-past five that morning, who had come four
miles for some coffee. There was a poor fellow breakfasting in the
shed at the same time; and he gave the woman a thick shive of his
bread as she went away. He mentioned other instances of the same
humane feeling; and he said, "After what I have seen of them here, I
say, 'Let me fall into the hands of the poor.'"

"They who, half-fed, feed the breadless, in the travail of distress;
They who, taking from a little, give to those who still have less;
They who, needy, yet can pity when they look on greater need;
These are Charity's disciples,--these are Mercy's sons indeed."

We returned to the middle of the town just as the shopkeepers in
Friargate were beginning to take their shutters down. I had another
engagement at half-past nine. A member of the Trinity Ward Relief
Committee, who is master of the Catholic school in that ward, had
offered to go with me to visit some distressed people who were under
his care in that part of the town. We left Friargate at the
appointed time. As we came along there was a crowd in front of
Messrs Wards', the fishmongers. A fine sturgeon had just been
brought in. It had been caught in the Ribble that morning. We went
in to look at the royal fish. It was six feet long, and weighed
above a hundred pounds. I don't know that I ever saw a sturgeon
before. But we had other fish to fry; and so we went on. The first
place we called at was a cellar in Nile Street. "Here," said my
companion, "let us have a look at old John." A gray-headed little
man, of seventy, lived down in this one room, sunken from the
street. He had been married forty years, and if I remember aright,
he lost his wife about four years ago. Since that time, he had lived
in this cellar, all alone, washing and cooking for himself. But I
think the last would not trouble him much, for "they have no need
for fine cooks who have only one potato to their dinner." When a
lad, he had been apprenticed to a bobbin turner. Afterwards he
picked up some knowledge of engineering; and he had been "well off
in his day." He now got a few coppers occasionally from the poor
folk about, by grinding knives, and doing little tinkering jobs.
Under the window he had a rude bench, with a few rusty tools upon
it, and in one corner there was a low, miserable bedstead, without
clothing upon it. There was one cratchinly chair in the place, too;
but hardly anything else. He had no fire; be generally went into
neighbours' houses to warm himself. He was not short of such food as
the Relief Committees bestow. There was a piece of bread upon the
bench, left from his morning meal; and the old fellow chirruped
about, and looked as blithe as if he was up to the middle in clover.
He showed us a little thing which he had done "for a bit ov a
prank." The number of his cellar was 8, and he had cut out a large
tin figure of 8, a foot long, and nailed it upon his door, for the
benefit of some of his friends that were getting bad in their
eyesight, and "couldn't read smo' print so low deawn as that."
"Well, John," said my companion, when we went in, "how are you
getting on?" "Oh, bravely," replied he, handing a piece of blue
paper to the inquirer, "bravely; look at that!" Why, this is a
summons," said my companion. "Ay, bigad is't, too," answered the old
man. "Never had sich a thing i' my life afore! Think o' me gettin' a
summons for breakin' windows at seventy year owd. A bonny warlock,
that, isn't it? Why, th' whole street went afore th' magistrates to
get mo off." "Then you did get off, John?" "Get off! Sure, aw did.
It wur noan o' me. It wur a keaw jobber, at did it. . . . Aw'll tell
yo what, for two pins aw'd frame that summons, an' hang it eawt o'
th' window; but it would look so impudent." Old John's wants were
inquired into, and we left him fiddling among his rusty tools. We
next went to a place called Hammond's Row--thirteen poor cottages,
side by side. Twelve of the thirteen were inhabited by people
living, almost entirely, upon relief, either from the parish or from
the Relief Committee. There was only one house where no relief was
needed. As we passed by, the doors were nearly all open, and the
interiors all presented the same monotonous phase of destitution.
They looked as if they had been sacked by bum-bailiffs. The topmost
house was the only place where I saw a fire. A family of eight lived
there. They were Irish people. The wife, a tall, cheerful woman, sat
suckling her child, and giving a helping hand now and then to her
husband's work. He was a little, pale fellow, with only one arm, and
he had an impediment in his speech. He had taken to making cheap
boxes of thin, rough deal, afterwards covered with paper. With the
help of his wife he could make one in a day, and he got ninepence
profit out of it--when the box was sold. He was working at one when
we went in, and he twirled it proudly about with his one arm, and
stammered out a long explanation about the way it had been made; and
then he got upon the lid, and sprang about a little, to let us see
how much it would bear. As the brave little tattered man stood there
upon the box-lid, springing, and sputtering, and waving his one arm,
his wife looked up at him with a smile, as if she thought him "the
greatest wight on ground." There was a little curly-headed child
standing by, quietly taking in all that was going on. I laid my hand
upon her head; and asked her what her name was. She popped her thumb
into her mouth, and looked shyly about from one to another, but
never a word could I get her to say. "That's Lizzy," said the woman;
"she is a little visitor belongin' to one o' the neighbours. They
are badly off, and she often comes in. Sure, our childer is very
fond of her, an' so she is of them. She is fine company wid
ourselves, but always very shy wid strangers. Come now, Lizzy,
darlin'; tell us your name, love, won't you, now?" But it was no
use; we couldn't get her to speak. In the next cottage where we
called, in this row, there was a woman washing. Her mug was standing
upon a stool in the middle of the floor; and there was not any other
thing in the place in the shape of furniture or household utensil.
The walls were bare of everything, except a printed paper, bearing
these words:

"The wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life,
through Jesus Christ our Lord." We now went to another street, and
visited the cottage of a blind chairmaker, called John Singleton. He
was a kind of oracle among the poor folk of the neighbourhood. The
old chairmaker was sitting by the fire when we went in; and opposite
to him sat "Old John," the hero of the broken windows in Nile
Street. He had come up to have a crack with his blind crony. The
chairmaker was seventy years of age, and he had benefited by the
advantage of good fundamental instruction in his youth. He was very
communicative. He said he should have been educated for the
priesthood, at Stonyhurst College. "My clothes were made, an'
everything was ready for me to start to Stonyhurst. There was a
stagecoach load of us going; but I failed th' heart, an' wouldn't
go--an' I've forethought ever sin'. Mr Newby said to my friends at
the same time, he said, 'You don't need to be frightened of him;
he'll make the brightest priest of all the lot--an' I should, too. .
. . I consider mysel' a young man yet, i' everything, except it be
somethin' at's uncuth to me." And now, old John, the grinder, began
to complain again of how badly he had been used about the broken
windows in Nile Street. But the old chairmaker stopped him; and,
turning up his blind eyes, he said, "John, don't you be foolish.
Bother no moor abeawt it. All things has but a time."


A man cannot go wrong in Trinity Ward just now, if he wants to see
poor folk. He may find them there at any time, but now he cannot
help but meet them; and nobody can imagine how badly off they are,
unless he goes amongst them. They are biding the hard time out
wonderfully well, and they will do so to the end. They certainly
have not more than a common share of human frailty. There are those
who seem to think that when people are suddenly reduced to poverty,
they should become suddenly endowed with the rarest virtues; but it
never was so, and, perhaps, never will be so long as the world
rolls. In my rambles about this ward, I was astonished at the dismal
succession of destitute homes, and the number of struggling owners
of little shops, who were watching their stocks sink gradually down
to nothing, and looking despondingly at the cold approach of
pauperism. I was astonished at the strings of dwellings, side by
side, stript, more or less, of the commonest household utensils--the
poor little bare houses, often crowded with lodgers, whose homes had
been broken up elsewhere; sometimes crowded, three or four families
of decent working people in a cottage of half-a-crown a-week rental;
sleeping anywhere, on benches or on straw, and afraid to doff their
clothes at night time because they had no other covering. Now and
then the weekly visitor comes to the door of a house where he has
regularly called. He lifts the latch, and finds the door locked. He
looks in at the window. The house is empty, and the people are gone-
-the Lord knows where. Who can tell what tales of sorrow will have
their rise in the pressure of a time like this--tales that will
never be written, and that no statistics will reveal.

Trinity Ward swarms with factory operatives; and, after our chat
with blind John, the chairmaker, and his ancient crony the grinder
from Nile Street, we set off again to see something more of them.
Fitful showers came down through the day, and we had to shelter now
and then. In one cottage, where we stopped a few minutes, the old
woman told us that, in addition to their own family, they had three
young women living with them--the orphan daughters of her husband's
brother. They had been out of work thirty-four weeks, and their
uncle--a very poor man--had been obliged to take them into his
house, "till sich times as they could afford to pay for lodgin's
somewheer else." My companion asked whether they were all out of
work still. "Naw," replied the old woman, "one on 'em has getten on
to wortch a few days for t' sick (that is, in the place of some sick
person). Hoo's wortchin' i' th' cardreawn at 'Th' Big-un.'" (This is
the name they give to Messrs Swainson and Birley's mill.)

The next place we called at was the house of an old joiner. He was
lying very ill upstairs. As we drew up to the door, my companion
said, "Now, this is a clean, respectable family. They have struggled
hard and suffered a great deal, before they would ask for relief."
When we went in, the wife was cleaning her well-nigh empty house.
"Eh," said she," I thought it wur th' clubman comin', an' I wur just
goin' to tell him that I had nothin' for him." The family was seven
in number--man, wife, and five children. The husband, as I have
said, was lying ill. The wife told me that they had only 6s. a-week
coming in for the seven to live upon. My companion was the weekly
visitor who relieved them. She told me that her husband was sixty-
eight years old; she was not forty. She said that her husband was
not strong, and he had been going nearly barefoot and "clemmed" all
through last winter, and she was afraid he had got his death of
cold. They had not a bed left to lie upon. "My husband," said
she,"was a master joiner once, an' was doin' very well. But you see
how we are now." There were two portraits--oil paintings--hanging
against the wall. "Whose portraits are these?" said I. "Well; that's
my master--an' this is me," replied she. "He would have 'em taken
some time since. I couldn't think o' sellin' 'em; or else, yo see,
we've sold nearly everything we had. I did try to pawn 'em, too,
thinkin' we could get 'em back again when things came round; but, I
can assure yo, I couldn't find a broker anywhere that would tak' 'em
in." "Well, Missis," said my companion, "yo have one comfort; you
are always clean." "Eh, bless yo!" replied she, "I couldn't live
among dirt! My husban' tells me that I clean all the luck away; but
aw'm sure there's no luck i' filth; if there is, anybody may tak' it
for me."

The rain had stopt again; and after my friend had made a note
respecting some additional relief for the family, we bade the woman
good day. We had not gone far before a little ragged lass looked up
admiringly at two pinks I had stuck in my buttonhole, and holding up
her hand, said, "Eh, gi' me a posy!" My friend pointed to one of the
cottages we passed, and said that the last time he called there, he
found the family all seated round a large bowl of porridge, made of
Indian meal. This meal is sold at a penny a pound. He stopped at
another cottage and said, "Here's a house where I always find them
reading when I call. I know the people very well." He knocked and
tried the latch, but there was nobody in. As we passed an open door,
the pleasant smell of oatcake baking came suddenly upon me. It woke
up many memories of days gone by. I saw through the window a stout,
meal-dusted old woman, busy with her wooden ladle and baking-shovel
at a brisk oven. "Now, I should like to look in there for a minute
or two, if it can be done," said I. "Well," replied my friend, "this
woman is not on our books; she gets her own living in the way you
see. But come in; it will be all right; I know her very well." I was
glad of that, for I wanted to have a chat with her, and to peep at
the baking. "Good morning, Missis," said he; "how are you?" "Why,
just in a middlin' way." "How long is this wet weather going to
last, think you?" "Nay, there ye hev me fast;--but what brings ye
here this mornin'?" said the old woman, resting the end of her ladle
on the little counter; "I never trouble sic like chaps as ye." "No,
no," replied my friend; "we have not called about anything of that
kind." "What, then, pray ye?" "Well, my friend, here, is almost a
stranger in Preston; and as soon as ever he smelt the baking, he
said he should like to see it, so I took the liberty of bringing him
in." "Oh, ay; come in, an' welcome. Ye're just i' time, too; for
I've bin sat at t' back to sarra (serve) t' pigs." "You're not a
native of Lancashire, Missis," said I. "Why, wheer then? come, now;
let's be knowin', as ye're so sharp." "Cumberland," said I. "Well,
now; ye're reight, sewer enough. But how did ye find it out, now?"
"Why, you said that you had been out to sarra t' pigs. A native of
Lancashire would have said 'serve' instead of 'sarra.'" "Well,
that's varra queer; for I've bin a lang time away from my awn
country. But, whereivver do ye belang to, as ye're so bowd wi' me?"
said she, smiling, and turning over a cake which was baking upon the
oven. I told her that I was born a few miles from Manchester.
"Manchester! never, sewer;" said she, resting her ladle again; "why,
I lived ever so long i' Manchester when I was young. I was cook at
th' Swan i' Shudehill, aboon forty year sin." She said that, in
those days, the Swan, in Shudehill, was much frequented by the
commercial men of Manchester. It was a favourite dining house for
them. Many of them even brought their own beefsteak on a skewer; and
paid a penny for the cooking of it. She said she always liked
Manchester very well; but she had not been there for a good while.
"But," said she, "ye'll hev plenty o' oatcake theer--sartin." "Not
much, now," replied I; "it's getting out o' fashion." I told her
that we had to get it once a week from a man who came all the way
from Stretford into Manchester, with a large basketful upon his
head, crying "Woat cakes, two a penny!" "Two a penny!" said she;
"why, they'll not be near as big as these, belike." "Not quite,"
replied I. "Not quite! naw; not hauf t' size, aw warnd! Why, th'
poor fellow desarves his brass iv he niver gev a farthin' for th'
stuff to mak 'eni on. What! I knaw what oatcake bakin' is."

Leaving the canny old Cumberland woman at her baking, we called at a
cottage in Everton Gardens. It was as clean as a gentleman's
parlour; but there was no furniture in sight except a table, and,
upon the table, a fine bush of fresh hawthorn blossom, stuck in a
pint jug full of water. Here, I heard again the common story--they
had been several months out of work; their household goods had
dribbled away in ruinous sales, for something to live upon; and now,
they had very little left but the walls. The little woman said to
me, "Bless yo, there is at thinks we need'n nought, becose we keepen
a daycent eawtside. But, I know my own know abeawt that. Beside, one
doesn't like to fill folk's meawths, iv one is ill off."

It was now a little past noon, and we spent a few minutes looking
through the Catholic schoolhouse, in Trinity Ward--a spacious brick
building. The scholars were away at dinner. My friend is master of
the school. His assistant offered to go with us to one or two Irish
families in a close wynd, hard by, called Wilkie's Court. In every
case I had the great advantage of being thus accompanied by
gentlemen who were friendly and familiar with the poor we visited.
This was a great facility to me. Wilkie's Court is a little cul de
sac, with about half-a-dozen wretched cottages in it, fronted by a
dead wall. The inhabitants of the place are all Irish. They were
nearly all kept alive by relief from one source or other; but their
poverty was not relieved by that cleanliness which I had witnessed
in so many equally poor houses, making the best use of those simple
means of comfort which are invaluable, although they cost little or
nothing. In the first house we called at, a middle-aged woman was
pacing slowly about the unwholesome house with a child in her arms.
My friend inquired where the children were. "They are in the houses
about; all but the one poor boy." "And where is he?" said I. "Well,
he comes home now an' agin; he comes an' goes; sure, we don't know
how. . . . Ah, thin, sir," continued she, beginning to cry, "I'll
tell ye the rale truth, now. He was drawn away by some bad lads, an'
he got three months in the New Bailey; that's God's truth. . . . Ah,
what'll I do wid him," said she, bursting into tears afresh;
"what'll I do wid him? sure, he is my own!" We did not stop long to
intrude upon such trouble as this. She called out as we came away to
tell us that the poor crayter next door was quite helpless. The next
house was, in some respects, more comfortable than the last, though
it was quite as poor in household goods. There was one flimsy deal
table, one little chair, and two half-penny pictures of Catholic
saints pinned against the wall. "Sure, I sold the other table since
you wor here before," said the woman to my friend; "I sold it for
two-an'-aightpence, an' bought this one for sixpence." At the house
of another Irish family, my friend inquired where all the chairs
were gone. "Oh," said a young woman," the baillies did fetch
uvverything away, barrin' the one sate, when we were livin' in
Lancaster Street." "Where do you all sit now, then?" "My mother sits
there," replied she, "an' we sit upon the flure." "I heard they were
goin' to sell these heawses," said one of the lads, "but, begorra,"
continued he, with a laugh, "I wouldn't wonder did they sell the
ground from under us next." In the course of our visitation a
thunder storm came on, during which we took shelter with a poor
widow woman, who had a plateful of steeped peas for sale, in the
window. She also dealt in rags and bones in a small way, and so
managed to get a living, as she said, "beawt troublin' onybody for
charity." She said it was a thing that folk had to wait a good deal
out in the cold for.

It was market-day, and there were many country people in Preston. On
my way back to the middle of the town, I called at an old inn, in
Friargate, where I listened with pleasure a few minutes to the old-
fashioned talk of three farmers from the Fylde country. Their
conversation was principally upon cow-drinks. One of them said there
was nothing in the world like "peppermint tay an' new butter" for
cows that had the belly-ache. "They'll be reet in a varra few
minutes at after yo gotten that into 'em," said he. As evening came
on the weather settled into one continuous shower, and I left
Preston in the heavy rain, weary, and thinking of what I had seen
during the day. Since then I have visited the town again, and I
shall say something about that visit hereafter.


The rain had been falling heavily through the night. It was raw and
gusty, and thick clouds were sailing wildly overhead, as I went to
the first train for Preston. It was that time of morning when there
is a lull in the streets of Manchester, between six and eight. The
"knocker-up" had shouldered his long wand, and paddled home to bed
again; and the little stalls, at which the early workman stops for
his half-penny cup of coffee, were packing up. A cheerless morning,
and the few people that were about looked damp and low spirited. I
bought the day's paper, and tried to read it, as we flitted by the
glimpses of dirty garret-life, through the forest of chimneys,
gushing forth their thick morning fumes into the drizzly air, and
over the dingy web of Salford streets. We rolled on through
Pendleton, where the country is still trying to look green here and
there, under increasing difficulties; but it was not till we came to
where the green vale of Clifton open out, that I became quite
reconciled to the weather. Before we were well out of sight of the
ancient tower of Prestwich Church, the day brightened a little. The
shifting folds of gloomy cloud began to glide asunder, and through
the gauzy veils which lingered in the interspaces, there came a dim
radiance which lighted up the rain-drops "lingering on the pointed
thorns;" and the tall meadow grasses were swaying to and fro with
their loads of liquid pearls, in courtesies full of exquisite grace,
as we whirled along. I enjoyed the ride that raw morning, although
the sky was all gloom again long before we came in sight of the

I met my friend, in Preston, at half-past nine; and we started at
once for another ramble amongst the poor, in a different part of
Trinity Ward. We went first to a little court, behind Bell Street.
There is only one house in the court, and it is known as "Th' Back
Heawse." In this cottage the little house-things had escaped the
ruin which I had witnessed in so many other places. There were two
small tables, and three chairs; and there were a few pots and a pan
or two. Upon the cornice there were two pot spaniels, and two
painted stone apples; and, between them, there was a sailor waving a
union jack, and a little pudgy pot man, for holding tobacco. On the
windowsill there was a musk-plant; and, upon the table by the
staircase, there was a rude cage, containing three young throstles.
The place was tidy; and there was a kind-looking old couple inside.
The old man stood at the table in the middle of the floor, washing
the pots, and the old woman was wiping them, and putting them away.
A little lad sat by the fire, thwittling at a piece of stick. The
old man spoke very few words the whole time we were there, but he
kept smiling and going on with his washing. The old woman was very
civil, and rather shy at first; but we soon got into free talk
together. She told me that she had borne thirteen children. Seven of
them were dead; and the other six were all married, and all poor. "I
have one son," said she; "he's a sailmaker. He's th' best off of any
of 'em. But, Lord bless yo; he's not able to help us. He gets very
little, and he has to pay a woman to nurse his sick wife. . . . This
lad that's here,--he's a little grandson o' mine; he's one of my
dowter's childer. He brings his meight with him every day, an'
sleeps with us. They han bod one bed, yo see. His father hasn't had
a stroke o' work sin Christmas. They're badly off. As for us--my
husband has four days a week on th' moor,--that's 4s., an' we've 2s.
a week to pay out o' that for rent. Yo may guess fro that, heaw we
are. He should ha' been workin' on the moor today, but they've bin
rain't off. We've no kind o' meight i' this house bod three-ha'poth
o' peas; an' we've no firin'. He's just brokken up an owd cheer to
heat th' watter wi'. (The old man smiled at this, as if he thought
it was a good joke.) He helps me to wesh, an' sick like; an' yo'
know, it's a good deal better than gooin' into bad company, isn't
it? (Here the old man gave her a quiet, approving look, like a good
little lad taking notice of his mother's advice.) Aw'm very glad of
a bit o' help," continued she,"for aw'm not so terrible mich use,
mysel'. Yo see; aw had a paralytic stroke seven year sin, an' we've
not getten ower it. For two year aw hadn't a smite o' use all deawn
this side. One arm an' one leg trail't quite helpless. Aw drunk for
ever o' stuff for it. At last aw gat somethin' ov a yarb doctor. He
said that he could cure me for a very trifle, an' he did me a deal
o' good, sure enough. He nobbut charged me hauve-a-creawn. . . . We
never knowed what it was to want a meal's meight till lately. We
never had a penny off th' parish, nor never trouble't anybody till
neaw. Aw wish times would mend, please God! . . . We once had a pig,
an' was in a nice way o' gettin' a livin'. . . . When things began
o' gooin' worse an' worse with us, we went to live in a cellar, at
sixpence a week rent; and we made it very comfortable, too. We
didn't go there because we liked th' place; but we thought nobody
would know; an, we didn't care, so as we could put on till times
mended, an' keep aat o' debt. But th' inspectors turned us out, an'
we had to come here, an' pay 2s. a week. . . . Aw do NOT like to ask
for charity, iv one could help it. They were givin' clothin' up at
th' church a while sin', an' some o' th' neighbours wanted me to go
an' ax for some singlets, ye see aw cannot do without flannels,--but
aw couldn't put th' face on." Now, the young throstles in the cage
by the staircase began to chirp one after another. "Yer yo at that!
"said the old man, turning round to the cage; "yer yo at that!
Nobbut three week owd!" "Yes," replied the old woman; "they belong
to my grandson theer. He brought 'em in one day --neest an' all; an'
poor nake't crayters they were. He's a great lad for birds." "He's
no worse nor me for that," answered the old man; "aw use't to be
terrible fond o' brids when aw wur yung."

After a little more talk, we bade the old couple good day, and went
to peep at the cellar where they had crept stealthily away, for the
sake of keeping their expenses close to their lessening income. The
place was empty, and the door was open. It was a damp and cheerless
little hole, down in the corner of a dirty court. We went next into
Pole Street, and tried the door of a cottage where a widow woman
lived with her children less than a week before. They were gone, and
the house was cleared out. "They have had neither fire nor candle in
that house for weeks past," said my companion. We then turned up a
narrow entry, which was so dark and low overhead that my companion
only told me just in time to "mind my hat!" There are several such
entries leading out of Pole Street to little courts behind. Here we
turned into a cold and nearly empty cottage, where a middle-aged
woman sat nursing a sick child. She looked worn and ill herself, and
she had sore eyes. She told me that the child was her daughter's.
Her daughter's husband had died of asthma in the workhouse, about
six weeks before. He had not "addled" a penny for twelve months
before he died. She said, "We hed a varra good heawse i' Stanley
Street once; but we hed to sell up an' creep hitherto. This heawse
is 2s. 3d. a week; an' we mun pay it, or go into th' street. Aw
nobbut owed him for one week, an' he said, 'Iv yo connot pay yo mun
turn eawt for thoose 'at will do.' Aw did think o' gooin' to th'
Board," continued she, "for a pair o' clogs. My een are bad; an' awm
ill all o'er, an' it's wi' nought but gooin' weet o' my feet. My
daughter's wortchin'. Hoo gets 5s. 6d. a week. We han to live an'
pay th' rent, too, eawt o' that." I guessed, from the little paper
pictures on the wall, that they were Catholics.

In another corner behind Pole Street, we called at a cottage of two
rooms, each about three yards square. A brother and sister lived
together here. They were each about fifty years of age. They had
three female lodgers, factory operatives, out of work. The sister
said that her brother had been round to the factories that morning,
"Thinking that as it wur a pastime, there would haply be somebody
off; but he couldn't yer o' nought." She said she got a trifle by
charing, but not much now; for folks were "beginnin' to do it for
theirsels." We now turned into Cunliffe Street, and called upon an
Irish family there. It was a family of seven--an old tailor, and his
wife and children. They had "dismissed the relief," as he expressed
it, "because they got a bit o' work." The family was making a little
living by ripping up old clothes, and turning the cloth to make it
up afresh into lads' caps and other cheap things. The old man had
had a great deal of trouble with his family. "I have one girl," said
he, "who has bothered my mind a dale. She is under the influence o'
bad advice. I had her on my hands for many months; an', after that,
the furst week's wages she got, she up, an' cut stick, an' left me.
I have another daughter, now nigh nineteen years of age. The trouble
I have with her I am content with; because it can't be helped. The
poor crayter hasn't the use of all her faculties. I have taken no
end o' pains with her, but I can't get her to count twenty on her
finger ends wid a whole life's tachein'. Fortune has turned her dark
side to me this long time, now; and, bedad, iv it wasn't for
contrivin', an' workin' hard to boot, I wouldn't be able to keep
above the flood. I assure ye it goes agin me to trouble the
gentlemen o' the Board; an' so long as I am able, I will not. I was
born in King's County; an' I was once well off in the city of
Waterford I once had 400 pounds in the bank. I seen the time I
didn't drame of a cloudy day; but things take quare turns in this
world. How-an-ever, since it's no better, thank God it's no worse.
Sure, it's a long lane that has never a turn in it."


"There's nob'dy but the Lord an' me
That knows what I've to bide."

The slipshod old tailor shuffled after us to the door, talking about
the signs of the times. His frame was bowed with age and labour, and
his shoulders drooped away. It was drawing near the time when the
grasshopper would be a burden to him. A hard life had silently
engraved its faithful records upon that furrowed face; but there was
a cheerful ring in his voice which told of a hopeful spirit within
him still. The old man's nostrils were dusty with snuff, and his
poor garments hung about his shrunken form in the careless ease
which is common to the tailor's shopboard. I could not help admiring
the brave old wrinkled workman as he stood in the doorway talking
about his secondhand trade, whilst the gusty wind fondled about in
his thin gray hair. I took a friendly pinch from his little wooden
box at parting, and left him to go on struggling with his
troublesome family to "keep above the flood," by translating old
clothes into new. We called at some other houses, where the features
of life were so much the same that it is not necessary to say more
than that the inhabitants were all workless, or nearly so, and all
living upon the charitable provision which is the only thin plank
between so many people and death, just now. In one house, where the
furniture had been sold, the poor souls had brought a great stone
into the place, and this was their only seat. In Cunliffe Street, we
passed the cottage of a boilermaker, whom I had heard of before. His
family was four in number. This was one of those cases of wholesome
pride in which the family had struggled with extreme penury, seeking
for work in vain, but never asking for charity, until their own poor
neighbours were at last so moved with pity for their condition, that
they drew the attention of the Relief Committee to it. The man
accepted relief for one week, but after that, he declined receiving
it any longer, because he had met with a promise of employment. But
the promise failed him when the time came. The employer, who had
promised, was himself disappointed of the expected work. After this;
the boilermaker's family was compelled to fall back upon the Relief
Committee's allowance. He who has never gone hungry about the world,
with a strong love of independence in his heart, seeking eagerly for
work from day to day, and coming home night after night to a
foodless, fireless house, and a starving family, disappointed and
desponding, with the gloom of destitution deepening around him, can
never fully realise what the feelings of such a man may be from
anything that mere words can tell.

