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Title: Adventures and Recollections
Author: Bill o'th' Hoylus End, 1836-1897
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 "Adventures and Recollections" ***

Transcribed by Steven Wood from the Keighley Herald (1893).

                       ADVENTURES and RECOLLECTIONS
                          BILL O’TH HOYLUS END.

                                * * * * *

                             TOLD BY HIMSELF.

                                * * * * *


[Bill o’th Hoylus End might be termed a local Will-o’th-Wisp. He has been
everything by turns, and nothing long. Now, a lean faced lad, “a mere
anatomy, a mountebank, a thread bare juggler, a needy, hollow-ey’d, sharp
looking wretch;” now acting the pert, bragging youth, telling quaint
stories, and up to a thousand raw tricks; now tumbling and adventuring
into manhood with yet the oil and fire and force of youth too strong for
reason’s sober guidance; and now—well and now—finding the checks of time
have begun to grapple him, he looks back upon the past and tells his
curious stories o’er again. Verily, as Shakespeare declares in _All’s
Well_, “the web of his life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together;”
and through it all there is a kind of history, just as

   “There is a history in all men’s lives,
   Figuring the nature of the times deceased.”

This son of Mischief, Art and Guile has stooped to many things but to
conquer himself and be his own best friend; that is, according to the
conception of the ordinary, respectable, get-on folk of the world. He has
followed more or less the wild, shifting impulses of his nature—restless
and reckless, if aimless and harmless; fickle and passionate, if
rebelliously natural; exhausting his youth and manhood in fruitless
action, and devoting the moments of reflection to the playful current of
the muse’s fancy, forsooth, to the delectation of the more prosaic
humanity in this his locality. A life of pleasure was ever his treasure,
and he agrees, after experience of life’s fitful dream, that

   E’en Pleasure acts a treacherous part,
   She charms the scene, but stings the heart,
   And while she gulls us of our wealth,
   Or that superior pearl, our health,

[Yet, and these are the two lines he substitutes for the melancholy truth
of an old poet],

   Yet she restores for all the pains,
   By giving Merit her exchange.

Though the poetic flame has flickered from time to time, it has never
been extinguished. There is health and buoyancy still in his muse. It is
the one thing essential, the one thing permanent in his nature—ever ready
to impart the mystic jingle to pictures of fun and frolic, or perchance
judgement and reflection. Thus, as the local Burns, he stands unrivalled.
His poetic effusions speak for themselves, but there are other traits in
his career which he wished to convey to the public, which might while
away an occasional half-hour in the reading of his stories of the tricks
of his boyhood, the adventures of his early manhood, and to learn how he
became—well, what he is! He has been caught in divers moods and at sundry
times, and his words have been taken in shorthand, the endeavour always
being to keep the transcript as faithful as circumstances would allow. No
pretence is here made to evolve a dramatic story, but rather to present
Bill’s career simply and faithfully for public perusal; for to use Dr.
Johnson’s words, “If a man is to write a panegyric, he can keep the vices
out of sight; but if he professes to write a life he must represent it
really as it was.”]


It was on the 22nd day of March, 1836, in a village midway between
Keighley and Haworth, in a cottage by the wayside, that I, William
Wright, first saw light. The hamlet I have just alluded to was and now is
known by the name of Hermit Hole: which name, by the way, is said to have
been given to it owing to the fact that a once-upon-a-timeyfied hermit
abided there. At the top end of the village stood a group of houses
which, also, distinguished themselves by a little individuality, and go
by the name of “Hoylus End.” My parents’ house was one of this group.
_All_ this is about my home. My father was James Wright, at one time a
hand-loom weaver, latterly a weft manager at Messrs W. Lund & Sons, North
Beck Mills, Keighley, a position which he held for somewhere about half a
century. He was the son of Jonathan Wright, farmer, Damems. My mother was
a daughter of Crispin Hill, farmer and cartwright, of Harden, and she
enjoyed a relationship with Nicholson, the Airedale poet. I can trace my
ancestry back for a long period. The Wrights at one time belonged to the
rights of Damems. Then according to Whitaker’s “Craven” and “Keighley:
Past and Present”, “Robert Wright, senior, and Robert Wright, junior,”
ancestors of mine, fought with Earl de Clifford, of Skipton, on Flodden
Field. I believe I am correct in saying that since that event the name of
Robert has been retained in our family down to the present time—a brother
of mine now holding the honour. Several of my ancestors, along with my
grand father, are buried in the Keighley Parish Church-yard, at the east
end. But it strikes me that I’m going astray a little.


Many old townsfolk—especially those musically inclined—will remember my
father, who was a vocalist of no mean repute;—at least, this was said of
him in general. Possessing a rich tenor voice, he was in great demand,
both publicly and privately. He occupied the position of leading singer
in the Keighley Parish Church Choir, at the time when the late Mr. B. F.
Marriner and other gentlemen were prominently associated with the Church.
His services were often requisitioned on the occasion of anniversaries of
places of worship, &c. In those days, mind you, “t’anniversary Sunday”
was regarded as a big and auspicious event. Great preparations were made
for it, and when the service did take place people attended from miles
around; I believe the singing was relied on as the chief “fetching”
medium. But somehow or other I never did care much for singing—I really
didn’t. Nevertheless I ought to say we had an abundance—I was going to
say over-abundance—of singing in our house; indeed, the word used is not
nearly sufficiently expressive—_I_ had singing to breakfast, singing to
dinner, singing to supper, singing to go to bed—Ah! My pen was going
further, but I just managed to stop it. One really must, you know,
represent things as they stand.


But, as I have told you, I didn’t take to singing. I would ten times ten
rather be “away to the woods, away!” I recollect that when I was a little
boy—my parents _said_ I was a little naughty boy—I got into endless
scrapes. But people will talk. Roaming in the woods had an especial charm
for me; and Peace Close Wood was my favourite haunt. Some people had the
bad grace to let me hear that my visits to the wood were not very much
sought for. It was said that I had a habit of peeling bark off as many
trees as I could conveniently—sometimes it got to be
inconveniently—manage, and, in fact, doing anything that wasn’t exactly
up to the nines. I now feel rather sorry that I should have given my
father and mother so much uneasiness, and cause my father so much
expense. Of course the keeper of the wood soon got to know me and my
eccentricities; it was a bad day for me when he did. It’s a sad thing for
you when you get suspected of aught; if all doesn’t go like “square” you
may look out for squalls. In my case, my father had to “turn-out” and pay
for the damage I was said to have done to the trees; those upon which I
left my mark had generally to come down—young trees—trees with plenty of
life in them I took immensely to. But I have since thought they needn’t
have pestered my father as much as they did. I had many a narrow “squeak”
in my boyish days. When I was about an octave of years old, I remember
very feelingly an escapade which I was engaged in, as a wind-up to one of
my devastating expeditions to Peace Close Wood. The steward dogged my
footsteps and waylaid me, and, by Jove! he pursued me! Fortunately for
me, perhaps, there was a house near the wood, the roof of which, at the
rear, sloped almost to the ground. I mounted the roof and walked along
the rigging. The steward took it into his “noddle” to follow suit. He did
so. It was an exciting chase. I ran to the extreme edge of my elevated
platform and then actually jumped—I remember the jump yet, I do—onto the
road below. The result was a visit to Baildon, to a celebrated doctor
there, for an injury to my heels which I sustained by my fall. Of course
the steward had more sense than to follow me. He complained, I believe,
to my father; but my revered father, and mother too—how I bless them for
it!—gave all attention to their little darling. I recovered. I was sent
to school, which was carried on in the “Old White House,” near our house.
It provided for the education of all the young blood of the village—my
little self included. This school, I must say in passing, turned out some
very good scholars: there was no set teacher—the “learned ’uns” of the
neighbourhood came forward and gave their services. It used to be said I
was a wild dog, a harem-scarem; and I was often caned for my pranks.
Caricaturing the teacher was one of my favourite attractions and
principal offences—at least I had to smart most for it. But I got over
it, as all boys seem to have done. Perhaps the best description of my
antics before I was ten years of age will be found in the following
“opinion” of the old wives of the villages of Fell-lane and Exley-head;
the lines came from my pen more than thirty years ago:—


   Dancin’, an’ jumpin’, an’ fair going mad—
   What can be done with this wild, wicked lad?
   Plaguin’ t’poor cat till it scratches his hand,
   Or tolling some door wi’ a stone an’ a band;
   Rolling i’t’ mud as black as a coil,
   Cheeking his mates wi’ a “Ha’penny i’t’ hoil;”
   Slashin’ an’ cuttin’ wi’ a sword made o’ wood,
   Actin’ Dick Turpin or bold Robin Hood—
   T’warst little imp ’at there is i’t’ whole street:
   O! he’s a shocker is young Billy Wreet!

   Playin’ a whistle or drummin’ a can,
   Seein’ how far wi’ his fingers can span:
   Breakin’ a window wi’ throwin’ a stone,
   Then ligs it on Tommy, or Charley, or Jone;
   Mockin’ a weaver when swingin’ his spooils,
   Chief-engineer of a train made o’ stooils;
   Last out o’ bed, an’ last in at neet—
   O! he’s a imp is that young Billy Wreet!

   Ridin’ a pony wi’ a rope round its neck,
   Tryin’ to cross a ford or a beck,
   Lettin’ off rockets or swingin’ a gate,
   Walkin’ on t’riggin’ on t’top of a slate;
   Out a birds’ nestin’ an’ climbin’ up trees,
   Rivin’ his jacket an’ burstin’ his knees;
   An’ a body can’t leave ought safe out o’t’ neet,
   But what it’s in danger o’ daft Willie Wreet!

   Breakin’ down hedges, an’ climbin’ up trees,
   Scalin’ the rocks on his hands an’ his knees,
   Huntin’, or skatin’, or flying a kite,
   An’ seein’ how much he can take at a bite;
   Plaguin’ a donkey, an’ makin’ it kick,
   Prickin’ its belly wi’t’ end of a stick;
   An’ you who are livin’, you’ll yet live to see’t,
   That something will happen that scamp Billy Wreet!


About this time the country was in a state of great turbulency on account
of the Plug Drawing and the Chartist Riots. Soldiers were stationed at
Keighley, where the late Captain Ferrand had a troop of yeoman cavalry
under his charge. One day, I recollect, the Keighley soldiers had a rare
outing. This is just how it came about. An old inhabitant, with the
baptismal name, James Mitchell, but the locally-accepted name, Jim o’th’
Kiers, saw what appeared to him to be the “inimy” on Lees Moor. “Nah,”
thought Jimmy, “we’re in for’t if we doan’t mind;” and he straightway
went down to Keighley and raised the alarm. It was Sunday, and the
soldiers, as luck had it, happened to be on a Church parade. Captain
Ferrand at once gave the command—like any dutiful general would do—“To
arms!” “To arms!” The soldiers thereupon proceeded to the indicated scene
of action; I saw the noble warriors gallop past our house “in arms and
eager for the fray.” But upon reaching the spot marked out by Jim o’th’
Kiers, the soldiers were somewhat puzzled and “sore amazed” to find no
enemy—that is to say, nothing to mean aught. Jimmy couldn’t understand
it: he rubbed his eyes to see if he was awake, but rubbing made “not a
bit of difference.” The nearest thing which they could even twist or
twine into “the inimy” was a poor old man with a pair of “arm-oil”
crutches. Jimmy having been severely questioned as to the sincerity of
his motive in “hevin’ t’sowgers aht,” the poor old fellow whom they had
fallen upon came in for a turn; but the only explanation he could give
was that they had been holding a Ranters’ camp-meeting, and that he, not
being able to get away as rapidly as he could have wished had been left
behind. Now they did make a fool of Jim o’th’ Kiers, they did that, and
the soldiers were jeered and scoffed at a good deal by the crowd. I, a
little, wandering, curiosity-seeking specimen of humanity, was among the
latter, and I trow I had as much fun out of the affair as was good for


Soon after this skirmishing—you will have to excuse the absence of any
dates, I didn’t bethink me to keep a diary—my parents removed from
Hoylus-end, and went to live at a farm called Wheat-head, in Fell-lane,
now known as the Workhouse Farm.


My stay at Wheat-head Farm, which lasted about ten years, was to me a
very interesting one. I cannot refrain from making a passing allusion to
my acquaintance with a character who created quite a sensation at the
time. This “character” was no other than “Old Three Laps”—an individual
who at his baptism was known as William Sharp. This singularly eccentric
specimen of humanity lived at Whorl’s Farm, and, as it will be generally
known took to his bed through being “blighted” in love. He kept to his
bed for about forty years. During the period he was “bed-fast,” I often
used to go and peep through the window at this freak of nature—for I can
scarcely call it anything else. Then, while I was a lad, we had such a
thing as a hermit in Holme (House) Wood. The name of this hermit I used
to be told was “Lucky Luke.” For a score of years did “Luke” live in
Holme Wood. I remember my mother giving the old man his breakfast when he
used to call at our house. His personal appearance frightened me very
much. He wore the whole of his beard, which was of iron-grey colour and
reached down to his waist. His garb was composed of rags, tied to his
body by the free use of rope. He once told my mother that he had more
than once changed clothes with a scarecrow. Sometimes this queer person
would never be seen by mortal man for months together, unless it were
that I disturbed his solitude occasionally; but then, of course, I was
only a boy. “Luke” had a bad name amongst us lads. I know people couldn’t
fairly make out where he lived; he was wonderfully “lucky,” and no doubt
he had a comfortable lair somewhere among the rocks and caves. Still the
fact remains that farmers often found occasion to complain of pillaging
being carried on by night in their gardens and turnip fields. This seems
indisputable proof that “Luke” was a vegetarian—maybe, such a one as the
Keighley Vegetarian Society might be glad to get hold of! Old Job Senior
was not a vegetarian; he went in for a higher art—music. It used to be
the boast of the Rombald’s Moor hermit that he had been a splendid singer
in his day—could sing in any voice. Job frequently came as far as
Keighley and tried to earn “a’ honest penny” by singing in the streets.
His legs were encased in straw and ropes, and although at times I own I’m
rather backward incoming forward, I hasten to say that Job’s “outer man
and appendages” charmed more people than his singing did. But, then,
“it’s all in a life-time.”


During my sojourn at Wheat-head Farm I took a fancy to trying my
“prentice hand” at writing poetry. I got a little encouragement in this
at home. My father held singing classes, and gentlemen from the
neighbourhood used to meet at our house to have their “lessons.” I
remember that the present Mr. Lund, of Malsis Hall, was one of my
father’s principal pupils. Some very good “talent” was turned out in the
way of glee parties particularly, and just before Christmas my father
used to be very busy training singers for carolling. I often wrote a
little doggerel-rhyme to please those who came to the classes. One of my
earliest efforts was a few verses anent my first pair of britches, which
I, in common, I suppose, with other juveniles, regarded with a great
amount of pleasure and pride. I must apologise for introducing three
verses of the piece I wrote and styled


   Aw remember the days o’ mi bell-button jacket,
   Wi’ its little lappels hangin’ dahn ower mi waist;
   And mi grand bellosed cap—noan nicer, I’ll back it—
   Fer her et hed bowt it wor noan without taste;
   Fer shoo wor mi mother, an’ I wor her darlin’,
   And offen sho vowed it, an’ stroked dahn mi’ hair;
   An’ sho tuke me ta see her relations i’ Harden,
   I’t’ first pair o’ britches ’at ivver aw ware.

   Aw remember the time when Aunt Betty an’ Alice
   Sent fer me up ta lewk at mi clooas,
   An’ aw walked up as prahd as a Frenchman fra Calais,
   Wi’ mi tassel at side, i’ mi jacket a rose,
   Aw sooin saw mi uncles, both Johnny and Willy,
   They both gav’ me pennies an’ off aw did steer;
   But aw heeard ’em say this, “He’s a fine lad is Billy,
   I’t’ first pair o’ britches ’at ivver he ware.”

   Aw remember one Sabbath, an’t’ sun it wor shinin’,
   Aw went wi mi father ta Hainworth ta sing,
   An’t’ stage wor hung raand wi’ green cotton linin’,
   An’t’ childer i’ white made t’village ta ring.
   We went to old Mecheck’s that day to wur drinkin’,
   Tho’ poor ther were plenty, an’ summat ta spare;
   Says Mecheck, “That lad, Jim, is just thee awm thinkin’,
   I’t’ first pair o’ britches ’at ivver tha ware.”



Anything that bordered on the romantic and nomadic style of life had an
especial fascination for me. Many a time and oft have I bestridden horses
that had been peacefully pasturing, and ridden them bare-back around the
fields, in a kind of Buffalo Bill style, you know. I got “nabbed”
occasionally, and then I was candidly told that if I continued “ta dew
sich a dangerous thing ony more, ah sud be sewer to catch it.”


Of course I had divers other pranks, as all boys have—albeit to the
anxiety and sorrow of many up-grown, and, therefore, unsympathising
persons. “Tolling” doors was another favourite occupation of mine.
Modern-time boys have not generally the same opportunities for “tolling”
as boys had in my time. Our folks provided an everlasting amount of
apparatus for me to carry on my “professional duties,” and that
unknowingly. My mother was a heald knitter, and there was always plenty
of band throwing about. One night’s “tolling” I remember with particular
liveliness. I thought what a “champ” thing it would be to have a “lark”
with “Jim o’ Old Jack’s”—an eccentric old man who lived by himself in an
old thatched dwelling in our locality. I had no sooner turned the thought
over in my mind than I resolved to “have a go” at the old chap. Poor old
Jim went out to his work during the day-time, returning home at night. So
I took advantage of his absence by hammering a stout nail into the
cross-piece over the doorway. When night approached, and Jim returned to
his homestead—poor old fellow! it makes me long to ask his forgiveness as
I recount this incident—I hooked a fairish-sized stone, by means of a
piece of string, to the nail which I had placed over the doorway. Near
the stone I next fastened a longer length of string, and then I ensconced
myself on the opposite side of the road. It so happened that the house
stood on one side of a narrow lane, the opposite side of which was on a
much higher level than the roof of the house, and, besides, faced by a
wall. This suited me to a T. All serene! Having allowed Jim nice time to
get comfortably sat down to his evening meal, I gently pulled the string,
with the result that there was a gentle tapping at the door. Jim
naturally answered my knock, and he seemed rather put about to find that
his ears had evidently deceived him. So he slammed the door to and went
inside—I guessed to resume his seat at the tea table. Then I “tolled”
again and once more Jim came out. He must have felt a little “nasty” when
he found that no one wanted him at the door.


However, he again closed the door. Before I had time to pull the string
again, I actually heard a knock myself at the door. I could also see that
a person was standing outside. Now Jim must have determined to drop on
somebody, and stationed himself behind the door, for as soon as he heard
the knock which _I_ also heard, he hurriedly opened the door, bounced
into the open, and commenced to belabour mercilessly, with a stout
cudgel, of which he had possessed himself, the “wretch ’at dared to knock
at ’is door like that.” I sincerely congratulated myself that it wasn’t
my tender carcase that Jim o’ Jack’s was playing with. The visitor hadn’t
had time to announce himself: Jim didn’t allow that; but by-and-bye he
managed to let Jim know who he was, and it turned out that he was a near
neighbour. I believe they managed to “mak’ it up ageean.” At other times
I would “toll” the door, and the poor old chap would rush unceremoniously
into a gooseberry bush which I had before-hand placed on the door-step to
give him a sort of porcupine reception.


Still further, I recollect fastening a donkey to the handle of the door.
I knocked, and got the donkey into _my_ way of thinking: Billy would pull
for dear life and Jim also would pull to the same end, and would remain a
prisoner in his own citadel. I now feel sorry for Jim o’ Jack’s, I do.
But a life of all play and no work would tend to make Bill a bad boy.


I was packed off to school—the National School at Keighley, of which Mr.
Balfrey was master. He was no doubt a learned man, having written several
works, including a useful book, entitled “Old Father Thames,” which he
published while he was at Keighley. For some time the master regarded me
as his favourite pupil, but by writing uncouth verse and drawing
questionable pictures bearing upon himself, during school hours, I got
very much into disfavour with him. I don’t wish to say anything mean of
Mr. Balfrey, but still he didn’t encourage native talent as he might have
done: he might have been jealous, there’s no telling!


After leaving the day school, I was sent to Lund’s mill, where my father
was manager over the weft department. My school career did not finish at
the National School, however. I attended a night school, which was held
in a thatched cottage in Greengate and kept by a man of no small ability
in the person of Mr. John Garnett. He was, I believe, of Scottish
extract, and a great admirer of Burns into the bargain.


He had generally a volume of Burns’ poems at his finger-ends and it was
through him that I began to “take to” Burns and long to pay a visit to
the Land o’ Cakes. I had subsequently the pleasure of fulfilling that


Severing my connection with the school in Greengate, I attended a night
school in Fell-lane—much nearer home. This was kept by an elderly
personage known as Mr. John Tansey, and under the guidance of that
gentleman, the present Mayor of Keighley (Alderman Ira Ickringill) and
myself spent a portion of our time in obtaining knowledge. His Worship
and myself were twin companions, I may say, being both born on the same
day—March 22nd, 1836.


I spent a good deal of time in my youth in the workshops of the
woolcombers in our locality, as, I believe, Ira Ickringill did. Hand
woolcombers, by-the-bye, were rare hands (no pun) at telling tales, and I
listened to these with great relish. With all my boyish pranks, I was
generally a favourite among the combers. There used to be an Irishman
named Peter O’Brady who lived not far from our house. His wife was a good
singer, and what is more, she had a varied selection of good old Irish
and Scotch songs. She was occasionally good enough to sing for me. This
woman taught me the song “Shan Van Vocht,” and other Irish Gaelic songs.


A visit to Pablo Franco’s circus, which came to Keighley, led me into the
belief that with a little practice I should make a passable trapezist, or
tight-rope walker. So when I got home the first thing I did was to
procure some rope &c. With this apparatus I constructed a kind of trapeze
and tight-rope in my bed chamber. I used to practice nightly just before
jumping into bed. But my ambition was one night somewhat damped, when I
fell from the bar and hurt myself. This small beginning ended badly for
me; for my father learned that part of his homestead had been converted
into a circus; he was, or pretended to be, greatly displeased with the
discovery, and he straightway cut down the ropes and things. Then I had
to find some other means of following up my practice. When you once start
a thing it’s always best to go on with it. So I got a lad about the same
age as myself into my confidence, and one Saturday we resolved to have a
night’s “circusing” on our own account in a barn. We had had a fair round
of trapezing, rope walking, turning somersaults and the like—wearing
special costumes, you know, for the occasion—when in the wee sma’ hours
of the morning the old farmer, who claimed the ownership of our circus—in
other words barn—suddenly came upon us. He had evidently heard us going
through our rehearsal. His unannounced appearance startled Jack and
myself very much indeed. The old farmer bade us in language certainly
more forcible than polite—to “Come down, ye rascals.” Jack and I
naturally hesitated a little, but that irritated the farmer, and he said
that if we wouldn’t _come_ down he would _fork_ us down—he was evidently
thinking of hay-time. We two, perched on the haystack, did not take the
words at all with a kindly meaning. However, I told Jack in an under-tone
to pack up our clothes and get away, suggesting that I would spring down
and tackle the old man. Jack obeyed and got away, and I seized the farmer
and held him tightly in a position by no means agreeable to him. He soon
promised that if I left loose he would let me go away. I released him and
doubled after Jack, finally landing at Cross Lane Ends, where Jack was
waiting for me. We put on our usual garments and departed each on his own
way. During the day I went to a neighbour’s house. I was rather startled
on seeing the old farmer there; but exceeding glad was I when he failed
to recognise me. He was telling the family about two “young scoundrels,”
and how one had attacked him in his own barn early that morning; he
little thought that a little “scoundrel” in that house was the “attacker”
he wished to get hold of. Little Willie Wright could not help but smile
interestingly at the old man’s vivid description of the incident. That
incident, I may say in passing, served to mark the termination of my
career as a circus hand.


Instrumental music next turned my head, or, more definitely—a violin. I
bought a fiddle on my own account. Of course my father saw the
instrument; if I could keep it out of his sight I could not very well
keep it out of his hearing. Then, besides, little boys should not be
deceptive. He says: “What are you going to do with that?” I says: “I’m
going to learn to play it.” Then he asked me where I had bought it, and I
told him like a dutiful son—“Tom Carrodus’s in Church Green.” He summoned
my mother and asked: “Mally, what dos’ta think o’ this lot?” She—good
woman—said it was only another antic of her boy’s, and “let him have his
own way.” But my father, on the contrary, got rather nasty about the
matter, remarking that if I didn’t take the thing away he would put it
into the fire. He said he was sure it would only turn out a public house
“touch,” and informed me that it was only one in a thousand who ever got
to be anything worth listening to. He endeavoured to impress upon me what
a nuisance the old fiddler was on the Fair Day; and “concluded a vigorous
speech” by again reminding me that if I didn’t take the fiddle out of his
_sight_ he would burn it. He did give me the chance to play out of his
sight; but, knowing, young as I was, that the unexpected sometimes
happens, I decided to get rid of “the thing,” as my father was pleased to
call it. Fiddle and I parted company the very day after we came to know
each other.


next fascinated me; and I induced several lads and lasses in the village
to form a “troupe.” We got up a show—not a very showy show, but a nice
little show—and charged a reasonable sum for admission—only a half-penny!
The “company” managed, by working together, to possess itself of a
creditable wardrobe. But the “Fell-lane Nigger Troupe” did not live long.
I, for example, began to soar a little higher, that is to the dramatic
stage; but my father evidenced the same bad grace as he did in regard to
my fiddle.


I had somehow or other scraped together close upon a couple of hundred
reprints of plays, which cost me from 6d to 2s a-piece. He said he would
have no acting in his house. I pleaded it was only a bit of pastime; but
it was all in vain, and what was more he threw all my books on the fire.
This greatly disheartened me—I should be about 14 years old at this
period;—but though my father burned my play-books he did not quell my
ardent ambition to go on the stage. A few days after, a theatrical man,
called Tyre, visited Keighley. (Oh! how I have blessed that man!) He
advertised for some amateur performers to play in a temperance drama of
the title “The seven stages of a drunkard,” at the old Mechanics’ Hall
(until recently the Temperance Hall). The piece was to be played nightly
for a fortnight. I mentioned to my father that I should very much like to
take part in the performance. He asked the advice of somebody or other as
to the character of the play, and being informed that it was a temperance
piece, he consented to my serving a fortnight with the company. I
applied, and was gladly accepted. The part of a boy—a boy who, in
manhood, was a drunkard—was allotted to me. The company played for a
fortnight before crowded houses. But my stage career was not destined to
end there. Tyre, seeing that the Keighley public appreciated the efforts
of his local talent, arranged for the performance of another piece,
styled “Ambrose Guinnett.” He asked me to take a part in that piece also,
and I agreed on the spot to do so. I was put in as a sailor, and I
purchased in the Market-place a sailor’s suit and a black wig, on
“tick”—you see I was determined to have them. By-and-bye, it reached the
ears of my father that I was going “reight in for t’business.” However,
the day fixed for the first performance came round, and then the
performance commenced.


The curtain had risen and all was going on nicely when on the stage,
behind the wings, appeared a policeman—a real policeman—a policeman to
the heart, into the bargain! “Robert” turned out to be nobody else than
my old friend, Mr James Leach, now of Balmoral House, The Esplanade,
Keighley: this, I ought to mention, was my first meeting with Mr Leach.
My father it seemed, had heard definitely that I should be acting that
night, and so he had induced Police-constable Leach (No. 5678, X
division, A.1.), to look after me. Well, as I said before, P.C. Leach
came on the stage. I happened to be the first soul he encountered. Says
he to me: “Have you got a young man here called William Wright?” [I saw
he did not “ken” me.] Says I to him: “I have not.” Says he to me: “I want
that lad, wherever he is; his father has sent me for him, and if he won’t
go home I have to take him to the lock-up.” The last word rather
frightened me; but I managed to say to him: “To save you a deal of
trouble, sir, young Wright isn’t going to play in this piece at all,”
and, with that, directed him down the staircase. I was allowed to go on
with my acting without interruption after that; but I hadn’t to go on the
stage another night. My parents then put their heads together to keep me
out of mischief.


I was packed off to Lund’s Mill—the late Mr William Lund was at the head
of the firm at the time, and Benjamin Lamb and I became favourites with
him. Mr Lund often used to take us into the staircase at the mill,
provide us with chalk, and tell us to draw animals or anything we liked.
He would offer a prize for the best production. We had also to try our
hands at “making” poetry, and for this Mr Lund would give rewards. Ben
could generally “best” me at drawing, but I managed to get the poetry
prizes all right. One day Ben signed teetotal, and I remember I wrote a
few lines of doggerel on the occasion. It is rather uncouth, but here it

   Benjamin signed teetotal
      He signed from drink and liquors;
   And it gave him such an appetite
      Begum he swallow’d pickers.


Ben and I also took a fancy to making various models, especially ships.
Mr Lund caught us at the job, and, taking an interest in our work, he
offered a prize for the one of us who made the best-sailing three-rigged
vessel. We made our ships and gaily decorated them. The day fixed for the
trial was regarded with keen interest by the mill-hands. The trial trip
was to take place in the mill dam, and the banks of the dam were crowded
with workpeople. The conditions were that we should sail the ships, with
the aid of a warp thread, from the head to the foot of the dam. And the
contest began. Ben’s ship had scarcely been launched when it upset, being
side-heavy. But my ship sailed gallantly before the breeze, right on to
the finishing post. The spectators cheered lustily; I felt very proud, I
did. I got the prize, and was made quite a “hero” of for a few days. But
they little knew the grand secret of my success. I had driven a spindle
into the keel, so as to allow it to protrude downwards into the water;
with this in it, it was almost impossible for the ship to upset!



Notwithstanding the kindness which I received at the mill, I could not
settle down. I had a strong inclination to get out into the world and see
something. My ambition again returned to the stage. I began to visit
travelling theatres which came to Keighley, staying in Townfield Gate. I
joined an amateur dramatic society, composed of Keighley people. The
names of the members were:—Arthur Bland, John Spencer, William Binns,
Mark Tetley, Thomas Smith, Thomas Kay—all of whom, I believe are dead—and
Joshua Robinson, James Lister, Sam Moore and myself. There were also a
number of females, who must be all dead by this time. We had weekly
Saturday night performances in an old barn in Queen-street, which is now
used as a warehouse by Messrs W. Laycock & Sons, curriers. After a short
course of training in the society, Arthur Bland, John Spencer, and myself
became rather—ambitious I suppose I shall have to call it—and joined the
profession altogether. I should be about sixteen years old; and I was
about the youngest member in the company. My companions and I joined
Wild’s Travelling Dramatic company. I was called the “juvenile,” owing to
the fact that I was the youngest member of the company. We fulfilled
engagements at Bradford, Halifax, Dewsbury, Keighley, and other towns in
the district. I considered (myself) that I made a “rare fist” at acting,
but the advice was unsympathisingly hurled at me—“Come home to your
parents and start afresh.” Well, I took the advice, and went home to my
parents. I often think it was very good of them to allow their errant son
to come home as often as they did. I returned to my position as a
warpdresser at Lund’s mill, being about eighteen years old at the time.
Things went on very peaceably and agreeably for another little while, but
I—just verging on the age of manhood—again felt a strong desire to go out
into the world.


I had been reading a book about the life of a sailor—how nice it is to
_read_ about a sailor’s life!—and got the idea that I should like to be a
sailor. So, one morning I got up betimes, when lazy people were snoring
between the blankets. I clad myself in my best suit—one of splendid
black, put on my watch, provided myself with plenty of money—my parents
were not badly off—and started in search of a sailor’s life. It didn’t
look like a very good beginning, did it? I tramped to Leeds, and there I
had the—misfortune, I may safely say, to fall in with some of my thespian
friends. They very willingly helped me to spend my money, so that when I
left Leeds I had scarcely a penny in my pocket. But it was, perhaps, all
for the best, as things turned. I walked to Goole, and from there to
Hull. I lingered about the docks for some time, and then I fell in with
the skipper of a vessel who was looking out for an addition to his crew.
He asked me who I was. I, of course, told him and said I should like to
be a sailor. He smiled when I said that, and said I looked more like a
tailor than a sailor. But, then, I have said all along that appearances
are deceptive, and that it isn’t always wise to rely on the label of the
bag. It was simply a matter of taste with the skipper: he saw in me a
nice chance of a suit of good clothes, &c., if nothing else. He
questioned me: “would you run away if I took you on? You know some of you
get tired of the first voyage.” I assured him that _I_ wouldn’t run away,
what other boys did. Whereupon it came to pass that he said that I was a
likely young fellow, and I was engaged—I mean to the skipper, of course.
I had to say a fond “Good-bye!” to my suit of black, watch, and other
articles, and bedeck myself in a canvas suit, with red shirt, belt, and
oil-skin cap. The name of the vessel was “The Greyhound,” and “The
Greyhound” was laden with prepared stone and bound from Hull to London.
We started. The voyage was a very rough one, and I was very, very sick
the first day. I often think of my first day’s sailoring; I do that, I
do. I was put to all manner of drudgery, such as scrubbing the decks. The
cooking for the crew also fell into my hands; there were about a dozen of
us. Fortunately, I had no need to complain of the lack of food. There was
plenty of salt pork and biscuits; but, then, biscuits and salt pork and
salt pork and biscuits have a tendency to become a little monotonous to
the palate. I got very roughly handled by the crew. The voyage to London
occupied about six days. We stayed at the English capital about a
fortnight, in order to exchange our cargo for one of goods suitable for
the Hull trade. Even while we were moored in the Thames, I was very
anxious to make my escape, but a too close watch was kept over me. We
started on the home journey, during which I was not affected by sea


I determined that as soon as ever I got into Hull I would make straight
for Keighley. Many a time on the vessel did I think of Mrs Hemans’s
beautiful poem “There’s no place like home.” I shall never forget, I
think, the feelings of ecstacy with which I was seized on the vessel
sailing into the port of Hull. It was four o’ clock on a cold, dreary
December afternoon, and I could not help but cry as, going on the quay, I
heard an organ grinder giving off the strains “Home, Sweet Home!”

   Of all the spots on earth to me
         Is Home, Sweet Home.
   And that dear spot I long to see—
         My Home, Sweet Home.
   Where joyfully relations meet,
   Where neighbours do each other greet.
   If ought on earth there can be sweet,
         ’Tis Home, Sweet Home.

It seemed to me as if my father and mother were calling their prodigal
son home. I straightened myself up, and says: “Here goes for Keighley,
without a ha’penny in my pocket:” the skipper was not by any means
kind-hearted, and did not give me even an “honorarium.” But my troubles
were not by any means past and gone: many who read these lines will, I
trow, know what it is to tramp a long distance with a purse, as Carlyle
said, “so flabby that it could scarcely be thrown against the wind.” My
trudge from Hull to Bradford seemed beset with thorny places.


