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Title: Lancashire Sketches - Third Edition
Author: Waugh, Edwin
Language: English
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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.

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LANCASHIRE SKETCHES.

by

EDWIN WAUGH.

Third Edition



London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co.
Manchester: Alexander Ireland & Co.
1869.



PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.


_In this volume, relating to a district with which the writer is
intimately acquainted, he has gathered up a few points of local
interest, and, in connection with these, he has endeavoured to embody
something of the traits of present life in South Lancashire with
descriptions of its scenery, and with such gleanings from its local
history as bore upon the subject, and, under the circumstances, were
available to him. How far he has succeeded in writing a book which may
be instructive or interesting, he is willing to leave to the judgment
of those who know the country and the people it deals with. He is
conscious that, in comparison with the fertile peculiarities which
Lancashire presents to writers who are able to gather them up, and
to use them well, this volume is fragmentary and discursive; yet he
believes that, so far as it goes, it will not be wholly unacceptable to
native readers._

_The historical information, interspersed throughout the volume,
has been gleaned from so many sources that it would be a matter of
considerable difficulty to give a complete and detailed acknowledgment
of it. In every important case, however, this acknowledgment has been
given, with some degree of care, as fully and clearly as possible, in
the course of the work. Some of this historical matter may prove to
be ill-chosen, if not ill-used--perhaps in some cases it might have
been obtained in a better form, and even more correctly given--but the
writer has, at least, the satisfaction of knowing that, with such light
as he had, and with such elements as were convenient to him, he has
been guided, in his selection of that kind of information, by a desire
to obtain the most correct and the most applicable matter which was
available to him._

_A book which is purely local in its character and bearing, as this is,
cannot be expected to have much interest for persons unconnected with
the district which it relates to. If there is any hope of its being
read at all, that hope is centred there. The subjects it treats upon
being local, and the language used in it being often the vernacular
of a particular part of the county, these circumstances combine to
narrow its circle of acquaintance. But, in order to make that part of
it which is given in the dialect as intelligible as possible to all
readers not intimate with that form of native language, some care has
been taken to explain such words as are unusually ambiguous in form, or
in meaning. And here it may be noticed, that persons who know little
or nothing of the dialect of Lancashire, are apt to think of it as
one in form and sound throughout the county, and expect it to assume
one unvaried feature whenever it is represented in writing. This is a
mistake, for there often exist considerable shades of difference--even
in places not more than eight or ten miles apart--in the expression,
and in the form of words which mean the same thing; and, sometimes, the
language of a very limited locality, though bearing the same general
characteristics as the dialect of the county in general, is rendered
still more perceptibly distinctive in features, by idioms and proverbs
peculiar to that particular spot. In this volume, however, the writer
has taken care to give the dialect, as well as he could, in such a form
as would convey to the mind of the general reader a correct idea of the
mode of pronunciation, and the signification of the idioms, used in the
immediate locality which he happens to be writing about._

_Lancashire has had some learned writers who have written upon themes
generally and locally interesting. But the successful delineation of
the quaint and racy features of its humble life has fallen to the lot
of very few. John Collier, our sound-hearted and clear-headed native
humourist of the last century, left behind him some exquisite glimpses
of the manner of life in his own nook of Lancashire, at that time. The
little which he wrote, although so eccentric and peculiar in character
as to be almost unintelligible to the general reader, contains such
evidence of genius, and so many rare touches of nature, that to
those who can discern the riches hidden under its quaint vernacular
garb, it wears a perennial charm, in some degree akin to that which
characterises the writings of such men as Cervantes and De Foe. And,
in our own day, Samuel Bamford--emphatically a native man--has, with
felicitous truth, transferred to his pages some living pictures of
Lancashire life, which will probably be read with more interest even
than now, long after the writer has been gathered to his fathers.
There are others who have illustrated some of the conditions of social
existence in Lancashire, in a graphic manner, with more polish and more
learning; but, for native force and truth, John Collier and Samuel
Bamford are, probably, the foremost of all genuine expositors of the
characteristics of the Lancashire people._

_In conclusion, all that has hitherto been done in this way is small in
amount, compared with that which is left undone. The past, and still
more the disappearing present, of this important district teem with
significant features, which, if caught up and truthfully represented,
might, perhaps, be useful to the next generation._

  _E. W._

  _Manchester._



PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.


_Since the second issue of this volume, the matter it contained has
been revised and corrected; and considerable additions have been made
thereto. But, even yet, the writer is sensible of many crudities
remaining in this, his first venture upon the world of letters. And
amongst the new matter which has been added to the present edition,
the reader will find, at least, one article--"Saint Catherine's
Chapel"--which has no direct connection with a volume of "Lancashire
Sketches." He must now, however, leave the book to such fate as awaits
it; hoping that, if time and health be granted to him, he may yet do
something worthier of the recognition which his efforts have already
met with from the people of his native county._

  _E. W._

  _Manchester._



CONTENTS.


                                                            PAGE.

  CHAPEL ISLAND; OR, AN ADVENTURE ON THE ULVERSTONE SANDS      1

  RAMBLE FROM BURY TO ROCHDALE                                16

  THE COTTAGE OF TIM BOBBIN, AND THE VILLAGE OF MILNROW       41

  THE BIRTHPLACE OF TIM BOBBIN                                70

  RAMBLE FROM ROCHDALE TO THE TOP OF BLACKSTONE EDGE         104

  THE TOWN OF HEYWOOD AND ITS NEIGHBOURHOOD                  160

  THE GRAVE OF GRISLEHURST BOGGART                           198

  BOGGART HO' CLOUGH                                         214

  ROSTHERNE MERE                                             235

  OLIVER FERNLEAF'S WATCH                                    245

  NORBRECK: A SKETCH ON THE LANCASHIRE COAST                 253

  WANDERING MINSTRELS; OR, WAILS OF THE WORKLESS POOR        275

  A WAYSIDE INCIDENT, DURING THE COTTON FAMINE               281

  SAINT CATHERINE'S CHAPEL; OR, THE PRETTY ISLAND BAY        286

  THE KNOCKER-UP                                             298

  THE COMPLAINT OF A SAD COMPLAINT                           304



    LANCASHIRE SKETCHES.



    Chapel Island;
    OR,
    An Adventure on Ulverstone Sands.

    The wills above be done! but I would fain die a dry death.
    THE TEMPEST.


I have spent many a pleasant day at the village of Bardsea, three miles
south of Ulverstone. It stands close to Conishead Park, high upon a
fertile elbow of land, the base of which is washed on two sides by the
waters of Morecambe Bay. It is an old hamlet, of about fifty houses,
nearly all in one wandering street, which begins at the bottom of a
knoll, on the Ulverstone side, and then climbs to a point near the
summit, where three roads meet, and where the houses on one side stand
back a few yards, leaving an open ground like a little market-place.
Upon the top of the knoll, a few yards east of this open space, the
church stands, overlooking sea and land all round. From the centre
of the village the street winds on towards the beach. At this end a
row of neat houses stands at a right angle, upon an eastward incline,
facing the sea. The tide washes up within fifty yards of these houses
at high water. At the centre of the village, too, half a dozen pleasant
cottages leave the street, and stand out, like the fin of a fish, in a
quiet lane, which leads down into a little shady glen at the foot of
Birkrigg. The same lane leads, by another route, over the top of that
wild hill, into the beautiful vale of Urswick. Bardsea is a pretty,
out of the way place, and the country about it is very picturesque and
varied. It is close to the sea, and commands a fine view of the bay,
and of its opposite shores, for nearly forty miles. About a mile west
of the village, Birkrigg rises high above green pastures and leafy
dells that lap his feet in beauty. Northward, the road to Ulverstone
leads through the finest part of Conishead Park, which begins near the
end of the village. This park is one of the most charming pieces of
undulant woodland scenery I ever beheld. An old writer calls it "the
Paradise of Furness." On the way to Ulverstone, from Bardsea, the Leven
estuary shows itself in many a beautiful gleam through the trees of the
park; and the fells of Cartmel are in full view beyond. It is one of
the pleasantest, one of the quietest walks in the kingdom.

The last time I saw Bardsea it was about the middle of July. I had gone
there to spend a day or two with a friend. There had not been a cloud
on the heavens for a week; and the smell of new hay came on every sigh
that stirred the leaves. The village looked like an island of sleepy
life, with a sea of greenery around it, surging up to the very doors of
its white houses, and flinging the spray of nature's summer harmonies
all over the place. The songs of birds, the rustle of trees, the ripple
of the brook at the foot of the meadows, and the murmur of the sea,
all seem to float together through the nest of man, making it drowsy
with pleasure. It was fairly lapped in soothing melody. Every breath
of air brought music on its wings; and every song was laden with sweet
smells. Nature loved the little spot, for she caressed it and croodled
about it, like a mother singing lullabies to a tired child. And Bardsea
was pleased and still, as if it knew it all. It seemed the enchanted
ear of the landscape; for everywhere else the world was alive with
the jocund restlessness of the season. My friend and I wandered about
from morning to night. In the heat of the day the white roads glared
in the sun; and, in some places, the air seemed to tremble at about a
man's height from the ground, as I have seen it tremble above a burning
kiln sometimes. But for broad day we had the velvet glades and shady
woods of Conishead to ramble in; and many a rich old lane, and some
green dells, where little brooks ran whimpling their tiny undersongs,
in liquid trebles, between banks of nodding wild flowers. Our evening
walks were more delightful still; for when soft twilight came, melting
the distinctions of the landscape in her dreamy loveliness, she had
hardly time to draw "a thin veil o'er the day" before sea and land
began to shine again under the radiance of the moon. Wandering among
such scenes, at such a time, was enough to touch any man's heart with
gratitude for the privilege of existence in this world of ours.

My friend's house stands upon a buttressed shelf of land, half-way
up the slope which leads from the shore into Bardsea. It is the most
seaward dwelling of the place; and it is bowered about on three sides
with little plots of garden, one of them kept as a playground for the
children. It commands a glorious view of the bay, from Hampsfell, all
round by Arnside and Lancaster, down to Fleetwood. Sometimes, at night,
I have watched the revolutions of the Fleetwood light, from the front
of the house, whilst listening to the surge of the tide along the
shore, at the foot of the hill.

One day, when dinner was over, we sat down to smoke at an open window,
which looked out upon the bay. It was about the turning of the tide,
for a fisherman's cart was coming slowly over the sands, from the nets
at low water. The day was unusually hot; but, before we had smoked
long, I felt as if I couldn't rest any longer indoors.

"Where shall we go this afternoon?" said I, knocking the ashes out of
my pipe upon the outside sill.

"Well," replied my friend, "I have been thinking that we couldn't do
better than stroll into the park a while. What do you say?"

"Agreed," said I. "It's a bonny piece of woodland. I dare say many a
Roman soldier has been pleased with the place, as he marched through
it, sixteen centuries ago."

"Perhaps so," said he, smiling, and taking his stick from the corner;
"but the scene must have been very different then. Come along."

At the garden gate we found three of his flaxen-headed children romping
with a short-legged Scotch terrier, called "Trusty." The dog's wild
eyes shone in little slits of dusky fire through the rusty thicket
of gray hair which overhung them. "Trusty" was beside himself with
joy when we came into the road; and he worried our shoes, and shook
our trousers' slops in a sham fury, as if they were imaginary rats;
and he bounced about and barked, till the quiet scene, from Bardsea
to Birkrigg, rang with his noisy glee. Some of the birds about us
seemed to stop singing for a few seconds, and, after they had taken an
admiring look sideway at the little fellow, they burst out again louder
than ever, and in more rollicking strains, heartily infected with the
frisky riot of that little four-legged marlocker. Both the dog and the
children clamoured to go with us. My friend hesitated as first one,
then another, tugged at him, and said: "Pa, let me go." Turning to me,
he scratched his head, and said: "I've a good mind to take Willie." The
lad instantly gave a twirl round on one heel, and clapped his hands,
and then laid hold of his father's coat-lap, by way of clenching the
bargain at once. But, just then, his mother appeared at the gate, and
said: "Eh, no, Willie, you'd better not go. You'll be so tired. Come,
stay with me. That's a good boy." Willie let go his hold slowly, and
fell back with a disappointed look. "Trusty" seemed to know that there
was a hitch in the matter, for he suddenly became quieter; and, going
up to Willie, he licked his hands consolingly, and then, sitting down
beside him, he looked round from one to another, to see how the thing
was to end.

"Don't keep tea waiting for us," said my friend, "we'll be back in time
for an early supper."

"Very well," replied his good wife; "we'll have something nice. Don't
be late."

The dog was now whining and wrestling in the arms of Willie, who was
holding him back. We made our bows, and bade "Good-bye" to the children
and to their mother, and then turned up the road. Before we had got
many yards, she called out:--

"I say, Chris, if you go as far as Ulverstone, call at Mrs. Seatle's,
and at Town and Fell's, for some things which I ordered. Bella Rigg can
bring them down in her cart. These children want a new skipping rope,
too: and you might bring something for Willie."

The little girls begun to dance about, shaking their sunny locks, and
singing, "Eh, a new skipping rope! a new skipping rope!" Then the
youngest seized her father's hand, and cocking up her rosy button-hole
of a mouth, she said, "Pa! Pa! lift me up! I want to tell you somefin."

"Well; what is it, pet?" said he, taking her in his arms.

Clipping his neck as far as she could, she said, "Div me a tis,
first." And then she whispered in his ear, "If--you'll--buy--me--a
_big_ doll, I'll sing, 'Down in a low and drassy bed,' four times, when
you tum home,--_now_ then. 'Trusty' eated my odder doll, when we was
playin' shop in de dardin." And then he had to kiss them again, and
promise--I know not what.

Once more we said "Good bye," and walked up towards the white village;
the chime of sweet voices sinking into a silvery hum as we got farther
off. Everything in Bardsea was unusually still. Most of the doors and
windows were open; and, now and then, somebody peeped out as we passed
by, and said it was "a fine day." Turning round to look at the sands,
we saw the dumpy figure of "Owd Manuel," the fisherman, limping up
from the foot of the slope, with his coat slung upon his arm. The old
man stopped, and wiped his forehead, and gave his crutch a flourish,
by way of salutation. We waved our hats in reply, and went on. At the
centre of the village stands the comfortable inn, kept by "Old Gilly,"
the quaint veteran who, after spending the prime of manhood in hard
service among the border smugglers, has settled down to close the
evening of his life in this retired nest. Here, too, all was still,
except the measured sound of a shoemaker's hammer, ringing out from
the open door of a cottage, where "Cappel" sat at his bench, beating
time upon a leather sole to the tune of a country song. And, on the
shady side, next door to the yard wall, which partly encloses the
front of the old inn, the ruddy, snow-capped face and burly figure of
"Old Tweedler" was visible, as still as a statue. He was in his shirt
sleeves, leaning against the door-cheek of his little grocery shop,
smoking a long pipe, and looking dreamily at the sunny road. "Tweedler"
needs a good deal of wakening at any time; but when he is once fairly
wakened, he is a tolerable player on the clarionet, and not a very bad
fiddler; and he likes to talk about his curious wanderings up and down
the kingdom with show-folk. When the old man had found us out, and had
partly succeeded in getting his heavy limbs into a mild disposition
to move, he sidled forth from his little threshold, and came towards
us, gurgling something from his throat that was not unlike the low
growl of an old hoarse dog. His gruff, slow-motioned voice sounded
clear all around, waking the echoes of the sleepy houses, as he said,
"Well,--gen-tle-men. What? Wheer are you for,--to-day?" We told him
that we were going down to the Priory, for a stroll; but we should like
to call at "Gilly's" first, for a few minutes, if he would go in with
us. "Well," said he; "it's a very het day an' I don't mind hevin' an
odd gill. In wi' ye,--an' I'll follow--in a minute," and then he sidled
back to his nest.

There was not a sound of life in "Old Gilly's" house; but the trim cap
of his kind dame was visible inside, bobbing to and fro by the window
of the little bar. "Gilly," in his kind-hearted way, always calls her
"Mammy." We looked in at the bar, and the old lady gave us a cordial
welcome. "My good-man has just gone to lie down," said she; "but I'll
go and tell him." We begged that she would let him rest, and bring us
three glasses of her best ale. The sun shone in strongly at the open
back door. At the rear of the house, there is a shady verandah, and a
garden in front of it. There we sat down, looking at the bright bay.
The city of Lancaster was very distinct, on the opposite side of the
water, more than twenty miles off. In a few minutes we heard Tweedler's
cart-horse tread, as he came through the lobby, with two books in his
hand.

"There," said he, handing one of them to me; "I've turned that up amang
a lot o' lumber i't house. I warnd it's just the thing for ye. What the
devil is't, think ye? For it's past my skill."

It was an old, well-thumbed Latin Delectus, with one back off, and
several leaves gone. It was not of much use to me; but when the old man
said, "Now, that's a fine book, I'll awarnd, an' I'll mak' ye a present
on't," I felt bound to receive it thankfully; and I did so.

"An' this," said he, holding up the other; "is a book o' sangs.
Cummerlan' sangs."

It was a thin volume, in papered boards--a cheap edition of Anderson's
ballads--printed in double column, royal octavo.

"Ay." replied my friend; "I should like to look at that."

"Varra well," said Tweedler; "put it i' your pocket. I'll land it ye."
And then, as if half-repenting, he continued, "But I set a deal o'
store o' that book. I don't think as I could get another for ony money."

"You shall have it back in a day or two," said my friend.

"Oh," replied Tweedler, "it's all reight wi' ye. But I wouldn't ha'
lant it onybody, mind ye."

My friend put the book in his pocket, promising to take especial care
of it; and then we drank up, and came away; and Tweedler sauntered back
to lean against the door-cheek, and smoke.

It was about half-past one when we walked out at the landward end of
the village. The only person we met was a horseman, riding hastily
up from the skirt of the park. As he sped by I recognised the tall
figure and benevolent face of Dr. Anderson, of Ulverstone. Near Bardsea
Hall an old lane leads off at the right-hand of the road, down to the
sea-beach, from whence there is a pleasant walk along the shore of the
Leven estuary, to a little fishing village, called Sandside, and thence
a good road, between meadow lands, up into Ulverstone. After a minute's
conversation, at the end of this lane, we agreed to go that way. When
we came out upon the shore, my friend stopped, and looked across the
sands.

"Was you ever on Chapel Island?" said he, pointing towards it.

"No," replied I; "but I should like to see that spot. Are there any
remains of the old chantry left?"

"A few," said he; "mostly incorporated with the house of a fisherman
who lives on the island. But we'll go over to it. There's nice time to
get across before the tide comes in. It's not much more than a mile."

I was pleased with the idea of seeing this little historic island,
of which I had read and heard so much; so we strode out towards it
at once. The sands between looked as level as a bowling-green, and
perfectly dry; and it did not seem to me more than half the distance my
friend had said. Before we had gone many yards he began a story:--

"The last time I was on the island there were several friends--But
hold! we had better take something to eat and drink. They'll have next
to nothing there; and we shall have to stop till the next ebb. Wait
here. I'll run back. I shan't be many minutes." And away he went to the
green lane.

There was an old black boat on the sands, close to where he had left
me. I got into it, and, pulling my hat over my eyes to shade the sun
away, I lay down on my back and listened to the birds in Conishead
Park. It was something more than a quarter of an hour before he
appeared at the end of the lane again, with a brown bottle in one hand
and with pockets well stored. Without stopping an instant, he walked
right out upon the sands, wiping the perspiration from his brow as
he went. Staring straight at the island, he said, "Come on. We've no
time to lose, now. But we can manage it." I remember fancying that
there was an unusual earnestness in the tone of his voice; but I did
not think much more about it at the time, for the sands still seemed
quite dry between us and the island; so I followed him in silence,
looking round at the beautiful scene, with my mind at ease. My friend
was a tall, lithe man, in the prime of life, and a very good walker.
I had not been well for some days previous, and I began to feel that
the rate he was going at was rather too much for me. Besides, I had
a pair of heavy, double-soled boots on, and my thick coat was loaded
with books and papers. But I laboured on, perspiring freely. I thought
that I could manage well enough to keep up with him for the distance
we had to go. In a few minutes we began to come to patches of wet
sand, where the feet sank at every step, and our progress was slower,
though a good deal more difficult. We did not seem to get much nearer
the island, though we were walking so hard. This tried me still more;
and, not seeing any need for such a desperate hurry, I said, "Don't
go so fast!" But he kept up the pace, and, pointing to where a white
sail was gliding up the other side of the island, towards Ulverstone,
he said, "Come along! The main channel's filling! We've a channel to
cross on this side, yet. D'ye see yon white line? It's the tide rushing
in! Come on! We can't turn back now!" It was only then that I began to
see how we were situated; and I tramped on at his heels, through the
soft wet sand, perspiring and panting, and still without seeming to get
over much ground. In a few minutes we came to a shallow channel, about
eight or ten yards across. We splashed through, without speaking. It
only took us a little above the knee; but, I perceived that the water
was rising rapidly. Thinking that the danger was over, I stammered out,
"Stop! Slacken a bit! We're all right now!" But the tone, as well as
the words of his reply, startled me, as he shot ahead, crying, "This
is not it! This is nothing! Come on!" I was getting exhausted; and,
when he cried out, "Double!" and broke into a run, I had not breath to
spare for an answer; but I struggled on desperately. The least false
step would have brought me down; and, if I had fallen, I think that
even that delay would have been more than we had to spare. Three or
four minutes brought us up to the channel he had spoken of. It was an
old bed of the river Leven. It must have been from fifteen to twenty
yards wide at that moment, and the tide was increasing it at a terrible
rate. When we got to the edge of the water, I was so done up that
I panted out: "Stop! I can't go so fast!" But my friend turned half
round, with a wild look, and almost screamed: "But you must! It's
death!" Then we went into the water, without any more words. I was a
little on one side of him, and about two yards in the rear. It is a
wonder to me now how I got through that deep, strong, tidal current.
The water must have revived me a little, unconsciously to myself, at
the time. Before we had got to the middle, I saw the book of ballads in
the side pocket of my friend's shooting coat disappearing in the water
as he went deeper into the channel. My clothes began to grow heavy, and
the powerful action of the tide swayed me about so much that I could
hardly keep my feet, and I expected every moment being whelmed over.
But somehow I strove on, the water deepening at every step. A thousand
thoughts crowded into my mind whilst wading that channel. I remember
distinctly the terrible stillness of the scene; the frightful calm of
the blue sky; the rocky island, with its little grove of trees, waving
gracefully in the sunshine--all so beautiful, yet all looking down with
such a majestic indifference upon us, as we wrestled for life with the
rising tide. About mid-channel, when the water was high up my breast,
my friend gave a wild shout for help, and I instantly did the same. The
island was not much more than forty yards off. As my friend turned his
head, I caught a glimpse of his haggard look, and I thought all was
over. The rocks re-echoed our cries; but everything was still as death,
except the little grove of trees waving in the sunshine. There was not
a living soul in sight. My heart sank, and I remember feeling, for an
instant, as if it was hardly worth while struggling any longer. And
here let me bear testimony to a brave act on the part of my friend. In
the deepest part of the channel, when the water was near the top of my
shoulders, he put out his stick sideway, and said, "Get hold!" I laid
only a feeble grasp upon it, for I had enough to do to keep my feet.
When we had waded about three yards in this way, we began to see that
we were ascending the opposite bank rapidly, for it was steeper than
the other one. In two minutes more we were out upon the dry sands, with
our clothes clinging heavily about us, and our hearts beating wild with
mingled emotions. "Now," said I, panting for breath, "let's sit down
a minute." "No, no!" replied he in a resolute tone, pushing on; "come
farther off." A walk of about thirty yards brought us to the foot of
the rocks. We clambered painfully up from stone to stone, till we came
upon a little footpath which led through the grove and along the garden
to the old fisherman's cottage, on the north side of the island. As we
entered the grove I found that my friend had kept hold of the brown
bottle all the way. I did not notice this till we came to the first
patch of grassy ground, where he flung the bottle down and walked on.
He told me afterwards that he believed it had helped to steady him
whilst coming through the channel.

The fisherman's cottage is the only dwelling on the little island. We
found the door open, and the birds were singing merrily among the green
bushes about the entrance. There was nobody in but the old fisherman's
wife, and she was deaf. We might have shouted long enough before she
could have heard us; and if she had heard, the poor old body could
hardly have helped us. When we got to the door, she was busy with
something at the fire, and she did not hear our approach. But, turning
round, and seeing us standing there, she gazed a few seconds with a
frightened look, and then, lifting up both hands, she cried out, "Eh,
dear o' me; good folk! Whativver's to do? Whereivver han yo cum fra?
Eh; heawivver han yo getten ower?"

We told our tale in a few words; and then she began again:--

"Good lorjus days, childer! What browt yo through t' channel at sich
an ill time as this? It's a marcy 'at yo weren't draan'd mony a time
ower! It mud ha' bin my awn lads! Eh, what trouble there'd ha' bin
for someb'dy. What, ye'll ha' mothers livin', likely; happen wives
and childer?... Eh, dear o' me! Bud cum in wi' ye! Whativver are ye
stonnin' theer for? Cum in, an' get your claes off--do! an' get into
bed this minute," said she, pointing to a little, low-roofed room in
the oldest part of the house.

The water from our clothes was running over the floor; but when we
spoke about it in the way of apology, the old woman said, "Nivver ye
mind't watter. Ye've had watter enough for yance, I should think. Get
in theer, I tell ye; an' tak' your weet claes off. Now, don't stan'
gabblin', but creep into bed, like good lads; an' I'll bring ye some
het tea to drink.... Eh, but ye owt to be thankful 'at ye are wheer ye
are!... Ye'd better go into that inside room; It'll be quieter. Leave
your claes i' this nar room, an' I'll hing 'em up to dry. An' put some
o' thoose aad shirts on. They're poor, but they're comfortable. Now, in
wi' ye! ye can talk at efter."

The old woman had four grown-up sons, labourers and fishermen; and
there was plenty of working clothes belonging to them, lying about the
bedroom. After we had stript our wet things, and flung them down, one
after another, with a splash, we put on a rough shirt a-piece, and
crept into bed. In a few minutes she came in with a quart pitcher full
of hot tea, and a cup to drink it from; and, setting it down upon a
chair at the bedside, she said, "Now, get that into ye, and hev a bit
of a sleep. Eh, dear o' me! It's a marcy ye warn't draan'd!"

We lay still, talking and looking about us; but we could not sleep.
The excitement we had gone through had left a band of intense pain
across the lower part of my forehead, as if a hot wire was burning into
it. The walls of the room we lay in were partly those of the ancient
chapel which gives name to the island. In fact, the little ragged,
weed-grown belfrey still stood above our heads, almost the only relic
of the ruined chantry, except the foundations, and some pieces of the
old walls built up into the cottage. This chapel was founded above five
centuries ago, by the monks of Furness. Here they prayed daily "for
the safety of the souls of such as crossed the sands with the morning
tide." The Priory of Conishead was charged with the maintenance of
guides across this estuary, which is perhaps the most dangerous part of
the Morecambe Sands. Baines says of the route across these sands: "The
tract is from Holker Hall to Plumpton Hall, keeping Chapel Island a
little to the left; and the mind of a visitor is filled with a mixture
of awe and gratitude when, in a short time after he has traversed this
estuary, almost dry shod, he beholds the waters advancing into the bay,
and bearing stately vessels towards the harbour of Ulverstone, over the
very path which he has so recently trodden." I can imagine how solemn
the pealing of that little island chapel's bell must have sounded upon
the shores of the estuary, floating over those dangerous waters its
daily warning of the uncertainty of human life. Perhaps the bodies
of drowned men might have lain where we were lying; or travellers
rescued from the tide by those ancient ministers of religion might have
listened with grateful hearts to the prayers and thanksgivings offered
up in that venerable chantry. The chastening interest of old pious
usage clings to the little island still; and it stands in the midst
of the waters, preaching in mute eloquence to every thoughtful mind.
There was something in the sacred associations of the place; there was
something in the mouldering remnant of the little chapel, which helped
to deepen the interest of our eventful visit that day. We could not
sleep. The sun shone in aslant at the one tiny window of our bedroom,
and the birds were singing merrily outside. As we lay there, thinking
and talking about these things, my friend said, "I feel thankful now
that I did not bring Willie with me. If I had done so, nothing could
have saved us. The tide had come in behind, and a minute more at the
channel would have been too much."

After resting about three hours, we got up, and put on some of
the cast-off clothes which had been worn by the old woman's sons
whilst working in the land. My trousers were a good deal too long,
and they were so stiff with dried slutch that they almost stood up
of themselves. When they were on, I felt as if I was dressed in
sheet-iron. I never saw two stranger figures than we cut that day, as
we entered the kitchen again, each amusing himself with the other's
comical appearance.

"Never ye mind," said the old woman; "there's naabody to see ye bud
mysel; ye may think varra weel 'at ye're alive to wear owt at all. But
sart'ny ye looken two bonny baygles! I daat varra mich whether your awn
folk would knaw ye. It quite alters your fayturs. I should't tak ye to
be aboon ninepence to t' shillin' at the varra most. As for ye," said
she, addressing myself, "ye'n na 'casion to talk, for ye're as complete
a flay-crow as ivver I set e'en on,"

The kitchen was cleaned up, and the things emptied from our pockets lay
about. Here books and papers were opened out to dry. There stockings
hung upon a line, and our boots were reared against the fender, with
their soles turned to the fire. On the dresser two little piles of
money stood, and on a round table were the sandwiches and hard-boiled
eggs which my friend had brought in his pockets.

"What are ye for wi' this?" said the old woman, pointing to the
eatables. "One or two o't eggs are crushed a bit, but t' ham's naa
warse, 'at I can see."

"Let us taste what it is like," said my friend.

"That's reight," replied she; "an' yell hev a cup o' het tea to it. I
have it ready here." The tea was very refreshing; but we couldn't eat
much, for we had not quite recovered from the late excitement. After
a little meal, we went out to walk upon the island. Our damp clothes
were fluttering upon the green bushes about the cottage. They were
drying fast; for, though the sun was hot, a cool breeze swept over
the bay from the south-west. We wandered through the grove, and about
the garden, or rather the "kailyard," for the chief things grown in
it were potatoes, cabbages, brocoli, pot-herbs, and such like things,
useful at dinner time. There were very few flowers in it, and they
were chiefly such as had to take care of themselves. In the grove
there were little bowery nooks, and meandering footpaths, mostly worn
by visitors from the neighbouring shores. The island has been much
larger than it is now. Great quantities of limestone rock have been
sold, and carried away to the mainland; and it seems as if this little
interesting leaf of local history was fated to ultimate destruction
in that way. We walked all round it, and then we settled down upon a
grassy spot, at the south-western edge, overlooking the channel we had
waded through. There was something solemn in the thought that, instead
of gazing upon the beautiful bay, we might have been lying at that
moment in the bed of the channel there, with the sunny waters rippling
above us, or drifting out with the retiring tide to an uncrowded grave
in the western sea. The thick woods of Conishead looked beautiful on
the opposite shore, with the white turrets of the Priory rising out of
their embowering shades. A little south of that the spire of Bardsea
church pointed heavenward from the summit of a green hill, marking the
spot where the village stood hidden from our view. White sails were
gliding to and fro upon the broad bay, like great swans with sunlit
wings. It was a beautiful scene. We sat looking at it till we began to
feel chill, and then we went back to the cottage.

About six o'clock the old fisherman returned home from Ulverstone; and,
soon after, two of his sons arrived from Conishead Park, where they
had been working at a deep drain. They were tall, hardy-looking men,
about middle-age. The old fisherman, who knows the soundings of the
sands all round, seemed to think we had picked our way to the island as
foolishly as it was possible to do. He talked about the matter as if we
had as good a knowledge of the sands as himself, and had set out with
the express intention of doing a dangerous exploit. "Now," said he,
pointing a good way north of the way we had crossed, "if ye'd ha' come
o'er by theer, ye mud ha' done it easy. Bud, what the devil, ye took
the varra warst nook o't channel. _I_ wonder as ye weren't _draan'd_.
I've helped to get mony a ane aat o' that hole--baith deead an' alive.
I yence pulled a captain aat by th' yure o't' yed, as had sailed all
ower t' warld, nearly. An' we'd summat to do to bring him raand, an'
all. He was that far geean.... Now, if ye'd ha' getten upo' yon bank,"
continued he, "ye mud ha' managed to ha' studden till help had come to
ye. What, ye wadn't ha' bin varra mich aboon t' middle.... But it's
getten near law watter. I mun be off to t' nets. Will ye go daan wi'
me?"

There were two sets of "stake nets" belonging to the island; one on
the north end, and the other on the western side, in our own memorable
channel. The sons went to those on the north; and the old man took
a stick in his hand, and a large basket on his arm, and we followed
him down the rocks to the other nets. They are great cages of strong
network, supported by lofty poles, or stakes, from which they take
their name. They are so contrived that the fish can get into them at
high water, but cannot escape with the retiring tide. There was rather
more than a foot of water at the bottom of the nets; but there was not
a fish visible, till the old man stepped in; and then I saw that flukes
lay thick about the bottom, half-hidden in the sand. We waded in, and
helped to pick them up, till the great basket was about half full. He
then closed the net, and came away, complaining that it was "nobbut
a poor catch." When we got to the cottage we put on our own clothes,
which were quite dry. And, after we had picked out two dozen of the
finest flukes, which the old man strung upon a stout cord for ease of
carriage, we bade adieu to the fisherman and his family, and we walked
away over the sands, nearly by the way we had come to the island.

The sun had gone down behind old Birkrigg; but his westering splendour
still empurpled the rugged tops of the Cartmel hills. The woods of
Conishead were darkening into shade; and the low of cattle came,
mellowed by distance, from the rich pastures of Furness. It was a
lovely evening. Instead of going up the green lane which leads to the
landward end of Bardsea, we turned southward, along the shore, and took
a grass-grown shady path, which winds round the sea-washed base of the
hill upon which the church stands and so up into the village by a good
road from the beach. The midges were dancing their airy rounds; the
throstle's song began to ring clearer in the stilling woods; and the
lone ouzel, in her leafy covert, chanted little fits of complaining
melody, as if she had lost something. There were other feathered
lingerers here and there in those twilight woods, not willing yet to go
to rest, through unwearied joyfulness of heart, and still singing on,
like children late at play, who have to be called in by their mothers
as night comes on. When we drew near my friend's house, he said, "Now,
we had better not mention this little affair to our people." But, as we
sat at supper that night, I could not help feeling thankful that we wer
e eating fish instead of being eaten by them.



    Ramble from Bury to Rochdale.

    "Its hardly in a body's pow'r
    To keep, at times' fra being sour."
    BURNS.


One fine afternoon, at the end of February, I had some business to do
in Bury, which kept me there till evening. As twilight came on, the
skies settled slowly into a gorgeous combination of the grandest shapes
and hues, which appeared to canopy the country for miles around. The
air was clear, and it was nipping cold; and every object within sight
stood out in beautiful relief in that fine transparence, softened by
the deepening shades of evening. The world seemed to stand still and
meditate, and inhale silently the air of peace which pervaded that
tranquil hour of closing day, as if all things on earth had caught
the spirit of "meek nature's evening comments on the fuming shows and
vanities of man." The glare of daylight is naturally fitted for bustle
and business, but such an eventide as this looked the very native hour
of devout thought, and recovery from the details of worldly occupation.
It is said that the town of Bury takes its name from the Saxon word
_byri_, a burgh, or castle. One of the twelve ancient Saxon fortresses
of Lancashire stood in the place now called "Castle Croft," close to
the town, and upon the banks of the old course of the river Irwell.
Immediately below the eminence, upon which the castle once stood, a
low tract of ground, of considerable extent, stretches away from below
the semicircular ridge upon which the northern extremity of the town
is situated, up the valley of the Irwell. Less than fifty years ago
this tract was a great stagnant swamp, where, in certain states of the
weather the people of the neighbourhood could see the weird antics of
the "Wild Fire," or "Jack o' Lantern," that fiend of morass and fen.
An old medical gentleman, of high repute, who has lived his whole life
in the town, lately assured me that he remembers well that, during the
existence of that poisonous swamp, there was a remarkable prevalence of
fever and ague amongst the people living in its neighbourhood; which
diseases have since then comparatively disappeared from the locality.
There is something rich in excellent suggestions in the change which
has been wrought in that spot. The valley, so long fruitful of
pestilences, is now drained and cleared, and blooms with little garden
allotments, belonging to the working people thereabouts. Oft as I
chance to pass that way, on Saturday afternoons, or holidays, there
they are, working in their little plots, sometimes assisted by their
children, or their wives; a very pleasant scene.

I lingered in the market-place a little while, looking at the parish
church, with its new tower and spire, and at the fine pile of new
stone buildings, consisting of the Derby Hotel, the Town Hall, and the
Athenæum. South Lancashire has, for a very long time past, been chiefly
careful about its hard productive work, and practicable places to do
it in; and has taken little thought about artistic ornament of any
sort; but the strong old county palatine begins to flower out a little
here and there, and this will increase as the wealth of the county
becomes influenced by elevated taste. In this new range of buildings,
there was a stateliness and beauty, which made the rest of the town
of Bury look smaller and balder than ever it seemed to me before. It
looked like a piece of the west end of London, dropped among a cluster
of weavers' cottages. But my reflections took another direction. At
"The Derby," there, thought I, will be supplied--to anybody who can
command "the one thing needful"--sumptuous eating and drinking, fine
linen, and downy beds, hung with damask curtaining; together with grand
upholstery, glittering chandelier and looking-glass, and more than
enough of other ornamental garniture of all sorts; a fine cook's shop
and dormitory, where a man might make shift to tickle a few of his five
senses very prettily, if he was so disposed. A beggar is not likely to
put up there; but a lord might chance to go to bed there, and dream
that he was a beggar. At the other end of these fine buildings, the new
Athenæum was quietly rising into the air. The wants to be provided for
in that edifice were quite of another kind. There is in the town of
Bury, as, more or less, everywhere, a sprinkling of naturally active
and noble minds, struggling through the hard crust of ignorance and
difficulty, towards mental light and freedom. Such salt as this poor
world of ours has in it, is not unfrequently found among these humble
strugglers. I felt sure that such as these, at least, would watch the
laying of the stones of this new Athenæum with a little interest. That
is their grand citadel, thought I; and from thence, the artillery of
a few old books shall help to batter tyranny and nonsense about the
ears;--for there is a reasonable prospect that there, the ample page
of knowledge, "rich with the spoils of time," will be unfolded to all
who desire to consult it; and that from thence the seeds of thought
may yet be sown over a little space of the neighbouring mental soil.
This fine old England of ours will some day find, like the rest of the
world, that it is not mere wealth and luxury, and dexterous juggling
among the legerdemain of trade, that make and maintain its greatness,
but intelligent and noble-hearted men, in whatever station of life
they grow; and they are, at least, sometimes found among the obscure,
unostentatious, and very poor. It will learn to prize these, as the
"pulse of the machine," and to cultivate them as the chief hope of
its future existence and glory; and will carefully remove, as much as
possible, all unnecessary difficulties from the path of those who, from
a wise instinct of nature, are impelled in the pursuit of knowledge by
pure love of it, for its own sake, and not by sordid aims.

The New Town Hall is the central building of this fine pile. The
fresh nap was not yet worn off it; and, of course, its authorities
were anxious to preserve its pristine Corinthian beauty from the
contaminations of "the unwashed." They had made it nice, and they
wanted none but nice people in it. At the "free exhibition" of models
for the Peel monument, a notice was posted at the entrance, warning
visitors, that "Persons in Clogs" would not be admitted. There are
some Town Halls which are public property, in the management of which
a kindred solicitude prevails about mere ornaments of wood and stone,
or painting, gilding, and plaster work; leading to such restrictions
as tend to lessen the service which they might afford to the whole
public. They are kept rather too exclusively for grandee-festivals; and
gatherings of those classes which are too much sundered from the poor
by a Chinese wall of exclusive feeling. I have known the authorities
of such places make "serious objections to evening meetings;" and yet,
I have often seen the farce of "public meetings" got up ostensibly for
the discussion of some important question then agitating the population
of the neighbourhood, inviting _public_ discussion, at _eleven_ o'clock
in the _forenoon_, an hour when the heterodox multitude would be secure
enough at their labour; and, in this way, many a pack of fanatic
hounds--and there are some such in all parties--have howled out their
hour with a clear stage and no foe; and then walked off glorying in
a sham triumph, leaving nothing beaten behind them but the air they
have tainted with _ex parte_ denunciation. And, in my erroneous belief
that this Town Hall, into which "Persons in Clogs" were not to be
admitted, was public property, the qualification test seemed to be of
a queer kind, and altogether at the wrong end of the man. Alas, for
these poor lads who wear clogs and work-soiled fustian garments; it
takes a moral Columbus, every now and then, to keep the world awake to
a belief that there is something fine in them, which has been running
to waste for want of recognition and culture. Blessed and beautiful
are the feet, which fortune has encased in the neat "Clarence," of the
softest calf or Cordovan, or the glossy "Wellington," of fine French
leather. Even so; the woodenest human head has a better chance in this
world if it come before us covered with a good-looking hat. But woe
unto your impertinent curiosity, ye unfortunate clog-wearing lovers
of the fine arts!--(I was strongly assured that there were several
curious specimens of this strange animal extant among the working
people of Bury.) It was pleasant to hear, however, that several of
these ardent persons, of questionable understanding, meeting with this
warning as they attempted to enter the hall, after duly contemplating
it with humourous awe, doffed their condemned clogs at once, and,
tucking the odious timber under their arms, ran up the steps in their
stocking-feet. It is a consolation to believe that these clogs of
theirs are not the only clogs yet to be taken off in this world of
ours. But, as this "Town Hall" is private property, and, as it has
been settled by somebody in the north that "a man can do what he likes
with his own," these reflections are, perhaps, more pertinent to other
public halls that I know of than to this one.

In one of the windows of "The Derby" was exhibited a representation of
"The Eagle and Child," or, as the country-folk in Lancashire sometimes
call it, "Th' Brid and Bantlin'," the ancient recognizance of the
Stanleys, Earls of Derby, and formerly kings of the Isle of Man, with
their motto, "Sans changer," in a scroll beneath. This family still
owns the manor of Bury, and has considerable possessions there. They
have also large estates and great influence in the north and west of
Lancashire. In former times they have been accounted the most powerful
family of the county; and in some of the old wars, they led to the
field all the martial chivalry of Lancashire and Cheshire under their
banner. As I looked on the Stanley's crest, I thought of the fortunes
of that noble house, and of the strange events which it had shared with
the rest of the kingdom. Of James, Earl of Derby, who was beheaded at
Bolton-le-Moors, in front of the Man and Scythe Inn, in Deansgate, two
centuries since; and of his countess, Charlotte de Tremouille, who so
bravely defended Lathom House against the parliamentary forces during
the last civil wars. She was daughter to Claude, Duke of Tremouille,
and Charlotte Brabantin de Nassau, daughter of William, Prince of
Orange, and Charlotte de Bourbon, of the royal house of France. Apart
from the pride of famous descent, both the earl and his lady were
remarkable for certain noble qualities of mind, which commanded the
respect of all parties in those troubled times. I sometimes think that
if it had pleased Heaven for me to have lived in those days, I should
have been compelled by nature to fall into some Roundhead rank, and
do the best I could, for that cause. When a lad at school I had this
feeling: and, as I poured over the history of that period, I well
remember how, in my own mind, I shouted the solemn battle-cry with
great Cromwell and his captains, and charged with the earnest Puritans,
in their bloody struggles against the rampant tyrannies of the time.
Yet, even then, I never read of this James, Earl of Derby--the faithful
soldier of an infatuated king--without a feeling of admiration for the
chivalry of his character. I lately saw, in Bolton, an antique cup of
"stone china," quaintly painted and gilt, out of which it is said that
he drank the communion immediately before his execution. Greenhalgh,
of Brandlesome, who was a notable and worthy man, and who governed the
Isle of Man for the Earls of Derby, lived at Brandlesome Hall, near
Bury. Respecting Edward, the third earl, Camden says: "With Edward,
Earl of Derby's death, the glory of hospitality seemed to fall asleep."
Of his munificent housekeeping, too, he tells us: how he fed sixty
old people twice a day, every day, and all comers twice a week; and
every Christmas-day, for thirty-two years, supplied two thousand seven
hundred with meat, drink, money, and money's worth; and how he offered
to raise ten thousand soldiers for the king. Also, that he had great
reputation as a bone-setter, and was a learned man, a poet, and a man
of considerable talent in many directions. The present Lord Stanley[1]
is accounted a man of great ability as a politician and orator, and of
high and impetuous spirit; and is the leader of the Conservative party
in parliament. A century ago, the influence of great feudal families,
like the Stanleys, was all but supreme in Lancashire; but, since that
time, the old landlord domination has declined in the manufacturing
districts; and the people have begun to set more value upon their
independent rights as men, than upon the painful patronage of feudal
landlords.

 [1] Succeeded his father, the thirteenth Earl of Derby, in 1851. Has
 been Chief Secretary for Ireland, and Secret the Colonies. Accepted
 office as Premier, in 1851.

I had no time to devote to any other of the notabilities of Bury
town; and I thought that "Chamber Hall," the birthplace of the great
departed statesman, Peel, would be worth a special pilgrimage some
Saturday afternoon.[2] I had finished my business about seven o'clock,
and, as the nightfall was fine and clear, I resolved to walk over to
Rochdale, about six miles off, to see an old friend of mine there. Few
people like a country walk better than I do; and being in fair health
and spirits, I took the road at once, with my stick in hand, as brisk
as a Shetland pony, in good fettle. Striking out at the town-end, I
bethought me of an old herbalist, or "yarb doctor," who lived somewhere
thereabouts--a genuine dealer in simples, bred up in the hills, on
Ashworth Moor, about three miles from the town, and who had made the
botany of his native neighbourhood a life-long study. Culpepper's
"Herbal" was a favourite book with him, as it is among a great number
of the country people of Lancashire, where there are, perhaps, more
clever botanists in humble life to be found than in any other part of
the kingdom. Nature and he were familiar friends, for he was a lonely
rambler by hill, and clough, and field, at all seasons of the year,
and could talk by the hour about the beauties and medicinal virtues of
gentian, dandelion, and camomile, or tansy, mountain flax, sanctuary,
hyssop, buckbean, wood-betony, and "Robin-run-i'-th'-hedge," and an
endless catalogue of other herbs and plants, a plentiful assortment
of which he kept by him, either green or in dried bundles, ready for
his customers. The country people in Lancashire have great faith in
simples, and in simple treatment for their diseases. I well remember
that one of their recipes for a common cold is "a wot churn-milk
posset, weel sweet'nt, an' a traycle cake to't, at bed-time." They are
profound believers in the kindly doctrine expressed in that verse of
George Herbert's:--

      "More servants wait on man
    Than he'll take notice of; in ev'ry path
      He treads down what befriends him
      When sickness makes him pale and wan.
    Oh, mighty love! man is one world, and hath
      Another to attend him."

 [2] Since that time the people of Bury have erected a monument in
 their market-place to the memory of this brave-hearted benefactor to
 his country. The statue itself has a noble and simple appearance, but
 the pedestal on which it stands looks an insignificant footing for
 a figure of such proportions, and is a little open to the criticism
 of "Owd Collop," who said it looked "like a giant trying to balance
 hissel a four-peawnd loaf."

Therefore, our primitive old herb-doctor had in his time driven what he
doubtless considered, in his humble way, a pretty gainful trade. And he
was not exactly "a doctor-by-guess," as the Scotch say, but a man of
good natural parts, and of some insight into human physiology, of great
experience and observation in his little sphere, and remarkable for
strong common sense and integrity. He was also well acquainted with the
habits and the peculiar tone of physical constitution among the people
of his neighbourhood. Like his pharmacopæia, his life and manners were
simple, and his rude patients had great confidence in him. It was
getting dark, and I did not know exactly where to find him, or I should
have liked very well to see the old botanist, of whom I had heard a
very interesting account in my native town.

When one gets fairly into the country it is fine walking by a clear
starlight, when the air is touched with frost, and the ground hard
under the foot. I enjoyed all this still more on that old road, which
is always rising some knoll, or descending into some quiet clough,
where all is so still that one can hear the waters sing among the
fields and stunted woods off the wayside. The wind was blowing fresh
and keen across Knowl Hill and the heathery wastes of Ashworth and
Rooley, those wild heights which divide the vale of the Roach from
the Forest of Rossendale. I stood and looked upon the blue heavens,
"fretted with golden fire," and around me upon this impressive
night-scene, so finely still and solemn, the effect deepened by
the moanings of the wind among the trees. My mind reverted to the
crowded city, and I thought to myself--this is rather different to
Market-street, in Manchester, on a Tuesday forenoon, about the time
of "high change," as I listened to the clear "Wo-up!" of a solitary
carter to his horse on the top of the opposite knoll, and heard the
latch of a cottage-door lifted, and saw the light from the inside glint
forth into the trees below for an instant. It was a homely glimpse,
which contrasted beautifully with the sombre grandeur of the night. The
cottage-door closed again, the fireside picture was gone; and I was
alone on the silent road, with the clear stars looking down.

I generally put off my meals till I get a hint from the inside; and, by
the time that I reached the bottom of a lonely dell, about three miles
on the road, I began to feel hungry, and I stepped into the only house
thereabouts, a little roadside inn, to get a bite of something. The
house stands near to a narrow woody ravine which runs under the highway
at that place. It is said to have been entirely built by one man, who
got the stone, hewed it, cut the timber, and shaped it, and altogether
built the house, such as it is; and it has an air of primitive rudeness
about it, which partly corroborates the story. The very hearth-flag
is an old gravestone, brought from the yard of some ancient moorland
chapel; and part of the worn lettering is visible upon it still. It is
known to the scattered inhabitants of that district by the name of "The
house that Jack built." On entering the place, I found the front room
dark and quiet, and nothing stirring but in the kitchen, where I saw
the light of a candle, and heard a little music among the pots, which
somebody was washing. The place did not seem promising, so far as I
could see at all, but I felt curious, and, walking forward, I found a
very homely-looking old woman bustling about there, with a clean cap
on, not crimped nor frilled any way, but just plainly adorned with a
broad border of those large, stiff, old-fashioned puffs, which I used
to watch my mother make on the end of the "Italian iron," when I was a
lad at home. Old Sam, the landlord, had just come home from his work,
and sat quietly smoking on the long settle, in a nook by the fireside,
while his wife, Mary, got some tea ready for her tired old man. The
entrance of a customer seemed to be an important affair to them, and
partly so, I believe, because they were glad to have a little company
in their quiet corner, and liked to hear, now and then, how the world
was wagging a few miles off. I called for a glass of ale, and something
like the following conversation ensued:--

_Mary._ Aw'll bring it, measter. See yo, tay this cheer. It's as chep
sittin' as stonnin'. An' poo up to th' fire, for it's noan so warm
to-neet.

_Sam._ Naw, it's nobbut cowdish, for sure; draw up to th' hob, an' warm
yo, for yo look'n parish't.[3]

"If you can bring me a crust of bread and cheese, or a bit of cold
meat, or anything, I shall be obliged to you," said I.

_Mary._ Ah, sure aw will. We'n a bit o' nice cowd beef; an' I'll bring
it eawt. But it's bhoylt (boiled), mind yo! Dun yo like it bhoylt? Yo'n
find it middlin' toothsome.

I told her that it would do very well; and then the landlord struck
in:--

_Sam._ Doesto yer, lass. There's a bit o' pickle theer, i'th cubbort;
aw dar say he'd like some. Fot it eawt, an' let him _feel_ at it.

__Mary.__ Oh, ay, sure there is; an' aw'll bring it, too. Aw declare
aw'd forgetten it! Dun yo like pickle, measther?

"I do," said I, "just for a taste."

_Mary._ Well, well; aw meeon for a taste. But aw'll bring it an' yo can
help yorsel to't. Let's see, wi'n yo have hard brade? Which side dun yo
come fro?

"I come from Manchester," said I.

_Mary._ Fro Manchester, eh! Whau, then, yo'd'n rather ha' loaf-brade,
aw'll uphowd yo.

"Nay, nay," said I, "I'm country-bred; and I would rather have a bit
of oat-cake. I very seldom get any in Manchester; and, when I do, it
tastes as if it was mismanaged, somehow; so a bit of good country bread
will be a treat to me."

_Mary._ That's reet; aw'll find yo some gradely good stuff! An' it's
a deeol howsomer nor loaf, too, mind yo.... Neaw, wi'n nought uncuth
to set afore yo; but yo'n find that beef's noan sich bad takkin', if
yor ony ways sharp set.... Theer, see yo! Nea, may yoursel' awhom, an'
spare nought, for wi'n plenty moor. But houd! yo hannot o' vor tools
yet. Aw'll get vo a fork in a crack.

 [3] _Parish't_--perished.

I fell to with a hearty good-will, for the viands before me were not
scanty, and they were both wholesome, and particularly welcome, after
my sharp walk in the keen wind, which came whistling over the moors
that night. The first heat of the attack was beginning to slacken a
bit, and Old Sam, who had been sitting in the corner, patient and
pleased, all the while, with an observant look, began to think that now
there might be room for him to put in a word or two. I, also, began
to feel as if I had no objection to taper off my meal with a little
country talk; and the old man was just asking me what the town's folk
said about the parliamentary crisis, and the rumour which had reached
him, that there was an intention of restoring the corn-laws again, when
Mary interrupted him by saying, "Husht, Sam; doesta yer nought?" He
took the pipe out of his mouth, and, quietly blowing the smoke from the
corner of his lips, held his head on one side in a listening attitude.
Old Sam smiled, and lighting his pipe again, he said, "Ah, yon's Jone
o' Jeffry's." "It's nought else, aw believe," said Mary; "does ta think
he'll co'?" "Co', ah," replied Sam; "does he eves miss, thinks ta? Tay
thy cheer to th' tone side a bit, an' may reawm for him, for he'll
be i'th heawse in a minute." And then, turning to me, he said, "Nea,
then, measter, yo'n yer some gam, if yor spare't." He had scarcely done
speaking, when a loud "Woigh!" was heard outside, as a cart stopped at
the door, and a heavy footstep came stamping up the lobby. The kitchen
door opened, and a full-blown Lancashire Cossack stood before us.
Large-limbed and broad-shouldered, with a great, frank, good-tempered
face, full of rude health and glee. He looked a fine sample of simple
manhood, with a disposition that seemed to me, from the expression
of his countenance, to be something between that of an angel and a
bull-dog. Giving his hands a hearty smack, he rubbed them together, and
smiled at the fire; and then, doffing his rough hat, and flinging it
with his whip upon the table, he shouted out, "Hello! Heaw are yo--o'
on yo! Yo'r meeterly quiet again to-neet, Mary! An' some ov a cowd
neet it is. My nose sweats." The landlord whispered to me, "Aw towd yo,
didn't aw. Sit yo still; he's rare company, is Jone."

_Mary._ Ah, we're quiet enough; but we shannut be so long, neaw at
thir't come'd, Jone.

_Jone._ Well, well. Yor noan beawn to flyte mo, owd crayter, are yo?

_Sam._ Tay no notiz on hur, wilto, foo; hoo meeons nought wrang.

_Mary._ Nut aw! Sit to deawn, Jone. We'er olez fain to sitho; for
thir't noan one o'th warst mak o' folk, as roof as to art.

_Jone._ Aw'st sit mo deawn, as what aw am; an' aw'st warm me too,
beside; an' aw'll ha' summat to sup too, afore aw darken yon dur-hole
again.... Owd woman, fill mo one o'th big'st pots yo han, an' let's be
havin' houd, aw pray yo; for my throttle's as dry as a kex. An' be as
slippy as ever yo con, or aw'st be helpin' mysel, for it's ill bidein'
for dry folk amung good drink!

_Mary._ Nay, nay; aw'll sarve tho, Jone, i' tho'll be patient hauve a
minute; an' theaw'st ha' plenty to start wi', as heaw't be.

_Jone._ "That's just reet," said Pinder, when his wife bote hur tung i'
two! Owd woman, yo desarv'n a comfortable sattlement i'th top shop when
yo dee'n; an' yo'st ha' one, too, iv aw've ony say i'th matter.... Eh,
heaw quiet yo are, Sam! By th' mass, iv aw're here a bit moor, aw'd may
some rickin' i' this cauve-cote, too. Whau, mon, yo'dd'n sink into a
deeod sleep, an' fair dee i'th shell, iv one didn't wakken yo up a bit,
neaw and then.

_Mary._ Eh, mon! Thea sees, our Sam an' me's gettin owd, an' wi'dd'n
raythur be quiet, for th' bit o' time at wi' ha'n to do on. Beside,
aw could never do wi' roof wark. Raylee o' me! It'd weary a grooin'
tree to ha' th' din, an' th' lumber, an' th' muck at te han i' some
ale heawses. To my thinkin', aw'd go as fur as othur grace[4] grew or
wayter ran, afore aw'd live amoon sich doin's. One could elthur manage
we't at th' for-end o' their days. But what, we hannot so lung to do on
neaw; an' aw would e'en like to finish as quietly as aw can. We hannot
had a battle i' this heawse as--let's see--as three year an' moor; ha'n
wi, Sam?

_Sam._ Naw, aw dunnot think we han. But we soud'n a deeol moor ale,
just afore that time, too.

_Jone._ Three year, sen yo! Eh, the dule, Mary; heaw ha'n yo shap'd
that! Whau owd Neddy at th' Hoo'senam--yo known owd Neddy, aw reckon,
dunnot yo, Sam?

_Sam._ Do I know Rachda' Church steps, thinksto?

_Jone._ Aw dar say yo known th' steps a deeol better nor yo known th'
church, owd brid!

 [4] Grass.

_Sam._ Whau, aw have been bin up thoose steps a time or two i' my life;
an thea knows, ony body at's bin up 'em a twothore[5] times, 'll nut
forget 'em so soon; for if thi'n tay 'em sharpish fro' th' botham to
th' top, it'll try their wynt up rarely afore they getten to Tim Bobbin
gravestone i'th owd church-yort. But, aw've bin to sarvice theer as oft
as theaw has, aw think.

_Jone._ Ah!--an' yo'n getten abeawt as mich good wi't, as aw have, aw
dar say; an' that's nought to crack on;--but wi'n say no moor upo'
that footin'. Iv yo known ony body at o', yo known owd Neddy at th'
Hoo'senam; and aw'll be bund for't, 'at i' three years time he's brunt
mony a peawnd o' candles wi' watchin' folk feight i' their heawse. Eh,
aw've si'n him ston o'er 'em, wi' a candle i' eyther hont, co'in eawt,
"Nea lads. Turn him o'er Tum! Let 'em ha' reawm, chaps; let 'em ha'
reawm! Nea lads! Keep a lose leg, Jam! Nea lads!" And then, when one
on 'em wur done to th' lung-length, he'd sheawt eawt, "Houd! he's put
his hont up! Come, give o'er, and ger up." And, afore they'd'n getten
gradely wynded, and put their clooas on, he'd offer "another quart for
the next battle." Eh, he's one o'th quarest chaps i' this nation, is
owd Ned, to my thinkin'; an' he's some gradely good points in him, too.

_Sam._ There isn't a quarer o' this countryside, as hea't be; an'
there's some crumpers amoon th' lot.

_Jone._ Aw guess yo known Bodle, too, dunnot yo, owd Sam?

_Sam._ Yigh, aw do. He wortches up at th' col-pit yon, doesn't he?

_Jone._ He does, owd craytur.

_Mary._ Let's see, isn't that him 'at skens a bit?

_Sam._ A bit, saysto, lass? It's aboon a bit, by Guy. He skens ill
enough to crack a looking-glass, welly (well-nigh).

_Mary._ Eh, do let th' lad alone, folk, win yo. Aw marvel at yo'n no
moor wit nor mayin foos o' folk at's wrang wheer they connut help it.
Yo met happen be strucken yorsels! Beside, he's somebory's chylt, an'
somebory likes him too, aw'll uphowd him; for there never wur a feaw
face i' this world, but there wur a feaw fancy to match it, somewheer.

_Jone._ They may fancy him 'at likes, for me; but there's noan so mony
folk at'll fancy Bodle, at after they'n smelled at him once't. An',
by Guy, he's hardly wit enough to keep fro' runnin' again woles i'th
dayleet. But, aw see yo known him weel enough; an' so aw'll tell yo a
bit of a crack abeawt him an' Owd Neddy.

 [5] _A Twothore_--a few.

_Mary._ Well let's ha't; an' mind to tells no lies abeawt th' lad i'
thy talk.

_Jone._ Bith mon, Mary, aw connut do, beawt aw say at he's other a
pratty un or a good un.

_Sam._ Get forrud wi' thy tale, Jone, wilto: an' bother no moor abeawt
it.

_Jone_ (Whispers to Owd Sam): Aw say. Who's that chap at sits hutchin
i' the nook theer, wi' his meawth oppen?

_Sam._ Aw know not. But he's a nice quiet lad o' somebory's, so tay no
notice. Thae'll just meet plez him i' tho'll get forrud; thae may see
that, i' tho'll look at him; for he stares like a ferret at's sin a
ratton.

_Jone._ Well, yo see'n, Sam, one mornin', after Owd Neddy an' Bodle had
been fuddlin' o' th' o'erneet, thi'dd'n just getten a yure o' th' owd
dog into 'em, an' they sit afore th' fire i' Owd Neddy's kitchen, as
quiet, to look at, as two pot dolls; but they didn't feel so, nother;
for thi'dd'n some of a yed-waache apiece, i' th' treawth wur known.
When thi'dd'n turn't things o'er a bit, Bodle begun o' lookin' very
yearn'stfully at th' fire-hole o' at once't, and he said, "By th' mass,
Ned, aw've a good mind to go reet up th' chimbley." Well, yo known,
Neddy likes a spree as well as ony mon livin', an' he doesn't care
so mich what mak' o' one it is, nother; so as soon as he yerd that
he jumped up, an' said, "Damn it, Bodle, go up--up wi' tho!" Bodle
stood still a minute, looking at th' chimbley, an' as he double't his
laps up, he said, "Well, neaw; should aw rayley goo up, thinksta, owd
crayter?" "Go?--ah; what elze?" said Owd Ned--"Up wi' tho; soot's good
for th' bally-waach, mon; an' aw'll gi' tho a quart ov ale when tho
comes deawn again!" "Will ta, for sure?" said Bodle, prickin' his ears.
"Am aw lyin' thinks ta?" onswer'd Owd Neddy. "Whau, then, aw'm off, by
th' mon, iv it's as lung as a steeple;" an' he made no moor bawks at
th' job, but set th' tone foot onto th' top-bar, an' up he went into
th' smudge-hole. Just as he wur crommin' hissel' in at th' botham o'th
chimbley, th' owd woman coom in to see what they hadd'n agate; an' as
soon as Bodle yerd hur, he code eawt, "Howd her back a bit, whol aw
get eawt o'th seet, or else hoo'll poo me deawn again." Hoo stare't
a bit afore hoo could may it eawt what it wur at're creepin up th'
chimney-hole, an' hoo said, "What mak o' lumber ha'n yo afoot neaw?
for yo're a rook o'th big'st nowmuns at ever trode ov a floor! Yo'n
some make o' divulment agate i'th chimbley, aw declare." As soon as hoo
fund what it wur, hoo sheawted, "Eh, thea greight gawmless foo! Wheer
arto for up theer! Thea'll be smoor't, mon!" An, hoo would ha' darted
forrud, an' getten howd on him; but Owd Ned kept stonnin afore hur,
an' sayin, "Let him alone, mon; it's nobbut a bit of a spree." Then he
looked o'er his shoulder at Bodle, an' said, "Get tee forrud, wilto,
nowmun; thae met a bin deawn again by neaw;" an, as soon as he see'd at
Bodle wur gettin meeterly weel up th' hole, he leet her go; but hoo wur
to lat to get howd. An' o' at hoo could do, wur to fot him a seawse or
two o' th' legs wi' th' poker. But he wur for up, an' nought else. He
did just stop abeawt hauve a minute--when he feld hur hit his legs--to
co' eawt, "Hoo's that at's hittin' mo?" "Whau," said hoo, "It's me,
thae greight leather-yed;--an' come deawn wi' tho! Whatever arto' doin'
i'th chimbley?" "Aw'm goin' up for ale." "Ale! There's no ale up theer,
thae greight brawsen foo! Eh, aw wish yor Mally wur here!" "Aw wish hoo
wur here, istid o' me," said Bodle. "Come deawn witho this minute, thae
greight drunken hal!" "Not yet," said Bodle--"but aw'll not be lung,
nothur, yo may depend;--for it's noan a nice place--this isn't. Eh!
there is some ov a smudge! An' it gwos wur as aw go fur;--a--tscho--o!
By Guy, aw con see noan--nor talk, nothur;--so ger off, an' let mo get
it o'er afore aw'm chauk't;" and then th' owd lad crope forrud, as hard
as he could, for he're thinkin' abeawt th' quart ov ale. Well, Owd
Neddy nearly skrike't wi' laughin', as he watched Bodle draw his legs
up eawt o' th' seet; an' he set agate o' hommerin' th' chimbley whole
wi' his hont, an sheawtin' up, "Go on, Bodle, owd lad! Go on, owd mon!
Thir't a reet un! Thea'st have a quart o' th' best ale i' this hole,
i' tho lives till tho comes deawn again, as hea 'tis, owd brid! An i'
tho dees through it, aw'll be fourpence or fi'pence toawrd thi berrin."
And then he went sheawting up an' deawn, "Hey! Dun yo yer, lads; come
here! Owd Bodle's gone up th' chimbley! Aw never sprad my e'en upo th'
marrow trick to this i' my life." Well, yo may think, Sam, th' whole
heawse wur up i' no time; an' some rare spwort they ha'dd'n; an' Owd
Neddy kept goin' to th' eawtside, to see if Bodle had getten his yed
eawt at th' top; an' then runnin' in again, an' bawlin' up th' flue,
"Bodle, owd lad, heaw arto gettin' on? Go throo wi't, owd cock!" But,
whol he're starin' and sheawtin' up th' chimbley, Bodle lost his houd,
somewheer toawrd th' top, an' he coom shutterin' deawn again, an' o'
th' soot i' th' chimbley wi' him; an' he let wi' his hinder-end thump
o'th top-bar, an' then roll't deawn upo th' har'stone. An' a greadly
blash-boggart he looked; yo may think. Th' owd lad seem't as if he
hardly knowed wheer he wur; so he lee theer a bit, amoon a cloud o'
soot, an' Owd Neddy stoode o'er him, laughin', an' wipein' his e'en,
an' co'in eawt, "Tay thy wynt a bit, Bodle; thir't safe londed, iv it
be hard leetin'! Thir't a reet un; bi' th' mon arto, too. Tay thy wynt,
owd bird! Thea'st have a quart, as hea 'tis, owd mon; as soon as ever
aw con see my gate to th' bar eawt o' this smudge at thea's brought wi'
tho! Aw never had my chimbley swept as chep i' my life!"

_Mary_. Well, if ever! Whau, it're enough to may th' fellow's throttle
up! A greight, drunken leather-yed! But, he'd be some dry, mind yo!

_Jone._ Yo'r reet, Mary! Aw think mysel' at a quart ov ale 'ud come
noan amiss after a do o' that mak. An' Bodle wouldn't wynd aboon once
wi' it, afore he see'd th' bottom o' th' pot, noather.

Well, I had a good laugh at Jone's tale, and I enjoyed his manner of
telling it, quite as much as anything there was in the story itself;
for, he seemed to talk with every limb of his body, and every feature
of his face; and told it, altogether, in such a living way, with so
much humour and earnestness, that it was irresistible; and as I was
"giving mouth" a little, with my face turned up toward the ceiling,
he turned to me, and said quickly, "Come, aw say; are yo noan fleyed
o' throwing yo'r choles off th' hinges?". We soon settled down into a
quieter mood, and drew round the fire, for the night was cold; when
Jone suddenly pointed out to the landlord, one of those little deposits
of smoke which sometimes wave about on the bars of the fire-grate,
and, after whispering to him, "See yo, Sam; a stranger upo th' bar,
theer;" he turned to me, and said, "That's yo, measther!" This is a
little superstition, which is common to the fire-sides of the poor in
all England, I believe. Soon after this, Mary said to Jone, "Hasto
gan thy horse aught, Jone?" "Sure, aw have," replied he, "Aw laft it
heytin', an plenty to go on wi', so then. Mon, aw reckon to look after
deawn-crayters a bit, iv there be aught stirrin'." "Well," said she,
"aw dar say thea does, Jone; an' mind yo, thoose at winnut do some bit
like to things at connut talk for theirsels, they'n never ha' no luck,
as hoo they are." "Well," said Jone, "my horse wortches weel, an' he
sleeps weel, an' he heyts weel, an' he drinks weel, an' he parts wi't
fearful weel; so he doesn't ail mich yet." "Well," replied Mary, "there
isn't a wick thing i' this world can wortch as it should do, if it
doesn't heyt as it should do." Here I happened to take a note-book out
of my pocket, and write in it with my pencil, when the conversation
opened again.

_Sam._ (Whispering.) Sitho, Jone, he's bookin' tho!

_Jone._ Houd, measther, houd! What mak' o' marlocks are yo after, neaw!
What're yo for wi' us, theer! But aw caren't a flirt abeawt it; for
thi' connot hang folk for talkin' neaw, as thi' could'n once on a day;
so get forrud wi't, as what it is.

He then, also, began to inquire about the subject which was
the prevailing topic of conversation at that time, namely, the
parliamentary crisis, in which Lord John Russell had resigned his
office at the head of the government; and the great likelihood there
seemed to be of a protectionist party obtaining power.

_Jone._ Han yo yerd aught abeawt Lord Stanley puttin' th' Corn Laws on
again? There wur some rickin' abeawt it i' Bury teawn, when aw coom off
wi' th' cart to-neet.

_Sam._ They'n never do't, mon! They connot do! An' it's very weel, for
aw dunnut know what mut become o' poor folk iv they did'n do. What
think'n yo, measther?

I explained to them the unsettled state of parliamentary affairs, as
it had reached us through the paper; and gave them my firm belief that
the Corn Laws had been abolished once for all in this country; and that
there was no political party in England who wished to restore them, who
would ever have the power to do so.

_Jone._ Dun yo think so? Aw'm proud to yer it!

_Sam._ An' so am aw too, Jone. But what, aw know'd it weel enough. Eh,
mon; there's a deal moor crusts o' brade lyin' abeawt i' odd nooks an'
corners, nor there wur once't ov a day. Aw've sin th' time when thi'd'n
ha' bin cleeked up like lumps o' gowd.

_Jone._ Aw think they'n ha' to fot Lord John back, to wheyve (weave)
his cut deawn yet. To my thinkin' he'd no business to lev his looms.
But aw dar say he knows his own job betther nor me. He'll be as fause
as a boggart, or elze he'd never ha' bin i' that shop as lung as he
has bin; not he. There's moor in his yed nor a smo'-tooth comb con fot
eawt. What thinken yo, owd brid?

_Sam._ It's so like; it's so like! But aw dunnot care who's in, Jone,
i' thi'n nobbut do some good for poor folk; an' that's one o' th' main
jobs for thoose at's power to do't. But, iv they wur'n to put th' Corn
Bill on again, there's mony a theawsan' would be clemmed to deeoth, o'
ov a rook.

_Jone._ Ah, there would so, Sam, 'at I know on. But see yo; there's a
deal on 'em 'ud go deawn afore me. Aw'd may somebody houd back whol
their cale coom! Iv they winnot gi' me my share for wortchin' for,
aw'll have it eawt o' some nook, ov aw dunnot, damn Jone! (striking the
table heavily with his fist.) They's never be clemmed at ir heawse, as
aw ha' si'n folk clemmed i' my time--never, whol aw've a fist a th' end
o' my arm! Neaw, what have aw towd yo!

_Sam._ Thea'rt reet lad! Aw houd te wit good, by th' mass! Whol they
gi'n us some bit like ov a choance, we can elther do. At th' most o'
times, we'n to kill 'ursels (ourselves) to keep 'ursels, welly; but,
when it comes to scarce wark an' dear mheyt, th' upstroke's noan so fur
off.

_Mary._ Ay, ay. If it're nobbut a body's sel', we met manage to pinch a
bit, neaw an' then; becose one could reayson abeawt it some bit like.
But it's th' childer, mon, it's th' childer! Th' little things at
look'n for it reggelar; an' wonder'n heaw it is when it doesn't come.
Eh, dear o' me! To see poor folk's little bits o' childher yammerin'
for a bite o' mheyt--when there's noan for 'em; an' lookin' up i'
folk's faces, as mich as to say, "Connut yo help mo?" It's enough to
may (make) onybody cry their shoon full!

Here I took out my book to make another note.

_Jone._ Hello! yo'r agate again! What, are yo takkin th' pickter on mo,
or summat?... Eh, Sam; what a thing this larnin' is. Aw should ha' bin
worth mony a theawsan peawnd if aw could ha' done o' that shap, see yo!

_Sam._ Aw guess thea con write noan, nor read noather, con ta, Jone?

_Jone._ Not aw! Aw've no moor use for a book nor a duck has for a
umbrell. Aw've had to wortch hard sin aw're five year owd, mon. Iv
aw've aught o' that mak to do, aw go to owd Silver-yed at th' lone-side
wi't. It may's mo mad, mony a time, mon; one looks sich a foo!

_Sam._ An' he con write noan mich, aw think, con he?

_Jone._ Naw. He went no fur nor pot-hook an' ladles i' writin', aw
believe. But he can read a bit, an' that's moor nor a deeol o' folk
abeawt here can do. Aw know nobory upo this side at's greadly larnt up,
nobbut Ash'oth parson. But there's plenty o' chaps i' Rachdaw teawn
at's so brawsen wi' wit, whol noather me, nor thee, nor no mon elze,
con may ony sense on 'em. Yo reckelect'n a 'torney co'in' here once't.
What dun yo think o' him?

_Sam._ He favvurs a foo, Jone; or aw'm a foo mysel'.

_Jone._ He's far larnt i' aught but honesty, mon, that's heaw it is.
He'll do no reet, nor tay no wrang. So wi'n lap it up just wheer it is;
for little pigs ha'n lung ears.

_Sam._ Aw'll tell tho what, Jone; he's a bad trade by th' hond, for one
thing; an' a bad trade'll mar a good mon sometimes.

_Jone._ It brings moor in nor mine does. But wi'n let it drop. Iv aw'd
his larnin, aw'd may summat on't.

_Sam._ Ah, well; it's a fine thing is larnin', Jone! It's a very fine
thing! It tay's no reawm up, mon. An' then, th' ballies connut fot
it, thea sees. But what, poor folk are so taen up wi' gettin' what
they need'n for th' bally an' th' back, whol thi'n noathur time nor
inclination for nought but a bit ov a crack for a leetenin'.

_Jone._ To mich so, owd Sam! To mich so!...

_Mary._ Thae never tells one heaw th' wife is, Jone.

_Jone._ Whau, th' owd lass is yon; an' hoo's noather sickly, nor soory,
nor sore, 'at aw know on.... Yigh, hoo's trouble't wi' a bit ov a
breykin'-eawt abeawt th' meawth, sometimes.

_Mary._ Does hoo get nought for it?

_Jone._ Nawe, nought 'at'll mend it. But, aw'm mad enough, sometimes,
to plaister it wi' my hond,--iv aw could find i' my heart.

_Mary._ Oh, aw see what to meeons, neaw.... An' aw dar say thea gi's
her 'casion for't, neaw an' then.

_Jone._ Well, aw happen do; for th' best o' folk need'n bidin' wi' a
bit sometimes; an' aw'm noan one o' th' best, yo known.

_Mary._ Nawe; nor th' warst noathur, Jone.

_Jone._ Yo dunnut know o', mon.

_Mary._ Happen not, but, thi'rt to good to brun, as hea't be.

_Jone._ Well, onybody's so, Mary. But, we're o' God Almighty's childer,
mon; an' aw feel fain on't, sometimes; for he's th' best feyther at a
chylt con have.

_Mary._ Ah, but thea'rt nobbut like other childer, Jone; thea doesn't
tak as mich notice o' thy feyther, as thea should do.

_Sam._ Well, well; let's o' on us be as good as we con be, iv we aren't
as good as we should be; an' then wi's be better nor we are.

_Jone._ Hello! that clock begins 'o givin' short 'lowance, as soon as
ever aw get agate o' talkin'; aw'm mun be off again!

_Sam._ Well; thae'll co' a lookin' at us, when tho comes this gate on,
winnut to, Jone? Iv tho doesn't, aw'st be a bit mad, thae knows.

_Jone._ As lung as aw'm wick and weel, owd crayter, aw'st keep comin'
again, yo may depend,--like Clegg Ho' Boggart.

_Sam._ Well neaw, mind tho does do; for aw'd sooner see thee nor two
fiddlers, ony time; so good neet to tho, an' good luck to tho, too,
Jone; wi' o' my heart!

The night was wearing late, and, as I had yet nearly three miles to
go, I rose, and went my way. This road was never so much travelled as
some of the highways of the neighbourhood, but, since railways were
made, it has been quieter than before, and the grass has begun to creep
over it a little in some places. It leads through a district which has
always been a kind of weird region to me. And I have wandered among
those lonely moorland hills above Birtle, and Ashworth, and Bagslate;
up to the crest of old Knowl, and over the wild top of Rooley, from
whence the greatest part of South Lancashire--that wonderful region
of wealth and energy--lies under the eye, from Blackstone Edge to the
Irish Sea; and I have wandered through the green valleys and silent
glens, among those hills, communing with the "shapes, and sounds, and
shifting elements" of nature, in many a quiet trance of meditative joy;
when the serenity of the scene was unmixed with any ruder sounds than
the murmurs and gurglings of the mountain stream, careering over its
rocky bed through the hollow of the vale; and the music of small birds
among the woods which lined the banks; or the gambols of the summer
wind among the rustling green, which canopied the lonely stream, so
thickly that the flood of sunshine which washed the tree-tops in gold,
only stole into the deeps in fitful threads; hardly giving a warmer
tinge to the softened light in cool grots down by the water side.
Romantic Spoddenlond! Country of wild beauty; of hardy, simple life;
of old-world manners, and of ancient tales and legends dim! There was
a time when the very air of the district seemed, to my young mind,
impregnated with boggart-lore, and all the wild "gramerie" of old Saxon
superstition,--when I looked upon it as the last stronghold of the
fairies; where they would remain impregnable, haunting wild "thrutches"
and sylvan "chapels," in lonely deeps of its cloughs and woods; still
holding their mystic festivals there on moonlight nights, and tripping
to the music of its waters, till the crack of doom. And, for all the
boasted march of intellect, it is, even to this day, a district where
the existence of witches, and the power of witch-doctors, wisemen,
seers, planet-rulers, and prognosticators, find great credence in the
imaginations of a rude and unlettered people. There is a little fold,
called "Prickshaw," in this township of Spotland, which fold was the
home of a notable country astrologer, in Tim Bobbin's time, called
"Prickshaw Witch." Tim tells a humourous story about an adventure he
had with this Prickshaw planet-ruler, at the Angel Inn, in Rochdale.
Prickshaw keeps up its old oracular fame in that moorland quarter to
this day, for it has its planet-ruler still; and, it is not alone
in such wild, outlying nooks of the hills that these professors
of the art of divination may yet be found; almost every populous
town in Lancashire has, in some corner of it, one or more of these
gifted star-readers, searching out the hidden things of life, to all
inquirers, at about a shilling a-head. These country soothsayers mostly
drive a sort of contraband trade in their line, in as noiseless and
secret a way as possible, among the most ignorant and credulous part of
the population. And it is natural that they should flourish wherever
there are minds combining abundance of ignorant faith and imagination
with a plentiful lack of knowledge. But they are not all skulkers these
diviners of the skies, for now and then a bold prophet stands forth, in
distinct proportions, before the public gaze, who has more lofty and
learned pretentions; witness the advertisement of Dr. Alphonso Gazelle,
of No. 4, Sparth Bottoms, Rochdale, which appears in the _Rochdale
Sentinel_, of the 3rd of December, 1853.[6] Oh, departed Lilly and
Agrippa; your shadows are upon us still! But I must continue my story
of the lone old road, and its associations; and as I wandered on that
cold and silent night, under the blue sky, where night's candles were
burning, so clear and calm, I remembered that this was the country of
old Adam de Spotland, who, many centuries since, piously bequeathed
certain broad acres of land, "for the cure of souls," in the parish of
Rochdale. He has, now, many centuries slept with his fathers. And as
I walked down the road, in this sombre twilight, with a hushed wind,
and under the shade of the woody height on which the homestead of the
brave old Saxon stood, my footsteps sounding clear in the quiet air,
and the very trees seeming to bend over to one another, and commune in
awful murmurs on the approach of an intruder, how could I tell what
the tramp of my unceremonious feet might waken there? The road crosses
a deep and craggy glen, called "Simpson Clough," which is one of the
finest pieces of ravine scenery in the county, little as it is known.
The entire length of this wild gorge is nearly three miles, and it is
watered by a stream from the hills, called "Nadin Water," which, in
seasons of heavy rain, rages and roars with great violence, through
its rocky channels. There is many a strange old tale connected with
this clough. Half way up a shaley bank, which overhangs the river on
the western side of the clough, the mouth of an ancient lead mine may
still be seen, partly shrouded by brushwood. Upon the summit of a
precipitous steep of wildwood and rock, which bounds the eastern side
of the clough, stands Bamford Hall, a handsome, modern building of
stone, a few yards from the site of the old hall of the Bamfords of
Bamford. The new building is a residence of one branch of the Fenton
family, wealthy bankers and cotton spinners, and owners of large
tracts of land, here and elsewhere. On an elevated table-land, at the
western side of the clough, and nearly opposite to Bamford Hall, stood
the ancient mansion of Grizlehurst, the seat of the notable family of
Holt, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The Holt family were once the
most powerful and wealthy landowners in the parish of Rochdale. The
principal seats of the family in this parish were Stubley Hall, in
the township of Wardleworth, and Castleton Hall, in the township of
Castleton. The manor of Spotland was granted by Henry VIII., to Thomas
Holt, who was knighted in Scotland, by Edward, Earl of Hertford, in the
thirty-sixth year of the reign of that monarch. Part of a neighbouring
clough still bears the name of "Tyrone's Bed," from the tradition that
Hugh O'Neal, Earl of Tyrone and King of Ulster, took shelter in these
woody solitudes, after his defeat in the great Irish Rebellion, in the
reign of Queen Elizabeth. Mr. John Roby, of Rochdale, has woven this
legend into an elegant romance, in his "Traditions of Lancashire."