In Park Road, we called at the house of a hand-loom weaver. I
learnt, before we went in, that two families lived here, numbering
together eight persons; and, though it was well known to the
committee that they had suffered as severely as any on the relief
list, yet their sufferings had been increased by the anonymous
slanders of some ill-disposed neighbours. They were quiet, well-
conducted working people; and these slanders had grieved them very
much. I found the poor weaver's wife very sensitive on this subject.
Man's inhumanity to man may be found among the poor sometimes. It is
not every one who suffers that learns mercy from that suffering. As
I have said before, the husband was a calico weaver on the hand-
loom. He had to weave about seventy-three yards of a kind of check
for 3s., and a full week's work rarely brought him more than 5s. It
seems astonishing that a man should stick year after year to such
labour as this. But there is a strong adhesiveness, mingled with
timidity, in some men, which helps to keep them down. In the front
room of the cottage there was not a single article of furniture
left, so far as I can remember. The weaver's wife was in the little
kitchen, and, knowing the gentleman who was with me, she invited us
forward. She was a wan woman, with sunken eyes, and she was not much
under fifty years of age. Her scanty clothing was whole and clean.
She must have been a very good-looking woman sometime, though she
seemed to me as if long years of hard work and poor diet had sapped
the foundations of her constitution; and there was a curious
changeful blending of pallor and feverish flush upon that worn face.
But, even in the physical ruins of her countenance, a pleasing
expression lingered still. She was timid and quiet in her manner at
first, as if wondering what we had come for; but she asked me to sit
down. There was no seat for my friend, and he stood leaning against
the wall, trying to get her into easy conversation. The little
kitchen looked so cheerless and bare that dull morning that it
reminded me again of a passage in that rude, racy song of the
Lancashire weaver, "Jone o' Greenfeelt"--

"Owd Bill o' Dan's sent us th' baillies one day,
For a shop-score aw owed him, at aw couldn't pay;
But, he were too lat, for owd Billy at th' Bent
Had sent th' tit an' cart, an' taen th' goods off for rent,--
They laft nought but th' owd stoo;
It were seats for us two,
An' on it keawr't Margit an' me.

"Then, th' baillies looked reawnd 'em as sly as a meawse,
When they see'd at o'th goods had bin taen eawt o' th' heawse;
Says tone chap to tother, 'O's gone,--thae may see,'--
Says aw, 'Lads, ne'er fret, for yo're welcome to me!'
Then they made no moor do,
But nipt up wi' owd stoo,
An' we both letten thwack upo' th' flags.

"Then aw said to eawr Margit, while we're upo' the floor,
'We's never be lower i' this world, aw'm sure;
Iv ever things awtern they're likely to mend,
For aw think i' my heart that we're both at th' fur end;
For meight we ban noan,
Nor no looms to weighve on,
An' egad, they're as good lost as fund.'"

We had something to do to get the weaver's wife to talk to us
freely, and I believe the reason was, that, after the slanders they
had been subject to, she harboured a sensitive fear lest anything
like doubt should be cast upon her story. "Well, Mrs," said my
friend, "let's see; how many are you altogether in this house?"
"We're two families, yo know," replied she; "there's eight on us all
altogether." "Well," continued he,"and how much have you coming in,
now?" He had asked this question so oft before, and had so often
received the same answer, that the poor soul began to wonder what
was the meaning of it all. She looked at us silently, her wan face
flushed, and then, with tears rising in her eyes, she said,
tremulously, "Well, iv yo' cannot believe folk--" My friend stopped
her at once, and said, "Nay, Mrs_, you must not think that I doubt
your story. I know all about it; but my friend wanted me to let you
tell it your own way. We have come here to do you good, if possible,
and no harm. You don't need to fear that." "Oh, well," said she,
slowly wiping her moist forehead, and looking relieved," but yo
know, aw was very much put about o'er th' ill-natur't talk as
somebody set eawt." "Take no notice of them," said my friend; "take
no notice. I meet with such things every day." "Well," continued
she," yo know heaw we're situated. We were nine months an' hesn't a
stroke o' wark. Eawr wenches are gettin' a day for t' sick, neaw and
then, but that's all. There's a brother o' mine lives with us,--he'd
a been clemmed into th' grave but for th' relief; an' aw've been
many a time an' hesn't put a bit i' my meawth fro mornin' to mornin'
again. We've bin married twenty-four year; an' aw don't think at him
an' me together has spent a shillin' i' drink all that time. Why, to
tell yo truth, we never had nought to stir on. My husband does bod
get varra little upo th' hand-loom i' th' best o' times--5s. a week
or so. He weighves a sort o' check--seventy-three yards for 3s." The
back door opened into a little damp yard, hemmed in by brick walls.
Over in the next yard we could see a man bustling about, and singing
in a loud voice, "Hard times come again no more." "Yon fellow
doesn't care much about th' hard times, I think," said I. "Eh, naw,"
replied she. "He'll live where mony a one would dee, will yon. He
has that little shop, next dur; an' he keeps sellin' a bit o' toffy,
an' then singin' a bit, an' then sellin' a bit moor toffy,--an' he's
as happy as a pig amung slutch."

Leaving the weaver's cottage, the rain came on, and we sat a few
minutes with a young shoemaker, who was busy at his bench, doing a
cobbling job. His wife was lying ill upstairs. He had been so short
of work for some time past that he had been compelled to apply for
relief. He complained that the cheap gutta percha shoes were hurting
his trade. He said a pair of men's gutta percha shoes could be
bought for 5s. 6d., whilst it would cost him 7s. 6d. for the
materials alone to make a pair of men's shoes of. When the rain was
over, we left his house, and as we went along I saw in a cottage
window a printed paper containing these words, "Bitter beer. This
beer is made of herbs and roots of the native country." I know that
there are many poor people yet in Lancashire who use decoctions of
herbs instead of tea--mint and balm are the favourite herbs for this
purpose; but I could not imagine what this herb beer could be, at a
halfpenny a bottle, unless it was made of nettles. At the cottage
door there was about four-pennyworth of mauled garden stuff upon an
old tray. There was nobody inside but a little ragged lass, who
could not tell us what the beer was made of. She had only one
drinking glass in the place, and that had a snip out of the rim. The
beer was exceedingly bitter. We drank as we could, and then went
into Pump Street, to the house of a "core-maker," a kind of labourer
for moulders. The core-maker's wife was in. They had four children.
The whole six had lived for thirteen weeks on 3s. 6d. a week. When
work first began to fall off, the husband told the visitors who came
to inquire into their condition, that he had a little money saved
up, and he could manage a while. The family lived upon their savings
as long as they lasted, and then were compelled to apply for relief,
or "clem." It was not quite noon when we left this house, and my
friend proposed that before we went farther we should call upon Mrs
G_, an interesting old woman, in Cunliffe Street. We turned back to
the place, and there we found

"In lowly shed, and mean attire,
A matron old, whom we schoolmistress name,
Who boasts unruly brats with birch to tame."

In a small room fronting the street, the mild old woman sat, with
her bed in one corner, and her simple vassals ranged upon the forms
around. Here, "with quaint arts," she swayed the giddy crowd of
little imprisoned elves, whilst they fretted away their irksome
schooltime, and unconsciously played their innocent prelude to the
serious drama of life. As we approach the open door--

"The noises intermix'd, which thence resound,
Do learning's little tenement betray;
Where sits the dame disguised in look profound,
And eyes her fairy throng, and turns her wheel around."

The venerable little woman had lived in this house fourteen years.
She was seventy-three years of age, and a native of Limerick. She
was educated at St Ann's School, in Dublin, and she had lived
fourteen years in the service of a lady in that city. The old dame
made an effort to raise her feeble form when we entered, and she
received us as courteously as the finest lady in the land could have
done. She told us that she charged only a penny a-week for her
teaching; but, said she, "some of them can't pay it." "There's a
poor child," continued she, "his father has been out of work eleven
months, and they are starving but for the relief. Still, I do get a
little, and I like to have the children about me. Oh, my case is not
the worst, I know. I have people lodging in the house who are not so
well off as me. I have three families living here. One is a family
of four; they have only 3s. a-week to live upon. Another is a family
of three; they have 6s. a-week from a club, but they pay me 2s. a-
week. for rent out of that. . . . . I am very much troubled with my
eyes; my sight is failing fast. If I drop a stitch when I'm
knitting, I can't see to take it up again. If I could buy a pair of
spectacles, they would help me a good dale; but I cannot afford till
times are better." I could not help thinking how many kind souls
there are in the world who would be glad to give the old woman a
pair of spectacles, if they knew her.


We talked with the old schoolmistress in Cunliffe Street till it was
"high twelve" at noon, and then the kind jailer of learning's little
prison-house let all her fretful captives go. The clamorous elves
rushed through the doorway into the street, like a stream too big
for its vent, rejoicing in their new-found freedom and the open face
of day. The buzz of the little teaching mill was hushed once more,
and the old dame laid her knitting down, and quietly wiped her weak
and weary eyes. The daughters of music were brought low with her,
but, in the last thin treble of second childhood, she trembled forth
mild complaints of her neighbours' troubles, but very little of her
own. We left her to enjoy her frugal meal and her noontide reprieve
in peace, and came back to the middle of the town. On our way I
noticed again some features of street life which are more common in
manufacturing towns just now than when times are good. Now and then
one meets with a man in the dress of a factory worker selling
newspapers, or religious tracts, or back numbers of the penny
periodicals, which do not cost much. It is easy to see, from their
shy and awkward manner, that they are new to the trade, and do not
like it. They are far less dexterous, and much more easily "said,"
than the brisk young salesmen who hawk newspapers in the streets of
Manchester. I know that many of these are unemployed operatives
trying to make an honest penny in this manner till better days
return. Now and then, too, a grown-up girl trails along the street,
"with wandering steps and slow," ragged, and soiled, and starved,
and looking as if she had travelled far in the rainy weather,
houseless and forlorn. I know that such sights may be seen at any
time, but not near so often as just now; and I cannot help thinking
that many of these are poor sheep which have strayed away from the
broken folds of labour. Sometimes it is an older woman that goes by,
with a child at the breast, and one or two holding by the skirt of
her tattered gown, and perhaps one or two more limping after, as she
crawls along the pavement, gazing languidly from side to side among
the heedless crowd, as if giving her last look round the world for
help, without knowing where to get it, and without heart to ask for
it. It is easy to give wholesale reasons why nobody needs to be in
such a condition as this; but it is not improbable that there are
some poor souls who, from no fault of their own, drop through the
great sieve of charity into utter destitution. "They are well kept
that God keeps." May the continual dew of Heaven's blessing gladden
the hearts of those who deal kindly with them!

After dinner I fell into company with some gentlemen who were
talking about the coming guild--that ancient local festival, which
is so clear to the people of Preston, that they are not likely to
allow it to go by wholly unhonoured, however severe the times may
be. Amongst them was a gray-haired friend of mine, who is a genuine
humorist. He told us many quaint anecdotes. One of them was of a man
who went to inquire the price of graves in a certain cemetery. The
sexton told him that they were 1 pound on this side, and 2 pounds on
the other side of the knoll. "How is it that they are 2 pounds on
the other side?" inquired the man. "Well, becose there's a better
view there," replied the sexton. There were three or four millowners
in the company, and, when the conversation turned upon the state of
trade, one of them said, "I admit that there is a great deal of
distress, but we are not so badly off yet as to drive the operatives
to work for reasonable wages. For instance, I had a labourer working
for me at 10s. a-week; he threw up my employ, and went to work upon
the moor for 1s. a-day. How do you account for that? And then,
again, I had another man employed as a watchman and roller coverer,
at 18s. a-week. I found that I couldn't afford to keep him on at
18s., so I offered him 15s. a-week; but he left it, and went to work
on the moor at 1s. a-day; and, just now, I want a man to take his
place, and cannot get one." Another said, "I am only giving low
wages to my workpeople, but they get more with me than they can make
on the moor, and yet I cannot keep them." I heard some other things
of the same kind, for which there might be special reasons; but
these gentlemen admitted the general prevalence of severe distress,
and the likelihood of its becoming much worse.

At two o'clock I sallied forth again, under convoy of another member
of the Relief Committee, into the neighbourhood of Messrs Horrocks,
Miller, and Co.'s works. Their mill is known as "Th' Yard Factory."
Hereabouts the people generally are not so much reduced as in some
parts of the town, because they have had more employment, until
lately, than has been common elsewhere. But our business lay with
those distressed families who were in receipt of relief, and, even
here, they were very easy to find. The first house we called at was
inhabited by a family of five--man and wife and three children. The
man was working on the moor at one shilling a-day. The wife was
unwell, but she was moving about the house. They had buried one girl
three weeks before; and one of the three remaining children lay ill
of the measles. They had suffered a great deal from sickness. The
wife said, "My husband is a peawer-loom weighver. He had to come
whoam ill fro' his wark; an' then they shopped his looms, (gave his
work to somebody else,) an' he couldn't get 'em back again. He'll
get 'em back as soon as he con, yo may depend; for we don't want to
bother folk for no mak o' relief no lunger than we can help." In
addition to the husband's pay upon the moor, they were receiving 2s.
a week from the Committee, making altogether 8s. a week for the
five, with 2s. 6d. to pay out of it for rent. She said, "We would
rayther ha' soup than coffee, becose there's moor heytin' in it." My
friend looked in at the door of a cottage in Barton Street. There
was a sickly-looking woman inside. "Well, missis," said my friend,
jocularly, "how are you? because, if you're ill, I've brought a
doctor here." "Eh," replied she, "aw could be ill in a minute, if aw
could afford, but these times winnot ston doctors' bills. Besides,
aw never were partial to doctors' physic; it's kitchen physic at aw
want. Han yo ony o' that mak' wi' yo?" She said," My husban' were
th' o'erlooker o' th'weighvers at "Owd Tom's.' They stopt to fettle
th' engine a while back, an' they'n never started sin'. But aw guess
they wi'n do some day." We had not many yards to go to the next
place, which was a poor cottage in Fletcher's Row, where a family of
eight persons resided. There was very little furniture in the place,
but I noticed a small shelf of books in a corner by the window. A
feeble woman, upwards of seventy years old, sat upon a stool tending
the cradle of a sleeping infant. This infant was the youngest of
five children, the oldest of the five was seven years of age. The
mother of the three-weeks-old infant had just gone out to the mill
to claim her work from the person who had been filling her place
during her confinement. The old woman said that the husband was "a
grinder in a card-room when they geet wed, an' he addled about 8s. a
week; but, after they geet wed, his wife larn't him to weighve upo'
th' peawer-looms." She said that she was no relation to them, but
she nursed, and looked after the house for them. "They connot afford
to pay mo nought," continued she, "but aw fare as they fare'n, an'
they dunnot want to part wi' me. Aw'm not good to mich, but aw can
manage what they wanten, yo see'n. Aw never trouble't noather teawn
nor country i' my life, an' aw hope aw never shall for the bit o'
time aw have to do on." She said that the Board of Guardians had
allowed the family 10s. a week for the two first weeks of the wife's
confinement, but now their income amounted to a little less than one
shilling a head per week.

Leaving this house, we turned round the corner into St Mary's Street
North. Here we found a clean-looking young working man standing
shivering by a cottage door, with his hands in his pockets. He was
dressed in well-mended fustian, and he had a cloth cap on his head.
His face had a healthy hunger-nipt look. "Hollo," said my friend, "I
thought you was working on the moor." "Ay," replied the young man,
"Aw have bin, but we'n bin rain't off this afternoon." "Is there
nobody in?" said my friend. "Naw, my wife's gone eawt; hoo'll not be
mony minutes. Hoo's here neaw." A clean little pale woman came up,
with a child in her arms, and we went in. They had not much
furniture in the small kitchen, which was the only place we saw, but
everything was sweet and orderly. Their income was, as usual in
relief cases, about one shilling a head per week. "You had some
lodgers," said my friend. "Ay," said she,"but they're gone." "How's
that?" "We had a few words. Their little lad was makin' a great
noise i' the passage theer, an' aw were very ill o' my yed, an' aw
towd him to go an' play him at tother side o' th' street,--so, they
took it amiss, an' went to lodge wi' some folk i' Ribbleton Lone."

We called at another house in this street. A family of six lived
there. The only furniture I saw in the place was two chairs, a
table, a large stool, a cheap clock, and a few pots. The man and his
wife were in. She was washing. The man was a stiff built, shock-
headed little fellow, with a squint in his eye that seemed to enrich
the good-humoured expression of his countenance. Sitting smiling by
the window, he looked as if he had lots of fun in him, if he only
had a fair chance of letting it off. He told us that he was a
"tackler" by trade. A tackler is one who fettles looms when they get
out of order. "Couldn't you get on at Horrocks's?" said my friend.
"Naw," replied he; "they'n not ha' men-weighvers theer." The wife
said," We're a deal better off than some. He has six days a week upo
th' moor, an' we'n 3s. a week fro th' Relief Committee. We'n 2s. 6d.
a week to pay eawt on it for rent; but then, we'n a lad that gets
4d. a day neaw an' then for puttin' bobbins on; an' every little
makes a mickle, yo known." "How is it that your clock's stopt?" said
I. "Nay," said the little fellow; "aw don't know. Want o' cotton,
happen,--same as everything else is stopt for." Leaving this house
we met with another member of the Relief Committee, who was
overlooker of a mill a little way off. I parted here with the
gentleman who had accompanied me hitherto, and the overlooker went
on with me.

In Newton Street he stopped, and said, "Let's look in here." We went
up two steps, and met a young woman coming out at the cottage door.
"How's Ruth?" said my friend. "Well, hoo is here. Hoo's busy bakin'
for Betty." We went in. "You're not bakin' for yourselves, then?"
said he. "Eh, naw," replied the young woman," it's mony a year sin'
we had a bakin' o' fleawr, isn't it, Ruth?" The old woman who was
baking turned round and said, "Ay; an' it'll be mony another afore
we han one aw deawt." There were three dirty-looking hens picking
and croodling about the cottage floor. "How is it you don't sell
these, or else eat 'em?" said he. "Eh, dear," replied the old woman,
"dun yo want mo kilt? He's had thoose hens mony a year; an' they
rooten abeawt th' heawse just th' same as greadley Christians. He
did gi' consent for one on 'em to be kilt yesterday; but aw'll be
hanged iv th' owd cracky didn't cry like a chylt when he see'd it
beawt yed. He'd as soon part wi' one o'th childer as one o'th hens.
He says they're so mich like owd friends, neaw. He's as quare as
Dick's hat-bant 'at went nine times reawnd an' wouldn't tee. . . .
We thought we'd getten a shop for yon lad o' mine t'other day. We
yerd ov a chap at Lytham at wanted a lad to tak care o' six
jackasses an' a pony. Th' pony were to tak th' quality to Blackpool,
and such like. So we fettled th' lad's bits o' clooas up and made
him ever so daycent, and set him off to try to get on wi' th' chap
at Lytham. Well, th' lad were i' good heart abeawt it; an' when he
geet theer th' chap towd him at he thought he wur very likely for
th' job, so that made it better,--an' th' lad begun o' wearin' his
bit o' brass o' summat to eat, an' sich like, thinkin' he're sure o'
th' shop. Well, they kept him there, dallyin', aw tell yo, an' never
tellin' him a greadley tale, fro Sunday till Monday o' th' neet, an'
then,--lo an' behold,--th' mon towd him that he'd hire't another;
and th' lad had to come trailin' whoam again, quite deawn i'th'
meawth. Eh, aw wur some mad! Iv aw'd been at th' back o' that chap,
aw could ha' punce't him, see yo!" "Well," said my friend, "there's
no work yet, Ruth, is there?" "Wark! naw; nor never will be no moor,
aw believe." "Hello, Ruth!" said the young woman, pointing through
the window, "dun yo know who yon is?" "Know? ay," replied the old
woman; "He's getten aboon porritch neaw, has yon. He walks by me
i'th street, as peart as a pynot, an' never cheeps. But, he's no
'casion. Aw know'd him when his yure stickt out at top ov his hat;
and his shurt would ha' hanged eawt beheend, too,--like a Wigan
lantron,--iv he'd had a shurt."


"Oh, reason not the deed; our basest beggars
Are in the poorest things superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life is cheap as beast's."
--King Lear.

A short fit of rain came on whilst we were in the cottage in Newton
Street, so we sat a little while with Ruth, listening to her quaint
tattle about the old man and his feathered pets; about the children,
the hard times, and her own personal ailments;--for, though I could
not help thinking her a very good-hearted, humorous old woman,
bravely disposed to fight it out with the troubles of her humble
lot, yet it was clear that she was inclined to ease her harassed
mind now and then by a little wholesome grumbling; and I dare say
that sometimes she might lose her balance so far as to think, like
"Natterin' Nan," "No livin' soul atop o't earth's bin tried as I've
bin tried:  there's nob'dy but the Lord an' me that knows what I've
to bide."

Old age and infirmity, too, had found Ruth out, in her penurious
obscurity; and she was disposed to complain a little, like Nan,
sometimes, of "the ills that flesh is heir to:"-

"Fro' t' wind i't stomach, rheumatism,
Tengin pains i't gooms,
An' coughs, an' cowds, an' t' spine o't back,
I suffer martyrdom.

"Yet nob'dy pities mo, or thinks
I'm ailin' owt at all;
T' poor slave mun tug an' tew wi't wark,
Wolivver shoo can crawl."

Old Ruth was far from being as nattle and querulous as the famous
ill-natured grumbler so racily pictured by Benjamin Preston, of
Bradford; but, like most of the dwellers upon earth, she was a
little bit touched with the same complaint. When the rain was over,
we came away. I cannot say that the weather ever "cleared up" that
day; for, at the end of every shower, the dark, slow-moving clouds
always seemed to be mustering for another downfall. We came away,
and left the "cant" old body "busy bakin' for Betty," and "shooing"
the hens away from her feet, and she shuffled about the house. A few
yards lower in Newton Street, we turned up a low, dark entry, which
led to a gloomy little court behind. This was one of those
unhealthy, pent-up cloisters, where misery stagnates and broods
among the "foul congregation of pestilential vapours" which haunt
the backdoor life of the poorest parts of great towns. Here, those
viewless ministers of health--the fresh winds of heaven--had no free
play; and poor human nature inhaled destruction from the poisonous
effluvia that festered there. And, in such nooks as this, there may
be found many decent working people, who have been accustomed to
live a cleanly life in their humble way in healthy quarters, now
reduced to extreme penury, pinching, and pining, and nursing the
flickering hope of better days, which may enable them to flee from
the foul harbour which strong necessity has driven them to. The dark
aspect of the day filled the court with a tomb-like gloom. If I
remember aright, there were only three or four cottages in it. We
called at two of them. Before we entered the first, my friend said,
"A young couple lives here. They are very decent people. They have
not been here long; and they have gone through a great deal before
they came here." There were two or three pot ornaments on the
cornice; but there was no furniture in the place, save one chair,
which was occupied by a pale young woman, nursing her child. Her
thin, intelligent face looked very sad. Her clothing, though poor,
was remarkably clean; and, as she sat there, in the gloomy, fireless
house, she said very little, and what she said she said very
quietly, as if she had hardly strength to complain, and was even
half-ashamed to do so. She told us, however, that her husband had
been out of work six months. "He didn't know what to turn to after
we sowd th' things," said she; "but he's takken to cheer-bottomin',
for he doesn't want to lie upo' folk for relief, if he can help it.
He doesn't get much above a cheer, or happen two in a week, one week
wi' another, an' even then he doesn't olez get paid, for folks ha'
not brass. It runs very hard with us, an' I'm nobbut sickly." The
poor soul did not need to say much; her own person, which evinced
such a touching struggle to keep up a decent appearance to the last,
and everything about her, as she sat there in the gloomy place,
trying to keep the child warm upon her cold breast, told eloquently
what her tongue faltered at and failed to express.

The next place we called at in this court was a cottage kept by a
withered old woman, with one foot in the grave. We found her in the
house, sallow, and shrivelled, and panting for breath. She had three
young women, out of work, lodging with her; and, in addition to
these, a widow with her two children lived there. One of these
children, a girl, was earning 2s. 6d. a week for working short time
at a mill; the other, a lad, was earning 3s. a week. The rest were
all unemployed, and had been so for several months past. This 5s.
6d. a week was all the seven people had to live upon, with the
exception of a trifle the sickly old woman received from the Board
of Guardians. As we left the court, two young fellows were lounging
at the entry end, as if waiting for us. One of them stepped up to my
friend, and whispered something plaintively, pointing to his feet. I
did not catch the reply; but my friend made a note, and we went on.
Before we had gone many yards down the street a storm of rain and
thunder came on, and we hurried into the house of an old Irishwoman
close by. My friend knew the old woman. She was on his list of
relief cases. "Will you let us shelter a few minutes, Mrs _?" said
he. "I will, an' thank ye," replied she. "Come in an' sit down.
Sure, it's not fit to turn out a dog. Faith, that's a great storm.
Oh, see the rain! Thank God it's not him that made the house that
made the pot! Dear, dear; did ye see the awful flash that time? I
don't like to be by myself, I am so terrified wi' the thunder. There
has been a great dale o' wet this long time." "There, has," replied
my friend; "but how have ye been getting on since I called before?"
"Well," said the old woman, sitting down, "things is quare with us
as ever they can be, an' that you know very well." There was a young
woman reared against the table by the window. My friend turned
towards her, and said, "Well, and how does the Indian meal agree
with you?" The young woman blushed, and smiled, but said nothing;
but the old woman turned sharply round and replied, "Well, now, it
is better nor starvation; it is chape, an' it fills up--an' that's
all." "Is your son working?" inquired my friend. "Troth, he is,"
replied she. "He does be gettin' a day now an' again at the breek-
croft in Ribbleton Lone. Faith, it is time he did somethin', too,
for he was nine months out o' work entirely. I am got greatly into
debt, an' I don't think I'll ever be able to get over it any more. I
don't know how does poor folk be able to spind money on drink such
times as thim; bedad, I cannot do it. It is bard enough to get mate
of any kind to keep the bare life in a body. Oh, see now; but for
the relief, the half o' the country would die out." "You're a native
of Ireland, missis," said I. "Troth, I am," replied she; "an' had a
good farm o' greawnd in it too, one time. Ah! many's the dark day I
went through between that an' this. Before thim bad times came on,
long ago, people were well off in ould Ireland. I seen them wid as
many as tin cows standin' at the door at one time. . . . Ah, then!
but the Irish people is greatly scattered now! . . . But, for the
matter of that, folk are as badly off here as anywhere in the world,
I think. I dunno know how does poor folk be able to spind money for
dhrink. I am a widow this seventeen year now, an' the divle a man or
woman uvver seen me goin' to a public-house. I seen women goin' a
drinkin' widout a shift to their backs. I dunno how the divvle they
done it. Begorra, I think, if I drunk a glass of ale just now, my
two legs would fail from under me immadiately--I am that wake." The
old woman was a little too censorious, I think. There is no doubt
that even people who are starving do drink a little sometimes. The
wonder would be if they did not, in some degree, share the follies
of the rest of the world. Besides, it is a well-known fact, that
those who are in employ, are apt, from a feeling of misdirected
kindness, to treat those who are out of work to a glass of ale or
two, now and then; and it is very natural, too, that those who have
been but ill-fed for a long time are not able to stand it well.

