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Title: Country Rambles, and Manchester Walks and Wild Flowers - Being Rural Wanderings in Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, - and Yorkshire
Author: Grindon, Leo H. (Leo Hartley)
Language: English
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Transcriber's Notes: Italic text is marked _thus_. Apparent
typographical errors have been corrected and hyphenation standardised.



COUNTRY RAMBLES.

[Illustration: _Rostherne Mere._]



COUNTRY RAMBLES,

AND

Manchester Walks and Wild flowers:

BEING RURAL WANDERINGS IN

CHESHIRE, LANCASHIRE, DERBYSHIRE, & YORKSHIRE.

BY

LEO H. GRINDON,

_Author of "The Manchester Flora," "Manchester Banks and Bankers,"

"Lancashire: Historical and Descriptive Notes," and other works._

  If thou art worn, and hard beset
  With sorrows that thou wouldst forget;
  If thou wouldst read a lesson that will keep
  Thy heart from fainting, and thy soul from sleep,
  Go to the woods and hills! No tears
  Dim the sweet look that Nature wears.

LONGFELLOW.

  MANCHESTER:
  PALMER & HOWE, 73, 75, AND 77, PRINCESS ST.
  LONDON: SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, & CO.

1882.



  MANCHESTER:
  PALMER AND HOWE, PRINTERS, 73, 75, AND 77, PRINCESS STREET



[Illustration]



PREFACE.


The following pages consist, in part, of a reprint of the little
volume published in 1858 under the title of _Manchester Walks and
Wild-Flowers_;--in part, of brief _excerpta_ from the author's accounts
of trips made by the Field Naturalists' Society, as given in their
Annual Reports, 1860-1881. A very considerable amount of new matter
will also be found.

Giving descriptions in a novel and welcome manner, of pretty places
in the neighbourhood previously unknown to people in general, and
indicating in various ways the pleasure to be derived from rambles in
the country, the little volume spoken of is believed to have assisted,
in no slight measure, to awaken and foster the present widespread local
taste for rural scenes, and for recreation in the pursuit of practical
natural history. It is in the hope that similar results may ensue among
the present generation that the book is now partially republished.
It has long been unprocurable, and is constantly enquired for. The
reprinting presents also a curious and interesting picture of many
local conditions now effaced.

The preface to the original work of 1858 contained the following
passages:--"No grown-up person who has resided in Manchester even
twenty years, is unacquainted with the mighty changes that have
passed over its suburbs during that period; while those who have
lived here thirty, forty, and fifty years tell us of circumstances
and conditions almost incredible. Neighbourhoods once familiar as
delightful rural solitudes, are now covered with houses, and densely
crowded with population; the pleasant field-paths we trod in our youth
have disappeared, and in their stead are long lines of pavement,
lighted with gas, and paced by the policeman. In a few years it is not
improbable that places described in the following pages as rustic and
sylvan will have shared the same fate, and be as purely historical as
Garratt Wood and Ordsall Clough. The Botany of the district will to a
certain extent be similarly affected. No longer than fifteen years ago
(_i.e._ in 1840) the fields by St. George's Church, in the Chester
Road, were blue every March and April with the spring crocus, and on
the very spot where Platt Church now lifts its tall and graceful spire,
there was a large pond filled with the _Stratiotes_, or water-aloe.
If the past be a prognostic of the future, it is easy to guess what
will happen to other things, and to understand how in half a century
hence our present 'Walks' will have become as obsolete as their
author, and the entire subject require a new and livelier treatment.
A descriptive history of the suburbs of Manchester as they were fifty
years ago, would be a most interesting and valuable item of our local
literature. It would be as curious to the lover of bygones as this book
of to-day may perhaps appear to the Manchester people of A.D. 1900.
How extraordinary would be the facts may be judged from the following
extracts from De Quincey, whose youth, it is well known, was passed
in the neighbourhood of Manchester. Mark first what he says of the
_place_ he lived in. 'And if, after the manner of the Emperor Aurelius,
I should return thanks to Providence for all the separate blessings
of my early situation, these four I would single out as worthy of
special consideration,--that I lived in a _rustic solitude_; that this
solitude was in England; that my infant feelings were moulded by the
gentlest of sisters; and finally, that I and they were dutiful and
loving members of a pure, and holy, and magnificent church.' And now
mark where lay this 'rustic solitude.' He is describing the expected
return of his father:--'It was a summer evening of unusual solemnity.
The servants and four of us children were gathered for hours on the
lawn before the house, listening for the sound of wheels. Sunset came,
nine, ten, eleven o'clock, and nearly another hour had passed without
a warning sound, for Greenhay, being so _solitary a house_, formed a
"terminus ad quem," beyond which was nothing but a cluster of cottages,
composing the little hamlet of Greenhill; so that any sound of wheels
coming from the _country lane which then connected us with the Rusholme
Road_, carried with it of necessity, a warning summons to prepare
for visitors at Greenhay.' 'Greenhay' was the centre of the modern
Greenheys, and the 'hamlet of Greenhill' the predecessor of the present
Greenhill Terrace."

The changes foreboded have to an extent not unimportant, already come
to pass. Almost the whole of the great suburb which includes the
Alexandra Park has grown up since about 1860, effacing meadows and
corn-fields. In the contemplation of this new scene of busy life there
is pleasure, since it signifies human welfare and enjoyment. In other
directions, unhappily, the change has been for the worse, as indicated
in the notes to the original portraiture of Boggart-hole Clough, Mere
Clough, and the Reddish Valley. Before deciding to visit any particular
place in the immediate neighbourhood of the town it will be prudent,
accordingly, to read to the end. Never mind. Few things ever go
absolutely. Against the losses we are able to put the opportunities for
enjoyment in localities opened up by recent railway extensions,--places
quite as charming as the extinguished ones--it is simply a question now
of a little longer travel.

The present volume, be it remembered, is neither a gazetteer nor an
itinerary. The limits are too narrow for its making pretensions even
to be a Guide-book, though the style, often, I am aware, too swift
and abbreviated, may give it the semblance of one;--it proposes only
to supply hints as to where and how to secure country pastimes. While
constrained to leave many places with only a touch, others have been
treated so admirably by Mr. Earwaker, Mr. Croston, and Mr. Waugh, that
to tread the same ground would, on my own part, be alike needless and
ungraceful. Others again I have described only within these few months
in the "Lancashire," to which work I may be permitted to refer the
reader for particulars not here given.

Except in some few instances, I have not cared either to give minute
directions as to paths and gates. One of the grand charms of a rural
ramble consists in the sensation, at times, of being slightly and
agreeably lost; to say nothing of the pleasure which comes of being
called upon to employ our own wits, instead of always asking, like a
child, to be led by the hand.

If, when visited, some of the places seem over-praised, it must further
be understood that the descriptions are of their appearance in pleasant
weather, in sunshine, and when cherished companions help to make the
hours glad. I can say no more than that the descriptions are faithful
as regards my own experience, and that I hope earnestly they may become
true to the experience of every one else. From this point of view the
little book is a kind of record of what I have seen and felt during
forty years.

Nothing has been written for mere "cheap-trippers." The book is
addressed to the intelligent, the peaceful, and the cultivated; those
who, when they visit the country, desire to profit by its inestimable
sweet lessons. In many parts it is addressed especially to the young,
who have ductile material in them, and are the hope of the future
for us all. Neither has it been written for learned botanists or
antiquaries. The botanical details are simply such as it is hoped may
encourage the beginner. My main desire is to be educational, and by
this I would be judged.

Many of the places described or referred to are strictly private.
Permission to view them must therefore be asked some days before.
Common-sense and the courtesy of civilized beings will prescribe in
every case the proper method of procedure.

I have, in conclusion, to express my thanks to the artists who have so
pleasingly illustrated the work, Mr. W. Morton, and very particularly,
Mr. Thos. Letherbrow.

By some odd _lapsus calami_ the passage from Wordsworth on page 139 has
been mis-written. The third line should read, "So was it when _my life
began_."

LEO H. GRINDON.

MANCHESTER,

MAY 1st, 1882.



[Illustration]



CONTENTS.


                                                      Page
CHAPTER I.


  INTRODUCTORY                                           1


CHAPTER II.

  THE ASHLEY MEADOWS AND THE LOWER BOLLIN VALLEY        13


CHAPTER III.

  ROSTHERNE MERE, TATTON, DELAMERE                      31


CHAPTER IV.

  CARRINGTON MOSS, DUNHAM, LYMM                         47


CHAPTER V.

  GATLEY CARRS, WYTHENSHAWE                             68

CHAPTER VI.

  NORCLIFFE, ALDERLEY EDGE                              84


CHAPTER VII.

  COMBERMERE, BEESTON CASTLE                            93


CHAPTER VIII.

  THE REDDISH VALLEY, ARDEN HALL                       100


CHAPTER IX.

  PRESTBURY, POTT SHRIGLEY, GAWSWORTH, ALTON TOWERS    111


CHAPTER X.

  DISLEY, LYME PARK, TAXAL                             121


CHAPTER XI.

  MARPLE, CASTLETON, MILLER'S DALE                     129


CHAPTER XII.

  KINDER SCOUT, STALEY BRUSHES, SEAL BARK              139


CHAPTER XIII.

  BOGGART-HOLE CLOUGH, BAMFORD WOOD, HARDCASTLE CRAGS  151


CHAPTER XIV.

  MERE CLOUGH, THE AGECROFT VALLEY                     175


CHAPTER XV.

  THE OLD LANCASHIRE BOTANISTS                         194


CHAPTER XVI.

  ROSSENDALE, WHALLEY ABBEY, CLITHEROE, PENDLE         213


CHAPTER XVII.

  RIVINGTON, ASHURST, LATHOM HOUSE                     232


CHAPTER XVIII.

  THE LOCAL ORNITHOLOGY                                257


CHAPTER XIX.

  NATURAL HISTORY IN THE LIBRARY                       291


  SUMMARY OF RAILWAY STATIONS AND DISTANCES            303

  INDEX                                                313



FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                                   Page

  ROSTHERNE MERE. Drawn and Engraved by W. Morton,      _Frontispiece_.

  OLDFIELD, DUNHAM.  Drawn and Etched by Thos. Letherbrow            64

  BARLOW HALL. Drawn and Etched by Thos. Letherbrow                  82

  LYME HALL. Drawn and Etched by Thos. Letherbrow                   124

  HALEWOOD CHURCH.  Drawn by W. Hull, Etched by Thos. Letherbrow    168

  HALE HUT. Drawn and Etched by Thos. Letherbrow                    254



[Illustration]



Country Rambles.



CHAPTER I.

INTRODUCTORY.


  The meanest floweret of the vale,
  The simplest note that swells the gale,
  The common sun, the air, the skies,
  To him are opening Paradise.


Wide as may be the circle covered by a great town, we come to the
country at last. Let the bricks and mortar stride far as they will over
the greensward, there are always sanctuaries beyond--sweet spots where
we may yet listen to the singing of the birds, and pluck the early
primrose and anemone. We need but take our survey from a sufficiently
high point, to see that the vastest mass of houses ever heaped together
by man is still only an encampment in the fields. Like the waves of the
sea upon the shores of the islands, the surge of the yellow corn is
still close upon our borders. We need but turn our faces fondly towards
rural things and rural sights, and we shall find them.

Manchester itself, grim, flat, smoky Manchester, with its gigantic
suburb ever on the roll further into the plain, and scouts from its
great army of masons posted on every spot available for hostile
purposes,--Manchester itself denies to no one of its five hundred
thousand, who is blessed with health and strength, the amenities and
genial influences of the country. True, we have no grand scenery;
no Clyde, no Ben Lomond, no Leigh Woods, no St. Vincent's Rocks, no
Clevedon, no Durdham Down; our rivers are anything but limpid; our
mountains are far away, upon the horizon; our lakes owe less to nature
than to art; as for waterfalls, we have none but in our portfolios.
Still is our town bosomed in beauty. Though the magnificent and the
romantic be wanting, we have meadows trimmed with wild-flowers, the
scent of the new-mown hay and the purple clover; we have many a sweet
sylvan walk where we may hear

  The burnie wimplin' doon the glen,

and many a grateful pathway under the mingled boughs of beech and
chestnut. Next to a fine woman, the most delightful object in creation
is a noble and well-grown tree,--a group of such trees always reminds
us of a bevy of fair ladies; and dull and unthankful must be the man
who, in the tranquil and sacred shades of Alderley and Dunham, cannot
realise to himself the most genuine and heartfelt pleasure that
trees and woods can give. If they be not so sumptuous as the oaks of
Worcestershire, or so stately as the elms of Surrey, our trees are as
leafy and as green, and their shadows fall as softly on the summer
afternoon. The great secret in the enjoyment of nature, as in our
intercourse with society, is to look at its objects in a friendly
light, to make the most of them, such as they are; not invidiously
contrasting them with certain other objects at a distance, but
recognising that absolute and positive beauty which is possessed by
the very humblest. Superadd to this the habit of connecting our own
feelings and emotions with the forms of nature, and, however wanting
in attractions to the mere adulator of "fine scenery," every little
flower, every bend of the branches, and sweet concurrent play of light
and shade, every pendent shadow in the stream, becomes animated with a
meaning and a power of satisfying such as none but those who accustom
themselves to look for it _here_, can find in the most favoured and
spacious landscape. Justly to appreciate the wonderful and rare, we
must first learn to regard with a tender and intimate affection the
common and the unpretending; in the degree that we withdraw from the
latter, treating it with indifference or contempt, as surely does our
capacity diminish for the former. The common things of earth are the
most gracious gifts of God. None of us extract their full value, yet
every man holds it in his power to make himself tenfold happier by a
wise use of them. For true and continuous enjoyment of life is not
attained by the gratification of high-flown and artificial wants,
connected in large measure with the idea of pounds, shillings, and
pence. It is found in the culture of love for common things, the
untaxed game that no man can deprive us of, and which constitute the
chief part of the beauties of the country. Hence the worth of nature
to the poor. If the rich have their gardens and hothouses, here are
flower-beds and parks, fresh from God's own hand, without money, and
without price, and greater than the estates of all the nobles in the
kingdom. Hence, too, coming close to home, we may see how little reason
we have to lament the absence of the grand and wonderful, since nothing
less than total nakedness of surface can take from a place its power to
interest and please.

While adapted to give true pleasure, if looked for in a kindly spirit,
no less fertile is our neighbourhood in materials for a large and
practical culture of natural science. Most of the sciences may be
cultivated by Manchester residents to perfection. For geology there are
certainly fewer advantages than invite men to it in the neighbourhood
of some other large inland towns. But what scope there is for botany
and entomology is attested by the numbers of students of both these
charming sciences who have adorned the ranks of our working men
during the last half century.[1] Caley, Hobson, Crozier,[2] Crowther,
Horsefield, among those no longer in this life; Percival, Carter,
Evans,[3] still among us, have reflected honour upon Manchester as a
spontaneous working men's college of natural history, such as might
deservedly be envied by the proudest institution in the land. These men
acquired their knowledge in the scenes we speak of, and from nature's
"common things." The plants of the fields and hedgerows, the insects
of the moors, were their inspiration and instruction, the source at
the same moment of a thorough and pure delight; for while they are the
least expensive of pleasures, the naturalist's are also the truest and
most abiding. No one inexperienced in botany would imagine how many
wild-flowers are found growing about Manchester. Taking the area which
would be marked out by measuring a circle round the Exchange, fifteen
miles from it in every direction, six hundred different species were
catalogued in 1840.[4] Buxton's "Guide," printed in 1849, included one
hundred and fifty others, mostly accidental omissions from the earlier
list. Our own "Manchester Flora," 1858, in which everything is brought
up to that time, contains over twenty more, though, in consequence
of the diversity of opinion as to what plants should legitimately
be included, the figures are probably much about the same as in the
"Guide," namely, seven hundred and fifty. These seven hundred and
fifty comprise the flowering plants, the trees, and the ferns. The
number of mosses, fungi, lichens, and other flowerless plants, usually
regarded as a separate subject of study, is in the aggregate probably
quite as great, making a total of some one thousand five hundred
perfectly distinct forms. Not that they are all equally abundant. We
must distinguish between what botanists call the "Flora" of a given
district, and its vegetation. The "Flora" may be large, and yet the
mass of the vegetation consist of but few different kinds, the same
plants repeated over and over again, as when hills are covered for
miles together with heath and whortleberries. Such is the case with
Manchester. Though there are seven hundred and fifty different kinds
of flowers and ferns contained in our "Flora," probably not half the
number go to constitute the general herbage of the district. Some
species are very rarely met with, only once in the season perhaps.
But this is so much the more pleasing to the botanist, since it keeps
his enthusiasm vigorously alive. In addition to the living objects of
interest so freely supplied by the fields and woodlands, Manchester
naturalists have a singular privilege in the local Free Libraries
and museums. The museum at Peel Park is in many departments rich and
extensive, and nowhere in the world can we consult books of greater
value, or illustrated more magnificently, than are to be had for the
asking in Camp Field,[5] at the Chetham College, and again at Peel
Park. All three of these admirable libraries contain works on botany
and entomology which it is really melancholy to think are so little
known by the bulk of our town's people, when they might contribute to
an almost endless delight. Let it not be supposed that we are speaking
of botany, entomology, etc., as proper to be made the chief business
of life. "A man," said Dr. Johnson, "is never so well employed as when
he is earning money." Yes. One of the best friends a man has in the
world is a good round balance at his banker's, the fruit and reward
of his own toil. We speak of them as employments for the _intervals_
of business, which it is quite as important to occupy carefully and
diligently as the hours of business themselves. The more delight
derived from the contemplation and study of nature a man can pack into
his leisure moments, the keener, it is certain, will be his aptitude
for his ordinary duties. It is not only delight of spirit either that
comes of attention to nature; there are the salutary effects of it
upon the body. Rambling in the fields, the town-cobwebs get dusted out
of one's lungs, and the whole frame becomes buoyant and elastic. Good
as is a bathe in the cold water, scarcely inferior, when the skin is
clean, is a good bathe in the blowing wind.

With these inducements and recommendations to the love of nature so
amply spread before us, we purpose introducing our readers to the
principal scenes of rural beauty in the immediate neighbourhood,
those sweet side-chapels in the grand cathedral which no locality is
absolutely without. The experience of half a life-time has shown us
that no trifling source of pleasure is such familiarity with nature as
we hope to encourage. Days gone by are made brighter to recollection;
the present are filled with the same pleasures; for it is the peculiar
property of the happiness induced by the love of nature, that if we
are trained in youth to seek and find it, when we are old it will not
depart from us;--even the future is made cheerful and inviting by the
certainty that, leaving us our eyes, nature for her part will never
grow old nor look shabby, not even in winter, which is decorated in its
own way, but will always, like the Graces, be young and lovely. That
which truly keeps life going is sensibility to the romance of nature.
Youth and age are measured fictitiously if we count only by birthdays.
Some things always find us young, and make us young, and though love
and kindness may be the best known of these, none act more powerfully
than does the sweet smile of living nature. It is in conversing with
nature, moreover, that we learn how foolish are affectation and
sentimentalism; how poor we are in leisure for mournful musing and
fruitless reverie; that the truest and most precious pleasures are
those which are the manliest; how rich we are in opportunities for
affection and generosity. The facilities for reaching the most charming
and sequestered spots are now so great and manifold that no one need
be a stranger to them. It is not as some fifteen years ago,[6] when
they were only to be reached by a long walk, which consumed the half
of one's time, or by a specially engaged conveyance, the expense of
which compelled one's excursions to be like the angels' visits, few
and far between. The railways, penetrating every nook and corner, now
enable us to reach the very heart of the country in a very little
while, fresh and nimble for our enjoyment, and, when over, the same
will bring us home again. Honoured for ever be the name of Stephenson!
It is in facilitating men's intercourse with nature, and the purest
and most ennobling recreations they can enjoy and are capable of, that
the social blessings of railways have their highest realisation. Vast
is their use to commerce, but still vaster their unreckoned friendship
to health and healthy-mindedness. Now, also, there are more persons
prepared to supply our wants in the way of "Tired nature's sweet
restorer, balmy _tea_." Time was when the alehouse by the roadside,
or the weary walk back to town, were the only choice open to our poor
hunger and fatigue. But with the Saturday half-holiday, and the impetus
it gave to rural visitings, there has sprung up a readiness on the part
of country folks to open their doors in a hospitable spirit, which is
quite tempting and delightful; and, most assuredly, nothing forms so
pleasant a conclusion to an afternoon's ramble as to sit down in a neat
cottage to a comfortable farmhouse meal, with its huge broad piles of
bread and butter, and inexhaustible store of green salad and new-laid
eggs. There, with the sun shining aslant through the old-fashioned
window, the doors open, and the breeze gently peeping in, the cows
lowing in the pasture, and the very atmosphere redolent of the country,
we realise the fine hearty pleasurableness of a good appetite,
such as only the open air can induce, and learn the sweet savour of
the plainest diet when wisely earned. And this not only because of
the relish which comes of the exercise in the fresh air, but of the
higher relish born of that mutual satisfaction and kind feeling which
always follows a friendly visit to Dame Nature. People never feel more
attached to one another than when they have been enjoying the charms
of nature together; while the rose mounts to the cheek, the glow comes
upon the heart. We should court nature therefore, not only for our
own private and personal good, but if we would quicken our reciprocal
affections. Especially with regard to this latter point, is it valuable
to have some definite pursuit--something to attend to in particular
when we go out for an afternoon's or evening's walk. A stroll in the
fields is at all times good and healthful, but when two or three go
out together to look for plants, or in search of curious insects, or
to watch the movements, the manners and customs of the birds, quite
unconsciously there get established new and pleasing links of sympathy,
which lead to happiest results, both to head and heart. Some of the
firmest friendships that we know of have had their origin in the
exchange of ideas over a wild-flower. One of the noblest prerogatives
of nature is to make men friends with one another. In the town we
stand apart, excited and repelled by selfish and rival interests; but
in the tranquillity of the fields and woods, united in delightful
and invigorating pursuits, jealousies are forgotten, every man is
an equal and a brother. Not the least useful end either, that flows
from culture of love of the country, and particularly of some science
having reference to natural objects, is the perennial employment it
supplies for leisure hours at _home_. Half the mischief that boys
commit comes of their having no intelligent and useful occupation
for their playtime. As large a portion of the lax morality of their
elders may be referred to the same cause. A naturalist never has any
idle moments; if he be not at work in the country, he is busy with his
curiosities indoors. Little private collections of natural objects,
such as dried plants, insects, fossils, or shells, are always valuable,
and always pretty, and a perpetual fund of interest and amusement. To
gather together such things is not only highly instructive, and an
agreeable pursuit, through the prolonged and intelligent observation
which it demands; it is useful also as feeding the pleasure of
possession--a noble and worthy one when well directed; and it has the
yet higher recommendation of providing a diary and immortal record of
past pleasures. A volume of dried plants, gathered on occasions of
memorable enjoyment, becomes in a few years inexpressibly precious, an
aid to memory, and thus to the perpetuity of those enjoyments, which
even pictures give less perfectly, for here we have the very things
themselves that were handled and looked at during those bright and
fleeting moments. Such a volume of memorial-plants now lies on the
table before us, spreading before the mind the souvenirs of forty
years. In another part of this little book will be found instructions
as to the method of commencing such collections. Meanwhile, we have
cordially to recommend the idea to our readers, especially the young,
and invite them to accompany us in these rambles.

[Illustration]

Footnotes

[1: _i.e._ since, in round numbers, about 1810.]

[2: Father of Mr. Robert Crozier, president, since 1878, of
the Manchester Academy of Fine Art.]

[3: The two last-named now also deceased.]

[4: In the _Flora Mancuniensis_, dictated by the Natural
History Class of the Mechanics' Institution, then in Cooper-street.]

[5: The "City Library," now in King-street.]

[6: _i.e._ in 1843.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER II.

THE ASHLEY MEADOWS, AND THE LOWER BOLLIN VALLEY.

SPRING VISIT.


    O Proserpina,
  For the flowers now that, frighted, thou let'st fall
  From Dis's wagon!
    Pale primroses
  That die unmarried, ere they can behold
  Bright Phoebus in his strength.

SHAKSPEARE.


The part of the country round Manchester which supplies the greatest
number of different wild-flowers, and of rare kinds in particular, is
unquestionably the neighbourhood of Bowdon. Next in botanical interest
come the Reddish valley, extending from Stockport to near Hyde,
the Disley hills, and the delightful woods in the neighbourhood of
Marple; and next to these again, and perhaps equalling them, Worsley,
Tyldesley, the northern side of Prestwich, and the vicinity of Clifton.
Bowdon, however, with the adjacent districts of Lymm and Cotterill,
stands ahead of all. It holds precedence, too, in respect of its early
seasons. While other portions of our district are scarcely giving
signs of vernal life, at Bowdon the spring flowers are often open and
abundant, and this quite as markedly in the fields as in the gardens.
The former is the more valuable and interesting part of the testimony
thus borne to the mildness of Bowdon, since the life of cultivated
plants is always in some measure artificial, or under the influence
of human direction, whereas the occupants of the hedgerows are pure
children of nature. In the pleasant little nook called Ashley meadows,
lingering with its very latest campanula and crimsoned bramble-leaf,
Autumn seems hardly gone before Spring prepares to change all again and
once more to green. Dunham Park offers nothing important for several
weeks after the Ashley meadows have flowers to show. The total, indeed,
of the botanical productions of the former place is not a fifth of what
may be found within a mile of Ashley Mill. It is well to note this,
because many people suppose that a scene delightful in its picturesque
is correspondingly rich in wild-flowers. Generally, no doubt, it is
so, since the picturesque in scenery is almost always connected with
great unevenness of surface, precipitous descents, rocks, and tumbling
waters, these usually coming in turn, of geological conditions,
such as are highly conducive to variety in the Flora. But when the
charm of a scene depends, not on cliffs and cataracts, but simply
on the agreeable intermixture of differently-tinted trees, a gently
undulating surface, sweet vistas and arcades of meeting branches, and
the allurements held out to the imagination by green forbidden paths
and tangled thickets;--then, as in Dunham Park, the primitive causes of
floral variety being absent, the flowers themselves, though they may be
plentiful in their respective kinds, are necessarily few as to distinct
species. It does not follow that where the variety is considerable we
are to look below the turf for the explanation. Meadows and pastures
are always more prolific than ground covered with forest-trees (except,
perhaps, in the tropics), the reason being partly that such trees offer
too much obstruction to the rays of the sun, and partly that their
immense and spreading roots block up the soil and hinder the growth of
smaller plants. The Ashley meadows, after all, like all other places
abounding in wild-flowers, are the _miniature_ of a romantic scene.
For in landscape, as in history, wherever we go, we have only the same
ideas on a larger or smaller scale, the great repeated in the little,
the little repeated in the great. Here is the mighty forest, clinging
to the mountain-side; here the extended plain, watered by its winding
river; here the terrible chasm and deep ravine,--all, however, in that
delicate and reduced measure which, while it gives us the type of
nature universally, enables us to see the whole at one view.

To get to the Ashley meadows, go by the railway to Bowdon, then along
the "Ashley Road" for about a mile, and then down the lane on the left
hand, which leads to Mr. Nield's model farm. After passing through the
field by the farm, there is seen a small wood upon the right, in which
are many beautiful treasures, and descending a little, we are in the
meadows, the Bollin flowing at the farther edge, and the mill, with
its weir and water-wheel, at the extremity. The very earliest spring
flowers to be gathered here are those of the hazel-nut, the willow, the
alder, and the poplar. People unacquainted with botany often suppose
that the latter and other timber-trees belong to the flowerless class
of plants. They fancy that flowers occur only upon fruit-trees, and
upon ornamental shrubs, such as the lilac and laburnum. The mistake
is a perfectly natural and excusable one, seeing that the established
idea of a flower is of something brilliant and highly coloured. A visit
to the Ashley meadows in the month of April soon shows that there are
other flowers than these. The hazel is by that time overblown, being
in perfection about February; but the other trees mentioned above are
covered with their curious blossoms, which in every case come out
before the leaves. Those of the alder and poplar resemble pendent
caterpillars, of a fine brownish red; the willow-blooms are in dense
clusters, green or lively yellow, according to their sex. For plants,
like animals, have sex, and though in most cases male and female
co-exist in the same flower, it happens with some, especially with the
timber-trees of northern latitudes, that the flowers are of only one
sex, some of them being male and others female. Occasionally the entire
tree is male only or female only--the condition of the willow and the
poplar, the yellow flowers of the former of which are the male, and the
greenish ones the female. On the hedge-banks below these trees may
be gathered the dogs' mercury, an herbaceous plant of distinct sexes,
readily recognised by its dark green, oval, pointed leaves. Soon after
the appearance of these, the banks and open sunny spots become decked
with the glossy yellow blossoms of the celandine, a flower resembling a
butter-cup, but with eight or nine long and narrow petals, instead of
five rounded ones. Mingled with it here and there is the musk-root, a
singular but unpretending little plant, green in every part, and with
its blossoms collected into a cube-shaped cluster, a flower turned to
each of the four points of the compass, and one looking right up to the
zenith. The roots, as implied in the name, have the odour of musk. On
the moister banks, such as those at the lower edge of the wood, grows
also the golden saxifrage, a pretty little plant, with flat tufts of
minute yellowish bloom. Yellow, in different shades, prevails to a
remarkable extent among English wild-flowers, and especially those
of spring. The rich living yellow of the coltsfoot is a conspicuous
example. The coltsfoot flowers, like those of the poplar tree, open
before the leaves, enlivening the bare waysides in the most beautiful
manner, or at least when the sun shines; for so dependent are they
upon the light, that it is only when the sun falls warm and animating
that they expand their delicate rays, slender as the finest needle,
and reminding us, in their elegant circle and luminous colour, of the
aureola round the head of a saint in Catholic pictures. At first sight,
the coltsfoot might be mistaken for a small dandelion. It is easily
distinguishable from that despised, but useful plant, by the scales
upon its stem, the stalk of the dandelion being perfectly smooth. The
leaves and flowers of the dandelion open, moreover, simultaneously. The
coltsfoot, like the flower it imitates, holds high repute among the
"yarb-doctors," who know more of the genuine properties of our native
plants than it is common to give them credit for.

On the banks of the Bollin and its little tributaries grows also
that curious plant, the butter-bur. Appearing first as an egg-shaped
purple bud, by degrees a beautiful cone or pyramid of lilac blossoms
is opened out, bearing no slight resemblance to a hyacinth. Here,
again, as happens with many spring flowers, and, strange to say,
with two or three autumnal ones, the blossoms are ready before the
leaves, which do not attain their full size till after midsummer.
Then they hide the river-banks everywhere about Manchester with a
thick and deceitful jungle, often lifted on stalks a yard high, and
in their vast circumference reminding one of rhubarb leaves. After
these earlier visitants come the furze, the purple dead-nettle, and
the primrose; and in the hedges, again without leaves, the sloe or
black-thorn, its milk-white bloom conspicuous from a long distance.
The name _black_-thorn, so oddly at variance with the pure white of
the flowers, refers to the leaflessness of the plant when in bloom,
the _white_-thorn, or "May," being at the corresponding period covered
with verdure. But it must not be imagined that these plants follow just
in the order we have named them. To a certain extent, no doubt there
is a sequence. Every one of the four seasons, whether spring, summer,
autumn, or winter, resembles the total of the year as to the regularity
in the order of its events. The glowing apple and the juicy pear follow
the lily and the rose, and are followed in their turn, by the aster
and the ivy-bloom. Similarly, in smaller compass, the crocus retires
before the daffodil, and the daffodil before the auricula; to expect,
however, that every particular kind of flower should open at some
precise and undeviating point of time, even relative, would be to look
for the very opposite of the delightful sportiveness so characteristic
of the ever-youthful life of nature, which is as charming,--not to say
as great and glorious, in its play and freedom, as in its laws and
inviolable order. The spring flowers arrive, not in single file, but in
troops and companies, so that of these latter only can succession be
rightly predicated, and even here it is greatly affected by differences
of shelter, soil, and aspect. Nor are those we have enumerated the
whole of what may be found. At least a dozen other species arrive with
the earliest breath of spring, and with every week afterwards, up
to midsummer, the beautiful stream quickens unabatingly. Thoroughly
to master the botany even of so limited an area as that of Ashley,
requires that it be made our almost daily haunt. It is proper to add,
that none of the flowers named are rare about Manchester, or anywhere
in England. Almost all our first comers are universally diffused.

The phenomena of spring, as regards the vegetable world, must not
be viewed as _beginning_ with the season in question. Spring, while
the harbinger and preparation of the ensuing seasons, is itself the
consummation of a long series of wonderful processes, wrought in the
silence and darkness of winter, and largely beneath the surface of
the earth. We never see the actual beginning of anything. Covered up
though they be, by the cold snow, the artizans of leaf and flower are
diligently at work even from the close of the preceding summer, and
only wait the vernal sunbeam to unfold the delicate product of their
labours. This is strikingly exemplified in "bulbous roots," such as
those of the tulip and crocus, in which the future flower may easily be
made out by careful dissection with a penknife. The hazel puts forth
its infant catkins as early as September, while the rich brown clusters
of the same season are but ripening, and the autumn yellow of the
leaves is in the distance. Soon after this it is quite easy to find the
incipient female alder-bloom of the season to come, and the rudimentary
golden catkins of the next year's sallow. Thus is the history of the
flower beautifully in keeping with that of its winged image--the
butterfly, which, like the flower in the bud, has been forming all
along, in the grub and chrysalis, the bud-state of the perfect insect.

The river approaches the Ashley meadows by an exceedingly pleasant
route, generally known as the lower Bollin valley. The whole course of
the stream, from beyond Macclesfield downwards, is interesting, and at
Norcliffe it begins to meander through the prettiest rural scenery near
Manchester. The gentle rise and fall of the ground on either side, the
plentiful and comely trees, the innumerable windings and turnings that
bring with every successive field a new and pretty prospect, the sound
of the rushing water, the birds saturating every grove and little wood
with their cheerful poor man's music, the flowers no longer ambitious,
for every bank and meadow is brimful and overflowing,--really it almost
makes one fancy, when down in this beautiful valley, that we have
got into those happy regions old Homer tells of, where the nepenthe
grows, and the lotus,--that wonderful fruit which, when people had once
tasted, they forgot their cares and troubles, and desired to remain
there always, and ceased to remember even home. The difference is here,
that after going thither, we love home all the better for our visit,
since the heart, though it may be unconsciously, always grows into a
resemblance of what it contemplates with interest and affection. No
senseless fiction is it after all, about the lotus-fruit. Every man has
his lotus-country somewhere; the poet has only turned into ingenious
fable the experience of universal human nature.