Leaving Hull, I walked all night in stormy, winterly weather, and before
morning I was on the near bank of Howden Dyke. There was a ferry at the
dyke, and, not having the wherewithal to pay the toll, I had to stay
where I was—about three miles from Goole. As I afterwards learned, I had
gone about eight miles out of the right road. I loitered about for a
short time. Then a farmer, with a horse and cart, chanced to come along.
I unfolded my tale to him, and he took pity on me; he said he was allowed
to take a man with his horse and cart, besides himself, and I could go
over as _the_ man. And in this way I crossed over on the ferry, which was
a sort of raft. When I got into Howden—it was now early morning—it turned
out to be the Fair Day. So I wended my way into the fair-ground, thinking
that possibly I might meet with some of my former theatrical
acquaintances at some of the shows. But I was a doomed man: there were
none. There was any number of wild beast shows, fat women shows, art
galleries, pea saloons, with the ubiquitous Aunt Sarah, but of “mumming”
shows there were none. When I was in this low pitch of despondency, a
flashly-clad individual walked up to me and asked me _what_ I was. Being
a truthful sort of a lad, if nothing else, I told him I was “all sorts,”
but had been doing a “bit o’ sailoring” last. He said he kept a boxing
show, and asked if I had done anything in the noble defence line. I had
to confess that I had done a little at home, with towels round my hands.
“Oh (says he) I’ll teach you how to box in twenty minutes. I’ll introduce
you to the public, and if there is any big farmer to tackle _I’ll_ tackle
him; and I have got a little black man who will stand up for you. I want
a man to p’rade outside the show, you know, and you look a likely
fellow.” After this magnificent speech, how could I but take the job? I
did so. Seeing that I had not been over-fed lately, he treated me to a
loaf and coffee: that these were welcome I need hardly chronicle; they
were decidedly welcome. After a good night’s sleep, the next day I was
dressed for the occasion. The fair-ground was thronged with people from
far and near. A big crowd collected in front of _our_ show. I p’raded on
the platform outside the show, and the proprietor announced that I was a
champion boxer, and that I would “set to” with any man in the whole fair!
Some men would have felt honoured at this, but I didn’t. The announcement
fairly made me tremble, and I should have been very thankful to drop
through the boards. But I had to stay where I was. Fortunately nobody
came forward, and the only “set to” I had to have was with the little
black man. The show commenced, and we went inside; of course we had only
exhibition games. One night produced 7s 6d for me. But I had no more
sense than spend my money on a number of showmen who had gathered
together, as was their wont, in a drinking-saloon on the fair-ground
after the night’s business. Therefore I was as bad as before. I left the
show, and began my walk to Selby. There were two toll bars on the way, at
which passengers had each a penny to pay to get through. But I hadn’t a
penny and at the first “break” the keeper asked me if I had got a “knife
or owt.” I couldn’t boast the possession of either of these. A
cotton-hawker chanced to come by and he took pity on me and paid my toll.
He reminded me there was another toll-bar about 7 miles further on, and
said he was sorry he could not go forward with me, because he had some
calls to make by the way. Notwithstanding, I trudged on, and when I got
to the second “break” Fortune again smiled upon me; for I came upon a
kind-hearted lady, who, when she became acquainted with my position, gave
me a sixpence. This coin got me to Selby. From Selby I made to York. Late
in the afternoon it began to rain heavily; so I called at a roadside inn
for shelter. In the inn I found seated a company of hunting gentlemen,
wearing their bright apparel. They had evidently been driven inside by
the wet weather. One of them espied me and conducted me into the room.
They chaffed me very much, and one asked me whether I would have a glass
of brandy or sixpence. I said I should prefer the sixpence. He said:
“Well, if you had said the brandy, I should have given you neither; now
you shall have both.” And it so happened that I got two things with one
asking. Well, after the shower had ceased I resumed my journey, and
tramped all night. I wanted, and still I did not want, to get home—you
understand me? Next morning I got into York. I had hoped to find a
travelling theatre staying there, but the theatre had the day previously
moved on to Ripon. Then did I determine to try my hand at earning an
honest penny somehow. I had done a little at chalk-drawing. I thought I
might become a street artist; so I accordingly got on to the city wall at
the top of a flight of steps near the Castle. On the pavement, in chalk
and charcoal, I drew bold likenesses of our good lady the Queen and
Prince Albert. I sat there on the wall, waiting for passers-by to throw
me a copper. I had not waited long when a party of ladies and
gentlemen—apparently visitors, like your humble servant—came up. They
surveyed my production; then one of the gentlemen threw me a shilling,
and the rest made a collection which they presented to me, and for which
I thanked them from the bottom of my heart. I did not wait for a second
batch of patrons, but straightway turned my back upon York. I had
abandoned the idea I at one time entertained of going to Ripon, with the
intention of joining the theatrical company there; and the next move was
to get to Bradford. So I walked on to Bradford. I was “fairly jiggered
up” when I got to that town—one Thursday afternoon I recollect it was. I
made up my mind to go to the office of the Keighley firm of Messrs
William Lund & Son, for whom I had done a little work. I was scarcely in
a presentable condition, travel-stained as I was. After some demur I
obtained permission to wash and “tidy” myself at a tavern, and this
carried out, I made for Messrs Lunds’ office.


Mr James Lund happened to be there. He was not a little surprised to see
me, and wanted to know all particulars as to my wanderings. I offered an
explanation as best I could. Mr Lund provided me with refreshment, which
I badly needed, and paid my railway fair to Keighley. When I got into
this “Golden Valley of the West Riding,” as Keighley has been called, I
had no little difficulty in getting to my home at the North Beck Mills.
My feet were intensely sore with my long tramp, and I could scarcely put
one before the other—which, of course, is a necessary performance if one
wants to walk anywhere. However, I reached home in time—after an absence
of something like nine months. I was received there with all the welcome
it was possible for a prodigal son to be. My mother said she dreamed the
night before I was coming home. I don’t exaggerate facts much when I say
there were great rejoicings in the camp at my home-coming. Of course,
with paternal regard, my father wanted to know where I had been, and,
when I had given him a hurried account of my peregrinations, he strongly
recommended me to “jump into a peggytubful o’ water an’ hev a wesh.” I
accordingly executed the order of the bath, and donned a suit of clothes,
which I had left behind me. My father said, “Well, I don’t want them to
lose anything by you at Hull;” and with those few, but expressive
remarks, he took my sailor’s suit and pitched it into the North
Beck—which ran near by our homestead. I regret I have no proof before me
that the clothes ever reached Hull. But we will let byegones be byegones.
I was put back to warp-dressing at North Beck Mills, where I remained for
a few months.


Then my father determined that I should have a trade of some sort. I
began to have a little taste for sculpture in a primitive kind of way,
and I used to smuggle big stones into my bed-chamber, and, when
opportunity offered, try to carve figures, busts, &c., out of them, with
tools which, I must confess, were far from having a razor’s edge on them.
My father came to know of my efforts in this line, and he and my mother
held a confab, the result of which was that I was apprenticed to an uncle
of mine, a mason named Joshua Hill, of Harden. I remained at this
business for a fair time and helped my uncle to build Ryecroft Primitive
Methodist Chapel. He gave me every opportunity to become efficient in my
new calling if practice goes for anything. When I pass the chapel at
Ryecroft I look with some amount of pride on the two stoops, enclosing
the door, which I hewed out. After finishing the chapel my uncle Joshua
commenced the erection of a tavern, called the “Moorcock,” at Harden. But
in my new situation my pocket-money was very limited. I didn’t appreciate
this limitation, and I left the service of my uncle and went to Bingley.


It happened to be the Tide, and going into the Gas Field I fell in with
the proprietor of a travelling theatre, a Frenchman, rejoicing in the
name of “Billy Shanteney.” He asked me to join his company, which I
eventually did. At night, before the performance commenced, I paraded on
the platform outside as a gay spangled warrior, and while thus engaged I
was somewhat astonished to behold my uncle Joshua making his way to what
seemed the entrance, but he darted on to me and attempted to drag me, as
he himself said, “back home.” However, I didn’t go back home, and we went
on with the performance. At the close of the Tide week, the company went
to Idle, and I went with them; and thence to the Bradford Fairground. It
goes without saying that when Bill o’th’ Hoylus End was playing as a king
one night and next morning getting a red herring to his breakfast, there
was something radically wrong somewhere. Still I had a hearty reverence
for the “silvery fish,” as will be apparent from the sentiments in the


   Wee silvery fish, who nobly braves
   The dangers o’ the ocean waves,
   While monsters from the unknown caves
         Make thee their prey,
   Escaping which the human knaves
         On thee lig way.
   No doubt thou was at first designed
   To suit the palates of mankind;
   Yet as I ponder now, I find
         Thy fame is gone,
   With dainty dish thou art behind
         With every one.

                                .  .  .  .  .

   When times are hard we’re scant o’ cash,
   And famine hungry bellies lash
   And tripe and trollabobble’s trash
         Begin to fail—
   Asteead o’ soups an’ oxtail ’ash,
         Hail! herring, hail!
   Full monny a time ’tas made me groan
   To see thee stretched, despised, alone;
   While turned-up noses past have gone
         O’ purse-proud men!
   No friends, alas! save some poor one
         Fra’ t’ paddin’ can.

                                .  .  .  .  .

   If through thy pedigree we peep,
   Philosophy from thee can reap,
   To me I need not study deep
         There’s nothing foreign,
   For I, like thee, am sold too cheap,
         My little herring!



I left the employ of my friend the Frenchman, and joined “Mother” Beach’s
“grand theatrical combination.” The business was formerly owned by Mr
Beach, and at his death the widow undertook the management of the
concern, with assistance from her son William, whose stage cognomen was
“Little Billy Beach.” Mr Beach, junior, was a better class comedian. The
company consisted of, in addition to the last-named, Tom Smith, Jonas
Wright, Edward Tate, Jack Buckley, John Spencer, Arthur Bland and myself,
and a quartette of ladies, viz.—”Bella,” afterwards Mrs William Beach;
Ann Tracey, afterwards Mrs John Spencer; and Mrs Wright and “Mother”
Beach, who were sisters. Certainly not a very powerful company as regards
numbers! We visited such towns as Batley, Adwalton, Gomersal, &c. Well do
I remember being with the company at the Roberttown Races. Races were not
actually run there at the time of our visit, but they had been, and the
name was kept up. It was really the Feast or Tide, for which Roberttown
was somewhat notorious, and the old race course was used for the fair
ground. There was a conglomeration of scores of twopenny circuses, penny
“gaffs”, round-abouts, swings, cocoa-nut shies, shooting ranges, &c.
People flocked from far and near to the Fair. Our company made a great
“hit.” It was the custom for a few of us, myself included, to promenade
in front of the assembled crowd, in “full dress,” and then, after we had
executed a picturesque Indian dance, the manager would strongly recommend
the people to “Come forward, ladies and gentlemen, the show’s just
a-going to begin.” The performance consisted of a short play, a comic
song by “Billy,” and a portion of the pantomime, “Jack and the
Beanstalk,” the whole lasting under half-an-hour. We gave about a score
performances a day: it was very hard work, and, what was more, hot
weather. I don’t want to figure in these pages as a champion boozer—for I
know that the _Herald_ is a warm advocate of temperance principles;—but
it is nevertheless a fact that one hot day I drank no less than three
shillings’ worth of “shandy-gaff,” at a penny per pint. It was dry work I
can tell you, and made a dry stomach. Just before the close of the fair,
strangely enough, there was a split in our ranks owing to the “matron”
having engaged new blood, in the shape of three fellows—Harry McMillan,
Tom Harding, and Paddy Crotty—who were to play the leading parts. It has
always been said that much jealousy exists among the theatrical
profession, and jealousy existed and caused an “eruption” among us. We
had a “regular rumpus,” and Spencer, Buckley, and myself seceded and “set
up” on our own account. In the evening of the very day of the upheaval,
we made a pitch on the greensward opposite to the theatre we had seceded
from. Spencer, I ought to mention here, was “the great man of strength;”
Buckley, the “marvellous jumper;” while I myself filled a double
role—being both the “clown” and “cashier” of the establishment. The
latter is generally a safe post to hold. Spencer would willingly allow a
stone to be broken on his chest with a sledge hammer, bend bars of iron
across his arm, and the like; and Buckley would volunteer to jump over as
many as five boat horses. But now it comes to myself. I have to confess I
was always rather backward at coming forward. Suffice it to say that I
didn’t make a bad clown; which, perhaps, is not so much to be wondered at
seeing that I was said to have been “born so.” Our entertainment took
immensely. We removed to Skelmanthorpe, near Denby Dale, where we put the
inhabitants into a state of great excitement. On a large board we writ in
chalk that on such a night we would “give a wonderful entertainment” in
the backyard of the tavern at which we were staying; John Spencer, the
great man of strength, would pull against five horses, and as a grand
_finale_, Jack Buckley would jump over five horses, and a cab thrown in.
I, albeit the poor clown, saw that this was a gigantic fraud, and,
fearing unpleasant consequences, I cast about for some scheme to make our
position safe. I arranged with a policeman, by putting half-a-crown into
his hand (from behind, of course) for him to show himself in the backyard
just as that part of the performance was commencing, and solemnly pretend
to stop the performance in the course of duty. Well, the entertainment
was begun before a crowded “house,” and when the particular part in
question was coming off, Mr Policeman, true to his promise, stepped
forward, and said he would not see anybody killed. Spencer had got ready
to draw against _one _horse when he was interfered with by the gentleman
in blue—good soul! There’s many a warm heart beats beneath blue cloth and
plated buttons. The audience took as gospel the interference on the part
of the law, and duly dispersed after witnessing other “harmless” portions
of the entertainment.


Next morning we were up betimes and on our way to Halifax, where we knew
it was the Fair Day. We had an inkling that we might be able to engage
ourselves at some of the shows. And so it came to pass. Spencer
re-engaged with Wild’s, and Buckley got a situation at Pablo Franco’s.
But clowns were at a discount.


However, there happened to be on the Fair Ground the proprietress of a
new theatre. She was in search of “talent”—you know what I mean—eh? Oh,
yes! The theatre was a wooden one, in Barnsley. It was not quite
finished, but would be ready for opening in a week or so, and the old
lady—“Virgin Mary,” I believe she was commonly called—wanted to get a
company together in time for the opening. She fully explained matters to
me, and, as a result I was engaged—that is to say I was professionally
engaged by her.


She, of course, saw the whole of my personal belongings at first sight.
And it is often said that first impressions are lasting. She paid my
railway fare and gave me a “lift” of half-a-crown, and also mentioned, by
the way, that I might walk over to Barnsley if I liked and expend the
amount of the fare on myself. With this understanding we parted company.
Next morning I started for my new sphere of life, deciding to utilise


It was a glorious morning. When I set off, my feet were encased in a pair
of high Wellington boots, but as I walked along one of the boots began to
pinch my foot very badly, so I stopped somewhere between Halifax and
Brighouse and changed the offensive boot for one of my stage pumps.


The Wellington I deposited in my green bag, which by the way, contained
my stage “properties,” to wit, tights, tunics, and the like. About this
time I was overtaken by a man who would have me believe he had seen me
before somewhere. I didn’t like the look of that man a bit. He told me he
was walking to Sheffield and would have no objections to accompanying me
as far as I was going. I should liked to have told him that I was of
opinion that “one’s company, two’s none,” yet his request of itself was
not in any way a peculiar one. So we jogged on together for some time. He
noticed that I limped somewhat, and in consideration thereof, I, on his
invitation, allowed him to carry my green bag—my only belongings—my all.
We chatted very pleasantly on the road, and it was agreed, with no
dissentient, that I should call at the first tavern we came to in
Brighouse, and do a bit of busking. He said he did not care to call at
the tavern, seeing that he was so shabbily dressed: he would _wait_ at
the other end of the town. Of course I took in all he said as gospel, or
the next approaching it. I entered the first tavern that hove insight, he
promising to “stay about.”


There was a “druffen Scotchman” in the house, and as soon as he became
aware that I had read much about the Land o’ Cakes and Barley, he showed
a kind of rapturous paternal affection for me. When he learned that I
could “recite a wee bit,” his delight knew no bounds. I recited several
pieces for the entertainment of the company, such as “Young Lochinvar”
and “Jock o’ Hazeldean,” and they rewarded me with fifteen pence for my
efforts, besides treating me to some light refreshment.


But I became anxious to join my travelling companion, whom I had left
waiting outside—or who had left me waiting for him. So I bade the company
“Adieu!” and quitted the tavern; but loo! my anonymous friend had
_vanished_ like a vision from my sight. I searched for him high and low
in the “publics” at “the other end of the town,” but all in vain.
Meanwhile it had begun to dawn upon me that the stranger wasn’t _my_
friend at all. What greatly disheartened me was to know that he had my
green bag, containing my stock-in-trade, in his possession wherever he
was. This was a great blow to me. Having satisfied myself that he was not
in Brighouse I pushed on my journey. I asked each person I met if he had
seen a man with a green bag, but none of them seemed to remember having
seen either a green bag or a man carrying one of those articles. I now
began to think I was truly on my “last legs.”


But I did not utterly forget the sentiment of Shakespeare—“There is a
tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to
fortune.” I stayed the night at a little village called Kirkburton, and
the following morning I walked to Clayton West. Here, I found out, a good
deal of fancy weaving was carried on; and, looking at my case from all
its bearings, I came to the conclusion that it was advisable for me to
abandon my theatrical career, for the present at least, and try my hand
at warp-dressing again. This was duly resolved upon. Accordingly, I
applied at a factory at Clayton West, belonging I believe, to Mr Norton.
I got employment without much trouble: luckily they were in want of a
“man o’my sort.”


I started work at noon and worked during the dinner-hour. The first of
the hands to return from dinner was a good-looking young wench, a
twister-in. She thoughtfully asked if I had had my dinner. Of course I
didn’t think I had, as it was too far to go home to it. “Oh! but you
shall have some dinner” says the big-hearted factory-lass; “for I’ll go
home and bring you something.” “Thank you,” said I, and she was gone. But
not for long; not many minutes elapsed before she was by my side with a
big jug of coffee and a goodly-sized, appetising, real Yorkshire pasty,
the size of an oven-tin or thereabouts. I don’t want to go into
fractions, besides, it isn’t at all necessary. Suffice it to say that I
presented her with my heart felt thanks.

   Bards hev sung the fairest fair,
   Their rosy cheeks an’ auburn hair,
   The dying lover’s deep despair,
   Their harps hev rung;
   But useful wimmin’s songs are rare,
   An’ seldom sung.
   Low is mi lot, and hard mi ways
   While paddlin’ thro’ life’s stormy days;
   Yet ah will sing this lass’s praise
   Wi’ famous glee.
   Tho’ rude an’ rough sud be mi lays
   Sho’st lass for me.

As to the repast itself—well I enjoyed that with much warmth, as we
sometimes say. Then I resumed the work which had been set out for me, and
finished by five o’clock in the afternoon. There I left off until next
morning. I had obtained in advance a few shillings to tide me over the



I went in search of lodgings about the village. In the end I came across
an old lady, and, after I had had a consultation with her on the
above-mentioned subject, she said she could take me in as a lodger if I
cared to sleep with another lodger she had—a young butcher: if I was in
by eleven o’clock, she assured me, I should be all right. I accepted her
offer. Sometime before eleven o’clock, the “other lodger” came home. He
was not by any means what Keighley teetotallers would term a “temperate,
upright, law-abiding citizen,” for he was as drunk as a pig. When he
heard that I was to be his bed-fellow, oh! there was a “shine,” and no
mistake. He vehemently declared that he’d never “lig” with me; and, under
the circumstances, I sustained his objection, and we parted. Tired and
weary as I was I felt that I could well spare all I possessed if only I
could get the use of a bed:—

   Oh! bed, on thee I first began
   To be that curious creature—man,
   To travel thro’ this life’s short span,
   By fate’s decree,
   Till ah fulfill great Nature’s plan,
   An’ cease ta be.
   When worn wi’ labour, or wi’ pain,
   Hah of’en ah am glad an’ fain
   To seek thi downy rest again.
   Yet heaves mi’ breast
   For wretches in the pelting rain
   ’At hev no rest.


However, the butcher and I parted company. I went back to the tavern I
had been resting at, and explained matters to the landlady and her good
master. He did not receive me very acceptably, and told me that he “could
sleep on a clothes-line this weather.” I didn’t like to contradict him.
His wife rather pitied me, and said there were half-a-dozen harvesters in
the taproom and I might arrange to spend the night with them. Acting on
the principle that half-a-loaf is better than no bread, I allowed the
landlord to introduce me to the company in the taproom. The company
consisted of half-a-dozen Irish harvesters “on the spree.” “Can you take
this man as a lodger?” asks the landlord. “Oh, yes, if he behaves
himself,” one readily exclaimed, and another chimed in, “If he doesn’t,
be jabers! we’ll mak’ him.” I fully ingratiated myself into their good
graces for the night by “standing a gallon round.” I took part in the
general amusement, and sang for them the song, “Shan Van Vocht,” in Irish
Gaelic, until they all swore I was a countryman of theirs. The night wore
on with song and clatter, And ah! the ale was growing better.


Sometime late at night we retired to rest—or to try to rest. The
prospective scene of our slumbers was a barn at the back of the tavern.
By the light of a candle we had with us, I saw there was a depth of
almost twelve inches of straw on the floor of the barn. One of our lot
fixed the candle on a projecting stone in the wall, and I guess it was
not long before we were all asleep. I could not have been asleep long,
however, when I was awakened by great noise and unbearable heat. On
“turning over,” I heard groans and shouts, and, by Jove! saw that the
barn was on fire! I was dumbfounded for the instant, and scarce knew how
to act. Being greatly fatigued by my previous day’s journey, I was not
over wideawake; I was by no means the first to awake; in fact I believe I
was the last. I had taken my coat and boot and slipper off, but there was
no time to look for any of my apparel, and when I recovered my senses, I
beat a hasty retreat.


It’s always a safe plan to look before you leap. I didn’t look before I
leaped, with the result that jumping through a loophole in the wall at
the rear of the barn, I found myself on alighting outside with the
star-bespangled firmament above me, and—what do you think under me—I
hardly like to say, but nevertheless it was _a manure heap_! I was booked
to remain in this—perhaps more healthy than agreeable—predicament for
some time; for, despite my struggles to regain liberty of thought and
action, I could not extricate myself.


Meanwhile, the alarm of fire had been given, and a number of people from
the neighbourhood appeared, in response, on the scene. I could not see
them, being at the rear of the building, but could hear their shouts. The
half-dozen Irishmen, I afterwards learned, all answered the roll-call,
but I was missing. On this occasion, if it had never occurred before or
since, my absence caused indescribable consternation. Many thought I had
been burned to death or killed, for the roof of the barn had fallen in.
After some little time, however, and after much struggling on my part, I
was able to allay their fears by appearing before them. It required no
small amount of pluck—as I call it—to face them—bootless, coatless,
vestless, hatless, penniless, and, withal, with my feet and trousers
besmeared with cow dung. But there is a time in every man’s life when he
shall come to evoke sympathy from his fellows. “He’s coming!” they said,
“Here he is!” they shouted, and as I passed along the ranks I was the
object of universal sympathy in my woe-bestricken condition.


A policeman came up to me and said they thought I was in the flames. I
rashly told him that I might as well have been, considering my
appearance. “Oh, you will get over that,” said the gentleman in blue
cloth. “Where do you belong to?” I said I was a native of Keighley. “Who
is your police superintendent?” he queried. “Mr Cheeseborough,” I
replied. “That’s true,” he said. “Know you any in the force there?”
“Yes,” I said, “I know Sergeant Kershaw, and another little ill-natured
dog, Jack o’ Marks. Jack goes about in plainclothes, and is about as fly
as a box of monkeys.” “All right,” returned Mr Policeman. “Now that you
have told me the truth, were any of you smoking in the barn?” “No, we
were all asleep,” said I. Then he said that would do, and as he had no
orders to arrest me, I could go—till further orders. I learned from him
that Mr Norton—the gentleman for whom I had been working at the
mill—owned the barn, but he was away and would not be home that day.


The merciless fiend did its work, and before the arrival of anything
worthy the designation “fire extinguishing apparatus,” the barn had been
razed. A farmhouse joined up to the barn, and a portion of this building,
along with some of the furniture, was damaged. The morn was now breaking,
and there was the usual gathering of quizzing onlookers. It turned out
that I was the last man out of the barn. Some of my bed-fellows, I found,
were as guilty as myself in disregarding the force of the proverb “Look
before you leap,” for one of them, in making his hurried exit, jumped
through the first opening he came across to find himself in the
stables—“in a manger for his bed.” Through the fall he sustained a broken
arm. One or two of the others were a little hurt.


But to return to myself. As I said a short time ago my person carried no
other covering than a pair of trousers, and these were almost worse than
nothing in their present condition. If my friend Isaac had been about,
his second-hand clothes shop (for no “monish”) would have come as a boon
and a blessing. I didn’t ken him, however. But a cloth weaver
thoughtfully came up to me and put it to the crowd, “Nah, weear can
t’poor beggar goa in a staate like this?” “Aye, aye,” says my friend the
policeman; “An’ if ye hev a heart in yer belly, ye’ll get him some
clothes, for I’m sure he’s spokken t’truth ta me.” Upon this “fetching”
speech, several persons in the crowd were observed to leave by the “back
way.” In a very short time they returned, each bringing some part of a
man’s wearing apparel. Together, they brought the different items I was
_minus_. There were waistcoats and to spare. For this display of kindness
to a fellow in distress, I thanked them heartily. Having attired myself,
I walked away with the policeman, who proved a true friend to me. He
thoughtfully mentioned that if I stayed in the place there was a
probability I should be arrested on a charge of “sleeping out.” So I took
the hint so kindly offered me, and after bidding my friend “Robert” a
cordial good-bye, I made my exit from Clayton West.


I was only about eight miles from Barnsley, and I decided to make for
that town, cutting across the fields. I passed the house, I remember,
where the father of Bosco, (best known as “Curley Joe”), the famous
conjuror, was born. I walked into Barnsley about eight o’clock the same
morning. After weighing the matter over in my mind, I sought out and made
for the wooden theatre in connection with which I had accepted an
engagement at Halifax the week previous.


I saw the old lady, but she would not believe at first that I was the
actor she had engaged. I related my wanderings and troubles, but with a’
that it occupied some time to convince her that I was _the_ man. When she
did come round a bit, she taunted me that I had sold my clothes for
drink. However, we came to terms, and I was “put on.” By-and-bye, she
sent me to a second-hand clothes shop, where I rigged myself out in a
sort of la-di-dah style, my habiliments comprising a pair of white linen
trousers, a double-breasted frock coat, with military peak cap, and a few
other little accessories, so that I was a perfect (or imperfect) swell
again, despite the fact that my wardrobe did not amount in value to more
than 5s of lawful British money.


The theatre had been completed in my absence, and, indeed, temporarily
opened. Of course, I took part in the performances. We could usually draw
full “houses,” which were largely made up of colliers and their wives and
children. But very soon some of the boys and girls of colliers wanted to
go to the theatre oftener than their parents wished, and to this end, it
was surmised, carried on a series of petty thefts to enable them to raise
the admission fee. In fact, thieving in the town got to such a pitch that
the police authorities interfered, and when the licensing sessions were
held they opposed the renewal of the theatre license. The proprietress of
the theatre, and the company, along with myself, had to appear at the
sessions. I had not been in the court very long when my kind benefactor,
the policeman from Clayton West, came up to me and shook me by the hand.
His sudden intrusion on my confused senses somewhat upset me, for I was
afraid of the sight of him;—his parting words to me, after the fire at
the barn, that I might be charged with “wandering abroad without any
visible means of subsistence,” crossed my scattered thoughts. But it was
needless fear, for he soon showed me that he was still my friend, not my
foe. After we had exhausted the usual preliminaries, I questioned him on
the subject of the fire at the barn. “Oh,” said he, “You needn’t be at
all afraid about the fire. When Mr Norton came home he took it all in
very good part. He was especially pleased when we told him that no lives
had been lost. You were mentioned as having worked half-a-day at the
mill, and he said he would much rather that you had gone on with your
work.” But a stop was put to our conversation, for our “case” was called
on. Superintendent Burke—I mark him now—stood up and denounced the
theatre in the interests of the community. He instanced several cases of
petty thefts committed by juveniles for the purpose of raising money to
go to our theatre. The presiding magistrate—Mr Taylor, I believe his name
was—heard all the evidence which was brought against us, and then said
that he was very sorry that anyone should go to the expense of putting up
a theatre in Barnsley and then be unable to get a license to carry it on.
He said he would allow us to continue our performances a fortnight
longer, provided admission was refused to children. The decision fairly
upset “Virgin Mary.” She thanked “Your Worship” as she stood in the box;
but in the green room at her theatre she invoked the gods for vengeance
on the court—and this in real dramatic style into the bargain. The last
day of the fortnight came round. It was a Saturday night, and we were
playing “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” as a _finalé_. This was a comparatively new
production at the time, and we had a packed house. At the close of the
performance our spokesman thanked the people for their patronage, and
explained why we were going to depart from their midst. He promised that
the proprietress would “try again” at some future time.


The old lady paid off her company that night, and each of us was not a
little astonished—not to mention pleased—to find his or her emolument 4s
in advance of expectations. This was explained to be an “honorarium.”
Some of the company promised to return when the theatre re-opened, if
that should ever come to pass, but I did not promise to do so; I was
determined to retire from the stage, being now what I considered
“tolerably well off.” I obtained permission to sleep in the theatre for
the night. Before laying me down, I told the watchman to

“Call me early, watchman dear!”

But my parting with the theatre and stage life was not destined to be an
agreeable one by any means. I made a shake-down bed on the stage, and
“lay down my weary head.” It would be about midnight when I heard a
rustling at the drop scene. In a few moments the scene commenced to rise,
being rolled up by an unseen hand, and when it had been raised a few
inches I was not a little “struck” to see a man’s head appearing
underneath the curtain. Now this was a bit of real, earnest acting—none
of your unnatural, unfinished style. It was so realistic that I scarce
knew what to do. I, of course, first of all concluded that I was going to
be robbed, or that something of much more consequence to myself was going
to take place. The curtain was slowly and noislessly drawn up—it went
higher and higher, until the human head which had at first appeared
developed into a human body—a man. My nocturnal visitor wriggled through
the opening onto my side of the stage. Fortunately I had by my side my
walking-stick. Quickly and quietly I seized that weapon of defence, and
before the stranger would have had time—had he even desired—to say “Jack
Robinson,” I had dealt him a splendid blow on the side of the head with
the stick. He groaned and rolled over, getting to the other side of the
curtain. Then he resumed the perpendicular and took to his heels, without
offering a word of explanation on the matter. I feel no qualm in saying
that his exit was more hasty than his approach. I tried to think who my
intruder could be, and my thoughts fixed upon the man who had been told
off that night to commence watching the theatre.


There was no more sleep for me that night, after the fore-going. I
prepared myself, and in the early morning quitted the place where I spent
a very pleasant part of my theatrical life. In the street I came across a
policeman on his beat—not the one from Clayton West this time. I wished
him “Good morning,” and passed on. From Barnsley I walked to Wakefield,
and thence to Bradford, forward to Keighley by train.


On my way to Keighley, I could not but turn over in my mind the thoughts
relating to the friendships formed on the stage, or in connection
therewith. I remember that one of the Barnsley company was an aged actor,
Mr John Copeland. He interested himself very much in me, and gave me from
time to time good advice. He told me to leave the stage, and take to some
more reliable and permanent employment. He pictured himself as a result
of sticking closely to the profession, saying he had had more than
half-a-century of experience of its ups and downs. In his old age, though
he loved the stage and warmly praised the art of acting, he held that the
rewards were not commensurate to the skill employed, and that when these
were forthcoming the temptations were so insidious as to be ruinous
unless the moral atmosphere of the profession itself was purified. The
old man’s ideal was high and he was fond of saying that with all its
defects—defects which were largely caused by the professionals
themselves—the drama and the art of portraying it would last as long as
human nature. I was drawn to the old man, and felt for him. I often took
his part, especially where he had to appear in a gross character. At his
time of life, he did not like to blacken his face, and on one occasion
when we were playing “Uncle Tiff,” the old man was grateful because I
relieved him of that character. It was a pathetic part—a sort of nigger
being left in charge of children after the parents’ death. Old Copeland
was a good actor, and he told me of having travelled with Edmund Kean,
the great tragedian. He was then about eighty years of age, and was
brimful of anecdote and humour about men and things on the stage. He
himself was an author of many MS. plays, and the most agreeable of
company, being an educated man. But we had to part company as I have
already stated, and I went home, pondering over his advice. Now, my pen
writes these lines descriptive somewhat of the breaking apart from those
noble hearts, and that still more noble art of the drama.

   Thespis, O! Thespis, founder of that noble art,
   Thou didst convey thy actors in a cart;
   But here the simple Thespian has to pad,
   And, though it makes his heart feel sad
   To leave his friends so far behind—
   Such friendship never more he’ll find,
   Yet adieu! a heart-warm fond adieu!
   Companions noble, poor and few!

This, I think, marks the completion of my connection with the stage
world, and I cannot but feel that those who have scanned these few
recollections of mine will have found them something more than an
uneventful and cut-and-dried story.



By this time my appetite for “seeing the world” had got somewhat
satisfied, and I stayed at home for a while. I happened to become
acquainted with a man of the name of Howard, who went under the nick-name
of Harlequin Dick. By trade he was a wood-carver, and a first-class hand
at his job. He was a Liverpool man, and during his stay in Keighley he
did wood-carving for many firms in the district. Then he was taken into
tow by old James Illingworth (now deceased), who ran the Worth Valley
Chair Works, at Ingrow, opposite the Worth Valley Hotel. A new stone
building now occupies the place of the old structure. Now my friend
Howard’s great hobby was making marionettes, and performing with them;
and of these Lilliputian mummers he made a set, and then discussed ways
and means for appearing with them in public. I was by him put into the
trinitarian post of scenic artist, advance agent, and stage manager. It
devolved upon me to draw up the advertisements. We had some capital wall
posters, each figure—its capabilities, recommendations, &c.—being
graphically described in rhyme; yes, it was a remarkable bill—so
remarkable that parties interested in other marionette shows appropriated
its contents for their own shows. When all the paraphernalia were ready,
we went round to various schools in the town and neighbourhood, giving
entertainments to the school children. I remember one occasion—yes; I
shall never forget it—when we exhibited our show in St. John’s
school-room, Ingrow. The Rev Mr Mayne was then the vicar of St. John’s,
and he allowed us to have a night with the children. Well, we removed a
partition in the school-room dividing the boys’ from the girls’
department, and made a sort of shake-down stage at one end of the room,
and with a scene and proscenium the place looked like a pretty little
theatre. There was a crowded audience for our performance, including the
vicar and Mrs Mayne, the curate of St. John’s (who, by-the-way, was a
coloured gentleman), Mr John Butterfield, brother of Mr H. I.
Butterfield, of Cliffe Castle, and, indeed, a good many of the _elite_ of
the district. The show opened: the curtain was rung up. The first part
was a representation of “The Babes in the Wood,” which went very
smoothly, and appeared to suit the general taste of the spectators. Then
followed a “skeleton dance,” and next we gave with the puppets an amusing
harlequinade by clown, pantaloon, and butterfly. Yes, and here the real
fun of the evening came in. The butterfly took a great deal of catching.
Mr Howard and his good lady and myself were leaning over a rail (behind
the scenes, of course) near the front of the stage, energetically working
the strings of the figures, when, without any warning, the stage front
gave way, and we (still energetically working the figures) were thrown
right into the auditorium. Talk about tumbling head over heels! Why,
words would only belittle this part of our “performance.” Suffice it to
say that the wreckage just cleared the front seat, on which the Vicar and
his good lady and friends were sitting.


was so irresistibly humorous that Mr Mayne burst into a fit of laughter,
and, taking up his hat, he left the room, followed shortly after by his
wife and the curate, and shortly afterwards by Mr John Butterfield, who,
I may say, seemed to enjoy the accident far better than the legitimate
performance. The audience roared and roared again with laughter, and,
speaking for myself, I can say that I felt “jolly queer.” We had only, as
it were, pitched the stage together, making it by placing one form above
another. Fortunately the people present took the unlooked-for incident in
good part, and with a little assistance we managed to improvise another
stage, and upon this we went through a little more of our “show.”