After leaving the old Irishwoman's house, we called upon a man who
had got his living by the sale of newspapers. There was nothing
specially worthy of remark in this case, except that he complained
of his trade having fallen away a good deal. "I used to sell three
papers where I now sell one," said he. This may not arise from there
being fewer papers sold, but from there being more people selling
them than when times were good. I came back to Manchester in the
evening. I have visited Preston again since then, and have spent
some time upon Preston Moor, where there are nearly fifteen hundred
men, principally factory operatives, at work. Of this I shall have
something to say in my next paper.


"The rose of Lancaster for lack of nurture pales."

It was early on a fine morning in July when I next set off to see
Preston again; the long-continued rains seemed to be ended, and the
unclouded sun flooded all the landscape with splendour. All nature
rejoiced in the change, and the heart of man was glad. In Clifton
Vale, the white-sleeved mowers were at work among the rich grass,
and the scent of new hay came sweetly through our carriage windows.
In the leafy cloughs and hedges, the small birds were wild with joy,
and every garden sent forth a goodly smell. Along its romantic vale
the glittering Irwell meandered, here, through nooks, "o'erhung wi'
wildwoods, thickening green;" and there, among lush unshaded
pastures; gathering on its way many a mild whispering brook, whose
sunlit waters laced the green land with freakish lines of trembling
gold. To me this ride is always interesting, so many points of
historic interest line the way; but it was doubly delightful on that
glorious July morning. And I never saw Fishergate, in Preston, look
better than it did then. On my arrival there I called upon the
Secretary of the Trinity Ward Relief Committee. In a quiet bye-
street, where there are four pleasant cottages, with little gardens
in front of them, I found him in his studious nook, among books,
relief tickets, and correspondence. We had a few minutes' talk about
the increasing distress of the town; and he gave me a short account
of the workroom which has been opened in Knowsley Street, for the
employment of female factory operatives out of work. This workroom
is managed by a committee of ladies, some of whom are in attendance
every day. The young women are employed upon plain sewing. They have
two days' work a week, at one shilling a day, and the Relief
Committee adds sixpence to this 2s. in each case. Most of them are
merely learning to sew. Many of them prove to be wholly untrained to
this simple domestic accomplishment. The work is not remunerative,
nor is it expected to be so; but the benefit which may grow out of
the teaching which these young women get here--and the evil their
employment here may prevent, cannot be calculated. I find that such
workrooms are established in some of the other towns now suffering
from the depression of trade. Some of these I intend to visit
hereafter. I spent an interesting half-hour with the secretary,
after which I went to see the factory operatives at work upon
Preston Moor.

Preston Moor is a tract of waste land on the western edge of the
town. It belongs to the corporation. A little vale runs through a
great part of this moor, from south-east to north-west; and the
ground was, until lately, altogether uneven. On the town side of the
little dividing vale the land is a light, sandy soil; on the other
side, there is abundance of clay for brickmaking. Upon this moor
there are now fifteen hundred men, chiefly factory operatives, at
work, levelling the land for building purposes, and making a great
main sewer for the drainage of future streets. The men, being almost
all unused to this kind of labour, are paid only one shilling per
day; and the whole scheme has been devised for the employment of
those who are suffering from the present depression of trade. The
work had been going on several months before I saw it, and a great
part of the land was levelled. When I came in sight of the men,
working in scattered gangs that fine morning, there was, as might be
expected, a visible difference between their motions and those of
trained "navvies" engaged upon the same kind of labour. There were
also very great differences of age and physical condition amongst
them--old men and consumptive-looking lads, hardly out of their
teens. They looked hard at me as I walked down the central line, but
they were not anyway uncivil. "What time is 't, maister?" asked a
middle-aged man, with gray hair, as he wiped his forehead. "Hauve-
past ten," said I. "What time says he?" inquired a feeble young
fellow, who was resting upon his barrow. "Hauve-past ten, he says,"
replied the other. "Eh; it's warm!" said the tired lad, lying down
upon his barrow again. One thing I noticed amongst these men, with
very rare exceptions, their apparel, however poor, evinced that
wholesome English love of order and cleanliness which generally
indicates something of self-respect in the wearer--especially among
poor folk. There is something touching in the whiteness of a well-
worn shirt, and the careful patches of a poor man's old fustian

As I lounged about amongst the men, a mild-eyed policeman came up,
and offered to conduct me to Jackson, the labour-master, who had
gone down to the other end of the moor, to look after the men at
work at the great sewer--a wet clay cutting--the heaviest bit of
work on the ground. We passed some busy brickmakers, all plastered
and splashed with wet clay --of the earth, earthy. Unlike the
factory operatives around them, these men clashed, and kneaded, and
sliced among the clay, as if they were working for a wager. But they
were used to the job, and working piece-work. A little further on,
we came to an unbroken bit of the moor. Here, on a green slope we
saw a poor lad sitting chirruping upon the grass, with a little
cloutful of groundsel for bird meat in his hand, watching another,
who was on his knees, delving for earth-nuts with an old knife.
Lower down the slope there were three other lads plaguing a young
jackass colt; and further off, on the town edge of the moor, several
children from the streets hard by, were wandering about the green
hollow, picking daisies, and playing together in the sunshine. There
are several cotton factories close to the moor, but they were quiet
enough. Whilst I looked about me here, the policeman pointed to the
distance and said, "Jackson's comin' up, I see. Yon's him, wi' th'
white lin' jacket on." Jackson seems to have won the esteem of the
men upon the moor by his judicious management and calm
determination. I have heard that he had a little trouble at first,
through an injurious report spread amongst the men immediately
before he undertook the management. Some person previously employed
upon the ground had "set it eawt that there wur a chap comin' that
would make 'em addle a hauve-a-creawn a day for their shillin'." Of
course this increased the difficulty of his position; but he seems
to have fought handsomely through all that sort of thing. I had met
him for a few minutes once before, so there was no difficulty
between us.

"Well, Jackson," said I, "heaw are yo gettin' on among it?" "Oh,
very well, very well," said he," We'n more men at work than we had,
an' we shall happen have more yet. But we'n getten things into
something like system, an' then tak 'em one with another th' chaps
are willin' enough. You see they're not men that have getten a
livin' by idling aforetime; they're workin' men, but they're strange
to this job, an' one cannot expect 'em to work like trained honds,
no moor than one could expect a lot o' navvies to work weel at
factory wark. Oh, they done middlin', tak 'em one with another." I
now asked him if he had not had some trouble with the men at first.
"Well," said he, "I had at first, an' that's the truth. I remember
th' first day that I came to th' job. As I walked on to th' ground
there was a great lump o' clay coom bang into my earhole th' first
thing; but I walked on, an' took no notice, no moor than if it had
bin a midge flyin' again my face. Well, that kind o' thing took
place, now an' then, for two or three days, but I kept agate o'
never mindin'; till I fund there were some things that I thought
could be managed a deal better in a different way; so I gav' th' men
notice that I would have 'em altered. For instance, now, when I coom
here at first, there was a great shed in yon hollow; an' every
mornin' th' men had to pass through that shed one after another, an'
have their names booked for th' day. The result wur, that after
they'd walked through th' shed, there was many on 'em walked out at
t'other end o' th' moor straight into teawn a-playin' 'em. Well, I
was determined to have that system done away with. An', when th' men
fund that I was gooin' to make these alterations, they growled a
good deal, you may depend, an' two or three on 'em coom up an' spoke
to me abeawt th' matter, while tother stood clustered a bit off.
Well; I was beginnin' to tell 'em plain an' straight-forrud what I
would have done, when one o' these three sheawted out to th' whole
lot, "Here, chaps, come an' gether reawnd th' devil. Let's yer what
he's for!" 'Well,' said I, 'come on, an' you shall yer,' for aw felt
cawmer just then, than I did when it were o'er. There they were,
gethered reawnd me in a minute,--th' whole lot,--I were fair hemmed
in. But I geet atop ov a bit ov a knowe, an' towd 'em a fair tale,--
what I wanted, an' what I would have, an' I put it to 'em whether
they didn't consider it reet. An' I believe they see'd th' thing in
a reet leet, but they said nought about it, but went back to their
wark, lookin' sulky. But I've had very little bother with 'em sin'.
I never see'd a lot o' chaps so altered sin' th' last February, as
they are. At that time no mortal mon hardly could walk through 'em
'beawt havin' a bit o' slack-jaw, or a lump o' clay or summat flung
a-him. But it isn't so, neaw. I consider th' men are doin' very
weel. But, come; yo mun go deawn wi' me a-lookin' at yon main


"Oh, let us bear the present as we may,
Nor let the golden past be all forgot;
Hope lifts the curtain of the future day,
Where peace and plenty smile without a spot
On their white garments; where the human lot
Looks lovelier and less removed from heaven;
Where want, and war, and discord enter not,
But that for which the wise have hoped and striven--
The wealth of happiness, to humble worth is given.

"The time will come, as come again it must,
When Lancashire shall lift her head once more;
Her suffering sons, now down amid the dust
Of Indigence, shall pass through Plenty's door;
Her commerce cover seas from shore to shore;
Her arts arise to highest eminence;
Her products prove unrivall'd, as of yore;
Her valour and her virtue--men of sense
And blue-eyed beauties--England's pride and her defence."

Jackson's office as labour-master kept him constantly tramping about
the sandy moor from one point to another. He was forced to be in
sight, and on the move, during working hours, amongst his fifteen
hundred scattered workmen. It was heavy walking, even in dry
weather; and as we kneaded through the loose soil that hot forenoon,
we wiped our foreheads now and then. "Ay," said he, halting, and
looking round upon the scene, "I can assure you, that when I first
took howd o' this job, I fund my honds full, as quiet as it looks
now. I was laid up for nearly a week, an' I had to have two doctors.
But, as I'd undertakken the thing, I was determined to go through
with it to th' best o' my ability; an' I have confidence now that we
shall be able to feight through th' bad time wi' summat like
satisfaction, so far as this job's consarned, though it's next to
impossible to please everybody, do what one will. But come wi' me
down this road. I've some men agate o' cuttin' a main sewer. It's
very little farther than where th' cattle pens are i' th' hollow
yonder; and it's different wark to what you see here. Th' main sewer
will have to be brought clean across i' this direction, an' it'll be
a stiffish job. Th' cattle market's goin' to be shifted out o' yon
hollow, an' in another year or two th' whole scene about here will
be changed." Jackson and I both remembered something of the troubles
of the cotton manufacture in past times. We had seen something of
the "shuttle gatherings," the "plug-drawings," the wild starvation
riots, and strikes of days gone by; and he agreed with me that one
reason for the difference of their demeanour during the present
trying circumstances lies in their increasing intelligence. The
great growth of free discussion through the cheap press has done no
little to work out this salutary change. There is more of human
sympathy, and of a perception of the union of interests between
employers and employed than ever existed before in the history of
the cotton trade. Employers know that their workpeople are human
beings, of like feelings and passions with themselves, and like
themselves, endowed with no mean degree of independent spirit and
natural intelligence; and working men know better than beforetime
that their employers are not all the heartless tyrants which it has
been too fashionable to encourage them to believe. The working men
have a better insight into the real causes of trade panics than they
used to have; and both masters and men feel more every day that
their fortunes are naturally bound together for good or evil; and if
the working men of Lancashire continue to struggle through the
present trying pass of their lives with the brave patience which
they have shown hitherto, they will have done more to defeat the
arguments of those who hold them to be unfit for political power
than the finest eloquence of their best friends could have done in
the same time.

The labour master and I had a little talk about these things as we
went towards the lower end of the moor. A few minutes' slow walk
brought us to the spot, where some twenty of the hardier sort of
operatives were at work in a damp clay cutting. "This is heavy work
for sich chaps as these," said Jackson; "but I let 'em work bi'th
lump here. I give'em so much clay apiece to shift, and they can
begin when they like, an' drop it th' same. Th' men seem satisfied
wi' that arrangement, an' they done wonders, considerin' th' nature
o'th job. There's many o'th men that come on to this moor are badly
off for suitable things for their feet. I've had to give lots o'
clogs away among'em. You see men cannot work with ony comfort among
stuff o' this sort without summat substantial on. It rives poor
shoon to pieces i' no time. Beside, they're not men that can ston
bein' witchod (wetshod) like some. They haven't been used to it as a
rule. Now, this is one o'th' finest days we've had this year; an'
you haven't sin what th' ground is like in bad weather. But you'd be
astonished what a difference wet makes on this moor. When it's bin
rain for a day or two th' wark's as heavy again. Th' stuff's heavier
to lift, an' worse to wheel; an' th' ground is slutchy. That tries
'em up, an' poo's their shoon to pieces; an' men that are wakely get
knocked out o' time with it. But thoose that can stand it get
hardened by it. There's a great difference; what would do one man's
constitution good will kill another. Winter time 'll try 'em up
tightly. . . Wait there a bit," continued he, "I'll be with you
again directly." He then went down into the cutting to speak to some
of his men, whilst I walked about the edge of the bank. From a
distant part of the moor, the bray of a jackass came faint upon the
sleepy wind. "Yer tho', Jone," said one of the men, resting upon his
spade; "another cally-weighver gone!" " Ay," replied Jone, "th' owd
lad's deawn't his cut. He'll want no more tickets, yon mon!" The
country folk of Lancashire say that a weaver dies every time a
jackass brays. Jackson came up from the cutting, and we walked back
to where the greatest number of men were at work. "You should ha'
bin here last Saturday," said he; "we'd rather a curious scene. One
o' the men coom to me an' axed if I'd allow 'em hauve-an-hour to
howd a meetin' about havin' a procession i' th' guild week. I gav'
'em consent, on condition that they'd conduct their meetin' in an
orderly way. Well, they gethered together upo' that level theer; an'
th' speakers stood upo' th' edge o' that cuttin', close to Charnock
Fowd. Th' meetin' lasted abeawt a quarter ov an hour longer than I
bargained for; but they lost no time wi' what they had to do. O'
went off quietly; an' they finished with 'Rule Britannia,' i' full
chorus, an' then went back to their wark. You'll see th' report in
today's paper."

This meeting was so curious, and so characteristic of the men, that
I think the report is worth repeating here:--"On Saturday afternoon,
a meeting of the parish labourers was held on the moor, to consider
the propriety of having a demonstration of their numbers on one day
in the guild week. There were upwards of a thousand present. An
operative, named John Houlker, was elected to conduct the
proceedings. After stating the object of the assembly, a series of
propositions were read to the meeting by William Gillow, to the
effect that a procession take place of the parish labourers in the
guild week; that no person be allowed to join in it except those
whose names were on the books of the timekeepers; that no one should
receive any of the benefits which might accrue who did not conduct
himself in an orderly manner; that all persons joining the
procession should be required to appear on the ground washed and
shaven, and their clogs, shoes, and other clothes cleaned; that they
were not expected to purchase or redeem any articles of clothing in
order to take part in the demonstration; and that any one absenting
himself from the procession should be expelled from any
participation in the advantages which might arise from the
subscriptions to be collected by their fellow-labourers. These were
all agreed to, and a committee of twelve was appointed to collect
subscriptions and donations. A president, secretary, and treasurer
were also elected, and a number of resolutions agreed to in
reference to the carrying out of the details of their scheme. The
managing committee consist of Messrs W. Gillow, Robert Upton, Thomas
Greenwood Riley, John Houlker, John Taylor, James Ray, James
Whalley, Wm. Banks, Joseph Redhead, James Clayton, and James
McDermot. The men agreed to subscribe a penny per week to form a
fund out of which a dinner should be provided, and they expressed
themselves confident that they could secure the gratuitous services
of a band of music. During the meeting there was great order. At the
conclusion, a vote of thanks was accorded to the chairman, to the
labour master for granting them three-quarters of an hour for the
purpose of holding the meeting, and to William Gillow for drawing up
the resolutions. Three times three then followed; after which,
George Dewhurst mounted a hillock, and, by desire, sang 'Rule
Britannia,' the chorus being taken up by the whole crowd, and the
whole being wound up with a hearty cheer." There are various schemes
devised in Preston for regaling the poor during the guild; and not
the worst of them is the proposal to give them a little extra money
for that week, so as to enable them to enjoy the holiday with their
families at home.

It was now about half-past eleven. "It's getting on for dinner
time," said Jackson, looking at his watch. "Let's have a look at th'
opposite side yonder; an' then we'll come back, an' you'll see th'
men drop work when the five minutes' bell rings. There's many of 'em
live so far off that they couldn't well get whoam an' back in an
hour; so, we give'em an hour an' a half to their dinner, now, an'
they work half an' hour longer i'th afternoon." We crossed the
hollow which divides the moor, and went to the top of a sandy
cutting at the rear of the workhouse. This eminence commanded a full
view of the men at work on different parts of the ground, with the
time-keepers going to and fro amongst them, book in hand. Here were
men at work with picks and spades; there, a slow-moving train of
full barrows came along; and, yonder, a train of empty barrows
stood, with the men sitting upon them, waiting. Jackson pointed out
some of his most remarkable men to me; after which we went up to a
little plot of ground behind the workhouse, where we found a few
apparently older or weaker men, riddling pebbly stuff, brought from
the bed of the Ribble. The smaller pebbles were thrown into heaps,
to make a hard floor for the workhouse schoolyard. The master of the
workhouse said that the others were too big for this purpose--the
lads would break the windows with them. The largest pebbles were
cast aside to be broken up, for the making of garden walks. Whilst
the master of the workhouse was showing us round the building,
Jackson looked at his watch again, and said, "Come, we've just time
to get across again. Th' bell will ring in two or three minutes, an'
I should like yo to see 'em knock off." We hurried over to the other
side, and, before we had been a minute there, the bell rung. At the
first toll, down dropt the barrows, the half-flung shovelfuls fell
to the ground, and all labour stopt as suddenly as if the men had
been moved by the pull of one string. In two minutes Preston Moor
was nearly deserted, and, like the rest, we were on our way to



"There'll be some on us missin', aw deawt,
Iv there isn't some help for us soon."

The next scene of my observations is the town of Wigan. The
temporary troubles now affecting the working people of Lancashire
wear a different aspect there on account of such a large proportion
of the population being employed in the coal mines. The "way of
life" and the characteristics of the people are marked by strong
peculiarities. But, apart from these things, Wigan is an interesting
place. The towns of Lancashire have undergone so much change during
the last fifty years that their old features are mostly either swept
away entirely, or are drowned in a great overgrowth of modern
buildings. Yet coaly Wigan retains visible relics of its ancient
character still; and there is something striking in its situation.
It is associated with some of the most stirring events of our
history, and it is the scene of many an interesting old story, such
as the legend of Mabel of Haigh Hall, the crusader's dame. The
remnant of "Mab's Cross" still stands in Wigan Lane. Some of the
finest old halls of Lancashire are now, and have been, in its
neighbourhood, such as Ince Hall and Crooke Hall. It must have been
a picturesque town in the time of the Commonwealth, when Cavaliers
and Roundheads met there in deadly contention. Wigan saw a great
deal of the troubles of that time. The ancient monument, erected to
the memory of Colonel Tyldesley, upon the ground where he fell at
the battle of Wigan Lane, only tells a little of the story of
Longfellow's puritan hero, Miles Standish, who belonged to the
Chorley branch of the family of Standish of Standish, near this
town. The ingenious John Roby, author of the "Traditions of
Lancashire," was born here. Round about the old market-place, and
the fine parish church of St Wilfred, there are many quaint nooks
still left to tell the tale of centuries gone by. These remarks,
however, by the way. It is almost impossible to sunder any place
entirely from the interest which such things lend to it.

Our present business is with the share which Wigan feels of the
troubles of our own time, and in this respect it is affected by some
conditions peculiar to the place. I am told that Wigan was one of
the first--if not the very first--of the towns of Lancashire to feel
the nip of our present distress. I am told, also, that it was the
first town in which a Relief Committee was organised. The cotton
consumed here is almost entirely of the kind from ordinary to
middling American, which is now the scarcest and dearest of any.
Preston is almost wholly a spinning town. In Wigan there is a
considerable amount of weaving as well as spinning. The counts spun
in Wigan are lower than those in Preston; they range from 10's up to
20's. There is also, as I have said before, another peculiar element
of labour, which tends to give a strong flavour to the conditions of
life in Wigan, that is, the great number of people employed in the
coal mines. This, however, does not much lighten the distress which
has fallen upon the spinners and weavers, for the colliers are also
working short time--an average of four days a week. I am told, also,
that the coal miners have been subject to so many disasters of
various kinds during past years, that there is now hardly a
collier's family which has not lost one or more of its most active
members by accidents in the pits. About six years ago, the river
Douglas broke into one of the Ince mines, and nearly two hundred
people were drowned thereby. These were almost all buried on one
day, and it was a very distressing scene. Everywhere in Wigan one
may meet with the widows and orphans of men who have been killed in
the mines; and there are no few men more or less disabled by
colliery accidents, and, therefore, dependent either upon the
kindness of their employers, or upon the labour of their families in
the cotton factories. This last failing them, the result may be
easily guessed. The widows and orphans of coal miners almost always
fall back upon factory labour for a living; and, in the present
state of things, this class of people forms a very helpless element
of the general distress. These things I learnt during my brief visit
to the town a few days ago. Hereafter, I shall try to acquaint
myself more deeply and widely with the relations of life amongst the
working people there.

I had not seen Wigan during many years before that fine August
afternoon. In the Main Street and Market Place there is no striking
outward sign of distress, and yet here, as in other Lancashire
towns, any careful eye may see that there is a visible increase of
mendicant stragglers, whose awkward plaintiveness, whose helpless
restraint and hesitancy of manner, and whose general appearance,
tell at once that they belong to the operative classes now suffering
in Lancashire. Beyond this, the sights I first noticed upon the
streets, as peculiar to the place, were, here, two "Sisters of
Mercy," wending along, in their black cloaks and hoods, with their
foreheads and cheeks swathed in ghastly white bands, and with strong
rough shoes upon their feet; and, there, passed by a knot of the
women employed in the coal mines. The singular appearance of these
women has puzzled many a southern stranger. All grimed with
coaldust, they swing along the street with their dinner baskets and
cans in their hands, chattering merrily. To the waist they are
dressed like men, in strong trousers and wooden clogs. Their gowns,
tucked clean up, before, to the middle, hang down behind them in a
peaked tail. A limp bonnet, tied under the chin, makes up the head-
dress. Their curious garb, though soiled, is almost always sound;
and one can see that the wash-tub will reveal many a comely face
amongst them. The dusky damsels are "to the manner born," and as
they walk about the streets, thoughtless of singularity, the Wigan
people let them go unheeded by. Before I had been two hours in the
town, I was put into communication with one of the active members of
the Relief Committee, who offered to devote a few hours of the
following day to visitation with me, amongst the poor of a district
called "Scholes," on the eastern edge of the town. Scholes is the
"Little Ireland" of Wigan, the poorest quarter of the town. The
colliers and factory operatives chiefly live there. There is a
saying in Wigan --that, no man's education is finished until he has
been through Scholes. Having made my arrangements for the next day,
I went to stay for the night with a friend who lives in the green
country near Orrell, three miles west of Wigan.

Early next morning, we rode over to see the quaint town of
Upholland, and its fine old church, with the little ivied monastic
ruin close by. We returned thence, by way of "Orrell Pow," to Wigan,
to meet my engagement at ten in the forenoon. On our way, we could
not help noticing the unusual number of foot-sore, travel-soiled
people, many of them evidently factory operatives, limping away from
the town upon their melancholy wanderings. We could see, also, by
the number of decrepid old women, creeping towards Wigan, and now
and then stopping to rest by the wayside, that it was relief day at
the Board of Guardians. At ten, I met the gentleman who had kindly
offered to guide me for the day; and we set off together. There are
three excellent rooms engaged by the good people of Wigan for the
employment and teaching of the young women thrown out of work at the
cotton mills. The most central of the three is the lecture theatre
of the Mechanics' Institution. This room was the first place we
visited. Ten o'clock is the time appointed for the young women to
assemble. It was a few minutes past ten when we got to the place;
and there were some twenty of the girls waiting about the door. They
were barred out, on account of being behind time. The lasses seemed
very anxious to get in; but they were kept there a few minutes till
the kind old superintendent, Mr Fisher, made his appearance. After
giving the foolish virgins a gentle lecture upon the value of
punctuality, he admitted them to the room. Inside, there were about
three hundred and fifty girls mustered that morning. They are
required to attend four hours a day on four days of the week, and
they are paid 9d. a day for their attendance. They are divided into
classes, each class being watched over by some lady of the
committee. Part of the time each day is set apart for reading and
writing; the rest of the day is devoted to knitting and plain
sewing. The business of each day begins with the reading of the
rules, after which, the names are called over. A girl in a white
pinafore, upon the platform, was calling over the names when we
entered. I never saw a more comely, clean, and orderly assembly
anywhere. I never saw more modest demeanour, nor a greater
proportion of healthy, intelligent faces in any company of equal


"Hopdance cries in Tom's belly for two white herrings.
Croak not, black angel; I have no food for thee."
--King Lear.

I lingered a little while in the work-room, at the Mechanics'
Institution, interested in the scene. A stout young woman came in at
a side door, and hurried up to the centre of the room with a great
roll of coarse gray cloth, and lin check, to be cut up for the
stitchers. One or two of the classes were busy with books and
slates; the remainder of the girls were sewing and knitting; and the
ladies of the committee were moving about, each in quiet
superintendence of her own class. The room was comfortably full,
even on the platform; but there was very little noise, and no
disorder at all. I say again that I never saw a more comely, clean,
and well conducted assembly than this of three hundred and fifty
factory lasses. I was told, however, that even these girls show a
kind of pride of caste amongst one another. The human heart is much
the same in all conditions of life. I did not stay long enough to be
able to say more about this place; but one of the most active and
intelligent ladies connected with the management said to me
afterwards, "Your wealthy manufacturers and merchants must leave a
great deal of common stuff lying in their warehouses, and perhaps
not very saleable just now, which would be much more valuable to us
here than ever it will be to them. Do you think they would like to
give us a little of it if we were to ask them nicely?" I said I
thought there were many of them who would do so; and I think I said

After a little talk with the benevolent old superintendent, whose
heart, I am sure, is devoted to the business for the sake of the
good it will do, and the evil it will prevent, I set off with my
friend to see some of the poor folk who live in the quarter called
"Scholes." It is not more than five hundred yards from the
Mechanics' Institution to Scholes Bridge, which crosses the little
river Douglas, down in a valley in the eastern part of the town. As
soon as we were at the other end of the bridge, we turned off at the
right hand corner into a street of the poorest sort--a narrow old
street, called "Amy Lane." A few yards on the street we came to a
few steps, which led up, on the right hand side, to a little terrace
of poor cottages, overlooking the river Douglas. We called at one of
these cottages. Though rather disorderly just then, it was not an
uncomfortable place. It was evidently looked after by some homely
dame. A clean old cat dosed upon a chair by the fireside. The bits
of cottage furniture, though cheap, and well worn, were all there;
and the simple household gods, in the shape of pictures and
ornaments, were in their places still. A hardy-looking, brown-faced
man, with close-cropped black hair, and a mild countenance, sat on a
table by the window, making artificial flies, for fishing. In the
corner over his head a cheap, dingy picture of the trial of Queen
Catherine, hung against the wall. I could just make out the tall
figure of the indignant queen, in the well-known theatrical
attitude, with her right arm uplifted, and her sad, proud face
turned away from the judgment-seat, where Henry sits, evidently
uncomfortable in mind, as she gushes forth that bold address to her
priestly foes and accusers. The man sitting beneath the picture,
told us that he was a throstle-overlooker by trade; and that he had
been nine months out of work. He said, "There's five on us here when
we're i'th heawse. When th' wark fell off I had a bit o' brass
save't up, so we were forced to start o' usin' that. But month after
month went by, an' th' brass kept gettin' less, do what we would;
an' th' times geet wur, till at last we fund ersels fair stagged up.
At after that, my mother helped us as weel as hoo could,--why, hoo
does neaw, for th' matter o' that, an' then aw've three brothers,
colliers; they've done their best to poo us through. But they're
nobbut wortchin' four days a week, neaw; besides they'n enough to do
for their own. Aw make no acceawnt o' slotchin' up an' deawn o' this
shap, like a foo. It would sicken a dog, it would for sure. Aw go a
fishin' a bit neaw an' then; an' aw cotter abeawt wi' first one
thing an' then another; but it comes to no sense. Its noan like
gradely wark. It makes me maunder up an' deawn, like a gonnor wi' a
nail in it's yed. Aw wish to God yon chaps in Amerikey would play
th' upstroke, an' get done wi' their bother, so as folk could start
o' their wark again." This was evidently a provident man, who had
striven hard to get through his troubles decently. His position as
overlooker, too, made him dislike the thoughts of receiving relief
amongst the operatives whom he might some day be called upon to
superintend again.