The middle portion of the valley, or that which, ascending it,
lies about half-way between Ashley and Wilmslow, is occupied by
Cotterill Clough, a place of the highest celebrity with the old
Lancashire botanists, being not only picturesque in every portion,
but containing a great variety of curious and unusual wild-flowers.
Many are found here that grow nowhere else in the neighbourhood, and
the very commonest attain the highest state of perfection. Hobson,
Crozier, Horsefield, and their companions above-named, used to come to
Cotterill regularly, both in summer and winter, gathering flowers in
the former season, mosses in the latter, and not more for the riches
of the vegetation, than, as Crozier once told me, for the singing of
the innumerable birds. The journey, both to and fro, was entirely
upon foot, and the men were often here by breakfast time. Being a
game preserve, there has always been some difficulty of access to the
clough, and of late years this has been considerably increased. But
gamekeepers, after all, are only men, and "a soft answer turneth away
wrath," so that none need despair if they will but act the part of
wisdom.

The approach to this pretty valley is made in the first instance
from Peel Causeway station, pursuing the lane for a little while,
then electing whether to continue, past Bank Hall and its seventeen
yew trees, or to strike through a field-path upon the left, thence
along the crest of a gentle acclivity, from which is obtained the
best view we are acquainted with, of Bowdon. Although requiring some
watchfulness, so as not to go astray, the upper path is decidedly the
best to take. One point alone needs specially careful observation,
that is, after crossing the little ravine, and emerging into another
lane, to turn down it to the right, and upon arriving at a cottage
upon the left, to take the path immediately _behind_. This leads
over the fields, Alderley Edge a few miles in front, and Cloud-end
rising grandly upon the horizon, then down a steep rough lane into
a dingle called Butts Clough, beyond which there is a green-floored
lane, leading to Warburton's farm, which being passed, we bear to the
right, and in ten minutes more dip into the valley, and very soon
tread the margin of the stream. About a mile and a half further up, we
come to Castle Mill, an old-established and celebrated corn-grinding
concern--and immediately opposite, the wooded slopes of Cotterill,
entered by crossing a single field. The time to select for a first
botanical visit to this charming spot should, if possible, be the end
of April, or at least before the expiration of May. The chief rarities
of the place belong to a somewhat later period, but there are several
that grow here abundantly, and are in perfection at the time named,
which, although less uncommon, it were a pity not to secure. Such
are the goldilocks and the arum. The former, a very graceful kind
of butter-cup, its name translated from the Latin one, _auricomus_,
fringes the bank at the foot of the wood for a long distance with its
light feathery herbage and shining yellow flowers; the other grows
under the trees, and among the brushwood, and in the part of the
clough through which the path leading to Ringway from Castle Mill
makes its way, thus being reachable without more trespass than of
twenty forgiven yards. Few persons fond of cultivating plants in their
parlours are unacquainted with that truly splendid flower, the African
lily, or _Richardia Ethiopica_, which, opening a great white vase on
the summit of its stem, resembles an alabaster lamp with a pillar of
flame burning in the centre; the leaves lifted on long stalks, and
shaped like the head of an arrow. Keeping the figure of this noble
plant before the mind's eye, as the type for comparison, there is no
difficulty in identifying the arum of Cotterill Wood. The latter is
essentially the same in structure, but rises to the height of only some
six or eight inches instead of thirty, with leaves proportionately
smaller, and the flower, instead of white and vase-like, of a pale
transparent green (though often mottled, like the leaves, with purple
stains), and curving over the pillar in the centre like the cowl of a
monk. The pillar is of a rich puce or claret colour, and occasionally
of a delicate light amber. In the south of England, where the plant
abounds, the dark ones are called "lords," and the amber-coloured,
"ladies." Newbridge Hollow, the Ashley Woods, and several other places
about Bowdon, share the possession of this remarkable plant, which is,
without question, the most eccentrically formed of any that grow wild
in the British Islands. It is found also near Pendlebury, at Barton,
Reddish, and several other places, but very scantily, a circumstance
worth notice, because illustrating so well what the learned call
botanical topography. The floras of entire countries are often not more
strongly marked by the presence or absence of certain species than the
portions even of so limited an area as that of Manchester half-holiday
excursions. Here, too, grows in profusion the sylvan forget-me-not,
the flowers of an azure that seems sucked from heaven itself. People
confound it sometimes with the germander-speedwell, another lovely
flower of May and June. But the leaves of the speedwell are oval
instead of long and narrow, like those of the forget-me-not; and the
flowers are not only of quite a different shade of blue, but composed
of four distinct pieces, the forget-me-not being five-lobed, and
yellow in the centre. The consummate distinction of the forget-me-not
is the mode in which the flowers expand, and which, along with its
unique and celestial tint, is the true reason of its being used as
the emblem of constancy. Possibly enough, the pathetic legend of the
knight and the lady by the water-side may have had a fact for its
basis, but the flower was representative of constancy long before the
unlucky lover met his death. The world, truly seen and understood, is
but another showing forth of human nature, an echo of its lord and
master, reiterating in its various and beautiful structures, colours,
and configurations, what in him are thoughts and passions, and in the
forget-me-not we have one of the foremost witnesses. This is no loose
and misty speculation; but to the earnest student of nature who looks
below the surface of things, a determinate and palpable fact, the
source of the most fascinating pleasures that connect themselves with
the genuine knowledge of plants and flowers, and of the objects of
nature universally. The peculiarity referred to consists principally in
the curious spiral stalk, and the store of secret buds, a new flower
opening fresh and fresh every day as the stalk uncoils. It may be
added, as furnishing another example of the variety in the distribution
of plants, that the forget-me-not, like the arum, is wanting on the
Prestwich side of the town, while the sylvan horsetail, so abundant in
Mere Clough, is comparatively a stranger to the valley of the Bollin.
To young people who have the opportunity of exploring the respective
places, independently of the large local knowledge they acquire, it is
a most instructive employment to note these phenomena, for they are all
more or less intimately connected with the grandest and widest laws of
physical geography--the great, as we have shown before, represented in
the little--and no science will be found in after life more thoroughly
entertaining or more practically useful. Besides these more choice
and remarkable flowers, there are in Cotterill Wood at this period
anemones and bluebells without end; while in the upper part, accessible
by the path before-mentioned, and which should on no account be left
unvisited, the firs and larches are at the acme of their floral pride.
The flowers of these trees, like those of the hazel and alder, are
some of them only male, others only female. The female flowers in
due time become the seed-cones, announcing them from afar; the male
flowers likewise assume the cone form, but as soon as the purpose of
their being is accomplished, they wither and drop off. In the larch,
the females are of a delicate pink, contrasting exquisitely with the
tender green of the young tufted leaves, and conspicuous from their
large size, the males being comparatively small, though noticeable
from their immense abundance. In the firs, on the other hand, we are
attracted rather by the male flowers, which are of a beautiful reddish
buff, and on the slightest blow being given to the branch, shed clouds
of their fertilising dust.

The Cotterill portion of the Bollin valley, while the primroses are
in bloom, has no parallel in our district. Certain distant places,
no doubt, are equally rich in this general favourite--the Isle of
Wight, for instance, and the same is said of the Isle of Man, but for
Manchester lovers of primroses, Cotterill is a very paradise. All the
woods and lanes are full, every bank and sheltered slope is yellow with
them, everywhere primroses, primroses, primroses, great handfuls, and
bunches, a score every time we pluck, till wonder is exhausted and out
of breath, and primroses and nature seem to mean the same thing. Such
was the spectacle on the 8th of May--when this was written--the glow
of bloom, which lasts in the whole perhaps for a month, being then at
its height. On one occasion it was as early as April 27th. We now come
to 1882. So great has been the havoc made by collectors of roots for
gardens, and for sale in the market-place, that except in forbidden
parts, and somewhat higher up the valley, the primrose is now almost
as scarce as at the time referred to it was plentiful. Great havoc has
also been wrought during the last quarter of a century by the mattock
of the farm-labourer, which has likewise diminished very considerably
the ancient abundance of some of the less common plants, where exposed,
such as the goldilocks and the forget-me-not, though higher up the
valley, like the primroses, these are still to be found in fair
quantity. Never mind: the anemones, the golden celandine, so glossy and
so sensitive, the cuckoo-flowers, the marsh-marigold, and a score of
others, are untouched, and will remain untouched. There is something
a great deal better than simple possession of the rare and strange,
and that is the happy faculty of appreciation of the lovely old and
common,--a faculty that needs only culture to become an inexhaustible
mine of enjoyment. Every man finds himself richer than he imagines when
he puts the real value upon what Providence has given him.

For the return, we may either mount the hill, and get into the lanes
which pass through Hale or Ringway, and so to Altrincham; or we may
follow the downward course of the stream, by the path enjoyed in
coming, as far as Warburton's farm, already mentioned. Arrived here,
for variety sake, the better course is not by the tempting green
lane, but through the fields below and to the left, which are full of
every kind of rural beauty, and here and there gemmed with cowslips.
Different paths take us either past the river again, and so by way of
Ashley to Bowdon, or into the road that leads to the Downs. The latter
is the shortest, but the Ashley way is the pleasanter. The distance in
the whole is a trifle over that by the road, or, omitting fractions,
four miles. All the way along the birds are in full trill; with this
great charm in the sound, that independently of the music, the songs
of birds are always songs of pleasure. _We_ sing in many moods, and
for many purposes, but the birds only when they are happy. No notes
of birds have an undertone of sadness in them. Beautiful, too, in
the early summer, is it to mark here the glow of the red horizontal
sunlight, as it lies softly amid the branches of the golden-budded
oak, and the milk-white blossoms of the tall wild cherries. Oh! how
thoughtless is it of people to let themselves be scared away from
Botany by its evil but undeserved reputation for "hard names," when,
with a tenth of the effort given to the study of chess or whist, they
might master everything needful, and enter intelligently into this
sweet and sacred Temple of Nature.

       *       *       *       *       *

The interest of the Bollin valley is quite as great to the entomologist
as to the botanist. By the kindness of my friend, Mr. Edleston, I am
enabled here to add the following list of the Lepidoptera, which will
be read with pleasure by every one acquainted with the exquisite forms
and patrician dresses of English butterflies.

"The meadows," he tells me, "near the river Bollin, from Bank Hall to
Castle Mill, produce more diurnal Lepidoptera than any other locality
in the Manchester district, as the following select list (1858) will
suffice to prove":--


  _Gonepteryx Rhamni_             Brimstone
  _Pieris Brassicæ_               Large White
  _  "    Rapæ_                   Small White
  _  "    Napi_                   Green-veined White
  _Anthocaris Cardamines_         Orange Tip
  _Hipparchia Janira_             Meadow Brown
  _    "      Jithonus_           Large Heath
  _    "      Hyperanthus_        Wood Ringlet
  _Coenonympha Pamphilus_         Small Heath
  _Cynthia Cardui_                Painted Lady
  _Vanessa Atalanta_              Red Admiral
  _   "    Io_                    Peacock
  _   "    Urticæ_                Small Tortoise-shell
  _Melitoea  Artemis_             Greasy Fritillary
  _Chrysophanus Phloeas_          Small Copper
  _Polyommatus Alexis_            Common Blue
  _Thanaos Tages_                 Dingy Skipper
  _Pamphila Sylvanus_             Large Skipper
  _Procris Statices_              Green Forester
  _Anthrocera Trifolii_           Five-spot Burnet
  _   "       Filipendulæ_        Six-spot Burnet
  _Sesia Bombyliformis_           Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk
  _Heliodes Arbuti_               Small Yellow Underwing
  _Euclidia Mi_                   Mother Shipton
  _   "     Glyphica_             Burnet


The past twenty-five years, it is to be feared, have told as heavily
upon the Lepidoptera as upon the primroses and the cowslips, the latter
also now far between. The birds, likewise, have greatly diminished in
numbers, partly in consequence of the extreme severity of the trio
of hard winters which commenced with that of 1878-9. We have also to
lament the death of Mr. Edleston.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER III.

ROSTHERNE MERE.


    When the month of May
  Is come, and I can hear the small birds sing,
  And the fresh flourès have begun to spring,
  Good bye, my book! devotion, too, good bye!

CHAUCER.


The path to the Ashley meadows offers the best point of departure also
for far-famed Rostherne, for although the distance is somewhat less
from the "Ashley" station, the old route past Bowdon vicarage remains
the most enjoyable. Going behind it, through a little plantation, we
proceed, with many curves, yet without perplexity, into the lane which
looks down upon the eastern extremity of the mere; then, crossing the
fields, into the immediate presence, as rejoiced in at the margin of
the graveyard of the church, which last is without question one of the
most charmingly placed in England, and in its site excites no wonder
that it was chosen for the ancient Saxon consecration, as declared
in the primitive name, Rodestorne, "the lake (or tarn) of the Holy
Cross." The peculiar charm of Rostherne Mere, compared with most other
Cheshire waters of similar character, comes of its lying so much in
a hollow, after the manner of many of the most delicious lakes of
Westmoreland, Cumberland, and the romantic parts of Scotland; the area
of the surface being at the same time so considerable that there is no
suggestion, as sometimes with smaller meres when lying in hollows, of
the gradual gathering there of the produce of rain-torrents, or even of
the outcome of natural springs. At Rostherne one learns not only what
calmness means, and what a broken fringe of diverse trees can do for
still water. Contemplating it from the graveyard, we seem to have a
fragment of the scenery of our beautiful world as it showed,--begging
pardon of the geologists and the evolutionists,--"When the
morning-stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy."
The depth of the water is remarkable. About a third of the distance
across, from near the summer-house, it is over a hundred feet, thus
as nearly as possible two-thirds of the depth of the English Channel
at the Straits of Dover, where the lead sinks lowest; and a third of
what it is anywhere between Dover and the Eddystone lighthouse, so that
our lovely Rostherne Mere may well assert its claim to be of almost
maritime profundity. The area of the surface is one hundred and fifteen
statute acres. In the church there is a monument which it is worth all
the journey to see,--Westmacott's sculptured marble in memory of Miss
Beatrix Egerton.

Rostherne, in turn, is the pleasantest way of pedestrian approach
to Tatton Park, so liberally opened to visitors by Lord Egerton,
on compliance with certain rules. Visitors bent on seeing Tatton
only, should go part way from Bowdon by vehicle; for here, as at
Cotterill, we want, as in a picture-gallery, every minute, and to
let too much time be consumed in mere travel is a mistake. To make a
too hasty and thoughtless use of our opportunities of pleasure is in
any case to throw away the half of them; the pleasure of the country
beyond all others requires a calm and unhurried step, a free and
unwistful mind and eye, such as cannot possibly be if, by waste or
extravagance, we are "tied to time,"--only when, by a wise economy
of our resources in this respect, we liberate ourselves from care
about trains and timebills, do we catch nature's sweetest smiles.
The boundary measurement of this beautiful park is upwards of ten
miles, and of its two thousand one hundred and thirty-five acres no
fewer than four hundred are occupied by woods and plantations, with
seventy-nine acres of water. Here we may stroll beneath green vaults
of foliage, and be reminded of the aisles of cathedrals. Here we may
contemplate the _viridis senectus_ of glorious old oaks that have
watched the flow of generations. Here, in autumn, we learn, from a
thousand old foresters--from beech, and chestnut, and elm--that brave
men, though overtaken by inclemencies there is no withstanding, still
put a good face upon their fallen fortunes, and, like Cæsar, who drew
his purple around him, die royally; and at Christmas, when the wind
seems to mourn amid the denuded boughs, here again we feel how grand
is the contrasted life of the great, green, shining, scarlet-beaded
hollies that in summer we took no note of. The gardens, including
conservatories and fernery, access to all of which is likewise
liberally permitted, are crowded with objects of interest--one hardly
knows whether inside their gates, or outside, is the more delectable.
The park was up till quite recently, the play-ground of nearly a
thousand deer, and still (1882) contains many hundreds. The sight of
them is one of the pleasures of the return walk to Knutsford, to which
place Tatton Park more especially pertains.

Knutsford, an admirable centre, is reached immediately, by train.
But it must not be overlooked that there is a very pleasant
field-way thereto from Mobberley, and that the path to Mobberley
itself, one of the most ancient of the Cheshire villages, is always
interesting,--starting, that is to say, from Ashley station. Every
portion of it is quiet and enjoyable, and those who love seclusion
would scarcely find another so exactly suited to their taste. Soon
after entering the fields, the path dives through a little dell
threaded by the Birkin (an affluent of the Bollin), then goes on
through lanes which in May are decked plenteously with primroses. The
way, perhaps, is rather intricate,--so much the better for the exercise
of our sagacity. Let not the "day of small things" be despised. The
Birkin is one of the little streams that in the great concourse called
the Mersey does honour at last to the British Tyre. Drayton notices it
in the Poly-olbion (1622)--

  From hence he getteth Goyte down from her Peakish spring,
  And Bollen, that along doth nimbler Birkin bring.[7]

The church, as would be anticipated, presents much that is
interesting to the ecclesiologist. Near the chancel stands the
accustomed and here undilapidated old village graveyard yew, emblem of
immortality, life triumphing over death, therefore so suitable,--this
particular one at Mobberley the largest and most symmetrical within a
circuit of many miles. Across the road, hard by, an ash-tree presents a
singularly fine example of the habit of growth called "weeping,"--not
the ordinary tent-form seen upon lawns, but lofty, and composed chiefly
of graceful self-woven ringlets, a cupola of green tresses, beautiful
at all seasons, and supplying, before the leaves are out, a capital
hint to every one desirous of learning trees--as they deserve to be
learned. For to this end trees must be contemplated almost every month
in the year, when leafless as well as leafy. A grand tree is like a
great poem--not a thing to be glanced at with a thoughtless "I have
read it," but to be studied, and with remembrance of what once happened
on the summit of mount Ida.

On the Cotterill side of Mobberley, or Alderley way, the country
resembles that in the vicinity of Castle Mill, consisting of gentle
slopes and promontories, often wooded, and at every turn presenting
some new and agreeable feature. The little dells and cloughs, each with
its stream of clear water scampering away to the Bollin, are delicious.
The botany of Cotterill is also recapitulated in its best features;
mosses of the choicest kinds grow in profusion on every bank,--_Hypna_,
with large green feathery branches, like ferns in miniature;
_Jungermannias_ also; and the noblest plants of the hart's-tongue fern
that occur in the district. One of the dells positively overflows with
it, excepting, that is, where the ground is not pre-occupied by the
prickly shield-fern. Burleyhurst Wood, close by, contains abundance
of the pretty green-flowered true-love, _Paris quadrifolia_, more
properly _trulove_, the name referring not to the sentiment itself,
but to the famous old four-fold symbol of engagement which in heraldry
reappears in "quartering." All the spring flowers open here with the
first steps of the renewed season; and most inspiring is it, at a
time when on the north side of the town there is nothing to be seen
but an early coltsfoot, to find one's self greeted in these sweet and
perennially green woods, by the primrose, the anemone, the butter-bur,
and the golden saxifrage,--and not as single couriers, but plentiful
as the delight they give, mingling with the great ferns bequeathed
by the autumn, as travellers tell us palms and fir-trees intermix on
tropical mountains, while the _Marchantia_ adds another charm in its
curious cones, and the smooth round cups of the _Peziza_ glow like so
many vases of deepest carnelian. In the aspect of vegetation in early
spring, as it discloses itself at Mobberley and at equal distance north
of the town, there is the difference of a full month. Such at least was
the case in 1858, the year in which these lines were written. There is
no occasion to return to Ashley by the same path. Mobberley station
is scarcely more than a mile from the village, and of course would be
preferred when the object is to reach the latter promptly.

Knutsford, celebrated as the scene of Mrs. Gaskell's "Cranford,"
commands many pleasant walks, and is the threshold not only to Tatton,
but to several other parks and estates of great celebrity. Booth
Hall, with its noble avenue of lindens, the winding sylvan wilderness
called Spring Wood, and its ample sheet of ornamental water, decked
with lilies, and in parts filled with that most curious aquatic, the
_Stratiotes_, is of considerable historic interest;--Toft, a mile to
the south, with its stately avenue, now of elms, in triple rows;--and
Tabley, about a mile to the west, the park once again with a spacious
mere, also have high claims upon the attention of every one who has
the opportunity of entering. Tabley is peculiarly interesting in its
ancient hall, which stands upon an island in the upper portion of the
mere, and dates from the time of Edward III. Only a remnant now exists,
but being covered with ivy, it presents a most picturesque appearance.
When will people see in that peerless evergreen not a foe, but an
inestimable friend, such as it is when knives and shears, and the touch
of the barbarian are forbidden? It is the ivy that has preserved for
the archæologist many of the most precious architectural relics our
country possesses. Where ivy defends the surface, nothing corrodes or
breaks away.

Toft Park gives very agreeable access to Peover,--a place which may
also be reached pleasantly from Plumbley, the station next succeeding
Knutsford. Not "rich" botanically, the field-path is still one of the
most inviting in the district. The views on either side, cheerful at
all seasons, are peculiarly so in spring, when the trees are pouring
their new green leaves into the sunshine, and the rising grass and
mingled wild-flowers flood the ground with living brightness. In parts,
towards the end of May, there is hereabouts an unwonted profusion of
Shakspeare's "Lady-smock." We admit, admiringly, that it "paints the
meadows with delight:"--to the first impression, when gathered and in
the hand, it scarcely seems "silver-white." A single spray in the hand
is unquestionably _lilac_, faint and translucent, but still lilac,
exquisitely veined. Beware. Shakspeare, when he talks of flowers may
always be trusted. At all events his only error is that curious one
in _Cymbeline_.[8] Viewed from a little distance, and obliquely, the
effect of a plentiful carpet of this lovely wild-flower is distinctly
and decidedly "silver-white." In all things a good deal depends upon
the angle at which we look, and never is the rule more needed than when
the subject is one of delicate tint. They were keen observers, depend
upon it, who in the Middle Ages gave name and fame at the same moment
to the pretty flowers that still preserve the ancient association with
"Our Lady," the Virgin Mary. Lower Peover church is one of the few
examples extant of the old-fashioned timber structure, the greater
portion of the interior being constructed of oak, while externally,
excepting the stone Elizabethan tower, it is "magpie," or black and
white, like so many of the old Cheshire halls and ancient manor-houses.
An epitaph in the graveyard is not without suggestiveness:--

  Peaceable Mary Fairbrother,
    1766.  Aged 90.

For the return walk there is a cheerful route through fields and lanes
to Knutsford, entering the town behind the prison; or, for variety,
there is Lostock Gralam station.

Pushing a few miles further, we find ourselves at Northwich, a place at
which there is little occasion to delay, unless it be wished to inspect
one of the salt mines, permission to do so being asked previously of
the proprietors. At Whitsuntide the public are in a certain sense
invited, and truly, a more interesting and wonderful spectacle than is
furnished by the Marston mine it would be hard to provide for holiday
pleasure. But at present we are seeking enjoyment upon the surface,
and to this end the journey should now be continued to Hartford, the
station for Vale Royal. "Vale Royal" is essentially the name of the
immense expanse of beautiful, though nearly level, country over which
the eye ranges when we stand amid the ruins of Beeston Castle. It is
still worthy of the praise lavished on it in 1656. "The ayre of Vale
Royall," says the old historian of that date, "is verie wholesome,
insomuch that the people of the country are seldom infected with
Disease or Sicknesse, neither do they use the help of Physicians,
nothing so much, as in other countries. For when any of them are sick,
they make him a posset, and tye a kerchief on his head; and if that
will not amend him, then God be mercifull to him! The people there live
to be very old: some are Grandfathers, their fathers yet living, and
some are Grandfathers before they be married.... They be very gentle
and courteous, ready to help and further one another; in Religion very
zealous, howbeit somewhat addicted to Superstition: otherwise stout,
bold, and hardy: withal impatient of wrong, and ready to resist the
Enemy or Stranger that shall invade their country.... Likewise be the
women very friendly and loving, in all kind of Housewifery expert,
fruitful in bearing Children after they be married, and sometimes
before.... I know divers men which are but farmers that may compare
therein with a Lord or Baron in some Countreys beyond the Seas."--A
considerable portion of this great expanse is represented in the still
current appellation of Delamere Forest,--a term not to be understood
as meaning that it was at any time covered by timber-trees, either
indigenous or planted, but that it was "outside," _ad foras_, a wild,
uncultivated and comparatively barren tract as opposed to districts
that were well farmed and sprinkled plentifully with habitations. Trees
there were, doubtless, and in abundance, but the _bonâ fide_ woods
occupied only a part of the "forest" in the aggregate. An idea of such
a forest as Delamere was in the olden time is very easily formed. We
need do no more than think of that imperishable one, "exempt from
public haunt," where Rosalind found her verses, with its stream-side
where the

    Poor sequester'd stag,
  That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt
  Did come to languish.

The "forest," so late as two centuries ago, comprised no fewer than
eleven thousand acres of wood and wilderness. Much has now been brought
under cultivation, so that only about eight thousand acres remain
untilled, and of these about one-half have been planted with Scotch
fir, whence the peculiar and solemn aspect which masses of conifers
alone can bestow.

Entering this part of the "Vale," we are at once attracted to the
beautiful park, woods, and waters, distinguished particularly as
"Vale Royal," or in full, Vale Royal Abbey, the mansion,--the ancient
country seat of the Cholmondeley family--being nearly upon the site of
the famous monastic home founded in 1277 by Edward I. Lord Delamere
liberally permits access to the grounds, the approaches to which
are eminently sweet and pleasant. The railway should be quitted at
Hartford, quiet lanes from which place lead into the valley of the
Weaver.[9] Thence we move to the margin of Vale Royal Mere, with
choice, upon arrival, of one of the most charming sylvan walks in
Cheshire, obtained by going through the wood, or a more open path
along the opposite shore. To take one path going, the other returning,
and thus to secure the double harvest, of course is best. So, for the
final homeward journey, which should not be by way of Hartford, but
_viâ_ Cuddington. A drive through the glorious fir-plantations which
abut upon Vale Royal carries the privileged to another most beautiful
scene,--Oulton Park, the country seat of the Grey-Egertons. Here again
is a sheet of lilied water; here, too, are some of the noblest trees
in Cheshire, including one of the most remarkable lindens the world
contains.

For the visitor to Delamere Forest there is after all no scene more
inspiring than is furnished by Eddisbury. Cuddington station will do
for this, but the walk is rather too long; it is best to go direct
to "Delamere," thence along the road a short distance, and so to the
foot of the hill. In the time of the Heptarchy, it was an important
stronghold. Rising to the height of five hundred and eighty-four feet
above the sea, when in A.D. 914 that admirable lady, Ethelfleda,
daughter of Alfred, and widow of Ethelred, king of Mercia, sought to
establish herself in positions of great strength, her feminine sagacity
at once pointed to Eddisbury as impregnable. Ethelfleda, says the old
chronicler, was "the wisest lady in England, an heroic princess; she
might have been called a king rather than a lady or a queen. King
Edward, her brother, governed his life, in his best actions, by her
counsels." We have admirable women of our own living among us--women in
every sense queenly by nature:--let us never forget, in our gratitude
to God for the gift of them, that in the past there were prototypes
of the best. Continued in her rule, by acclamation, after the death
of her husband, Ethelfleda, "the lady of the Mercians," reigned for
eight years. Rather more than eleven acres of the green mound we
are now speaking of were defensively enclosed by her, partly with
palings, partly with earthworks, traces of which remain to this day.
Frail and perishable in its materials, the "city of Eddisbury," as
historians call this once glorious though simple settlement, in the
very nature of things could not last. A good river, essential to the
prosperity of an inland town, it did not possess. After the death,
moreover, of Ethelfleda, who went to her rest in 920, the subsidence
of the Danish invasions reduced the importance of such fortresses,
and so, by slow degrees, the famous old "city" disappeared. The name
of Eddisbury occurs, it is true, in Domesday Book, but apparently as
a name and nothing besides. Places like Eddisbury are to England
what the sites of Nineveh and Palmyra are to the world. Standing upon
their greensward, the memory of great things and greater people passes
before the mind in long and animating procession. The once so great
and powerful "Queen of the East," proud, chaste, literary Zenobia,
was not nobler in her way than Saxon Ethelfleda. Thinking of her,
pleasant it is to note how the little wild-flowers, the milk-wort and
the eyebright, the unchanged heritors of the ground, are virtually just
as she left them. Upon these, in such a spot, Time lays no "effacing
finger." "States fall, arts fade, but Nature doth not die." Not without
interest, either, is the fact that from the name of the people or
kingdom she ruled so well, comes that of our chief local river. The
Mersey was the dividing line between Mercia and Northumbria, and of the
former it preserves memorable tradition. All the way up the stream till
we get to the hill country, the topographical names further illustrate
the ancient Saxon presence. The view from storied Eddisbury is of
course very extensive and delightful, including, to-day, the venerable
Cathedral of Chester, Halton Castle, and the broad bosom of the river,
not to mention the boundless champaign to the south and east, and afar
off, in the quiet west, grey mountains that seem to lean against the
sky.

The "Delamere Hotel," to which all visitors to these regions very
naturally bend their steps, is the place to enquire at for the exact
way to the borders of Oakmere; most pleasing, after Rostherne, of the
Cheshire waters. For here, in the autumnal sunshine, the soft wind
is prone so to waft over the dimpling surface that it becomes covered
with lucid ripples, while at the margin, if the "crimson weeds" of the
mermaids' country are not present, there are pretty green ones that
"lie like pictures on the sands below,"

  With all those bright-hued pebbles that the sun
  Through the small waves so softly shines upon.

The borders of Oakmere abound with curious plants. One of the rarest of
British grasses, the _Calamagrostis stricta_, grows here. The locality
is also a noted one for the _Utricularia minor_, though we do not find
that interesting fern of the Vale Royal wood, the _Lastrea Thelypteris_.

Contemplating this lovely mere, whether from Eddisbury, or its own
borders, and remembering the many similar waters close by,[10] a group,
after that one to which Windermere leads the way, without parallel in
our island, it is impossible not to feel curious as to their history.
The simple fact appears to be that all, or nearly all the Vale Royal
meres are referable to the existence, underneath, of great salt crystal
beds which give occupation to the people of Northwich. The surface-soil
of the Cheshire salt district consists of a few feet of drift-sand
or clay. Below this there is a considerable depth of "New red marl,"
and below this there is good reason to believe there is a nearly
continuous bed or deposit of the crystal. The "new red sandstone" rock
in which these deposits are embedded, is very porous and much jointed.
Water is constantly filtering into them from above; the salt crystal,
exposed to its action, slowly dissolves into brine, which, as the
height is at least a hundred feet above the sea-level, slowly drains
away. Then the overlying strata gradually sink; depressions are caused,
of less or greater magnitude, and in course of time these become basins
of water. Mr. Edw. Hull, the distinguished geologist, considers that
should the process go on, the whole of the valley of the Weaver will
some day be submerged. Most of the salt sent from Cheshire is prepared
from this natural brine. To extract the crystal is not so cheap as
to let the water do the mining, then to pump up the solution, and
evaporate it.

[Illustration]

Footnotes

[7: Song the eleventh, p. 171, facing which is a map of
Cheshire, showing the rivers, out of every one of which rises a sort of
tutelary nymph, in design droll beyond imagination.--_Vide_ the Chetham
Library copy.]

[8:

    On her left breast,
  A mole, cinque-spotted, like the _crimson_ drops
  I' the bottom of a cowslip.]

[9: This noted Cheshire river rises upon Buckley Heath, near
Malpas, going thence past Nantwich and Winsford. At Northwich it joins
the Dane; soon afterwards there is confluence with the Peover, the
united waters eventually entering the Mersey, not far from Frodsham.]

[10: In addition to the meres already mentioned, there are
Pickmere, Rudworth Mere, Flaxmere, Doddington Mere, Combermere, and
several others.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER IV.

CARRINGTON MOSS.


  "Will you walk into my parlour?" said the spider to the fly:
  "'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy."

OLD SONG.


Should any of our unknown companions in these rambles be vegetarians,
they will please here take notice that Carrington Moss is in the
summer-time a scene of ravenous slaughter such as cannot but be
exceedingly painful and shocking to them. It will appear the more
repulsive from the high character for innocence ordinarily borne by
the destroyers, who are the last beings in the world we should expect
to find indulging in personal cruelty, much less acting the part of
perfidious sirens. Having given this warning, our friends will of
course have only themselves to blame should they persist in following
us to the spectacle we are about to describe; and now it only remains
to say that the perpetrators of the deeds alluded to are _plants_!
People are apt to look upon plants simply as things that just grow
up quietly and inoffensively, open their flowers, love the rain, in
due time ripen their seeds, then wither and depart, leaving no more to
be recorded of their life and actions than comes of the brief span of
the little babe that melts unweaned from its mother's arms. This is
quite to mistake their nature. So far from being uniform, and unmarked
by anything active, the lives of plants are full from beginning to
end of the most curious and diversified phenomena. Not that they act
knowingly, exercising consciousness and volition,--this has been the
dream only of a few enthusiasts,--but taking one plant with another,
the history of vegetable life is quite a romance, and scarcely inferior
in wonderful circumstance to that of animals. So close is the general
resemblance of plants to animals, as regards the vital processes and
phenomena, that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to point out
a single fact in connection with the one that has not a counterpart,
more or less exact, among the other. The animal world is a repetition
in finer workmanship of the vegetable. As for harmlessness and
inoffensiveness in plants, these are the very last qualities to be
ascribed to them. Pleasant are fragrant flowers, and sweet fruits,
and wholesome herbs, but these tell only half the tale. No wild beast
of the forest rends with sharper teeth than grow on thorn-trees of
different kinds; if the wasp darts its poisoned sting into our flesh,
so does the nettle; if snakes' bites be mortal, so is the venomous
juice of the deadly nightshade. Not in the least surprising is it,
then, that we should find certain plants indicating a propensity to
prey. Animals of lower degree as regards every other disposition of
life, why should they not participate in this one? That they do so is
plain. Though as a rule, plants feed upon watery and gaseous matters,
supplied by the earth and atmosphere, the members of at least two
curious tribes, the _Sarracenias_, and the _Droseraceæ_ or "Sundews,"
depend not alone on solutions of manure, or other long-since-decayed
organic substances, prepared by chemical action, but collect fresh
animal food on their own behalf. The latter include the plants that may
be seen engaged in their predatory work upon Carrington Moss.

Before entering upon the consideration of them, we may take the
opportunity, furnished by this long word _Droseraceæ_, of saying a
little about the "hard names" so often charged upon botanical science.
It is continually asked what need is there to call flowers by those
excruciating Latin titles. Why cannot they have plain English names?
Why must all our names be

    Like the verbum Græcum,
  Spermagoraiolekitholakapolides,
  Words that should only be said upon holidays,
  When one has nothing else to do?