 [6] "Beneficial practical philosophy, No. 4, Sparth Bottoms, near
 Rochdale.--Prognostic astro-phrenology, or nature considered as a
 whole--its matter, its properties, its laws, physical, moral, and
 intellectual; and the effect of their influence on individual life,
 character, and ability. From these premises, and nearly twenty years'
 experience, any lady or gentleman may have the most valuable advice
 on matters of health, sickness, profession, trade, emigration, and
 speculation; also marriage--its prospects to the inquirer, whether
 it will be attended with happiness, the time of its occurrence, a
 full description and character of the present or future partner,
 with copious instruction to the unmarried--which offer or party to
 take, and thus secure the fullest amount of happiness, shown to any
 individual by this combination of science. The principal requisite
 points of information for applying the science to the benefit of an
 inquirer are--the precise date, place of birth, and the station in
 life. Attendance every day except Mondays, at No. 4, Sparth Bottoms,
 Rochdale. Dr. ALPHONSO GAZELLE."

I reached home about ten o'clock, and, thinking over the incidents
of my walk, I was a little impressed by one fact, suggested by the
conversation at the roadside public-house, with "Jone o'Jeffrey's,"
and the old couple; namely, that there is a great outlying mass of
dumb folk in this country, who--by low social condition, but more by
lack of common education among them--are shut out from the chance of
hearing much, and still more from the chance of understanding what
little they do hear, respecting the political questions of the time;
and, also, with respect to many other matters which are of essential
importance to their welfare. Whether this ignorance which yet pervades
a great proportion of the poor of England, is chargeable upon that
multitude itself, or upon that part of the people whom more favourable
circumstances have endowed with light and power, and who yet withhold
these elements from their less fortunate fellows, or, whether it is
chargeable upon neither, let casuists decide. The fact that this
ignorance does exist among the poor of England, lies so plainly upon
the surface of society, that it can only be denied by those who are
incurious as to the condition of the humbler classes of this kingdom;
or, by those who move in such exclusive circles of life, that they
habitually ignore the conditions of human existence which lie outside
of their own limits of society and sympathy; or, by such as wink their
eyes to the truth of this matter, in order to work out some small
purpose of their own. Wherever there is ignorance at all there is too
much of it; and it cannot be too soon removed, especially by those who
are wise enough to see the crippling malignities of its nature. That
portion of our population which hears next to nothing, and understands
less, of politics and the laws--any laws whatever--is nevertheless
compelled to obey the laws, right or wrong, and whatever strange
mutations they may be subject to; and is thus continually drifted to
and fro by conflicting currents of legislation which it cannot see;
currents of legislation which sometimes rise from sources where there
exists, unfortunately, more love for ruling than for enlightening. Many
changes come over the social condition of this blind multitude, they
know not whence, nor how, nor why. The old song says--

    Remember, when the judgment's weak,
    The prejudice is strong.

And, certainly, that part of the popular voice which is raised upon
questions respecting which it has little or no sound information,
must be considerably swayed by prejudice, and by that erratic play of
unenlightened feeling, which has no safer government than the ephemeral
circumstances which chase each other off the field of time. Shrewd
demagogues know well how prostrate is the position of this uneducated
"mass," as it is called; and they have a stock of old-fashioned tricks,
by which they can move it to their own ends "as easy as lying." He who
knows the touches of this passive instrument, can make it discourse the
music he desires; and, unhappily, that is not always airs from heaven.

            'Tis the time's plague,
    When madmen lead the blind.

Now, the educated classes have all the wide field of ancient learning
open to them--they can pasture where they will; and, the stream of
present knowledge rushing by, they can drink as they list. Whatever
is doing in politics, too, they hear of, whilst these things are yet
matters of public dispute; and, in some degree, they understand and
see the drift of them, and, therefore, can throw such influence as
in them lies into one or the other scale of the matter. This boasted
out-door parliament--this free expression of public opinion in England,
however, as I have said before, goes no farther down among the people
than education goes. Below that point lies a land of fretful slaves,
dungeoned off by ignorance from the avenues which lead to freedom; and
they drag out their lives in unwilling subservience to a legislation
which is beyond their influence. Their ignorance keeps them dumb;
and, therefore, their condition and wants are neither so well known,
nor so often nor so well expressed as those of the educated classes.
They seldom complain, however, until the state of affairs drives them
to great extremity, and then their principal exponents are mobs, and
uproars of desperation. It is plain that where there is society there
must be law, and obedience to that law must be enforced, even among
those who know nothing of the law, as well as those who defy it; but
my principal quarrel is with that ignorant condition of theirs which
shuts them out from any reasonable hope of exercising their rights as
men and citizens. And so long as that ignorance is _unnecessarily_
continued, the very enforcement of laws among them, the nature of
which they have no chance of knowing, looks, to me, like injustice. I
see a remarkable difference, however, between the majority of popular
movements which have agitated the people for some time past, and that
successful one--the repeal of the corn-laws. The agitation of that
question, I believe, awakened and enlisted a greater breadth of the
_understanding sympathy_ of the nation, among all classes, than was
ever brought together upon any one popular question which has been
agitated within the memory of man. But it did more than this--and
herein lies one of the foundationstones which shall hold it firm
awhile, I think; since it has passed into law, its effects have most
efficiently convinced that uneducated multitude of the labouring poor,
who could not very well understand, and did not care much for the mere
disputation of the question. Everybody has a stomach of some sort--and
it frequently happens that when the brain is not very active the
stomach is particularly so--so that, where it could not penetrate the
understanding, it has by this time triumphantly reached the stomach,
and now sits there, smiling defiance to any kind of sophistry that
would coax it thenceforth again. The loaves of free trade followed
the tracts of the League, and the hopes of protectionist philosophers
are likely to be "adjourned _sine die_," for this generation at
least--perhaps for ever; for the fog is clearing up a little, and I
think I see, in the distance, a better education getting ready for the
next generation.

    O for the coming of that glorious time
    When, prizing knowledge as her noblest wealth
    And best protection, this imperial realm,
    While she exacts allegiance, shall admit
    An obligation on her part, to _teach_
    Them who are born to serve her and obey
    Binding herself by statute to secure
    For all her children whom her soil maintains,
    The rudiments of letters.



    The Cottage of Tim Bobbin, and the
    Village of Milnrow.

    If thou on men, their works and ways,
      Canst throw uncommon light, man;
    Here lies wha weel had won thy praise,
      For Matthew was a bright man.

    If thou art staunch without a stain,
      Like the unchanging blue, man;
    This was a kinsman o' thy ain,
      For Matthew was a true man.

    If thou hast wit, and fun, and fire,
      And ne'er good wine did fear, man;
    This was thy billie, dam, and sire,
      For Matthew was a queer man.
     BURNS.


It is not in its large towns that the true type of the natives of
Lancashire can be seen. The character of its town population is greatly
modified by mixture with settlers from distant quarters. Not so in the
country parts, because the tenancy of land, and employment upon it,
are sufficiently competed by the natives; and while temptations to
change of settlement are fewer, the difficulties in the way of changing
settlement are greater there than in towns. Country people, too, stick
to their old sod, with hereditary love, as long as they can keep soul
and body together upon it, in any honest way. As numbers begin to press
upon the means of living, the surplus fights its way in cities, or in
foreign lands; or lingers out a miserable life in neglected corners,
for want of work, and want of means to fly, in time, to a market where
it might, at least, exchange its labour for its living. The growth
of manufacture and railways, and the inroads of hordes of destitute,
down-trodden Irish, are stirring up Lancashire, and changing its
features, in a surprising way; and this change is rapidly augmenting by
a varied infusion of new human elements, attracted from all quarters
of the kingdom by the immense increase of capital, boldly and promptly
embarked in new inventions, and ever-developing appliances of science,
by a people remarkable for enterprise and industry. Still, he who
wishes to see the genuine descendants of those old Saxons who came over
here some fourteen hundred years ago, to help the Britons of that day
to fight for their land, and remained to farm it, and govern in it,
let them ramble through the villages on the western side of Blackstone
Edge. He will there find the open manners, the independent bearing,
the steady perseverance, and that manly sense of right and wrong,
which characterised their Teutonic forefathers. There, too, he will
find the fair comeliness, and massive physical constitution of those
broad-shouldered farmer-warriors, who made a smiling England out of
an island of forests and bogs--who felled the woods, and drained the
marshes, and pastured their quiet kine in the ancient lair of the wild
bull, the boar, and the wolf.

Milnrow is an old village, a mile and a half eastward from the
Rochdale station. The external marks of its antiquity are now few,
and much obscured by the increase of manufacture there; but it is,
for many reasons, well worth a visit. It is part of the fine township
of Butterworth, enriched with many a scene of mountain beauty. A
hardy moor-end race, half farmers, half woollen-weavers, inhabit the
district; and their rude, but substantial cottages and farmsteads,
often perch picturesquely about the summits and sides of the hills, or
nestle pleasantly in green holms and dells, which are mostly watered
by rivulets, from the moorland heights which bound the township on the
east. There is also a beautiful lake, three miles in circumference,
filling a green valley, up in the hills, about a mile and a half from
the village. Flocks of sea-fowl often rest on this water, in their
flight from the eastern to the western seas. From its margin the view
of the wild ridges of the "Back-bone of England" is fine to the north,
while that part of it called "Blackstone Edge" slopes up majestically
from the cart-road that winds along the eastern bank. A massive
cathedral-looking crag frowns on the forehead of the mountain. This
rock is a great point of attraction to ramblers from the vales below,
and is called by them "Robin Hood Bed." A square cavity in the lower
part is called "Th' Cellar." Hundreds of names are sculptured on the
surface of the rock, some in most extraordinary situations; and often
have the keepers of the moor been startled at peep of summer dawn by
the strokes of an adventurous chiseller, hammering his initials into
its hard face as stealthily as possible. But the sounds float, clear as
a bell, miles over the moor, in the quiet of the morning, and disturb
the game. One of the favourite rambles of my youth was from Rochdale
town, through that part of Butterworth which leads by "Clegg Hall,"
commemorated in Roby's tradition of "Clegg Ho' Boggart," and thence
across the green hills, by the old farmhouse, called "Peanock," and,
skirting along the edge of this quiet lake--upon whose waters I have
spent many a happy summer day, alone--up the lofty moorside beyond, to
this rock, called "Robin Hood Bed," upon the bleak summit of Blackstone
Edge. It is so large that it can be seen at a distance of four miles
by the naked eye, on a clear day. The name of Robin Hood, that brave
outlaw of the olden time--"The English ballad-singer's joy"--is not
only wedded to this wild crag, but to at least one other congenial
spot in this parish; where the rude traditions of the people point out
another rock, of several tons weight, as having been thrown thither,
by this king of the green-woods, from an opposite hill, nearly seven
miles off. The romantic track where the lake lies, is above the level
of Milnrow, and quite out of the ordinary way of the traveller; who is
too apt to form his opinion of the features of the whole district, from
the sterile sample he sees on the sides of the rail, between Manchester
and Rochdale. But if he wishes to know the country and its inhabitants,
he must get off that, "an' tak th' crow-gate," and he will find vast
moors, wild ravines, green cloughs, and dells, and

    Shallow rivers, to whose falls,
    Melodious birds sing madrigals,

which will repay him for his pains. And then, if he be a Lancashire
man, and a lover of genius, let him go to Milnrow--it was the
dwelling-place of Tim Bobbin, with whose works I hope he is not
unacquainted. His written works are not much in extent. He was a
painter, and his rough brush was replete with Hogarthian sketches, full
of nature, and radiant with his own broad, humourous originality. He
also left a richly-humourous dialectic tale, a few Hudibrastic poems
and letters, characteristic of the sterling quality of his heart and
head, and just serving to show us how much greater the man was than his
book.

I was always proud of Tim, and in my early days have made many a
pilgrimage to the village where he used to live, wandering home again
through the green hills of Butterworth. Bent on seeing the place
once more, I went up to Hunt's Bank, one fine day at the end of last
hay-time, to catch the train to Rochdale. I paid my shilling, and took
my seat among a lot of hearty workmen and country-folk coming back
from Wales and the bathing places on the Lancashire coast. The season
had been uncommonly fine, and the trippers looked brighter for their
out, and, to use their own phrase, felt "fain at they'rn wick," and
ready to buckle to work again, with fresh vigour. The smile of summer
had got into the saddest of us a little; and we were communicative and
comfortable. A long-limbed collier lad, after settling his body in
a corner, began to hum, in a jolting metre, with as much freedom of
mind as if he was at the mouth of a lonely "breast-hee" on his native
moorside, a long country ditty about the courtship of Phoebe and
Colin:--

    Well met, dearest Phoebe, oh, why in such haste?
    The fields and the meadows all day I have chased,
    In search of the fair one who does me disdain,
    You ought to reward me for all my past pain.

The late-comers, having rushed through the ticket-office into the
carriages, were wiping their foreheads, and wedging themselves into
their seats, in spite of many protestations about being "to full
o'ready." The doors were slammed, the bell rung, the tickets were
shown, the whistle screamed its shrill signal, and off we went, like a
street on wheels, over the little Irk, that makes such a slushy riot
under the wood bridge by the college wall. Within the memory of living
men, the angler used to come down the bank, and settle himself among
the grass, to fish in its clear waters. But since Arkwright set this
part of the world so wonderfully astir with his practicable combination
of other men's inventions, the Irk, like the rest of South Lancashire
streams, has been put to work, and its complexion is now so "subdued
to what it works in," that the angler comes no more to the banks of
the Irk to beguile the delicate loach, and the lordly trout in his
glittering suit of silver mail.

The train is now nearly a mile past Miles Platting, and about a mile
over the fields, on the north side, lies the romantic dell called
"Boggart Hole Clough," hard by the village of Blackley--a pleasant spot
for an afternoon walk from Manchester. An old Lancashire poet lives
near it, too, in his country cottage. It is a thousand to one that,
like me, the traveller will see neither the one nor the other from
the train; but, like me, let him be thankful for both, and ride on.
Very soon, now, appears, on the south side of the line, the skirts of
Oldham town, scattered about the side and summit of a barren slope,
with the tower of the parish church, peeping up between the chimneys
of the cotton factories behind Oldham Edge. If the traveller can see
no fine prospective meaning in the manufacturing system, he will not
be delighted with the scene; for the country has a monotonous look,
and is bleak and sterile, with hardly anything worthy of the name of
a tree to be seen upon it. But now, about a hundred yards past the
Oldham Station, there is a little of the picturesque for him to feast
on. We are crossing a green valley, running north and south. Following
the rivulet through the hollow, a thick wood waves on a rising ground
to the south. In that wood stands Chadderton Hall, anciently the seat
of the Chaddertons, some of whom were famous men; and since then, the
seat of the Horton family. The situation is very pleasant, and the
land about it looks richer than the rest of the neighbourhood. There
was a deer-park here in the time of the Hortons. Chadderton is a place
of some note in the history of the county; and it is said to have
formerly belonged to one of the old orders of knighthood. On the other
side of the line, about a mile and a half off, the south-east end of
Middleton is in sight; with its old church on the top of a green hill.
The greater part of the parish of Middleton, with other possessions
in South Lancashire, belonging to the Ashetons from before Richard
III., when extraordinary powers were granted to Randulph Asheton. The
famous Sir Ralph Asheton, called "The Black Lad," from his wearing
black armour, is traditionally said to have ruled in his territories
in South Lancashire with great severity. In the town of Ashton, one of
the lordships of this family, his name is still remembered with a kind
of hereditary dislike; and till within the last five or six years he
has been shot and torn to pieces, in effigy, by the inhabitants, at
the annual custom of "The Riding of the Black Lad." The hero of the
fine ballad called "The Wild Rider," written by Bamford, the Lancashire
poet, was one of this family. The Middleton estates, in 1776, failing
male issue, passed by marriage into the noble families of De Wilton and
Suffield. Now, many a rich cotton spinner, perhaps lineally descended
from some of the villain-serfs of the "Black Lad," has an eye to buying
the broad lands of the proud old Ashetons.

The train is now hard by Blue Pits Station, where it is not impossible
for the traveller to have to wait awhile. But he may comfort himself
with the assurance that it is not often much more than half an hour
or so. Let him amuse himself, meanwhile, with the wild dins that
fill his ears;--the shouting and running of porters, the screams of
engine-whistles, the jolts and collisions on a small scale, and the
perpetual fuff-fuff of trains, of one kind or other, that shoot to and
fro by his window, then stop suddenly, look thoughtful, as if they had
dropt something, and run back again. If he looks out, ten to one he
will see a red-hot monster making towards him from the distance at a
great speed, belching steam, and scattering sparks and red-hot cinders;
and, in the timidity of the moment, he may chance to hope it is on the
right pair of rails. But time and a brave patience delivers him from
these terrors, unshattered in everything--if his temper holds good--and
he shoots ahead again.

The moorland hills now sail upon the sight, stretching from the
round peak of Knowl, on the north-west, to the romantic heights
of Saddleworth on the south-east. The train is three minutes from
Rochdale, but, before it reaches there, let the traveller note that
picturesque old mansion, on the green, above Castleton Clough, at the
left-hand side of the rail. His eye must be active, for, at the rate he
is going, the various objects about him literally "come like shadows,
so depart." This is Castleton Hall, formerly a seat of the Holts, of
Stubley, an ancient and powerful family in this parish, in the reign
of Henry VIII. Castleton Hall came afterwards into the possession of
Humphrey Chetham, the founder of Chetham College, in Manchester. Since
then it has passed into other hands; but the proverb, "as rich as a
Chetham o' Castleton," is often used by the people of this district,
at this day; and many interesting anecdotes, characteristic of the
noble qualities of this old Lancashire worthy, are treasured up by the
people of those parts of the country where he lived; especially in the
neighbourhoods of Clayton Hall, near Manchester, and Turton Tower, near
Bolton, his favourite residences. Castleton Hall was an interesting
place to me when I was a lad. As I pass by it now I sometimes think of
the day when I first sauntered down the shady avenue, which leads to it
from the highroad behind; and climbed up a mossy wall by the wayside,
to look into the green gloom of a mysterious wood, which shades the
rear of the building. Even now, I remember the flush of imaginations
which came over me then. I had picked up some scraps of historic lore
about the hall, which deepened the interest I felt in it. The solemn
old rustling wood; the quaint appearance, and serene dignity of the
hall; and the spell of interest which lingers around every decaying
relic of the works and haunts of men of bygone times, made the place
eloquent to me. It seemed to me, then, like a monumental history of its
old inhabitants, and their times. I remember, too, that I once got a
peep into a part of the hall, where in those days, some old armour hung
against the wall, silent and rusty enough, but, to me, teeming with
tales of chivalry and knightly emprise. But, here is Rochdale station,
where he, who wishes to visit the village of Milnrow, had better alight.

If the traveller had time and inclination to go down into Rochdale
town, he might see some interesting things, old and new, there.
The town is more picturesquely situated than most of the towns of
South Lancashire. It lines the sides of a deep valley on the banks
of the Roch, overlooked by moorland hills. In Saxon times it was
an insignificant village, called "Rocheddam," consisting of a few
rural dwellings in Church Lane, a steep and narrow old street, which
was, down to the middle of last century, the principal street in the
town, though now the meanest and obscurest. The famous John Bright,
the Cromwell of modern politicians--a man of whom future generations
of Englishmen will be prouder even than his countrymen are now--was
born in this town, and lives at "One Ash," on the north side of it.
John Roby, author of the "Traditions of Lancashire," was a banker, in
Rochdale, of the firm of Fenton and Roby. The bank was next door to the
shop of Thomas Holden, the principal bookseller of the town, to whom
I was apprentice. For the clergy of the district, and for a certain
class of politicians, this shop was the chief rendezvous of the place.
Roby used to slip in at evening, to have a chat with my employer, and
a knot of congenial spirits who met him there. In the days when my
head was yet but a little way higher than the counter, I remember how
I used to listen to his versatile conversations. Rochdale was one of
the few places where the woollen manufacture was first practised in
England. It is still famous for its flannel. The history of Rochdale
is in one respect but the counterpart of that of almost every other
South Lancashire town. With the birth of cotton manufacture, it shot
up suddenly into one of the most populous and wealthy country towns in
England. After the traveller has contemplated the manufacturing might
of the place, he may walk up the quaint street from which the woollen
merchants of old used to dispatch their goods, on pack horses, to all
parts of the kingdom; and from which it takes the name of "Packer
Street." At the top, a flight of one hundred and twenty-two steps leads
into the churchyard; which commands an excellent view of the town
below. There, too, lies "Tim Bobbin." Few Lancashire strangers visit
the town without looking at the old rhymer's resting-place. Bamford,
author of "Passages in the Life of a Radical," thus chronicles an
imaginary visit to Tim's grave, in happy imitation of the dialect of
the neighbourhood:--

    Aw stood beside Tim Bobbin grave,
      At looks o'er Rachda teawn,
    An th'owd lad woke within his yearth.
      An sed, "Wheer arto beawn?"

    Awm gooin into th' Packer-street,
      As far as th' Gowden Bell,
    To taste o' Daniel Kesmus ale.
      Tim: "Aw could like a saup mysel"

    An by this hont o' my reet arm,
      If fro that hole theawl reawk,
    Theawst have a saup oth' best breawn ale
      At ever lips did seawk.

    The greawnd it sturrd beneath meh feet,
      An then aw yerd a groan.
    He shook the dust fro off his skull,
      An rowlt away the stone.

    Aw brought him op a deep breawn jug,
      At a gallon did contain:
    He took it at one blessed droight,
      And laid him deawn again.

Some of the epitaphs on the grave-stones were written by Tim. The
following one, on Joe Green, the sexton, is published with Tim's
works:--

    Here lies Joe Green, who arch has been,
      And drove a gainful trade,
    With powerful Death, till out of breath,
      He threw away his spade.
    When Death beheld his comrade yield,
      He like a cunning knave,
    Came, soft as wind, poor Joe behind,
      And pushed him into his grave

Near to this grave is the grave of Samuel Kershaw, blacksmith, bearing
an epitaph which is generally attributed to the pen of Tim, though it
does not appear among his writings:--

    My anvil and my hammer lie declined,
    My bellows, too, have lost their wind,
    My fire's extinct, my forge decayed,
    And in the dust my vice is laid.
    My coal is spent, my iron is gone,
    My last nail driven, and my work is done.

"Blind Abraham," who rang the curfew, and who used to imitate the
chimes of Rochdale old church, in a wonderful way, for the lads at the
Grammar School, could lead a stranger from any point of the churchyard,
straight as an arrow's flight, to Tim's gravestone. The Grammar School
was founded in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, by Archbishop Parker. The
parish church is an interesting old edifice, standing on the edge of
an eminence, which overlooks the town. Tradition says its foundations
were laid by "Goblin Builders." The living was anciently dependent on
the Abbey of Whalley. It is now the richest vicarage in the kingdom. A
short walk through the glebe lands, and past "Th' Cant-hill Well",[7]
west of the vicarage, will bring the traveller to the hill on which,
in 1080, stood the castle of Gamel, the Saxon Thane, above the valley
called "Kill-Danes," where the northern pirates once lost a great fight
with the Saxon.

After spending a few days in the town, I set out for Milnrow, one fine
afternoon. The road leads by the "Railway Inn," near the station.
The hay was mostly gathered in, but the smell of it still lingered
on the meadows, and perfumed the wind, which sung a low melody among
the leaves of the hedges. Along the vale of the Roch, to the left,
lay a succession of manufacturing villages, with innumerable mills,
collieries, farmsteads, mansions, and cottages, clustering in the
valley, and running up into the hills in all directions, from Rochdale
to Littleborough, a distance of three miles. As I went on I was
reminded of "wimberry-time," by meeting knots of flaxen-headed lads
and lasses from the moors, with their baskets filled, and mouths all
stained with the juice of that delicious moorland fruit. There are
many pleasant customs in vogue here at this season. The country-folk
generally know something of local botany; and gather in a stock of
medicinal herbs to dry, for use throughout the year. There is still
some "spo'in'" at the mineral springs in the hills. Whether these
springs are really remarkable for peculiar mineral virtues, or what
these peculiar virtues are, I am not prepared to say; but it is certain
that many of the inhabitants of this district firmly believe in their
medicinal qualities, and, at set seasons of the year, go forth to visit
these springs, in jovial companies, to drink "spo wayter." Some go with
great faith in the virtues of the water, and, having drunk well of it,
they will sometimes fill a bottle with it, and ramble back to their
houses, gathering on their way edible herbs, such as "payshun docks,"
and "green-sauce," or "a burn o' nettles," to put in their broth, and,
of which, they also make a wholesome "yarb-puddin'," mixed with meal;
or they scour the hill-sides in search of "mountain flax," a "capital
yarb for a cowd;" and for the herb called "tormental," which, I have
heard them say, grows oftenest "abeawt th' edge o' th' singing layrock
neest;" or they will call upon some country botanist to beg a handful
of "Solomon's seal," to "cure black e'en wi'." But some go to these
springs mainly for the sake of a pleasant stroll and a quiet feast.
One of the most noted of these "spo'in'" haunts is "Blue Pots Spring,"
situated upon a lofty moorland, at the head of a green glen, called
"Long Clough," about three miles from the village of Littleborough.
The ancient Lancashire festival of "Rushbearing," and the hay-harvest,
fall together, in the month of August; and make it a pleasant time of
the year to the folk of the neighbourhood. At about a mile on the road
to Milnrow, the highway passes close by a green dingle, called "Th'
Gentlewoman's Nook," which is someway connected with the unfortunate
fate of a lady, once belonging to an influential family, near Milnrow.
Some of the country people yet believe that the place is haunted; and,
when forced to pass it after dark has come on, they steal fearfully and
hastily by.

 [7] Properly, "Th' Camp-hill Well," a well in what is called "Th'
 Broad Feelt," where the Danes encamped, previously to their attack on
 the Saxon castle, and their slaughter at Kill-Danes, in the vale below.

About a mile on the road stands Belfield Hall, on the site of an
ancient house, formerly belonging to the Knights of St. John of
Jerusalem. It is a large old building, belonging to the Townley family.
The estate has been much improved by its present occupant, and makes
a pleasant picture in the eye from the top of a dinge in the road, at
the foot of which a by-path leads up to the old village of Newbold, on
the brow of a green bank, at the right-hand side of the highway. I
stood there a minute, and tried to plant again the old woods, that must
have been thick there, when the squirrel leaped from tree to tree, from
Castletor Hall to Buckley Wood. I was trying to shape in imagination
what the place looked like in the old time, when the first rude hall
was built upon the spot, and the country around was a lonesome tract,
shrouded by primeval trees, when a special train went snorting by the
back of the hall, and shivered my delicate endeavour to atoms. I sighed
involuntarily; but bethinking me how imagination clothes all we are
leaving behind in a drapery that veils many of its rough realities, I
went my way, thankful for things as they are. A little further on, Fir
Grove bridge crosses the Rochdale canal, and commands a better view of
the surrounding country. I rested here a little while, and looked back
upon the spot which is for ever dear to my remembrance. The vale of
the Roch lay smiling before me, and the wide-stretching circle of dark
hills closed in the landscape, on all sides, except the south-west. Two
weavers were lounging on the bridge, bareheaded, and in their working
gear, with stocking-legs drawn on their arms. They had come out of the
looms to spend their "baggin-time" in the open air, and were humming
one of their favourite songs:--

    Hey Hal o' Nabs, an Sam, an Sue,
     Hey Jonathan, art thea theer too,
    We're o' alike, there's nought to do,
     So bring a quart afore us.
    Aw're at Tinker's gardens yester noon,
     An' what aw see'd aw'll tell yo soon,
    In a bran new sung; it's to th' owd tune
     Yo'st ha't iv yo'n join chorus.
                     Fal, lal, de ral.

At the door of the Fir Grove ale-house, a lot of raw-boned young
fellows were talking with rude emphasis about the exploits of a
fighting-cock of great local renown, known by the bland sobriquet of
"Crash-Bwons." The theme was exciting, and in the course of it they
gesticulated with great vehemence, and, in their own phrase, "swore
like horse-swappers." Some were colliers, and sat on the ground, in
that peculiar squat, with the knees up to a level with the chin, which
is a favourite resting-attitude with them. At slack times they like to
sit thus by the road side, and exchange cracks over their ale, amusing
themselves meanwhile by trying the wit and temper of every passer by.
These humourous road-side commentators are, generally, the roughest
country lads of the neighbourhood, who have no dislike to anybody
willing to accommodate them with a tough battle; for they, like the
better regulated portion of the inhabitants of the district, are hardy,
bold, and independent; and, while their manners are open and blunt,
their training and amusements are very rough.

I was now approaching Milnrow; and, here and there, a tenter-field
ribbed the landscape with lines of woollen webs, hung upon the hooks
to dry. Severe laws were anciently enacted for the protection of goods
thus necessarily exposed. Depredations on such property were punished
after the manner of that savage old "Maiden" with the thin lip, who
stood so long on the "Gibbet Hill," at Halifax, kissing evil-doers
out of the world. Much of the famous Rochdale flannel is still woven
by the country people here, in the old-fashioned, independent way, at
their own homes, as the traveller will see by "stretchers," which are
used for drying their warps upon, so frequently standing at the doors
of the roomy dwelling-houses near the road. From the head of the brow
which leads down into the village, Milnrow chapel is full in view on a
green hill-side to the left, overlooking the centre of the busy little
hamlet. It is a bald-looking building from the distance, having more
the appearance of a little square factory than a church. Lower down
the same green eminence, which slopes to the edge of the little river
Beal, stands the pleasant and tasteful, but modest residence of the
incumbent of Milnrow, the Rev. Francis Robert Raines, honorary canon of
Manchester, a notable archæologist and historian; much beloved by the
people of the locality.

There are old people still living in Milnrow, who were taught to read
and write, and "do sums" in Tim Bobbin's school; yet, the majority of
the inhabitants seem unacquainted with his residence. I had myself been
misled respecting it; but having obtained correct information, and
a reference from a friend in Rochdale to an old relative of his who
lived in the veritable cottage of renowned Tim, I set about inquiring
for him. As I entered the village, I met a sturdy, good-looking woman,
with a chocolate-coloured silk kerchief tied over her snowy cap, in
that graceful way which is known all over the country-side as a "Mildro
Bonnet." She stopt me and said, "Meastur, hea fur han yo com'd?" "From
Rochdale." "Han yo sin aught ov a felley wi breeches on, an' rayther
forrud, upo' th' gate, between an' th' Fir Grove?" I told her I had
not; and I then inquired for Scholefield that lived in Tim Bobbin's
cottage. She reckoned up all the people she knew of that name, but none
of them answering the description, I went on my way. I next asked a
tall woollen-weaver, who was striding up the street with his shuttle to
the mending. Scratching his head, and looking thoughtfully round among
the houses, he said, "Scwofil? Aw know no Scwofils, but thoose at th'
Tim Bobbin aleheawse; yodd'n better ash (ask) theer." Stepping over
to the Tim Bobbin inn, Mrs. Schofield described to me the situation
of Tim's cottage, near the bridge. Retracing my steps towards the
place, I went into the house of an old acquaintance of my childhood.
On the strength of a dim remembrance of my features, he invited me to
sit down, and share the meal just made ready for the family. "Come,
poo a cheer up," said he, "an' need no moo lathein'."[8] After we had
finished, he said, "Neaw, win yd have a reech o' bacco? Mally, reytch
us some pipes, an th' pot out o'th nook. Let's see, who's lad are yo,
sen yo? for aw welly forgetten, bith mass." After a fruitless attempt
at enlightening him thereon in ordinary English, I took to the dialect,
and in the country fashion described my genealogy, on the mother's
side. I was instantly comprehended; for he stopt me short with--"Whau
then, aw'll be sunken iv yo are not gron'son to 'Billy, wi' th' pipes,
at th' Biggins.'" "Yo han it neaw," said I. "Eh," replied he, "aw
knowed him as weel as aw knew my own feythur! He're a terrible chap
for music, an' sich like; an' he used to letter grave-stones, an' do
mason-wark. Eh, aw've bin to mony a orrytory wi' Owd Billy. Why,--let's
see--Owd Wesley preytched at his heawse, i' Wardle fowd once't.[9] An'
han yo some relations i' th' Mildro, then?" I told him my errand, and
inquired for Scholefield, who lived in Tim Bobbin's cottage. As he
pondered, and turned the name over in his mind, one of his lads shouted
out, "By th' mon, feyther, it's 'Owd Mahogany,' Aw think he's code
(called) Scwofil, an' he lives i'th garden at th' botham o'th bonk,
by th' waytur side." It was generally agreed that this was the place,
so I parted with my friends and went towards it. The old man came out
without his hat, a short distance, to set me right. After bidding me a
hearty "good neet," he turned round as he walked away, and shouted out,
"Neaw tay care yo coan, th' next time yo com'n thiz gate, an' wi'n have
a gradely do."

 [8] _Lathein'_--inviting.

 [9] John Leach, of Wardle, was a notable man among the early
 Methodists, and was one of Wesley's first preachers. He was my
 grandmother's uncle. In Southey's Life of Wesley, I find the following
 note respecting him, under the head, "OUTCRY AGAINST METHODISM.
 VIOLENCE OF MOBS, AND MISCONDUCT OF MAGISTRATES:" When John Leach was
 pelted, near Rochdale, in those riotous days, and saw his brother
 wounded in the forehead by a stone, he was mad enough to tell the
 rabble that not one of them could hit him, if he were to stand
 preaching there till midnight. Just then the mob began to quarrel
 among themselves, and, therefore, left off pelting. But the anecdote
 has been related by his brethren for his praise.

About twenty yards from the west end of the little stone bridge that
spans the river, a lane leads, between the ends of the dwelling houses,
down to the water side. There, still sweetly secluded, stands the
quaint, substantial cottage of John Collier, in its old garden by the
edge of the Beal, which, flowing through the fields in front, towards
the cottage, is there dammed up into a reservoir for the use of the
mill close by, and then tumbling over in a noisy little fall under the
garden edge, goes shouting and frolicking along the north-east side
of it, over water-worn rocks, and under the bridge, till the cadence
dies away in a low murmur, beyond, where the bed of the stream gets
smoother. Lifting the latch, I walked through the garden, to the
cottage, where I found "Owd Mahogany" and his maiden sister, two plain,
clean, substantial working-people, who were sitting in the low-roofed,
but otherwise roomy apartment in front, used as a kitchen. They entered
heartily into the purpose of my visit, and showed me everything about
the house with a genial pride. What made the matter more interesting
was the fact, that "Owd Mahogany" had been, when a lad, a pupil of
Collier's. The house was built expressly for Tim, by his father-in-law;
and the uncommon thickness of the walls, the number and arrangement
of the rooms, and the remains of a fine old oak staircase, showed
that more than usual care and expense had been bestowed upon it.
As we went through the rooms on the ground-floor, my ancient guide
gave me a good deal of anecdote connected with each. Pointing to a
clean, cold, whitewashed cell, with a great flag table in it, and a
grid-window at one end, he said, "This wur his buttery, wheer he kept
pullen,[10] an gam, an sich like; for thir no mon i' Rachdaw parish
liv't betther nor Owd Tim, nor moor like a gentleman; nor one at had
moor friends, gentle an simple. Th' Teawnlo's took'n to him fearfully,
an thir'n olez comin' to see him; or sendin' him presents o' some
mak'." He next showed me the parlour where he used to write and receive
company. A little oblong room, low in the roof, and dimly lighted by a
small window from the garden. Tim used to keep this retiring sanctum
tastefully adorned with the flowers of each season, and one might have
eaten his dinner off the floor in his time. In the garden he pointed
out the corner where Tim had a roomy green arbor, with a smooth stone
table in the middle, on which lay his books, his flute, or his meals,
as he was in the mood. He would stretch himself out here, and muse for
hours together. The lads used to bring their tasks from the school
behind the house, to this arbor, for Tim to examine. He had a green
shaded walk from the school into his garden. When in the school, or
about the house, he wore a silk velvet skull-cap. The famous radical,
William Cobbett, used to wear a similar one, occasionally; and I have
heard those who have seen both in this trim, say that the likeness
of the two men was then singularly striking. "Owd Mahogany" having
now shown and told me many interesting things respecting Tim's house
and habits, entered into a hearty eulogy upon his character as a man
and a schoolmaster. "He're a fine, straight-forrud mon, wi' no maffle
abeawt him; for o' his quare, cranky ways." As an author, he thought
him "Th' fine'st writer at Englan' bred, at that time o' th' day." Of
his caligraphy, too, he seemed particularly proud, for he declared that
"Tim could write a clear print hond, as smo' as smithy smudge," He
finished by saying, that he saw him carried out of the door-way we were
standing in, to his grave.


  [10] _Pullen_--poultry.

At the edge of dark, I bade adieu to Tim's cottage, and the comfortable
old couple that live in it. As I looked back from the garden-gate, the
house wore a plaintive aspect, in my imagination; as if it was thinking
of its fine old tenant. Having heard that there was something uncommon
to be learnt of him at the Tim Bobbin Inn, I went there again. It is
the largest and most respectable public-house in the village, kept in a
fine state of homely comfort by a motherly old widow. I found that she
could tell me something of the quaint schoolmaster and his wife "Mary,"
who, as she said, "helped to bring her into th' world." She brought out
a folio volume of engravings from designs by Tim, with many pieces of
prose and verse of his, in engraved fac-simile of his hand-writing. The
book was bound in dark morocco, with the author's name on the side, in
gold. I turned it over with pleasure, for there were things in it not
found in any edition of his works. The landlady shows this book with
some pride to Tim's admirers; by some she had been offered large sums
of money for it; and once a party of curious visitors had well-nigh
carried it off by stealth in their carriage, after making fruitless
offers of purchase; but the plan was detected in time, and the treasure
restored to its proper custody. I read in it one of his addresses to
his subscribers, in which he says of himself: "He's Lancashire born;
and, by the by, all his acquaintance agree, his wife not excepted, that
he's an odd-fellow.... In the reign of Queen Anne he was a boy, and
one of the nine children of a poor curate in Lancashire, whose stipend
never amounted to thirty pounds a-year, and consequently the family
must feel the iron teeth of penury with a witness. These indeed were
sometimes blunted by the charitable disposition of the good rector (the
Rev. Mr. H.----, of W----n): so this T. B. lived as some other boys
did, content with water-pottage, buttermilk, and jannock, till he was
between thirteen and fourteen years of age, when Providence began to
smile on him in his advancement to a pair of Dutch looms, when he met
with treacle to his pottage, and sometimes a little in his buttermilk,
or spread on his jannock. However, the reflections of his father's
circumstances (which now and then start up and still edge his teeth)
make him believe that Pluralists are no good Christians; that he who
will accept of two or more places of one hundred a-year, would not say
_I have enough_, though he was Pope Clement, Urban, or Boniface,--could
affirm himself infallible, and offer his toe to kings: that the unequal
distribution of Church emoluments is as great a grievance in the
ecclesiastic, as undeserved pensions and places are in the state; both
of which, he presumes to prophesy, will prove canker-worms at the roots
of those succulent plants, and in a few years cause leaf and branch to
shrivel up, and dry them to tinder." The spirit of this passage seems
the natural growth, in such a mind as his, of the curriculum of study
in the hard college of Tim's early days. In the thrifty home of the
poor Lancashire curate, though harrowed by "the iron teeth of penury,"
Tim inherited riches that wealth cannot buy. Under the tuition of a
good father, who could study his reflective and susceptible mind, and
teach him many excellent things; together with that hard struggle to
keep the wolf from the door of his childhood, which pressed upon
his thoughts, he grew up contemplative, self-reliant, and manly, on
oatmeal porridge, and jannock, with a little treacle for a god-send.
His feelings were deepened, and his natural love of independence
strengthened there, with that hatred of all kinds of injustice, which
flashes through the rich humour and genial kindness of his nature,--for
nature was strong in him, and he relished her realities. Poverty is not
pleasant, yet the world has more to thank poverty for than it dreams
of. With honourable pride he fought his way to a pair of Dutch looms,
where he learned to win his jannock and treacle by honest weaving.
Subsequently he endeavoured to support himself honourably, by pursuits
no less useful, but more congenial to the bias of his faculties; but,
to the last, his heart's desire was less to live in external plenty
and precedence among men, than to live conscientiously, in the sweet
relations of honourable independence in the world. This feeling was
strong in him, and gives dignity to his character. As a politician,
John Collier was considerably ahead of the time he lived in, and
especially of the simple, slow-minded race of people dwelling, then, in
that remote nook of Lancashire, at the foot of Blackstone Edge. Among
such people, and in such a time, he spoke and wrote things, which few
men dared to write and speak. He spoke, too, in a way which was as
independent and pithy as it was quaintly-expressive. His words, like
his actions, stood upon their own feet, and looked up. Perhaps, if he
had been a man of a drier nature,--of less genial and attractive genius
than he was,--he might have had to suffer more for the enunciation of
truths, and the recognition of principles which were unfashionable
in those days. But Collier was not only a man of considerable valour
and insight, with a manly mind and temper, but he was also genial
and humourous, as he was earnest and honest. He was an eminently
human-hearted man, who abhorred all kinds of cant and seeming. His
life was a greater honour to him even than his quaint pencil, or
his pen; and the memory of his sayings and doings will be long and
affectionately cherished, at least, by Lancashire men.

    Eh: Whoo-who-whoo! What wofo wark!
    He's laft um aw, to lie i' th' dark.

The following brief memoir, written by his friend and patron, Richard
Townley, Esq., of Belfield Hall, near Milnrow, for insertion in Dr.
Aiken's "History of the Environs of Manchester," contains the best and
completest account of his life and character, which has yet appeared:--

     Mr. JOHN COLLIER, _alias_ TIM BOBBIN, was born near Warrington,
     in Lancashire; his father, a clergyman of the Established Church,
     had a small curacy, and for several years taught a school. With
     the joint income of those, he managed so as to maintain a wife and
     several children decently, and also to give them a tolerable share
     of useful learning, until a dreadful calamity befel him, about his
     fortieth year--the total loss of sight. His former intentions of
     bringing up his son, John--of whose abilities he had conceived a
     favourable opinion--to the church, were then over, and he placed
     him out an apprentice to a Dutch loom-weaver, at which business
     he worked more than a year; but such a sedentary employment not
     at all according with his volatile spirits and eccentric genius,
     he prevailed upon his master to release him from the remainder of
     his servitude. Though then very young, he soon commenced itinerant
     schoolmaster, going about the country from one small town to
     another, to teach reading, writing, and accounts; and generally
     having a night-school (as well as a day one), for the sake of
     those whose necessary employments would not allow their attendance
     at the usual school hours.

     In one of his adjournments to the small but populous town of
     Oldham, he had an intimation that the Rev. Mr. Pearson, curate
     and schoolmaster, of Milnrow, near Rochdale, wanted an assistant
     in the school. To that gentleman he applied, and after a short
     examination, was taken in by him to the school, and he divided
     his salary, twenty pounds a year, with him. This Tim considered
     as a material advance in the world, as he still could have
     a night-school, which answered very well in that populous
     neighbourhood, and was considered by Tim, too, as a state of
     independency; a favourite idea, ever afterwards, with his high
     spirits. Mr. Pearson, not very long afterwards, falling a martyr
     to the gout, my honoured father gave Mr. Collier the school, which
     not only made him happy in the thought of being more independent,
     but made him consider himself as a rich man.

     Having now more leisure hours by dropping his night-school there,
     though he continued to teach at Oldham, and some other places,
     during the vacations of Whitsuntide and Christmas, he began
     to instruct himself in music and drawing, and soon was such a
     proficient in both as to be able to instruct others very well in
     those amusing arts.

     The hautboy and common flute were his chief instruments, and upon
     the former he very much excelled; the fine modulations that have
     since been acquired, or introduced upon that noble instrument,
     being then unknown in England. He drew landscapes in good taste,
     understanding the rules of perspective, and attempted some heads
     in profile, with very decent success: but it did not hit his
     humour, for I have heard him say, when urged to go on in that
     line, that "drawing heads and faces was as dry and insipid as
     leading a life without frolic and fun, unless he was allowed to
     steal in some leers of comic humour, or to give them a good dash
     of the caricature." Very early in life he discovered some poetic
     talents, or rather an easy habit for humourous rhyme, by several
     anonymous squibs he sent about in ridicule of some notoriously
     absurd, or eccentric characters; these were fathered upon him
     very justly, which created him some enemies, but more friends. I
     had once in my possession some humourous relations in tolerable
     rhyme, of his own frolic and fun with persons he met with, of
     the like description, in his hours of festive humour, which was
     sure to take place when released for any time from school duty,
     and not too much engaged in his lucrative employment of painting.
     The first regular poetic composition which he published, was "The
     Blackbird," containing some spirited ridicule upon a Lancashire
     Justice, more renowned for political zeal and ill-timed loyalty
     than good sense and discretion. In point of easy, regular
     versification, perhaps this was his best specimen, and it also
     exhibited some strokes of humour.

     About this period of life he fell seriously in love with a
     handsome young woman, a daughter of Mr. Clay, of Flockton, near
     Huddersfield, and soon after took her unto him for a wife, or,
     as he used to style her, his crooked rib, who, in proper time,
     increased his family, and proved to be a virtuous, discreet,
     sensible, and prudent woman, a good wife, and an excellent mother.
     His family continuing to increase nearly every year, the hautboy,
     flute, and amusing pencil were pretty much discarded, and the
     brush and pallet taken up seriously. He was chiefly engaged for
     some time in painting altar-pieces for chapels and signs for
     publicans, which pretty well rewarded the labours of his vacant
     hours from school attendance; but after some time, family expenses
     increasing more with his family, he devised, or luckily hit upon,
     a more lucrative employment for his leisure hours:--this was
     copying Dame Nature in some of her humourous performances, and
     grotesque sportings with the human face (especially where the
     visage had the greatest share in those sportings), into which
     his pencil contrived to throw some pointed features of grotesque
     humour, such as were best adapted to excite risibility, as long
     as such strange objects had the advantage of novelty to recommend
     them. These pieces he worked off with uncommon celerity: a single
     portrait in the leisure hours of two days, at least, and a group
     of three or four in a week. As soon as finished, he was wont to
     carry them to the first-rate inns at Rochdale and Littleborough,
     in the great road to Yorkshire, with the lowest prices fixed upon
     them, the innkeepers willingly becoming Tim's agents. The droll
     humour, as well as singularity of style of those pieces, procured
     him a most ready sale, from riders out, and travellers of other
     descriptions, who had heard of Tim's character. These whimsical
     productions soon began to be in such general repute, that he had
     large orders for them, especially from merchants in Liverpool, who
     sent them, upon speculation, into the West Indies and America. He
     used, at that time, to say, that "if Providence had ever meant him
     to be a rich man, that would have been the proper time, especially
     if she had kindly bestowed upon him two pair of hands instead of
     one;" but when cash came in readily, it was sure to go merrily: a
     cheerful glass with a joyous companion was so much in unison with
     his own disposition, that a temptation of that kind could never be
     resisted by poor Tim; so the season to grow rich never arrived,
     but Tim remained poor Tim to the end of the chapter.

     Collier had been for many years collecting, not only from the
     rustics in his own neighbourhood, but also wherever he made
     excursions, all the awkward, vulgar, obsolete words, and local
     expressions, which ever occurred to him in conversation amongst
     the lower classes. A very retentive memory brought them safe back
     for insertion in his vocabulary, or glossary, and from thence
     he formed and executed the plan of his "Lancashire Dialect,"
     which he exhibited to public cognizance in the "Adventures of a
     Lancashire Clown," formed from some rustic sports and gambols,
     and also some whimsical modes of circulating fun at the expense
     of silly, credulous boobies amongst the then cheery gentlemen of
     that peculiar neighbourhood. This publication, from its novelty,
     together with some real strokes of comic humour interlarded into
     it, took very much with the middle and lower class of people in
     the northern counties (and I believe everywhere in the South,
     too, where it had the chance of being noticed), so that a new
     edition was soon necessary. This was a matter of exultation to
     Tim, but not of very long duration, for the rapid sale of the
     second edition soon brought forth two or three pirated editions,
     which made the honest, unsuspecting owner to exclaim with great
     vehemence, "that he did not believe there was one honest printer
     in Lancashire;" and afterwards to lash some of the most culpable
     of those insidious offenders with his keen, sarcastic pen, when
     engaged in drawing up a preface to a future publication. The
     above-named performances, with his pencil, his brush, and his pen,
     made Tim's name and repute for whimsical archness pretty generally
     known, not only within his native county, but also through the
     adjoining counties of Yorkshire and Cheshire: and his repute for
     a peculiar species of pleasantry in his hours of frolic, often
     induced persons of much higher rank to send for him to an inn
     (when in the neighbourhood of his residence), to have a personal
     specimen of his uncommon drollery. Tim was seldom backward
     in obeying a summons to good cheer, and seldom, I believe,
     disappointed the expectations of his generous host, for he had a
     wonderful flow of spirits, with an inexhaustible fund of humour,
     and that, too, of a very peculiar character.

     Blest with a clear and masculine understanding, and a keen
     discernment into the humours and foibles of others, he knew how to
     take the best advantage of those occasional interviews in order
     to promote trade, as he was wont to call it, though his natural
     temper was very far from being of a mercenary cast; it was often
     rather too free and generous; more so than prudence, with respect
     to his family, would advise, for he would sooner have had a lenten
     day or two at home, than done a shabby and mean thing abroad.

     Amongst other persons of good fortune, who often called upon
     him at Milnrow, or sent for him to spend a few hours with him
     at Rochdale, was a Mr. Richard Hill, of Kibroid and Halifax, in
     Yorkshire, then one of the greatest cloth merchants, and also one
     of the most considerable manufacturers of baizes and shalloons
     in the north of England. This gentleman was not only fond of his
     humourous conversation, but also had taken up an opinion that he
     would be highly useful to him as his head clerk, in business, from
     his being very ready at accounts, and writing a most beautiful
     small hand, in any kind of type, but especially in imitation of
     printed characters After several fruitless attempts, he at last,
     by offers of an extravagant salary, prevailed upon Mr. Collier to
     enter into articles of service for three years, certain, and to
     take his family to Kibroid. After signing and sealing, he called
     upon me to give notice that he must resign the school, and to
     thank me for my long-continued friendship to him. At taking leave,
     he, like the honest Moor--

     Albeit, unused to the melting mood, Dropped tears as fast as the
     Arabian tree, Their medicinal gum.

     And, in faltering accents, entreated me not to be too hasty in
     filling up the vacancy in that school, where he had lived so many
     years contented and happy: for he had already some forebodings
     that he should never relish his new situation and new occupation.
     I granted his request, but hoped he would soon reconcile himself
     to his new situation, as it promised to be so advantageous both
     to himself and family. He replied, that "it was for the sake of
     his wife and children, that he was at last induced to accept Mr.
     Hill's very tempting offers, no other consideration whatever could
     have made him give up Milnrow school, and independency."

     About two months afterwards, some business of his master's
     bringing him to Rochdale market, he took that opportunity of
     returning by Belfield. I instantly perceived a wonderful change in
     his looks: that countenance which used ever to be gay, serene, or
     smiling, was then covered, or disguised with a pensive, settled
     gloom. On asking him how he liked his new situation at Kibroid,
     he replied, "Not at all;" then, enumerating several causes for
     discontent, concluded with an observation, that "he never could
     abide the ways of that country, for they neither kept red-letter
     days themselves nor allowed their servants to keep any." Before
     he left me, he passionately entreated that I would not give away
     the school, for he should never be happy again until he was
     seated in the crazy old elbow chair within his school. I granted
     his request, being less anxious to fill up the vacancy, as there
     were two other free schools for the same uses within the same
     townships, which have decent salaries annexed to them.

     Some weeks afterwards I received a letter from Tim, that he had
     some hopes of getting released from his vassalage; for, that the
     father having found out what very high wages his son had agreed to
     give him, was exceedingly angry with him for being so extravagant
     in his allowance to a clerk; that a violent quarrel betwixt them
     had been the consequence; and from that circumstance he meant--at
     least hoped--to derive some advantage in the way of regaining his
     liberty, which he lingered after, and panted for, as much as any
     galley-slave upon earth.

     Another letter announced that his master perceived that he was
     dejected, and had lost his wonted spirits and cheerfulness;
     had hinted to him, that if he disliked his present situation,
     he should be released at the end of the year; concluding his
     letter with a most earnest imploring that I would not dispose
     of the school before that time. By the interposition of the old
     gentleman, and some others, he got the agreement cancelled a
     considerable time before the year expired; and the evening of the
     day when the liberation took place, he hired a large Yorkshire
     cart to bring away bag and baggage by six o'clock next morning, to
     his own house, at Milnrow. When he arrived upon the west side of
     Blackstone Edge, he thought himself once more a FREE MAN; and his
     heart was as light as a feather. The next morning he came up to
     Belfield, to know if he might take possession of his school again;
     which being readily consented to, tears of gratitude instantly
     streamed down his cheeks, and such a suffusion of joy illumined
     his countenance, as plainly bespoke the heart being in unison with
     his looks. He then declared his unalterable resolution never more
     to quit the humble village of Milnrow; that it was not in the
     power of kings, nor their prime ministers, to make him any offers,
     if so disposed, that would allure him from his tottering elbow
     chair, from humble fare, with liberty and contentment. A hint was
     thrown out that he must work hard with his pencil, his brush, and
     his pen, to make up the deficiency in income to his family; that
     he promised to do, and was as good as his promise, for he used
     double diligence, so that the inns at Rochdale and Littleborough
     were soon ornamented, more than ever, with ugly grinning old
     fellows, and mambling old women on broomsticks, &c., &c.

     Tim's last literary productions, as I recollect, were "Remarks
     upon the Rev. Mr. Whittaker's History of Manchester, in two
     parts:" the "Remarks" will speak for themselves. There appears
     rather too much seasoning and salt in some of them, mixed with a
     degree of acerbity for which he was rather blamed.

     Mr. Collier died in possession of his faculties, with his mental
     powers but little impaired, at nearly eighty years of age, and
     his eyesight was not so much injured as might have been expected
     from such a severe use of it, during so long a space of time. His
     wife died a few years before him, but he left three sons and two
     daughters behind him.

In a sketch like this, it is not easy to select such examples from
Collier's writings as will give an adequate idea of their manner and
significance. His inimitable story, called "Tummus and Meary," will
bear no mutilation. Of his rhymes, perhaps the best is the one called
"The Blackbird." The following extract from Tim's preface to the third
edition of his works, in the form of a dialogue between the author and
his book, though far from the best thing he has written, contains some
very characteristic touches:--

     _Tim._ Well, boh we'n had enough o' this foisty matter; let's talk
     o' summat elze; an furst tell me heaw thea went on eh thi last
     jaunt.

     _Book._ Gu on! Beladay, aw could ha' gwon on wheantly, an' bin
     awhoam again wi' th' crap eh meh slop in a snift, iv id na met,
     at oytch nook, thoose basthartly whelps sent eawt be _Stuart_,
     _Finch_, an _Schofield_.

     _Tim._ Pooh! I dunnot meeon heaw folk harbort'nt an cutternt o'er
     tho; boh what thoose fause Lunnoners said'n abeawt te jump, at's
     new o'er-bodyt.

     _Book._ Oh, oh! Neaw aw ha't! Yo meeon'n thoose lung-seeted folk
     at glooar'n a second time at books; an whooa awr fyert would rent
     meh jump to chatters.

     _Tim._ Reet mon, reet; that's it,--

     _Book._ Whau then, to tello true, awr breeod wi' a gorse waggin';
     for they took'n mo i'th reet leet to a yure.

     _Tim._ Heaw's tat, eh Gods'num!

     _Book._ Whau, at yoad'n donned mo o' thiss'n, like a meawntebank's
     foo, for th' wonst, to mey th' rabblement fun.

     _Tim._ Eh, law! An did'n th' awvish shap, an th' peckl't jump pan,
     said'n they?

     _Book._ Aye, aye: primely i'faith!--for they glooarn't sooar at
     mo; turn't mo reawnd like a tayliur, when he mezzurs folk; chuckt
     mo under th' chin; ga' mo a honey butter-cake, an said oppenly,
     they ne'er saigh an awkert look, a quare shap, an a peckl't jump
     gee better eh their live.

     _Tim._ Neaw, e'en fair fa' um, say aw! These wur'n th' boggarts at
     flayd'n tho! But aw'd olez a notion at tear'n no gonnor-yeds.

     _Book._ Gonner-yeds! Naw, naw, not te marry! Boh, aw carry 't
     mysel' meety meeverly too-to, an did as o bidd'n mo.

     _Tim._ Then theaw towd um th' tale, an said th' rimes an aw, did
     to?

     _Book._ Th' tale an th' rimes! 'Sflesh, aw believe eh did; boh aw
     know no moor on um neaw than a seawkin' pig.

     _Tim._ 'Od rottle the; what says to? Has to foryeat'n th' tayliur
     findin' th' urchon; an th' rimes?

     _Book._ Quite, quite; as eh hope to chieve!

     _Tim._ Neaw e'en the dule steawnd to, say aw! What a fuss mun aw
     have to teytch um tho again!

     _Book._ Come, come; dunna fly up in a frap; a body conno carry
     oytch mander o' think eh their nob.

     _Tim._ Whau boh, mind neaw, theaw gawmblin' tyke, at to can tell
     th' tale an say th' rimes be rot tightly.

     _Book._ "Fear me na," said Doton; begin.

     _Tim._ A tayliur, eh Crummil's time, wur thrunk pooin' turmits in
     his pingot, an fund an urchon i'th hadloont reean.[11] He glendurt
     at't lung, boh could may nowt on't. He whoav't hi whisket o'ert,
     runs whoam, an tells his neighbours he thowt in his guts at he'd
     fund a think at God ne'er made eawt, for it'd nother yed nor tale,
     nor hont nor hough, nor midst nor eend! Loath t' believe this,
     hauve a dozen on um would gu t' see iv they could'n may shift t'
     gawm it; boh it capt um aw; for they newer a one on um e'er saigh
     th' like afore. Then theyd'n a keawncil, an th' eend on't wur at
     teyd'n fotch a lawm, fause owd felly, het[12] an elder, at could
     tell oytch think,--for they look'nt on him as th' hamil-scoance,
     an thowt him fuller o' leet than a glow-worm's a--se. When they'n
     towd him th' case, he stroke't his beeart; sowght; an order't th'
     wheelbarrow wi' spon-new trindle t' be fotcht. 'Twur dun; an they
     beawln't him away to th' urchon in a crack. He glooart at't a good
     while; dried his beeart deawn, an wawtud it o'er with his crutch.
     "Wheel me abeawt again, o'th tother side," said he, "for it sturs,
     an by that, it should be wick." Then he dons his spectacles,
     stare't at't again, an sowghin', said, "Breether, its summat:
     boh feyther Adam nother did, nor could kersun it. Wheel mo whoam
     again!"

 [11] _Hadloont reean_--headland gutter.

 [12] _Het_--hight, called

     _Book._ Aw remember it neaw, weel enough: boh iv these viewers
     could gawm it oytch body couldna; for aw find neaw at yo compare'n
     me to a urchon, ut has nother yed nor tale; 'sflesh, is not it
     like running mo deawn, an a bit to bobbersome.

     _Tim._ Naw, naw, not it; for meeny o' folk would gawm th' rimes,
     boh very lite would underston th' tayliur an his urchon.

     _Book._ Th' rimes;--hum,--lemme see. 'Sblid, aw foryeat'n thoose,
     too, aw deawt!

     _Tim._ Whoo-who whoo! What a dozening jobberknow art teaw!

     _Book._ Good lorjus o' me; a body conna do moor thin they con,
     con they? Boh iv in teytch mo again, an aw foryeat um again, e'en
     raddle meh hoyd tightly, say aw.

     _Tim._ Mind te hits, then!

     Some write to show their wit and parts, Some show you whig, some
     tory hearts, Some flatter _knaves_, some _fops_, some _fools_, And
     some are ministerial tools.

     _Book._ Eigh, marry; oytch body says so; an gonnor-yeds they are
     for their labbor.

     _Tim._ Some few in virtue's cause do write, But these, alas! get
     little by't.

     _Book._ Indeed, aw can believe o! Weel rime't, heawe'er: gu on.

     _Tim._ Some turn out maggots from their head, Which die before
     their author's dead.

     _Book._ Zuns! Aw Englanshire 'll think at yo'r glentin' at toose
     fratchin', byzen, craddlinly tykes as write'n sich papers as th'
     _Test_, an sich cawve-tales as _Cornish Peter_, at fund a new
     ward, snyin' wi glums an gawries.

     _Tim._ Some write such sense in prose and rhyme, Their works will
     wrestle hard with Time.

     _Book._ That'll be prime wrostlin', i'faith; for aw've yerd um
     say, time conquers aw things.

     _Tim._ Some few print _truth_, but many _lies_ On _spirits_, down
     to _butterflies_.

     _Book._ Reet abeawt boggarts; an th' tother ward; and th' mon i'th
     moon, an sich like gear: get eendway; it's prime, i'faith.

     _Tim._ Some write to _please_, some do't for _spite_, But want of
     money makes me write.

     _Book._ By th' mass, th' owd story again! Boh aw think eh me guts
     at it's true. It'll do; yo need'n rime no moor, for it's better
     t'in lickly. Whewt[13] on Tummus an Mary.

 [13] _Whewt_--whistle.

To a liberal and observant stranger, one of the richest results of a
visit to this quarter will arise from contemplation of the well-defined
character of the people that live in it. The whole population is
distinguished by a fine, strong, natural character, which would do
honour to the refinements of education. A genteel stranger, who cannot
read the heart of this people through their blunt manners, will,
perhaps, think them a little boorish. But though they have not much
bend in the neck, and their rough dialect is little blest with the
set phrases of courtesy, there are no braver men in the world, and
under their uncouth demeanour lives the spirit of true chivalry.
They have a favourite proverb, that "fair play's a jewel," and are
generally careful, in all their dealings, to act upon it. They feel
a generous pride in the man who can prove himself their master in
anything. Unfortunately, little has yet been done for them in the way
of book-education, except what has been diffused by the Sunday-schools,
since the times of their great apostle, John Wesley, who, in person,
as well as by his enthusiastic early preachers, laboured much and
earnestly among them, in many parts of South Lancashire. Yet nature
has blest them with a fine vein of mother-wit, and has drilled some
useful pages of her horn-book into them in the loom, the mine, and
the farm, for they are naturally hard workers, and proud of honest
labour. They are keen critics of character, too, and have a sharp eye
to the nooks and corners of a stranger's attire, to see that, at least,
whether rich or poor, it be sound, and, as they say, "bothomly cleeon,"
for they are jealous of dirty folk. They are accustomed to a frank
expression of what is in them, and like the open countenance, where
the time of day may be read in the dial, naturally abhorring "hudd'n
wark, an' meawse-neeses." Among the many anecdotes illustrative of the
character of this people, there is one which, though simple, bears a
strong stamp of native truth upon it. A stalwart young fellow, who had
long been employed as carter for a firm in this neighbourhood, had an
irresistible propensity to fighting, which was constantly leading him
into scrapes. He was an excellent servant in every other respect, but
no admonition could cure him of this; and at length he was discharged,
in hope to work the desired change. Dressing himself in his best, he
applied to an eminent native merchant for a similar situation. After
other necessary questions, the merchant asked whether he had brought
his character with him. "My character!" replied our hero, "Naw, aw'm a
damned deeol better beawt it!" This anecdote conveys a very true idea
of the rough vigour and candour of the Lancashire country population.
They dislike dandyism and the shabby-genteel, and the mere bandbox
exquisite would think them a hopeless generation. Yet, little as they
are tinctured with literature, a few remarkable books are very common
among them. I could almost venture to prophesy before going into any
substantial farmhouse, or any humble cottage in this quarter, that
some of the following books might be found there: the Bible, Bunyan's
Pilgrim's Progress, the Book of Common Prayer, and often Wesley's
Hymn-book, Barclay's Dictionary, Culpepper's Herbal; and, sometimes,
Thomas à Kempis, or a few old puritan sermons. One of their chief
delights is the practice of sacred music; and I have heard the works
of Haydn, Handel, Mozart, and Beethoven executed with remarkable
correctness and taste, in the lonely farmhouses and cottages of South
Lancashire. In no other part of England does such an intense love of
sacred music pervade the poorer classes. It is not uncommon for them
to come from the farthest extremity of South Lancashire, and even over
the "Edge" from Huddersfield, and other towns of the West Riding of
Yorkshire, to hear an oratorio at the Free Trade Hall, returning home
again, sometimes a distance of thirty miles, in the morning.

I will now suppose that the traveller has seen Tim Bobbin's grave, and
has strolled up by Silver Hills, through the scenery of Butterworth,
and, having partly contemplated the character of this genuine specimen
of a South Lancashire village, is again standing on the little stone
bridge which spans the pretty river Beal. Let him turn his back to
the Rochdale road a little while; we have not done with him yet.
Across the space there, used as a fair ground at "Rushbearing time,"
stands an old-fashioned stone ale-house, called "Th' Stump and Pie
Lad," commemorating, by its scabbed and weather-beaten sign, one of
the triumphs of a noted Milnrow foot-racer, on Doncaster race-course.
Milnrow is still famous for its foot-racers, as Lancashire, generally,
is more particularly famous for foot-racers than any other county in
the kingdom. In that building the ancient lords of Rochdale manor
used to hold their court-leets. Now, the dry-throated "lads o' th'
fowd" meet there nightly, to grumble at bad warps and low wages; and
to "fettle th' nation," over pitchers of cold ale. And now, if the
traveller loves to climb "the slopes of old renown," and worships old
heraldries and rusty suits of mail, let him go to the other end of
the village. I will go with him, if, like me, while he venerates old
chronicles, whether of stone, metal, or parchment, because the spirit
of the bygone sometimes streams upon us through them, he still believes
in the proverb, that "every man is the son of his own works;" I will
play the finger-post to him with right good will. There is something at
the other end of Milnrow worth his notice.

Milnrow lies on the ground not unlike a tall tree laid lengthwise, in
a valley, by a river side. At the bridge, its roots spread themselves
in clots and fibrous shoots, in all directions; while the almost
branchless trunk runs up, with a little bend, above half a mile,
towards Oldham, where it again spreads itself out in an umbrageous way,
at the little fold called "Butterworth Hall." In walking through the
village, he who has seen a tolerably-built wooden mill will find no
wonders of the architectural art at all. The houses are almost entirely
inhabited by working people, and marked by a certain rough, comfortable
solidity--not a bad reflex of the character of the inhabitants. At the
eastern extremity, a road leads on the left hand to the cluster of
houses called "Butterworth Hall." This old fold is worth notice, both
for what it is, and what it has been. It is a suggestive spot. It is
near the site once occupied by one of the homesteads of the Byrons,
barons of Rochdale, the last baron of which family was Lord Byron, the
poet. A gentleman in this township, who is well acquainted with the
history and archæology of the whole county, lately met with a licence
from the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, dated A.D. 1400, granting
to Sir John Byron and his wife leave to have divine service performed
within their oratories at Clayton and Butterworth, in the county of
Lancashire. (Lane. MSS., vol. xxxii., p. 184.) This was doubtless the
old _wooden chapel_ which traditionally is said to have existed at
Butterworth Hall, and which is still pointed out by the names of two
small fields, called "Chapel Yard" and "Chapel Meadow." These names
occur in deeds at Pike House (the residence of the Halliwell family,
about two miles off), in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and are known to
this day. It is probable that the Byrons never lived at Butterworth
Hall after the Wars of the Roses. They quitted Clayton, as a permanent
residence, on acquiring Newstead, in the reign of Henry the Eighth,
although "young Sir John," as he was called, lived at Royton Hall, near
Oldham, another seat of the family, between 1592 and 1608.

At Butterworth Hall, the little river Beal, flowing down fresh from
the heathery mountains, which throw their shadows upon the valley
where it runs, divides the fold; and upon a green plot, close to the
northern margin of its water, stands an old-fashioned stone hall, hard
by the site of the ancient residence of the Byrons. After spending an
hour at the other end of the village, with the rugged and comfortable
generation dwelling there, among the memorials of "Tim Bobbin"--that
quaint old schoolmaster, of the last century--who was "the observed
of all observers," there, in his day, and who will be remembered long
after some of the monumental brasses and sculptured effigies of his
contemporaries are passed by with, incurious eyes--one thinks it will
not be uninteresting, nor profitless, to come and muse a little upon
the spot where the Byrons once lived in feudal state. But let not any
contemplative visitor here lose his thoughts too far among antiquarian
dreams, and shadows of the past, for there are factory-bells close by.
However large the discourse of his mind may be, let him never forget
that there is a strong and important present in the social life around
him. And wherever he sets his foot, in South Lancashire, he will now
find that there are shuttles flying where once was the council chamber
of a baron; and that the people of these days are drying warps in the
"shooting-butts" and tilt-yards of the olden time!

The following information respecting the Byron family, Barons of
Rochdale, copied from an article in the _Manchester Guardian_, by
the eminent antiquarian contributor to that journal, will not be
uninteresting to some people:--

     The Byrons, of Clayton and Rochdale, Lancashire, and Newstead
     Abbey, Notts, are descended from Ralph de Buron, who, at the time
     of the Conquest, and of the Doomsday Survey, held divers manors
     in Notts and Derbyshire. Hugo de Buron, grandson of Ralph, and
     feudal Baron of Horsetan, retiring _temp._ Henry III. from secular
     affairs, professed himself a monk, and held the hermitage of
     Kirsale or Kersal, under the priory of Lenton. His son was Sir
     Roger de Buron. Robert de Byron, son of Sir Roger de Buron, in
     the John 1st [1199-1200], married Cecilia, daughter and heiress
     of Richard Clayton, of Clayton, and thus obtained the manor and
     estates of Clayton. Failsworth and the township of Droylsden were
     soon after added to their Lancashire estates. Their son, Robert
     de Byron, lord of Clayton, was witness to a grant of Plying Hay
     in this country, to the monks of Cockersand, for the souls of
     Henry II. and Richard I. And his son, John de Byron, who was
     seated at Clayton, 28th Edward I. [1299-30], was governor of
     York, and had all his lands in Rochdale, with his wife Joan,
     by gift of her father, Sir Baldwin Teutonicus, or Thies, or de
     Tyas, who was conservator of the peace in Lancashire, 10th Edward
     [1281-82]. Her first husband was Sir Robert Holland, secretary
     of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster. Their son was Sir John de Byron,
     knight, lord of Clayton, who was one of the witnesses to the
     charter granted to the burgesses of Manchester, by Thomas Grelle,
     lord of that manor, in 1301. The two first witnesses to that
     document were "Sirs John Byron, Richard Byron, knights." These
     were father and son. Sir John married Alice, cousin and heir
     of Robert Bonastre, of Hindley, in this county. Their son, Sir
     Richard, lord of Cadenay and Clifton, had grant of free warren
     in his demesne lands in Clayton, Butterworth, and Royton, on the
     28th June, 1303; he served in parliament for Lincolnshire, and
     died before 21st Edward III. [1347-8]. His son was Sir James
     de Byron, who died before 24th Edward III. [1350-51]. His son
     and heir was Sir John de Byron, who was knighted by Edward III.
     at the siege of Calais [1346-7], and dying without issue, was
     succeeded by his brother, Sir Richard, before 4th Richard II.
     [1380-81]. Sir Richard died in 1398, and was succeeded by his son,
     Sir John _le_ Byron, who received knighthood before 3rd Henry
     V. [1415-16], and as one of the knights of the shire, 7th Henry
     VI. [1428-9]. He married Margery, daughter of John Booth, of
     Barton. His eldest son, Richard le Byron, dying in his father's
     lifetime, and Richard's son, James, dying without issue, the
     estate passed to Richard's brother, Sir Nicholas, of Clayton,
     who married Alice, daughter of Sir John Boteler, of Beausey or
     Bewsey, near Warrington. Their son and heir was Sir John, who
     was constable of Nottingham Castle, and Sheriff of Lancaster, in
     1441 and 1442. Sir John fought in the Battle of Bosworth Field,
     on the side of Henry VII., and was knighted on the field. Dying
     without issue in 1488, he was succeeded by his brother (then 30),
     Sir Nicholas, Sheriff of Lancaster, in 1459, who was made Knight
     of the Bath in 1501, and died in January, 1503-4. This son and
     heir, Sir John Byron (the one named in the above document), was
     steward of the manors of Manchester and Rochdale, and, on the
     dissolution of the monasteries, he had a grant of the priory of
     Newstead, 28th May, 1540. From that time the family made Newstead
     their principal seat, instead of Clayton. This will explain, to
     some extent, the transfer of Clayton, in 1547, from this same Sir
     John Byron to John Arderon or Arderne. Either this Sir John or
     his son, of the same name, in the year 1560, inclosed 260 acres
     of land on Beurdsell Moor, near Rochdale. His three eldest sons
     dying without issue (and we may just note that Kuerden preserves
     a copy of claim, without date, of Nicholas, the eldest, to the
     serjeanty of the king's free court of Rochdale, and to have the
     execution of all attachments and distresses, and all other things
     which belong to the king's bailiff there), Sir John was succeeded
     by his youngest son, Sir John, whom Baines states to have been
     knighted in 1759--probably a transposition of the figures 1579.
     This Sir John, in the 39th Elizabeth [1596-7], styles himself
     "Farmer of the Manor of Rochdale," and makes an annual payment to
     the Crown, being a fee farm rent to the honour of Rochdale. In
     the 1st Charles I. [1625-6], the manor of Rochdale passed from
     the Byrons; but in 1638 it was reconveyed to them; and, though
     confiscated during the commonwealth, Richard, Lord Byron, held the
     manor in 1660. Sir John's eldest son, Sir Nicholas, distinguished
     himself in the wars in the Low Countries, and at the battle of
     Edgehill (23rd October, 1642). He was general of Cheshire and
     Shropshire. His younger brother, Sir John, was made K.B. at the
     coronation of James I. and a baronet in 1603. Owing to the failure
     of the elder line, this Sir John became ancestor of the Lords
     Byron. Sir Nicholas was succeeded by his son, Sir John, who was
     made K.B. at the coronation of Charles I.; was appointed by that
     king Lieutenant of the Tower, in 1642, contrary to the wish of
     parliament; commanded the body of reserve at Edgehill; and was
     created Lord Byron of Rochdale, 24th October, 1643. In consequence
     of his devotion to the royal cause (for he fought against Oliver
     Cromwell at the battle of Preston, in August, 1648), his manor
     of Rochdale was sequestered, and held for several years by Sir
     Thomas Alcock, who held courts there in 1654, two years after Lord
     Byron's death. So great was his lordship's royalist zeal, that he
     was one of the seven specially exempted from the clemency of the
     government in the "Act of Oblivion," passed by parliament on the
     execution of Charles I. Dying at Paris, in 1652, without issue,
     he was succeeded by his cousin, Richard (son of Sir John, the
     baronet just mentioned), who became second Lord Byron, and died
     4th October, 1679, aged 74. He was succeeded by his eldest son,
     William, who died 13th November, 1695, and was succeeded by his
     fourth son, William, who died August 8th, 1736, and was succeeded
     by a younger son, William, fifth Lord Byron, born in November,
     1722, killed William Chaworth, Esq., in a duel, in January, 1765,
     and died 19th May, 1798. He was succeeded by his great nephew,
     George Gordon, the poet, sixth Lord Byron, who was born 22nd
     January, 1788, and died at Missolonghi, in April, 1824. In 1823,
     he sold Newstead Abbey to James Dearden, Esq., of Rochdale; and
     in the same year, he sold the manor and estate of Rochdale to the
     same gentleman, by whose son and heir they are now possessed. The
     manorial rights of Rochdale are reputed (says Baines) to extend
     over 32,000 statute acres of land, with the privileges of court
     baron and court leet in all the townships of the parish, including
     that portion of Saddleworth which lies within the parish of
     Rochdale; but excepting such districts as Robert de Lacy gave to
     the abbots of Whalley, with right to inclose the same.

The article goes on to say that the manor of Rochdale was anciently
held by the Ellands of Elland, and the Savilles, and that on the death
of Sir Henry Saville, it appears to have merged in the possession of
the Duchy of Lancaster; and Queen Elizabeth, in right of her duchy
possessions, demised that manor to Sir John Byron, by letters patent,
dated May 12th, 27th year of her reign (1585), from Lady-day, 1585, to
the end of thirty-one years.