A little higher up in Amy Lane we came to a kind of square. On the
side where the lane continues there is a dead brick wall; on the
other side, bounding a little space of unpaved ground, rather higher
than the lane, there are a few old brick cottages, of very mean and
dirty appearance. At the doors of some of the cottages squalid,
untidy women were lounging; some of them sitting upon the doorstep,
with their elbows on their knees, smoking, and looking stolidly
miserable. We were now getting near where the cholera made such
havoc during its last visit,--a pestilent jungle, where disease is
always prowling about, "seeking whom it can devour." A few sallow,
dirty children were playing listlessly about the space, in a
melancholy way, looking as if their young minds were already
"sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought," and unconsciously
oppressed with wonder why they should be born to such a miserable
share of human life as this. A tall, gaunt woman, with pale face,
and thinly clad in a worn and much-patched calico gown, and with a
pair of "trashes" upon her stockingless feet, sat on the step of the
cottage nearest the lane. The woman rose when she saw my friend.
"Come in," said she; and we followed her into the house. It was a
wretched place; and the smell inside was sickly. I should think a
broker would not give half-a-crown for all the furniture we saw. The
woman seemed simple-minded and very illiterate; and as she stood in
the middle of the floor, looking vaguely round she said, "Aw can
hardly ax yo to sit deawn, for we'n sowd o' th' things eawt o'th
heawse for a bit o' meight; but there is a cheer theer, sich as it
is; see yo; tak' that." When she found that I wished to know
something of her condition--although this was already well known to
the gentleman who accompanied me--she began to tell her story in a
simple, off-hand way. "Aw've had nine childer," said she; "we'n
buried six, an' we'n three alive, an' aw expect another every day."
In one corner there was a rickety little low bedstead. There was no
bedding upon it but a ragged kind of quilt, which covered the
ticking. Upon this quilt something lay, like a bundle of rags,
covered with a dirty cloth. "There's one o' th' childer, lies here,
ill," said she. "It's getten' th' worm fayver." When she uncovered
that little emaciated face, the sick child gazed at me with wild,
burning eyes, and began to whine pitifully. "Husht, my love," said
the poor woman; "he'll not hurt tho'! Husht, now; he's noan beawn to
touch tho'! He's noan o'th doctor, love. Come, neaw, husht; that's a
good lass!" I gave the little thing a penny, and one way and another
we soothed her fears, and she became silent; but the child still
gazed at me with wild eyes, and the forecast of death on its thin
face. The mother began again, "Eh, that little thing has suffered
summat," said she, wiping her eyes; "an', as aw towd yo before, aw
expect another every day. They're born nake't, an' th' next'll ha'
to remain so, for aught that aw con see. But, aw dar not begin o'
thinkin' abeawt it. It would drive me crazy. We han a little lad o'
mi sister's livin' wi' us. Aw had to tak' him when his mother deed.
Th' little thing's noather feyther nor mother, neaw. It's gwon eawt
a beggin' this morning wi' my two childer. My mother lives with us,
too," continued she; "hoo's gooin' i' eighty-four, an' hoo's
eighteen pence a week off th' teawn. There's seven on us,
o'together, an' we'n had eawr share o' trouble, one way an' another,
or else aw'm chetted. Well, aw'll tell yo' what happened to my
husban' o' i' two years' time. My husban's a collier. Well, first he
wur brought whoam wi' three ribs broken--aw wur lyin' in when they
brought him whoam. An' then, at after that, he geet his arm broken;
an' soon after he'd getten o'er that, he wur nearly brunt to deeath
i' one o'th pits at Ratcliffe; an' aw haven't quite done yet, for,
after that, he lee ill o'th rheumatic fayver sixteen week. That o'
happen't i' two years' time. It's God's truth, maister. Mr Lea knows
summat abeawt it--an' he stons theer. Yo may have a like aim what
we'n had to go through. An' that wur when times were'n good; but
then, everything o' that sort helps to poo folk deawn, yo known.
We'n had very hard deed, maister--aw consider we'n had as hard deed
as anybody livin', takkin' o' together." This case was an instance
of the peculiar troubles to which colliers and their families are
liable; a little representative bit of life among the poor of Wigan.
From this place we went further up into Scholes, to a dirty square,
called the "Coal Yard." Here we called at the house of Peter Y_, a
man of fifty-one, and a weaver of a kind of stuff called, "broad
cross-over," at which work he earned about six shillings a week,
when in full employ. His wife was a cripple, unable to help herself;
and, therefore, necessarily a burden. Their children were two girls,
and one boy. The old woman said, "Aw'm always forced to keep one
o'th lasses a-whoam, for aw connot do a hond's turn." The children
had been brought up to factory labour; but both they and their
father had been out of work nearly twelve months. During that time
the family had received relief tickets, amounting to the value of
four shillings a week. Speaking of the old man, the mother said,
"Peter has just getten a bit o' wark again, thank God. He's hardly
fit for it; but he'll do it as lung as he can keep ov his feet."


"Lord! how the people suffer day by day
A lingering death, through lack of honest bread;
And yet are gentle on their starving way,
By faith in future good and justice led."

It is a curious thing to note the various combinations of
circumstance which exist among the families of the poor. On the
surface they seem much the same; and they are reckoned up according
to number, income, and the like. But there are great differences of
feeling and cultivation amongst them; and then, every household has
a story of its own, which no statistics can tell. There is hardly a
family which has not had some sickness, some stroke of disaster,
some peculiar sorrow, or crippling hindrance, arising within itself,
which makes its condition unlike the rest. In this respect each
family is one string in the great harp of humanity--a string which,
touched by the finger of Heaven, contributes a special utterance to
that universal harmony which is too fine for mortal ears.

From the old weaver's house in "Coal Yard" we went to a place close
by, called "Castle Yard," one of the most unwholesome nooks I have
seen in Wigan yet, though there are many such in that part of the
town. It was a close, pestilent, little cul de sac, shut in by a
dead brick wall at the far end. Here we called upon an Irish family,
seven in number. The mother and two of her daughters were in. The
mother had sore eyes. The place was dirty, and the air inside was
close and foul. The miserable bits of furniture left were fit for
nothing but a bonfire. "Good morning, Mrs K_," said my friend, as we
entered the stifling house; "how are you geting on?" The mother
stood in the middle of the floor, wiping her sore eyes, and then
folding her hands in a tattered apron; whilst her daughters gazed
upon us vacantly from the background. "Oh, then," replied the woman,
"things is worse wid us entirely, sir, than whenever ye wor here
before. I dunno what will we do whin the winter comes." In reply to
me, she said, "We are seven altogether, wid my husband an' myself. I
have one lad was ill o' the yallow jaundice this many months, an'
there is somethin' quare hangin' over that boy this day; I dunno
whatever shall we do wid him. I was thinkin' this long time could I
get a ricommind to see would the doctor give him anythin' to rise an
appetite in him at all. By the same token, I know it is not a
convanient time for makin' appetites in poor folk just now. But
perhaps the doctor might be able to do him some good, by the way he
would be ready when times mind. Faith, my hands is full wid one
thing an' another. Ah, thin; but God is good, after all. We dunno
what is He goin' to do through the dark stroke is an' us this day."
Here my friend interrupted her, saying, "Don't you think, Mrs K_,
that you would be more comfortable if you were to keep your house
cleaner? It costs nothing, you know, but a little labour; and you
have nothing else to do just now." "Ah, then," replied she; "see
here, now. I was just gettin' the mug ready for that same, whenever
ye wor comin' into the yard, I was. "Here she turned sharply round,
and said to one of the girls, who was standing in the background,
"Go on, wid ye, now; and clane the flure. Didn't I tell ye many a
time this day?" The girl smiled, and shuffled away into a dingy
little room at the rear of the cottage. "Faith, sir," continued the
woman, beating time with her hand in the air; "faith, sir, it is not
aisy for a poor woman to manage unbiddable childer." "What part of
Ireland do you come from, Mrs K_?" said I. She hesitated a second or
two, and played with her chin; then, blushing slightly, she replied
in a subdued tone, "County Galway, sir." "Well," said I, "you've no
need to be ashamed of that." The woman seemed reassured, and
answered at once, "Oh, indeed then, sir, I am not ashamed--why would
I? I am more nor seventeen year now in England, an' I never
disguised my speech, nor disowned my country--nor I never will,
aither, plase God." She had said before that her husband was forty-
five years of age; and now I inquired what age she was. "I am the
same age as my husband," replied she. "Forty-five," said I. "No,
indeed, I am not forty-five," answered she; "nor forty naither."
"Are you thirty-eight?" "May be I am; I dunno. I don't think I am
thirty-eight naither; I am the same age as my husband." It was no
use talking, so the subject was dropped. As we came away, the woman
followed my friend to the door, earnestly pleading the cause of some
family in the neighbourhood, who were in great distress. "See now,"
said she, "they are a large family, and the poor crayters are
starvin'. He is a shoemaker, an' he doesn't be gettin' any work this
longtime. Oh, indeed, then, Mr Lea, God knows thim people is badly
off." My friend promised to visit the family she had spoken of, and
we came away. The smell of the house, and of the court altogether,
was so sickening that we were glad to get into the air of the open
street again.

It was now about half-past eleven, and my friend said, "We have
another workroom for young women in the schoolroom of St Catherine's
Church. It is about five minutes' walk from here; we have just time
to see it before they break up for dinner." It was a large, square,
brick building, standing by the road side, upon high ground, at the
upper end of Scholes. The church is about fifty yards east of the
schoolhouse. This workroom was more airy, and better lighted than
the one at the Mechanics' Institution. The floor was flagged, which
will make it colder than the other in winter time. There were four
hundred girls in this room, some engaged in sewing and knitting,
others in reading and writing. They are employed four days in the
week, and they are paid ninepence a day, as at the other two rooms
in the town. It really was a pleasant thing to see their clear,
healthy, blond complexions; their clothing, so clean and whole,
however poor; and their orderly deportment. But they had been
accustomed to work, and their work had given them a discipline which
is not sufficiently valued. There are people who have written a
great deal, and know very little about the influence of factory
labour upon health,--it would be worth their while to see some of
these workrooms. I think it would sweep cobwebs away from the
corners of their minds. The clothing made up in these workrooms is
of a kind suitable for the wear of working people, and is intended
to be given away to the neediest among them, in the coming winter. I
noticed a feature here which escaped me in the room at the
Mechanics' Institution. On one side of the room there was a flight
of wooden stairs, about six yards wide. Upon these steps were seated
a number of children, with books in their hands. These youngsters
were evidently restless, though not noisy; and they were not very
attentive to their books. These children were the worst clad and
least clean part of the assembly; and it was natural that they
should be so, for they were habitual beggars, gathered from the
streets, and brought there to be taught and fed. When they were
pointed out to me, I could not help thinking that the money which
has been spent upon ragged schools is an excellent investment in the
sense of world-wide good. I remarked to one of the ladies teaching
there, how very clean and healthy the young women looked. She said
that the girls had lately been more in the open air than usual.
"And," said she, speaking of the class she was superintending, "I
find these poor girls as apt learners as any other class of young
people I ever knew." We left the room just before they were
dismissed to dinner.

A few yards from the school, and by the same roadside, we came to a
little cottage at the end of a row. "We will call here," said my
friend; "I know the people very well. "A little, tidy, good-looking
woman sat by the fire, nursing an infant at the breast. The house
was clean, and all the humble furniture of the poor man's cottage
seemed to be still in its place. There were two shelves of books
hanging against the walls, and a pile of tracts and pamphlets, a
foot deep, on a small table at the back of the room. I soon found,
however, that these people were going through their share of the
prevalent suffering. The family was six in number. The comely little
woman said that her husband was a weaver of "Cross-over;" and I
suppose he would earn about six or seven shillings a week at that
kind of work; but he had been long out of work. His wife said, "I've
had to pop my husban's trousers an' waistcoat many a time to pay th'
rent o' this house." She then began to talk about her first-born,
and the theme was too much for her. "My owdest child was thirteen
when he died," said she. "Eh, he was a fine child. We lost him about
two years sin'. He was killed. He fell down that little pit o'
Wright's, Mr Lea, he did." Then the little woman began to cry, "Eh,
my poor lad! Eh, my fine little lad! Oh dear,--oh dear o' me!" What
better thing could we have done than to say nothing at such a
moment. We waited a few minutes until she became calm, and then she
began to talk about a benevolent young governess who used to live in
that quarter, and who had gone about doing good there, amongst "all
sorts and conditions of men," especially the poorest.

"Eh," said she; "that was a good woman, if ever there was one. Hoo
teached a class o' fifty at church school here, though hoo wur a
Dissenter. An' hoo used to come to this house every Sunday neet, an'
read th' Scripturs; an' th' place wur olez crammed--th' stairs an
o'. Up-groon fellows used to come an' larn fro her, just same as
childer--they did for sure--great rough colliers, an' o' mak's. Hoo
used to warn 'em again drinkin', an' get 'em to promise that they
wouldn't taste for sich a time. An' if ever they broke their
promise, they olez towd her th' truth, and owned to it at once. They
like as iv they couldn't for shame tell her a lie. There's one of
her scholars, a blacksmith--he's above fifty year owd--iv yo were to
mention her name to him just now, he'd begin a-cryin', an' he'd ha'
to walk eawt o'th heause afore he could sattle hissel'. Eh, hoo wur
a fine woman; an' everything that hoo said wur so striking. Hoo
writes to her scholars here, once a week; an' hoo wants 'em to write
back to her, as mony on 'em as con do. See yo; that's one ov her


"Come, child of misfortune, come hither!
I'll weep with thee, tear for tear."

The weaver's wife spoke very feelingly of the young governess who
had been so good to the family. Her voice trembled with emotion as
she told of her kindnesses, which had so won the hearts of the poor
folk thereabouts, that whenever they hear her name now, their
tongues leap at once into heart-warm praise of her. It seems to have
been her daily pleasure to go about helping those who needed help
most, without any narrowness of distinction; in the spirit of that
"prime wisdom" which works with all its might among such elements as
lie nearest to the hand. Children and gray-haired working men
crowded into the poor cottages to hear her read, and to learn the
first elements of education at her free classes. She left the town,
some time ago, to live in the south of England; but the blessings of
many who were ready to perish in Wigan will follow her all her days,
and her memory will long remain a garden of good thoughts and
feelings to those she has left behind. The eyes of the weaver's wife
grew moist as she told of the old blacksmith, who could not bear to
hear her name mentioned without tears. On certain nights of the week
he used to come regularly with the rest to learn to read, like a
little child, from that young teacher. As I said in my last, she
still sends a weekly letter to her poor scholars in Wigan to
encourage them in their struggles, and to induce as many of them as
are able to write to her in return. "This is one of her letters,"
said the poor woman, handing a paper to me. The manner of the
handwriting was itself characteristic of kind consideration for her
untrained readers. The words stood well apart. The letters were
clearly divided, and carefully and distinctly written, in Roman
characters, a quarter of an inch long; and there was about three-
quarters of an inch of space between each line, so as to make the
whole easier to read by those not used to manuscript. The letter ran
as follows:--"Dear friends,--I send you with this some little books,
which I hope you will like to try to read; soon, I hope, I shall be
able to help you with those texts you cannot make out by yourselves.
I often think of you, dear friends, and wish that I could sometimes
take a walk to Scholefield's Lane. This wish only makes me feel how
far I am from you, but then I remember with gladness that I may
mention you all by name to our one Father, and ask Him to bless you.
Very often I do ask Him, and one of my strongest wishes is that we,
who have so often read His message of love together, may all of us
love the Saviour, and, through Him, be saved from sin. Dear friends,
do pray to Him. With kind love and best wishes to each one of you,
believe me always, your sincere friend, __." I have dwelt a little
upon this instance of unassuming beneficence, to show that there is
a great deal of good being done in this world, which is not much
heard of, except by accident. One meets with it, here and there, as
a thirsty traveller meets with an unexpected spring in the
wilderness, refreshing its own plot of earth, without noise or

My friend and I left the weaver's cottage, and came down again into
a part of Scholes where huddled squalor and filth is to be found on
all sides. On our way we passed an old tattered Irishwoman, who was
hurrying along, with two large cabbages clipt tight in her withered
arms. "You're doin' well, old lady," said I. "Faith," replied she,
"if I had a big lump ov a ham bone, now, wouldn't we get over this
day in glory, anyhow. But no matter. There's not wan lafe o' them
two fellows but will be clane out o' sight before the clock strikes
again." The first place we called at in this quarter was a poor
half-empty cottage, inhabited by an old widow and her sick daughter.
The girl sat there pale and panting, and wearing away to skin and
bone. She was far gone in consumption. Their only source of
maintenance was the usual grant of relief from the committee, but
this girl's condition needed further consideration. The old widow
said to my friend, "Aw wish yo could get me some sort o' nourishment
for this lass, Mr Lea; aw cannot get it mysel', an' yo see'n heaw
hoo is." My friend took a note of the case, and promised to see to
it at once. When great weltering populations, like that of
Lancashire, are thrown suddenly into such a helpless state as now,
it is almost impossible to lay hold at once of every nice
distinction of circumstances that gives a speciality of suffering to
the different households of the poor. But I believe, as this time of
trouble goes on, the relief committees are giving a more careful and
delicate consideration to the respective conditions of poor

After leaving the old widow's house, as we went farther down into
the sickly hive of penury and dirt, called "Scholes," my friend told
me of an intelligent young woman, a factory operative and a Sunday-
school teacher, who had struggled against starvation, till she could
bear it no longer; and, even after she had accepted the grant of
relief, she "couldn't for shame" fetch the tickets herself, but
waited outside whilst a friend of hers went in for them. The next
house we visited was a comfortable cottage. The simple furniture was
abundant, and good of its kind, and the whole was remarkably clean.
Amongst the wretched dwellings in its neighbourhood, it shone "like
a good deed in a naughty world." On the walls there were several
Catholic pictures, neatly framed; and a large old-fashioned wooden
wheel stood in the middle of the floor, with a quantity of linen
yarn upon it. Old Stephen I__ and his cosy goodwife lived there. The
old woman was "putting the place to rights" after their noontide
meal; and Stephen was "cottering" about the head of the cellar steps
when we went in. There were a few healthy plants in the windows, and
everything gave evidence of industry and care. The good-tempered old
couple were very communicative. Old Stephen was a weaver of diaper;
and, when he had anything to do, he could earn about eight shillings
a week. "Some can get more than that at the same work," said he;
"but I am gettin' an old man, ye see. I shall be seventy-three on
the 10th of next October, and, beside that, I have a very bad arm,
which is a great hindrance to me." "He has had very little work for
months, now," said his wife; "an' what makes us feel it more, just
now, is that my son is over here on a visit to us, from Oscott
College. He is studying for the priesthood. He went to St John's,
here, in Wigan, for five years, as a pupil teacher; an' he took good
ways, so the principals of the college proposed to educate him for
the Church of Rome. He was always a good boy, an' a bright one, too.
I wish we had been able to entertain him better. But he knows that
the times are again us. He is twenty-four years of age; an' I often
think it strange that his father's birthday and his own fall on the
same day of the month--the 10th of October. I hope we'll both live
to see him an ornament to his profession yet. There is only the
girl, an' Stephen, an' myself left at home now, an' we have hard
work to pull through, I can assure ye; though there are many people
a dale worse off than we are."

From this place we went up to a street called "Vauxhall Road." In
the first cottage we called at here the inmates were all out of
work, as usual, and living upon relief. There happened to be a poor
old white-haired weaver sitting in the house,--an aged neighbour out
of work, who had come in to chat with my friend a bit. My friend
asked how he was getting on. "Yo mun speak up," said the woman of
the house, "he's very deaf." "What age are yo, maister?" said I.
"What?" "How old are yo?" "Aw'm a beamer," replied the old man, "a
twister-in,--when there's ought doin'. But it's nowt ov a trade
neaw. Aw'll tell yo what ruins me; it's these lung warps. They maken
'em seven an' eight cuts in, neaw an' then. There's so mony
'fancies' an' things i' these days; it makes my job good to nought
at o' for sich like chaps as me. When one gets sixty year owd, they
needen to go to schoo again neaw; they getten o'erta'en wi' so many
kerly-berlies o' one mak and another. Mon, owd folk at has to wortch
for a livin' cannot keep up wi' sich times as these,--nought o'th
sort." "Well, but how do you manage to live?" "Well, aw can hardly
tell,--aw'll be sunken iv aw can tell. It's very thin pikein'; but
very little does for me, an' aw've nought but mysel'. Yo see'n, aw
get a bit ov a job neaw an' then, an' a scrat amung th' rook, like
an owd hen. But aw'll tell yo one thing; aw'll not go up yon, iv aw
can help it,--aw'll not." ("Up yon" meant to the Board of
Guardians.) "Eh, now," said the woman of the house, "aw never see'd
sich a man as him i' my life. See yo, he'll sit an' clem fro mornin'
to neet afore he'll ax oather relief folk or onybody else for a

In the same street we called at a house where there was a tall, pale
old man, sitting sadly in an old arm-chair, by the fireside. The
little cottage was very sweet and orderly. Every window was cleaned
to its utmost nook of glass, and every bit of metal was brightened
up to the height. The flagged floor was new washed; and everything
was in its own place. There were a few books on little shelves, and
a Bible lay on the window-sill; and there was a sad, chapel-like
stillness in the house. A clean, staid-looking girl stood at a
table, peeling potatoes for dinner. The old man said, "We are five,
altogether, in this house. This lass is a reeler. I am a weighver;
but we'n bin out o' wark nine months, now. We'n bin force't to tak
to relief at last; an' we'n getten five tickets. We could happen ha'
manage't better,--but aw'm sore wi' rheumatism, yo see'n. Aw've had
a bit o' weighvin' i'th heawse mony a day, but aw've th' rheumatic
so bad i' this hond--it's hond that aw pick wi'--that aw couldn't
bide to touch a fither with it, bless yo. Aw have th' rheumatic all
o'er mo, nearly; an' it leads one a feaw life. Yo happen never had a
touch on it, had yo?" "Never." "Well; yo're weel off. When is this
war to end, thinken yo?" "Nay; that's a very hard thing to tell." "
Well, we mun grin an' abide till it's o'er, aw guess. It's a mad mak
o' wark. But it'll happen turn up for best i'th end ov o'."


"Mother, heaw leets we han no brade,--
Heawever con it be?
Iv aw don't get some brade to eat,
Aw think 'at aw mun dee."
--Hungry Child.

It was about noon when we left the old weaver, nursing his rheumatic
limbs by the side of a dim fire, in his chapel-like little house.
His daughter, a tall, clean, shy girl, began to peel a few potatoes
just before we came away. It is a touching thing, just now, to see
so many decent cottages of thrifty working men brought low by the
strange events of these days; cottages in which everything betokens
the care of well-conducted lives, and where the sacred fire of
independent feeling is struggling through the long frost of
misfortune with patient dignity. It is a touching thing to see the
simple joys of life, in homes like these, crushed into a speechless
endurance of penury, and the native spirit of self-reliance writhing
in unavoidable prostration, and hoping on from day to day for better
times. I have seen many such places in my wanderings during these
hard days--cottages where all was so sweet and orderly, both in
person and habitation, that, but for the funereal stillness which
sat upon hunger-nipt faces, a stranger would hardly have dreamt that
the people dwelling there were undergoing any uncommon privation. I
have often met with such people in my rambles,--I have often found
them suffering pangs more keen than hunger alone could inflict,
because they arose from the loss of those sweet relations of
independence which are dear to many of them as life itself. With
such as these--the shy, the proud, the intelligent and uncomplaining
endurers--hunger is not the hardest thing that befalls:-

"When the mind's free,
The body's delicate; the tempest in their minds
Doth from their senses take all else,
Save what beats there."

People of this temper are more numerous amongst our working
population than the world believes, because they are exactly of the
kind least likely to be heard of. They will fight their share of the
battle of this time out as nobly as they have begun it; and it will
be an ill thing for the land that owns them if full justice is not
done to their worth, both now and hereafter.