Before we ventured upon a further public appearance with the “dolls” we
provided the show with better equipments. These included a tent, which,
along with a magic-lantern, we bought for a trifling matter from a
travelling photographer who went by the name of Old Kalo. The first of
our second series of entertainments took place at Addingham, where, it
being the Feast, we did very brisk “biz.” During one of the intervals
between the performances, I remember a gentleman coming in and asking me,
“Do you think you could study a few lines for me, and introduce them into
your play?” “What are they about?” said I. Then my visitor told me that
he “had got a little fellow, Jacky Demaine, of Catgill, in the public
house opposite, and wanted me to talk about him during the acting.” I
agreed to carry out his wishes, and my worthy friend, Howard, and I,
having been supplied with the “matter,” commenced to rehearse the scene
we had prepared expressly for Jacky. There were two figures strutting
about the stage. “Good morning, Mr Catgill” said one of them. “Why, you
are smart this morning.” “Well, you know it is Addingham Feast,” was the
reply of the other figure. “Are you in want of a sweetheart?” “No,” said
Jacky’s double; “I came here to buy some cattle.” Upon this the real
Jacky Demaine could “stand it” no longer, and he rose from a front seat
in the audience and made an “explanation.” He wished to know “how the
little hound knew him,” saying that he never had a pint o’ beer with him
in his life! Then Jacky wanted to come behind the stage to talk to the
“little hound.” Of course he was a little fresh. The audience “fairly
brought down the house” with their bursts of laughter, and people crowded
into the booth and around the entrance anxious to know what was the
matter. I have no doubt the little incident would be talked about for a
good while in Addingham.


After this, we appeared with our show in the old Mechanics’ Hall (now the
Yorkshire Penny Bank) at Keighley. A travelling auctioneer who was
staying there a week engaged us to give our performances during the
intervals at his sales. He paid us very well. But Mr Howard was in the
habit of taking more drink than was good for him, and he dispensed with
the “mummers” one by one, until there was scarce one of our celebrated
actors left to tell the tale and carry on the show.


The marionettes having come to their end, and your humble servant being
now practically out of a situation, he began to bestir his imagination
for some other line which he might enter into in the show business. It
was one morning while I was walking along Back-lane, at the top end of
the town, that I “fell in luck.” Old John Malloy kept a grocer’s shop
there—the Ship Inn now marks the spot—and I heard from him that he had a
small litter of pigs. I saw them, and found among them a black pig—a
puny, rickety, and most dejected-looking creature. I asked John what he
would take for the best and the worst, and although he did not wish to
part with the best pig, he was not very particular in that respect with
regard to the worst—“the leetle blackie.” For this he said he would take
a shilling, and after bargaining with John I got the pig for ten-pence. I
took the pig away with me in an empty herring-box, and consulted my
friend, John Spencer. I said, “John; we’ll take this pig to Haworth, and
show it as the War Pig from South America.” John laughed at the idea, but
heartily agreed with it. In the next place I got “on tick” a piece of
calico several yards long, and with some lampblack I painted in bold type
on the calico the words, “Come and see the War Pig from South America,
2d. each.” Then Spencer and I engaged the large garret at the Fleece Inn,
Haworth. It was a large room, holding, I should think, a couple of
hundreds of people, and was entered by a staircase in the back-yard,
separate from the public house proper. Mrs Stangcliffe was the landlady,
and she readily allowed us to have the room, I having taken it of her
once before. Well, to get to business.


We displayed the calico signpost at the front of the inn, and at the
appointed hour in the evening we had a crowded audience in the room. I
must give my comrade Spencer more credit than myself for the “show;” for
he would have two strings to his bow. While he and I were entering the
place, he picked up a black cat belonging to some poor neighbour, and
quickly stowed it away in one of his capacious pockets. The cat will
appear later. As John put pussy away, he said, “If t’War Pig doesn’t
satisfy ’em, I’ll show ’em something else.” We commenced the performance.
I brought the pig out of the box, and exhibited the animal on a small
table in the middle of the room. The audience was on the tiptoe of
expectation, and crowded towards the table to see the famous war pig,
which, after its long confinement, and also, of course, from its natural
condition, was hardly able to stand. In a few words I introduced the war
pig—“Ladies and gentlemen,—In opening the performance this evening, I
have to show you the famous war pig from South America,” &c., &c.


There was an old fellow at the back of the room wearing a leather apron
and red cap, with his blue shirt sleeves rolled up—a typical old cobbler.
He pushed up to the table, and, after “eyeing” the “exhibit” somewhat
critically through his spectacles, he held forth as follows:—“Nah, dus ta
call thet a war pig?” in the vernacular peculiar to the natives. I said,
“Did ta ivver see a war pig i’ thi life?” “Noa,” said he blankly “it’s t’
_warst_ pig I ivver set mi een on.” And then the audience saw where the
“war” pig came in, and they laughed heartily over the joke. It was a
relief to me when they did put the best face on the affair. Under cover
of the diversion I stole from the room, and prepared to leave the place.
I met Mrs Stangcliffe at the foot of the staircase. She said “she did not
know what to think about us, but there had been a fearful noise, and she
took it that we had pleased the company.” With this I left the inn, and
got away to a place where I had arranged to wait for Spencer.


Yes; you will be wondering what has become of Spencer. Well; he stayed
behind to continue the show. As he told me afterwards, he appeared before
the screen and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen,—You don’t seem to be quite
satisfied with the war pig from South America. I can assure you that I
have here a cat which I brought from India; they call her Tippo-Sahib.
She can tell fortunes. Tippo has told the fortunes of all the Indian
kings and princes, and I have brought her here expressly to tell the
ladies present their fortunes. Now, Tippo (introducing the Haworth-bred
cat to the audience), walk round the room and tell the ladies their
fortunes.” Puss had no sooner been liberated than she bounded out at the
open door. Spencer said hastily, “I believe the climate of England is too
cold for Tippo; but I’ll fetch her back.” Upon this he darted out of the
door, and down the stairs after the scared cat; and this was the way
Spencer effected his escape. Of course, the audience tumbled to it that
the whole concern was a swindle, but they “bore up” well, and even seemed
satisfied with the swindle, for they had many good laughs out of it.
Spencer joined me on the road just out of Haworth, and together we
returned to Keighley.


As I remarked in the earlier part of the above incident, I had on a
former occasion figured in the large room attached to the Fleece Inn.
This occasion turned out a kind of “slope,” though not so bad a one as
that already described. There happened to be staying in Keighley Wild’s
Theatre, and John Spencer and I thought we could manage a bit of
“business” at Haworth. So we borrowed two costumes. Mine was a monkey
dress—a kind of skin covering for the whole body—which I had lent to me
by “Billy Shanteney.” Spencer obtained the loan of a clown’s dress. At
this time there was a drummer who lived in Wellington-street. He was well
known to Keighley folk as “Old Bill Heblett.” Bill used to march the
streets in company with bands of music, and caused some amount of wonder
and amazement by throwing his drum-sticks into the air and catching them
between the beats. On this occasion we induced Heblett to lend us his
famed drum; so that with a monkey’s and a clown’s costumes, and a drum,
we were in a fair way of business. We had intended that the show should
consist of Spencer lifting heavy weights, and I was to amuse the audience
with jokes and funny stories. We went up to Haworth, engaged the rooms
from Mrs Stangcliffe, and borrowed the landlady’s bed-curtains to hang
across the room to form a screen and so make the place look something
like a show-room. For footlights we fastened candles on the floor,
placing each candle between three nails.


Then we engaged a fiddler who went by the name of Billy Frenchman—a
well-known character in Haworth at the time. Bill had been in the army
for some years. In his old age he had been appointed town’s herald or
crier of Haworth. It was in this capacity that we engaged him to “cry”
our show about Haworth, before we turned out on parade. Billy told us to
write down what we wanted him to say, and this was our programme—“This is
to give notice to the public of Haworth and the surrounding neighbourhood
that a company of dramatic performers will appear tonight at the Fleece
Inn Garret. The performance to commence with Shakespeare’s comedy,
‘Katharine and Petruchio; or, The Taming of the Shrew;’ to be followed by
‘Ali Pasha; or, The Mussulman’s Vengeance,’ and tricks by the monkey, and
comic sketches.” These were the words Billy had written on his paper, but
through some misunderstanding _these_ were the words I heard him cry out:
he gave them in broad Haworth dialect:—“This is ta gie noatis ta
t’publick o’ Howarth et ther’s bahn ta be sum play-acters at t’Fleece Inn
Garritt, and ther bahn ta act ‘Catherine fra t’Padding Can, er Who’s ta
tak t’screws;’ ta be follered bi ‘Alpaca, er t’smashing up o’
t’engines.’” But Billy’s blunder was perhaps for the best; for, seeing
that this was about the time when hand woolcombing was on the decline,
and engines were being brought out, the people had an idea that the
announcement had some startling reference to their trade. Myself, I could
not help but laugh heartily over this choice specimen of bellman’s


About 5.30 in the evening Jack put on his clown’s costume, and I put on
the monkey’s garb, and Jack, taking the drum and leading me by a chain,
paraded up the main street of Haworth. Opposite the White Lion we
“pitched,” and the customers soon came out of the public-house, and
passers-by stopped to see “whoa we wor.” I distinctly heard one of the
onlookers say that “if it wor a real un, it wor t’biggest monkey ut he’d
ivver seen.” Then a few of the folks standing together held a hurried
confab., and as a result one of them announced, “I’ll tread on his tail,
an’ if he squeaks it’ll be a reight un.” Suiting his words to action the
joskin advanced and trod on the end of the monkey’s tail. Of course the
monkey squeaked. Jacko also turned round suddenly, and, with a horrid
grin on his features, sprang on the shoulders of his intruder. The poor
fellow screamed, and his first words on finding himself out of danger
were “Oh! he’s a reight monkey.” Within the next few minutes another
native came up, and inquired of Spencer “Ah say—can thy monkey chew
bacca?”—producing a tobacco-box, the size of which was awe-inspiring.
“Try it,” said Spencer, “Give him the box—he’s very careful.” So the
big-hearted joskin handed his big tobacco-box to the monkey. I was
wearing a mask, which allowed for a large mouth, and I popped the box
into the “yawning cavity.” “By gow,” said the at-one-time owner of the
box, “What a stummack!—he’s swallered t’box an all!” With such an
uncomfortable article as a tobacco-box in his mouth, the monkey could not
do very much in the way of performing, so the return was made to the
Fleece Inn Garret. People—particularly the disappointed owner of the
tobacco-box—followed us down, and by opening-time we had


The old fiddler—a host in himself—was the orchestra. He knew about three
tunes, and these he played o’er and o’er. I forgot to mention that we had
not an appointed door-keeper, or cashier, so I undertook that superior
office myself. “My word,” said some of the people as they came in, “just
lewk at that monkey; it’s t’moast remarkable monkey et ivver wor knawn i’
Howarth; it’s soa mich sense woll it can tak t’brass at t’door.” Well,
the house became so crowded that there was scarcely any room left for us
to perform. The time for commencing arrived, and we appeared before the
curtain, though we felt at a great loss to know how we were going to
manage to perform in the space there was left; for it must be known that
we did actually intend to give a performance. We had gone through a few
“feats”—Spencer lifting and performing with 56lb. weights, and I doing a
few tricks at tight-rope walking and dancing. Spencer was behind the
curtain waiting his “turn,” and when I retired he said: “It’s no good; we
cannot give satisfaction here.”


“There isn’t room for you to work, never tell of me;” adding, “You had
better go and get you right clothes on. Bring the drum and all our
belongings you can get hold on, and slip out at the back door the best
way that you can.” I obeyed. The “orchestra” was discoursing diverting
music. I went down to exchange monkey for man, so to speak, and, this
done, and having collected our properties, I made my way, happily
undetected, out of the house, and cut across the fields. Weighed down as
I was with the copper taken at the door, and in my anxiety to look after
everything and get away as fast as I could, I let the drum slip from my
grasp. It rolled down a steep field, and for a short time I had a fine
chase after it. “But where was Jack Spencer?” readers will be wondering.
Yes; I had forgot all about Jack for the minute. As he afterwards told
me, he got away all right except for a little mishap which befell him
just after he had left the place. Opposite the Fleece Inn was a
cartwright’s shop (I believe the shop is there now), and behind the wall
skirting the roadway was placed an old cart. Spencer knew not of either
of these things, and when he lightly mounted the wall and leaped—before
he had looked—it was to find himself in the cart, or, to be more precise,
falling through the bottom of it. He rather lamed his leg, and had to
limp up to Merrall’s mill, where I was waiting for him. Together, we made
for Keighley, and on arriving there we “put up” at the Lord Rodney Inn,
in Church Green, which was then kept by Mrs Fox. Safe in the hostelry, we
counted up our spoil, and, perhaps, congratulated ourselves that we had
got off so easily. Jack told me that before leaving the entertainment he
told the fiddler to play up “special,” as he was going to do a “fine


Next day we learned from a young man whom we came across at Wild’s
theatre how affairs had developed at Haworth the previous night. He said
that for half-an-hour the fiddler went on playing his favourite tune,
“Rosin the bow.” By-and-bye, the audience manifested signs of active
curiosity as to the position of affairs, and one man said he would go
behind the curtain and see for himself, adding, “There must be something
wrong.” He went to the front, and pulled the screen on one side to
find—nothing! The audience generally bore up with good heart, but one
determined-looking individual said, “I’ve paid my two-pence, an’ I’m bahn
ta hev a cannel for it, if nowt else.” And with that he stalked up to the
front, and possessed himself of one of the candles which had been in use
as footlights. Others then made a rush for the remaining candles, and in
the disorder the poor fiddler fared rather badly, for he got his fiddle
broken. But Spencer and I afterwards visited him, and made good the loss
he sustained. I must say that we never intended the affair to be a
swindle, and, borrowing one of my friend Squire Leach’s forcible
expressions, I may say we “started with good intentions, whatever came
out of ’em.” Perhaps I may be excused for introducing the following
verses of my own, entitled “Haworth Sharpness,” to close this chapter:—

   Says a wag to a porter i’ Haworth one day,
   “Yer net ower sharp—ye drones o’t’ railway;
   For fra Keighley to Howarth I’ve been oft enough,
   But nivver a hawpenny I’ve paid yer, begoff.”

   The porter replied, “I varry mich daht it,
   But I’ll gie thee a quart ta tell all abaht it;
   For it looks plain ta me tha cuddn’t pass t’snicket,
   Without tippin’ ta t’ porter thi pass or thi ticket”

   “Tha’ll write up ta Derby, an’ then tha’ll deceive me.”
   “I willn’t, this time,” said t’porter, “believe me.”
   “Then aht wi’ thi brass, an’ let us be knocking.
   For I’ve walked it a fooit-back all raand bi t’Bocking.”


Perhaps it will not be out of place for me to introduce a few
recollections I have of several gentlemen who were about this time of my
life prominently before the public.


I have heard Oastler speak of the tyranny of factory life in Keighley. I
remember hearing him speak at the “Non. Con.” Chapel in Sun-street, when
Joe Firth, an old Keighleyite, rose from the gallery and began to address
the meeting. Mr Oastler invited Firth to the rostrum. He went and
delivered a vivid description of factory life. He was an illiterate man,
and spoke in his native dialect. His speech was so telling that it was
well reported, a column appearing in the _Leeds Weekly Times._ Firth was
fond of speaking of the way his speech was reported and dressed up so
that he really could not recognise his own words. Firth was afterwards
called to London to give evidence, and he saved enough money out of his
allowance to enable him to abandon hand wool-combing, and set up as a
hawker of tea and coffee. He never looked behind him after that, and,
being a great “spouter,” he got onto the Keighley Local Board. He was one
of the opponents of the Baths and Washhouses Scheme, and, in fact, he
liked opposition in many things. He was a staunch teetotaller. He died
leaving some property.


It was about this time that the people of Keighley got the by-name of
“th’ crooked legged ’uns.” It was not a mere local name, but became a
general stigmatic description of Keighley folks throughout the country.
The great agitator, the late Richard Oastler, was agitating for the Ten
Hours Bill at this time. Many of the young people of Keighley were then
“knock o’ kneed” and otherwise deformed. This fact was represented to Mr
Oastler by the local poet, Abraham Wildman. The latter was interested in
the working folk, and had published some poems reflecting on their hard
life. Oastler took up the case of the children, twelve of whom with
crooked legs he had exhibited in the House of Commons. Wildman’s poem,
descriptive of these poor young folk, was submitted to the Duke of
Wellington. His grace commended the poet, saying England would be in a
deplorable condition if this were to be a fair sample of the soldiers
that were to be sent from her factories. The term “crooked legged ’uns”
stuck to these specimens through life; and, in fact, some of them still


Asked as to his recollections of early factory life, Bill said he
believed that parents took the children to work in the mills from the
very early morning till late at night; and in some cases they even
allowed them to work on Sunday. One manufacturer allowed the children to
work all night, but one father, who was accustomed to travelling away
from home, returned to Addingham, and found three of his children
undergoing this horrible white slavery. He went to the factory, demanded
his children, and assaulted the caretaker. The matter was brought to a
trial at Bingley, Oastler backing the father. The poor man was fined for
assault, but Captain Ferrand, who had been disgusted with factory
oppression, assisted in taking the case further. The upshot was that the
manufacturer was fined. Captain Ferrand’s interest in the relief of the
poor was deep and abiding, and he did a great and mighty work in
connection with the factory laws. It was said at the time by the Radicals
that his work was dictated by political expediency rather than by pure
humane feelings. However, Bill is of opinion that the Radicals were
mistaken. The Captain was a stern disciplinarian, but, under a rough
exterior, Bill was sure there beat a warm heart for the weal of the poor,
and especially of pity for those confined so long in factories.


In volume II of _Cobbett’s Magazine_, there is an article on “Doctrinaire
Government and the factory system,” and a quotation is made from a speech
by Oastler, asserting that “the factory system has caused a great deal of
the distress and immorality of the time, and a great deal of the weakness
of men’s constitutions.” Oastler said he would not present fiction to
them, but tell them what he himself had seen. “Take,” he said, “a little
child. She shall rise from her bed at four in the morning of a cold
winter’s day—before that time she awakes perhaps half-a-dozen times, and
says, ‘Father, is it time—father, is it time?’ When she gets up she feels
about her for her little bits of rags, her clothes, and puts them on her
weary limbs and trudges on to the mill, through rain or snow, one or two
miles, and there she works from thirteen to eighteen hours, with only
thirty minutes’ interval. Homewards again at night she would go when she
was able, but many a time she hid herself in the wool in the mill, not
being able to reach home; at last she sunk under these cruelties into the
grave.” Mr Oastler said he could bring hundreds of instances of this
kind, with this difference, that they worked 15 instead of 18 hours.

This was delivered a few years before Bill was born, but it held good in
some cases, he was sure, in his early boyhood. There were then some
cotton mills in Keighley district, and the young were allowed to submit
to toil which was far too exhausting to allow of nature battling for the
support of the human frame. Hence, Bill’s own description of the poor
little factory girl is an apt corroboration:—

   They are up in the morning reight early,
   They are sometimes afore leet;
   Ah hear ther clogs they are clamping,
   As t’little things go dahn the street.

   They are off in the morning reight early,
   With ther basket o’ jock on ther arm;
   The bell is ting-tonging, ting-tonging,
   As they enter the mill in a swarm.

   They are skapering backward and forward,
   Ther ends to keep up if they can;
   They are doing ther utmost endeavours,
   For fear o’ the frown o’ man.

   .  .  .  .  .

   And naw from her ten hours’ labour,
   Back to her cottage she shogs:
   Ah hear by the tramping and singing,
   ’Tis the factory girl in her clogs.

   An’ at night, when she’s folded i’ slumber,
   She’s dreaming o’ noises an’ drawls;—
   Of all human toil under-rated,
   ’Tis our poor little factory girl.


I may add that the late Rev W. Busfield, rector of Keighley, was a
staunch supporter of the Ten Hours Bill, when it had not many friends
among the political Liberals, and when Cobden and Bright opposed it
stoutly on Political Economy pleas. The rector supported Lord Ashley, Mr
Ferrand, and Mr Oastler, and he lived to see the result of the advocacy
of his friends.


The late Mr Busfeild Ferrand was a typical English squire. In life he was
the owner of the St. Ives’ estate at Bingley. He sprang from an
aristocratic family, who had ever been loyal to monarchy and country.
Trained as a lawyer, he, however, like many other English gentlemen, did
not follow his profession for gain or popularity. This training served
him well in public life, and augmented the many sterling qualities of his
character and his utility in the unpaid public service. He was a soldier,
a civil administrator, an ardent and exceedingly able politician—Tory, of
course, to the back-bone. He was a leading advocate for the “Ten Hours
Bill.” The champions of that great movement were Fielding, Ferrand, and
Oastler. Mr Ferrand was instrumental in passing the Truck Act, which did
so much service to working men, in removing the deceptions and
impositions of indirect payment of wages. He was a great advocate of
allotments for working men, and set the first example to the wealthy and
willing to provide the people with ground for healthy open-air
recreation. As an agriculturist he was an enthusiast, and all who had
tenancy of land under him found all well so long as they observed
strictly the conditions of their tenancy, but woe to them and to all
concerned if they infringed in the slightest degree the iron rule of
discipline set down by Mr Ferrand. In every capacity of life, he was a
disciplinarian who could not brook any breach of rule. Poaching, and
every offence that interfered with the rights of the preserves on his
estate, called forth prosecution for the offence. My first recollection
of Mr Ferrand dates from the general election when this part of the
country was contested by Messrs Morpeth and Milton. I was about eight
years old at the time. The two politicians visited every part of the
district, and on one occasion the Tory party came through Hoylus End. I,
and my “mates” were wearing party favours; but they were all “yellow,”
while I was “blue.” Mr Ferrand was with the electioneers, and he must
have noticed that I was the most conspicuous Tory youngster; for he drew
from his pocket a big handful of coppers and threw them down to me. From
that day, I can say, I have been a Tory. During the campaign the local
rhymesters and writers were very busy concocting electioneering “squibs;”
and, young as I was, I tried my ’prentice hand along with the rest. It
was with astonishment and amazement that my parents and my companions
received the following doggerel:—

   Morpeth and Milton went a baking pies,
   Milton gave to Morpeth two black eyes.


About the year 1852—at the time of the Keighley Fair—there was some
poaching in Bingley Wood. A gamekeeper had come across the poachers, who
seized and tied him to a tree; suspicion fell upon some factory workers,
and they were taken before the court at Keighley. Mr Ferrand was in the
court, but took no part in the judicial consideration of the case, which
lasted nearly the whole of the afternoon. A barrister, who resided at
Settle, was for the defence. It proved a case of wrong identity, and the
prosecution was dismissed. The real poachers had escaped, some from the
country. A rowdy element excited the people against Mr Ferrand, and they
even went so far as to create a riot, aiming their missiles in the street
at Mr Ferrand. It was a case of one brave man and a mob. At last, after
pursuing his way fearlessly of their missiles, he was blocked, and had to
read the Riot Act at premises now used by Messrs Laycock & Sons,
curriers. The police-constables were of no avail against the mob, and
soldiers were procured from Bradford. The roughs found the soldiers
unwelcome visitors on the scene, and the streets were soon cleared. No
prisoners were made. Capt. Ferrand took part in leading the soldiers, and
those who were so valiant before were now no longer to be seen defiant;
they had fled. Mr John Garnett, school-master, wrote some lines on the
affair, called “The Baron’s Revenge.”


Begging pardon for this digression, and returning to recollections of my
own life, I may say that a longing had now come over me for a quiet term
of life, and I accordingly settled down at home. Work was once more found
for me at Messrs Lund’s mill; indeed, I have often since thought that the
late Mr William Lund must have stipulated in his will that work was at
all times to be found for me. Off and on, I must have worked at North
Beck Mills some score times, and each time there was a sort of welcome
reception for me. Perhaps my father’s life-long connection with the firm
had something to do with it. Be that as it may, I settled down,
determined to make an entire alteration in my course of life. A visit
paid to William Sugden, and I was possessed, I thought, of one of the
grandest suits of clothes there ever was.


Then my parents had a talk with me as to joining the Sunday school, and,
after some hesitation, I connected myself with the Wesleyan Sunday school
at Exley Head. Mr Edward Pickles, manufacturer, Holme Mill (now living, I
believe, at Bradford), was the superintendent of the school, and other of
the officers were Mr John Dinsdale, who had the distinction of being a
local preacher, and the late Mr Thomas Bottomley, of Braithwaite. For
some six months I attended the school with the regularity of the Prince
Smith Clock, and was not absent a single Sunday. Fellow scholars of mine
were, William Scott, Hannah Holmes (afterwards married to a missionary,
named Kaberry, with whom she went to Africa), Midgley Hardacre, Thomas
Binns, John Pearson, and James Smith, locally known as “Jim o’ Aaron’s,”
who met his death by falling down a lime kiln. Sunday school work
interested me greatly, and it was with much “happiness at heart” that I
looked forward to Sunday. I was not long a scholar ere I was made a
teacher. Possessed as I was of what I may call a “theatrical” voice,
acquired during my career on the stage, the people liked to hear me read,
and I was kept fully occupied in reading chapters from the Bible. Yes;
the time I spent at the Sunday school was a very happy one.


But, unfortunately, a few of my companions got me to bother my head with
local politics. There was a Local Board election approaching at Keighley,
and some new-made acquaintances led me, as it were, to contract the
prevailing political fever; and, as events turned, it was not meet that I
should do so. My sinning friends were Bill Spink, better known as “Old
Bung;” “Porky Bill,” Jonas Moore, and others. I struggled hard for the
particular party which I favoured, writing “squibs” and all kinds of
doggerel, until I became literally saturated with politics. In the
meantime I had continued my attendance at the Sunday School, though my
duties were entered into with less zest and enjoyment than formerly. I
well remember Mr Pickles, the superintendent, saying he had no doubt I
should be a great man some time. But the insinuating influences of
certain companions acquired during my political career soon told upon me;
the old saw says “Show me your comrades and I will tell you who you are.”
I got associated with people older than myself, many of them wool-combers
from Bradford and other places—men who had seen the world in all its
dodgy and dark ways, and who knew how to take advantage of people who
hadn’t. I had plenty of money, and I found plenty of friends to help me
to spend it. I began a retrograde movement, finally severing my
connection with the Sunday school, a step which gave my parents great
uneasiness. I attribute my falling off entirely to the bad companionship
into which I was led. They were too “old” for me, and I was rather too
“soft” for them. Many were the scrapes into which they brought me, and it
was in consequence of one of these that I and a female companion whose
acquaintance I had made started one morning on the tramp for



In the last chapter I told how I started on “the tramp” with a female
companion to Middlesborough. It was early in the morning when we turned
our backs upon Keighley for the North. We trudged by road to Otley,
Ripley, and Ripon, Thirsk and on to Stockton-on-Tees. Here my petticoat
companion was so tired and weary that I left her, having secured her
lodgings with an old lady, who agreed to take care of her until my
return; my intention being to get work and a home in Middlesborough, and
then to fetch my partner thither.


I pushed on to Middlesborough, but was “flabbergasted” to find the girl’s
uncle and several cousins—male, and all upgrown (!)—awaiting my arrival!
It turned out that they had been apprised of my probable arrival by a
letter from the girl’s parents at Keighley. It was “blood and thunder”
for a few minutes when they saw me, and the uncle was fairly exasperated
to find that his niece was not with me. “What have you done with her?” he
asked, excitedly. “Have you drowned her?” I besought him to “be quiet,”
and then I would tell him all about it. So he was quiet, and I told him
where I had left the girl. There were three sons with the uncle, and the
four received my story with distrust—they would see their cousin that
night they declared. Thus, my position was getting pretty hot, and there
was nothing for it but to return to Stockton. This conclusion vexed me
sore, for with my tired and weary frame I was well-nigh ready to drop;
but I saw there was no other way out of the situation. I had already met
three friends I knew in Middlesborough, the three brothers O’Gorman—I had
made their acquaintance some time previously at Keighley—and they agreed
to walk back with me to Stockton-on-Tees. The girl’s uncle and her three
cousins made the party into eight—a veritable cavalcade in quest of a
poor, defenceless woman. We got to Stockton all right, and the uncle and
his sons took the girl in charge, while I was left with my three friends,
the O’Gormans, to do as I liked. What was more, I was robbed of all
opportunities of communing with the “erstwhile companion of my choice”—

   Who afterwards became, I trow,
   A partner in my weal and woe.

My newly-found friends and I went back to Middlesborough. Going on the
quay one morning, I fell in with two men, whom I asked if there was any
chance of a job. After scanning me o’er and o’er they asked what I was
able to do—what trade I was at last. Out of my thousand and odd
“qualifications” I decided that I “had done a bit o’ sailoring.” “Can you
do anything in the dockyard?” asked one of them. “Yes,” I thought I
could. Then was I engaged.


The salary was fixed by my employers at £5 per month, though I was told
that I should have to work a month “in hand;” which was rather hard for
me, seeing that I was without money. Soon after I again fell in with the
O’Gormans, and was introduced to the family. The head of the household
was Peter O’Gorman, who had been in America and understood dock-yard
business a good bit. Well, I got on fairly well as docker—a free
labourer, I think I was,—although the work was not by any means regular,
depending as it did on the arrival of timber-laden vessels from Norway
and Sweden. Having a good deal of time hanging on my hands I visited
various parts of the town, and it was one morning, while on an errand of
this sort, that one of the O’Gormans came up to me and showed me an
advertisement inviting applications for the execution of certain
excavating work in connection with the Middlesborough new cemetery.


The advertisement gave great prominence to the instruction, “No Irish
need apply.” Now, my friend O’Gorman was an Irishman, and he was desirous
of applying for the job. So he asked me if I would be good enough to don
myself in his labourer’s clothes and try to secure the contract. I said I
should be glad to do so. After receiving due instruction as to how to
proceed in the application, I went and presented myself to the
contractor. That individual, I found out, was a Scotchman of the name of
Macpherson. He put different questions to me as to whether I was capable
of doing the work, &c. One of his inquiries had reference to my abilities
for drawing. Could I draw? “Yes,” I thought I could, and on a sheet of
paper which Mr Macpherson supplied, I tried my hand at drawing. My
production was satisfactory. “Can you find men?” he asked. “Yes,” said I.
“What about the tools?” “Oh!” I had to reply, “I have no tools.” This
notwithstanding, he said, I might start on the job next morning, and
bring all my men. I completed my arrangements with the Messrs O’Gorman,
and next morning my (?) workmen were “at it,” spades, picks, &c, being
provided by Mr Macpherson. What may seem more surprising, I continued at
my own work in the dockyard, besides acting (though really but nominally)
as sub-contractor in the excavating work at the cemetery. In about a
week, however, Mr Macpherson “smelt a rat,” and found out that the job
was a hoax so far as I was concerned; nevertheless the work went on all
right. The land was very soft and easily worked, being mostly formed of
sand and pebbles; and the contract was completed within five weeks. The
payment ran to 10s per day per man, all of us having agreed to go in
share and share alike. So that with this and my work at the dock-yard I
did very well, and “got on to my feet” again. Indeed, to make a long
story short I had got to be a regular “masher.”


I made up my mind to come back to Keighley, and let my folks see how I
was getting on.

   Home of my boyish days, how can I call,
   Scenes to my memory that did befall?
   How can my trembling pen find power to tell
   The grief I experienced in bidding farewell?
   Can I forget the days joyously spent
   That flew on so rapidly, sweet with content?
   Can I then quit thee, whose memory’s so dear,
   Home of my boyish days, without one tear?

   Can I look back on days that have gone by,
   Without one pleasant thought, without one sigh?
   Oh, no; though never these eyes may dwell
   On thee, old cottage home I love so well;
   Home of my childhood, wherever I be,
   Thou art the nearest and dearest to me.

Accordingly I gave up my situation at the dockyard, and having bid adieu
to Middlesborough, I took train for Bradford. In Bradford, I have to say
to my sorrow, I fell in with some of my Keighley friends, and within a
very short time I had been induced to part with all my money, and, in
fact, some of my clothes. When I recovered my senses—for I must have lost
them to act as I did—I found myself in a sad and sorry plight.


The time chanced to be about the outbreak of the Crimean War, and they
were “drumming up” for the army. There were recruiting sergeants to be
met with at every turn. It is said that even a worm will turn when
trodden on, and it did not require much of the sergeant’s persuasive
oratory to induce me to take the Queen’s shilling and enlist in the West
York Rifles.

   I left yon fields so fair to view,
   I left yon mountain pass and peaks;
   I left two e’en so bonny blue,
   A dimpled chin and rosy cheeks.
   For a helmet gay and suit o’ red
   I did exchange my corduroy;
   I mind the words the sergeant said
   When I, in sooth, was but a boy.



Now I commence a brand new era of my life. I am one of the Queen’s great
body-guard—I am ’listed—sworn, and all. Why this? Was it because I wanted
to “follow to the field some warlike lord?” No; it was simply a thirst to
see fresh fields and pastures new—fresh places and fresh faces. It was
not long before I found that my desire was to be gratified, for I learned
that the regiment to which I belonged—or soon was to belong—was already
on the road from Aldershot to Edinburgh. I saw that my long-cherished
desire to visit the Land o’ Cakes and Barley was to be fulfilled. I
believe that I shall have to confess that the thought of getting to see
bonnie Scotland was the all-powerful reason for my joining the army. When
I ’listed I told the sergeant that he had better take me to the
headquarters in Bradford at once, as I was so well known in the town, and
did not want to figure as a recruit in the “publics,” where it was the
custom to keep the recruits until a batch had been got together. Still
the sergeant kept me there, until I threatened that if he did not send me
off at once I would desert and leave the town. I was the only recruit he
got in Bradford. He took me to Pontefract, where there were more recruits
in waiting.