The eye having now satisfied itself with what was notable in and about
Milnrow, I took my way home, with a mind more at liberty to reflect
on what I had seen. The history of Lancashire passed in review before
me; especially its latest history. I saw the country that was once
thick with trees that canopied herds of wild animals, and thinnest of
people, now bare of trees, and thickest of population; the land which
was of least account of any in the kingdom in the last century, now
most sought after; and those rude elements which were looked upon as
"the riddlings of creation," more productive of riches than all the
Sacramento's gold, and ministers to a spirit which is destined to
change the social aspect of Britain. I saw the spade sinking in old
hunting grounds, and old parks now trampled by the fast-increasing
press of new feet. The hard cold soil is now made to grow food for
man and beast. Masses of stone and flag are shaken from their sleep
in the beds of the hills, and dragged forth to build mills and houses
with. Streams which have frolicked and sung in undisturbed limpidity
thousands of years, are dammed up, and made to wash and scour, and
generate steam. Fathoms below the feet of the traveller, the miner is
painfully worming his way in labyrinthine tunnels; and the earth is
belching coals at a thousand mouths. The region teems with coal, stone,
and water, and a people able to subdue them all to their purposes.
These elements quietly bide their time, century after century, till
the grand plot is ripe, and the mysterious signal given. Anon, when a
thoughtful barber sets certain wheels spinning, and a contemplative
lad takes a fine hint from his mother's tea-kettle, these slumbering
powers start into astonishing activity, like an army of warriors roused
to battle by the trumpet. Cloth is woven for the world, and the world
buys it, and wears it. Commerce shoots up from a poor pedlar with
his pack on a mule, to a giant merchant, stepping from continent to
continent, over the ocean, to make his bargains. Railways are invented,
and the land is ribbed with iron, for iron messengers to run upon,
through mountains and over valleys, on business commissions; the very
lightning turns errand-boy. A great fusion of thought and sentiment
springs up, and Old England is in hysterics about its ancient opinions.
A new aristocracy rises from the prudent, persevering working-people
of the district, and threatens to push the old one from its stool. What
is to be the upshot of it all? The senses are stunned by the din of
toil, and the view obscured by the dust of bargain-making. But, through
an opening in the clouds, hope's stars are shining still in the blue
heaven that over-spans us. Take heart, ye toiling millions! The spirits
of your heroic forefathers are watching to see what sort of England you
leave to your sons!



    The Birthplace of Tim Bobbin.



    CHAPTER I.

                A merrier man,
    Within the limits of becoming mirth,
    I never spent an hour's talk withal:
    His eye begets occasion for his wit:
    For every object that the one doth catch,
    The other turns to a mirth-moving jest:
    Which his fair tongue (conceit's expositor)
    Delivers in such apt and gracious words,
    That aged ears play truant to his tales.
    --LOVE'S LABOUR LOST.


There is a quiet tract of country on the eastern border of Lancashire,
lying in a corner, formed by the junction of the rivers Mersey and
Irwell, and having but little intercourse with those great towns of the
county which boil with the industry of these days, a few miles off,
to the north and eastward. It is the green selvedge of our toilful
district, in that direction; and the winding waters of the Mersey
lace its meadows, lengthwise, until that river joins the more soiled
and sullen Irwell, on the northern boundary of the parish. In all
the landscape there are no hills to break the view; and, considering
the extent of land, trees are but sparsely scattered over it. It is
singular, also, that the oak will not flourish in this particular spot;
although there are some fine specimens of the other trees common to
the English soil. But the country is generally fertile, and prettily
undulated in some places; and it is a pleasant scene in hay-time,
"when leaves are large and long," and the birds are singing with
full-throated gladness in the green shade, while the dewy swathe is
falling to the mower's stroke, in the sunlight of a June morning.
Looking eastward, across the Mersey, the park-like plains and rustling
woods of Cheshire stretch away, in unbroken beauty, as far as the eye
can see. Indeed, the whole of this secluded tract, upon the Lancashire
side of the river, may be naturally reckoned part of that fruitful
Cheshire district which has, not inappropriately, been called "the
market-garden of Manchester." The parish of Flixton occupies nearly
the whole of this border nook of Lancashire; and the scattered hamlet
of Urmston, in this parish, lays claim to the honour of being the
birthplace of our earliest and most popular native humourist, the
celebrated John Collier, better known by his self-chosen name of "Tim
Bobbin,"--

        A lad whose fame did resound
    Through every village and town around;
    For fun, for frolic, and for whim.

And, certainly, the hamlet of Urmston is a spot quite in keeping
with all we know of the general character, and all we can imagine of
the earliest training of a man who owed so much to nature, and who
described the manners of the country folk of his day with such living
truth, enriched with the quaint tinge of a humorous genius, which
was his, and his only. Fortune, and his own liking, seem to have
made him a constant dweller in the country. He was, by fits, fond
of social company, and business led him into towns, occasionally;
but whenever he visited towns, he seems to have always turned again
towards the chimney-corner of his country home with an undying love,
which fairly glows in every allusion he makes to his dwelling-place
at the village of Milnrow, and even to the honest, uncouth hinds, who
were his neighbours there; and whose portraits he has drawn for us, so
inimitably, in his celebrated story of "Tummus and Mary." He was "a
fellow of infinite jest; of most excellent fancy." May his soul rest
"in the bosom of good old Abraham!"

Here, then, in green Urmston, John Collier is said to have been born;
and the almost unrecorded days of his childhood were passed here.
Even now, the scattered dwellers of the place are mostly employed
in agriculture, and their language and customs savour more of three
centuries ago than those which we are used to in manufacturing towns.
From the cottage homes, and old-fashioned farmhouses, which are dropped
over the landscape, like birds' nests, "each in its nook of leaves,"
generation after generation has come forth to wander through the same
grass-grown byeways, and brambly old lanes; to weave the same chequered
web of simple joys and sorrows, and cares and toils; and to lie down
at last in the same old churchyard, where the "rude forefathers of
the hamlet" are sleeping together so quietly. It is a country well
worth visiting by any lover of nature, for its own sake. Its natural
features, however, are those common to English rural scenery in
districts where there are no great elevations, nor anything like thick
woodlands; and though such scenery is always pleasing to my mind,
it was not on account of its natural charms, nor to see its ancient
halls, with the interesting associations of past generations playing
about them; nor the ivied porches of its picturesque farmhouses; nor
to peep through the flower-shaded lattices of its cottage nests; nor
even to scrape acquaintance with the old-fashioned people who live
in them, that I first wandered out to Flixton; though there is more
than one quaint soul down there that I would rather spend an hour
with than with any two fiddlers in the county. Particularly "Owd
Rondle," the market-gardener, who used to tell me the richest country
tales imaginable. He had a dog, which "wur never quiet, but when it
wur feightin." He was a man of cheerful temper, and clear judgment,
mingled with a warm undercurrent of chuckling humour, which thawed
away stiff manners in an instant. The last time I saw him, a friend
of his was complaining of the gloom of the times, and saying that he
thought England's sun had set. "Set;" said Rondle, "not it! But iv
it wur set, we'd get a devilish good moon up! Dunnut be so ready to
mout yor fithers afore th' time comes. Noather me nor England mun last
for ever. But Owd Englan's yung yet, for oather peace or war, though
quietness is th' best, an' th' chepest; if they'n let us be quiet, on a
daycent fuuting. So, keep yor heart up; for th' shell shall be brokken;
an' th' chicken shall come forth; an' it shall be a cock-chicken; an'
a feighter, with a single kom!" But "Rondle" was not always in this
humour. He could doff his cap and bells at will; and liked, what he
called, "sarviceable talk," when any really serious matter was afoot.
Yet, it was not to see curious "Old Rondle" that I first went down to
Flixton. The district is so far out of the common "trod," as Lancashire
people say, that I doubt whether I should ever have rambled far in
that direction if it had not been for the oft-repeated assertion that
Urmston, in Flixton, was the birthplace of John Collier. And it was a
desire to see the reputed place of his nativity, and to verify the
fact, as far as I could, on the spot--since the honour has been claimed
by more than one other place in Lancashire--that first led me out there.

In my next chapter, gentle reader, if thou art minded so far to do me
pleasure, we will ramble down that way together: and, I doubt not, that
in the course of our journey thou wilt hear or see something or other
which may haply repay thee for the trouble of going so far out of thy
way with me.



    CHAPTER II.

                  By the crackling fire,
    We'll hold our little snug, domestic court,
    Plying the work with song and tale between.


It was on a cold forenoon, early in the month of April, that I set off
to see Urmston, in Flixton. The sky was gloomy, and the air chill; but
the cold was bracing, and the time convenient, so I went towards Oxford
Road Station in a cheerful temper. Stretford is the nearest point
on the line, and I took my ticket to that village. We left the huge
manufactories, and the miserable chimney tops of "Little Ireland," down
by the dirty Medlock; we ran over a web of dingy streets, swarming with
dingy people; we flitted by the end of Deansgate (the Ratcliffe Highway
of Manchester), and over the top of Knott Mill, the site of the Roman
Station,--now covered with warehouses and other buildings connected
with the Bridgewater Trust; we left the black, stagnant canal, coiled
in the hollow, and stretching its dark length into the distance, like
a slimy snake. We cleared the cotton mills, and dyeworks, and chemical
manufactories of Cornbrook. Pomona Gardens, too, we left behind, with
the irregular carpentry of its great picture sticking up raggedly
in the dun air, like the charred relics of a burnt woodyard. These
all passed in swift panorama, and the train stopped at Old Trafford,
the site of the "Art Exhibition," just closed. Three years ago the
inhabitants did not dream that this was to be the gathering-place of
the grandest collection of works of art the world ever saw, and the
scene of more bustle and pomp than was ever known on any spot in the
north of England, before. The building was up, but not opened, and
as we went by we had a good view of the shapeless mass, and of many
curious people tooting about the enclosure to see what was going on.
Old Trafford takes its name from the Trafford family, or rather, I
believe, gives its name to that family, whose ancient dwelling, Old
Trafford Hall, stands in part of its once extensive gardens, near the
railway. Baines says of this family, "The Traffords were settled here
(at Trafford) at a period anterior to the Norman conquest, and ancient
documents in possession of the family show that their property has
descended to the present representative, not only by an uninterrupted
line of male heirs, but without alienation, during the mutations in
national faith, and the violence in civil commotions. Henry, the
great-grandson of Ranulphus de Trafford, who resided at Trafford in
the reign of Canute and Edward the Confessor, received lands from
Helias de Pendlebury; in Chorlton, from Gospatrick de Chorlton; and in
Stretford, from Hamo, the third baron of that name, of Dunham Massie;
and from Pain of Ecborn (Ashburn) he had the whole of the lordship of
Stretford." The whole of Stretford belongs to the Traffords still. "In
the reign of Henry VI. Sir Edmund Trafford, of Trafford, assisted at
the coronation of the king, and received the honour of Knight of the
Bath on that occasion." A certain poet says truly--

    Though much the centuries take, and much bestow,
    Most through them all immutable remains;

but the mind sets out upon a curious journey when it starts from modern
Manchester, with its industrialism and its political unions, its hearty
workers and its wealthy traders, its charities and its poverties, its
mechanics' institutions and its ignorance, its religions and its sins,
and travels through the successive growths of change which have come
over the life of man since the days of Canute (when Manchester must
have been a rude little woodland town), speculating as it goes as to
what is virtually changed, and what remains the same through the long
lapse of time, linking the "then" and "there," with "now" and "here."
But we are now fairly in the country, and the early grass is peeping
out of the ground, making all the landscape look sweetly green. In a
few minutes the whole distance had been run, and I heard the cry, "Out
here for Stretford!" Leaving the station, I went to the top of the
railway bridge, which carries the high road over the line. From that
elevation I looked about me. It commands a good view of the village
hard by, and of the country for miles around. This great tract of
meadows, gardens, and pasture land, was once a thick woodland, famous,
in the Withington district, for its fine oak trees. In Flixton the oak
was never found, except of stunted growth. A few miles to westward,
the parks of Dunham and Tatton show how grand the old growth of native
trees must have been on the Cheshire border; and in the north-east,
the woods of Trafford make a dark shadow on the scene. And here at
hand is the old village of Stretford, the property of the Traffords of
Trafford; whose arms give name to the principal inn of the village,
as well as to one or two others on the road from Manchester. The man
in motley, with a flail in his hand, and the mottos, "Now, thus;"
"Gripe Griffin; hold fast!" greet the traveller with a kind of grim
historic salutation as he goes by. These are household phrases with the
inhabitants, many of whom are descendants of the ancient tenantry of
the family. Quiet Stretford! close to the Cheshire border; the first
rural village after leaving that great machine-shop called Manchester.
Depart from that city in almost any other direction, and you come upon
a quick succession of the same manufacturing features you have left
behind, divided, of course, by many a beautiful nook of country green.
But somehow, though a man may feel proud of these industrial triumphs,
yet, if he has a natural love of the country, he breathes all the more
freely when he comes out in this direction, from the knowledge that
he is entering upon a country of unmixed rural quietness and beauty,
and that the tremendous bustle of manufacture is entirely behind him
for the time. Stretford is an agricultural village, but there is a
kind of manufacture which it excels in. Ormskirk is famous for its
gingerbread; Bury for its "simblins," or "simnels;" Eccles for those
spicy cakes, which "Owd Chum"--the delight of every country fair in
these parts--used to sell at the "Rushbearings" of Lancashire; but the
mission of Stretford is black puddings. And, certainly, a Stretford
black pudding would not be despised even by a famishing Israelite,
if he happened to value a dinner more than the ancient faith of his
fathers. Fruit, flowers, green market-stuff, black puddings, and
swine's flesh in general--these are the pride of the village. Roast
pork, stuffed in a certain savoury way, is a favourite dish here.
The village folks call it the "Stretford Goose;" and it is not a bad
substitute for that pleasant bird, as I found. Stretford is nearly
all in one street, by the side of the highway going into Cheshire.
It has grown very much in late years, but enow of its old features
remain to give the place a quaint tone, and to show what it was fifty
years ago, before Manchester merchants began to build mansions in the
neighbourhood, and Manchester tradesmen began to go out there to lodge.
There was once an old church in Stretford, of very simple architecture,
built and endowed by the Trafford family. Nothing of it now remains but
the graveyard, which is carefully enclosed. I looked through the rails
into this weedy sanctuary of human decay. It had a still, neglected
look. "The poor inhabitants below" had been gathering together there a
long while, and their memories now floating down the stream of time,
far away from the sympathies of the living, except in that honourable
reverence for the dead, which had here enclosed their dust from
unfeeling intrusion. It was useless for me to wonder who they were that
lay there; how long they had been mouldering in company, or what manner
of life they had led. Their simple annals had faded, or were fading
away. The wind was playing with the grave-grass; the village life of
Stretford was going on as blithe as ever round this quiet enclosure,
and I walked forward. Even such is time--

    Who in the dark and silent grave,
    When we have wandered all our ways,
    Shuts up the story of our days.

The "curfew" has "tolled the knell of parting day" over the woods
and fields around this village ever since the time of William the
Conqueror. I had agreed to call upon a friend of mine here before going
down to Flixton, so I walked a little way farther down the village,
and then turning through a certain orchard, as directed, I came into a
green lane beyond. There stood the house, on the opposite side of the
lane, at the top of a gentle slope of garden, shaded with evergreens,
among which rose up one remarkably fine variegated holly. The hedgerows
were trim, and the cottage on the knoll, with its bright windows
"winking through their screen of leaves," looked very sweet, still, and
nest-like. And then the little garden--

    A garden faire, and in the corner set
    Ane harbour grene, with wandis long and small
    Railit about, and so with treis set
    Was all the place, and hawthorn hegeis knet,
    That lyf was non walking there forbye,
    That might within scarce ony wight aspye.

I stood still a minute, for the place was pleasant to look upon, and
then opening the gate, and starting the birds from every bush, went
up through the little garden. I met with a hearty welcome, and mine
host and myself soon had the snug tree-shaded parlour to ourselves.
I was at home in a minute; but, as we chatted about the books on the
shelves and the pictures on the walls, there came from somewhere in
the house an aroma that "made my teeth shoot water." I was talking of
books, but in my mind I was wondering what it was that sent forth such
a goodly smell; for I was hungry. My friend either divined my thoughts,
or else he was secretly affected in the same way, for he said, "We are
going to have a 'Stretford Goose' to-day." Now, I was curious, and the
smell was fine, and my appetite keen, and I was fain when the goose and
its trimmings came in. When we fell to, I certainly was the hero of
the attack, and the goose came down before our combined forces like a
waste-warehouse in flames. It was a wholesome, bountiful English meal,
"wi' no fancy wark abeawt it;" and since that April noontide I have
always felt an inward respect for a "Stretford Goose."

When dinner was fairly over, I lost no time in starting for Flixton,
which was only three miles off; with what some people call "a good
road" to it. And it certainly is better than those terrible old roads
of North Lancashire, of which Arthur Young writes with such graphic
ferocity. "Reader," says he, "did'st thou ever go from Wigan to
Preston? If not; don't. Go to the devil rather; for nothing can be so
infernal as that road is." The hedges by the wayside were covered with
little buds. The murky clouds had left the sky, and the day was fine.
There was a wintry nip in the air, which was pleasant enough to me;
but it gave the young grass and the thorn-buds a shrinking look, as
if they had come out too soon to be comfortable. The ground was soft
under foot, and I had to pick my way through the "slutch" now and then.
There had been long and heavy rains, and I could see gleaming sheets of
water left on the low-lying meadow lands on the Cheshire side of the
river. But I was in no humour for grumbling, for the country was new
to me, and I looked around with pleasure, though the land was rather
bare and shrivelled,--like a fowl in the moult,--for it had hardly
got rid of winter's bleakness, and had not fairly donned the new suit
of spring green. But the birds seemed satisfied, for they chirruped
blythely among the wind-beaten thorns, and hopped and played from
bough to bough in the scant-leaved trees. If these feathered tremblers
had weathered the hard winter, by the kindness of Providence, and
amidst this lingering chill, could hail the drawing near of spring
with such glad content, why should I repine? By the way, that phrase,
"the drawing near of spring," reminds me of the burden of an ancient
May song, peculiar to the people of this district. In the villages
hereabouts, they have an old custom of singing in the month of May; and
companies of musicians and "May-singers" go from house to house among
their neighbours, on April nights, to sing under their chamber windows
this old song about "the drawing near unto the merry month of May." An
old man, known in Stretford as a "May-singer," an "herb-gatherer," and
a "Yule-singer," who gets a scanty living out of the customs of each
season of the year as it comes, furnished me with a rough copy of the
words and music of this old "May Song." In one verse of the song, each
member of the sleeping family is addressed by name in succession,--

    Then rise up, Sarah Brundrit, all in your gown of green;

and as each appears at the window, they are saluted with a "Merry May."
Since the time of my visit I have been enabled, through the kindness
of John Harland, Esq., F.S.A., to give this old May song, in complete
shape, as it appears in his first volume of "Lancashire Ballads,"
recently published by Mr. Edwin Slater, of Manchester:--

    All in this pleasant evening together come are we,
      For the summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
    We'll tell you of a blossom that buds on every tree,
      Drawing near unto the merry month of May.

    Rise up the master of this house, put on your chain of gold,
      For the summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
    We hope you're not offended, (with) your house we make so bold,
      Drawing near unto the merry month of May.

    Rise up the mistress of this house, with gold along (upon) your
          breast,
      For the summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
    And if your body be asleep, I hope your soul's at rest,
      Drawing near unto the merry month of May.

    Rise up the children of this house, all in your rich attire
      For the summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
    For every hair upon your head shines like the silver wire,
      Drawing near unto the merry month of May.

    God bless this house and harbour, your riches and your store,
      For the summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
    We hope the Lord will prosper you, both now and evermore,
      Drawing near unto the merry month of May.

    So now we're going to leave you in peace and plenty here,
      For the summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
    We shall not sing you May again until another year,--
      For to draw you the cold winter away.

About a mile on the road, I came to a green dingle, called "Gamershaw."
A large brick dwelling-house now occupies the spot; which was formerly
shaded by spreading trees,--a flaysome nook, of which the country folk
were afraid at night-time, as the haunt of a goblin, called "Gamershaw
Boggart." Every rustle of the trees at Gamershaw was big with terror to
them half a century ago. Even now, when "Gamershaw Boggart" has hardly
a leaf to shelter its old haunt, the place is fearful after dark, to
the superstitious people of Flixton parish. And yet there seems to
be some change working in this respect, for when I asked a villager
whether "Gamershaw Boggart" was ever seen now, he said, "Naw; we never
see'n no boggarts neaw; nobbut when th' brade-fleigh's (bread-rack)
empty!"



    CHAPTER III.

    I there wi' something did forgather,
    That put me in an eerie swither.
    --BURNS.


Leaving "Gamershaw," I "sceawrt eendway," as Collier says. Here I
had the advantage of an intelligent companion, with a rich store of
local anecdote in him. He was not a man inclined to superstition:
but he said he once had an adventure at this spot, which startled
him. Walking by "Gamershaw," on a pitch-dark night, and thinking of
anything but boggarts, he heard something in the black gloom behind,
following his footsteps with a soft, unearthly trot, accompanied by an
unmistakable rattle of chains. He stopt. It stopt. He went on; and the
fearful sounds dogged him again, with malignant regularity. "Gamershaw
Boggart, after all, and no mistake," thought he: and in spite of all
reason, a cold sweat began to come over him. Just then the goblin made
a fiendish dash by, and went helter-skelter down the middle of the
road, trailing the horrible clang of chains behind it, with infernal
glee; and then dived into the midnight beyond. To his relief, however,
he bethought him that it was a large dog belonging to a farmer in the
neighbourhood. The dog had got loose, and was thus making night hideous
by unconsciously personifying "Gamershaw Boggart."

And now my companion and I whiled away the time from Gamershaw with a
pleasant interchange of country anecdote. I have just room for one,
which I remember hearing in some of my rambles among the moorland folk
of my native district. It is a story of a poor hand-loom weaver, called
"Thrum," trying to sell his dog "Snap" to a moorland farmer. I have put
it in the form of a dialogue, that it may be the more understandable to
the general reader. It runs thus:--

_Thrum._ Maister, dun yo want a nice bull-an-tarrier?

_Farmer._ A what?

_Thrum._ A bull-an-tarrier dog, wi' feet as white as snow! Brass
wouldn't ha' parted me an' that dog, iv there hadn't bin sich ill deed
for weyvers just neaw,--it wouldn't, for sure. For aw'd taen to th'
dog, an' the dog had taen to me, very mich, for o' at it had nobbut
thin pikein' sometimes. But poverty parts good friends neaw and then,
maister.

_Farmer._ A bull-an-tarrier, saysto?

_Thrum._ Ay; an' th' smartest o'th breed at ever ran at a mon's heels!
It's brother to that dog o' Lolloper's, at stoole a shoolder o' mutton,
an' ran up a soof with it.

_Farmer._ Ay; is it one o' that family?

_Thrum._ It is for sure. They're prime steylers, o' on em.

_Farmer._ Has it a nick under its nose?

_Thrum._ A nick,--naw it hasn't.... Houd; what mak ov a nick dun yo
meeon?

_Farmer._ Has it a meawth?

_Thrum._ Ay; it's a grand meawth; an' a rook o'th prattiest teeth at
ever wur pegged into a pair o' choles! A sharper, seawnder set o'
dog-teeth never snapt at a ratton! Then, look at it e'en; they're as
breet as th' north star, ov a frosty neet! An' feel at it nose; it's as
cowd as iccles! That dog's some sarviceable yelth (health) abeawt it,
maister.

_Farmer._ Aw'll tell tho what,--it looks hungry.

_Thrum._ Hungry! It's olez hungry! An' it'll heyt aught i'th world, fro
a collop to a dur latch.... Oh, ay; it's reet enough for that.

_Farmer._ Well, owd mon; aw've nought again thi dog, but that nick
under it nose. To tell tho th' treawth, we may'n meawths here faster
nor we may'n mheyt. Look at yon woman! Aw would e'en ha' tho to tay thi
dog wheer they're noan as thick upo th' clod as here.

_Thrum._ Oh, aw see.... Well, eawr Matty's just the very same; nobbut
her nose has rayther a sharper poynt to't nor yor wife's.... Yo see'n
aw thought it wur time to sell th' dog, when aw had to ax owd Thunge to
lend mo a bite ov his moufin whol aw'd deawn't my piece. But aw'll go
fur on. So good day to yo.... Come, Snap, owd lad; aw'll find thee a
good shop, or else aw'll sweat.

Chatting about such things as these, we came up to a plain whitewashed
hall-house, standing a little off the road, called "Newcroft." This
was pointed out to me as the residence of a gentleman related to the
famous "Whitworth doctors." The place looked neat and homely, and had
orderly grounds and gardens about, but there was nothing remarkable
in its general appearance which would have stopt me, but for the
interesting fact just mentioned. It brought to my mind many a racy
story connected with that worthy old family of country doctors, and
their quaint independent way of life in the little moorland village of
Whitworth, near "Fairies Chapel," the scene of one of those "Lancashire
Traditions" which Mr. John Roby wrote about. I found afterwards that
this "Newcroft" was, in old time, the homestead of the great Cheshire
family of Warburton, of which family R. E. E. Warburton, Esq., of Arley
Hall, is the present representative. I understand that the foundations
of the old hall are incorporated with the present building. There are
very few trees about the place now; and these afford neither shade to
the house nor much ornament to the scene. The name of Warburton is
still common about here, both among the living, and on the gravestones
of Flixton churchyard. The saying, "Aw'll tear tho limb fro Warbu'ton,"
is common all over Lancashire as well as Cheshire. One side of its
meaning is evident enough, but its allusions used to puzzle me. I
find that it has its origin in the curiously-involved relations of
the two Cheshire rectories of Lymm and Warburton, and in some futile
effort which was once made to separate them. Written this way, "I'll
tear tho limb (Lymm) fro Warbu'ton (Warburton)," the saying explains
itself better. There is a ballad in Dr. Latham's work on "The English
Language," in which the present "Squire ov Arley Ha'" is mentioned in
a characteristic way. It is given in that work as a specimen of the
Cheshire dialect. It certainly is the raciest modern ballad of its
kind that I know of. The breeze of nature has played in the heart of
the writer, whoever he be. Its allusions and language have so much
affinity with the Lancashire side of the water, that I think the
reader will forgive me for introducing it, that he may judge of it for
himself. The title is "Farmer Dobbin; or, a Day wi' the Cheshire Fox
Dogs." Here it is; and I fancy that a man with any blood in his body
will hunt as he reads it:--

    Theer's slutch upo thi coat, mon, theer's blood upo thi chin,
    It's welly toim for milkin, now where ever 'ast ee bin;
    Oiv bin to see the gentlefolks o' Cheshire roid a run,
    Owd wench! oiv bin a hunting, an oiv seen some rattling fun.

    Th' owd mare was in the smithy when the huntsman he trots through,
    Black Bill agate o' 'ammerin the last nail in her shoe:
    The cuvver laid so wheam like, and so jovial fine the day,
    Says I, "Owd mare, we'll tak a fling, an' see 'em go away."

    When up, and oi'd got shut ov aw the hackney pads an' traps,
    Orse dealers and orse jockey lads, and such loike swaggering chaps,
    Then what a power o' gentlefolk did oi set eyes upon!
    A-reining in their hunters, aw blood orses every one!

    They'd aw got bookskin leathers on, a fitten 'em so toight,
    As roind an plump as turmits be, an just about as whoite:
    Their spurs were made o' silver, and their buttons made o' brass,
    Their coats wur red as carrots, an their collars green as grass.

    A varment looking gemman on a woiry tit I seed,
    An' another close beside him sittin noble on his steed;
    They ca' them both owd codgers, but as fresh as paint they look,
    John Glegg, Esquoir, o' Withington, an bowd Sir Richard Brooke.

    I seed Squoir Geffrey Shakerly, the best un o' that breed,
    His smoiling face tould plainly how the sport wi' him agreed;
    I seed the Arl o' Grosvenor, a loikely lad to roid,
    Aw seed a soight worth aw the rest, his farrently young broid.

    Sir Umferry de Trafford, an the Squoir ov Arley Haw
    His pockets full o' rigmarole, a rhoimin' on 'em aw;
    Two members for the cointy, both aloike ca'd Egerton,
    Squoir Henry Brooks and Tummus Brooks, they'd aw green collars on.

    Eh! what a mon be Dixon John, ov Astle Haw, Esquoir,
    You wudna foind, an mezzur him, his marrow in the shoir!
    Squoir Wilbraham o' the forest, death and danger he defois
    When his coat he toightly buttened up, an shut up both his oies.

    The Honerable Lazzles, who from forrin parts be cum,
    An a chip of owd Lord Delamere, the Honerable Tum;
    Squoir Fox an Booth and Worthington, Squoir Massey an Squoir Harne,
    And many more big sportsmen, but their names I didna larn.

    I seed that greet commander in the saddle, Captain Whoite,
    An the pack as thrung'd about him was indeed a gradely soight;
    The dogs look'd foine as Satin, an himsel look'd hard as nails,
    An' he giv the swells a caution not to roid upo their tails.

    Says he, "Yung men o' Manchester an Liverpoo cum near,
    Oiv just a word, a warning word, to whisper in your ear;
    When, starting from the cuvver soide, ye see bowd Reynard burst,
    We canna 'ave no 'untin, if the gemmen go it first."

    Tom Rance has got a single oie worth many another's two,
    He held his cap abuv his yed to show he'd had a view;
    Tom's voice was loik th' owd raven's when he shriek'd out "Tallyho!"
    For when the fox had seen Tom's feace he thought it time to go.

    Eh moy! a pratty jingle then went ringing through the skoy,
    First Victory, then Villager began the merry croy;
    Then every maith was open, from the owd 'un to the pup,
    An' aw the pack together took the swelling chorus up.

    Eh moy! a pratty scouver then was kick'd up in the vale,
    They skimm'd across the running brook, they topp'd the post an' rail,
    They didna stop for razzur cop, but play'd at touch and go,
    An' them as miss'd a footin there, lay doubled up below.

    I seed the 'ounds a crossing Farmer Flareup's boundary loin,
    Whose daughter plays the peany and drinks whoit sherry woin:
    Gowd rings upon her fingers, and silk stockings on her feet;
    Says I, "It won't do him no harm to roid across his wheat."

    So, toightly houdin on by th' yed, I hits th' owd mare a whop,
    Hoo plumps into the middle o' the wheatfield neck and crop;
    An when hoo floinder'd out on it I catch'd another spin,
    An, missis, that's the cagion o' the blood upo my chin.

    I never oss'd another lep, but kept the lane, and then
    In twenty minutes' toime about they turn'd toart me again;
    The fox was foinly daggled, and the tits aw out o' breath,
    When they kilt him in the open, an owd Dobbin seed the death.

    Loik dangling of a babby, then the huntsman hove him up,
    The dugs a-baying round him, whoil the gemman croid, "Whoo-up:"
    Then clane and quick, as doosome cauves lick fleetings from the pail,
    They worried every inch on 'im except his yed and tail.

    What's up wi' them rich gentlefolk an lords as wasna there?
    There was noither Marquis Chumley, nor the Viscount Combermere;
    Noither Legh, nor France o' Bostock, nor the Squoir o' Peckforton,
    How cums it they can stop awhoam, such sport a goin on?

    Now, missus, sin the markets be a doin moderate well,
    Oiv welly made my mind up just to buy a nag mysel;
    For to keep a farmer's spirits up gen things be gettin low,
    Theer's nothin loik fox-hunting and a rattling "Tallyho!"

I think the reader will agree with me in saying that this
characteristic song has much of the old expressive ballad simplicity
and vigour about it. The county of Cheshire is rich in local song; and
R. E. E. Warburton, Esq., mentioned in these verses as "the Squoir of
Arley Haw"--

    His pockets full o' rigmarole, a rhoimin' on 'em aw--

is the author of several fine hunting songs, in the dialect of that
county; he is also the editor of a valuable and interesting volume of
"Cheshire Songs."



    CHAPTER IV.

    In sunshine and in shade, in wet and fair,
    Drooping or blithe of heart, as might befall:
    My best companions now the driving winds,
    And now the "trotting brooks" and whispering trees,
    And now the music of my own sad steps,
    With many a short-lived thought that passed between,
    And disappeared.
    --WORDSWORTH.


A short walk from "Newcroft" brought me to a dip in the highway, at
a spot where four roads meet in the hollow, a "four-lone-eends,"
as country folk call it. Such places had an awful interest for the
simple hinds of Lancashire in old times; and, in remote parts of the
county, the same feeling is strong yet with regard to them. In ancient
days, robbers, and other malefactors, were sometimes buried at the
ends of four cross roads, unhallowed by "bell, book, or candle." The
old superstitions of the people, cherished by their manner of life,
dwelling, as they did, in little seclusions, scattered over the country
around, made these the meeting-places of witches, and all sorts of
unholy things, of a weird nature. It is a common belief now, among
the natives of the hills and solitary cloughs of Lancashire, that the
best way of laying a ghost, or quieting any unearthly spirit whose
restlessness troubles their lonely lives, is to sacrifice a cock to the
goblin, and, with certain curious ceremonies, to bury the same deep
in the earth at a "four-lone-eends," firmly pinned to the ground by a
hedge-stake, driven through its body. The coldly-learned, "lost in a
gloom of uninspired research," may sneer at these rustic superstitions;
yet, surely, he was wiser who said that he would rather decline to the
"traditionary sympathies of unlettered ignorance," than constantly see
and hear

    The repetitions wearisome of sense,
    Where soul is dead, and feeling hath no place;
    Where knowledge, ill begun in cold remark
    On outward things, in formal inference ends

Near this place stands the handsome mansion of J. T. Hibbert, Esq., the
president of the Mutual Improvement Society at Stretford, and a general
benefactor to the neighbourhood in which he resides. He seems to have
awakened that locality to the spirit of modern improvement, and is
making what was, comparatively, a desert nook before, now gradually
smile around him. The people thereabouts say that "it wur quite a lost
place afore he coom." We are now in the township of Urmston, though
not in the exact spot where "Tim Bobbin" was born. As I stood in the
hollow, looking round at the little cluster of dwellings, my friend
pointed to a large, sleepy-looking old brick house, with a slip of
greensward peeping through the paling in front, as the dwelling of
William Shore, Esq., an eminent local musician, the author of that
beautiful glee-arrangement of the music to Burns's matchless carousal
song, "Willie brewed a peck o' maut," so much admired by all lovers of
the concord of sweet sounds. And, certainly, if the musician had never
done anything more than that exquisite gem of harmony, it would have
added an interest to his dwelling-place. Who, that loved music, could
go by such a spot without noticing it? Not I; for, as Wordsworth says
of the pedlar who sometimes accompanied him in his mountain rambles,
so, partly, may I say--

            Not a hamlet could we pass,
    Rarely a house, that did not yield to him
    Remembrances.

And yet I have a misgiving that the reader thinks I am lingering too
tediously on the way; but, really, wherever one goes in England, apart
from the natural beauty of the country, he finds the ground rich
as "three-pile velvet" in all sorts of interesting things. It is a
curiously-illuminated miscellany of the finest kind; and, in spite of
all it has gone through, thank Heaven, it is neither moth-eaten nor
mildewed, nor in any way weakened by age. Its history is written all
over the land in rich memorials, with a picturesque freshness which he
that runs may read, if he only have feeling and thought to accompany
him about the island, as he wades through the harvest of its historic
annals, strewn with flowers of old romance, and tale, and hoary legend,
and dewy with gems of native song.

Quitting the hamlet, we passed a mansion, half hidden by a brick wall,
and thinly shaded by trees; a few straggling cottages; a neat little
village school came next; one or two substantial English granges,
surrounded by large outhouses, and clean, spacious yards, with
glittering windows adorned with flowers, and a general air of comfort
and repose about them; and then the hamlet dribbled away with a few
more cottages, and we were in the open country, upon the high level
land; from whence we could look westward over the fields, below which
"the Cheshire waters,"

        To their resting-place serene,
    Came fresh'ning and refreshing all the scene.

In the recently published "History of Preston and its Environs," by
Mr. Charles Hardwick, the author of that admirable volume enters into
an ingenious dissertation upon the derivation of the name of this
river, and after suggesting that its name may be derived from "mere"
and "sea," or sea-lake, says, "South of Manchester, at this day, the
river is not known by many of the peasantry as the Mersey. It is
called by them the 'Cheshire Waters.' The modern name appears to have
been derived from the estuary, and not from the fresh-water stream."
Mr. Hardwick's remark is equally true of the people dwelling here by
that river, on the eastern side of Manchester. A few fields divide
the high road from the water, and then slope down to its margin. From
the road we could see the low, fertile expanse of Cheshire meadows
and woods spread away to the edge of the horizon in one beautiful
green level. When the river was swollen by long rains, the nearer
part of the Cheshire side used to present the appearance of a great
lake, before the embankment was thrown up to protect the fields from
inundation. In past times, that rich tract must have been a vast marsh.
But yonder stands Urmston Hall, upon a green bank, overlooking the
river. As I drew nearer the building, I was more and more struck with
its picturesque appearance, as seen from the high road, which goes by
it, at about a hundred yards' distance. It is a fine specimen of the
wood-and-plaster hall, once common in Lancashire, of which Hulme Hall
was an older, and perhaps the richest example, so near Manchester.
Urmston Hall is "of the age of Elizabeth, adorned by a gable, painted
in lozenges and trefoils." Baines says, "According to Seacombe, Sir
Thomas Lathom possessed the manor of Urmston, in this parish (Flixton),
and at his death, I Edward III., he settled upon his natural son, Sir
Oscatel, and his heirs, the manors of Irlam and Urmston, about the
time when the Stanleys, whose heir had married Lady Elizabeth Lathom,
assumed the crest of the Eagle and Child." He says further, "That
according to other and higher authorities, the lands and lordship of
Urmston have been the property of the Urmstons and Hydes in succession,
from the time of King John to the seventeenth century; and that the
Urmstons resided at Urmston Hall until they removed to Westleigh,
and were succeeded by the Hydes." The spacious carriage road still
preserves its old proportion, though now rutted by the farmers' carts
belonging to the present occupants of the place. A few tall relics of
the fine trees which once surrounded the hall are still standing about,
like faithful domestics clinging to the fallen fortunes of an ancient
master.

And now, I begin to think of the special errand which has brought
me to the place. There stands the old hall; and yonder is a row of
four or five raw-looking, new brick cottages, such as one sees spring
up at the edges of great factory towns, by whole streets at once,
almost in a night--like Jonah's gourd. They hold nothing--they cost
nothing--they are made out of nothing--they look nothing--and they
come to nothing--as a satirical friend of mine says, who is satisfied
with nothing. If it were not that one knows how very indifferently the
common people were housed in those old days when the hall was in its
glory, it really is enough to make one dissatisfied with the whole
thing. With the exception of the hall and these cottages, the green
country spreads out all around for some distance. When we came up to
the row, my friend said that the endmost house stood on the spot, three
years ago occupied by the old wood-and-plaster building in which "Tim
Bobbin" was born, and in which his father, John Collier the elder,
taught the children of Flixton parish, gathered from the rural folds in
the distance. The house was gone, but, nevertheless, I must make what
research I could, and to that end I referred to my note-book, and found
that Baines says: "In a small house, opposite (Urmston Hall), bearing
the name of 'Richard o' Jone's, was born John Collier, the renowned
'Tim Bobbin,' the provincial satirist of Lancashire, as appears from
the following document:--'Baptisms in the parish church of Flixton in
the year 1709--John, son of Mr. John Collier, of Urmston, baptised
January the 8th.[14]--I hereby certify this to be a true extract of
the parish register book at Flixton, as witness my hand, this 30th
November, 1824.--(Signed) THOMAS HARPER, parish clerk.'" This was all
clear and straightforward so far as it went, but I wanted to prove
the thing for myself, as far as possible, on the spot. I thought it
best to begin by inquiring at the nearest of these cottages, opposite
Urmston Hall. Inside I heard the dismal rattle of hand-looms at work,
and through the window I could see the web and the wooden beams of the
machine, and a pale gingham weaver, swaying back and forward as he
threw his shuttle to and fro. The door, which led into the other part
of the cottage, was open, and a middle-aged woman, with a thin, patient
face, was spinning there, on the wooden wheel still used in country
places. This was the first indication I had noticed of any part of the
population being employed in manufacture. I went to the open door, and
asked the woman if this was not the spot where "Tim Bobbin" was born,
expecting a ready and enthusiastic affirmative. She gazed at me for an
instant, with a kind of vague curiosity; and, to my astonishment, said
she really couldn't tell. She hardly seemed to know who "Tim Bobbin"
was. Poor as the inmates were, everything inside spoke of industry and
cleanliness, and simple, honest living. She called her husband from
his looms, in the other part of the cottage; but his answer was nearly
the same, except that he referred me to a person in the neighbourhood,
who was formerly master of the school kept in this old house, called
"Richard o' Jone's." I turned and left the spot with a feeling of
disappointment, but with a stronger desire to know whether anything was
known about the matter among the inhabitants of the locality. To this
end, I and my friend rambled on towards Flixton, inquiring of high and
low, and still nobody knew anything definite about it, though there was
a general impression among them that he was born at the old cottage
formerly standing opposite Urmston Hall; but they perpetually finished
by referring to "Jockey Johnson," "Owd Cottrill, th' pavor," "Owd
White-yed, th' saxton," and the parish schoolmaster before-mentioned.
The parish clerk, too, might know something, they said. And here, as
we wandered about in this way, a tall gentleman, a little past the
middle age, dressed in black, came quietly up the road. My friend, to
whom he was known, at once introduced me to the Rev. Mr. Gregory, the
incumbent of Flixton, and told him my errand. The incumbent kindly
invited me to look through the parish register, at his house, the first
convenient afternoon I had to spare; which I did very soon after.
Setting aside "Jockey Johnson," and "Owd Cottrill, th' pavor," and
the other authorities of the hamlet so oft referred to, till a better
opportunity, I thought that the schoolmaster, being a native man, and
having lived long in the very house where "Tim" is said to have been
born, would probably feel some pride in his celebrated predecessor,
and, perhaps, be a willing conservator of any tradition existing in the
hamlet respecting him. His house was a little more than a mile off;
and I started along the high road back to a point from whence an old
lane leads out, eastward, to the schoolmaster's solitary cottage in the
distant fields.

 [14] This date is according to the 'Old Style,' which was then in use.



    CHAPTER V.

    In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
    Bring sad thoughts to the mind.
    --WORDSWORTH.


Leaving the high-road at the place I had been told of, I went up an
old lane, which soon led between a little fold of cottages. The first
of these were old rude buildings of stone, with the roofs fallen in,
and seemingly abandoned to decay. The others were of more modern
appearance, and partly tenanted by hand-loom weavers. Through the open
doors of one or two I saw that cheerful twinkle of humble comfort,
which is, perhaps, more delightful to meet with in such lowly nooks
than in prouder quarters; because it shows how much happiness may be
drawn out of little means, by wholesome minds. If the doors had been
closed, I could have guessed at the condition of the interior by the
clean door-step and windows, and by the healthy pot-flowers peeping
prettily through the panes. Folk who can make such places beautiful
by simple cleanliness and native taste, are the unlettered gentry of
nature, more blest in their low estate than they can understand, when
they compare it with the glitter of the fuming world in the distance.
Like the lark's nest, though near the ground, their homes are neat
and sweet, out of humble materials, and blithe with the neighbourhood
of nature. Some of these cottages were of duller aspect, though there
was nothing of that dirty sickliness about them which is so common
in the back quarters of city life. But I have noticed that, even in
the lowest parts of great towns, now and then there comes a cottage
all cleanliness and order, a sweet little household oasis amidst the
wilderness of filth around; shining in the gloom, "like a good deed in
a naughty world."

When I came to the end of the fold, I found that the lane went forward
in two directions; one right into the open green country, where I could
see no dwellings at hand, the other winding back towards the village
which I had left behind me, at the high-road side. An old woman was
looking from the cottage door at the corner, and I asked her the way
to the schoolmaster's house. Country folk are not always known in
Lancashire by their real name, even on their own ground, and she had
to consult somebody inside about the matter. In a minute or so, a
voice from the cottage called out, "Does he belung to th' owd body,
thinken yo?"--meaning the old body of Wesleyan Methodists. I said that
I thought he did. "Oh, ay," replied the voice, "it'll be William, sure
enough.... Yo mun go reet forrud up th' lone afore yo, till yo come'n
to a heawse i'th fields,--an' that'll be it. It stons a bit off th'
lone-side.... Yo'n ha' to pike yor gate, mind yo; for its nobbut a mak
o' durty under-fuut." On I went, between the hedge-rows, slipping and
stepping from pool to pool, down the miry cow-lane, for nearly half a
mile, slutching myself up to the collar as I went; and there, about a
stone's throw from the way-side, I saw the schoolmaster's low-built
cottage standing in a bit of sweet garden in the middle of the wide
green fields. Entering by a tiny wooden gate at the back, I went
along a narrow garden walk, between little piles of rockery, and rows
of shells, which ornamented the beds, till I came winding up to the
door in front; which was shaded, if I remember right, by some kind of
simple trellis-work. The wind was now still--everything was still, but
the cheerful birds fluttering about, and filling the evening silence
with their little melodies. The garden and the cottage looked sweet,
and sleepily-beautiful. The windows blazed in the sunset, which was
flooding all the level landscape with its departing splendour. I heard
no stir inside, but knocking at the door, it was opened by a quiet
middle-aged man, who asked me in. This was the schoolmaster himself;
and, by the fireside sat a taller, older man; who was his brother.
The only other inmate was a staid, elderly woman; whose dress, and
mild countenance, was in perfect keeping with the order and peace of
everything around. It was quite a sample of a quaint, comfortable
English cottage interior. As I glanced about, I could fancy that many
of the clean, little nick-nacks which I saw so carefully arranged,
were the treasured heirlooms of old country housekeepers. Everything
was in its right place, and cleaned up to its height. The house was
as serene, and the demeanour of the people as seemly and subdued as
if it had been a little chapel; and the setting sun streaming through
the front window, filled the cottage with a melting glory, which
no magnificence of wealth could imitate. Catching, unconsciously,
the spirit of the hour, my voice crept down nearer to the delicate
stillness of the scene; and I whispered my questions to the two
brothers, as if to speak at all was a desecration of that contemplative
silence which seemed to steep everything around, like a delicious
slumber, filled with holy dreams. We gradually got into conversation,
and in the course of our talk I gathered from the two brothers that
they had lived and kept school in the house where Baines says that Tim
Bobbin was born. They said that, though there was a general belief
that he was born in that house, yet they did not themselves possess
anything which clearly proved the fact. And yet it might be quite true,
they said; for they had often known artists come out there to sketch
the building as his birthplace. There were other people in the parish
who, they thought, might perhaps know more about the matter. They
said that there were many curious Latin mottoes and armorial bearings
painted on the walls and other parts of the school-house, which many
people attributed to Tim Bobbin--but they were not quite sure that
people were right in doing so. I agreed with the two brothers in this.
There is little doubt that Tim was a fair Latin scholar in after life;
I myself once possessed a pocket copy of Terence's "Comedies," which
had undoubtedly belonged to him; and in the margin of which he had
corrected the Latinity. But according to what is known of Tim's life
elsewhere, he must have left the place of his birth very early in
youth, probably with some migration of his father's family long before
he could be able to deal with such matters. The brothers did not know
whether these relics had been preserved or not when the house was taken
down--they thought not. The house had been occupied by them and their
fathers, as schoolmasters, for more than a hundred years gone by; but
they really could not tell much more about the matter. They thought,
however, that owd Tummus so and so would be likely to know something
about it--or owd Hannah Wood. They were "two o'th owd'st folk i'
Urmston; and that wur sayin' summat." Was I in the reporting line they
wondered.... Well, it was no matter--but Owd Tummus lived about half a
mile off; "o'er anent Cis Lone;" and I should be sure to find him in.
Thanking them for the information they had given me, I left the quiet
trio in their quiet cottage, and came away. The evening was cold and
clear, and the scattered birds were twittering out the last notes of
their vespers in secluded solos, about the hedges. In the far east,
the glimmering landscape was melting away; but the glory which hovered
on the skirts of the sunken sun dazzled my eyes as I came down the old
lane in the gloaming; and I was happy in my lonely walk, come of it
whatever might.

I came up to the old man's house, just as the evening candles were
beginning to twinkle through cottage windows by the way. He sat by
the fire; a little man, thin and bent, but with a face that spoke an
old age that was "frosty, but kindly." There were young people in
the house; seemingly belonging to the farm. After some preliminary
chat about weather and the like, I drew him in the direction of the
subject I had come about; asking whether he had ever heard that Tim
Bobbin was born in Urmston. He replied, "Well; aw have yerd it said
so, aw think--but my memory houds nought neaw.... Tim Bobbin, say'n
yo? Aw like as aw could mind summat abeawt that,--aw _do_.... Owd
Back'll know; if onybody does, he _will_.... He's a goodish age, is
th' owd lad,--he _is_; an' fause with it,--_very_.... Tim Bobbin! Tim
Bobbin!... Aw'st be eighty-three come th' time o'th year. Owd Back's a
quarter younger.... Aw've a pain taks me across here, neaw and then.
We're made o' stuff at winnut last for ever.... Ay, ay; we'n sin summat
i' eawr time, has Owd Back an me,--we _ban_.... Dun yo know Kit o'
Ottiwell's? Hoo lives at Davyhulme; ax hur; ax hur. Ho'll be likker
to leeten yo abeawt this job nor me. Yo see'n aw connut piece things
together neaw. If yo'd'n come'd fifty year sin, aw could ha' towd yo a
tale, an' bowdly too,--aw could. But th' gam's up. The dule's getten
th' porritch, an th' Lord's getten th' pon to scrape,--as usal." I
was inquiring further about his friend "Owd Back," when he stopped me
by saying, "Oh, there's Owd Hannah Wood; aw'd like to forgetten hur.
Eh, that aw should forget Owd Hannah! Hoo lives by the hee-gate, as
yo gwon to Stretford,--hoo _does_. What, are yo after property, or
summat?" "No." "Whau then.... Yo mun see Owd Hannah soon, yung mon;
or yo'n ha' to look for her i' Flixton graveyort; an' aw deawt that
would sarve yo'r turn but little.... Folk donnut like so mich talk
when they're getten theer.... My feyther an' mother's theer, an' o' th'
owd set;--aw'st be amoon 'em in a bit. Well, well; neighbour fare's
no ill fare, as th' sayin' is." In this way the old man wandered on
till I rose to go; when, turning to the old woman sitting near, he
said, "Aw've just unbethought mo. William---- will be the very mon
to ax abeawt this Tim Bobbin; an' so will their Sam. They liv't i'th
heawse 'at he's speykin' on; an' so did their on-setters (ancestors)
afore 'em. Beside they're a mak o' larnt folk. They're schoo maisters;
an' so then." The old man did not know that these were the men I had
just left. After resting a few minutes, he raised his head again, just
before I came away, to tell me, as others had done, that "Jockey
Johnson," an' "Cottril, th' pavor," were likely folk to sper on." In
this way I wandered to and fro; meeting, in most cases, with little
more than a glimmering remembrance of the thing, the dimness of which,
seeing that few seemed to take any strong interest in the matter, I
found afterwards was not difficult to account for. One old man said,
as soon as the name was mentioned to him, "Let's see. Aw'm just
thinkin'.... Ay, ay; it's yon heawse opposite th' owd ho'. They'n
bin built up again, lately. An' there wur writin' an' stuff upo' th'
woles; but it took somebory with a deeal o' larnin' to understond it"
When I called upon the parish-clerk, he told me that a few years ago
a gentleman had called to make inquiry upon the same subject, and
left instructions for everything in the register relating to Tim to
be extracted for him, which was done; but he never called to get the
manuscript, which was now lost or mislaid.



    CHAPTER VI.

    To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death.
    --SHAKSPERE.


I was a little disappointed at first to find that, wherever I went
in the parish of Flixton, the inhabitants showed no strong interest
in the quaint man of genius, whose early records I was in search of.
But this is no wonder, when one considers what a thinly-inhabited
place this must have been at the beginning of Queen Anne's reign; and
remembering, also, that nearly the whole of Tim's long life was spent
elsewhere; first, as an apprentice to Dutch-loom weaving, which was
looked upon as a rather genteel occupation in those days. But, as his
friend and biographer, Richard Townley, Esq., of Bellfield Hall, says,
"such a sedentary employment not at all agreeing with his volatile
spirits and eccentric genius, he prevailed upon his master to release
him from the remainder of his servitude. Though then very young, he
soon commenced itinerant schoolmaster; going about the country from
one small town to another, to teach reading, writing, and accounts;
and generally having a night-school as well as a day one." Now, seeing
that the theatre of these obscure and honourable struggles of Tim's
youth was the town of Oldham, and the villages thereabouts, it is not
surprising that the scattered inhabitants of the lonely nook where he
was born should have few traditional remembrances of him, who left
them when he was yet but a child. Tim's father was only forty years
old, when he was overtaken by total blindness; and, this, necessarily,
changed the plan he had formed of bringing up his son, our hero, to the
Church, for "he had conceived a favourable opinion of his abilities."
Now, this calamity did not befall the elder Mr. Collier during the time
that he was schoolmaster at Urmston in Flixton: and everything shows
that he was not a native of that place, but came from some other part
to teach there; remaining only for a short time--during which Tim and
his brother Nathan were born--and then moving away again, with his
young family of nine children, to another quarter. What Baines says,
on the authority of the inhabitants of Flixton, of the elder Collier
never being a clergyman, may be true, so far as it relates to Urmston,
of which place there never was a curate; nor was he in holy orders
during his residence there; and yet he may have been so elsewhere.
This supposition is strengthened by Tim's own words: "In the reign
of Queen Anne I was a boy, and one of the nine children of a poor
Lancashire curate, whose stipend never amounted to thirty pounds a
year; and consequently the family must feel the iron teeth of penury
with a witness. These, indeed, were sometimes blunted by the charitable
disposition of the good rector (the Rev. Mr. H----, of W----n)."
What an interesting glimpse this gives us of the home of Tim Bobbin's
childhood! Now, it is just possible that the "good rector" may have
been the rector of Warrington of that time; whose name begins with the
same initial letter. All things considered, I did not wonder that the
family had left but little mark among the people of Flixton.

Seeing that so little was known by the inhabitants, I turned my
thoughts towards the parish register, setting an afternoon apart for
visiting the incumbent; who had invited me to look through it at his
house. At the appointed time, I walked through the village of Flixton,
a little way into the country beyond the village; and there, by the
wayside, at the top of a little sloping lawn, partially screened by
stunted trees and bushes, the "village preacher's modest mansion
rose." The incumbent received me courteously, and entered kindly
into my purpose. Ushering me into a little parlour at the front, he
brought forth the two oldest register volumes of the parish from their
hiding-place. The first thing which struck me was the difference in
their condition. The oldest was perfectly sound, inside and outside.
Its leaves were of vellum; and, with the exception of a slight
discolouration in some places, they were as clear and perfect as ever
they had been; and the entries in it were beautifully distinct, written
in the old English character, and mostly in the Latin language. The
change in the latter volume was very remarkable. Its binding was poor
and shaky; and its leaves of the softest and most perishable writing
paper, many of them quite loose in the book, and so worn, tattered,
and crumbly, as to be scarcely touchable without damage. I could not
help thinking that if any important question should arise a hundred
years hence, the settling of which depended on such a mouldering
record as this, is was just possible that decay might have forestalled
the inquiry. After a careful examination of the register, I found
the following entries relating to Tim's family, and, besides these,
there is no mention of any other person of the name of Collier, for
the space of half a century before, and a century after that date.
First, under the head of "Births and Baptismes, in the year, 1706,"
appears "Nathan, ye son of John Collier, schoolmaster, borne May 17,
baptised May 31."[15] Singularly, I found the same baptism entered
a second time, three pages forward in the same year, with a slight
variation, in the following manner:--"Baptised Nathan, the son of
_Master_ John Collier, schoolmaster, born May ye 18th." And then the
last and only other mention of the Colliers, is the register of the
baptism of John, the renowned "Tim Bobbin," which is entered thus,
among the baptisms of the year 1710: "John, son of Mr. John Collier,
of Urmstone, baptised January the 6th." In Baines's "Lancashire," the
baptism is given as occurring in 1709, which is a slight mistake. The
origin of that mistake was evident to me, with the register before
my eyes. The book seems to have been very irregularly kept in those
days; and the baptisms in the year 1709 are entered under a headline,
"Baptisms in the year 1709:" but at the end of the baptisms of that
year, the list runs on into those of the following year, 1710, without
any such headline to divide them; and this entry of Tim's baptism being
one of the first, might easily be transcribed by a hasty observer,
as belonging to the previous year. I thought there was something
significant about the curious manner in which these three entries,
relating to the Colliers, are made in the register. In the first entry
of the baptism of Nathan, Tim's eldest brother, the father is called
"John Collier, schoolmaster;" in the second entry of the same baptism,
he is called "Master John Collier, schoolmaster;" and in the entry of
Tim's baptism, three years later, the clerk, having written down the
father's name as "John Collier of Urmstone," has, upon after-thought,
made a caret between "the son of" and "John Collier of Urmstone," and
carefully written "Mr." above it, making it read "Mr. John Collier,
of Urmstone." This addition to the names of schoolmasters, or even
of the wealthy inhabitants of the parish, occurs so very rarely in
the register, that I could not help thinking this singular exception
indicative of an honourable estimate of the character of Tim's father
among his neighbours. Such was the result of my search; and it
strengthens my conviction that old Mr. John Collier's family were not
natives of Flixton, nor dwelt there long, but departed after a short
residence to some other quarter, where the family were born, married,
died, and buried; except the two before mentioned.

 [15] Old style.

Whilst I was sitting in the incumbent's parlour, looking over these old
books on that day, a little thing befell which pleased me, though the
reader may think it trifling. The weather was very cold, and I happened
to have on one of those red-and-black tartan wool shirts, which are
comfortable wear enough in cold weather, though they look rather
gaudy; and don't satisfy one's mind so well as a clean white shirt
does. As I sat turning over the leaves of these ancient records, in
came the incumbent's son, a little, slim, intelligent boy, with large,
thoughtful eyes. He watched me attentively for two or three minutes,
and then, coming a little nearer, so as to get a good look at the
wrists and front of my extraordinary under-gear, he called out, with
unreserved astonishment, "Papa! he has got no shirt on!" The clergyman
checked the lad instantly; though he could not help smiling at this
little burst of frank, childish simplicity. The lad was evidently
surprised to see me enjoy the thing so much.

I cannot dismiss this old parish register without noticing some other
things in it which were interesting to me. And I can tell thee,
reader, by the by, that there are worse ways of spending a few hours
than in poring over such a record. How significantly the births,
marriages, and deaths, tread upon one another's heels; as they do in
the columns of newspapers! How solemnly the decaying pages represent
the chequered pattern of our mortal estate! The exits and entrances of
these ephemeral players in the drama of life continually interweave in
the musty chronicle, as they do in the current of human action. There
was a quaint tone running through the whole, which I could not well
pass by. In the year 1688, the phrase, "buried in woollen only," first
appears, and marks the date of an act for the encouragement of the
woollen trade. This phrase is carefully added to every registration of
burial, thenceforth for a considerable time; except in a few cases,
where the phrase changes to "buried in sweet flowers only." What a
world of mingled pathos and prettiness that phrase awakes in the mind!
To a loving student of Shakspere, it might, not inaptly, call up that
beautiful passage in Ophelia's burial scene:--

      _Laertes._    Lay her i' the earth;--
    And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
    May violets spring!...
      _Queen._ Sweets to the sweet: Farewell!
                                       (_Scattering Flowers._)

Sometimes an instance occurs where a burial takes place "in linen
only." In this year of 1688, it is singular that there are only two
marriages entered in the Flixton parish register. There was, perhaps,
some particular reason for this at the time; but the fact will give the
reader some idea of the smallness of the population in those days. From
this time the phrase, "Sworn by so-and-so, before Justice so-and-so,"
is attached to some entries of burial, as thus:--"Thomas, ye son of
John Owen, of Carrington, buried in sweet floweres, attested by ye wife
of George Twickins. Ye same day of burial, viz., 10th Oct. (1705),
John, ye son of John Millatt, jun., of Carrington, an infant, buried
in sweet floweres only." Then follows, "James Parren was not buried in
any materiall contrary to a late act for Buryinge in Woollen.--Sworne
by Mary Parren, before Justice Peter Egerton, Jan. 28th, 1705." The
burials in the year 1706 are almost all in "sweet floweres only." This
is the year when Nathan Collier was born, being the first mention of
that family in the register. Three years after, his brother John (Tim
Bobbin) was born; after which the Colliers disappear from the register
altogether. Some of the burials occurring between 1720 and 1726, are
remarkable for the manner of their entry, as, "Sarah, daughter of
Schoolmaster Pony;" "James, Thomas Jaddock's father;" "John Swindell,
taken out of ye river;" "Widow Peer's child, Aug. 5th;" and this
is followed three days after by "Richd., son of Widow Peer's, Aug.
30th;" "Old Ralph Haslam, from Carrington;" "Old Henery Roile, from
Stretford;" "Old Mrs. Starkey;" "Old John Groons;" "Moss's wife of
Urmeston;" "Horox's child of Urmstone;" and "Hannah, daughter of one
Dean, of Stretford." Then come these, in their proper order, entered
in a clerkly hand:--"Thomas Willis, of Bleckly, in the county of
Buckingham, Esq., and Mrs. Ann Hulme, Heiress of Davy Hulme, and of
the lordship and manor of Urmston, were marry'd. Sept. 3rd, 1735;" and
then "Anna Willis, the first daughter of Thomas Willis, Esq., born
August the 11th, 1736, and baptised ye 14th Aug.--JOHN WILLIS, clerk of
Bleckley, in Bucks." I found the Christian name of Randal very common
in this register. The names of Starkey, Holt, Rogers, and Egerton, ever
accompanied by the title of gentleman; and for the rest, the names of
Warburton, Taylor, Royle, Coupe, Darbishire, Shawcross, Gilbody, and
Knight, form the staple of the list, with the addition of the Owens of
Carrington Moss; who seem to have been a very prolific generation.



    CHAPTER VII.

    The evening comes, and brings the dew along,
    The rodie welkin sheeneth to the eyne,
    Around the alestake minstrels sing the song,
    Young ivy round the door-post doth entwine;
    I lay me down upon the grass, yet to my will,
    Albeit all is fair, there lacketh something still.
    --CHATTERTON.


The people of southern England are apt to sneer at the enthusiasm with
which Lancashire men speak of Tim Bobbin; and, if this imperfect sketch
should fall into the hands of any such readers, it is not improbable
that they may look upon the whole thing as a great fuss about next to
nothing. One reason for this is, that, for the most part, they know
next to nothing of the man--which is not much to be wondered at. But
the greatest difficulty in their case is the remote character of the
words and idioms used by Tim. To the majority of such readers, the
dialogue of "Tummus and Mary" is little more than an unintelligible
curiosity; and I believe, speaking generally, that it would be better
understood by the natives of the metropolis if it had been written in
French. The language in which the commanding genius of Chaucer wrought,
five hundred years ago, and which was the common language of the London
of those days, is, even in its most idiomatic part, very much the same
as that used in all the country parts of Lancashire at this hour. But
great changes have come round since the time of Chaucer; and though
an Englishman is an Englishman in general characteristics, all the
world over, there is as much difference now in the tone of manners
and language in the North and South as there is between the tones of
an organ and those of a piano. I have hardly ever met with a southern
man able to comprehend the quaint, graphic wealth which hutches and
chuckles with living fun and country humour, under the equally quaint
garb of old language in which Tim clothes his story of "Tummus and
Mary." But, on its first appearance, the people of his own district at
once recognised an exquisite picture of themselves; and they hailed it
with delight. He superintended several editions of his works during his
lifetime--a time when the population of Lancashire was very scanty,
and scattered over large, bleak spaces; and when publishing was a very
different thing to what it is now. Since then, his principal story
has continually grown in the estimation of scholars and students, as
a valuable addition to the rich treasures of English philology, even
apart from the genius which combined its humorous details with such
masterly art, and finished and rounded it into the completeness of a
literary dewdrop. That tale was calculated to command attention and
awaken delight at once--and it will long be cherished with pride,
by Lancashire men at least, as an exceedingly natural "glimpse of
auld lang syne." But those who wish to understand the force of Tim's
character, must look to his letters, and other prose fragments, such as
"Truth in a Mask." These chiefly reveal the sterling excellence of the
man. He was a clear-sighted, daring, independent politician--one of the
strong old pioneers of human freedom in these parts. He had a curious
audience in that secluded corner of Lancashire where he lived--in those
days--a people who had worn their political shackles so long that they
almost looked upon them as ornaments.

    But _Tim_ kent what was fu brawly;

and he was continually blurting out some startling truth or another,
in vigorous, unmistakable English; and he gloried in the then
disreputable and dangerous epithet of "Reforming John." This, too,
in the teeth of patrons and friends whose political tendencies were
in an entirely opposite direction. Let any man turn to the letter he
writes to his friend, the Rev. Mr. Heap, of Dorking, who had desired
him to "spare the levitical order," and then say whether there was any
shadow of sycophancy in the soul of John Collier. Under the correction
of magnifying the matter through the medium of one's native likings
then, I will venture to declare a feeling akin to veneration for the
spot where he was born; and I know that it is shared by the men of
his native county, generally, even by those who find themselves at a
difficult distance from his quaint tone of thought and language--for it
takes a man thoroughly soaked with the Lancashire soil to appreciate
him thoroughly. But, apart from all local inclinings, men of thought
and feeling will ever welcome any spark of genuine creative fire,
which glows with such genial human sympathies, and such an honourable
sense of justice as John Collier evinces, however humble it may be
in comparison with the achievements of those mighty spirits who have
made the literature of our sea-girt island glorious in the earth. The
waters of the little mountain stream, singing its lone, low song, as
it struggles through its rocky channel, are dear and beautiful, and
useful to that rugged solitude, as is the great ocean to the shores on
which its surges play. Nay, what is that ocean, but the gathered chorus
of these lonely waters, in which the individual voice is lost in one
grand combination of varied tones. With this imperfect notice, I will,
at present, leave our old local favourite; and just take another glance
at Flixton, before I bid adieu to his birthplace.

The reader may remember that, on the day of my first visit to John
Collier's birthplace, I lounged some time about the hamlet of Urmston,
conversing with the inhabitants. Leaving that spot, I rambled leisurely
along the high road to Flixton, hob-nobbing, and inquiring among
different sorts of people, about him, whenever opportunity offered.
When I drew near to Shaw Hall, I had traversed a considerable part of
the length of the parish, which is only four miles, at most, by about
two in breadth. There is nothing like a hill to be seen; but as one
wanders on, the country rises and falls, in gentle undulations. Now
and then, a pool of water gleamed afar off in the green fields, or,
close by the road, rippled into wavelets by the keen wind, which came
down steadily from the north that day, whistling shrill cadences among
the starved thorns. I cannot give a better idea of the character of
the soil than by borrowing the words of Baines, who says: "Much of
the land in the parish of Flixton is arable, probably to the amount
of nine-tenths of the whole. The farms are comparatively large, and
the soil is in general a rich black, sandy, vegetable loam, producing
corn, fruit, and potatoes in abundance." I believe the land is now in
better cultivation than when these words were written. Shaw Hall is
an important place in the history of Flixton. The lords of the land
dwelt there in old times. At the time of my visit it was occupied,
as a boarding-school, by Mr. James M'Dougall, who was kind enough to
show me through the interior when I called there in my ramble. Baines
says of Shaw Hall: "It is a venerable mansion, of the age of James
I., with gables and wooden parapets on the S. W. and N. sides. The
roof has a profusion of chimneys, and a cupola in the centre. In one
of the apartments is a painting covering the principal part of the
ceiling, which represents the family of Darius kneeling in supplication
before Alexander the Great. This picture, though two hundred years
old, is in fine preservation, and the faces and figures indicate the
hand of a master. There are some smaller paintings and tapestry in the
rooms, on one of which is represented a Persian chief at parley with
Alexander, and, afterwards, submitting to the conqueror. Stained glass
in the windows exhibit the arms of Asshawe and Egerton, successive
lords of Flixton.... Adjoining the ample gardens and filbert grove was
once a moat, which has partly disappeared. Shaw Hall is now used as a
boarding-school, a purpose to which, by its situation, it seems well
adapted." I cannot leave this place without mentioning, that the, then,
tenant of the hall was a poet of no mean promise, who has contributed
an interesting volume of poems and songs to the literature of this
district. From the high road, a little beyond the hall, the most
prominent and pleasing object in the landscape is the old parish church
of Flixton, standing in its still more ancient graveyard, upon the brow
of a green knoll, about an arrow's flight off; with the village of
Flixton clustered behind it. At the foot of that green knoll, to the
westward, where all the country beyond is one unbroken green,

    The river glideth by the hamlet old.

The ground occupied by the church seemed to me the highest in the
landscape; and the venerable fane stands there, looking round upon the
quiet parish like a mother watching her children at play, and waiting
till they come home, tired, to lie down and sleep with the rest. It
was getting late in the evening when I sauntered about the churchyard,
looking over the gravestones of Warburtons, Taylors, Cowpes, Gilbodys,
Egertons, and Owens of Carrington. Among the rest, I found the
following well-known epitaph, upon William Oldfield of Stretford,
smith:--

    My anvil and my hammer lie declined,
    My bellows have quite lost their wind;
    My coals are done, my debt is paid,
    My vices in the dust are laid.

This epitaph, which appears here in such an imperfect shape, is
commonly attributed to Tim. In Rochdale parish churchyard, it appears
in a much completer form on the gravestone of a blacksmith, who lived
in Tim's time.

I rambled about the old village a while in the dusk. Now and then a
villager lounged along in the direction of the inn, near the church;
where I could hear several boisterous country fellows talking together
in high glee, while one of them sang snatches of an old ballad, called
the "Golden Glove:"--

    Coat, waistcoat, and breeches she then did put on,
    And a-hunting she went with her dog and gun;
    She hunted all around where the farmer did dwell,
    Because in her heart she did love him full well.

At length the horses were put to, and we got fairly upon the road,
which took us back in another direction, round by Davy Hulme, the
seat of the Norreys family. Immediately after clearing the village,
Flixton House was pointed out to me; "a plain family mansion, with
extensive grounds and gardens." The wind was cold, and the shades of
night gathered fast around; and before we quitted Flixton parish, the
birthplace of Tim Bobbin had faded from my view. I felt disappointed in
finding that the place of his nativity yielded so little reminiscence
of our worthy old local humorist; the simple reason for which is, that
very little is known of him there. But there was compensating pleasure
to me in meeting with so many interesting things there which I did not
go in search of.



    Ramble from Rochdale to the Top of
    Blackstone Edge.

    And so by many winding nooks he strays,
    With willing sport.
    --SHAKSPERE.


Well may Englishmen cherish the memory of their forefathers, and love
their native land. It has risen to its present power among the nations
of the world through the efforts of many generations of heroic people;
and the firmament of its biography is illumined by stars of the first
magnitude. What we know of its history previous to the conquest by the
Romans, is clouded by conjecture and romance; but we have sufficient
evidence to show that, even then, this gem, "set in the silver sea,"
was known in distant regions of the earth, for its natural riches;
and was inhabited by a brave and ingenious race of people. During the
last two thousand years, the masters of the world have been fighting
to win it, or to keep it. The woad-stained British savage, ardent,
imaginative, and brave, roved through its woods and marshes, hunting
the wild beasts of the island. He sometimes herded cattle, but was
little given to tillage. He sold tin to the Phoenicians, and knew
something about smelting iron ore, and working it into such shapes as
were useful in a life of wild insecurity and warfare, such as his.
In the slim coracle, he roamed the island's waters; and scoured its
plains in battle, in his scythed car, a terror to the boldest foe. He
worshipped, too, in an awful way, in sombre old woods, and colossal
Stonehenges, under the blue, o'er-arching sky. On lone wastes, and
moorland hills, we still have the relics of these ancient temples,
frowning at time, and seeming to say, as they look on nature's
ever-returning green,--in the words of their old Druids--

    Everything comes out of the ground but the dead.

But destiny had other things in store for these islands. The legions
of imperial Rome came down upon the wild Celt, who retired, fiercely
contending, to the mountain fastnesses of the north and west. Four
hundred years the Roman wrought and ruled in Britain; and he left
the broad red mark of his way of living stamped upon the face of the
country, and upon its institutions, when his empire declined. The
steadfast Saxon followed,--"stubborn, taciturn, sulky, indomitable,
rock-made,"--a farmer and a fighter; a man of sense, and spirit, and
integrity; an industrious man, and a home-bird. The Saxon never loosed
his hold; even though his wild Scandinavian kinsmen, the sea-kings,
and jarls of the north, came rushing to battle, with their piratical
multitudes, tossing their swords into the air, and singing heroic
ballads, as they slew their foemen, under the banner of the Black
Raven. Then came the military Norman,--a northern pirate, trained in
France to the art of war,--led on by the bold Duke William, who landed
his warriors at Pevensey, and burnt the fleet that brought them to
the shore, in order to bind his soldiers to the necessity of victory
or death. Duke William conquered, and Harold, the Saxon, fell at
Hastings, with an arrow in his brain. Each of these races has left its
peculiarities stamped upon the institutions of the country; but most
enduring of all,--the Saxon. And now, the labours of twenty centuries
of valiant men, in peace and war, have achieved a matchless power, and
freedom for us, and have bestrewn the face of the land with "the charms
which follow long history." The country of Caractacus and Boadicea,
where Alfred ruled, and Shakspere and Milton sang, will henceforth
always be interesting to men of intelligent minds, wherever they were
born. It is pleasant, also, to the eye, as it is instructive to the
mind. Its history is written all over the soil, not only in strong
evidences of its present genius and power, but in thousands of relics
of its ancient fame and characteristics. In a letter, written by Lord
Jeffrey, to his sister-in-law, an American lady, respecting what Old
England is like, and in what it differs most from America, he says:
"It differs mostly, I think, in the visible memorials of antiquity with
which it is overspread; the superior beauty of its verdure, and the
more tasteful and happy state and distribution of its woods. Everything
around you here is historical, and leads to romantic or interesting
recollections. Gray-grown church towers, cathedrals, ruined abbeys,
castles of all sizes and descriptions, in all stages of decay, from
those that are inhabited, to those in whose moats ancient trees are
growing, and ivy mantling over their mouldering fragments; ... and
massive stone bridges over lazy waters; and churches that look as old
as Christianity; and beautiful groups of branchy trees; and a verdure
like nothing else in the universe; and all the cottages and lawns
fragrant with sweet briar and violets, and glowing with purple lilacs
and white elders; and antique villages scattering round wide bright
greens; with old trees and ponds, and a massive pair of oaken stocks
preserved from the days of Alfred. With you everything is new, and
glaring, and angular, and withal rather frail, slight, and perishable;
nothing soft, and mellow, and venerable, or that looks as if it would
ever become so." This charming picture is almost entirely compounded
from the most interesting features of the rural and antique: and is,
therefore, more applicable to those agricultural parts of England which
have been little changed by the events of its modern history, than to
those districts which have been so changed by the peaceful revolutions
of manufacture in these days. But, even in the manufacturing districts,
where forests of chimneys rear their tall shafts, upon ground once
covered with the woodland shade, or sparsely dotted with quaint
hamlets,--the venerable monuments of old English life peep out in a
beautiful way, among crowding evidences of modern power and population.
And the influences which have so greatly changed the appearance of
the country there, have not passed over the people without effect.
Wherever the genius of commerce may be leading us to, there is no
doubt that the old controls of feudalism are breaking up; and in the
new state of things the people of South Lancashire have found greater
liberty to improve their individual qualities and conditions; fairer
chances of increasing their might and asserting their rights; greater
power to examine and understand all questions which come before them,
and to estimate and influence their rulers, than they had under the
unreasoning domination which is passing away. They are not a people
inclined to anarchy. They love order as well as freedom, and they love
freedom for the sake of having order established upon just principles.

The course of events during the last fifty years has been steadily
upheaving the people of South Lancashire out of the thraldom of those
orders which have long striven to conserve such things as tended to
their own aggrandisement, at the expense of the rights of others. But
even that part of the aristocracy of England which has not yet so far
cast the slough of its hereditary prejudices as to see that the days
are gone which nurtured such ascendancies, at least perceives that,
in the manufacturing districts, it now walks in a world where few are
disposed to accept its assumption of superiority, without inquiring
into the nature of it. When a people who aspire to independence, begin
to know how to get it, and how to use it wisely, the methods of rule
that were made for slaves, will no longer answer their purpose; the
pride of little minds in great places, begins to canker them, and
they must give them the wall now and then, and look somewhere else
for foot-lickers. The aristocracy of England are not all of them
overwhelmed by the dignity of their "ancient descent." There are
naturally-noble men among them, who can discern between living truth
and dead tradition; men who do not think that the possession of a
landed estate entitles its owner to extraordinary rights of domination
over his acreless neighbours; or that, on that account alone, the rest
of the world should fall down and worship at the feet of an ordinary
person, more remarkable for an incomprehensible way of deporting
himself, than for being a better man than his neighbours.

Through the streets of South Lancashire towns still, occasionally, roll
the escutcheoned equipages of those exclusive families, who turn up the
nose at the "lower orders;" and cherish a dim remembrance of the "good
old times" when these lurdanes wore the collars of their ancestors
upon the neck. To my thinking, the very carriage has a sort of lonely,
unowned and unowning look, and never seems at home till it gets back to
the coach-house; for the troops of factory lads, and other hard-working
rabble, clatter merrily about the streets, looking villainously
unconscious of anything particularly august in the nature of the show
which is going by. On the driving-box sits a man with a beefy face, and
a comically-subdued way of holding his countenance, grand over all
with "horse-gowd," and gilt buttons, elaborate with heraldic device.
Another such person, with silky calves, and a "smoke-jack" upon his
hat, and breeches of plush, stands on the platform behind. It is all no
use. There are corners of England where such a sight is still enough
to throw a whole village into fits; but, in the manufacturing towns, a
travelling instalment of Wombwell's menagerie, with the portrait of a
cub rhinoceros in front, would create more stir. Inside the carriage
there reclines,--chewing the cud of unacknowledged pride,--one of
that rare brood of dignitaries, a man with "ancestors," who plumes
himself upon the distinguished privilege of being the son of somebody
or another, who was the son of somebody else, and so on;--till it
gets to some burglarious person, who, in company with several others
of the same kidney, once pillaged an old estate, robbed a church,
and did many other such deeds, in places where the law was too weak
to protect the weak; and there is an eternal blazon of armorial fuss
kept up in celebration of it, on the family shield. But, admitting
that these things were in keeping with the spirit and necessities
of the time, and with "the right of conquest," and such like, why
should their descendants take to themselves airs on that account, and
consider themselves the supreme "somebodies" of the land, for such
worn-out reasons? Let any landlord who still tunes his pride according
to the feudal gamut of his forefathers, acquaint himself with the
tone of popular feeling in the manufacturing districts. Let "John"
lower the steps, and with earth-directed eyes hold the carriage door,
whilst our son of a hundred fathers walks forth into the streets of
a manufacturing town, to try the magic of his ancient name among the
workmen as they hurry to dinner. Where are the hat-touchers gone? If he
be a landlord, with nothing better than tracts of earth to recommend
him, the mechanical rabble jostle him as if he was "only a pauper whom
nobody owns," or some wandering cow-jobber. He goes worshipless on
his way, unless he happens to meet with one of the servants from the
hall, or his butcher, or the parish clerk, or the man who rings the
eight o'clock bell, and they treat him to a bend sinister. As to the
pride of "ancient descent," what does it mean, apart from the renown of
noble deeds? The poor folk in Lancashire cherish an old superstition
that "we're o' somebory's childer,"--which would be found very near
the truth, if fairly looked into. And if Collop the cotton weaver's
genealogy was correctly traced, it would probably run back to the
year "one;" or, as he expresses it himself, to the time "when Adam
wur a lad." Everything has its day. In some parts of Lancashire, the
rattle of the railway train, and the bustle of traffic and labour,
have drowned the tones of the hunting horn, and the chiming cry of
the harriers. But whatever succeeds the decay of feudalism, the
architectural relics of Old English life in Lancashire will always be
interesting, and venerable as the head of a fine old man, on whose brow
"the snow-fall of time" has long been stealing. May no ruder hand than
the hand of time destroy these eloquent footprints of old thought which
remain among us! Some men are like Burns's mouse,--the present only
touches them; but any man who has the slightest title to the name of a
creature of "large discourse," will be willing, now and then, to look
contemplatively over his shoulder, into the grass-grown aisles of the
past.