In the same street where the old weaver lived, we called upon a
collier's family--a family of ten in number. The colliers of Wigan
have been suffering a good deal lately, among the rest of the
community, from shortness of labour. It was dinner-time when we
entered the house, and the children were all swarming about the
little place clamouring for their noontide meal. With such a rough
young brood, I do not wonder that the house was not so tidy as some
that I had seen. The collier's wife was a decent, good-tempered-
looking woman, though her face was pale and worn, and bore evidence
of the truth of her words, when she said, "Bless your life, aw'm
poo'd to pieces wi' these childer!" She sat upon a stool, nursing a
child at the breast, and doing her best to still the tumult of the
others, who were fluttering about noisily. "Neaw, Sammul," said she,
"theaw'll ha' that pot upo th' floor in now,--thae little pousement
thae! Do keep eawt o' mischief,--an' make a less din, childer, win
yo:  for my yed's fair maddle't wi' one thing an' another . . .
Mary, tak' th' pon off th' fire, an' reach me yon hippin' off th'
oondur; an' then sit tho deawn somewheer, do,--thae'll be less bi
th' legs." The children ranged seemingly from about two months up to
fourteen years of age. Two of the youngest were sitting upon the
bottom step of the stairs, eating off one plate. Four rough lads
were gathered round a brown dish, which stood upon a little deal
table in the middle of the floor. These four were round-headed
little fellows, all teeming with life. "Yon catched us eawt
o'flunters, (out of order,)" said the poor woman when we entered;
"but what con a body do?" We were begging that she would not disturb
herself, when one of the lads at the table called out, "Mother; look
at eawr John. He keeps pushin' me off th' cheer!" "Eh, John,"
replied she; "I wish thy feyther were here! Thae'rt olez tormentin'
that lad. Do let him alone, wilto--or else aw'll poo that toppin' o'
thine, smartly--aw will! An' do see iv yo connot behave yorsels!"
"Well," said John; "he keeps takkin' my puddin'!" "Eh, what a
story," replied the other little fellow; "it wur thee, neaw!" "
Aw'll tell yo what it is," said the mother, "iv yo two connot agree,
an' get your dinner quietly, aw'll tak that dish away; an' yo'st not
have another bite this day. Heaw con yo for shame!" This quietened
the lads a little, and they went on with their dinner. At another
little table under the back window, two girls stood, dining off one
plate. The children were all eating a kind of light pudding, known
in Lancashire by the name of "Berm-bo," or, "Berm-dumplin'," made of
flour and yeast, mixed with a little suet. The poor woman said that
her children were all "hearty-etten," (all hearty eaters,)
especially the lads; and she hardly knew what to make for them, so
as to have enough for the whole. "Berm-dumplin'," was as satisfying
as anything that she could get, and it would "stick to their ribs"
better than "ony mak o' swill;" besides, the children liked it.
Speaking of her husband, she said, "He were eawt o' wark a good
while; but he geet a shop at last, at Blackrod, abeawt four mile off
Wigan. When he went a-wortchin' to Blackrod, at first, nought would
sarve but he would walk theer an' back every day, so as to save
lodgin' brass,--an sich like. Aw shouldn't ha' care't iv it had
nobbut bin a mile, or two even; for aw'd far rayther that he had his
meals comfortable awhoam, an' his bits o' clooas put reet; but Lord
bless yo,--eight mile a day, beside a hard day's wark,--it knocked
him up at last,--it were so like. He kept sayin', 'Oh, he could do
it,' an' sich like; but aw could see that he were fair killin'
hissel', just for the sake o' comin' to his own whoam ov a neet; an'
for th' sake o' savin' two or three shillin'; so at last aw turned
Turk, an' made him tak lodgin's theer. Aw'd summut to do to persuade
him at first, an' aw know that he's as whoam-sick as a chylt that's
lost its mother, just this minute; but then, what's th' matter o'
that,--it wouldn't do for mo to have him laid up, yo known. . . .
Oh, he's a very feelin' mon. Aw've sin him when he couldn't finish
his bit o' dinner for thinkin' o' somebody that were clemmin'."
Speaking of the hardships the family had experienced, she said, "Eh,
bless yo! There's some folk can sit i'th heawse an' send their
childer to prow eawt a-beggin' in a mornin', regilar,--but eawr
childer wouldn't do it,--an', iv they would, aw wouldn' let 'em,--
naw, not iv we were clemmin' to deeoth,--to my thinkin'."

The woman was quite right. Among the hard-tried operatives of
Lancashire I have seen several instances in which they have gone out
daily to beg; and some rare cases, even, in which they have stayed
moodily at home themselves and sent their children forth to beg; and
anybody living in this county will have noticed the increase of
mendicancy there, during the last few months. No doubt professional
beggars have taken large advantage of this unhappy time to work upon
the sympathies of those easy givers who cannot bear to hear the wail
of distress, however simulated--who prefer giving at once, because
it "does their own hearts good," to the trouble of inquiring or the
pain of refusing,--who would rather relieve twenty rogues than miss
the blessing of one honest soul who was ready to perish,--those
kind-hearted, free-handed scatterers of indiscriminate benevolence
who are the keen-eyed, whining cadger's chief support, his standing
joke, and favourite prey; and who are more than ever disposed to
give to whomsoever shall ask of them in such a season as this. All
the mendicancy which appears on our streets does not belong to the
suffering operatives of Lancashire. But, apart from those poor,
miserable crawlers in the gutters of life, who live by habitual and
unnecessary beggary, great and continued adversity is a strong test
of the moral tone of any people. Extreme poverty, and the painful
things which follow in its train--these are "bad to bide" with the
best of mankind. Besides, there are always some people who, from
causes within themselves, are continually at their wits' end to keep
the wolf from the door, even when employment is plentiful with them;
and there are some natures too weak to bear any long strain of
unusual poverty without falling back upon means of living which, in
easy circumstances, they would have avoided, if not despised. It is
one evil of the heavy pressure of the times; for there is fear that
among such as these, especially the young and plastic, some may
become so familiar with that beggarly element which was offensive to
their minds at first--may so lose the tone of independent pride, and
become "subdued to what they work in, like the dyer's hand,"--that
they may learn to look upon mendicancy as an easy source of support
hereafter, even in times of less difficulty than the present.

Happily, such weakness as this is not characteristic of the English
people; but "they are well kept that God keeps," and perhaps it
would not be wise to cramp the hand of relief too much at a time
like this, to a people who have been, and will be yet, the hope and
glory of the land.


"Poor Tom's a-cold! Who gives anything to poor Tom?"
--King Lear.

One sometimes meets with remarkable differences of condition in the
households of poor folk, which stand side by side in the same
street. I am not speaking of the uncertain shelters of those who
struggle upon the skirts of civilisation, in careless, uncared-for
wretchedness, without settled homes, or regular occupation,--the
miserable camp followers of life's warfare,--living habitually from
hand to mouth, in a reckless wrestle with the world, for mere
existence. I do not mean these, but the households of our common
working people. Amongst the latter one sometimes meets with striking
differences, in cleanliness, furniture, manners, intellectual
acquirements, and that delicate compound of mental elements called
taste. Even in families whose earnings have been equal in the past,
and who are just now subject alike to the same pinch of adversity,
these disparities are sometimes very great. And, although there are
cases in which the immediate causes of these differences are evident
enough in the habits of the people, yet, in others, the causes are
so obscure, that the wisest observer would be most careful in
judging respecting them. I saw an example of this in a little bye-
street, at the upper end of Scholes--a quarter of Wigan where the
poorest of the poor reside, and where many decent working people
have lately been driven for cheap shelter by the stress of the
times. Scholes is one of those ash-pits of human life which may be
found in almost any great town; where, among a good deal of despised
stuff, which by wise treatment might possibly be made useful to the
world, many a jewel gets accidentally thrown away, and lost. This
bye-street of mean brick cottages had an unwholesome, outcast look;
and the sallow, tattered women, lounging about the doorways, and
listlessly watching the sickly children in the street, evinced the
prevalence of squalor and want there. The very children seemed
joyless at their play; and everything that met the eye foretold that
there was little chance of finding anything in that street but
poverty in its most prostrate forms. But, even in this unpromising
spot, I met with an agreeable surprise.

The first house we entered reminded me of those clean, lone
dwellings, up in the moorland nooks of Lancashire, where the sweet
influences of nature have free play; where the people have a
hereditary hatred of dirt and disorder; and where, even now, many of
the hardy mountain folk are half farmers, half woollen weavers,
doing their weaving in their own quiet houses, where the smell of
the heather and the song of the wild bird floats in at the workman's
window, blent with the sounds of rindling waters,--doing their
weaving in green sequestered nooks, where the low of kine, and the
cry of the moorfowl can be heard; and bearing the finished "cuts"
home upon their backs to the distant town. All was so bright in this
little cottage,--so tidy and serene,--that the very air seemed
clearer there than in the open street. The humble furniture, good of
its kind, was all shiny with "elbow grease," and some parts of it
looked quaint and well-preserved, like the heirlooms of a careful
cottage ancestry. The well polished fire-irons, and other metal
things, seemed to gather up the diffuse daylight and fling it back
in concentrated radiances that illuminated the shady cottage with
cheerful beauty. The little shelf of books, the gleaming window,
with its healthy pot flowers, the perfect order, and the trim
sweetness of everything, reminded me, as I have said, of the better
sort of houses where simple livers dwell, up among the free air of
the green hills--those green hills of Lancashire, the remembrance of
which will always stir my heart as long as it can stir to anything.
This cottage, in comparison with most of those which I had seen in
Scholes, looked like a glimpse of the star-lit blue peeping through
the clouds on a gloomy night. I found that it was the house of a
widower, a weaver of diaper, who was left with a family of eight
children to look after. Two little girls were in the house, and they
were humbly but cleanly clad. One of them called her father up from
the cellar, where he was working at his looms. He was a mild,
thoughtful-looking man, something past middle age. I could not help
admiring him as he stood in the middle of the floor with his
unsleeved arms folded, uttering quiet jets of simple speech to my
friend, who had known him before. He said that he hardly ever got
anything to do now, but when he was at work he could make about 7s.
2d. a week by weaving two cuts. He was receiving six tickets weekly
from the Relief Committee, which, except the proceeds of a little
employment now and then, was all that the family of nine had to
depend upon for food, firing, clothes, and rent. He said that he was
forced to make every little spin out as far as it would; but it kept
him bare and busy, and held his nose "everlastingly deawn to th'
grindlestone." But he didn't know that it was any use complaining
about a thing that neither master nor man could help. He durst say
that he could manage to grin and bide till things came round, th'
same as other folk had to do. Grumbling, in a case like this, was
like "fo'in eawt wi' th' elements," (quarrelling with a storm.) One
of his little girls was on her knees, cleaning the floor. She
stopped a minute, to look at my friend and me. "Come, my lass," said
her father, "get on wi' thi weshin'." "I made application for th'
watchman's place at Leyland Mill," continued he, "but I wur to lat.
. . . There's nought for it," continued he, as we came out of the
house, "there's nought for it but to keep one's een oppen, an' do as
weel as they con, till it blows o'er."

A few yards from this house, we looked in at a slip of a cottage, at
the corner of the row. It was like a slice off some other cottage,
stuck on at the end of the rest, to make up the measure of the
street; for it was less than two yards wide, by about four yards
long. There was only one small window, close to the door, and it was
shrouded by a dingy cotton blind. When we first entered, I could
hardly see what there was in that gloomy cell; but when the eyes
became acquainted with the dimness within, we found that there was
neither fire nor furniture in the place, except at the far end,
where an old sick woman lay gasping upon three chairs, thinly
covered from the cold. She was dying of asthma. At her right hand
there was another rickety chair, by the help of which she raised
herself up from her hard bed. She said that she had never been up
stairs during the previous twelve months, but had lain there, at the
foot of the stairs, all that time. She had two daughters. They were
both out of the house; and they had been out of work a long time.
One of them had gone to Miss B_'s to learn to sew. "She gets her
breakfast before she starts," said the old woman, "an' she takes a
piece o' bread with her, to last for th' day." It was a trouble to
her to talk much, so we did not stop long; but I could not help
feeling sorry that the poor old soul had not a little more comfort
to smooth her painful passage to the grave. On our way from this
place, we went into a cottage near the "Coal Yard," where a tall,
thin Irishwoman was washing some tattered clothes, whilst her
children played about the gutter outside. This was a family of
seven, and they were all out of work, except the father, who was
away, trying to make a trifle by hawking writing-paper and
envelopes. This woman told us that she was in great trouble about
one of her children--the eldest daughter, now grown up to womanhood.
"She got married to a sailor about two year ago," said she, "an' he
wint away a fortnit after, an' never was heard of since. She never
got the scrape ov a pen from him to say was he alive or dead. She
never heard top nor tail of him since he wint from her; an' the girl
is just pinin' away."

Poor folk have their full share of the common troubles of life,
apart from the present distress. The next place we visited was the
"Fleece Yard," another of those unhealthy courts, of which there are
so many in Scholes--where poverty and dirt unite to make life doubly
miserable. In this yard we went up three or four steps into a little
disorderly house, where a family of eleven was crowded. Not one of
the eleven was earning anything except the father, who was working
for ls. 3d. a day. In addition to this the family received four
tickets weekly from the Relief Committee. There were several of the
children in, and they looked brisk and healthy, in spite of the dirt
and discomfort of the place; but the mother was sadly "torn down" by
the cares of her large family. The house had a sickly smell. Close
to the window, a little, stiff built, bullet-headed lad stood,
stript to the waist, sputtering and splashing as he washed himself
in a large bowl of water, placed upon a stool. By his side there was
another lad three or four years older, and the two were having a bit
of famous fun together, quite heedless of all else. The elder kept
ducking the little fellow's head into the water, upon which the one
who was washing himself sobbed, and spat, and cried out in great
glee, "Do it again, Jack!" The mother, seeing us laugh at the lads,
said, "That big un's been powin' tother, an' th' little monkey's
gone an' cut every smite o' th' lad's toppin' off. "" Well," said
the elder lad, "Aw did it so as nobody can lug him. "And it
certainly was a close clip. We could see to the roots of the little
fellow's hair all over his round, hard head. "Come," said the
mother, "yo two are makin' a nice floor for mo. Thae'll do, mon;
arto beawn to lother o' th' bit o' swoap away that one has to wash
wi'; gi's howd on't this minute, an' go thi ways an' dry thisel',
thae little pouse, thae." We visited several other places in Scholes
that day, but of these I will say something hereafter. In the
evening I returned home, and the thing that I best remember hearing
on the way was an anecdote of two Lancashire men, who had been
disputing a long time about something that one of them knew little
of. At last the other turned to him, and said, "Jem; does thae know
what it is that makes me like thee so weel, owd brid?" "Naw; what is
it?" "Why; it's becose thae'rt sich a ___ foo!" "Well," replied the
other, "never thee mind that;" and then, alluding to the subject
they had been disputing about, he said, "Thae knows, Joe, aw know
thae'rt reet enough; but, by th' men, aw'll not give in till


"Here, take this purse, thou whom the Heaven's plagues
Have humbled to all strokes."
--King Lear.

In the afternoon of the last day I spent in Wigan, as I wandered
with my friend from one cottage to another, in the long suburban
lane called "Hardy Butts," I bethought me how oft I had met with
this name of "Butts "connected with places in or close to the towns
of Lancashire. To me the original application of the name seems
plain, and not uninteresting. In the old days, when archery was
common in England, the bowmen of Lancashire were famous; and it is
more than likely that these yet so-called "Butts" are the places
where archery was then publicly practised. When Sir Edward Stanley
led the war-smiths of Lancashire and Cheshire to Flodden Field, the
men of Wigan are mentioned as going with the rest. And among those
"fellows fearce and freshe for feight," of whom the quaint old
alliterative ballad describes the array:-

"A stock of striplings strong of heart,
Brought up from babes with beef and bread,
From Warton unto Warrington
From Wigan unto Wiresdale--"

and, from a long list of the hills, and cloughs, and old towns of
the county--the bowmen of Lancashire did their share of work upon
that field. The use of the bow lingered longer in Lancashire than in
some parts of the kingdom--longer in England generally than many
people suppose. Sir Walter Scott says, in a note to his "Legend of
Montrose:" "Not only many of the Highlanders in Montrose's army used
these antique missiles, but even in England the bow and quiver, once
the glory of the bold yeomen of that land, were occasionally used
during the great civil wars."

But I have said enough upon this subject in this place. My friend's
business, and mine, in Wigan, that day, was connected with other
things. He was specially wishful that I should call upon an
acquaintance of his, who lived in "Hardy Butts," an old man and very
poor; a man heavily stricken by fortune's blows, yet not much tamed
thereby; a man "steeped to the lips" in poverty, yet of a jocund
spirit; a humorist and a politician, among his humble companions. I
felt curious to see this "Old John," of whom I heard so much. We
went to the cottage where he lived. There was very little furniture
in the place, and, like the house itself, it was neither good nor
clean; but then the poverty-stricken pair were very old, and, so far
as household comfort went, they had to look after themselves. When
we entered, the little wrinkled woman sat with her back to us,
smoking, and gazing at the dirty grate, where a few hot cinders
glowed dimly in the lowmost bars. "Where's John?" said my friend.
"He hasn't bin gone eawt aboon five minutes," said she, turning
round to look at us, "Wur yo wantin' him?" "Yes, I should like to
see him." She looked hard at my friend again, and then cried out,
"Eh, is it yo? Come, an' sit yo deawn! aw'll go an' see iv aw can
root him up for yo!" But we thought it as well to visit some other
houses in the neighbourhood, calling at old John's again afterwards;
so we told the old woman, and came away.

My friend was well known to the poor people of that neighbourhood as
a member of the Relief Committee, and we had not gone many yards
down "Hardy Butts" before we drew near where three Irishwomen were
sitting upon the doorsteps of a miserable cottage, chattering, and
looking vacantly up and down the slutchy street. As soon as they
caught sight of my friend, one of the women called out, "Eh, here's
Mr Lea! Come here, now, Mr Lea, till I spake to ye. Ah, now;
couldn't ye do somethin' for old Mary beyant there? Sure the colour
of hunger's in that woman's face. Faith, it's a pity to see the way
she is,--neither husband nor son, nor chick nor child, nor bit nor
sup, barrin' what folk that has nothin' can give to her,--the
crayter." " Oh, indeed, then, sir," said another, "I'll lave it to
God; but that woman is starvin'. She is little more nor skin an'
bone,--and that's goin' less. Faith, she's not long for this world,
any how. . . . Bridget, ye might run an' see can she come here a
minute. . . . But there she is, standin' at the corner. Mary! Come
here, now, woman, till ye see the gentleman." She was a miserable-
looking creature; old, and ill, and thinly-clothed in rags, with a
dirty cloth tied round her head. My friend asked her some questions,
which she answered slowly, in a low voice that trembled with more
than the weakness of old age. He promised to see to the relief of
her condition immediately-- and she thanked him, but so feebly, that
it seemed to me as if she had not strength enough left to care much
whether she was relieved or not.

But, as we came away, the three Irishwomen, sitting upon the door-
steps, burst forth into characteristic expressions of gratitude.
"Ah! long life to ye, Mr Lea! The prayer o' the poor is wid ye for
evermore. If there was ony two people goin' to heaven alive, you'll
be wan o' them. . .  That ye may never know want nor scant,--for the
good heart that's batein' in ye, Mr Lea." We now went through some
of the filthy alleys behind "Hardy Butts," till we came to the
cottage of a poor widow and her two daughters. The three were
entirely dependent upon the usual grant of relief from the
committee. My friend called here to inquire why the two girls had
not been to school during the previous few days; and whilst their
mother was explaining the reason, a neighbour woman who had seen us
enter, looked in at the door, and said, "Hey! aw say, Mr Lea!"
"Well, what's the matter?" " Whaw, there's a woman i'th next street
at's gettin' four tickets fro th' relief folk, reggilar, an' her
husban's addlin' thirty shillin' a week o' t' time, as a sinker--he
is for sure. Aw 'm noan tellin' yo a wort ov a lie. Aw consider sick
wark as that's noan reet--an' so mony folk clemmin' as there is i'
Wigan." He made a note of the matter; but he told me afterwards that
such reports were often found to be untrue, having their origin
sometimes in private spite or personal contention of some kind.

In the next house we called at, a widow woman lived, with her
married daughter, who had a child at the breast. The old woman told
her story herself; the daughter never spoke a word, so far as I
remember, but sat there, nursing, silent and sad, with half-averted
face, and stealing a shy glance at us now and then, when she thought
we were not looking at her. It was a clean cottage, though it was
scantily furnished with poor things; and they were both neat and
clean in person, though their clothing was meagre and far worn. I
thought, also, that the old woman's language, and the countenances
of both of them, indicated more natural delicacy of feeling, and
more cultivation, than is common amongst people of their condition.
The old woman said, "My daughter has been eawt o' work a long time.
I can make about two shillings and sixpence a-week, an' we've a
lodger that pays us two shillings a week; but we've three shillings
a-week to pay for rent, an' we must pay it, too, or else turn out.
But I'm lookin' for a less heawse; for we cannot afford to stop here
any longer, wi' what we have comin' in, --that is, if we're to live
at o'." I thought the house they were in was small enough and mean
enough for the poorest creature, and, though it was kept clean, the
neighbourhood was very unwholesome. But this was another instance of
how the unemployed operatives of Lancashire are being driven down
from day to day deeper into the pestilent sinks of life in these
hard times. "This child of my daughter's," continued the old woman,
in a low tone, "this child was born just as they were puttin' my
husband into his coffin, an' wi' one thing an' another, we've had a
deal o' trouble. But one half o'th world doesn't know how tother
lives. My husban' lay ill i' bed three year; an' he suffered to that
degree that he was weary o' life long before it were o'er. At after
we lost him, these bad times coom on, an' neaw, aw think we're poo'd
deawn as nee to th' greawnd as ony body can be. My daughter's
husband went off a-seekin' work just afore that child was born,--an'
we haven't heard from him yet." My friend took care that his visit
should result in lightening the weight of the old woman's troubles a

As we passed the doors of a row of new cottages at the top end of
"Hardy Butts," a respectable old man looked out at one of the
doorways, and said to my friend, "Could aw spake to yo a minute?" We
went in, and found the house remarkably clean, with good cottage
furniture in it. Two neighbour children were peeping in at the open
door. The old man first sent them away, and then, after closing the
door, he pointed to a good-looking young woman who stood blushing at
the entrance of the inner room, with a wet cloth in her hands, and
he said, "Could yo do a bit o' summat to help this lass till sich
times as hoo can get wark again? Hoo's noather feyther nor mother,
nor nought i'th world to tak to, but what aw can spare for her, an'
this is a poor shop to come to for help. Aw'm uncle to her." "Well,"
said my friend, "and cannot you manage to keep her?" "God bless yo!"
replied the old man, getting warm, "Aw cannot keep mysel'. Aw will
howd eawt as lung as aw can; but, yo know, what'll barely keep one
alive 'll clem two. Aw should be thankful iv yo could give her a bit
o' help whol things are as they are." Before the old man had done
talking, his niece had crept away into the back room, as if ashamed
of being the subject of such a conversation. This case was soon
disposed of to the satisfaction of the old man; after which we
visited three other houses in the same block, of which I have
nothing special to say, except that they were all inhabited by
people brought down to destitution by long want of work, and living
solely upon the relief fund, and upon the private charity of their
old employers. Upon this last source of relief too little has been
said, because it has not paraded itself before the public eye; but I
have had opportunities for seeing how wide and generous it is, and I
shall have abundant occasion for speaking of it hereafter. On our
way back, we looked in at "Old John's" again, to see if he had
returned home. He had been in, and he had gone out again, so we came
away, and saw nothing of him. Farther down towards the town, we
passed through Acton Square, which is a cleaner place than some of
the abominable nooks of Scholes, though I can well believe that
there is many a miserable dwelling in it, from what I saw of the
interiors and about the doorways, in passing.

The last house we called at was in this square, and it was a
pleasing exception to the general dirt of the neighbourhood. It was
the cottage of a stout old collier, who lost his right leg in one of
Wright's pits some years ago. My friend knew the family, and we
called there more for the purpose of resting ourselves and having a
chat than anything else. The old man was gray-haired, but he looked
very hale and hearty--save the lack of his leg. His countenance was
expressive of intelligence and good humour; and there was a touch of
quiet majesty about his massive features. There was, to me, a kind
of rude hint of Christopher North in the old collier's appearance.
His wife, too, was a tall, strong-built woman, with a comely and a
gentle face --a fit mate for such a man as he. I thought, as she
moved about, her grand bulk seemed to outface the narrow limits of
the cottage. The tiny house was exceedingly clean, and comfortably
furnished. Everything seemed to be in its appointed place, even to
the sleek cat sleeping on the hearth. There were a few books on a
shelf, and a concertina upon a little table in the corner. When we
entered, the old collier was busy with the slate and pencil, and an
arithmetic before him; but he laid them aside, and, doffing his
spectacles, began to talk with us. He said that they were a family
of six, and all out of work; but he said that, ever since he lost
his leg, the proprietors of the pit in which the accident happened
(Wright's) had allowed him a pension of six shillings a week, which
he considered very handsome. This allowance just kept the wolf from
their little door in these hard times. In the course of our
conversation I found that the old man read the papers frequently,
and that he was a man of more than common information in his class.
I should have been glad to stay longer with him, but my time was up;
so I came away from the town, thus ending my last ramble amongst the
unemployed operatives of Wigan. Since then the condition of the poor
there has been steadily growing worse, which is sure to be heard of
in the papers.



"Take physic, pomp!
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel;
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,
And show the Heavens more just."
--King Lear.

On the Saturday after my return from Wigan, a little incident fell
in my way, which I thought worth taking note of at the time; and
perhaps it may not be uninteresting to your readers. On that day I
went up to Levenshulme, to spend the afternoon with an old friend of
mine, a man of studious habits, living in a retired part of that
green suburb. The time went pleasantly by whilst I was with the calm
old student, conversing upon the state of Lancashire, and the
strange events which are upheaving the civilised world in great
billows of change,--and drinking in the peaceful charm which
pervaded everything about the man and his house and the scene which
it stood in.

After tea, he came with me across the fields to the "Midway Inn," on
Stockport Road, where the omnibuses call on their way to Manchester.
It was a lovely evening, very clear and cool, and twilight was
sinking upon the scene. Waiting for the next omnibus, we leaned
against the long wooden watering-trough in front of the inn. The
irregular old building looked picturesque in the soft light of
declining day, and all around was so still that we could hear the
voices of bowlers who were lingering upon the green, off at the
north side of the house, and retired from the highway by an
intervening garden. The varied tones of animation, and the phrases
uttered by the players, on different parts of the green, came
through the quiet air with a cheery ring. The language of the
bowling-green sounds very quaint to people unused to the game. "Too
much land, James!" cries one. "Bravo, bully-bowl! That's th' first
wood! Come again for more!" cries another. "Th' wrong bias, John!"
"How's that?" "A good road; but it wants legs! Narrow; narrow, o' to
pieces!" These, and such like phrases of the game, came distinctly
from the green into the highway that quiet evening. And here I am
reminded, as I write, that the philosophic Doctor Dalton was a
regular bowler upon Tattersall's green, at Old Trafford. These
things, however, are all aside from the little matters which I wish
to tell.

As we stood by the watering-trough, listening to the voices of the
bowlers, and to the occasional ringing of bells mingled with a low
buzz of merriment inside the house, there were many travellers went
by. They came, nearly all of them, from the Manchester side;
sometimes three or four in company, and sometimes a lonely
straggler. Some of them had poor-looking little bundles in their
hands; and, with a few exceptions, their dress, their weary gait,
and dispirited looks led me to think that many of them were
unemployed factory operatives, who had been wandering away to beg
where they would not be known. I have met so many shame-faced,
melancholy people in that condition during the last few months,
that, perhaps, I may have somewhat over judged the number of these
that belongs to that class. But, in two or three cases, little
snatches of conversation, uttered by them as they went by, plainly
told that, so far as the speakers went, it was so; and, at last, a
little thing befell, which, I am sure, represented the condition of
many a thousand more in Lancashire just now. Three young women
stopped on the footpath in front of the inn, close to the place
where we stood, and began to talk together in a very free, open way,
quite careless of being overheard. One of them was a stout, handsome
young woman, about twenty-three. Her dress was of light printed
stuff, clean and good. Her round, ruddy arms, her clear blond
complexion, and the bright expression of her full open countenance,
all indicated health and good-nature. I guessed from her
conversation, as well as from her general appearance, that she was a
factory operative in full employ--though that is such a rare thing
in these parts now. The other two looked very poor and downhearted.
One was a short, thick-set girl, seemingly not twenty years of age;
her face was sad, and she had very little to say. The other was a
thin, dark-haired, cadaverous woman, above thirty years of age, as I
supposed; her shrunk visage was the picture of want, and her frank,
child-like talk showed great simplicity of character. The weather
had been wet for some days previous; and the clothing of the two
looked thin, and shower-stained. It had evidently been worn a good
while; and the colours were faded. Each of them wore a shivery bit
of shawl, in which their hands were folded, as if to keep them warm.
The handsome lass, who seemed to be in good employ, knew them both;
but she showed an especial kindness towards the eldest of them.