I stayed in Pontefract a couple of days, and then I was moved with the
other recruits to the port of Hull, where we embarked one splendid autumn
afternoon in a screw steamer for Leith, in Scotland. I shall never forget
the incidents which happened during this short voyage. There were many
passengers on board, not the least important being a couple of London
sharpers. There was an escort of soldiers who were taking a deserter back
to his regiment, and there was a young man-o’-war’s man belonging to the
good ship “Cornwallis.” He was going to Scotland to see his mother in
Edinburgh. Then there was an elderly gentleman, who, judging by his
bronzed countenance, had been in a foreign clime for a long time. He was
returning to his native heath. Another passenger was a dashing young
gentleman, whose father, he told us, was an hotel-keeper in Rotherham,
near Sheffield. This one had his fingers gaudily ornamented with rings
and diamonds. Of course there isn’t much to be said of us recruits,
except, perhaps, that we were regarded as so many “raw lads.”
Nevertheless we passed our time during the day very agreeably in various
ways—games, &c.—until darkness settled over the ship, and then we retired
into the cabin.


At night, I recollect, the wind was very boisterous, and the sea very
rough. All we recruits—or the majority of us—were quite ready for
Morpheus to take us in his arms when retiring-time came. The men’s
sleeping apartment was one common room. Stillness and silence—save and
except, perhaps, the snoring—reigned with us until about one after
midnight, when (I remember I was thinking of “Home, Sweet Home” at the
time) I saw two men gliding stealthily about the cabin. One of the men
carried a lighted taper, which he shielded with his hand, and his
companion, I saw, was in the act of robbing the sleeping passengers;
taking anything that came in their way—provided, of course, that it was
worth taking. I overheard one of the two say, “Let’s get to the other
side, them recruits’ll have nothing.” Then did they steal across to the
other side of the cabin. I saw them take money from the old gentleman
first. He was hard asleep. Then they took rings from the fingers of the
young masher, and next turned their attention to the young sailor lad
further on. His money was in a little bag tied round his neck, beneath
his shirt breast. The robbers cut the bag away, and took it with them; it
contained the savings of the lad and his passport. All this I saw done,
and did not dare to move or speak for fear of being “done” by the
rascals. Having stripped the cabin of all that appeared to be in their
line, they left and went up the stairs onto the deck, feeling, I suppose,
cocksure that they had had their rascality to themselves. The morn
dawned, and the first to give the alarm that they had been robbed were
those two London “prigs,” who swore vengeance upon the whole of us. One
of them declared that he had been a rogue all his life—a sentiment to
which I said “aye,” “aye” in my own mind,—but added that if he could find
the man who had taken 28s from his pockets he would forgive him. The
other thief said he had lost his watch, but he, too, would forgive the
man who would acknowledge and return it. Then there was a general
hulabaloo among the passengers, and everybody began to be alarmed. Each
felt in his pockets and examined his belongings, and with very few
exceptions all who had had anything to lose _had_ lost it. The captain
came across the bow, and was told that there were thieves on board and he
ought to have the passengers searched. The captain said he could hardly
do that on the high seas: it was against all sea-faring law; but he
suggested when they arrived at the port of Leith the authorities would do
their best to find out the guilty ones. He also pointed out that it
behoved anyone on board, if he had the slightest suspicion, to give
information to him.


I knew full well I was the one able to do this, but I did not step
forward, being somewhat at a loss which way to go about it. However, as
we were coasting Fifeshire, I slipped down into the steward’s room, when
all the passengers were basking in the sun on the deck, and told the
steward all I knew about the affair. I got him to promise to tell the
captain in such a way that it should not be known until we had
disembarked that I had given the information. He transferred the
information to the captain, and presently the steward came and beckoned
me to follow him down to his cabin, remarking that nobody would see me. I
saw the captain, and told him what I knew of the matter. The robbery
continued to be the sole topic of talk the rest of the journey. Clearing
the coast of Fife, we soon came in sight of Edinburgh, and, sailing up
the Forth, we finally landed at Leith. It was Sunday afternoon, and there
were large numbers of people about to watch us land. The majority of the
people ran for the first pier, but the captain ordered the vessel to land
at the second pier, which disappointed the people. Two Scottish policemen
were stationed at the bottom of the gangway. The escort with their
prisoner were allowed to pass; also the recruits, with the exception of
myself. Next the passengers filed off, and, in turn, came the two cockney
“prigs.” The captain ordered them to be searched by the policeman; and
searched they were, though not without some show of resistance.
Everything that was missing was found upon them, with the exception of
the young sailor’s passport.


The twain were handcuffed and taken to Carlton Gaol, at the top end of
Edinburgh, and the next morning they were tried before the Lord Provost,
and each sentenced to twelve months’ imprisonment with hard labour. I was
called to give evidence in the court, and chagrined the two London
sharpers must have felt to find out how they had been caught red-handed.
This was my first appearance in a police court.


On the night of our arrival, the deserter was taken to Edinburgh, and put
into the guard-room. The recruits and myself were drawn up in line before
the Colonel, and we were asked particularly who we were and whence we
came. My turn arrived. “Well, and who are you?” says the Colonel. “You
seem to have had a better time than these Sheffielders.” I told him that
I was from Keighley, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. “Is that somewhere
near Bingley?” asked the Colonel. “Yes,” replied I, “about four miles
away.” “Do you know a gentleman in the neighbourhood called William
Busfeild Ferrand?” “Yes, sir,” replied I. “He lives at St. Ives; I know
him very well.” “Have you (queried the Colonel with a merry twinkling in
his eye) ever had any of his hares and rabbits?” “No,” replied I, “I’m
not a poacher.” “Well,” remarked the Colonel, “I think you will do well;
perhaps it’s the best thing you ever did. But of these Sheffielders I
have no high opinion; they’re a bad sample of soldiers indeed, and if I
had my way I would petition Government to have no Sheffielders at all in
the Army.” Then we retired from the Colonel’s presence, the sergeant in
charge being instructed to take us on the following morning before the
regimental doctor for examination. Set at liberty for the time being, we
recruits made for the canteen. There we found all classes of
soldiers—Highlanders, Lancers, Artillerymen—all supping their ale and
making merry.


Next morning the recruits were brought before the doctor, who duly
examined and passed us—all but two men. The next move was to the
quarter-master’s stores; and now, for the first time in my life, I donned
the Queen’s uniform. This, I can truly say, was a red-letter day in my
career: I felt a proud man for the moment, and I remember the thought
suggesting itself, “Now, where will this land you, William Wright?” I had
a longing to see the city and its surroundings—Holyrood Palace, Roslin
Castle, John Knox’s house, &c.; so I asked the quarter-master for the
necessary leave. But he said that before I could leave the barracks I
must get quit of my civilian’s clothing—you see they were frightened I
should desert. I was told that there was a Jew in the bottom corridor of
the castle who bought second-hand clothing.


I accordingly paid a visit to my friend Isaac, and asked him, “What will
give me for this suit o’ clothes? They cost me £3 10s in Bradford only
three weeks ago, and, besides, these boots are nearly new.” “Well, my
frent,” said the old _Jew_ “tem poots vill be sixpence, an’ tees cloas
vill pe von shillin’; an’ (speaking with warmth) I vill not gif you von
penny more for tem—not von penny.” “I’ll be blessed if I’ll take that”
said I, also speaking with some fervour; “You vile dog of a Jew! No
wonder that your race is hated in every clime, for you would rob a saint
of his shoe strings!” But the Jew had been tempered to these oft repeated
“blessings,” as was proved by the coolness with which he said: “Howefer,
dat is vhat I vill gif you, an’ not anoder farding.” Seeing that
parleying was useless with this worldly extortionizer, and seeing, also,
what a fix I was in, I eventually parted with my clothes and shoes.


After that I was at liberty to leave the barracks; which I did, and made
my way down into the city—into Canongate. On my return to barracks it was
time for recruits’ drill. The drill-sergeant had a voice like unto a
growling buffalo. He said: “Now, then, ye recruits, Ye’re not at home
now—a lot of sucking pigs with your mothers. Ye’ve got good pay and
rations, and by the bokey ye’ll have to drill.” This was the order of the
day for two months, and at the end of that time I had made pretty fast
progress with my drill, and I was shortly placed in the ranks as a
full-blown soldier.


One morning, soon after this, I was called to the orderly-room. I was
told that it had pleased my superiors to promote me to the rank of a
lance-corporal. I made some objection to this, saying I did not yet know
private’s duty, as I had only been a private for two months. But the
colonel told me that I could well learn the duties of both private and
lance-corporal at the same time. Therefore, I accepted the promotion,
though I was quite content to stay as I was, and I got a stripe to put on
my tunic and “shell” jacket; also on my great coat. My first duty as a
lance “Jack” was as escort of a coal fatigue in the castle. I had under
me a squad of old soldiers, whose duty it was to carry boxes of coals
from the basement to the upper story in the building. Although I was very
forbearing with the men, they were ever and anon grumbling and growling,
and in the course of one of their little outpourings I heard a veteran
exclaim that he never knew a fool in his life but what was lucky!


After superintending the coal fatigue, I was put in charge of a dozen
privates, young and old, in one of the bottom rooms of the castle. Some
of the young bloods were very generous in their fault-finding and acts of
disobedience. One of the old fellows actually point-blankly refused to
wash and scrub the benches in the room—which I had ordered him to do. By
this time their pleading and other things had somewhat “softened my heart
towards them,” and the thought came into my head, “don’t be so hard on
the poor old chaps; you’re abler to do the work than some of them.” Thus
my feelings prompted me to take my turn with them, and, divesting myself
of my jacket, and rolling up my shirt sleeves, I set myself to scrubbing
the benches. But, by Jupiter! no sooner had I commenced my self-imposed
task than in popped Captain Clifford Lloyd, who was on his rounds. “What
are you doing there, corporal?” he bellowed forth when he saw me. “Oh, I
am just scrubbing the forms, sir, for a bit of exercise” said I. “D...
you and your exercise,” retorted the captain sternly. “Now, don’t let me
catch you at it again. Here’s an old lazy hound behind you who knows very
well that it is his duty, and I shall take that stripe off your arm if I
catch you at this job again.” Of course, as a non-commissioned officer, I
took the warning to heart, and kept to my own duties for the future—the
warning having taken effect with the old soldiers as well as myself.


Of course I came in for hoaxes from the sergeants. I mind one incident
which happened one evening. During the day I had been in charge of the
cook-house. Sergeant Murphy, an old soldier, came to me and said I was
wanted by the sergeant-major immediately. “What’s the matter? There is
nothing wrong with me, is there?” I asked, noticing that the messenger
looked rather concerned. “Don’t you know?” I asked again, and then the
sergeant said, “If _you_ don’t know, you soon will do. The fact is, you
have spoiled the coppers in the cook-house, you have burned the bottoms
out of them.” “They were all right when I left” I retorted, beginning to
feel rather “queer.” If I had never been one before I felt a coward then;
but, come what might, I thought, they can only reduce me in rank. So with
“firm step” I marched to the sergeant-major’s quarters. To my
surprise—and in a manner which at once put me at my ease—the
sergeant-major bade me a cheerful “Good evening.” He told me that he had
a job for me—he wanted me to accompany fifteen recruits to the theatre,
and strictly enjoined me to see them back to barracks after the theatre
closed. I took the men to the play-house, and brought them all back safe
and sound, and the sergeant-major expressed himself very pleased with my
abilities as a _chaperon_.


Shortly after there was to be a grand festival in the Castle given by
Captain Darnall, who was severing his connection with the Castle. I was
relieved of all soldier’s duties for nine days, and told off with others
to decorate certain rooms on the premises in preparation for the
festival. The event came off in due course; it was a grand affair, and
was made the most of on all hands. Captain Darnall presented the oldest
soldier with a silver cup.


It was not long ere I was made a full Corporal, and commenced to receive
double pay. Now I felt a hero, and no mistake. All this time I had been a
keen observer of both men and manners, and I had really seen all there
was to be seen in Edinburgh and neighbourhood. It was, therefore, with
pleasurable feelings that I heard that No. 7 Company, to which I
belonged, was to be sent to the military garrison at Greenlaw—a bonny
little village some ten miles from Edinburgh. I think the scenery in this
district is about the most picturesque and romantic in all Scotland.
Roslin Castle is only a short distance away. The neighbourhood is divided
into little villages, and to one of these—Milton Bridge—I paid frequent
visits during my sojourn at Greenlaw. At Milton Bridge there was a
tavern, known by the sign of “The Fishers’ Tryst,” kept by a cheery old
gentleman and his daughter. I got on very friendly terms with the
landlord and his lassie, and entrusted to them the secret as to who I
really was;—for I had joined the regiment under a _nom de plume_. In my
communications with my friends at Keighley I gave them to understand that
I was working as an ordinary individual for my living. I dated all my
letters from “The Fishers’ Tryst,” in the name of “William Ferdinand
Wright,” and for three years I avoided identification.



It was one beautiful summer afternoon, while strolling along the pleasant
country lanes, which looked charming with their avenues of stately oak
trees, whose branches were tenanted by scores of squirrels, that I came
upon an elderly gentleman who was sitting smoking. I bade him “Good-day,”
and asked him for a match; which he gave me and invited me to sit down
beside him and have a smoke and a chat. In the course of our conversation
I discovered that my friend was no common man. When, in reply to his
enquiry, I told him that the headquarters of my regiment were at
Edinburgh, he said, “and what a disgrace some of the men have brought
upon your regiment.” Every one of the guards at Holyrood Palace had been
found ‘beastly’ drunk, excepting one man, who was keeping sentry at the
magazine on the top of Arthur’s Seat. The circumstance was especially
discreditable as His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales was staying at
Holyrood. “I understand (continued the speaker) that they broke into the
wine cellar, and stole some fifty bottles of port and champagne. Most of
that they drunk, until when found they were ‘blind palatic’.” “Yes, sir”
said I, “I believe it is all true. All the men are put back for
court-martial except the man at the magazine, who held his post all night
without being relieved.” “Serves the rascals right,” retorted the old
gentleman. “In my time of soldiering every man jack of them would have
been shot—the sergeant as well.” “Then, sir,” said I, “you have been in
the Army?” “Yes,” he replied, “I have served a little time, and took part
in the Peninsular War.” But beyond this my unknown friend would tell me
nothing about his military career.


We next fell to talking about the big hall which lay in front of us. My
friend asked me if I should like to look over it, and on my saying that I
should, he directed me on the way to the mansion, telling me to go a
little further up the lane, then turn in at the wicket gate and follow
the footpath across the lawn. “Then,” said he, “you’ll come to the
kitchen door. Knock, and ask for a horn of beer.” “But whose word shall I
give?” I asked, “Tell them an old gentleman called Duncan Dhew, in black
knee breeches and leggings has sent you, and it will be all right. And
then (added he) if you wish it you can go further into the park by
crossing another path over the lawn.” I thanked the kind old gentleman,
and took my departure.


It was not long before I was at the old hall. I rapped at the
kitchen-door according to orders, and a woman of about forty summers made
her appearance. When I mentioned the name given me by the old gentleman
she laughed heartily, and said that if I would come in I should have a
horn or two of beer—if I liked. She was a pleasant-spoken Scotchwoman,
and before I took my leave she said chaffingley that it was a pity she
wasn’t twenty years younger, for then she might have been “my lassie.”


Quitting the house I took into the park, and to say that I was delighted
with the scene is not in anywise doing justice to the feelings I
experienced at the time. I can truly say that I have never seen anything
so lovely since—the splendid walks, with their long avenues of
wide-spreading and noble-looking trees; the bright gardens and sparkling
fountains; the babbling burns, crossed here and there by pontoon bridges;
and last, but by no means least, the panoramic bits of the distant
landscape visible through the openings in the trees—all these went to
make up a veritable Arcadia. Then, as I walked further into the park I
saw numbers of wild deer, which looked up at me as I passed by as much as
to say, “What business have you to intrude on our sacred rights?” Well, I
walked and walked, until I thought I was not coming to the end of the
park that day. But soon the path dropped, and disclosed a little valley,
in which were located about a half-dozen thatched dwellings. Here, I
found, lived the gamekeeper and a few farm labourers. At the house I
called at the wee laddies and lassies wondered whatever I was; they had
never before seen a “walking target.” The gamekeeper told me that if I
was stationed at Greenlaw Barracks I had walked in a very curious
direction, for I was thirteen miles, by the ordinary road, out of my
course. I was exceedingly ill at ease to hear this pronouncement, and
told him that it would be “hot” for me if I was not in before the
“tattoo,” or the “last post.” The keeper, I found, was a true Scotchman,
and of a very obliging nature. He proffered to take me through the wood
to a place called Milton Bridge. We started, and were soon at the village
mentioned, where, at the “Fishers’ Tryst,” we had a “drappie o’ whuskey”
over the matter. Then we parted, and I got into barracks in time.


The very next morning after this interesting day the order came that our
company was to return to Edinburgh, and give place for another company.
My stay at Greenlaw had extended over six months. Now for “Auld Reekie!”
Soon after we arrived there was a great review at the Castle, the Queen
and Prince Albert Victor inspecting the troops.


I remember being the sergeant in charge of the guard at Holyrood Palace
at the time when the Empress Eugenie was on a visit to Scotland. The
French Fleet accompanied her to Scotland, and lay in the Firth of Forth.
The crews of the ships comprised some fine sailors, who, I think, were
the smartest lot I ever saw. The Empress and her Court stayed a full week
in Edinburgh. I remember one eventful day when a party of two ladies and
four gentlemen, after inspecting Queen Mary’s Room, and the old picture
gallery in Holyrood Palace, passed into the guard-room where I was in
command. The ladies advanced towards me, bidding me “Good afternoon.” The
gentlemen remained behind. In the best way I could under the
circumstances I asked the two ladies to be good enough to take a seat,
apologising for the rude seat which was all I could offer them. They
courteously accepted the seat, and, at the older lady’s request, I sat
down beside them. The talking was confined to one of the ladies, who
seemed, I thought at the time, of a very inquisitive nature. In the first
place she expressed her wish to know something about the British
soldier—how he was fed, whether he was well-clothed, what kind of rations
he was provided with, &c. I gave her my opinion on these points as far as
I could go. She then asked how long I had been a soldier, and I said only
a short time. “Then you cannot tell how you feel when your comrades are
being slain on the battle-field?” “No, ma’am, I cannot; but there is a
man lying down on the guard-bed who can. He went through the Crimean
War.” I then advanced to the old soldier’s bed, and said, “Francis,
there’s a lady here wants to know how you feel when you are on the
battle-field.” “Tell her,” said Francis, without looking up, “we see nowt
but hell-fire and smoke!” “Well, what does he say?” asked the inquiring
lady, who had, fortunately, remained in the background. It would not, of
course, have done for me to give the answer as it stood, so I replied,
“He says, madam, that he can see nothing but fire and smoke.” “Well,”
said the lady preparing to depart, “you seem to be well clothed and to
have plenty to eat.” As I was showing her out of the room, she said, “If
I were to give you a Scottish pound note, would you share it amongst you
and your fellows?” “Yes, ma’am” said I, “when we have dismissed guard.”
Whereupon she placed the note in my hand, and I thanked her cordially. I
had not the slightest idea who the donor of the note was, or who were the
people who had been our guard-room guests, until the next day. We were
then relieved from guard by the 78th Highlanders, who were only about 300
strong, and had just returned from the Indian Mutiny. It was while upon
the esplanade, where there were a thousand of the Waterloo and Peninsular
pensioners assembled for drilling, that I noticed my lady guest and a
gentleman reviewing the veterans. They were walking up and down the
ranks, and every now and again the lady stopped before an old soldier,
spoke to him, and, before passing on, put into his hand a Scottish pound
note. It was said that during the week she presented no less than a
thousand of these notes to the soldiers. One old hero, I saw, got five
pound notes. I asked the captain of the guard who the lady was. He seemed
much surprised when I assured him that I did not know who she was; but
greater was my surprise on being told that the lady was the Empress of
the French.


Orders were issued for our regiment to remove to the ancient town of
Ayr—news which delighted me greatly. Next day the regiment, numbering
about a thousand men, mustered for the last time in Edinburgh. The
inhabitants of Auld Reekie turned out in their thousands to see us march
to the railway station and to bid us adieu. The regimental band—which,
by-the-bye, included many able musicians from the West Riding of
Yorkshire; Wilsden, Haworth and Cowling being among the towns furnishing
the band men—played lively airs during our march to the station, such as
“Good-bye, sweetheart!” and “The girl I left behind me.” At the station I
met a sore disappointment. Since the issuing of the orders of removal to
Ayr, I had been buoyantly thinking of what happy times I should have in
Ayr, and my feelings can be imagined when I found I was among the
detachment which was to be sent on to the barracks at Hamilton—a small
town on the Clyde about ten miles from Glasgow. However, I determined to
make the best of the matter, and hope for better times. The two companies
forming the detachment, numbering about a couple of hundred men, reached
Hamilton all right. Within a short distance of Hamilton, is Bothwell and
its famous Castle; and during my stay in the locality I paid frequent
visits to Bothwell Castle and Bothwell Bridge, at which latter place Sir
William Wallace defeated the English in battle. I also visited the
magnificent residence of the Duke of Hamilton.


I remember that on the first evening of our arrival in Hamilton I had
under me twenty or thirty soldiers, who were on the defaulters’ list in
consequence of being absent from barracks the night previous to our
leaving Edinburgh. They had to all intents and purposes been out in the
city bidding their acquaintances good-bye, and had taken too long a time
over it. For this misdemeanour they were confined to barracks at
Hamilton. I assembled the men in front of the officer’s quarters, and
said, “This is our first evening here and a grand evening it is. I should
very much like to visit the town, and I have no doubt that you would.
Now, I have a proposal to make if you will all stand by me.”—“We will,”
they shouted in one voice. “I propose,” I continued, “to see the captain,
and if you will promise that during your stay in Hamilton you will not
commit yourselves, I will try to get you dismissed from defaulters’
drill, so that you can go out and enjoy yourselves.” They readily
expressed their willingness to carry out the promise. I then made for the
officers’ room, and was admitted into the captain’s presence. “Well, what
is your wish this evening?” he inquired. “A great favour, captain,” I
replied, “not only for myself but for those men outside. There are over a
score defaulters, and they wish to speak a word with you.” “Where are
they?” said the captain. So I brought him outside before the men. He
heard their case stated, and then asked, “Do you all promise that if I
dismiss you from pack drill you will not misbehave yourselves during your
short stay in this town?” Of course the promise was promptly given; but
promises, like pie crusts, are easily broken. Well, every one of the
defaulters was dismissed, and sent to his own quarters. They then went
out of the barracks and had a pleasant look round the town.


All went wisely and well for three weeks, at the end of which period
there was a desperate affray between the soldiers and the police. It came
about in this way. One of the soldiers while strolling on the banks of
the Clyde one Saturday night appeared to have insulted a lady. She gave
information to the police, who next (Sunday) morning, accompanied by the
informant, came in full force to the barracks. We had just fallen in for
church parade. The ranks were opened, and the lady passed among us to see
if she could identify the guilty man. Eventually, she pitched upon a man
whom all of us knew could not have been at the place mentioned at the
time given by the lady. However, despite his protestations of innocence,
he was handcuffed, and was about to be marched away by a sergeant of the
police when one of the prisoner’s comrades interfered. He did so to a
nicety, for he knocked the policeman down. Then another policeman went to
the ground, and another, until the whole parade was one scene of
commotion. The police were badly worsted, many of them being more or less
seriously injured in the _mélée_. Reinforcements were summoned, and many
arrests were made by the representatives of the civil power. The
barracks’ officers had no control over their men, and two companies of
Highlanders were sent for to take the place of our regiment at Hamilton
and to escort to Edinburgh Castle those of us who had taken part in
disturbance. At the Castle the men were confined to barracks for a
fortnight to give the police time to work up their “case” for the
court-martial, and in order to see how the wounded policemen, who were
being treated in the hospital progressed.


I happened to be escorting two men from the hospital to the parade when
the outbreak occurred. I was conversing with the regimental doctor, and
took advantage of that circumstance to get that gentleman to make me a
certificate testifying that I was not “in at the death.” However, I was
sent for examination with the lot, but I passed through the ordeal
successfully, the doctor’s certificate undoubtedly freeing me. I may here
mention that I have not been a believer in physiognomy since then; for if
a man had a rough-looking or repulsive countenance he was as surely
ordered to “fall out,” and many men were so taken prisoners whom I knew
were innocent. In all about fifty were placed under arrest, and taken
before the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who sentenced them to gaol for
terms varying from one to eighteen months.



The incident mentioned in the last chapter ended in all the men who were
not committed to prison being released and sent on to head-quarters at

   Auld Ayr, wham ne’er a toon surpasses,
   For honest men and bonnie lasses.

I was among the “removals,” and high were my spirits at the prospect of a
sojourn in the hallowed land of Burns. To use a well-turned phrase, it
had been the height of my ambition to reach the birth-place of a genius
second to none in his way—Bobby Burns, the patriotic bard and ploughboy.
For twelve months I stayed in the quaint old town. Scores of times did I
visit the cottage where the world-famous poet was born. It was a lowly
thatched clay biggin; with two rooms on one floor, and at this time was
being used as a public tavern. The building belonged, I believe, to the
Shoemakers’ Society of Scotland, and scarcely anything but the native
whiskey and bottled beer was dispensed at the house. The first room on
entering was utilised for cooking purposes, and contained a big
kettle—for boiling water, I was told, (whether in good or bad faith) on
occasion of extra demand for “whuskey”. The farther room served as the
parlour, and contained a large oblong table, seated with cane-bottomed
chairs. The mud walls of the room had been boarded over, and the roof
under-drawn, so that an air of comfort was imparted. In almost every nook
of this room were to be seen the initials and names of visitors cut into
the wood, and the places appended to some of the names indicated foreign
visitors. The walls were completely filled with these “carvings” and
writings. I more than once looked round for a little space to put Bill o’
th’ Hoylus End’s initials, but to no purpose—every available inch was
taken up with those of my predecessors. A portrait in oils of Burns, said
to have been done by Allan Cunningham, one of the bard’s friends,
occupied a prominent place in the room. This picture, in keeping with the
general appearance of the room, was covered with initials and names. A
few minutes’ walk from the cottage, and situated on a slight eminence
commanding a fine view, stands the Burns’ Monument, a beautiful Grecian
edifice. In the surrounding grounds—which are handsomely laid out—is a
little building which contains Thom’s statues of “Tam o’ Shanter and
Souter Johnny.” The Auld Brig o’ Doon and Alloway Kirk are not far away.
On ascending the steps leading into the churchyard the first grave is
that of the poet’s father, William Burns. An epitaph in the tombstone,
written by Bobby Burns, reads:—

   Here lies an honest man at rest,
   As e’er God with His image blest;
   The friend of man, the friend of truth,
   The guide of age, the guide of youth.
   Few hearts like his in virtue warmed;
   Few heads with knowledge so informed:—
   If there be another world, he lives in bliss,
   If there be none, he made the best of this.

Going further into the old kirkyard, one sees the graves of many of the
bard’s friends, whom he has immortalised in verse. At the farther end,
close to the river Doon, stands the ancient kirk—

   Wi’ its winnock bunker i’ the east,
   Where sat old Nick i’ shape o’ beast.

Perhaps this old fane has been made more of in poetry by Burns than
anything else. It is inspected by thousands of travellers who visit Ayr.


While in Ayr, I remember there was a great demonstration to honour the
memory of the national poet. The gathering was held at the Corn Exchange,
and the large hall was densely packed. Among an influential company was
Sir James Fergusson, M.P., late Post-master General. Various patriotic
speeches were delivered, and at one stage, I mind, the meeting was put
into great good humour by the action of an elderly gentleman on the
platform. Stepping to the front he said “I believe I am the only man in
Scotland to-day that ever shook hands with Bobby Burns. He was then—over
seventy years ago—an excise man at Dumfries, and I acted as his post-boy,
taking his letters.” These remarks had scarcely been made than several of
the people came forward and grasped the old fellow by the hand, and,
indeed, some all but hugged him. I was prompted to shake hands with the
“living memorial.”

   And well old Scotland may be proud
   To hear her Burns proclaimed aloud,
   For to her sons the world hath bowed,
   Through Burns’s name—
   All races of the world are proud of Burns’s fame.


I found to be of a very genial and sociable disposition. Their dialect is
exceedingly pleasing—a good deal more so than that of many other parts of
Scotland; shires and district vary in dialect quite after the manner of
our own localities and counties. I made many friends in Ayr, among them
being John McKelvey (who, with his daughter, Tina, kept an old tavern at
the end of the quay at Ayr), and Billy Miller (of the “Thistle”), another
celebrity in his way. Both these were poets, or, perhaps I should say,
rhymesters; and whatever the old wives of the present day may think about
the poet, of this I can assure them—that in those days “the lassies loved
him weel i’ bonnie Scotland.” But to get to my military reminiscences.


With the exception of one “hitch”—and perhaps that was enough—I passed my
time very pleasantly at Ayr Barracks. The incident came about in this
way. I was out in the “toon” with the orderly-room clerk, Sergeant
Delaney, the money both of us had in our pockets sufficing to put us into
high spirits. In our travels we came across a menagerie of wild
beasts—Manders’, I think it was—and I was not long in observing that the
members of the band which was “going it” in front of the show were all
men from the Keighley district. The leader of the band, Dawson Hopkinson,
was a Haworth man, and his remains lie in Haworth Churchyard, a bugle
being engraved on the stone over the grave. Hopkinson had been the
landlord of the Golden Lion Inn, at Keighley, previous to travelling with
the menagerie. Other members of the band were Bobby Hartley, of Keighley,
and another named Joe Briggs; two from Silsden, and one from Wilsden, all
of whom were well known at the time as able musicians. I felt in great
glee at meeting with these old friends, and marched boldly on the
platform to greet them. The result of my visit was that I invited the
whole of the band to come and have a drink at the Grossmarket Hotel down
the street. When they had played another tune they “struck” and in a body
followed me to the hotel; and over glasses of “guid auld Scotch” we told
tales of old Keighley until it really seemed that old times had come
again. In chatting over some of the eccentric characters, we had many a
laugh about Three Laps and Job Senior. But the time was flitting by fast,
and my musical guests, it appeared, had not left word at the menagerie
where they were going. Thus there was some justification for the line of
action which the lady of the show had adopted in rushing into the room
and demanding “why her band had given over playing and left the stage.”
But the bandsmen had supped, perhaps too freely and too well, and
consequently they were not able to give a clear answer to her question.
Right into the tavern we could hear the growling of the lions, the
howling of the wolves, and the squeaking of the monkeys; and yet,
forsooth! the bandsmen could afford to laugh at the noises. Delaney and
I, despite that we were all out as far “gone” as the rest, saw there was
going to be a storm if we did not bestir ourselves; so we set about
coaxing the musicians to return to their legitimate duties. After much
ado we induced them to quit the tavern, and Delaney and I followed suit,
and started for the barracks. “Just for safety’s sake” we went arm in
arm, and as we passed down the long main street we sang and carried on
like the proverbial jolly tars. Things went moderately well with us until
we got to a picture shop. Here was a large painting showing General
Garibaldi mounted on a white horse; and no sooner did Delaney catch a
glimpse of the picture than he drew his sword and with it smashed the
window, his intention being to wreak his vengeance upon the offensive


We were both of us now in a fine mess, and no mistake about it. I stood
dumbfounded for about a minute, and before I had time to give my thoughts
to deciding what we should do, two big, brawny Scottish policemen had
come up from behind and seized Delaney tightly by the arms and deprived
him of his sword. They straightway marched their prisoner in the
direction of the Town Hall, I following at their heels and expostulating
with them, taking up the line of argument that if they only would let
John go I would advance the money for the broken window. But the Scottish
policemen—like their Keighley comrades, I suppose, would do—held their
prisoner firmly, and the only heed they paid to my entreaty was in the
shape of a threat—“Gin ye say mich mair ye’ll hae ta gang along wi’ us.”
I still continued to beseech the constables to release “poor John,” but
when near a place known as the Fish Cross one of the twain suddenly gave
back and rushed upon me. I drew my sword, and kept him at bay for a few
seconds, until a butcher came to his assistance. The butcher stole up
behind me and robbed me of my sword. Now I was almost “taken,” but no!
not just yet. Seeing an opening in the large crowd which had gathered I
darted through it and down the street into a yard where I knew there was
a blacksmith’s shop kept by Louis Gordon. I managed to get into the shop,
but my pursuers were almost at my heels. I was overpowered and very soon
the “bangles” were on my wrists. I was marched to the Town Hall, followed
by a vast and inquiring crowd. One of the milk girls from the barracks
wanted to know whatever I had been doing, and I told her that I had been
making love too freely with John Barleycorn. Arrived at the Town Hall, I
saw Delaney. We were both locked up for the night, and next morning were


The captain of the regiment in full-dress uniform was present in court,
occupying a seat beside the magistrate. My case was called on first.
After the two policemen and certain civilians had had their say, a
doctor, whose name, I think, was Montgomery, stepped into the witness-box
and spoke in my favour. The captain also gave me a good character; he
said this was my first offence, and Delaney was the cause of it. In
pronouncing judgement the Lord Provost said that as my captain had spoken
so well of me he would “give me the benefit of the doubt,” although an
offence of attempting to rescue a prisoner from the hands of the police
was a very serious one indeed. Under the circumstances, he would fine me
40s and costs, or “saxty days to the talbooth.” The charges against poor
Delaney were those of doing wilful damage to property, being drunk and
disorderly, and, to some extent, causing a riot. John had no defence, and
no one to speak a good word for him; indeed, his captain—who was a
fellow-countryman, an Irishman—gave him a bad name. The upshot was that
Delaney was ordered to pay 40s and costs and to make good the damage to
the window, or to go to the talbooth for six months. My fine was paid by
subscription among the No. 7 Company, to which I belonged, and I obtained
my almost immediate release. The amount in Delaney’s case was much larger
than mine, and it was not until John had suffered a fortnight’s
incarceration that his Company (No. 4) succeeded in getting him released.
I myself took the ransom to Governor McPherson, who returned me 16s out
of a £5 note. Poor John looked well-nigh dead after his sojourn in the
police cell, and as soon as we got out of the gaol we made for an
eating-house, where I let him have a good meal. We then went back to



In the meantime I had been tried by Court-martial, and reduced to the
ranks. Sergeant Delaney, on entering the barracks, was put under arrest.
He, too, had to undergo a second trial, and he, like myself, was relieved
of his sergeantcy and put back to a private’s position. To me, however,
this was no very great trouble, though to a certain extent it was a mark
of disgrace. Dame Fortune soon began to smile upon me. I found a good
friend in Captain Clifford Lloyd, the musketry instructor to the
regiment. One fine morning, shortly after I was reduced to the ranks, and
while I was engaged in preparing myself to mount guard, the Captain
passed my room. “Ah!” says he, “you’re brushing up, I see.” “Yes, sir,” I
answered; “I’m going to mount guard. This is the first time I have
mounted guard since I was reduced to a private.” “Ah! well,” said Captain
Clifford Lloyd, “you see what a fool you have been to get intoxicated.
But I always said that any man can have a breakdown in his lifetime; and
if ever you have another chance you will mind it?” “Yes, sir; I think I
shall,” replied I. The Captain then walked away, but he had not gone many
paces when he returned and said to me, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. One
of my attendants, Johnson, wants a six weeks’ furlough to see his parents
in Nottingham. I will let you have his place during his absence if you
will take it. You will not have to wait at the mess, but to accompany me
at the targets—fit up the targets, paint them, signal, and see that all
is right for shooting.” “Thank you, sir,” said I, from a heart full of
thanks; “I shall be ready when called upon, sir.” The Captain then went
away, and I proceeded to complete my equipment for going on guard. I was
on the first post of the barrack guard. I had not been walking sentry
“go” for many minutes ere a relief man came to take my place, telling me
that I was wanted by Captain Lloyd. I promptly repaired to the Captain’s
quarters, and Captain Lloyd told me that he had given Johnson permission
to take his leave on the next day. “Go,” said he to me, “and tell the
sergeant to strike you off the mess, as you are now my fatigue man for
two months at least.” I followed out the instructions. My new duties were
very agreeable in one sense, for while being engaged only three days per
week (that being as much as the regiment could put in at ball-firing
practice) I had full pay. The next morning we went to business. I hoisted
the danger flags to keep trespassers away from the range, and, with help
from another man, I got the targets in working order. The range was on
the seaward side of Ayr, and the targets had always to be removed before
the tide came in. I used to take my paint cans (the paint was used to
“face” the targets), danger flags, &c., at night to a fisherman’s hut at
the mouth of the river Doon. The fisherman and his “guid leddy” were a
very hospitable couple, and before I completed my visits to their
dwelling, I got on very friendly terms with the family. To please the
children I gave them coppers occasionally; of a penny the children
thought about as much as a child in Keighley thinks of a shilling. Then I
made “bargains” with the wife, exchanging money for “pulls” of brandy and
“plugs” of tobacco. Her husband, it would seem, when he met with foreign
vessels out at sea, would exchange with them fresh-water fish for brandy,
tobacco, &c., so that the family had generally a good stock of these
commodities on hand. In my new sphere of duty I had plenty of time
hanging on my hands, quite ample to enable me to cultivate my muse. One
of the pieces which I wrote was my verses commencing:—

   In a pleasant little valley,
     Near the ancient town of Ayr,
   Where the laddies they are honest,
     And the lassies they are fair;
   Where the Doon in all her splendour
     Ripples sweetly thro’ the wood,
   And on her banks not long ago
     A little cottage stood.
   ’Twas there in all her splendour,
     On a January morn,
   Appeared old Colia’s genius,—
     When Robert Burns was born.