It was in that pleasant season of the year when fresh buds begin to
shoot from the thorn: when the daisy and the little celandine, and the
early primrose, peep from the ground, that I began to plot for another
stroll through my native vale of the Roch, up to the top of "Blackstone
Edge." Those mountain wastes are familiar to me. When I was a child,
they rose up constantly in sight, with a silent, majestic look. The
sun came from behind them in a morning, pouring its flood of splendour
upon the busy valley, the winding river, and its little tributaries.
I imbibed a strong attachment to those hills; and oft as opportunity
would allow, I rushed towards them; for they were kindly and congenial
to my mind. And now, in the crowded city, when I think of them and of
the country they look down upon, it stirs within me a

    Wide sea that one continuous murmur breaks
    Along the pebbled shore of memory.

But at this particular time, an additional motive enticed me to my
old wandering ground. The whole of the road leading to it was lined
with interesting places, and associations. But, among the railways,
and manifold other ways and means of travel, which now cover the
country with an irregular net-work, I found, on looking over a recent
map, a solitary line running in short, broken distances; and, on the
approach of towns and habited spots, diving under, like a mole or an
otter. It looked like a broken thread, here and there, in the mazy web
of the map, and it was accompanied by the words "Roman Road," which
had a little interest for me. I know there are people who would sneer
at the idea of any importance being attached to an impracticable,
out-of-the-way road, nearly two thousand years old, and leading to
nowhere in particular, except, like the ways of the wicked, into all
sorts of sloughs and difficulties. With them, one passable macadamised
way, on which a cart could go to market, is worth all the ruined
Watling-streets in Britain. And they are right, so far as their wisdom
goes. The present generation must be served with market stuff, come
what may of our museums. But still, everything in the world is full of
manifold services to man, who is himself full of manifold needs. And
thought can leave the telegraphic message behind, panting for breath
upon the railway wires. The whole is either "cupboard for food," or
"cabinet of pleasure;" therefore, let the hungry soul look round upon
its estate and turn the universe to nutriment, if it can; for

              There's not a breath
    Will mingle kindly with the meadow air,
    Till it has panted round, and stolen a share
    Of passion from the heart.

And though the moorland pack-horse and the rambling besom-maker stumble
and get entangled in grass, and sloughs, and matted brushwood, upon
deserted roads, still that nimble Mercury, Thought, can flit over the
silent waste, side by side with the shades of those formidable soldiers
who have now slept nearly two thousand years in the cold ground.

It has not been my lot to see many of the vestiges of Roman life in
Britain; yet, whatever the historians say about them has had interest
for me; especially when it related to the connection of the Romans with
my native district; for, in addition to its growing modern interest,
I eagerly seized every fact of historical association calculated to
enrich the vesture in which my mind had long been enrobing the place.
I had read of the Roman station at Littleborough; of the Roman road
in the neighbourhood; of interesting ancient relics, Roman and other,
discovered thereabouts; and other matter of the like nature. My walks
had been wide and frequent in the country about Rochdale; and many
a time have I lingered and wondered at Littleborough, near the spot
where history says that the Romans encamped themselves, at the foot of
Blackstone Edge, at the entrance of what would, then, be the impassable
hills, and woody glens, and swampy bottoms of the Todmorden district.
Yet I have never met with any visible remnants of such historical
antiquities of the locality; and though, when wandering about the high
moors in that quarter, I have more than once crossed the track of the
Roman road up there, and noticed a general peculiarity of feature
about the place, I little thought that I was floundering, through moss
and heather, upon one of these famous old highways. I endeavoured to
hold the bit upon my own eagerness; and read of these things with a
reservation of credence, lest I should delude myself into receiving
the invention of a brain mad with ancientry for a genuine relic of the
eld. But one day, early in the year, happening to call upon a young
friend of mine, in Rochdale, whose tastes are a little congenial to my
own, we talked of a stroll towards the hills; and he again showed me
the line of the Roman road, on Blackstone Edge, marked in the recent
Ordnance map. We then went forth, bare-headed, into the yard of his
father's house, at Wardleworth Brow, from whence the view of the hills,
on the east, is fine. The air was clear, and the sunshine so favourably
subdued, that the objects and tints of the landscape were uncommonly
distinct. He pointed to a regular stripe of land, of greener hue than
the rest of the moorland, rising up the dark side of Blackstone Edge.
The green stripe was the line of the Roman road. He had lately visited
it, and traced its uniform width for miles, and the peculiarities of
its pavement of native sandstone, overgrown with a thick tanglement of
moss, and heather, and moorland lichens. He was an old acquaintance,
of known integrity, and sound judgment, and, withal, more addicted to
figures of arithmetic than figures of speech; so, upon his testimony, I
resolved that I would bring my unstable faith to the ordeal of ocular
proof, that I might, at once, draft it out of the region of doubt, or
sweep it from the chambers of my brain, like a festoonery of cobwebs
from a neglected corner, The prospect of another visit to the scenery
of the "Edge," another snuff of the mountain air, and a little more
talk with the old-world folk in the villages upon the road thither,
rose up pleasantly in my mind, and the purpose took the shape of action
about St. Valentine's tide.

Having arranged to be called up at five on the morning of my intended
trip, I jumped out of bed when the knock came to my chamber-door,
dressed, and started forth to catch the first train from Manchester.
The streets were silent and still, except where one or two "early
birds" of the city had gathered round a "saloop" stall; or a solitary
policeman kept the lounging tenor of his way along the pavement; and
here and there a brisk straggler, with a pipe in his mouth, his echoing
steps contrasting strangely with the sleeping city's morning stillness.
The day was ushered in with gusts of wind and rain, and, when I got to
the station, both my coat and my expectations were a little damped by
the weather. But, by the time the train reached Rochdale, the sky had
cleared up, and the breeze had sunk down to a whisper, just cool enough
to make the sunshine pleasant. The birds were twittering about, and
drops of rain twinkled on the hedges and tufts of grass in the fields;
where spring was quietly spreading out her green mantle again. I wished
to have as wide a ramble at the farther end as time would allow; and,
as moor-tramping is about the most laborious foot exercise that mortal
man can bend his instep to, except running through a ploughed field,
in iron-plated clogs,--an ordeal which Lancashire trainers sometimes
put their foot-racers through,--it was considered advisable to hire
a conveyance. We could go further, stop longer, and return at ease,
when we liked, after we had tired ourselves to our heart's content
upon the moors. I went down to the Reed Inn, for a vehicle. Mine host
came out to the top of the steps which lead down into the stable-yard,
and, leaning over the railings, called his principal ostler from
the room below. That functionary was a broad-set, short-necked man,
with a comely face, and a staid, laconic look. He told us, with
Spartan brevity, that there had been a run upon gigs, but he could
find us a "Whitechapel," and "Grey Bobby." "Grey Bobby" and the
"Whitechapel" were agreed to at once, and in ten minutes I was driving
up Yorkshire-street, to pick up my friends at Wardleworth Brow, on the
eastern edge of the town. Giving the reins to a lad in the street, I
went into the house, and took some refreshment with the rest of them,
before starting; and, in a few minutes more, we were all seated, and
away down the slope of Heybrook, on the Littleborough Road. Our tit had
a mercurial trick of romping on his hind legs, at the start; but apart
from this, he went a steady, telling pace, and we looked about us quite
at ease as we sped along.

Heybrook, at the foot of Wardleworth Brow, is one of the pleasantest
entrances to Rochdale town. There is a touch of suburban peace and
prettiness about it; and the prospect, on all sides, is agreeable
to the eye. The park-like lands of Foxholes and Hamer lie close by
the north side of the road. The lower part of these grounds consists
of rich, flat meadows, divided by a merry little brook, which flows
from the hills on the north, above "Th' Syke." In its course from the
moors, to the river Roch, it takes the name of each locality it passes
through, and is called "Syke Brook," "Buckley Brook," and "Hey Brook;"
and, on its way, it gathers tributary rindles of water from Clough
House, Knowl, and Knowl Syke. As the Foxholes grounds recede from the
high road, they undulate, until they rise into an expansive, lawny
slope, clothed with a verdure which looks--when wet with summer rain or
dew--"like nothing else in the universe," out of England. This slope is
tastefully crowned with trees. Foxholes Hall is situated among its old
woods and lawns, retiringly, upon the summit of this swelling upland,
which rises from the level of Heybrook. It is a choice corner of the
earth, and the view thence, between the woods, across the lawn and
meadows, and over a picturesquely-varied country, to the blue hills in
the south-east, is perhaps not equalled in the neighbourhood. Pleasant
and green as much of the land in this district looks now, still the
general character of the soil, and the whole of its features, shows
that when nature had it to herself very much of it must have been
sterile or swampy. Looking towards Foxholes, from the road-side at
Heybrook, over the tall ancestral trees, we can see the still taller
chimney of John Bright and Brothers' mill, peering up significantly
behind; and the sound of their factory bell now mingles with the cawing
of an ancient colony of rooks in the Foxholes woods. Foxholes is the
seat of the Entwisles, a distinguished old Lancashire family. In the
time of Camden, the historian, this family was seated at Entwisle Hall,
near Bolton-le-Moors. George Entwisle de Entwisle left as heir his
brother William, who married Alice, daughter of Bradshaw, of Bradshaw.
His son Edmund, the first Entwisle of Foxholes, near Rochdale, built
the old hall, which stood on the site of the present one. He married a
daughter of Arthur Ashton, of Clegg; and his son Richard married Grace,
the daughter of Robert Chadwick, of Healey Hall. In the parish church
there is a tablet to the memory of Sir Bertin Entwisle, who fought at
Agincourt, on St. Crispin's Day, in Henry the Fifth's time. When a lad,
I used to con over this tablet, and I wove a world of romance around
this mysterious "Sir Bertin," and connected him with all that I had
heard of the prowess of old English chivalry. The tablet runs thus:--

     To perpetuate a memorial erected in the church of St Peter's,
     St. Albans (perished by time), this marble is here placed to the
     memory of a gallant and loyal man--Sir Bertin Entwisle, Knt.,
     viscount and baron of Brybeke, in Normandy, and some time bailiff
     of Constantine, in which office he succeeded his brother-in-law,
     Sir John Ashton, whose daughter first married Sir Richard le
     Byron, an ancestor of the Lords Byron, of Rochdale, and, secondly,
     Sir Bertin Entwisle, who, after repeated acts of honour in the
     service of his sovereigns, Henrys the Fifth and Sixth, more
     particularly at Agincourt, was killed in the first battle of St
     Albans, and on his tombstone was recorded in brass the follow
     inscription:--"Here lyeth Sir Bertin Entwisle, Knight, who was
     born in Lancastershyre, and was viscount and baron of Brybeke, in
     Normandy, and bailiff of Constantine, who died, fighting on King
     Henry the Sixth's party, the 28th May 1455, on whose soul Jesus
     have mercy."

Close by the stone-bridge at Heybrook, two large old trees stand in
the Entwisle grounds, one on each bank of the stream, and partly
overhanging the road; they stand there alone, as if to mark where
a forest has been. The tired country weaver, carrying his piece to
the town, lays down his burden on the parapet, wipes his brow, and
rests under their shade. I have gone sometimes, on bright nights, to
lean upon the bridge and look around there, and I have heard many a
plaintive trio sung by these old trees and the brook below, while the
moonlight danced among the leaves.

The whole valley of the Roch is a succession of green knolls, and
dingles, and little receding vales, with now and then a barren stripe,
like "Cronkeyshaw," or a patch of the once large mosses, like "Turf
Moss;" and little holts and holms, no two alike in feature or extent,
dotted, now and then, with tufts of stunted wood, with many a clear
brook and silvery rill between. On the south side of the bridge at
Heybrook, the streamlet from the north runs through the meadows a short
distance, and empties itself into the Roch. The confluence of the
waters there is known to the neighbour lads by the name of the "Greyt
Meetin's," where, in past years, I have

          Paidle't through the burn
    When simmer days were fine,

in a certain young companionship--now more scattered than last
autumn's leaves; some in other towns, one or two only still here, and
the rest in Australia, or in the grave. We now no longer strip in
the field there, and leaving our clothes and books upon the hedge
side, go frolicking down to the river, to have a water battle and a
bathe--finishing by drying ourselves with our shirts, or by running
in the wind on the green bank. I remember that sometimes, whilst we
were in the height of our sport, the sentinel left upon the brink of
the river would catch a glimpse of the owner of the fields, coming
hastily towards the spot, in wrathful mood; whereupon every naked
imp rushed from the water, seized his clothes, and fled from field
to field, till he reached some nook where he could put them on. From
the southern margin of the Roch, the land rises in a green elevation,
on which the hamlet of Belfield is seen peeping up. The tree-tops of
Belfield Wood are in sight, but the ancient hall is hidden. A little
vale on the west, watered by the Biel, divides Belfield Hall from the
hamlet of Newbold, on the summit of the opposite bank. So early as the
commencement of the twelfth century, a family had adopted the local
name, and resided in the mansion till about the year 1290, when the
estate was transferred to the family of Butterworth, of Butterworth
Hall, near Milnrow. I find the Belfield family mentioned in Gastrel's
"Notitia Cestriensis," p. 40, under the head "Leases granted by the
bishop," where the following lease appears:--"An. 1546. Let by H.
Ar. Belfield and Robt. Tatton, for 40 years, exceptis omus vicariis
advocationibus ecclesiariu quarumcunque, (ing) to find great timber,
tiles, and slate, and tenants to repair and find all other materials."
The following note is attached to this lease:--"Arthur Belfield, of
Clegg Hall, in the parish of Rochdale, gent., son and heir of Adam
Belfield, was born in 1508, and succeeded his father in 1544. He is
described in the lease as 'off our sayde sovaraigne lord's houshold,
gentylman;' but what office he held is, at present, unknown. He
was a near relative of the Hopwoods, of Hopwood, and Chethams, of
Nuthurst." In the year 1274, Geoffry de Butterworth, a descendent of
Reginald de Boterworth, first lord of the township of Butterworth, in
the reign of Stephen, 1148, sold or exchanged the family mansion of
Butterworth Hall, with John Byron, ancestor of Lord Byron, the poet,
and took possession (by purchase or otherwise) of Belfield, which
was part of the original possession of the knights of St. John of
Jerusalem. When the monks of Stanlaw, in Cheshire--disliking their
low, swampy situation there, which was subject to inundation at spring
tide--removed to the old deanery of Whalley, before entering the abbey
there, in the roll of the fraternity four seem to have been natives
of Rochdale, among whom was John de Belfield, afterwards Abbot of
Whalley, of the ancient stock of Belfield Hall, in Butterworth. Robert
de Butterworth was killed at the battle of Towton, in 1461. The last
of the name, at Belfield, was Alexander Butterworth, born in 1640, in
the reign of Charles the First. The present occupants of the estate
have tastefully preserved the old interesting features of the hall,
whilst they have greatly improved its condition and environments. The
stone gateway, leading to the inner court-yard of Belfield Hall, is
still standing, as well as a considerable portion of the old hall which
surrounded this inner court. The antique character of the building is
best seen from the quadrangular court-yard in the centre. The door
of the great kitchen formerly opened into this court-yard, and the
victuals used to be brought out thence, and handed by the cooks through
a square opening in the wall of the great dining-room, on the north
side of the yard, to the waiters inside. The interior of the building
still retains many quaint features of its olden time--heavy oak-beams,
low ceilings, and tortuous corners. Every effort has been made to line
the house with an air of modern comfort; still the house is said to
be a cold one, partly from its situation, and partly from the porous
nature of the old walls; producing an effect something like that of
a wine-cooler. That part of the building which now forms the rear,
used, in old times, to be the main front. In one of the rooms, there
are still some relics of the ancient oak-carving which lined the walls
of the hall. Among them there are three figures in carved oak, which
formed part of the wainscot of a cornice, above one of the fire-places.
These were the figures of a king and two queens, quaintly cut; and
the remnants of old painting upon the figures, and the rich gilding
upon the crowns, still show traces of their highly-ornamented, ancient
appearance. The roads in the neighbourhood of the hall are now good.
The hamlets of Newbold and Belfield are thriving, with substantial,
healthy dwellings. Shady walks are laid among the plantations; and the
springs of excellent water are now gathered into clear terraced pools
and a serpentine lake, glittering among gardens and cultivated grounds.

Leaving Heybrook, we passed by Hamer Hall, which was the seat of a
family of the same name, before Henry the Fourth's time. A large
cotton-mill now stands close behind the hall. A few yards through
the toll-bar, we passed the "Entwisle Arms," bearing the motto, "Par
se signe à Azincourt." A traveller seldom needs to ask the names of
the old lords of the land in England. Let him keep an eye to the
sign-boards, and he is sure to find that part of the history of the
locality swinging in the wind, or stapled up over the entrance of
some neighbouring alehouse. And, in the same barmy atmosphere, he
may learn, at least, as much heraldry as he will be able to find a
market for on the Manchester Exchange. The public-house signs in
our old towns are generally very loyal and heraldic, and sometimes
touched with a little jovial devotion. The arms of kings, queens,
and bishops; and mitres, chapel-houses, angels, and "amen corners,"
mingling with "many a crest that is famous in story;" the arms of the
Stanleys, Byrons, Asshetons, Traffords, Lacys, Wiltons, De-la-Warres,
Houghtons, Molyneuxs, Pilkingtons, Radcliffes, and a long roll of
old Lancashire gentry, whose fame is faintly commemorated in these
alehouse signs; and, among the mottoes of these emblazonments, we now
and then meet with an ancient war-cry, which makes one's blood start
into tumult, when we think how it may have sounded on the fields of
Cressy, Agincourt, Towton, or Flodden. Among these are sprinkled
spread eagles, dragons, griffins, unicorns, and horses, black, white,
bay, and grey, with corresponding mares, and shoes enow for them all.
Boars, in every position and state of temper; bulls, some crowned,
some with rings in the nose, like our friend "John" of that name.
Foxes, too, and dogs, presenting their noses with admirable directness
of purpose at something in the next street; and innocent-looking
partridges, who appear reckless of the intentions of the sanguinary
wretch in green, who is erroneously supposed to be _lurking_ behind
the bush, with a gun in his hand. Talbots, falcons, hawks, hounds
and huntsmen, the latter sometimes in "full cry," but almost always
considerably "at fault," so far as perspective goes. Swans, black
and white, with any number of necks that can be reasonably expected;
stags, saints, saracens, jolly millers, boars' heads, blue bells,
pack-horses, lambs, rams, and trees of oak and yew. The seven stars,
and, now and then, a great bear. Lions, of all colours, conditions, and
positions--resting, romping, and running; with a number of apocryphal
animals, not explainable by any natural history extant, nor to be found
anywhere, I believe, except in the swamps and jungles of some drunken
dauber's brain. Also a few "Jolly Waggoners," grinning extensively at
foaming flagons of ale, garnished with piles of bread and cheese, and
onions as big as cannon-balls, as if to outface the proportions of the
Colossus of Rhodes, who sits there in a state of stiff, everlasting,
clumsy, good-tempered readiness, in front of his never-dwindling
feed, Marlboroughs, Abercrombies, and Wellingtons; Duncans, Rodneys,
and Nelsons, by dozens. I have seen an admiral painted on horseback,
somewhere; but I never saw Cromwell on an alehouse sign yet. In
addition to these, there are a few dukes, mostly of York and Clarence.
Such signs as these show the old way of living and thinking. But, in
our manufacturing towns, the tone of these old devices is considerably
modified by an infusion of railway hotels, commercials, cotton-trees,
shuttles, spindles, woolpacks, Bishop Blaizes, and "Old Looms;" and
the arms of the ancient feudal gentry are outnumbered by the arms
of shepherds, foresters, moulders, joiners, printers, bricklayers,
painters, and several kinds of odd-fellows. The old "Legs of Man,"
too, are relieved by a comfortable sprinkling of legs and shoulders
of mutton--considerably overdone by the weather, in some cases. Even
alehouse signs are "signs of the times," if properly interpreted.
But both men and alehouse signs may make up their minds to be
misinterpreted a little in this world. Two country lasses, at Rochdale,
one fair-day, walking by the Roebuck Inn, one of them, pointing to the
gilded figure of the animal, with its head uplifted to an overhanging
bunch of gilded grapes, said, "Sitho, sitho, Mary, at yon brass dog,
heytin' brass marrables!"

About half-a-mile up the high road from Heybrook, and opposite to
Shaw House, the view opens, and we can look across the fields on
either side, into a country of green pastures and meadows, varied with
fantastic hillocks and dells, though bare of trees. A short distance
to the north-west, Buckley Hall lately stood, on a green eminence in
sight from the road. But the old house of the Buckleys, of Buckley,
recently disappeared from the knoll where it stood for centuries. Its
thick, bemossed walls are gone, and all its quaint, abundant outhousing
that stood about the spacious, balder-paved yard behind. This old
hall gave name and residence to one of the most ancient families in
Rochdale parish. The building was low, but very strongly built of
stone of the district, and heavily timbered. It was not so large as
Clegg Hall, nor Stubley Hall, nor as some other old halls in the
parish; but, for its size, it proved a considerable quarry of stone
and flag when taken down. The first occupier was Geoffry de Buckley,
nephew to Geoffry, dean of Whalley, who lived in the time of Henry
the Second. A descendant of this Geoffry de Buckley was slain in the
battle of Evesham ("History of Whalley"). The name of John de Buckley
appears among the monks of Stanlaw, in the year 1296. The arms of
the Buckleys, of Buckley, are gules, a chevron sable; between three
bulls' heads, armed proper; crest, on a wreath, a bull's head armed
proper. Motto, "Nec temere nec timede." There is a chantry chapel at
the south-east corner of Rochdale parish church, "founded in 1487, by
Dr. Adam Marland, of Marland; Sir Randal Butterworth, of Belfield; and
Sir James Middleton, 'a brotherhood maide and ordayned in the worship
of the glorious Trinity, in the church of Rochdale;' Sir James being
appointed Trinity priest during his lyfe; and, among other things, he
was requested, when he went to the lavoratory, standing at the altar,
and, twice a week, to pray for the co-founders, with 'De profundis.'"
In this little chantry, there is a recumbent stone effigy of a mailed
warrior, of the Buckley family, placed there by the present lord of
the manor, whose property the chapel is now. I know that some of the
country people who had been reared in the neighbourhood of Buckley
Hall, watched its demolition with grieved hearts. And when the fine old
hall at Radcliffe was taken down, not long since, an aged man stood by,
vigorously denouncing the destroyers as the work went on, and glorying
in every difficulty they met with; and they were not few, for it was
a tough old place. "Poo," said he, "yo wastril devils, poo! Yo connut
rive th' owd hole deawn for th' heart on yo! Yo'n ha' to blow it up
wi' gunpeawdhur, bi'th mass. It wur noan bigged eawt o' club brass,
that wur not, yo shabby thieves! Tay th' pattern on't, an' yo'n larn
summat! What mak' o' trash wi'n yo stick up i'th place on't, when it's
gwon? Those wholes u'll bide leynin again, better nor yors! Yo'n never
big another heawse like that while yo'n teeth an' e'en in yor yeds!
Eh, never, never! Yo hannut stuff to do it wi'!" But down came the old
hall at Radcliffe; and so did Buckley Hall, lately; and the materials
were dressed up to build the substantial row of modern cottages which
now stand upon the same site, with pleasant gardens in front, sloping
down the knoll, and over the spot where the old fish-pond was, at the
bottom. Some of the workpeople at the neighbouring woollen mill find
comfortable housing there now. There is an old tradition, respecting
the Buckley family, connected with a massive iron ring which was
found fastened in the flooring of a deserted chamber of the hall. A
greyhound, belonging to this family, whilst in London with its master,
took off homeward on being startled by the fall of a heavy package,
in Cheapside, and was found dead on the door-step of Buckley Hall at
five next morning, after having run one hundred and ninety-six miles
in sixteen hours. When visiting relatives of mine near Buckley, I met
with a story relating to one of the Buckleys of old, who was a dread to
the country side; how he pursued a Rossendale rider, who had crossed
the moors from the forest, to recover a stolen horse from the stables
of Buckley Hall by night; and how this Buckley, of Buckley, overtook
and shot him, at a lonely place called "Th' Hillock," between Buckley
and Rooley Moor. There are other floating oral traditions connected
with Buckley Hall, especially the tale of "The Gentle Shepherdess,"
embodying the romantic adventures, and unfortunate fate of a lady
belonging to the family of Buckley, of Buckley. And in this wide parish
of Rochdale, in the eastern nook of Lancashire,--once a country fertile
in spots of lone and rural prettiness, and thinly inhabited by as
quaint, hearty, and primitive a people as any in England,--there is
many a picturesque and storied dell; some tales of historic interest;
and many an interesting legend connected with the country, or with the
old families of the parish;--the Byrons, of Butterworth Hall, barons of
Rochdale; the Entwisles, of Foxholes; the Crossleys, of Scaitcliffe;
the Holts, of Stubley, Grislehurst, and Castleton; the Cleggs, of Clegg
Hall, the scene of the tradition of "Clegg Ho' Boggart;" the Buckleys,
of Buckley; the Marlands, of Marland; the Howards, of Great Howard; the
Chadwicks, of Chadwick Hall, and Healey Hall; the Bamfords, of Bamford;
the Schofields, of Schofield; the Butterworths; the Belfields; and many
other families of ancient note, often bearing the names of their own
estates, in the old way.

In this part of South Lancashire, the traveller never meets any
considerable extent of level land; and, though the county contains
great moors, and some mosses, yet there is not such another expansive
tract of level country to be found in it as "Chat Moss," that lonely
grave of old forests. South-east Lancashire is all picturesque ups
and downs, retired nooks, and "quips, and cranks, and wanton wiles,"
and little winding vales, with endless freaks of hill and hillock,
knoll and dell, dingle and shady cleft, laced with numerous small
streamlets, and clear rindles of babbling water, up to the foot of
that wilderness of moorland hills, the "Back-bone of England," which
runs across the island, from Derbyshire into Scotland, and forms a
considerable part of Lancashire upon its way. The parish of Rochdale
partly consists of, and is bounded by, this tract of hills on the
east and north; and what may be called the lowland part of the parish
looks, when seen from some of the hills in the immediate neighbourhood,
something like a sea of tempest-tossed meadows and pasture lands, upon
which fleets of cotton mills ride at anchor, their brick masts rising
high into the air, and their streamers of smoke waving in the wind.

Leaving the open part of the high road, opposite Shaw House, and losing
sight of Buckley, we began to rise as we passed through Brickfield
up to Smallbridge. This village is seated on an elevation, sloping
gently from the northern bank of the river Roch, which rise continues
slightly through the village, and up northward, with many a dip and
frolic by the way, till it reaches the hills above Wardle Fold, where
nature leaps up in a wild and desolate mood. Some of the lonely heights
thereabouts have been beacon stations, in old times, and their names
indicate their ancient uses, as "Ward Hill," above the village of
Wardle. "Jack th' Huntsman" used to declare, vehemently, that Brown
Wardle Hill was "th' finest hunting-greawnd i' Lancashire." And then
there is "Tooter's Hill," "Hornblower's Hill," and "Hade's Hill." From
the summit of the last, the waters descend on one side to the Irish
Sea, on the west, on the other to the German Ocean, on the east. The
remains of a large beacon are still visible on the top of it. Looking
southward, from the edge of Smallbridge, the dale lies green and fair
in the hollow below, and the silent Roch winds through it towards
Rochdale town. The view stretches out several miles beyond the opposite
bank of the river, over the romantic township of Butterworth, up to the
Saddleworth hills. Green and picturesque, a country of dairy farms,
producing matchless milk and butter; yet the soil is evidently too cold
and poor for the successful production of any kind of grain, except the
hardy oat--and that crop mostly thin and light as an old man's hair.
But even this extensive view over a beautiful scene, in other respects,
lacks the charm which green woods lend to a landscape; for, except a
few diminutive tufts and scattered patches, where young plantations
struggle up, there are scarcely any trees. From Smallbridge, taking
a south-east direction, up by "Tunshill," "Dolderum," "Longden End,"
and "Booth Dean," and over the Stanedge road, into the ravines of
Saddleworth, would be a long flight for the crow; but to anybody who
had to foot the road thither, it would prove a rougher piece of work
than it looks. The village of Smallbridge itself consists principally
of one street, about half a mile long, lining the high road from
Rochdale to Littleborough. It will have a dull, uninteresting look to a
person who knows nothing, previously, of the place, nor of the curious
generation dwelling thereabouts. Smallbridge has a plain, hard-working,
unpolished, every-day look. No wandering artist, in search of romantic
bits of village scenery, would halt enchanted with Smallbridge. It has
no architectural relic of the olden time in it, nor any remarkable
modern building--nothing which would tell a careless eye that it had
been the homestead of many generations of Lancashire men. It consists,
chiefly, of the brick-built cottages, inhabited by weavers, colliers,
and factory operatives, relieved by the new Episcopalian church, at the
eastern end, the little pepper-box bell-turret of which peeps up over
the houses, as if to remind the rude inhabitants of something higher
than bacon-collops and ale. About half a mile up the road which leads
out of the centre of the village, northward, stands a plain-looking
stone mansion, apparently about one hundred and fifty years old, called
"Great Howarth." It stands upon a shapely knoll, the site of an older
hall of the same name, and has pleasant slopes of green land about it,
and a wide prospect over hill and dale. Extensive alterations, in the
course of the last hundred years, have destroyed most of the evidences
of this place's age and importance; but its situation, and the ancient
outbuildings behind, and the fold of cottages nestling near to the
western side of the hall, with peeping bits of stone foundation, of
much older date than the building standing upon them; the old wells,
and the hue of the lands round about; all show that it has been a
place of greater note than it is at present. This great Howarth, or
Howard, is said to be the original settlement of the Howard family, the
present Dukes of Norfolk. Some people in the neighbourhood also seem to
believe this, for, as we entered Smallbridge, we passed "The Norfolk
Arms," a little public-house. One Osbert Howard was rewarded by Henry
I. ("Beauclerk") for his faithful services, with lands situate in the
township of Honorsfield, or Hundersfield, in the parish of Rochdale,
also with what is called "the dignified title of Master of the Buck
Hounds." Robertus Howard, Abbot of Stanlaw, was one of the four monks
from this parish, whose names appear among the list of the fraternity,
at the time of their translation to Whalley. He died on the 10th of
May, 1304. Dugdale, in his "Baronage of England," says, respecting
the Howards, Dukes of Norfolk:--"I do not make any mention thereof
above the time of King Edward the First, some supposing that their
common ancestor, in the Saxon's time, took his original appellation
from an eminent office or command; others, afterwards, from the name
of a place." ... "I shall, therefore (after much fruitless search to
satisfy myself, as well as others, on this point) begin with William
Howard, a learned and reverend judge of the Court of Common Pleas,
for a great part of King Edward the First's and beginning of Edward
the Second's time." So that there seems to be a possibility of truth
in the assertion that Great Howard, or Howarth, near Smallbridge,
was the original settlement of the Howards, ancestors of the Dukes
of Norfolk. But I must leave the matter to those who have better and
completer evidence than this. Aiken, in his "History of Manchester,"
mentions a direful pestilence, which severely afflicted that town
about the year 1645. A pestilence called the "Black Plague" raged in
the parish of Rochdale about the same time. "The whole district being
filled with dismay, none dared, from the country, to approach the town,
for fear of catching the contagion; therefore, to remedy, as much as
possible, the inconvenience of non-intercourse between the country
and town's people, the proprietor of Great Howarth directed a cross
to be raised on a certain part of his estate, near to Black Lane End,
at Smallbridge, for the purpose of holding a temporary market there,
during the continuance of the plague." Thence originated "Howarth
Cross," so named to this day; also, the old "Milk Stones," or "Plague
Stones," lately standing at about a mile's distance from the town of
Rochdale, upon the old roads. I well remember two of these, which were
large, heavy flag-stones, with one end imbedded in the edge side, and
the other end supported upon rude stone pillars. One of these two
was in "Milk Stone Lane," leading towards Oldham, and the other at
"Sparth," about a mile on the Manchester road. This last of these old
"Milk Stones," or "Plague Stones," was recently taken down. I find that
similar stones were erected in the outlets of Manchester, for the same
purpose, during the pestilence, about 1645. The village of Smallbridge
itself, as I have said before, has not much either of modern grace or
antique interest about its outward appearance. But, in the secluded
folds and corners of the country around, there is many a quaint
farmstead of the seventeenth century, or earlier, such as Waterhouse,
Ashbrook Hey, Howarth Knowl, Little Howarth, Dearnley, Mabroyd,
Wuerdle, Little Clegg, Clegg Hall (the haunt of the famous "Clegg Ho'
Boggart"). Wardle Fold, near Wardle Hall, was fifty years since only
a small sequestered cluster of rough stone houses, at the foot of the
moorland heights, on the north, and about a mile from Smallbridge. It
has thriven considerably by manufacture since then. In some of these
old settlements there are houses where the door is still opened from
without by a "sneck-bant," or "finger-hole." Some of these old houses
have been little changed for two or three centuries; around others a
little modern addition has gathered in the course of time; but the old
way of living and thinking lingers in these remote corners still, like
little standing pools, left by the tide of ancient manners, which has
gone down, and is becoming matter of history or of remembrance. There,
and in the still more lonely detached dwellings and folds, which are
scattered among the hills and cloughs of the "Edge," they cling to
the speech, and ways, and superstitions of their rude forefathers. A
tribe of hardy, industrious, old-fashioned, simple-hearted folk, whose
principal fear is poverty and "boggarts." They still gather round the
fire, in corners where factories have not yet reached them, in the gray
gloaming, and on dark nights in winter, to feed their imaginations with
scraps of old legend, and tales of boggarts, fairies, and "feeorin,"
that haunt their native hills, and dells, and streams; and they look
forward with joy to the ancient festivals of the year, as reliefs
to their lonely round of toil. But Smallbridge had other interests
for us besides those arising out of its remote surrounding nooks and
population. We had known the village ever since the time when a ramble
so far out from Rochdale seemed a great feat for tiny legs; and, as we
passed each well-remembered spot, the flood-gates of memory were thrown
open, and a whole tide of early reminiscences came flowing over the
mind:--

                    Floating by me seems
    My childhood, in this childishness of mine:
    I care not--'tis a glimpse of "Auld lang syne."

The inhabitants of different Lancashire towns and villages have often
some generic epithet attached to them, supposed to be expressive of
their character; as, for the inhabitants of Oldham and Bolton, "Owdham
Rough Yeds," and "Bowton Trotters;" and the people of Smallbridge
are known throughout the vale by the name of "Smo'bridge Cossacks."
Within the last twenty years, the inhabitants of the village have
increased in number, and improved in education and manners. Before that
time the place was notable for its rugged people; even in a district
generally remarkable for an old-world breed of men and manners. Their
misdemeanours arose more from exuberant vigour of heart and body,
than from natural moral debasement. Twenty years since there was no
church in Smallbridge, no police to keep its rude people in order--no
effective school of any sort. The weavers and colliers had the place
almost to themselves in those days. They worked hard, and ate and drank
as much as their earnings would afford, especially on holidays, or
"red-letter days;" and, at by-times, they clustered together in their
cottages, but oftener at the road-side, or in some favourite alehouse,
and solaced their fatigue with such scraps of news and politics as
reached them; or by pithy, idiomatic bursts of country humour, and old
songs. Sometimes these were choice snatches of the ballads of Britain,
really beautiful "minstrel memories of times gone by;" such as we
seldom hear now, and still seldomer hear sung with the feeling and
natural taste which the country lasses of Lancashire put into them,
while chanting at their work. Some of Burns's songs, and many songs
commemorating the wars of England, were great favourites with them.
Passing by a country alehouse, one would often hear a rude ditty, like
the following, sounding loud and clear from the inside:--

    You generals all, and champions bold,
      Who take delight i'th field;
    Who knock down palaces and castle walls,
      And never like to yield;
    I am an Englishman by birth,
      And Marlbro' is my name;
    In Devonshire I first drew breath,
      That place of noble fame.

Or this finishing couplet of another old ballad:--

    To hear the drums and the trumpets sound,
      In the wars of High Garmanie!

I well remember that the following were among their favourites:--"O,
Nanny, wilt thou gang wi' me?" "Jockey to the Fair," "Owd Towler,"
"The Banks of the Dee," "Black Eyed Susan," "Highland Mary," "The
Dawning of the Day," "The Garden Gate," and "The Woodpecker."
There are, also, a few rough, humorous songs in the Lancashire
dialect, which are very common among them. The best of these is the
rudely-characteristic ballad called "Jone o' Greenfelt," and "The Songs
of the Wilsons," of which the following, known by the name of "Johnny
Green's Wedding," and "Description of Manchester College," by Alexander
Wilson, is sufficient to show the manner and characteristics of the
remainder of these popular local songs:--

    Neaw lads, wheer are yo beawn so fast?
    Yo happun ha no yerd what's past:
    Aw gettun wed sin aw'r here th' last,
      Just three week sin come Sunday.
    Aw ax'd th' owd folk, an aw wur reet,
    So Nan an me agreed tat neet,
    At iv we could mak both eends meet,
      We'd be wed o' Ayster Monday.

    That morn', as prim as pewter quarts,
    Aw th' wenches coom, a browt t' sweethearts;
    Aw fund we're loike to ha' three carts,--
      'Twur thrunk as Eccles wakes, mon;
    We donn'd eawr tits i' ribbins to,--
    One red, one green, an tone wur blue;
    So hey! lads, hey! away we flew,
      Loike a race for th' Leger stakes, mon.

    Right merrily we drove, full bat;
    An eh! heaw Duke an Dobbin swat;
    Owd Grizzle wur so lawn an fat,
      Fro' soide to soide hoo jow'd um:
    Deawn Withy Grove at last we coom,
    An stopt at th' Seven Stars by gum,
    An drunk as mich warm ale an rum,
      As 'nd dreawn o' th' folk i' Owdham.

    When th' shot wur paid, an th' drink wur done,
    Up Fennel-street, to th' church for fun,
    We doanced loike morris-doancers dun,
      To th' best o' aw my knowledge:
    So th' job wur done, i' hauve a crack;
    Boh eh! what fun to get th' first smack;
    So neaw, my lads, 'fore we gwon back,
      Says aw, "We'n look at th' College."

    We see'd a clock-case first, good laws!
    Where Deoth stonds up wi' great lung claws;
    His legs, an wings, an lantern jaws,
      They really look't quite feorink.
    There's snakes an watchbills, just like pikes,
    At Hunt an aw th' reforming tikes,
    An thee, an me, an Sam o' Mikes,
      Once took a blanketeerink.

    Eh! lorjus days, booath far an woide,
    Theer's yards o' books at every stroide,
    Fro' top to bothum, eend, an soide,
      Sich plecks there's very few so:

    Aw axt him iv they wur'n to sell,
    For Nan, loikes readink vastly well;
    Boh th' measter wur eawt, so he could naw tell,
      Or aw'd a bowt her Robinson Crusoe.

    Theer's a trumpet speyks and maks a din,
    An a shute o' clooas made o' tin,
    For folk to go a feightink in,
      Just like thoose chaps o' Boney's;
    An theer's a table carved so queer,
    Wi' as mony planks as days i'th year,
    An crinkum-crankums here an theer,
      Like th' clooas-press at my gronny's.

    Theer's Oliver Crumill's bombs and balls,
    An Frenchmen's guns they'd tean i' squalls,
    An swords, as lunk as me, o' th' walls,
      An bows an arrows too, mon:
    Aw didno moind his fearfo words,
    Nor skeletons o' men an burds;
    Boh aw fair hate th' seet o' greyt lung swords,
      Sin th' feight at Peterloo, mon.

    We see'd a wooden cock likewise;
    Boh dang it, mon, these college boys,
    They tell'n a pack o' starin' loies,
      As sure as teaw'rt a sinner:
    "That cock, when it smells roast beef, 'll crow,"
    Says he; "Boh," aw said, "teaw lies, aw know,
    An aw con prove it plainly so,
      Aw've a peawnd i' my hat for th' dinner."

    Boh th' hairy mon had miss'd my thowt,
    An th' clog fair crackt by th' thunner-bowt,
    An th' woman noather lawmt nor nowt,
      Theaw ne'er seed loike sin t'ur born, mon.
    Theer's crocodiles, an things, indeed,
    Aw colours, mak, shap, size, an breed;
    An if aw moot tell toan hauve aw see'd,
      We moot sit an smook till morn, mon.

    Then deawn Lung Millgate we did steer,
    To owd Mike Wilson's goods-shop theer,
    To bey eawr Nan a rockink cheer,
      An pots, an spoons, an ladles:
    Nan bowt a glass for lookink in
    A tin Dutch o'on for cookink in;
    Aw bowt a cheer for smookink in,
      And Nan axed th' price o' th' cradles.

    Then th' fiddler struck up "Th' Honey Moon,"
    An off we set for Owdam soon:
    We made owd Grizzle trot to th' tune,
      Every yard o' th' way, mon.
    At neet, oytch lad an bonny lass,
    Laws! heaw they doanc'd an drunk their glass;
    So toyst wur Nan an me, by th' mass,
      At we lee till twelve th' next day, mon.

When the horn sounded to gather the harriers, or the "foomart dogs,"
the weaver lads used to let go their "pickin'-pegs," roll up their
aprons, and follow the chase afoot, with all the keen relish of their
forefathers, returning hungry, tired, and pleased at night, to relate
the adventures of the day. Sometimes they sallied from the village,
in jovial companies, attended by one or more of their companions, to
have a drinking-bout, and challenge "th' cocks o' th' clod" in some
neighbouring hamlet. Such expeditions often led to a series of single
combats, in which rude bodily strength and pluck were the principal
elements of success; sometimes a general _melée_, or "Welsh main,"
took place; often ending in painful journeys, with broken bones, over
the moors, to the "Whitworth Doctors." As far as rough sports and
rough manners went, "the dule" seemed to have "thrut his club" over
Smallbridge in those days. That man was lucky who could walk through
the village without being assailed by something more inconvenient
than mere looks of ignorant wonder, and a pelting of coarse jokes;
especially if he happened to wear the appearance of a "teawn's buck."
They had a kind of contempt for "teawn's folk," as an inferior race,
especially in body. If town's people had more intelligence than was
common in the country, these villagers often affected to consider it a
knavish cleverness; and if they seemed externally clean, they looked
upon it as an hypocritical concealment of the filth beneath. If they
were well dressed, the old doubt arose, as to its being "o' paid for;"
and if one appeared among them who had no settled home or connections,
and whose demeanour they did not like, he had "done summat wrang
somewheer, or elze he'd ne'er ha' bin o' that shap." In fact, it was
hardly possible for people bred in a town to be as clean, strong, or
honest, as those bred in the country. Town's folk had nothing wholesome
about them; they were "o' offal an' boylin-pieces." When they visited
Manchester, or any of the great towns about, they generally took a
supply of eatables with them for the journey; "coud frog-i'-th'-hole
puddin," or "fayberry cake," or "sodden moufin an' cheese," or such
like homely buttery-stuff; for if they had occasion to enter any
strange house in such places, to satisfy their hunger, every mouthful
went down among painful speculations as to what the quadruped was when
alive, and what particular reason it had for departing this life. Burns
alludes affectionately to "the halesome parritch, chief o' Scotia's
food;" and oatmeal porridge, and oat-cake, enter largely into the diet
of the country people in this part of Lancashire. They used to pride
themselves in the name of "the Havercake Lads." A regiment raised in
Lancashire during the last war bore this name. This oat-cake is baked
upon a peculiar kind of stone slab, called a "back-stone;" and the cry
of "Havercake back-stones" is a familiar sound in Rochdale, and the
villages around it, at this day. Oatmeal porridge forms an important
element of a genuine Lancashire breakfast in the country. I have often
noticed the air of satisfaction with which a Lancashire housewife has
filled up the great breakfast bowl with hot oatmeal porridge, and,
clapping the pan on the floor, said, "Theer, lads, pultiz yo'r stomachs
wi' thoose!" And the hungry, hearty youngsters have gathered hastily
round their old dish, welcoming it with the joyous ejaculation of
"That's th' mak'!" The thick unleavened oat-cake, called "Jannock,"
is scarcely ever seen in South-east Lancashire now; but it used to be
highly esteemed. The common expression, "That's noan jannock," applied
to anything which is not what it ought to be, commemorates the fame of
this wholesome old cake of theirs. But they have no inclination to an
exclusively vegetarian diet; in fact, they generally express a decided
relish for "summat at's deed ov a knife;" and, like their ancient
progenitors, the Saxons, they prefer heavy meals, and long draughts, to
any kind of light epicurean nicety.

There are many old prejudices still cherished by the country people
of south-east Lancashire,--as is their old belief in witches,
witch-doctors, and "Planet-rulers;"--but they are declining, through
increasing communion with the rest of the world. And then these things
show only the unfavourable side of their character; for they are
hospitable, open-handed, frank, and benevolent by nature. How oft have
I seen them defend the downcast and the stranger; or shut up ungenerous
suspicions, and open all the sluices of their native kindness by the
simple expression, "He's somebody's chylt!"

"Owd Roddle" is a broken-down village fuddler in Smallbridge;
perpetually racking his brains about "another gill." His appearance
is more that of an Indian Fakeer than an English country gentleman.
He is as "concayted as a whisket" in some things, but not in eating
or drinking; for he will "seawk lamp-hoyle through a bacco-pipe if
onybody'll give him a droight o' ale to wesh it deawn wi'; an' as for
heytin', he'll heyt mortal thing--deeod or alive--if he con get his
teeth into't." A native of Smallbridge was asked, lately, what "Roddle"
did for his living, and he replied, "Whaw, he wheels coals, and trails
abeawt wi' his clogs loce, an' may's a foo' of his-sel' for ale."
Yet, utterly lost as Roddle is himself in person and habits, he is
strongly imbued with the old prejudices against town's folk. To him,
the whitest linen worn by a townsman, is only what the country folk
call a "French white." A well-dressed person from Rochdale chanced one
day to awaken "Roddle's" ire, who, eyeing him from head to foot, with
a critical sneer, said, "Shap off whoam, as fast as tho con, an' get
tat buff shurt sceawr't a bit, wilto; an' thy skin an' o; for theawr't
wick wi' varmin; an' keep o' thy own clod, whol tho con turn eawt some
bit like." "But," continued my informant, "aw'm a bit partial to th'
offal crayter, for o' that; he's so mich gam in him, and aw like a foo
i' my heart! Eh! he used to be as limber as a treawt when he're young;
but neaw he's as wambly an' slamp as a barrow full o' warp-sizin'. Th'
tother mornin' aw walked up to him for a bit ov a crack, as uzal, but
th' owd lad had getten his toppin cut off close to his yed; an' he
wacker't an' stare't like a twichelt dog; an' he gran at mo like mad.
Aw're forc't dray back a bit, at th' first, he glooart so flaysome.
It're very frosty, an' his een looked white and wild; an' as geawl't as
a whelp. If the dule had met Roddle at th' turn of a lone that mornin'
he'd a skriked hissel' eawt ov his wits, an' gwon deawn again. Eawr
measther sauces me sometimes for talkin' to Roddle; but aw olez tell
him at aw'st have a wort wi' th' poor owd twod when aw meet him, as
what onybody says."

There is a race of hereditary sand-sellers, or "sond-knockers," in
Smallbridge; a rough, mountaineer breed, who live by crushing sandstone
rock, for sale in the town of Rochdale, and the villages about it. This
sand is used for strewing upon the flagged house floors, when the floor
is clean washed; and while it is yet damp, the sand is ground over it
by the motion of a heavy "scouring-stone," to which a long, strong,
wooden handle is firmly fixed, by being fastened to an iron claw, which
grasps the stone, and is embedded into it by molten lead. The motion
of the "scouring-stone" works the flags into smoothness, and leaves an
ornamental whiteness on the floor when it gets dry; it breeds dust,
however, and much needless labour. The people who knock this sand and
sell it, have been known over the country side for many years by the
name of "Th' Kitters;" and the common local proverb, "We're o' of a
litter, like Kitter pigs," is used in Smallbridge, as an expression
of friendship or of kinship. As regular as Saturday morning came, the
sand-carts used to come into Rochdale, heavily laden; and I remember
that they were often drawn by horses which, like the steed of the crazy
gentleman of Spain, were "many-cornered;" and, often, afflicted by
some of the more serious ills which horse-flesh is heir to. They have
better horses now, I believe, and they are better used. The train of
attendants which usually accompanied these sand-carts into the town
was of a curious description. Hardy, bull-necked, brown-faced drivers,
generally dressed in strong fustian, which, if heavily plated with
patches in particular quarters, was still mostly whole, but almost
always well mauled, and soiled with the blended stains of sand, and
spilt ale, and bacon fat, with clumsily-stiched rips visible here and
there: the whole being a kind of tapestried chronicle of the wearer's
way of living, his work, his fights, fuddles, and feasts. Then they
were often bare-headed, with their breeches ties flowing loose at
the knees, and the shirt neck wide open, displaying a broad, hairy,
weather-beaten chest; and the jovial-faced, Dutch-built women, too, in
blue lin aprons, blue woollen bedgowns, and clinkered shoon; and with
round, wooden, peck and half-peck measures tucked under their arms,
ready for "hawpoths" and "pennoths." As the cart went slowly along, the
women went from house to house, on each side of the road, and, laying
one hand upon the door cheek, looked in with the old familiar question,
"Dun yo want ony sond this mornin'?" "Ay; yo may lev a hawputh. Put
it i' this can." When they came to an old customer and acquaintance,
sometimes a short conversation would follow, in a strain such as this:
"Well, an heaw are yo, owd craythur?" "Whaw, aw'm noan as aw should be
by a deeol. Aw can heyt nought, mon, an' aw connut tay my wynt." "Aw
dunnot wonder at tat; yo'n so mich reech abeawt here. If yo'rn up at
th' Smo'bridge, yo'dd'n be fit to heyt yirth-bobs an' scaplins, welly.
Mon, th' wynt's clen up theer, an' there's plenty on't, an' wi can
help irsels to't when we like'n. Wi'n yo come up o' seein' us?" "Eh,
never name it! Aw's ne'er get eawt o' this hole till aw'm carried eawt
th' feet formost!" "Come, wi'n ha' noan o' that mak o' talk! Aw'd as
lief as a keaw-price at yo'dd'n come. Yo'n be welcome to th' best wi
han, an wi'n may yo comfortable beside; an' bring yo deawn again i'th
cart. But ir Jem's gwon forrud wi' th' sond. Let's see; did'n yo gi'
mo th' hawp'ny?... Oh, ay! It'll be reet! Neaw tay care o' yorsel',
and keep yo'r heart eawt o' yo'r clogs!" When the cart came to a rut
or a rise in the road, all hands were summoned to the push, except one
who tugged and thumped at the horse, and another who seized the spokes
of the wheel, and, with set teeth and strained limbs, lent his aid to
the "party of progress" in that way. Sometimes a sturdy skulker would
follow the cart, to help to push, and to serve out sand; but more for
a share of the fun, and the pile of boiled brisket and cheese an'
moufin, stowed away in the cart-box at starting, to be washed down with
"bally-droights" of cold fourpenny at some favourite "co'in-shop" on
the road.

The old custom of distinguishing persons by Christian names alone,
prevails generally in Smallbridge, as in all country parts of
Lancashire, more or less. It sometimes happens, in small country
villages like this, that there are people almost unknown, even among
their own neighbours, by their surnames. Roby gives an instance of this
kind in his "Traditions of Lancashire," where he mentions a woman,
then living in the village of Whitworth, for whom it would be useless
to inquire there by her proper name; but anybody in the village could
have instantly directed you to "Susy o' Yem's o' Fairoff's, at th' top
o' th' Rake," by which name she was intimately known. Individuals are
often met whose surnames have almost dropt into oblivion by disuse, and
who have been principally distinguished through life by the name of
their residence, or some epithet descriptive of a remarkable personal
peculiarity, or some notable incident in their lives. Such names
as the following, which will be recognised in their locality, are
constantly met, and the list of them might be extended to any desirable
degree:--"Tum o' Charles o' Billy's," or "Red Tum," "Bridfuut,"
"Corker," "Owd Fourpenny," "Tum o' Meawlo's," "Rantipow," and "Ab
o' Pinder's," who fought a battle in the middle of the river Roch,
at a great bull-bait in Rochdale, more than thirty years ago; "Bull
Robin," "Jone o' Muzden's," "Owd Moreover," and "Bonny Meawth." This
last reminds me of the report of a young villager, near Smallbridge,
respecting the size of the people's mouths in a neighbouring district.
"Thi'n th' bigg'st meawths i' yon country," said he, "at ever I seed
clapt under a lip! Aw hove one on 'em his yure up, to see if his meawth
went o' reawnd; but he knockt mo into th' slutch." Many of these quaint
names rise in my memory as I write: "Owd Dragon," "Paul o' Bill's,"
"Plunge," "Ben o' Robin's o' Bob's o' th' Bird-stuffers, o' Buersil
Yed," "Collop," "Tolloll," "Pratty Strider," "Lither Dick," and "Reawnt
Legs,"--

    Reawnt Legs he wur a cunnin' owd twod,
    He made a mule draw a four-horse lwod.

And then there was "Johnny Baa Lamb," a noted character in Rochdale
twelve years ago. He was low in stature, rather stout, and very
knock-knee'd; and his face was one paradise of never-fading
ale-blossoms. Johnny's life was spent in helping about the
slaughter-houses, and roaming from alehouse to alehouse, where, between
his comical appearance, his drunken humour, his imitations of the tones
of sheep, lambs, and other animals, and his old song,--

          The mon and the mare,
          Flew up in the air,
    An' I think I see 'em yet, yet, yet;--

the chorus of which he assisted by clattering a poker on the hearth,
he was a general favourite, and kept himself afloat in ale--the staple
of his ambition--by being the butt of every tap-room, where his memory
remains embarmed. There was "Barfuut Sam," a carter, who never would
wear any foot-gear; "Ab o' Slender's," "Broth," "Steeom," "Scutcher,"
"Peawch," and "Dick-in-a-Minnit." Most of these were as well known as
the church clock. And then there was "Daunt o' Peggy's," "Brunner,"
"Shin 'em," "Ayli o' Joe's o' Bet's o' Owd Bullfuut's," and "Fidler
Bill," who is mentioned in the Lancashire song, "Hopper hop't eawt, an'
Limper limp't in,"--

    Then aw went to th' Peel's Arms to taste of their ale;
    They sup'n it so fast it never gwos stale!
    An' when aw'd set deawn, an' getten a gill,
    Who should come in boh Fidler Bill.

    He rambles abeawt through boroughs an' teawns,
    A' sellin' folk up as boh ow'n a few peawnds;

and then there was "Jone o' Isaac's," the mower; "Peyswad," and
"Bedflock," who sowed blend-spice in his garden for parsley seed; and
"Owd Tet, i' Crook," an amiable and aged country woman, who lived in
a remote corner of the moors, above Smallbridge, and whose intended
husband dying when she was very young, she took it deeply to heart. On
being pressed to accept the hand of a neighbour, who knew her excellent
qualities, she at last consented, assuring him, however, that her
heart was gone, and all that she could promise him was that she could
"spin an' be gradely;" which saying has become a local proverb. In
the forest of Rosendale, I have met with a few names of more curious
structure than even any of the previous ones, such as "Eb o' Peg's
o' Puddin' Jane's," "Bet o' Owd Harry's o' Nathan's at th' Change,"
"Enoch o' Jem's o' Rutchot's up at th' Nook," "Harry o' Mon John's,"
"Ormerod o' Jem's o' Bob's," and "Henry o' Ann's o' Harry's o' Milley's
o' Ruchots o' John's o' Dick's, through th' ginnel, an' up th' steps,
an' o'er Joseph's o' John's o' Steen's," which rather extraordinary
cognomen was given to me by a gentleman, living near Newchurch, as
authentic, and well known in a neighbouring dale. In a village near
Bolton, there was, a few years since, a letter-carrier who had so long
been known by a nickname, that he had almost forgotten his proper name.
By an uncommon chance, however, he once received a letter directed to
himself, but not remembering the owner, or anybody of that name, he
carried the letter in his pocket for several days, till he happened to
meet with a shrewd old villager, whom his neighbours looked upon as
"larn't up," and able to explain everything--from ale, bull-dogs, and
politics, to the geography of the moon and the mysteries of theology.
The postman showed his letter to this Delphic villager, inquiring
whether he knew anybody of that name. The old man looked an instant,
then, giving the other a thump, he said, "Thea foo', it's thisel'!" I
have heard of many an instance, in different parts of Lancashire, where
some generic "John Smith," after being sought for in vain for a while,
has been at last discovered concealed under some such guise as "Iron
Jack," "Plunge," "Nukkin," or "Bumper." I remember an old religious
student, in Rochdale, who used to take considerable pains in drilling
poor lads into a knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. The early part of
the Bible was his favourite theme; and he interlarded his conversation
with it to such a degree, that he won for himself the distinguished
title of "Th' Five Books o' Moses."

In Collier's tale of "Tummus and Meary," he illustrates the personal
nomenclature of these parts, in his own time, by the following passage,
which, though it may appear strange in the eyes of people dwelling in
the great cities of the south of England, yet does not exaggerate the
custom at present prevailing in the remoter parts of the county of
Lancaster:--

      _Meary._ True, Tummus; no marvel at o' wur so flayed; it wur so
     fearfo dark.

     _Tummus._ Heawe'er, aw resolv't mayth best on't, an up speek
     aw.--"Woooas tat?" A lad's voyce answer't in a cryin' din, "Eh,
     law; dunnah tay meh." "Naw," said aw, "aw'll na tay tho, belady!
     Whooaslad art to?" "Whau," said he, "aw'm Jone o' Lall's o'
     Simmy's, o'Mariom's o' Dick's o' Nathan's, o' Lall's, o' Simmy's
     i'th Hooms: an' aw'm gooin' whoam." "Odd," thinks aw t' mysel',
     "theaw's a dree-er name ti'n me." An' here, Meary, aw couldn't
     boh think what lung names some on us han; for thine and mine are
     meeterly; boh this lad's wur so mich dree-er, 'at aw thowt it
     dockt mine tone hawve.

     _Meary._ Preo, na; tell meh ha these lung names leet'n.

     _Tummus._ Um--m; lemme see. Aw conno tell tho greadly; boh aw
     think it's to tell folk by.

     _Meary._ Well, an' hea did'n he go on with him?

     _Tummus._ Then (as aw thowt he talkt so awkertly) aw'd ash him,
     for th' wonst, what uncuths he yerd sturrin'. "Aw yer noan," said
     he, "but 'at Jack o' Ned's towd mo, 'at Sam o' Jack's o' Yed's
     Marler has wed Mall o' Nan's o' Sal's o' Peg's, 'at gos abeawt o'
     beggin' churn milk, with a pitcher, with a lid on." Then aw asht
     him wheer Jack o' Ned's wooant. Says he, "He's 'prentice weh Isaac
     o' Tim's o' Nick's o'th Hough-lone, an' he'd bin at Jammy's o'
     George's o' Peter's i'th Dingles, for hawve a peawnd o' traycle,
     to seaws'n a beest-puddin' weh; an' his feyther an' moother wooan
     at Rossenda; boh his gronny's alive, an' wooans weh his noant
     Margery, eh Grinfilt, at pleck wheer his noan moother coom fro'."
     "Good lad," says aw, "boh heaw far's tis _Littlebrough_ off, for
     aw aim't see it to-neet iv he con hit." Says t' lad, "It's abeawt
     a mile; an' yo mun keep straight forrud o' yor lift hont, an yoan
     happen do." So a-this'n we parted; boh aw mawkint, an' lost my
     gate again, snap.

A curious instance of the prevalence of nicknames in this district
occurred, a few years since, about a mile from Smallbridge. A country
lass had got married out of a certain fold in that part, and going
down to Rochdale soon after, a female acquaintance said to her, "Whau,
Sally, thea's getten wed, hasn't to?" "Yigh," said Sally, "aw have."
"Well, an' what's te felly code?" replied the other. "Whau," said
Sally, "some folk co's him 'Jone o' Nancy's lad, at th' Pleawm Heawse;'
but his gradely name's 'Clog Bant.'" We sometimes hear of a son who
bears the same christian name as his father, as "Jamie o' James's," and
"Sol ov Owd Sol's o' th' Hout Broo;" and I have often heard a witless
nursery rhyme, which runs,--

    Owd Tum an' yung Tum,
      An' Owd Tum's son;
    Yung Tum'll be a Tum
      When Owd Tum's done;

but the poor people of Lancashire sometimes have a superstitious fear
of giving the son the same christian name as the father.

The ancient rural festival of "Rushbearing," in the month of August,
used to make a great stir in Smallbridge; but the observance of it
seems to decline, or, at least, assumes a soberer form. A great number
of local proverbs, and quaint sayings, are continually being thrown
up by the population there, which, in spite of their rude garb, show,
like nuggets of mental gold, what undeveloped riches lie hidden in the
human mind, even in Smallbridge. The people are wonderfully apt at the
discernment and at the delineation of character. It is very common for
them to utter graphic sentences like the following:--"He's one o'
thoose at'll lend onybody a shillin', iv they'n give him fourteen-pence
to stick to." One of them said, on receiving a present of game from
his son in Yorkshire, "It isn't oft at th' kittlin' brings th' owd
cat a meawse, but it has done this time." There are two or three out
of a whole troop of anecdotes, told of the natives of this quarter,
which have the air of nature about them sufficiently to indicate what
some of the characteristics of these villagers were in past years. Two
young men were slowly taking their road, late one night, out at the
town end, after the fair, when one of them lingering behind the other,
his comrade shouted to him to "Come on!" "Stop an' rosin," said the
loiterer, "aw hannut foughten yet!" "Well," replied the other, with
cool indifference, "Get foughten, an' let's go whoam?" In the Rev. W.
Gaskell's lectures on the Lancashire dialect, he says, "The following
dialogue is reported to have taken place between two individuals
on meeting:--'Han yo bin to Bowton?' 'Yigh.' 'Han yo foughten?'
'Yigh.' 'Han yo lickt'n?' 'Yigh; an' aw browten a bit'n him whoam i'
my pocket!'" "Owd Bun" was a collier, and a comical country blade,
dwelling near Smallbridge. He was illiterate, and rough as a hedgehog.
Bun had often heard of cucumbers, but had never tasted one. Out of
curiosity he bought a large one, curved like a scimitar; and, reckless
of all culinary guidance, he cut it into slices lengthwise, and then
fried the cold green slabs, all together, in bacon fat. He ate his fill
of them, too; for nothing which mortal stomach would hold came amiss to
Bun. When he had finished, and wiped the grease from his mouth with the
back of his hand, he said, "By th' mon, fine folk'll heyt aught! Aw'd
sanur ha' had a potito!" They tell a tale, too, of the difficulties of
a poor factory lass who had been newly married; which is not without
its hints. Her husband told her to boil him some eggs, and to "boyle
'em soft." He went out awhile, and on his return, they were boiling,
but not ready. He waited long, and then shouted, "Are thoose eggs noan
ready yet?" "Naw," said she, "they are nut; for, sitho, aw've boyled
'em aboon an heawur, an' they're no softer yet." Now he did not care
much for this; but when he saw her take the child's nightcap off its
head to boil his dumpling in, he declared that "he couldn't ston it."

Leaving Smallbridge, we rattled out at the end of the village, past
the Red Lion, and up to the top of the slope, where, after a run of
about two hundred yards, we descended into the hollow where the sign of
the old "Green Gate" stands. In the season of the year, people passing
that way in a morning will often see the door-way crowded with hunting
dogs, and a rout of sturdy rabble, waiting to follow the chase, afoot,
through the neighbouring hills. Rising again immediately, we crossed
another knoll, and down again we came to the foot of the brow, where
four roads meet, close by the "Green Mon Inn," opposite to the deserted
hamlet of Wuerdale, which perches, with distressed look, upon a little
ridge near the roadside, like an old beggar craving charity. On we
went, enjoying the romantic variety of the scene, as the green ups and
downs of the valley opened out to view, with its scattered farms and
mills, all clipt in by the hills, which began to cluster near.

About half a mile further on, where the road begins to slant suddenly
towards Featherstall, Stubley Hall stands, not more than twenty yards
from the roadside. A much older hall than the present one must have
stood here prior to the 13th century, for in 1322, and 1323, mention is
made of Nicholas and John de Stubley (His. Whalley). It subsequently
came into the possession of the Holt family, of Grislehurst and
Castleton; a branch of the Holts, of Sale, Ashton, Cheshire. Some of
this family fought in the Scottish wars, and also, in favour of the
royal cause, at Edgehill, Newbury, Marston Moor, &c., and were named
in Charles's projected order of the Royal Oak. There was a Judge Holt,
of the Holts of Sale; and a James Holt, whose mother was co-heiress to
Sir James de Sutton; he was killed on Flodden Field. Mary, the daughter
of James Holt, the last of the family who resided at Castleton, in
this parish, married Samuel, brother of the famous Humphrey Cheetham.
The Castleton estate came into Humphrey's hands in 1744. The manor of
Spotland was granted by Henry VIII. to Thomas Holt, who was knighted
in Scotland by Edward, Earl of Hertford, in the thirty-sixth year of
the reign of that king. The Holts were the principal landowners in the
parish of Rochdale at the close of the sixteenth century. John Holt
held the manor of Spotland, with its appurtenances; also fourscore
messuages, three mills, one thousand acres of inclosed land, three
hundred acres of meadow, one thousand acres of pasture, and forty acres
of woods, in Hundersfield, Spotland, and Butterworth; besides a claim
to hold of his majesty, as of his duchy of Lancaster, one third of the
manor of Rochdale. The arms of the Holts are described as "Argent on a
band engrailed sable, three fleur-de-lys of the first. Crest, a spear
head proper. Motto, 'Ut sanem vulnera.'" The present hall at Stubley
was built by Robert Holt, about the year 1528. Dr. Whittaker notices
this house, which is of considerable size, forming three sides of a
square. It is now inhabited by several families; and much of the rich
old carved oak, and other relics of its former importance, have been
removed from the interior.

From the top of the slope near Stubley, we now saw the spire of
Litteborough church, and the village itself, prettily situated at the
head of the vale, and close to the foot of the hills which divide
Lancashire and Yorkshire. On the top of Blackstone, and about half a
mile to the south of "Joe Faulkner's,"--the well-known old sheltering
spot for travellers over that bleak region,--we could now more
distinctly see the streak of green which marks the line of the Roman
road till it disappears from the summit of the Edge.

Featherstall is a little hamlet of comfortable cottages at the bottom
of the brow in the high road near Stubley Hall, warmed by the "Rising
Sun," and another, an old-fashioned public-house, apparently as old
as the present Stubley Hall. The inhabitants are principally employed
at the mills and collieries in the neighbourhood. The open space in
the centre of the village is generally strewn with scattered hay,
and the lights from the public-houses gleam forth into the watering
troughs in front, as the traveller goes through at night. A rough old
road leads out of the centre of the place, northward, over Calder Moor
and the hills, towards Todmorden. From Featherstall, the approach to
Litteborough is lined with mills, meadows, and tenter-fields, on the
north side; and on the south, two or three green fields divide the
highway from the railway, and a few yards on the other side of the
railway the line of the Rochdale canal runs parallel with both. And
thus these three roads run nearly close together past Litteborough, and
all through the vale of Todmorden, up to Sowerby Bridge, a distance
of twelve miles; and, for a considerable part of the way, the river
forms a fourth companion to the three roads, the four together filling
the entire bottom of the valley in some places; and, in addition to
that, may be seen, in other parts, the old pack-horse roads leading
down from the moorland steeps into the hollow. Carts, boats, railway
trains, and sometimes pack-horses, seem to comment upon one another as
they pass and re-pass, and form a continual and palpable lecture on
modes of transit, such as is not often met with in such distinct shape.
Littleborough consists, principally, of one irregular street, winding
over a slight elevation, and down to its centre near the railway
station, at the water-side, and thence across the bridge, up towards
Blackstone Edge. It is a substantial, healthy-looking village, prettily
situated in a romantic spot. There are many poor working people in
the village, but there is hardly anything like dirt or squalor to be
seen there, except, perhaps, a little of that migratory kind which is
unavoidable in all great thoroughfares, and which remains here for a
night, on its way, at a roadside receptacle which I noticed at the
western end of the village, where I saw on a little board certain
ominous hieroglyphics about "Loggins for travlurs." The lands in the
valley round Littleborough have the appearance of fine meadow and
pasture; and, taken with the still better cultivated grounds, and
woods and gardens, about the mansions of the opulent people of the
neighbourhood, the whole looks beautifully verdant, compared with the
bleak hills which overlook the vale. The old Royal Oak Inn, in the
middle of the village, is pointed out as a house which John Collier
used to frequent, when he visited the neighbourhood, and where he fixed
the scene of Tummus's misadventure in the inn, where he so unadvisedly
"Eet like a Yorsharmon, and clear't th' stoo," after he had been to the
justice with his dog, "Nip," and where the encounter took place between
"Mezzilt Face" and "Wythen Kibbo:"--

     Aw went in, an fund at two fat throddy folk wooant theer; an
     theyd'n some o'th warst fratchingst company at e'er eh saigh; for
     they'rn warrying, banning, and co'in one another "leawsy eawls,"
     as thick as leet, Heawe'er, aw poo'd a cricket, an keawr't meh
     deawn i'th nook, o' side o'th hob. Aw'd no soyner done so, boh
     a feaw, seawer-lookt felley, with a wythen kibbo he had in his
     hont, slapt a sort ov a wither, mezzilt-face't mon, sich a thwang
     o'th skawp, at he varry reecht again with it, an deawn he coom
     o'th harstone, an his heeod i'th esshole. His scrunt wig feel
     off, an ahontle o' whot corks feel into't, an brunt an frizzlt it
     so, at when he awst don it, an unlucky carron gen it a poo, an it
     slipt o'er his sow, an it lee like a howmbark on his shilders. Aw
     glendurt like a stickt tup, for fear ov a dust mysel', an crope
     fur into th' chimbley. Oytch body thowt at mezzil-face would mey
     a flittin on't, an dee in a crack; so some on um cried eawt, "a
     doctor, a doctor," whol others made'n th' londlort go saddle th'
     tit to fotch one. While this wur eh doin', some on um had leet ov
     a kin ov a doctor at wooant a bit off, an shew'd him th' mon o'th
     harstone. He laid howd on his arm--to feel his pulse, a geawse--an
     poo'd as if he'd sin deeoth poo'in' at th' tother arm, an wur
     resolv't o'er-poo him. After lookin' dawkinly-wise a bit, he geet
     fro his whirly booans, an said to um aw, "Whol his heart bhyet
     and his blood sarkilates there's hopes, boh whon that stops, it's
     whoo-up with him i'faith." Mezzil-face hearin summot o' "whoo-up,"
     started to his feet, flote noan, boh gran like a foomart-dog,
     an seet at t' black, swarffy tyke weh bwoth neaves, an wawtud
     him o'er into th' galker, full o' new drink, wortchin'. He begun
     o' pawsin' an peylin him into't so, at aw wur blendud together,
     snap. 'Sflesh, Meary; theaw'd ha' weet teh, to sin heaw th' gobbin
     wur awtert, when at tey pood'n him eawt; an what a hobthurst he
     look't weh aw that berm abeawt him. He kept dryin' his een, boh
     he moot as weel ha' sowt um in his hinder-end, till th' londlady
     had made an heawer's labber on um at th' pump. When he coom in
     again, he glooart awvishly at mezzil-face, an mezzil-face glendurt
     as wrythenly at him again; boh noather warrit, nor thrap. So they
     seet um deawn, an then th' londlady coom in, an would mey um't pay
     for th' lumber at tey'd done hur. "Mey drink's war be a creawn,"
     said hoo, "beside, there's two tumblers, three quiftin pots, an
     four pipes masht, an a whol papper o' bacco shed." This made um t'
     glendur at tone tother again; boh black tyke's passion wur coolt
     at th' pump, an th' wythen kibbo had quite'nt tother, so at teh
     camm'd little or noan--boh agreed t' pay, aw meeon; then seet'n um
     deawn, an wur friends again in a snift.

This house used to be a great resort on Saturday nights, and fair days,
and holidays, and it was often crammed with the villagers and their
neighbours from the surrounding hill-sides; and no small addition from
Rochdale and Todmorden. The windows were generally thrown open at such
times; and, standing at some distance from the place, one might perhaps
be able, in some degree, to sort the roar of wassailry going on inside.
But if he wished to know what were the component parts of the wild
medley of melodies, all gushing out from the house in one tremendous
discord, he would have to draw under the windows, where he might hear:--

    Our hounds they were staunch, and our horses were good
    As ever broke cover, or dashed in a wood;
          Tally-ho! hark forward, huzza; tally-ho!

Whilst, in another corner of the same room, a knot of strong-lunged
roysterers joined, at the top of their voices, in the following chorus,
beating time to it with fists and feet, and anything else which was
heavy and handy:--

          "Then heigho, heigho!
          Sing heigho," cried he;
    "Does my wife's first husband remember me?"
            Fal de ral, de ral, de ral, de rido!

In another room he would probably hear "Boyne Water" trolled out in a
loud voice:--

    The horse were the first that ventured o'er;
      The foot soon followed after:
    But brave Duke Schomberg was no more,
      At the crossing o' Boyne water.

Whilst another musical tippler, in an opposite corner, sang, for his
own special amusement, the following quaint fragment:--

    Owd shoon an' stockin's!
    An' slippers at's made o' red leather!

In another quarter you might hear the fiddle playing the animated
strains of the "Liverpool Hornpipe," or "The Devil rove his Shurt,"
while a lot of hearty youngsters, in wooden clogs, battered the
hearthstone to the tune. In a large room above, the lights flared in
the wind, as the lads and lasses flitted to and fro in the "Haymaker,"
"Sir Roger de Coverley," or "The Triumph;" or threaded through a reel,
and set till the whole house shook; whilst from other parts of the
place you would be sure to hear, louder than all else, the clatter
of pots, and hunting-cries; the thundering hurly-burly of drunken
anger, or the crash of furniture, mingling with the boisterous tones
of drunken fun. Whoever entered this house at such a time, in the hope
of finding a quiet corner, where he could be still, and look round
upon the curious mixture of quaint, rough character, would very likely
find that he had planted himself in the retreat chosen by a drunken,
maudlin fellow, who, with one eye closed, sat uttering, by fits, noisy
salutations of affection to the pitcher of ale before him; or, with
one leg over the other, his arms folded, and his head veering lazily
with drunken langour, first to one side, and then to the other, poured
forth a stream of unconnected jargon, in this style:--"Nea then; yollo
chops! What's to do wi' thee? Arto findin' things eawt? Whether wilto
have a pipe o' bacco or a bat o' th' ribs? Aw've summat i'th inside o'
my box; but it looks like a brunt ratton, bi Guy! Help thysel', an' poo
up, whol aw hearken tho thi catechism.... Con te tell me what natur
belungs to?--that's the poynt! Come, oppen eawt! Aw'm ready for tho....
An' if thea's nought to say, turn thi yed; aw dunnut like to be stare't
at wi' a bigger foo nor mysel'.... Sup; an' gi' me houd!... There's a
lot o' nice, level lads i' this cote, isn't there?... Aw'll tell tho
what, owd dog; th' world swarms wi' foos, donn'd i' o' maks o' clooas;
an' aw deawt it olez will do; for, as fast as th' owd uns dee'n off,
there's fresh uns comes. An, by th' mass, th' latter lot dunnut mend
thoose at's gwon; for o' at te're brawsen wi' wit. It'd mend it a bit
iv oytch body'd wortch for their livin', an' do as they should'n do.
Ay; thea may look as fause as to likes; but thae'rt one o'th rook; an'
thae'll dee in a bit, as sure as thae'rt livin', owd craytur. Thae'rt
to white abeawt th' ear-roots to carry a gray toppin whoam, aw deawt.
Gray yure's heavy, mon; it brings 'em o' to th' floor. But thir't to
leet for heavy wark, my lad.... Behave thysel'; an' fill thi bally when
tho's a choance, for thea looks clemmed. Arto leet gi'n? 'Cose, i' tho
art, thae'd betthur awter, or elze thea'll be lyin' o' thi back between
two bworts, wi' thi meawth full o' sond; afore th' hawve o' thi time's
up.... Sitho at yon bletherin', keaw-lipped slotch, wi' th' quart in
his hond! He's a breet-lookin' brid, isn't he? Aw dar say thae thinks
thysel' bwoth hon'somer an' fauser nor him. Thae may think so, but--aw
know. Thae'rt no betthur nor porritch--i'tho're look't up; for o' at
to's sich a pratty waiscut on. What breed arto? There's summat i' that.
But, it meeons nought; yo're o' alike at th' bothom! There's ir Jammy;
he's as big a wastril as ever stare't up a lone. He ax't me to lend him
ov er lads, yesterday. 'Lend te a lad o' mine,' aw said, 'naw, bi' th'
heart! Aw wouldn't lend te a dog to catch a ratton wi'!... Hello! my
ale's done!

    'Then he doffed his shoon,
    An he look't i'th o'n.'

Aw'll go toaurd ir Mally, aw think. Hey, Blossom! Beauty! Beawncer!
Bluebell! For shame o' thysel', Bluebell! By, dogs; by! Yo-ho! Come
back, yo thieves! Come back; aw tell yo!" And so on, for hours together.

Littleborough is the last village the traveller leaves on the
Lancashire side of the "Edge;" and the old high road from Manchester
to Leeds passes over the top of these moorland hills, gently
ascending all the way from Littleborough, by a circuitous route, to
the summit--nearly three miles. A substantial hostelrie stands upon
the brow of the hill, called "The White House," and sometimes "Joe
Faulkner's," from the name of an eccentric landlord who kept the house
in the old coaching time. This house can be seen from the valleys on
the Lancashire side for many miles. It was a celebrated baiting-place
for the great stream of travellers which went over these hills, before
the railway drew it through the vale of Todmorden. The division stone
of the counties of York and Lancaster stands about half a mile beyond
this old inn. Littleborough itself is prettily situated in the hollow
of the valley, at the foot of this wild range of mountains, and at the
entrance of the Todmorden valley. It is surrounded by scenery which is
often highly picturesque. Dark moorlands, lofty and lonesome; woody
cloughs; and green valleys, full of busy life; with picturesque lakes,
and little streams which tumble from the hills. The village has many
advantages of situation, both for pleasure and manufacture. Stone
and coal, and good water, are abundant all around it; and it is fast
thriving by the increase of woollen and cotton manufacture. It is still
a great thoroughfare for Lancashire and Yorkshire; and a favourite
resort for botanists, geologists, sportsmen, and, not unfrequently,
invalids. Northward from the village, there are many romantic cloughs,
but, perhaps, the finest of these is the one called "Long Clough,"
at the head of which is a remarkably fine spring, called "Blue Pots
Spring." The artificial lake of "Hollingworth" is about half a mile
from the village, on the south side; and there is a beautiful walk
leading up to its bank, through the shady clough called "Cleggswood."
This lake, when full, is three miles round. It supplies the Rochdale
canal, and is well stocked with fish. Its elevation places it far above
the bustle of the valley below, where the highways and byeways, the
iron-ways and water-ways, interweaving thickly about the scene, are
alive with the traffic of the district. The valley is throng with the
river, the railway, the canal, and excellent high roads; and a hardy
and industrious population, which finds abundant employment at the
woollen and cotton mills, in the coal mines and stone delphs, or on the
dairy and sheep farms of this border region of South Lancashire. The
shelvy banks of "Hollingworth" consist of irregular tiers and slopes of
pasture, meadow, and moor lands. The latter are, in some directions,
abrupt, lofty, and vast, especially on the eastern side, where the
sterile mass of Blackstone Edge shuts out the view; whilst a wild
brotherhood of heathery hills, belonging to the same range, wind about
the scene in a semicircle, which stretches far away, out of sight, in
the north-west. But the landscape upon the immediate borders of the
lake is of a rural and serene character, though touched here and there
with moorland sterility; and there is hardly a thing in sight to remind
a spectator that he is surrounded by the most populous manufacturing
district in the world. But the distant rumble of train after train,
thundering through the neighbouring valley, and the railway whistle,
rising up clear over the green hill north of the water, are sufficient
to dispel any reverie which the sight of the lake and its surrounding
scenery may lead to. On holidays, in summer time, the green country
around the margin of this water is animated by companies of visitors
from the hill sides, and the villages and towns of the neighbouring
valleys. A little steamer plies upon it; and boats may be hired at
the Fisherman's Inn, and other places around the banks. The scattered
farm-houses of the vicinity, and the two or three country inns on the
borders of the lake, are merry with pleasure parties. In winter, the
landscape about "Hollingworth" is wild and lonesome; and the water is
sometimes so completely frozen over that a horse and light vehicle may
be driven across it, from bank to bank, a mile's distance. It is a
favourite resort of skaters, from the surrounding districts; though
the ice is often dangerously uneven in some places, by reason of
strong springs, and other causes. Many accidents have happened through
skating upon insecure parts in the ice of this water. Going home late
one night in the depth of winter, to my residence by the side of this
lake, I found the midnight scene dimly illumined in the distance by
a gleam of lights upon the lake; and the sound of pick-axes breaking
up the ice, fell with a startling significance upon the ear. Our dog,
"Captain," did not come out to meet me, when I whistled, as usual; and
I hurried, by a short cut over the fields and through the wood, towards
the spot where the lights were visible. There I found a company of
farmers and weavers, standing upon the bank, with one or two of the
wealthy employers from the village of Littleborough, who had drags in
their hands, and were giving directions to a number of workmen who
were breaking a channel for the passage of a boat to a spot where the
ice had broken in with the weight of three young men belonging to
the neighbourhood. This melancholy midnight gathering were working
by lantern-light, to recover the bodies from the water. I remained
upon the spot until two of the corpses were brought to the bank, and
removed in a cart to the farm-house where I resided, previous to being
conveyed to their homes in the distant town, later on in the morning,
and while it was yet dark. I shall never forget the appearance of those
fresh-looking youths, as they lay stretched side by side, in their
skating gear, upon a table, in the long passage which led up to my
bed-chamber.