Many make it a ground of abstaining from the study of botany
altogether, that the names are so hard to learn, as if every other
science and species of knowledge, including history and geography, were
not equally full of hard words. But look now at the simple truth of the
matter. Very many of the common or "English" names of flowers are in
reality their botanical or Latin ones, as fuchsia, laburnum, camellia,
geranium, iris, verbena, rhododendron, so that it is not a question
of language after all. To be consistent, these names should be left
to the professional man, and "English" ones be manufactured in their
place; it is clear, however, that they can quite easily be learned and
spoken, Latin though they are, and if some can be mastered and found
simple enough, of course others can. Besides, what would it advantage
us to substitute really English names for them? Nothing would be gained
except a synonym, by saying, as we might, "crimson-drop" instead of
fuchsia, or "golden-rain" instead of laburnum; while very much would
be lost in precision by using a name of obscure and uncertain origin,
and upon which even one's own neighbours might not be agreed, instead
of a term fixed by the great leaders in the science of botany, whose
judgment all respect, and which is accepted by every nation of the
civilised world. It is quite as necessary to call plants by determinate
scientific names as to call a certain constellation Orion, and a
certain island Spitzbergen. Botanists do not call plants by Latin names
simply out of pedantry, or to make their science difficult, but for the
sake of clearness and uniformity. None of the botanical names are so
hard as it is fancied; the Lancashire botanists in humble life have no
trouble with them; the real difficulty is in not caring anything about
the objects they are applied to. We do not find those who make so much
outcry about the Latin names particularly anxious to learn the English
ones either. The English names are not thrown overboard by their Latin
companions. All true botanists, so far from rejecting or despising
English names, love them and continually use them, substituting the
Latin synonyms only when scientific accuracy requires.

Let us now proceed to the sundews, first describing the way to their
habitation. All the mosses about Manchester possess these curious
plants, but Carrington Moss is the most readily accessible, lying only
a little distance south-west of Sale. From the station we go for about
a mile in the direction of Ashton-upon-Mersey, then turn up one of the
lanes upon the left, and look out for a grove of dark fir-trees, which,
being close upon the borders of the moss, is an excellent guide. The
edge of the moss is being drained and brought under cultivation; all
this part, along with the ditches, must be crossed, and the higher,
undisturbed portion ascended, and as soon as we are up here we find the
objects of our search. Among the heather are numberless little marshes,
filled with pea-green _Sphagnum_, and containing often a score or two
of the sundews, some of them with round leaves, about a third of an
inch across, and growing in flat rosettes of half-a-dozen; others, with
long and slender leaves that grow erect. Every leaf is set round with
bright red hairs, which spread from it like eyelashes, while similar
but shorter hairs cover the surface. When the plant is full-grown and
healthy, these hairs exude from their points little drops of sticky and
limpid fluid, which, glittering like the diamonds of Aurora, show the
reason of the poetical English name, sundew. Directly that any little
fly or midge comes in contact with the sticky drops, the unfortunate
creature is taken captive, just as birds are caught with bird-lime.
Held fast in its jewelled trap, the poor prisoner soon expires; and
then, either its juices or the gaseous products of the decomposition,
appear to be absorbed by the plant, and thus to constitute a portion
of its diet. This is rendered the more probable by the experiments of
the late Mr. Joseph Knight, of Chelsea, who fed the large American
flycatcher, the _Dionæa_, with fibres of raw beef, and found the plant
all the better for its good dinners. Certainly it cannot be asserted
positively that the Drosera is nourished by its animal prey, but it is
difficult to imagine that so extraordinary and successful an apparatus
is given to these plants for the mere purpose of destroying midges, and
that the higher purpose of food is not the primary one. On the larger
leaves may generally be seen relics of the repast, shrivelled bodies,
wings, and legs, reminding one of the picked bones that strew the
entrance to the giant's cavern in the fairy tale. Sundew plants may be
kept in a parlour, by planting them in a dishful of green moss, which
must be constantly flooded with water, and covering the whole with a
glass shade. Exposed to the sunshine, their glittering drops come out
abundantly, but the redness of the hairs diminishes sensibly, owing,
perhaps, to their being denied their natural prey. The flowers of these
singular plants are white, and borne on slender stalks that rise to the
height of three or four inches. The roots survive the winter.

Carrington Moss is further remarkable for the profuse growth of that
beautiful flower, the Lancashire asphodel, which, at the end of July
and the beginning of August, lights it up with flambeaux of bright
yellow. Here also grow the _Rhyncospora alba_, the cranberry, the
Andromeda, and the cotton-sedge, all in great abundance; and on the
margin, among the ditches, luxuriant grasses peculiar to moorland, and
the finest specimens of the purple heather that are anywhere to be
seen so near Manchester. The rich sunset-like lustre of this sturdy
but graceful plant renders it one of the loveliest ornaments of our
country when summer begins to wane into autumn. Branches, gathered when
in full bloom, and laid to dry in the shade, retain their freshness
of form and pretty colour for many months, and serve very pleasingly
to mix with honesty and everlastings for the winter decoration of the
chimneypiece. Intermixed with the heather grows the _Erica tetralix_,
or blushing-maiden heath, an exceedingly elegant species, with light
pink flowers, collected in dense clusters at the very summit of the
stalk. The immediate borders of the moss, and the lanes approaching
it, are prolific in curious plants. To go no further, indeed, quite
repays a visit. July is the best time. Then the foxgloves lift their
magnificent crimson spires, and the purple-tufted vetch trails its
light foliage and delicate clusters beneath the woodbines; and the tall
bright lotus in coronets of gold, and the meadow-sweet, smelling like
hawthorn, make the lady-fern look its greenest, while in the fields
alongside stands, in all its pride of yellow and violet, the great
parti-coloured dead-nettle, which here grows in luxuriant perfection.
Up to the very end of autumn this district is quite a garden to the
practical botanist. Where cultivated and uncultivated land adjoin,
just as where land and sea come in contact, there is always found the
largest variety and plenty, alike of vegetable and of animal life; and
nowhere is this more marked than on the borders of Carrington Moss. The
cottages near the moss are but few. Tea may be procured nevertheless,
if we are content to run the risk of there being no milk, which, like
fish by the sea-side, is often a scarce thing even in the heart of the
country; but on a pleasant summer evening, when everything else is fair
and contenting, he must be a grumbler indeed who would let _this_ spoil
his enjoyment. Half a loaf enjoyed with one's friends, far away in the
sweet silence of nature, and a happy walk home afterwards, with loving
faces right and left, is better, ten times over, than a luxurious
meal got by coming away prematurely. All this part of the country is
remarkable also for the luxuriance of its culinary vegetables. The
rhubarb is some of the finest grown near Manchester, and it is quite a
treat to look at the beans.

Another way to the moss, available for residents at Bowdon, is through
Oldfield, and by Seaman's Moss Bridge, where we cross the Warrington
railway, to Sinderland, looking out when thus far for a lane upon the
right, bordered first by birch-trees and afterwards by oaks. All these
lanes, like those on the Ashton side of the moss, are remarkably rich
in wild-flowers and ferns, the latter including the royal fern, or
Osmunda, and in early summer show great plenty of the white lychnis,
called, from not opening its petals till evening, the _vespertina_.
The pink-flowered lychnis, the "brid-e'en" or "bird's eye" of the
country people, is, like the telegraph office, "open always." Here we
may perceive the use of Latin or botanical names; for "bird's eye" is
applied to many different plants in different parts of England, so that
a botanist at a distance who might chance to read these lines could not
possibly tell what flower was meant, whereas, in "Lychnis vespertina"
there is certainty for all. Whoever is fond of blackberries and wild
raspberries would do well to make acquaintance with these pretty lanes;
whoever, too, is fond of solitude--a state not fit for all, nor for
any man too prolongedly, but a true friend to those who can use it. If
we would thoroughly enjoy life, we should never overlook the value of
occasional solitude. It is one of the four things which we should get a
little of, if possible, every day of our lives, namely, reading, good
music, sport with little children, and utter seclusion from the busy
world.

The number of mosses and moors in the neighbourhood of Manchester
makes it interesting--as in the case of the Cheshire meres, to know
something of their origin. The wonderful discoveries of geology, with
regard to the crust of the earth, and the successive deposition of
the strata of which it is composed, claim our attention scarcely more
than the history of the surface, which has undergone changes quite as
momentous to the welfare of man, and no part of that history is more
curious, perhaps, than that of the mosses. Wherever a moss now extends
in wet and dreary waste, it would seem that there was once a plain or
expanse of tolerably dry land, more or less plentifully covered with
trees and underwood, but subject, by reason of the depressed level, to
frequent inundation, just as we see the fields at Sale and Stretford
flooded every now and then at the present day. The falling of the older
and weaker trees, in consequence of the long-continued wetness, and
the want of a steady and complete outlet for the accumulated waters,
would soon cause the place to assume the character of a marsh,--neither
land nor lake,--and now semi-amphibious plants would not be slow to
spring up, for wherever such conditions of surface are exchanged for
dry ones, plants of that nature appear as if by magic. The morass thus
formed and occupied, would in a single season become knee-deep in
the very same kind of mixture as that which now forms the outer skin
of Carrington Moss, viz., heather of different kinds, cotton-sedges,
and bog-moss. Every successive year the original mass of roots and
stems would be left deeper and deeper beneath by the new and upward
growth of the vegetation above; till at last, saturated with wet, and
pressed by the weight of the superincumbent matter, it would acquire
the compact form which is now called "peat." The original moisture of
the place, instead of diminishing, would be incessantly reinforced
from the clouds, and the lapse of a few centuries would pile up on
the surface of the once dry ground, a heap many yards in vertical
thickness of half-decayed, half-living heath and moss, with sundews,
cotton-sedges, and asphodels on the top. The branches of the trees
drowned and entombed at the beginning, would remain where they fell,
slowly decaying, but retaining their character well enough to be
recognised, and hence wherever a moss is now drained, and portions of
the original deposit are dug out, there are generally found mixed with
it branches and fragments that in a measure may be likened to fossils.
Carrington Moss, in parts where drained, is strewed with such bits of
the silver birch, declared by the shining whiteness of the bark. The
trees that these bits belonged to no doubt grew tall and leafy on the
spot that is now their sepulchre and memorial. Flowers and seeds of
bog plants are also found low down in the moss, almost as fresh as if
newly fallen. In the middle, these vast vegetable tumuli are often
twenty or thirty feet deep. In any part a walking-stick may be plunged
in for its full length, and though by stepping and standing on the
denser tufts of heather, it is quite easy to walk about dry-shod, it
is quite as easy by uncarefulness, especially after wet weather, to
be in a pool of water up to the ankle in a few minutes. There is no
_danger_ in walking upon the mosses, merely this little risk of getting
wet-footed, which is more than compensated by the curious objects that
may be found upon them. In winter and dull weather they are desolate
enough, but on a summer afternoon full of reward. Owing to their
immense capacity for absorption, many mosses swell into mounds higher
than the surrounding country, as happens at Carrington; and after
heavy rains this enlargement is so much increased that distant objects
are concealed from view until evaporation and drainage have caused
subsidence to the ordinary level. Before Ashton Moss (between Droylsden
and Ashton-under-Lyne) was drained, trees and houses were often lost to
view for many days, by persons residing on the opposite side.

That this is the true origin of the mosses is rendered fairly certain
by the circumstance of works of human art having often been found at
the bottom. When Ashton Moss was drained, there were found under the
peat a Celtic axe and some Roman coins;[11] and in another part, at the
foot of one of the old stumps of trees, a quantity of charred wood,
betokening that a fire had once been lighted there. The coins would
naturally suggest that some old Roman soldier had had a hand in the
kindling, and the well-known fact of the extensive felling of trees by
the Romans, both in road-making, and to aid them in the subjugation
of the country, has led to the belief with some, that to these people
may partially be attributed the origination of the mosses. The trees
and scattered branches encumbering the ground, are supposed to have
checked the free passage of floods and other water, which, becoming
stagnated, gradually destroyed the growing timber, and eventually led
to the results described above. Baines (History of Lancashire, iii.
131) says of Chat Moss, that it was originally the site of an immense
forest, but was reduced to a bog by the Roman invaders, at a period
coeval with the first promulgation of the Christian religion. It would
probably be no error to assert with Whitaker, that the whole of the
country round Manchester, and not merely the site of Chat Moss, was, at
the time of the Romans, covered with trees. One thing is quite certain,
namely, that the formation of the mosses is comparatively recent, and
probably much within one thousand eight hundred years. They appear to
rest universally on a clayey substratum, and it is very interesting to
observe that where the peat is wholly removed, for the purpose of fuel,
as upon Holford Moss, near Toft and Peover, the clay surface being then
laid bare, birch-trees spring up unsown. The seeds of these trees must
have been lying there since they ripened, unable to vegetate previously
for want of air and the solar warmth. It is quite a familiar phenomenon
for plants to spring up in this way from seeds that have been buried
for ages, especially on earth laid bare by cuttings for railways and
similar works; so in truth it is no more than would be expected in
connection with the clearing away of peat, and the restoration of the
under-surface. The tree next in frequency to the birch, as a denizen of
the old _silva_, appears to have been the oak.

"Moors" are a more consolidated form of mosses. Seated, most usually,
on higher and more easily drained ground than the mosses, they have
in some cases preserved a drier nature from the first; in others, they
have become drier in the course of time, through the escape of their
moisture by runnels to lower levels; and in others again, they have
allowed of easy artificial draining, and conversion to purposes of
pasturage and tillage, or at least over a considerable portion of their
surface, and have thus disappeared into farm-land. The most extensive
and celebrated mosses about Manchester, still undrained, are Chat Moss,
Carrington Moss, and Clifton Moss, near the Clifton railway station, on
the left hand of the Bolton-road. Fifteen years ago (_i.e._ in 1843),
White Moss and Ashton Moss might have been included in the list, but
both of these are now largely brought under cultivation. The most
celebrated moors are now nearly all under the power of the plough, as
Baguley Moor and Sale Moor, while Newton Heath is covered with houses.

The above chapter was written in 1858. The story of the sundews has now
become an old familiar one, having been placed prominently before the
world by Dr. Hooker during the 1874 meeting of the British Association,
when the novelty of the theme attracted universal attention to it.
It has been dealt with also by Mr. Darwin and many of his disciples.
The facts described have all been verified, though there is still
considerable difference of opinion in regard to the digestive process.
This question is one we cannot pretend to go further into at present;
it remains for the rising generation of Manchester, and other local
physiologists, to recognise the value of the opportunities they
possess in having the plants themselves so close at hand. Upon
Carrington, however, the Droseras seem to be less plentiful than they
were forty years ago. The draining at the margins appears to have
favoured the growth of the heather, as well as to have rendered the
moss less swampy. If deficient here, there are plenty elsewhere, the
sundews being to peat-bogs what daisies are to the meadows. Since 1858
the approaches to the moss from the Manchester side have also been a
good deal altered, and enquiry must now be made of residents in the
neighbourhood when seeking the most convenient means of access.

Extending so far in the direction of Dunham, the wooded slopes of which
latter are plainly visible from all parts, wet Carrington,--

  Water, water, everywhere,
  And not a drop to drink,--

excites new relish for the shades of its beautiful park. Few are the
inhabitants of our town to whom Dunham is unknown, and who fail upon
every new visit to find in it a poem and a jubilee. The greater number
of the trees were planted by George, second Earl of Warrington. He
was born in 1675, and died in 1758, so that his exemplary work may
be considered to date from the time, as to its beginning, of Queen
Anne, and the oldest of the trees to have been growing for nearly two
centuries, since, of course, it would not be acorns that were placed
in the soil, but saplings, already stout and hearty. Wandering amid
the rich glooms they now afford, occasional breaks and interspaces
disclosing green hollows filled with sunlight, or crested knolls that
seem like sanctuaries; delicate pencillings of lighter foliage throwing
into grand relief the darker and heavier masses, in this sweet land
there is never any sense of sameness,--we are awakened rather to the
power there is in perfect sylvan scenery, as well as in that of the
mountains, and the sea-margin, to elevate and refresh one's entire
spiritual nature. Very pleasant is it when we can simultaneously
thank God for creating noble trees, and let the mind rest upon a
fellow-creature as the immediate donor. Many of the old Dunham oaks
date considerably further back than the time indicated. England is
dotted all over with individual trees, the age of which is rightfully
estimated by centuries, and Dunham Park is not without its reverend
share.

Emerging from the park, past the old mill--beloved of sketching
artists--there are pleasant footways across the meadows that conduct
eventually to Lymm. To trace them was, in the bygones, a never-failing
enjoyment. Now we go to Lymm direct by train, finding there, as of
old, one of the most beautiful of the Cheshire waters; in this case,
however, of origin very different from the Vale Royal meres. The water
at Lymm, romantic and picturesque as are its surroundings, is simply
a vast reservoir, brought into existence by the construction of the
viaduct at the foot. The site now occupied by the water was originally
a little vale, down which flowed a streamlet called the Dane. Becoming
very narrow where the roadway now is, to throw a barricade across
was easy. The construction of this gave distinctiveness also to the
"dell," the pretty hollow, full of trees, into which, when the water
is high, the overplus, creeping under the road by a concealed channel,
springs so cheerily. Ordinarily, it must be confessed, there is little
more than a thin trickle, but after a day or two's heavy rain, down it
comes, with a joyous double leap, in great sheaves and waving veils,
the more delectable since the cascade in question is the only one in
this part of Cheshire, or anywhere upon the Cheshire side of the town.

The pleasantest time to visit this beautiful neighbourhood is the very
end of July. The wild cherries are then ripe, and glisten like coral
amid the green leaves; and in the water there is a rosy archipelago of
persicaria blossom. Beyond the plantation, at the upper extremity, the
surface is often so still and placid that every flower and leaf upon
the banks finds its image beneath, the inverted foxgloves changing, as
the calm gives way to ripples, into softly twining spirals of crimson
light. When the shores are laid unusually bare through drought, they
furnish abundance of the beautiful shells of the fresh-water mussel,
_Anodonta cygnea_, often four inches in length, externally olive-green,
and possessed inside of the pearly iridescence so much admired in
sea-shells. Many, however, are broken, the swans being fond of the
contents. To see the water to its full extent, visitors should continue
along the hill-side, opposite the church, and as far as the grove of
trees. With permission of the proprietor, it is a great gain, on
arrival there, to cross by the rustic bridge, and, turning to the
left, ascend the little valley called "Ridding's Brook." The botany
of this part is truly rich,--in March the slopes are yellow with the
wild daffodil, and in late summer the bank is gay with purple lythrum.
The special interest of the valley lies, after all, in its curious
dropping and petrifying spring. At the further extremity, upon the
right, the steep clay bank, instead of receding, is hollowed underneath
for the length of a hundred yards or so, the upper edge projecting to
a considerable distance beyond the base, so as to overhang the stream,
and form a sloping roof to it. The surface is completely covered with
luxuriant moss, and from the land overhead comes an incessant filter of
water, which at once nourishing the moss and entangled in it, causes
it to hang down in long vegetable ringlets. At a distance they seem
soft, but examination shows that every drop has brought along with it a
particle of earth, which being deposited in the very substance of the
moss, is gradually converting it into stone. Every cluster, externally
so green and living, is in its heart a petrifaction.

[Illustration: Tho. Letherbrow.

_Oldfield, Dunham_]

Very pleasant walks, of entirely different character, are to be found
also, when at Lymm, along the great alluvial flat bordered by the
river, and which reaches to Thelwall. Thelwall was once a port for
ships! When founded by Edward the elder, about the year 923, the stream
was so much wider and deeper that, according to tradition, the Danish
invaders came this way in vessels, landed, and established a camp
or fortress at Mickley Hill, the mound, now covered with fir-trees,
which marks the point where the Bollin enters. Up to about 1855, or
before the water was so defiled, the Mersey at this part, and more
particularly near Statham, was to the sportsman supremely attractive.
It was visited in the winter by many curious birds, including the
sheldrake, the widgeon, the teal, and occasionally the wild swan. Lymm
village contains several objects of archæological interest. Near the
centre are the remains of an ancient cross, the lower steps of which
are cut out of the solid rock; and close by, upon an eminence, is
Lymm Hall, an ancient building, once, like most others of its kind,
protected by a moat. Lymm church tower is as high above the sea-level
at the base as Bowdon old tower is at the top. The shrubs in the
gardens, owing to the altitude, are often reached, in tempestuous
weather, by the salt of the Irish Sea. Near Lymm there are many other
very interesting places. Oughtrington Hall and Agden Hall, in the
Dunham direction; High Legh, with its ancient and beautiful little
church, covered with ivy; and Warburton, again noted for its church,
are all, in their respective ways, full of attraction. Warburton church
is one of the three in Cheshire which, as at Peover, were built in
the quaint old "black and white" or "magpie" style. Only a portion,
however, of the original remains at Warburton, new structures, very
odd in complexion, having been added at various times. The stone part
is dated 1645,--the tower, about a century old, and fortunately now
ivy-mantled, is of _brick_! The yews are no doubt contemporaneous with
the foundation, say about seven hundred years of age.

Latchford, the station next beyond Thelwall, is a good point of
departure for Hill Cliff, the lofty and beautiful eminence upon which
Warrington so prides itself. The view from the summit is considered by
many the most varied and extensive in Cheshire--justly so, perhaps,
since upon the east it extends to Alderley, and upon the west to
Moel Famma. Another route to Hill Cliff is by the original line to
Warrington, through Eccles, from Victoria station, the same which
leads on to Norton for Norton Priory, Norton Park, and Halton Castle;
to Frodsham, for its glorious hills, and to Chester. The views from
the Frodsham hills cover, like those from Hill Cliff, a most charming
variety of scene,--Halton Castle, Weston Point, Rock Savage, the
Aston Woods, and the winding Weaver, with its many craft, being all
embraced at once. The best way of procedure, in order to enjoy the
hills thoroughly, is to take the Helsby portion first, beginning at the
station of that name, then to cross the valley and ascend the Overton
part. If considered too much for a single day, there is amply enough
for a couple of separate visits. Norton Park, made up of undulating and
flowery glades, with the Priory in the centre, is little less enjoyable
than Tatton, though the spectacle of the dire mischief wrought by
the fumes from the adjacent alkali-works, apparently irreparable, is
very sad; Halton Castle has its chief attraction in the record, for
the precincts, of well-known historical events; the interest of the
river consists in its identification with one of the most important
branches of the local commerce. Before going so far in search of
enjoyment, it is wise to remember that long before reaching even Lymm,
the line _viâ_ Broadheath gives access to quiet fields that in summer
evenings are rich in pleasant influence, those in particular which lie
west of Dunham Massey. A very delightful rural neighbourhood, almost
contiguous, has also now been opened up by the "Cheshire Midland."
Urmston, Flixton, and Glazebrook are centres from which it is difficult
to move unprofitably. Very much of course depends upon the amount
of disposition to be pleased that we carry with us, and upon one's
progress in the culture of that finest of the fine arts--the art of
seeing.

[Illustration]

[11: See a description of these coins in the _Ashton
Reporter_, of March 14th, 1857.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER V.

GATLEY CARRS.


  We live by admiration, hope, and love,
  And even as these are well and wisely fixed,
  In dignity of being we ascend.

WORDSWORTH.


There is not a more delightful ride out of town, at any season of
the year, than through Rusholme and Didsbury to Cheadle. The country
is on either hand fertile and pleasantly wooded, and in many places
embellished with handsome grounds, while gardens and shrubberies
succeed one another so fast that the road seems completely edged with
them. The variety of trees presented to view is greater than upon any
other road out of Manchester. In the five miles between Ducie-street
and Abney Hall, we have counted upwards of forty different species,
some of them by no means frequent in these parts, while others are
uncommonly fine examples of their kind. The finest sycamore, and, after
the great horse-chestnut between Singleton and Besses-o'-th'-Barn,
perhaps the finest tree of any sort near Manchester, as regards either
symmetry or altitude, stands upon the lawn of Mr. T. H. Nevill's
house at Didsbury, the second on the Manchester side of the College.
Oak, willow, elm, poplar in three different kinds, lime, ash, and
beech, both green and purple, are also represented very fairly. There
are examples, too, of walnut, of negundo, and of tulip trees. A noble
specimen of the last-named stood not far from the Didsbury sycamore
until about 1855, and was covered with flowers every season; but, like
the cedar in the grounds adjoining Mr. Callender's late residence at
Rusholme, which was another of the finest trees on the road, fell a
victim about that time to the axe of "improvement." Each was a cruel
case of what Miss Mitford well calls "tree murder." Such trees cannot
be replaced in less than three generations; the sycamore at Mr.
Nevill's is already over a hundred years old; so near to Manchester, it
will probably be impossible ever to see the like of them again; let us
hope, then, that what remain will be cherished. Cut them down when they
become ruinous, if you will,--though nothing makes a more beautiful
ornament of true pleasure-grounds than the torso of an ancient tree
from which the living glory has departed,--but spare them as long
as vigorous life endures. So numerous are the lilacs, laburnums,
chestnuts, thorns, both white and red, and other gay-blossomed
contributors to this charming arboretum, that from the end of May till
the middle of June the road is one long flower-show. Before these
commence their gala, there are the apple and pear trees; earlier yet
the silver birches, covered with their pendent catkins; and in the
autumn we seem to have flowers over again in the scarlet berries of the
holly and mountain ash.

Not only is the road beautiful in itself, but to residents upon the
Greenheys and Chorlton side of the town, the opportunities which
it provides of access to scenes of rural beauty are peculiarly
advantageous. Stretford way, there is nothing worth mention till we
reach Dunham. There are plenty of quiet lanes, it is true, and the
farm-land is well cultivated; but in landscape, the whole of the great
plain intersected by the Bowdon Railway is totally and admittedly
deficient. With Didsbury, on the other hand, we enter a country fit
for a Linnell. We may turn down by the church to the river-side, and
follow the stream through pleasant fields to Northen; or we may push
forward another mile, cross the Mersey at Cheadle Bridge, and strike
into a scene of such singular and romantic beauty, and so thoroughly
unique in its composition, that we know of nothing in the neighbourhood
to liken it to. This is the place called "Gatley Carrs." It is easily
found. Immediately the bridge is crossed, take the broad path through
the meadow on the right, and look out for the chimney of Mr. Jowett's
corn-mill. Go through the mill-yard, and over the brook, then through
another field or two into a lane red with refuse from a tile-croft, and
in a little while there will be seen, again upon the right, a cluster
of cottages and barns. These surround a bit of sward called "Gatley
Green," which must be traversed, and after a hundred yards further
walk by a runnel of water, we have the Carrs straight before us. The
term "Carr" is of Gothic derivation, and denotes an expanse of level
land, near a river, covered with alders or other water-loving trees.
Such is the character of the scene here. An extensive and verdant
plain, smooth and level as a bowling-green, stretches from our feet
away to some undiscoverable boundary, its further portion covered with
tall poplars, entirely bare of branches for half their height, and
leafy only towards their summit, the trunks standing just near enough
together to form a grove of pillared foliage, and just far enough apart
for every tree to be seen in its integrity, and for the sunshine to
penetrate and illuminate every nook. They are not the kind of poplar
commonly understood by the name--the slender, spire-like tree, which is
quite exceptional even among poplars--but one of the species with ample
and spreading crowns. The number of trees is immense--at a rough guess,
perhaps a thousand. They were planted by the late Mr. Worthington,
of Sharston Hall; the timber, though almost useless to the joiner,
being well adapted for cutting into the thin, narrow strips called
"swords," upon which it is customary to fold silks. The path commanding
this beautiful view runs along the upper margin of the plain. It is
somewhat elevated above the grass, and keeps company with a stream, the
opposite bank of which rises still higher, and is covered with oaks
and ferns. The superiority of position thus afforded, though trifling,
gives to the plain the aspect of a vast amphitheatre, and so calm and
delicious is the whole scene, so tranquil and consecrated the look of
the untrodden wood, that it seems surely one of the sacred groves of
the Druids, and one can hardly think but that presently we shall see
the priests enter in grand procession, in their white robes and ancient
beards, and carrying the golden knife that is to sever the misletoe
bough. In the evening there come effects of yet rarer charm, for then
the declining sun casts long interlineations of shadow across the
level, and lights up every leaf from underneath.

The botany of the Carrs corresponds in extent with that of Mobberley,
though in many respects quite different. The greatest curiosity,
perhaps, is the toothwort, or _Lathræa_, that singular plant which,
disliking the solar ray, lives recluse in woods and groves, often
half-concealed in dead tree-leaves, and scarcely lifting its cadaverous
bloom above the surface. Here also grows the _Poa nemoralis_. The
meads yield occasional specimens of a pretty rose-coloured variety of
the creeping bugle, and are so rich in wild-flowers in general as to
form, along with the woods beside the stream, quite a natural botanic
garden. The further part of the wood, towards Sharston, is, no doubt,
the abode of many plants of interest, and only wants searching out. The
reputation of a given locality for rare plants comes not infrequently
of some one of ardour having gone to work upon it; innumerable places,
were they thoroughly explored, would rise from unimportance into fame.
Happily, as regards Gatley Carrs, Mr. Edward Stone, son of the able
and well-known chemist, whose collection, both of indigenous and exotic
plants, in his garden at Cheadle, has done so much good service to the
cause of botany, is devoting himself to the task.

The stream above-mentioned curves, after a little while, to the right,
and the path changes to the opposite side. It is at this point that
the extent of the wood is developed, and that we turn to go homewards.
If time permit, it is well to continue awhile along the middle path
in front, and visit first the Upper Carrs, which, as seen from the
terrace that runs all the way from Cheadle to Baguley, are remarkably
beautiful. The wood, as here disclosed, is full of invitation, and
where the branches stand asunder, we see great prairies, the green
grass all a-glow with red sorrel blossom, and dotted with islands of
radiant white, where that giant of field flowers, the great moon-daisy,
shows its pride. This noble ornament of our meadow-land, called on
the other side of the Tweed the "horse-gowan," is one of the class of
flowers called "compound," being made up of some hundreds of "florets"
or miniature flowers, enclosed in a kind of basket. An average specimen
has been found to contain five hundred and sixty, and a fine one no
fewer than eight hundred. The florets are disposed in exquisite curving
lines, exactly resembling the back of an engine-turned watch. What has
the ingenuity of man ever devised that has not its prototype somewhere
in nature? The chalice holding this remarkable flower is of the most
elegant construction, and in form like an acorn-cup. Moving on by the
brookside, after crossing it at the bridge, we soon enter a spacious
meadow upon the left, and find ourselves again in sight of the Mersey.
On the bank of the stream, just before quitting it, may be seen the
wild red-currant, making, with its neighbours, the wild raspberry
and the wood strawberry, a show of native fruits without parallel in
this neighbourhood. The meadow is of exuberant fertility, owing to
the annual flood from the river. Leaving it, we come next to a rising
ground, planted with white willows, and from this emerge into a lane,
and so over the brow of the hill to Northen churchyard. Northen, of
course, becomes a resting-place, and a very pleasant one it is. Both
church and churchyard deserve examination. The former contains a neat
monument to the memory of Mr. Worthington, the planter of the poplars
in the Carrs, and another with an epitaph attributed to the pen of
Alexander Pope.[12] Several pretty memorials of the dead occur likewise
among the tombstones outside. On one fragment there is seemingly
written with green moss, the graving in the stone being entirely filled
up with the plant--

  ANNE - DOVG
  HTAR - OF -
  HVMFREY - SA
  VAGE - DYED

On another are the following pretty lines:--

  The cup of life just with her lips she pressed,
  Found the taste bitter, and declined the rest;
  Averse then turning from the face of day,
  She softly sighed her little soul away.

From Northen to Manchester the ways are many. One is to walk two miles
and a half along the lanes to Sale Moor station; a second, to follow
the southern bank of the river to Jackson's boat; a third, is to cross
the fields into the Cheadle road, and catch the townwards omnibus,
a distance of less than a mile; and the last, to our own mind much
the pleasantest--first along the northern bank for about a mile, and
then across the fields towards Platt and Rusholme. The commencement
of the last-named is exceedingly delightful, the water flowing on
the left, woods and pastures upon the right, in the evening sweetly
enlivened by the cuckoo. Nothing in the year's round of pleasure is
more heart-soothing than an hour in these quiet fields immediately
after sunset, while it is too light for the stars, but the planets peer
forth in their beautiful lustre, and the darkness quickens our ears to
the slightest sound. The nightingale alone is wanting to complete the
effect, but we have no nightingales near Manchester. There is nothing
for them to eat, and they stay away. The bird sometimes mistaken for
the nightingale, from its singing at the same hours, and running
through a variety of notes, is the sedge-warbler.

Enjoying this sweet neighbourhood in early summer, and while it is
yet broad day, one can hardly fail to notice the tribe of _grasses_,
at least up to the time of haymaking. No fewer than sixty-three
different kinds may be collected about Manchester, and fully a third of
these in the meadows. The remainder are inhabitants of the woods and
ponds, while a few grow exclusively upon the moors. Attaining their
perfection in May and June, easily collected, and not withering on
the way home, the grasses are the very best plants to begin with in
forming a collection of dried flowers. We have spoken before of the
pleasure that attends this pursuit: the utility, to any one who takes
the slightest interest in nature, is quite upon a par. How pleasant at
Christmas to turn over the pages of one's _Hortus Siccus_, freshening
our remembrance alike of the beautiful and diversified shapes of the
plants, and of the days and scenes where they were gathered! A more
interesting or instructive pursuit for a young person, of either sex,
than to set about collecting specimens of the grasses, ferns, and
wild-flowers in general, that they meet with in their country walks, is
in truth scarcely to be found. The attraction it gives to the country
is prodigious, and surely it is more sensible when out in the fields
thus to employ one's self than to wander along listlessly for want
of an object, and perhaps get into mischief. The method to pursue is
exceedingly simple. First get together a quantity of old newspapers,
and fold them to about eighteen inches square. Then buy a few quires of
Bentall's botanical drying paper, and procure also three or four pieces
of stout millboard. Such is the apparatus; nothing more is wanted;
and next we must gather our specimens, selecting, to begin with, such
as are of slender make and comparatively juiceless texture. Pieces of
about a foot long are large enough, but if the plant be less than ten
or twelve inches in height, it should be taken root and all. Having the
boards and papers in readiness, lay one of the former as a foundation,
and to serve as a tray; upon this place a folded newspaper, and upon
this a sheet of Bentall, and then the specimen intended to be dried.
Over the specimen should come a second sheet of Bentall, then another
newspaper, and so on till the whole collecting is deposited. All being
in order, it remains only to place a heavy weight upon the top of the
pile, so as to press the plants flat, and prevent the air entering to
shrivel them. The easiest weights to use are common red bricks, but,
as bricks look untidy in a parlour, and are unpleasant to handle in
their naked state, they should be tied up neatly and separately in
smooth brown paper, and then not the most fastidious or weak-fingered
can object to them. In this condition the pile should be left till
the next day, when it should be turned over, layer by layer, and the
specimens transferred into dry Bentall. The newspapers need not be
changed unless the plants are succulent ones, and their moisture has
penetrated. The weight should then be replaced, and the pile again be
left to itself for three or four days, when the specimens will be found
perfectly dry, their forms scarcely altered, and their colours, except
in special cases, almost as bright as when growing. For very delicate
plants, instead of Bentall, it is best to use sheets of clean white
cotton-wadding, with tissue paper, to prevent the specimens clinging
to the cotton when of adhesive nature. When quite deprived of their
juices, the specimens should be transferred into sheets of white paper,
and neatly fastened down, not with gum arabic, which is apt to smear
and look untidy, but with a solution of caoutchouc in naphtha, sold in
the shops under the name of "indiarubber cement." The great advantage
of this is that if any should exude from below the specimen, it may,
when dry, be rubbed off like a pencil mark. The name of the plant, and
the date and place where gathered, should be written underneath. Giving
a summer to the work, it is surprising how soon a large and beautiful
collection of plants will accumulate, and how rapidly we feel ourselves
progressing in botanical knowledge. Taking ordinary care, there is
no reason why plants should not look nearly as green and pretty when
dried as when living. If an herbarium be only a heap of Latin hay,
as sometimes happens, it is not that the art of preserving plants is
deceptive, but that the collector has been clumsy or neglectful. Nor
are dried plants, as some esteem them, mere vegetable mummies, wretched
corpses devoid of all instructiveness or value, for they are far more
lively than drawings, and answer all our questions with readiness. Many
good botanists, it is true, have done without such collections, showing
that they are by no means indispensable to the study of botany. But
none who have taken the trouble to form them ever regret it, while all
confess their inestimable service. Even if the herbarium served no
scientific purpose whatever, there is always the pleasure of finding in
it a garden all the year round.