With the exception of one rather vivid experience, my career as attendant
at the targets was devoid of any particular incident. One afternoon, when
I had just finished my preparations for the shooting, Captain Clifford
Lloyd came up to me leading an iron-grey horse. “Come here,” says he,
“and mount this steed; and take her a mile or two down the beach.” The
horse, it appeared, had just come to hand from Bohemia, and was of a very
fiery disposition. The captain said she had not received her baptism of
fire. I did according to orders, and took the fiery steed along the
coast. She proved a very “wicked” animal, and a few yards prancing and
capering made me heartily wish that I was safely on _terra firma_.
Suddenly a volley was fired, and as suddenly the horse gave such a lurch
that I was within an ace of being pitched where I wanted to get—though
not quite so precipitately. Volley after volley was fired, and I lost all
command over the snorting steed, which was flitting along at the rate of
so many miles an hour. Had it not been for a heavy guard-cloak which I
was wearing, and which by wrapping itself about the horse’s body assisted
me to keep my seat, I should most certainly have been pitched to the
ground. In my anxious moments I seriously thought of John Gilpin, and
compared his famous ride to my own:—

   Away went Gilpin, neck or nought;
   Away went hat and wig;
   He little thought when he set out
   Of running such a rig.

“Circumstances alter cases” we are told, and I compared my experience to
that of John Gilpin in the following lines:—

   Away went Hoylus, neck or nought,
   In spite of wind or tide;
   He little thought, when he set out,
   Of having such a ride.
   He held the reigns so tight and fast
   As ne’er were held before;
   He took an oath—if he got down
   He’d never mount once more.
   His cloak was like a parachute;
   It kept him on his steed.
   For ne’er a horse from here to Hull
   Ere ran with such a speed.
   He cursed aloud the unlucky star
   That tempted him to roam;
   And wished the de’il had got his horse,
   And he were safe at home.

The horse wheeled, and gradually made towards the starting-point. As I
drew within sight of the captain, he evidently comprehended my dangerous
position, and came to my aid, shouting as he ran along, “Hold on; halt,
if you can.” But I could not halt, and it took me all my time to hold on.
The animal was about at the fag end, and allowed the captain to take the
bridle. When Captain Lloyd told me to dismount, I can truly say that I
obeyed his injunction more readily than I did the one to mount. I thanked
my stars that I had come off as fortunately as I did. The captain took my
place in the saddle. He had had a good deal of experience in
horse-riding. Setting his spurs into the animal’s sides, he was instantly
off like the wind. He went miles on the beach, and when he returned the
horse was foaming at the mouth and trembling like an aspen leaf. To be
sure, the “wicked” steed had had a successful breaking in if she had
never had one before, and, when I ventured to hold the bridle, was as
quiet as a lamb.


I acted as attendant at the targets about six months, and at the end of
that time the regiment received orders to leave Ayr, and proceed to
England. The day came for our departure, and there were the usual
handshakings and embraces at the parting places. Our destination was
Pontefract. Half of the number of the regiment accomplished the journey
by boat, while the other half—among which was your humble servant—went by
rail. As is usual in the circumstances, some of the men had taken unto
themselves wives during their residence in Scotland. This they had done
in an illegitimate or unsanctioned way, not having sought the sanction of
the Colonel of the regiment; so that there was some difficulty in
smuggling the Scotch lasses with the regiment. As we were leaving Ayr
there was, I remember, a young fellow—a wild, uncouth youth who came to
me and begged me to get him over to England with the regiment. I told him
that if he would get his hair cut and tidy himself I would provide him
with a soldier’s uniform; if he donned himself in that there would be a
possibility of getting him over. He accordingly got his hair cut, and
when he had put himself into a spare uniform which I had got out, he
looked quite a different individual. We all went to the station, and the
train started. At Carlisle we were allowed a “hot dinner;” this is
usually provided for soldiers when travelling at the end of every hundred
miles. But instead of a hot dinner, it turned out this time to be a cold
one—sandwiches, &c. In the compartment in which I was riding there were
several petticoat followers, and, of course, the commissariat did not
provide for their wants. Therefore we set ourselves planning and scheming
in order to obtain some dinner for them. When we got to the refreshment
room, a few of us went in at the usual entrance, obtained our regular
allowance, and retired through the back door. We then went round to the
front again, and succeeded in getting a second allowance, thus providing
for the wives of the soldiers. One of the women was the Scotch lassie I
mentioned previously, and who inquired so anxiously about me as I was
showing a policeman the way to the Ayr Town Hall one evening. The journey
was resumed, and Pontefract safely reached early next morning. After a
few days waiting the remainder of the regiment, who had come over by
boat, arrived. They had had a very rough time of it on the sea, and
several of them told me they never expected to reach England. The sea was
very rough, and during one part of the passage Captain Selborne (of No. 7
Company) was heard shouting to the soldiers to kneel down and pray as the
vessel was going to be wrecked. The regiment spent a few days in
Pontefract and was then disbanded. I had begun to be rather homesick, and
as a favour Captain Clifford Lloyd allowed me to have my pay (which
amounted to a nice sum, as, having lived with Captain Lloyd, I had been
able to save practically the whole of my allowance) early, and I started
for home a day or two in advance of the rest. Wearing my uniform I walked
on to Featherstone, where I got into a train, as I thought, bound for
Keighley. I happened to get into the compartment where Mr Ripley, of
Ripley’s dyeworks, Bradford, was riding. We entered into conversation,
and when I told him that I belonged to Keighley, he surprised me by
saying I had got into the wrong train. The train, as I found, went no
further than Bradford, and there was not one forward to Keighley at that
late hour. Mr Ripley, however, took me to the Great Northern Hotel, and
introduced me to the landlady, telling her that I was a young soldier,
and ordering her to provide a bed for me for the night, and to let me
have anything I might ask for in the way of food. Next morning I buckled
myself up for going forward to Keighley. But, thought I, I must not go
home in my regimentals. So I went to a clothier’s shop, and exchanged my
uniform for a fashionable suit of brown, and then I looked like a
thorough foreigner. I have hitherto forgot to mention a Scotch cap which
I bought in Edinburgh to serve as a memento of my visit to “Auld Reekie.”
Up to now I had not worn the cap, but I now put it on, and continued to
wear it for a long while. “My old Scotch cap” led me to pen the following


   I met thee first in happy days,
   When youthful fire was all ablaze,
   When lovely sun spread forth its rays
         On bud and sap.
   And now with pride I on thee gaze,
         My old Scotch cap.

   Were ever I ashamed at all,
   In church or chapel, feast or ball,
   In cottage, park, or famous hall,
         O’ thee, old chap?
   ’Mongst rich or poor, or great or small,
         My old Scotch cap?

   I still remember with a smile
   When we sailed from the coast o’ Kyle,
   And took a boat for Erin’s Isle
         I took a nap—
   Thou wert my pillow all the while,
         My brave Scotch cap.

   I mind the night we came across
   That dreadful common, called the Moss,
   ’Midst wind and rain, and tempest tossed—
          And thunderclap
   I did begin to fear thy loss,
         My old Scotch cap.

   And like Ajax, in ancient days,
   When he defied the lightning’s rays,
   I sought thee, ’midst the glowing blaze,
         And found thy trap;
   And caught thee in my fond embrace—
         My old Scotch cap.

   On _terra firma_ or on sea,
   Old cap I ken thy pedigree;
   And if we separated be
         Death’s cord shall snap—
   For I will ne’er abandon thee,
         My old Scotch cap.

I reached Keighley safely; my parents again killed the fatted calf, and
right loyally did they welcome their prodigal son. I kept from the fact
that I had been a soldier while I had been away, and for a long time very
few people knew what I had really been doing during my three years’
absence from my native town. Everybody complimented me on my sleek and
robust appearance. In due course I applied to Mr Edwin Hattersley,
manufacturer, North Brook Works, for a job at warp-dressing, and he
readily provided me with one. For a few weeks I was made a sort of god of
among my friends.



When I got home to Keighley, the authorities were busily engaged in
forming a corps of Rifle Volunteers in the town. The commanding officer
was the late Captain Busfeild Ferrand, of St. Ives, Bingley. I was asked
to enlist by sergeant (afterwards captain) Henry Wright (now magistrate’s
clerk at Keighley), but objected at first, as each Volunteer had to
purchase his own clothing and accoutrements. However, I was told that if
I would join I should have my uniform, &c., free; and I believe I am
correct in stating that I was the first in the Keighley corps to have my
outfit on these terms. I became a Volunteer. At this time the gentry of
the town and district took a great deal more interest in the Volunteer
movement than they do to-day. Tradesmen, especially, readily joined the
corps, and it was not long ere the first Company was filled up, and a
second Company started in the town. Entertainments were frequently given
by the officers.


One of these popular functions was given by Captain Busfeild Ferrand. It
took the form of a splendid banquet, which was served at the Devonshire
Hotel by mine host and hostess, Mr and Mrs Cheeseborough. (Mr
Cheeseborough was subsequently the superintendent of police at Keighley).
The fact that the banquet cost the Captain over £1 per head may afford
some idea of the scale of its magnificence. The guests comprised the
gentry of the neighbourhood, and also many from a distance. Several
military officers of high rank were present—Colonel Wombwell, Captain
McMurdock, &c. The Rector of Keighley (the Rev. W. Busfeild) was among
the guests; also, his two sons, both of them officers in the Army. “After
a sumptuous repast,” as the newspapers have it, Captain Busfeild Ferrand
rose and proposed the health of the Queen, eulogising the excellent
qualities of Her Majesty. The Captain was a very loyal subject, as may be
judged by the severity of his threat—that if any Volunteer present did
not drink to the health of the Queen he would have him struck off the
rolls. The Rev. W. Busfeild proposed the “Army and Navy,” and, in the
course of a felicitous speech, mentioned that he was the proud father of
two sons who were now officers in the Army, and of another who was in the
Navy—a sentiment which was applauded to the very echo. Other toasts were
honoured, and speeches made, and throughout the proceedings the greatest
enthusiasm and good feeling prevailed. There was one present whom I shall
always remember—the late Mr George Hattersley, the founder of the firm of
George Hattersley & Sons, and the father of Alderman R. L. Hattersley. Mr
George Hattersley was a volunteer in the days of Wellington and
Bonaparte, and was one of the—if not the one—oldest Volunteers present.
“Our comrade, Mr George Hattersley,” was toasted with musical honours and
great cheering by the whole company. During the evening Captain Ferrand
gave some very interesting and laughable anecdotes about his military
experiences, especially as a Cavalryman during the Plug-drawing and
Chartist Riots. He told us that his uncle, Major Ferrand, had commanded
the Bingley corps of Volunteers, and Captain Ellis, of Bingley, the
Keighley detachment. The time had come to pass, however, when they had
exchanged places, Captain Ellis being placed in charge of the Bingley
section, and he (Captain Busfeild Ferrand) taking the place of his uncle
at Keighley. The Captain went on to tell us how he had a military “head”
when he was a boy, and caused roars of laughter by saying he had
frequently bestridden a donkey grazing in the field, and set off on the
“war path,” imagining himself some great general. Throughout, the
proceedings were almost inconceivably brilliant and enjoyable, and it was
well after the “wee short hour beyont the twal” when the National Anthem
was sung.


The first field day the Keighley Volunteers had was at York. We formed
part of the West Riding Battalion, and the object of the gathering was a
grand review by the Duke of Cambridge. Unfortunately the day was a very
wet one, and, in consequence, the review turned out a failure. In those
days the Volunteers were not provided with great coats, and a torrential
downpour soon wet every man to the skin. Reviewing under these conditions
would have been decidedly uncomfortable and unsatisfactory; consequently,
the whole battalion was dismissed, and told to seek shelter in the best
places they could find. The Keighley detachment went in batches into the
city. Drill-Sergeant Chick would have me to go with him into the nearest
tavern. The drill-sergeant was a remarkable man in his way, and over a
glass of ale he declared, with an unblushing countenance, that he had
been in some parts of the world where it had rained ten times heavier for
twelve months at a time than it was doing that day. Of course, I, in my
modesty kept quiet, and did not challenge the veracity of the statement
of this wonderful man. Yes; there were some “fine” boys among the
Volunteers in those days. We had some very popular non-commissioned
officers who were very kind to us, which made it a pleasure to serve
under them.


The next review was at Doncaster, shortly afterwards, when the day was
about as hot as it was wet on the occasion of the abandoned review at
York. The commissariat was ample for every man, but it was generally
thought that an improvement might have been effected by substituting
something for the “cayenne pies,” _alias_ pork pies. Each man had a lb.
pork pie and two pints of beer allowed. The pies were hotly peppered, and
we all declared that they would have given a dog the hydrophobia. Then
the pint pots for drinking ran short—a cruel occurrence on a hot and dry
day. Only half-a-dozen of these drinking utensils fell to the Keighley
detachment, and they fell into the hands of six of the “smartest” lads in
the whole corps—Privates Billy Bentley, Jack Thom, John Hargreaves, Ned
Thretten, Jack Wilkinson, and Long Stanhope. I, for one, badly wanted to
quench my thirst, but was unable to do so, for the above-mentioned six
brave soldiers stuck to their guns—that is, their pint pots, manfully,
and there was no prospect of a drink until they had fairly “put the dust
down.” At last, however, I managed to get a pot, but had it taken from me
as I was drinking. Captain Thomas Blakey went up to Private Bentley and
asked, “Are you a married man, Bentley?” “Yes,” replied Bentley. “Have
you got any family?” “I have,” said Bentley. “Well,” said Captain Blakey,
“you’d better take a dozen of these pies home to your children.” “Does ta
want me ta give ’em t’ hydrophobia? Why, I wodn’t give ’em ta t’ cat!”
But at this stage “Fall in” was sounded. The parade went through with
satisfaction, and the review was as much a success as that at York was a
failure. General McMurdoch was the Commander-in-chief, and he specially
commended the Keighley corps for the march past and volley-firing, and
said his comments would be forwarded to the proper quarter.


The time came round for the respective regiments taking part in the
review to turn their faces homeward. The detachments from the Keighley
and Bradford districts entrained together. Every man was crying out of
thirst, and at Normanton one of the officers, belonging to Skipton, had
the train stopped. How we blessed him for it! We detrained in a body, and
rushed to the big pump on the platform (used to fill the locomotive
boilers). The water was turned on, and, besides quenching his thirst on
the spot, each Volunteer filled his water-bottle. This was a “movement”
which took some time to execute; and it was, I must say, very considerate
of the station officials to allow us to spend so much time to have a
cheap drink. Major W. L. Marriner and Quartermaster Barber Hopkinson (of
whom I shall have something further to say afterwards) were with us, both
doing their best to pacify their men until they could have their thirst
slaked. Quartermaster Hopkinson “had his hands full” in looking after his
“boys.” Well, the soldiers, having all got their bottles filled with
water, re-entered the train, and the journey forward to Keighley was
accomplished without further incident calling for notice.


When the Volunteers reached home there was the inevitable reaction—the
“review” men had “a drink at t’heead on ’t,” and another, and another;
and for two or three days they were to be seen straggling about the
streets. There was one disagreeable incident that occurred to mar the
pleasant termination of the review, locally considered. That was the
dismissal of Drill-sergeant Chick from the regiment at the instance of
Captain Leper, who was the adjutant for the Bradford and Keighley
divisional corps. The drill-sergeant’s offence consisted, it appeared, in
“speaking when not spoken to.” I have previously made mention that the
Keighley corps were complimented by the commanding officer for their
march past and volley-firing. When making his remarks, General McMurdock
wanted to know the name of the corps. Captain Leper (a Bradfordian)
replied, “Bradford, sir.” Sergeant Chick, in his enthusiasm, and knowing
that they were his own men who were alluded to, shouted, “No, sir; it’s
Keighley.” This “flagrant misconduct” on the part of a subordinate
incensed Captain Leper—this was seen by the “wicked” impression on the
captain’s face—who was not long in telling poor Chick that he had been
dismissed the regiment. This was a hard blow to the drill-sergeant, who
had drilled his men so that they marched as one man; but, to Captain
Leper’s credit, let it be said that he subsequently endeavoured to get
Sergeant Chick re-instated. The dismissal, however had gone through the
oracle of the Horse Guards, and to withdraw was impossible. Captain Leper
then found employment for him at Bradford in looking after the
orderly-room, &c., and with his remuneration from this source, and a
small army pension, the ex-drill-sergeant managed to live in comparative


Volunteering at Keighley went on in its own quiet and peaceful way. I
might, perhaps, mention one incident which took place while the Keighley
companies were drilling in the old Showfield one Saturday afternoon.
Lieutenant (or Ensign, I forget which for the moment) Joseph Craven, of
Steeton, was in charge of a squad of us. Now, Mr Craven was somewhat
corpulent—there was no mistake about that, and marching about under a hot
sun was clearly not accomplished without great exertion and copious
perspiration. The members of the squad soon comprehended the position in
which their drill-master was, and they determined to give him “quick
march.” When he gave the order “Quick march!” from the front, the “boys”
did march to some tune. Their commander soon found it necessary to step
from the front, and he was left a good distance behind. But he soon
discovered their little “game,” and proved himself “quite up to their
trick.” By calling out “halt” at intervals, he found himself able to keep
up fairly well with the men. In his next drills he was considerately
allowed by Captain Busfeild Ferrand to go about on horseback. Mr Craven
was known among us as a very genial and sociable officer, and he enjoyed
the respect and esteem of those under him. There were circumstances,
however, which caused his retirement from the Volunteer corps, after a
comparatively short service.



The Keighley corps, along with the battalion of which it formed a part,
and many other regiments from various parts of the country, were next
ordered to Dover, to take part in a gigantic review there. In all there
would be about 30,000 troops gathered, these including both Regulars and
Volunteers of all grades and classes. His Majesty the King of the
Belgians was to be present at the review. The Keighley contingent left
the town on the Saturday morning before one Easter-Monday, and finally
arrived at St. Pancras at 11 o’ clock at night. We marched to the
barracks of the Surrey Volunteers, who gave us a right loyal and warm
reception, and, indeed, showed us the most extreme kindness throughout
our stay with them; and this good feeling between the Surrey Rifles and
the Keighley Rifles has, I believe, been continued down to the present
moment. Captain Irving evinced a deep interest in us, and he remained
with us until a late (or early) retiring-hour, amusing us with his
Cockney yarns. In the morning we took part in a


It was a pleasant Sunday morning, and I was out of the barracks early,
taking a few miles’ walk. I was back in readiness for the parade, which
saw us at the Abbey in good time, and we were permitted to look through
the beautiful edifice, and admire and reverence the interesting national
mementoes within its walls. We took our seats in time for the service.
Dean Stanley was the preacher, and I regarded it a fine treat to have the
privilege of listening to such an eloquent sermon as the Dean delivered
on “The Passover.” I must confess that there were certain passages in the
rev. gentleman’s discourse which I could not fairly understand; but,
perhaps that was owing a great deal to my attention being centred
elsewhere. Opposite me sat an elderly gentleman, clean shaven, with
close-cut side whiskers. This gentleman was very attentive to the sermon,
and likewise to his Prayer-book. Sergeant Midgley (who is at present in
Keighley), a fellow-Volunteer, whispered in my ear, “Do you know that old
gentleman across the aisle?” “No,” replied I. He told me he was no less a
personage than Mr Jefferson Davis, Ex-president of the Confederate States
of America. Instantly my mind was involuntarily set a-thinking about the
American Civil War, and its four years of human butchery—all brought
about by this man in front of me who was now coolly listening to the word
of God! However, the service was over, and the Volunteers filed out of
the church and marched to the strains of their drum and fife band, which
played rollicking tunes to the delight of the rollicking Yorkshiremen.
When we got in front of the Bank of England, Captain Allan Brown
(commanding the Keighley detachment) halted and dismissed us until seven
in the evening.


We broke up into parties. Billy Bentley, John Walton, Thomas Ackroyd,
William Brown, and Ben Atkinson were in the party which I joined. Bentley
had served as a policeman in London, and knew his way about the
metropolis fairly well; Ackroyd had worked as a tailor in the big city,
and I myself had been there before; so that we were able to find our way
about very well. We went through St. Paul’s Cathedral, and then on to
Trafalgar Square, passing, on our way, through St. James’ Park, just
outside of which we saw the cluster of monuments to the Crimean heroes
who fought for “England’s home and beauty.” We also visited the Duke of
Wellington’s house, and spent a short time in Hyde Park. Having viewed
the extensive block of buildings comprising Buckingham Palace, we passed
into Regent-street and here the party broke up.


It was here that I met with Mr Frederick Carrodus, brother of the eminent
violinist, Mr John Tiplady Carrodus, who, by the way, paid a visit to his
native town of Keighley a few weeks ago. Mr Fred Carrodus had with him a
gentleman whom he introduced to me as Mr Hermann, pianoforte
manufacturer, and to whom I was introduced by Mr Carrodus as Bill o’ th’
Hoylus End, the Yorkshire poet. For four or five hours we were bosom
friends and comrades, as it were. Mr Hermann knew his way about London to
perfection, and he took me to many places “to see what I could see.” He
had always his hands down to pay, telling me that he would treat the
Yorkshire poet as long as he was with him; and that he did. It was
tolerably late at night when Mr Carrodus and Mr Hermann and I said _au
revoir_ to one another. I made my way as quickly as possible to the
Surrey barracks, and my hurried journey must have caused no little wonder
and alarm in the minds of the easy-going Londoners whom I met and passed.
Seven o’clock was the time when I should have been in the barracks but it
was much after that hour. However, an explanation to Captain Brown set
matters right.


Next morning, about four o’clock, the bugle sounded the _reveille_ and
soon after we were all in marching order. We proceeded by an early train
on the Chatham and Dover Railway, and by nine o’clock in the morning had
reached our destination—Dover. It was, I think, one of the coldest and
most miserable mornings I ever experienced. The sea was very rough, the
waves lashing on the roadway; and the rain came down in torrents. During
the night there had been such a storm in the Channel, the natives said,
that had not been equalled for half-a-century. The whole of the soldiers
were paraded on the Esplanade, but they were again and again forced back
from the edge of the shore, until there was really no room to pile arms.
General Lindsay saw the situation, and came riding up with several
officers, with whom he held a sort of council of war. Before they had
arrived at a decision, the waves had come over the beach and dashed right
up to where the soldiers were standing. “It’s no use,” said General
Lindsey, “this review is a forlorn hope—I must dismiss the parade.” He
then gave the whole of the Volunteers orders to dismiss until three
o’clock in the afternoon. The men dispersed in various directions, and
just as they had got pretty nearly cleared away, up rode the Duke of
Cambridge and Prince Arthur (now Duke of Connaught). The two Royal
personages drew up in front of a large hotel, and out of curiosity I
remained standing by. The Duke was in a very angry mood, and demanded to
know who had dismissed the parade. Upon this, General Lindsey made his
appearance in the doorway of the hotel, and, addressing the Duke of
Cambridge, said:—“Your Royal Highness,—Owing to the severe inclemency of
the weather, I have thought fit to dismiss the parade until three o’clock
in the afternoon.” “You had no business to do such a thing,” the Duke
hotly replied. “It will be a failure, and His Majesty the King of Belgium
will be disappointed. Send out your _aid-de-camp_ to bring everyone
in—never mind the weather.” The storm was still raging. I noticed a
couple of steamers in the offing. They were coming from France, and the
passengers were Volunteers who had been in that country since Saturday.
The vessels could be seen buffeting with the waves, and it was noticed
that the funnels of the steamers were missing, having, as we afterwards
learned, been blown away by the violent wind and heavy sea. It was about
this period that a small vessel—a gunboat, I think it was—the “Ferret,”
was driven on the rocks in front of the Castle, and dashed to pieces. The
crew managed to get off by the boats. For a time it was believed that a
boy on the boat had been lost, but he was subsequently rescued. After
much delay the two steamers were able to land the Volunteers, who told a
terrible tale of their rough voyage across the Channel.


In the meantime, the Duke of Cambridge was “drilling” General Lindsey for
dismissing the troops. Wise, perhaps, in my generation, I stole away on
hearing the General instructed to re-collect the troops, and got into the
back quarters of the town. I finally found myself in a tavern kept by an
old cobbler, and he allowed me to dry my soaked uniform. Through a window
in the house I could watch the movements of the troops who had been got
together again. Soon after dinner there was a calm in the weather; the
rain ceased and the sun came out.


I could see regiment after regiment ascend the Heights of Dover. Now, a
battalion of “stragglers” was being formed, so, after having partaken of
refreshment, I emerged from my lair. I found a trooper in waiting at the
end of the passage, and he ordered me to double to and fall in quick or
he would “prick” me. I joined the “stragglers.” We climbed the Heights
together, and then each man joined his own regiment. While all this was
going on sailors from vessels anchored in the harbour had been dragging
big guns up the heights; and, in fact, the preparations that were made
favoured the idea that a real engagement was about to take place. When
all was in readiness


was given. There was a tremendous cannonading, which would be heard for
some distance. Then there were movements by the cavalry soldiers, who, in
their charges, trampled down hedges, corn and, in truth, everything that
came in their way. This did really seem to me a ruthless and
unjustifiable proceeding. The manœuvres concluded with volley-firing by
the respective companies of the various regiments. General McDonald gave
the Keighley Volunteers great praise for their efficiency in
volley-firing. The sham fight lasted over three hours, and was witnessed
with apparent interest by the King of Belgium and his staff. At the
conclusion, each regiment went in its own direction. The Keighley
contingent returned to the Surrey barracks, arriving about 10 o’clock at
night. We found a grand banquet awaiting us, and this, I need scarcely
say, was very welcome after a truly hard day’s work. The repast was
succeeded by an entertainment, at which there were vocal and instrumental
music, and readings and recitations, by several of the Keighley
representatives and the Surrey officers. Captain Irving gave readings in
the Cockney dialect, which immensely amused the Yorkshiremen. The Haworth
Drill-sergeant recited “Cockhill Moor Snake,” and Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End
gave “Jack o’ th’ Syke Hill” and “Come, nivver dee i’ thi shell, owd
lad,”—the latter of which our townsman, Squire Leach, publicly recited on
his marriage day, and a few verses of which I am tempted to introduce

   “Come, nivver dee i’ thi shell, owd lad,”
     Are words but rudely said,
   Tho’ they may cheer some stricken heart,
     Or raise some wretched head;
   For they are words ah love,
     They’re music to mi ear;
   They muster up fresh energy
     To chase each doubt an’ fear.

   Nivver dee i’ thi shell, owd lad,
     Tho’ some may laugh an’ scorn;
   Ther’ wor nivver a neet afore ta neet
     But what ther come a morn.
   An’ if blind fortune’s used thee bad,
     Sho’s happen noan so meean;
   To morn’ll come, an’ then for some
     T’ sun’ll shine ageean.

   Nivver dee i’ thi shell, owd lad,
     But let thi motto be—
   “Onward!” an’ “Excelsior!”
     An’ try for t’ top o’ t’ tree;
   An’ if thy enemies still pursue
     (Which ten ta one they will),
   Show ’em, owd lad, thou’rt doing weel,
     An’ climbin’ up the hill.

Very pleasant hours were those spent with the Surrey Volunteers that
night in spite of our tired and wearied condition. Next day we returned
to Keighley, only to find that after our week’s absence the town had not
altered very much!


We had found the Surrey Volunteers possessed a very good dramatic class
and a pretty little theatre in the barracks. This led to the formation of
a similar organisation at Keighley, and among the members of the society
were Sergeant Atty, Private Thomas Ackroyd, Corporal Colley, Sergeant
William Brown, Private John Walton, Sergeant Roddy, and Corporal Wright
(_alias_ Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End). We got a stage erected in the Drill
Hall, and purchased a drop-scene (in the centre of which was worked in
silk a representation of the coat of arms of the Cavendish family), and
all the necessary accessories. This was all done “on strap.” For our
first performance we gave the comedy “Time tries all,” and there was a
large and influential gathering, including Mr Birkbeck, banker, of
Settle, and party. Mr Birkbeck afterwards invited the society to repeat
the performance at his residence. The proceeds of our first entertainment
were £14, and performances on two other nights brought the sum up to £40.
It was not long before we had raised £80 and this was sufficient to
discharge all expenses incurred in erecting and fitting up the stage,
purchasing costumes, &c. The society continued to prosper. Military plays
were generally chosen for representation, such as “The Roll of the drum”
and “The Deserter.” At last, certain difficulties arose which sealed the
doom of the society, and the organisation soon dropped into decay. The
stage, &c., were allowed to remain, and the hall was let to travelling
theatricals and other companies. The dramatic society and the reviews
which the Volunteers occasionally attended at London, York, Doncaster and
Liverpool all tended to make my connection with the Volunteer corps very
pleasant and enjoyable; and I can truly say that in those days it was
regarded a great privilege to be a Volunteer. My membership of the
Keighley corps extended over fourteen years, and would not then have been
severed but for my removal to Bradford. Perhaps I may wind up my
Volunteering history with a few verses which I penned on the death of
Captain Irving of the Surrey Volunteers:—

   Gone is poor Irving, the brave Volunteer—
   The soldier, the man, is now on his bier;
   He was with you all round, as well as the ranks,
   Full of wit, and good humour, and frolicsome pranks.

   He could mimic the Cockney at home or abroad,
   He could shoulder a rifle or handle a sword;
   His word of command would put you all right;
   He could talk to a stranger from morning to night.

   But, alas! he is gone, and we now mourn his loss,
   For he’s gi’en up his sword at the foot of the Cross.
   And if there’s an army wherever he’s gone,
   We know that brave Irving is second to none.



During my service in the Volunteer corps, I had my ups and downs in
connection with securing that employment which is necessary for one’s
maintenance. I gave up my work at Mr Edwin Hattersley’s, warp-dresser,
North Brook Mills, and took it into my head that I should like to be a
policeman—a real policeman _a la _my friend, Mr James Leach. I learned
that Colonel Cobb, the Chief Constable of the West Riding Constabulary,
was on a visit to Mr Murgatroyd, a magistrate, at Bingley, and
accordingly went over to the Throstle-nest of old England for the purpose
of an interview with the Colonel. I was introduced into the Colonel’s
presence, and stated my errand. Colonel Cobb plied me with questions as
to my former career, and when I told him I had been in the Army he wanted
to know if I had any references; he particularly wanted to know whether I
had risen from the ranks. I told him that I had a good “character” from
the colonel of my late regiment, and also that I had worked my way up
from a private’s position to that of a provo-sergeant. Whereupon the old
gentleman said he thought I was a very likely fellow for a policeman, and
promised that if I called upon him in a few months I should in all
probability be taken on. In the intervening period of waiting my mind
underwent a change. I thought it would be safest to have “two strings to
my bow;” so, having a hankering after a position as guard on the railway
(intending, of course, to commence as a porter) I wrote to the Midland
Railway Company at Derby, asking if they had a situation for me at
Keighley. I got a reply inquiring for references. Then I went to my
cousin, Mr James Wright, the manager for Messrs Butterfield Bros.,
Prospect Mill. While willing to give me a “character,” my cousin strongly
advised me to accept neither situation, as he felt that it would not suit
me. I should, he said, want to be more at liberty than I should be in
either of the positions I intended taking up. He expressed his
willingness to find me employment in the mill. I went home and “discussed
the out-look.” The upshot was that I decided to let the police force and
the railway do without me, and I commenced to work with my brothers, who,
in a building in Heber-street, did warpdressing for Messrs Butterfield. I
stuck to the work for a short time, and then, with the temptation of more
wages, I went back to my old position at Messrs Lund’s, North Beck Mills.
I remember when I was about to leave the Heber-street establishment I was
much taunted by two of the foremen, who would have it that I was going to
Lund’s mill because Mr James Lund was about to give the employees a trip
to, and a treat at, his residence, Malsis Hall. On the face of it, it did
appear as though their playful accusation was correct, as the great
function was to come off in a week’s time.


Great were the preparations that were made for the affair, which was on
nearly everybody’s tongue. The spinning and weaving trade was at that
time in a very brisk condition, and peace and plenty appeared to reign
triumphant. At last, the great day arrived:—

   The day wor fine, the sun did shine,
     No signs o’ rain to fall
   When t’ North Beck hands, i’ jovial bands,
     Did visit Malsis Hall.

   Up by the hill o’ North Beck Mill,
     Both owd an’ young did meet;
   To march, I trow, i’ two-by-two
     I’ procession down the street.

   An’ Marriner’s band, wi’ music grand,
     Struck up wi’ all ther might;
   Then one an’ all, both great an’ small,
     Marched on wi’ great delight.

Arrived at Keighley Station, the large party took possession of a special
train which was in waiting, and were safely conveyed to Crosshills.

   This jovial band, when they did land,
     Got off the train so hearty,
   For they all went wi’ that intent—
     To have a grand tea-party!

   Then to the place, each smiling face,
     Moved on in grand succession.
   The lookers-on did say, “Well done!
     It is a grand procession.”