The margin of the lake is adorned with patches of wood in some places;
and the hills stand around the scene in picturesque disorder. At
certain seasons of the year, flocks of wild fowl may be seen resting
upon its waters. There are other lakes farther up in the hills; but the
position and beauty of Hollingworth make it a favourite with visitors
to the district.

    When westling winds and slaughtering guns
     Bring autumn's pleasant weather,

the Littleborough inns are throng with sportsmen, equipped for the
grouse shooting; for which sport the moors of the neighbourhood are
famous. Littleborough has a modern look from the railway station, near
to which the new church stands, on a slight elevation, about the
centre of the place, and upon the site of the old one. Yet, though the
village has a modern appearance, everything known of its history shows
that it is a settlement of considerable antiquity; perhaps, as early as
the time of Agricola, the Roman.

The old chapel at Littleborough, which was a primitive building in
appearance, was licensed for mass, by the Abbot of Whalley, A.D.
1476. It remained in its original architectural state until it became
dangerously ruinous in some parts, and was taken down about thirty
years ago, to make way for the present church. The _Gentleman's
Magazine_, for 1844, p. 182, contains an interesting description of the
new church.

In the immediate vicinity of Littleborough, there are several
interesting old houses, now standing upon sites where families of
importance in past times settled very early. Some of these families
have become extinct in the male line; the property of others has
changed hands, like Scholefield Hall, Stubley Hall, Lightowlers,
and Windy Bank. Few of these old families have held together and
flourished, through the mutations of time, like the family of Newall,
of Town House, near Littleborough, respecting which I find the
following passage in the _Gentleman's Magazine_, June, 1844, p. 593,
which serves to elucidate the character and position of a large portion
of the ancient landlords of the parish of Rochdale:--

     The family of Newall is one of those ancient families who have
     for centuries resided on their parental estate, but in the
     retirement of respectable life holding the rank of yeomanry,
     which, in former times, and particularly in the age when the
     Newalls first settled in Lancashire, formed no unimportant portion
     of society--sufficiently elevated beyond the humbler classes to
     preserve a tolerable degree of influence and authority amongst
     them; while they were sheltered in their retirement from those
     political storms which distracted the higher circles of the
     community, and which led to the ruin of many of the best families
     of the kingdom, and to the confiscation of their estates.

Burke's _Visitation of Seats and Arms_ contains a long account of the
Newalls, of Town House, Hare Hill, and Wellington Lodge, Littleborough,
an influential family in this neighbourhood during several centuries
past; and still owners and occupiers of their old estates, as well as
extensive woollen manufacturers.

The following arms, illustrative of the connections of the Newall
family, are placed, with others, in the window of Littleborough
chapel:--

     KYRKESHAGH, of Town House: Or, on a chief per pale gules and sable
     three bezants.

     LITHOLRES, of Litholres: Vert, a lion rampant, or semé of
     calthraps sable.

     NEWALL, of Town House: Quarterly, first and fourth, Per pale gules
     and azure, three covered cups within an orle or: second, Kyrshagh:
     third, Healey, Gules, four lozenges engrailed in bend ermine:
     fourth, Butterworth, Argent, a lion couchant azure, between four
     ducal coronets gules.

     BUCKLEY, of Howarth Parva: a chevron between three bulls' heads
     caboshed argent; quartering Butterworth. (The Chadwicks of Healey
     quarter Buckley of Buckley. Goll. Arm.)

     HOLT, of Stubley: Argent on a bend engrailed sable three
     fleurs-de-lis of the field. (Also quartered by the Chadwicks.
     Coll. Arm.)

     BELFIELD, of Cleggswood: Ermine, on a chief qu. a label of five
     points ar.

Ten other shields contain the arms of the ancient families of the
district, as Bamford of Shore, Ingham of Cleggswood, Halliwell of Pike
House, &c., and those used by the bishop of the diocese, the clergy
connected with the parish, and some of the gentry of the neighbourhood.

As we left Littleborough, I began, once more, to speculate upon
the claims set up for it as having been a Roman station; but my
thoughts had no firmer footing than the probabilities put forth by
Dr. Whittaker, and some other writers, who have, perhaps, followed
him. Yet, the fact that the silver arm of a small Roman statue of
Victory, with an inscription thereon, was dug up in the neighbourhood
some time ago, together with the direction of the Roman road as
marked in the late ordnance map, and the visible remains of a small,
triangular-shaped entrenchment, on each side of the road, on the summit
of Blackstone Edge, seem to support the probabilities which gave rise
to the opinion, and may yet enable the antiquarians of Lancashire to
give us something more certain about the matter than I can pretend to.

Passing under the railway arch near the church, and leaving the woody
glen of Cleggswood on the right hand, we began to ascend the hills by
the winding road which crosses the canal, and leads through a little
hamlet called "Th' Durn," consisting of an old substantial house or
two by the roadside, and a compact body of plain cottages, with a
foundry in the middle. "Th' Durn" is situated on one of the shelves
of land which the high road crosses in the ascent of Blackstone Edge;
and overlooks the vale in the direction of Todmorden. It is shaded
on the south by a steep hill, clothed with fir, and stunted oaks.
Over that hill-top, on the summit of a wild eminence, above the din
and travel of mankind, stand three remarkable old folds, called "Th'
Whittaker," "Th' Turner," and "Th' Sheep Bonk," like eagles' nests,
overlooking, on the east, the heathery solitudes lying between there
and Blackstone Edge, the silent domain of moor fowl and black-faced
sheep; seldom trodden by human feet, except those of a wandering
gamekeeper, or a few sportsmen, in August. Looking forth from this
natural observatory, about where "Th' Whittaker" stands, the view to
westward takes in an extensive landscape. The vale of the Roch is under
the eye in that direction, with its pretty sinuosities, its receding
dells, and indescribable varieties of undulation; nearly surrounded by
hills, of different height and aspect. Distance lends some "enchantment
to the view," as the eye wanders over the array of nature spread out
below--green dells, waving patches of wood, broad, pleasant pastures;
the clear lake of "Hollingworth" rippling below; old farm-houses,
scattered about the knolls and cloughs, by the side of brooklets that
shine silverly in the distance; the blue smoke curling up distinctly
from each little hamlet and village; mills, collieries, tenter-fields,
and manifold evidences of the native industry and manufacturing vigour
of the district. In these valleys, all nature seems to yield tribute
to the energy of the inhabitants, and rural life and manufacture work
into each other's hands with advantage. Standing on this spot, with
these things spread out before me, I have been struck with the belief,
that this unfavourable region for agriculture would not have been so
well cultivated even as it is now, but for the manufacturing system.
Far west, the eye rests upon the town of Rochdale, with its clusters
of chimneys, and hovering canopy of smoke; the small square tower of
its old church, and the steeples of St. Stephen's and St. James's, with
the town-clad ridges of Wardleworth and Castleton, clearly seen, if
the day be fine. On a still Sunday afternoon, in summer time, I have
sat upon the hill-top at "Whittaker," listening to the distant sound
of Rochdale bells, that notable peal of eight, the music of which I
shall never forget; and which I would back for a trifle against any
bells in England for sweetness. And, at such a time, as evening came
on, when "lowing herds wind slowly o'er the lea," I have almost fancied
that I could hear the Sunday chime of Rochdale Old Church, "My soul,
praise the Lord," come floating up the vale, in the twilight, with
a wonderful charm of peace and solemnity in the sound. Immediately
above "Th' Durn," the high road leading up to Blackstone Edge rises
again as we pass by the old public-house called "Th' Wet Rake," or
"Weet Rake." This house stands at the foot of a steep path leading to
"Windy Bank," an old stone hall, once inhabited by an ancient family
of the neighbourhood. Windy Bank stands upon the edge of a rocky
eminence, rising almost perpendicularly from the road-side by which we
had to go. There used to be a carter in Rochdale, known by the name
of "Old Woggy," who upset his cart in the craggy road called "Windy
Bonk Steele." He returned to his master in the town with the tidings.
"Woggy" always stammered in his speech, but in this case he was worse
than usual; and his looks told more than his tongue. His master watched
in vain for "Woggy's" painful delivery, in the usual way; but tired at
last, he said, "Sing it, mon!" when "Wog" immediately sang out, with a
fluent voice,--

    Aw've wauted wi' th' cart at th' Wyndy Bonk Steele,
        An' aw've broken th' tone wheel.

As we wound round the foot of the rock on the top of which "Windy Bank"
stands, we found the road rutty and uneven, being covered with the
perishable sandstone from the hill, broken up and ploughed into slushy
gutters, by stone-waggons from the quarries, thereabouts. Pike House,
the seat of the old local family of Halliwell--one of whom endowed
the Free School at Littleborough--stands near the north side of the
road here; and, at a short distance behind, there is an interesting
house, formerly of some importance, with a quaint fold attached, called
"Lightowlers." Driving on close by the edge of the deep clough called
"Sladen Hollow," a hundred yards more brought us to the "Moor Cock
Inn," formerly a much more lively place than now, when this mountain
road was the great thoroughfare between Lancashire and Yorkshire.
The "Moor Cock" was the last house but one on the Lancashire side of
Blackstone Edge. The house has a rude, wholesome look still, but is
little frequented. Few folk go up that road now, except stone-getters,
sand-knockers, shepherds, sportsmen, and a few curious wanderers. We
agreed to leave the drag at the "Moor Cock," and walk up Blackstone
Edge on foot. "Gray Bobby" was pleased with the prospect of a feed and
a rest; for it is tough work upon these hill-sides. He seemed to look
round with a thoughtful eye, and pricked his ears to the tread of the
brisk young mountaineer--albeit he had a lame leg and a crutch--who
came forth to lose his traces and lead him to the stable. As "Bobby"
looked at the stable, I could almost imagine him saying to himself,
"There's no place like home;" it looked so rough. In the house we found
a few hardy-looking men; brown-faced, broad-shouldered moor farmers
or shepherds, apparently, who did a little weaving. Their sagacious
dogs lounged about the floor. Such men, in such places, generally
receive strangers as if they were "fain to see aught at's wick." They
happened to have a liberal newspaper among them, and free trade was the
topic of their talk; as it was almost everywhere at that time. Their
conversation showed, by its sensible earnestness, that there were men,
even up there, who knew who paid for the great protection delusion.
I have often been amused by the blunt, shrewd discourse of country
people in the manufacturing districts, respecting the difference in the
condition and feelings of the people in the reigns of "George o' owd
George's," and his brother, "Bill o' George's," and the condition of
the people now, in the reign of the "little woman at coom a-seein' us
latly." In previous reigns, the tone of their loyalty might have been
summed up in what "Jone o' Greenfelt" says of his wife, "Margit:"--

        Hoo's naut ogen th' king,
        But hoo likes a fair thing,
    An' hoo says hoo con tell when hoo's hurt.

I have heard them talk of kings, and statesmen, "wi' kindling fury i'
their breasts;" and, in their "brews" and clubs, which meet for the
spread of information, they discuss the merits of political men and
measures, and "ferlie at the folk in Lunnon," in a shrewd, trenchant
style, which would astonish some members of the collective wisdom
of the nation, could they but conveniently overhear it. The people
of Lancashire, generally, are industrious collectors of political
information, from such sources as they can command. They possess great
integrity of judgment, and independence of character, and cannot be
long blinded to the difference between wise statesmen and political
knaves. They are an honest and a decent people, and would be governed
by such. They evince some sparks of perception of what is naturally due
to themselves, as well as to their masters; and they only know how to
be loyal to others who are loyal to themselves.

When the lame ostler had attended to his charge, he came into the house
and sat down with the rest. Somehow, the conversation glided in the
direction of Robert Burns, and we were exchanging quotations from his
poems and songs, when one of us came to a halt in reciting a passage.
To our surprise, the young limper who had rubbed down "Grey Bobby,"
took up the broken thread, and finished the lines correctly, with
good discretion, and evident relish. I fancied that we were having it
all to ourselves; but the kind-hearted poet who "mourned the daisy's
fate," had been at the "Moor Cock" before us, and touched a respondent
chord in the heart of our ostler. I forget who it is that says, "It is
the heart which makes the life;" but it is true, and it is the heart
which sings in Robert Burns, and the heart will stir to the sound all
the world over. How many political essays, and lectures, and election
struggles, would it take to produce the humanising effect which the
song, "A man's a man for a' that," has awakened? It would sound well in
the British houses of parliament, sung in chorus, occasionally, between
the speeches.

After resting ourselves about three-quarters of an hour in the Moor
Cock, we started up the hill-side, to a point of the road a little past
the toll-bar and the old oil-mill in the hollow, at the right hand.
Here we struck across the moor, now wading through the heather, now
leaping over ruts and holes, where blocks of stone had been got out;
then squashing through a patch of mossy swamp, and sinking into the wet
turf at every step, till we reached the moss-covered pavement, which
the ordnance surveyors have called a "Roman road." It is entirely out
of any way of travel. A clearly-defined and regular line of road of
about forty feet wide, and which we traced and walked upon up to the
summit of the Edge, and down the Yorkshire side, a distance of nearly
two miles from our starting place upon the track. We could distinguish
it clearly more than a mile beyond the place we stopped at, to a point
where it crossed the road at Ripponden, and over the moor beyond, in
a north-westerly direction, preserving the same general features as
it exhibited in those parts where it was naked to the eye. Here and
there, we met with a hole in the road, where the stones of the pavement
had been taken out and carried away. While we were resting on a bank
at this old road-side, one of the keepers of the moor came up with
his dogs, and begged that we would be careful not to use any lights
whilst upon the moor, for fear of setting fire to the heath, which
was inflammably-dry. I took occasion to ask him what was the name of
the path we were upon. He said he did not know, but he had always
heard it called "Th' Roman Road." At a commanding point, where this
old pavement reaches the edge of "Blackstone," from the Lancashire
side, the rocky borders of the road rise equally and abruptly, in two
slight elevations, opposite each other, upon which we found certain
weather-worn blocks of stone, half buried in the growth of the moor.
There was a similarity in the general appearance, and a certain kind of
order visible, in the arrangement of these remains, which looked not
unlikely to be the relics of some heavy ancient masonry, once standing
upon these elevations; and at the spot which is marked, is the line of
the "Roman Road," in the ordnance maps, as an "Entrenchment."

The view along the summits of the vast moors, from any of the higher
parts of this mountain barrier between the two counties of Lancaster
and York, looks primevally-wild and grand, towards the north and south;
where dark masses of solitude stretch away as far as the eye can see.
In every other direction, the landscape takes in some cultivated land
upon the hill-sides, and the bustle and beauty of many a green vale,
lying low down among these sombre mountains; with many a picturesque
and cultivated dingle, and green ravine, higher up in the hills, in
spots where farm-houses have stood for centuries; sometimes with
quaint groups of cottages gathered round them, and clumps of trees
spreading about, shading the currents of moorland rivulets, as they
leap down from the hills. In the valleys, the river winding through
green meadows; mansions and mills, villages and churches, and scattered
cottages, whose little windows wink cheerfully through their screen of
leaves--

     Old farms remote, and far apart, with intervening space Of
     black'ning rock, and barren down, and pasture's pleasant face: The
     white and winding road, that crept through village, glade, and
     glen, And o'er the dreary moorlands, far beyond the homes of men.

Standing upon these proud and rugged desolations, which look down
upon the changeful life of man in the valleys at their feet, with
such an air of strength and serenity, whilst the toiling swarms of
Lancashire and Yorkshire are scattered over the landscape beyond, in
populous hives--the contrast is peculiarly strong; and I have wondered
whether these old hills, which have seen the painted Celt tracking
his prey through the woods and marshes below, and worshipping "in
the eye of light," among wild fanes of rock, upon these mountain
wildernesses--which have heard the tread of the legions of old Rome;
and have watched the brave Saxon, swinging his axe among the forest
trees, and, with patient labour, slowly making these valleys into green
and homely pasturages; and which still behold the iron horses of modern
days, rushing along the valley every hour, snorting fire and steam:
I have wondered whether the hills, at whose feet so many generations
of brave men have come and gone, like swathes of grass, might not yet
again see these native valleys of mine as desolate and stirless as
themselves. These moorland hills, the bleak companions of mist, and
cloud, and tempest, rise up one after another upon the scene, till they
grow dim on the distant edge of the sky. Lying upon my back, among the
heather, I looked along the surface of the moors; and I shall long
remember the peculiar loneliness of the landscape seen in that way.
Nothing was in sight but a wild infinity of moors and mountain tops,
succeeding each other, like heaving waves, of varied form. Not a sign
of life was visible over all the scene, except immediately around us,
where, now and then, a black-faced sheep lifted its head above the
heather, and stared, with a mingled expression of wonder and fear,
at the new intruders upon its solitary pasturage. Occasionally, a
predatory bird might be seen upon these hills, flitting across the lone
expanse--an highwayman of the skies; and, here and there, the moorfowl
sprang up from the cover, in whirring flight, and with that wild
clucking cry, which, in the stillness of the scene, came upon the ears
with a clearness that made the solitude more evident to the senses. A
rude shepherd's hut, too, could be seen sheltering near a cluster of
crags upon the hill-side, and hardly distinguishable from the heathery
mounds, which lay scattered over the surface of the moor. But, in
the distance, all seemed one wilderness of untrodden sterility--as
silent as death. The sky was cloudless whilst we wandered upon those
barren heights: and the blue dome looked down, grandly-calm, upon the
landscape, which was covered with a glorious sunshine.

                      No stir of air was there;
    Not so much life as on a summer day
    Robs not one light seed from the feathered grass,
    But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest

Heaven and earth were two magnificent stillnesses, which appeared to
gaze serenely and steadily at each other, with the calm dignity and
perfect understanding of ancient friends, whose affinities can never
be unsettled, except by the fiat of Him who first established them.
Looking horizontally along the moors, in this manner, nothing was
visible of those picturesque creases, which lie deep between these
mountain ridges, and teem with the industrious multitudes of Lancashire
and Yorkshire.

These hills form part of a continuous range, running across the island,
in different elevations, and familiarly known as the "Backbone of
England." Looking southward and south-east, in the direction of the
rocky waste called "Stanedge,"--which is crossed by the high road from
Manchester to Huddersfield--and "Buckstones," which, according to local
tradition, was formerly an highwayman's haunt,--the whole country is
one moorland wild; and the romantic hills of Saddleworth, with the dim
summits of the Derbyshire mountains, bound the view. Northward, the
landscape has the same general appearance. In this direction, Studley
Pike lately occupied the summit of a lofty moorland, overlooking the
valley between Hebden Bridge and the town of Todmorden; which is part
of a district famous for its comely breed of people, and for the
charms of its scenery. Studley Pike was a tall stone tower, erected
to commemorate the restoration of peace, at the end of our wars with
Napoleon. Singularly, it came thundering to the ground on the day of
the declaration of war against Russia.

On the west, the valley of the Roch, with its towns and villages,
stretches away out from this group of hills. Littleborough nestles
immediately at the foot of the mountain; and the eye wanders along the
vale, from hamlet to hamlet, till it reaches the towns of Rochdale,
Bury, Heywood, Middleton, and the smoky canopy of Manchester in the
distance. On a favourable day, many other large and more distant
Lancashire towns may be seen. On the east, or Yorkshire side, looking
towards Halifax, the hills appear to be endless. The valleys are
smaller and more numerous, often lying in narrow gorges and woody
ravines between the hills, hardly discernable from the distance. The
mountain sides have a more cultivated look, and hovering halos of
smoke, rising up from the mountain hollows, with, sometimes, the tops
of factory chimneys peering out from the vales, show where villages
like Ripponden and Sowerby are situated. On the distant edge of the
horizon, a grey cloud hanging steadily beyond the green hill, called
"King Cross" marks the locality of the town of Halifax. Green plots
of cultivated land are creeping up the steep moors; and comfortable
farm-houses, with folds of cottages, built of the stone of the
district, are strewn about the lesser hills, giving life and beauty to
the scene.

For native men, the moors of this neighbourhood, as well as the country
seen from them, contain many objects of interest. The hills standing
irregularly around; the rivers and streams; the lakes and pools below,
and in the fissures of the mountains--we knew their names. The lakes,
or reservoirs, about Blackstone Edge, form remarkable features in its
scenery. One of these, "Blackstone Edge Reservoir," takes its name from
the mountain upon whose summit it fills an extensive hollow. This lake
is upwards of two miles, close by the water's edge. The scenery around
it is a table-land, covered with heather, and rocks, and turfy swamps.
The other two, "White Lees" and "Hollingworth," lie lower, about half
way down the moors: "White Lees" in a retired little glen, about a
mile north-west of the "White House," on the top of Blackstone Edge;
and "Hollingworth," the largest and most picturesque of the three, is
situated about two miles south-west of the same spot. Close by the side
of the high road from Lancashire, over these hills into Yorkshire, this
old hostelry, known as "Th' White House," is situated near the top of
Blackstone Edge, looking towards Lancashire. The division-stone of the
two counties stands by the road-side, and about half a mile eastward
of this public-house. The northern bank of the road, upon which the
division-stone stands, shuts out from view the lake called "Blackstone
Edge Reservoir"--a scene which "skylark never warbles o'er." A solitary
cart-road leads off the road, at the corner of the reservoir, and,
crossing the moor in a north-easterly direction, goes down into a
picturesque spot, called "Crag Valley," or "The Vale of Turvin," for
it is known by both names. This valley winds through the heart of
the moors, nearly four miles, emptying itself at Mytholmroyd, in the
vale of Todmorden. Fifty years ago, "Crag Valley" was an unfrequented
region, little known, and much feared. Now there are thriving clusters
of population in it; and pretty homesteads, in isolated situations,
about the sides of the clough. Manufacture has crept up the stream.
"Turvin" is becoming a resort of ramblers from the border towns and
villages of the two counties, on account of the picturesque wildness
of its scenery. In some places the stream dashes through deep gorges
of rock, overhung with wood; peeping through which, one might be
startled by sight of a precipitous steep, shrouded with trees, and the
foaming water rushing wildly below over its fantastic channel. There
are several mills in the length of the valley now; and, in level holms,
down in the hollow, the land is beautifully green. The vale is prettily
wooded in many parts; but the barren hills overlook the whole length
of Turvin. In former times, the clough was notable among the people
of the surrounding districts, as a rendezvous of coiners and robbers;
and the phrase "a Turvin shilling," grew out of the dexterity of these
outlaws, who are said to have lurked a long time in the seclusion of
this moorland glen.

Approaching Turvin by the rough road across the moor, from the top of
Blackstone Edge, it leads into a deep corner of the valley, in which
stands the church of "St. John's in the Wilderness," built a few years
ago, for the behoof of the inhabitants of the neighbouring moors, and
for a little community of factory people in this remote nook of the
earth.

Upon the summit of one of the neighbouring mountains, there is a great
platform of desolation, distinguished, even among this stony waste,
as "The Wilderness;" and I think that whoever has visited the spot
will be inclined to say that the roughest prophet that ever brooded
over his visions in solitary places of the earth, could not well
wish for a wilder Patmos than this moor-top. On the right hand of
the public-house, near St. John's Church, several rough roads lead
in different directions. The centre one goes up through a thick wood
which clothes the mountain side, and on by winding routes to this
"cloud-capped" wilderness. On a distant part of this bleak tract stand
two remarkable Druidical remains, called "Th' Alder Stones," or the
"Altar Stones,"--sombre masses of rock, upon which the Druid priests of
our island performed their sacrificial rites, before the wild Celts of
the district. The position and formation of these stones, which have
each a sloping top, with a hollow in the middle, and a channel thence
downward, seem to confirm the character attributed to them.

Returning from "St. John's in the Wilderness," towards Blackstone Edge,
a quaint stone building, called "Crag Hall," occupies a shady situation
upon the hill-side, at the right hand of the vale, and at the edge of
the wild tract called "Erringdale Moor." This ancient hall contains
many specimens of carved oak furniture, which have been preserved with
the building, from the time of its old owners. A few years ago, the
keeper of Erringdale moor dwelt in it, and kept the place in trim as
a lodge, for the entertainment of the owners of the moor, and their
sporting friends, in the grouse season.

Between the moor-side on which "Crag Hall" is situated, and the road up
to the top of Blackstone Edge, a moorland stream runs along its rocky
channel, in the deep gut of the hills. I remember that many years ago
I wandered for hours, one summer day, up this lonely water, in company
with a young friend of mine. In the course of our ramble upon the banks
of the stream, little dreaming of any vestiges of human creation in
that region, we came almost upon the roof of a cottage, rudely, but
firmly built of stone. We descended the bank by a sloping path, leading
to the door. There was no smoke, no stir nor sound, either inside or
out; but, through the clean windows, we saw a pair of hand-looms,
with an unfinished piece upon them. We knocked repeatedly, hoping to
obtain some refreshment after our stroll; but there was no answer;
and just as we were about to leave the lonely tenement, and take our
way homewards--for the twilight was coming on, and we had nearly ten
miles to go--we heard the sound of a pair of clogs in the inside of
the cottage; and the door was opened by a tall, strong man, apparently
about thirty-five years of age. His clear-complexioned face was full
of frankness and simplicity. His head was large and well-formed, and
covered with bristling brown hair, cut short. Yawning, and stretching
his arms out, he accosted us at once--as if we were old friends, for
whom he had been looking some time--with, "Well, heaw are yo, to-day?"
We asked him for a drink of water. He invited us in, and set two chairs
for us in a little kitchen, where the furniture was rudely-simple and
sound, and everything in good order, and cleaned to its height. He
brought forth pitchers full of buttermilk, plenty of thick oat-cakes,
and the sweet butter for which these hills are famous; and we feasted.
The cool of the evening was coming on, and there was no fire in his
grate; so he fetched a great armful of dry heather from an inner
room, and, cramming it into the fire-place, put a light to it. Up
blazed the inflammable eilding, with a crackling sound, making the
room look cheerful as himself. A few books lay upon the window-sill,
which we asked leave to look at. He handed them to us, commenting on
them, in a shrewd and simple way, as he did so. They were chiefly
books on mathematics, a science which he began to discourse upon with
considerable enthusiasm. Now, my young companion happened to have a
passion for that science; and he no sooner discovered this affinity
between himself and our host, than to it they went pell-mell, with
books and chalk, upon the clean flags; and I was bowled out of the
conversation at once. Leaving them to their problems, and circles, and
triangles, I walked out upon the moor; and sitting upon a knoll above
the house, wrote a little rhyme in my note-book, which some years after
appeared in the corner of a Manchester newspaper. When I returned they
were still at it, ding-dong, about something or another in differential
calculus; and I had great difficulty in impressing upon the mind of
my companion the important area lying between us and our homes. This
lonely mathematician, it seemed, was a bachelor, and he got his living
partly by weaving, and partly by watching the moor, for the owners;
and as I looked upon him I almost envied the man his strong frame, his
sound judgment, his happy unsophisticated mind, and his serene and
simple way of life. He walked over the moor with us nearly two miles,
without hat, conversing about his books, and the lonely manner of his
life, with which he appeared to be perfectly contented. At our parting,
he pressed us to come over the moors again the first opportunity,
and spend a day with him at his cottage. I have hardly ever met with
another man who seemed so strong and sound in body; and so frank, and
sensible, and simple-hearted, as this mathematical eremite of the
mountains. That enthusiastic attachment to science, which so strongly
distinguishes him in my remembrance, is a common characteristic of
the native working-people of Lancashire, among whom, in proportion
to the population, there is an extraordinary number of well-read and
practised mechanics, botanists, musicians, and mathematicians; and the
booksellers in the towns of the county, know that any standard works
upon these subjects, and some upon divinity, are sure to find a large
and ready sale among the operative classes.

We wore the afternoon far away in rambling about the high and open
part of Blackstone Edge, between the group of rocks called "Robin
Hood's Bed," and the solitary inn called the "White House," upon the
Yorkshire road. Wading through fern and heather, and turfy swamps;
climbing rocks, and jumping over deep gutters and lodgments of peaty
water, had made us so hungry and weary, that we made the best of our
way to this inn, while the sun was yet up above the hills. Here, the
appetite we had awakened was amply satisfied; and we refreshed, and
rested ourselves a while, conversing about the country around us,
and exchanging anecdotes of its remarkable local characters, and
reminiscences of our past adventures in the neighbourhood. Many of
these related to "Old Joe," the quaint gamekeeper, at Hollingworth, a
kind of local "Leather Stocking," who has many a time rowed us about
the lake in his fishing-boat.

When we came out of the inn, the sun had gone down upon the opposite
side of the scene. Night's shadows were climbing the broad steeps;
but the summit-lines of the hills still showed in clear relief,
against the western sky, where the sunset's glory lingered. In every
other direction, the skirts of the landscape were fading from view.
Rochdale town, with its church tower and stacks of tall chimneys, had
disappeared in the distance. The mountainous wastes stretching away
on the north, south, and east, were melting into indistinct masses;
and, below the hills, quiet evening's dreamy shades were falling
softly down, and folding away for the night the hamleted valleys
between Blackstone Edge and the boundary of the scene. Day's curtains
were closing to; the watchers of night were beginning their golden
vigil; and all the air seemed thick with dreams. We descended from the
moor-top by a steep path, which diverges, on the right-hand side of
the highway, a little below the "White House," and cuts off a mile of
the distance between that point and the "Moor Cock," where we had left
"Grey Bobby" and the "Whitechapel." Far down, from scattered cots and
folds, little lights were beginning to glimmer. That frontlet jewel of
mild evening's forehead--"the star that bids the shepherd fold"--was
glowing above us, and, here and there, twinklings of golden fire were
stealing out from the blue expanse. As we picked our way down the moor,
the stillness of the tract around us seemed to deepen as the light
declined; and there was no distinguishable sound in the neighbourhood
of our path, except the silvery tricklings of indiscernable rills.
From the farms below, the far-off bark of dogs and lowing of cattle
came floating up, mingled with the subdued rush and rattle of railway
trains, rushing along the valley. Half an hour's walk down the hill
brought us back to the "Moor Cock." Limper, the ostler, got "Grey
Bobby" from the stable, and put him into the harness. Out came the folk
of the house, to see us off. Our frisky tit treated us to another romp;
after which we drove down the road, in the gloaming, and on through
Littleborough and Smallbridge, to Rochdale, by the light of the stars.



    The Town of Heywood and its Neighbourhood.

              Nature never did betray
    The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
    Through all the years of this our life, to lead
    From joy to joy.
    --WORDSWORTH


One Saturday afternoon, about midsummer, I was invited by a friend to
spend a day at his house, in the green outskirts of Heywood. The town
has a monotonous, cotton-spinning look; yet, it is surrounded by a
pleasant country, and has some scenery of a picturesque description
in its immediate neighbourhood. Several weeks previous to this
invitation had been spent by me wholly amongst the bustle of our
"cotton metropolis," and, during that time, I had often thought how
sweetly summer was murmuring with its "leafy lips" beyond the town,
almost unseen by me except when I took a ride to a certain suburb, and
wandered an hour or two in a scene upon which the season seemed to
smile almost in vain, and where the unsatisfactory verdure was broken
up by daub-holes and rows of half-built cottages, and the air mixed
with the aroma of brick-kilns and melting lime. Sometimes, too, I
stole down into the market-place, on a Saturday morning, to smell at
the flowers and buy a "posy" for my button-hole. It reminded me of the
time when I used to forage about my native hedges, for bunches of the
wild rose and branches of white-blossomed thorn. But now, as the rosy
time of the year grew towards its height, I began to hanker after those
moors and noiseless glens of Lancashire, where, even yet, nature seems
to have it all her own way. I longed for the quiet valleys and their
murmuring waters; the rustling trees; and the cloudless summer sky seen
through fringed openings in the wildwood's leafy screen. Somebody says,
that "we always find better men in action than in repose;" and though
there are contemplative spirits who instinctively shun the din of
towns, and, turning to the tranquil seclusions of nature, read a lofty
significance in its infinite forms and moods of beauty, yet, the grand
battle of life lies where men are clustered. Great men can live greatly
anywhere; but ordinary people must be content to snatch at any means
likely to improve or relieve their lot; and it will do any care-worn
citizen good to "consider the lilies of the field" a little, now and
then. Country folk come to town to relieve the monotony of their lives;
and town's folk go to the country for refreshment and repose. To each
the change may be beneficial--at least I thought so; and, as light as
leaf upon tree, I hailed my journey; for none of Robin Hood's men ever
went to the greenwood with more pleasure than I.

It was nearly three when we passed the Old Church, on our way to
the station. The college lads, in their quaint blue suits, and flat
woollen caps, were frolicking about the quadrangle of that ancient
edifice which helps to keep alive the name of Humphrey Chetham. The
omnibuses were rushing by, with full loads. I said "full loads;" but
there are omnibuses running out of Manchester, which I never knew to
be so full that they would not "just hold another." But on we went,
talking about anything which was uppermost; and in a few minutes we
were seated in the train, and darting over the tops of that miserable
jungle known by the name of "Angel Meadow." The railway runs close
by a little hopeful oasis in this moral desert--the "Ragged School,"
at the end of Ashley Lane; and, from the carriage window, we could
see "Charter-street"--that notable den of Manchester outcasts.
These two significant neighbours--"Charter-street" and the "Ragged
School"--comment eloquently upon one another. Here, all is mental and
moral malaria, and the revelry of the place sounds like a forlorn
cry for help. There the same human elements are trained, by a little
timely culture, towards honour and usefulness. Any man, with an
unsophisticated mind, looking upon the two, might be allowed to say,
"Why not do enough of _this_ to cure _that_?" On the brow of Red
Bank, the tower and gables of St. Chad's Church overlook the swarming
hive which fills the valley of the Irk; and which presents a fine
field for those who desire to spread the gospel among the heathen,
and enfranchise the slave. And if it be true that the poor are "the
riches of the church of Christ," there is an inheritance there worth
looking after by any church which claims the title. Up rose a grove of
tall chimneys from the streets lining the banks of the little slutchy
stream, that creeps through the hollow, slow and slab, towards its
confluence with the Irwell; where it washes the base of the rocks
upon which, five hundred years ago, stood the "Baron's Hall," or
manor house of the old lords of Manchester. On the same spot, soon
after the erection of the Collegiate Church, that quaint quadrangular
edifice was built as a residence for the warden and fellows, which
afterwards became, in the turns of fortune, a mansion of the Earls
of Derby, a garrison, a prison, an hospital, and a college. By the
time we had taken a few reluctant sniffs of the curiously-compounded
air of that melancholy waste, we began to ascend the incline, and
lost sight of the Irk, with its factories, dyehouses, brick-fields,
tan-pits, and gas-works; and the unhappy mixture of stench, squalor,
smoke, hard work, ignorance, and sin, on its borders; and, after a
short stoppage at Miles Platting, our eyes were wandering over the
summer fields. Nature was drest in her richest robes; and every green
thing looked lush with beauty. As we looked abroad on this wide
array, it was delightful to see the sprouting honeysuckle, and the
peace-breathing palm; and there, too, creeping about the hedges, was
that old acquaintance of life's morning, the bramble, which will be
putting forth "its small white rose" about the time that country folk
begin to house their hay; and when village lads in Lancashire are
gathering gear to decorate their rush-hearts with. Clustering primroses
were there; and the celandine, with burnished leaves of gold; and wild
violets, prancked with gay colours; with troops of other wild flowers,
some full in view, others dimly seen as we swept on;--a world of
floral beauty thickly embroidering the green mantle of the landscape,
though beyond the range of discriminating vision; but clear to the
eye of imagination, which assured us that these stars of the earth
were making their old haunts beautiful again. The buttercup was in the
fields, holding its pale gold chalice up to catch the evening dews.
Here and there grew a tuft of slender-stemmed lilies, graceful and
chaste; and then a sweep of blue-bells, tinging the hedge-sides and the
moist slopes under the trees with their azure hue--as blue as a patch
of sky--and swinging the incense from their pendent petals into the
sauntering summer wind. Then came the tall foxglove, and bushes of the
golden-blossomed furze, covered with gleaming spears, upon the banks
of the line. Oh, refulgent summer! Time of blossoms and honeydews;
and flowers of every colour! Thy lush fields are rich with clover and
herb-grass! Thy daylights glow with glory; thy twilights are full of
dreamy sights and sounds; and the sweetest odours of the year perfume
the air, when

    The butterfly flits from the flowering tree;
    And the cowslip and blue-bell are bent by the bee!

The throstle sang loud and clear in the trees and dells near the line,
as we rolled along; and the blithe "layrock" made the air tremble,
between heaven and the green meadows, with his thrilling lyric. That
tall, white flower, which country folk call "posset," spread out its
curdy top among the elegant summer grasses, quietly swaying to and
fro with the wind. And then the daisy was there! There is no flower
so well becomes the hand of a child as the daisy does! That little
"crimson-tippet" companion of the lark, immortalised in the poet's
loving wail! Tiny jewel of the fields of England; favourite of the
child and of the bard! Daisies lay like snow upon the green landscape;
and the hedges were white with the scented blossom of the thorn. To
eyes a little tired of the city's hives of brick--

                Where stoop the sons of care,
    O'er plains of mischief, till their souls turn grey--

it was refreshing to peer about over the beautiful summer expanse,
towards the blue hills rising on the edge of the horizon, solemn and
serene.

My own impression of the natural charms of this part of Lancashire is,
perhaps, a little warmer and more accepting than that of an unbiassed
stranger would be; for the wheels are beautiful which roll me towards
the country where I first pulled the wild flowers and listened to the
lark. In this district, there are none of those rich depths of soil
which, with little labour and tilth, burst forth in full crops of
grain. But the land is mostly clothed with pastoral verdure; and the
farming is almost entirely of the dairy kind. It is a country of green
hills and vales, and clusters of dusky mills, surrounded by industrial
life; and, except on the high moorlands, there is very little land now,
even of the old mosses and morasses, which is not inclosed, and in
progress of cultivation. The scenery has features of beauty peculiar
to itself. It consists of a succession of ever-varying undulations,
full of sequestered cloughs, and dingles, and shady corners; threaded
by many a little meandering stream, which looks up at the skies from
its green hollow; and which

              Changes oft its varied lapse,
    And ever as it winds, enchantment follows,
    And new beauties rise.

Travellers from the midland and southern counties of England often
notice the scarcity of trees in this quarter. The native woods were
chiefly oak, ash, birch, beech, and yew--very useful timbers. But when
the time came that Lancashire had to strip some of its old customs
and ornaments, for the fulfilment of its manufacturing destiny, every
useful thing upon the soil was seized, and applied to the purposes of
the new time. The land itself began to be wanted for other ends than to
grow trees upon. And then, when old landlords happened to be pressed
for money, the timber of their estates--daily becoming more valuable
for manufacturing necessities--sometimes presented the readiest way
of raising it. Their lands often followed in the same track. And now,
the landscape looks bald. Trees are scanty and small, except at a few
such places as Hopwood Hall, and Chadderton Hall; and a few isolated
clumps, like that which crests the top of "Tandle Hills." In that
part of this district which lies between "Boggart Ho' Clough," near
the village of Blackley, on the west, the town of Middleton, on the
east, and the Manchester and Leeds railway line, on the south, there
is a wide platform of level land, called "Th' White Moss." It stands
above the surrounding country; and is quite removed from any of the
great highways of the neighbourhood, which, nevertheless, wind near
to the borders of this secluded moss, with their restless streams of
business. In former days, this tract has been a densely-wooded wild;
and, even within these twenty years last past, it was one great marsh,
in whose peaty swamps the relics of ancient woods lay buried. Since
that time, nearly two hundred acres of the moss have been brought
into cultivation; and it is said that this part of it now produces as
fine crops as any land in the neighbourhood. In turning up the bog,
enormous roots and branches of trees, principally oaks, are often met
with. Very fine oaks, beeches, firs, and sometimes yew trees, of a
size very seldom met with in this part of Lancashire in these days,
have frequently been found embedded in this morass, at a depth of
five or six feet. Samuel Bamford, in his description of the "White
Moss," says: "The stems and huge branches of trees were often laid
bare by the diggers, in cultivating it. Nearly all the trees have been
found lying from west to east, or from west to south. They consist of
oaks, beeches, alders, and one or two fine yews. The roots of many
of them are matted and gnarled, presenting interesting subjects for
reflection on the state of this region in unrecorded ages. Some of
these trees are in part charred when found. One large oak, lying on
the north-west side of the moss, has been traced to fifteen yards in
length, and is twelve feet round." This moss was one of those lonely
places to which the people of these districts found it necessary to
retreat, in order to hold their political meetings in safety, during
that eventful period of Lancashire history which fell between the years
1815 and 1821. It was a time of great suffering and danger in these
parts. The working people were often driven into riot and disorder by
the desperation of extreme distress; which disorder was often increased
by the discreditable espionage and ruthless severities employed to
crush political discussion among the populace. Of the gallant band of
reformers which led the van of the popular struggle, many a humble and
previously-unnoted pioneer of liberty has left an heroic mark upon
the history of that time. Some of these are still living; others have
been many a year laid in their graves; but their memories will long be
cherished among a people who know how to esteem men who sincerely love
freedom, and are able to do and to suffer for it, in a brave spirit.

In this active arena of industrialism, there are many places of
interest: old halls and churches; quaint relics of ancient hamlets,
hidden by the overgrowth of modern factory villages; immense mills,
and costly mansions, often belonging to men who were poor lads a few
years ago, wearing wooden clogs, and carrying woollen pieces home from
the loom, upon their shoulders. As we cross the valley beyond the
station, the little old parish church of Middleton stands in sight,
on the top of a green eminence, about a mile north from the line. In
the interior of this old fane still hang, against the southern wall,
the standard and armour of Sir Richard Assheton, which he dedicated
to St. Leonard of Middleton, on returning from Flodden Field, where
he greatly distinguished himself; taking prisoner Sir John Foreman,
serjeant-porter to James the Sixth of Scotland, and Alexander
Barrett, high sheriff of Aberdeen; and capturing the sword of the
standard-bearer of the Scottish king. He led to the battle a brave
array of Lancashire archers, the flower of his tenantry. At the western
base of the hill upon which the church of St. Leonard is situated, two
large cotton factories now stand, close to the spot which, even so
late as the year 1845, was occupied by the picturesque old hall of the
Asshetons, lords of Middleton. The new gas-works of the town fills part
of the space once covered with its gardens. Middleton lies principally
in the heart of a pleasant vale, with some relics of its ancient
quaintness remaining, such as the antique wood-and-plaster inn, called
the "Boar's Head," in the hollow, in front of the parish church. The
manor of Middleton anciently belonged to the honour of Clithero, and
was held by the Lacies, Earls of Lincoln. In the reign of Henry III.,
the heir of Robert de Middleton held a knight's fee in Middleton, of
the fee of Edmund or Edward, Earl of Lincoln, who held it of the Earls
of Ferrars, the king's tenant in capite. And Baines, in his history of
Lancashire, further says:--

     In 3 Edward II., the manor of Middleton is found in the
     inquisition post-mortem of Henry de Lacy, amongst the fees
     belonging to the manor of Tottington, held by service of Thomas,
     Earl of Lancaster. With Henry, Earl of Lincoln, this branch of
     the Lacys passed away; and their possessions in this country,
     with his daughter and heiress, devolved upon Thomas Plantagenet,
     Earl of Lancaster. The heirs of Robti (Robert) de Middleton
     possessed lands in _Midelton_, by military service, in the reign
     of Henry the Third, 1216-1272. At a later period, the manor was
     possessed by Richard Barton, Esq.; the first of this family who
     is recorded in connection with Middleton was living in the reign
     of Henry the Fourth, 1410. He died without surviving issue, and
     the manor passed to the heirs of his brother, John Barton, Esq.,
     whose daughter Margaret having married Ralph Assheton, Esq., a
     son of Sir John Assheton, Knt., of Ashton-under-Lyne, he became
     Lord of Middleton in her right, in the seventeenth of Henry the
     Sixth, 1438, and was the same year appointed a page of honour to
     that king. He was knight-marshal of England, lieutenant of the
     Tower of London, and sheriff of Yorkshire, 1473-1474. He attended
     the Duke of Gloucester at the battle of Haldon, or Hutton Field,
     Scotland, in order to recover Berwick, and was created a knight
     _banneret_ on the field for his gallant services, 1483. On the
     succession of Richard the Third to the crown, he created Sir Ralph
     vice-constable of England, by letters patent, 1483.

Thus began the first connection of the town of Middleton with that
powerful Lancashire family, the Asshetons, of Ashton-under-Lyne, in the
person of the famous "Black Lad," respecting whom Dr. Hibbert says, in
his historical work upon Ashton-under-Lyne, as follows:--

     It appears that Ralph Assheton became, by his alliance with a
     rich heiress, the lord of a neighbouring manor, named Middleton,
     and soon afterwards received the honour of knighthood, being
     at the same time entrusted with the office of vice-chancellor,
     and, it is added, of lieutenant of the Tower. Invested with
     such authority, he committed violent excesses in this part of
     the kingdom. In retaining also for life the privilege of _guld
     riding_, he, on a certain day in the spring, made his appearance
     in this manner, clad in black armour (whence his name of the
     _Black Lad_), mounted on a charger, and attended by a numerous
     train of his followers, in order to levy the penalty arising from
     neglect of clearing the land from _carr gulds_. The interference
     of so powerful a knight, belonging to another lordship, could
     not but be regarded by the tenants of Assheton as a tyrannical
     intrusion of a stranger, and the name of the _Black Lad_ is at
     present regarded with no other sentiment than that of horror.
     Tradition has, indeed, still perpetuated the prayer that was
     fervently ejaculated for a deliverance from his tyranny:--

    Sweet Jesu, for thy mercy's sake,
      And for thy bitter passion,
    Save us from the axe of the Tower,
      And from Sir Ralph of Assheton.

Happily, with the death of this terrible guld-rider of Assheton, the
custom was abolished, but the sum of five shillings is still reserved
from the estate, for the purpose of commemorating it by an annual
ceremony. Ralph Assheton, of Middleton, was an energetic adherent to
the parliamentary cause during the civil wars. On the 24th September,
1642, about one hundred and fifty of his tenants, in complete arms,
joined the forces of Manchester, in opposition to the royalists. He
commanded the parliamentary troops at the siege of Warrington. He was
engaged at the siege of Lathom House, and led the Middleton Clubmen
at the siege of Bolton-le-Moors. In 1648 he was a major-general,
and commanded the Lancashire soldiery of the commonwealth, on the
marshalling of the parliamentary forces to oppose the Duke of Hamilton.
In the same year, he took Appleby from the royalists. His eldest son,
Richard, who died an infant, March 25th, 1631, was supposed to have
been bewitched to death by one Utley, "who, for the crime, was tried at
the assizes at Lancaster, and executed there." His son Ralph espoused
the cause of Charles the Second, and was created a baronet in 1663.

As we glide out of sight of Middleton, a prominent feature of the
landscape, on the opposite side of the railway, is the wood-crowned
summit of "Tandle Hills." These hills overlook the sequestered dairy
farms, and shady dingles of an extensive district called "Thornham;"
which, though surrounded at short distances by busy manufacturing
villages and towns, is a tract full of quaint farm-folds, grassy
uplands and dells, interlaced with green old English lanes and
hedge-rows. Before the train reaches "Blue Pits," it passes through
the estates of the Hopwoods, of Hopwood; and, at some points, the
chimneys and gables of Hopwood Hall peep through surrounding woods, in
a retired valley, north of the line. As the train begins to slacken on
its approach to the station, the old road-side village of Trub Smithy,
the scene of many a humorous story, lies nestling beyond two or three
fields to the south, at the foot of a slope, on the high road from
Manchester to Rochdale. At "Blue Pits" station, we obeyed the noisy
summons to "Change for Heywood," and were put upon the branch line
which leads thitherward. The railway hence to Heywood winds through
green fields all the way, and is divided from the woods of Hopwood
by a long stripe of canal. As we rolled on, the moorland heights of
Ashworth, Knowl, Rooley, and Lobden, rose in the back ground before
us, seemingly at a short distance, and before any glimpse was seen of
the town of Heywood, lying low between us and the hills. But, as we
drew near, a canopy of smoky cloud hung over the valley in front; and
"we knew by the smoke"--as the song says--that Heywood was near; even
if we had never known it before. Heywood is one of the last places
in the world where a man who judges of the surrounding country by
the town itself, would think of going to ruralize. But, even in this
smoky manufacturing town, which is so meagre in historic interest,
there are some peculiarities connected with its rise and progress, and
the aspects of its present life; and some interesting traits in the
characteristics of its inhabitants. And, in its surrounding landscape,
there are many picturesque scenes; especially towards the hills, where
the rising grounds are cleft, here and there, by romantic glens,
long, lonesome, and woody, and wandering far up into the moors, like
"Simpson Clough;" and sometimes vales, green and pleasant, by the quiet
water-side, like "Tyrone's Bed," and "Hooley Clough."

As the train drew up to that little station, which always looks busy
when there are a dozen people in the office, the straggling ends of
Heywood streets began to dawn upon us, with the peeking chimney tops
of the cotton mills, which lay yet too low down to be wholly seen.
Some costly mansions were visible also, belonging to wealthy men of
the neighbourhood--mostly rich cotton-spinners--perched on "coignes
of vantage," about the green uplands and hollows in the valley,
and generally at a respectful distance from the town. Many of the
cotton mills began to show themselves entirely--here and there in
clusters--the older ones looking dreary, and uninviting to the eye; the
new ones as smart as new bricks and long lines of glittering windows
could make their dull, square forms appear. A number of brick-built
cottages bristled about the summit of a slope which rose in front of us
from the station, and closed from view the bulk of the town, in the
valley beyond. We went up the slope, and took a quiet bye-path which
leads through the fields, along the southern edge of Heywood, entering
the town near the market-place. And now, let us take a glance at the
history, and some of the present features of this place.

So far as the history of Heywood is known, it has not been the arena
of any of those great historical transactions of England's past, which
have so shaken and changed the less remote parts of the country. The
present appearance of Heywood would not, perhaps, be any way delightful
to the eye of anybody who had no local interest in it. Yet, a brief
review of the history, and the quick growth of the place, may not be
uninteresting. Heywood is the capital of the township of Heap, and
stands principally upon a gentle elevation, in a wide valley, about
three miles from each of the towns of Rochdale, Bury, and Middleton.
The township of Heap is in the parish and manor of Bury, of which
manor the Earl of Derby is lord. This manor has been the property
of the Derby family ever since the accession of Henry VII., after
the battle of Bosworth Field, when it was granted by the king to his
father-in-law, Thomas Stanley, first Earl of Derby, who figures in
Shakspere's tragedy of "Richard the Third." The previous possessors
were the Pilkingtons, of Pilkington. Sir Thomas Pilkington was an
active adherent of the York faction, in the wars of the Roses; and,
in a manuscript of Stowe's, his name appears, with a large number
of other friends of Richard, who "sware Kynge Richard shuld were ye
crowne." There is a secluded hamlet of old-fashioned houses in this
township, called "Heap Fold," situated on a hill about half a mile
west of Heywood. This hamlet is generally admitted to be the oldest,
and, probably, the only settlement in the township of Heap in the
time of the Saxons, who first cleared and cultivated the land of the
district. Previous to that time, it may be naturally supposed that,
like many other parts of South Lancashire, this district was overrun
with woods, and swamps, and thickets. Edwin Butterworth published a
little pamphlet history of Heywood, from which I quote the following
notes:--"The origin of the designation Heap is not at all obvious; in
the earliest known mention of the place, it is termed _Hep_, which may
imply a tract overgrown with hawthorn berries. The name might arise
from the unevenness of the surface--_heep_ (Saxon), indicating a mass
of irregularities. The denomination 'Heywood' manifestly denotes the
site of a wood in a field, or a wood surrounded by fields." Farther
on, in the same pamphlet, he says:--"The local family of Hep, or Heap,
has been extinct a considerable time. The deed of the gift of the whole
forest of Holecombe, to the monks of St. Mary Magdalen, of Bretton,
in Yorkshire, by Roger de Montbegon, is witnessed, amongst others, by
Robert de Hep; but without date, being of an age prior to the use of
dates. Roger de Montbegon, however, died 10th Henry III., so that this
transaction occurred before 1226." It may be true that what is here
alluded to as the local family of Hep, or Heap, is extinct; but the
name of Heap is now more prevalent among the inhabitants of Heywood
and the immediately surrounding towns than anywhere else in England.
With respect to the two suppositions as to the origin of the name;
almost every Lancashire lad will remember that he has, at one time or
another, pricked his fingers with getting "heps," the common bright red
berry, which, in other parts, goes by the name of the "hip." And then
there is some show of likelihood in the supposition that the name has
come from the Saxon word "heep," meaning "a mass of irregularities,"
as Butterworth says; for the whole district is a succession of hills,
and holes, and undulations, of ever-varying size and shape. Again,
he says, "Heap was doubtless inhabited by at least one Saxon family,
whose descendants, it is probable, quietly conformed to Norman rule.
In that era, or perhaps earlier, the place was annexed to the lordship
and church of Bury, of which Adam de Bury, and Edward de Buri, were
possessors shortly after the conquest.[16] A family of the name of Hep,
or Heap, held the hamlet from the paramount lords. In 1311, third of
Edward II., Henery de Bury held one half of the manor of Bury."[17]
Previous to the fifteenth century, this township must have been part of
a very wild and untempting region, having, for the most part, little
or no settled population, or communion with the living world beyond;
and the progress of population, and cultivation of the land, up to that
time, appear to have been very slow, and only in a few isolated spots;
since, although there were several heys of land at that time, near to
a wood, thence called "Heywood," upon the spot now occupied by a busy
community of people, numbering twenty thousand at least, yet, there
is no record of any dwelling upon that spot until shortly after the
fifteenth century, when a few rural habitations were erected thereon.
From this comparatively recent period may be reckoned the dawn of the
rural village which has since expanded into the present manufacturing
town of Heywood, now thriving at a greater rate than ever, under the
impulse of modern industrialism. About this time, too, began the
residence there of a family bearing the local name. "In 1492 occurs
Robert de Heywood. In the brilliant reign of Elizabeth, Edmund Heywood,
Esq., was required, by an order dated 1574, to furnish a coat of plate,
a long bowe, shéffe of arrows, steel cap, and bill, for the military
musters."[18] James Heywood, gentleman, was living before 1604. Peter
Heywood, Esq., a zealous magistrate, the representative of this family
in the reigns of James the I. and Charles the I., was a native and
resident of the present Heywood Hall, which was erected during the
sixteenth century. It is said that he apprehended Guido Faux, coming
forth from the vault of the house of parliament, on the eve of the
gunpowder treason, November 5th, 1605; he probably accompanied Sir
Thomas Knevett, in his search of the cellars under the parliament
house. The principal interest connected with the earliest history of
the town of Heywood seems to be bound up in the history of Heywood Hall
and its inhabitants, which will be noticed farther on.

 [16] Testa de Neville.

 [17] Harl. MSS. Codex 2,085, fo. 443.

 [18] Hard. MSS., 1296. There is a pedigree of this family in
 Dodsworth's MSS Bodleian Lib. vol. lxxix.

The old episcopal chapel, near the market-place, dedicated to St. Luke,
is a plain little building, with nothing remarkable in its appearance
or its situation. It seems to have been founded at the beginning of
the seventeenth century. It contains inscriptions commemorative of the
Holts, of Grizlehurst, and the Starkies, of Heywood Hall. A dial-plate
on the eastern exterior bears the date of 1686, with the initials of
Robert Heywood, Esq., of Heywood Hall, who was governor of the Isle
of Man in 1678. Besides the Heywoods, of Heywood Hall, there were
several powerful local families in the olden time seated at short
distances round the spot where Heywood now stands: the Heaps, of Heap;
the Bamfords, of Bamford; the Marlands, of Marland; the Holts, of
Grizlehurst; and the Hopwoods, of Hopwood--which last still reside upon
their ancient estate.

Heywood, or "Monkey Town," as sarcastic people in other parts of
Lancashire sometimes call it, is now a manufacturing place of at least
twenty thousand inhabitants. It owes its rise almost entirely to
the cotton manufacture; and the history of the latter incorporates
the history of the former in a much greater degree than that of any
other considerable town in the district. This gives it a kind of
interest which certainly does not belong to any beauty the appearance
of the town at present possesses. A few years before those mechanical
inventions became known which ultimately made Lancashire what it is
now, Heywood was a little peaceful country fold; but a few years
after these inventions came into action, it began to grow into what
the people of those days thought "something rich and strange," with
a celerity akin to the growth of great towns in the United States of
America. About two hundred years ago, a few rural cottages first arose
upon this almost unpeopled spot; and at the time when the manufacture
of cotton began in South Lancashire, it was still a small agricultural
village, prettily situated in a picturesque scene, about the centre
of the ridge of land which is now nearly covered by the present smoky
town. This little nucleus clustered near the old chapel which stands in
the market-place. Previous to the invention of the fly shuttle, by Kay,
in the neighbouring town of Bury; and the ingenious combinations of
the inventions of his contemporaries by Arkwright, the Preston barber,
almost every farm-house and cottage in this part had the old-fashioned
spinning-wheel and the hand-loom in them, wherewith to employ any
time the inhabitants could spare from their rural occupations. At the
time of Arkwright's first patent, the people of these parts little
knew what a change the time's inventions were bringing upon their
quiet haunts--still less of the vast influences which were to arise
therefrom, combining to the accomplishment of incalculable ends; and
they were, at first, slow to wean from their old, independent way
of living, partly by farming and partly by manufacturing labour,
which they could do in their own houses, and at their own leisure.
"Manchester manufacturers are glad," says Arthur Young, in 1770 (the
year of Arkwright's first patent), "when bread is dear, for then the
people are forced to work." But though the supply of yarn in those
days was less than the demand, and the people were not yet draughted
away from their old manner of life, they were caught in the web of
that inevitable destiny which will have its way, in spite of the
will of man. The world's Master had new commissioners abroad for the
achievement of new purposes. These wonder-working seeds of providence,
patiently developing themselves in secret, were soon to burst forth in
a wide harvest of change upon the field of human life. Certain men of
mechanical genius arose, and their creative dreams wrought together in
a mysterious way to the production of extraordinary results. John Kay,
of Bury, invented the "picking-peg," or "fly-shuttle," in 1738; and
his son, Robert Kay, invented the "drop-box," used in the manufacture
of fabrics of various colours; and that wonderful cotton and woollen
carding machine, which stretches the wire out of the ring, cuts it
into lengths, staples and crooks it into teeth, pricks holes in the
leather, and puts in the teeth, row after row, with extraordinary speed
and precision, till the cards are finished. Thomas Highs, the humble
and ingenious reed-maker, at Leigh, in 1763, originated that first
remarkable improvement in spinning machinery which he called after his
favourite daughter, "Jenny;" and he also introduced the "throstle," or
water-frame, in 1767. This man lingered out his old age in affliction
and dependence. James Hargreaves, the carpenter, of Blackburn, improved
upon the original idea of the spinning jenny, and invented the crank
and comb, "an engine of singular merit for facilitating the progress of
carding cotton." The ignorant jealousy of the Lancashire operatives in
those days drove this ingenious man to seek shelter in Nottinghamshire,
where he was but ill-received, and where he ended his days in poverty.
He died in a workhouse. Arkwright, the Preston barber, was more endowed
by nature with the qualities requisite for worldly success than these
ingenious, abstracted, and simple-minded mechanical dreamers. He was
a man of great perseverance and worldly sagacity. With characteristic
cunning, he appears to have wormed their secrets out of some of these
humble inventors; and then, with no less industry and enterprise
than ingenuity, he combined these with other kindred inventions, and
wrought them into a practical operation, which, by its results, quickly
awakened the world to a knowledge of their power. He became a rich man,
and "Sir Richard." In 1780, the "spinning mule" was first introduced
by its inventor, Samuel Crompton, a dreamy weaver, then dwelling in a
dilapidated corner of an old Lancashire hall, called "Th' Hall i'th
Wood," in Turton, near Bolton. This machine united the powers of the
spinning jenny and the water frame. The spinning mule is now in general
use in the cotton manufacture. This poor weaver gave his valuable
invention to the public, without securing a patent. His remuneration,
in the shape of money, was therefore left to the cold chances of
charity. He was, however, at first, rewarded by a subscription of one
hundred guineas; and, _twenty years afterwards_, by an additional
subscription of four hundred guineas; and in 1812, parliament awarded
the sum of five thousand pounds to the dreamy old weaver, in his
latter days. In 1785, the first patent for the power-loom was obtained
by the Rev. Edmund Cartwright, of Kent, who invented it; and, after
considerable improvements, it has at last contributed another great
impulse to the manufacturing power of these districts. Whilst these
mechanical agencies were developing themselves, James Watt was busy
with his steam power; and Brindley, in conjunction with the Duke of
Bridgewater, was constructing his water-ways. They were all necessary
parts of one great scheme of social alteration, the end of which is not
yet. These men were the immediate sources of the manufacturing power
and wealth of Lancashire. Up rose Arkwright's model mill at Cromford;
and the people of South Lancashire, who were spinning and weaving in
the old way, in their scattered cottages and folds, began to find
themselves drawn by irresistible spells into new combinations, and new
modes of living and working. Their remote haunts began to resound with
the tones of clustering labour; their quiet rivers, late murmuring
clear through silent vales and cloughs, began to be dotted with mills;
and their little villages shot up into large manufacturing towns.
From 1770 to 1788, the use of wool and linen in the spinning of yarns
had almost disappeared, and cotton had become the almost universal
material for employment. Hand wheels were superseded by common jennies,
hand carding by carding engines, and hand picking[19] by the fly
shuttle. From 1778 to 1803 was the golden age of this great trade; the
introduction of mule yarns, assimilated with other yarns producing
every description of goods, gave a preponderating wealth through the
loom. The mule twist being rapidly produced, and the demand for goods
very large, put all hands in request; and weaver's shops became yearly
more numerous. The remuneration for labour was high, and the population
was in a comfortable condition. The dissolution of Arkwright's patent
in 1785, and the general adoption of mule spinning in 1790, concurred
to give the most extraordinary impetus to the cotton manufacture.
Numerous mills were erected, and filled with water frames; and jennies
and mules were made and set to work with incredible rapidity.[20]
Heywood had already risen up, by the previous methods of manufacture,
to a place of about two thousand inhabitants, in the year 1780--that
changeful crisis of its history when the manufacture of cotton by
steam power first began in the township of Heap, with the erection of
Makin Mill, hard by the north side of Heywood. This mill was built
by the firm of Peel, Yates, and Co., of Bury--the principal of which
firm was Robert Peel, Esq. (afterwards Sir Robert), and father of the
memorable Sir Robert Peel, late prime minister of England, whose name
is honourably connected with the abolition of the Corn Laws; a man who
won the gratitude of a nation by daring to turn "traitor" to a great
wrong, that he might help a great right. This mill is now the property
of Edmund Peel, Esq., brother of the late Sir Robert. It stands about
half a mile from Heywood, in a shady clough, and upon the banks of the
river Roch, which rises in the hills on the north-east extremity of the
county, and flows down through the town of Rochdale, passing through
the glen called "Tyrone's Bed;" and through "Hooley Clough." The river
then winds on westward, by the town of Bury, three miles off. The
course of this water is now well lined with manufacturing power, nearly
from its rise to its embouchure. A stranger may always find the mills
of Lancashire by following the courses of its waters.

 [19] The "picking rod" is a straight wooden handle, by which the
 hand-loom weaver used to impel his shuttle. "As straight as a pickin'
 rod," is a common phrase among country people in South Lancashire.

 [20] "Radcliffe's Origin of Power-loom Weaving," pp. 59--66.

Before the factory system arose, when the people of this quarter did
their manufacturing work at their homes--when they were not yet brought
completely to depend upon manufacture for livelihood, and when their
manner of life was, at least, more natural and hardy than it became
afterwards--their condition was, morally and physically, very good,
compared with the condition which the unrestricted factory system led
to, in the first rush after wealth which it awoke; especially in the
employment of young children in mills. The amount of demoralisation and
physical deterioration then entailed upon the population, particularly
in isolated nooks of the country, where public opinion had little
controlling influence upon such mill-owners as happened to possess
more avarice than humane care for their operative dependents, must
have been great. It was a wild steeple-chase for wealthy stakes, in
which whip and spur were used with little mercy, and few were willing
to peril their chances of the plate by any considerations for the
sufferings of the animal that carried them. But the condition of the
factory operatives, since the introduction of the Ten Hours' Bill--and,
perhaps, partly through the earnest public discussions which led to
that enactment--has visibly begun to improve. Benevolent and just men,
who own mills, have, of their own accord, in many honourable instances,
paid a more liberal attention to the welfare of their workpeople
even than the provisions of the law demanded: and those mill-owners
whose only care for their operatives was bounded by a desire to wring
as much work as possible out of them for as little pay as possible,
were compelled to fulfil certain humane regulations, which their own
sympathies would have been slow to concede. The hours of factory labour
are now systematically shortened; and the operatives are not even so
drunken, riotous, and ignorant, as when they were wrought from bed-time
to bed-time. Books and schools, and salutary recreation, and social
comfort, are more fashionable among them than they used to be--partly
because they are more practicable things to them than before. The
mills themselves are now healthier than formerly; factory labour is
restricted to children of a reasonable age; and elementary education is
now, by a wisdom worthy of extension, administered through the impulse
of the law, to all children of a certain age in factories.

Heywood is altogether of too modern an origin to contain any buildings
interesting to the admirer of ancient architecture. The only places in
Heywood around which an antiquarian would be likely to linger, with
anything like satisfaction, would be the little episcopal chapel in the
market-place, founded in the seventeenth century; and Heywood Hall,
which stands about half a mile from the town, and of which more anon.
With these exceptions, there is probably not one building in the place
two hundred years old.

The appearance of Heywood, whether seen in detail or as a whole,
presents as complete, unrelieved, and condensed an epitome of
the still-absorbing spirit of manufacture in the region where it
originated, as can be found anywhere in Lancashire. And, in all its
irregular main street consisting of more than a mile of brick-built
shops and cottages--together with the little streets and alleys
diverging therefrom--there does not appear even one modern building
remarkable for taste, or for any other distinguishing excellence,
sufficient to induce an ordinary man to halt and admire it for a
minute. There is not even an edifice characterised by any singularity
whatever, calculated to awaken wonder or curiosity in an ordinary
beholder, except its great square, brick cotton mills, machine shops,
and the like; and when the outside of one of these has been seen,
the outside of the remainder is no novelty. The heights and depths
principally cultivated in Heywood appear to be those of factory
chimneys and coal-pits. Of course, the interiors of the mills teem
with mechanical wonders and ingenuities; and the social life and
characteristics of the population are full of indigenous interest. But
the general exterior of the town exhibits a dull and dusky succession
of manufacturing sameness. Its inns, with one or two exceptions, look
like jerry-shops; and its places of worship like warehouses. A living
writer has said of the place, that it looks like a great funeral on its
way from Bury to Rochdale--between which towns it is situated midway.
When seen from any neighbouring elevation, on a dull day, this strong
figure hardly exaggerates the truth. The whole life of Heywood seems to
be governed by the ring of factory bells--at least, much more than by
any other bells. The very dwelling-houses look as if they, too, worked
in the factories. To persons accustomed to the quaint prettiness of
well-regulated English rural villages, and the more natural hue and
general appearance of the people in such places, the inhabitants of
Heywood would, at first sight, have somewhat of a sallow appearance,
and their houses would appear to be slightly smeared with a mixture of
soot, sperm oil, and cotton fluz. And, if such observers knew nothing
of the real character and habits of the population, they would be slow
to believe them a people remarkably fond of cleanliness and of homely
comfort, as far as compatible with the nature of their employment. A
close examination of these Heywood cottages would show, however, that
their insides are more clean and comfortable than the first glance
at their outsides might suggest; and would also reveal many other
things not discreditable to the native disposition of the people who
dwell in them. But the architecture and general characteristics of
Heywood, as a town, evince no taste, no refinement, nor even public
spirit of liberality, commensurate with its wealth and energy. The
whole population seems yet too wrapt in its manufacturing dream, to
care much about the general adornment of the place, or even about
any very effective diffusion of those influences which tend to the
improvement of the health and the culture of the nobler faculties of
the people. But Heywood may yet emerge from its apprenticeship to blind
toil; and, wiping the dust from its eyes, look forth towards things
quite as essential as this unremitting fight for bread for the day.
At present, wherever one wanders among the streets on week-days, the
same manufacturing indications present themselves. It is plain that its
people are nearly all employed in one way, directly or indirectly. This
is suggested, not only by the number and magnitude of the mills, and
the habitations of the people, but by every movement on the streets.
Every vehicle that passes; every woman and child about the cottages;
every lounger in the market-place tells the same story. One striking
feature of week-day life in Heywood, more completely even than in many
other kindred towns, is the clock-work punctuality with which the
operative crowds rush from the mills, and hurry along the streets,
at noon, to their dinners; sauntering back again in twos and threes,
or speeding along in solitary haste, to get within the mill-doors in
time for that re-awakening boom of the machinery which is seldom on
the laggard side of its appointment. And it is not only in the dress
and manners of this body of factory operatives--in their language and
deportment, and the prevailing hue of their countenances--that the
character and influence of their employment is indicated; but also
in a modified variety of the same features in the remainder of the
population, who are either immediately connected with these operatives,
or indirectly affected by the same manufacturing influences. I have
noticed, however, that factory operatives in country manufacturing
towns like Heywood have a more wholesome appearance, both in dress and
person, than the same class in Manchester. Whether this arises from any
difference in the atmosphere, or from more healthy habits of factory
operatives in the country than those induced among the same class by
the temptations of a town like Manchester, I cannot say.

In the course of the year, there are two very ancient festivals kept
up, each with its own quaint peculiarities, by the Heywood people;
and commemorated by them with general rejoicing and cessation from
labour. One of these is the "Rush-bearing," held in the month of
August--an old feast which seems to have died out almost everywhere
else in England, except in Lancashire. Here, in Heywood, however, as
in many other towns of the county, this ancient festival is still
observed, with two or three days' holiday and hilarity. The original
signification of this annual "Rush-bearing," and some of the old
features connected with the ceremony, such as the bearing of the
rushes, with great rejoicing, to the church, and the strewing of
them upon the earthen floor of the sacred fane, have long since died
out. The following passage is taken from a poem called "The Village
Festival," written by Elijah Ridings, a living author, of local
celebrity, and is descriptive of the present characteristics of a
Lancashire "Rush-bearing," as he had seen it celebrated in his native
village of Newton, between Manchester and Oldham:--

    When wood and barn-owls loudly shout,
    As if were near some rabble rout;
    When beech-trees drop the yellow leaf,
    A type of human hope and grief;
    When little wild flowers leave the sun,
    Their pretty love-tasks being done;
    And nature, with exhaustless charms,
    Lets summer die in autumn's arms:
    There is a merry, happy time,
    With which I'll grace my simple rhyme:--
    The wakes--the wakes--the jocund wakes!
    My wand'ring memory forsakes
    The present busy scene of things,
    And soars away on fancy's wings,
    For olden times, with garlands crown'd,
    And rush-carts green on many a mound,
    In hamlet bearing a great name,[21]
    The first in astronomic fame;
    With buoyant youth and modest maid,
    Skipping along the green-sward glade,
    With laughing eyes and ravished sight,
    To share once more the old delight!
    Oh! now there comes--and let's partake--
    Brown nuts, spice bread, and Eccles cake;[22]
    There's flying-boxes, whirligigs,
    And sundry rustic pranks and rigs;
    With old "Chum"[23] cracking nuts and jokes,
    To entertain the country folks;
    But more, to earn a honest penny,
    And get a decent living, any--
    Aye, any an humble, striving way,
    Than do what shuns the light of day.
    Behold the rush-cart, and the throng
    Of lads and lasses pass along!
    Now watch the nimble morris-dancers,
    Those blithe, fantastic antic-prancers,
    Bedeck'd with gaudiest profusion
    Of ribbons, in a gay confusion
    Of brilliant colours, richest dyes,
    Like wings of moths and butterflies;
    Waving white kerchiefs here and there,
    And up and down, and everywhere;
    Springing, bounding, gaily skipping,
    Deftly, briskly, no one tripping;
    All young fellows, blithe and hearty,
    Thirty couples in the party;
    And on the footpaths may be seen
    Their sweethearts from each lane, and green
    And cottage home; all fain to see
    This festival of rural glee;
    The love-betrothed, the fond heart-plighted,
    And with the witching scene delighted
    In modest guise, and simple graces,
    With roses blushing on their faces;
    Ah! what denotes, or what bespeaks
    Love more than such sweet apple-cheeks?
    Behold the strong-limbed horses stand,
    The pride and boast of English land,
    Fitted to move in shafts or chains,
    With plaited, glossy tails and manes:
    Their proud heads each a garland wears
    Of quaint devices--suns and stars;
    And roses, ribbon-wrought, abound;
    _The silver plate_,[24] one hundred pound,
    With green oak boughs the cart is crowned,
    The strong, gaunt horses shake the ground.
    Now, see, the welcome host appears,
    And thirsty mouths the ale-draught cheers;
    Draught after draught is quickly gone--
    "Come; here's a health to everyone!"
    Away with care and doleful thinking,
    The cup goes round; what hearty drinking!
    While many a youth the lips is smacking,
    And the two drivers' whips are cracking;
    Now, strike up music, the old tune;
    And louder, quicker, old bassoon;
    Come, bustle, lads, for one dance more,
    And then _cross-morris_ three times o'er.
    Another jug--see how it foams--
    And next the brown October comes;
    Full five years old, the host declares,
    And if you doubt it, loudly swears
    That it's the best in any town--
    Tenpenny ale, the real nut-brown.
    And who was he, that jovial fellow,
    With his strong ale so old and mellow?
    A huge, unwieldy man was he,
    Like Falstaff, fat and full of glee;
    With belly like a thirty-six[25]
    (Now, reader, your attention fix),
    In loose habiliments he stands,
    Broad-shouldered, and with brawny hands;
    Good humour beaming in his eye,
    And the old, rude simplicity;
    Ever alive for rough or smooth,
    That rare old fellow, Bill o' Booth![26]

 [21] The village of _Newton_, on Newton Heath, near Manchester.

 [22] A kind of spiced cake, for which the village of Eccles, near
 Manchester, is famous.

 [23] A quaint old vendor of nuts and Eccles cakes, who used to be well
 known at Lancashire wakes and fairs.

 [24] Much valuable silver plate is sometimes lent by the inhabitants
 of Lancashire villages, to adorn the front of their native rush-cart
 during its annual peregrinations.

 [25] A thirty-six gallon barrel.

 [26] He was the landlord of an old road-side inn, on Newton Heath,
 with a pleasant bowling-green behind it. The house is still known as
 "Bill o' Booth's."