  Here spring perpetual leads the laughing hours,
  And winter wears a wreath of summer flowers.

_Viâ_ Northen is the pleasantest route to the beautiful district of
which the centre is Wythenshawe Hall, a remarkably fine building of
the time of James the First, and at present the seat of Mr. Thomas
Wm. Tatton. It is approached through a piece of ground called the
"Saxfield," upon which tradition says there was once a terrible fight
between Saxons and Danes; old maps mark the place with crossed swords.
We have not much of historical interest pertaining to the neighbourhood
of Manchester, but what there is seems to concentrate about Northen.
The Pretender, Prince Charles Edward, crossed the river in 1745, at a
place not very far below Cheadle Bridge, and it is curious that the
Prince Consort's visit, in 1857, when he came to open the Art-Treasures
Exhibition at Old Trafford, should have been made by way of the very
bridge alluded to. In 1644 Wythenshawe was besieged by a party of
Cromwell's soldiers, who planted a battery on the side overlooking
Northen, and threw many cannon-shots against the house. During some
alterations in the garden a few years since, and the conversion of a
pond-bottom into flower-beds, several of the balls were found; and
another, which entered by the drawing-room window, and smashed the
wood-carving on the opposite wall, is shown to visitors privileged to
view this beautiful hall. The carving was not replaced, so that the
blank space preserves a distinct memorial of the attack. The siege
was conducted by the celebrated Colonel Robert Dukenfield, the most
conspicuous soldier, after Sir William Brereton, in the Cheshire
history of the Civil War. It occupied some time, and was only brought
to a close by getting two pieces of ordnance from Manchester, the same
probably from which the balls above alluded to were discharged. During
its progress, one of the maid-servants inside, for her amusement, took
aim with a musket at an officer of the Parliamentary forces, who was
carelessly lounging about, and managed to kill him. He is supposed to
have been the "Captayne Adams," stated in the Stockport register of
burials to have been "slayne at Withenshawe, on Sunday, the 25th." In
the course of alterations in the grounds during the last century, six
skeletons were discovered. They were lying close together, and are
reasonably supposed to have been those of soldiers who perished during
the siege. Cromwell afterwards stayed at the hall, and slept in a room
still called, from his occupation of it, "Oliver Cromwell's room." The
bed, which is dated 1619, is of elegantly carved wood, the furniture
and mirrors matching it, and of the same age. The wood-carving at Lyme
Hall is usually considered to show the best local work of the period,
but that at Wythenshawe, in the opinion of many, is still finer. The
gardens surrounding the hall are full of curious trees, many of them
remarkably good and shapely specimens, especially an _Arbor vitæ_,
consisting of a tall green pyramid, surrounded by minarets, like a
spire with pinnacles round the base, and exquisitely beautiful when
swayed slopingly by the wind. In 1858 there sprang up in a piece of
newly-turned land at the back of the hall, many hundreds of the _Rumex
sanguineus_, its large oval light-green leaves traced and pencilled in
every direction with the richest crimson. The ordinary green-juiced
form of the plant is common enough, but the crimson-juiced is one of
the rarities of our Flora.

Further again, for those who care for rural pleasures and the legacies
of the past, there is the interesting district of Baguley and its old
hall. Only one large apartment of the latter remains, the greater
portion of the structure having, at some remote period, been destroyed
by fire; the buildings which surround and prop up the ancient piece
are comparatively new. Baguley Old Hall is well worth a visit, and
may be reached, if more convenient to excursionists, by way of Sale
Moor station, and a walk of two or three miles along the lanes. In
the interior, it will be observed that the doorways are formed of
oaken boughs that were curved at one extremity, so that when sliced
and reared on end, with the curved portions directed one towards the
other, they would form arches. These arches are exceedingly curious,
and, along with the numerous armorial bearings, form quite a noticeable
feature of the place. A walk across a few fields leads to Baguley
Mill. The lanes are full of fragrant roses; the high hedges shelter
innumerable veronicas; and by the sides of the little water-courses,
close to the mill, grows abundance of the hart's-tongue fern. To
attempt the whole in the space of a single afternoon, of course is
not practicable, especially if one is verging towards that inexorable
period of life when gravitation begins to get the better of a man
sooner than he has been accustomed to; nor is it intended to recommend
so much. Gatley Carrs suffice for one walk; the immediate neighbourhood
of Northen and the river-banks provide another; and Baguley _viâ_
Sale will pleasantly supply objects for a third. There is a fourth,
moreover, well commenced at Didsbury, but keeping in the direction of
Chorlton-cum-Hardy, so as eventually to reach Barlow Hall, the local
residence of Mr. William Cunliffe Brooks. The archæological interest
of Barlow Hall we have not room here to enlarge upon. It must suffice
to invite attention to Mr. Letherbrow's beautiful etching of the best
fragment in preservation, the period of which is believed to be that
of the reign of Henry VIII., when the hall was occupied by the very
ancient and historical family of de Barlow, allied by marriage to the
still more celebrated Stanleys, as shown by the heraldry of the window.

[Illustration: Barlow Hall.]

No chapter of the original little volume of 1858 calls for so many
obituary notices, now in 1882, as this one descriptive of Gatley Carrs.
The magnificent, not to say unique, Didsbury sycamore was cut down a
year or two after the publication. The great horse-chestnut, near
Singleton has disappeared.[13] Mr. Callender died in 1872. Mr. Stone,
sen., is also "with the majority," and the Carrs themselves no longer
deserve the ancient appellation, having been crossed by a railway
embankment. A good deal remains no doubt that is pretty and pleasing,
but the picture drawn above exists no longer. That a locality once so
beautiful should have been thus rudely dealt with is unfortunate, few
will deny. But nothing that contributes to the prosperity of a great
nation, or to the public welfare, is at any time to be deplored. Such
changes simply illustrate anew the primæval law that great purposes
shall always demand some kind of sacrifice.

[Illustration]

Footnotes

[12: The epitaph, Mr. Kelly kindly points out to me, is
veritably Pope's, but was originally written for the Hon. Robt. Digby
and his sister Mary. It was altered and abridged to suit the monument
which now bears it,--one to the memory of the Hon. Penelope Ducie
Tatton, who died Jan. 31, 1747.]

[13: It may be well to say that this grand old tree stood
by the lodge gates of Polefield Hall, a few hundred yards through
the village of Holyrood, or Rooden Lane, on the right towards
Besses-o'-th'-Barn. Unlike the Didsbury sycamore, which was in the prime
of its princely life, the Singleton horse-chestnut had become decrepid,
and during the rigour of the winters beginning in 1878 received
injuries from which it could not possibly recover.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER VI.

BY THE NORTH-WESTERN LINE THROUGH STOCKPORT.

  Oh, my lord, lie not idle:
  The chiefest action for a man of great spirit
  Is never to be out of action. We should think
  The soul was never put into the body,
  Which has so many rare and curious pieces
  Of mathematical motion, to stand still.

WEBSTER.


Before the opening of the "Manchester and Birmingham"--a title
now forgotten, the line having been absorbed into the London and
North-Western--the road through Rusholme, Didsbury, and Cheadle was
the accustomed highway to Congleton, _viâ_ Wilmslow, to which latter
place the hand still points at certain corners within a mile or two of
All Saints' Church. The Cheadle people occasionally made use of it for
pic-nic carriage parties to a fir-crowned steep just beyond Chorley,
a wilderness scarcely inhabited, and, save for its checking the speed
of travellers from Knutsford to Macclesfield, scarcely recognized in
the local geography. How vast the revolution promoted in 1842! The
wilderness soon became decked with mansions and gardens; it blossomed
as the rose; and "Alderley Edge" is now little less than a suburb of
Manchester.

The old carriage-way being superseded by the rail, and much that is
delightful being reached by train long before getting to Alderley, we
will now accordingly make new departure for fair Cheshire by way of
Stockport. Arrived at Wilmslow the old-fashioned, the Bollin reappears,
this particular point being in truth the head of the valley through
which the stream, as before-mentioned, pursues its sinuous and rapid
course to Ashley. The country upon the right is full of quiet lanes and
pretty meadows, none of which are more pleasing than those containing
the path to the margin of Norcliffe. If permission can be obtained to
visit the glen _ipsissima_, they are like the vestibule of a temple.
Norcliffe was laid out in 1830 by the late Mr. R. H. Greg. Selecting
everything that he planted with consummate taste and judgment, the
slopes are rich with trees which in point of value and variety have no
equal in this part of England. Beautiful from the first, the scene at
the present moment is more charming than ever before; for tree-planting
is one of those essentially noble and generous works the glory of which
a man can rarely expect to see unfolded in his own life-time:--like a
great poem, it reaches afar, and covers the generations that succeed.
The very striking feature of Norcliffe, the main and characteristic
one, consists in the profusion of the Conifers. The pine, the fir, the
cedar, in their many and always princely forms, are represented in
this delicious spot by upwards of forty species and varieties, many of
them having very numerous examples, all presenting, in the best manner,
the symmetrical outlines so remarkable in coniferous trees, and holding
positions with regard to their immediate neighbours such as awaken the
most agreeable ideas of harmony. There is no taller Deodara in the
neighbourhood than one of the specimens near the lawn, nor is there
anywhere in this neighbourhood a more comely Norway spruce, the top
already seventy feet above the turf, and covered annually with cones,
which the squirrels are glad of, the spring never finding one that the
little creatures have overlooked.

Norcliffe is equally remarkable in respect of its rhododendrons, the
purple splendour, early in June, tossed up like a floral surf. These
last, being like the conifers, evergreens, Norcliffe, if nothing
else, is a place of perennial verdure. Almost, as on the banks of old
Clitumnus--

  Hic ver assiduum, atque alienis mensibus æstas!

The walk through the sylvan part of the glen, tortuous, and rarely on
level ground, brings many beautiful wild-flowers into view. Here, in
the month of May, is the wood-millet--lightest and daintiest, after
the Briza, of our native grasses--and yet more plentifully the sweet
woodruff, holding up in every corner its little handfuls of snow-white
crosses. Access to Norcliffe,--the grounds being strictly and in every
portion private,--is, of course, only by favour. But the honoured
name of Greg has always been a synonym for liberality, and leave to
enter when properly sought is not likely to be refused. The same may
be said of the picturesque and delightful grounds, a mile further
down the valley, which appertain to Oversley Lodge, the residence of
Mr. Arthur Greg. The treat here is the wilderness-walk, a portion of
which was cut only in 1881, along the side of the principal cliff.
During the progress of the clearing a new locality was found for the
true-love.[14] So certain is the reward, not only in important shape,
but in little and unexpected ways, of every man who first makes a path
through the forest, whether with the axe or with the more subtle tools
that are not wrought upon human forges. Spring is the time, above all
others, if it can be managed, for these beautiful Oversley woods; for
then we have the opening green leaves in a thousand artistic forms,
and in endless shades; the violets also, and the satin-flower; and,
full of promise, the so-comfortably-wrapped-up ferns that in September
will show how nature revels in transformations. The Oversley woods
abut very closely upon Cotterill, approaching which place there is
scenery not inferior in its modest and singular sweetness to that of
the vicinity of Castle Mill. The public approach is from Wilmslow,
treading first the western margin of Lindow Common, then going through
various lanes, and in front of "Dooley's farm." The greensward portion
of the country now soon entered is generally distinguished by the name
of the Morley Meadows, and the sylvan part by the somewhat odd title
of "Hanging-banks Wood." The phrase is designed, it would seem, to
convey an idea analogous to that involved in the name of the famous
"Hanging-gardens" of ancient Babylon, signifying terraces of wood and
blossom disposed in parallel order upon some gentle slope. This is
the part of the Bollin valley referred to in an early chapter (p. 27)
as the asylum, it is to be hoped indefinitely, of the primrose. Here,
too, Ophelia's "long-purples" live again, while under the shadow of
the trees we descry her "nettles," those beautiful golden yellow ones
that do not sting, and which blend so perfectly with the orchis and the
crow-flower. One fears almost to descend to the edge of the stream, for
willows are there that grow "aslant," and that have "envious slivers"
as of old. Once in these lovely meadows it is easy to find the way
into the lower Bollin valley, and thence to Ashley and Bowdon. But
the double walk is rather long, and prudence says return to Wilmslow.
Norcliffe and Oversley, it should be added, are reached as regards
carriage-way, by a nearly straight road from Handforth.

Lindow Common, famed from time immemorial for its bracing air, extends
from Wilmslow to Brook Lane. There is nothing particular to be seen
upon it, except by the naturalist, who, in one part or another, finds
abundance to give him pleasure. The locality is remarkable alike for
its sundews and the profusion of wild bees; it is one of the best known
to entomologists for the class Andrenidæ.

Women, it has been remarked, need no eulogy, since they speak for
themselves. Something similar, descriptively, might be said of Alderley
Edge. Whatever smoke-engendered thoughts may occupy the mind for
twenty minutes after contemplating Stockport, they are effectually
dispelled by the sight of the piny hill, a medley of nature and art,
that shows so proudly in front as soon as the train crosses the Bollin.
A grand undulating mass of sandstone, rising boldly out of the plain,
of considerable elevation,--the highest point being six hundred and
fifty feet above the sea,--and, reckoning to the out-of-sight portion
which overlooks Bollington, quite two miles in length, must needs be
impressive. Alderley gathers charm also from its great smooth slants
of green, rough and projecting rocks, and trees innumerable, three
or four aged and wind-beaten firs upon the tip-top, giving admirable
accentuation. Every portion in view from the railway is accessible
by paths, usually easy, these introducing us to many a deep and
sequestered glade that in autumn is crowded with ferns, or leading to
the crest of the hill, the views from which compensate all possible
fatigue of climbing. The simplest route to follow is that by the old
road running to Macclesfield. From the lower part of this we may take
one of the bye-roads that lie to the left, and thus get eventually
to the somewhat rough and scrambling, but still quite practicable
and pleasant, track which leads along the face of the great westward
incline. This huge slope, called the "Hough," may be ascended also
from beneath, keeping along the foot for about a mile, then turning
up through a field. Green shades and leafy labyrinths here tempt to
a never-slackening onward movement, especially in that part where a
great curve in the mountain-mass gives rise to a kind of bay, grassy
always, and that in spring teems with anemones. The prospect from the
Hough is everywhere magnificent, extending to Delamere Forest and the
Overton hills, which, like Coniston "alt maen," have a profile never
doubtful. The intermediate broad, flat space is the now familiar North
Cheshire plain. Should a canopy of smoke be distinguishable, it will
indicate Manchester. To enjoy this wonderful prospect perfectly, it
is best to adventure to the edge of "Stormy Point," or the Holywell
Rock--that noted crag which, in case of need, would serve well for a
new Tarpeian. Another quite different way to the top of the Edge is to
proceed a short distance along the Congleton road, or that which leads,
in the first instance, towards old Alderley village; then to turn up
a lane upon the left, which, passing through a grove of fir-trees,
terminates in the Macclesfield road, near the "Wizard." It is behind
this noted hostelry, commemorative in its name of the local legend,
that the sylvan loveliness of Alderley Edge is felt most exquisitely,
nature seeming here to have been left more to her own sweet wantonness;
while the views, extending now over a totally different country, hills
instead of a plain, add to our previous enjoyments the always welcome
one of surprise. Curling round this glorious promontory, we gradually
progress towards the "Beacon," the highest point, and in a few
minutes, descending thence, are once again in the public thoroughfare.

Alderley Park, the seat of Lord Stanley, lies near the village, upon
the left of the turnpike road. Strangers very rarely enter the gates.
The wonder to those who do is that so little should have been made of
natural advantages scarcely excelled anywhere in Cheshire. The best
features are the magnificent beech-trees and the sheet of ornamental
water, called Radnor Mere, upon the margins of which grow two of the
most interesting of the British sedges, the _Carex ampullacea_ and the
_Carex vesicaria_. The gardens have long been noted for their mulberry
trees.

Beyond this again is Birtles, the neighbourhood of which supplies a
very pleasant walk. Mounting the hill on the southern side, or where
the latter gently melts away into the level, the road in question
leads eventually to the "Wizard," at which point, if more convenient,
the walk may be commenced. If begun at the base, we turn up by the
four-armed guide-post, a little beyond Alderley church. The walk is
somewhat long, therefore better deferred till winter, selecting a day
when the frost is keen and the atmosphere bracing. A winter forenoon,
when the atmosphere is motionless, and icicles hang from the little
arches that bridge the water-courses, is every bit as enjoyable as the
most brilliant of summer evenings, let only the heart be alive and the
eyes trained to seeing. Over and above the rich healthfulness of this
Birtles walk, all the way up to the crown of the Edge, and round about
amid the trees in winter, for the artist of pre-Raphael vision, there
is bijouterie;--the chaste and tender arabesque given to rock and aged
bough by green moss and grey and golden lichen, gems of nature that
when the trees are leafy are apt to be skipped, but when all else is
cold and bare, like faithful affection, "make glad the solitary place."

Between Alderley and Chelford, pushing still further along the
Congleton road, we find yet another of the Cheshire meres, this one,
in itself in the time of water-lilies, worth all the travel. Reeds
Mere, famous in local fairy tale, is to the painter and the poet, when
the lilies are out, a floral Venice. Virtually, it is in Capesthorne
Park, the seat of one of the younger branches of the very ancient
Davenport family. To get to the water's edge, if time be short, the
nearest point to start from is Chelford, but the road above indicated
is so charmingly wooded, that not to go that way is distinctly a loss.
Chelford village may be reached by a field walk, commenced first below
Alderley church, crossing the meadow slantwise and leftwards, and so
past Heywood Hall, going presently through a plantation of Scotch firs.
Hard by there is another charming seat, with spacious park, rare trees,
and ornamental water--Astle Hall, the residence of Captain Dixon. In
the grounds we are reminded of Norcliffe, for here, too, is shown the
love of Conifers which always indicates good taste.

[Illustration]

Footnote

[14: See above, page 36.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER VII.

BEESTON CASTLE.


  This castle hath a pleasant seat; the air
  Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
  Unto our gentle senses.
    This guest of summer,
  The temple-haunting martlet, doth approve
  By his lov'd mansionry, that the heavens' breath
  Smells wooingly here.

SHAKSPEARE.


When for our country pleasure an entire day can be commanded, Crewe,
ten or twelve miles from Chelford, and thirty-one from Manchester,
marks the way to Combermere Abbey and Beeston Castle--places alike of
singular interest, though of totally different character. To reach
Combermere, it is needful to continue a little distance along the line
which diverges from Crewe for Shrewsbury, booking to and alighting
at Wrenbury. Two or three different routes may be taken thence, in
any case by pleasant fields and lanes not difficult to discover. The
shortest way is to go first across Mr. Wilson's broad acres of model
farm-land, cereals right and left; then along a lane with a mill-pond
upon the left; then through a corridor of trees upon the right, the
floor, green as their boughs, bordered like a missal, shortly after
issuing from which we arrive at the beautiful water referred to in
the Abbey name. More than a mile in length, covering one hundred and
thirty-two acres, and much too irregular in outline to be seen at
once in its full extent, Combermere, with its adjacent woods, yields
as a picture only to Rostherne. The paths in every direction are full
of landscape. Though the country is flat, we do not perceive it to
be so, and what may be wanting in grandeur, is found in tranquillity
and repose. The mansion, of which there is an admirable view across
the mere, occupies the site of the ancient monastery--a Benedictine,
founded in 1133. Strictly modern, plain and substantial, there is
nothing about the exterior to preserve the memory of monastic times;
inside, however, old and new are let shake hands, the library being
an adaptation of the ancient refectory. The walls, the galleries, and
the principal apartments contain great store of Indian trophies and
curiosities, brought home by the renowned Sir Stapleton-Cotton, whose
bravery in the Peninsular War, and afterwards at the siege and capture
of Bhurtpore, gained for him the title first of Baron, and then of
Viscount, now held by the Lord Combermere, his son.

A similar short ride from Crewe, now by the line which continues to
Chester, conveys us to Beeston, the walk from which station to the
castle, occupying less than half an hour, is again by lanes and
fields. Lancaster Castle, excepting its incomparable gateway-tower, and
a small portion inside, has been so much altered in order to adapt it
for modern uses, that the past is lost in the present. Clitheroe Castle
is all gone, excepting the keep. Beeston, happily, though itself only
a relic, has suffered nothing at the hands of the modern architect.
Even time seems to look on it leniently. As a memorial of the feudal
ages, it is in our own part of England supreme and uncontested, and
in any case one of the most charming resorts within the distance for
all in Manchester who care for the majestic, the antique, and the
picturesque. This famous and far-seen ruin is seated upon the brow of
a mighty rock, which, rising out of the meadows on the eastern side by
a regular and at first easy, but afterwards somewhat steep incline,
terminates, on the western side, in an abrupt and absolutely vertical
precipice, the brink of which is three hundred and sixty-six feet
above the level of the base, or of almost precisely the elevation of
the High Tor at Matlock, and of the loftier parts of St. Vincent's.
Hence, in the distance, viewed sideways, as for example, from Alderley
Edge, the outline is exactly that of a cone-shaped mountain toppled
over and lying prostrate. The broad green slope, dry and velvety,
furnishes an unsurpassed natural lawn for rest and pic-nic. Mounting it
to the summit, the ruins, which now consist chiefly of ivied bastions,
tower above our heads with an inexpressible and mournful grandeur that
recalls the story of Caractacus in the streets of ancient Rome. The
mind runs back to the time when the walls were alive with armed men,
and shouts rose from the turrets, now discrowned. Not that the castle
was ever actually assaulted, for a glance at the entrance is enough
to convince any one that as a military post in the feudal times it
was impregnable. Of military incidents connected with Beeston, there
is indeed no record whatever. All that history has to tell is of one
or two changes in the holding, brought about by treachery or want of
vigilance. But from the time of the building, in 1220, by Randulph de
Blondeville, sixth Earl of Chester, on his return from Palestine, there
can be no doubt that for four centuries the old castle was the scene of
much that was imposing.

Everything has vanished now, and for ever. Up on that wonderful crag
to-day, where the scene is so still, and the "heavens' breath smells
wooingly," we feel far more profoundly than in streets and cities,
how grateful is the dominion of peace compared with the turbulence
of war. For, looking over the westward parapet, at our feet is Vale
Royal, a warm and smiling plain that stretches, literally, to the rim
of the landscape. Randulph looked upon those far away Welsh mountains,
the Frodsham hills, the estuaries of the Dee and the Mersey, all so
beautiful as ingredients in the magnificent prospect. To-day we have
that which he did _not_ see, and probably never imagined. Scattered
over this glorious map are villages, homesteads, orchards, gardens
innumerable; the vast breadth of bright emerald and sunny pasture
laced with hedgerows that in spring are blossom-dappled, and streams,
of which, although so distant, we get twinkling glimpses among the
leafage. If it be autumn, the scene is chequered with the hues of
harvest, every field plainly distinguishable, for one of the peculiar
charms of the view from Beeston Castle rock, granting a favourable day,
with lucid atmosphere, is that while the country is brimful, every
element is well-defined. Later still, we may watch October winding its
tinted way through the green summer of the reluctant trees;--this, no
doubt, it did just in the same sweet old amber-sandalled fashion five
centuries ago, but the trees did not then, as now, cast their shadows
upon liberty and civilisation. Two periods there are when Beeston calls
upon us to remember, with a sigh, that there are forms of beauty in
the world in which we may not hope to revel many times, perhaps, in
their perfection, not more than once or twice. One is mid-winter, when
in the great hush of the virgin snow the landscape becomes a world
carved in spotless marble; the other, when the corn is waiting the
sickle, and the vast plain is steeped in sunset such as August only
witnesses. Watched from this tall rock, the wind-sculptured clouds
that an hour before were glistening pearl slowly change to purple
mountains, while the molten gold boils up above their brows; these go,
and by and by there are left only bars of delicate rose, and veils
of fading asphodel, and at last we are with old Homer and the camp
before Troy, "when the stars are seen round the bright moon, and the
air is breathless, and all beacons, and lofty summits, and forests
appear, and the shepherd is delighted in his mind."[15] So that, adding
all together, the value of the grand old stronghold has in no wise
died out, but only taken another shape. Instead of inspiring awe and
terror, it supplies the heart with noble enjoyments, and with new and
animating incentives to seek the rewards that attend love of the pure
and beautiful.

When at Beeston, on descending from the castle, we visit, as a matter
of course, Peckforton, a mile beyond, the residence of Lord Tollemache.

This splendid edifice restores, in the finest possible manner, the
irregular Norman style of architecture prevalent in the reign of Edward
I. Occupying a space of not less than nine thousand square yards, and
not more remarkable for the superb proportions than for the perfect
finish of every part, in Cheshire it has no equal. Peckforton has
peculiar interest also in the circumstance of the walls being entirely
devoid of paint and paper, thus presenting a contrast to the dressed
surfaces favoured in modern times that for the moment is overwhelming.
The hill upon which it stands is covered with natural wood, and in
the remote parts gives way to heathery wilderness. To pursue this for
any considerable distance, when half the day has already been given
to Beeston, of course is not possible. Begun early enough, we find it
almost continuous with the heights reached by way of Broxton.

After the bastions and the gateway of Beeston Castle, the curiosity of
the place is the ancient well, sunk through the rock to Beeston Brook,
a depth of three hundred and seventy feet, but now quite dry. A trayful
of lighted candles is let down by a windlass for the entertainment of
visitors who care to see the light diminish to a speck. On the way to
Peckforton, it must not be overlooked, either, that in a pretty garden
upon the right will be found Horsley Bath, limpid water perpetually
running out of the rock, and in restorative powers, if the legends be
true, a genuine "fountain of rejuvenescence."

[Illustration]

Footnote

[15: _Iliad_, Book viii., at the end, thus gloriously
rendered by the most spirited and poetical, if somewhat rugged, of his
translators, Chapman, A.D. 1596:--

  And spent all night in the open field, fires round about them shined,
  As when about the silver moon, when air is free from wind,
  And stars shine clear, to whose sweet beams, high prospects,
    and the brows
  Of all steep hills and pinnacles, thrust themselves up for shows,
  And even the lowly valleys joy, to glitter in their sight,
  When the unmeasured firmament bursts to disclose her light,
  And all the signs in heaven are seen that glad the shepherd's heart.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER VIII.

THE REDDISH VALLEY AND ARDEN (OR HARDEN) HALL.


  What exhibitions various hath the world
  Witness'd of mutability in all
  That we account most durable below!
  Change is the diet on which all subsist,
  Created changeable, and change at last
  Destroys them.

COWPER.


It speaks not a little for the vigorous and buoyant life of the
immediate neighbourhood of our town that so few examples are to be met
with of decay and ruin. Turn whichever way we will, we find new houses,
new factories, new enterprises, but scarcely an instance of wasting
away and dilapidation. The nearest important relic of the feudal
times is Beeston Castle, just described; and the nearest memorial and
sepulchre of those brave, good men who, while the rulers of our country
were fighting and oppressing, conserved within the convent walls
learning, religion, charity, and a hundred other things that kept the
national civilisation moving until the aurora of the Reformation, is
Whalley Abbey, also more than thirty miles away. Excepting a few old
houses of little significance, everything about us is intact, occupied
usefully, and a fine testimony to the intelligence and the energy of
the province. Let a stranger visit any part of the country within the
radius indicated, and he will feel that he is in a place where life
is concentrated: everything bespeaks nerve; whatever has died seems
to have been succeeded on the instant by a more powerful thing. Like
a laurel-tree, we are dressed in this district in the foliage of
perennial and vehement vitality; while there is plenty of solid stem to
mark honourable antiquity, the leaves that have gone have but made way
for new and larger ones.

These reflections have been suggested by a visit to Arden Hall, the
solitary exception to the strong, unyielding life of the vicinity. Upon
this account alone it is a place of interest. The situation, also,
is one of the most delightful ever selected for a country residence.
The locality may be described, in general terms, as on the Cheshire
bank of the river Tame, about half-way between Stockport and Hyde.
The Tame separates Lancashire from that odd bit of Cheshire which,
running up in a kind of peninsula at its north-east corner, terminates
with Mossley and Tintwistle, the Etherowe forming its boundary on the
opposite side, and dividing it from Derbyshire. Few would suppose it
possible, but the county of Cheshire is at this point scarcely more
than two miles across! The ruin itself is easily found, the way to it
being by Levenshulme and Reddish,[16] inquiring there for the Reddish
paper-mills, which lie in the valley on the Lancashire side of the
river, and are approached by a steep descent, with beautiful views of
the surrounding country in front and upon the left. Crossing the river
by the mills, mounting the hill, going through a few fields and a grove
of trees, right before us, sooner than expected, stands the hall, a
large, tall square building of grey stone. At first sight, it appears
to be in tolerable preservation. The remains of the old sun-dial are
still visible, the diamonded casements of some of the windows are
perfect, and the exterior generally is undefaced. But the illusion
soon passes away. Penetrating to the inside, the great hall--a noble
apartment, some eleven yards by eight--is found heaped with rubbish
and fallen beams; the ceiling, once ornamented with pendent points,
is all gone, except a small portion in one corner; it seems a wonder
that the roof still cares to stay. A slender turret, rising above the
rest of the fabric, includes a circular staircase, leading to the
gallery of the upper floor. Here the diamonded casements reappear,
looking full into the western sky, and over the trees and river winding
at the foot of the steep; and here we discover the loveliness of the
site. Abundantly wooded, strewn with fertile meads, and opening out in
every direction pretty views of distant hills, with yet more distant
ones peeping over their shoulders, there is not a more picturesque
valley east of Manchester, that is to say, not until we are fairly
into Derbyshire, than is spread before the windows of forsaken Arden.
There is not a spot upon its slopes where we may not pause and admire,
and wish for our friends. As at Beeston, the mind quickly travels back
to the lang syne. Out of those windows, through the open casements,
how often have the eyes of fair girls gazed, in sweet summer evenings,
long and peacefully, upon the woods and winding water, and painted
sunset, one generation after another, all gone now, their ancient home
crumbling to dust--but the woods and winding water and sunset the same.
The poets talk of nature's sympathy with man; there is nothing so
marked as her lofty indifference to him.

Archæologically, Arden is interesting as a fine specimen of the
domestic architecture of the sixteenth century, and is remarkable
for its unusually large bay windows. The waterspouts are inscribed
1597. The history of the estate and its proprietors dates, however,
as far back as the time of King John, and though no direct evidence
is within reach, there is reason to believe that an earlier building
once stood near, and that the present ruin is the second hall. John
o' Gaunt is said to have been an inmate of the original. The family
history may be seen at length in Ormerod's "Cheshire," in the third
volume of which work, p. 399, is a drawing of the hall as it appeared
before relinquished to decay. Visitors to the Art-Treasures Exhibition
of 1857 will recollect Mr. C. H. Mitchell's pretty water-colour view
of the same place, and there are few, perhaps, of our local artists
who have not sketched it. It would appear from the date of Ormerod's
work (1819), where the hall is described as containing furniture and
paintings, that it has been deserted only since the death of George
III. Until recently one of its curiosities was a stone pulpit, in
which it is said Oliver Cromwell once preached. The rustic legend of
the place is that, once upon a time, long before powder and shot were
invented, there lived hereabouts a doughty baron. On the opposite side
of the valley was a similar castle, held by a rival baron, who returned
his neighbour's jealousy with interest. These two worthies used to
spend their time in shooting at one another with bows and arrows, till
at last, tired of long range, and such desultory warfare, the Baron of
Arden collected his dependents, dived down into the valley, scaled the
opposite heights, slaughtered his enemy, and so utterly demolished his
castle, that now not a vestige of it is discoverable.

There is generally some good foundation for such legends. Upon the
eastern side of the hall, some distance from the moat, traces of
ancient earthworks are discoverable, extending towards the present
"Castle-hill," and which probably protected some simple fortification.
Flint arrow-heads and other relics of primitive weapons found in the
soil of the adjacent fields sustain the conjecture, and in truth a
better seat for a manorial stronghold it would not be easy to select.
The appellation of the ancient fortress when superseded by a building
of more peaceful character, would naturally be transferred to the
latter, and after the lapse of a little time, nothing more than the
name would survive to tell the story. Originally it was Arderne, as
in the reference by Webb, in 1622, to another seat of the family, "A
fine house belonging to Henry Arderne, Esq." In any case, the prefix
of an _H_ appears to be erroneous, if nothing worse. The last of
this name was the Richard Pepper Arderne, born at the old hall, and
educated at the Manchester Grammar School, who in 1801, three years
before his death, was raised to the peerage, with the title of Baron
Alvanley. Arden Hall is not only remarkable in being built wholly of
stone, when so many other mansions of the period were timber, but in
the high-pitched roof of the tower--a feature rarely observable in such
edifices.