The “grand procession” passed into the park, and up to Malsis Hall. A
hymn was lustily sung, and then the people were free to ramble about the
grounds to their hearts’ content. Gaily-coloured flags and bunting were
displayed in profusion, and with the additional charm of the “pleasing
sounds of music creeping into their ears” the quondam mill-workers could
well imagine themselves permitted to spend a brief interval in a very
paradise. But when the time for the “real” part of the feast was come, lo
and behold! there was a great disaster—

   All but one sort o’ bread ran short,
      but it wor no fault o’ t’ maister.
   O! Caterer; thy bread an’ bun
      An’ judgement they were scanty;
   O! what a shame, an’ what a name
      For not providing plenty.

   O! Billy Brown thou might have known
      To eyt each one wor able,
   The country air did mak’ some swear—
      They could ommost eyt a table!

Despite this slight “hitch,” we all “made the best of it,” and succeeded
in enjoying ourselves until the evening, when the closure was
unceremoniously applied to the proceedings by a heavy thunderstorm:—

   The atmosphere’s no longer clear,
      The clouds are black an’ stormy;
   Then all the comp’ny away did run
      Like one deserting army.

   Like some fast steed, wi’ all its speed,
      All seemed as they wor flying;
   To escape the rain, an’ catch the train
      Both old an’ young wor trying.

The people got into the train all right, and travelled safely to

   All satisfied wi’ their short ride’
      But sorry for the rain.


The above verses are included in a piece I wrote in celebration of the
trip. It was about this period I began to spend a good deal of time in
writing doggerel and rhyme for publication in the local press. Many of my
“efforts” took the form of satires upon defaulting gentlemen—men who, I
thought, should be held up to public ridicule and censure. I placed
myself at the service of the people, and was always ready to show up
their wrongs under my motto, “Right against Might.” For my pains in that
direction I was often boycotted, and occasionally brought before the
magistrates. In the latter case, an indirect charge was invariably
brought against me in order that certain individuals might take “revenge
out of me.” But I flatter myself that I had as often a friend behind me
to save me from “durance vile.” On one occasion I was hauled up for
refusing to quit the old Crown Inn, Church Green. I had occasion to go to
the place where, it seemed, there had been a row a few minutes
previously; indeed, I met several men in the passage who had taken part
in the row and were being turned out. I made my way forward and took a
seat in the tap-room. Before I had been seated many minutes a policeman
came in and charged me with refusing to quit the public-house when
ordered to do so. I endeavoured to convince “Robert” that I had not taken
part in the row, and that I had never been asked to quit; but I soon
found what a hopeless task I had set myself in trying to “convince a
policeman against his will.” On the following Friday I was hauled up
before the magistrates. I defended myself as best I could, but was told
by the presiding magistrate that I was nothing but an “impudent
scoundrel.” However, the charge against me—preferred by a policeman, and
supported by no other witness—was considered proved by the Bench, who
mulcted me in a fine of 10s and costs. Greatly incensed at the verdict,
but more especially at the manner in which the chairman of the Bench had
“sat upon” me, I resolved to take a course of action at the expense of
the gentleman mentioned. So the same afternoon, still smarting under a
sense of having been unfairly dealt with, I set to work with my pen, and
wrote a satire on the magistrate who took the most prominent part in
dealing with my case. By the dinner hour on the following day (Saturday)
I was in the market-place selling copies of the satire. People bought
with avidity, and before Saturday went out I had disposed of a thousand
copies at a penny each; which returns enabled me to pay the fine and then
make profit out of my prosecution.


My next effusion was partly in verse and partly in prose, and was
entitled, “The Rules and Regulations of the Henpecked Club.” This club
was connected with the Agricultural Society’s Show, and made its
existence felt on the Show Day only. At the time of which I write, the
Keighley Agricultural Show was about one of the finest shows in the
country. The townspeople, then, took some pride in their show. The public
thoroughfare from Church Green along Skipton-road to the Showfield was
decorated in a gorgeous fashion. Flags, streamers, and bunting, with
scores of appropriate mottoes and devices, were numerously in evidence,
and trees were planted on each side of the road and decked with all sorts
of fairy lamps. Yes; those were the good old days of the Keighley Show;
thousands of people flocked from all parts of a not very limited area to
attend the annual event. But the principal thoroughfares of the town were
not the only places which received attention at the hands of the
decorators, for the residents of such places as the Pinfold went in for
their own particular local celebration of the Show Day. On one occasion I
saw a stuffed donkey with a dummy rider on its back, swinging on a rope
opposite the Bay Horse Inn. The donkey, which was the source of intense
delight to the younger section of the populace, was the property of one
Harry Barwick, a tanner by trade. Not far from here—in old Bridge-street,
now known as Mill-street—was to be seen a large picture, containing the
portraits, rudely executed by myself as artist to the club, of some forty
members of the Henpecked Club. The spectacle was of the most laughable
description. There was also displayed a gigantic cradle, large enough to
hold the biggest person in the world in case of emergency. The cradle was
supposed to be used on the occasion of a member of the club being found
guilty of ill-treating his wife. The cradle was made by a practical wag,
known as Billy Bradley, who attended to it every Show Day. When there was
a clean sheet of actual offenders, Bradley contented himself with
“rocking” men who volunteered just for the fun of the thing. Finish was
imparted to the performance by a fiddler, named Smith Keighley, playing
“Rock’d in the cradle of the deep” during the operation. Many were the
visitors who came to see the stirrings in this corner of the town. I
remember the late Mr John Sugden, of Eastwood House, coming up in his
carriage to see the fun and frolic, which were practically the sole
objects of the Henpecked Club. On one occasion there was exhibited a
picture, almost as large as a stage scene, representing a trial in the
Henpecked Club,—a wife charging her spouse, before the President, with
neglect of family duty. The counts of the charge were supposed to
be—refusing to wash-up, black-lead, clean his wife’s boots, put the
clothes-line out, and last, but not least, refusing to take his wife her
breakfast upstairs. I recollect one remarkable and unrehearsed incident
which happened in connection with the club on one Show Day. A man of the
name of Shackleton had joined the club, and his wife was so disgusted
that she was almost “wild.” Before the scores of people who had assembled
she protested “Ahr Jack isn’t henpecked, an’ ah weant hev him henpecked.”
It was, she said, just the opposite—she who had been henpecked. Just as
Mrs S. was concluding her harangue a waggonette drove up, and all the
members of the club got into it in readiness for a drive round the town
“for the benefit of the Order,” as one of them amusingly put it. This
Shackleton was among those who entered the conveyance, but no sooner had
he taken his seat than his wife went up to him and seized him firmly by
the hair of the head, exclaiming, “Come aat, er Ah’ll let ’em see whether
tha’s henpecked er no.” She stuck to her spouse with such a tight
fondness that he was soon obliged to come out of the waggonette.
Shackleton took the incident quite good humouredly, and seemed to enjoy
the mirth-provoking situation with as much zest as the crowd of people
who were standing by. And this was a sample of the carryings-on in the
days of the old Keighley Show. But, alas! there came a day of trouble to
the people. In the period preceding one year’s show an epidemic of
small-pox broke out in the town and the show had to be abandoned.
Unfortunately that proved the deathblow of the old Agricultural Society.



The agitation for a School Board for Keighley in 1875 was strongly
opposed by many of the ratepayers. Both Liberals and Tories were seeking
office, and there was a third party which entered into the fray. The Tory
party said they would run seven of the nine candidates; the Liberals
claimed to run the whole nine; so this third party came up to the scratch
and said they would run three candidates for the sole purpose of
splitting the votes. The names of those who composed this little party
were Joseph Fieldhouse, Bill Spink, “Little” Barnes, Adam Moore, James
Leach, Dick Royston and myself. Our meetings were held in Bill Spink’s
little cobbler’s shop. There was no very great interest taken in the
election by the public until a certain incident happened. Mr Walter
McLaren (M.P. for Crewe) and I often met together at Mr Amos Appleyard’s
printer’s shop in Church Green on business connected with election
literature. On one occasion I went to the printer’s, and during the few
minutes’ waiting before I received attention, I had an opportunity of
perusing the “copy” for a bill which Mr McLaren had just previously
brought in to print. The bill was to call a _private_ meeting of Liberals
at the Albion Hall to select candidates. Seeing a chance for a good,
though, perhaps, unwarrantable “lark,” I altered the word “private” to
_public_ and, when Mr Appleyard came to attend to me, handed the bill to
him and asked him to print it as a poster. He had delivered the bills to
me the same night, and I had them posted, with the result that, instead
of a hole-and-corner meeting, there was a crowded audience of mixed
political opinions. The Liberal leaders were completely non-plussed. The
people were asked what business they had in the hall, and were ordered to
leave. But they said they had attended by public request, and refused to
budge. The proceedings relapsed into a state of confusion, and no
business whatever could be done. However this meeting served one good
purpose, for it enlisted the interest of the public in the election. The
election day at last arrived—March 31st. 1875—and it was found that two
of our three candidates (Joseph Fieldhouse and Adam Moore) had been
returned; Dick Royston being just thrown. This was the general rule at
all the local elections: our little band of “conspirators” were pretty
sure to return their candidates, or a good majority of them. Eventually
Mr James Leach “put up,” and he was elected to nearly every public body
in the town; and this through the agency of the party I have mentioned.
At this time great interest was taken in many of the elections, notably
that of the Local Board.


For a time my connection with Keighley was severed as I went to reside at
Bradford. During my stay I became mixed up with literary characters—Mr J.
O. Mee, editor of the _Bradford Observer_; Mr Joseph White, author of a
volume of poems and several prose works, and others. I made weekly
contributions to the literary column of the _Observer_. I may mention
that many of my best productions date from this period, when I was
occupying a cellar cottage in Croft-street, Bradford. Perhaps the Editor
will pardon me for introducing my verses, entitled “Joe Hobble; or, fra
Howorth to Bradferth”:—

   Fra Howorth tahn the other day,
     Bi t’ route o’ Thornton height,
   Joe Hobble an’ his better hawf
     Went into Bradferth straight.

   Nah Joe i’ Bradferth were afore,
     But sho hed nivver been;
   But hahsumivver they arrived
     Safe inta t’ Bowling Green.

   They gave a lad a parkin pig,
     As on the street they went,
   Ta point ’em aat St. George’s Hall
     An’ Oastler’s Monument.
   But t’little jackanape being deep,
     An’ thinking they’d nivver knaw,
   Show’d Joseph Hobble an’ his wife
     T’ first monument he saw.

   As sooin as Joe gat up ta t’ rail,
     His een blazed in his heead,
   Exclaimin’ they mud just as weel
     Ha’ goan an’ robb’d the deead.

   But whoivver’s ta’en them childer dahn,
     Away fra poor owd Dick,
   Desarves his heead weel larapin’
     Wi’ a dahn gooid hazel stick.

   T’ lad, seein’ Joe froth at t’ mouth,
     He sooin tuke ta his heels;
   For asteead o’ Oastler’s Monument,
     He’d shown ’em Bobby Peel’s!


It was while in Bradford that I wrote the drama entitled, “The Wreck of
the Bella; or, the Life and Adventures of Roger Tichborne.” The drama,
which was revised by an old Bradford actor, was written for my friend Joe
Gledhill’s benefit. Joe and a company which he got together played the
drama at the Drill Hall, Keighley, and the performance turned out a great
success. I had not intended any use for my production beyond for Joe
Gledhill’s benefit, but he and his company, finding how it “caught on,”
performed it up and down the district. But its fate was soon sealed, for
while it was being played at Lancaster, I received an edict from the Lord
Chamberlain to withdraw the drama from the boards under pain of a heavy
penalty, as the last trial of the Tichborne case was pending at the time.


Returning to Keighley, I turned my pen to writing for a comic annual,
which I had brought out under the title of “The Haworth, Cowenheead, and
Bogthorn Almenak.” This I produced for several years, its contents
consisting of rhymes and local dialect sketches. I also started a monthly
paper called, “The Keighley Investigator.” After the first issue I
enrolled on my staff Theophilus Hayes, a gentleman well known in the
town, who assumed the editorship of the journal. He wrote the leading
articles, while I supplied the comic matter, satires, dialect letters,
&c. The periodical had enjoyed an eight months’ existence when,
unfortunately, my worthy friend, Mr Hayes, was served with a writ for
libel. He was summoned to Leeds Assizes, and although the paper engaged
eminent counsel (Mr Wheelhouse, Q.C., M.P.), we lost our case, and had to
pay a fine of £50 and costs. Mr Hayes underwent a night’s incarceration
in Armley Gaol, but next morning I managed to secure his release by
paying the fine and all costs. The libel action was, I must say, taken
with an object by a party of Liberals, through a certain auctioneer in
the town. The fact was that the paper was too “hot” to live amongst the
mighty men of Keighley. These times were very eventful ones to the town
in many ways, particularly in regard to libel actions, for at each of
five or six successive Assizes there was a libel case from Keighley—a
circumstance which caused the Judge to remark on one occasion that
Keighley ought to be called “The City of Libels.” I next turned my
attention to writing my celebrated work, “T’History o’th’ Haworth
Railway.” I say “celebrated” because the pamphlet ran through so many
editions, about 100,000 copies in all, being sold. With the returns I was
placed in clover; and now that I look back to the time, I appeared to
have money for any purpose except saving it. In collaboration with a
young man named Benjamin Hopkinson, son of the late Mr Barber Hopkinson,
surveyor of this town, I subsequently undertook the production of “The
Keighley Spectator.” The paper went on nicely for eleven months, its
circulation and our revenue increasing greatly. We had for some time
received articles for insertion from a Nonconformist parson in the town,
the Rev Mr Gray. The contributions, being on subjects foreign to our
non-political and non-sectarian principles, had almost invariably been
rejected, until the writer appealed to the printer, who was the
proprietor of the paper, and happened to be one of the parson’s “flock.”
The proprietor told Ben and I it was no use—we must insert the Rev Mr
Gray’s articles. Now, Ben and I were convinced that to publish that
gentleman’s contributions would be to kill the journal, but the
proprietor was firm, and so, as a protest, we resigned our positions as
joint-editors. The parson was put in to edit the paper, and when the next
number, under his hand, was issued, it was seen that the paper had
travelled from Africa to Iceland, as it were—its contents were so cold
and watery. This, the first under the Rev. Mr Gray’s editorship, proved
the last issue of the “Spectator.”


In the years 1875–6 the town—and, indeed, the whole country—was greatly
interested in the conduct of the Keighley Board of Guardians with respect
to the Vaccination Acts. The Guardians refused to direct their medical
officer to enforce the Acts, and the Local Government Board finally
appealed to the Court of the Queen’s Bench for a mandamus against the
Guardians, to compel them to put the Vaccination Acts into force in the
Keighley district. The mandamus was granted, but the Guardians
persistently refused to obey it, and the consequence was that the Local
Government Board applied to the Queen’s Bench for a writ of attachment
against the eight members of the Board who had by their open votes defied
the law—Messrs R. A. Milner (chairman), J. B. Sedgwick, Titus Ogden, John
Jeffrey, Hezekiah Tempest, David Normington, James Newbould and Samuel
Johnson. Johnson afterwards promised obedience, and was released from the
attachment, which was granted by the Court of Queen’s Bench. I shall
never forget the “rumpus” there was on Friday, the 11th August, 1876,
when the High Sheriff and his officers came to Keighley to arrest the
Guardians mentioned. Thousands of people were in the streets. The
Sheriff’s officers secured the Guardians, and conveyed them to the
Devonshire Hotel. About 2 o’clock in the afternoon the Guardians came out
of the Devonshire yard in a conveyance, which, contrary to expectations,
proceed along North-street. It was originally the intention of the driver
to go to Bingley station, but fearing he would not have time for the
journey, he pulled up at Keighley station. Here both platforms were
besieged with demonstrative crowds. The train was missed, and the crowd
unyoked the horses from the conveyance. A number of mechanics seized the
shafts, and wheeled the vehicle with its occupants through the streets of
the town. Indescribable scenes took place. William Smith, an auctioneer,
who was suspected of complicity in the Sheriff’s operations, was badly
handled. Finally, the Sheriff hoisted a flag of truce, and the Guardians
announced that they had been granted another night’s freedom on condition
that they would leave quietly by train the next day. On Saturday the
seven martyrs proceeded to York Castle.



Much interest was taken, I remember, in the visit to Keighley of a social
and temperance reformer of the name of Captain John Ball. He had two
“lieutenants” with him, named Mountain and Roberts, both good at
“spouting.” Their meeting place was the old Independent chapel in Upper
Green, and the services drew large congregations, many people of various
denominations attending. The work went on very well for some time, and I
believe that a fair amount of good was done; but, unfortunately, Captain
Ball “could not stand his corn,” and—if Dame Rumour was to be
believed—frequently indulged in a “wee drappie,” and occasionally
overstepped the mark of moderation. Of course the people attending his
services made great capital out of the ugly rumours, and one and another
commenced to pull the “captain” in pieces. Now, I had all along
entertained a certain respect for Captain Ball, so I took it upon myself
to defend him, writing a pamphlet in which I gave prominence to the fact
that it was the aim of all religion to forget and forgive. The little
affair blew nicely over, and the congregation continued to hold together,
until John had another fall; and the climax was reached when he committed
himself for the fourth time by coming to Divine service “blind” drunk. On
this occasion one of his lieutenants, who accompanied him, was not
exactly sober. The incident reminds me of the old ballad:—

   Robin and Johnny were going down t’ street;
   They called at t’ first alehouse they chanced to meet.
   While Robin drank one glass, our Johnny drank two,
   An’ they both got a drunk as my granny’s old sow.

It was truly an awkward position for any man to be in. Captain Bell could
not make a defence, and he was excommunicated from the “Glory Band.”
Perhaps the following verses, extracted from my piece entitled “My Visit
to t’ Glory Band,” will give some idea of the incident. I paid my visit
in company with “Owd Jennet, t’ Ranter, fra Havercake-row”:—

   So they prayed, an’ they sang, i’ ther owd fashioned way,
   Until a gert chap says, “I’ve summat to say;”
   An’, bi t’heart, I’st a fallen dahn sick i’ mi pew,
   But I thowt at toan hawf he sed worn’t trew;
   Fer he charged Parson Ball wi’ bein’ drunk i’t’street,
   ’At he’d been put ta bed three times i’ one neet.

   “Does ta hear,” says owd Jennet, “what t’hullet is sayin’?
   He’s usin’ his scandal asteead o’ bein’ prayin’;
   Fer John Ball is respected by ivvery one,
   Soa I salln’t believe a word abaat John;
   Fer him an’ ahr Robin are two decent men,
   Soa pray yah nah hearken they’ll speak fer thersen.

   “Soa all wor nah silent,—they mud hear a pin fall;
   Fer nobody wor hissin’ or clappin’ at all.
   Scarce hed long Gomersall spun out his yarn—
   Wi’ his two blazin’ een he had scarcely sat dahn,
   Than John stood up on his pins in a minute;—
   An’ rare an’ weel pleased wor I an’ owd Jennet.

   “My brethren,” he sed, wi’ a tear in his ee,
   “You sall hear for yourselns my accusers an’ me,
   An’ if I be guilty—man’s liable ta fall
   As well as yer pastor an’ servant, John Ball;
   But let my accuser, if faults he hes noan,
   Be t’ first, an’ no other, ta throw the first stoan.

   “I’ve drunk wine an’ porter, I do not deny,
   But then my accusers hev not tell’d you why;
   So ther false accusation I feel it more keen,
   ’Cause I’ve hed the lumbago i’ both o’ my een;
   Besides, mi back warked as if it wor broke,
   An’ mi throit’s been so parched wol I thowt I sud choke.

   “I’ve been soa distracted, an’ handled soa bad,
   Wol I thowt monny a time I sud ommost goa mad;
   An’t’ doctor hes tell’d me ther wor noa other way
   Nobbut going ta Blackpool or else Morecambe Bay;
   An’ charged me ta mind, if I sat dahn to dine,
   Ta lig inta t’ porter, an’t’ brandy, an’t’ wine.

   “Soa nah, my accusers, what hev you ta say?
   You can reckon that up in yer awn simple way;
   But if ther’s a falsehood in what I hev sed nah,
   I wish mi new hat wod turn into a cah;
   So this is my answer, an’ this mi defence.”
   “Well done!” sed owd Jennet, “he’s spokken some sense.”

   Soa his speech nah he ended, but it touched ’em i’t’ wick,
   Fer we all could see plainly it wor nowt but a trick;
   And Jennet declared—tho’ she might be too rude—
   If he’d come up to t’ dinner he sud hev some home-brewed,
   Fer i’ spite o’ ther scandal sho wor praad on him yet,
   An’ if he drank wine an’ porter who’d owt ta do wi’ ’t.


It was on Shrove-Tuesday in the year 1862 (I think this is the number of
the year; unfortunately I did not keep a diary, and I have nothing but my
memory to go by) that I accompanied the late Mr Charles Bradlaugh, M.P.,
on a Secularist lecturing excursion to Sutton and Silsden. At Sutton Mr
Bradlaugh was well received by the Radicals of the village, who invited
him into a room, where they entertained him to some refreshment. Mr
Bradlaugh “pitched” in front of the Bay Horse Inn, speaking from a chair
which I had borrowed from the landlady of the inn. The subject of Mr
Bradlaugh’s lecture was “More pork and less prayer: more bacon and fewer
priests;” and I must confess that he dug his javelin with some vigour
into the parsons. The audience was for the most part composed of old men
and old women, who seemed delighted with the lecture, especially with the
thrusts at the “religious gentlemen.” One of the old women exclaimed that
they could do with some more bacon if they could get it, and fewer
parsons. There were, said she, quite plenty of parsons, there being two
of them in that district. At the close of the lecture I went round with
my cap, and collected a few shillings. Mr Bradlaugh then went down to
Silsden, and in the evening lectured on the same subject in the
Oddfellows’ Hall, which was crowded at a penny admission fee. Leaving
Silsden, we walked to Keighley—the railway not having yet been laid up
the valley. On the way I had many interesting bits of conversation with
the man who later in life was to create such a stir in the world—the man
who was first errand boy, then coal dealer, Sunday school teacher,
free-thought lecturer, soldier, solicitor’s clerk, and, finally, Member
of Parliament. The conversation ran mostly upon soldiering, Mr Bradlaugh
telling me that he had served for three years in the Dragoon Guards,
chiefly in Ireland. General Garibaldi also occupied a good part of our
talk. Mr Bradlaugh expressed great interest in the Italian patriot, and
said he intended to join the foreign legion which was being formed in
London to assist Garibaldi’s army and help him in his struggles. He
strongly pressed me to take a trip to sunny Italy for the same object,
and recited some verses which he had composed on Garibaldi. Mr Bradlaugh
dwelt very little indeed upon religious matters, only saying that if he
were “religious” he should be a Roman Catholic. Thus the time on our
journey from Silsden to Keighley sped very pleasantly. It was almost
midnight when we got into the town. While at Keighley, Mr Bradlaugh
stayed with Mr John Rhodes, who conducted a small temperance hotel in the
corner of the Market-place.


A good deal was made in the town out of an incident in which the watchman
at Calversyke Mills played a “heroic” part. It was this way. William
Binns, who lived at Calversyke Hill, just below the Reservoir Tavern,
occupied one of the top storey rooms in his house as a work-room for
wooden models, &c. One night he was cleaning up, and he burned the
shavings and rubbish in the fire place. There happened to be a strong
wind, and the sparks were wafted out of the chimney and over towards the
mills. The watchman noticed the sparks flying about, and “in the
execution of his duty,” informed the authorities of the matter, and Binns
was hauled before the magistrates, and fined 5s and costs. I may say that
in those days few persons summoned before the magistrates escaped a fine
or its equivalent. In this case the action of the watchman was generally
regarded as ridiculous. Now, Binns was an old friend of mine, we having
been on the stage together, and at his earnest solicitation I wrote a
satire with the title, “The ‘Heroic’ Watchman of Calversyke Hill,” from
which I take the following verses:—

   He swore by his maker the flames rose so high,
   That within a few yards, sir, it reached to the sky;
   And so greatly it lighted up mountains and dales,
   He could see into Ireland, Scotland and Wales!
   And so easily the commons did swallow his pill,
   That they fined the poor artist at Calversyke Hill.
   Now, there are some foolish people who are led to suppose
   It was by some shavings this fire first arose.
   “But yet,” says the ‘hero,’ “I greatly suspect
   This fire was caused by the grossest neglect.
   But I’m glad it’s put out, let it be as it will,”
   Says the “heroic” watchman of Calversyke Hill.
   So, many brave thanks to this “heroic” knave,
   For thousands of lives no doubt he did save;
   And but for this “hero” the disaster had spread
   And smothered the nation while sleeping in bed;
   But to save all His people it was the Lord’s will,
   Through the “heroic” watchman of Calversyke Hill!


This great dispute in the iron trade of Keighley, about the year 1871,
was known as the “ticket-of-leave” strike. The “Iron Lords” of Keighley
amalgamated and practised a system of boycotting upon their workpeople.
If a workman left one firm and took up with another, the latter would
enquire of the man’s late employers what were the reasons of his leaving,
&c. The reply took the form of a “Ticket,” sent under cover, of course,
and practically decided the fate of the workman. Containing as this
ticket usually did particulars as to the class to which the workman in
question belonged; as to the wages he was worth, &c., the scale of
ironworkers’ wages in the town got to an unbearably low ebb. The masters
held the full sway for a while; then the workpeople broke out in open
revolt against the pernicious system of their masters, and thus commenced
the great “ticket-of-leave” strike. Early in the dispute I was applied to
by the strike authorities to write and expose the unfair dealings of the
“Iron Lords” of Keighley, and on the first day of the strike I composed
several verses to go to the tune of the National Anthem. This was sung at
the first great meeting of the strikers held in the Temperance Hall. The
verses were as follow:—

   Men of the iron trade,
   Whose hands have England made
         Greater than all!
   How can you quietly stand
   With the chains on your hands?
   Hear you not through the land
         Liberty’s call?

   Long have you been the slaves
   Of these conniving knaves
         Now’s your relief.
   Swear you no longer will,
   Neither in shop nor mill,
   Tremble for pen or quill,
         Or ticket-of-leave!

   Strike while the iron’s hot,
   And let it not be forgot
         ’Tis sweet liberty.
   Stand like true Britons, then,
   Show you are Englishmen,
   Make your shouts ring again,
         “We will be free!”

This is only one of the many effusions I manufactured at the request of
the Strike Committee. I wrote pamphlet after pamphlet (some sixteen pages
in length) denouncing the unfair system which the masters had put into
operation. The strikers went into the outside districts, as far as
Bradford and on to Leeds, collecting towards the strike funds. They took
with them supplies of my pamphlets and verses, which, so the men told me,
won them much sympathy, and, what was infinitely more desirable—much
money. But this system of collection to the strike funds was much abused,
as has been the case in the present coal strike—men went out begging,
ostensibly for the general strike fund, but in reality for their own
private funds. Individuals managed to possess themselves of strike
“literature,” and with its aid found themselves able to rake in the
shekels more abundantly than they had been doing by their ordinary work;
and so the strike proved a sort of harvest to them. The strikers received
much support, I must say, from the publicans. In particular, one Owen
Cash the landlord of the “Devonshire Tap,” provided free dinners as well
as suppers. Then “Bob” Walton and a pork butcher in Upper Green each gave
a whole pig; and there were many other gifts in kind for the out o’ work
workers. Of course there were those among the strikers ever ready to take
a mean advantage of a kind action. A good many of the shopkeepers allowed
goods on credit; but many of the people to whom they extended this
privilege failed to show up again after the strike was settled. When this
settlement was arrived at, it was at the expense of the masters. At this
juncture the Strike Committee was not altogether without funds, for they
had a surplus of something like £40. There were various suggestions made
as to the disposal of this money, one of them being that it should be
handed to Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End for his services in the “strike
literature department.” This suggestion was embodied in a motion, but the
proposer got no seconder, and thus there remained wanting a bridge over
the chasm existing between the money and myself; but the bridge is still


Perhaps a reference in my “Recollections” to William Speak (_alias_
“Bawk”), the parish pinder, will not be out of place. “Billy,” as the
gentleman was ordinarily called, occupied the position of pinder for a
score of years. He was well known in the town, not merely on account of
his official duty in taking care of stray animals, but of personal
peculiarities which made him a public character. Yes; he certainly had
his eccentricities had Billy Speak. One peculiarity about him in the eyes
of the townspeople was that he was seldom, if ever, seen abroad in the
daytime; but at night he always appeared to be very busy. Of course
rumour is rumour; but some people went so far as to say when his “trade”
was slack, Billy would not object to opening a gate and allowing the
animals in the field to come out upon the highway, thus affording a nice
capture for the pinfold. It was also said that the pinder had received
many sound thrashings from farmers whom he had met at night for these
little acts of misdemeanour. In this connection I may mention that on one
occasion a goose belonging to Jerry Wells was placed in the pinfold
(which was then in Coney lane) by Billy. The walls of the pound, however,
were so low that Jerry’s goose flew over them, and went away—the pinder
did not know where. Now, old Jerry Wells was a man who enjoyed a good
“lark”; and although his goose had come home, he sued Billy in the County
Court, on the 12th January, 1853, for “clappin’ his gooise in’tat’
pinfowd.” How the case ended I forget; but I think it would teach the too
ardent pinder a valuable lesson. Now, for a long time Billy had to go
without a uniform, but at last Barney McVay and others said it was a
shame that anyone holding an official position of this kind should not be
provided with a uniform. So that a public subscription was started, and
the pinder—to enable him the better to uphold the dignity of his
office—was presented with a uniform; and at the same time opportunity was
taken to uniform the town’s crier, Jack Moore, who kept the “Dusty
Miller,” at Damside. The question of suitable headgear was a momentous
and difficult one, but eventually a helmet was selected for the pinder,
with a cocked hat for the town’s crier. “Bawk” did not live long to enjoy
his uniform. He died in May, 1875, and was followed to the grave by his
wife a few days afterwards.


It was in 1872 that James Leach and David Hey and myself purchased a
large shark at Hull. The shark had apparently been harpooned at sea, and
washed into the Humber. It was secured by some fishermen, and they
offered it for sale by public auction. A brother of George Swire, of
Keighley, chanced to be in Hull at the time, and hearing of the sale, he
sent word to us at Keighley about it. My friend Leach—who would be close
upon sixty years old at the time—was deputed to Hull to purchase the
shark, and he effected the bargain for £3 17s 6d. The shark was seventeen
feet in length; it was brought to Keighley by rail, and there were many
people to witness the landing of the monster. We took it to the
Burlington laithe (now used as an auction room by Mr T. S. Lister). I
painted a glowing scenic piece for the entrance to the
exhibition—picturing the shark swallowing a whole boat-load of people! I
was also put on to act as showman, and in that capacity—not in my
capacity as a private citizen—I told stories of the voracious appetite of
the shark when alive. Many blankets had been found in the shark, not to
mention a barrel or two of beer. Leach stood at the door turning a box
organ, which we had bought cheaply; and David Hey undertook to look after
the naphtha lamps, &c. Well, for a week the show went on very well, and
we had large numbers of visitors. Towards the end of the week, the fish
began to smell, so we paid Joseph Gott, taxidermist, Market-street, £5 to
cure the shark. In the meantime we purchased a tent and additional
naphtha lamps, and when the curing process was completed, and we had had
a box made in which to place the shark, we started on our first
expedition, going to Haworth. Our visit here was attended by a slight
misfortune. We had got the tent pitched, and a good audience in it, when
one of the naphtha lamps exploded and set fire to the canvas top. Luckily
we succeeded in extinguishing the flames before they had done more than
burn a hole in the canvas top; and the aperture was covered with a shawl,
which my friend Leach was wearing. As on the occasion of my visit to
Haworth in the garb of a monkey, with Jack Spencer, the Haworth folk
thought it a joke, and swore that the shark “wor made o’ leather.” But
after they had examined it, I think they were convinced it was the real
thing. We next took the show to Clayton, and here we were unable to get
lodgings, and had to sleep in the tent along with the shark. Before
daybreak we were leaving Clayton for Vicar’s Croft, Leeds. It was
moonlight, and I shall never forget an incident which happened on the
way. Certainly we must have formed a very curious spectacle. A grey
galloway and cart, with Dave Hey as driver; myself on the cart balancing
the long box; and James Leach sitting with the box organ on his back.
Leach saw our shadow in the strong moonlight, and rather astonished us by
exclaiming—“There’s Bill o’ th’ Hoylus theear—he can wag his tongue like
a lamb’s tail; and Dave o’ th’ Damside—he can whistle an’ sing an’ he’s a
houseful o’ little barns; by gum, I wish I wor at home wi’ ahr Sarah!”
The rest of the journey he seemed to be occupied in deep thought; and
when we got the tent erected in Vicar’s Croft he “broke out in open
rebellion,” and refused to play the organ. “Nay,” says he, “no more organ
playing for me; I’m bahn ta dissolve partnership wi’ ye, an’ tak t’ first
train ta Keighley.” He suited his words to action and returned home. Of
course this rather upset things, but Dave and I determined to go on with
the business. Our visit to Leeds brought in a few pounds. Hey then
insisted on our going up in the Lake District. I objected strongly, but
had eventually to give in, and, to make a long story short, we landed at
Windermere. We did very poor business, barely paying expenses; and such
was the case when we moved to Keswick and other places around the Lake
District. We next shifted to Morecambe, where we passed a very profitable
week, and then embarked in a fishing smack which was returning to
Fleetwood. We were overtaken by a fearful storm, and the fishermen were
fully occupied in keeping their boat right side up. Hey was down in the
hold, having left me to take care of the shark. The sea swept over the
sides, and I had great difficulty in retaining the box containing our
treasure. I shouted to Dave to come and help me, but the only answer I
got was that if he was going to be drowned he “wod dee happy.” When we
got to Fleetwood, some time elapsed before we were able to land, and when
we at last did set foot on the shore, I said to myself, “No more shark
showing for me.” Luck seemed to be in the way just then, for a gentleman
who came in to see the shark asked me what I would sell it for. I told
him I would take £20 for the whole concern—shark, tent, box organ, &c.
But he said he only wanted the shark. After much bargaining I brought the
price down to £14 for the lot, and he accepted this, and returned the
tent, box organ, lamps, &c., and out of these Hey and I made another
sovereign. The gentleman purchased the shark for a museum in Fleetwood.
Dave o’ th’ Damside and Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End were now rich for once in
their lives, but—I almost shrink from telling it—by the time they got to
Skipton they had spent every penny of the money, and had to walk to
Keighley, from where they had been absent about six months.