The other is a famous old festival here, as well as in the neighbouring
town of Bury. It is a peculiarly local one, also; for, I believe, it
is not celebrated anywhere else in England except in these two towns.
It begins on Mid-Lent Sunday, or "Simblin-Sunday," as the people of
the district call it, from the name of a spiced cake which is prepared
for this feast in great profusion, and in the making of which there
is considerable expense and rivalry shown. On "Simblin-Sunday," the
two towns of Bury and Heywood swarm with visitors from the surrounding
country, and "simblins" of extraordinary size and value are exhibited
in the shop windows. The festival is kept up during two or three days
of the ensuing week. In the Rev. W. Gaskell's interesting lectures on
the "Lancashire Dialect," the following passage occurs relative to
this "Simblin-Cake:"--"As you are aware there is a kind of cake for
which the town of Bury is famous, and which gives its name in these
parts to Mid-Lent Sunday--I mean 'symnel.' Many curious and fanciful
derivations have been found for this; but I feel no doubt that we must
look for its true origin to the Anglo-Saxon 'simble' or 'simle,' which
means a feast, or 'symblian,' to banquet. 'Simnel' was evidently some
kind of the finest bread. From the chronicle of Battle Abbey, we learn
that, in proof of his regard for the monks, the Conqueror granted for
their daily uses thirty-six ounces of 'bread fit for the table of a
king,' which is called _simenel_; and Roger de Hoveden mentions, among
the provisions allowed to the Scotch King, at the Court of England,
'twelve _simenels_.' 'Banquet bread,' therefore, would seem to come
very near the meaning of this word. I may just observe in passing, that
the baker's boy who, in the reign of Henry VII., personated the Earl of
Warwick was most likely called 'Lambert Simnel,' as a sort of nickname
derived from his trade."[27]

The amusements, or what may be called the leisure-habits, of the
factory population in Lancashire manufacturing towns are much alike.
Some are sufficiently jaded when their day's work is done, or are too
apathetic by nature to engage heartily in anything requiring further
exertion of body or mind. There are many, however, who, when they
leave the factory in the evening, go with a kind of renovating glee to
the reading of such books as opportunity brings within their reach,
or to the systematic prosecution of some chosen study, such as music,
botany, mechanics, or mathematics, which are favourite sciences among
the working people of Lancashire. And even among the humblest there
are often shrewd and well-read, if not extensively-read, politicians,
chiefly of the Cobbett school. But the greatest number occupy their
leisure with rude physical sports, or those coarser indulgences
which, in a place like Heywood, are more easily got at than books and
schools, especially by that part of the people who have been brought
up in toilful ignorance of these elements. The tap-room is the most
convenient school and meeting-place for these; and the tap-rooms are
numerous, and well attended. There, factory lads congregate nightly,
clubbing their pence for cheap ale, and whiling the night hours away
in coarse ribaldry and dominoes, or in vigorous contention in the art
of single step-dancing, upon the ale-house hearth-stone. This single
step-dancing is a favourite exercise with them; and their wooden
clogs are often very neatly made for the purpose, lacing closely up
to above the ankle, and ornamented with a multitude of bright brass
lace holes. The quick, well-timed clatter upon the tap-room flags
generally tells the whereabouts of such dancing haunts to a stranger
as he goes along the streets; and, if he peeps into one of them, he
may sometimes see a knot of factory lads clustered about the tap-room
door inside, encouraging some favourite caperer with such exclamations
as, "Deawn wi' thi fuut, Robin! Crack thi rags, owd dog!" The chief
out-door sports of the working class are foot-racing, and jumping
matches; and sometimes foot-ball and cricket. Wrestling, dog-fighting,
and cock-fighting are not uncommon; but they are more peculiar to
the hardier population outside the towns. Now and then, a rough
"up-and-down" fight takes place, at an ale-house door, or brought off,
more systematically, in a nook of the fields. This rude and ancient
manner of personal combat is graphically described by Samuel Bamford,
in his well-known "Passages in the Life of a Radical." The moors north
of Heywood afford great sport in the grouse season. Some of the local
gentry keep harriers; and now and then, a "foomart-hunt" takes place,
with the long-eared dogs, whose mingled music, when heard from the
hill-sides, sounds like a chime of bells in the distant valley. The
entire population, though engaged in manufacture, evinces a hearty
love of the fields and field sports, and a strong tincture of the
rough simplicity, and idiomatic quaintness of their forefathers, or
"fore-elders," as they often call them. In an old fold near Heywood,
there lived a man a few years since, who was well known thereabouts
as a fighter. The lads of the hamlet were proud of him as a local
champion. Sometimes he used to call at a neighbouring ale-house, to
get a gill, and have a "bout" with anybody worth the trouble, for our
hero had a sort of chivalric dislike to spending his time on "wastrils"
unworthy of his prowess. When he chanced to be seen advancing from
the distance, the folk in the house used to say, "Hellho! so-and-so's
coming; teen th' dur!" whereupon the landlord would reply, "Nawe,
nawe! lev it oppen, or else he'll punce it in! But yo'n no casion to
be fleyed, for he's as harmless as a chylt to aught at's wayker nor
his-sel!" He is said to have been a man of few words, except when
roused to anger; when he uttered terrible oaths, with great vehemence.
The people of his neighbourhood say that he once swore so heavily when
in a passion, that a plane-tree, growing at the front of his cottage,
withered away from that hour. Most Lancashire villages contain men
of this stamp--men of rude, strong frame and temper, whose habits,
manners, and even language, smack a little of the days of Robin Hood.
Yet, it is not uncommon to find them students of botany and music,
and fond of little children. Jane Clough, a curious local character,
died at a great age, near Heywood, about a year and a half ago. Jane
was a notable country botanist, and she had many other characteristics
which made her remarkable. She was born upon Bagslate Heath, a
moorland tract, up in the hills, to the north-east of Heywood. I well
remember that primitive country amazon, who, when I was a lad, was
such an old-world figure upon the streets of Rochdale and Heywood.
Everybody knew Jane Clough. She was very tall, and of most masculine
face and build of body; with a clear, healthy complexion. She was
generally drest in a strong, old-fashioned blue woollen bedgown, and
thick petticoats of the same stuff. She wore a plain but very clean
linen cap upon her head, loosely covered with a silk kerchief; and
her foot-gear was heavy clouted shoon, or wooden clogs, suitable to
her rough country walks, her great strength, and masculine habits.
Botany was always a ruling passion with old moorland Jane. She was the
queen of all flower-growers in humble life upon her native ground;
especially in the cultivation of the polyanthus, auricula, tulip, and
"ley," or carnation. Jane was well known at all the flower shows of the
neighbourhood, where she was often a successful exhibitor; and though
she was known as a woman of somewhat scrupulous moral character--and
there are many anecdotes illustrative of this--yet she was almost
equally well known at foot-races and dog-battles, or any other kind of
battles; for which she not unfrequently held the stakes.

 [27] The following note is attached to this passage, in Mr. Gaskell's
 lectures:--"That noble master of language, Walter Savage Landor, who
 has done me the honour to refer to my lecture in the _Examiner_, says
 of this word 'symble,' a feast, it is very likely 'symbslum,' which
 means the same, in form of pic-nic; and adds, 'In Tuscany a fine cake
 is called _semolino_. When I was a boy at Rugby, I remember a man from
 Banbury who sold _simnels_, very eatable. The interior was not unlike
 _mince-pie_ without fat, but flavoured with saffron; the exterior was
 hard, smooth, and yellow.'"

There used to be many a "hush-shop," or house for the sale of
unlicensed drink, about Heywood; and if the district was thrown into
a riddle, they would turn up, now and then, yet; especially in the
outskirts of the town, and up towards the hills. These are generally
sly spots, where fuddlers, who like ale for its own sake, can steal
in when things are quiet, and get their fill at something less than
the licensed price; or carry off a bottle-full into the fields, after
the gloaming has come on. Of course hush-shop tipplers could not often
indulge in that noisy freedom of speech, nor in those wild bursts of
bacchanalian activity vulgarly known by the name of "hell's delight,"
of which licensed ale-houses are sometimes the scenes; and where the
dangerous Lancashire ale-house game, called "Th' Bull upo' th' Bauk,"
has sometimes finished a night of drunken comedy with a touch of real
tragedy. The most suitable customers for the "hush-shop" were quiet,
steady soakers, who cared for no other company than a full pitcher;
and whose psalm of life consisted of scraps of drinking-songs like the
following, trolled out in a low chuckling tone:--

    O good ale, thou art my darling,
    I love thee night, I love thee morning,
    I love thee new, I love thee old;
    I love thee warm, I love thee cold!
                              Oh! good ale!

There is an old drinking-song just re-published in "The Songs of the
Dramatists," which was printed in 1575, in Bishop Still's comedy of
"Gammer Gurton's Needle," though probably known earlier. Fragments of
this song are still known and sung in the north of England. The burden
runs thus in a Lancashire version:--

    Back and side, go bare, go bare,
      Fuut and hond, go coud;
    But bally, God send thee good ale enough,
      Whether it's yung or owd!

Having glanced in this brief way at the progress of Heywood, from the
time when it first began to give a human interest to the locality, as a
tiny hamlet, about the end of the fifteenth century, up to its present
condition, as a cotton-spinning town of twenty thousand inhabitants,
surrounded by a district alive with manufacturing activities, I will
return to the narrative of my visit to the place, as it fell on one
fine afternoon about the end of June.

We had come round from the railway station, along the southern edge
of the town, and through the fields, by a footpath which led us into
Heywood about one hundred yards from the old chapel in the middle of
the place. The mills were stopped. Country people were coming into
town to do their errands, and a great part of the working population
appeared to be sauntering along the main street, stopping at the
shops, to make their markets as they went along; or casting about
for their Saturday night's diversion, and gazing from side to side,
to see what could be seen. Clusters of factory girls were gathered
about the drapers' windows. These girls were generally clean and
tidy; and, not unfrequently, there were very intelligent and pretty
countenances amongst them. The older part of the factory operatives,
both men and women, had often a staid and jaded look. The shops were
busy with customers buying clothing, or food, or cheap publications;
and the ale-houses were getting lively. A little company of young
"factory chaps" were collected about a bookseller's shop, near the
old "Queen Anne," looking out for news, or pictures; or reading the
periodicals exposed in the windows. Now and then, a select straggler
wended his way across the road to change his "library-book" at the
Mechanics' Institution. There was considerable stir lower down the
street, where a noisy band of music was marching along, followed by an
admiring multitude. And, amongst the whole, a number of those active,
mischief-loving lads, so well known in every manufacturing town by the
name of "doffers," were clattering about, and darting after one another
among the crowd, as blithe as if they had never known what work was. We
crossed through the middle of the town, and went down the north road
into an open tract of meadow land, towards the residence of mine host.

The house was pleasantly situated in a garden, about two stones' throw
from the edge of Heywood, in the wide level of grass land called
"Yewood Ho' Greyt Meadow." The road goes close by the end of the
garden. We entered this garden by a little side gate, and on we went,
under richly-blossomed apple trees, and across the grass-plat, into
the house. The old housekeeper began to prepare tea for us; and, in
the meantime, we made ourselves at home in the parlour, which looked
out upon the garden and meadows at the front. Mine host sat down to
the piano, and played some of that fine old psalmody which the country
people of Lancashire take such delight in. His family consisted of
himself, a staid-looking old housekeeper, and his two motherless
children. One of these was a timid, bright-eyed little girl, with long
flaxen hair, who, as we came through the garden, was playing with her
hoop upon the grass-plat, under the blooming apple trees; but who, on
seeing a stranger, immediately sank into a shy stillness. The other
was a contemplative lad, about thirteen, with a Melancthon style of
countenance. I found him sitting in the parlour, absorbed in "Roderick
Random." As soon as tea was over, we went out in the cool of the
evening, to see the daylight die upon the meadows around. We could hear
the stir of Saturday night life in the town. Through the parlour window
we had caught glimpses of the weird flittings of a large bat; and, as
we stood bare-headed in the garden, it still darted to and fro about
the eaves, in dusky, vivid motions. As the cool night stole on, we went
in, and the shutters closed us from the scene. We lingered over supper,
talking of what newspaper writers call "the topics of the day," and of
books, and local characters and customs; and about half an hour before
midnight we crept off to bed.

When I rose from bed, and looked through the window of my chamber,
the rich haze of a cloudless midsummer morning suffused the air.
The sunshine lay glittering all over the dewy fields; for the fiery
steeds of Phoebus had not yet drunk up those springs "on chaliced
flowers that lie." The birds had been up many an hour, and were
carolling and chirping gleefully about the eaves of the house, and in
the gardens. The splendour of the day had touched even the dull town
on the opposite ridge with its beautifying magic; and Heywood seemed
to rest from its labours, and rejoice in the gladness which clothed
the heavens and the earth. The long factory chimneys, which had been
bathing their smokeless tops all night in the cool air, now looked up
serenely through the sunshine at the blue sky, as if they, too, were
glad to get rid of the week-day fume, and gaze quietly again upon the
loveliness of nature; and all the whirling spinning machinery of the
town was lying still and silent as the over-arching heavens. Another
Sabbath had dawned upon the world; and that day of God, and god of
days, was breathing its balm among the sons of toil once more.

    Man has another day to swell the past,
    And lead him near to little, but his last;
    But mighty nature bounds as from her birth;
    The sun is in the heavens, and life on earth;
    Flowers in the valley, splendour in the beam,
    Health on the gale, and freshness in the stream.
    Immortal man! behold her glories shine,
    And cry, exulting inly, "They are mine!"
    Gaze on, while yet thy gladden'd eye may see;
    A morrow comes when they are not for thee.

It was a feast to the senses and to the soul to look round upon such
a scene at such a time, with the faculties fresh from repose, and
conscious of reprieve from that relentless round of necessities that
follow them, hot-foot, through the rest of the week. As I dressed
myself, I heard mine host's little daughter begin to play "Rosseau's
Dream," in the parlour below, and I went down stairs humming a sort of
accompaniment to the tune; for it is a sweet and simple melody, which
chimed well with the tone of the hour. The shy musician stayed her
fingers, and rose timidly from her seat, as I entered the room; but a
little coaxing induced her to return to it, and she played the tune
over and over again for us, whilst the morning meal was preparing.
Breakfast was soon over, and the youngsters dressed themselves for
chapel, and left us to ourselves; for the one small bell of Heywood
chapel was going "Toll--toll--toll;" and straggling companies of
children were wending up the slope from the fields towards their Sunday
schools. Through the parlour window, I watched these little companies
of country children--so fresh, so glad, and sweet-looking--and as they
went their way, I thought of the time when I, too, used to start from
home on a Sunday morning, dressed in my holiday suit, clean as a new
pin from top to toe; and followed to the door with a world of gentle
admonitions. I thought of some things I learned "while standing at my
mother's knee;" of the little prayer and the blessing at bed time; of
the old solemn tunes which she used to sing when all the house was
still, whilst I sat and listened, drinking in those plaintive strains
of devotional melody, never to forget them more.

We were now alone in the silent house, and there was a Sabbatical
stillness all around. The sunshine gleamed in at the windows and open
doors; and, where we sat, we could smell the odours of the garden, and
hear the birds outside. We walked forth into the garden, among beds
of flowers, and blooming apple trees. We could hear the chirrup of
children's voices, still, going up the road, towards the town. From
the woods round Heywood Hall, there came over the meadows a thrilling
flood of music from feathered singers, sporting in those leafy shades.
All nature was at morning service: and it was good to listen to this
general canticle of praise to Him "whose service is perfect freedom."
A kind of hushed joy seemed to pervade the landscape, which did not
belong to any other day, however fine--as if the hills and vales knew
it was Sunday. To the wisest men, the whole universe is one place of
worship, and the whole course of human life a divine service. The man
who has a susceptible heart, and loves nature, will find renovation
in communion with her, no matter what troubles may disturb him in the
world of man's life:--

             For she can so inform
    The mind that is within us, so impress
    With quietness and beauty, and so feed
    With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
    Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
    Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
    The dreary intercourse of daily life
    Shall e'er prevail against us or disturb
    Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
    Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
    Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
    And let the misty-mountain winds be free
    To blow against thee.

The back yard of the house, in which we were sauntering, was divided
from the woods of Heywood Hall by a wide level of rich meadows; and the
thick foliage which lapped the mansion from view, looked an inviting
shelter from the heat of a cloudless midsummer forenoon--a place where
we could wander about swardy plots and lawns, among embowered nooks
and mossy paths--bathing in the coolness of green shades, in which
a multitude of birds were waking the echoes with a sweet tumult of
blending melodies. Being disposed for a walk, we instinctively took the
way thitherward. The high road from the town goes close by the front
gates of the hall. This road was formerly lined by a thick grove of
trees, called "Th' Lung Nursery," reaching nearly from the edge of
the village to the gates. The grove so shut out the view, and overhung
each side of the way, that the walk between looked lonely after dark;
and country folk, who had been loitering late over their ale, in
Heywood, began to toot from side to side, with timid glances, and stare
with fear at every rustle of the trees, when they came to "Th' Lung
Nursery." Even if two were in company, they hutched closer together
as they approached this spot, and began to be troubled with vivid
remembrances of manifold past transgressions, and to make internal
resolutions to "Fear God, an' keep th' co'sey," thenceforth, if they
could only manage to "hit th' gate" this once, and get safely through
the nursery, and by the water-stead in Hooley Clough, where "Yewood Ho'
Boggart comes a-suppin' i'th deeod time o'th neet." This road was then,
also, flanked on each side by a sprawling thorn-edge, overgrown with
wild mint, thyme, and nettles; and with thistles, brambles, stunted
hazles, and wild rose bushes; with wandering honeysuckles weaving about
through the whole. It was full of irregular dinges, and "hare-gates,"
and holes, from which clods had been riven; and perforated by winding
tunnels and runs, where the mole, the weasel, the field-mouse, and the
hedgehog wandered at will. Among the thorns at the top, there was many
an erratic, scratchy breach, the result of the incursions of country
herbalists, hunters, bird-nesters, and other roamers of the woods and
fields. It was one of those old-fashioned hedges which country lads
delight in; where they could creep to and fro, in a perfect revel of
freedom and fun, among brushwood and prickles, with no other impediment
than a wholesome scratching; and where they could fight and tumble
about gloriously, among nettles, mint, mugwort, docks, thistles,
sorrel, "Robin-run-i'th-hedge," and a multitude of other wild herbs
and flowers, whose names and virtues it would puzzle even a Culpepper
to tell; rough and free as so many snod-backed modiwarps--ripping and
tearing, and soiling their "good clooas," as country mothers used to
call them, by tumbling among the dry soil of the hedge-side, and then
rolling slap into the wet ditch at the bottom, among "cuckoo-spit," and
"frog-rud," and all sorts of green pool-slush; to the dismay of sundry
limber-tailed "Bull-Jones," and other necromantic fry that inhabit
such stagnant moistures. Some looked for nests, and some for nuts,
while others went rustling up the trees, trying the strength of many
a bough; and all were blithe and free as the birds among the leaves,
until the twilight shades began to fall. Whilst the sun was still in
the sky, they thought little about those boggarts, and "fairees,"
and "feeorin'," which, according to local tradition, roam the woods,
and waters, and lonely places; sometimes with the malevolent intent
of luring into their toil any careless intruder upon their secluded
domain. Some lurking in the streams and pools, like "Green Teeth,"
and "Jenny Long Arms," waiting, with skinny claws, for an opportunity
to clutch the wanderer upon the bank into the water. Others, like
"Th' White Lady," "Th' Skrikin' Woman," "Baum Rappit," "Grizlehurst
Boggart," and "Clegg Ho' Boggart," haunting lonely nooks of the green
country, and old houses, where they have made many a generation of
simple folk pay a toll of superstitious fear for some deed of darkness
done in the dim past. Others, like "Nut Nan," prowling about shady
recesses of the woods, "wi' a poke-full o' red-whot yetters, to brun
nut-steylers their e'en eawt." But, when dusky evening began to steal
over the fading scene, and the songs of birds, and all the sounds of
day began to die upon the ear--when the droning beetle, and the bat
began to flit about; and busy midges danced above the road, in mazy
eddies, and spiral columns, between the eye and the sky; then the
superstitious teachings of their infancy began to play about the mind;
and, mustering their traps, the lads turned their feet homeward, tired,
hungry, scratched, dirty, and pleased; bearing away with them--in
addition to sundry griping feeds of unripe dogberry, which they had
eaten from the hedge-sides--great store of hazlenuts, and earth-nuts;
hips and haws; little whistles, made of the bark of the wicken tree;
slips of the wild rose, stuck in their caps and button-holes; yellow
"skedlocks," and whiplashes made of plaited rushes; and sometimes,
also, stung-up eyes and swollen cheeks, the painful trophies of
encounters with the warlike inhabitants of "wasp-nests," unexpectedly
dropped on, in the course of their frolic.

    Oh! sweet youth; how soon it fades;
    Sweet joys of youth, how fleeting!

The road home was beguiled with clod-battles, "Frog-leap," and "Bob
Stone," finishing with "Trinel," and "High Cockolorum," as they drew
near their quarters. The old hedge and the nursery have been cleared
away, and now the fertile meadows lie open to the view, upon each side
of the way.

On arriving at the entrance which leads to Heywood Hall, we turned
in between the grey gate-pillars. They had a lone and disconsolate
appearance. The crest of the Starkies is gone from the top; and the
dismantled shafts look conscious of their shattered fortunes. The
wooden gate--now ricketty and rotten--swung to and fro with a grating
sound upon its rusty hinges, as we walked up the avenue of tall trees,
towards the hall. The old wood was a glorious sight, with the flood of
sunshine stealing through its fretted roof of many-patterned foliage,
in freakish threads and bars, which played beautifully among the
leaves, weaving a constant interchange of green and gold within that
pleasant shade, as the plumage of the wood moved with the wind. The
scene reminded me of a passage in Spencer's "Faëry Queene:"--

    And all within were paths and alleies wide,
    With footing worne and leading inward farre:
    Faire harbour that them seems: so in they entred ar.

We went on under the trees, along the carriage road, now tinged with a
creeping hue of green; and past the old garden, with its low, bemossed
brick wall; and, after sauntering to and fro among a labyrinth of
footpaths, which wind about the cloisters of this leafy cathedral,
we came to the front of the hall. It stands tenantless and silent in
the midst of its ancestral woods, upon the brow of a green eminence,
overlooking a little valley, watered by the Roch. The landscape was
shut out from us by the surrounding trees; and the place was as still
as a lonely hermitage in the heart of an old forest. The tread of our
feet upon the flagged terrace in front of the mansion resounded upon
the ear. We peeped through the windows, where the rooms were all empty;
but the state of the walls and floors, and the remaining mirrors,
showed that some care was still bestowed upon this deserted hall. Ivy
hung thickly upon some parts of the straggling edifice, which has
evidently been built at different periods; though, so far as I could
judge, the principal part of it appears to be about two hundred years
old. When manufacture began greatly to change the appearance of the
neighbouring village and its surrounding scenery, the Starkies left
the place; and a wooded mound, in front of the hall, was thrown up and
planted, by order of the widow of the last Starkie who resided here,
in order to shut from sight the tall chimneys which were rising up
in the distance. A large household must have been kept here in the
palmy days of the Starkies. The following passage, relative to the
ancient inhabitants of Heywood Hall, is quoted from Edwin Butterworth's
"History of the Town of Heywood and its Vicinity:"--

     A family bearing this name flourished here for many generations;
     but they were never of much note in county genealogy, though more
     than one were active in public affairs. In 1492 occurs Robert de
     Heywode. In the brilliant reign of Elizabeth, Edmund Heywood,
     Esq., was required, by an order dated 1574, to furnish "a coate
     of plate, a long bowe, sheffe of arrows, steel cap, and bill,
     for the military musters."[28] James Heywood, gent., was living
     before 1604. Peter Heywood, Esq., a zealous magistrate, the
     representative of this family in the reigns of James the First
     and Charles the First, was a native and resident of Heywood hall,
     which was erected during the sixteenth century. It is said that he
     apprehended Guido Faux coming forth from the vault of the house
     of parliament on the eve of the gunpowder treason, Nov. 5, 1605.
     He probably accompanied Sir Thomas Kneuett, in his search of the
     cellars under the parliament house. In 1641, "an order was issued
     that the justices of the peace of Westminster should carefully
     examine what strangers were lodged within their jurisdiction;
     and that they should administer the oaths of allegiance and
     supremacy to all suspected of recusancy, and proceed according
     to those statutes. An afternoon being appointed for that service
     in Westminster hall, and many persons warned to appear there,
     amongst the rest one ---- James, a Papist, appeared, and being
     pressed by Mr. Hayward (Heywood), a justice of the peace, to take
     the oaths, suddenly drew out his knife and stabbed him; with some
     reproachful words, 'for persecuting poor Catholics.' This strange,
     unheard-of outrage upon the person of a minister of justice,
     executing his office by an order of parliament, startled all men;
     the old man sinking with the hurt, though he died not of it. And
     though, for aught I could ever hear, it proceeded only from the
     rage of a sullen varlet (formerly suspected to be crazed in his
     understanding), without the least confederacy or combination with
     any other, yet it was a great countenance to those who were before
     thought over apprehensive and inquisitive into dangers; and made
     many believe it rather a design of all the Papists of England,
     than a desperate act of one man, who could never have been induced
     to it, if he had not been promised assistance by the rest,"[29]
     Such is Lord Clarendon's account of an event that has rendered
     Peter Heywood a person of historical note; how long he survived
     the attempt to assassinate him is not stated.

     It is highly probable that Mr. Heywood had imbibed an undue
     portion of that anti-Catholic zeal which characterised the times
     in which he lived, and that he was the victim of those rancorous
     animosities which persecution never fails to engender.

     Peter Heywood, of Heywood, Esq., was one of the gentlemen of the
     county who compounded for the recovery of their estates, which
     had been sequestrated 1643-5, for supporting the royal cause. He
     seems to have been a son of the Mr. Heywood that was stabbed; he
     re-obtained his property for the sum of £351.[30]

     The next of this family on record is Peter _Heiwood_, Esq., who
     was one of the "counsellors of Jamaica" during the commonwealth.
     One of his sons, Peter _Heiwood_, Esq., was commemorated by an
     inscription on a flat stone in the chancel of the church of St.
     Anne's-in-the-Willows, Aldersgate-ward, London, as follows:--

     "Peter Heiwood, that deceased Nov. 2, 1701, younger son of Peter
     Heiwood, one of the counsellours of Jamaica, by Grace, daughter of
     Sir John Muddeford, Knight and Baronet, great grandson to Peter
     Heywood, in the county palatine of Lancaster; who apprehended Guy
     Faux with his dark lanthorn; and for his zealous prosecution of
     Papists, as justice of peace, was stabbed in Westminster hall, by
     John James, Dominican friar, anno. domini. 1640.

    "Reader, if not a papist bred,
    Upon such ashes gently tread."[31]

 [28] Harl. MSS. 1,926. There is a pedigree of this family in
 Dodsworth's MSS. Bodleian Lib. vol. lxxix.

 [29] Clarendon's "History of the Rebellion," edit. 1714, v. 1, p. 196.

 [30] Baines's 4to. "Hist. Lancashire," v. 1, p. 586: v. 2, p. 676.
 12mo: v. 1, p. 55. Adams's Cat. of Lords, &c., who compounded for
 their estates, p. 51.

 [31] Survey of London, by Stowe, Strype's edition, 1720, vol 1, fol.
 102.

     Robert Heywood, of Heywood, Esq., married Mary Haslam, of
     Rochdale, Dec. 20, 1660; and was probably elder brother of Peter
     _Heiwood_, of London.

     In the visitation of 1664, are traced two lines of the Heywoods,
     those of Heywood and Walton; from the latter was descended Samuel
     Heywood, Esq., a Welch judge,[32] uncle of Sir Benjamin Heywood,
     Baronet, of Claremont, near Manchester. The armorial bearing of
     the Heywoods, of Heywood, was argent, three torteauxes, between
     two bendlets gules.

     The property of this ancient family, principally consisting of
     Heywood Hall and adjoining lands, is said to have been purchased
     by Mr. John Starkey, of the Orchard, in Rochdale, in the latter
     part of the seventeenth or the beginning of the eighteenth
     century. Mr. Starkey was living in 1719; his descendant, John
     Starkey, Esq., married Mary, daughter of Joseph Gregge, Esq., of
     Chamber Hall, Oldham. John Starkey, Esq., who died March 13, 1780,
     was father of James Starkey, Esq., of Fell Foot, near Cartmel,
     Lancashire, the present possessor of Heywood Hall, born September
     8, 1762, married, September 2, 1785, Elizabeth, second daughter of
     Edward Gregg Hopwood, Esq. In 1791, Mr. Starkey served the office
     of high sheriff of the county. From this family branched the
     Starkeys of Redivals, near Bury.

Heywood looks anything but picturesque, at present; but, judging from
the features of the country about the hall, especially on the north
side of it, this house must have been a very pleasant and retired
country seat about a century and a half ago.

Descending from the eminence, upon the northern edge of which Heywood
Hall is situated,--and which was probably the first inhabited
settlement hereabouts, at a time when the ground now covered by the
manufacturing town, was a tract of woods and thickets, wild swards,
turf moss, and swamps--we walked westward, along the edge of the Roch,
towards the manufacturing hamlet of Hooley Bridge. This valley, by the
water-side, has a sylvan and cultivated appearance. The quiet river
winds round the pastures of the hall, which slope down to the water,
from the shady brow upon which it stands. The opposite heights are
clad with woods and plantations; and Crimble Hall looks forth from
the lawns and gardens upon the summit. About a mile up this valley,
towards Rochdale town, in a quiet glen, lies the spot pointed out in
Roby's "Tradition" of "Tyrone's Bed," as the place where the famous
Irish rebel, Hugh O'Niel, Earl of Tyrone, lived in concealment some
time, during the reign of Elizabeth. Even at this day, country folks,
who know little or nothing of the tradition, know the place by the name
of "Yel's o' Thorone"--an evident corruption of the "Earl of Tyrone."
This was the Irish chieftain who burnt the poet Spenser out of his
residence, Rathcormac Castle. It was dinner time when we reached the
stone bridge at Hooley Clough; so we turned up the road towards home.

 [32] Corry's Lancashire, v. 2, p. 619. In Dodsworth's MSS. Bodleian
 Lib. v. cxvii. p. 163, is a record of Robert Heywood, Esq.

The youngsters and the dinner were waiting for us, when we got back to
the house. The little girl was rather more communicative than before;
and, after the meal was over, we had more music. But, while this was
going on, the lad stole away to some nook, with a book in his hand.
And, soon after, the master of the house and I found ourselves again
alone, smoking and talking together. I had enjoyed this summer day so
far, and was inclined to make the most of it; so, when dinner was over,
I went out at the back, and down by a thorn-edge, which divides the
meadows. I was soon followed by mine host, and we sauntered on together
till we came to a shelving hollow, in which a still pool lay gleaming
like a sun among the meadows. It looked cool, and brought the skies
to our feet. Sitting down upon its bank, we watched the reflection
of many a straggling cloud of gauzy white, sailing over its surface,
eastward. Little fishes, leaping up now and then, were the only things
which stirred the burnished mirror, for a second or two, into tiny
tremulations of liquid gold; and water-flies darted to and fro upon the
pool, like nimble fancies in a fertile mind. And thus we lazily enjoyed
the glory of a summer day in the fields; while

    The lark was singing in the blinding sky,
    And hedges were white with may.

After awhile, we drifted dreamily asunder, and I crept under the
shade of a fence hard by, to avoid the heat; and there lay on my
back, looking towards the sky, through my fingers, to keep sight of a
fluttering spot from which a skylark poured down its rain of melody
upon the fields around. My face was half buried in grass and meadow
herbs; and I fell asleep with them peeping about my eye-lids. After
half an hour's dreamy doze in the sun--during which my mind seemed to
have acted over a whole lifetime in masquerade--I woke up, and, shaking
the buzz of field-flies out of my ears, we gathered up our books, and
went into the house.

When it drew towards evening, we left the house again--for it was so
fine outside, that it seemed a pity to remain under cover longer than
necessary--and we walked through the village in Hooley Clough, and on,
northward, up hill, and down dell, until we came to a wild upland,
called "Birtle," which stretches away along the base of Ashworth Moor.
The sun was touching the top of the hills when we reached that elevated
tract; and the western heavens were glowing with the grandeur of his
decline as we walked across the fields towards an old hamlet called
"Grislehurst." Here we stayed a while, conversing with an ancient
cottager and his dame, about the history of their native corner, its
legendary associations, and other matters interesting to them and to
us. We left Grislehurst in the twilight, by a route which led through
the deeps of Simpson Clough, and on, homewards, just as the first lamps
of evening were lighting up; rejoicing in the approach of a cloudless
summer night, as we had rejoiced in the glorious day which had gone
down.

The next morning, I returned to Manchester; and, since that time, it
has often been a pleasure to me in the crowded city to recollect that
summer day, spent in the country north of the town of Heywood. Its
images never return to my memory but I wish to hold them there awhile.
Emerson says:--"Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of
emperors ridiculous. The dawn is my Assyria; the sunset and moonrise
my Paphos, and unimaginable realms of faërie; broad noon shall be
my England of the senses and the understanding; the night shall be
my Germany of mystic philosophy and dreams." If men had their eyes
open to the beauties and uses of those elements which are open to all
alike, and felt the grandeur of this earth, which is the common home of
the living, how much would it reconcile them to their differences of
position, and moderate their repinings at the superiority of this man's
housing, and that man's dress and diet.

Looking back at the present character and previous history of this
town of Heywood, there is some suggestive interest in both the one and
the other. The period of its existence--from the time when it first
arose, in an almost uncultivated spot, as an habitation of man, till
now--is contained in such a brief space, that to any man who cares to
consider the nature of its origin, and the character of the influences
which have combined to make it such as it now is, the materials for
guiding him to a comprehension of these things, lie almost as much
within his reach as if the place were a plant which he had put into
the soil for himself, and the growth of which he had occasionally
watched with interest. In this respect, although Heywood wears much
the same general appearance as other cotton-spinning towns, it has
something of a character of its own, different from most of those
towns of Lancashire, whose histories go back many centuries, often
through eventful changes, till they grow dim among the early records
of the kingdom in general. Unlike those, however, Heywood is almost
entirely the creation of the cotton trade, which itself arose out of
the combination of a few ingenious thoughts put into practice by a
people who seem to have been eminently fitted by nature to perceive
their value, and to act enterprisingly upon what they perceived. If
it had been possible for an intelligent man to have lifted himself
into mid air above Heywood, about two hundred years ago, when its
first cottages began to cluster into a little village, and to settle
himself comfortably upon a cloud, so as to be able to watch the growth
of the place below, with all the changing phases of its life from
then till now, it might present to him a different aspect, and lead
him to different conclusions to those engendered by people living and
moving among the swarms of human action. In the mind of such a serene
overlooker--distinctly observing the detail and the whole of the manner
of life beneath him, and fully comprehending the nature of the rise
and progress of this Lancashire town--many thoughts might arise, which
would not occur to those who creep about the crowded earth, full of
little perturbations. But, to almost any thoughtful man, the history
of this manufacturing town would illustrate the power which a little
practical knowledge gives to a practical people over the physical
elements of creation, as well as over that portion of the people who
have little or no education, and are, therefore, drifted hither and
thither by every wind of circumstance which wafts across the surface
of society. It might suggest, too, how much society is indebted, for
whatever force or excellence there is in it, to the scattered seeds
of silent thought which have quietly done their work among the noise
of action--for ever leading it on to still better action; and it
might suggest how much the character of the next generation depends
upon the education of the present one. Looking at this question of
education merely in that point of view in which it affects production,
the following passage, by an eminent advocate of education, shall
speak for itself:--"Prior to education, the productive power of the
six millions of workers in the United Kingdom would be the physical
force which they were capable of exerting. In the present day, the
power really exerted is equal to the force of a hundred millions of men
at least. But the power of the uneducated unit is still the physical
force of one man, the balance being exerted by men who understand the
principles of mechanics and of chemistry, and who superintend the
machine power evolved thereby. Thus the power originated by the few,
and superintended by a fraction of society, is seventeen times greater
than the strength of all our workers, and is hourly increasing." If a
man was a pair of steam looms, how carefully would he be oiled, and
tended, and mended, and made to do all that a pair of looms could do.
What a loom, full of miraculous faculties is he, compared to these--the
master-piece of nature for creative power, and for wonderful variety of
capabilities! yet, with what a profuse neglect he is cast away, like
the cheapest rubbish on earth!



    The Grave of Grislehurst Boggart.

    Thought-wrapt, he wandered in the breezy woods,
    In which the summer, like a hermit, dwelt:
    He laid him down by the old haunted springs
    Up-bubbling, 'mid a world of greenery,
    Shut-eyed, and dreaming of the fairest shapes
    That roam the woods.
    --ALEXANDER SMITH.

    Whiles glow'ring round wi' prudent cares,
    Lest bogles catch him unawares.
    --BURNS.


When one gets a few miles off any of the populous towns in Lancashire,
many an old wood, many a lonesome clough, many a quiet stream
and ancient building, is the reputed haunt of some local sprite,
or "boggart," or is enveloped in an atmosphere of dread by the
superstitions of the neighbourhood, as being the resort of fairies, or
"feeorin."[33] This is frequently the case in retired vales and nooks
lying between the towns. But it is particularly so in the hilly parts,
where the old manners of the people are little changed, and where many
homelets of past ages still stand in their old solitudes, and--like
their sparse population--retain many of their ancient characteristics.
In such places, the legends and superstitions of the forefathers of
Lancashire are cherished with a tenacity which would hardly be credible
to the inhabitants of great cities in these days. There, still lingers
the belief in witchcraft, and in the power of certain persons to do
ill, through peculiar connection with the evil one; and the belief,
also, that others--known as "witch-doctors"--are able to "rule the
spells," or counteract the malign intents of necromancy; and possess
secret charms which afford protection against the foul fiend and all
his brood of infernal agencies.

 [33] _Feeorin_--fearful things.

A few years ago, I lived at an old farm, called "Peanock," up in the
hills, towards Blackstone Edge. At that time, a strong little fellow
about twenty-three years of age, called "Robin," was employed as
"keaw-lad" at the farm. Robin used to tell me tales of the witches
and boggarts of the neighbourhood. The most notable one of them all
was "Clegg Ho' Boggart," which is commemorated by the late Mr. John
Roby, in his "Traditions of Lancashire." This local sprite is still
the theme of many a winter's tale, among the people of the hills about
Clegg Hall. The proverb "Aw'm here again--like Clegg Ho' Boggart," is
common there, and in the surrounding towns and villages. I remember
Robin saying that when he had to go into the "shippon" early on a
winter's morning, with a light, he used to advance his lantern and
let it shine a minute or two into the "shippon" before he durst enter
himself, on account of the "feeorin" which "swarmed up and deawn th'
inside i'th neet time." But he said that "things o' that mak couldn't
bide leet," for, as soon as his lantern glinted into the place, he
could see "witches scuttering through th' slifters o'th wole, by
theawsans, like bits o' leet'nin." He used to tell me, too, that a
dairy-lass at a neighbouring farm had to let go her "churn-pow,"
because "a rook o' little green divuls begun a-swarmin up th' hondle,
as hoo wur churnin'." And then he would glance, with a kind of
unconscious timidity, towards a nook of the yard, where stood three
old cottages connected with the farm; and in one of which there dwelt
an aged man, of singular habits and appearance, of whose supposed
supernatural powers most of the people of that neighbourhood harboured
a considerable degree of fear; and, as he glanced towards the corner
of the building, he would tell me in an under tone that the Irish cow,
"Red Jenny," which used to be "as good a keaw as ever whiskt a tail,
had never lookt up sin' owd Bill glented at hur through a hole i'th
shippon wole, one mornin, as Betty wur milkin hur." Prejudices of this
kind are still common in thinly-peopled nooks of the Lancashire hills.
"Boggarts" appear, however, to have been more numerous than they are
now, when working people wove what was called "one lamb's wool" in a
day; but when it came to pass that they had to weave "three lambs'
wools" in a day, and the cotton trade arose, boggarts, and fairies,
and "feeorin" of all kinds, began to flee away from the clatter of
shuttles, and the tired weaver was fain to creep from his looms to
bed, where he could rest his body, and weave his fearful fancies into
the freakish pattern of a dream. And then, railway trains began to
rumble hourly through solitudes where "the little folk" of past days
had held undisturbed sway; and perhaps these helped to dispel some of
those dreams of glamour which had been fostered by the ignorance of the
past.

Far on in the afternoon of a summer day, I sat at tea with an
acquaintance who dwells in the fields outside the town of Heywood. We
had spent the forenoon in visiting Heywood Hall, and rambling among its
woods, and through a pleasant clough, which winds along the northern
base of the eminence on which that old mansion stands. We lingered over
the afternoon meal, talking of the past and present of the district
around us. We speculated upon the ancient aspect of the country, and
the condition and characteristics of its early inhabitants; we talked
of the old local gentry, their influence, their residences, and their
fortunes; of remarkable local scenes, and men; and of the present
features of life in these districts. Part of our conversation related
to the scenery of that tract of hills and cloughs which comprises
the country, rising, northward, from Heywood up to the lofty range
of moorlands which divides that part of Lancashire from Rossendale
Forest. Up in this remote tract, there is a solitary hamlet, called
Grislehurst. To a stranger's eye, the two quaint farmsteads, which
are now the sole relics of the hamlet, would be interesting, if only
on account of the retired beauty of their situation, and the romantic
character of the scenery around. Grislehurst stands on an elevated
platform of land, called "Birtle," or "Birkle," the place of birches.
It is bounded on the north by the ridge of Ashworth moor, and the
lofty mass of Knowl hill; and on the east by Simpson Clough, a deep
ravine, about two miles long, running up into the hills. This glen of
precipitous crags, and wood-shrouded waters, is chiefly known to those
who like rough and lonesome country walks; and to anybody who loves to
ramble among such legend-haunted solitudes, a moonlight walk through
"Simpson Clough" would be a pleasure not easily forgotten. Grislehurst
stands about a stone's throw from the western brink of the clough, and
out of the way of common observation. But it is not only the lone charm
of its situation which makes this hamlet interesting. Grislehurst is a
settlement of the early inhabitants of the district; and was for some
centuries one of the seats of the Holt family, of Grislehurst, Stubley,
and Castleton, in this parish; a branch of the Holts of Sale, Ashton,
Cheshire. Some of this family fought in the Scottish wars, and also in
favour of the royal cause, at Edgehill, Newberry, Marston Moor, &c.,
and were named in King Charles's projected order of the Royal Oak.[34]
There was a Judge Holt, of the Holts of Sale; and a James Holt, whose
mother was co-heiress to Sir James de Sutton; he was killed at Flodden
Field. Mary, the daughter of James Holt, the last of the family who
resided at Castleton Hall, in this parish, married Samuel, brother of
Humphrey Cheetham. The manor of Spotland was granted by Henry VIII.
to Thomas Holt, of Grislehurst, who was knighted in Scotland, by
Edward, Earl of Hertford, in the thirty-sixth year of the reign of
that monarch. The Holts were the principal landowners in the parish
of Rochdale at the close of the sixteenth century. What remains of
Grislehurst is still associated in the mind with the historic interest
which attaches to this once powerful local family. The place is also
closely interwoven with some other ancient traditions of the locality,
oral and written.[35] In earlier years, I have often wandered about
the woods, and waters, and rocky recesses of this glen, thinking of
the tale of the rebel Earl,[36] who is said to have concealed himself,
two centuries ago, in a neighbouring clough which bears his name; and,
wrapt in a dreamland of my own, sometimes a little tinctured with the
wizard lore which lingers among the primitive folk of that quarter.
But, in all my walks thereabouts, I had never visited Grislehurst,
till this summer afternoon, when, as we sat talking of the place, my
curiosity impelled me to propose an evening ramble to the spot; from
which we could return, by another route, through Simpson Clough.

 [34] Thomas Posthumus Holt, Esq., was one of the intended Knights of
 the Order of the Royal Oak. According to MS. memorandum, he died 26th
 March, 1669, "after sown-sett a hower, as they report it."--_Burke's
 Commoners._

 [35] See "Tyrone's Bed," in Roby's "Traditions of Lancashire."

 [36] The turbulent Earl of Tyrone, who headed the Irish rebellion in
 the reign of Elizabeth.

We were not quite half an hour's walk from Grislehurst when we started
on the north road from Heywood; and the sun was still up in the
heavens. Half a mile brought us into Hooley Clough, where the road
leads through the village of Hooley Bridge. This village lines the
opposite banks of the Roch at that place. Its situation is retired
and picturesque. The vale in which it lies is agreeably adorned with
plantations, and the remains of old woods; and the whole scenery is
green and pleasant. The village itself has a more orderly and wholesome
appearance than any other manufacturing hamlet which I remember. The
houses were clean and comfortable-looking, and the roads in fair
condition. I noticed that nearly every cottage had its stock of coals
piled up under the front window, and open to the street; the "cobs"
nearly built up into a square wall, and the centre filled up with the
"sleck an' naplins." It struck me that if the people of Manchester were
to leave their coals thus free to the world, the course of a single
night would "leave not a wreck behind." The whole population of the
place is employed by the Fenton family, whose mills stand close to the
margin of the river, in the hollow of the clough.

We went up the steep cart road leading out of Hooley Clough towards
the north, emerging into the highway from Bury to Rochdale, about a
quarter of a mile from the lower end of Simpson Clough, and nearly
opposite the lodge of Bamford Hall. The country thereabouts is broken
into green hills and glens, with patches of old woods, shading the
sides of the cloughs. It is bleak and sterile in some parts, and thinly
populated, over the whole tract, up to the mountainous moors. As we
descended the highway into Simpson Clough, through an opening in the
trees, we caught a glimpse of "Makin mill," low down in a green valley
to the west. This old mill was the first cotton factory erected in
the township of Heap. It was built about 1780, by the firm of Peel,
Yates, and Co., and now belongs to Edmund Peel, Esq., brother to the
late prime minister. Looking over the northern parapet of the bridge,
in the hollow of the road, the deep gully of the clough is filled
with a cluster of mills, and the cottages attached to them. Woody
heights rise abruptly around, and craggy rocks over-frown this little
nest of manufacture, in the bottom of the ravine. We climbed up the
steep road, in the direction of Bury, and on reaching the summit, at
a place called "Th' Top o'th Wood," we turned off at the end of a row
of stone cottages, and went to the right, on a field-path which leads
to Grislehurst. Half a mile's walk brought us to two old farm-houses,
standing a little apart. We were at a loss to know which of the two,
or whether either of them belonged to Grislehurst Hall. The largest
took our attention most, on account of some quaint, ornamental masonry
built up in its walls; though evidently not originally belonging to
the building. We went round to look at the other side, where similar
pieces of ancient masonry were incorporated. The building, though old,
was too modern, and had too much barn-like plainness about it to be the
hall of the Holts. And then, the country around was all green meadow
and pasture; and if this building was not Grislehurst Hall, there was
none. I began to think that the land was the most remarkable piece
of antiquity about the place. But one part of the west side of this
building formed a comfortable cottage residence, the window of which
was full of plants, in pots. An hale old man, bareheaded, and in his
shirt-sleeves, leaned against the door-cheek, with his arms folded. He
was short and broad-set, with fresh complexion and bright eyes; and
his firm full features, and stalwart figure, bespoke a life of healthy
habits. He wore new fustian breeches, tied with black silk ribbon at
the knees. Leaning there, and looking calmly over the fields in the
twilight, he eyed us earnestly, as country folk do when strangers
wander into their lonely corners. The soft summer evening was sinking
beautifully on the quiet landscape, which stretches along the base of
Ashworth moor. The old man's countenance had more of country simplicity
than force of character in it; yet he was very comely to look upon, and
seemed a natural part of the landscape around him; and the hour and
the man together, somehow, brought to my mind a graphic line in the
book of Genesis, about Isaac going out "to meditate in the field at
eventide." After we had sauntered about the place a few minutes--during
which the old cottager watched us with a calm but curious eye--we went
toward him with the usual salutation about it being a "fine neet,"
and such like. He melted at once from his statuesque curiosity, and,
stepping slowly from the threshold, with his arms folded, replied,
"Ay, it is, for sure.... Wi'n had grand groo-weather[37] as week or
two. But a sawp o' deawnfo' 'ud do a seet o' good just neaw; an' we'st
ha' some afore lung; or aw'm chetted. Owd Knowe[38] has bin awsin to
put hur durty cap on a time or two to-day; an' as soon as hoo can shap
to tee it, there'll be wayter amoon us, yo'n see." His dame, hearing
the conversation, came forth to see what was going on, and wandered
slowly after us down the lane. She was a strong-built and portly old
woman, taller than her husband; and her light-complexioned face beamed
with health and simplicity. The evening was mild and still, and the
old woman wore no bonnet; nor even the usual kerchief on her head.
Her cap and apron were white as new snow, and all her attire looked
sound and sweet, though of homely cut and quality. I knew, somehow,
that the clothes she wore were scented with lavender or such like
herbs, which country folk lay at the bottom of the "kist," for the
sake of the aroma which they impart to their clothing. And no king's
linen could be more wholesomely perfumed. Give me a well-washed shirt,
bleached on a country hedge, and scented with country herbs! The hues
of sunset glowed above the lofty moors in front of us, and the stir of
day was declining into the rich hum of summer evening. The atmosphere
immediately around seemed clearer than when the sun was up; but a shade
of hazy gray was creeping over the far east. We lounged along the lane,
with the comely dame following us silently, at a distance of three or
four yards, wondering what we could be, and why we had wandered into
that nook at such a time. After a little talk with the old man, about
the hay-crop, the news of the town, and such like, we asked him whether
the spot we were upon was Grislehurst; and he replied, "Yo're upo' the
very clod."

 [37] _Groo-weather_--growing-weather.

 [38] Knowl hill, between Rochdale and Rossendale.

We then inquired where Grislehurst Hall stood; and whether the building
of which his cottage was a part, had been any way connected with it.

He brightened up at the mention of Grislehurst Hall; and, turning
sharply round, he said with an air of surprise, "What! dun yo pretend
to know aught abeawt Gerzlehus' Ho'?... Not mich, aw think; bi'th look
on yo."

I told him that all we knew of it was from reading, and from what we
had heard about it; and that, happening to be in the neighbourhood, we
had wandered up to see if there were any remains of it in existence.

"Ay, well," said he--and as he said it, his tone and manner assumed
a touch of greater importance than before--"if that's o' th' arran'
yo han, aw deawt yo'n made a lost gate. Noather yo, nor nobory elze
needs to look for Gerzlehus' Ho' no more. It's gwon, lung sin!... But
yo'n let reet for yerrin a bit o' summat abeawt it, if that'll do." He
then turned slowly round, and, pointing to a plot of meadow land which
abutted upon a dingle, to the south, he said, "Yo see'n that piece o'
meadow lond, at th' edge o'th green hollow theer?"

"Yes."

"Well; that's the spot wheer Gerzlehus' Ho' stoode, when aw're a lad.
To look at't neaw, yo wouldn't think at oathur heawse or hut had
studd'n upo' that clod; for it's as good a bit o' meadow lond as ever
scythe swept.... But that's the very spot wheer Gerzlehus' Ho' stoode.
An' it're a fine place too, mind yo; once't of a day. There's nought
like it upo' this country-side neaw; as heaw 'tis: noather Baemforth
Ho', nor noan on 'em. But what, things are very mich awturt sin
then.... New-fangle't folk, new-fangle't ways, new-fangle't everything.
Th' owd ho's gwon neaw, yo see'n; an' th' trees are gwon, 'at stoode
abeawt it. The dule steawnd theem at cut 'em deawn, say I![39] An' then
th' orchart's gwon; an' th' gardens an' o' are gwon; nobbut a twothre
at's laft o'er-anent this biggin--aw dar say yo see'd 'em as yo coom
up--they're morels.... An' then, they'n bigged yon new barn upo' th'
knowe; an' they'n cut, an' they'n carve't, an' they'n potter't abeawt
th' owd place, whol it doesn't look like th' same; it doesn't for
sure--not like th' same."

 [39] _The dule steawnd theem 'at cut em deawn_--the devil astonish
 those who cut them down.

We now asked him again whether the large stone building, in part of
which he lived, had belonged to the old hall.

"Ay, well," said he, looking towards it, "that's noan sich a feaw
buildin', that isn't. That're part o'th eawt-heawsin to Gerzlehus' Ho';
yo may see. There's a window theer, an' a dur-hole, an' some moor odd
bits abeawt it, of an owdish mak. Yo con happen tay summat fro thoose.
But it's divided into different livin's neaw, yo see'n. There's a new
farmer lives i'th top end theer. He's made greyt awterations. It's a
greadly good heawse i'th inside; if yo see'd through."

"Well," said I, "and what sort of a place was Grislehurst Hall itself?"

"What, Gerzlehus' Ho'?" replied he; "well, aw should know, as hea 'tis;
if onybody does. Aw've been a good while upo' th' clod for nought if
I dunnut.... Ay, thae may laugh; but aw're weel acquainted with this
greawn afore thir born, my lad--yers to mo, neaw?"[40]

 [40] _Yers to mo, neaw?_--hearest thou me, now?

I made some excuse for having smiled, and he went on.

"Gerzlehus' Ho' wur a very greyt place, yo may depend. It're mostly
built o' heavy oak bauks.... There wur ir Jammy lad,[41] an' me, an'
some moor on us--eh, we han carted some of a lot o' loads o' fine
timber an' stuff off that spot, at time an' time! An' there's bin a
deeol o' good flags, an' sich like, ta'en eawt o'th lond wheer th'
heawse stoode; an' eawt o'th hollow below theer--there has so."

 [41] _Ir Jammy lad_--our James's son.

"How long is that since?" said I.

The old woman, who had been listening behind us, with her hands clasped
under her apron, now stepped up, and said,

"Heaw lung sin? Why, it's aboon fifty year sin. He should know moor nor
yo abeawt it, aw guess."

"Ay," said the old man, "aw've known this clod aboon fifty year, for
sure. An' see yo," continued he, "there wur a shootin'-butts i' that
hollow; sin aw can tell on. And upo' yon green," said he, turning round
towards the north, and pointing off at the end of the building, "upo'
yon green there stoode an owd sun-dial, i'th middle of a piece o' lond
at's bin a chapel-yort, aforetime. They say'n there's graves theer yet.
An' upo' that knowe, wheer th' new barn stons, there wur a place o'
worship--so th' tale gwos."

It was clear that we had set him going on a favourite theme, and we
must, therefore, bide the issue.

Turning his face to the west, he pointed towards a green eminence at
a short distance, and said, "To this day they co'n yon hillock 'Th'
Castle,' upo' keawnt on there once being a place theer where prisoners
were confin't. An' that hee greawnd gwos bi'th name o'th 'Gallows
Hill;' what for, I know not."

He then paused, and, pointing to a little hollow near the place where
we stood, he slightly lowered his voice as he continued--"An' then, aw
reckon yo see'n yon bend i'th lone, wheer th' ash tree stons?"

"Ay."

"Well," said he, "that's the very spot wheer Gerzlehus' Boggart's
buried."

My thoughts had so drifted away in another direction, that I was
not prepared for such an announcement as this. I was aware that the
inhabitants of that district clung to many of the superstitions of
their forefathers; but the thing came upon me so unexpectedly, and when
my mind was so quietly absorbed in dreams of another sort, that, if
the old man had fired off a pistol close to my ear, I should not have
been much more astonished; though I might have been more startled. All
that I had been thinking of vanished at once; and my curiosity was
centred in this new phase of the old man's story. I looked into his
face to see whether he really meant what he had said; but there it
was, sure enough. In every outward feature he endorsed the sincerity
of his inward feeling. His countenance was as solemn as an unlettered
gravestone.

"Grislehurst Boggart;" said I, looking towards the place once more.

"Ay;" replied he. "That's wheer it wur laid low; an' some of a job it
wur. Yo happen never yerd on't afore."

The old woman now took up the story, with more earnestness even than
her husband.

"It's a good while sin it wur laid; an' there wur a cock buried wi' it,
with a stoop[42] driven through it. It're noan sattle't with a little;
aw'll uphowd yo."

"And dun you really think, then," said I, "that this place has been
haunted by a boggart?"

"Has bin--be far!" replied she. "It is neaw! Yodd'n soon find it eawt,
too, iv yo live't upo' th' spot. It's very mich if it wouldn't may yor
yure ston of an end; oathur wi' one marlock or another.[43] There's
noan so mony folk at likes to go deawn yon lone, at after delit,[44] aw
con tell yo."

"But, if it's laid and buried," replied I, "it surely doesn't trouble
you now."

"Oh, well," said the old woman, "iv it doesn't, it doesn't; so there
needs no moor. Aw know some folk winnot believe sich things; there is
at'll believe nought at o', iv it isn't fair druvven into 'em, wilto,
shalto;[45] but this is a different case, mind yo. Eh, never name it;
thoose at has it to deeol wi' knows what it is; but thoose at knows
nought abeawt sich like--whau, it's like summat an' nought talkin' to
'em abeawt it: so we'n e'en lap it up where it is."

 [42] _Stoop_--a stake; a long piece of pointed wood.

 [43] _Marlock_--a freak; a prank.

 [44] _Delit_--daylight.

 [45] _Wilto, shalto_--by force; against the will.

"Well, well, but stop," said the old man. "Yo say'n 'at it doesn't
trouble us neaw. Why, it isn't aboon a fortnit sin th' farmer's wife at
the end theer yerd summat i'th deeod time o'th neet; an' hoo wur welly
thrut eawt o' bed, too, beside--so then."

"Ah," said the old woman, "sich wark as that's scarrin',[46] i'th
neet time.... An' they never could'n find it eawt. But aw know'd
what it wur in a minute. Th' farmer's wife an me wur talking it o'er
again, yesterday; an' hoo says 'at ever sin it happen't hoo gets quite
timmersome as soon as it drays toawrd th' edge o' dark; iv there's
nobory i'th heawse but hersel'.... Well, an' one wyndy neet--as aw're
sittin' bi'th fire--aw yerd summat like a--"

Here the old man interrupted her:--

"It's no use folk tellin' me at they dunnut believe sich like things,"
said he, seeming not to notice his wife's story; "it's no use tellin'
me they dunnut believe it! Th' pranks at it's played abeawt this plaze,
at time an' time, would flay ony wick soul to yer tell on."

"Never name it!" said she; "aw know whether they would'n or not.... One
neet, as aw're sittin by mysel'--"

Her husband interposed again, with an abstracted air:--

"Un-yaukin' th' horses; an' turnin' carts an' things o'er i'th deep
neet time; an' shiftin' stuff up and deawn, when folk are i' bed; it's
rather flaysome, yo may depend. But then, aw know, there isn't a smite
o' sense i' flingin' one's wynt away wi' telling o' sich things, to
some folk.... It's war nor muckin' wi' sond, an' drainin' wi' cinders."

"And it's buried yonder," said I.

"Ay," replied he, "just i'th hollow; where th' ash tree is. That used
to be th' owd road to Rachda', when aw're a lad."

"Do you never think of delving the ground up," said I.

"Delve! nawe," answered he; "aw'st delve noan theer."

The old woman broke in again:--

"Nawe; he'll delve noan theer; nut iv aw know it! Nor no mon else dar
lay a finger upo' that clod. Joseph Fenton's[47] a meeterly bowd chap;
an' he's ruvven everything up abeawt this country-side, welly; but he
dar not touch Gerzlehus' Boggart, for his skin! An' aw houd his wit
good, too, mind yo!"

 [46] _Scarrin_--scaring; terrifying.

 [47] One of the Fenton family who own the land there.

It was useless attempting to unsettle the superstitions of this
primitive pair. They were too far gone. And it was, perhaps, best
to let the old couple glide on through the evening of their life,
untroubled by any ill-timed wrangling.

But the old dame suspected, by our looks, that we were on easy terms
with our opinion of the tale; and she said, "Aw dunnot think yo
believ'n a wort abeawt it!"

This made us laugh in a way that left little doubt upon the question;
and she turned away from us, saying, "Well, yo're weel off iv yo'n
nought o' that mak o' yo'r country-side."

We had now got into the fields, in the direction by which we intended
to make our way home; and the old people seemed inclined to return
to their cottage. We halted, and looked round a few minutes, before
parting.

"You've lived here a good while," said I to the old man, "and know all
the country round."

"Aw know every fuut o'th greawnd about this part--hill an' hollow, wood
and wayter-stid."

"You are getting to a good age, too," continued I.

"Well," said he, "aw'm gettin' boudly on into th' fourth score. Ir
breed are a lungish-wynded lot, yo see'n; tak 'em one wi' another."

"You appear to have good health, for your age," said I.

"Well," replied he, "aw ail mich o' nought yet--why, aw'm
meyt-whol,[48] an' sich like; an' aw can do a day-wark wi' some o'th
young uns yet--thank God for't.... But then aw'st come to't in a bit,
yo known--aw'st come too't in a bit. Aw'm so like.[49] Folk connut
expect to ha' youth at both ends o' life, aw guess; an' wi mun o' on us
oather owd be, or yung dee, as th' sayin' is."

 [48] _Meyt-whol_--meat-whole; able to eat his meals.

 [49] _Aw'm so like_--it may naturally be expected that I shall.

"It's gettin' time to rest at your age, too."

"Whau; wark's no trouble to me, as lung as aw con do't.
Beside, yo see'n, folk at's a dur to keep oppen, connut do't wi'th
wynt."[50]

 [50] _Folk at's a dur to keep oppen, connut do't wi'th wynt_--folk
 that have a house to maintain, cannot do it with the wind.

"Isn't Grislehurst cold and lonely in winter time?"

"Well; it is--rayther," said he. "But we dunnot think as mich at it as
teawn's-folk would do.... It'll be a greyt deeol warse at th' top o'
Know hill yon, see yo. It's cowd enough theer to starve an otter to
deeoth, i' winter time. But, here, we're reet enough, for th' matter o'
that. An' as for company, we gwon a-neighbourin' a bit, neaw an' then,
yo see'n. Beside, we getten to bed sooner ov a neet nor they dun in a
teawn."

"To my thinkin'," said the old woman, "aw wouldn't live in a teawn iv
eh mut wear red shoon."

"But you hav'n't many neighbours about here."

"Oh, yigh," said he. "There's th' farmer's theer; and one or two moor.
An' then, there's th' 'Top o'th Wood' folk. Then there's 'Hooley
Clough,' and th' 'War Office,'[51]--we can soon get to oathur o'
thoose, when we want'n a bit ov an extra do.... Oh! ah; we'n plenty o'
neighbours! But th' Birtle folk are a deeol on um sib an' sib, rib an'
rib--o' ov a litter--Fittons an' Diggles, an' Fittons an' Diggles o'er
again. An' wheer dun yo come fro, sen yo?"

 [51] _Th' War Office_--a name applied to the village of Bamford.

We told him.

"Well," said he; "an' are yo i'th buildin' line--at aw mun be so bowd?"

We again explained the motive of our visit.

"Well," said he; "it's nought to me, at aw know on--nobbut aw're
thinkin' like.... Did'n yo ever see Baemforth Ho', afore it're poo'd
deawn?"

"Never."

"Eh, that're a nice owd buildin'! Th' new un hardly comes up to't, i'
my e'en--as fine as it is.... An' are yo beawn back this gate, then?"

"Ay; we want to go through th' clough."

"Well; yo mun mind heaw yo gwon deawn th' wood-side; for it's a rough
gate. So, good neet to yo!"

We bade them both "Good night!" and were walking away, when he shouted
back, "Hey! aw say! Dun yo know Ned o' Andrew's?" "No." "He's the very
mon for yo! Aw've just unbethought mo! He knows moor cracks nor onybody
o' this side--an' he'll sit a fire eawt ony time, tellin' his bits o'
tales. Sper ov anybody at Hooley Bridge, an' they'n tell yo wheer he
lives. So, good neet to yo!"

Leaving the two old cottagers, and their boggart-haunted hamlet,
we went over the fields towards Simpson Clough. The steep sides of
this romantic spot are mostly clothed with woods of oak and birch.
For nearly a mile's length, the clough is divided into two ravines,
deep, narrow, and often craggy--and shady with trees. Two streams flow
down from the moors above, each through one of these gloomy defiles,
till they unite at a place from whence the clough continues its way
southward, in one wider and less shrouded expanse, but still between
steep and rocky banks, partly wooded. When the rains are heavy upon the
moors, these streams rush furiously through their rock-bound courses
in the narrow ravines, incapable of mischief, till they meet at the
point where the clough becomes one, when they thence form a strong and
impetuous torrent, which has, sometimes, proved destructive to property
lower down the valley. Coming to the western brink of this clough,
we skirted along in search of an opening by which we could go down
into it with the least difficulty. A little removed from the eastern
edge, and nearly opposite to us, stood Bamford new hall, the residence
of James Fenton, Esq., one of the wealthy cotton-spinners in this
locality. A few yards from that mansion, and nearer to the edge of the
clough, stood, a few years ago, the venerable hall of the Bamfords of
Bamford, one of the oldest families belonging to the old local gentry;
and, probably, among the first Saxon settlers there. Thomas de Bamford
occurs about 1193. Adam de Bamford granted land in villa de Bury, to
William de Chadwick, in 1413; and Sir John Bamford was a fellow of the
Collegiate Church of Manchester, in 1506.[52] A William Bamford, Esq.,
of Bamford, served the office of High Sheriff of the county, in 1787.
He married Ann, daughter of Thomas Blackburne, Esq., of Orford and
Hale, and was father of Ann, lady of John Ireland Blackburne, Esq.,
M.P. He was succeeded by Robert Bamford, Esq., who, from his connection
with the Heskeths of Cheshire, took the name of Robert Bamford Hesketh,
Esq., and married Miss Frances Lloyd, of Gwrych Castle. Lloyd Hesketh
Bamford Hesketh, Esq., of Gwrych Castle, Denbighshire, married Emily
Esther Ann, youngest daughter of Earl Beauchamp.[53] The old hall of
the Bamfords was taken down a few years ago. I do not remember ever
seeing it myself, but the following particulars respecting it have been
kindly furnished to me by a native gentleman, who knew it well:--"It
was a fine old building of the Tudor style, with three gables in front,
which looked towards the high road; it was of light-coloured ashler
stone, such as is found in the neighbourhood; with mullions, and
quaint windows and doors to match; and was, I think, dated about 1521.
Such another building you will certainly not find on this side of the
county. Castleton Hall comes, in my opinion, nearest to it in venerable
appearance; but Bamford Hall had a lighter and more cheerful aspect;
its situation, also, almost on the edge of the rocky chasm of Simpson
Clough, or, as it is often called, Guestless, _i.e._ Grislehurst
Clough, gave an air of romance to the place, which I do not remember to
have noticed about any ancient residence with which I am acquainted."

 [52] _Hollingworth's Mancuniensis_, Willis's edition, p. 53.

 [53] Court Magazine, vol. 8, No. 45.

Stillness was falling upon the scene; but the evening wind sung lulling
vespers in Grislehurst wood; and, now and then, there rose from the
rustling green, the silvery solo of some lingering singer in those
leafy choirs, as we worked our way through the shade of the wood, until
we came to the bed of "Nadin Water," in the shrouded hollow of the
clough. The season had been dry, and the water lay in quiet pools of
the channel,--gleaming in the gloom, where the light fell through the
trees. We made our way onward, sometimes leaping from stone to stone
in the bed of the stream, sometimes tearing over the lower part of the
bank, which was broken and irregular, and scattered with moss-greened
fragments of fallen rock, or slippery and swampy with lodgments of
damp, fed by rindles and driblets of water, running more or less, in
all seasons, from springs in the wood-shaded steep. In some parts, the
bank was overgrown with scratchy thickets, composed of dogberry-stalks,
wild rose-bushes, prickly hollins and thorns, young hazles and ash
trees; broad-leaved docks, and tall, drooping ferns; and, over all,
hung the thick green of the spreading wood. Pushing aside the branches,
we laboured on till we came into the opening where the streams combine.
A stone bridge crosses the water at this spot, leading up to the woody
ridge which separates the two ravines, in the upper part of the clough.
Here we climbed from the bed of the stream, and got upon a cart-road
which led out of the clough, and up to the Rochdale road, which crosses
the lower end of it, at a considerable elevation. The thin crescent of
a new moon's rim hung like a silver sickle in the sky; and the stars
were beginning to glow, in "Jove's eternal house!" whilst the fading
world below seemed hushed with awe, to see that sprinkling of golden
lights coming out in silence once more from the over-spanning blue.
We walked up the slope, from the silent hollow, between the woods, and
over the knoll, and down into Hooley Clough again, by the way we came
at first. Country people were sauntering about, upon the main road, and
in the bye-lanes, thereabouts, in twos and threes. In the village of
Hooley Bridge, the inhabitants were lounging at their cottage doors, in
neighbourly talk, enjoying the close of a summer day; and, probably,
"Ned o' Andrew's" was sitting in some quiet corner of the village,
amusing a circle of eager listeners with his quaint country tales.

A short walk brought us to the end of our ramble, and we sat down to
talk over what we had seen and heard. My visit to Grislehurst had been
all the more interesting that I had no thought of meeting with such a
living evidence of the lingering superstitions of Lancashire there. I
used to like to sit with country folk, hearkening to their old-world
tales of boggarts, and goblins, and fairies,

    That plat the manes of horses in the night,
    And cake the elf lock in foul, sluttish airs;

and I had thought myself well acquainted with the boggart-lore of my
native district; but the goblin of Grislehurst was new to me. By this
time I knew that in remote country houses the song of the cricket
and the ticking of the clock were beginning to be distinctly heard;
and that in many a solitary cottage these were, now, almost the only
sounds astir, except the cadences of the night wind, sighing around,
and making every crevice into a voice of mystic import to superstitious
listeners; while, perhaps, the rustle of the trees blended with the
dreamy ripple of some neighbouring brooklet. The shades of night would,
by this time, have fallen upon the haunted homesteads of Grislehurst,
and, in the folds of that dusky robe, would have brought to the old
cottagers their usual fears, filled with

        Shaping fantasies, that apprehend
    More than cool reason ever comprehends;

and I could imagine the good old pair creeping off to repose,
and covering up their eyes more carefully than usual from the
goblin-peopled gloom, after the talk we had with them about Grislehurst
Boggart.



    Boggart Ho' Clough.

    Under the greenwood tree,
    Who loves to lie with me,
    And tune his merry note
    Unto the sweet bird's throat,
    Come hither, come hither, come hither;
        Here we shall see
        No enemy,
    But winter and rough weather.
    --SHAKSPERE.


There is a quiet little clough about three miles from Manchester, near
the old village of Blackley. The best entrance to it is by a gateway
leading from the southern edge of a shady steep called "Entwisle Broo,"
on the highway from Manchester to Middleton. Approaching the spot
in this direction, a winding road leads down between a low bemossed
wall on the right, and a thorn hedge, which screens the green depth
on the left. The trees which line the path overlap the way with shade
in summer time, till it reaches the open hollow, where stands a
brick-built farm-house, with its outbuildings, and gardens,--sheltered
in the rear by the wooded bank of the clough. Thence, this pretty
Lancashire dell wanders on southward for a considerable distance,
in picturesque quietude. The township of Blackley, in which it is
situated, retains many traces of its former rural beauty, and some
remnants of the woods which once covered the district. As a whole,
Blackley is, even yet, so pleasantly varied in natural feature as
to rank among the prettiest scenery around Manchester, although its
valleys are now, almost all of them, more or less, surrendered to
the conquering march of manufacture--all, except this secluded glen,
known by the name of "Boggart Ho' Clough." Here, still, in this sylvan
"deer-leap" of the Saxon hunter, the lover of nature, and the jaded
townsman, have a tranquil sanctuary, where they can wander, cloistered
from the tumults of life; and there is many a contemplative rambler
who seeks the retirement of this leafy dell, the whole aspect of which
seems to invite the mind to a "sessions of sweet, silent thought."
One can imagine it such a place as a man of poetic temperament would
delight in; and the interest which has gathered around it is not
lessened by the fact, that before Samuel Bamford, the poet, left this
district to take up his abode in the metropolis, he dwelt at a pleasant
cottage, on the summit of the upland, near the eastern edge of the
clough. And here, in his native sequestration, he may have sometimes
felt the significance of Burns's words,--

    The muse, nae poet ever fand her,
    Till by himsel' he learn'd to wander,
    Down by some streamlet's sweet meander,
                And no think lang.

The rural charms and retired peacefulness of "Boggart Ho' Clough" might
well, in the vicinity of a place like Manchester, account for part of
its local celebrity; but not for the whole of it. The superstitions
of the locality and the shaping power of imagination have clothed the
place with an interest which does not solely belong to the embowered
gloom of its green recesses; nor to its picturesque steeps, overgrown
with fern and underwood; nor to the beauty of its swardy holm,
spreading out a pleasant space in the vale; nor to the wimpling rill
which wanders through it from end to end,

    Amongst the pumy stones, which seem to plaine,
    With gentle murmure, that his course they do restraine.

Man has clothed the scene in a drapery of wonder and fear, woven in
the creative loom of his own imagination. Any superstitious stranger,
wandering there, alone, under the influence of a midnight moon, would
probably think this a likely place for the resort of those spiritual
beings who "fly by night." He might truly say, at such an hour, that if
ever "Mab" held court on the green earth, "Boggart Ho' Clough" is just
such a nook, as one can imagine, that her mystic choir would delight
to dance in, and sing,--

      Come, follow, follow me,
      Ye fairy elves that be,
      Light tripping o'er the green,
      Come follow Mab, your queen;
    Hand in hand we'll dance around,
    For this place is fairy ground.

The place is now associated with the superstitions of the district; and
on that account, as well as on account of its natural attractions, it
has been the theme of more than one notable pen. In Roby's "Traditions
of Lancashire," there is a story called "The Bar-gaist, or Boggart,"
which is connected with "Boggart Ho' Clough." From this story, which
was contributed to that work by Mr. Crofton Croker, author of "The
Fairy Legends," I quote the following:--

"Not far from the little snug, smoky village of Blakeley, or Blackley,
there lies one of the most romantic of dells, rejoicing in a state of
singular seclusion, and in the oddest of Lancashire names, to wit,
'Boggart-Hole.' Rich in every requisite for picturesque beauty and
poetical association, it is impossible for me (who am neither a painter
nor a poet) to describe this dell as it should be described; and I
will, therefore, only beg of thee, gentle reader, who, peradventure,
mayst not have lingered in this classical neighbourhood, to fancy a
deep, deep dell, its steep sides fringed down with hazel and beech, and
fern and thick undergrowth, and clothed at the bottom with the richest
and greenest sward in the world. You descend, clinging to the trees,
and scrambling as best you may,--and now you stand on haunted ground!
Tread softly, for this is the Boggart's clough. And see in yonder dark
corner, and beneath the projecting mossy stone, where that dusky,
sullen cave yawns before us, like a bit of Salvator's best: there lurks
that strange elf, the sly and mischievous Boggart. Bounce! I see him
coming;--oh no, it was only a hare bounding from her form; there it
goes--there!

"I will tell you of some of the pranks of this very Boggart, and how
he teased and tormented a good farmer's family in a house hard by; and
I assure you it was a very worthy old lady who told me the story. But,
first, suppose we leave the Boggart's demesne, and pay a visit to the
theatre of his strange doings.

"You see that old farm-house about two fields distant, shaded by the
sycamore tree: that was the spot which the Boggart or Bar-gaist
selected for his freaks; there he held his revels, perplexing honest
George Cheetham--for that was the farmer's name--scaring his maids,
worrying his men, and frightening the poor children out of their seven
senses; so that, at last, not even a mouse durst show himself indoors
at the farm, as he valued his whiskers, five minutes after the clock
had struck twelve."

The story goes on describing the startling pranks of this invisible
torment of honest George Cheetham's old haunted dwelling. It tells
how that the Boggart, which was a long time a terror to the farmer's
family, "scaring the maids, worrying the men, and frightening the
poor children," became at last a familiar, mysterious presence--in
a certain sense, a recognised member of the household troop--often
heard, but never seen; and sometimes a sharer in the household
conversation. When merry tales were being told around the fire, on
winter nights, the Boggart's "small, shrill voice, heard above the
rest, like a baby's penny trumpet," joined the general laughter, in a
tone of supernatural congeniality; and the hearers learned, at last,
to hear without dismay, if not to love the sounds which they had
feared before. But Boggarts, like men, are moody creatures; and this
unembodied troubler of the farmer's lonely house seems to have been
sometimes so forgetful of everything like spiritual dignity, or even
of the claims of old acquaintance, as to reply to the familiar banter
of his mortal co-tenants, in a tone of petty malignity. He even went
so far, at last, as to revenge himself for some fancied insult, by
industriously pulling the children up and down by the head and legs in
the night time, and by screeching and laughing plaguily in the dark, to
the unspeakable annoyance of the inmates. In order to get rid of this
nocturnal torment, it appears that the farmer removed his children into
other sleeping apartments, leaving the Boggart sole tenant of their old
bedroom, which seems to have been his favourite stage of action. The
story concludes as follows:--

"But his Boggartship, having now fairly become the possessor of a room
at the farm, it would appear, considered himself in the light of a
privileged inmate, and not, as hitherto, an occasional visitor, who
merely joined in the general expression of merriment. Familiarity,
they say, breeds contempt; and now the children's bread and butter
would be snatched away, or their porringers of bread and milk would be
dashed to the ground by an unseen hand; or, if the younger ones were
left alone but for a few minutes, they were sure to be found screaming
with terror on the return of their nurse. Sometimes, however, he
would behave himself kindly. The cream was then churned, and the pans
and kettles scoured without hands. There was one circumstance which
was remarkable:--the stairs ascended from the kitchen; a partition of
boards covered the ends of the steps, and formed a closet beneath the
staircase. From one of the boards of this partition a large round knot
was accidentally displaced; and one day the youngest of the children,
while playing with the shoehorn, stuck it into this knot-hole. Whether
or not the aperture had been formed by the Boggart as a peep-hole to
watch the motions of the family, I cannot pretend to say. Some thought
it was, for it was called the Boggart's peep-hole; but others said that
they had remembered it long before the shrill laugh of the Boggart was
heard in the house. However this may have been, it is certain that the
horn was ejected with surprising precision at the head of whoever put
it there; and either in mirth or in anger the horn was darted forth
with great velocity, and struck the poor child over the ear.

"There are few matters upon which parents feel more acutely than that
of the maltreatment of their offspring; but time, that great soother
of all things, at length familiarised this dangerous occurrence to
every one at the farm, and that which at the first was regarded with
the utmost terror, became a kind of amusement with the more thoughtless
and daring of the family. Often was the horn slipped slyly into the
hole, and in return it never failed to be flung at the head of some
one, but most commonly at the person who placed it there. They were
used to call this pastime, in the provincial dialect, 'laking wi't'
Boggart;' that is playing with the Boggart. An old tailor, whom I but
faintly remember, used to say that the horn was often 'pitched' at his
head, and at the head of his apprentice, whilst seated here on the
kitchen table, when they went their rounds to work, as is customary
with country tailors. At length the goblin, not contented with flinging
the horn, returned to his night persecutions. Heavy steps, as of a
person in wooden clogs, were at first heard clattering down stairs
in the dead hour of darkness; then the pewter and earthen dishes
appeared to be dashed on the kitchen floor; though in the morning all
remained uninjured on their respective shelves. The children generally
were marked out as objects of dislike by their unearthly tormentor.
The curtains of their beds would be violently pulled to and fro;
then a heavy weight, as of a human being, would press them nigh to
suffocation, from which it was impossible to escape. The night, instead
of being the time for repose, was disturbed with screams and dreadful
noises, and thus was the whole house alarmed night after night.
Things could not long continue in this fashion; the farmer and his
good dame resolved to leave a place where they could no longer expect
rest or comfort; and George Cheetham was actually following, with his
wife and family, the last load of furniture, when they were met by a
neighbouring farmer, named John Marshall.

"'Well, Georgy, and so yo're leaving th' owd house at last?' said
Marshall.

"'Heigh, Johnny, my lad, I'm in a manner forced to't, thou sees,'
replied the other; 'for that weary Boggart torments us so, we can
neither rest neet nor day for't. It seems like to have a malice again't
young uns, an' ommost kills my poor dame here at thoughts on't, and so
thou sees we're forc'd to flit like.'

"He had got thus far in his complaint, when, behold, a shrill voice,
from a deep upright churn, the topmost utensil on the cart, called out,
'Ay, ay, neighbour, we're flitting, yo see.'

"'Od rot thee,' exclaimed George: 'if I'd known thou'd been flitting
too, I wadn't ha' stirred a peg. Nay, nay, it's to no use, Mally,' he
continued, turning to his wife, 'we may as weel turn back again to th'
owd house, as be tormented in another not so convenient.'"

Thus endeth Crofton Croker's tradition of the "Boggart," or
"Bar-gaist," which, according to the story, was long time a well-known
supernatural pest of old Cheetham's farm-house, but whose principal
lurking place was supposed to be in a gloomy nook of "Boggart Ho'
Clough," or "Boggart Hole Clough," for the name adopted by the writer
of the tradition appears to be derived from that superstitious belief.
With respect to the exact origin of the name, however, I must entirely
defer to those who know more about the matter than myself. The features
of the story are, generically, the same as those of a thousand such
like superstitious stories still told and believed in all the country
parts of England--though perhaps more in the northern part of it than
elsewhere. Almost every lad in Lancashire has, in his childhood, heard,
either from his "reverend grannie," or from some less kin and less kind
director of his young imagination, similar tales connected with old
houses, and other haunts, in the neighbourhood of his own birthplace.

Among those who have noticed "Boggart Ho' Clough," is Mr. Samuel
Bamford, well known as a poet, and a graphic prose writer upon the
stormy political events of his earlier life, and upon whatever relates
to the manners and customs of Lancashire. In describing matters of the
latter kind, he has the advantage of being "native and to the manner
born;" and still more specially so in everything connected with the
social peculiarities of the locality of his birth. He was born at
Middleton, about two miles from "Boggart Ho' Clough," and, as I said
before, he resided for some years close to the clough itself. In his
"Passages in the Life of a Radical," vol. 1. p. 130, there begins one
of the raciest descriptions of Lancashire characteristics with which I
am acquainted. The first part of this passage contains a descriptive
account of "Plant," a country botanist; "Chirrup," a bird-catcher;
and "Bangle," a youth "of an ardent temperament, but bashful," who
was deeply in love with "a young beauty residing in the house of her
father, who held a small milk-farm on the hill-side, not far from Old
Birkle." It describes the meeting of the three in the lone cottage of
Bangle's mother, near Grislehurst wood; the conversation that took
place there; and the superstitious adventure they agreed upon, in order
to deliver young Bangle from the hopelessness of his irresistible and
unrequited love-thrall. "His modest approaches had not been noticed
by the adored one; and, as she had danced with another youth at Bury
fair, he imagined she was irrecoverably lost to him, and the persuasion
had almost driven him melancholy. Doctors had been applied to, but he
was no better; philters and charms had been tried to bring down the
cold-hearted maid--but all in vain:--

    "He sought her at the dawn of day;
    He sought her at the noonin';
    He sought her when the evening gray
    Had brought the hollow moon in.