Leaving the hall, the road descends rapidly towards the river, here
crossed by a stone bridge, shortly before reaching which there are some
cottages upon the left. At one of these, with the name "Thomas Ingham"
over the door, a nice tea may be obtained. It is not a very attractive
place to look at, but the parlour (at the back) is as comfortable as
any lady could desire; the provision is excellent, the attendance
prompt and respectful, and the charge so moderate that it seems
wonderful how it can pay. Forget not that in visiting such places the
obligation is mutual. Excursionists have no sort of claim upon private
houses, and should be glad to recompense with liberality the kindly
willingness to accommodate, save for which they might have to plod for
miles hungry and tired. Tea disposed of, we have a walk homewards
even more pleasing than the first, by taking, that is, the contrary or
Lancashire side of the river, and thus passing through the very woods
admired an hour previously from the hall and the crest of the hill.
The way is first over the stone bridge, then for a little distance up
the hill, descending thence into the field-path, found by means of a
large circular brick structure in one of the meadows, seemingly the
ventilation mouth of a coal-mine. There is a path quite close to the
river, if preferred, entered almost immediately after crossing the
bridge, but the water after wet weather is apt to be disagreeable,
and in autumn there is a thick and laborious jungle of butter-bur
leaves. The hill-side at this point is decidedly the best place for
viewing the hall, which crowns the tall cliff immediately in front of
it. It is hard to think, as we contemplate its lovely adjuncts, how
so romantic a site could have been deserted. The woods hanging the
hill-sides with their beautiful tapestry, the river creeping quietly
in the bottom, but seen only in shining lakelets where the branches of
the trees disentangle themselves, and make a green lacework of light
twig and leaf, just dense enough to serve as a thin veil, and just open
enough to let the eye pierce it and be delighted; the perfect calm
of the whole scene, and the sweet allurement of the path with every
additional step, how came they to be ignored? Approaching Reddish the
woods are unfenced, and the path lies almost beneath the trees. At the
end of May these woods are suffused with the brightest blue in every
direction,--the bloom of the innumerable wild hyacinth, which clusters
here in great banks and masses, so close that the green of the foliage
is concealed. The ground being a slope, and viewed from below, the
effect is most singular and striking. Shakspeare speaks of "making the
green one red;" here we have literally the green made blue. In the same
woods grows the forget-me-not, in abundance only exceeded in the Morley
meadows. One might almost fancy that the nymphs of ancient poetry had
been transmigrated into these sweet turquoise-coloured flowers. Among
the specialities of the Reddish valley, mentioned before as eminently
rich in plants of interest, are the bird-cherry, _Prunus Padus_, and
that curious fern the _Lunaria_. The first is quite a different thing
from the ordinary wild cherry of Mobberley, Peover, Lymm, and the
Bollin valley, having long, pendulous clusters of white flowers, like
those of the laburnum, and with a smell of honey. It is seen not only
as a tree, but sometimes forms part of the hedges. The lunaria grows
in the meadows, and is in perfection about the end of May. In August
and September the river-banks here are gay also with the fine crimson
of the willow-herb, the young shoots of which, along with the flowers,
drawn through the half-closed hand, leave behind them a grateful smell
of baked apples and cream.

The upper portion of the valley, nearer Hyde, was very diligently
and successfully explored in 1840-42 by Mr. Joseph Sidebotham, then
resident at Apethorne,--a townsman whom we have not more reason to be
proud of as a naturalist of the most varied and accurate information,
and as one of the most scientific and successful prosecutors of
microscopical research, than as a singularly skilful artist in
photography, and this without letting the colours grow dry upon the
palette from which he has been accustomed to transfer them to coveted
drawings. It was Mr. Sidebotham who first drew the attention of
Manchester naturalists to the fresh-water algæ of our district, and
who principally determined their forms and numbers. He also it was
who collected the principal portion known up to 1858 of the local
_Diatomaceæ_. During the five or six years he devoted to the botany
of Bredbury, Reddish, and the banks of the Tame generally, he added no
fewer than twenty-five species to the Manchester Flora, many of them
belonging to the difficult genera _Rubus_ and _Carex_. His walks were
not often solitary. What a broiling day was that on which we first
gathered in the Reddish valley the great white cardamine!--what a sweet
forenoon that vernal one when we stood contemplating the thousand
anemones! Nature seems to delight again in _upsetting_ everything
human! One cannot even bestow a name, but she tries to undermine it.
No epithet is more appropriate, as a rule, to this most modest of the
anemone race, the wild English one, than its specific name, nemorosa,
"inhabiting the groves;"--every reader of classical verse recalls,
as the eye glides over the word, the _nemus_ which grew greener
wherever Phyllis set her foot in it. Giving her the least chance, see,
nevertheless, how the wayward lady to whom we owe everything, laughs
alike at ourselves and our nomenclature. We call the flower nemorosa,
conclude that all is settled, and straightway, as in that sweet and
still forenoon in the Reddish valley (1840), she flings it by handfuls
over the sward, and leaves the grove as she then left the Arden woods,
without a blossom and without a leaf. Similar curious departure from
the accustomed habitat of the wood-anemone has since been observed at
Cheadle and at Alderley.

No slight pleasure is it in connection with botany that plants and
events thus link themselves together, recalling whole days of tranquil
happiness spent with valued friends in the green fields. Associations
with trees and flowers seem almost inevitably pleasant and graceful
ones; at all events, we never hear of the reverse. When orators and
poets want objects for elegant simile and comparison, they find
trees and flowers supply them most readily; and, on the other hand,
how rarely are these beautiful productions of nature used for the
illustration of what is vicious and degrading, or in any way mixed
up with what is vile and disgraceful. Trees and flowers lead us, by
virtue of their kindly influences on the heart and the imagination, to
a disrelish and forgetfulness of the uncomely, and to think better of
everything around us; so that a walk in the fields, over and above its
invigorating and refreshing value, acts as a kindly little preacher,
and shows us that we may at all events read, if not

  _Honi soit qui mal y pense_, write,
  In emerald tufts, flowers purple, blue, and white.

The lapse of twenty-four years has not tended to improve the aspect of
the Reddish valley. The main features are the same, but the brightness
is sadly dimmed. Everything now, in 1882, illustrates the operation
of town smoke and hurtful vapours, not to mention the devastating
influences which come of human travel. The wild-flowers have shared
the fate of those in other suburban localities; the old hall has
sunk further towards decay; the Inghams, happily, are extant. Mr.
Sidebotham, for his own part, practices, amid the refinements of his
Bowdon home, all that he cultivated originally upon the banks of the
little river, and with the added success that arises upon unbroken
assiduity. He tells me now of his researches into the entomology of
Dunham Park, where not long ago, for one or two successive seasons, in
July, a curious beetle occurred in plenty, a fact immensely remarkable,
since only one other of its kind has ever been noticed elsewhere in
England, this upon an oak in Windsor Forest as far back as 1829! The
insect was first detected by Mr. Joseph Chappell, a working mechanic at
Sir Joseph Whitworth's, and one of the most careful observers of nature
now in our midst.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first photographs ever shown in Manchester were laid before a
meeting of the Literary and Philosophical Society by the late Mr. J.
E. Bowman, in November, 1838. I remember the occasion well, and the
interest taken in them by Dr. Dalton.

[Illustration]

[16: At which last-named place there is now also (1882) a
railway station.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER IX.

ALONG THE MACCLESFIELD LINE.


    It is fine
  To stand upon some lofty mountain-thought,
  And feel the spirit stretch into a view:
  To joy in what might be if will and power
  For good would work together but one hour.
  Yet millions never think a noble thought,
  But with brute hate of brightness bay a mind
  Which drives the darkness out of them, like hounds.

J. P. BAILEY.


Stockport, the uninviting, in whatever direction we look to escape from
it, is a point of rare value for departure for scenes of interest--this
mainly because of its standing on the threshold of the hills which a
little further on become members of the English Apennine,--the grand
range stretching from Derbyshire to the Cheviots. Soon after passing
Edgley, while the original line pursues its course to Wilmslow and
Alderley, great branches strike out upon the left, one primarily
for Macclesfield, the other for Disley and Buxton. Each in its turn
leads to scenes of delightful beauty, and that before the time of
railways were scarcely known. Alighting at Bramhall, we secure the
added pleasure of a visit to the very celebrated old hall of that
name--the most admirable example in our district of the "magpie" style
of architecture, and not more charming in its external features than
rich in interest within. The oldest portions date from soon after the
middle of the fourteenth century, and are thus as nearly as possible
contemporaneous as to period of building with the choir of York
Minster. These very aged portions are found chiefly in connection with
the entrance to the chapel. Massive beams and supports, hard as iron,
refusing the least dint of the knife, and presenting the peculiar
surface characteristic of the work of their time, attest very plainly
the profound significance of "heart of oak." Everything, moreover, in
this grand old place is so solidly laid together, so compactly and
impregnably knit, that it seems as if it would serve pretty nearly
for the base of another Eddystone or Cleopatra's needle. In the most
tempestuous of winter nights, Bramhall has never been known to flinch
a hair's breadth--so, at least, the late Colonel Davenport used to
assure his friends, the writer of these lines included. No portions of
the building appear to be of later date than the time of Elizabeth,
the domestic architecture of whose reign is nowhere in England better
interpreted. The situation of Bramhall is on a par with its artistic
qualities. No dull soul was it who more than five hundred years ago
selected for his abode the crest of that gentle declivity, trees
far and near, a stream gliding below, and views from the upper
windows that reach for many miles across the undulating and sweetly
variegated greensward. The romantic bit at present is the ravine hard
by, saturated in spring with tender wild-flowers, the wood-sorrel in
myriads.

Prestbury, a few miles beyond, also has great attractions for the
antiquary, the chancel and south aisle of the church being of about
A.D. 1130, while the school-house in the graveyard is entered by a
doorway with apparently Norman mouldings. The tower is about A.D. 1460.
If in search more particularly of rural pastime, we take the contrary
side of the line, and so through the lanes and fields to the delicious
Kerridge hills. Remarkable for their very sudden rise out of the
plain, these green and airy hills command views, like those obtained
at Alderley, of truly charming extent and variety. Tegsnose, at the
southern extremity, is thirteen hundred feet above the sea-level--the
little building just above Bollington, called "White Nancy," plainly
visible from the line near Wilmslow when the sunlight falls on it, is
nine hundred and thirty feet;--no wonder that from this last, since
there is nothing to intercept, the prospect in favourable weather
reaches to Liverpool, and even to the sweet wavy lavender upon the
horizon that indicates North Wales.

Bollington is now reached also by a line (part of the Manchester,
Sheffield, and Lincolnshire system,) which diverges for Macclesfield at
Woodley Junction. This perhaps gives nearer approach to the Kerridge
hills; in any case, it is the best to take for the extremely beautiful
adjacent neighbourhood, which for its little metropolis has the village
of Pott Shrigley. Before the opening of the line in question, the
station for this part was Adlington, on the London and North-Western.
Grand as the prospects have already been, above Pott Shrigley,
excepting only the "castled crag" at Beeston, all are surpassed. No
lover of the illimitable need go to Cumberland or Carnarvonshire for
a sight more glorious. Alderley Edge, rising out of the plain below,
seems only a mound. The plain itself stretches away far more remotely
than the eye can cover, no eminence of magnitude occurring nearer
than the Overton hills. The towers and spires of Bowdon and Dunham
are plainly distinguishable; and close by, in comparison, is the fine
western extremity of the Kerridge range, with "White Nancy,"--the hill
itself on which we stand, or rather seat ourselves, remembering the
picture in Milton,

    See how the bee,
  Sitting assiduous on the honeyed bloom,
  Sucks liquid sweet,

just such a one as suggested that other immortal portrait,

  Green, and of mild declivity, the last,
  As 'twere the cape of a long ridge of such,
  Save that there is no sea to lave its base,
  But a most living landscape.

The time to go to this glad pinnacle is at the end of May or the
beginning of June, mounting the hill in the first instance, by the
immediate route from the station.

When the time arrives to descend, dip westwards, curve round by the
water, and through the fields which lead into the Disley road, thence
into Pott Shrigley village. No description can convey a perfect idea of
the loveliness of this part of the walk at the season indicated. The
long-extended survey of hill and dale, the innumerable trees, clothing
the slopes at agreeable distances with the most picturesque of little
woodlands, bright and cheerful in their unsullied raiment of leaves
that are only yet learning the sweetness of sunshine; the rise and fall
of the ground; the incessant turns and sinuosities of the pathway,
every separate item is a treat, and yet the ravishing spectacle of all,
at the season referred to, has still to be named. This consists in
the inexpressible, the infinite multitude of the bluebells, which far
surpasses that of the old Reddish valley. They saturate every slope and
recess that is in any degree shady, and diffuse themselves even upon
the otherwise bare hill-sides, not in a thin and niggardly way, but
with the semblance of an azure mist. In many parts, at the edges of the
little groves, where the ground is steep, they seem to be flowing in
streams into the meadows beneath, and where there are breaks among the
nearer trees they actually illuminate the opening. When the spectacle
of the bluebells comes to an end, the walk continues along a beautiful
green arcade, straight, level, and uninterrupted into the village.

By whichever of the two routes we prefer to go to Macclesfield, that
ancient and celebrated town becomes in itself a new and excellent
starting point. If desiring to go beyond, the London and North-Western
should be chosen. The massive heights on the way to Buxton, including
the well-known and far-conspicuous mamelon called Shutlings Low, are
accessible only by carriage or on foot. North Rode, on the other hand,
is but a few minutes' continued railway journey, and for this, if we
come at all, the longest day is all too short. Just in front rises
Cloud-end, the mighty promontory seen from the fields near Butts Clough
(p. 23), covered with trees, the _Vitis Idæa_ filling the open spaces,
and plenty of nuts in the neighbouring hedgerows. Keeping the mountain
to the left, descending the green lane, and passing, "on sufferance,"
through North Rode Park, agreeable scenery on each side all the way,
the end is that _beau-ideal_ of a rural retreat, pretty Gawsworth. The
ancient trees, the venerable church, the dignified old residences, all
speak at once of a long-standing and undisturbed respectability such as
few villages can now assert. In the graveyard stand patriarchal yews,
one of them, reduced to a torso, encased in ivy, and protected on the
weaker side by a little wall of steps, intended seemingly to make it
useful as a tree-pulpit. Six great walnut-trees form part of the riches
of the Hall, another pleasing old "magpie;" water also is near at hand,
thronged with fishes that sport near the surface, and gliding through
the sunbeams gleam like silver. To return to Macclesfield there is no
need to retrace one's steps to North Rode, the walk being short and
pleasant, and rendered peculiarly interesting by its beech-trees, a
long and noble avenue, if contemplated through an opera-glass never
to be forgotten, for then the half-mile of leafy colonnade is brought
close to the eye, a green and moving stereoscopic picture.

When at Gawsworth it is a pity to let slip the opportunity of visiting
Marton, for the sake alike of its fine old hall, ancient church,
and renowned oak. The hall, like so many others in this part of the
country, is a black and white of the time of Elizabeth, supplying,
in the material, yet another illustration of the ancient plenty in
Cheshire of magnificent trees; Lancashire, though it contains many
old halls and manor-houses of the same character, presenting a far
more considerable proportion of stone ones. In the old "magpies,"
very generally, so vast is the quantity of wood that one is disposed
to exclaim--Surely when this house was raised a forest must have been
felled. Inside there are many very interesting relics, as one would
expect in a primitive seat of the old owners of Bramhall. The church,
built in 1343, is in the style of Peover and the oldest portion of
Warburton, the aisles being separated from the nave by oaken pillars.
As for the "Marton oak," it needs only to say that in dimensions it is
an acknowledged rival of the Cowthorpe, the circumference at a yard
from the ground being fifty feet, and at the height of a man more than
forty feet. It can hardly be called a "trunk," if by that word we are
to understand a solid mass of timber, the inner portion having long
since decayed, leaving only a shell, though the branches above are
still vigorous and clothed every season with unabating foliage.

Three or four miles beyond North Rode ancient Congleton comes in view,
opening the way, if we care to enter Staffordshire, to Biddulph Grange,
renowned for its gardens. Mow Cop, just on the frontiers, awaits
those who love mountain air. Trentham Park, fifteen miles further,
or about forty-three from Manchester, is the seat, as well-known, of
the Duke of Sutherland; and not far, again, from this is the Earl of
Shrewsbury's--Alton Towers. To reach the latter, we diverge from North
Rode along the Churnet Valley line, the same which leads, in the first
instance, to the beautiful neighbourhood of Rushton, famed for its
ancient church, the untouched beams of the same date as Beeston Castle;
then past Rudyard Lake and the delicious woods appertaining to Cliffe
Hall. The view from Rushton churchyard is one for painters. The valley,
receding southwards, encloses the smooth expanse of Rudyard, which,
though no more than a reservoir, has all the winning ways of a Coniston
or a Windermere, seeking to elude one's view by reliance on friendly
trees. In the north and east the hills rise terrace-wise, range beyond
range, each remoter one of different hue, Shutlings Low, that beautiful
mamelon, towering above all, and more effectively than as contemplated
from any other point we know of. After this comes the lovely walk
through the woods themselves, the water visible, intermittently, all
the way, with at last pause for rest, in Rudyard village. It is not a
little singular that Rudyard, like the reservoir at Lymm, should have
for its parent a river Dane, though here the stream does not vanish,
the Rudyard Dane being the boundary of the two counties, Cheshire and
Staffordshire.

Alton Towers, a trifle further, illustrate in the finest manner what
can be achieved by the skill of the landscape gardener. At the time
of Waterloo the grounds were simple rabbit-warren, and the site of
the present mansion was occupied by only a cottage. Worthily is it
inscribed, just within the garden gate, "He made the desert smile," the
_he_ being Charles, the sixteenth earl, under whose directions the work
was executed. The framework consists of two deep and winding valleys,
which lose themselves in a third of similar character. Over their
slopes have been diffused terraces, arbours, ivied grottoes, trees and
shrubs innumerable, green cypresses that rise like spires among the
round sycamores, and rhododendrons that in May, looked at across the
chasm, seem changed to purple sea-foam. Wherever practicable, there
have been added waterfalls and aspiring fountains, and threading in
every direction there are moss-grown and apparently interminable sylvan
paths. From many points of view, the scene is one no doubt that would
have captivated Claude or Salvator Rosa. Still, it must be confessed
that the impression, after survey, which lingers longest in the mind
is of something not simply lavish, but inordinate. Very beautiful,
without question, as an essay in constructive art, therefore invaluable
educationally, one falls back, nevertheless, when departing, on the
thought of tranquil Norcliffe, that never tires. The earl, it may be
interesting to add, to whom the Alton grounds owe their existence,
represented by lineal descent the famous Talbot of the Maid of Orleans'
story. When we part with him, we may run on, if we please, to Rocester
Junction, and thence to Ashbourne, the threshold of Dovedale, there to
chat with immortal Izaak Walton.

Shutlings Low, the old familiar and far-seen mamelon above-mentioned,
the only one we know of in Cheshire, is considered also to be the
highest ground in the county, the summit reaching an elevation of over
seventeen hundred feet. The view which rewards the rather stiff climb
is like that from the crest of Mow Cop, not only vast in compass, but
very agreeably new, from commanding as much as the eye can embrace of
Staffordshire. The ascent is best made from Wild Boar Clough, itself
the most picturesque of the many wild ravines which betoken the near
neighbourhood of Derbyshire. For pedestrians the walk from Macclesfield
to Buxton is also a glorious one, Axe Edge intervening, with at about a
hundred feet below its topmost point the celebrated hostelry, reputed
to exceed in elevation even the "Travellers' Rest" in Kirkstone Pass,
and which in name commemorates faithful Caton, _Caton fidèle_.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER X.

DISLEY AND MARPLE WAY.


  So shalt thou keep thy memory green,
    And redolent as balmy noon
  With happiness, for love makes glad;
    Child-natures never lose their June.

S. E. TONKIN.


When the L. and N. W. opened its branch from Stockport to Buxton, June
15th, 1863, every one loving the country had visions of immense delight
among the sweet and then scarcely known hills of Disley and Marple.
Previously, they were no more than an element of the scenery observed
from the Buxton coach. Since then we have better understood the meaning
of those grateful lines,

  You gave me such sweet breath as made
  The things more rich.

For if the fronts of these beautiful hills be sometimes rugged, there
are none that the western breezes better love to caress, nor are there
any that welcome the sunshine with a more strenuous hospitality.
Disley and Marple count not with the places which the sunshine only
flatters; they are always cheerful and pretty, whether it be the
hottest day of July, or winter, or spring. Even after a storm, be it
ever so vehement, they recover themselves as rapidly as a child's cheek
after the tears. How great and affable, too, their landscapes!--how
bright their lawn-like pastures, where tricolour daisies bloom all
the year round: there are woods moreover, in the recesses, where we
may bathe our eyes in the sweet calm that comes only of green shade,
and that like the airy summits up above, give at the same moment both
animation and repose.

Disley is known to most of us as the first station after Hazel-grove,
and the point from which departure is taken for Lyme Park.
Intermediately there is a delightful walk, reaching the greater part
of the distance, upon the right-hand side of the line, through the
sylvan covert called Middlewood. The wood is not "preserved." It is
semi-private, nevertheless, so that permission to pass through ought
to be asked; it is rare, even then, to hear any voices except our
own and those of the birds. Either to ascend, or to proceed by train
direct to Disley, and enter the wood at the head, is, in its way
advantageous. The latter is, perhaps, the better course, since we then
accompany the stream,--one of the very few so near Manchester still
unpolluted. The water is the same as that which flows past Bramhall,
running thence to Cheadle, where its bubbles swim into the Mersey.
Middlewood, unfortunately for its primitive charm, has recently shared
the fate of Gatley Carrs, so that the path is now very inconveniently
obstructed, and the Bramhall part of this pretty brook, instead of
being the inferior, is to-day, perhaps, after all, the most pleasing.
Comparisons may be spared. The meadows it traverses were never wanting
in any substantial element of pastoral charm, and if a thing be good
absolutely, what need to ask for more? The way to them is _viâ_ Cheadle
Hulme, then to Lady Bridge, as far as Bramhall-green, there crossing
the road, and stepping anew upon the grass, where the path returns to
the water-side. Hence, we go on to Mill-bank farm, told at once by its
three great yews, and for the return may take Hazel-grove.

The broad green slopes and expanses of Lyme Park, though they partake
of the loneliness of the neighbouring moors, are, as indicated above,
pleasant at every season of the year. Nature, in truth, is always
good, no matter what the season is, if the people are so who seek it.
As we traverse them, in the south-west the eye rests upon the great
plain that stretches to Bowdon; upon the left, on a swelling height,
is the far-seen square grey tower called Lyme Cage, clearly intended,
when built, for a huntsman's refuge; and passing this it is not far
to the hall, upon which, being in a hollow, one comes so suddenly
as to be reminded of the adventures of the knights-errant in tales
of chivalry. A very fine quadrangular gritstone building, partly
Corinthian, partly Ionic, some portion is nevertheless of the time of
Elizabeth. The interior is also very various, in many portions stately
and richly ornamented, and literally crowded almost everywhere with
works of art, including a rude picture of the original hall in the
time of King John, with portraits, heraldry, tapestry, stained glass,
and wood-carving enough to satisfy the most ravenous. The rare mosaic
of fact and fiction currently accepted as the family history of the
Leghs is well sustained by the armour and other antiquities, not the
least interesting of which is the font in the chapel, in which for ages
the youthful scions of the house have been baptized. There is very
little timber in the park, though on the borders not wanting. The most
remarkable feature, as regards trees, is an avenue of over seventy
lindens.

[Illustration: Tho. Letherbrow.

Lyme Hall.]

The supreme part of Disley is that which lies on the contrary side of
the station, consisting in the green and lofty crest called Jackson
Edge. This is reached by going a short distance along the Buxton
road, then mounting a steep ascent upon the left, cottages on either
side, and eventually through a lane upon the right. Due west from the
summit, like a garden viewed from a balcony, the plain seen from Lyme
Park is displayed even more variously. When satisfied, we may curl
round by the stone-quarries, then through the fir-wood, and so back
into Disley village,--a little tour just enough for those who not
being very strong of limb, still go shares with the strongest in zest
for mountain breath and extended prospects; or we may leave Disley
again behind, and, crossing a few meadows, mount glorious Marple
Ridge.[17] Here the prospect becomes wider and more varied still:
filling one also with astonishment that so much can be commanded at the
cost of so little labour. The fact is that the railway does half the
climbing for us, the line from Hazel Grove to Disley being almost a
slope. Standing with our backs to Disley village, on the right towers
the great green pyramid called Cobden Edge; then come the hills that
rise above Whaley Bridge and Taxal, Kinder Scout resting upon their
shoulders. In front are hills again, Werneth Low, always identified by
the sky-line fringe of trees; Stirrup-benches and Charlesworth Coombs,
and the three-hill-churches always remembered by their corresponding
initial, Marple, Mellor, and Mottram, with Chadkirk and Compstall in
the valley. Southwards, Lyme Cage and Lyme Hall, the latter half-hidden
among its trees, are discoverable; and due west is the great plain now
familiar,--that one which includes Vale Royal, and reaches to Chester.
Let all who make a pilgrimage hither remember, as when they visit
Gawsworth, to bring their opera-glasses, which however useful when
there is curiosity as to a cantatrice, have nowhere a more excellent
use than on the mountain-side. Cobden Edge, from its greatly superior
altitude, overlooks even Marple Ridge! To reach it, after leaving
Disley station, cross the wood a little beyond the hotel, and go down a
steep lane, arriving presently at a slit in the wall upon the right,
through which it is necessary to sidle as best one may. The canal has
then to be crossed, and the river Goyt, after which there is a little
glen leading the way to the path up the hill. On the top, all the
grandeurs of Marple Ridge are renewed five-fold. Alderley has nearly
subsided into the plain. Beeston Castle is conspicuous. Some say they
can descry the great Ormes-head. Pursuing the road along the crest of
the hill, we soon arrive at Marple village; or descending from it,
upon the right, get almost as soon into the beautiful valley of the
Goyt. Both, however, since 1867, have been rendered so much more easily
accessible by means of the Midland railway, that they may be left for
another chapter, the more particularly since a few miles' continued
ride from Disley brings us to another charming neighbourhood--that one
which comprises the above-mentioned Whaley Bridge and Taxal.

The most manageable of the many pleasant walks within reach of the
latter, is that one which leads to Taxal church, following the high
road till a white gate upon the right opens into meadows descending
into a dell, where the swift and limpid waters, if they do not exactly
make "shallow falls," at all events invite the birds to sing their
madrigals. Quitting the dell, the path is once again upwards, soon
reaching the church, and after leaving this, through the grove of
trees and along the foot of the reservoir, the overflow from which
often seems a rushing snowdrift. This fine sheet of water is one
of several similar storages prepared for the Peak Forest Canal, and
supplies an admirable illustration of the service rendered to scenery
by business enterprise, which if it sometimes destroys or mutilates,
as in the case of Gatley Carrs, compensates in the gift of broad and
shining lakes. An excellent characteristic of the great Lancashire
and Cheshire reservoirs is that ordinarily, when in the country, like
this one at Taxal, they resemble, as nearly as possible, natural
meres. Established, as at Lymm, by damming up the narrow outlet of
some little valley through which a stream descends, the water, as it
accumulates, is allowed, as far as practicable, to determine its own
boundaries; hence, excepting the one inevitable straight line required
for the dam, though this can sometimes be dispensed with, the margin
winds, the banks become shore-like, and the landscape is exquisitely
enriched. No landscape is perfectly beautiful without water, and
nowhere has so much been done undesignedly for scenic beauty than in
our two adjacent counties. The same is true of the addition given by
noble railway-arches to hollows filled with trees. Scenery impregnated
with the outcome of human intelligence and human skill must needs,
in the long run, always take deepest hold of our admiration, for the
simple reason that human nature is there; just as the most precious and
delightful part of home is that which is superadded by human affection.
From the high grounds above the water the outlook is wonderfully
romantic; when upon the crest of the hill there is an inviting walk
also under the trees. For the vigorous, the best part of Taxal is
after all upon the Derbyshire instead of the Cheshire side of the
river, mounting continuously for two or three miles, and so eventually
reaching Eccles Pike--a grand, green, round hill in the middle of a
huge green basin. Beyond Whaley Bridge come in turn Doveholes and
Buxton.

At Buxton, once the _El Dorado_ of local naturalists, the visitor
finds picturesque beauty and historical associations, even if he be
not in search of the recruited health which this celebrated old town
is supposed to be always so willing to supply. Plenty of exhilarating
rambles may be found within the compass of an afternoon, the hills
being lofty, while for those who cannot climb there is the romantic
valley of the Wye, called Ashwood Dale.

[Illustration]

Footnote

[17: It may be permitted here to note that when on Jackson
Edge we are close to the home of the accomplished authoress of the
well-known and always welcome letters "From the Lyme hills."]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER XI.

BY THE MIDLAND LINE.


    But the dell,
  Bathed in the mist, is fresh and delicate
  As vernal corn-field, or the unripe flax,
  When through its half-transparent stalks at eve
  The level sunshine glimmers with green light.

S. T. COLERIDGE.


The opening of the Midland line through Marple, like that of the L. &
N. W. through Disley, was hailed with immense delight by all lovers of
country rambles. Access thereto previously was possible only on foot,
or by canal, and in either case the journey was rather long. Chadkirk,
soon reached, is a celebrated old village thought by some to preserve
the name of the once greatly-honoured patron-saint commemorated also
in Chadderton, Chaddock, Chatburn, and Chat Moss; by others, to refer
to one "Earl Cedda." Be that as it may, the tradition of the old
missionary's once abiding here still clings to Chadkirk, and a clear
spring by the roadside, upon the left, going up the hill near the
church, and now lined with mosses, is to this day "St. Chad's well."
The earliest ecclesiastical notice of the place does not occur till
temp. Henry VIII. The hill itself, Werneth Low, is one of the highest
in Cheshire, and the first of several such in that odd piece of the
county which runs away to the north-east, stretched forth, as an old
topographer says, "like the wing of an eagle." Like all the other
eminences hereabouts, it commands very noble and extensive views. So
complete, in truth, is the look-out in all directions from the summit,
that to walk from end to end, is like pacing a watch-tower. The plains
of Cheshire and South Lancashire lie to the west; Lyme, Marple, and
Disley are seen to the south; and eastwards there are inviting bits
of Derbyshire, here separated from Cheshire by the Etherowe, the
opposite side charmingly clothed by the Ernocroft woods, while in the
distance rise the vast moorlands of Charlesworth and Glossop. If bound
for Werneth Low it is best, perhaps, after all, to quit the train at
Woodley, or to make our way to that place from Parkwood. In any case,
until Werneth Low has been ascended, knowledge of our local scenery is
decidedly immature.

The long and beautifully wooded glen extending from Romiley to Marple
is Chadkirk Vale, and the stream, not as some suppose, the Mersey,
but the above-named Goyt. That it is marked as the Mersey in Speed,
and again in the Ordnance map, no doubt is true. White also calls it
the Mersey,--all who do this considering that the Mersey begins with
the confluence of the Etherowe with the Goyt, about half-a-mile below
Compstall bridge. But the real point of commencing is where the Goyt
is joined by the Tame, that is to say, a little below Portwood bridge,
in the north-western suburb of Stockport. The ramble up the vale is in
every portion delightful, closing in a deep ravine or clough called
Marple Dell, the upper extremity spanned by the three great arches of
"Marple Aqueduct." The height of this celebrated work from the bed of
the river is nearly a hundred feet; yet, to-day it is overtopped by the
Midland viaduct, from which, as we glide past, the dell is seen half
as much again below. Aqueducts are common enough, and so are viaducts,
but it is seldom that we have the opportunity of contemplating at the
same moment a twofold series of arches of equal grandeur, the viaduct
consisting of no fewer than thirteen. Everywhere right and left of
the Goyt, hereabouts, there are unforbidden and usually quiet and
shady paths, some of them possibly entered more readily by the ancient
foot-roads from near Bredbury and Hazel-grove, but all converging
towards Marple village. Three or four of the most interesting little
cloughs or dells within the same distance of Manchester are here
associated, the prettiest, perhaps, being those called Dan-bank wood
and Marple wood. Lovely strolls are at command also by aiming for
Otterspool Bridge, these chiefly through meadows and by the rapid
river, which, when not perplexed by shifting islands and peninsulas,
decked with willow-herb and butter-bur, glides with a stilly smoothness
quite remarkable for one so shallow. At Otterspool the rush of water is
sometimes very strong. In the olden times it was similar at Stockport,
though now subdued by the constant casting in of dirt, if there be
truth, that is, in the record that in 1745, when the Stockport bridge
was blown up in order to check the retreat of the Pretender, it ran
beneath the arches "with great fury." Upon the western banks of the
Goyt, not very far from Chadkirk, perched upon a romantic natural
terrace, there is another very interesting and celebrated Elizabethan
mansion, Marple Old Hall, the more pleasing since, though subjected in
1659 to rather considerable alterations, it appears to retain all the
best of the original characteristics. It is now draped also, in part,
with luxuriant ivy. The historical incidents connected with Marple
Hall are well known,--those, at least, which gather round the name of
Cromwell. To our own mind there is something better yet,--the spectacle
in the earliest months of spring of the innumerable snowdrops, these
dressing the woods and slopes with their immaculate purity, almost to
the water's edge.

Proceeding direct to Marple by the Midland, the choicest of the many
walks now at command begins with descent of the hill upon the left,
then, as soon as the river is reached,--keeping as near it as may be
practicable,--through the lanes and meadows as far as "Arkwright's
Mill." No Ancoats mill is this one. Originally called "Bottoms Mill,"
it was erected in 1790 by the celebrated Mr. Samuel Oldknow, of whom
so many memorials exist in the neighbourhood, including a lettered
tablet in Marple church, and who would seem to have been associated
with Arkwright in many of his most important undertakings. The mill
in question was built, as Mr. Joel Wainwright correctly states,[18]
upon the lines of the famous one at Cromford. Embosomed in a romantic
valley, and surrounded by fine trees, among which are walnuts--for in
tree-planting, as in other things, Mr. Oldknow displayed exceptional
good taste--it gives the idea less of a cotton-mill than of some
great institute or retreat, and proves that in the country, at least,
scenes of manufacturing need not by any means be, as usual, depôts
of ugliness. Soon after passing the mill, the path continues by the
river-side, through pleasant meads and under the shadow of the trees
to the point where the stream is crossed by Windybottom Bridge, where
the hill has now to be ascended, either leftwards for Marple Ridge and
Disley, or turning to the right for Marple village. Either way, the
walk is delightful, and always at an end too soon. Another charming
way from Arkwright's mill to the bridge is along the slope on the
Derbyshire side of the water, called Strawberry Hill, but this is only
for the privileged. Down in this sequestered valley, if we love the
sight of wild-flowers, there is always great store; in May the fragrant
wild-anise, and in autumn the campanula.

A third excellent Marple walk is to go up the hill from the station,
turn instantly to the right just above the line, and alongside of it,
and at the distance of a hundred yards or so find our way to the bank
of the canal, crossing this and entering the fields through a stile.
The path then goes past Lea Hey farm, and after awhile past Nab Top
farm, beautiful prospects all the way. On the right, far below, we now
soon have the river, eventually treading the meadows called Marple
Dale, through which it meanders, and at the end of which the path
mounts through the wood and enters Marple Park, the way back to the
village now self-declared.