As these two stood talking to their friend, we did not take much
notice of what they were saying until two other young women came
slowly from townwards, looking poor, and tired, and ill, like the
first. These last comers instantly recognised two of those who stood
talking together in front of the inn, and one of them said to the
other, "Eh, sitho; there's Sarah an' Martha here! . . . Eh, lasses;
han yo bin a-beggin' too?" "Ay, lass; we han;" replied the thin,
dark complexioned woman; "Ay, lass; we han. Aw've just bin tellin'
Ann, here. Aw never did sich a thing i' my life afore--never! But
it's th' first time and th' last for me,--it is that! Aw'll go
whoam; an' aw'll dee theer, afore aw'll go a-beggin' ony moor, aw
will for sure! Mon, it's sich a nasty, dirty job; aw'd as soon clem!
. . . See yo, lasses; we set off this mornin'--Martha an' me, we set
eawt this mornin' to go to Gorton Tank, becose we yerd that it wur
sich a good place. But one doesn't know wheer to go these times; an'
one doesn't like to go a-beggin' among folk at they known. Well,
when we coom to Gorton we geet twopence-hawpenny theer; an' that wur
o'. Neaw, there's plenty moor beggin' besides us. Well, at after
that twopence-hawpenny, we geet twopence moor, an' that's o' at we'n
getten. But, eh, lasses, when aw coom to do it, aw hadn't th' heart
to as for nought; aw hadn't for sure. . . . Martha an' me's walked
aboon ten mile iv we'n walked a yard; an' we geet weet through th'
first thing; an' aw wur ill when we set off, an' so wur Martha, too;
aw know hoo wur, though hoo says nought. Well; we coom back through
t' teawn; an' we were both on us fair stagged up. Aw never were so
done o'er i' my life, wi' one thing an' another. So we co'de a-
seein' Ann here; an' hoo made us a rare good baggin'--th' lass did.
See yo; aw wur fit to drop o'th flags afore aw geet that saup o'
warm tay into mo--aw wur for sure! An' neaw, hoo's come'd a gate wi'
us hitherto, an' hoo would have us to have a glass o' warm ale a-
piece at yon heawse lower deawn a bit; an' aw dar say it'll do mo
good, aw getten sich a cowd; but, eh dear, it's made mo as mazy as a
tup; an' neaw, hoo wants us to have another afore we starten off
whoam. But it's no use; we mun' be gooin' on. Aw'm noan used to it,
an' aw connot ston it. Aw'm as wake as a kittlin' this minute."

Ann, who had befriended them in this manner, was the handsome young
woman who seemed to be in work; and now, the poor woman who had been
telling the story, laid her hand upon her friend's shoulder and
said, "Ann, thae's behaved very weel to us o' roads; an' neaw, lass,
go thi ways whoam, an' dunnut fret abeawt us, mon. Aw feel better
neaw, aw do for sure. We's be reet enough to-morn, lass. Mon,
there's awlus some way shap't. That tay's done me a deeol o' good. .
. . Go thi ways whoam, Ann; neaw do; or else aw shan't be yezzy
abeawt tho!" But Ann, who was wiping her eyes with her apron,
replied, "Naw, naw; aw will not go yet, Sarah!" . . . And then she
began to cry, "Eh, lasses; aw dunnot like to see yo o' this shap--aw
dunnot for sure! Besides, yo'n bin far enough today. Come back wi'
me. Aw connot find reawm for both on yo; but thee come back wi' me,
Sarah. Aw'll find thee a good bed:  an' thae'rt welcome to a share
o' what there is--as welcome as th' fleawers i May--thae knows that.
Thae'rt th' owdest o' th' two; an thae'rt noan fit to trawnce up an'
deawn o' this shap. Come back to eawr heawse; an' Martha'll go
forrud to Stopput, (Stockport,)--winnot tho, Martha! . . . Thae
knows, Martha," continued she, "thae knows, Martha, thae munnot
think nought at me axin' Sarah, an' noan o' thee. Yo should both on
yo go back iv aw'd reawm,--but aw haven't. Beside, thae'rt younger
an' strunger than hoo is." " Eh, God bless tho, lass," replied
Martha, "aw know o' abeawt it. Aw'd rayther Sarah would stop, for
hoo'll be ill. Aw can go forrud by mysel', weel enough. It's noan so
fur, neaw." But, here, Sarah, the eldest of the three, laid her hand
once more upon the shoulder of her friend, and said in an earnest
tone, "Ann! it will not do, my lass! Go aw MUN! I never wur away fro
whoam o' neet i my life,--never! Aw connot do it, mon! Beside, thae
knows, aw've laft yon lad, an' never a wick soul wi' him! He'd fret
hissel' to deoth this neet, mon, if aw didn't go whoam! Aw couldn't
sleep a wink for thinkin' abeawt him! Th' child would be fit to
start eawt o'th heawse i'th deead time o'th neet a-seechin' mo,--aw
know he would! . . . Aw mun go, mon:  God bless tho, Ann; aw'm
obleeged to thee o' th' same. But, thae knows heaw it is. Aw mun

Here the omnibus came up, and I rode back to Manchester. The whole
conversation took up very little more time than it will take to read
it; but I thought it worth recording, as characteristic of the
people now suffering in Lancashire from no fault of their own. I
know the people well. The greatest number of them would starve
themselves to that degree that they would not be of much more
physical use in this world, before they would condescend to beg. But
starving to death is hard work. What will winter bring to them when
severe weather begins to tell upon constitutions lowered in tone by
a starvation diet--a diet so different to what they have been used
to when in work? What will the 1s. 6d. a-head weekly do for them in
that hard time? If something more than this is not done for them,
when more food, clothing, and fire are necessary to everybody,
calamities may arise which will cost England a hundred times more
than a sufficient relief--a relief worthy of those who are
suffering, and of the nation they belong to--would have cost. In the
meantime the cold wings of winter already begin to overshadow the
land; and every day lost involves the lives, or the future
usefulness, of thousands of our best population.



"For whom the heart of man shuts out,
Straightway the heart of God takes in,
And fences them all round about
With silence, 'mid the world's loud din.
And one of his great charities
Is music; and it doth not scorn
To close the lids upon the eyes
Of the weary and forlorn."

There is one feature of the distress in Lancashire which was seen
strikingly upon the streets of our large towns during some months of
1862. I allude to the wandering minstrelsy of the unemployed. Swarms
of strange, shy, sad-looking singers and instrumental performers, in
the work-worn clothing of factory operatives, went about the busy
city, pleading for help in touching wails of simple song--like so
many wild birds driven by hard weather to the haunts of man. There
is something instructive, as well as affecting, in this feature of
the troubled time. These wanderers are only a kind of representative
overflow of a vast number whom our streets will never see. Any one
well acquainted with Lancashire, will know how widespread the study
of music is among its working population. Even the inhabitants of
our large towns know something more about this now than they knew a
few months ago. I believe there is no part of England in which the
practice of sacred music is so widely and lovingly pursued amongst
the working people as in the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire.
There is no part of England where, until lately, there have been so
many poor men's pianos, which have been purchased by a long course
of careful savings from the workman's wages. These, of course, have
mostly been sold during the hard times to keep life in the owner and
his family. The great works of Handel, Haydn, Beethoven, and Mozart
have solaced the toil of thousands of the poorest working people of
Lancashire. Anybody accustomed to wander among the moorlands of the
country will remember how common it is to hear the people practising
sacred music in their lonely cottages. It is not uncommon to meet
working men wandering over the wild hills, "where whip and heather
grow," with their musical instruments, to take part in some village
oratorio many miles away. "That reminds me," as tale-tellers say, of
an incident among the hills, which was interesting, though far from
singular in my experience.

Up in the forest of Rosendale, between Derply Moor and the wild bill
called Swinshaw, there is a little lone valley, a green cup in the
mountains, called "Dean." The inhabitants of this valley are so
notable for their love of music, that they are known all through the
vales of Rosendale as "Th' Deighn Layrocks," or "The Larks of Dean."
In the twilight of a glorious Sunday evening, in the height of
summer, I was roaming over the heathery waste of Swinshaw, towards
Dean, in company with a musical friend of mine, who lived in the
neighbouring clough, when we saw a little crowd of people coming
down a moorland slope, far away in front of us. As they drew nearer,
we found that many of them had musical instruments, and when we met,
my friend recognised them as working people living in the district,
and mostly well known to him. He inquired where they had been; and
they told him that they had "bin to a bit ov a sing deawn i'th
Deighn." "Well," said he, "can't we have a tune here?" "Sure, yo
con, wi' o' th' plezzur i'th world," replied he who acted as
spokesman; and a low buzz of delighted consent ran through the rest
of the company. They then ranged themselves in a circle around their
conductor, and they played and sang several fine pieces of psalmody
upon the heather-scented mountain top. As those solemn strains
floated over the wild landscape, startling the moorfowl untimely in
his nest, I could not help thinking of the hunted Covenanters of
Scotland. The all-together of that scene upon the mountains,
"between the gloaming and the mirk," made an impression upon me
which I shall not easily forget. Long after we parted from them we
could hear their voices, softening in sound as the distance grew,
chanting on their way down the echoing glen, and the effect was
wonderfully fine. This little incident upon the top of Swinshaw is
representative of things which often occur in the country parts of
Lancashire, showing how widespread the love of music is among the
working classes there. Even in great manufacturing towns, it is very
common, when passing cotton mills at work, to hear some fine psalm
tune streaming in chorus from female voices, and mingling with the
spoom of thousands of spindles. The "Larks of Dean," like the rest
of Lancashire operatives, must have suffered in this melancholy
time; but I hope that the humble musicians of our county will never
have occasion to hang their harps upon the willows.

Now, when fortune has laid such a load of sorrow upon the working
people of Lancashire, it is a sad thing to see so many workless
minstrels of humble life "chanting their artless notes in simple
guise" upon the streets of great towns, amongst a kind of life they
are little used to. There is something very touching, too, in their
manner and appearance. They may be ill-shod and footsore; they may
be hungry, and sick at heart, and forlorn in countenance, but they
are almost always clean and wholesome-looking in person. They come
singing in twos and threes, and sometimes in more numerous bands, as
if to keep one another in countenance. Sometimes they come in a
large family all together, the females with their hymn-books, and
the men with their different musical instruments,--bits of pet
salvage from the wrecks of cottage homes. The women have sometimes
children in their arms, or led by the hand; and they sometimes carry
music-books for the men. I have seen them, too, with little
handkerchiefs of rude provender for the day. As I said before, they
are almost invariably clean in person, and their clothing is almost
always sound and seemly in appearance, however poor and scanty.
Amongst these poor wanderers there is none of the reckless personal
negligence and filth of hopeless reprobacy; neither is there a
shadow of the professional ostentation of poverty amongst them.
Their faces are sad, and their manners very often singularly shame-
faced and awkward; and any careful observer would see at a glance
that these people were altogether unused to the craft of the trained
minstrel of the streets. Their clear, healthy complexion, though
often touched with pallor, their simple, unimportunate demeanour,
and the general rusticity of their appearance, shows them to be

"Suppliants who would blush
To wear a tatter'd garb, however coarse;
Whom famine cannot reconcile to filth;
Who ask with painful shyness, and refused,
Because deserving, silently retire."

The females, especially the younger ones, generally walk behind,
blushing and hiding themselves as much as possible. I have seen the
men sometimes walk backwards, with their faces towards those who
were advancing, as if ashamed of what they were doing. And thus they
went wailing through the busy streets, whilst the listening crowd
looks on them pityingly and wonderingly, as if they were so many
hungry shepherds from the mountains of Calabria. This flood of
strange minstrels partly drowned the slang melodies and the
monotonous strains of ordinary street musicians for a while. The
professional gleeman "paled his ineffectual fire" before these
mournful songsters. I think there never was so much sacred music
heard upon the streets of Manchester before. With the exception of a
favourite glee now and then, their music consisted chiefly of fine
psalm tunes--often plaintive old strains, known and welcome to all,
because they awaken tender and elevating remembrances of life.
"Burton," "French," "Kilmarnock," "Luther's Hymn," the grand "Old
Hundred," and many other fine tunes of similar character, have
floated daily in the air of our city, for months together. I am sure
that this choice does not arise from the minstrels themselves having
craft enough to select "a mournful muse, soft pity to infuse." It is
the kind of music which has been the practice and pleasure of their
lives, and it is a fortuitous thing that now, in addition to its
natural plaintiveness, the sad necessity of the times lends a tender
accompaniment to their simplest melody. I doubt very much whether
Leech's minor tunes were ever heard upon our streets till lately.
Leech was a working man, born near the hills, in Lancashire; and his
anthems and psalm tunes are great favourites among the musical
population, especially in the country districts. Leech's harp was
tuned by the genius of sorrow. Several times lately I have heard the
tender complaining notes of his psalmody upon the streets of the
city. About three months ago I heard one of his most pathetic tunes
sung in the market-place by an old man and two young women. The old
man's dress had the peculiar hue and fray of factory work upon it,
and he had a pair of clogs upon his stockingless feet. They were
singing one of Leech's finest minor tunes to Wesley's hymn:-

"And am I born to die,
To lay this body down?
And must my trembling spirit fly
Into a world unknown?
A land of deepest shade,
Unpierced by human thought;
The dreary country of the dead
Where all things are forgot."

It is a tune often sung by country people in Lancashire at funerals;
and, if I remember right, the same melody is cut upon Leech's
gravestone in the old Wesleyan Chapel-yard, at Rochdale. I saw a
company of minstrels of the same class going through Brown Street,
the other day, playing and singing,

"In darkest shades, if Thou appear,
My dawning is begun."

The company consisted of an old man, two young men, and three young
women. Two of the women had children in their arms. After I had
listened to them a little while, thinking the time and the words a
little appropriate to their condition, I beckoned to one of the
young men, who came "sidling" slowly up to me. I asked him where
they came from, and he said, "Ash'n." In answer to another question,
he said, "We're o' one family. Me an' yon tother's wed. That's his
wife wi' th' chylt in her arms, an' hur wi' th' plod shawl on's
mine." I asked if the old man was his father. "Ay," replied he,
"we're o' here, nobbut two. My mother's ill i' bed, an' one o' my
sisters is lookin' after her." " Well, an' heaw han yo getten on?"
said I. "Oh, we'n done weel; but we's come no moor," replied he.
Another day, there was an instrumental band of these operatives
playing sacred music close to the Exchange lamp. Amongst the crowd
around, I met with a friend of mine. He told me that the players
were from Staleybridge. They played some fine old tunes, by desire,
and, among the rest, they played one called "Warrington. "When they
had played it several times over, my friend turned to me and said,
"That tune was composed by a Rev. Mr Harrison, who was once minister
of Cross Street Unitarian Chapel, in Manchester; and, one day, an
old weaver, who had come down from the hills, many miles, staff in
hand, knocked at the minister's door, and asked if there was 'a
gentleman co'de' Harrison lived theer?' 'Yes.' 'Could aw see him?'
'Yes.' When the minister came to the door, the old weaver looked
hard at him, for a minute, and said, 'Are yo th' mon 'at composed
that tune co'de Worrington?' 'Yes,' replied the minister, 'I believe
I am.' 'Well,' said the old weaver, 'give me your hond! It's a good
un!' He then shook hands with him heartily again, and saying, 'Well,
good day to yo,' he went his way home again, before the old minister
could fairly collect his scattered thoughts."

I do not know how it is that these workless minstrels are gradually
becoming rarer upon the streets than they were a few months ago.
Perhaps it is because the unemployed are more liberally relieved now
than they were at first. I know that now many who have concealed
their starving condition are ferreted out and relieved as far as
possible. Many of these street wanderers have gone home again
disgusted, to pinch out the hard time in proud obscurity; and there
are some, no doubt, who have wandered away to other parts of
England. Of these last, we may naturally expect that a few may
become so reconciled to a life of wandering minstrelsy that they may
probably never return to settled labour again. But "there's a
divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will." Let us
trust that the Great Creator may comfort and relieve them,
"according to their several necessities, giving them patience under
their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions."



The following extracts are from the letters of Mr. John Whittaker,
"A Lancashire Lad," one of the first writers whose appeals through
the press drew serious attention to the great distress in Lancashire
during the Cotton Famine. There is no doubt that his letters in The
Times, and to the Lord Mayor of London, led to the Mansion House
Fund. In The Times of April 14, 1862, appeared the first of a series
of letters, pleading the cause of the distressed operatives. He

"I am living in the centre of a vast district where there are many
cotton mills, which in ordinary times afford employment to many
thousands of 'hands,' and food to many more thousands of mouths.
With rare exceptions, quietness reigns at all those mills. . . . It
may be that our material atmosphere is somewhat brighter than it
was, but our social atmosphere is much darker and denser. Hard times
have come; and we have had them sufficiently long to know what they
mean. We have fathers sitting in the house at mid-day, silent and
glum, while children look wistfully about, and sometimes whimper for
bread which they cannot have. We have the same fathers who, before
hard times came, were proud men, who would have thought 'beggar' the
most opprobrious epithet you could have hit them with; but who now
are made humble by the sight of wife and children almost starving,
and who go before 'relief committees,' and submit to be questioned
about their wants with a patience and humility which it is painful,
almost schocking, to witness, And some others of these fathers turn
out in the morning with long besoms as street-sweepers, while others
again go to breaking stones in the town's yard or open road-side,
where they are unprotected from the keen east winds, which add a
little more to the burden of misery which they have to bear just
now. But, harder even than this, our factory-women and girls have
had to turn out; and, plodding a weary way from door to door, beg a
bit of bread or a stray copper, that they may eke out the scanty
supply at home. Only the other day, while taking a long stroll in
the country lying about the town in which I live, I met a few of
these factory-girls, and was stopped by their not very beggar-like
question of 'Con yo help us a bit?' They were just such as my own
sisters; and as I saw and heard them, I was almost choked as I
fancied my sisters come to such a pass as that. 'Con yo help us a
bit?' asked these factory girls.

. . . I have heard of ladies whose whole lives seem to be but a
changing from one kind of pleasure to another; who suffer chiefly
from what they call ennui, (a kind of disease from which my sisters
are not likely to suffer at all,) and to whom a new pleasure to
enjoy would be something like what a new world to conquer would be
to Alexander. Why should they not hear our Lancashire girls' cry of
'Con yo help us a bit?' Why should not they be reminded that these
girls in cotton gowns and wooden clogs are wending their way towards
the same heaven--or, alas, towards the same hell--whither wend all
the daughters of Eve, no matter what their outer condition and
dress? Why should not they be asked to think how these striving
girls have to pray daily, 'Lead us not into temptation,' while
temptations innumerable stand everywhere about them?

Those of us who are men would rather do much than let our sisters go
begging. May not some of us take to doing more to prevent it? I
remember some poetry about the

'Sister bloodhounds, Want and Sin,'

and know that they hunt oftener together than singly. We have felt
the fangs of the first:  upon how many of us will the second

In a second letter, inserted in The Times of April 22, 1862, the
same writer says:--"Even during the short time which has elapsed
since I wrote last week, many things have combined to show that the
distress is rapidly increasing, and that there is a pressing need
that we should go beyond the borders of our own county for help. . .
. I remember what I have read of the Godlike in man, and I look with
a strange feeling upon the half-famished creatures I see hourly
about me. I cannot pass through a street but I see evidences of deep
distress. I cannot sit at home half-an-hour without having one or
more coming to ask for bread to eat. But what comes casually before
me is as nothing when compared with that deeper distress which can
only be seen by those who seek it. . . . There have been families
who have been so reduced that the only food they have had has been a
porridge made of Indian meal. They could not afford oatmeal, and
even of their Indian meal porridge they could only afford to have
two meals a day. They have been so ashamed of their coarser food
that they have done all that was possible to hide their desperate
state from those about them. It has only been by accident that it
has been found out, and then they have been caught hurriedly putting
away the dishes that contained their loathsome food. A woman, whose
name I could give, and whose dwelling I could point to, was said not
only to be in deep distress, but to be also ill of fever. She was
visited. On entering the lower room of the house, the visitors saw
that there was not a scrap of furniture; the woman, fever-stricken,
sat on an orange-box before a low fire; and to prevent the fire from
going quite out, she was pulling her seat to pieces for fuel bit by
bit. The visitors looked upstairs. There was no furniture there--
only a bit of straw in a corner, which served as the bed of the
woman's four children. In another case a woman, who was said to be
too weak to apply for relief, was visited. Her husband had been out
of work a long time by reason of his illness; he was now of a
fashion recovered, and had gone off to seek for work. He left his
wife and three children in their cellar-home. The wife was very near
her confinement, and had not tasted food for two or three days. . .
. There are in this town some hundreds of young single women who
have been self-dependent, but who are now entirely without means.
Nearly all of these are good English girls, who have quietly fought
their own life-battle, but who now have hard work to withstand the
attacks this grim poverty is making. I am told of a case in which
one of these girls was forced to become one of that class of whom
poor Hood sang in his 'Bridge of Sighs.' She was an orphan, had no
relations here, and was tossed about from place to place till she
found her way to a brothel. Thank God, she has been rescued. Our
relief fund has been the means of relieving her from that
degradation; but cannot those who read my letter see how strong are
the temptations which their want places in the way of these poor

On 25th April a number of city merchants, most of whom were
interested in the cotton manufacture, waited upon the Lord Mayor of
London, with a view to interest him, and through him the public at
large, in the increasing distress among the operative population in
the manufacturing districts of Lancashire. Previous to this, the
"Lancashire Lad" had made a private appeal, by letter, to the Lord
Mayor, in which he said:-

"Local means are nearly exhausted, and I am convinced that if we
have not help from without, our condition will soon be more
desperate than I or any one else who possesses human feelings can
wish it to become. To see the homes of those whom we know and
respect, though they are but working men, stripped of every bit of
furniture--to see long-cherished books and pictures sent one by one
to the pawn-shop, that food may be had--and to see that food almost
loathsome in kind, and insufficient in quantity,--are hard, very
hard things to bear. But those are not the worst things. In many of
our cottage homes there is now nothing left by the pawning of which
a few pence may be raised, and the mothers and sisters of we
'Lancashire lads' have turned out to beg, and ofttimes knock at the
doors of houses in which there is as much destitution as there is in
our own; while the fathers and the lads themselves think they are
very fortunate if they can earn a shilling or two by street-sweeping
or stone breaking. . . . Will you not do for us what you have done
for others--become the recipient of whatever moneys those who are
inclined to help us may send to you?"

The Lord Mayor, having listened to the deputation, read them the
personal appeal, and, "before separating, the deputation engaged to
form themselves into a provisional committee, to correspond with any
local one which circumstances might render it desirable to set on
foot in some central part of the distressed districts." Immediately
afterwards, the Lord Mayor, on taking his seat in the justice-room,
stated that "he was ready, with the assistance of the gentlemen of
the deputation, to act in the way desired. . . . He could not
himself take any part in the distribution. All he could do was to be
the medium of transmission; and as soon as he knew that some
organisation had been formed, either in the great city of
Manchester, or in some other part of Lancashire, in which the public
might feel confidence, he should be ready to send the small sums he
had already received, and any others that might be intrusted to him
from time to time." And thus originated the first general
subscription for the cotton operatives, and which, before it closed,
reached the magnificent sum of 528 pounds,336, 9s. 9d.


On the 29th of April 1862, a meeting of gentlemen residents, called
by Thomas Goadsby, Esq., Mayor of Manchester, was held in the Town
Hall of that city, to consider the propriety of forming a relief
committee. '"The late Mr Richard Cobden, M.P., attended, and
recommended a bold appeal to the whole country, declaring with
prophetic keenness of vision that not less than 1,000,000 pounds
would be required to carry the suffering operatives through the
crisis, whilst the subscriptions up to that date amounted only to
180,000 pounds." On the motion of a vote of thanks to the Mayor of
Manchester, who was retiring from the mayoralty, Mr Cobden said:-

"Before that resolution is passed, I will take the opportunity of
making an observation. I have had the honour of having my name added
to this committee, and the first thing I asked of my neighbour here
was--'What are the functions of the general committee?' And I have
heard that they amount to nothing more than to attend here once a
month, and receive the report of the executive committee as to the
business done and the distribution of the funds. I was going to
suggest to you whether the duties of the general committee might not
be very much enlarged--whether it might not be employed very
usefully in increasing the amount of subscriptions. I think all our
experience must have taught us that, with the very best cause in the
world in hand, the success of a public subscription depends very
much upon the amount of activity in those who solicit it; and I
think, in order to induce us to make a general and national effort
to raise additional funds in this great emergency, it is only
necessary to refer to and repeat one or two facts that have been
stated in this report just read to us. I find it stated that it is
estimated that the loss of wages at present is at the rate of
136,094 pounds per week, and there is no doubt that the savings of
the working classes are almost exhausted. Now, 136,094 pounds per
week represents upwards of 7,000,000 pounds sterling per annum, and
that is the rate at which the deduction is now being made from the
wages of labour in this district.

I see it stated in this report that the resources which this
committee can at present foresee that it will possess to relieve
this amount of distress are 25,000 pounds a month for the next five
months, which is at the rate of 300,000 pounds per annum; so that we
foresee at present the means of affording a relief of something less
than five per cent upon the actual amount of the loss of wages at
present incurred by the working classes of this country. But I need
not tell honourable gentlemen present, who are so practically
acquainted with this district, that that loss of seven millions in
wages per annum is a very imperfect measure of the amount of
suffering and loss which will be inflicted on this community three
or four months hence. It may be taken to be 10,000,000 pounds; and
that 10,000,000 pounds of loss of wages before the next spring is by
no means a measure of the loss this district will incur; for you
must take it that the capitalists will be incurring also a loss on
their fixed machinery and buildings; and though perhaps not so much
as that of the labourer, it will be a very large amount, and
possibly, in the opinion of some people, will very nearly approach

That is not all:  Mr Farnall has told us that at present the
increase of the rates in this district is at the rate of 10,000
pounds per week. That will be at the rate of half a million per
annum, and, of course, if this distress goes on, that rate must be
largely increased, perhaps doubled. This shows the amount of
pressure which is threatening this immediate district. I have always
been of opinion that this distress and suffering must be cumulative
to a degree which few people have ever foreseen, because your means
of meeting the difficulty will diminish just in proportion as the
difficulty will increase. Mr Farnall has told us that one-third of
the rateable property will fall out of existence, as it were, and
future rates must be levied upon two-thirds. But that will be by no
means the measure of the condition of things two or three months
hence, because every additional rate forces out of existence a large
amount of saleable property; and the more you increase your rates
the more you diminish the area over which those rates are to be
productive. This view of the case has a very important bearing,
also, upon the condition of the shop-keeping class as well as the
classes of mill-owners and manufacturers who have not a large amount
of floating capital. There is no doubt but a very large amount of
the shopkeeping class are rapidly falling into the condition of the
unemployed labourers.