It was not very long after our adventure with the shark, described last
week, that Dave o’ th’ Damside and I had a “go” with a monster pike. This
pike was caught in the old river at Utley by Sam Friar. It was of a
tremendous size, and, no doubt, had a good history; for, among other
things, the fish was short of one eye. Dave and I obtained possession of
the pike, and we had it on exhibition one Saturday in the Market-place. I
was again put in to describe the show, and I have no doubt that I made
the most of the “recommendations” of the “one-eyed” monster. At night we
cut the fish up and sold it; and many would be the Sunday dinners that
the big pike would provide. Hey and your humble servant next turned their
attention to a fine large ram, which had been purchased by Mr Patrick
McShee at a sale of the farm stock of Mr Thomas Brigg, Calversyke Hill.
The ram had won many prizes at agricultural shows, and we had it on
exhibition in a shop in North-street, now occupied by Mr Whitworth,
tobacconist. At the time, the Tichborne case was in the public mind, so
we gave the sheep the name, “Sir Roger Tichborne.” Many people came to
see the prize ram, the visitors including farming gentlemen of the town
and district; so that we fared very well with our show. Then we added a
monkey and a bull-dog, and, what with the ram, monkey, and bull-dog,
there was a glorious row! But the greater the noise the greater was the
desire of the public to pay a visit to the show, and this continued the
case, to our unqualified satisfaction, for some time. The sheep, being a
prize animal, had clearly fared wisely and well in Mr Brigg’s possession,
and, whether it was from heart-ache at the loss of a good home or what
else, the animal soon pined away, refusing to eat or drink, and its
death, I think, marked the termination of the connection of Dave o’ th’
Damside and Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End with “show business.”


Soon after my worthy friend, Mr James Leach, betook himself from “show
land,” he commenced in earnest the study of politics and local affairs.
He managed, with my assistance, &c., to obtain a seat on the Board of
Guardians, and also on the Local Board of Health. Then, there was a great
agitation concerning the health and cleanliness of the people, and it was
“ordained by the elders of the Senate that baths and wash-houses should
be erected and built throughout the length and the breadth of the land.”
According to the “Chronicles of Keighley,” “the governors of the city did
not think it meet to comply with the law of the Senate, and refused so to
do. Whereupon other elders of the city gathered themselves together, and
determined in their hearts that baths and wash-houses should be built,
and that the cost thereof should be defrayed out of the tax imposed on
the relief of the poor in the land.” This use, or misuse, of the public
money caused strife among the people, who for the most part opposed the
scheme. A vestry meeting, however, was called, and though very thinly
attended, the opportunity was taken to elect the Commissioners of the
Baths and Wash-houses, and it was decided to proceed with the erection of
the building, the cost of which was estimated at £6,000. But when this
money had been expended the baths and wash-houses were far from
completed, and, at the request of the Commissioners, another £2,000 was
granted for the work. Still this proved sadly insufficient, and “the
inhabitants of the land began to be mightily displeased at the conduct of
the Commissioners, by reason that they demanded more gold.” The people
were for the third time called to a vestry meeting, and on this occasion
there was a large and animated attendance. The Commissioners asked for
£2,500, and this, amid great tumult and shouting, the people emphatically
declared they would not lend: “One named Leach sware that no more gold
should be granted.” After much lively demonstration, the meeting ended
with the decision “that the matter should not be entertained until the
end of that day twelve months.” When that time came round the people were
once more called together. The money was still refused, and it was
ordered that a poll of the town should be taken. The poll showed a great
majority against granting the money, and the result of this decision was
that the baths and wash-houses had to remain in their unfinished state
for seven years. At the end of the seven years the building was, some way
or other, completed; and thus an end was put to one of the greatest
farces and pieces of blundering and mismanagement that has occurred in
the town—before or after.


It was a co-worker of mine, Joseph Hopkinson (“Joe Hobble”), a
warpdresser, of Haworth, who introduced me to Jack Kay and Harry Mac, two
fortune tellers who were in Haworth. Harry Mac had a book with which he
told fortunes, and this book, which was an English translation of a Greek
work on astrology, Joe Hopkinson borrowed for me. I perused the book in
the hope of one day being able to do a little fortune telling. Harry Mac
and Jack Kay had done very well out of the book, and their knowledge of
it; but my object in learning to presage events, was not as a means of
livelihood, but in order to appease my appetite for a bit of fun. It was
while I was “reading, learning, and inwardly digesting” the contents of
the book that Professor Fowler, the well-known phrenologist, came to
Keighley and gave lectures on the science of bumps, or phrenology, in the
old Mechanics’ Hall—now the Yorkshire Penny Bank. I attended one of those
lectures in company with Morgan Kennedy, a Keighley man, who afterwards
became a professional phrenologist. When the time came for practical
demonstrations the audience called out for me to go on the platform. I
complied, and the Professor set himself to “feel my bumps.” In the first
place he told the audience that “this was one of the few heads that he
had had the opportunity of examining,” which, of itself, was neither very
favourable, nor very unfavourable. But there was suppressed tittering
among the audience when he continued, “I have been on the Continent, and
have examined the heads of Louis Napoleon, Victor Hugo, Garibaldi, and
Louis Kossuth. This head, I may venture to say, rather touches upon
those.” I felt that the Professor had got out of his reckoning in making
these comparisons; for although I had done a little soldiering, and was a
poet in my own rough way, I knew that I had no claim whatever to be a
governor, seeing that I had never been able to govern myself. However, I
got through the ordeal. The result of my visit to Professor Fowler was
that I combined the study of bumpology with that of astrology, and I got
on very well, and had some nice quiet fun, with telling people—mostly
servant girls in public-houses—their fortunes, and describing their
bumps. Many people, I know, really thought I was a “nap-hand” in the
work. One incident I remember well. A young man of the name of Tom Smith,
a warpdresser, one night came to ask me to rule the planets and tell him
whether he and his wife would ever live together again. I told my visitor
that I could do nothing for him that night, but if he would call the
following evening I should then be prepared to “invoke the infernal
regions.” He was at my house the next night, and asked me whether “ahr
Emma” would ever live with him again. I said “Well, Tom, the first thing
you will have to do is to go upstairs blindfolded.” I placed a bandage
over his eyes, and sent him upstairs, having told him to walk quietly
across the middle of the chamber floor. I had suspended the beam of a
warp-dressing frame from the ceiling. Tom walked against this beam, which
swung back upon him, and, apparently, greatly frightened him, for of all
the screaming I ever heard, it took place that night in that chamber. Tom
was blindfolded, and, in addition to that, the room was in darkness; and
when he was able to pick his way out of the “chamber of horrors,” he beat
a hasty retreat from the house. This is a sample of the fun I had during
my experiences as a humble advocate (?) of the “art of professing to
reveal future events in the life of another.”


Many townsfolk will remember Jim Blakey. He was a young fellow who had
many peculiarities in his composition. One of these was that his mind was
for ever bent upon travelling, and, not being short of money, he was
often able to gratify his desires. Knowing that I had travelled a little,
he would have me to accompany him to London. After certain adventures on
the way we got to the big city, and secured lodgings. Blakey was not
altogether well, so I left him at our hotel while I went for a walk
through some of the parts of London I was already acquainted with. When I
got back, however, Blakey had “gone—left no address,” and, besides, he
was the paymaster, and the only money I had was 2½d. So that I could
truly appreciate the situation of being “alone in London.” I was
wandering about the city all night, and in the morning found myself going
towards Fulham. I was wearing a good big overcoat, and had also in my
possession a new copy of “Goldsmith’s poems:” these I had resolved to
leave with my “uncle.” On the road, however, I fell in with a wedding
party, and disposed of the volume of poems for 3s 6d to the bridegroom,
who said he should make a present of it to his bride. Going on to Fulham
I fell in with an old friend from Keighley. I stayed a day or two with
him, and then sailed from London Bridge to Hull. From Hull I walked to
Keighley _minus_ my overcoat. I found that Blakey had not come home, but
he returned in a day or two, and said he had looked all over London for
me. I thought he had deserted me on purpose; so when we were in Edinburgh
together shortly afterwards, I arranged with a Leeds guard whom I knew to
put Blakey into a North of Scotland train instead of the one for
Keighley. This the guard managed all right, poor Blakey being taken 200
miles further from home. When he at last got into the south train he was
taken on to Bradford, and he told me that the ten miles’ walk from
Bradford to Keighley at midnight was worse than travelling the whole 400
miles. Notwithstanding these differences, we continued good friends until
he finally left Keighley for Leeds, where he died after a few years.



It was in 1872 that Mr James Leach formed one of a deputation from the
Keighley Local Board to London on business relating to the erection of a
new railway bridge at Keighley Station. Mr Leach was accompanied by his
wife. Arrived at the big city, the deputation made for the law offices of
the Houses of Parliament, where they were informed that their presence
would not be required until the following morning. Then Mr and Mrs Leach
separated from the deputation and went their own way, the “Squire”
declaring his determination to see all that was to be seen of London.


The couple first of all spent a time in the House of Commons listening to
the debate, and then they were introduced by Mr (now Sir) Francis Sharp
Powell to the (late) Duke of Devonshire. His Grace, Mr Leach told me,
seemed mightily pleased to see visitors from Keighley. He stated his
desire to “hear t’ spekin’ i’ t’ Lords,” and his Grace was showing him
into the gentlemen’s gallery, and Mrs Leach into the ladies’ gallery,
when Mr Leach objected, exclaiming in by no means suppressed tone:—“Nay,
---, it; they can dew this at t’ Keighley Workus, but let me be wi’ ahr
Sarah.” The Duke was good enough to respect the feelings of his visitors,
and had Mr and Mrs Leach placed in a private box, where, together, they
could listen to the debate going on in the gilded chamber.


After tea at their lodgings—which were at a large hotel in Westminster—Mr
Leach started out with his wife, and eventually landed her into a place
where _bal masque_ was going on. As the old gentleman described to me on
his return, “One o’ them hawf donned women com’ up ta me, an’ puttin’ her
hand on mi’ shoulder sho said, ‘Owd boy, you’re very welcome.’ Then she
spied ahr Sarah, an’ said ‘Is this your wife?’ But ahr Sarah said, ‘This
is noa place for me, Leych, an’ ahm net bahn ta stop; soa tha may as weel
come.’” With some further persuasion, Mr Leach went out with his wife.


Next morning Mr Leach found that his presence would not be required that
day at the House of Commons. He went to hear the Rev C. H. Spurgeon
preach at the Tabernacle. “This wor t’ one time I ivver really wept,” he
said, “an’ I resolved ta be a better man i’ t’ future.” Mr Leach next
visited the Hall of Science, where he heard Mr Charles Bradlaugh preach,
and afterwards shook hands with him. St. Paul’s Cathedral also received a
visit from the Keighley “celebrity.”


Next day Mr Leach paid a visit to Epsom to see the races. He paid 1s for
a stand on a stool, but he had not been in his elevated position many
minutes before the stool was kicked from under him, and he was sent
sprawling on the ground, this provoking the crowd to great laughter. When
Mr Leach looked up he found his stand occupied by another fellow.
Smarting from a sense of indignity, the Keighley gentleman “set on” to
the intruder, and was struggling to regain possession when the police
came up and settled the dispute by saying that neither of the two should
stand on the stool. “Ah saw varry little o’ t’ races,” he said, “but ah
went back to Lunnon an’ saw ahr Sarah.”


On Sunday Mr Leach betook himself on a survey in Petticoat-lane, where
Jews, Turks, and representatives of nearly every foreign nation were
busily carrying on their sales. Our country friend was warned by the
police against venturing into this locality. He said “they wodn’t get
ower him soa easy,” and passed on. But he had not gone far ere he found
that his pocket-handkerchief was missing. A gentleman had seen the
“trick” done, and drew Mr Leach’s attention to a youth who stood a few
yards away. Mr Leach had not forgot his duties as a policeman, and he ran
after the lad and caught him. The prisoner was handed over to a
constable, who was able to arrest two other thieves on the spot. Next day
Mr Leach appeared at the police court, and gave evidence, and the trio
were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Our friend was
complimented by the Bench for bringing the case forward. One evening Mr
Leach found himself in the “seven Dials” neighbourhood in the hope of
seeing the famous boxer, Nat Langan (whom he had seen have a “go” with
“Brassey,” a brass moulder, of Utley). He was in the boxing saloon some
time, and when he had occasion to look at his watch, he found that
article missing, only a bit of the guard remaining. He raised a
“hue-and-cry;” but, of course, nobody knew anything about the theft. And
Mr Leach took his departure murmuring, “If this is London, I’m done.”


The deputation was kept in London day after day, until several weeks had
passed. The final day at last arrived, and the deputation was ushered
into the gorgeous chamber. The petition was presented, and Mr Leach, in
answer to the President, and in a dialect which must have puzzled the
Londoners present, said; “We’re bahn ta build a brig ower t’ railway, an’
we think it’s nowt but reight ’at we sud hev it. Ther’s lots o’ horses
been lamed at t’ level crossing. Why, I were varry near being jiggered
mysel one neet.” Other members of the deputation having given evidence in
support of the petition, the party retired. In the end the bridge was
erected. Mr Leach and his fellow members of the Local Board were in
London about six weeks, and one cannot help thinking that, with an
allowance of £1 per day for expenses, they would thoroughly enjoy
themselves. At least Mr Leach told me that he did.


On his return to Keighley, Mr Leach and, indeed, the rest of the
deputation was made a god of, in certain quarters. In Jonas Moore’s
barber’s shop in the Market-place, Mr Leach described his visit to London
to a few “favoured” customers, and provoked unlimited laughter. It was
Jonas Moore and Joe Town who induced him to give a public lecture on his
travels. An elaborate bill was prepared, “almost as big as a house side,”
informing the burgesses of Keighley that Mr James Leach would give “three
nights’ lectures in the Temperance Hall, on his life and travels in
London during his six weeks’ commission from the Local Board of Health.”
A few frequenters of the barber’s shop in the Market-place suggested that
Mr (now Sir) Isaac Holden should be asked to take the chair. Mr Holden
was accordingly communicated with, and came down to Keighley in his
carriage; he finally consented to preside at the lectures. Mr Holden was
punctual on the first night of the lecture, when there was an overflowing
audience. This was, I believe, Mr Holden’s first, or nearly his first,
public appearance, and the occasion served to bring his name very widely
before the people. He took the opportunity to speak upon local politics.
He mentioned that he had not the least doubt that the lecturer’s
intentions were good and honest. The lecture consisted of all the funny
stories Mr Leach could remember concerning his visit to London; these he
gave in his well-known quaint style, in broad dialect, and the progress
was frequently interrupted by the hilarity of the audience. Mr Holden, I
can say, was quite “flabbergasted” with the affair, and he looked as if
he would have liked to drop through the stage. For the second night’s
lecture there was no Mr Holden to preside. It was now Mr Leach’s turn to
be uneasy. He sought diligently for a chairman. The audience proposed
Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End, as being Mr Leach’s right-hand man; but the
lecturer objected, saying Bill would most likely be “drukken.” Finally,
Mr Emanuel Teasdale, a politician of the old school of Radicals, took the
chair. After a political speech from the chairman, Mr Leach continued his
lecture with the same general acceptance, and to an audience quite as
large as that of the previous evening. On the third and concluding night,
Mr Leach had even greater difficulty in securing a chairman. There was
neither Mr Holden nor Mr Emanuel Teasdale. The audience successively
proposed “Bawk” (the parish pinder), “Doad o’ Tibs” (bill poster), Jacky
Moore (town’s crier), Bill Spink, and others. The lecturer objected to
each of these, and, in despair, accepted Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End. I
officiated as best I could, and I utter no untruth in saying that I had a
good deal to do; for I had to undertake the greater share in entertaining
the large number of people present. Mr Leach had well nigh exhausted his
stock of lecture “material” on the second evening, and on the third night
I had to fill up the time with telling stories and giving recitations. It
can be truly said that the three lectures were regarded as a great treat
by those who heard them.


Perhaps the “funeral sermons” which Mr Leach preached on his two wives in
the early part of 1891 were as funny as the London lectures. Mr Leach
said I should have to be his chairman at the “sermons,” but when the day
came he said he would do without me, as he “durst bet ah’d bin hevin’
whiskey.” I went to the Temperance Hall, but was told by
Police-superintendent Grayson, who was there with two constables, that he
had special instructions not to admit me into the “precincts of that holy
place” unless I was perfectly sober. There was an overflow crowd in the
street, and I put it to them whether I was drunk or sober. There was a
majority that said I was sober, and Mr Grayson allowed me to pass in.
When Mr Leach saw me entering the hall, he called out of the police; but
finally allowed me to take a seat at the foot of the stage. At the outset
he declined to have me on the platform, until he “broke down,” and said,
“Tha’d better come up here, Bill, for ah’m ommost worn aat. Ah’ll gie
thee ten minutes ta say summat.” I accordingly mounted the platform and
recited a few pieces I had written—“Come, nivver dee i’ thi shell, owd
lad” (one of Mr Leach’s favourites), “Biddy Blake,” &c. After the
lecture, I went with Mr Leach in a cab to his home. When we got there he
said “They’ll be tawkin’ abaat this at t’ Devonshire. Tak’ this shillin’,
and go see what they’ve ta say abaat my lecter.” I went to the Devonshire
Hotel, and found several gentlemen talking and laughing over the
“sermons.” However, Mr Leach had done his best, “an’ t’ Prime Minister
couldn’t dew more,” as he expressed it. The delivery of the funeral
sermons marked the close of his public life. It was not long after that
he showed signs of illness, and I went to live with, and wait upon him. I
had often to recite my poems for him, and one he frequently asked for was
“The pauper’s box;” he assured me that he would leave me enough to keep
me from being buried in a pauper’s coffin:—

   Thou odious box, as I look on thee,
   I wonder wilt thou be unlocked for me?
   No, no! forbear!—yet then, yet then,
   ’Neath thy grim lid do lie the men—
   Men whom fortune’s blasted arrows hit,
   And send them to the pauper’s pit.

   .  .  .  .  .

   But let me pause, ere I say more
   About thee, unoffending door;
   When I bethink me, now I pause,
   It is not thee who makes the laws,
   But villains, who, if all were just,
   In thy grim cell would lay their dust.

   But yet, ’twere grand beneath yon wall
   To lie with friends,—relations all,
   If sculptured tombstones were not there,
   But simple grass with daisies fair—
   And were it not, grim box, for thee,
   ’Twere Paradise, O Cemetery!



Continuing my recollections of the late Mr James Leach. I remember
accompanying him as “valet de sham”—as the old gentleman was pleased to
style me to inquiring friends—to Wakefield. The occasion was the annual
visit of inspection which a deputation from the Board of Guardians was
making to the asylum there. I recollect Mr Richard Hattersley telling me
on the platform at the Keighley station to look well after Mr Leach. The
deputation comprised, among others, Mr James Walsh, Mr Middlebrook, Mr R.
A. Milner, and Mr R. C. Robinson. On arriving at the Bradford Midland
Station, Mr Leach, on the plea of “takin’ t’ twist out on ’em,” sent me
for an open landau and a couple of horses and a coachman, and thus he
proceeded “in state” to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Station. The train
again entered, the journey was soon completed to Wakefield. The
deputation in general did the distance to the asylum—about a mile—on
foot, but for Mr Leach, I had again to requisition a two-horsed landau.
We were driven up to the asylum entrance, and ushered into the reception
room. The governor of the asylum asked me who the old gentleman was, and
I told him he was “James Leach, Esquire, a Guardian, from Keighley.”
“He’s a funny fellow,” said the governor, “I couldn’t tell whether he was
coming in as a patient or not.” By way of re-assurance I told the
governor that Mr Leach had had a stroke, which rather accounted for his
“acting funny.” The other members of the deputation had now arrived, and
the whole were shown into a private room. There the Guardians sat as a
Board, with Mr Middlebrook as chairman, and the thirty-six lunatics from
the Keighley Union were brought in. One or two of the patients I
recognised. Several of them were ready to be discharged, having been
passed by the doctor. The inspection over, Mr Leach expressed a desire to
see the patients dine. He was introduced into the large dining hall, and
took a great interest in “watchin’ t’ lunies feed,” as he put it. At the
close of the repast, Mr Leach commissioned me to distribute 1lb. of
tobacco among the men—½lb. in twist, and ½lb. in shag. No sooner did the
lunatics see the tobacco than they commenced a vigorous attack on me—I
had lunatics to the right and to the left of me, and in front, behind,
and on top of me. There must have been no less than half-a-dozen on my
shoulders at one time, and some of the fellows obtained a good deal more
than their share of the tobacco. Mr Leach had apparently witnessed the
distribution with much interest, and when I came up to him he said, “been
in Wombwell’s menagerie, but ah’ve nivver bin i’ sich a furacious attack
as this before.” He then retired, and on leaving the asylum I heard him
ask the governor if he would allow himself and his “valet de sham” to
stay a few weeks in the place, promising to pay all dues and demands. The
governor, however, said he would not be able to do that without a
certificate. So, after bidding the Asylum governor good day, Mr Leach and
I took our departure. I had again to obtain an open carriage to take us
to the Bull Inn, where dinner was to be served. Dinner was waiting when
we got there. “Isn’t it a bonny shame” said Mr Leach, “for us to be
hevin’ a 7s 6d dinner aht o’ t’ rates?” “Nay,” says the landlord, “you do
your work for nothing.” “Hahivver,” said Mr Leach, “Ah’ll hev my dinner,
but this ‘valet de sham’ o’ mine weant hev owt here; Ah’ll be beyont
suspicion.” With that he handed me 4s and I went down into Wakefield and
got a good repast. On my return to the Bull Inn, I found Mr Leach sat on
a basket of potatoes at the door. It transpired that he had been turned
out of the hotel, and a chair having been denied him on which to sit and
wait at the door, he had bought a basket of potatoes from a hawker who
was passing, and utilised it as a temporary seat. Whatever had taken
place, Mr Leach was greatly excited, and it was with no little difficulty
that I got him to the station. We reached Keighley safely, and then, with
the aid of a cab from the station, I was soon able to restore my old
friend to “their Sarah.” I received 10s for that day’s services.


Many people will remember the old shake-down trap which Mr Leach used to
run some years ago. He often drove up to Tewitt Hall, Oakworth, and
Slack-lane Chapel. For some time he seemed to set his mind on purchasing
Tewitt Hall. About the Chapel, he told me some wonderful stories. He used
to say that his relatives founded Slack-lane Chapel, and that his mother
received in their house the first parson who came to the district.


Mr Leach, I know, fondly treasured in his memory a visit which he paid to
Cliffe Castle, in 1886, on the occasion of the “White Ball” given by Mr
Butterfield. I was not a little astonished when Mr Leach told me one
morning, “Tha’ll hev ta goa wi’ me ta t’ ball, Bill; ah’ve bowt thee a
ten-an’-sixpenny ticket.” However, I did not care to intrude my presence
on such a “flash” gathering as I knew there would be, and when the time
arrived for my “master” to start, I was missing. Mr Leach was,
nevertheless, determined “ta visit t’ Cliff,” and as a last resort he
summoned his old friend “Little” Barnes to accompany him. The two
attended the “White Ball;” but I don’t think either of them participated
in the dancing. Mr Leach afterwards told me that they were nicely
entertained by Mr Butterfield, who had a long chat with him, and
expressed a wish to have a chat with him at some other time on public
matters. One of the topics which engaged Mr Butterfield and Mr Leach was
a public park for the town.


It is an acknowledged fact that to Mr Leach was due no small measure of
credit in connection with the securing of Devonshire Park for Keighley.
His pet idea for a public park was originally the Showfield in
Skipton-road. On one occasion Hawkcliffe Wood came into the market, and
was suggested as a suitable park for the public. Mr Leach opposed this
scheme tooth and nail—“ther wor too monny hoils an’ caves abaat. They’d
be capt if somebody gat dahn one o’ t’ hoils an’ wor nivver seen ageean.”
A public meeting was held in the Drill Hall to test the public feeling as
to the purchase of Hawkcliffe Wood. Mr W. A. Robinson, I believe, was the
principal speaker on the affirmative side, and Mr Leach strongly opposed
the scheme of purchase. Next day, however, the question was settled by
the announcement that Mr Butterfield (whose estate agent, Mr James
Wright, had attended the meeting) had successfully negotiated with Messrs
Dixon, of Steeton, for the purchase of the Wood. Having practically
scored on this point, Mr Leach next turned his attention very vigorously
to the Showfield. He superintended the making-out of a petition to the
Duke of Devonshire, asking his Grace to make a grant of the Showfield for
a town’s park. The petition was numerously signed, and was duly forwarded
through the Local Board to the Duke. His Grace could not see his way to
accede to the petitioners’ wishes, but it was some gratification to Mr
Leach to hear that the Duke would probably see his way to do something
later—a promise consummated in the presentation to the town of what is
known as Devonshire Park. Mr W. Laycock (the Duke’s steward) assured Mr
Leach that he was the first man whom the Duke of Devonshire had
recognised in this way, and that he was the means of securing the first
public park for Keighley.


The last request which Mr Leach made to me was to write an epitaph to be
engraved on the south side of the tombstone over his grave. I have penned
the following lines:—

   O! Passer-by, pray cast an eye
     Upon this ponderous dome,
   Where lieth one of nature’s sons
     Inside the vaulted tomb.

   For weel, I wot, it took a lot
     To weigh him from his birth,
   But nature thought she’d send him back
     To join his Mother Earth

   So now he’s quiet, both day and night,
     No one can hear his speech;
   And waiting to be reckoned up,—
     Alas! poor Mr. Leach.



With an apology for digressing for the last two weeks from my own
Recollections, I now hasten to continue my story. Going back to 1872, it
was in that year I passed my second term of residence in Bradford. This
time I was, to some extent, an exile—driven from home. It was brought
about in this way. I was keeping a grocer’s shop in Westgate at the time,
and one day, while I was away at my employment for Messrs Lund in
Heber-street, a traveller for a Leeds firm of drysalters called at the
shop, and forced upon my wife, who was in charge, several pounds’ worth
of goods. Of course, when I got home I kicked up a “shine,” and
distinctly said I should not accept the goods, which I sent back to
Leeds. My returning the goods, however, did not mend my case, and I was
summoned to Leeds to “show cause,” &c. But I treated the court with
contempt by not attending, and an execution was issued against me
forthwith. I have a keen remembrance of the visit which Mr John Scott,
the bailiff at the Keighley County Court, paid to my house. Mr Scott said
he had got Sheriff’s orders to sell me up or arrest me. I told him that I
had a great fear of going to gaol, and asked him if he would go and ask
his brother, Mr W. M. Scott, the high bailiff, to allow me until 9
o’clock on the following morning in which to make an effort to raise the
money. The “bum” had scarcely got out of sight ere I was in consultation
with John Parker, the landlord of the Bay Horse Inn. John rather pitied
me. He agreed to lend me his horse, and I borrowed a van from Mr Joseph
Wright, cabinet maker, determined to give my would-be captors the “leg
bail.” Early next morning I was, so to speak, doing a moonlight
“flit”—the van, containing my furniture, in charge of two men, was on the
road to Bradford. Mrs Wright I left with friends at Keighley, and myself,
accomplished the journey by rail. I spent some time at the top of
Manchester road, Bradford, looking for a suitable house, and had almost
resolved to give up the search in that quarter when I made the
acquaintance of an old lady, who said she had a nice house—which vacant
house isn’t a nice one?—to let at 9s 6d per week. This was a large
figure, but, under the trying circumstances, I agreed to rent the house.
An hour or so afterwards the van arrived, and having got my goods and
chattels into the house, I dismissed the two men, enjoining them to
strict secrecy as to my whereabouts. Having got the house into something
like ship shape order, I set about devising a _nom de plume_ and
eventually fixed upon “James Wrightson,” which seemed to fit best, seeing
that I was James Wright’s son.


Next day I managed to secure employment as pattern dresser with Messrs
Ward and Bottomley, manufacturers. My stay there, however, was only
short, owing to a disagreement with my foreman on a political subject. I
then called upon Mr Wade, manufacturer, for whom I had worked at Morton.
Mr F. S. Pearson, now of Keighley, was the manager of the warp sizing
department in the fancy trade. Mr Pearson set me on, and I continued in
Mr Wade’s employ for about twelve months, having a very profitable


One day I was met by a gentleman who asked me if I would act as his
warp-sizing inspector, promising me a very comfortable salary. This
gentleman, or his firm, carried on the business of warp-sizing, and he
explained that it would be my duty to go round to different factories to
assess the damage, if any, done to warps which had been sent from those
factories to be sized. I was pressed very much to take this position, and
ultimately I accepted it. The business, I learned, was in the hands of Mr
Ward, and was formerly owned by Mr Titus Gaukroger. My new duties were
accompanied with difficulties, though after a time I got along fairly
well. I found out many little things, among which were not a few cases of
manufacturers—bosom friends, socially—defrauding each other. I had
occupied the position of warp-dressing inspector about six months, when
the hand of—Fate, shall I say? was again placed upon me. An old friend of
mine—Christopher Brown, a native of Haworth—popped in to see me. He had
been away for some time in Canada, where he had made a good sum of money.
He spoke to my master, and obtained for me two or three days’ leave of
absence. This proved the greatest breakdown that ever happened to me. I
stayed a day or two with Mr Brown, who then suggested that I should
extend my holiday. I was always easily persuaded, and this time was no
exception. There was plenty of money to go at, and Mr Brown induced me to
travel to Middlesbro’ with him. From there we visited many places, being
absent from Bradford about a fortnight. On returning to my employment, I
found that my place had been filled. Mr Ward, after hearing my story,
expressed himself very sorry for me. He said he kept my place vacant for
eight or nine days, but was then compelled to fill it up.


I was thus again a workless worker. But not for long. I fell in with an
auctioneer, who set me on as a sort of “bum” bailiff. This auctioneer had
Douglas Mills and Victoria Mills, Bradford, on his hands for sale, and
required someone to watch them. I was in charge of Douglas Mills for
three weeks, and a fine time I had. The spinning frames and other
machinery had been sold to Messrs Binns and Masker, brokers, of Keighley,
but there were many odds and ends left, which I was given permission to
realise. These “odds and ends” included all the leather, cotton waste,
and loose wood about the place, and the proceeds from the sale of these,
in addition to my weekly wage, tended to a not inconsiderable sum.
Perhaps it was this extraordinary “flush” of money that caused me to have
sufficient courage to venture back to Keighley. (I may say that I had not
during my absence from the town encountered my friend, the drysalter.)


It was 1876 when I returned home. It was just before the Liberal club was
opened by the Marquis of Hartington. The occasion, I may say, was made a
great “to do”—what with the elaborate opening ceremonial, the procession
in the street, and the great banquet at Dalton Mills (which had just been
built). I wrote some twenty verses descriptive of the event, and these I
had printed and ready for distribution before the banquet commenced. I
was introduced to the ducal party, which, in addition to the Marquis of
Hartington, included his brother, Lord Frederick Cavendish, Lord
Houghton, and others. Perhaps I shall not be thought unduly egotistical
for mentioning that Lord Houghton, who is a poet of no mean order,
commended my verses.


While in Bradford, I became acquainted with many members of the Royal
Order of Ante-diluvian Buffaloes. A lodge was held at the Hope and Anchor
Inn, and the meetings were attended by many professional gentlemen,
including Wallett, the Queen’s jester, at times. Before I left Bradford I
was made a “primo” of the lodge. Back to Keighley again, I found that a
Shakspeare Lodge of “Buffs” was held at the Ship Inn. The saying is,
“Once a Buff., always a Buff.,” and I at once allied myself with the
lodge in my native town. During my office as primo I initiated upwards of
200 members, among whom I may mention Mr James Walsh, the late Mr David
Hudson, Mr Joseph Town, Mr John Fortune, and Mr James Blakey. Being the
only officer who could initiate a member, I “had my hands full,” and I at
last decided to communicate with the Bradford lodge as to the
installation of a few primos in Keighley. Accordingly, several primos
came down one Sunday afternoon and installed half-a-dozen primos; so that
for the future I was relieved of much work in connection with the lodge.
There is one very laughable incident I have to chronicle. The townspeople
had got across with a certain gentleman, of whom Alfred Harris and I made
an elaborate effigy, which we intended to burn. It was a beautiful
looking figure and no mistake. We took the effigy to the lodge-room until
such time as we required it, hanging it behind the door. One night the
landlord (Mr Patrick McShee) had occasion to go into the lodge-room; he
knew nothing about the effigy, and as soon as the poor landlord saw the
“figure of a man hanging himself behind the door,” he gave a series of
the most weird and penetrating howls. It was not long before he was
downstairs, and asking his wife in an excited voice, “Does ta know whoa
wor at t’last lodge meetin’ an’ didn’t cum dahnstairs?” “Noa,” said his
wife, “What’s up?” “Ther’s somebody hung thersel a back o’ t’ door,” said
the trembling landlord. “Oh! nonsense,” said Mrs McShee. Nevertheless,
she went up into the room; and fine fun there was, you bet, when it was
discovered that the “man” was a dummy. The incident caused unlimited
amusement for the customers, but the landlord was not able to appreciate
the fun, and, indeed, was some weeks before he got over the shock.



After a short stay in Keighley, my roving nature again asserted itself,
and I set off on a tramping expedition, with two companions, in to
Lancashire. Going over The Moss we were overtaken by a severe
thunderstorm, and were soon drenched to the skin by the torrential fall
of rain. We made some attempt to dry our clothes at the Monkroyd Tavern,
a hostelry immortalised by the Lancashire poets, and then pushed on to
Colne, where we were accommodated at the club-house until morning, when I
made my way to Burnley. It was there I fell in with my old friend Dave
Hey. I obtained a situation in Burnley at a sizing establishment occupied
by Mr Alfred Lee, and retained it for seven weeks, by which time I had
got thoroughly disgusted with Lancashire life. The people I came across
seemed to me to be about forty years behind Keighley folk in many
particulars, but especially in regard to dress and general mode of
living. So that when I got back to Keighley I resolved in my mind that I
would not stir out of the town again.


On my return I found the town “involved in the trouble and turmoil” of
its first Town Council election. I interested myself in the election
campaign, and attended a meeting which was held in the West-lane
Primitive Methodist School, was in support of the candidature of Messrs
W. Mann, I. Emmott, and J. Walsh, for the West Ward. In all there were
seven competitors for the three seats in this ward, and in addition to
those mentioned there were the other candidates present. I plied each
candidate with questions, until one Thomas Hey made a proposition that I
should be put out of the meeting if I did not cease asking questions. I
insisted on my right to question the candidates, and told Mr Hey that I
had only to give the word to my “supporters” behind me and he, instead of
me, would find himself ignominiously carried out of the room. The meeting
was in such a state of confusion that it was closed without a vote as to
the fitness of the candidates being taken. On another occasion the late
Mr James Leach, and Bill Spink and myself were the chief means of getting
the poor rates put on the property owners. We had a vestry meeting
called, and by drumming up our “party” were able to carry the vote.


For this action Spink and I were time after time subjected to boycotting
by aggrieved property owners. Spink had to live in no less than three
houses in as many months; as soon as the new landlord found out who his
new tenant was—and the word was carefully passed along—poor Spink had to
“flit.” Finally, however, he managed to get into a house where he could
stop. I, also, had to suffer similarly, though not as severely. In
return, we practised a system of annoying the public authorities whenever
they required a servant by sending in applications.