After Strines, from near which place there is another way to Cobden
Edge, next, if travelling by train, we get to New Mills, and before
long to Chapel-en-le-Frith, once again a point for new beginning,
since it is here that we start for Castleton. This is a jaunt purely
for pedestrians, and for vehicles not unwilling to linger on the way,
being one long climb, from which even steam, that, like Lord Chatham,
"tramples upon impossibilities," for the present seems to shrink.
England furnishes few such walks as this one from Chapel to Castleton,
the concluding part in particular, by the ancient bridle-path, through
the Windgates, or "Winnats,"--crags rising upon each side to a height
so vast that at times we seem absolutely shut in. The hugeness and
the loneliness of this wonderful chasm, the bare grey slopes and
bluffs of projecting rock relieved only by the presence of a few
sheep, powerfully recall the great passes amid the mountains of the
distant north. Once, however, it must have been comparatively well
trodden, the Winnats, up to about eighty years ago, having been the
sole thoroughfare from Chapel into Hope Dale. The high-road now curls
round by the foot of Mam Tor, or the "Shivering Mountain," so called
because of the continual dribbling away upon one side of the loose
material of which this singular pile chiefly consists. The apex of
Mam Tor is one thousand three hundred and fifty feet above the sea,
yet so great is the elevation of all the surrounding country that it
seems quite inconsiderable. Everywhere hereabouts, in fact throughout
the journey, after leaving Chapel, a remarkable negative feature of
the scenery is the absence of water. Plenty of the little recesses are
here that remind us of those afar where moisture drips and sparkles
on green moss. But we look in vain for the slightest trickling
movement. There are none of the little springs which ordinarily upon
the mountain-side seem longing for the time when they shall become
cascades. In Lancashire a pass like the Winnats would have had a
splashing and plentiful stream, or at all events would remind us of a
Palestine wady. It is further remarkable that upon these hills there
is no heather, nor is there a single plant of either whortleberry or
bracken. The great attraction at Castleton consists in the caverns.
The Blue-john mine should be visited in order to learn what stalactite
drapery means; but the best part of the "Peak-cavern" is the vestibule,
open to the daylight. Pushing into the interior, the vast altitude of
one small portion, revealed for a moment by means of fireworks, no
doubt has a kind of sublimity. Still there is nothing to please, unless
it be pleasure to stand in a dark inferno that seems no part of our own
world, and which can scarcely be entered without a feeling of dismay.
The ruins of Peveril Castle, and the fine old Norman arch in Castleton
church are both very interesting to the archæologist. The position of
the former is most curious, the castle seeming from the foot of the
hill to stand upon a simple slope of turf, whereas in reality just
behind it there is an impassable abyss.

This inestimable line, the Midland, carries us also to "Miller's Dale,"
from which station there is a branch at an acute returning angle to
Buxton; thence onwards to "Monsal Dale," Hassop, Bakewell, Rowsley,
Darley, and Matlock. Monsal Dale, _ipsissima_, has been called the
"Arcadia of the Peak." It may be so. Remembering the ancient and golden
canon that it is the eye of the lover that makes the beauty, the
judgment may be let stand as one that was true and just to the man who
pronounced it. The poet asks, "Who can paint like nature?" Surely he
forgot the sweet facility of the human heart; in any case, there are
no festoons like those woven by the spirit of man. Hassop, the next
in order, is the nearest point of departure, on foot, for Chatsworth,
though Bakewell has somewhat the advantage as regards scenery upon the
way. Bakewell is the centre also for Haddon Hall, reached thence, on
foot, in half an hour. Rowsley supplies the carriage-way to Chatsworth,
and a shady and retired walk thereto along the western side of the
stream. From this point also access is easy to Lathkill Dale, and many
another of the gems of Derbyshire. Darley Dale, with its majestic yew,
one of the oldest and grandest trees in England, and Matlock, with its
mighty Tor, are places for the longest of summer days--we can do with
no less--when the sunshine is oriental and sunset is a kaleidoscope.

For a simple afternoon, there is nothing within easy reach more
delicious than Miller's Dale itself, the significance of which name is
really the lucid and babbling Wye, in its sweetest portion, and the
unique recess which holds Chee Tor, not to mention the pretty Wormhill
springs. The entrance to the vale is close to the station, the path
lying first through a long-extended grove of trees, then changing to
the green turf of a most beautiful seclusion, the ground rising in
pleasant slopes, smooth except where broken by uncovered rock, while
by our side, all the way, the stream runs peacefully, circling at
times in quiet pools, or quickening in ripples that seem to speak, the
shallower parts decked with pebbles that are covered, when the sun
shines, with lacework of leaf-shadows. The springs are at the foot of
the slope where a steep and rugged path leads to Wormhill. The water
wells out of the ground just as in the streets of a city when some
great conduit underneath has given way, being derived, there can be no
doubt, from some far-distant original source, whence it has travelled
by secret subterranean channels. The phenomenon is in Derbyshire by
no means an uncommon one. Streams in several places suddenly lose
themselves in the ground, bursting out again, it may be miles away,
after the manner of the Guadalquiver;--here, at Wormhill, it appears,
nevertheless, to have its most pleasing illustration. The Tor is found
in the magnificent gorge in front, a stupendous mass of limestone,
rising vertically from the water's edge, with a grand curvilinear
outline of nearly a quarter of a mile in extent, the surface uniformly
grey and bare, except for scattered ivy and a few iron-like yews
that are anchored in the crevices. Upon the opposite side there is a
corresponding cliff, but less precipitous, and clothed in every part
with half-pendulous shrubs and trees. This wonderful scene may be
reached also from Ashwood Dale, starting from Buxton, and when about
half-way to Bakewell creeping down on the left to the margin of the
stream. The path is romantic, but cannot be recommended, being in many
parts difficult and here and there decidedly perilous.

[Illustration]

Footnote

[18: In his very interesting "Reminiscences of a Lifetime
in Marple and the Neighbourhood," 1882, a contribution to our local
literature which in the accuracy and variety of its entertaining
details does the author genuine credit.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER XII.

THE NORTH-EASTERN HIGHLANDS.


  My heart leaps up when I behold
    The rainbow in the sky--
  So was it when I was a boy;
  So is it now I am a man;
  So be it when I shall grow old,
    Or let me die!

WORDSWORTH.


For our present purpose it is convenient to include, under the general
title of the North-eastern Highlands, the vast mountain district,
occupying portions of three counties, which extends from the Peak to
the neighbourhood of Greenfield. Reached in part by the Manchester,
Sheffield, and Lincolnshire system, in part by the L. & N. W.
Huddersfield line, it is tolerably well-known to travellers by those
railways. They are cognizant of it as a region of lofty moorland,
bleak and uninviting except at grouse-time. To people in general,
however, it is as strange as Norway; and no wonder, since a visit to
any one of the better portions implies a love of adventure which, if
not exceptional, is infrequent. Glorious, nevertheless, are those
untouched and silent wastes. Thousands of their acres have never felt
the ploughshare, nay, not even the spade, and probably never will. In
parts they seem to belong less to the existing order of nature than
to obsolete ages, suggesting, like the Sahara, the idea of a former
and exhausted world. Seal Bark might be the relics of some ancient
mountain, torn to fragments when the wind whistled among the Calamites
and the Sigillarias, now nothing but bones, nameless and immemorial.

The southernmost portion of this huge tract of wilderness is occupied
by Kinder Scout, the highest factor of the Peak, the elevation being
nearly two thousand feet above the sea; and which, presenting a "broad
bare back" or plateau of fully four miles in length from east to west,
with a width of more than half as much, is distinguishable at a glance,
though often cloud-capped, from all its neighbours. Unfortunately for
the rightful claims of massive Kinder, this great length detracts from
its majesty, since the majestic, to be appreciated, always demands a
certain amount of concentration. In substance, like most other parts of
our "north-eastern highlands," Kinder Scout is millstone-grit, thickly
overlaid with mountain-peat, the foothold of wiry scrub, though, here
and there presenting bold escarpments. The surface is deeply fissured
by rills of drainage-water, and hillocks and depressions are universal.
Paths cross it in various directions, but these of course are only for
the brave.

The best route, when it is desired to ascend this noble eminence, is
_viâ_ Hayfield, beginning at Bowden Bridge, and going up the valley
past Farlands. It is indispensable, however, either to be provided with
a map, or to be accompanied by a guide, as well as to take precautions
in regard to possible trespass.[19] Once upon the summit, the reward
is ample, alike in the magnificent scenery, rich with distant purple
shadows, and in the inspiring atmosphere. If in the landscape there
is nothing gay and festal, no slight thing is it to stand in the
presence-chamber of these antique solitudes, reading the silent history
of centuries of winter ravage, so terrible that no wonder the very
rocks have thrust up their grey heads to ask the meaning of it. No
slight thing is it either at any time to find ourselves beside the very
urn of a bounding and musical stream, such as trots along the valley,
this one having its birth in "Kinder Downfall"--a far-seen shoot of
water from the western cliff, a single silver line of pretty cataract
that might have heard of Terni and the Bridal Veil, and so much the
more precious because the only one of its kind within the distance,
which is from Manchester, say precisely twenty miles. Rain of course is
needed, as at Lodore, for the full development.

The writer of the "Guide" says that another very beautiful and not
infrequent spectacle to be witnessed here is when in wet weather, or
after a storm, the wind blows strongly from the W.S.W. "Coming from
the direction of Hayfield, it sweeps over the Upper Moor and the bare
backs of the bleak Blackshaws, and beating against the high flanking
walls of rock is concentrated with prodigious power into the angle
of the mountain, forcing back the whole volume of the cascade, and
carrying it up in most fantastic and beautiful lambent forms, which
are driven back again as heavy rain and mist for half a mile across
the bog, then perhaps to return to be shivered into spray once more,
unless in some momentary lull the torrent rushes down in huge volume."
"Sometimes," he adds, "in winter, the fall, with the huge walls of rock
flanking its sides, becomes one mass of icy stalactites, which as the
sun declines present a magnificent spectacle." According to Mr. H. B.
Biden, in _Notes and Queries_, Feb. 16th, 1878, though other writers
think differently, and, as it seems to us, less reasonably, it is to
the downfall that Kinder Scout owes its name. Kin-(cin)-dwr-scwd, he
tells us, in Cymraeg signifies "High water cataract."

Keeping to the main line, the original "Sheffield and Manchester," half
an hour carries us to Broadbottom and Mottram-in-Longdendale, where
we stop in order to make acquaintance with the lively Etherowe, which
here divides Cheshire from Derbyshire, running on to Compstall, where,
as above stated, it enters the Goyt. The scenery all the way to the
point of confluence is alluring. On the Cheshire side of the stream
the slope is occupied in part by Bottoms-hall Wood, through which
there is a footway to Werneth Low, and then to Hyde or Woodley, a very
pleasant sufficiency for an afternoon. On the Derbyshire side, after
crossing a few fields, Stirrup Wood forms a beautiful counterpoise to
Bottoms-hall; and when through this we are upon Stirrup-benches, famous
for profusion of the Oreads' fern--that fragrant one so fittingly
dedicated to the nymphs who once upon a time danced on green slopes
around Diana,

  Hinc atque hinc glomerantur Oreades.

Botanists call it the _Lastrea Oreopteris_. It is well to be reminded
by them that scientific nomenclature is something more than Greek and
Latin, and a burden for the memory, and that all the best and oldest
portion of it lies bosomed in poësy. The mythical Oreads themselves are
not required, for we have better ones in our live companions; but of
the memory of them it would be an irreparable loss to be despoiled.

Above Stirrup-benches comes Ludworth Moor. Then far away, again up
above, the grand mountain-terrace called Charlesworth Coombs, the
semi-circular and denuded face of which is in some parts very nearly
perpendicular, the ridge affording, yet once again, supreme views.
On every side there is a tumultuous sea of mountain-crests, with
intermixture of sweet green knolls, often wooded, in the relish
of which, as upon Kinder, one thinks of the immortals in art and
literature,

  Who never can be wholly known,
  But still their beauty grows.

On the contrary side are the Glossop moors; within the valley, the
thriving town after which they are named; and the remarkably beautiful
cone, covered with trees, called Shire Hill, an isolated mound that
looks as if it might have been tossed there in pastime by the Titans.
Glossop, as every one knows, has a station of its own, which should
be remembered not only for the sake of Shire Hill, but for Lees-hall
Dingle, Ramsley Clough, Chunal Clough, Melandra Castle, and Whiteley
Nab, the climb to the brows of which last is no doubt somewhat
arduous, but well repaid. On summer Sunday mornings, very early,
when the smoke has had time to dissolve, the Glossop people say they
can distinguish even Chester and the sea. Ramsley Clough, a romantic
defile, apparently under the special protection of the deities of the
fountains, and the stream down which would be more fitly designated a
thousand little waterfalls, is remarkably prolific in mosses and other
green cryptogamous plants. "Melandra Castle"--an old rampart, with a
vast quantity of stones dug out or still embedded, is supposed, on the
showing of some fragments of Roman tiles, to date from not later than
A.D. 500.

Mottram-in-Longdendale, like Charlesworth, abounds in bold and romantic
scenery, though the elevation is much less, the height of Mottram
church above the sea being only about four hundred and fifty feet.
Tintwistle and the neighbourhood also furnish endless recreation, as,
indeed, does the whole country as far as Woodhead. The railway runs up
the valley of the Etherowe, which river rises in the moors above, and
has at this part been converted, by barricading, into five successive
_quasi_-lakes,--not so picturesque, perhaps, as some of the other
great reservoirs we have made acquaintance with, but still furnishing
an agreeable spectacle, alike from the train and from the hills. They
contribute the chief portion of the Manchester waterworks storage; the
collecting-grounds, which are estimated to have an extent of nearly
nineteen thousand acres, consisting chiefly of moorland, covered, as
at Kinder, with immense sponges of mountain-peat. Retaining the rain,
these serve a purpose corresponding to that of the snows and glaciers
upon the Alps, so various are the ways in which the munificence of
nature is expressed. Mounting on to the moors at the entrance to the
Woodhead tunnel (by the brookside) we presently find a clough, a
waterfall, and the beginnings of the river Derwent. Crossing the river,
as the alternative, there is a fine walk to Tintwistle, and thence,
over other seemingly boundless moors, to Staley Brushes.

But now we get to a district better sought by travel on the L. & N.
W. line, the long and picturesque portion of it, that is, which runs
through the Saddleworth valley _en route_ for Leeds. With the mind
absorbed in thought of the place one is bound to, or of the duties or
occupations there awaiting our arrival, the scenery right and left of
a railway often receives a very indifferent amount of attention. The
line from Ashton to Huddersfield, excepting only the great tunnel, is
one of those, however, which should never be used heedlessly. The
prospects are never wide-extended, for the track is entirely through
deep valleys: it is the slopes ascending from these which are in many
parts picturesque; if we think ever so slightly of what they lead up
to, they possess the still better quality of significance.

In the bygones the "Brushes," briefly so designated, were almost as
noted with the old Lancashire naturalists as Cotterill. The ravine
so called, grey crags guarding the entrance, and a stream, with
innumerable little mossy waterfalls descending from some undiscovered
fount above, was renowned not more for its wild grandeur than for its
botany and ornithology. Now it is only historical, the adaptation of
the best part to the purposes of a waterworks company having effaced
all the leading characteristics. The wheel-path remains much as it
was, at least above the dam, and by pursuing this, a somewhat long
ascent, we find ourselves once again upon the moors, here called
"North Britain." Two courses present themselves now. One is to bend to
the right, returning by way of Hollingworth; the other to strike off
sharply to the left, and after a while, descend to the railway. The
first-named supplies views of extraordinary breadth and changefulness,
extending up and across the Tintwistle valley, and covering the hills
above Dinting and Glossop; the Hollingworth reservoirs (supplementary
to those of Woodhead, and well set-off with trees,) contributing in the
best manner to the power of the landscape as a whole. The Holyngworthe
family (for such is the ancient and proper spelling of the name) up
to the time of the death of the last representative, had been seated
here from times anterior to the Conquest, thus reminding one of the
Traffords of Trafford Park. The hall, a quaint relic of the past, now
tenanted by Mr. Broderick, is to a considerable extent, of temp. Henry
VI. By taking the leftward path, over the heather, opportunity is
acquired for mounting the lofty crest, said to have been once occupied
by "Bucton Castle;" a fortress, to say the least of it, semi-fabulous,
though there is no reason to doubt that in the Armada times, Bucton,
like Alderley Edge, was used as a signalling station. In case of need,
flames shooting up from the topmost peak, would be visible, on clear
nights, at a distance of at least twenty miles.

Reference was made, a page or two back, to Seal Bark. For this we
quit the line at Greenfield, first ascending past "Bin Green" to the
"Moorcock," vulgarly "Bill's-o'-Jack's," from the heights around which
the outlook over the adjacent country is once again marvellous. Very
curious, too, and in itself well worth the climb, is the far-seen rock
"Pots and Pans," well, if not elegantly, so named, for on drawing
near it is discovered to be an immense mass of millstone-grit, left
there since the glacial period, with about a dozen roundish cavities
upon the top, the largest of them more than a yard across by about
fifteen inches in depth, and nine of the group usually holding water.
Local superstition, as would be expected, attributes these singular
basins to the Druids, who are supposed to have excavated them for
ritual purposes; but, as in other places--for such cavities are by no
means confined to Greenfield--there can be no hesitation in regarding
them as pure works of nature. Millstone-grit is, in parts, peculiarly
inadhesive. Exposed as this rock has been for untold ages to the
beating of tempests, its softer portions, where the cavities are, have
been slowly fretted away, and we are asked to recall nothing more than
the ancient proverb. Keeping to the road, by degrees the elevation
becomes so great that the topmost part is playfully termed the "Isle
of Skye." It is hereabouts that the cloudberry, that most artistic of
northern fruits, never seen and unable to exist upon lower levels, is
for our own neighbourhood, so plentiful. When ripe, so thick is the
spread of rosy amber that the spectacle is most bright and pretty, the
ground seeming strewed with white-heart cherries. Singular to say,
although very nice to human palates, the grouse leave it untouched,
turning to the whortleberry and the cranberry.

As the "Druidical" origin has been popular, and lest there may still
be a lingering doubt with some as to the natural origin of the
"Pots and Pans," it may be added that upon the high grounds within
a few miles of Todmorden there have been reckoned up nearly eight
hundred similar cavities, the diameter varying from a few inches to
four or five feet. They may be observed indeed in every stage of
formation, thus altogether neutralizing the idea of their having been
produced by artificial means. They occur, moreover, only in this
particular series of the millstone-grit, other descriptions of grit
in the neighbourhood--those not so amenable to the action of the
weather--being entirely without. Very often, too, the basins are in
positions such as neither Druids or any one else would ever select
for ritual or ceremonials. The number of basins is itself an argument
against the Druidical origin, since so many would never possibly
be required, to say nothing of the fairly determined fact that the
Druidical altar was usually a _cromlech_, formed by placing a great
slab of stone horizontally upon the edges of two other slabs fixed in
the ground vertically.

But we are bound for Seal Bark. To get hither, the road must be quitted
near the "Moorcock," and a way found through the fir-wood to the
bottom of the valley, then re-ascending by the borders of the stream.
A water so wild and beautiful it would be difficult to find nearer
than Scotland or Carnarvonshire. Sliding, gliding, tumbling, in every
conceivable mode, now it hurries along a smooth and limpid current;
now it plays with the boulders, and changes to little cascades; now it
fills little bays and recesses with reposing foam as white as snow, or
that are alive with circular processions of untiring bubbles that swim
awhile delicately, round and round, then, like the dancers in Sir Roger
de Coverley, when they bend beneath the arch of lifted arms, rejoin
their first partners and away down the middle, away and away, as swift
as thought. Great defiles open on the right and left, Rimmon Clough
and Birchen Clough, at the foot of which stands the one solitary
tree of this grand wilderness--a mountain-ash, the tree of all others
accustomed to loneliness. Above, at a vast height, is Ravenstone Brow,
so named from the number of birds that once nested thereabouts, and
where cuckoos still come. When at length we arrive at Seal Bark, who
shall mistake it? All the waste and broken rock of a kingdom seems to
have been pitched over the brow, and let fall and roll or stop just
where it liked. The probability is that at some remote period the
torrent undermined one side of the gorge, the ruins toppling over much
in the same way as those of the ancient Clevedon shore, where it is
plain that the fragments owe their present position to the remorseless
beating of the sea.

For those who care to run on through the great Standedge tunnel, three
miles and sixty-four yards long, thus getting to Marsden, there is an
extremely fine mountain-pass called Wessenden Clough, the heights on
either hand not less than a thousand feet, and once again a rushing
torrent. There is a path back to Greenfield over the moors, but the way
is rather long, except for the practised. The great tunnel at Woodhead,
upon the Sheffield line, often thought to exceed the Standedge, is, we
may here remark, twenty yards shorter.

[Illustration]

Footnote

[19: All needful particulars will be found in the little
"Guide to Hayfield and Kinder Scout," purchasable at Hayfield and at
Bowden Bridge.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER XIII.

BAMFORD WOOD.


  So rich a shade, so green a sod,
  Our English fairies never trod;
  Yet who in Indian bower has stood,
  But thought on England's "good green wood?"
  And bless'd, beneath the palmy shade,
  Her hazel and her hawthorn glade,
  And breath'd a prayer (how oft in vain!)
  To gaze upon her oaks again?

HEBER.


Forty years ago no part of our neighbourhood more abounded in natural
attractions than the district which comprises Moston, Blackley,
Boggart-hole Clough, Middleton, Bamford Wood, and the upper portions
generally of the valleys of the Medlock and the Irk, the latter
including that pretty little cup amid the grassy and tree-clad slopes
still known as "Daisy Nook." How charmingly many of these places have
been introduced into our local literature needs no telling. Samuel
Bamford was not the man to misapprehend the beauty of nature. Throstle
Glen was one of his favourite resorts. Edwin Waugh, happily, is still
with us, not alone in perfect story, but ready with the always welcome
living voice. The spread of building and of manufacturing has induced
heavy changes in almost every portion of the district mentioned,
changes partaking, only too often, of the nature of havoc, especially
in the immediate vicinity of the streams. So long, however, as it holds
centres of social and intellectual culture and refinement--Mr. George
Milner lives at Moston--the mind does not care to contrast the present
with the past, accepting the record, and in that quite willing to rest.
The district in question is peculiarly interesting also from the fact
of its having been one of the principal scenes of the work done by the
old Lancashire "naturalists in humble life" during the time that they
earned their reputation. A noted locality for hand-loom silk weaving,
it was long distinguished in particular for its resident entomologists,
the delicacy of touch demanded by that elegant art being just that
which is needed when one's play-hours are spent with Psyche; upon the
same occupation would seem indeed to have arisen yet another of the
old characteristic local tastes--that for the cultivation of dainty
flowers, such as the auricula and the polyanthus. Floriculture is still
pursued with fair success, though on a smaller scale; entomology, we
fear, is like the hand-loom, almost forgotten. We should remember,
also, that Alkrington Hall, near Middleton, was the residence of the
celebrated Sir Ashton Lever, gentleman, scholar, and naturalist, and
that it was by him that the innumerable objects of the famous Leverian
Museum were brought together. While a resident at Alkrington Hall (the
ancient family seat) he had the best aviary in the kingdom. In 1775 the
museum was removed to London, and ten years afterwards it was sold by
auction piecemeal. Sir Ashton's Manchester town house was that one in
"Lever's Row," now called Piccadilly, which has for many years been the
"White Bear" hotel. When he died, in 1788, this house was advertised
as eligible for a ladies' school, being so far away from the centre of
business, and fields within a few yards!

"White Moss," as before-mentioned (p. 60), has long since been
converted into farm-land, but in the days referred to was still in
its glory, dull to look at, no doubt, but to the interrogator a local
garden of Eden. Never shall we forget the genial smile that rippled old
George Crozier's broad, round, rosy, white-fringed face as one sunny
afternoon in Whitsun-week, 1839, we stepped with twenty or more under
his guidance for the first time upon the elastic peat, and beheld the
andromeda and the pink stars of the cranberry, these also for the first
time. To Crozier the pretty flowers were familiar as the hills; his
joy was to watch the delight they gave the juveniles. Presently a man
came up and asked if we were "looking for _brids_." A little puzzled at
first by the strange inquiry, the mystery was soon solved by his taking
off his hat and showing it stuck full of butterflies, the "birds,"
or in his homely Anglo-Saxon, the "brids" caught during his ramble.
Among the more remarkable insects then to be captured on White Moss
were the showy beetle called _Carabus nitens_, the glittering green
stripes of its wing-cases edged with a band of brilliant copper-colour;
the fox-moth, _Lasiocampa rubi_, so called from its peculiar foxy
colour; and the emperor-moth, _Saturnia pavonia_, for which the moss
had been from time immemorial a noted locality. Great has been the
sport of many an entomologist, as, sitting on White Moss on a fine
day in early summer, with a captured virgin female of this beautiful
creature, the _antennæ_ of which are like ostrich plumes, the males
have flocked to him, or rather to _her_, by the hundred, for the virgin
female of the emperor-moth, though she can fly, prefers to sit still
until she has been visited by an individual of the other sex. Up to
this period she exudes a delicate odour which attracts the latter from
long distances, those which have far to come, and arrive late, or not
till after the advent of the first, turning back, unless captured by
the entomologist's net, as soon as they perceive by their wonderful
instinct that she is virgin no longer. The wings of the males, as with
most other kinds of butterfly, are rarely found perfect, except when
first fledged. Flying about in ardent search of the female, they tear
and chip them against the heath and other plants with which they come
in contact through their impatience. The plant that chiefly attracted
attention on that memorable day was the cotton-sedge, the most
beautiful production of the moorlands, and conspicuous from afar as its
silvery-white tassels bend and recover before the breeze. Carrying off
a great handful, "Look!" said the rural children in the lanes, amazed
that any one could care for such rubbish, "there's a man been getting
moss-crops!" All the mosses about Manchester produce the cotton-sedge,
but never have we seen such luxuriant specimens as in the ditches that
were then being cut for the draining of White Moss. Three species
occur, the broad-leaved, the narrow-leaved, and the single-flowered,
the tufts of the latter being upright instead of pendulous. Their
beauty, unhappily, is their only recommendation, for the herbage is
rough and coarse, and altogether unfit for pasture, and the cotton, so
called, is cotton only in name. It cannot be manufactured; the hairs
are too straight and too brittle. Instead of twining and entangling,
like the filaments of true cotton, they lie rigidly side by side,
resembling true cotton merely in their whiteness, and could no more be
spun into yarn than slate-pencils could be twisted into a cable.

Boggart-hole Clough, a little nearer Manchester, was reached most
readily at the time spoken of, and of course is so still, by way of
Oldham Road, going by omnibus or tram-car as far as the end of the
first lane carried over the railway. There are plenty of roads _under_
arches formed by the railway, but these will not do; it must be the
first that goes _over_ the embankment. Crossing the line at the point
in question, a descending path presently brings us to Jack's Bridge,
a sweet little dell, consecrated by one of nature's own poets, then a
resident at Newton Heath:

  Jack's Bridge! thy road is rough,
  But thy wild-flowers are sweet!

Other fields gradually lead on towards Moston, several of them
containing large "pits," or ponds, where, in July the white water-lily
may be seen in its lustrous bloom, and the Comarum, covered with its
deep-red blossoms and ripening fruit; and from there the way is easily
found into the clough, which is entered about the middle. On the left,
from this point, there is an enticing field-path by the side of the
stream to the Blackley road; on the right we mount into the sylvan
part, and see for ourselves how well merited is the reputation of
this once-affrighting haunt of the boggart. All the charms of a leafy
and flowery solitude are there assembled. Not those of the old, old
forest, perfect in forest-ways, these we must not look for; but of the
gentle ravine, wherein we cannot be lost, and which often pleases so
much the more because less grand, since in all things while it is the
great and sublime that we _admire_, that which we _love_ is the little
and measurable. Beautiful trees are here, that among their boughs
give ever-pleasing glimpses of soft scenery, and in its season, white
patches of bridal May,

  The milk-white thorn that scents the evening gale,

and that never hinder the sight of the azure overhead; and if while
pushing our way through the brown remains of last year's ferns,
brambles with their long arms and claws always seeking to clutch at the
traveller, insist on plucking off one's cap just to show that the way
is "on sufferance;" well, never mind, a lively little rill running in
parts through beds of wild mint makes a pleasant noise, and wherever a
sparkle is wanted to relieve the still and motionless, a silver eye or
a glittering rapid is not awanting. Of course we must take with us a
disposition to enjoy. "A song," says some author, "is thrown away that
is not in the same key as the listener."

The clough is not distinguished by anything special in the way of
plants, though we have gathered there fine sprigs of the sweet
woodruff. As a retreat, however, from the noise and bustle of the town,
and the only place of the kind in that direction, it must always be
precious to the lover of nature. Unfortunately, the path has of late
years become very much disturbed through the falling away of the bank,
the steepness of which, and the weight of the trees, unprovided with
sufficient anchorage by reason of the lightness of the soil, causes
continual landslips, so that now there are in many places rather
dangerous declivities. Many of the trees that once stood erect upon
the brows, now lie ingloriously with their heads in the brook beneath,
and their roots in the air. The increase of buildings about Newton and
Failsworth, and the consequent incessant raids of destroying boys,
have also tended of late years to mar the place considerably; and
now, in 1882, it has to be said with deep regret, that the regular
Sunday resort to Boggart-hole of the lowest roughs of the neighbouring
villages, leaves it for the week-day visitor tattered and torn and
soiled beyond recovery. The signal, with every new season, for renewed
mischief, is the opening of the golden sallow-bloom, now not a tenth
in quantity of what it was even in 1850. These roughs are the thousand
times more affrighting boggarts of to-day, masters, permittedly by the
authorities, of a place once another Kelvin Grove,

  Where the wild rose in its pride
  Paints the hollow dingle side,
  And the midnight fairies glide,
    Bonnie lassie, O!

We have spoken of Boggart-hole Clough in conformity with the generally
current idea, namely, that in the olden time it was a haunt or
habitation of "boggarts." Boggart-_hole_ is thought by some to be a
mistaken and enlarged spelling of Boggart _Hall_, the appellation of a
house near the head of the clough, once and for a long while of evil
repute as the home of an unclean spirit. Samuel Bamford seems to favour
the popular conception, probably because unwilling to disturb it,
though he himself never hints at the existence in this clough of any
particular uncanny inmate. The boggart of the hall was no other, it is
further contended, than the "brownie" found in some shape or other all
the world over, superstitions of this character being co-extensive with
human nature, sometimes vulgarized, sometimes exquisitely etherialised,
and taking as many forms as there are powers of fancy in the human
mind. The pixies of Devonshire and Titania's "Sweet Puck" belong to
the poetical line of thought; the ugly and mischievous "boggarts" to
the rustic one. The entire subject has been dealt with by Harland and
Wilkinson in the _Lancashire Folk-lore_. The legend is also given
in the _Traditions of Lancashire_, the compiler of which would seem
to have adopted an earlier version in the _Literary Gazette_ for
1825. There is yet another surmise, that "boggart" in this particular
instance is a mistake for "Bowker," a family of which name is said to
have once occupied the hall. Possibly. Admitting either explanation to
be the true one and finally established, the received idea still goes
abreast of that beautiful old tendency of the universal human heart to
assign spiritual beings to every part of physical nature, the basis
of all the primitive religions, and which will endure when etymology
is dead. Mrs. Banks supplies yet another version, referring us to the
time of Prince Charles Edward, the Pretender, one of whose unfortunate
followers was constrained to hide himself in the clough, friends who
were in the secret giving out, in order to hinder search by the enemy,
that the place of refuge was the abode of demons.

The path through the fields referred to as the best for approaching
the clough from Manchester, turns up when near Blackley through a
little wood, and thence into meadows, which very agreeably abridge the
distance homeward, especially if we go at that best season of all for
visiting Boggart-hole, when the newly-cut hay is scenting the air, and
tiny hands are trying to help the great rakes and forks of the farmer's
troop, and the beautiful crescent of the young moon hangs golden in
the sky, and the bright reluctant twilight almost lasts to another
day, lingering like a lover at the hand of his betrothed. The stream,
it may be added, that winds its way along the bottom of the clough is
a tributary of the Irk,--that unfortunate little river which, rising
in or near tree-crested Tandle Hill, north-east of Middleton, seems
to grow ashamed of its blackened waters as it creeps into the town
by Collyhurst, and which, as it hastens to its oblivious refuge in
the Irwell, is known to every one in its last leap,--the hideous fall
underneath the Victoria Station, on the side next Millgate. "Manchester
Rivers, their Sources and Courses," would form a capital subject for
a book. The Mersey, the Irwell, the Irk, the Tame, the Etherowe,
the Bollin, the Goyt, and several others, are full of interesting
associations; and if they be not of the clearest water in their lower
portions, remember the work they do. A limpid stream among the hills
is lovely and poetical; but the most pleasing of all rivers are those
of which the banks are occupied by an industrious and intelligent
population; and we must not cry out too vehemently about the soiling
and spoiling, unless it be easily avoidable and a piece of downright
and wilful damage, when their first and highest value is that of
facilitating industrial efforts, and helping on the prosperity of a
town and nation. The truly poetical man is never a sentimentalist; and
though he may pity the destruction of beautiful objects, he is content
to see them converted into sources of general welfare, and to look
elsewhere for new materials of enjoyment.

Bamford Wood is a cluster of leafy dells or dingles, reached, in
the first instance, by going to Heywood, the rather tedious and
uninteresting streets of which have to be pursued till we come to
"Simpson Clough." The dells are disposed in the form of a V, the upper
extremities again forked, and feathering away until at last they merge
into fields. Down every dell comes a stream, rushing over large stones,
the various waters all meeting eventually in the angle of the V, and
soon afterwards swelling the river Roche, which in turn flows into the
Irwell not far from Radcliffe. The various portions have all their
distinctive names, "Dobb-wood," upon the left, holds "Cheeseden-brook."
Beyond this we have Windy-cliff-wood, Carr-wood and Jowkin-wood; while
upon the right are Ashworth-wood and Bamford-wood, emphatically so
called. The stream descending the latter is Norden-water. Exact routes
through these pretty glades it is impossible to prescribe, so much must
depend upon personal taste and leisure. The extent, the beauty, and
the wildness, require in truth many visits to be appreciated. There is
more than one round natural lawn in the curves of the stream, where
the silence has often been broken by pic-nics and music. Most parts
may be trodden dry-shod, but it is well always to reckon upon four or
five miles and a few adventures. All ladies who go the entire circuit
deserve to be commended as Bamford heroines.

Not to leave the way altogether undescribed, the best mode of procedure
upon arrival at Simpson Clough is perhaps, soon after entering, to
ascend the path among the trees upon the left, then into some fields
and to the edge of a precipice, from which a view is obtained of a
considerable portion of the wood, where an idea may be formed of the
route it may be pleasantest now to follow. No part is uninteresting;
the question is simply where to begin. Compared with the warm glades of
Cheshire, Bamford Wood is upon the average quite a fortnight later in
escaping from winter. Spring's "curled darlings" have already stepped
into the green parlours of the Bollin valley, while up here a leaf is
scarcely open; even the palm-willow, elsewhere always ready for the
earliest April bee, is cautious and dilatory. The most interesting
plant of the wood is the _Rubus saxatilis_, which, though found
nowhere else in the neighbourhood of Manchester, is abundant near
Coal-bank Bridge, but very seldom flowers. On some of the cliffs, at a
tantalizing height, just out of reach of the longest arm, grows that
beautiful sylvan shrub the Tutsan, _Hypericum Androsæmum_. The sides
of the glen are in most parts lofty and steep, clothed with trees, and
often decorated with little waterfalls, while the bed of the stream
itself is so rugged that the wood after much rain is filled with the
sound of its hindered efforts to escape. On emerging from the wood,
at the upper extremity, or furthest from Simpson Clough, there is a
fine walk over Ashworth Moor to Bury, from which place also it may be
approached.