When I was at Rochdale the other day, I heard a very sorrowful
example of it. There was a poor woman who kept a shop, and she was
threatened with a distraint for her poor-rate. She sold the Sunday
clothes of her son to pay the poor-rate, and she received a relief-
ticket when she went to leave her rate. That is a sad and sorrowful
example, but I am afraid it will not be a solitary one for a long
time. Then you have the shopkeeping class descending to the rank of
the operatives. It must be so. Withdraw the custom of 7,000,000
pounds per annum, which has ceased to be paid in wages, from the
shopkeepers, and the consequence must present itself to any rational
mind. We have then another class--the young men of superior
education employed in warehouses and counting-houses. A great number
of these will rapidly sink to the condition in which you find the
operative classes. All this will add to the distress and the
embarrassment of this part of the kingdom. Now, to meet this state
of things you have the poor-law relief, which is the only relief we
can rely upon, except that which comes from our own voluntary
exertions. Well, but any one who has read over this report of Mr
Farnall, just laid before us, must see how inadequate this relief
must be. It runs up from one shilling and a half-penny in the pound
to one shilling and fourpence or one shilling and fivepence; there
is hardly one case in which the allowance is as much as two
shillings per week for each individual--I won't call them paupers--
each distressed individual.

Now, there is one point to which I would wish to bring the attention
of the committee in reference to this subject--it is a most
important one, in my appreciation. In ordinary times, when you give
relief to the poor, that relief being given when the great mass of
workpeople are in full employment, the measure of your relief to an
isolated family or two that may be in distress is by no means the
measure of the amount of their subsistence, because we all know that
in prosperous times, when the bulk of the working people are
employed, they are always kind to each other. The poor, in fact, do
more to relieve the poor than any other class. A working man and his
family out of employment in prosperous times could get a meal at a
neighbour's house, just as we, in our class, could get a meal at a
neighbour's house if it was a convenience to us in making a journey.
But recollect, now the whole mass of the labouring and working
population is brought down to one sad level of destitution, and what
you allow them from the poor-rates, and what you allow them from
these voluntary subscriptions, are actually the measure of all that
they will obtain for their subsistence. And that being so general,
producing a great depression of spirits, as well as physical
prostration, you are in great danger of the health and strength of
this community suffering, unless something more be done to meet the
case than I fear is yet provided for it. All this brings me to this
conclusion--that something more must be done by this general
committee than has been done, to awaken the attention of the public
generally to the condition of this part of the country. It is
totally exceptional. The state of things has no parallel in all
history. It is impossible you could point out to me another case, in
which, in a limited sphere, such as we have in Lancashire, and in
the course of a few months, there has been a cessation of employment
at the rate of 7,000,000 pounds sterling per annum in wages. There
has been nothing like it in the history of the world for its
suddenness, for the impossibility of dealing with it, or managing it
in the way of an effective remedy.

Well, the country at large must be made acquainted with these facts.
How is that to be done? It can only be by the diffusion of
information from this central committee. An appeal must be made to
the whole country, if this great destitution is to be met in any
part by voluntary aid. The nation at large must be made fully
acquainted with the exigency of the case, and we must be reminded
that a national responsibility rests upon us. I will, therefore,
suggest that this general committee should be made a national
committee, and we shall then get rid of this little difficulty with
the Lord Mayor. We shall want all the co-operation of the Lord Mayor
and the city of London; and I say that this committee, instead of
being a Manchester or Lancashire central committee, should be made a
national committee; that from this should go forth invitations to
all parts of the country, beginning with the lords-lieutenant,
inviting them to be vice-presidents of this committee. Let the noble
Lord continue to be at the head of the general committee--the
national committee--and invite every mayor to take part. We are
going to have new mayors in the course of the week, and, though I am
sorry to lose our present one, yet when new mayors come in, they may
be probably more ready to take up a new undertaking than if they had
just been exhausted with a years labour. Let every mayor in the
kingdom be invited to become a member of this committee. Let
subscription-circulars be despatched to them asking them to organise
a committee in every borough; and let there be a secretary and
honorary secretary employed. Through these bodies you might
communicate information, and counteract those misrepresentations
that have been made with regard to the condition of this district.

You might, if necessary, send an ambassador to some of those more
important places; but better still, if you could induce them to send
some one here to look into the state of things for themselves;
because I am sure if they did, so far from finding the calumnies
that have been uttered against the propertied classes in this county
being well founded, they would find instances--and not a few--of
great liberality and generosity, such as I think would surprise any
one who visited this district from the southern part of the kingdom.

This would only be done by an active effort from the centre here,
and I submit that we shall not be doing justice to this effort
unless we give to the whole country an opportunity of co-operating
in that way, and throw upon every part of the kingdom a share of the
responsibility of this great crisis and emergency. I submit that
there is every motive why this community, as well as the whole
kingdom, should wish to preserve this industrious population in
health and in the possession of their energies. There is every
motive why we should endeavour to keep this working population here
rather than drive them away from here, as you will do if they are
not sufficiently fed and clothed during the next winter. They will
be wanted again if this district is to revive, as we all hope and
believe it will revive. Your fixed capital here is of no use without
the population. It is of no use without your raw material.
Lancashire is the richest county in the kingdom when its machinery
is employed; it is the poorest county in the kingdom when its
machinery and fixed capital are paralysed, as at present. Therefore,
I say it is the interest, not only of this community, but of the
kingdom, that this population should be preserved for the time--I
hope not a distant time--when the raw material of their industry
will be supplied to this region.

I submit; then, to the whole kingdom--this district as well as the
rest--that it will be advisable, until Parliament meets, that such
an effort should be made as will make a national subscription amount
probably to 1,000,000 pounds. Short of that, it would be utterly
insufficient for the case; and I believe that, with an energetic
appeal made to the whole country, and an effort organised such as I
have indicated, such an amount might be raised."



The thirteen hundred circulars issued by the Earl of Sefton, Lord-
Lieutenant of Lancashire, "brought together such a gathering of
rank, and wealth, and influence, as is not often to be witnessed;
and the eloquent advocate of class distinctions and aristocratic
privileges (the Earl of Derby) became on that day the powerful and
successful representative of the poor and helpless." Called upon by
the chairman, the Earl of Derby said:-

"My Lord Sefton, my Lords and Gentlemen,--We are met together upon
an occasion which must call forth the most painful, and at the same
time ought to excite, and I am sure will excite, the most kindly
feelings of our human nature. We are met to consider the best means
of palliating--would to God that I could say removing!--a great
national calamity, the like whereof in modern times has never been
witnessed in this favoured land--a calamity which it was impossible
for those who are the chief sufferers by it to foresee, or, if they
had foreseen, to have taken any steps to avoid--a calamity which,
though shared by the nation at large, falls more peculiarly and with
the heaviest weight upon this hitherto prosperous and wealthy
district--a calamity which has converted this teeming hive of
industry into a stagnant desert of compulsory inaction and idleness-
-a calamity which has converted that which was the source of our
greatest wealth into the deepest abyss of impoverishment--a calamity
which has impoverished the wealthy, which has reduced men of easy
fortunes to the greatest straits, which has brought distress upon
those who have hitherto been somewhat above the world by the
exercise of frugal industry, and which has reduced honest and
struggling poverty to a state of absolute and humiliating
destitution. Gentlemen, it is to meet this calamity that we are met
together this day, to add our means and our assistance to those
efforts which have been so nobly made throughout the country
generally, and, I am bound to say, in this county also, as I shall
prove to you before I conclude my remarks. Gentlemen, I know how
impossible it is by any figures to convey an idea of the extent of
the destitution which now prevails, and I know also how impatient
large assemblies are of any extensive use of figures, or even of
figures at all; but at the same time, it is impossible for me to lay
before you the whole state of the case, in opening this resolution,
and asking you to resolve with regard to the extent of the distress
which now prevails, without trespassing on your attention by a few,
and they shall be a very few, figures, which shall show the extent,
if not the pressure, throughout this district, of the present
distress. And, gentlemen, I think I shall best give you an idea of
the amount of distress and destitution which prevails, by very
shortly comparing the state of things which existed in the districts
to which I refer in the month of September 1861, as compared with
the month of September 1862, and with that again only about two
weeks ago, which is the latest information we have--up to the 22d of
last month.

I find then, gentlemen, that in a district comprising, in round
numbers, two million inhabitants--for that is about the number in
that district--in the fourth week of September 1861, there were
forty-three thousand five hundred persons receiving parochial
relief; in the fourth week of September 1862, there were one hundred
and sixty-three thousand four hundred and ninety-eight persons
receiving parochial relief; and in the short space which elapsed
between the last week of September and the third week of November
the number of one hundred and sixty-three thousand four hundred and
ninety-eight had increased to two hundred and fifty-nine thousand
three hundred and eighty-five persons. Now, gentlemen, let us in the
same periods compare the amount which was applied from the parochial
funds to the relief of pauperism. In September 1861, the amount so
applied was 2259 pounds; in September 1862, it was 9674 pounds. That
is by the week. What is now the amount? In November 1862 it was
17,681 pounds for the week. The proportion of those receiving
parochial relief to the total population was two and three-tenths
per cent in September 1861, and eight and five-tenths per cent in
September 1862, and that had become thirteen and five-tenths percent
in the population in November 1862. Here, therefore, is thirteen per
cent of the whole population at the present moment depending for
their subsistence upon parochial relief alone. Of these two hundred
and fifty-nine thousand--I give only round numbers--there were
thirty-six thousand eight hundred old or infirm; there were nearly
ninety-eight thousand able-bodied adults receiving parochial relief,
and there were under sixteen years of age nearly twenty-four
thousand persons. But it would be very far from giving you an
estimate of the extent of the distress if we were to confine our
observations to those who are dependent upon parochial relief alone.

We have evidence from the local committees, whom we have extensively
employed, and whose services have been invaluable to us, that of
persons not relieved from the poor-rates there are relieved also by
local committees no fewer in this district than one hundred and
seventy-two thousand persons--making a total of four hundred and
thirty-one thousand three hundred and ninety-five persons out of two
millions, or twenty-one and seven-tenths per cent on the whole
population--that is, more than one in every five persons depend for
their daily existence either upon parochial relief or public
charity. Gentlemen, I have said that figures will not show
sufficiently the amount of distress; nor, in the same manner, will
figures show, I am happy to say, the amount that has been
contributed for the relief of that distress. But let us take another
test; let us examine what has been the result, not upon the poor who
are dependent for their daily bread upon their daily labour, and
many of whom are upon the very verge of pauperism, from day to day,
but let us take a test of what has been the effect upon the well-to-
do artisan, upon the frugal, industrious, saving men, who have been
hitherto somewhat above the world, and I have here but an imperfect
test, because I am unable to obtain the whole amount of deposits
withdrawn from the savings banks, the best of all possible tests, if
we could carry the account up to the present day; but I have only
been able to obtain it to the middle of June last, when the distress
could hardly be said to have begun, and yet I find from seven
savings banks alone in this county in six months--and those months
in which the distress had not reached its present height, or
anything like it--there was an excess of withdrawals of deposits
over the ordinary average to the amount of 71,113 pounds. This was
up to June last, when, as I have said, the pressure had hardly
commenced, and from that time it as been found impossible to obtain
from the savings banks, who are themselves naturally unwilling to
disclose this state of affairs--it has been found impossible to
obtain such further returns as would enable us to present to you any
proper estimate of the excess of withdrawals at present; but that
they have been very large must necessarily be inferred from the
great increase of distress which has taken place since the large sum
I have mentioned was obtained from the banks, as representing the
excess of ordinary withdrawals in June last.

Now, gentlemen, figure to yourselves, I beg of you, what a state of
things that sum of 71,113 pounds, as the excess of the average
withdrawals from the savings banks represents; what an amount of
suffering does it picture; what disappointed hopes; what a prospect
of future distress does it not bring before you for the working and
industrious classes? Why, gentlemen, it represents the blighted
hopes for life of many a family. It represents the small sum set
apart by honest, frugal, persevering industry, won by years of toil
and self-denial, in the hope of its being, as it has been in many
cases before, the foundation even of colossal fortunes which have
been made from smaller sums. It represents the gradual decay of the
hopes for his family of many an industrious artisan. The first step
in that downward progress which has led to destitution and pauperism
is the withdrawal of the savings of honest industry, and that is
represented in the return which I have quoted to you. Then comes the
sacrifice of some little cherished article of furniture--the cutting
off of some little indulgence--the sacrifice of that which gave his
home an appearance of additional comfort and happiness--the
sacrifice gradually, one by one, of the principal articles of
furniture, till at last the well-conducted, honest, frugal, saving
working man finds himself on a level with the idle, the dissipated,
and the improvident--obliged to pawn the very clothes of his family-
-nay, the very bedding on which he lies, to obtain the simple means
of subsistence from day to day, and encountering all that difficulty
and all that distress with the noble independence that would do
anything rather than depend upon public or even on private charity,
and in his own simple but emphatic language declaring, 'Nay, but
we'll CLEM first.'

And, gentlemen, this leads me to observe upon a more gratifying
point of view, that is, the noble manner, a manner beyond all
praise, in which this destitution has been borne by the population
of this great county. It is not the case of ordinary labourers who
find themselves reduced a trifle below their former means of
subsistence, but it is a reduction in the pecuniary comfort, and
almost necessaries, of men who have been in the habit of living, if
not in luxury, at least in the extreme of comfort--a reduction to
two shillings and three shillings a week from sums which had usually
amounted to twenty-five shillings, or thirty shillings, or forty
shillings; a cutting off of all their comforts, cutting off all
their hopes of future additional comfort, or of rising in life--
aggravated by a feeling, an honourable, an honest, but at the same
time a morbid feeling, of repugnance to the idea of being indebted
under these circumstances to relief of any kind or description. And
I may say that, among the difficulties which have been encountered
by the local relief committees--no doubt there have been many of
those not among the most deserving who have been clamorous for the
aid held out to them--but one of the great difficulties of local
relief committees has been to find out and relieve struggling and
really-distressed merit, and to overcome that feeling of
independence which, even under circumstances like these, leads them
to shrink from being relieved by private charity. I know that
instances of this kind have happened; I know that cases have
occurred where it has been necessary to press upon individuals,
themselves upon the point of starvation, the necessity of accepting
this relief; and from this place I take the opportunity of saying,
and I hope it will go far and wide, that in circumstances like the
present, discreditable as habitual dependence upon parochial relief
may be, it is no degradation, it is no censure, it is no possible
cause of blame, that any man, however great his industry, however
high his character, however noble his feeling of self-dependence,
should feel himself obliged to have recourse to that Christian
charity which I am sure we are all prepared to give. Gentlemen, I
might perhaps here, as far as my resolution goes, close the
observations I have to make to you. The resolution I have to move,
indeed, is one which calls for no extensive argument; and a plain
statement of facts, such as that I have laid before you, is
sufficient to obtain for it your unanimous assent. The resolution

"'That the manufacturing districts of Lancashire and the adjoining
counties are suffering from an extent of destitution happily
hitherto unknown, which has been borne by the working classes with a
patient submission and resolution entitling them to the warmest
sympathy of their fellow-countrymen.'

"But, gentlemen, I cannot, in the first place, lose the opportunity
of asking this great assembly with what feelings this state of
things should be contemplated by us who are in happier
circumstances. Let me say with all reverence that it is a subject
for deep national humiliation, and, above all, for deep humiliation
for this great county. We have been accustomed for years to look
with pride and complacency upon the enormous growth of that
manufacture which has conferred wealth upon so many thousands, and
which has so largely increased the manufacturing population and
industry of this country. We have seen within the last twelve or
fourteen years the consumption of cotton in Europe increase from
fifty thousand to ninety thousand bales a week; we have seen the
weight of cotton goods exported from this country in the shape of
yarn and manufactured goods amount to no less than nine hundred and
eighty-three million pounds in a single year. We have seen, in spite
of all opposing circumstances, this trade constantly and rapidly
extending; we have seen colossal fortunes made; and we have as a
county, perhaps, been accustomed to look down on those less
fortunate districts whose wealth and fortunes were built upon a less
secure foundation; we have reckoned upon this great manufacture as
the pride of our country, and as the best security against the
possibility of war, in consequence of the mutual interest between us
and the cotton-producing districts.

We have held that in the cotton manufacture was the pride, the
strength, and the certainty of our future national prosperity and
peace. I am afraid we have looked upon this trade too much in the
spirit of the Assyrian monarch of old. We have said to ourselves:--
'Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of my
kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?'
But in the hour in which the monarch used these words the word came
forth, 'Thy kingdom is departed from thee!' That which was his pride
became his humiliation; that which was our pride has become our
humiliation and our punishment. That which was the source of our
wealth--the sure foundation on which we built--has become itself the
instrument of our humiliating poverty, which compels us to appeal to
the charity of other counties. The reed upon which we leaned has
gone through the hand that reposed on it, and has pierced us to the

But, gentlemen, we have happier and more gratifying subjects of
contemplation. I have pointed to the noble conduct which must make
us proud of our countrymen in the mmiufacturing districts; I have
pointed to the noble and heroic submission to difficulties they
could never foresee, and privations they never expected to
encounter; but again, we have another feeling which I am sure will
not be disappointed, which the country has nobly met--that this is
an opportunity providentially given to those who are blessed with
wealth and fortune to show their sympathy--their practical, active,
earnest sympathy--with the sufferings of their poorer brethren, and,
with God's blessing, used as I trust by God's blessing it will be,
it may be a link to bind together more closely than ever the various
classes in this great community, to satisfy the wealthy that the
poor have a claim, not only to their money, but to their sympathy--
to satisfy the poor also that the rich are not overbearing, grinding
tyrants, but men like themselves, who have hearts to feel for
suffering, and are prompt to use the means God has given to them for
the relief of that suffering.

Gentlemen, a few words more, and I will not further trespass on your
attention. But I feel myself called on, as chairman of that
executive committee to which my noble friend in the chair has paid
so just a compliment, to lay before you some answer to objections
which have been made, and which in other counties, if not in this,
may have a tendency to check the contributions which have hitherto
so freely flowed in. Before doing so, allow me to say (and I can do
it with more freedom, because in the, earlier stages of its
organisation I was not a member of that committee) it is bare
justice to them to say that there never was an occasion on which
greater or more earnest efforts were made to secure that the
distribution of those funds intrusted to them should be guarded
against all possibility of abuse, and be distributed without the
slightest reference to political or religious opinions; distributed
with the most perfect impartiality, and in every locality, through
the instrumentality of persons in whom the neighbourhood might
repose entire confidence. Such has been our endeavour, and I think
to a great extent we have been successful. I may say that, although
the central executive committee is composed of men of most
discordant opinions in politics and religion, nothing for a single
moment has interfered with the harmony--I had almost said with the
unanimity--of our proceedings. There has been nothing to produce any
painful feelings among us, nor any desire on the part of the
representatives of different districts to obtain an undue share for
the districts they represented from the common fund.

But there are three points on which objection has being taken to the
course we have adopted. One has been, that the relief we have given
has not been given with a sufficiently liberal hand; the next--and I
think I shall show you that these two are inconsistent, the one
answering the other--is, that there has not been a sufficient
pressure on the local rates; and the third is, that Lancashire has
not hitherto done its duty with reference to the subscriptions from
other parts of the country. Allow me a few words on each of these

First, the amount to which we have endeavoured to raise our
subscriptions has been to the extent of from two shillings to two
shillings and sixpence weekly per head; in this late cold weather an
additional sixpence has been provided, mainly for coal and clothing.
Our endeavour has been to raise the total income of each individual
to at least two shillings or two shillings and sixpence a week. Now,
I am told that this is a very inadequate amount, and no doubt it is
an amount very far below that which many of the recipients were in
the habit of obtaining. But in the first place, I think there is
some misapprehension when we speak of the sum of two shillings a
week. If anybody supposes that two shillings a week is the maximum
to each individual, he will be greatly mistaken. Two shillings a
head per week is the sum we endeavoured to arrive at as the average
receipt of every man, woman, and child receiving assistance;
consequently, a man and his wife with a family of three or four
small children would receive, not two shillings, but ten or twelve
shillings from the fund--an amount not far short of that which in
prosperous times an honest and industrious labourer in other parts
of the country would obtain for the maintenance of his family. I am
not in the least afraid that, if we had fixed the amount at four
shillings or five shillings per head, such is the liberality of the
country, we should not have had sufficient means of doing so. But
were we justified in doing that? If we had raised their income
beyond that of the labouring man in ordinary times, we should have
gone far to destroy the most valuable feeling of the manufacturing
population--namely, that of honest self-reliance, and we should have
done our best, to a great extent, to demoralise a large portion of
the population, and induce them to prefer the wages of charitable
relief to the return of honest industry. But then we are told that
the rates are not sufficiently high in the distressed districts, and
that we ought to raise them before we come on the fund. In the first
place, we have no power to compel the guardians to raise the rates
beyond that which they think sufficient for the maintenance of those
to be relieved, and, naturally considering themselves the trustees
of the ratepayers, they are unwilling, and, indeed, ought not to
raise the amount beyond that which is called for by absolute
necessity. But suppose we had raised the relief from our committee
very far beyond the amount thought sufficient by the guardians, what
would have been the inevitable result? Why, that the rates which it
is desired to charge more heavily would have been relieved, because
persons would have taken themselves off the poor-rates, and placed
themselves on the charitable committee, and therefore the very
object theso objectors have in view in calling for an increase of
our donations would have been defeated by their own measure. I must
say, however, honestly speaking all I feel, that, with regard to the
amount of rates, there are some districts which have applied to us
for assistance which I think have not sufficient pressure on their
rates. Where I find, for example, that the total assessment on the
nett rateable value does not exceed ninepence or tenpence in the
pound, I really think such districts ought to be called upon to
increase their rates before applying for extraneous help. But we
have urged as far as we could urge--we have no power to command the
guardians to be more liberal in the rate of relief, and to that
extent to raise the rates in their districts.

And now a word on the subject of raising rates, because I have
received many letters in which it has been said that the rates are
nothing--'they are only three shillings or four shillings in the
pound, while we in the agricultural districts are used to six
shillings in the pound. We consider that no extraordinary rate, and
it is monstrous,' they say, 'that the accumulated wealth of years in
the county of Lancashire should not more largely contribute to the
relief of its own distress.' I will not enter into an argument as to
how far the larger amount of wages in the manufacturing districts
may balance the smaller--amount of wages and the larger amount of
poor-rates in the agricultural districts. I don't wish to enter into
any comparison; I have seen many comparisons of this kind made, but
they were full of fallacies from one end to the other. I will not
waste your time by discussing them; but I ask you to consider the
effect of a sudden rise of rates as a charge upon the accumulated
wealth of a district. It is not the actual amount of the rates, but
it is the sudden and rapid increase of the usual rate of the rates
that presses most heavily on the ratepayers. In the long run, the
rates must fall on real property, because all bargains between owner
and occupier are made with reference to the amount of rates to be
paid, and in all calculations between them, that is an element which
enters into the first agreement. But when the rate is suddenly
increased from one shilling to four shillings, it does not fall on
the accumulated wealth or on the real property, but it falls on the
occupier, the ratepayer--men, the great bulk of whom are at the
present moment themselves struggling upon the verge of pauperism.
Therefore, if in those districts it should appear to persons
accustomed to agricultural districts that the amount of our rates
was very small, I would say to them that any attempt to increase
those rates would only increase the pauperism, diminish the number
of solvent ratepayers, and greatly aggravate the distress. In some
of the districts I think the amount of the rates quite sufficient to
satisfy the most ardent advocate of high rates. For example, in the
town of Ashton they have raised in the course of the year one rate
of one shilling and sixpence, another of one shilling and six-pence,
and a third of four shillings and sixpence, which it is hoped will
carry them over the year. They have also, in addition to these
rates, drawn largely on previous balances, and I am afraid have
largely added to their debt. The total of what has been or will be
expended, with a prospect of even a great increase, in that borough
exceeds eleven shillings and elevenpence in the pound for the relief
of the poor alone. And, gentlemen, this rate of four shillings and
sixpence about to be levied, which ought to yield about 32,000
pounds, it is calculated will not yield 24,000 pounds. In Stockport
the rate is even higher, being twelve shillings or more per pound,
and there it is calculated that at the next levy the defalcations
will be at least forty per cent, according to the calculation of the
poor-law commissioner himself. To talk, then, of raising rates in
such districts as these would be absolute insanity; and even in
districts less heavily rated, any sudden attempt considerably to
increase the rate would have the effect of pauperising those who are
now solvent, and to augment rather than diminish the distress of the

The last point on which I would make an observation relates to the
objection which has been taken to our proceedings, on the ground
that Lancashire has not done its duty in this distress, and that
consequently other parts of the country have been unduly called on
to contribute to that which I don't deny properly and primarily
belongs to Lancashire. Gentlemen, it is very hard to ascertain with
any certainty what has been done by Lancashire, because, in the
first place, the amount of local subscriptions and the amount of
public contributions by themselves give no fair indication of that
which really has been done by public or private charity. I don't
mean to say that there are not individuals who have grossly
neglected their duty in Lancashire. On the other hand, we know there
are many, though I am not about to name them, who have acted with
the most princely munificence, liberality, and generous feeling,
involving an amount of sacrifice of which no persons out of this
county can possibly have the slightest conception. I am not saying
there are not instances of niggard feeling, though I am not about to
name them, which really it was hardly possible to believe could

Will you forgive me if I trespass for a few moments by reading two
or three extracts from confidential reports made to us every week
from the different districts by a gentleman whose services were
placed at our disposal by the Government? These reports being, as I
have said, confidential, I will not mention the names of the
persons, firms, or localities alluded to, though in some instances
they may be guessed at. This report was made to us on the 25th of
November, and I will quote some of the remarks made in it. The
writer observes:--'It must not be inferred when such remarks are
absent from the reports that nothing is done. I have great
difficulty sometimes in overcoming the feeling that my questions on
these points are a meddlesome interference in private matters.'
Bearing that remark in mind, I say here are instances which I am
sure reflect as much credit on the individuals as on the interest
they represent and the county to which they belong. I am sure I
shall be excused for trespassing on your patience by reading a few
examples. He says, under No.1,--'Nearly three thousand operatives
out of the whole, most of them the hands of Messrs __ and Mr __, at
his own cost, employs five hundred and fifty-five girls in sewing
five days a week, paying them eightpence a day; sends seventy-six
youths from thirteen to fourteen years old, and three hundred and
thirty-two adults above fifteen, five days a week to school, paying
them from fourpence to eightpence per day, according to age. He also
pays the school pence of all the children. Mr __ has hitherto paid
his people two days' wages a week, but he is now preparing to adopt
a scheme like Mr __ to a great extent. I would add that, in addition
to wages, Mr __ gives bread, soup, socks, and clogs. 2. Mr __ has at
his own expense caused fifty to sixty dinners to be provided for
sick persons every day. These consist of roast beef or mutton, soup,
beef-tea, rice-puddings, wine, and porter, as ordered; and the forty
visitors distribute orders as they find it necessary. Ostensibly all
is done in the name of the committee; but Mr __ pays all the cost.
An admirable soup kitchen is being fitted up, where the poor man may
purchase a good hot meal for one penny, and either carry it away or
consume it on the premises. 3. Messrs __ are giving to their hands
three days' wages (about 500 pounds a week.) Messrs __ and __ are
giving their one hundred and twenty hands, and Messrs their two
hundred and thirty hands, two days' wages a week. I may mention that
Messrs __ are providing for all their one thousand seven hundred
hands. 4. A great deal of private charity exists, one firm having
spent 1400 pounds in money, exclusive of weekly doles of bread. 5.
Messrs __ are providing all their old hands with sufficient clothing
and bedding to supply every want, so that their subscription of 50
pounds is merely nominal. 6. The ladies of the village visit and
relieve privately with money, food, or clothing, or all, if needed
urgently. In a few cases distraint has been threatened, but
generally the poor are living rent free. 7. Payment of rent is
almost unknown. The agent for several landlords assures me he could
not from his receipts pay the property-tax, but no distraints are
made. 8. The bulk of the rents are not collected, and distraints are
unknown. 9. The millowners are chiefly cottage-owners, and are
asking for no rents.'