    "He call'd her on the darkest night,
    With wizard spells to bind her:
    And when the stars arose in light,
    He wandered forth to find her.

"At length sorcerers and fortune-tellers were thought of, and 'Limping
Billy,' a noted seer, residing at Radcliffe Bridge, having been
consulted, said the lad had no chance of gaining power over the damsel,
unless he could take Saint John's Fern seed; and if he could but secure
three grains of that, he might bring to him whatever he wished, that
walked, flew, or swam."

Such being the conditions laid down, and believed in by the three,
they resolved to venture, together, on the taking of Saint John's
Fern seed, with strict observance of the time and the cabalistic
ceremonials enjoined by "Limping Billy," the seer, of Radcliffe Bridge.
"Plant," the botanist, "knew where the finest clump of fern in the
country grew;" and he undertook to accompany "Chirrup" and "Bangle"
to the spot, at the time appointed, the eve of St. John the Baptist.
The remainder of the passage describes "Boggart Ho' Clough," the spot
in which St. John's Fern then grew in great abundance, and where the
botanists of the district still find the plant; it describes, also, the
fearful enterprise of the three at the witching hour of midnight, in
search of the enchanted seed:--

"On the left hand, reader, as thou goest towards Manchester, ascending
from Blackley, is a rather deep valley, green swarded, and embowered in
plantations and older woods. A driving path, which thou enterest by a
white gate hung on whale-jaw posts,[54] leads down to a grove of young
trees, by a modern and substantial farm-house, with green shutters,
sashed windows, and flowers peeping from the sills. A mantle of ivy
climbs the wall, a garden is in front, and an orchard, redolent of
bloom, and fruit in season, nods on the hill-top above. Here, at the
time Plant was speaking of, stood a very ancient house, built partly
of old-fashioned bricks, and partly of a timber frame, filled with
raddlings and daub (wicker-work plastered with clay). It was a lone
and desolate-looking house indeed; misty and fearful, even at noonday.
It was known as 'Boggart-ho',' or 'Fyrin'-ho';' and the gorge in which
it is situated, was, and is still, known as 'Boggart' or 'Fyrin-ho'
Kloof,' 'the glen of the hall of spirits.' Such a place, might we
suppose, had Milton in contemplation, when he wrote the passage of his
inimitable poem:--

    "Tells how the drudging goblin sweat,
    To earn his cream-bowl, duly set,
    When, in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
    His shadowy flail had thrash'd the corn
    Which ten day-labourers could not end;
    Then lies him down, the lubber fiend:
    And, stretch'd out all the chimney's length,
    Basks at the fire, his hairy strength;
    And cropful, out of door he flings,
    Ere the first cock his matin sings.

 [54] Those somewhat remarkable posts have been removed of late years,
 and stout pillars of stone occupy their places.

"By the side of the house, and through the whole length of the valley,
wends a sickly, tan-coloured rindle, which, issuing from the great
White Moss, comes down, tinged with the colour of its parent swamp.
Opposite the modern house, a forbidden road cuts through the plantation
on the right towards Moston Lane. Another path leads behind the house,
up precipitous banks, and through close bowers, to Booth Hall; and
a third, the main one, proceeds along the kloof, by the side of the
stream, and under sun-screening woods, until it forks into two roads:
one a cattle-track, to 'The Bell,' in Moston; and the other a winding
and precipitous footpath, to a farm-house at 'Wood-end,' where it gains
the broad upland, and emerges into unshaded day.

"About half way up this kloof, is an open, cleared space of green and
short sward: it is probably two hundred yards in length, by sixty
in width; and passing along it from Blackley, a group of fine oaks
appear, on a slight eminence, a little to the left. This part of
the grove was, at the time we are concerned with, much more crowded
with underwood than at present.[55] The bushes were then close and
strong; fine sprouts of 'yerth-groon' hazel and ash were common as
nuts; whilst a thick bush of bramble, wild rose, and holly, gave the
spot the appearance of a place inclosed and set apart for mysterious
concealment. Intermingled with these almost impervious barriers, where
tufts of tall green fern, curling and bending gracefully; and a little
separate from them and near the old oaks, might be observed a few fern
clumps of a singular appearance; of a paler green than the others--with
a flatter and a broader leaf--sticking up, rigid and expanded, like
something stark with mute terror. These were 'Saint John's Fern;' and
the finest of them was the one selected by Plant for the experiment now
to be described.

 [55] Those oaks have been felled, and the kloof is now comparatively
 denuded of timber; the underwood on the left side is nearly swept
 away. Sad inroads on the ominous gloom of the place.

"A little before midnight, on the eve of St. John, Plant, Chirrup,
and Bangle, where at the whale-jaw gate before-mentioned; and, having
slightly scanned each other, they proceeded, without speaking, until
they had crossed the brook at a stepping-place, opposite the old
Fyrin-ho'. The first word spoken was--'What hast thou?'

    "'Mine is breawn an' roof,'

said Plant, exhibiting a brown earthern dish. 'What hast thou?' he then
asked.

    "'Mine is breet enough,'

said Chirrup, showing a pewter platter, and continued, 'What hast thou?'

    "'Teed wi' web an' woof,
    Mine is deep enough,'

said Bangle, displaying a musty, dun skull, with the cap sawn off above
the eyes, and left flapping like a lid by a piece of tanned scalp,
which still adhered. The interior cavities had also been stuffed with
moss and lined with clay, kneaded with blood from human veins, and
the youth had secured the skull to his shoulders by a twine of three
strands of unbleached flax, of undyed wool, and of woman's hair,
from which also depended a raven black tress, which a wily crone had
procured from the maid he sought to obtain.

    "'That will do,'

said a voice, in a half whisper, from one of the low bushes they were
passing. Plant and Chirrup paused; but Bangle, who had evidently his
heart on the accomplishment of the undertaking, said, 'Forward!--if we
turn, now a spirit has spoken, we are lost. Come on!' and they went
forward.

"A silence, like that of death, was around them as they entered on the
opening platting. Nothing moved either in tree or brake. Through a
space in the foliage, the stars were seen pale in heaven, and a crooked
moon hung in a bit of blue amid motionless clouds. All was still
and breathless, as if earth, heaven, and the elements, were aghast.
Anything would have been preferable to that unnatural stillness and
silence--the hoot of the night owl, the larum of the pit sparrow, the
moan of the wind, the toll of a death-bell, or the howl of a ban-dog,
would, inasmuch as they are things of this world, have been welcome
sounds amid that horrid pause. But no sound came and no object moved.

"Gasping, and with cold sweat oozing on his brow, Plant recollected
that they were to shake the fern with a forked rod of witch hazel,
and by no means must touch it with their hands, and he asked, in a
whisper, if the others had brought one. Both said they had forgotten,
and Chirrup said they had better never have come; but Plant drew his
knife, and stepping into a moonlighted bush, soon returned with what
was wanted, and they went forward.

"The green knowe, the old oaks, the encircled space, and the fern, were
now approached; the latter stiff and erect in a gleamy light.

"'Is it deep neet?' said Bangle.

"'It is,' said Plant.

    The star that bids the shepherd fold,
    Now the top of heaven doth hold.

"And they drew near. All was still and motionless.

"Plant knelt on one knee, and held his dish under the fern.

"Chirrup held his broad plate next below, and

"Bangle knelt, and rested the skull directly under both on the green
sod; the lid being up.

"Plant said,--

    'Good St John, this seed we crave,
    We have dared; shall we have?'

"A voice responded:--

    'Now the moon is downward starting,
    Moon and stars are all departing;
      Quick, quick; shake, shake;
    He whose heart shall soonest break,
      Let him take.'

"They looked, and perceived by a glance that a venerable form, in a
loose robe, was near them.

"Darkness came down like a swoop. The fern was shaken, the upper dish
flew into pieces--the pewter one melted; the skull emitted a cry, and
eyes glared in its sockets; lights broke--beautiful children were
seen walking in their holiday clothes, and graceful female forms sung
mournful and enchanting airs.

"The men stood terrified, and fascinated; and Bangle, gazing, bade,
'God bless 'em.' A crash followed as if the whole of the timber in
the kloof was being splintered and torn up; strange and horrid forms
appeared from the thickets; the men ran as if sped on the wind--they
separated, and lost each other. Plant ran towards the old house, and
there, leaping the brook, he cast a glance behind him, and saw terrific
shapes--some beastly, some part human, and some hellish, gnashing their
teeth, and howling, and uttering the most fearful and mournful tones,
as if wishful to follow him but unable to do so.

"In an agony of terror he arrived at home, not knowing how he
got there. He was, during several days, in a state bordering on
unconsciousness; and, when he recovered, he learned that Chirrup was
found on the White Moss, raving mad, and chasing the wild birds. As for
poor Bangle, he found his way home over hedge and ditch, running with
supernatural and fearful speed--the skull's eyes glaring at his back,
and the nether jaw grinning and jabbering frightful and unintelligible
sounds. He had preserved the seed, however, and, having taken it from
the skull, he buried the latter at the cross road from whence he had
taken it. He then carried the spell out, and his proud love stood one
night by his bed-side in tears. But he had done too much for human
nature--in three months after she followed his corpse, a real mourner,
to the grave!

"Such was the description my fellow-prisoner gave of what occurred in
the only trial he ever made with St John's Fern seed. He was full of
old and quaint narratives, and of superstitious lore, and often would
beguile time by recounting them. Poor fellow! a mysterious fate hung
over him also."

This description of "Boggart Ho' Clough," with its dramatic embodiment
of one of our strong local superstitions, is all the more interesting
from the pen of one who knew the place and the people so well. I
know no other writer who is so able to portray the distinctive
characteristics of the people of South Lancashire as Samuel Bamford.

It is now some years since I visited the scene of the foregoing
traditions. At that time I was wholly unacquainted with the last of
these legends, and I knew little more about "Boggart Ho' Clough," in
any way, than its name indicates. I sought the place, then, solely
on account of its natural attractions. Feeling curious, however,
respecting the import of its name, and dimly remembering Roby's
tradition, I made some inquiry in the neighbourhood, and found that,
although some attributed the name to the superstitious credulity of the
native people, there was one gentleman who nearly destroyed that theory
in my mind at the time, by saying that, a short time previous, he had
dined with a lawyer who informed him, in the course of a conversation
upon the same subject, that he had recently been at a loss how to
describe the place in question, having to prepare some notices to be
served on trespassers; and, on referring to the title-deeds of the
property, he found that a family of the name of "Bowker" had formerly
occupied a residence situated in the clough, and that their dwelling
was designated "Bowker's Hall." This he adopted as the origin of
the name, and described it accordingly. But the testimony of every
writer who notices the spot, especially those best acquainted with it,
inclines to the other derivation.

But the locality has other points of interest, besides this romantic
nook, and the tales of glamour connected with it. In it there is
many a boggart story, brought down from the past, many a spot of
fearful repute among native people. Apart from all these things, the
chapelry of Blackley is enriched with historic associations well worth
remembering, and it contains some interesting relics of the ancient
manner of life there. In former times the chapelry had in it several
fine old halls: Booth Hall, Nuthurst Hall, Lightbowne Hall, Hough Hall,
Crumpsall Hall, and Blackley Hall. Some of these still remain. Some
of them have been the homes or the birthplaces of men of eminence in
their day--eminent for worth as well as station--among whom there is
more than one who has left a long trail of honourable recollections
behind him. Such men were Humphrey Chetham, Bishop Oldham, and others.
Bradford the martyr, also, is said to have resided in this township.
William Chadderton, D.D., Bishop of Chester, and afterwards Bishop of
Lincoln, was born at Nuthurst Hall, about the year 1540. George Clarke,
the founder of the charity which bears his name, and one of Fuller's
Worthies, resided in Crumpsall. The following particulars respecting
the district and its notabilities I glean from the recently-published
"History of the Ancient Chapel of Blackley," by the Rev. John Booker,
B.A., of Magdalene College, Cambridge, curate of Prestwich. First, with
respect to the ancient state of Blackley, in the survey of Manchester,
as taken in the 15th Edward II. (1322), and preserved by Kuerden,[56]
the following official notice of the township occurs:--"The park of
Blakeley is worth, in pannage, aëry of eagles, herons and hawks,
honey-bees, mineral earths, ashes, and other issues, fifty-three
shillings and fourpence. The vesture of oaks, with the whole coverture,
is worth two hundred marks [£133. 6s. 8d.] in the gross. It contains
seven miles in circumference, together with two deer-leaps, of the
king's grant." This short but significant passage is sufficient to
give, the reader a glimpse of the appearance of Blackley township five
hundred years ago. From the same authority, we learn that Blackley
park (seven miles in circumference) was, at that time, surrounded
and fenced in by a wooden paling. "The two 'deer-leaps' were probably
cloughs or ravines, of which the most remarkable is the 'Boggart Hole
Clough,' a long cleft or dell between two rocks, the sides of which
rise abruptly and leave a narrow pass, widening a little here and
there, through which flows a small brook. This is the last stronghold
of Blackley's ancient characteristic features, where rural tranquility
still reigns, free from the bustle and turmoil of mercantile industry
around it."

 [56] Kuerden's MS., fol. 274, Chetham Library.

The following particulars respecting the etymology of the name
"Blackley," will not be unacceptable to students of language:--"Its
etymology is yet a disputed point, owing to the various significations
of the Anglo-Saxon word, _blac_, _blæc_, _bleac_, which means not only
_black_, _dark_, _opaque_, and even _gloomy_, but also _pale_, _faded_,
_pallid_, from 'blæcan,' to bleach or make white. And, as if these
opposite meanings were not sufficiently perplexing, two other forms
present themselves, one of which means _bleak_, _cold_, _bare_, and the
other _yellow_; the latter syllable in the name, _ley_, _legh_, _leag_,
or _leah_, signifying a _field_ or place of _pasture_." On this point,
Whittaker says, in his "History of Manchester," "The Saxon _blac_,
_black_, or _blake_, frequently imports the deep gloom of trees; hence
we have so many places distinguished by the epithet in England, where
no circumstances of soil and no peculiarities of water give occasion
to it, as the villages of Blackburn and Blackrode in Lancashire,
Blakeley-hurst, near Wigan, and our own Blackley, near Manchester; and
the woods of the last were even seven miles in circuit as late as the
fourteenth century.

"Leland, who wrote about the year 1538, bears testimony to the
unaltered aspect of Blackley, under the influence of cultivation, and
to the changes incident to the disafforesting of its ancient woodlands.
He says:--'Wild bores, bulles, and falcons, bredde in times past at
Blakele, now for lack of woode the blow-shoppes decay there.'[57]

"Blackley had its resident minister as early as the reign of Edward
VI., in the person of Father Travis, a name handed down to us in the
pages of Fox and Strype. Travis was the friend and correspondent of
Bradford the martyr. In the succeeding reign he suffered banishment for
his Protestant principles, and his place was probably supplied by a
papist."

 [57] Leland's "Itinerary" (Hearne's edit.), vol. vii. p. 42.

The site upon which, in 1815, stood the old hall of Blackley, is now
occupied by a print-shop. Blackley Hall "was a spacious black-and-white
half-timbered mansion, in the post and petrel style, and was
situated near to the junction of the lane leading to the chapel and
the Manchester and Rochdale turnpike road. It was a structure of
considerable antiquity, and consisted of a centre and two projecting
wings--an arrangement frequently met with in the ancient manor-houses
of this county--and bore evidence of having been erected at two periods.

"Like most other houses of similar pretensions and antiquity, it was
not without its traditionary legends, and the _boggart_ of Blackley
Hall was as well known as Blackley Hall itself. In the stillness of the
night it would steal from room to room, and carry off the bedclothes
from the couches of the sleeping, but now thoroughly aroused and
discomfited inmates."[58]

 [58] The following note is attached to this passage in Mr. Booker's
 volume:--"The annals of Blackley bear ample testimony to the
 superstition of its inhabitants. It has had its nine days' wonder at
 every period of its history. Hollingworth, writing of that age of
 portents and prodigies which succeeded the Reformation, says:--'In
 Blackley, neere Manchester, in one John Pendleton's ground, as one
 was reaping, the corne being cut seemed to bleede; drops fell out of
 it like to bloud; multitudes of people went to see it: and the straws
 thereof, though of a kindly colour without, were within reddish, and
 as it were bloudy!' Boggart-hole Clough, too, was another favourite
 haunt of ghostly visitants, the legend of which has been perpetuated
 by Mr. Roby in his "Traditions of Lancashire," vol. 2, pp. 295,
 301. Nor has it ceased in our day: in 1852 one of its inhabitants
 imperilled the safety of his family and neighbours, by undermining the
 walls of his cottage, in his efforts to discover the hidden cause of
 some mysterious noise that had disturbed him."

The township of Crumpsall bounds Blackley on the north side, and is
divided from it by the lively but now turbid little river Irk, or
Iwrke, or Irke, which means "Roebuck." "From time immemorial, for
ecclesiastical purposes, Crumpsall has been associated with Blackley."
The present Crumpsall Hall stands on the north side of the Irk, about
a mile and a half from "Boggart Ho' Clough." The earlier orthography
of the name was "Crumeshall, or Curmeshall. For its derivation we are
referred to the Anglo-Saxon, the final syllable 'sal' signifying in
that language a hall or place of entertainment, of which hospitable
abode the Saxon chief, whose name the first syllable indicates, was
the early proprietor. Thus, too, Ordsall in the same parish." Here,
in later days, Humphrey Chetham was born, at Crumpsall old hall. The
author of the "History of the Ancient Chapel of Blackley," from whose
book I gather all this information, also describes an old farm-house,
situated in a picturesque spot, in the higher part of Crumpsall, and
pointed out as the dwelling in which Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter,
who founded the Manchester Grammar School, was born. About four years
ago, when rambling about the green uplands of Crumpsall, I called
at this farm to see a friend of mine, who lived in a cottage at the
back of the house. While there I was shown through this curious old
dwelling; and I remember that the tenants took especial pains to
acquaint me with its local importance, as the place of Bishop Oldham's
nativity. It is still known as "Oldham's tenement," and also as "Th'
Bongs (Banks) Farm." The following is a more detailed account of the
place, and the man:--

"It is celebrated as the reputed birthplace of Hugh Oldham, Bishop
of Exeter, who, according to tradition current in the neighbourhood,
was born there about the middle of the fifteenth century, and it is
stated to have been the residence of the Oldhams for the last four
hundred years. The house itself--a long narrow thatched building--bears
evidence of considerable antiquity; the walls appear to have been
originally of lath and plaster, which material has gradually, in many
places, given place to brick-work; and the whole exterior is now
covered with whitewash. A room on the ground-floor is still pointed out
as the domestic chapel; but there are no traces of it ever having been
devoted to such use.

"Hugh Oldham, LL.B., Bishop of Exeter, was descended from an ancient
family of that name. According to Dodsworth (MSS. folio 152), he was
born at Oldham, in a house in Goulbourne-street; but this assertion is
contradicted by the testimony of his other biographers: Wood and Godwin
state that he was born in Manchester, by which they mean not so much
Manchester town as Manchester parish; and Dugdale, in his Lancashire
visitation, states more definitely in what part of the parish,
correcting at the same time the misstatement of the others, 'not at
Oldham, but at Crumpsall, near Manchester.' In 1503 he was created
Archdeacon of Exeter, and in the following year was raised, through the
influence of the Countess of Richmond, to the see of Exeter. In 1515,
having founded the Grammar School of Manchester, he endowed it with the
corn-mills situate on the river Irk, which he purchased from Lord de la
Warre, as well as with other messuages and lands in Manchester."

In relation to Bishop Oldham, it may be worth notice that in the
_Manchester Guardian_ of Wednesday, January 10th, 1855, I found the
following letter respecting a descendant of this prelate. This brief
notice of an aged and poverty-stricken descendant of the bishop--a
soldier's wife, who has followed the fortunes of her husband, as a
prisoner of war, and through the disasters of battle, shipwreck, and
imprisonment in a foreign land--is not uninteresting:--"There is
now living in this city a poor, aged woman, who, it appears, is a
descendant of the founder of the Manchester Grammar School, and who was
also (in 1783) the first scholar in the first Sunday school opened in
Manchester. In subsequent years, as a soldier's wife, she followed the
fortunes of her husband in the tented field, as a prisoner of war, and
also in shipwreck. She is in full possession of her mental powers; and
though, in a certain sense, provided for, I am persuaded that many of
those whose _Alma Mater_ was the Grammar School, and the Sunday school
teachers and scholars, would be delighted to honour her."

Crumpsall, in the chapelry of Blackley, was also the birthplace of
Humphrey Chetham, one of Fuller's Worthies, and a man whom Manchester
has good reason to hold in remembrance. The following matter relative
to the man, and the place of his birth, is from the same volume:--

"He was born at his father's residence, Crumpsall Hall, and was
baptised at the Collegiate Church, Manchester, July 15th, 1580. He
probably received his education at the Grammar School of his native
town. Associated with his brothers, George and Ralph, he embarked in
trade as a dealer in fustians, and so prospered in his business that
in 1620 he purchased Clayton Hall, near Manchester, which he made
his residence, and subsequently, in 1628, Turton Tower. 'He signally
improved himself,' writes Fuller, 'in piety and outward prosperity,
and was a diligent reader of the scriptures, and of the works of sound
divines, and a respecter of such ministers as he accounted truly godly,
upright, sober, discreet, and sincere. He was high-sheriff of the
county in 1635, and again in 1648, discharging the place with great
honour, insomuch that very good gentlemen of birth and estate did wear
his cloth at the assize, to testify their unfeigned affection to him;
and two of them (John Hartley and Henry Wrigley, Esquires), of the same
profession with himself, have since been sheriffs of the county.'

"By his will, dated December 16th, 1651, he bequeathed £7,000 to
buy a fee-simple estate of £420 per annum, wherewith to provide for
the maintenance, education, and apprenticing of forty poor boys of
Manchester, between the ages of six and fourteen years--children of
poor but honest parents--no bastards, nor diseased at the time they
are chosen, nor lame, nor blind, 'in regard the town of Manchester
hath ample means already (if so employed) for the maintenance of such
impotents.' The hospital thus founded was incorporated by Charles II.
In 1700 the number of boys was increased to sixty, and from 1779 to
1826 eighty boys were annually maintained, clothed, and educated. In
the year 1718 the income of the hospital amounted to £517. 8s. 4d., and
in 1826 it had reached to £2,608. 3s. 11d.

"He bequeathed, moreover, the sum of £1,000 to be expended in books,
and £100 towards erecting a building for their safe deposit, intending
thus to lay the foundation of a public library; and the residue of his
estate (amounting to near £2,000) to be devoted to the increase of the
said library and the support of a librarian. In 1826 this fund was
returned at £542 per annum. The number of volumes is now about 20,000.
Mr. Chetham died, unmarried, September 20th, 1653, and was buried at
the Collegiate Church, where a monument has recently been erected to
his memory, at the cost of a former participator in his bounty."

The following description of the house, at Crumpsall, in which Humphrey
Chetham was born, is also given in Booker's "History of Blackley
Chapel:"--

"Crumpsall Hall, the residence of this branch of the Chethams, was
another specimen of the half-timbered mansions already described.
In design, the same arrangement seems to have been followed that is
met with in many of the halls erected during the fourteenth and two
succeeding centuries--an oblong pile forming the centre, with cross
gables at each end, projecting some distance outwards. The framework
consisted of a series of vertical timbers, crossed by others placed
transversely, with the exception of the gables, in the upper part of
which the braces sprang diagonally from the centre or king-post. The
roofs were of high pitch, and extended considerably beyond the outer
surface of the walls, thus not only allowing of a more rapid drain
of water, but also affording a greater protection from the weather.
The hall was of two stories, and lighted chiefly by bay-windows, an
occasional dormer-window in the upper story rising above the roof,
and adding to the effect of the building by destroying that lineal
appearance which it would otherwise have assumed. This mansion, though
never possessing any great pretensions to architectural excellence,
was, nevertheless, interesting from the picturesque arrangement of
its details, and may be considered a very creditable example of the
middle-class houses of the period to which it is referred. It occupied
a site distant nearly a quarter of a mile from that of the present
hall, and was taken down about the year 1825."

Well may Fuller, writing of Humphrey Chetham, say, "God send us more
such men!" The "poor boys" of Manchester may well repeat the prayer,
and pray also that heaven may send after them men who will look to the
righteous administration of the bequests which such men leave behind
them.

For the purpose of this sketch, I went down to the Chetham Library, to
copy, from Booker's "History of Blackley," the foregoing particulars.
The day was gloomy, and the great quadrangle of the college was as
still as a churchyard. Going up the old staircase, and treading as
lightly as I could with a heavy foot, as I went by the principal
librarian's room door, I entered the cloistral gloom of the old
library. All was silent, as I went through the dark array of book-laden
shelves. The sub-librarian was writing in some official volume, upon
the sill of a latticed window, in one of the recesses. Hearing an
approaching foot, he came out, and looked the usual quiet inquiry.
"'Booker's Blackley,'" said I. He went to one of the recesses, unlocked
the door, and brought out the book. "Will you enter it, sir?" said he,
pointing to the volume kept for that purpose. I did so, and walked on
into the reading room of the library; glancing, as I went in, at Oliver
Cromwell's sword, which hangs above the doorway. There was a good fire,
and I had that antique apartment all to myself. The old room looked
very clean and comfortable, and the hard oaken floor resounded to the
footstep. The whole furniture was of the most quaint and substantial
character. It was panelled all round with bright old black oak. The
windows were latticed, and the window-sills broad. The heavy tables
were of solid oak, and the chairs of the same, with leather-covered and
padded seats and backs, studded with brass nails. A curiously-carved
black oak bookstand stood near the door, and several antique mirrors,
and dusky portraits, hung around upon the dark panelling. Among these
is the portrait of Bradford the martyr, a native of Manchester. In the
library there is a small black-letter volume, entitled, "Letters of
Maister John Bradford, a faythful minister and a syngular pyllar of
Christe's Church: by whose great trauiles and diligence in preaching
and planting the syncerity of the Gospel, by whose most goodly and
innocent lyfe, and by whose long and payneful imprisonments for the
maintenance of the truth, the kingdom of God was not a little aduanced:
who also at last most valiantly and cheerfully gaue his blood for
the same. The 4th day of July. In the year of our Lord 1555." The
portrait of Humphrey Chetham, the founder, hangs immediately above
the old-fashioned fireplace, under the emblazoned arms of his family.
Sitting by the fire, at a little oak table covered with green baize,
I copied the particulars here given, relative to Chetham's bequest
to the people of his native locality. I could not but lift my eyes
now and then towards that solemn face, inwardly moved by a feeling
which reverently said, "Will it do?" The countenance of the fine old
merchant seemed to wear an expression of sorrow, not unmingled with
quiet anger, at the spectacle of twenty thousand books--intended as
a "Free Library," though now, in comparison with its possibilities,
free chiefly in name--twenty thousand books, packed together in gloomy
seclusion, yet surrounded by a weltering crowd of five hundred thousand
people, a great number of whom really hunger for the knowledge here,
in a great measure, consigned--with excellent registrative care and
bibliopolic skill--to dusty oblivion and the worm. It is true that
this cunningly-secreted "Free Library" is open six hours out of the
twenty-four, but these hours fall precisely within that part of the
day in which people who have to work for their bread are cooped up at
their occupations. At night, when the casino, the singing-room, and the
ale-house, and all the low temptations of a great city are open, and
actively competing for their prey, the Chetham Library has been locked
up for hours. I am not sure that the noble-hearted founder would be
satisfied with it all, if he saw the relations of these things now. It
seems all the more likely that he would not be so, when one observes
the tone in which, in his will, he alludes to the administration of
certain other local charities existing in his own time. After specially
naming the class of "poor boys" for whose benefit his hospital was
intended, he specially excludes certain others, "_in regard the town
of Manchester hath ample means already_, (IF SO EMPLOYED) _for the
maintenance of such impotents_." Judging, from the glimpse we have
in this passage, of his way of thinking upon matters of this kind, it
seems likely that, if it were possible to consult him upon the subject,
he would consider it a pity that the twenty thousand books in the
library, and the five hundred thousand people outside the walls, are
not brought into better acquaintance with each other. So, also, murmurs
many a thoughtful man, as he walks by the college gates, in his hours
of leisure, when the library is closed.



    Rostherne Mere.

    (A CHESHIRE SKETCH.)

    Though much the centuries take, and much bestow,
    Most through them all immutable remains--
    Beauty, whose world-wide empire never wanes,
    Sole permanence 'mid being's ceaseless flow.
    These leafy heights their tiny temple owe
    To some rude hero of the Saxon thanes,
    Whom, slowly pricking from the neighbouring plains,
    Rapt into votive mood the scene below.
    Much, haply, he discerned, unseen by me--
    Angels and demons hovering ever near;
    But most he saw and felt, I feel and see--
    Linking the "then" and "there" with "now" and "here,"
    The grace serene that dwells on grove and lea,
    The tranquil charm of little Rostherne Mere.
    --F. ESPINASSE.


Rostherne Mere was a pet theme with a young friend of mine, and we
started together towards that place, at noon, one Sunday in June.
Walking up to the Oxford Road Station, we paid our sixpences, and got
our tickets to Bowdon, which is the nearest point to Rostherne Mere,
by rail; being four miles from the latter place. The day was fine, and
the sky clear, except where gauzy clouds floated across it with dreamy
grace; as if they had come out for a holiday. Everything seemed to feel
that it was Sunday. The fields and groves were drest in their best.
It was the Sabbath of the year with them. In a few minutes our fiery
steed had whirled us to Bowdon; and we walked up the wooden steps that
lead from the station. Turning to the left at the top, we struck into
a quiet road that leads in the direction of Rostherne. Bowdon bells
were ringing to church as we walked along, surrounded by singing birds,
and sunshine, and sweet odours from cottage-gardens by the wayside.
Now and then a young sylph, of graceful face and timid mien, tripped
past us, in the garb of a lady,--on her way to church, with her books
before her; then a knot of pretty, brown-faced village girls, with
wild flowers in their hands, going the same way, with all the innocent
vivacity of childhood in their look and gait; anon came slowly wending
up the path an old couple, bending with age,--the history of a simple
life of honourable toil written in their faces, and their attire
wearing that touching air which always marks the struggle which decent
poverty makes to put its best appearance on. The road, which seemed to
be little frequented, shortly brought us to Ashley Hall, a picturesque
woodland mansion. A fine avenue of ancestral trees shade the walk to
the porch of the old hall, which nestles behind the present modern
building. The outbuildings are antiquated and extensive. The house
still wears the appearance of an abode of comfort and elegance, bent
with that quaint charm which hangs about all fine, old-fashioned rural
dwellings. Nothing seemed to be stirring in or about the hall, but the
wind, the birds, and the trees; and the two large stone sphinxes in
front of the porch looked like petrified genii, so profound was the
repose of this green nook. Outside the house the grass was growing over
everything, even over the road we walked on, it was creeping. For some
distance the road-side was pleasantly soft to the foot with springy
verdure, and thick-leaved trees overhung the highway,

                              That faire did spred
    Their armes abroad, with gray mosse overcaste;
    And their green leaves, trembling with every blast,
    Made a calm shadow far in compasse round,

until we began to descend into the green pastures of a little vale,
through which a clear river winds its murmuring way. A widow lady
stood in the middle of the path, waiting till her little orphan lad
and his sister drove a herd of cows from the field by the water-side.
There was the shade of grief on her pale face, and she returned our
salutation with pensive courtesy. We loitered a few minutes by the
gate, and helped the lad and his sister to gather the cattle, and then
went on, thinking of the affecting group we had left behind us. The
wild flowers were plentiful and fine by the way, especially that little
blue-eyed beauty, the "Forget-me-not," which grew in great profusion
about the hedges. A drove of hungry-looking Irish cattle came wearily
up the road, driven by a frieze-coated farmer, who rode upon a rough
pony, that never knew a groom; and behind him limped a bare-footed
drover, eagerly munching a lump of dry loaf, as he urged forward a
two-days-old calf by a twist in the tail,--an old application of the
screw-propelling principle, which is very effectual with all kinds of
dilatory animals, with tails on. He was the very picture of poverty,
and yet there was a gay-hearted archness on his brown face; and he
gave us the "good day" merrily. The very flutter of his rags seemed to
have imbibed the care-defying gaiety of the curious biped they hung
upon,--with such tender attachment. The whole country was one tranquil
scene of fertile verdure, frequently flat for the length of a mile or
two; but gently-undulated in some places; and picturesquely wooded.
In a vista of nearly two miles, not a human foot was on the road, but
ours; and every sight and sound that greeted the senses as we sauntered
along the blossomy hedge-side, in the hot sunshine, was serenely-sweet
and rural. Skirting the wall of Tatton Park, we came to a substantial
farmhouse, near the highway, and opening the gate, we walked up to it,
to get a few minutes rest, and a drink. At our request, a girl at the
door of the house brought us a large jug-full of churn-milk, which,
when she had reached us a seat in the garden, we drank as we sat in
the sun. In the yard, a little fat-legged urchin had crept, with his
"porritch-pot," under the nose of a large chained dog, about twice the
size of himself, and sat there, holding his spoon to the dog's mouth,
childishly beseeching him to "sup it." The good-natured brute kept a
steady eye on us while we were in sight, postponing any notice of his
little playmate. By direction of the goodwife, we took a by-path which
led towards the village. The country folk were returning from church,
and among them a number of little girls, wearing a head-dress of pure
white, but of a very awkward shape. What was the meaning, or what the
use, of the badge they wore, I could not exactly tell.

We found that, though the village had many pretty cottage homes,
dropped down irregularly among the surrounding green, it consisted
chiefly of one little street of rural houses, of very pleasant
appearance. Here and there, a latticed window was open to the front,
showing a small parlour, scrupulously clean and orderly; the furniture
old-fashioned, substantial, and carefully polished; and the Bible
"gleaming through the lowmost window-pane," under the shade of
myrtle-pots, and fuchsias in full flower. As we looked about us for
the church, a gentleman in the garb of a clergyman stepped out of
one of the houses, which, though a whitewashed dwelling, of simple
construction, and of no great size any way, still had something
peculiarly attractive in its retired position, and an air of
superiority about the taste and trimness of all its appurtenances.
He had a book in one hand, and leaned forward in his walk,--not from
infirmity, for he was hale and active,--but as if to give impetus to
his progress, which seemed to have an earnest purpose somewhere. This
gentleman was the Vicar of Rostherne. We inquired of him the way to
the church. "Come up this way," said he, in an agreeable tone, but
without stopping in his walk. "Have you never seen it before?" "Never."
"Here it is, then," he replied, as we entered the church-field at the
top of the knoll. The sudden appearance of the venerable fane, and
its picturesque situation, called forth an involuntary expression of
admiration from us. We walked on slowly, scanning the features of
the solemnly-beautiful scene. The vicar then inquired where we came
from, and when we answered "Manchester," he went on, "Well, now, I
don't at all wonder, nor much object to you Manchester gentlemen, pent
up as you are the whole week, coming out on a Sunday to breathe a
little country air, and to look on the woods and fields, but I should
be better pleased to see you come in time to attend divine worship,
which would be a double benefit to you. You might easily do it, and
it would enhance the pleasure of your ramble, for you would go home
again doubly satisfied with all that you had seen. Don't you think
you would, now?" It needed no Socratic effort on his part to obtain
our assent to such a sentiment, so kindly expressed. As we walked on,
he brought us dexterously to the north-west corner of the church, the
best point of view, looking down through the trees, from the summit
of the hill on which the church stands, upon Rostherne Mere in all
its beauty. There it lay, in the bosom of the valley below, as smooth
and bright as a plate of burnished silver, except towards the middle,
where the wind embossed it with fantastic ripples, which shimmered in
the sunlight; and it was all fringed round with the rich meadows, and
plumy woods,--sloping down to the edge of the water. From the farther
side, a finely-wooded country stretched away as far as we could see,
till the scene ended in a dim amphitheatre of moorland hills, rising
up, from east to west, on the horizon. In front of us, and about four
miles beyond the lake, the pretty village of Bowdon and its ancient
church were clearly in sight above the woods. It was, altogether, a
very beautiful English scene. And it is a pity that this lovely little
oasis is not better known to the jaded hearts that fret themselves to
death in Manchester, and rush here and there, in crowds, to fill all
the world's telescopes; the majority of them, perhaps, like me, little
dreaming of the existence of so sweet a spot so near them. By the side
of the mere, where the water was as placid as glass, being sheltered
from the wind by the woods on its shelvy banks, we were delighted with
a second edition of the scenery on the margin, and of the skies above,
clearly reflected in the seemingly unfathomable deeps of the water.

The vicar had left us, and gone into the church, requesting us, when
we had feasted our fill on the outside, to follow him, and look
through the inside of the church. We lifted the latch, but seeing him
addressing a number of young people, who sat round him in attentive
attitude, we shut the door quietly, and walking round to the porch
on the opposite side, went in, on tiptoe. Standing silent under the
organ-loft, we listened, while he impressed upon his young flock
the nature and intent of confirmation, and the necessity for their
understanding the solemn obligation implied thereby, and devoutly
wishing to undertake it, before they could be admitted to partake of
it. "And now," said he, "if any of you don't quite understand anything
I am saying to you, don't be afraid to say so. I shall be glad to
know it, that I may make it clear to you. For you must remember, that
it is not what I say to you that will be of use to you, but what you
understand of it." He then consulted them about the best times in the
following week for them to meet him, that he might assist such as were
wishful to prepare for the ceremony. He asked "Thomas," and "Mary,"
and "Martha," how four o'clock would suit them on certain days, and
when they whispered that "half-past seven would suit them better," he
replied, "I dare say it will; and let it be so, then." He then repeated
the pleasure it would give him to meet them at that or any other hour
on certain days next week, to help, and examine them. It was only
changing his dinner hour a little. We walked quietly out as he began
to catechise them, postponing our examination of the interior till a
fitter opportunity.

Rostherne churchyard is a singularly retired spot. A solemn repose
mingles with the natural charms of everything about it, increased by
the antiquity of its relics. Though near the village, it is approached
from it by a gentle ascent, from the head of which it slopes away,
clean out of sight of the village, and is bounded on the west side by
a row of sombre old trees, through which Rostherne Hall is seen, in
the midst of woods and gardens. No other building except the church
is in sight; and a sweeter spot for the life-wearied body to take its
last rest in, could hardly be imagined. As I walked about this quiet
grave-yard, which is environed by scenery of such a serene kind, that
nature itself seems afraid to disturb the repose of the sleepers, upon
whose bed the leaves tremble silently down; and where I could hear no
sounds but a drowsy rustle of the neighbouring trees,--I thought of
Gray's inimitable "Elegy written in a Country Churchyard:"--

    Beneath these rugged elms, that yew tree's shade,
      Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
    Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
      The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

    The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
      The swallow twittering from her straw-built shed,
    The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
      No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

    For then no more the blazing heart shall burn,
      Or busy housewife ply her evening care;
    No children run to lisp their sire's return,
      Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

    Oft did the harvest to the sickle yield;
      Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
    How jocund did they drive their team a-field!
      How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

    Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
      Their homely joys and destiny obscure;
    Nor grandeur hear, with a disdainful smile,
      The short and simple annals of the poor.

    The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
      And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
    Await alike the inevitable hour;
      The paths of glory lead--but to the grave.

           *       *       *       *       *

    Yet e'en these bones, from insult to protect,
      Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
    With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
      Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

    Their name, their years, spelt by the unletter'd muse,
      The place of fame and elegy supply;
    And many a holy text around she strews,
      That teach the rustic moralist to die.

This poem--the finest of the kind in the English language--might,
with equal fitness, have been written of this peaceful churchyard
of Rostherne village. Man, whom Quarles calls a "worm of five feet
long," is so liable to have his thoughts absorbed by the art of keeping
himself bodily alive, that he is none the worse for a hint from the
literature of the churchyard:--

    Art is long, and life is fleeting,
      And our hearts, though stout and brave,
    Still, like muffled drums, are beating
      Funeral marches to the grave.

We walked over the gravestones, reading the inscriptions, some of which
had a strain of simple pathos in them, such as the following:--

    Ye that are young, prepare to die,
    For I was young, and here I lie.

Others there were in this, as in many other burial-places, which were
either unmeaning, or altogether unsuitable to the situation they were
in. There were several half-sunken headstones in different parts of
the yard, mostly bemossed and dim with age. One or two were still
upright; the rest leaned one way or other. These very mementoes, which
pious care had set up, to keep alive the memories of those who lay
mouldering in the earth below, were sinking into the graves of those
they commemorated.

At the outside of the north-east entrance of the church, lies an
ancient stone coffin, dug up a few years ago in the graveyard. Upon the
lid of the coffin was sculptured the full-length figure of a knight,
in a complete suit of mail, with sword and shield. No further clue has
been obtained to the history of this antique coffin and its effigy,
than that it belonged to one of the Cheshire family of Venables,
whose crest and motto ("Sic Donec") it bears. The church contains
many interesting monuments, belonging to this and other families of
the old gentry of Cheshire. Several of these are of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. But the finest and most interesting monuments in
the church, as works of art, are those belonging to the Egerton family,
of Tatton Park. At a suitable time, the sexton occasionally takes a
visitor up to the gate which separates the Egerton seat and monuments
from the rest of the church, and, carefully unlocking it, ascends two
steps with a softened footfall, and leads him into the storied sanctum
of the Lords of Tatton; where, among other costly monuments, he will
be struck by the chaste and expressive beauty of a fine modern one,
in memory of a young lady belonging to this family. On a beautiful
tomb, of the whitest marble, the figure of a young lady reclines upon
a mattress and pillow of the same, in the serenest grace of feature
and attitude: and "the rapture of repose" which marks the expression
of the countenance, is a touching translation, in pure white statuary,
of those beautiful lines in which Byron describes the first hours of
death:--

    Before decay's effacing fingers
    Have swept the lines where beauty lingers.

At the back of the recumbent lady, an exquisite figure of an angel
kneels, and leans forward with delicate grace, watching over the
reposing form, with half-opened wings, and one hand slightly extended
over the dead. The effect of the whole is exceedingly beautiful,
chaste, and saddening. The monument is kept carefully covered with
clean white handkerchiefs, except when the family is present, when it
is uncovered, until their departure. Before I was admitted to view
this beautiful memorial, I had heard something of the story which
it illustrates, and I inquired further of the sexton respecting it.
The old man said that the young lady had been unwell only a few days
previous to the evening of her death, and on that evening the family
physician thought her so much better, and felt so certainly-expectant
of a further improvement in her health, that he directed her attendants
to get her to repose, and then they might themselves safely retire to
rest for a little while. They did so; and returning soon, found her
still lying precisely as they had laid her, and looking so placid in
feature, that they did not know she was dead, until they came to find
her quite cold. The monument represents her as she was thus found. As
I stood looking upon this group of statuary, the evening sun shone
through the southern windows of the old church, and the sexton--who
evidently knew what the effect would be--lowered the crimson blind of
the window nearest to the monument. This threw a soft rich crimson hue
over the white marble tomb, the figures, and the sculptured drapery,
which gave it an inexpressibly-rich appearance. So white and clean was
the whole, that the white handkerchiefs which the sexton had taken off
the figures, and laid upon the white basement of the tomb, looked like
part of the sculpture.

The church is dedicated to St. Mary. It is proved to have existed
long prior to 1188. The present steeple was erected in 1741. There
is something venerable about the appearance of an old ecclesiastical
building, which continually and eloquently preaches, without offending.
Apart from all questions of doctrines, formulas, and governments, I
often feel a veneration for an old church, akin to that expressed by
him who said that he never passed one without feeling disposed to take
off his hat to it.

The sun was setting westward over the woods, and we began to think of
getting a quiet meal somewhere before we went back. There is generally
an old inn not far from an old church. "How it comes, let doctors
tell;" but it is so; and we begun to speculate upon the chance of
finding one in this case. Going out of the churchyard at the lowest
corner, through a quaint wicket gate, with a shed over it, a flight of
steps led us down into a green dingle, embosomed in tall trees, and
there, in front of us, stood a promising country "hostelrie," under the
screen of the woods. We looked an instant at its bright window, and its
homely and pleasant appurtenances, and then, with assured minds, darted
in, to make a lunge at the larder. "A well-conducted inn is a thing
not to be recklessly sneered at in this world of ours, after all,"
thought I. We sat down in a shady little room in front, and desired the
landlord to get us some tea, with any substantial stomach-gear that was
handy and plentiful. In a few minutes a snowy cloth was on the table,
followed by "neat-handed Phillis," with the tea things. A profusion
of strong tea, and toast, and fine cream, came next, in beautiful
china and glass ware; the whole crowned with a huge dish of ham and
poached eggs, of such amplitude, that I began to wonder who was to join
us. Without waste of speech, we fell to, with all the appetite and
enjoyment of Sancho at Camacho's wedding. The landlord kept popping in,
to see that we wanted nothing, and to urge us to the attack; which was
really a most needless though a generous office. After tea, we strolled
another hour by the edge of the water, then took the road home, just as
the sun was setting. The country was so pleasant, and we so refreshed,
that we resolved to walk to Manchester, and watch the sinking of the
summer twilight among the woods and fields by the way. Our route led
by the edge of Dunham Park, and through Bowdon, where we took a peep
at the church, and the expansive view from the churchyard. There is
a fine old yew tree in Bowdon churchyard, seated around. The road
from Bowdon to Manchester passes through a country which may be truly
characterised as the market-garden of Manchester. We went on, through
the villages of Altrincham, Sale Moor, and Stretford, thinking of his
words who said,--

    One impulse from a vernal wood
      Will teach thee more of man,
    Of moral evil, and of good,
      Than all the sages can.

It was midnight when I got to bed, and sank into a sound sleep, to wake
in the morning among quite other scenes. But while I live, I shall not
easily forget "the tranquil charm of little Rostherne Mere."



    Oliver Fernleaf's Watch.

    Oh thou who dost these pointers see,
      That show the passing hour;
    Say,--do I tell the time to thee,
      And tell thee nothing more?
    I bid thee mark life's little day
      With strokes of duty done;
    A clock may stop at any time--
      But time will travel on.
    --THE CHURCH CLOCK.


When I was first bound apprentice, I was so thick-set, and of such
short stature for my age, that I began to be afraid that I was doomed
to be a pigmy in size; and it grieved my heart to think of it, I
remember how anxiously I used to compare my own stunted figure with
the height of other lads younger than me; and seeing myself left so
much below them, I remember how much I longed for a rise in the world.
This feeling troubled me sorely for two or three years. It troubled
me so much, indeed, that, even at church, when I heard the words,
"Which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit unto his stature?"
the question touched me with the pain of a personal allusion to my
own defect; and, in those days, I have many a time walked away from
service on a Sunday, sighing within myself, and wondering how much a
cubit was. But I had a great deal of strong life in my little body;
and, as I grew older, I took very heartily to out-door exercises, and
I carefully notched the progress of my growth, with a pocket-knife,
against a wooden partition, in the office where I was an apprentice. As
time went on, my heart became gradually relieved and gay as I saw these
notches rise steadily, one over the other, out of the low estate which
had given me so much pain. But, as this childish trouble died away from
my mind, other ambitions awoke within me, and I began to fret at the
tether of my apprenticeship, and wish for the time when I should be
five feet eight, and free. Burns's songs were always a delight to me;
but there was one of them which I thought more of then than I do now.
It was,--

    Oh for ane-an'-twenty, Tam!
      An', hey for ane-an'-twenty, Tam!
    I'd learn my kin a rattlin' sang,
      An' I saw ane-an'-twenty, Tam!

About two years before the wished-for day of my release came, I mounted
a long-tailed coat, and a chimney-pot hat, and began to reckon myself
among the sons of men. My whiskers, too--they never came to anything
grand--never will--but my whiskers began to show a light-coloured down,
that pleased the young manikin very much. I was anxious to coax that
silken fluz lower down upon my smooth cheeks; but it was no use. They
never grew strong; and they would not come low down; so I gave them up
at last, with many a sigh. The dainty ariels were timid, and did their
sprouting gently. This was one of my first lessons in resignation. I
remember, too, it was about the same time that I bought my first watch.
It was a second-hand silver verge watch, with large old-fashioned
numerals upon the face; and it cost twenty-one shillings. I had a
good deal ado to raise the price of it by small savings, by working
over-hours, and by the sale of an old accordian, and a sword-stick.
Long before I could purchase it, I had looked at it from time to time
as I passed by the watchmaker's window; which was on the way between my
home and the shop where I was an apprentice. At last I bore the prize
away. A few pence bought a steel chain; and my eldest sister gave me
an old seal, and a lucky sixpence, to wear upon the chain,--and I felt
for the time as if it was getting twelve o'clock with my fortunes.
A long-tailed coat; a chimney-pot hat; a watch; a mild promise of
whiskers; a good constitution; and a fair chance of being five feet
eight, or so. No wonder that I began to push out my shins as I went
about the streets. For some weeks after I became possessed of my watch,
I took great pleasure in polishing the case, looking into the works,
winding it up, and setting it right by public clocks, and by other
people's watches. I had a trick, too, of pulling it out in public
places, which commanded the range of some desired observation. But
after a year or so the novelty wore off, and I began to take less
interest in the thing. Besides, through carelessness and inexperienced
handling, I found that my watch began to swallow up a great deal of
pocket-money, in new glasses, and other repairs. I was fond of jumping,
too, and other rough exercises; and through this my watch got sadly
knocked about, and was a continual source of anxiety to me. At last I
got rid of it altogether. It had never gone well with me; but it went
from me--for good; and I was cured of the watch mania for a long while.
In fact, nearly twenty years passed away, during which I never owned a
watch; never, indeed, very much felt the want of one. When I look back
at those years, and remember how I managed to mark the time without
watch of my own, I find something instructive in the retrospect. In
a large town there are so many public clocks, and bells, and so many
varied movements of public life which are governed by the progress of
the hours, that there is little difficulty in the matter. But in the
country--in my lonely rambles--I learned, then, to read the march of
time, "indifferently well," in the indications of nature, as ploughmen
and shepherds do. The sights, and "shapes, and sounds, and shifting
elements," became my time-markers; and the whole world was my clock.
I can see many compensations arising from the lack of a watch with me
during that time.

And now, after so many years of sweet independence in this respect, I
find myself, unexpectedly, the owner of a watch once more. I became
possessed of it rather curiously, too. The way of it was this. I was
on a visit to a neighbouring town; and, in the afternoon, I called to
pass an hour with an old friend, before returning home. After the usual
hearty salutes, we sat down in a snug back parlour, lighted our pipes,
and settled into a dreamy state of repose, which was more delightful
than any strained effort at entertainment. We puffed away silently for
a while; and then we asked one another questions, in a drowsy way,
like men talking in their sleep; then we smoked on again, and looked
vacantly round about the room, and into the fire. At last, I noticed
that my friend began to gaze earnestly at my clothing; and, knowing him
to be a close observer, and a man of penetrative spirit, I felt it;
though I knew very well that it was all right, for he takes a kindly
interest in all I wear, or do, or say. Well; he began to look hard at
my clothing, beginning with my boots. I didn't care much about him
examining my boots; for, as it happened, they had just been soled, and
heeled, and welted afresh; with a bran new patch upon one side. If he
had seen them a week before, I should have been pained, for they were
in a ruinous state then; and, being rather a dandified pair originally,
they looked abominable. I think there is nothing in the world so
intensely wretched in outward appearance as shabby dandyism. Well; he
began with my boots; and, after he had scrutinised them thoroughly for
a minute or two, I felt, instinctively, that he was going to peruse
the whole of my garments from head to foot, like a tapestried story.
And so it was. When he had finished my boots, his eyes began to travel
slowly up my leg; and, as they did so, my mind ran anxiously ahead,
to see what the state of things was upon the road that his glance was
coming. "How are my trousers?" thought I. There was no time to lose;
for I felt his eye coming up my leg, like a dissecting knife. At last,
I bethought me that I had split my trousers across one knee, about a
fortnight before; and the split had only been indifferently stitched
up. "Now for it," thought I, giving myself a sudden twitch, with the
intention of throwing my other leg over that knee to hide the split.
But I was too late. His eye had already fastened upon the place like
a leech. I saw his keen glance playing slyly about the split, and my
nerves quivered in throes of silent pain all the while. At last, he
lifted up his eyes, and sighed, and then, looking up at the ceiling, he
sighed out the word, "Aye," very slowly; and then he turned aside to
light his pipe at the fire again; and, whilst he was lighting his pipe,
I very quietly laid the sound leg of my trousers over the split knee.
Pushing the tobacco into his pipe with the haft of an old penknife,
he now asked me how things were going on in town. I pretended to be
quite at ease; and I tried to answer him with the air of one who was
above the necessity of such considerations. But I knew that he had only
asked the question for the purpose of throwing me off my guard; and I
felt sure that his eyes would return to the spot where they had left
off at. And they did so. But he saw at once that the knee was gone;
so he travelled slowly upwards, with persistent gaze. In two or three
minutes he stopped again; it was somewhere about the third button of
my waistcoat--or rather the third button-hole, for the button was off.
He halted there; and his glance seemed to snuff round about the place,
like a dog that thinks it has caught the scent; and I began to feel
uncomfortable again; for, independent of the button being off, I had
only twopence-halfpenny, and a bit of blacklead pencil, and an unpaid
bill in my pocket; and somehow I thought he was finding it all out. So
I shifted a little round, and began to hum within myself,--

    Take, oh take those eyes away!

But it was no use. He would do it. And I couldn't stand it any longer;
so I determined to bolt before he got up to my shirt front, or
"dickey,"--for I had a "dickey" on, and one side of it was bulging out
in a disorderly way, and I durst not try to put it right for fear of
drawing his attention to it. I determined to be rid of the infliction
at once, so I pretended to be in a hurry. Knocking the ashes out of my
pipe, I rose up and said, "Have you got a time-table?"

"Yes."

"There's a train about now, I think."

"Yes; but stop till the next. What's your hurry? You're not here every
day. Sit down and get another pipe."

"How's your clock?" said I, turning round and looking through the
window, so as to get a sly chance of pushing my "dickey" into its
place. "How's your clock?"

"Well, it's about ten minutes fast. Isn't it, Sarah?" said he to the
servant, who was coming in with some coals.

"No," replied she. "I put it right by th' blacksmith, this mornin'."

By "the blacksmith," she meant the figure of an old man with a hammer,
which struck the hours upon the bell of a public clock, a little higher
up the street.

"Well," said my friend, looking at the time-table, "in any case, you're
too late for this train now. Sit down a bit. I left my watch this
morning, to have a new spring put in it; but I'll keep my eye on the
clock, so that you shall be in time for the next. Sit you down, an'
let's have a chat about old times."

I gave a furtive glance at my "dickey," and seeing it was all right,
I sat down again with a sigh, laying the sound leg of my trousers
carefully over my split knee. I had no sooner sat down, than he looked
at my waistcoat pocket again, and said, "I say, old boy, why don't you
carry a watch? It would be a great convenience."

I explained to him that I had been so many years used to notice public
clocks, and to marking the time by the action of nature and by those
movements of human life that are regulated by clock-work, that I
felt very little need for a watch. Besides, it was as easy to ask
the time of day of people who had watches, as it would be to look at
one's own; and then, if I had a watch, I did not know whether the
convenience of the thing would compensate for the anxiety and expense
of it. He listened attentively, and then, after looking into the fire
musingly for a minute or two, as if he was interpreting my excuse in
some way of his own, he suddenly knocked his pipe upon the top bar of
the fire-grate, and said, "By Jupiter Ammon, I'll give you one!" My
friend never swears, except by that dissolute old Greek; or by a still
more mysterious deity, whom he calls "the Living Jingo!" Whenever he
mentions either of these, I know that he means something strong; so I
sat still and "watched the case," as lawyers say.

"Mary," said he, rising, and calling to his wife, who was in another
room; "Mary, wheer's that old watch?"

"I have it upstairs, in an old rosewood writing-desk," replied she.

"Just fetch it down; I want to look at it." He listened at the door,
until he heard her footsteps going upstairs; and then he turned to me,
chuckling and rubbing his hands; and, slapping me on the shoulder, he
said, "Now then, old fellow, fill your pipe again! By the Living Jingo,
you shall have the time o' day in your pocket before you leave this
house." She was a good while in returning; so he shouted up the stairs,
"Haven't you found it yet, Mary?"

"Yes," replied she, "it's here. I'll be down in a minute."

I began to puff very hard at my pipe; for I was getting excited. She
came at last, and said, as she laid the watch in his hand, "I have
thought of selling it many a time, for it is of no use lying yonder."

"Aye," replied my friend, pretending to look very hard at the works. As
long as she remained in the room, he still kept quietly saying, "Aye,
aye," at short intervals. But when she left the room, he earnestly
watched the closing door, and then, shutting the watch, he came across
to me, and, laying it in my hand, he said, "There, old boy, that's
yours. Keep it out of sight till you get out of the house." And I did
keep it out of sight. But I was more than ever anxious to get away by
the next train, so that I could fondle it freely. It was an old silver
lever watch, without fingers. It was silent, with a silence that had
continued long; its face was dusty; and the case wore the cloudy hue
of neglect. However, I bore my prize away at last; and, before the day
was over, I had spent eighteenpence upon new fingers, and sixpence
upon a yard-and-a-half of broad black watered silk ribbon for a guard.
Next day, after I had polished the case thoroughly with whitening, I
put on a clean shepherd's plaid waistcoat, in order to show the broad
black ribbon which led to my watch. Since then, I know not how oft I
have stopped to put it right by the cathedral clock; and I have found
sometimes, as the Irishman did, that "the little divul had bate that
big fellow by two hours in twelve." It is a curious thing, this old
watch of mine; and I like it: there is something so human about it. It
is full of

    Quips, and cranks, and wanton wiles.

Sometimes the fingers stand still, even when the works are going on.
Even when wound up, it has a strange trick of stopping altogether for
an hour or two now and then, as if smitten with a fit of idleness;
and then it will set off again of its own accord, like a living thing
wakening up from sleep. It stops oftener than it goes. It is not so
much a time-keeper as a standing joke; and looking at it from this
point of view, I am very fond of this watch of mine. Before I had it,
whenever I chanced to waken in the night time, I used to strike a
light, and read myself to sleep again. But now, when I waken in the
night, I suddenly remember, "Oh, my watch!" Then I listen, and say to
myself, "I believe it has stopped again!" and then, listening more
attentively, and hearing its little pulse beating, I say, "No: there
it goes. Bravo!" And I strike a light, and caress the little thing;
and wind it up. I have great fun with it, in a quiet way. I believe,
somehow, that it is getting used to me; and I shouldn't like to part
with it any more. There is a kind of friendship growing between us
that will last until my own pulse is stopped by the finger of death.
And what is death, after all; but the stopping of life's watch; to be
wound up again by the Maker? I should not like to lose this old watch
of mine now. It is company when I am lonely; it is diversion when I am
tired; and, though it is erratic, it is amiable and undemonstrative.
I will make it famous yet, in sermon or in song. I have begun once or
twice, "Oh thou!----" and then stopped, and tried, "When I behold----"
and then I have stopped again. But I will do it yet. If the little
thing had a soul, now, I fear that it would never be saved; for, "faith
without works is vain." But I have faith in it, though it has deceived
me oft. My quaint old monitor! How often has it warned me, that when
man goes "on tick," it always ends in a kind of "Tic douloureux." But
the hour approaches, when its tiny pulse and mine must both stand
still; for--

    Owd Time,--he's a troublesome codger,--
      Keeps nudgin' us on to decay;
    An' whispers, you're nobbut a lodger;
      Get ready for goin' away.

And when "life's fitful fever" is past, I hope they will not sell my
body to the doctors; nor my watch to anybody; but bury us together; and
let us rest when they have done so.



    Norbreck:

    _A SKETCH ON THE LANCASHIRE COAST_.



    CHAPTER I.

    Come unto these yellow sands,
      Then take hands:
    Court'sied when you have, and kissed,
      The wild waves whist.
    --THE TEMPEST.


At the western edge of that quiet tract of Lancashire, called "The
Fylde," lying between Wyre, Ribble, and the Irish Channel, the little
wind-swept hamlet of Norbreck stands, half asleep, on the brow of a
green ridge overlooking the sea. The windows of a whitewashed cottage
wink over their garden wall, as the traveller comes up the slope,
between tall hedgerows; and very likely he will find all so still,
that, but for wild birds that crowd the air with music, he could hear
his footsteps ring on the road as clearly as if he were walking on the
flags of a gentleman's greenhouse. In summer, when its buildings are
glittering in their annual suit of new whitewash, and when all the
country round looks green and glad, it is a pleasant spot to set eyes
upon--this quiet hamlet overlooking the sea. At that time of year it
smells of roses, and of "cribs where oxen lie;" and the little place is
so steeped in murmurs of the ocean, that its natural dreaminess seems
deepened thereby. I cannot find that any great barons of the old time,
or that any world-shaking people have lived there; or that any events
which startle a nation have ever happened on that ground; but the
tranquil charm that fills the air repays for the absence of historic
fame.

There is seldom much stir in Norbreck, except such as the elements
make. The inhabitants would think the place busy with a dozen people
upon its grass-grown road at once, whatever the season might be.
It is true that on a fine day in summer I have now and then seen
a little life just at the entrance of the hamlet. There, stands a
pretty cottage, of one story, consisting of six cosy rooms, that run
lengthwise; its white walls adorned with rose trees and fruit trees,
and its windows bordered with green trellis work. Two trim grass-plots,
with narrow beds of flowers, and neat walks, mosaically-paved with
blue and white pebbles from the sea, fill up the front garden, which
a low white wall and a little green gate enclose from the road. In
front of this cottage, I have sometimes seen a troop of rosy children
playing round a pale girl, who was hopelessly infirm, and, perhaps
on that account, the darling of the whole household. I have seen her
rocking in the sun, and, with patient melancholy, watching their
gambols, whilst they strove to please her with all kinds of little
artless attentions. Poor Lucy! Sometimes, after swaying to and fro
thoughtfully in her chair, she would stop and ask questions that sent
her father out of the room to wipe his eyes. "Papa, are people lame in
heaven?" "Papa, are angels poorly sometimes, like we are here?"...It
is one of those beautiful compensations that mingle with the mishaps
of life, that such a calamity has often the sweet effect of keeping
kind hearts continually kind. The poor Lancashire widow, when asked
why she seemed to fret more for the loss of her helpless lad than
for any of her other children, said she couldn't tell, except "it
were becose hoo'd had to nurse him moor nor o' tother put together."
Surely, "there is a soul of good in all things evil." About this pretty
cottage, where little Lucy lived, is the busiest part of the hamlet in
summer time. There may chance to be two or three visitors sauntering
in the sunshine; or, perhaps, old Thomas Smith, better known as "Owd
England," the sea-beaten patriarch of Norbreck, may paddle across the
road to look after his cattle, or, staff in hand, may be going down
to "low water" a-shrimping, with his thin hair playing in the breeze.
Perhaps Lizzy, the milkmaid, may run from the house to the shippon,
with her skirt tucked up, and the neb of an old bonnet pulled down to
shade her eyes; or Tom, the cow lad, may be leaning against a sunny
wall, whistling, and mending his whip, and wondering how long it wants
to dinner-time. There may be a fine cat dozing on the garden wall,
or gliding stealthily towards the outhouses. These are the common
features of life there. For the rest, the sounds heard are mostly the
cackle of poultry, the clatter of milk cans, the occasional bark of
a dog, the distant lowing of kine, a snatch of country song floating
from the fields, the wild birds' "tipsy routs of lyric joy," and that
all-embracing murmur of the surge which fills one's ears wherever we
go. In Norbreck everything smacks of the sea. On the grassy border of
the road, about the middle of the hamlet, there is generally a pile
of wreck waiting the periodical sale which takes place all along the
coast. I have sometimes looked at this pile, and thought that perhaps
to this or that spar some seaman might have clung with desperate
energy among the hungry waters, until he sank, overpowered, into his
uncrowded grave. The walls of gardens and farmyards are mostly built
of cobles from the beach, sometimes fantastically laid in patterns of
different hues. The garden beds are edged with shells, and the walks
laid with blue and white pebbles. Here and there are rockeries of
curiously-shaped stones from the shore. Every house has its little
store of marine rarities, which meet the eye on cornices and shelves
wherever we turn. Now and then we meet with a dead sea-mew on the road,
and noisy flocks of gulls make fitful excursions landward; particularly
in ploughing time, when they crowd after the plough to pick slugs and
worms out of the new furrows.

With a single exception, all the half-dozen dwellings in Norbreck
are on one side of the road, with their backs to the north. On the
other side there are gardens, and a few whitewashed outhouses, with
weatherbeaten walls. The main body of the hamlet consists of a great
irregular range of buildings, formerly the residence of a wealthy
family. This pile is now divided into several dwellings, in some of
which are snug retreats for such as prefer the seclusion of this
sea-nest to the bustle of a crowded watering place. A little enclosed
lawn, belonging to the endmost of the group, and then a broad field,
divides this main cluster from the only other habitation. The latter
seems to stand off a little, as if it had more pretensions to gentility
than the rest. It is a picturesque house, of different heights, built
at different times. At the landward end, a spacious yard, with great
wooden doors close to the road, contains the outbuildings, with an
old-fashioned weather-vane on the top of them. The lowmost part of the
dwelling is a combination of neat cottages of one story; the highest
part is a substantial brick edifice of two stories, with attics. This
portion has great bow windows, which sweep the sea view, from the coast
of Wales, round by the Isle of Man, to the mountains of Cumberland. In
summer, the white walls of the cottage part are covered with roses and
creeping plants, and there is an air of order and tasteful rusticity
about the whole; even to the neat coble pavement which borders the
wayside. On the top of the porch a stately peacock sometimes struts,
like a feathered showman, whilst his mate paces to and fro, cackling
on the field wall immediately opposite. There are probably a few
poultry pecking about the front; and, if it happens to be a sunny day,
a fine old English bear-hound, of the Lyme breed, called "Lion," and
not much unlike his namesake in the main, may be seen stretched in a
sphinx-like posture on the middle of the road, as if the whole Fylde
belonged to him, by right of entail; and slowly moving his head with
majestic gaze, as if turning over in his mind whether or not it would
be polite to take a piece out of the passing traveller for presuming to
walk that way. Perhaps in the southward fields a few kine are grazing
and whisking their tails in the sunshine, or galloping from gap to gap
under the influence of the gad-fly's spur; and it may happen that some
wanderer from Blackpool can be seen on the cliffs, with his garments
flapping in the breeze. Except these, and the rolling surge below,
all is still at this end of the hamlet, unless the jovial face of the
owner appear above the wall that encloses his outbuildings, wishing the
passer-by "the fortune of the day." Norbreck, as a whole, is no way
painfully genteel in appearances, but it is sweet and serene, and its
cluster of houses seems to know how to be comfortable, without caring
much for display. Dirt and destitution are unknown there; in fact, I
was told that this applies generally to all the scattered population
of that quiet Fylde country. Though there are many people there whose
means of existence are almost as simple as those of the wild bird and
the field mouse, yet squalor and starvation are strangers amongst them.
If any mischance happen to any of these Fylde folk, everybody knows
everybody else, and, somehow, they stick to one another, like Paddy's
shrimps,--if you take up one you take up twenty. The road, which comes
up thither from many a mile of playful meanderings through the green
country, as soon as it quits the last house, immediately dives through
the cliffs, with a sudden impulse, as if it had been reading "Robinson
Crusoe," and had been drawn all that long way solely by its love for
the ocean. The sea beach at this spot is a fine sight at any time; but
in a clear sunset the scene is too grand to be touched by any imperfect
words. Somebody has very well called this part of the coast "the region
of glorious sunsets." When the waters retire, they leave a noble
solitude, where a man may wander a mile or two north or south upon a
floor of sand finer than any marble, "and yet no footing seen," except
his own; and hear no sounds that mingle with the mysterious murmurs
of the sea but the cry of the sailing gull, the piping of a flock of
silver-winged tern, or the scream of the wild sea-mew. Even in summer
there are but few stragglers to disturb those endless forms of beauty
which the moody waves, at every ebb, leave printed all over that grand
expanse, in patterns ever new.

Such is little Norbreck, as I have seen it in the glory of the year. In
winter, when the year's whitewash upon its houses is getting a little
weather-worn, it looks rather moulty and ragged to the eye; and it is
more lonely and wild, simply because nature itself is so then; and
Norbreck and nature are not very distant relations.



    CHAPTER II.

    The wave shall flow o'er this lilye lea,
      And Penny Stone fearfu' flee:
    The Red Bank scar scud away dismay'd,
      When Englond's in jeopardie.
    --PENNY STONE: A TRADITION OF THE FYLDE.


It was a bonny day on the 5th of March, 1860, when I visited Norbreck,
just before those tides came on which had been announced as higher
than any for a century previous. This announcement brought thousands
of people from the interior into Blackpool and other places on that
coast. Many came expecting the streets to be invaded by the tide, and
a great part of the level Fylde laid under water; with boats plying
above the deluged fields, to rescue its inhabitants from the towers of
churches and the tops of farmhouses. Knowing as little of these things
as inland people generally do, I had something of the same expectation;
but when I came to the coast, and found the people going quietly about
their usual business, I thought that, somehow, I must be wrong. It is
true that one or two farmers had raised their stacks several feet, and
another had sent his "deeds" to Preston, that they might be high and
dry till the waters left his land again; and certain old ladies, who
had been reading the newspapers, were a little troubled thereby; but,
in the main, these seaside folk didn't seem afraid of the tide.

During the two days when the sea was to reach its height, Blackpool was
as gay, and the weather almost as fine, as if it had been the month of
June, instead of "March--mony weathers," as Fylde folk call it. The
promenade was lively with curious inlanders, who had left their "looms"
at this unusual season, to see the wonders of the great deep. But when
it came to pass that, because there was no wind to help in the water,
the tide rose but little higher than common, many people murmured
thereat, and the town emptied as quickly as it had filled. Not finding
a deluge, they hastened landward again, with a painful impression that
the whole thing was a hoax. The sky was blue, the wind was still, and
the sun was shining clearly; but this was not what they had come forth
to see.

Though some were glad of any excuse for wandering again by the
shores of the many-sounding ocean, and bathing soul and body in its
renovating charms, the majority were sorely disappointed. Among these,
I met one old gentleman, close on seventy, who declared, in a burst
of impassioned vernacular, that he wouldn't come to Blackpool again
"for th' next fifty year, sink or swim." He said, "Their great tide
were nowt i'th world but an arran' sell, getten up by lodgin'-heawse
keepers, an' railway chaps, an' newspapper folk, an sich like wastril
devils, a-purpose to bring country folk to th' wayter-side, an' hook
brass eawt o' their pockets. It were a lond tide at Blackpool folk
were after;--an they wanted to get it up i' winter as weel as summer.
He could see through it weel enough. But they'd done their do wi' him.
He'd too mich white in his e'en to be humbugged twice o'er i'th' same
gate, or else he'd worn his yed a greyt while to vast little end. But
he'd come no moor a seein' their tides, nor nowt else,--nawe, not if
the whole hole were borne't away,--folk an' o,' bigod! He did not blame
th' say so mich,--not he. Th' say would behave itsel' reet enough, iv
a rook o' thievin' devils would nobbut let it alone, an' not go an'
belie it shamefully, just for th' sheer lucre o' ill-getten gain, an'
nowt else.... He coom fro' Bowton, an' he're beawn back to Bowton by
th' next train; an' iv onybody ever see'd him i' Blackpool again,
they met tell him on't at th' time, an' he'd ston a bottle o' wine for
'em, as who they were. They had a little saup o' wayter aside o' whoam
that onsert their bits o' jobs i' Bowton reet enough. It're nobbut a
mak ov a bruck; but he'd be content wi' it for th' futur--tide or no
tide. They met tak their say, an' sup it, for him,--trashy devils!"
Of course, this was an extreme case, but there were many grumblers on
the same ground; and some amusement arising out of their unreasoning
disappointment.

Down at Norbreck, about four miles north of Blackpool, though there
was a little talk, here and there, about the curious throng at the
neighbouring watering-place, all else was still as usual. "Owd
England," the quaint farmer and fisherman of the hamlet, knew these
things well. He had lived nearly seventy-four years on that part of
the coast, and he still loved the great waters with the fervour of a
sea-smitten lad. From childhood he had been acquainted with the moods
and tenses of the ocean; and it was a rare day that didn't see him
hobble to "low water" for some purpose or other. He explained to me
that a tide of much lower register in the tables, if brought in by a
strong wind, would be higher in fact than this one with an opposite
wind; and he laughed at the fears of such as didn't know much about the
matter. "Thoose that are fleyed," said he, "had better go to bed i'
boats, an' then they'll ston a chance o' wakenin' aboon watter i'th'
mornin'.... Th' idea of a whol teawn o' folk comin' to't seea for this.
Pshaw! I've no patience wi' 'em!... Tide! There'll be no tide worth
speykin' on,--silly divuls,--what I knaw. I've sin a fifteen-fuut
tide come far higher nor this twenty-one foot eleven can come wi' th'
wind again it,--sewer aw hev. So fittin it should, too.... But some
folk knawn nowt o'th' natur o' things." Lame old Billy Singleton, a
weather-worn fisherman, better known by the name of "Peg Leg," sat
knitting under the window, with his dim eyes bent over a broken net.
"Owd England" turned to him and said, "It wur a fifteen-fuut tide,
Billy, at did o' that damage at Cleveless, where th' bevel-men are
at wark." Old "Peg Leg" lifted his head, and replied, "Sewer it wor,
Thomas; an', by the hectum, that wor a tide! If we'd hed a strang
sou'-west wind, this wad ha' played rickin' too. I've heeard as there
wor once a village, ca'd Singleton Thorpe, between Cleveless and
Rossall, weshed away by a heigh tide, abaat three hundred year sin'.
By the hectum, if that had happen't i' these days, Thomas, here wod ha'
bin some cheeop trips an' things stirrin' ower it." He then went on
mending his net.

Old bed-ridden Alice, who had spent most of the daylight of seven years
stretched upon a couch under the window, said, "But it never could
touch us at Norbreck,--nowt o't sooart. It's nearly th' heighest point
i't country; isn't it, uncle?" "Sartiny," said "Owd England;" "but,"
continued he, "iv ye want to see summat worth rememberin', ye mun go
to low watter. It'll be a rare seet. Th' seea 'll ebb far nor ever wor
knawn i'th' memory o' mon; an' here'll be skeers an' rocks eawt at
hesn't bin sin of a hundred year. Iv ye'd like to set fuut o' greawnd
at nobody livin' mun walk on again, go daan with us at five o'clock
o' Friday afternoon." I felt that this would indeed be an interesting
sight, and I agreed to accompany the old fisherman to low water.

It was a cloudless, summer-like evening, when our little company of
four set out from Norbreck, As we descended the cliffs, the track of
the declining sun's beams upon the sea was too glorious for eyes to
endure; and every little pool and rill upon the sands gleamed like
liquid gold. A general hush pervaded the scene, and we could hear
nothing but our own voices, and a subdued murmur of the distant waves,
which made the prevailing silence more evident to the senses. "Owd
England" led the way, with his favourite stick in hand, and a basket
on his arm for the collection of a kind of salt water snail, called
"whilks," which, he said, were "the finest heytin' of ony sort o' fish
i'th world for folk i' consumptions." "Ye happen wouldn't think it,"
said he, "bod I wor i' danger o' consumption when I were a young mon."
As we went on, now over a firm swelling sand-bank, now stepping from
stone to stone through a ragged "skeer," and slipping into pools and
channels left by the tide; or wading the water in reckless glee,--the
fine old man kept steadily ahead, muttering his wayward fancies as he
made towards the silver fringe that played upon the skirts of the sea.
Now and then he stopped to point out the rocks, and tell their names.
"That's th' Carlin' an' Cowt,--a common seet enough. Ye see, it's
not far eawt.... Yon's 'Th' Mussel Rock,' deawn to so'thard. Ther's
folk musselin' on it neaw, I believe. But we'll go that way on....
Tak raand bith sond-bank theer. Yaar noan shod for wadin'; an' this
skeer's a varra rough un.... That's 'Penny Stone,' reight afore you,
toward th' seea. Ye'll hev heeard o' 'Th' Penny Stone Rock,' mony a
time, aw warnd. There wor once a public-heawse where it stons, i'th owd
time; an' they sowd ale there at a penny a pot. Bod then one connot
tell whether it wor dear or cheeop till they knaw what size th' pot
wor--an' that I dunnot knaw. Mr. Thornber, o' Blackpool, hes written a
book abaat this 'Penny Stone;' an' I believe at Mr. Wood, o' Bispham
Schoo', hes one. He'll land it yo in a minute, aw warnd. Ye mun send
little Tom wi' a bit ov a note. I never see 'Penny Stone' eawt so as to
get raand it afore.... Neaw, yon far'ast, near low watter, is 'Th' Owd
Woman's Heyd.' I've oft heeard on it, an' sometimes sin a bit o't tip
aboon watter, bod I never see it dry i' my life afore,--an' I never mun
again,--never." He then paddled on, filling his basket, and muttering
to himself about this extraordinary ebb, and about the shortness of
human life. The sun began to "steep his glowing axle in the western
wave," and the scene was melting every moment into a new tone of
grandeur. As we neared the water, the skeers were more rugged and wet,
and, in a few minutes, we picked up a basketful of "whilks," and a
beautiful variety of the sea anemone. After the sun had dipped, his
lingering glory still crowded the western heavens, and seemed to deepen
in splendour as it died upon the scene; while the golden ripples of the
sea sang daylight down to rest. I never saw mild evening close over the
world with such dreamy magnificence. We wandered by the water, till

                        Golden Hesperus
    Was mounted high in top of heaven sheen.
    And warned his other brethren joyeous
    To light their blessed lamps in Jove's eternall house.

The tide was returning, and the air getting cold; so we went homewards,
with wandering steps, in the wake of our old fisherman, by way of
"Penny Stone Rock." There is a tradition all over the Fyltle that
this rock, now only visible "on the utmost verge of the retired
wave," marks the locality of a once famous-hostelry. Doubtless the
tradition has some foundation in fact, as the encroachments of the sea
upon this coast have been great, and sometimes disastrous, as in the
destruction of the village of Singleton Thorpe, about a mile and a half
to northward, in 1555. In the Rev. W. Thornber's interesting little
volume, called "Penny Stone; or a Tradition of the Spanish Armada,"
he says of the old hostelry associated with this now submerged rock,
"It was situated in a vale, protected from the sea by a barrier of
sand-hills, at a short distance from a village called Singleton Thorpe,
in the foreland of the Fylde, Lancashire. The site of the homestead
was romantic, for it was in the very centre of a Druidical circle,
described in a former tradition of the country, one of the huge stones
of which reared its misshapen block near the porch. Into this stone
a ring had been inserted by the thrifty Jock, its host, to which he
was wont to attach the horses of his customers whilst they regaled
themselves with a penny pot of his far-famed ale. Hither the whole
country resorted on holidays, to spend them in athletic games, and
to quaff the beloved beverage; nay, so renowned was the hostel, that
'merrie days of hie away to Penny Stone' was common even to a proverb.
Here lay the secret enchantment of its popularity. The old distich tell
us that

    Hops, reformation, bays, and beer,
    Came into England all in a year.

Ale was a beverage which had been well known in England, but in the
reign of Henry VIII, it assumed a new name from the infusion of hops.
Now, Jock's father, a cunning lout, was the first to commence in the
Fylde this new, and at that time mysterious system of brewing, which
so pleased the palate of his customers, that, while others sold their
insipid malt liquor at twopence per gallon, he vended his ale at a
penny per pot. Hence his hostel became known by the name of Penny
Stone."