In 1839 there was no "Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway." Now by
its help we reach the beautiful sheet of water called, popularly,
"Hollingworth _Lake_," but which, like the water at Lymm, Rudyard, and
Taxal, is really no more than a reservoir, constructed about seventy
years ago to supply, in part, the Rochdale and Manchester Canal. The
circumference, which is very irregular, exceeds two miles. Rising high
upon every side, the encircling hills have a wild and rugged grandeur
that contrasts most agreeably with the smooth and tender beauty of
the environments of the meres of Cheshire,--from their summits, upon
a sunny afternoon, the effects are quite as pleasing as the average
of those gathered above Ullswater. An obelisk upon the highest point
marks Whiteley Dean, the view from which is wonderfully fine, reaching
southwards to Manchester; while beyond Littleborough, amid great piles
of hills, stands Brown Wardle, famous, like Bucton Castle, as an
ancient signal station. Amid them is a mamelon quite equal in graceful
outline to Shutlings Low, and decidedly taking precedence of the more
familiar one called Rivington Pike, since the latter, when looked for
at particular angles, disappears; whereas the Brown Wardle mound keeps
fairly true to its outline from whatever point observed, at all events
upon the southern side. The best view of it, so far as we know, is
obtained from near "Middleton Junction." As the word "mamelon" does not
occur in English dictionaries, it may be well to say that it denotes
a smooth, round, evenly-swelling eminence, thrown up from amid hills
already high, a feature in mountain scenery greatly admired by the
ancient Greeks, who gave it a name of precisely similar signification,
as in the case of that classic one at Samos which Callimachus connects
so elegantly with the name of the lady Parthenia.

Moving along the western borders of the lake, it is impossible for
the eye not to catch sight of some curious projecting crags upon the
topmost crest of the highest ground in front. These are the noted
"Robin Hood Rocks" of the legend, the lofty hill upon which they are
perched being Blackstone Edge itself, with, just below them, the
remains of the still more famous Roman road. That Littleborough stands
on the site of an ancient Roman station is well known. The road mounted
the steep slope, crossed it, and then descended into Yorkshire, running
as far as the city where Severus died. By reason, it would seem, of
the extreme steepness, the construction is different from that of any
other Roman road in the country, there being a deep groove along the
middle of the accustomed pavement, designed apparently with the help of
proper wheels to steady the movement of heavily laden trucks. In any
case, there is not a more interesting scene near Manchester than is
supplied upon the slopes of this grand range--Blackstone Edge--which
if unpossessed of the drear wildness of mighty Kinder, is solaced by
the placid bosom of distant Hollingworth. Two ways give access. We may
ascend either from the margin of the water, proceeding through fields
and the little glen called Clegg's Wood; or from Littleborough by the
turnpike-road, turning off when about half-way up to the right, and
then mounting again. At the height of about a quarter of a mile the
road will be discovered--a belt of massive pavement, about forty feet
in width, quite smooth, and overgrown with whortle and crowberry,
except in parts where these have been cleared away with a view to
minute examination of the stone-work. So bright is the colour of this
heathy covering, compared with that of the general vegetation of the
hill, that when the atmosphere is clear, and the sunshine favourably
subdued, the road may be plainly discerned from the opposite side of
the valley, a regular and well-defined streak of green. Arrived at the
summit, a few yards over the level brow, we find the boundary-stone
between the two counties, and from this point may trace the road for
some distance onwards.

Running on, past Rochdale and through the tunnel, again there is a
quite new sphere of enjoyment in the country which lies on the northern
side of the Todmorden valley, everywhere picturesque, and constantly
branching into subordinate valleys with never-silent streams. The
finest of them are the Burnley valley and the vast and romantic defile
called, as a whole, Hardcastle Crags, though this name applies strictly
to no more than the singular insulated masses of rock at the upper
extremity or beyond the bridge. A more charming resort for two-thirds
of a day the West Riding scarcely offers. The path is first through
the so called "streets," at an angle of forty-five degrees, that lead
towards Heptonstall, then along the crest of the hill until the point
is reached for descending through the wood, at the foot of which, if
the water be low enough, the stream may be crossed by stepping-stones.
Clinging to them will be found in plenty that curious aquatic moss the
_Fontinalis antipyretica_, so named by Linnæus in reference to the
use which he says it was put to by the peasantry in Sweden. Possessed
of properties so much the more singular from their occurrence in a
water-plant, the country people, he tells us, were accustomed to use
it to fill up the spaces between the chimneys and the walls of their
houses, so as to exclude the air and serve as a protection against
fire. The wood is in many parts quite a little natural fernery. We
have on various occasions seen no fewer than five different species
all growing so near together that they could be touched without
moving a single step--the common shield-fern, the broad-leaved sylvan
shield-fern, the hard-fern, the oak-fern, and the beech-fern. Oak-fern,
_Polypodium Dryopteris_, is a frequent inhabitant of the dells
hereabouts where moist, growing in patches more than a foot across.

[Illustration: W. Hull.

Tho. Letherbrow.

Halewood Church.]

Like the rocks of Whaley Bridge, Kinder Scout, Greenfield, and Seal
Bark, those of the Hebden valley consist of millstone-grit, alternating
with shale, the latter cropping out chiefly along the course of the
river. It was among these shales, though perhaps more particularly
in portions laid bare during the construction of the line along the
main or Todmorden valley, that Samuel Gibson, the once celebrated
blacksmith-naturalist of Hebden Bridge, pursued his researches in
connection with fossil shells, as described in the first volume of the
_Transactions of the Manchester Geological Society_ (1841). His work
is said, in the volume in question, to have been carried on in "High
Green Wood," and as regards the common use of this name, correctly
so, as it is applied very generally to the entire valley, or from the
village up to the insulated rocks. Properly, however, it denotes only
a small portion near the latter. Gibson, a man wholly self-taught,
and who kept to his anvil till nearly the time of his death, in
the spring of 1849, possessed a vast amount of knowledge of almost
every department of natural history. A considerable portion of his
collection, comprising a cabinet of seeds of British plants, ferns,
lichens, Marchantias, shells, and insects, was purchased, after his
decease, for the Peel Park Museum. Another portion went to the museum
once existing in Peter-street. The herbarium of flowering plants,
valued at £75, went into the hands of Mr. Mark Philips. Most men suffer
from some kind of constitutional malady. Poor Gibson laboured under
an infirmity of temper which constantly brought him into collision
with his fellow-students. He always meant well, as proved in his last
famous battle over the _Carex paradoxa_; and probably had his life
been a less lonely one the roughness would have got smoothened, and he
would have been as friendly with all other men as with the writer of
this little notice, which is intended rather to preserve the memory
of a singularly acute and industrious observer of nature, working
single-handed, in the face of enormous difficulties, than to imply the
least reflection on his tendency to warfare. The distance of Gibson's
home, twenty-four miles of coach-road, prevented his often coming to
Manchester; but no man was ever more welcome. How different some of
those he came among! As for old Crozier, whose name we have already
mentioned two or three times, and whose work was so largely identified
with White Moss, Boggart-hole Clough, and Bamford-wood, in temper and
disposition he was Gibson's completest antithesis. No man has ever
done more, in his own circle, to foster and diffuse the love of nature
and of natural science--accomplishing this, as Crozier did, not so
much through the variety and exactitude of his knowledge, as through
the urbanity of his manner. Few are now living who remember Crozier;
it may be allowed, therefore, to repeat what we said of him in 1858,
wishing only that space would allow of an ample biography, since,
although not a life of stirring incident, it was one of generous and
unsophisticated good example. When first acquainted with him, the
year after the accession of Her Majesty, he was curator of the Museum
of Natural History then possessed by the Mechanics' Institution, and
distinguished for his skill as a bird-stuffer, though his occupation
by day, and up to six p.m., was that of a master saddler. The chief
portion of that excellent collection, long since unhappily sold off,
had been accumulated by the earliest of the Manchester Field Natural
History Societies--a band of zealous, practical men who had associated
themselves, in 1829, for the furtherance of botany, entomology,
ornithology, and the allied sciences. The register of names includes
those of the celebrated Edward Hobson, whose volumes of moss-books
are contained in our Free Libraries, of Rowland Detrosier, of all,
indeed, of the earnest scientific men of the time, Crozier of
course in the front. They called themselves the "Banksians," and had
regular indoor meetings up to 1836, when, owing to the loss of many
members, Edward Hobson, the president, in particular, who died that
year, there came a lull, and eventually a break-up. But Crozier was
alive: that was enough; no world is ever so drowned but some little
Ark floats on the surface of the waters; younger men arrived on the
scene, the Directors of the Institution gave them every encouragement
in their power, and in less than eighteen months the celebrated old
Cooper-street "Natural History Class" came into existence. At intervals
there were delightful evening meetings of the character, though less
pretentious, that now-a-days are called _soirées_,--more than once
under the presidentship of the late Mr. James Aspinall Turner, always
a warm and liberal patron of natural history; honoured also by the
presence of visitors from Preston, Halifax, Warrington, and other towns
from which the journey was then possible only by whip. After coffee
had been served short essays were read, and from nine o'clock until
half-past ten or so the company promenaded, examining the curiosities
in the glass cases that covered the wall or those laid out upon the
tables, and enjoying the social pleasure which grows so largely out
of consociation based upon a definite and intelligent idea, and where
there is plenty to feast the eye. No man entered more thoroughly into
the spirit of these gatherings than George Crozier. They were his
festivals and harvest-homes, prepared for long beforehand, and looked
back upon as isles of light and verdure in his wake. His love of social
gatherings, his skill as a practical naturalist, were equalled by his
sagacity and shrewdness. "There," said he once, on the conclusion of
the reading of a paper, "that is what we want; that wasn't learnt
out of a book." His courtesy and generosity rose to the same level.
Every Tuesday evening, when the members of the class assembled to
compare their notes and discoveries of the past week, there was old
Crozier, busy as usual with his birds, and only too glad to chat with
his young disciples, withholding nothing he could tell that would
interest and amuse, and, what was far more valuable, inspiring them
with his own enthusiasm. This kind, warm-hearted, cheerful old man
it was who, taking the young naturalists by the hand, first showed
many of them the way to Baguley and to Carrington, to Greenfield and
to Rostherne, pointing out the rarities which his large experience
knew so cleverly how to find, and communicating his various knowledge
with the unselfishness of one in a thousand. Nothing seemed to come
strange to him. Great as was his botanical information, he excelled
in a still higher degree as an entomologist and ornithologist; he was
acquainted with the shape and habits of every bird and every butterfly,
every branch of his knowledge helping him to enlarged success in the
prosecution of the others, botany aiding entomology, and entomology
facilitating botany. It was his extensive and accurate knowledge of
plants that rendered him so expert in finding rare insects, being
aware what species the latter feed upon, and familiar with their forms.
He showed, in the highest degree, how happy a man can make himself by
the study of natural history, however humble his station in life, and
however confining his employment. For Crozier, like all the rest of
the old Lancashire naturalists, got his living, as already indicated,
by manual labour, exercised in a shop on Shudehill, the last place in
the world one would look to for the abode of a naturalist, yet made by
his intelligent pastimes one of the most contented in Manchester. Here
we have looked over his dried plants, his choice exotics given him by
friendly gardeners, examined his birds and shells, and listened while
he told his adventures "by flood and field." Of such he was always
ready with large store, being, as an old Banksian associate reminds me,
in a letter of pleasant anecdote and reminiscence, "one of those plain,
plodding, practical naturalists, whose knowledge the field and forest,
the uplands and the watery cloughs, had far more contributed to give
than the lore of books." * * * "The quiet, unromantic study of books,"
he continues, "would never have made either him or them what they
were. Active adventure, real life within the whole domain of nature,
was their condition of enjoyment; and, consequently, the secluded
footpaths, the fine old green and lonely lanes, the umbrageous bosky
dell, with its clear babbling brook, and rich with plants, insects,
and minerals, were their haunts." In all his excursions he was joined
by from three to a dozen of his companions in the love of science and
nature; it should rather be said, perhaps, that he was generally one
of every party made up by the naturalists of the day for the purpose
of visiting the country, as there was but a single purpose among the
whole. One of his warmest friends was Thomas Townley, originally
of Blackburn, where the two men became acquainted, subsequently of
Liverpool, and eventually of our own city. The circumstance is worth
mentioning on two accounts. Next to a man's acts and principles, it is
interesting to know who were his closest and oldest associates, since
there is always a reciprocal though unconscious influence passing from
one to the other, which explains a good deal of character; and in the
second place, in addition to being an excellent botanist, Townley was a
neat painter in water-colours, and claimed, with a justice that is most
willingly acknowledged, the credit of drawing forth the youthful genius
of his friend's son, the Robert Crozier of to-day. It is pleasant to
think that the beautiful pictures which now decorate so many walls had
their impulse in the little palette of the old botanist. Townley and
Crozier were the first to design a "Manchester Flora," and but for
Crozier's infirm health during the latter years of his life, the crude
catalogue of 1840 would have been followed by a complete work, in which
his own long observations and those of the other leading botanists of
the district would have been consolidated. Crozier died before he could
do the part intended. Townley, however, never let go the idea, and two
years after Crozier's death his zeal and willingness as wielder of
the "pen of the ready writer," and his wonderful memory for poetry,
which here had congenial exercise, appeared in the work commonly known
as "Buxton's Guide." So much poetry had Townley ready for introduction
into it, that the useful and accurate little volume in question might
easily have been swelled to double the size.[20] Townley could recite
passages from any part of Pope's Homer, and such was his admiration
of that poem, that he repeatedly declared if he had his younger days
before him he would learn Greek in order to peruse it in the original.

It may be added, in reference to Crozier, who was a well-built, portly
man, quiet but merry, fond of a joke and a good story, mild and gentle,
yet thoroughly independent, that his long and upright life, rejoiced
by hearty and abiding love of nature, and the respect of every one
who truly knew him, closed in 1847. He died in Peel-street, Hulme, on
Friday, the 16th of April, and was interred at the Harpurhey Cemetery
on the following Tuesday. Never was there a better example of the
scientific man in humble life, or of the practical kind-heartedness
and generosity that spring from simple, God-fearing virtue. His
old friend, Townley, survived him ten years, coming to his own end
September 9th, 1857.

The old Banksian minute-books and other records and illustrations of
the work of fifty years ago have, very fortunately, been preserved,
and are now in the safe keeping of their proper inheritor. No written
memorials of the Natural History class are extant, but four or five of
the original members still venerate the name of their ancient leader.

[Illustration]

Footnote

[20: In indicating the share, unacknowledged and unrewarded,
which Townley had in the compilation of the "Guide," we merely wish to
give honour where honour is due, neither on the one hand suppressing
truth, nor on the other saying a word that shall look like unfair
disparagement. It is but just to the memory of a worthy man, now no
more, that the living should know what they owe to him.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER XIV.


MERE CLOUGH.

  O 'tis a quiet spirit-healing nook
  Which all, methinks, would love; but chiefly he
  The humble man, who in his early years
  Knew just so much of folly as had made
  His riper manhood more securely wise.

COLERIDGE.


Mere Clough! Where is that? Such will probably be the reception of
our present title, at least in thought, by not a few of those whom
we hope to be the means of introducing to this romantic little glen.
For it is positively surprising how much of the rural beauty of our
neighbourhood is unknown, even to those who delight in country scenes
and the fresh air of the fields; and how often the very existence of
it is unsuspected till some fortunate accident brings home the welcome
truth. Nowhere within the same very short distance of Manchester is so
much woodland beauty to be found as in Mere Clough and its immediate
neighbourhood; nor is any place within four miles of the Cathedral
the avenue to so many pleasant auxiliary walks. In botanical riches
Mere Clough is second nearly to Bowdon, over which place it has the
advantage of its earliest plants being among the rare ones of the
Manchester flora, while its latest are some of the most beautiful and
attractive. The name of "clough," though so familiar in Lancashire, is
not known in the southern counties. Hence it may be useful to observe
that "cloughs," beyond the Mersey, are those fissures or "clefts" in
the ground which give the first and simplest idea of a valley. Formed
by the rise, in opposite directions, of two gentle acclivities, which
run for a short distance in a more or less irregular and winding
parallel, and at last widely diverge, or else undulate away into the
plain, these "cloughs" have in every case a little stream along the
bottom, while the slopes on either side are clothed with trees and
natural shrubbery. Along the borders of the stream there is a slender
rustic path, which often quits the water-side to mount high upon the
slope, and thus give pretty little peeps of the shining current down
below and of the distant leafy intricacies of the wood. Rarely is there
so much water as to form a deep and steady brook; in summer-time we
may be sure it will be shallow enough to "make music to the enamelled
stones," and beguile us onward with that beautiful magic which always
accompanies the artless voices and tones of nature.[21] In the
neighbourhood of Prestwich there are several such cloughs, the "Dells"
below the church being the nearest and best known, and Mere Clough the
longest and most romantic. The others are Hurst Clough, to the west of
Stand, and Agecroft Clough, near the bridge of that name. All these
cloughs bear more or less directly towards the Irwell, into which river
their little streamlets convey themselves. The beauty of Prestwich
Dells has long rendered the latter place a favourite resort. Easy,
moreover, of access, and with the capital recommendation of a harbour
of refuge close at hand, in the shape of the commodious and well
provided Church Inn, no wonder that few except naturalists have cared
to push on farther. It needs something more than invites people to a
place like Prestwich Dells to take us to one still prettier, but where,
as far as concerns supplies for the inner man, we are like sailors on
the open sea--commanding only what we carry thither.

The conveyance to go by, should the walk be thought too long, is the
Whitefield omnibus. About three-quarters of a mile beyond Prestwich,
through which village the omnibus passes, there is an old-fashioned
"magpie" upon the left. Leave the omnibus here, and, going through the
farmyard, follow the path through the field, keeping to the right of
the new asylum, and in a few minutes the entrance to the clough will
come in view. At first, the path is near the summit of the slope;
afterwards it crosses the stream, and continues the rest of the way
at the bottom. If we please, when half-way through, we may re-ascend
(this time to the top of the northern slope), by going through the
field upon the right, to where the great arches support the roadway,
and so find our way by the carriage-track which leads to "The Park,"
the residence of Mr. R. N. Philips, and eventually through the private
lodge-gate at the extremity, there emerging on to the public path by
the reservoir, at nearly the same point that is reached by the lower
one. The latter course has the advantage of preserving the feet dry,
should the path by the stream be deceitful, as often happens after
wet weather, and also of providing views of the surrounding country,
but the lower path is considerably more romantic. The private grounds
are exceedingly pretty and sylvan, and up to about half a century ago
were used as pheasant-preserves. Like those at Norcliffe, they are
not forbidden to legitimate and respectful request made a few days
previously, with the understanding that there shall be no trowels
carried.

As stated in our second chapter, Mere Clough is fertile in curious
plants. In every part there is abundance in particular of that
beautiful reminder of pre-adamite vegetation, the sylvan horsetail,
in scientific language _Equisetum sylvaticum_, in form resembling a
tiny larch tree, the leaves, which are no longer or stouter than a
violet stalk, curving outwards and downwards in the most graceful way
imaginable, and forming a succession of little cupolas up the stem
which they encircle. Varying from a few inches to nearly two feet in
height when mature, and of a singularly delicate green, sometimes it
tapers off to a point, sometimes is crowned with a kind of miniature
fir-cone, which serves at once for flower and seed-pod, and will
well repay minute examination. When ripe, an impalpable green powder
dusts out of this little cone-like body, every particle a distinct
and living seed, and originating a new plant, if not destroyed before
it can germinate. Under the microscope, these particles perform most
amusing evolutions. It is merely necessary that some one breathe upon
them while we observe, to make every little atom twist and entangle
its long arms as if it were an animated creature. A magnifying power
of sixty is quite sufficient to show these curious movements, and the
seeds, if preserved in a pill-box, will keep good for many years.
All the neighbouring dells and groves likewise contain this charming
plant, and growing, as it often does, in large patches, we seem to have
woods within woods. Hurst Clough, best reached from Molyneux Brow,
noted also for the _Rosa villosa_, is one of the richest. Not that it
is confined to them, being more or less diffused in most directions
out of Manchester, but it is here that it grows most plentifully and
luxuriantly. Contemporaneous with the sylvan horsetail, there comes
a second kind of golden saxifrage. The common sort was mentioned
when describing Ashley meadows. This one, scientifically called the
_alternifolium_, is larger and handsomer, as well as rare, and is to
be gathered on the left hand borders of the stream, just after passing
the white cottage in the middle of the clough. Another plant of special
interest, and blooming at the same time, is the mountain-currant,
_Ribes alpinum_, which grows on the bank of the half-lane,
half-watercourse, running from the lower side of the reservoir towards
the river. It is a large, green, leafy bush, with glossy foliage,
and appears to be the only one in the Prestwich neighbourhood. How
it got there is a botanical problem, yet only one out of many of the
same kind. Nature is for ever putting some droll spectacle before our
eyes, and playing pantomimes for our amusement and curiosity, if we
would but care for them as they deserve. As Pott Shrigley is the place
above all others for bluebells, so is Mere Clough the place above all
others for its colleague the wood-anemone. Tens of thousands of this
lovely flower, the fairest companion of the opening buds, grow in the
open spaces among the trees at the lower part, sheeting them with the
purest white, tinged here and there with a faint blush, like sunbeams
falling on snow. On a fine day at the end of April or beginning of
May, there is not a more charming picture to be found. In the moister
parts of the clough, especially near the reservoir, may also now be
seen in perfection the deep yellow marsh-marigold. Like the anemone,
it is a common plant, but none the less to be admired. The same as
to that dainty little flower, the wood-sorrel, which begins to open
freely about the time that the anemones depart. Easily discovered by
means of its curious leaves, which are formed of three triangular
pieces, placed on the summit of a little stalk, and rise about three
inches above the ground, no one can fail to be charmed with its fairy
form and the delicacy of the lilac pencillings on the inner surface of
the petals, which are white as those of the anemone itself. Anemone,
translated, signifies "wind-flower," a name intended to denote fugacity
of the petals, or fall at the first touch. But such is not the fate
of the anemone-petals of to-day. The original application of the name
would appear to have been to the cistus. It was into this last that
the frail goddess transformed her love, her tears represented in the
disappearance in a moment.

Emerging from the clough, the difficulty is not which way to get home
again, but which pleasant way to give the preference to. We may go
past the dyeworks, and through the park to Agecroft Bridge; or turn
up the lane that curls back towards Prestwich; or, best of all, make
our way under the magnificent viaduct of the East Lancashire Railway,
and then across the river to Clifton Aqueduct. Arrived here, there is
another ample choice; either to ride home from the adjacent station
(Clifton Junction); to descend to the Irwell bank, and walk through
the meadows bordering the river to Agecroft Bridge; or to take the
fields and canal bank, the latter in some parts very pretty, and so
to Pendleton, where Mr. Greenwood will be glad to see us, and the
feeling probably be reciprocal. To invigorate ourselves, if purposing
to walk, it is prudent, and not difficult, to procure tea at one of
the cottages near the station. At one in particular, standing back
a little from the road, upon the left, with--at the bottom of the
garden--a nice, cool, face-refreshing well, that we have seen give
challenge on fair cheeks to the morning dew upon the rose, there is
a free, plentiful, whole-hearted hospitality, that adds quite a charm
to the associations already so pleasant, of summer afternoon in the
sweet stillness of Mere Clough. The hostess is as large as her welcome;
the bread and butter is incomparable.[22] Every one who has gone by
train to Bolton or Bury, will remember this beautiful valley, sometimes
called the Agecroft, sometimes after its river, the Irwell. On the
left, as soon as Pendleton is passed, the high grounds of Pendlebury
come into view, their brows covered with trees. On the right, first we
have broad, sweet lawns of meadow and pasture, and in autumn yellow
corn-fields; and, beyond these, rising in terraced slopes, with deep
bays and rounded promontories, according as the hill recedes or swells,
the woods overlooking Agecroft Park, presently succeeded by those
of Prestwich. For fully two miles the eye rests upon rich masses of
leaf, interrupted only by mounds of tender green, the crests of the
Rainsall and Agecroft hills, and towards the close, the picturesque
tower of Prestwich Church. The course of the river may be traced by the
winding line of continuous foliage, but the water is too low down to
be discerned until we catch sight of the white cottage at the foot of
Mere Clough, immediately after passing which, if upon the Bury line, we
continue along the viaduct and therefrom get a full view, as well as
of banks lined to the water's edge with vegetation. Here the scenery
changes entirely, though retained for a short distance on the Bolton
line, and we quit the Agecroft valley. Not one of the other railway
approaches to our town--ten minutes completing the journey--bears any
comparison with this for beauty; indeed, it is quite a surprise to
people entering Manchester for the first time by way of Bolton or Bury,
to find so picturesque a country at the very edge.

The best way to the valley on foot is to go over Kersal Moor,
descending on the further side, and so onward, past the print-works, to
Agecroft Bridge, which we must cross, and turn to the right. If more
convenient, there is a way by Pendleton and Charlestown, crossing the
Bolton railway, then along the path by the river-side. But this, as to
its earlier part, is a disagreeable means of access, and very little
is really gained. Going by Kersal, on the other hand, we come at once
into a green, sequestered walk, which accompanying the river for about
a mile, then changes to the bank of the canal, and will take us, if
we please, to the aqueduct, and thence round by the cottages to the
station. The road straight away from the bridge leads to Pendlebury, to
which village there is also a pleasant path across the fields, after
ascending the river-side some little distance. Keeping to the Kersal
side of the river there is a delightful walk through Agecroft Park,
beneath the woods, to the foot of the dells; another, by diverging a
little to the left when out of the park, through a farmyard, to the
river and viaduct; and if, instead of going through the park, we turn
up on the right among the cottages, it is not difficult to penetrate
the woods themselves, and to find one or two paths over the hills,
all tending to Prestwich as a common point. So numerous and varied
are the paths which converge hitherwards and in the direction of
Clifton Aqueduct, that it is impossible to go wrong. Were we to give a
preference, it would be to the walk first described, or that along the
river-side, commencing at Agecroft Bridge, and having the river upon
the right. The meadows abound with floral treasures, the rosy bistort,
the blue geranium, and the fragrant ciceley, in their several seasons,
and on the banks, at the further part, near the canal, may be seen
the broad-leaved wood-stitchwort, _Stellaria memorum_, and the yellow
dead-nettle. Early in June is the pleasantest time to go. The grass is
then uncut, the sycamores are hung with their honeyed bloom, the clover
glows like rubies, the white pagodas of the butter-bur, now gone to
seed, stand up like the banners of an army, and we find "the _first_
rose of summer, sweet blooming alone," amid thousands of juvenile green
buds.

But the yellow dead-nettle is the most interesting; it gives so useful
a lesson in practical botany. The stem is perfectly square; the leaves
grow two together; the large golden-coloured blossoms are set in
verandahs round the stalk, each particular flower shaped like the
jaws of some terrible wild beast, wide-open and ready to bite, while
the stamens are invariably four in number--a pair of long ones and a
pair of short ones. The seeds, also, are exactly four. Whenever these
peculiarities co-exist in a plant, we may be sure that there is nothing
deleterious about it. More than fifty different plants formed on this
plan grow wild in England, and considerably over two thousand in
foreign countries, and not one of them is in the least degree noxious,
either to quadruped or to man. Many are aromatic, and used with food,
as thyme, sage, mint, basil, and penny-royal; while others are useful
for medicinal tea, as balm and ground-ivy. Rosemary, lavender, and
bergamot belong to the same fragrant family. The great object of
botanical science is to determine such facts as these, _i.e._, to make
out the relation between the form of a plant and its properties;--can
a science of such useful, practical aim be justly deemed, as by some,
mere "learned trifling?" Surely not. No slight advantage has that man
over his fellows who, when he is walking through the meadows, or when
he emigrates to a distant land, can discriminate between the poisonous
plant and the wholesome, simply by examining the leaves and flowers.
We do not mean to say that every individual plant in the world has
its exact quality unmistakably configured upon it. The concurrence is
between certain general properties and certain great types or plans of
organisation, taking note of which latter we gain a good general idea
of the former. The _particular_ nature must be learned by special
inquiry. Though the yellow dead-nettle, for example, is shown by its
general structure to be devoid of anything bad, it cannot be told
whether it is fit to eat until tasted and tried. To persons who have an
idea of emigrating, or whose children are likely to go abroad, botany
is of the very highest service, for in foreign countries men are thrown
upon their own resources, and to be compelled by ignorance to look upon
every leaf as a possible poison is helplessness of the most wretched
kind.

The railway up the Agecroft valley is interesting as the first that was
constructed after the Liverpool and Manchester, and perhaps the "Grand
Junction." People used to go to the Prestwich hills to watch the trains
scudding along. The scenery here is certainly not spoiled by it. For
our own part, we consider that scenery is scarcely ever spoiled by the
presence of railways, and would contend rather that they are a capital
addition; for those spectacles are always most salutary to the mind,
and therefore most truly pleasing, where along with rural beauties are
combined the grand circumstances of human life and human enterprise.
Railways count with bridges, ships, gardens, the castles and abbeys of
the past, and the mansions of the present. Nature is beautiful, even in
its most retired and lonely solitudes, just in the proportion that we
connect with it, though unconsciously, the interests, the feelings, the
aspirations of humanity; the more of what is noble and comely in human
life we are able to assimilate with the outer world, the more does
that world minister to our happiness and our intelligence. In the case
of the railways, we are recipients of an immense amount of good. There
is not only the interest of what is witnessed on the instant, but the
pleasant flow of remembrance of the various localities they lead to.
As, looking at the sea, we are led in thought all round the world, so,
looking at the winged train and its pearly clouds, we visit over again
a thousand delicious spots, photographed on the mind, and endeared by
association. Here, for instance, in the valley of the Irwell, we go
on to the lakes of Cumberland, and its ancient and purple mountains,
and anon to the flowered and roofless aisles of sacred Furness. Should
these be places yet unknown, there are nearer ones where we _have_
been,--Rivington, Summerseat, Hoghton Tower, with its precipitous
beechen-wood and lovely walk by the river underneath; or Southshore,
where grow the blue eryngo and the grass of Parnassus, and where, on
calm September evenings, the round, red setting sun pours a stream of
crimson light across the sea, that reaches to the last ripple of the
retiring water, like a path of velvet unrolled for the feet of a queen;
or, if the wind blow high and fresh, the grand old deep-voiced waves,
with their gray locks hanging dishevelled over their broad bosoms,
roll gloriously over the rattling pebbles, change for a moment into
arcades as white as snow, then dissolve into a wilderness of foam. Thus
to make the common things of life so many centres of thought, from
which we can travel away to whole worlds of pleasant remembrance,
lying calm perhaps in the golden light of lang syne, is one of the
profoundest secrets of happiness, and one of the most useful habits
we can cultivate. Every one may acquire the art, and it strengthens
every day and year that we live. Happiness is not a wonderful diamond,
to be sought afar off, but, rightly understood, a thing to be reaped
every day out of the ordinary facts of life, even out of the sight of a
railway train steaming across the fields.

The plants of the woods and hills bordering the Agecroft valley
are mostly the same that are found in Mere Clough. In addition to
those above enumerated, may be mentioned the pretty round-leaved
marsh-violet, the whortleberry, and the wild cherry, one of the gayest
ornaments of the month of May. The whortleberry seldom ripens its fruit
at Prestwich, or anywhere so near the town: it seems to require the
bracing air of the moors and mountains. It is one of the shrubs which
rival the trees in brilliancy of tint, assumed as in the sky, when
the hour of departure is at hand. Along with the Canadian medlar, the
bramble, and some kinds of azalea, the leaves change not infrequently
to vivid crimson. People are apt to call these changes the "fading"
of the leaf; it would be better to say the _painting_. Primroses are
exceedingly scarce, both on the Agecroft hills and in the Irwell
valley, and their place is unoccupied by any other vernal flower as
fair and popular. The wild pansy is there, on the higher and drier
ground, and often with remarkably large and handsome flowers, but it
makes no show; and though there are daffodils in a few places, they
are not prominent to view. A field at the head of Prestwich Dells is
for a little time plentifully strewed with their lively yellow. When
September comes the want of the primrose is almost compensated by the
cheerful autumn crocus, which lifts its purple abundantly among the
grass, in the low meadows on the further side of Kersal Moor, near
the rivulet; also in the fields below Prestwich Church, the same that
in spring are dressed with the daffodil, and again in those between
the asylum and the dells. The autumnal crocus, like the colchicum, is
curious in seeming to produce its seeds before the flowers, the former
being ripe in May and June, whereas the latter do not open till three
months after. When the great Swedish botanist, Linnæus, was engaged in
promulgating the great doctrine of the sexuality of plants, now about a
century and a half ago, the circumstance in question was pointed to as
upsetting it. But the young seed-pod lies low down in the bosom of the
leaves, where it is fertilised, as in all other flowers, by the pollen
from the stamens, and there it abides during the winter, elevating
itself above the ground with the warmth of the ensuing summer, when it
ripens and scatters its contents. The true time of the vital energy
of the autumn crocus is thus, not from May to September, but from
September until May. The history has always seemed to us a memorable
instance of the quiet dignity with which truth and genuine science
pursue their way, triumphing and silencing all the little cavillers in
the end, however plausible they may make their case at starting.

Before quitting this beautiful valley it will be salutary to pause for
a moment upon its geological history, since, with the single exception
of that part of the Mersey valley which lies between Didsbury and
Cheadle, it is the newest part of our neighbourhood. The date, that is
to say, is the nearest preceding that of the first occupation of the
British Islands by mankind. The great ridges of Kinder Scout, Glossop,
and Greenfield are immensely more ancient than any of the exposed or
superficial parts of the country threaded by the Mersey at Cheadle, and
by the Irwell below Prestwich. With the remainder of the chain of hills
to which the Greenfield summits belong, those great ridges form the
eastern margin of an enormous and very irregular stone basin, tilted
up in such a way that the opposite or western edge is concealed far
below the surface of the ground, nobody can tell exactly where, but
in the direction of the Irish Sea, perhaps under it, far away beyond
Southport and the sandhills. It is within or upon the inner surface of
this great basin that all the other South Lancashire rocks and strata
have their seat. In different portions of its huge lap are deposited
the Coal strata (themselves often much elevated above the level on
which the deposit took place, and this at various periods); then,
in ascending order, there are deposits called "Permian";[23] above
these, in turn, come the Triassic rocks; and over all (except on the
higher hill-ranges) there is sand or clay, or gravel, both stratified
and unstratified. This last, in the aggregate, is technically termed
"Drift." The whole of this great surface was unquestionably once
covered by salt water. At the latest period of that marvellous marine
dominion, blocks of ice containing boulders floated in it; and wherever
great heaps of sand now occur, we have the remains of ancient beaches
or sand-banks, many of which were cut through by the water, while
others are charged with pebbles that had been rounded by rolling over
and over upon some primeval shore, rattling while on their journeys,
just as at Walney Island we may hear the pebbles of to-day. The lofty
eastern edges of this great stone basin are, as would be anticipated,
quite free from deposits of drift. But everywhere else, westwards,
drift covers up all the underlying rock, the latter showing itself only
where rivers in cutting their channels have slowly worn it away.