That leads me to call your attention to the fact that, in addition
to the sacrifices they are making, the millowners are themselves to
a large extent the owners of cottages, and I believe, without
exception, they are at the present moment receiving no rent, thereby
losing a large amount of income they had a right to count upon. I
know one case which is curious as showing how great is the
difficulty of ascertaining what is really done. It is required in
the executive committee that every committee should send in an
account of the local subscriptions. We received an application from
a small district where there was one mill, occupied by some young
men who had just entered into the business. We returned a refusal,
inasmuch as there was no local subscription; but when we came to
inquire, we found that from last February, when the mill closed,
these young men had maintained the whole of their hands, that they
paid one-third of the rates of the whole district, and that they
were at that moment suffering a yearly loss of 300 pounds in the
rent of cottages for which they were not drawing a single halfpenny.
That was a case in which we thought it right in the first instance
to withhold any assistance, because there appeared to be no local
subscription, and it shows how persons at a distance may be deceived
by the want apparently of any local subscription. But I will throw
out of consideration the whole of those amounts--the whole of this
unparalleled munificence on the part of many manufacturers which
never appears in any account whatever--I will throw out everything
done in private and unostentatious charity--the supplies of bedding,
clothing, food, necessaries of every description, which do not
appear as public subscriptions, and will appeal to public
subscriptions alone; and I will appeal to an authority which cannot,
I think, be disputed--the authority of the commissioner, Mr Farnall
himself, whose services the Government kindly placed at our
disposal, and of whose activity, industry, and readiness to assist
us, it is difficult to speak in too high terms of praise. A better
authority could not be quoted on the subject of the comparative
support given in aid of this distress in Lancashire and other
districts. I find that, excluding altogether the subscriptions in
the Lord Mayor's Mansion House list--of which we know the general
amount, but not the sources from which it is derived, or how it is
expended--but excluding it from consideration, and dealing only with
the funds which have been given or promised to be administered
through the central executive committee, I find that, including some
of the subscriptions which we know are coming in this day, the total
amount which has been contributed is about 540,000 pounds. Of that
amount we received--and it is a most gratifying fact--40,000 pounds
from the colonies; we received from the rest of the United Kingdom
100,000 pounds; and from the county of Lancaster itself, in round
numbers, 400,000 pounds out of 540,000 pounds.

Now, I hope that these figures, upon the estimate and authority of
the Government poor-law commissioner, will be sufficient, at all
events, to do away with the imputation that Lancashire, at this
crisis, is not doing its duty. But if Lancashire has been doing its
duty--if it is doing its duty--that is no reason why Lancashire
should relax its efforts; and of that I trust the result of this
day's proceedings will afford a sufficient testimony. We are not yet
at the height of the distress. It is estimated that at the present
moment there are three hundred and fifty-five thousand persons
engaged in the different manufactories. Of these forty thousand only
are in full work; one hundred and thirty-five thousand are at short
work, and one hundred and eighty thousand are out of work
altogether. In the course of the next six weeks this number is
likely to be greatly increased; and the loss of wages is not less
than 137,000 pounds a week. This, I say then, is a state of things
that calls for the most active exertions of all classes of the
community, who, I am happy to say, have responded to the call which
has been made upon them most nobly, from the Queen down to the
lowest individual in the community. At the commencement of the
distress, the Queen, with her usual munificence, sent us a donation
of 2000 pounds. The first act of His Royal Highness the Prince of
Wales, upon attaining his majority, was to write from Rome, and to
request that his name should be put down for 1000 pounds. And to go
to the other end of the scale, I received two days ago, from Lord
Shaftesbury, a donation of 1200 pounds from some thousands of
working men, readers of a particular periodical which he mentioned,
the British Workman. To that sum Lord Shaftesbury stated many
thousands of persons had subscribed, and it embraced contributions
even from the brigade of shoe-black boys.

On the part of all classes there has been the greatest liberality
displayed; and I should be unjust to the working men, I should be
unjust to the poor in every district, if I did not say that in
proportion to their means they have contributed more than their
share. In no case hardly which has come to my knowledge has there
been any grudging, and in many cases I know that poor persons have
contributed more than common prudence would have dictated. These
observations have run to a greater extent than I had intended; but I
thought it desirable that the whole case, as far as possible, should
be brought before you, and I have only now earnestly to request that
you will this day do your part towards the furtherance of the good
work. I have no apprehension, if the distress should not last over
five or six months more, that the spontaneous efforts of individuals
and public bodies, and contributions received in every part of the
country, will fall short of that which is needed for enabling the
population to tide over this deep distress; and I earnestly hope
that, if it be necessary to apply to Parliament, as a last resource,
the representatives of the country will not grudge their aid; yet I
do fervently hope and believe that, with the assistance of the
machinery of that bill passed in Parliament last session, (the Rate
in Aid Act,) which will come into operation shortly after Christmas,
but could not possibly be brought into operation sooner, I do
fervently hope and believe that this great manufacturing district
will be spared the further humiliation of coming before Parliament,
which ought to be the last resource, as a claimant, a suppliant for
the bounty of the nation at large. I don't apprehend that there will
be a single dissentient voice raised against the resolution which I
have now the honour to move."



Sad are the sounds that are breaking forth
From the women and men of the brave old North!
Sad are the sights for human eyes,
In fireless homes, 'neath wintry skies;
Where wrinkles gather on childhood's skin,
And youth's "clemm'd" cheek is pallid and thin;
Where the good, the honest--unclothed, unfed,
Child, mother, and father, are craving for bread!
But faint not, fear not--still have trust;
Your voices are heard, and your claims are just.
England to England's self is true,
And "God and the People" will help you through.

Brothers and sisters! full well ye have stood,
While the gripe of gaunt Famine has curdled your blood!
No murmur, no threat on your lips have place,
Though ye look on the Hunger-fiend face to face;
But haggard and worn ye silently bear,
Dragging your death-chains with patience and prayer;
With your hearts as loyal, your deeds as right,
As when Plenty and Sleep blest your day and your night,
Brothers and sisters! oh! do not believe
It is Charity's GOLD ALONE ye receive.
Ah, no! It is Sympathy, Feeling, and Hope,
That pull out in the Life-boat to fling ye a rope.

Fondly I've lauded your wealth-winning hands,
Planting Commerce and Fame throughout measureless lands;
And my patriot-love, and my patriot-song,
To the children of Labour will ever belong.
Women and men of this brave old soil!
I weep that starvation should guerdon your toil;
But I glory to see ye--proudly mute--
Showing SOULS like the HERO, not FANGS like the brute.
Oh! keep courage within; be the Britons ye are;
HE, who driveth the storm hath His hand on the star!
England to England's sons shall be true,
And "God and the People" will carry ye through!


STRANGER! who to buy art willing,
Seek not here for talent rare;
Mine's no song of love or beauty,
But a tale of want and care.

Traveller on the Northern Railway!
Look and learn, as on you speed;
See the hundred smokeless chimneys,
Learn their tale of cheerless need.

Ah! perchance the landscape fairer
Charms your taste, your artist-eye;
Little do you guess how dearly
Costs that now unclouded sky.

"How much prettier is this county!"
Says the careless passer-by;
"Clouds of smoke we see no longer,
What's the reason?--Tell me why.

"Better far it were, most surely,
Never more such clouds to see,
Bringing taint o'er nature's beauty,
With their foul obscurity."

Thoughtless fair one! from yon chimney
Floats the golden breath of life;
Stop that current at your pleasure!
Stop! and starve the child--the wife.

Ah! to them each smokeless chimney
Is a signal of despair;
They see hunger, sickness, ruin,
Written in that pure, bright air.

"Mother! mother! see! 'twas truly
Said last week the mill would stop;
Mark yon chimney, nought is going,
There's no smoke from 'out o'th top!'

"Father! father! what's the reason
That the chimneys smokeless stand?
Is it true that all through strangers,
We must starve in our own land?"

Low upon her chair that mother
Droops, and sighs with tearful eye;
At the hearthstone lags the father,
Musing o'er the days gone by.

Days which saw him glad and hearty,
Punctual at his work of love;
When the week's end brought him plenty,
And he thanked the Lord above.

When his wages, earned so justly,
Gave him clothing, home, and food;
When his wife, with fond caresses,
Blessed his heart, so kind and good.

Neat and clean each Sunday saw them,
In their place of prayer and praise,
Little dreaming that the morrow
Piteous cries for help would raise.

Weeks roll on, and still yon chimney
Gives of better times no sign;
Men by thousands cry for labour,
Daily cry, and daily pine.

Now the things, so long and dearly
Prized before, are pledged away;
Clock and Bible, marriage-presents,
Both must go--how sad to say!

Charley trots to school no longer,
Nelly grows more pale each day;
Nay, the baby's shoes, so tiny,
Must be sold, for bread to pay.

They who loathe to be dependent
Now for alms are forced to ask
Hard is mill-work, but, believe me,
Begging is the bitterest task.

Soon will come the doom most dreaded,
With a horror that appals;
Lo! before their downcast faces
Grimly stare the workhouse walls.

Stranger, if these sorrows touch you,
Widely bid your bounty flow;
And assist my poor endeavours
To relieve this load of woe.

Let no more the smokeless chimneys
Draw from you one word of praise;
Think, oh, think upon the thousands
Who are moaning out their days.

Rather pray that peace, soon bringing
Work and plenty in her train,
We may see these smokeless chimneys
Blackening all the land again.



The following verses are copied from "Lancashire Lyrics," edited by
John Harland, Esq., F.S.A. They are extracted from a song "by some
'W.C.,' printed as a street broadside, at Ashton-under-Lyne, and
sung in most towns of South Lancashire."

We have come to ask for assistance;
At home we've been starving too long;
An' our children are wanting subsistence;
Kindly aid us to help them along.


For humanity is calling;
Don't let the call be in vain;
But help us; we're needy and falling;
And God will return it again.

War's clamour and civil commotion
Has stagnation brought in its train;
And stoppage bring with it starvation,
So help us some bread to obtain.

   For humanity is calling.
The American war is still lasting;
Like a terrible nightmare it leans
On the breast of a country, now fasting
For cotton, for work, and for means.

    And humanity is calling.


Cheer up a bit longer, mi brothers i' want,
There's breeter days for us i' store;
There'll be plenty o' tommy an' wark for us o'
When this 'Merica bother gets o'er.
Yo'n struggled reet nobly, an' battled reet hard,
While things han bin lookin' so feaw;
Yo'n borne wi' yo're troubles and trials so long,
It's no use o' givin' up neaw.

Feight on, as yo' han done, an' victory's sure,
For th' battle seems very nee won,
Be firm i' yo're sufferin', an' dunno give way;
They're nowt nobbut ceawards'at run.
Yo' know heaw they'n praised us for stondin' so firm,
An' shall we neaw stagger an' fo?
Nowt o'th soart;--iv we nobbut brace up an' be hard,
We can stond a bit longer, aw know.

It's hard to keep clemmin' an' starvin' so long;
An' one's hurt to see th' little things fret,
Becose there's no buttercakes for 'em to eat;
But we'n allus kept pooin' thro' yet.
As bad as toimes are, an' as feaw as things look,
We're certain they met ha' bin worse;
We'n had tommy to eat, an' clooas to put on;
They'n only bin roughish, aw know.

Aw've begged on yo' to keep up yo're courage afore,
An' neaw let me ax yo' once moor;
Let's noan get disheartened, there's hope for us yet,
We needn't dispair tho' we're poor.
We cannot expect it'll allus be foine;
It's dark for a while, an' then clear;
We'n mirth mixed wi' sadness, an' pleasure wi' pain,
An' shall have as long as we're here.

This world's full o' changes for better an' wur,
An' this is one change among th' ruck;
We'n a toime o' prosperity,--toime o' success,
An' then we'n a reawnd o' bad luck.
We're baskin' i' sunshine, at one toime o'th day,
At other toimes ceawerin' i'th dark;
We're sometoimes as hearty an' busy as owt,
At other toimes ill, an' beawt wark.

Good bless yo'! mi brothers, we're nobbut on th' tramp,
We never stay long at one spot;
An' while we keep knockin' abeawt i' this world,
Disappointments will fall to eawer lot:
So th' best thing we can do, iv we meon to get thro',
Is to wrastle wi' cares as they come;
We shall feel rayther tired,--but let's never heed that,--
We can rest us weel when we get whoam.

Cheer up, then, aw say, an' keep hopin' for th' best,
An' things 'll soon awter, yo'll see;
There'll be oceans o' butties for Tommy an' Fred,
An' th' little un perched on yo're knee.
Bide on a bit longer, tak' heart once ogen,
An' do give o'er lookin' so feaw;
As we'n battled, an' struggled, an' suffered so long,
It's no use o' givin' up neaw.


(From "Phases of Distress--Lancashire Rhymes.")


Fro' heawrs to days--a dhreary length--
Fro' days to weeks one idle stons,
An' slowly sinks fro' pride an' strength
To weeny heart an' wakely honds;
An' still one hopes, an' ever tries
To think 'at better days mun come;
Bo' th' sun may set, an' th' sun may rise,--
No sthreak o' leet one finds a-whoam.

Aw want to see thoose days again,
When folk can win whate'er they need;
O God! to think 'at wortchin' men
Should be poor things to pet an' feed!
There's some to th' Bastile han to goo,
To live o'th rates they'n help'd to pay;
An' some get "dow" {3} to help 'em through;
An' some are taen or sent away.

What is there here, 'at one should live,
Or wish to live, weigh'd deawn wi' grief,
Through weary weeks an' months, 'at give
Not one short heawr o' sweet relief?
A sudden plunge, a little blow,
Would end at once mi' care an' pain!
An' why noa do't?--for weel aw know
Aw's lose bo' ills, if nowt aw gain.

An' why noa do't? It ill 'ud tell
O' thoose wur laft beheend, aw fear;
It's wring, at fust, to kill mysel',
It's wring to lyev mi childer here.
One's like to tak' some thowt for them--
Some sort o' comfort one should give;
So one mun bide, an' starve, an' clem,
An' pine, an' mope, an' fret, an' live.



TUNE--"Rory O'More."

Confound it! aw ne'er wur so woven afore;
My back's welly brocken, mi fingers are sore;
Aw've been starin' an' rootin' amung this Shurat,
Till aw'm very near getten as bloint as a bat.

Aw wish aw wur fur enough off, eawt o'th road,
For o' weavin' this rubbitch aw'm getten reet sto'd;
Aw've nowt i' this world to lie deawn on but straw,
For aw've nobbut eight shillin' this fortnit to draw.

Neaw, aw haven't mi family under mi hat;
Aw've a woife and six childer to keep eawt o' that;
So aw'm rayther amung it just neaw, yo may see--
Iv ever a fellow wur puzzle't, it's me!
Iv aw turn eawt to steal, folk'll co' me a thief;
An' aw conno' put th' cheek on to ax for relief;
As aw said i' eawr heawse t'other neet to mi wife,
Aw never did nowt o' this mak' i' my life.

O dear! iv yon Yankees could nobbut just see,
Heaw they're clemmin' an' starvin' poor weavers loike me,
Aw think they'd soon sattle their bother, an' strive
To send us some cotton to keep us alive.

There's theawsan's o' folk, just i'th best o' their days,
Wi' traces o' want plainly sin i' their faze;
An' a futur afore 'em as dreary an' dark;
For, when th' cotton gets done, we's be o' eawt o' wark.

We'n bin patient an' quiet as lung as we con;
Th' bits o' things we had by us are welly o' gone;
Mi clogs an' mi shoon are both gettin' worn eawt,
An' my halliday clooas are o' gone "up th' speawt!"

Mony a time i' my days aw've sin things lookin' feaw,
But never as awkard as what they are neaw;
Iv there isn't some help for us factory folk soon,
Aw'm sure 'at we's o' be knock'd reet eawt o' tune.



God help the poor, who in this wintry morn,
Come forth of alleys dim and courts obscure;
God help yon poor, pale girl, who droops forlorn,
And meekly her affliction doth endure!

God help the outcast lamb! she trembling stands,
All wan her lips, and frozen red her hands;
Her mournful eyes are modestly down cast,
Her night-black hair streams on the fitful blast;
Her bosom, passing fair, is half reveal'd,
And oh! so cold the snow lies there congeal'd;
Her feet benumb'd, her shoes all rent and worn;--
God help thee, outcast lamb, who stand'st forlorn!
   God help the poor!

God help the poor! an infant's feeble wail
Comes from yon narrow gate-way! and behold
A female crouching there, so deathly pale,
Huddling her child, to screen it from the cold!--
Her vesture scant, her bonnet crush'd and torn;
A thin shawl doth her baby dear enfold.
And there she bides the ruthless gale of morn,
Which almost to her heart hath sent its cold!
And now she sudden darts a ravening look,
As one with new hot bread comes past the nook;
And, as the tempting load is onward borne,
She weeps. God help thee, hapless one forlorn!
   God help the poor!

God help the poor! Behold yon famish'd lad
No shoes, no hose, his wounded feet protect;
With limping gait, and looks so dreamy-sad,
He wanders onward, stopping to inspect
Each window, stored with articles of food;
He yearns but to enjoy one cheering meal.
Oh! to his hungry palate, viands rude
Would yield a zest the famish'd only feel!
He now devours a crust of mouldy bread--
With teeth and hands the precious boon is torn,
Unmindful of the storm which round his head
Impetuous sweeps. God help thee, child forlorn
   God help the poor!
God help the poor! Another have I found
A bow'd and venerable man is he;
His slouched hat with faded crape is bound,
His coat is gray, and threadbare, too, I see;
"The rude winds" seem to "mock his hoary hair;"
His shirtless bosom to the blast is bare.
Anon he turns, and casts a wistful eye,
And with scant napkin wipes the blinding spray;
And looks again, as if he fain would spy
Friends he hath feasted in his better day
Ah! some are dead, and some have long forborne
To know the poor; and he is left forlorn!
   God help the poor!

God help the poor who in lone valleys dwell,
Or by far hills, where whin and heather grow
Theirs is a story sad indeed to tell!
Yet little cares the world, nor seeks to know
The toil and want poor weavers undergo.
The irksome loom must have them up at morn;
They work till worn-out nature will have sleep;
They taste, but are not fed. Cold snow drifts deep
Around the fireless cot, and blocks the door;
The night-storm howls a dirge o'er moss and moor!
And shall they perish thus, oppress'd and lorn?
Shall toil and famine hopeless still be borne!--
No! GOD will yet arise, and HELP THE POOR!



Neaw times are so tickle, no wonder
One's heart should be deawn i' his shoon,
But, dang it, we munnot knock under
To th' freawn o' misfortin to soon;
Though Robin looks fearfully gloomy,
An' Jamie keeps starin' at th' greawnd,
An' thinkin' o'th table 'at's empty,
An' th' little things yammerin' reawnd.

Iv a mon be both honest an' willin',
An' never a stroke to be had,
An' clemmin' for want ov a shillin',--
It's likely to make him feel sad;
It troubles his heart to keep seein'
His little brids feedin' o'th air;
An' it feels very hard to be deein',
An' never a mortal to care.

But life's sich a quare bit o' travel,--
A warlock wi' sun an' wi' shade,--
An' then, on a bowster o' gravel,
They lay'n us i' bed wi' a spade;
It's no use o' peawtin' an' fratchin';
As th' whirligig's twirlin' areawn'd,
Have at it again; an' keep scratehin',
As lung as your yed's upo' greawnd.

Iv one could but feel i'th inside on't,
There's trouble i' every heart;
An' thoose that'n th' biggest o'th pride on't,
Oft leeten o'th keenest o'th smart.
Whatever may chance to come to us,
Let's patiently hondle er share,--
For there's mony a fine suit o' clooas
That covers a murderin' care.

There's danger i' every station,
I'th palace, as weel as i'th cot;
There's hanker i' every condition,
An' canker i' every lot;
There's folk that are weary o' livin',
That never fear't hunger nor cowd;
An' there's mony a miserly crayter
'At's deed ov a surfeit o' gowd.

One feels, neaw 'at times are so nippin',
A mon's at a troublesome schoo',
That slaves like a horse for a livin',
An, flings it away like a foo;
But, as pleasur's sometimes a misfortin,
An' trouble sometimes a good thing,--
Though we liv'n o'th floor, same as layrocks,
We'n go up, like layrocks, to sing.






The Moorland Flower--To the Rose-Tree on my Window Sill--Keen Blows
the North Wind--Now Summer's Sunlight Glowing--The Moorland Witch--
The Church Clock--God Bless Thee, Old England--All on a Rosy Morn of
June--Glad Welcome to Morn's Dewy Hours--Alas, how Hard it is to
Smile--Ye Gallant Men of England--Here's to my Native Land--What
Makes your Leaves Fall Down--Oh, had she been a Lowly Maid--The Old
Bard's Welcome Home--Oh, Come Across the Fields--Oh, Weave a Garland
for my Brow--The Wanderer's Hymn--Alone upon the Flowery Plain--
Life's Twilight--Time is Flying--The Moorlands--The Captain's
Friends--The World--To a Married Lady--Cultivate your Men--Old Man's
Song--Bide on--Christmas Song--Love and Gold--When Drowsy Daylight--
Mary--To the Spring Wind--Nightfall--To a Young Lady--Poor
Travellers all--The Dying Rose--Lines--The Man of the Time--
Christmas Morning.


Come Whoam to thi Childer an' Me--What ails Thee, my Son Robin--God
Bless these Poor Folk--Come, Mary, Link thi Arm i Mine--Chirrup --
The Dule's i' this Bonnet o' Mine--Tickle Times--Jamie's Frolic--Owd
Pinder--Come, Jamie, let's Undo thi Shoon--The Goblin Parson--While
Takin' a Wift o' my Pipe--God Bless thi Silver Yure--Margit's


Cloth, neat, 1s.


Come Whoam to thi Childer an' Me--What ails Thee, my Son Robin--God
Bless these Poor Folk--Come, Mary, Link thi Arm i' Mine--The Dule's
i' this Bonnet o' Mine--Come, Jamie, let's Undo thi Shoon--Aw've
Worn my Bits o' Shoon Away--Chirrup--Bonny Nan--Tum Rindle--Tickle
Times--Jamie's Frolic--Owd Pinder--The Goblin Parson--While Takin' a
Wift o' my Pipe--Yesterneet--God Bless thi Silver Yure--Margit's
Coming--Eawr Folk--Th' Sweetheart Gate--Gentle Jone--Neet Fo'--A
Lift on th' Way.


In sheets, 1d. each.


Come Whoam to thi Childer an' Me--What ails Thee, my Son Robin--God
Bless these Poor Folk--Come, Mary, Link thi Arm i' Mine--The Dule's
i' this Bonnet o' Mine--Come, Jamie, let's Undo Thi Shoon--While
Takin' a Wift o' my Pipe--God Bless thi Silver Yure--Aw've Worn my
Bits o' Shoon Away --Yesterneet--Owd Enoch--Chirrup --Tickle Times--
Jamie's Frolic--Owd Pinder--Th' Goblin Parson--Margit's Coming--Eawr
Folk--Th' Sweetheart Gate--Gentle Jone--Neet Fo'--Bonnie Nan--A Lift
on th' Way--Tum Rindle--Buckle to.

WAUGH'S. The Birtle Carter's Tale about Owd Bodle. 3d.
WAUGH'S. The Goblin's Grave. 3d.
WAUGH'S. Chapel Island:  An Adventure on the Ulverstone Sands. 1d.
WAUGH'S. Norbreck:  A Sketch on the Lancashire Coast. 1d.
WAUGH'S. Birth-Place of Tim Bobbin. 6d.
WAUGH'S. Rambles in the Lake Country and its Borders. Cloth, neat.
2s. 6d.
WAUGH'S. Sketches of Lancashire Life and Localities. 1s.
WAUGH'S. Fourteen Days in Scotland. 1s.
WAUGH'S. Wandering Minstrels; or, Wails of the Workless Poor. 1d.
WAUGH'S. The Barrel Organ. With Illustrations. 3d.
WAUGH'S. Tattlin Matty. 3d.
WAUGH'S. The Dead Man's Dinner. 3d.
WAUGH'S. Over Sands to the Lakes. 6d.
WAUGH'S. Sea-Side Lakes and Mountains of Cumberland. 6d.
WAUGH'S. Home-Life of the Lancashire Factory Folk during the Cotton
Famine. 3s. 6d.
WAUGH'S. Tufts of Heather from the Northern Moors. 5s.


{1}  These stanzas are extracted, by permission, from the second
volume of "Lancashire Lyrics," edited by John Harland, Esq., F.S.A.
"They were written by a lady in aid of the Relief Fund. They were
printed on a card, and sold, principally at the railway stations.
Their sale there, and elsewhere, is known to have realised the sum
of 160 pounds. Their authoress is the wife of Mr Serjeant Bellasis,
and the only daughter of the late William Garnett, Esq. of Quernmore
Park and Bleasdale, Lancashire."--Notes in "Lancashire Lyrics."

{2}  From "Lancashire Lyrics," edited by John Harland, Esq., F.S.A.

{3}  Dole; relief from charity.

{4}  "During what has been well named 'The Cotton Famine,' amongst
the imports of cotton from India, perhaps the worst was that
denominated 'Surat,' from the city of that name in the province of
Guzerat, a great cotton district. Short in staple, and often rotten,
bad in quality, and dirty in condition, (the result too often of
dishonest packers,) it was found to be exceedingly difficult to work
up; and from its various defects, it involved considerable
deductions, or 'batings,' for bad work, from the spinners' and
weavers' wages. This naturally led to a general dislike of the Surat
cotton, and to the application of the word 'Surat' to designate any
inferior article. One action was tried at the assizes, the offence
being the applying to the beverage of a particular brewer the term
of 'Surat beer.' Besides the song given above, several others were
written on the subject. One called 'Surat Warps,' and said to be the
production of a Rossendale rhymester, (T. N., of Bacup,) appeared in
Notes and Queries of June 3, 1865, (third series, vol. vii., p.
432,) and is there stated to be a great favourite amongst the old
'Deyghn Layrocks,' (Anglice, the 'Larks of Dean,' in the forest of
Rossendale,) 'who sing it to one of the easy-going psalm-tunes with
much gusto.' One verse runs thus:-

" 'I look at th' yealds, and there they stick;
I ne'er seen the like sin' I wur wick!
What pity could befall a heart,
To think about these hard-sized warps!'

Another song, called 'The Surat Weyver,' was written by William
Billington of Blackburn. It is in the form of a lament by a body of
Lancashire weavers, who declare that they had

" 'Borne what mortal man could bear,
Affoore they'd weave Surat.'

But they had been compelled to weave it, though

" 'Stransportashun's not as ill
As weyvin rotten Su'.'

The song concludes with the emphatic execration,
" 'To hell wi' o' Surat!'"

--Note in "Lancashire Lyrics," vol. ii., edited by John Harland,
Esq., F.S.A.

{5}  These beautiful lines, by the veteran Samuel Bamford, of
Harperhey, near Manchester, author of "Passages in the Life of a
Radical," &c., are copied from the new and complete edition of his
poems, entitled "Homely Rhymes, Poems, and Reminiscences," published
by Alexander Ireland & Co., Examiner and Times Office, Pall Mall,
Manchester. Price 3s. 6d., with a portrait of the author.

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