Such is the embodiment Mr. Thornber has given to the common tradition
of "Penny Stone," which we were now approaching on our homeward way.
As we drew near it, we saw five persons come over the shining sands
towards the same spot; and we heard merry voices ringing in the air.
I first made out my friend Hallstone, in his strong shooting-dress of
light-coloured tweed, and attended by two favourite terriers, "Wasp"
and "Snap." We met at the rock, and I found my friend accompanied by
three "brethren of the mystic tie," one of whom was Mr. Thornber, the
veritable chronicler of "Penny Stone." The latter had wandered thus
far, with his companions, mainly to avail himself of this rare chance
of climbing his pet legendary crag. His hands were full of botanical
specimens from the sea, and, in his fervid way, he descanted upon them,
and upon the geology of the coast, in a manner which, I am sorry to
say, was almost lost to my uninitiated mind. I took the opportunity of
inquiring where he found the materials for his tradition. He answered,
that there was no doubt of its fundamental truth; "but, as to the
details wrought into the story," said he, pointing to his forehead,
with a laugh, "I found them in a cellar, deep down in the rock there."

The gloomy mass was surrounded by a little moat of salt water, nearly
knee-deep, through which we passed; and then, clinging to its Triton
locks of sea-weeds, we climbed to the slippery peaks of "Penny Stone."
The stout lad in attendance drew a bottle from his basket; and then
each in his way celebrated this unexpected meeting in that singular
spot, where we should never meet together again.

I shall never forget the sombre splendour of the scene, nor the
striking appearance of the group upon that lonely rock, when the
rearward hues of day were yielding their room to "sad succeeding
night." We lingered there awhile; but the air was cold, and the sea
began to claim its own again. Four then returned by the cliffs to
Blackpool, and the rest crossed the sands hastily to Norbreck, where,
after an hour's chat by the old fisherman's great kitchen fire, I crept
to bed, with the sound of the sea in my ears.



    CHAPTER III.

     A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry. Now, good
     Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll: masters,
     spread yourselves.
      --MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.


The "million-fingered" rain was tapping at the kitchen window as I
sat by "Owd England's" bright hearthstone one forenoon, hearkening to
the wind that moaned outside like a thing in pain. I could hear by a
subdued thump that "Lizzy" was churning in the dairy; and I knew, by
the smell of fresh bread which came from a spacious out-kitchen, that
"Granny" was baking. "Little Tom," the cow lad, had started early
with the cart to Poulton for coals, making knots on his whiplash as
he went along, to help his memory, which was crowded with orders to
call at one place for meal, at another for mutton, and at others for
physic, and snuff, and such like oddments, wanted by the neighbours.
"Owd England" had gone to the seaside, with his staff, and his leather
strap, to fetch the daily "burn" of firewood; and--to see what he could
see;--for every tide brought something. One day he hauled a barrel of
Stockholm tar from the water; on another, part of the cabin furniture
of an unfortunate steamer; and then a beam of pine was thrown ashore;
in all of which the old man had a certain interest as "wreck-master."
"Peg-leg," the fisherman, was mending a net; and lame Alice lay, as
usual, wrapped up, and in shadow, on the couch under the window; with
her pale face, and a nose "as sharp as a pen," turned to the ceiling;
while Tib, with her soft legs folded under, lay basking luxuriously
in the fire-shine, dreaming of milk and of mice. The old clock ticked
audibly in the corner, and a pin-drop silence prevailed in the room.
"That's a fine cat," said I. "Aye," replied old Alice, "isn't it a
varra fine cat? It's mother to that as Missis Alston hes. It cam fra
Lunnon, an' it's worth a deeal o' money, is that cat. The varra day
as you cam, it weshed it face an' sneez't twice,--it dud, for sewer.
Missis Eastwood wor gettin' dinner ready at th' time, an' hoo said,
'We'st hev a stranger fra some quarter this day, mind i' we hevn't;'
an' directly after, yo cam walkin' into th' heawse, I tell yo, just
as nowt were. I offens think it's queer; bod I've sin cats as good as
ony almanac for tellin' th' weather, an sich like." "Will it scrat,"
said I, stroking "Tib" as she stretched and yawned in my face. "Well,"
replied Alice, "it's like everything else for that; it just depends
what you do at it. Bod I can onser for one thing--it'll not scrat as
ill as 'Th' Red Cat' at Bispham does. I hev sin folk a bit mauled after
playin' wi' that." "Aye, an' so hev I, too," said old "Peg-leg." "I
ca'd theer tother neet, an', by the hectum, heaw they wor gooin' on,
to be sewer. I crope into a corner wi' my gill, there wor sich liltin'
agate; an', ye knaw, a mon wi' one leg made o' wood and tother full
o' rheumatic pains is nowt mich at it. Beside, I've ten a likin' to
quietness,--one does, ye knaw, Alice, as they getten owd. I geet aside
ov a mon as wor tellin' abeawt Jem Duck'orth, o' Preston, sellin' his
midden. Ye'll hev heeard o' that, Alice?" "Nay, I don't know as I
hev, Billy; what is it? I dud hear at once th' baillies were in his
heawse, an' they agreed to go away if he'd find 'em a good bondsman.
So Jem towd 'em that he had a varra respectable old friend i'th next
room that he thowt would be bund wi him to ony amount; if they'd let
him fotch him. So they advised him to bring his bond in at once, ah'
hev it sattle't baat ony bother--for th' baillies wor owd friends o'
Jem's, ye knaw; an' they didn't want to be hard with him. Well, what
does Jem do, bod go an' fotch a great brown bear as he'd hed mony a
year, an' turns it into th' place where th' baillies were, baat muzzle;
and says, 'Gentlemen, that's my bondsman.' Bod, never ye mind if th'
baillies didn't go through that window, moor sharper.... I've heard
mony a queer tale o' Jem. What's this abaat th' midden, Billy?" "Well,
ye knaw, Jem wor a good-tempered mon, but full o' quare tricks. He wor
varra strong, an' a noted feighter--th' cock o'th clod in his day, for
that. An' he kept a deeal o' horses that he leet aat for hire. Well,
he'd once gether't a good midden together fra th' stables, an' farmers
began o' comin' abaat th' yard to look at it; so one on 'em says, 'Jem,
what'll to tak for th' midden?' 'Five paand,' says Jem. 'Well, I'll gi'
tho five paand,' says the farmer. So he ped him, an' said he'd send
th' carts in a day or two. In a bit, another comes an' axes th' price
o'th' midden. Jem stack to owd tale, an' said 'Five paand, an' cheeop
too;' an' th' farmer gev him th' brass at once. 'Sowd again,' says Jem,
'an' th' money drawn.' Well, at th' end of o', it happen't at both sets
o' carts cam for th' midden o'th same day, an' there were the devil's
delight agate i'th yard between 'em. At last, they agreed to send for
Jem; so he cam wi' a face as innocent as a flea, an' wanted to know
whatever were to do. 'Didn't I buy this midden, Jem?' said one. 'Yigh,
sure, thae did,' says Jem. 'Well, an' didn't I pay tho for't at th'
same time?' 'Sure, thae did, owd lad--reet enough,' says Jem. 'Well,
but,' says tother, 'didn't I buy it on tho?' 'Yigh, thae did,' says
Jem, 'an' thae ped me for't, too, honourably, like a mon,--an' I'll tak
very good care that nob'dy but yo two hes it.' That wor rayther awkert,
ye knaw, an' I know not heaw they'd end it,--for Jem wor bad to manage.
They wor tellin' it at th' 'Red Cat' tother neet, bod I could hardly
hear for th' gam at wor afoot. Lor bless you! There wor a gentleman fra
Fleetwood tryin' to donce i'th middle o'th floor; an' owd Jack Backh'us
stood i' one corner, wi' his yure ower his face, starin' like wild, an'
recitin' abaat th' Battle o' Waterloo. Three chaps sit upo' th' sofa as
hed been ower Wyre, o' day, an' they'd etten so mich snig-pie at th'
'Shard,' that it hed made 'em say-sick, so Tom Poole were mixin' 'em
stuff to cure it. Another were seawnd asleep on a cheer, an' little
'Twinkle,' fra Poulton, doncin' abeawt, challengin' him to feight. An'
it wor welly as bad eawtside, for there wor a trap coom up wi' a lot o'
trippers as hed bin to Cleveless, an' 'Bugle Bob' upo' th' box, playin'
'Rule Britannia.' Bod I left when th' bevel-men fra Rossall began o'
comin' in, singin' 'Said Dick unto Tom,' for I felt my yed givin' way
under it."

The song, "Said Dick unto Tom," alluded to by the old man, is a rude
fishing ditty, never printed before, and hardly known out of the Fylde,
to which it relates. I wrote it down from the recitation of a friend
near Norbreck. There is not much in the words except a quiet, natural
tone, with one or two graphic strokes, which breathe the spirit of the
country it originated from. The tune is a quaint air, which I never
heard before. The song was written some time ago, by William Garlick, a
poor man, and a weaver of "pow-davy," a kind of sail-cloth. These are
the words:--

    Said Dick unto Tom, one Friday at noon,
            Loddle iddle, fol de diddle ido;
    Said Dick unto Tom, one Friday at noon,
    Aw could like to go a-bobbin' i'th mornin' varra soon.
            To my heigho, wi' my bob-rods an' o';
            Loddle iddle, fol de diddle ido.

    Then up i'th mornin Dick dud rise,
            Loddle iddle, &c.;
    Then up i'th mornin' Dick dud rise,
    An' to Tom's door like leetnin' flies.
            To my heigho, wi' my worm-can an' o';
            Loddle iddle, &c.

    So, up Tom jumped, an' deawn th' stairs dart,
            Loddle iddle, &c.;
    So, up Tom jumped, an' deawn th' stairs dart,
    To go a-gettin' dew-worms afore they start.
            Wi' my heigho, an' my worm-can an' o';
            Loddle iddle, &c.

    Then they hunted, an' rooted, an' sceched abaat,
            Loddle iddle, &c.;
    Then they hunted, an' rooted, an' sceched abaat,
    Egad, says little Tom, there's noan so many aat.
            To my heigho, wi' my worm-can an' o';
            Loddle iddle, &c.

    So, off they set wi' th' bob-rods i' hond,
            Loddle iddle, &c.;
    So, off they set wi' th' bob-rods i' hond,
    Like justices o' peace, or governors o' lond.
            To my heigho, wi' my snig-bags an' o';
            Loddle iddle, &c.

    An' when they gat to Kellamoor, that little country place,
            Loddle iddle, &c.;
    An' when they gat to Kellamoor, that little country place,
    Th' childer were so freeten't 'at they dorsn't show their face.
            To my heigho, wi' my bob-rods an' o';
            Loddle iddle, &c.

    An' when they gat to Brynin', folk thought there'd bin a mob,
            Loddle iddle, &c.;
    An' when they gat to Brynin', folk thought there'd bin a mob,
    Til little Tommy towd 'em they were bod baan to bob.
            To my heigho, wi' my snig-bags an' o':
            Loddle iddle, &c.

    An' when they gat to Warton, they wor afore the tide,
            Loddle iddle, &c.;
    An' when they got to Warton, they wor afore the tide,
    They jumped into a boat, an' away they both did ride.
            To my heigho, wi' their bob-rods an' o';
            Loddle iddle, &c.

Soon after dinner the clouds broke, and it was fine again. I went to
the sea-side; and, after pacing to and fro by the waves a while, I
struck out towards Rossall, through the by-paths of a wilderness of
sand and tall grass, called "Starrins," that run along the edge of the
cliffs. I had scarcely gone a mile before "the rattlin' showers drave
on the blast" again, and the sky was all thick gloom. Dripping wet, I
hurried towards the hotel at Cleveless, and, darting in, got planted
in a snug armchair by the parlour fire, watching the storm that swept
furiously aslant the window, and splashed upon the road in front. Three
other persons were in the room, one a workman from Rossall College,
hard by, and the other commercial men on their route to Fleetwood. It
is wonderful how much rough weather enhances the beauty of the inside
of a house. "Better a wee bush than nae bield." Well, we were just
getting into talk, when the door opened, and a humorous face looked
in. It was a bright-eyed middle-aged man, shining all over with wet;
a blue woollen apron was twisted round his waist, and he had a basket
on his arm. Leaning against one door-cheek, and sticking a knife into
the other, he said, "By gobs, didn't I get a fine peltin' out o'
that!... Do yees want any oysters, gentlemen? The shells is small,"
said he, stepping forward, "but they're chock full o' the finest fish
in the world. Divul a aiqual thim oysters has in the wide ocean; mind,
I'm tellin' ye.... Taste that!"--"Hollo, Dennis!" said one of the
company, "how is it you aren't in Fleetwood?"--"Well, because I'm here,
I suppose," said Dennis. "Bedad, ye can't expect a man to be in two
places at once--barrin' he was a burd. Maybe it's good fortune sent
me here to meet wid a few rale gintlemin. Sorra a one I met on the
way, but rain powrin' down in lashins till the oysters in my basket
began to think they were in the say again."--"Well, Dennis," said the
traveller, "I'll have a score if you'll tell us about the Irishman in
the cook's shop.--Ye will? Then divul recave the toe I'll stir till ye
get both.... Will you take another score, sir,--till I tell the tale?
It's little chance ye'll have o' meetin' thim oysters agin--for they're
gettin' scarce.... An' now for the tale," said he, with his knife and
his tongue going together. "It was a man from Nenagh, in Tipperary--he
was a kind o' ganger on the railway; an' he wint to a cook-shop in a
teawn not far from this, an' says he to the missis o' the heawse, 'A
basin o' pay-soup, ma'am, plaze,' says he,--for, mind ye, an Irishman's
natterally polite till he's vext, an' thin he's as fiery as Julius
Sayzur. Well, whin she brought the soup, Paddy tuk a taste mighty
sly; an', turnin' reawnd, says he--just for spooart, mind--says he,
'Bedad, ma'am, your soup tastes mighty strong o' the water.' Well, av
coorse, the woman was vext all out, an' she up an' tould him he didn't
understand good aitin', an' he might lave the soup for thim that had
bin better eddicated. But bowld Paddy went on witheawt losin' a stroke
o' the spoon; an'--purtindin' not to hear her--says he, 'I'll go bail
I'll make as good broth as thim wud a penny candle an' a trifle o'
pepper.' Well, by gobs, this riz the poor woman's dander to the full
hoight, an' she made right at him wid her fist, an' swore by this an'
by that, if he didn't lave the heawse she'd knock him into the boiler.
But Paddy was nigh finishin' his soup, an' he made up his mind to take
the last word; an' says he, 'Bi the powers! that'll be the best bit o'
mate ever went into your pan, ma'am;' an' wi' that, he burst into a
laugh, an' the philanderin' rogue up an' towld her how he said it all
for divarshun; an' divul a better soup he tasted in his life. Well, she
changed her tune, like a child. Bedad, it was like playin' a flute, or
somethin'. An', mind ye, there's nothin' like an Irishman for gettin'
the right music out of a woman--all the world over. So my tale's inded,
an' I'd like to see the bottom o' my basket. Ye may as well brake me,
gintlemen. There's not more nor five score. Take the lot; an' let me go
home; for I've a long step to the fore, an' I'm wet to the bone; an'
the roads is bad after dark."



    CHAPTER IV.

    Still lingering in the quiet paths.
    --ALL THE YEAR ROUND.


After a good deal of pleasantry, Dennis got rid of his oysters; and,
as the storm was still raging without, he called for a glass, just, as
he said, "to keep the damp away from the spark in his heart, more by
token that he had no other fire to dry his clothes at. But, begorra,
for the matter o' that," said he, "they're not worth a grate-full o'
coals. Look at my trousers. They're on the varge o' superannuation;
an' they'll require a substitute before long, or else, I'm thinking,
they'll not combine daycently. How an' ever, gintlemen," continued
he, "here's hopin' the fruition of your purses may never fail ye,
nor health to consign their contents to utility. An' neaw," said he,
lighting his pipe, and putting the empty basket on his head like a
cowl, "I must go, if the rain comes in pailfuls, for I'm not over well;
an' if I could get home wud wishin', I'd be in bed by the time ye'd say
'trap-sticks!' But dramin' an' schamin's neither ridin' nor flyin', so
I'll be trampin', for there's no more use in wishin' than there would
be in a doctor feelin' a man's pulse through a hole in a wall wid the
end of a kitchen poker. An' neaw, I'll be proud if any gintleman will
oblige me by coming a couple o' mile an the road, to see the way I'll
spin over the greawnd.... Ye'd rather not? Well; fun an' fine weather's
not always together, so good bye, an' long life to yees!" and away went
Dennis through the rain towards Fleetwood.

Waiting for the shower to abate, I sat a while; and, as one of the
company had been to a funeral, it led to a conversation about benefit
societies; in relation to which, one person said he decidedly objected
to funeral benefits being allowed to people who had died by their own
hands, because it would encourage others to commit suicide. From this
we glided to the subject of consecrated ground; and a question arose
respecting a man who had been accidentally buried partly in consecrated
and partly in unconsecrated ground,--as to what result would ensue from
that mistake to the poor corpse in the end of all. The doubt was as to
whose influence the unconsecrated half came under. The dispute ran
high, without anybody making the subject clearer, so I came away before
the shower was over.

Next day I went to Blackpool; and, while awaiting at the station the
arrival of a friend of mine, I recognised the familiar face of an old
woman whom I had known in better days. Tall and thin, with a head as
white as a moss-crop, she was still active, and remarkably clean and
neat in appearance. Her countenance, though naturally melancholy,
had still a spice of the shrew in it. "Eh," said she, "I'm glad to
see you. It's seldom I have a chance of meeting an old face now, for
I'm seldom out." She then told me she had been two years and a half
housekeeper to a decrepid old gentleman and his two maiden sisters, in
a neighbouring town. "But," said she, "I'm going to leave. You see I've
got into years; and, though I'm active--thank God--yet, I'm often ill;
and people don't like to be troubled with servants that are ill, you
know. So I'm forced to work on, ill or well; for I'm but a lone woman,
with no friends to help me, but my son, and he's been a long time in
Canada, and I haven't heard from him this three years. I look out for
th' postman day by day,--but nothing comes. Sometimes I think he's
dead. But the Lord knows. It's like to trouble one, you're sure. It's
hard work, with one thing and another, very; for I 'have to scratch
before I can peck,' as th' saying is, and shall to th' end o' my day,
now. But if you can hear of anything likely, I wish you would let me
know,--for leave yonder I will. I wouldn't stop if they'd hang my hair
wi' diamonds,--I wouldn't indeed. I've said it, an' signed it,--so
there's an end. But what, they'll never ask me to stop, I doubt. It's
very hard. You see I have to keep my son's little boy in a neighbour's
house,--this is him,--and that eats up nearly all my bit o' wage;
and where's my clothing to come from? But, don't you see, yon people
are greedy to a degree. Lord bless you! They'd skin three devils for
one hide,--they would for sure. See yo; one day--(here she whispered
something which I didn't exactly catch)--they did indeed! As Missis
Dixon said, when I met her in Friargate, on Monday forenoon, 'It was
a nasty, dirty trick!' But I've had my fill, an' I shall sing 'Oh, be
joyful' when my time's up. I shall be glad to get to my own country
again,--yes, if I have to beg my bread. See; they're actually afraid
of me going out o'th house for fear I should talk about them to th'
neighbours. Bless you, they judge everybody by theirselves. But I'd
scorn the action! It is just as Missis Smith said, 'They're frightened
o'th world being done before they've done wi' th' world,'--they are for
sure. Such gripin', grindin' ways! They'll never prosper,--never." "And
is this your grandson?" said I. "Yes; an' he's a wonderful child for
his age. He's such a memory. His father was just same. I often think
he'd make a rare 'torney, he remembers things so, and he has such queer
sayings. I've taught him many a piece off by heart. Come, George, say
that little piece for this gentleman. Take your fingers out of your
mouth. Come now." The lad looked a minute, and then rattled out,--

    Said Aaron to Moses, aw'll swap tho noses:--

"Oh, for shame," said she; "not that." But he went on,--

    Said Moses to Aaron, thine's sich a quare un.

"For shame," said she. "You see they teach him all sorts o' nonsense;
and he remembers everything. Come, be quick; 'Twinkle, twinkle,'" But
here the train was ready; and in five minutes more she was on her way
to Preston; and, not finding my friend, I walked home along the cliffs.

In my rambles about Norbreck, I met with many racy characters standing
in relief among their neighbours, and marked with local peculiarities,
as distinctly as anything that grows from the soil. In a crowded city
they might be unnoticed; but, amid "the hamlet's hawthorn wild," where
existence seems to glide as noiselessly as a cloud upon a summer
sky--save where friendly gossips meet, like a choir of crickets, by
some country fire--they are threads of vivid interest woven into
the sober web of life; and, among their own folk, they are prized
something like those old books which people hand from generation
to generation,--because they bear the quaint inscriptions of their
forefathers. In my wanderings I had also the benefit of a genial and
intelligent companion; and, whether we were under his own roof, among
books, and flowers, and fireside talk about the world in the distance,
or roving the green lanes and coppice-trods, chatting with stray
villagers by the way, or airing ourselves in the wind, "on the beached
margent of the sea," I found pleasure and assistance in his company, in
spite of all our political differences. My friend, Alston, lives about
a mile down the winding road from Norbreck, in a substantial hall,
built about a hundred years ago, and pleasantly dropt at the foot of a
great natural embankment, which divides the low-lying plain from the
sea. The house stands among slips of orderly garden and plantation,
with poultry yards and outhouses at the north-east end. The green
country, sparely sprinkled with white farmhouses and cottages, spreads
out in front, far and wide, to where the heathery fells of Lancashire
bound the eastward view. The scene is as quiet as a country church
just before service begins, except where the sails of a windmill are
whirling in the wind, or the fleecy steam-cloud of a distant train
gushes across the landscape, like a flying fountain of snow. On a
knoll behind the house there is a little rich orchard, trimly hemmed
in by thick thorn hedges. In March I found its shadeless walks open
to the cold sky, and all its holiday glory still brooding patiently
down in the soil; but I remember how oft, in summer, when the boughs
were bending to the ground with fruit, and the leaves were so thick
overhead, that the sunshine could only find its way through chinks of
the green ceiling, we have pushed the branches aside, and walked and
talked among its bowery shades; or, sitting on benches at the edge of
the fish-pond, have read and watched our floats, and hearkened the
birds, until we have risen, as if drawn by some fascination in the air,
and gone unconciously towards the sea again. There we have spent many a
glorious hour; and there, at certain times of the day, we should meet
with "Quick," or "Mitch," or some other coast-guardsmen belonging to
the gunboat's crew at Fleetwood, pacing to and fro, on the look-out
for Frenchmen, smugglers, and wreck. As we returned from the shore one
afternoon last March, an old man was walking on the road before us,
carrying what looked in the distance like two milk pails. These he set
down now and then, and looked all round. My friend told me that this
part of the Fylde was famous for singing-birds, especially larks. He
said that bird-catchers came from all parts of Lancashire, particularly
Manchester, to ply their craft there; and he would venture a guess
that the quaint figure before us was a Manchester bird-catcher, though
it was rather early in the season. When we overtook the old man, who
had set down his covered cages in a by-lane, we found that he was a
bird-catcher, and from Manchester, too. I learnt, also, that it was not
uncommon for a clever catcher to make a pound a day by his "calling."

The primitive little whitewashed parish church of Bispham was always
an interesting object to me. It stands on a knoll, about a quarter of
a mile over the fields from Norbreck; and its foundation is of great
antiquity. Its graveyard contains many interesting memorials, but none
more solemnly eloquent than a certain row of green mounds covering the
remains of the unknown drowned washed upon that coast from time to
time. Several of these, which drifted ashore after the burning of the
_Ocean Monarch_ off the coast of Wales, in 1848, now lie mouldering
together in this quiet country graveyard, all unknown, save a lady from
Bury, in Lancashire, to whose memory a tombstone is erected here.

As the great tides declined, the weather began to be troubled with
wintry fits; but when the day of my return came, it brought summer
again. After dinner, at Bispham House, I went up with my friend to bid
farewell to "Owd England" at Norbreck; and it was like parting with
some quaint volume of forgotten lore. Nursed here in the lap of nature,
the people and customs of the country were part of himself; and his
native landscape, with all the shifting elements in the scene, was a
kind of barometer, the slightest changes of which were intelligible
to him. At the eastern edge of Norbreck, a low wall of coble stones
encloses his garden. Here, where I have sometimes made a little havoc
among his "Bergamots," "Old Keswicks," and "Scotch Bridgets," we walked
about, whilst I took a parting look at the landscape. Immediately
behind us the sea was singing its old song; and below lay the little
rural parish, "where," as I heard the rector say in one of his sermons,
"a man cannot walk into the open air but all his neighbours can see
him." Beyond, the tranquil Fylde stretches out its drowsy green, now
oblivious of all remembrance of piratical ravage, which so often swept
over it in ancient times. Yonder, the shipping of Fleetwood is clearly
in sight to the north. And there, a sunbeam, stealing between the
fleecy clouds, glides across the land from field to field, with a kind
of plaintive grace, as if looking for a lost garden. Over meadow, over
wood, and little town it goes, dying away upon yon rolling hills in the
east. The first of these hills is Longridge, and behind it, weird old
Pendle, standing in a world of its own, is dimly visible. Northward,
the hills roll on in bold relief, Parlick, and Bleasdale, and the fells
between Morecambe and "time-honoured Lancaster." Still northward, to
where yon proud brotherhood of snow-crowned giants--the mountains of
Cumberland and Westmorland--look so glorious in the sunlight; awaking
enchanting dreams of that land of romance, the "Lake District,"
hallowed by so many rich associations of genius. They toss their mighty
heads on westward, till solemn old "Black Coombe" dips into the Irish
Sea. Altogether a fine setting for the peaceful scene below.

The afternoon was waning, so, taking leave of the old fisherman and his
household, I turned from Norbreck like a man who rises from his dinner
before he is half satisfied. Accompanied by my friend, I walked four
miles, on highways and by-ways, to meet the train at Poulton. The road
was pleasant, and the day was fine; and I reached Manchester before
midnight, feeling better in soul and body for my sojourn by the sea.



    Wandering Minstrels;
    or,
    Wails of the Workless Poor.

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


There is one feature of the distress in Lancashire which was very
remarkable upon the streets of our large towns during the year 1862.
I allude to the wandering minstrelsy of the unemployed. Swarms of
strange, shy, sad-looking singers and instrumental performers, in
the work-worn clothing of factory operatives, went about the city,
pleading for help, in touching wails of simple song,--like so many
wild birds driven by hard weather to the haunts of man. There is
something instructive, as well as affecting, in this feature of the
troubled time. These wanderers are only a kind of representative
overflow of a vast number whom our streets will never see. Any one
well acquainted with Lancashire will know how wide-spread the study
of music is among its working population. Even the inhabitants of our
large towns know something more about this now than they knew a few
months ago. I believe there is no part of England in which the practice
of sacred music is so widely and lovingly pursued amongst the working
people as in the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire. There is no
part of England where, until lately, there have been so many poor
men's pianos, which have been purchased by a long course of careful
savings from the workman's wages. These, of course, have mostly been
sold during the hard times, to keep life in the owner and his family.
The great works of Handel, Haydn, Beethoven, and Mozart, have solaced
the toil of thousands of the poorest working people of Lancashire.
Anybody accustomed to wander among the moorlands of the country will
remember how common it is to hear the people practising sacred music
in their lonely cottages. It is not uncommon to meet working men
wandering over the wild hills, "where whin and heather grow," with
their musical instruments, to take part in some village oratorio many
miles away. "That reminds me," as tale-tellers say, of an incident
among the hills, which was interesting, though far from singular in
my experience. Up in the forest of Rosendale, between Derply Moor and
the wild hill called Swinshaw, there is a lone valley,--a green cup in
the mountains,--called "Dean." The inhabitants of this valley are so
notable for their love of music, that they are known all through the
vales of Rossendale as "Th' Deighn Layrocks," or "The Larks of Dean."
In the twilight of a glorious Sunday evening, in the height of summer,
I was roaming over the heathery waste of Swinshaw, towards Dean, in
company with a musical friend of mine, who lived in the neighbouring
clough, when we saw a little crowd of people coming down a moorland
slope, far away in front of us. As they drew nearer, we found that many
of them had musical instruments; and when we met, my friend recognised
them as working people living in the district, and mostly well known
to him. He inquired where they had been; and when they told him that
they had "bin to a bit of a sing deawn i'th Deighn," "Well," said
he, "can't we have a tune here?" "Sure, yo con, wi' o' th' pleasur'
i'th world," replied he who acted as spokesman; and a low buzz of
delighted consent ran through the rest of the company. They then ranged
themselves in a circle around their conductor, and they played and sang
several fine pieces of psalmody, upon the heather-scented mountain top.
As those solemn strains floated over the wild landscape, startling
the moorfowl untimely in his nest, I could not help thinking of the
hunted Covenanters of Scotland. The all-together of that scene upon
the mountains, "between the gloaming and the mirk," made an impression
upon me which I shall not easily forget. Long after we parted from
them we could hear their voices, softening in sound as the distance
grew, chanting on their way down the echoing glen; and the effect was
wonderfully fine. This little incident upon the top of Swinshaw is
representative of things which often occur in the country parts of
Lancashire, showing how wide-spread the love of music is among the
working classes there. Even in great manufacturing towns, it is very
common, when passing cotton mills at work, to hear some fine psalm tune
streaming in chorus from female voices, and mingling with the spoom of
thousands of spindles. The "Larks of Dean," like the rest of Lancashire
operatives, must have suffered in this melancholy time; but I hope that
the humble musicians of our county will never have occasion to hang
their harps upon the willows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



    A Wayside Incident during the Cotton Famine.

                   Take physic, pomp!
    Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel;
    That thou may'st shake the superflux to them,
    And show the heavens more just.
    --KING LEAR.


One Saturday a little incident fell in my way, which I thought worth
taking note of at the time. On that day I went up to Levenshulme, to
spend the afternoon with an old friend of mine, a man of studious
habits, living in a retired part of that green suburb. The time went
pleasantly by whilst I was with the calm old student, conversing upon
the state of Lancashire, and the strange events which were upheaving
the world in great billows of change,--and drinking in the peaceful
charm which pervaded everything about the man, and his house, and the
scene which it stood in. After tea, he came with me across the fields
to the Midway Inn, on Stockport Road, where the omnibuses call on their
way to Manchester. It was a lovely evening, very clear and cool, and
twilight was sinking upon the scene. Waiting for the next omnibus,
we leaned against the long wooden watering-trough, in front of the
inn. The irregular old building looked picturesque in the soft light
of declining day; and all around was so still that we could hear the
voices of bowlers who were lingering upon the green, off at the north
side of the house, and retired from the highway by an intervening
garden. The varied tones of animation, and the phrases uttered by the
players on different parts of the green, came through the quiet air
with a cheery ring. The language of the bowling-green sounds very
quaint to people unused to the game.

"Too much land, James!" cries one.

"Bravo, bully-bowl! That's th' first wood! Come again for more!" cries
another.

"Th' wrong bias, John!"

"How's that?"

"A good road, but it wants legs!"

"Narrow; narrow, o' to pieces!"

These, and such like phrases of the game, came distinctly from the
green into the highway in that quiet evening. And here I am reminded,
as I write, that the philosophic Dr. Dalton was a regular bowler upon
Tattersall's green, at Old Trafford. These things, however, are all
aside from the little story which I wish to tell.

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

"Eh, sitho; there's Sarah an' Martha here! Eh, lasses; han _yo_ bin
a-beggin', too?"

"Aye, lass; we han," replied the thin, dark-complexioned woman.
"Aye, lass; we han. Aw've just bin tellin' Ann, here. Aw never did
sich a thing i' my life afore,--never! But it's th' first time and
th' last, for me,--it is that! Aw'll go whoam; an' aw'll dee theer,
afore aw'll go a-beggin' ony moor,--aw will for sure! Mon, it's sich
a nasty, dirty job; aw'd as soon clem!... See yo, lasses; we set
off this mornin'--Martha an' me--we set eawt this mornin' to go to
Gorton Tank, becose we yerd that it wur sich a good place. But one
doesn't know wheer to go to these times; an' one doesn't like to go
a-beggin' among folk at they known. Well, when we coom to Gorton we
geet two-pence-hawpenny theer,--an' that wur o'. There's plenty moor
beggin' beside us! Well, at after that twopence-hawpenny, we geet
twopence moor; an' that's o' at we'n getten. But, eh, lasses, when aw
coom to do it, aw hadn't th' heart to ax for nought,--aw hadn't for
sure.... Martha an' me's walked aboon ten mile, if we'n walked a yard;
an' we geet weet through th' first thing; an' aw wur ill when we set
off, an' so wur Martha, too; aw know hoo wur; though hoo says nought
mich abeawt it. Well; we coom back through t' teawn; an' we wur both
on us fair stagged up. Aw never wur so done o'er i' my life, wi' one
thing an' another. So we co'de a-seem' Ann here; an' hoo made us a good
baggin'--th' lass did. See yo; aw wur fit to drop o'th flags afore aw
geet that saup o' warm tay into mo,--aw wur for sure! An' neaw hoo's
come'd a gate wi' us hitherto, an' hoo would make us have a glass o'
warm ale a-piece at yon heawse, lower deawn a bit; an' aw dar' say
it'll do mo good, aw getten sich a cowd; but, eh dear, it's made mo as
mazy as a tup; an' neaw hoo wants us to have another, afore we starten
off whoam. But it's no use; we mun be gooin'. Aw'm noan used to it, an'
aw connot ston' it. Aw'm as wake as a kittlin' this minute."

Ann, who had befriended them in this manner, was the handsome young
woman, who seemed to be in work; and now the poor woman who had been
telling the story laid her hand upon her friend's shoulder and said,--

"Ann, thae's behaved very weel to us, o' roads; an' neaw, lass, go thi
ways whoam, an' dunnot fret abeawt us, mon. Aw feel better neaw. We's
be reet enough to-morn, lass. Mon, there's awlus some way shap't That
tay's done me a deeol o' good.... Go thi ways whoam, Ann! Neaw do; or
else aw shan't be yezzy abeawt tho!"

But Ann, who was wiping her eyes with her apron, replied, "Nawe, nawe;
aw connot goo yet, Sarah!" ... And then she began to cry, "Eh, lasses,
aw dunnot like to see yo o' this shap,--aw dunnot for sure! Besides,
yo'n bin far enough to-day. Come back wi' me! Aw connot find reawm for
both on yo; but thee come back wi' me, Sarah! Aw'll find thee a good
bed; an' thae'rt welcome to a share o' what there is--as welcome as
th' flowers i' May--thae knows that.... Thae'rt th' owdest o'th two;
an' thae'rt noan fit to trawnce up an' deawn o' this shap. Come back
to eawr heawse; an' Martha'll go forrud to Stopput (Stockport)--winnot
tho, Martha?... Thae knows, Martha," continued she, "thae knows, thae
munnot think nought at me axin' Sarah, an' noan o' thee. Yo should both
on yo go back if aw'd reawm,--but aw haven't. Beside, thae'rt younger
an' strunger than hoo is."

"Eh, God bless tho, lass," replied Martha, "aw know o' abeawt it.
Aw'd rayther Sarah would stop, for hoo'll be ill. Aw can go forrud by
mysel', weel enough. It's noan so fur, neaw."

But here Sarah, the eldest of the three, laid her hand once more upon
the shoulder of her friend, and said, in an earnest tone,--

"Ann! It will not do, my lass! Goo, aw mun! Aw never wur away fro whoam
o' neet i' my life--never! Aw connot do it, mon! Beside, thae knows,
aw've laft yon lad; an' never a wick soul wi' him! He'd fret hissel'
to deeoth this neet, mon, if aw didn't go whoam! Aw couldn't sleep a
wink for thinkin' abeawt him! Th' child would be fit to start eawt o'th
heawse i'th deeod time o'th neet, a-seechin' mo--aw know he would!...
Aw mun goo, mon! God bless tho, Ann; aw'm obleeged to thee o'th same!
But thae knows heaw it is."

Here the omnibus came up, and I rode back to Manchester. The whole
conversation took up very little more time than it will take to read
it; but I thought it well worth recording, as characteristic of the
people now suffering in Lancashire from no fault of theirs. I know the
people well. The greatest number of them would starve themselves to
that degree that they would not be of much more physical use in this
world, before they would condescend to beg. But starving to death is
hard work. What will winter bring them when severe weather begins to
tell upon constitutions lowered in tone by a starvation diet--a diet so
different to what they have been used to when in work?

What will their eighteen-pence a-head weekly do for them in that hard
time? If something more than this is not done for them, when more
food, clothing, and fire are necessary to everybody, calamities may
arise which will cost England a hundred times more than a sufficient
relief--a relief worthy of those who are suffering, and of the nation
they belong to--would have cost. In the meantime, the cold wings
of winter already begin to overshadow the land; and every day lost
involves the lives, or the future usefulness, of thousands of our best
population.



    Saint Catherine's Chapel;
    OR,
    The Pretty Island Bay.

    O blest retreat, and sacred, too!
    Sacred as when the bell of prayer
    Tolled duly on the desert air.
    And crosses decked thy summits blue.
    --ROGERS.


The shores of the Isle of Man are remarkable for their variety of
indentation, especially at the southern end of the island. There
its most interesting scenery may be found; bold, rugged headlands,
beautiful bays, and savage ravines, where the wild ocean churns and
thunders in majestic fury. But from the ruin-crested rock of Peel--so
rich in venerable memorials of the past--all round the shores of "the
fairy isle," there is not a more charming spot than Port Erin, a little
crag-defended bay at the southern end of the island, about five miles
west of Castletown. The outer shores of this part of the island are
wildly fantastic; the mountains cluster grandest there, and the inland
scenery is fertile and picturesque. Bold and rugged as the entrance
to Port Erin is from the sea, all is quiet, and sweet, and sheltered
at the head of the bay. The contrast is striking, and pleasing
to the mind. The little fishing hamlet looks out contemplatively
between those wild, flanking rocks at the entrance, across the blue
waters, to where the mountains of Morne and Wicklow, in Ireland, show
their faint outlines in the west. The bay, from the point where the
headlands--Brada on the north side, and The Cassels on the south side
of the entrance--front each other, like sentinels placed to guard
the little nest beyond from all ravage of the sea, is about half
a mile across, and about a mile inland. From that point up to the
hamlet at the head of the water, Port Erin is a pleasant seclusion,
sweetly retired, even on the landward side, from bustle of any kind,
except such as the sea makes when a strong west wind brings Neptune's
white-maned horses into the little bay in full career. Then, indeed,
Port Erin wears an aspect of a nobler and more spirit-stirring kind.
But, even then, when the spray is flying over the thatched roofs of
the fishermen's cottages, low down, near to the beach, the briny
tumult is mere child's play in a nursery nook, compared to the roaring
majesty with which the billows of the Atlantic wilderness rage among
the creeks, and chasms, and craggy headlands outside. At such a time,
the thunders of the sea in the Sound, which divides the Calf Island
from the main land, and amongst the storm-worn headlands that overfrown
the ocean immediately beyond the entrance to Port Erin, come upon the
ear of the listener, in his pleasant shelter at the head of the bay,
like the boom of distant war. But when the wind is still, the clear
tide fondles up the beach at the foot of the village, as if it was
glad to see that quiet nook of Mona's Isle once more. Lipping the
delicately-mottled strand with liquid grace, it creeps lovingly up
towards Port Erin's green shore. Full of beautiful sounds, and hues,
and motions, it comes, with tender caresses, croodling its dreamy
sea-song; and, as it rises in gentle sweeps nearer and nearer to the
cottages where fishermen dwell, at the foot of the villaged slope,
it flings fresh shells upon the sand with every surge,--like a fond
traveller returning home laden with memorials of his journey, which
show that he has been thinking of those he loved, when far away.

But let us sit down upon some pleasant "coigne of vantage" at the head
of the bay, and look at the quaint little village there. The hotel,
called the "Falcon's Nest," looks right out to sea from the head of
the bay. It crowns a green slope of grass-bound sand, which rises from
behind an irregular line of old thatched cottages upon the beach,
not far from the head of the tide. There is a green terrace in front
of the hotel at the head of the slope, where I have many a time sat
and looked about me with delight upon a summer's day. At one end of
the terrace there is a sun-dial; at the other a rusty old cannon,--a
relic of the Spanish Armada. It was found in the water below Spanish
Head, hard by Port Erin, where part of that famous armament "came to
grief." Great piles of fantastic sea-worn rock, partly overgrown with
greenery, stand, here and there, upon the terrace; and ornamental seats
are placed there, for the use of visitors, when the weather is fine.
The chimney tops, and thatched roofs of fishermen's cottages, greened
over with wind-sown verdure, peep up from the foot of the slope, which
is crowned by the terrace. It is very pleasant to saunter about, there,
on a fine summer's day--or on any other day,--to one who loves nature
in all her moods. It is, perhaps, better still to sit down, and look
lovingly upon the scene. The witchery of peace is on all around, when
the wind is still; the smoke from cottage chimneys rises idly into the
pure air--idle as Ludlam's dog, that leaned against a wall to bark.
It rises, here and there, in lazy blue rings--lounging curls of fat
blue smoke, that seem over-fed, and "done up" with pleasant lassitude,
as if they had just finished a good dinner; and would rather have a
nap before going out. The cottages of the village are picturesquely
strewn about, as if they had been dropped through holes in a sack, by
somebody who happened to be flying over the place. But they chiefly
cluster on the south side at the head of the bay, about the bottom of
the hill; not far from high water. They, then, straggle up the southern
hill-side--like school children out for a holiday--one on this shelf
of green land; another in a nook of the hill; another on the nose of
a breezy bit of crag; others, in and out, dotting the sides of the
mountain road, which leads through the hamlet of Creag-y-N'eash, in the
direction of Spanish Head, and The Chasms,--the most remarkable bit
of coast scenery in all the island. About the middle of the scattered
village, a whitewashed chapel stands, in a little patch of ground,
enclosed by low walls. It stands there, sweet and simple, by the side
of the mountain road; about one hundred feet above the head of the
tide; and it is a pleasing feature in the scene. The village is all
under the eye from the place where I am sitting, and the quiet play of
out-door life going on there is novel, and dreamy-looking. The whole
scene is picturesquely-varied. The wild mountain tops, clustered in
the direction of Fleshwick, as if in solemn council; the dark, craggy
headlands at the mouth of the bay, with the blue sea heaving between;
the smooth beach, where the clear tide is singing and surging up; the
quiet, wandering village; and the green plain, rolling away between the
hills, in picturesque undulations, landward. Port Erin is enchanted
ground! There are secluded nooks about it, that seem as if

                      Some congregation of the elves.
    To sport by summer moons, had shaped them for themselves.

The village is all under the eye. Down in the lowmost part, where the
cottages are nearest to the water, a blue-clad fisherman leans against
his door cheek, smoking, and gazing dreamily out to sea. I wonder
what the old man is thinking of. In front of another cottage, a stout
matron, with browned face and brawny arms, is hanging up strips of
conger eel, to dry in the sun; whilst a little barefooted lass, about
five years old, staggers about the doorway, under the weight of a fat
baby. A little below the sun-dial, which stands at the end of the green
terrace, upon which I am sitting, a knot of Manx fishermen are lounging
upon the grass, around a pitcher of the thin Manx ale, called "jough."
Now they are very merry, and they laugh and chatter in full chorus,
with great glee. Now their mirth subsides; and they draw around an
ancient mariner, who is telling a tale of an adventure he had with the
fairies, as he came over the mountain from Fleshwick Bay, one night.
It is wonderful how firmly these islanders believe in fairies. Scratch
deep enough into any Manxman, and you will find fairies, dancing by
moonlight, amongst a world of other weird imaginations. But we will
let the old seaman go on with his story. The village is all under
the eye; and it is such a homely spot, that if one stays a few days
there, and is at all disposed to be communicative, one begins to know
everybody "by headmark," as the saying is--"Billy this," and "Johnny
that," and "Neddy Omragh;" and the old wanderer from the neighbourhood
of Pool Vash, who invariably recites a little epitaph he wrote upon
some notable person in that quarter a few years ago; and who invariably
expects something for reciting it. One begins to know the village
folk "by headmark," as I have said before, and they stop and salute
you kindly, and chat about the weather, the fishing, the crops, and
such like; and there is something very homely and pleasant in feeling
one's self thus linked in a kindly way to the rest of the human race
wherever they go.... The village is all under the eye; and Port Erin is
enchanted ground. The voices of nature are not drowned there in a roar
of human tumult. It is true that the unceasing murmur of the tide fills
all the air with its wild under-song; but its influence is so fine and
unobtrusive, that every sound of life in the little village comes upon
the untroubled sense distinctly framed in the quietude which pervades
that dreamy nook of Mona's Isle, when the wind is low.... Let us look
around, and be silent; that one may hear what is going on. Behind me
is the cheerful hotel, the Falcon's Nest. The landlord stands upon
the door-step, giving directions about the stabling of certain horses
which have come up from Castletown. The horses are taken round to the
stables; and the landlord goes back into his nest. Snatches of the old
man's fairy tales come upon the wind, when it blows, towards me. I hear
broken bits of his story, while his mates stand listening around him,
in silent wonder:--

"I wass not thinking about nawthin', when I think I hear
somethin',--an' I look,--an' there was a little fellow close to my leg.
He was dressed in green an' red, with silver buckles on his shooce.
He wass about the sice of eight yearce. I make a grab to get howlt of
him,--so,--an' then,--I get a hand-full of wind. I cannot see nawthin'.
He is gone.... I wass wan day makin' a hedge. It was up in Brada. There
wass nobody but myself. It was wonderful! Up in the air, I hear them,
shouting an' laughing. I know in a minute it is the fairies. I hear
them before, in the same place. They wass hunting. I hear the cap'en
o' the fairies. He give a shout,--an' all was silence. Then the noice
begin a-gain,--like people in a fair. I hear them so well as I do see
my hant. They wass hunting. They have horses, an' dawgs. I hear them
very well. The whips wass cracking, an' horns wass blowing,--an' I
hear the little dawgs going wif! wif! wif! It wass wonderful! Then the
cap'en give a shout a-gain,--an' all wass silence. Then there wass
music. It wass so fine that I cannot hear it. But, I feel there wass
music playing up in the air.... I know it is the fairies; and I say,
'I think it is time to be going home.' So, I come a-way.... Another
time, when I wass coming down from Craig-y-N'eash, it come on dark,
all at once,--so dark as pitch. I look at my side. There wass a little
fellow. He wass just here (laying his hand upon his hip). He wass about
so big as my leg. I know it was a fairy. It was not a body at all. He
come to stale my boots." And so on. But we let the old man finish
his tale.... I can now hear the footfall of a lonely traveller, as he
stumps along the road behind me, stick in hand. He is a stout, old,
weather-beaten Manxman, with gray hair; and he is dressed in coarse
blue woollen cloth. I can hear every footfall as he works his way
along the silent road towards the mountain side, in the direction of
Fleshwick Bay; and, now that I turn round to look at him again, I see
that the old man is wiping his forehead, as he stumps along, stick in
hand. I can hear women talking at their doors below the slope, and upon
the cottage-sprinkled hill-side, in the direction of Creag-y-N'eash,
I can hear the prattle of little bare-legged lads, who are sailing
their tiny, chip-built ships, and clamorously discussing their relative
qualities, as they watch how they fare among the eddies and rapids of
the stream which runs down the green crease about the middle of the
village. I can hear the cackle of a large family of very clean and
very fat ducks, as they waddle and paddle, and splash the water about,
and open their wings, and wag their dumpy tails with delight, upon
the slushy margin of a pool, where the same streamlet has been dammed
up, for their especial pleasure. I can hear the opening and shutting,
of cottage doors, in different parts of the village; and I can hear
something of the wild fringe of an old Manx song, which a fisherman
is crooning, as he saunters along the strand towards his boat; which
lies, high and dry, in a sheltered nook, under the craggy cliff, at
the south side of the bay. I can hear the call of the Manx shepherd to
his dog, upon the dark mountain side, towards Brada Head. Each sound
is distinctly-framed in the pervading quietness of the scene. At an
open bow-window of the hotel behind me, two elderly gentlemen sit
talking together, and evidently enjoying what little breeze there is
from the sea. I have got it into my head, somehow, that they are men of
learning. One of them is a stout, hearty-looking gentleman, who wears a
black velvet skullcap; and likes to dine in his own room,--"because he
has a good deal of writing to do." I wonder what he is writing about.
He is talking in a sonorous tone of voice, to a dignified old friend
of his, whose manners at table, I have noticed, always evince the
self-possession, the graceful, quiet action, and kindliness which mark
a cultivated gentleman. He is tall and thin; and his noble aquiline
nose sustains a pair of gold spectacles. Perhaps the black velvet
skullcap and the gold spectacles have something to do with my notion
that they are learned men; but I believe I am right, nevertheless. They
are talking about the history of the island, and about the geology of
this part of it; especially about the mines at Brada Head. I begin
to think they have some interest in those Brada mines; for they are
talking of the projected breakwater, and the possible future of Port
Erin. I can hear them plain enough. Not that I like "eaves-dropping;"
but there they sit, at the open window, and they see me; and they
evidently don't care a rap who hears them.... At another window, a
little farther off, two sunny-haired young ladies come and go, like
wandering posies, "freshening and refreshing all the scene" with their
sweet presence. They belong to some well-to-do family of cultivated
people, who have come to Port Erin to bathe themselves in quietness,
and in the fresh sea-breeze. I am sure it is so, for a noble-looking
man, considerably past the noon of life, shows himself at the window,
now and then, with two more of these pretty trailers clinging to him.
He is dressed in black, and he wears a gold-framed double eye-glass;
and his fine countenance is lighted up with a quiet smile, as he paces
to and fro, listening to the prattle of the two lovely young women
who have hold of him--body and soul. It is very evident that their
prattle is music in his ears.... Now the mother comes! I am quite sure
that placid, handsome, matronly woman, in the black silk dress, is
the mother. She is a well-grown, sweet-looking, sound-constitutioned
dame; round as an apple, and clear-skinned, and quietly-rosy; and
kind-hearted, as anybody may see, at the first glance, with half an
eye. I durst bet a thousand pounds she is a lady, in heart and thought.
She has seen enough of the world to enrich her experience; and without
hardening her heart. She is a good, womanly soul; the kindliness of her
nature breathes through every pore; and speaks with angelic eloquence
in every line and dimple of her face. A few silver threads may be
shining in her yet abundant auburn hair, but they only serve to give a
new tinge of dignity to her appearance. She knows something of sorrow,
too, no doubt; for who can have lived so long in this world of ours as
she has lived, without being touched by the divine wand of that noble
refiner of the noble heart? But the clouds have long since gone; and
her smiles, now, are not smiles

    That might as well be tears.

She is, indeed, "one vast substantial smile," from head to foot,--a
sunbeam of feminine goodness, raising the atmosphere of happiness
around her, wherever she goes. Upon the whole, her lines have evidently
"fallen in pleasant places," and,--"So mote it be," say I, "to the end
of a long life yet to come." Now she sits down by the open window;
and a handsome, light-complexioned lad, about twelve years old, is
teasing her in an affectionate way about something or another; whilst
a beautiful, sunny-haired girl, of sixteen or so, leans over the other
shoulder, and whispers, as she smooths the old lady's hair with tender
touches, "Mamma, dear, this!" and "Mamma, dear, that!" And, oh, if
there be an elysium on earth, that good old soul is in it now! It is a
beautiful glimpse of the smooth current of human life.

Now I hear the clatter of horses' feet upon the road behind me, and a
car comes up to the door of the hotel, laden with a company of young
men, who are evidently "in great spirits." They have, very likely, come
across the island from Douglas, making a call or two on the way. If
one may measure their enjoyment by the noise they make, they certainly
ought to be very happy. They alight and enter the hotel, whilst the car
is taken round to the stable yard; and, in a few minutes, I hear a good
deal more bell-ringing in the Falcon's Nest.

But who is this strange, gaunt fellow, that comes paddling barefoot
up the slope, from the low part of the village, muttering to himself
as he gazes vaguely around. It is poor Johnny Daly, the affectionate,
lunatic youth, who wanders over hill and dale, in all weathers,
harmless and happy in his unconscious helplessness. He is a tall,
strong, young man; but quite a child in affectionate simplicity. Poor
Johnny! He is only "mad nor-nor-west," after all. If he knows you, he
either likes you well, or he doesn't like you at all. If he takes to
you, he comes quietly up, and flutters about you like a pet dove with
a broken wing; croodling all sorts of inarticulate kindnesses in a
touching and not very demonstrative way; except that, now and then, as
he listens to your talk--no matter what you are talking of, nor how
badly--he suddenly clasps his hands and laughs boisterously; as if he
had just discovered a great joke in the matter. If he likes you, he
will sit down upon the grass beside you, quietly crooning some wild
fragment of old Manx song, and looking slyly up into your face from
time to time; unless he chances to spy the landlord of the hotel, or
the owner of the one mansion at Port Erin. If he sees either of these
anywhere about, it is a thousand to one that he will immediately leave
you to your own devices and desires, for the poor fellow knows who is
kind to him a great deal better than some of us do who think that we
have all our wits about us. Poor Johnny! He is fond of a penny, like
most of the world; and he needs it more than some people do; although
He "who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb" has scattered a few kind
hearts about the wanderer's way that will not see him want for any
needful thing. But I have seen people that Johnny would not accept a
penny from; and I have many a time wondered at the curious principle of
selection which seemed to lurk in some corner of his disordered mind.
I remember a little excursion we made, one fine summer's day, over the
mountain on the south side of Port Erin, and among the wild cliffs,
near the Sound, which divides the Isle of Man from The Calf. It was
a company of six; and amongst them was the landlord of the hotel--a
kind-hearted and intelligent Englishman. Johnny followed him, barefoot,
all the rugged way, with the affectionate instinct of a faithful dog.
As we returned homeward, by wandering, and sometimes dangerous tracks,
along the edge of the precipices, on the south side of the bay--where
the sea roared and dashed majestically among lonely creeks two or three
hundred feet below, and the cormorant and seagull wheeled about the
dark crags, and screamed with delight in the breeze, half-way down
between us and the water--our host disappeared from the company for a
little while, in search of something among the rocks, whilst Johnny was
picking his way carefully up the prickly path ahead. Turning round,
Johnny missed his friend; and after he had looked for him again and
again through the company, and all over the scene, he sat himself down
amongst the heather, and gazing quietly at the blue sea, he murmured,
in a plaintive tone, "Now, he is gone! He is gone!" ... In a minute or
two, he kneeled down among the heather, and, clasping his hands, like
a child at its mother's knee, he muttered a few broken sentences of
the Lord's prayer, and then he sat down and gazed silently at the sea
again. And we could not get him to rise, until his friend reappeared
from behind a rock; when he instantly rose and clapped his great brown
hands, and trotted after us, with painful steps, through the prickly
bush, stopping, now and then, to laugh aloud.... Poor Johnny! As he
comes paddling up the road from the village, he hears the voice of
the landlord, who is talking to the ostler at the house end; and away
he goes, in full trot, towards his friend, with whom he is a great
favourite.

And now, mild evening begins to draw her delicate curtains over the
drowsy world. All things below the sky are softening into shade; and
the pensive spell deepens the charm that pervades this sleepy seaside
nook of "Mona the lone, where the silver mist gathers." The quiet life
of the village is sinking to repose. Barefooted lasses are fetching
water from the ancient well of Saint Catherine,--a beautiful spring, at
the foot of the sandy slope at the head of the bay; and an object of
great veneration to the inhabitants of the island. Lovers are stealing
off to quiet nooks outside the village; where they can whisper unseen.
Boats are coming in from the Sound, and from the blue sea beyond.
The fishermen haul them ashore in a sheltered shingly nook, under
the craggy southern cliffs; and then they saunter homeward along the
smooth beach, laden with fish and fishing tackle; some of them singing
drowsily, as they saunter along. The murmurs of the sea become more
distinct, filling all the air with a slumbrous influence.... Now the
fisher's wife beets up her cottage fire, sweeps the hearth, and puts
the kettle on, to cheer her sea-beaten mate on his return from the wild
waters; and, here and there, fresh smoke is rising again from cottage
chimneys; bluer and more briskly than in the glowing afternoon....
The old fisherman and his village companions are mustering upon the
grass at the end of the terrace again. He has long since finished the
story about his adventure with the fairies among the mountains; and he
has been carousing with his comrades in the taproom of the Falcon's
Nest. They have brought another pitcher of "jough" out with them. And,
listen! They are beginning to sing, in chorus, the plaintive old Manx
song, called "Molly Charrane!" The strange melody floats up, weird
and sweet, blending beautifully with the murmurs of the rising tide,
and waking up remembrances of the wild history and wilder legends
of "Mona's fairy isle." The broad glare of day is gone. The air is
clearer; the green fields look greener; and the hues of the landscape
are richer and more distinct than before. The sun has "steeped his
glowing axle" in the sea. The gorgeous hues which linger over his track
still glow upon the wide waters; but "the line of light that plays
along the smooth wave toward the burning west," is slowly retiring
in the wake of the sunken sun. Let me look out, while there is yet
light, for the eye has glorious scope to roam in, from the place where
I am sitting.... At the head of the bay--the scattered village; and
the green land--green all along the slopes of the hills, and all over
the fertile undulant plain between, stretching away inland, towards
Castletown. It is a pleasant nook of seaside life, at the head of the
bay. But, as I look seaward, the flanking headlands grow wilder as they
recede, ending in scenes of savage grandeur among the storm-worn crags
which front the open sea.

    The cliffs and promontories there,
    Front to front, and broad and bare,
    Each beyond each, with giant feet
    Advancing, as in haste to meet.
    The shattered fortress, whence the Dane
    Blew his loud blast, and rushed in vain,
    Tyrant of the drear domain.

Those grim sentinels have seen strange scenes of storm, and battle, and
shipwreck, during their long watch over the entrance to Port Erin. Oft
has the ancient Dane steered his "nailed bark," laden with sea-robbers,
into that little bay; and he has oft been wrecked upon that craggy
coast. Spanish Head overfrowned the destruction of part of the great
Armada. One of the guns of that armament now lies upon the terrace in
front of the hotel at Port Erin; thickly encrusted with rust. Many a
noble ship has gone down in the Sound between the Island and the Calf
of Man.... As twilight deepens down, the breeze freshens, and the
blue waves begin to heave with life. Great white-winged ships glide
majestically by--some near, some far off; and some almost lost to sight
in the distance. Far away, in the west, the outlines of the mountains
of Morne and Wicklow are fading away from view. It is a bewitching
hour! It is a bewitching scene! But now the Irish mountains have
disappeared in the shade; and the distant sea grows dim to the eye. The
village about me is sinking to rest; and candle-lights begin to glimmer
through cottage windows. The old fisherman and his companions have gone
back into the taproom of the Falcon's Nest. The wind is rising still;
and the air grows cold. I, too, will retire until the world has donned
its night-dress; and so good-by to this fairy scene for a while! The
moon rises at ten! Perhaps I may come forth to look around me once
more, when the world lies sleeping beneath her quiet smile. If not,
then farewell to thee, Port Erin!

    When scenes less beautiful attract my gaze,
    I shall recall thy quiet loveliness;
    When harsher tones are round me, I shall dream
    Of those mysterious notes, whose thrilling sounds
    Peopled the solitude



    The Knocker-Up.

    Past four o'clock; and a moonlight morning!
    --OLD WATCHMAN.


Life in Manchester may seem monotonous to a Parisian or to a Londoner,
but it has strong peculiarities; and among its varied phases there
are some employments little known to the rest of the world. Many a
stranger, whilst wandering through the back streets of the city, has
been puzzled at sight of little signboards, here and there, over the
doors of dingy cottages, or at the head of a flight of steps, leading
to some dark cellar-dwelling, containing the words, "KNOCKING-UP DONE
HERE." To the uninitiated this seems a startling, and unnecessary
announcement, in such a world as ours; and all the more so, perhaps, on
account of the gloom and squalid obscurity of the quarters where such
announcements are generally found. Horrible speculations have haunted
many an alien mind whilst contemplating these rude signboards, until
they have discovered that the business of the Knocker-Up is simply that
of awakening people who have to go to work early in a morning; and the
number of these is very great in a city like ours, where manufacturing
employments mingle so largely with commercial life. Another reason
why this curious employment is so common in Manchester may be that
there are so many things there to lure a working man into late hours
of enjoyment,--so many wild excitements that help to "knock him up,"
after his ordinary work is over, and when his time is his own, so many
temptations to "lengthen his days by stealing a few hours from the
night," that the services of the morning "Knocker-Up" are essential.
For the factory-bell, like death, is inexorable in its call; and when,
in the stillness of the morning, the long wand of the awakener comes
tapping at the workman's window, he knows that he must rise and go; no
matter how ill-prepared,--no matter how mis-spent his night may have
been. He must go; or he knows full well the unpleasant consequence.
If he likes he may try to ease his mind by crooning the words of that
quaint lyric, "Up in a morning, na for me;" but, in the meantime, he
must get up and go. He may sing it as he goes, if he likes; but whether
he does so or not, he must walk his chalks, or else it will be worse
for him. Apart from factory-workers, there are other kinds of workmen
who need awakening in a morning; especially those connected with the
building trades, whose hours of rising are sometimes uncertain, because
they may be employed upon a job here to-day, and then upon one two or
three miles off, to-morrow. Factory workers, too, are compelled, in
many cases, to reside at considerable distances from the mills at which
they are employed. These two classes of working people, however, are
the principal customers of the "Knocker-Up."

Whoever has seen Manchester in the solitary loveliness of a summer
morning's dawn, when the outlines of the buildings stand clear against
the cloudless sky, has seen the place in an aspect of great beauty.
In that hour of mystic calm, when the houses are all bathing in the
smokeless air,--when the very pavement seems steeped in forgetfulness,
and an unearthly spell of peaceful rapture lies upon the late disturbed
streets,--that last hour of nature's nightly reign, when the sleeping
city wears the beauty of a new morning, and "all that mighty heart is
lying still;"--that stillest, loveliest hour of all the round of night
and day,--just before the tide of active life begins to turn back from
its lowmost ebb, or, like the herald drops of a coming shower, begins
to patter, here and there, upon the sleepy streets once more; whoever
has seen Manchester at such a time, has seen it clothed in a beauty
such as noontide never knew. It is, indeed, a sight to make the heart
"run o'er with silent worship." It is pleasant, even at such a time,
to open the window to the morning breeze, and to lie awake, listening
to the first driblets of sound that stir the heavenly stillness of the
infant day:--the responsive crowing of far-distant cocks; the chirp of
sparrows about the eaves and neighbouring house-tops; the barking of
dogs; the stroke of some far-off church clock, booming with strange
distinctness through the listening air; a solitary cart, jolting slowly
along, astonished at the noise it is making. The drowsy street--aroused
from its slumbers by those rumbling wheels--yawns and scratches its
head, and asks the next street what o'clock it is.... Then come the
measured footsteps of the slow-pacing policeman, longing for six
o'clock; solitary voices conversing in the wide world of morning
stillness; the distant tingle of a factory bell; the dull boom of
escaping steam, let off to awake neighbouring workpeople; the whistle
of the early train; and then,--the hurried foot, and "tap, tap, tap!"
of the Knocker-Up. Soon after this, shutters begin to rattle, here and
there; and the streets gradually become alive again.

He who has wandered about the city, with observant eye, at dawn of
morning, may have seen men--and sometimes a woman--hurrying along the
street, hot-foot, and with "eyes right," holding aloft long taper
wands, like fishing-rods. These are Knockers-Up, going their hasty
rounds, from house to house, to rouse the workman to his labour. They
are generally old men, who are still active on foot; or poor widows,
who retain sufficient vigour to enable them to stand the work; for it
is an employment that demands not only severe punctuality, but great
activity: there is so much ground to cover in so little time. It is
like a "sprint-race"--severe whilst it lasts, but soon over. And the
aim of the Knocker-Up is to get as many customers as possible within
as small a circle as possible,--which greatly lessens the labour. A
man who has to waken a hundred people, at different houses, between
five and six o'clock, needs to have them "well under hand," as coachmen
say. With this view, Knockers-Up sometimes exchange customers with
one another, so as to bring their individual work as close together
as possible. The rate of pay is from twopence to threepence per week
for each person awakened; and the employment is sometimes combined
with the keeping of a coffee-stall at some street end, where night
stragglers, and early workmen, can get their breakfast of coffee and
bread-and-butter, at the rate of a halfpenny per cup, and a halfpenny
per slice for bread-and-butter. Sometimes, also, the Knocker-Up keeps
a little shop in some back street, where herbs, and nettle beer, and
green grocery, or fish, or children's spices are sold; and, after this
fashion, many poor, faded folk,--too proud for pauperism,--eke out a
thin, unostentatious living, out of the world's eye. So much for the
occupation of the Knocker-Up. And now for a little incident which led
to all this preamble.

The other day, as I sat poring over my papers, a startling knock came
to the street door. It was one, solid, vigorous bang,--with no nonsense
about it. It was heavy, sharp, straightforward, and clean-cut at the
edges,--like a new flat-iron. There was no lady-like delicacy about
it,--there was no tremulous timidity, no flabbiness, nor shakiness,
nor billiousness, nor any kind of indication of ill-condition about
that rap. It was sound--wind, limb, and all over. It was short
and decisive,--in the imperative mood, present tense, and first
person,--very singular; and there was no mistake about its gender--it
was, indeed, massively masculine--and it came with a tone of swift
authority--like a military command. It reminded me of "Scarborough
warning,"--a word and a blow--and the blow first. That rap could stand
on its own feet in the world,--and it knew it. It came boldly, alone,
"withouten any companie,"--not fluttering, lame and feeble, with feeble
supporters about it,--like a man on ricketty stilts, that can only
keep his feet by touching carefully all round. It shot into the house
like a cannon-ball, cutting a loud tunnel of strange din through the
all-pervading silence within. The sleepy air leaped, at once, into
wakefulness,--and it smote its forehead with sudden amazement, and
gazed around to see what was the matter. I couldn't tell whatever
to make of the thing. My first thought was that it must be the man
who examines the gas meters, and that he was behind with his work,
and in a bad temper about something. And then I began to think of my
debts: it might be an indignant creditor, or some ruthless bully of a
dun--which is a good deal worse--and I began to be unhappy. I sighed,
from the bottom of my heart, and looked round the room in search of
comfort. Alas! there was nothing there to cheer my sinking spirits.
The drowsy furniture had started from its long-continued trance; and
the four somnolent walls were staring at one another with wild eyes,
and whispering, "What's that?" The clock was muttering in fearful
undertones to the frightened drawers; and the astonished ceiling, as
it gazed down at the trembling carpet, whispered to its lowly friend,
"Look out!" as if it thought the whole house was coming down. I looked
at my watch--for, indeed, I hardly knew where to look--and I began to
apprehend that the fatal hour had come, at last, when we should have
to part,--perhaps for ever. I looked at my poor old watch.... It had
stopped.... The fact is, the little thing was stunned. The numerals
had tears of terror in their eyes; and it held out its tiny hands
for protection,--like a frightened child, flying to its mother from
a strange tumult. I felt sorry for the little thing; and I rubbed
the case with my coat sleeve, and then wound it gently up, by way of
encouragement; and--the grateful, willing creature--it only missed
about half a dozen beats or so, and then began ticking again, in a
subdued way, as if it was afraid of being overheard by the tremendous
visitor who had so furiously disturbed "the even tenor of its way."
The whole house was fairly aroused; tables, chairs, pictures,--all
were in a state of extraordinary wonderment. The cat was the only
thing that kept its senses. It rose from the hearth, and yawned, and
stretched itself; and then it came and rubbed its glossy fur soothingly
against my leg, and whispered, "All serene! Don't faint!" In the
meantime, I could imagine that rap,--as soon as it had delivered the
summons,--listening joyfully outside, and saying to itself; with a
chuckle, "I've wakened that lot up, for once!" ... At last I mustered
courage, and, shaking myself together, I went to the door.

A little, wiry old man stood at the door. His clothing was whole, but
rough, and rather dirty. An old cloth cap was on his grey head; and
he was in a state of curious disorder from head to toe. He had no
braces on; and he was holding his trousers up with one hand. I couldn't
tell what to make of him. He was a queer-looking mortal; and he had
evidently "been dining," as the upper ten thousand say when any of
their own set get drunk. At the first glance, I thought he was begging;
but I soon changed my mind about that, for the hardy little fellow
stood bolt upright, and there was not the shadow of anything like
cringing or whining about him. The little fellow puzzled me. He looked
foggy and dirty; but he had an unmistakable air of work and rugged
independence. Steadying himself with one hand against the door-cheek,
he muttered something that I couldn't make out.

"Well; what is it?" said I.

Again he muttered something that sounded like "Knocked Up;" to which
I mildly replied that he certainly looked as if he was so; and then
I inquired what I could do for him; but, to my astonishment, this
seemed to vex him. At last I found that he was a Knocker-Up, and that
he had called for his week's "brass." I saw at once that the old man
was astray; and the moment I told him where he was, his eyes seemed to
fill with a new light, and he exclaimed, "By th' mon, aw'm i'th wrang
street!" And then, holding his trousers up, still, with one hand, away
he ran, and was no more seen by me.



    The Complaint of a Sad Complaint.

    TO THE EDITOR OF THE WEEKLY GROWL.


Sir,--I am a nuisance, and therefore I suppose it is right, in the
abstract, that I should be put down. Unfortunately, however, many of
the persons and things by which I am surrounded are the same to me, and
I feel, by fits, vastly inclined to extinguish them, although I know
full well, in my sane moments, that they are generally useful. And so
it is, right to the end of the piece; everything and everybody is, by
turns, a nuisance to everybody and everything else; and if there were
no restraint upon the public vanity, and private pique, and officious
frivolities which affect these conflicting elements, the whole body
politic, being composed of nuisances, would be destroyed, like the
Irish cats in the story. In fact, sir, there is nobody in the world
that is not a nuisance to somebody; though that is hardly a sufficient
reason why they should be allowed to worry one another. But in these
days, the art and mystery of grumbling--that native prerogative which
has grown up so luxuriantly in the soil of our English freedom, that
the grumblers now constitute an eminently valuable power in the
state--the art and mystery of grumbling (it really is artful and
mysterious sometimes) is now growing into a kind of social scurvy, more
annoying than serviceable, and sometimes exceeding in offensiveness the
nuisances which it scratches into notice. The contagion is getting to
such a pitch just now, that it is time for the nuisances to speak for
themselves--for even a nuisance has a right side--and although I myself
am one, I shall be grateful if you will allow me--just this once--to
say a few words respecting the treatment to which many of my humbler
brethren are subjected by the magnates of the tribe. I feel the more
hopeful that you will grant this, since I know that I am not the only
nuisance to which you have, with admirable forbearance, opened the
columns of your excellent journal.

Happily, the expression of opinion is so free in this country,
that--although some offensive persons deny that a nuisance has the
slightest right to appeal to _any_ of the senses--I will venture to
assert, backed by all known law and custom, that even a nuisance
has a right to be _heard_--at least, _in its own defence_; thanks
to that instinctive leaning to fair play which, while it deprecates
anything that is foul, yet acknowledges that even foulness itself may,
sometimes, have a fair side. My dear sir, we nuisances have endured so
much, as we may say, from those of our own household, that the patience
of the most Christian nuisance in the world must give way under such
an incessant fire of impertinent insult. Ah me! there seems to be so
little fellow-feeling amongst nuisances now-a-days, that it may be
worth while to remind them all of the poet's little sermon beginning,--

    O wad some power the giftie gie us,
    To see oursels as ithers see us.

Nuisance-hunters are always, of course, a nuisance to the nuisances;
but the hunters are so often worse, upon the whole, than the hunted,
that it would be a general benefit to hold up the mirror to these
inconsiderate grumblers a little now and then. To whom, then, in this
difficulty, can we appeal, but to you, oh Mr. Editor? who are yourself
a very rock of offence to some misguided persons; who are, doubtless, a
stumbling-block to you.

How the theme widens as one pursues it There is something comical about
the pathology of public grumbling. Is it not a fact well known to you,
my dear sir, that there exists an inexhaustible class of persons who,
having little or no capacity for distinguishing themselves publicly
in any nobler fashion, and fearing, above all things, that obscurity
which is their natural destiny, are constantly racking their wits
for something to write to the papers about. How many such have you,
yourself, sir, out of the sheer kindliness of your nature--not unmixed
with a certain sense of the humour of the thing--lent a little fame
to, by deigning, occasionally, to embalm their crude frivolities in
your own clear "nonpareil". To such persons, anything will serve for
a subject, if they can only twist it into the shape of a complaint:
strong smells, and strange smells, which are not strong; suspicious
loiterers in lonely places; gaslight when the moon shines, and want
of gas when a cloud happens to be passing over the moon; flying chips
from masons' chisels, which have been stopt in their flight by the
rubicund tip of some respectable gentleman's nose; bits of orange peel
on the flags; public clocks that are too fast, or too slow, or are
stopt altogether, or have their fingers bent, or the faces of which are
partly hidden by the encroaching insignia of ambitious pawnbrokers, or
are in places where they are not needed, or _are not_ in places where
they _are_ needed; pavements which are too slippery for horses, and too
rough for ladies; music to people who have no ear for it, and noises
to people who have a delicate ear for music, and either to people who
like neither; mutually-discordant neighbours; church bells that are
not rung, and church bells that are rung too much, and church bells
that are not melodious when they are rung; holes in the street, and
places where holes are likely to be, sometime; too much water, and too
little water; cockle shells; broken pots; the smell of dinners floating
up from hotel kitchens; and the inarticulate wails of chip-sellers
and fish women; want of loyalty to the crown; want of loyalty to the
people; the insolence of cabmen, and railway buffers; sneezing during
service-time; fast-days, proposed by people who are ill with feasting,
and feast-days, proposed by people who are ill with fasting; general
holidays, proposed by those who are paid for their holidays, and
objected to by those who are not paid for them; and a thousand other
things, more insignificant even than these; sometimes ferreted out by
ingenious old fogies, of an irritable disposition, who go tooting about
the streets, "finding things out;" or by young "green" persons, driven
to their wits' end by a kind of literary measles. Heaven knows, I do
not wish to "freeze the genial current" of such poor souls as these
latter, but then, Mr. Editor, we must draw the line somewhere. With
respect to the former, have I not seen such a self-elected old nuisance
inspector, going slowly along the street, groping with his sharp
proboscis for something in the morning air to grumble about in graceful
prose, and meeting with a smell which he did not quite understand--a
smell which perhaps had travelled "ever so far" before it met him,
and was on its way into the country, there to die peaceably upon the
general air, if he had only allowed it to go--he straightway halts, he
sniffs at it carefully--he affiliates it upon something convenient--he
looks grave--he whips out a pocket-book, and makes a note, to be
wrought into an epistolary complaint at leisure, in the fervent hope
of its appearing among Saturday's correspondence. Have I not known
persons, whose jangled senses, refusing the Lethæn balm of sleep,
have lain awake o' nights, listening indignantly to the weird howls
of libidinous cats, prowling about the back yards, and the rigging of
the house, and making the sleepless midnight doubly hideous with their
"shrill ill will,"--who have started up irritably from their pillow
at last, and, striking a match, have exclaimed, "Drat that cat! Why
don't the police look after these things? I will write to the papers."
In fact, sir, the extravaganzas of public complaint are endless in
variety, and, not unfrequently, very unreasonable.

I know a manufactory of a certain kind, which was established
many years ago, in a spot as remote as was convenient, and wholly
uninhabited for some distance around, in the hope of being free
from the charge of anything in the shape of nuisance; but, as years
rolled on, population gathered about it, and grumbling began, which,
by irregular fits, has been carried on ever since; and whenever the
complaint could manage to get a "respectable start," it was sure to
be well followed up; without thought, as such cries often are. Even
in the papers of the last few days, letter after letter has appeared,
complaining of the effluvia arising from certain alum works in Salford.
Some of these letters are written by gentlemen whose delicate nasal
discrimination amounts to a marvel, if not to a miracle, when we
remember the distance they live from the spot complained of. How on
earth any smell, such as the one alluded to by these gentlemen, can
manage to travel two mortal miles, in a high wind, working its passage
through a hundred other smokes and smells as it goes, and still
preserve its own individuality, surpasses me to know. But so it is. Up
to Kersall Moor, and other green nooks of nestling, miles off, where
the human nose is critical, this compact nuisance cleaves its way
through the murky air, keeping wonderfully free from communion with the
elements it passes through, and strikes the senses at that distance as
distinctly as if it were a flat-iron. It seems to hold itself in till
it has found out noses which can appreciate it, and then it "comes
out strong," evidently making an effort to reveal all the pent-up
pungency of its nature, in the hope of gaining a little respectable
distinction. It is an aristocratic smell, too. It likes good society,
and will associate with none but gentlemanly noses. It has to travel
for it, though; for, like the prophets, it is not honoured with any
remarkable notice in its own neighbourhood. Now, noses such as these
are "something like," as the saying is; and, but for such noses, how
on earth should we, who live amongst it, be able to discriminate one
smell from another in the complication of odours which crowd the air of
this busy district,--except in such cases as the town's manure yard,
which overpowers everything else for a mile around with its intolerable
native strength,--is strong enough, indeed, in the height of summer,
"for a man to hang his hat upon," as the Irish say. That, now, is a
smell really worth notice, if it were only possible to get an alderman
or two to speak about it.

When it happens to be fashionable to raise an outcry against any
particular manufacturer, as in the case of these unfortunate alum
works, what is that manufacturer to do? Is he to take up his works
and walk, from one locality to another, every time an inconsiderate
complaint happens to be made against him? Is he to become a kind of
nomadic outcast? Is he to betake himself to utter solitude, and go
from one "desert where no men abide" to another "desert where no men
abide"--a manufacturing voice, crying for orders in the wilderness, and
finding none--until his occupation becomes unprofitable to himself or
anybody else?

And then, the tone in which complaint after complaint has been uttered,
in the case of these works in Salford, is rather curious. "_The_
Nuisance in Pendleton!" That is the title of more than one letter
on the subject. "_The_ Nuisance in Pendleton!" Good heavens! Who
art thou, O man, that writeth thus? Oh, happy Pendleton, with _one_
nuisance! Go thy ways, and break forth into singing, thou pleasant,
and, in some places, rather green suburb,--break forth into singing,
even from Windsor Bridge right away up Eccles Old Road, and in every
other direction, to the utmost extent of thy remarkable borders,--break
forth into singing! Thou with the long pole standing near the church,
and the cock upon the top of it,--rejoice, and give thanks, for thy
extraordinary exemption from the common troubles of this manufacturing
locality! And well might Pendleton sing, if this were true; but who
does not know how many things which are really useful and necessary,
are not always pleasant to those who have no immediate interest in
them? Who does not know that if everything which is a nuisance to
somebody or another, at one time or another, were removed from society,
there would be hardly anything useful left in society at all,--and if
all the nuisances in society were to cry out in this way, at once,
against each other, who knows where it would end? They would cleave
the general ear with horrid grumbling. Really, gentlemen who get their
living by the necessary infliction of unpleasant noises, and smokes,
and steams, and smells, upon people who are forced to live among them
because they live, in a certain sense, by them, should be a little
more considerate. They should, at least, remember that, although
they can leave the town, and live in palatial houses, situated in
pleasant spots, "far removed from noise and smoke," where the air is
so beautifully different that it makes them a little particular, they
leave their own share of the nuisances of the town behind them, to be
patiently endured by an immense multitude of people who cannot escape
from them,--if they wish to live,--and who, although they are just the
people who suffer most from them, are, also, just the people who would
be the least heeded if they were to cry out against them.


    I am, Sir,

    Yours truly,

    A SAD COMPLAINT.


    A. Ireland & Co., Printers, Pall Mall, Manchester.



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Variations in spelling, punctuation, hyphenation and accents have been
retained except in obvious cases of typographical error.





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