When advertisements were out for a master at the Workhouse, I sent in an
application along with thirty-nine others. Mr J. W. Laycock was the
chairman of the Board. He objected to my application being read, but Mr
T. Middlebrook and other members challenged his view, and said the
application must be read. It was somewhat as follows:—“Gentlemen of the
Board of Guardians.—In applying for the situation of Workhouse master I
can assure you that I feel competent for the situation, seeing that I
have had much to do with all classes and kinds of people in my
travels—both high and low, rich and poor. I know, gentlemen, that you
could not do better than engage me, as I have ben so used to living on
low commons that I could keep the paupers at 1s 3d per head, whereas you
boast about keeping them at 2s 8d or 2s 9d per head. You sit down to a
sumptuous dinner, with salmon, &c., every Board day, Mr Leach informs me,
for which you pay 1s per head. Now, I think I could provide you with a
sumptuous dinner at 3d per head, and I should want that allowance for a
little tobacco. It is not, I can assure you, gentlemen, a question of
wages, but one of sheer honour that prompts me to apply for the situation
of master of the Keighley Workhouse. If this suits your notice, you can
reply by return of post.—Your humble servant, Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End.”
But I was not appointed; and it is perhaps unnecessary to say that I did
not intend to be appointed. My application caused much amusement and stir
in the town. After this, Spink and I kept the ball rolling, and one of us
applied for almost every public or semi-public office where we thought we
could cause a little annoyance to the property owners, &c., on the
Boards. Among other posts I applied for were those of nuisances inspector
and School Boards curator.


It was during the long spell of spare time that I had on my hands that I
became a sort of poor man’s lawyer, though I had not, I must say, passed
the requisite examination. Scores of people, mostly belonging to the
Irish part of the town, put their confidence in me, telling me secrets
which it would not be wise for me to disclose. This business included a
great variety of subjects and things. But disputes as to insurance and
club money were the most numerous. Many were the insurance agents and
collectors I was brought in contact with, among them being the late Mr


I next turned inventor, and met with some success. I had always had an
idea for invention and novelty, wanting to wear a different kind of
clothes, and dress my warps different from anybody else. It was in
company with Mr William Greenwood that I invented a warp-slaying machine.
This we sold to Mr R. L. Hattersley.  I also invented a patent wax for
use in warp-dressing and weaving. This, I intended, should supersede
Stephenson’s paraffin wax, and that it would have done, I feel sure, had
it been properly placed in the market; but of all people in the world
there is none like a druggist for squeezing profit out of his wares. He
will either have 11½d profit in every shilling’s worth of goods or
“perish in the attempt.” I disposed of my rights in this patent to a
gentleman who is now in Australia. I also turned my attention to
producing many other little inventions.



During the past few weeks I have received from friends acquired in the
days of my boyhood and early manhood letters which have awakened within
me a train of memories—both joyful and sorrowful—respecting my friends
and acquaintances in the auld lang syne. That must be my apology for
devoting this week’s chapter of my “Recollections” to a brief notice of
several of these local worthies. Of Bill Spink, the statesman-cobbler, I
have previously made mention. Spink was born in the house in West-lane
(now occupied as a club) wherein Mr James Lund, of Malsis Hall, first saw
the light. He was a queer chap in his way was Spink. He belonged to what
I may call the Peculiar political party which also claimed as members
“Little” Barnes, James Leach, Theophilus Hayes, Joseph Fieldhouse, and
your humble servant; and it was in his little cobbler’s shop that the
deliberations of our party were carried on. Spink took the Tory side in
national politics, and frequently attended political meetings up and down
the district. On one occasion, I well remember, Spink was sent by the
Tory party to a Liberal meeting at Silsden. Sir Mathew Wilson was one of
the speakers, and he was “tackled” on certain points during his speech by
Spink, until the Radical garrison made a raid upon this undesirable
invader of their citadel, and ejected him into the street. Spink was
severely handled in the process, and it occupied him all his
strength—_i.e._ all that remained—to walk back to Keighley. Spink was a
man who must speak his mind, and could not bear to hear the views and
principles which he upheld ruthlessly set at nought. He was, at bottom, a
good-natured man; indeed, I think I scarcely ever came across a man with
a more sympathetic disposition. In any deserving public object, or case
of private distress in the town, he was the first to the rescue.
Unfortunately, he suffered much from a diseased leg, which was the cause
of his death. There was an unpleasant hitch at the funeral. When the
party arrived at the Keighley Cemetery, it was found that the grave was
too small, and it was some time before the necessary extension could be
made. The circumstance of the mourners having to wait was aggravated by a
heavy down fall of rain. At last, however, the remains of my old friend
were duly consigned to Mother Earth. In his life time I promised Spink
that I would write his epitaph, which I now produce:—

   Here lie the remains of the friend of the poor,
   Inside of his palace without any door.
   By man’s inhumanity he was oft made to flit,
   But now he’s at home, where he’ll bide for a bit.
   He had a large heart that beat in his breast;
   Without some sensation he never could rest;
   If he saw a mean action he’d cry like a calf;
   If he saw a kind deed he’d cry more bi’t half.


I must now revert to my old theatrical friend, John Spencer, who had
returned from America. He was greatly changed in appearance, so that I
scarcely knew him by sight; he put me in mind of a Spanish brigand.
Spencer, while in the States, had gone through the Civil War, having
served, he told me, on the sides of both North and South. He was first
pressed into service while travelling with a circus. The request was put
to the whole company, who ’listed as one man, and joined the Confederate
Army. Spencer was put in as express rider, his duty being to act as
mounted postman from one camp to another. It was while on one of these
journeys that he was made a prisoner. He had a large amount of money in
notes upon him, but this he managed to hand unnoticed to a civilian
friend. As a prisoner he was taken to Washington. Being a first-class
misdemeanant, he was allowed to patrol the streets, which, however, were
closely watched, and it seemed an impossibility for him to pass the
sentinels. But John had knocked about the world a good deal, and had had
his wits sharpened, and by a “theatrical stratagem” he managed to evade
the outposts and to make his escape. He stopped at a dye-house some
distance out of Washington, and was fortunate enough there to meet with a
friend from his native district—Sam Brook, a theatrical amateur, from
Crossflatts, near Bingley. Sam furnished his erstwhile companion of the
stage with a dyer’s wearing apparel, and, thus disguised, Spencer managed
to get back to the place where he had been captured, and to recover the
notes which he had deposited with the person mentioned. With this money
Spencer seems to have got back to England. Arrived at Keighley, he sent
for me, and nothing would satisfy him but that I should break off work at
once and help him, so to speak, to “mak t’ brass fly.” Together we
travelled nearly all over Great Britain, and also paid a visit to Paris.
It was in the French capital that Spencer found the money getting
“beautifully less,” and he concluded that it would be better for all
concerned if we returned to Keighley. This we did. Soon after, Spencer
took up a position as traveller for the Bradford Old Brewery Company. But
the English climate did not seem to suit him—far from it; there were
certain peculiarities about his constitution which said as much. It was
with much pain that one morning I heard of his death, which had taken
place very suddenly at the house of his father, who was landlord of the
Bay Horse Inn. The Rev Mr Goodman, then the Baptist minister, officiated
at the funeral of the deceased, and, I recollect, spoke of the awful
suddenness of death. His remarks, I felt, were directed to myself, and I
was very uncomfortable the while. Among the many persons present at the
funeral was “Doctor” John Walton, who was at one time in partnership with
Mr Anthony Spencer and Mr Henry Newton as herbalists, &c.


On one particular evening which has left its imprint indelibly on my
mind, I spent a few pleasant hours with a handful of local celebrities in
the Commercial Inn. The chief of the party was the celebrated Lancashire
poet, the late Mr Edwin Waugh, who had come to Keighley to give readings
in the old Mechanic’s Hall, and was invited to join us. Another member of
our party was Mr John Hopkinson, brother to Mr Barber Hopkinson. A right
merry fellow he was, full of yarns and comic ditties. With him was his
nephew, Mr Benjamin Hopkinson, who about the time was causing some stir
in the district with several letters which he published in the Press.
This trio are now gone over to the great majority. Mr Emmott, veterinary
surgeon, and Mr Lacy, another local worthy, were also in the company.
Very pleasant and entertaining was the time we spent together that night.
Next morning I accompanied Mr Waugh to Kildwick, whither we walked on the
canal bank. On the way, the Lancashire poet proved himself an intensely
interesting and instructive companion. He had a large stock of funny
stories, and possessed quite a knack of imparting his sensible advice to
one in an inoffensive and almost unnoticeable manner. During the journey
I said little, but thought much. At Kildwick we inspected the “Lang
Kirk,” and other places of note in the locality, and then parted. It was
soon after this visit that I wrote the following verses:—

   Old Kildwick Grange and Kildwick Hall,
     I see them now once more;
   They ’mind me of my boyish days,
     Those happy days of yore.

   The old White Lion in the corner stands,
     Most fitting for the poets,
   Where Turner from a foreign land
     Would give his great exploits.

   ’Twas in the Indian jungle
     The tiger first he saw,
   With fiery eye, and open mouth,
     Sharp talons on his paw.

   They met, and with a desperate spring
     The tiger on his prey;
   While Turner’s two companions—
     Both cowards ran away.

   But Turner fought a desperate fight,
     His courage ne’er forsook,
   He javelled at the tiger
     Until his bayonet broke.
   One part was in the savage breast,
     And Turner understood
   If he could grovel out the steel
     ’Twould draw the savage blood.

   ’Twas done—the blood gushed out amain,
     The lion-hearted brave
   Beheld his foe go to a stream,
     To drink and meet his grave.

   .  .  .  .  .

   I see the house where Turner lived;
     But Turner is not here.
   In the Lang Kirkyard he now may rest
     Without a tiger’s fear.


Since I began these Reminiscences I have received a letter from an old
friend of mine, whom I said I thought was dead. I allude to “Sammy”
Moore, and I am glad to hear that he is alive and doing well. I had not
heard of him for a score of years. Many are the happy hours we have spent
together on the stage. His letter says he is in California, where he is
occupying a good situation as registrar of a town of about 10,000
inhabitants. He says he has left off acting and wishes to know if I have
done the same; and he also inquires after many of his old Keighley
friends. This sentence leads me to refer to a few more of my own friends
in the days of yore. There is the Rev William Thawbrey, a Wesleyan
Methodist minister at Keighley, who subsequently took up work in the
mission field in South Africa. Then there are the late Mr Thomas
Carrodus, the manager of the Yorkshire Penny Bank at Keighley, the
Brothers Kay, Mr Joshua Robinson, and Mr James Lister,—all of whom were
fellow stage amateurs of mine. The hand of death has passed heavily over
my old friends—particularly those with whom I moved on the amateur
theatrical stage—and I can number on my fingers those who have been left.



I had not a little to do with the late Mr Jonas Bottomley, of mint rock
fame. I first became acquainted with him in the warp department at Messrs
Lund’s in West-lane. He came to ask me if I would write his “manifesto,”
or election address, as he intended “standing” for the Local Board and
the Board of Guardians. I wrote out the address, but Mr Bottomley did not
succeed in getting on either of the Boards. It was soon afterwards that
the Prince of Wales was announced to visit Milner Field, Saltaire. Mr
Bottomley had hit upon some idea or other, and he came to ask me who was
the likeliest person to write a letter to the Prince of Wales. I referred
him to the late Rev J. Room, vicar of Eastwood. Mr Bottomley accordingly
waited upon Mr Room, who, however, said he had come to the wrong person;
he (Mr Room), was not in the habit of addressing kings and princes, and
lords and dukes, but he could refer him to a man who was. Mr Room said he
knew nobody better for the work than Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End. So Mr
Bottomley appealed to me, and, with some demur, I penned a rough epistle,
which was couched somewhat as follows:—“To His Royal Highness Albert
Edward Prince of Wales.—May it please your Royal Highness to accept a
package of mint rock from your humble servant. And, in addition, while
your Royal Highness is staying in the locality, I should very greatly
appreciate an interview. If you could see your way to consent to my
earnest longing you would greatly oblige your most humble and obedient
servant, Jonas Bottomley.” Mr Bottomley told me when I was writing the
letter that if he got the Royal patronage to his mint rock he would give
me £100 “slap dahn,” which, you may guess, made me as anxious as Mr
Bottomley to bring about the desired “interview.” I had also to write
some verses concerning the Royal visit to Saltaire—

   Welcome to Bradford Royal Albert Edward,
   Son of Victoria, Old England’s Queen.

These are only a few of the preparations that were made by Mr Bottomley.
But he did not achieve the success he so eagerly sought; it was on the
day the visit took place that he received a letter in which the Prince of
Wales expressed his pleasure to receive the gift of mint rock so kindly
sent by Mr Jonas Bottomley, but explaining that there were so many gifts
of this nature that it would be out of the question to give a privilege
to one and not to another. I should offer a word of apology for making
such an abrupt introduction of the next event. It was not many weeks
after the above that Mr Bottomley came to an unfortunate end, his dead
body being found on the canal bank at Leeds, where it was supposed he had
been subjected to foul play.


Readers who have followed me through my “Recollections” will remember
that in one chapter I said I should have something further to say of my
esteemed friend the late Mr Barber Hopkinson. As is well known, Mr
Hopkinson was of a merrily genial disposition—a veritable type of the
real John Bull, and where his company was, there was no dearth of quaint,
good-humoured talk. As a sportsman, he was known far and near—

   He was indeed a merry chap
   As ever made a trigger snap,
   And ne’er a bird its wing could flap—
         And get away;
   Whenever Barber smashed a cap,
         It had to stay.

It was his abilities as a “crack” shot that led him to be generally
appealed to for instruction and “tips” by “pupils in the art of
shooting.” It was one of these “unattached pupils” who was continually
dogging at Mr Hopkinson to teach him how to shoot straight. His name was
Bob Brigg. It was with great joy that Bob heard Barber say he would give
him a lesson if he turned up on the following Saturday afternoon. Of
course, Bob, gun in hand, was up to time at Mr Hopkinson’s house in
Devonshire-street. Barber took him out into the street and said: “Tha
sees theeas haases?” “Ay,” replied Bob wonderingly. “Nah, if tha’ll goa
an’ shooit all t’ ‘monkeys’ off iv’ry one o’ t’ haases, fra t’ top ta t’
bottom o’ t’ street, tha’ll be a varry fair shot when tha’s finished.”
Bob, I believe in the goodness of his heart, set out to find the monkeys,
but without success, and he returned to tell his “instructor” that he
“hed been i’ iv’ry harse i’ t’ street, but noan on ’em hed a monkey in
it.” Barber, notwithstanding, maintained that there was a monkey on t’
top o’ nearly every house; and Bob felt that he had been nicely “taken
in” when the sort of monkeys alluded to was explained to him. It was
common knowledge at that time that every—or nearly every—house in
Devonshire-street had a “monkey” (_i.e._ a mortgage) on it. The incident
was the subject of much fun for a long time afterwards—Bob Brigg and his
monkey-shooting. But Barber did really teach “the young idea to shoot,”
taking Bob with him on several shooting expeditions.


Perhaps the following unpublished poem, which I wrote some years ago,
will not be inappropriate at this season; it will “go” to the tune of the
old English ballad, “The dawning of the day”:—

   As I walk out one winter’s morn,
         Along the Steeton Ing,
   And as I gaze me all around
         Romantic ideas spring.
   I think upon my past career,
         With antics all in vain;—
   But I will be a better lad
         When green leaves come again.

   The little birds I cannot see,
         Excepting now and then;
   For they are far beyond the sea
         And left the haunts of men.
   The trees are bare, and every bush
         Speaks out to me so plain—
   That I should be a better lad
         When green leaves come again.

   The fields are like a silvery lake,
         The mountain tops are white,
   And rear their heads majestically—
         To me a great delight;
   And as I gaze on Rivock End,
         Across the silvery plain,
   Methinks I hear a voice speak out—
         “Green leaves will come again.”

   Green leaves came, and green leaves went,
         And they are gone once more,
   And I have never kept my vow,
         Which makes my heart full sore.
   But I will never “dee i’ t’ shell,”
         But make that vow again—
   That I will be a better lad
         When green leaves come again.

   And should I tarry here a while
         To see the smiling scene,
   When nature takes her snow-white cloth
         And changes it for green,
   I shall be faithful to my vow
         With all my might and main;
   For I will be a better lad
         “When green leaves come again.”



I now purpose briefly to refer to a few old singers whose friendship or
acquaintance I enjoyed. Mr Edwin Ogden was well known in the
neighbourhood as being about one of the best local singers of his day.
Many townsfolk will remember Edwin, together with William Haggas, another
old musician, teaching a singing-class. Ogden was a shoemaker by trade
but he dabbled more in music than in wax and leather. For many years he
held the position of leading chorister at St. Anne’s Roman Catholic
Church. He also “gave of his talents” on frequent occasions at local
concerts, and was in great favour with the public. He made as many young
singers, I suppose, as Joe Turner made musicians in the instrumental
sense of the word. Turner was for many years the conductor of Marriner’s
Brass Band. Not a few of our present-day musicians will be able to date
the commencement of their musical career from the time they took up
instruction with either Ogden or Turner. The former has been removed by
death, but the latter is still with us. James Greenwood was also one of
the school to which Ogden and Turner belonged; and the three took great
interest in the musical training of the late Mademoiselle Matilda
Florella Illingworth previous to her visiting the conservatoires of music
on the Continent. Mr James Wright, my father, also interested himself in
Miss Illingworth, in whom at an early period of her life he detected
material for the making of an accomplished vocalist. She was a frequent
visitor at our house, and often have I heard her sing “Robin Adair”—my
father’s favourite song. After she had been on the Continent, I heard
Miss Illingworth tell how often while there she was swindled by the
proprietors and managers of theatres and music-halls. In some instances
she was subjected to the most cruel impositions. More than once she was
robbed of all her stage properties, and in Florence she was duped out of
every half-penny of the proceeds of a concert which she promoted. Other
musicians of the time, I may mention, were John Dunderdale, Daniel
Ackroyd, and Joe Constantine. It was in memory of these old musicians
that I wrote the following verses:—


   Come, gie us a wag o’ thi paw, Jim Wreet,
     Come, gie us a wag o’ thi paw;
   Ah knew thee when thi heead wor black,
     But nah it’s as white as snow;
   Yet a merry Christmas to thee, Jim,
     An’ all thi kith an’ kin:
   An’ hopin’ tha’ll hev monny more
     For t’ sake o’ owd long sin,
               Jim Wreet,
         For t’ sake o’ owd long sin.

   It’s soa monny year ta-day, Jim Wreet,
     Sin owd Joe Constantine
   An’ Daniel Ackroyd, thee and me,
     An’ other friends o’ thine
   Went up ta sing at t’ Squire’s house
     Net hawf-a-mile fra’ here;
   An’ t’ Squire made us welcome
     To his brown October beer,
               Jim Wreet,
         To his brown October beer.
   An’ owd Joe Booth tha knew, Jim Wreet,
     ’At kept the Old King’s Arms.
   Wheear all t’ church singers used ta meet,
     When they hed sung their Psalms;
   An’ thee an’ me amang ’em, Jim,
     Sometimes hev chang’d the string,
   An’ wi’ a merry chorus join’d,
     We’ve made yon’ tavern ring,
               Jim Wreet,
         We’ve made yon’ tavern ring.

   But nearly three score year, Jim Wreet,
     Hev passed away sin then;
   When Keighley in Apollo’s art
     Could boast her music men.
   But music, nah, means money, Jim,
     An’ that tha’s sense ta knaw;
   But just for owd acquaintance sake,
     Come gie us a wag o’ thi paw, Jim Wreet;
               Jim Wreet,
         Come gie us a wag o’ thi paw.


I think an apology will be scarcely needed for introducing a few remarks
regarding Mr James Wallbank, a well-known and eccentric character in the
town. I have heard that James is dead. Whether this is so or not I cannot
say; certainly I have not seen the old gentleman about for some time.
James was for many years billiard-marker at the Devonshire Hotel. He
cherished the idea that he was related to royalty. He often told me that
he was a relative of one of the old kings of France, and insisted that
his name instead of being Wallbank should be Wal de Brooke, or something
like that. When Burridge, the celebrated American painter, was in
Keighley, he stayed at the Devonshire Hotel and painted Mr Walbank’s
portrait, and the picture is now in the possession of Mr Martin Reynolds.


Another well-known character was Harry Smith, manufacturer. Harry was a
man intensely fond of fun, and one Christmas Eve, I remember, when I was
coming from the station after returning from Scotland, he tapped me on
the shoulder, and, after ascertaining where I had been of late, quoted a
motto of the Freemasons’—“In my Father’s house are many mansions, but
such as I have I give unto thee. Follow me.” I went with Smith to his
house, and spent Christmas Eve there. The subject of my poem, “Gooise and
Giblet Pie,” arose out of that night’s proceedings:—

   A Kersmas song I’ll sing mi lads,
     If you’ll but hearken me,
   An incident i’ Kersmas time
     I’ eighteen sixty three:
   Withaht a cypher i’ the world
     I’d scorn to tell a lie—
   I dined wi’ a gentleman
     O’ gooise an’ giblet pie.

   I’ve been i’ lots o’ feeds, mi’ lads,
     An’ hed some rare tuck-ahts;
   Blood-pudding days wi’ killing pigs,
     Minch pies an’ thumping tarts.
   But I wired in, an’ reight an’ all,
     An’ supped when I wor dry;
   For I wor dining wi’ a gentleman
     O’ gooise an’ giblet pie.
   I hardly knew what ailed me, lads,
     I felt so fearful prahd;
   Mi ears prick’d up, mi collar rose,
     Towards a hawf-a-yard;
   Mi chest stood aht, mi charley in,
     Like horns stuck aht mi tie;
   For I dined wi’ a gentleman
     O’ gooise an’ giblet pie.

   I offen think o’ t’ feed, mi lads,
     When t’ gentleman I meet;
   But nauther of us speyke a word
     Abaht that glorious neet;
   In fact, I hardly can mysel—
     I feel so fearful shy;
   For I ate a deal o’ t’ roasted gooise,
     An’ warmed his giblet pie.


It must be a long lane that has no turning. I am afraid the _Herald_
readers who have followed my Recollections will have thought Bill o’ th’
Hoylus End’s memory an inexhaustible one. The truth is, when I commenced
to “resurrect” my past career I had no idea that the stories and
reminiscences would extend to anything like the length they have gone to;
and even now I find that the source of supply is far from being
exhausted. But, in the circumstances, I have decided to conclude with
this week’s chapter—“the last scene that ends this strange and eventful
history.” In the first place, I must crave an apology from my readers for
not having been able to give events in my career in their chronological
order. As I stated at the outset, I had no diary or data whatever to go
by, and have simply reeled the stories and anecdotes off my memory. It
will thus be readily seen that I cannot have given every little
transaction or happening in my life. In my Recollections I have now and
again introduced descriptions and narratives of various characters with
whom I was brought closely in contact. I may say that in doing this I
have made it my aim to omit, or, failing that, to treat with proper
respect, all incidents concerning individuals who were living themselves
or had relatives living; and I think that nothing I have said in regard
to friends or foes gone over to the Great Majority will have given the
slightest offence to their living representatives. I commenced by
recapitulating some of the tricks of my boyhood—when I was said, by the
old house-wives, to be the “village harum-skarum”—and have traced my
career down to within a few years of the present time. Some of my stories
have been favourable, others unfavourable to my character. My critics
will have said that Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End has many faults; but I must
ask them to forgive my many shortcomings, and look upon my few virtues.
Above all things, I think I can say that with all reasonableness I have
held to the truth. Most of the people of Keighley and the surrounding
towns and villages are familiar with the name, at least, of Bill o’ th’
Hoylus End. Without appearing vain or egotistical, I think I may say that
I have been recognised by high and low, rich and poor, and by people not
altogether unknown to fame. Of all my friends, I entertain the greatest
respect for the late Sir Titus Salt, whose assurance I had that if, while
he was alive, I wanted a helping hand I need not go far or wait long for
it. The baronet honoured me with an interview, at which he told me how
highly he thought of the poem which I had written just previously on the
occasion of the unveiling of the monument of Sir Titus in Bradford.
Perhaps a couple of verses of my “Ode to Sir Titus Salt” will not be
misplaced here:—

   Heedless of others, some there are
     Who all their days employ
   To raise themselves, no matter how,
     And better men destroy.
   How different is the mind of him
     Whose deeds themselves are told,
   Who values worth more nobler far
     Than all the heaps of gold.

   No empty titles ever could
     His principles subdue;
   His queen and country, too, he loved,
     Was loyal and was true:
   He craved no boon from royalty,
     Nor wished their pomp to share;
   For nobler is the soul of him,
     The Founder of Saltaire.

I may venture to say that I have had a valued friend in Mr Butterfield,
of Bonnie Cliffe Castle and fair Marianna, Nice; also in Sir Isaac
Holden, Bart, M.P., Dr Dobie, Keighley, and other gentlemen. I have had a
letter, commending my rhyme, from Sir Albert K. Rollit; and other
communications with respect to the outpouring of my muse from Mr Archie
Laidlaw, of Edinburgh; Councillor Burgess, of Congleton, Cheshire, &c. I
was privileged to claim the late Rev J. Room, M.A., as an especial
friend, and may say that of all the times I shook hands with him I
scarcely ever withdrew my hand without finding “something” in it. Mr
Room’s last request to me was that I would write seven verses—and only
seven, he said—on the death of his dear, beloved wife. I promised to do
so, but (partly through my dilatoriness, I must admit) the rev gentleman
did not live to receive the verses. During the past few days, however, I
have written the following verses on


   John Room! he is dead and is buried;
   There is mourning the whole village through,
   And all the people who knew him
   Are loth to bid him adieu.

   ’Tis true he was filled with compassion;
   God’s nature in him over-flowed;
   He knew all the people with burdens,
   And strove hard to lighten their load.

   His dress it were plain and quite common,
   No pride in him could you trace;
   Yet you knew that he was a good parson
   Whenever you looked in his face.

   The worst things his foes knew about him—
   He was fond of satire or joke,
   Writing some verses of rhythm,
   Which always amused the folk.
   Whene’er he walked into the pulpit,
   He bowed for a moment in prayer,
   Every soul in the temple grew thirsty;—
   The true Christian spirit was there.

   His likes there are few in the nation,
   (I wish in my heart there were more;
   For it wants something else besides learning,
   To grapple the hearts of the poor.)

   ’Tis true he was high up in learning
   The secrets of nations long dead;
   But he cared more for those who were yearning
   Sad tears round the sufferer’s bed.

   Then farewell! my worthy old preacher,
   For thou shall have no end of praise—
   Good father and true-hearted shepherd,
   Who knew both the poor and their ways.


In this, the last chapter, I should like to give a few anecdotes
concerning an eccentric character who was pretty well known in the
Keighley district, although he was a native of Flintergill, a village
near Kendal. This individual was known as “Kendal,” “Flintergill Billy,”
“Three bease an’ a Cow” &c. He was a warpdresser by trade, and for a time
worked along with me at Messrs Butterfield Bros.’ Prospect Mill. He often
used to tell us that his father had “two bease an’ a cow” on his farm at
“Flintergill.” Yes; “Billy” was as queer a chap as one could well
imagine—such a specimen as one often reads about in comic almanacs, but
seldom sees. At one period of his stay in Keighley, “Billy” lived at
Paradise—a row of cottages just below the Prospect Mill. His wife was a
weaver in the mill, and one baking day, I remember, she gave her husband
strict orders “ta hev t’ fire under t’ oven when she com’ fra her wark.”
“Kendal” was working alongside me at warp-dressing, and just before
stopping time the thought chanced to strike him that he had to have the
fire going. Away home he darted, and on his return he stated, in reply to
my question, that he thought all was right. Soon afterwards I happened to
ask if he had put the fire under the pan or the oven, and he had to
acknowledge that he did not know where he had put it. He set off home
again to see how things stood, and lo and behold! he had put the fire
under the pan. Now, “Billy” was not blessed with a superabundance of
sense, and (perhaps flurried by the thought that if the oven was not
ready in time he would “get his ear-hoil weel combed” by his wife) he
scaled the fire out of the range, and re-kindled it under the oven with
the clothes-pegs. The idea of pushing the fire across under the oven did
not seem to occur to poor “Billy’s” brain. The fact remains that he had
just got the clothes-pegs nicely alight when in popped his wife . . . For
various reasons I draw the curtain over the closing scenes in the little
farce.—“Billy” never would allow it to be said that his wife ever bossed
him. Indeed it used to be a standing boast with “Kendal” in public-house
company that he “could mak’ their Martha dew just as he wanted her; he
hed nobbut ta stamp his fooit, an’ shoo did it in a minit.” He was
boasting, as usual, one day, when in came “Martha,” and, without any
words of explanation, seized her “lord and master” by the hair of the
head, and dragged him out of the door. The company fully appreciated the
situation, and with one voice shouted, “Stamp, Flintergill, stamp!” But
there was no stamping. “Martha” pre-eminently proved her authority as
“boss,” whether poor, hen-pecked “Flintergill” came in as “foreman” or
“deputy,” or merely “apprentice” or what.—Another remarkable feature
about “Flintergill” was that he never came back to his work in the
afternoon except that he had had ham, veal, beef, or some other
“scrumptious viand” to his dinner. But on one occasion one of his
shop-mates detected some flour porridge on his waistcoat. During the
afternoon this shop-mate asked “Flintergill” what he had had for dinner.
“Duck and green peas,” promptly replied “Kendal.” “Aye,” said the
workman, “an’ ther’s a feather o’ thi waistcoit.”—Another side-light on
“Kendal’s” character will perhaps be afforded by the following. He went
to a certain shoemaker’s in Haworth, and got measured for a pair of
boots, which it was arranged should be ready by a stated time. Then he
went to another shoemaker’s shop in the village, and was measured for a
pair there. The anecdote runs that on the day fixed for the boots to be
ready “Flintergill” sent his father-in-law’s daughter to each of the
shoemakers, telling her to get “t’reight un fra one, an’ t’left un fra
t’other.” In this way, it was “Flintergill’s” frequent boast, he got a
pair of boots for nothing.—Another story relates his visit to Bradford.
“Flintergill” intended to spend the evening in Pullan’s Music Hall, but
he got into the Bowling Green, where there happened to be a waxwork show.
“This must be Pullan’s,” said “Flintergill” to his companion; and up they
both went on the platform. “Billy” offered his money to the door-keeper,
who, however, neither spoke nor held out his hand. “Flintergill” said he
“wor a funny door-keeper” and threatened that “if he didn’t tak’ t’ brass
they wor bahn in abaht.” And inside “Flintergill” and his friend bounced,
to find that the door-keeper was “Tim Bobbin,”—a wax figure.—Still
another anecdote says that “Flintergill” was one day seen up a tree
sawing off one of the branches. A passer-by asked, “What is ta dewin up
theear, Flintergill?” “Oh,” was the reply, “we call this weyvin i’ ahr
country.” No sooner were the words spoken than “Flintergill” tumbled to
the ground. “Ah see,” said his questioner, very aptly, “an’ tha’s come
dahn fer some more bobbins.” It appeared that “Flintergill” had been
sawing off the bough on which he was standing.—I will close this series
of anecdotes with a reference to the frequency of “Flintergill’s”
flittings. He used to say that he had no sooner got into a house than it
was wanted for a beer-house or by a railway company. “Flintergill” kept a
few hens, and it was said that these hens became so accustomed to the
“flittings” that at the first sign of preparations for removing they
would roll over on their backs with their legs together ready to be tied.


To a few verses I recently wrote I have given the title “My last ramble.”
The lines run as follow:—

   As I stroll round by Exley Head
     Down by the Wheathead Farm,
   My thoughts fall back to days bygone—
     Thoughts which my soul doth charm;
   Each hill and clough, each hedge and stile,
     To me they are most dear;
   And as I pass them one by one
     They bring to me a tear.

   In old Fell Lane when I was young,
     A ruined mansion stood,
   With roofless cots filled up with sticks
     Brought from the Holme House Wood.
   And now I cross the Intake Brig
     Where I used to sport and play,
   And bathe, and plunge, and water splash
     Full many a happy day.

   I gaze upon the old farm-gate,
     And long to have a swing
   Along with all my boyish mates,
     As happy as a king;
   For the carriage of the noble man,
     Or the chariot of the State,
   Never carried nobler hearts
     Than did the old farm-gate.

   I now pass by the Intake Farm,
     And I am much amazed;
   It has the charm for me to day
     As first I on it gazed.
   And farther as I wind my way
     And climb the old Blackhill,
   A scene appears before my sight
     To me more charming still.

   The silvery Tarn—once my delight,
     For there I took my skates,
   On many a happy winter day,
     With my dear little mates.
   The old Tarn House I see again,
     The seat of Aaron King;
   And as I gaze from east to west
     Such sights of wonder spring.

   As far as e’er my eye can see,
     Hills on each other rise,
   Towering their heads in majesty
     Far in the western skies;
   And as I view the landscape round,
     No artist here could dream
   The beauties of the Vale of Aire,
     With its crooked, wimpling stream.

   This was my walk one summer morn,
     When all was on the wing:
   I heard the cuckoo tell his name,
     I heard the lark to sing.
   I left the Tower upon the hill
     Dedicated to the Queen,
   And for old Keighley back again,
     Charmed with all I’d seen.

I must now wind up my rough-and-ready stories. Let me say that if, by the
recital of some of the incidents which happened during my nomadic career,
I have caused any pleasure or amusement to my readers, I feel amply
repaid. If anything which I have said has given offence or caused
displeasure in any quarter, kindly permit me to say that it was done
quite unwittingly.

The Christmas season will soon be here, and in preparation for that glad
time let us put away envy and malice, and offer peace and good-will unto
all. I think the following poem will seasonably conclude my present
series of writings:—


   Sweet lady, ’t is no troubadour
     That sings so sweetly at your door,
   To tell you of the joys in store—
               So grand and gay;
   But one that sings “Remember t’ poor,
               ’Tis Christmas Day.”

   Within some gloomy walls to-day
     Just cheer the looks of hoary gray,
   And try to smooth their rugged way
               With cheerful glow;
   And cheer the widow’s heart, I pray,
               Crushed down with woe.

   O! make the weary spent-up glad,
     And cheer the orphan lass and lad;
   Make frailty’s heart, so long, long sad,
               Your kindness feel;
   And make old crazy-bones stark mad
               To dance a reel.

   Then, peace and plenty be your lot,
     And may your deed ne’er be forgot
   That helps the widow in her cot
               Out of your store;
   Nor creed, nor seed, should matter not—
               The poor are poor.

                               [_The End_]


{1}  Each chapter corresponds to a separate article in the Keighley
Herald and are numbered as such in the newspaper.  To help in locating
the originals the following may be useful:

Chapter          Issue of the Keighley Herald

I                2 June 1893

II               9 June 1893

III              16 June 1893

IV               23 June 1893

V                30 June 1893

VI               7 July 1893

VII              14 July 1893

VIII             21 July 1893

IX               28 July 1893

X                4 August 1893

XI               11 August 1893

XII              18 August 1893

XIII             1 September 1893

XIV              8 September 1893

XV               15 September 1893

XVI              22 September 1893

XVII             29 September 1893

XVIII            6 October 1893

XIX              13 October 1893

XX               20 November 1893

XXI              27 October 1893

XXII             3 November 1893

XXIII            10 November 1893

XXIV             17 November 1893

XXV              24 November 1893

XXVI             1 December 1893

Concluding       8 December 1893

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