The Agecroft valley participates with all the rest of the district in
the possession of drift. Here, however, is well shown, in addition, how
the first settlings of gravel and sand often themselves became covered
at a later period with yet another new deposit--material brought down
and diffused by shallow and tranquil streams, then of considerable
breadth, but which in course of time shrank into relatively narrow
ones, and continue as such to the present moment. That the lower
Irwell, as we have it in the Agecroft valley, was once a broad flood of
this description is declared by the "river-terraces" discoverable at
intervals all the way up, and which correspond with those that betoken
the ancient presence of the waters of the Mersey at a much greater
elevation than at present. Abney Hall is built upon one of these
river-terraces. Cheadle village stands upon a yet higher and older one.

Peculiarly associated with the valley of the Irwell, and the adjacent
cloughs and woods of Stand and Prestwich, is the memory of John
Horsefield, one of the most celebrated of the old Lancashire operative
botanists. It was Horsefield who first showed us the way through Mere
Clough, and pointed out the spots occupied by its rare plants. For
thirty-two years he was president and chief stay of the Prestwich
Botanical Society, and from 1830, up to the time of his death,
president also of the united societies of the whole district. He earned
his livelihood as a hand-loom weaver, following that occupation in a
cottage at Besses-o'-th'-Barn. Though the small wages his employment
yielded him, and the trifling amount of leisure it permitted him to
enjoy, naturally hindered pursuit of his darling science so fully as
he desired, it is marvellous to see how much he accomplished. In the
_Manchester Guardian_ of March 2nd, 1850, in the course of a long
and very interesting autobiography, he gives some slight idea of
his labours. "Since I first held office as president," he tells us,
"I have attended upwards of four hundred of these general meetings;
thousands of specimens have passed through my hands, and all my reward
or fee is the privilege of being scot-free." With that autobiography
easily accessible, it is unnecessary to do more here than to point
to it, and to a continuation of the narrative in the papers of the
April following, which include several pieces of original poetry.
Perhaps nothing has ever appeared which shows more strikingly how
an indomitable will and ardent thirst for knowledge, and a deep and
faithful love of nature, will triumph over the obstacles of poor means
and humble station in life, and lift a man into the high places of
true science, and give him at once the power of usefulness to his
fellow-creatures, and of realising the true rewards of existence.
Horsefield was a member of the Banksian Society, but rarely came to the
meetings of the Mechanics' Institution class, reserving himself for
those country musters where his knowledge and good nature had the full
wide scope which they at once merited and deserved. In person he was
thin and spare, presenting a great contrast to the tall and patriarchal
figure of Crozier, partaking, however, so far as we had opportunities
of judging, of all his amiable, unsophisticated qualities.

[Illustration]

Footnotes

[21: While such is the original and proper sense of the word,
the application, as in the case of Wessenden Clough (p. 150), naturally
passed on to similar defiles destitute of trees. Not fewer probably
than a third of the cloughs mentioned in the present volume are of the
latter character.]

[22: Mrs. Taylor, we are very sorry to say, died, though
apparently of supreme vigour, in the spring of 1877, and the cottage
is now occupied by a totally different family. Mere Clough, too, is
not what it was. Though spared the desecrations of Boggart-hole, the
grove of fine trees that once filled the bottom has disappeared. The
best of the wild-flowers have also disappeared, or nearly so; and the
brook is less often limpid than impure. Similar changes have overtaken
everything public in the neighbourhood.]

[23: On account of their correspondence with others,
geologically the same, very extensively present in the portion of
Central and Eastern Russia called Perm.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER XV.

HORSEFIELD'S PREDECESSORS AND COMPANIONS.[24]


  Though I be hoar, I fare as doth a tree
  That blosmeth ere the fruit y-woxen be;
  The blosmy tree is neither drie ne ded;
  I feel me nowhere hoar but on my hed;
  Mine harte and all my limmès ben as green
  As laurel through the year is for to seen.

CHAUCER.


A chapter may here be legitimately devoted to the men in whose
wake Horsefield and Crozier followed and to their own principal
companions. The history of these men is peculiar. It is not simply
that of individuals, but inseparably identified with that of the
botanical societies of South East Lancashire and the neighbourhood,
without question the most remarkable in England. Every man of course
has had his own private and personal history, but the energies and
activities of each have been so closely intermingled with those of his
companions that the history is essentially like that of a tree or a
corporate body,--not so much of many things as of an organic whole.
Many persons have never so much as heard of these societies, though
assembling almost at their very doors. While the learned and wealthy
have been holding brilliant _soirées_ and _conversazioni_ in lecture
halls and royal institutions, meetings have been going on among the
weavers and other craftsmen, quietly and unostentatiously, with aims
exactly similar, and success not inferior, and probably with tenfold
more enjoyment to the bulk of those attending them, because of its
simplicity and earnestness. Should the history of science in Lancashire
ever come to be written at length, it would be wanting in one of its
most interesting and important chapters were the proceedings of these
societies to be omitted, whether the members who composed them were
thought worthy of mention or not. The sketch we propose to give must
necessarily be brief, but it will serve to indicate what a large amount
of real, practical scientific knowledge exists among the workpeople of
our district, and how superior these men are to the mere herb-gatherers
or "yarb-doctors" with whom they have often been confounded, and who,
though useful in their way, constitute an entirely different class.

The study of botany by the operatives about Manchester, at least in a
precise and methodical manner, appears to date from the establishment
of the Linnæan system, which was one hundred years ago. Doubtless
the neighbourhood was already remarkable for its _love_ of plants,
since men do not jump at things like the Linnæan system unless they
have taste for them beforehand; but prior to the time of Linnæus, the
difficulties attendant on botany as a science were too great for it to
be anywhere a popular pastime. It was in Lancashire, without question,
in life and power, though not in determined fact. There is reason
to believe that botany, in some sort, was cultivated in Lancashire
as far back as the time of Ray, who described, in his "Synopsis,"
nearly four-fifths of the British plants, and frequently refers to
north-country botanists in connection with the localities of rare
species. They were probably the originals of those keen observers and
ardent cultivators whose succession has never yet intermitted. Ray's
work made its first appearance in 1670. What is meant by the "Linnæan
System" must be learnt from books devoted to its elucidation. It will
suffice to say of it here that it established a method of classifying
plants which gave it vantage, not only for successfully clearing the
ground of difficulties which were fast becoming insuperable to smaller
schemes and threatening the very existence of botany, but rendered
everything intelligible and delightful. No really practical system
had been devised previously to the time of Linnæus, and though his
classes and orders are now superseded by the grander and profounder
"Natural System," which it was Linnæus' own desire to arrive
at--acknowledging his sexual or "Artificial System" to be but temporary
and provisional,--when it appeared it may fairly be said to have made
that live which before was dead or dying, and to have been the true
inauguration of the science of botany.

The period referred to was, in round numbers then, fully one hundred
years ago. No records are extant as to what was actually done here at
that time, but the general fact that botany was ardently engaged in is
well established. Old Crowther, who was born in 1768, was accustomed,
when only nine years of age, to attend the meetings of a botanical
society at Eccles, numbering, on the average, forty members,--the first
society, in all likelihood, that was formed by the young Linnæans, and
the same, it may be concluded, as that which in 1790, or thereabouts,
had spread to Ashton, Oldham, Middleton, and many other places, holding
fixed monthly meetings at the several towns and villages in rotation,
and with which the proper "historical era" of botany in Manchester
may be said to commence. The business of the meetings was to compare
the floras of the several neighbourhoods, and to exchange plants and
information in general on subjects connected with botanical science.
A library of practical service was formed at a very early period. The
members subscribed, and bought among other books the "Systema Naturæ,"
and "Species Plantarum," of Linnæus; Withering's "British Plants,"
and Lee's "Introduction to Botany," exchanging the volumes with one
another on the days of meeting, and for several years everything went
on pleasantly and usefully. With the close of the century, however,
owing to infractions of the rules, the meetings were discontinued, and
the society was abruptly dissolved.

But death is everywhere the spring and herald of life. Though for a
time there was no regular society, meetings continued to be held in
a more private way, and, as generally happens after an interregnum,
new and better principles of management were introduced, resulting in
the formation of those numerous and excellent local societies which
started botany afresh, and several of the best of which are still
at work. The late venerable John Mellor, of Royton, near Oldham, is
generally considered to have laid the foundation of the new school.
Associated with him were the celebrated John Dewhurst, first president
of the collective meetings, and George Caley, well known to the
scientific as the botanist who accompanied Sir Joseph Banks to the
South Seas. The society which lays claim to primogeniture is that
at Middleton, or, at all events the Middleton _District_ Society.
Its former president, the late Mr. John Turner, possessed a letter
written from Australia in 1800, in which Caley warmly acknowledges
his obligations to the members, as having first given him a love for
plants. The Mottram Society is also of long date, having celebrated
forty-four anniversaries.[25] To make this matter of relative age
more intelligible, it may be observed that the local societies
group themselves into "districts," and that the name of a local
society is sometimes the same as that of a district society. For
instance, the Ashton-under-Lyne district takes in Ashton, Stalybridge,
Mottram, Glossop, Tintwistle, &c., and has both monthly meetings and
"bye-meetings;" the Rochdale district comprises Rochdale, Middleton,
Milnrow, Todmorden, Harpurhey, &c.; the Bredbury district includes
Stockport, Disley, Hatherlow, &c.; and so with the others. The
Prestwich local society, the nearest, and in many respects the most
interesting to Manchester, has been in existence thirty-eight years,
having been established September 11th, 1820. (Now, of course, extended
to sixty-two.)

Gradually, after this fresh start, the whole of the country lying
north-west, north, and north-east of Manchester became animated with
the love of botany; as far even as from Disley and Todmorden came the
echo of the new music; and under the successive presidentships (after
John Dewhurst's) of Edward Hobson, the great bryologist, then of John
Horsefield, and subsequently of James Percival, a man of extraordinary
information, both in accuracy and amount, the meetings have gone on
uninterruptedly and happily, and never were they more satisfactory
than at the present moment. The list for 1858, printed along with the
rules, announces twenty-six of the grand general gatherings, or a
meeting every fortnight, and fifteen different places of assembly. The
most successful meetings have been at Prestwich, Ashton-under-Lyne,
Blackley, Bury, Rochdale, Middleton, Oldham, Whitefield, Eccles,
Ringley, Radcliffe, and Harpurhey; and the best attended, the last
year or two, those held at Prestwich, Whitefield, and Bury. The
meetings, as at the beginning, are held upon the Sunday afternoon, at
some respectable tavern, such being the only place where working men
can assemble inexpensively; and though this may seem to some persons
detrimental to good order and sobriety, no religious service was ever
more decorously conducted. Working men can assemble at a tavern, and
not abuse it, quite as well as gentlemen; in either case, all depends
on the ideas they carry in with them. It is the peculiar characteristic
of intelligent delight in the objects of nature, that, with very rare
exceptions, it brings with it a moral and harmonising influence on the
heart, so that men who gather together as our Lancashire botanists do,
albeit in a public-house and on a Sunday, are the most likely of all
in their station of life, to conduct themselves in a manner becoming
intelligent beings. When the churchwardens or other peace-officers
think proper to walk in, as sometimes happens, they always express
themselves satisfied. Twice only, during upwards of seventy years, have
the meetings been interfered with by the authorities, and in neither
case has it been from disapproval of them, or because of misconduct
on the part of the members. The second occasion, which alone had
notoriety, fell in November, 1850, when the men had assembled, as often
before, at the "Ostrich," in Rooden Lane. The landlord of the house
had made himself obnoxious to the law, but in such a way, whatever it
was, that he could only be reached by the unfortunate botanists being
made the scape-goat.[26] The ale is not _forgotten_, nor would it be
wisely forgotten if it were. Water is good, but so, in their season,
are good wine and good ale. "My specimens," once said old Crowther,
in his quaint, quiet way, when nearly eighty years had silvered his
hair, his eyes twinkling as he spoke, "my specimens always look best
through a glass!" Capital botanical libraries are possessed by the
societies at Todmorden, Ashton, Oldham, Miles Platting, Prestwich,
and Boothstown. Several of the societies also possess herbariums. The
Prestwich collection, which fills nearly one hundred and sixty volumes,
contains a beautiful series of specimens prepared by the celebrated Mr.
Shepherd, once curator of the Liverpool Botanic Garden. Many of the
members further amuse themselves by cultivating curious plants, the
roots of which have been chiefly obtained by making excursions, for
the special purpose, into North Wales, the Lake district, and the more
romantic parts of Derbyshire and Yorkshire.

Once a year, on a Sunday fixed as near the height of the flower season
as possible, there is an extra grand meeting, when deputations from all
the societies in the neighbourhood make a point of attending. That of
1858 was held on the 11th of August at the "Golden Lion," Harpurhey,
twenty or thirty different societies being represented. The proceedings
were reported by the writer of these pages in the _Manchester Weekly
Times_ of the ensuing Saturday, the account, after some preliminary
observations, continuing as follows:--"The botanists began to assemble
soon after two o'clock, and at three, when the proceedings commenced,
there were present no fewer than two hundred and twelve, all, with the
exception of four or five, working men, and not more than the odd dozen
or so unconnected with one or other of the societies. It is a striking
and most pleasing fact, for the consideration of intelligent people,
that there should be in and about Manchester a body of naturalists
able to send two hundred zealous and well-informed representatives
to an annual meeting where the object of assembly was purely social.
Whatever else the cotton manufacturing districts may be in the eyes of
people at a distance, here, at least, is a characteristic that cannot
be disputed, and such as no other system or trade in the country has
tended either to develope or encourage. The meeting took place on the
large bowling-green behind the inn. At the lower extremity was placed a
table, some twenty yards long, and covered throughout its whole length
with specimens of flowers, mostly curious and uncommon, and about half
of which were British, with the addition of a few stove and greenhouse
plants, contributed by gentlemen's gardeners. After a little time spent
in conversation, the president, James Percival, was called to the
chair, from which he gave the names of about one hundred and fifty of
the most remarkable exhibits, first the Latin, and then the English,
often with some little remark upon their nature or place of growth. The
accuracy of his naming was not more remarkable than the correctness
of the pronunciation, showing how mistaken is the popular notion that
the Latin or scientific names of plants are harder to learn than the
English ones. Percival having concluded, his place was taken by John
Nowell, of Todmorden, who similarly named a quantity of mosses, and
when these were finished a box of beautiful ferns was opened by Mr.
Tom Stansfield, of the same town, and the contents disposed of in the
same manner. If any difference of opinion arose as to the correctness
of a name, the specimen was handed about for criticism, but it rarely
happened that either of the three spokesmen had made even so much as a
slip of the tongue. The plants having all been named and distributed,
some routine business was transacted, and the meeting, as to its formal
part, broke up, having lasted very nearly three hours. The remainder of
the evening was spent, like the commencement, in friendly chat. This
was in many respects quite as interesting as the regular business, the
opportunity being afforded for intimate converse with one after another
of two hundred as thoroughly good-hearted and intelligent men as ever
met together, full of anecdote of themselves and their companions,
never vainly putting forth their knowledge without call for it, but
never allowing the slightest error to pass unchallenged. No discussions
of learned doctors were ever more vigorous and entertaining than those
of our botanists on the green of the "Golden Lion." Among the chief
botanists present, in addition to those already mentioned, were George
Hulme, Prestwich; Edwin Clough and Henry Newton, Ashton-under-Lyne; Tom
Bleackley, Whitefield; John Shaw, Eccles; Isaac Ollerenshaw, Glossop;
John Darbyshire, Newton; William Bentley, Royton; James Devonport,
Droylsden; John Turner, Middleton; Richard Buxton, John Crowe, and John
Warburton, Manchester; William and James Horsefield, sons of John; Mr.
Isaac Williamson, of Stockport; and Mr. Lund, president of the Rochdale
Society. Mr. Edwin Waugh, Mr. Henry Robson, and several other visitors
from Manchester also attended."

Not the least pleasing feature of the meeting in question consisted
in the number of men in advanced years who were enjoying its
incidents,--fine specimens of youth carried along into mature
life,--that most admirable and noble condition of human nature, and
looking as if they were never going to be old. They showed how true it
is that spirit is youth, and that the want of spirit is age,--that life
measures not by birthdays, but by capacity for noble enjoyments, and
that he who would be a Man, must never forget to be a Boy. It avails
nothing for a man to live sixty or seventy years, unless he carry along
with him the freshness and cheerfulness of his youth, and nothing so
powerfully contributes to keeping the heart green, as simple and true
love of country pleasures and country productions. This is the true
old age, and that which we should set ourselves to attain. Our first
duty is to live as long as we can; and our chief wisdom, after the fear
of God, is to cultivate those tastes which make youth of spirit last
till birthdays come no more. The actual longevity both of naturalists
in general, and of many of the Lancashire men in particular, is a
fact of no mean significance. Crowther was seventy-nine when he died;
John Mellor, eighty-two; Elias Hall, the geologist, eighty-nine.
Timothy Harrop, of Middleton, with whose work, as a bird and animal
stuffer, the British Association were so well pleased when they visited
Manchester in 1842; and Josiah Nuttall, of Heywood, were also very
old men. Whether this longevity is to be attributed to the quiet and
temperate habits which the study of natural history almost invariably
induces, or to the continual out-door exercise inseparable from genuine
pursuit of it; or to the quickening of the intelligence and affections,
and the invigoration of the bodily health, which, by a beautiful law of
nature, always so gratefully ensues;--there is evidently a something
about natural history--other circumstances being equal--wonderfully
promotive of length of days. Men never step into the presence of
nature with affection and reverence, but they come back blessed and
strengthened with a reward.

Let us now look a little more closely at the individuals. The lives of
some of them are before the world,--told in those interesting, though
"short and simple annals," which have appeared in the local press from
time to time, such as the autobiography of John Horsefield, who died
March 6th, 1854, and the obituary notice of Crowther, which filled a
column and a half of the _Manchester Guardian_, of January 13th, 1847,
a week after his decease. Crowther was a Banksian, and one of the most
simple-hearted men that ever lived; willing to travel any distance,
and undergo any amount of fatigue, so that he secured his flower. As
one of his old companions remarked to me some years ago, "he was not
_learned_, but he was very _loving_." It is worthy also of record that
Crowther never touched his wages for purposes of botanical pleasure,
but took home every penny, and trusted to fortunate accidents for
the means of supplying his scientific wants. Of the indefatigable
and acute George Caley, who was born at Craven in 1770, and died May
23rd, 1829, there is a pleasing memoir in the "Magazine of Natural
History," vol. ii., p. 310; and vol. iii., p. 226. A similar memoir
of Edward Hobson, who died September 7th, 1830, may be seen in the
"Transactions of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society,"
vol. vi., 1842. Buxton's is prefixed to the "Guide," and several other
memoirs have since been given by Mr. Cash in his delightful little
book, "When there's a Will there's a Way." These appear to be the whole
of the memoirs of any length that have been printed, though there have
frequently been short notices when death has carried off another of
the band. It would be well were they reprinted in a collective form.
Unmarked though they are by stirring incidents, the lives of these men
are such as no person of feeling and intelligence, and sympathy with
pure, hearty, honest endeavour after knowledge and self-improvement,
can peruse without emotion. Science owes more to them than has ever
been confessed, and it is anything but honourable to public taste and
public morals, that while the lives of murderers and rascals of all
descriptions are read with avidity, and the minutest incidents of their
abominable careers demanded and fed upon, the lives of the modest,
unassuming votaries of science, both the dead and those who are yet
with us, are never so much as inquired for. They have their reward. If
it be not in the notoriety of a great criminal, it is in the perennial
enjoyment of the highest faculties of our nature, such as are brought
out only by loving conversance with the works of God.

Scarcely anything is recorded of the earlier Lancashire botanists.
Of John Dewhurst, mentioned as the first president of the restored
botanical society at the beginning of the present century, little more
is known than that he was a fustian-cutter by trade, and lived at Red
Bank. John Shaw, now of Eccles (since deceased), remembers seeing him
in his "pride of place" at the "Lord Nelson," at Ringley, where the
annual meeting was at that time accustomed to be held, the first Sunday
in May, Mr. S. being then a child, and this the first botanical meeting
he was present at. Dewhurst died in Salford, about 1820, at the age
of about seventy. He was of a good and well-to-do family, but in the
position of "poor relation." A kind friend of the Lancashire botanists
in those days,--Mr. Mitchell, of Bradford Hall,--gave Dewhurst and
Hobson a piece of ground adjoining his house for a botanic garden. In
this they were accustomed to deposit the roots of plants procured in
the course of their rambles, going up every Monday morning for the
purpose. It happened at that time that there were great operatives'
political meetings. One day, in 1812, it came to Mr. Mitchell's ears
that the two botanists were engaged to attend one of them, and at the
same moment he had private information that the magistrates intended
to disperse it, and send the leaders to prison,--Hobson being one of
the marked, and certain to be apprehended. Luckily for all parties,
the meeting was appointed for the very day when the two botanists
were accustomed to visit their garden. Up they went as usual, early
in the morning, from which time till late in the afternoon their host
contrived, probably without much difficulty, to keep them engaged
with liquid refreshment, and thus saved Hobson at all events from
imprisonment. As the two men journeyed homewards, they met the soldiers
and their captives on the way to gaol. One of Dewhurst's intimate
associates was old William Evans, of Tyldesley, now long deceased, a
friend from boyhood of Dr. Hull, Dr. Tomlinson, and Dr. Withering, and
companion also of George Caley. "He was always after botany," says
a letter respecting him, "and travelled many thousands of miles in
quest of plants." That excellent botanist and worthy old man, Joseph
Evans, of Boothstown, to whom we have had occasion to express our
acknowledgments in the "Manchester Flora," is son of the renowned
William. Born in 1803, the lad, when only ten years of age, used to
be taken to the meetings, walking, of course, every inch of the way,
both there and back. He was also his father's constant companion in the
fields. Ah, how much is imbibed under such kindly teaching, and how
much more than we actually learn is excited and animated! It is not
so much what a man, even one's own father, tells us, tutor-fashion,
that does the good for one's entire life-time, as what he _inspires_
us with. The man, or the woman either, upon whom we look back as
having supplied the aurora of our mental day, when we think it out
carefully, is he or she who taught us not so much how to write and cast
accounts, as how to see and to feel--to see the wild-flowers, and the
snow-crystals, and the darting dragon-flies in their beautiful blue
corselets,--to listen to the hum of the busy bees and the songs of the
birds, and to feel that "he prayeth best who loveth best all things
both great and small." Evans was taught, when no more than ten years
old, how to contemplate the immortal beauty of nature. Like his father
before him, he had very little book-learning, but he fed abundantly on
the best and truest source of all great and worthy ideas. A vigorous
frame and an admirable constitution enabled him to undertake journeys
on foot that to many would be positively affrighting. He knew the
contents of every wood and pond within twenty miles of his home, the
results of his long rambles plainly declared in the trim little garden
adjoining his cottage. The number of plants we once counted in it, all
curious, exceeded three hundred. Evans died June 23rd, 1874, and was
followed to his grave in Worsley churchyard by more than a thousand
people, including a hundred and seventy young children. For of the
little folk, especially girls, he was always immensely fond;--they
went to the churchyard more of their own accord than because led. His
sympathy with them was the sweetest of all sympathies--the sympathy of
tenderness and simplicity; no wonder that many of them carried little
chaplets of midsummer field flowers. We often hear of magnificent
funerals--chariots and plumes; they may not, after all, be such as we
should so well care to be the pattern of our own. The cottage itself
wherein he resided was clean and bright as a sea-shell just washed by
the waves. If the love of the clear purity of wild-flowers kept alive
in old Evans the love of one thing more than another, it would seem
to have been that of a home absolutely spotless, still maintained, we
believe, by one who always reminds us of a rose in the snow. In figure
Joseph Evans was tall and thin, a lofty forehead conferring a dignity
upon his appearance which invariably attracted strangers. Never was
this more observable than at a natural history meeting once at the
Manchester Athenæum.[27]

No botanist contemporary with the elder Evans attained greater
celebrity than John Martin, of Tyldesley. He was especially
well-informed respecting Carices, and first drew the attention of
the botanists of Manchester to the richness of the neighbourhood,
supplying, in regard to them, names and localities they knew not of, as
well as many facts respecting the botany of Tyldesley in particular,
with which he has never been properly accredited. This eminent veteran
was among us till so late as August 13th, 1855.

The mantle of these old men has fallen well. Very few of the botanists
mentioned above are still alive--I am glad to be able to add to
the short list the name of Richard Hampson, of Tyldesley; but they
have plenty of successors, and never more energetically than at the
present moment was natural history pursued as a pastime in South East
Lancashire.

The peculiarities of the original race are fast disappearing, a
circumstance plainly attributable to the facilities of travel given by
the railway system, to the multiplication of books, and to the more
general diffusion of knowledge. At the period when the celebrity of the
old Lancashire botanists was established, say during the first quarter
of the present century, they lived in comparative isolation. Now the
isolation alike of abode and opportunities has been cancelled, and as a
consequence the class of men who as individuals, somewhat conspicuous
in their way, gave it colour, have slowly disappeared. The ancient
spirit, nevertheless, is as keen as ever, and the love of botany
in particular is quite as honourably and intelligently represented
as at any preceding time. If we can no longer single out men very
particularly remarkable, it is because the estates of the patriarchs
have been divided, as it were, among whole troops of worthy descendants.

[Illustration]

Footnotes

[24: The following pages were originally printed in the
_Manchester Weekly Times_ of July 10th, 1858. It gave me great pleasure
to see that the article was made the subject of comment and lengthy
extract in _Chambers's Journal_ of the following October 16th, a
recognition of the general interest of the matter dealt with that seems
to me quite to justify a reprint almost _verbatim_, with corrections
that bring it up to the present date.]

[25: _i.e._ up to 1858.]

[26: See the account of the conviction in the _Manchester
Guardian_, of November 30th, 1850.]

[27: For further particulars respecting old Joseph Evans, see
the _Gardeners' Chronicle_ for November 14th, 1874, from which we have
transcribed, being our own words, a small portion of the above.]

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XVI.

VIA CLIFTON JUNCTION.


  As the stern grandeur of a Gothic tower
  Awes us less deeply in its morning hour,
  Than when the shades of time serenely fall
  On every broken arch and ivied wall,
  The tender images we love to trace,
  Steal from each year a melancholy grace.

ROGERS.


Clifton Junction may be regarded as the railway entrance to east and
central Lancashire, since at this point, while the original line runs
on to Bolton, there is divergence to Bury, whence, in turn, we get to
Accrington. After Molyneux Brow, the first station is Ringley Road;
then comes Radcliffe, the village of the "red cliffs," renowned in
legend and in local family history, and in a few minutes more we are
near the birthplace of Sir Robert Peel. The cliffs referred to, though
bold and conspicuous, have none of the picturesque beauty pertaining
to Prestwich. Nor, indeed, is the latter renewed until, after passing
Bury, we get to Summerseat, distant from Manchester thirteen miles.
The river, soon lost sight of after passing Molyneux, here comes into
view again, winding among trees, and with steep declivities right and
left. The eastern side of the valley is abundantly wooded, and although
broken by little ravines, offers a delightful walk of about two miles
to the village of Ramsbottom. To begin it, cross the little aqueduct
over the gorge, then keep straight on beneath the shadow of the wood.
Beside this pleasant path wild raspberries grow in plenty, and ferns,
and on the sunward edges of the steep brows above the stream, not
yet much sullied by "works," in September it is sweet to sit down to
rest and talk, noting as we chat the lilac blossoms of the heather.
It does not, as in the wilderness, monopolise the ground, but springs
delicately from the turf, here a little and there a little, in quantity
just enough to remind us that it is one of the friendly plants, those
of the same spirit as the anemone and the celandine, which never care
to live alone, but "love their own kind and to dwell among their
kindred." For the curious in other matters, up above again, on the
highest point, there is the celebrated tower which commemorates the
"Cheeryble Brothers," William and Daniel Grant. Looking across the
river, the opposite bank is remarkably different, the slopes being
almost treeless. Gradually swelling, at last they expand into a vast
tract of moorland called Holcombe Hill, well chosen for the erection of
the far-seen landmark called the Peel monument.

Ramsbottom is succeeded by Stubbins, and after this we get to
Newchurch, the best place to ascend from when bound for the other great
moorland called Fo'edge, where the parsley-fern grows, and the alpine
club-moss, and many another plant that disdains the lowlands, and from
which, if we please, we may pursue a glorious walk to Rochdale, making
acquaintance as we go with the bright and wilful Spodden. Running down
Healey Dene, a narrow and romantic valley, the bordering cliffs seem
to have been torn asunder at various times by the impetuosity of the
rushing torrent. So picturesque is the dingle called specially the
Thrutch,--the river here, in Lancashire phrase, thrutching its way past
all impediment,--that one seems to be far away beyond the Tweed. From
the elevated ground above there is once again a wonderful prospect,
covering Lyme, Cloud-end, the Derbyshire hills, Frodsham, and the
mountains of North Wales,--a prospect enjoyed, moreover, like that one
from Jackson Edge, at an incredibly slight expenditure of climbing
power. This fine neighbourhood may of course be reached direct from
Rochdale, going by the Todmorden line; but geographically it belongs to
Rossendale, in which both the Spodden and the Roch have their simple
beginnings, wherein also, near the foot of Derpley Hill, we find the
cradle of the Irwell. "Rossendale Forest," so called, the name having
a sense similar to that of Delamere Forest (p. 41) is approached by
way of Bacup. Lying upon the northern edge of the line, the forest
presents, with almost the whole of the ground that stretches away to
Cliviger, an endless variety of beautiful change in mountain scenery.
Up here are found the grand summits called Hades Hill and Thieveley
Pike, the view from the top of the last-named comprehending not only
the southward country, but to the north, almost the whole of Craven,
with Ingleborough and the wilds of Trawden Forest. The nearer portions
of the Lake District mountains, those which rise above Cartmel, and
that bathe their ancient feet in Coniston are also distinguishable; and
on sunny evenings, when the atmosphere is clear, and if the tide be in,
the estuary of the Ribble. Cliviger is remarkable not alone for the
rocks and precipices the name denotes, but for the number of beautiful
curves, green with much grass, which are interwoven with them, these
latter constantly adding the very sweet unusual feature in scenery, of
vast hemispherical green bowls, the whole country at the same time, if
we push far enough into the solitude, so tranquil.

    O'er stiller place
  No singing skylark ever poised himself.

In some parts the rocks are clothed lavishly with ivy, the knotted
and rugged stems very plainly the growth of centuries, while the
massive upper branches throw themselves elegantly into the aërial
sea, imitating the glorious _abandon_ of the strong swimmer when he
dives. The whole of the Lancashire border, at this part, including
the neighbourhood of Burnley, Trawden Forest, and the Colne district,
with the contiguous parts of Yorkshire, is immensely rich in scenery.
Up here, too, it is that one catches aboriginal Lancashire at its
best, the dialect in its prettiest modifications, and among the rural
population the primitive manners and customs. Towneley Park, near
Burnley, one of the most beautiful of the old county family seats, is
distinguished not more for its associations than for the abundance of
its venerable trees.

Taking a great bend towards the west, after passing Stubbins, the
line runs through Haslingden, Accrington, and Blackburn, to a spot of
immemorial celebrity. Five or six miles from the last-named the Darwen
flows through a secluded vale called Hoghton Bottoms. At times it is
bordered by green and level meads; in certain parts great lateral walls
of rock make it uproarious. The name refers to the very ancient and
distinguished family seated here ever since the time of Henry II., the
residence up to the middle of the sixteenth century having been not
far from the edge of the water. Doubtless this would be constructed
chiefly or wholly of wood, for the park, "in former tyme," says the old
chronicler, was "so full of tymber that a man passing through it could
scarcely have seen the sun shine at mid-day." Soon after the accession
of Elizabeth the existing hall, upon the top of the hill, was erected,
the builder being the celebrated Thomas Hoghton, who on account
of his creed was constrained to forsake his ancestral home almost
immediately after the completion, and thenceforwards live in exile upon
the Continent. The story of the departure of the unfortunate man is
told in the beautiful and pathetic ballad, "The Blessed Conscience,"
preserved in the late Mr. T. T. Wilkinson's well-known volume. It would
seem to have been one of the earliest buildings of the kind constructed
entirely of stone. Perfect in design, and in excellent preservation,
Hoghton Tower presents to this day, an admirable example of the
architecture of the period, as regards both adaptedness to domestic
use and to defensive purposes. The great quadrangular lower court is
spacious enough for the movement of five or six hundred men. The upper
one gives access to noble staircases and long galleries, including one
for the minstrels. All that is wanting is the very lofty tower which
in the beginning rose above the central gateway, and from which the
mansion was named. This tower was accidentally destroyed during the
Civil Wars by an explosion of gunpowder, and there seems never to have
been any disposition to reconstruct it.

A site more charming than that selected by Thomas Hoghton for the
glorious old hall which preserves so many interesting and old
familiar traditions pertaining to Lancashire, it would be difficult
to find. It stands upon the crest of a gentle slope, from which, as
well as from the windows, we look right away over the plain and the
bright-faced stream that waters Preston, to the mountains of the Lake
District, these looming grandly from their curtains of mist; the sea,
glorious in the sheen of sunset, upon the left, and upon the right,
gigantic Pendle. The immediate surroundings are no less delightful
than the prospects; the dell beneath is one of the kind in which the
thin-tissued flowers of early spring love to shelter, and which summer
fills with a score of sprightly forms. The eastern side of the hill
is rugged and steep, the Darwen at its foot struggling with boulders
brought down probably by its own vehemence in remote ages.

The original "Manchester and Bolton," opened as far back as May 24th,
1838, is now only the first link in the splendid chain of railway lines
which, going nearly three hundred miles due north, connects our town
with the very heart of Scotland, and by means of the westward branches,
with every part of the shore from the Mersey to the Clyde. How little
was such adventure dreamed of when the old calmness of the Agecroft
valley was first invaded! Eight years afterwards (April 29th, 1846) it
had become the highway to Blackpool, and on April 7th, 1855, people
began to start by it for Southport. Diverging also to Blackburn, and
thence running on to Clitheroe, a country of wonderful beauty was added
to our already ample choice. Cheshire was discovered to be by no means
the all in all, and in mid-Lancashire to-day we learn anew that in
scenery, as in all other things good for the soul, the secret of beauty
comes of nice balance of complementaries. There is endless enjoyment
also for the archæologist in the old halls up that way, many of which
are scarcely rivalled--Turton Tower, for instance, Hall-i'th'-Wood, and
Smithills Hall. Turton Tower, upon the right of the Clitheroe line,
the square form of which gives it an appearance of great solidity, is
almost sacred, having once been the residence of Humphrey Chetham. Part
of it is stone, part black and white, the latter with gables, and the
storeys successively overhanging, the former with an embattled parapet.
Inside there are old carved ceilings, with doors of massive oak, and
much besides that talks pleasantly of the fashions of three hundred
years ago. Of late years a good deal of "restoration" has been carried
on, happily with so much judgment that the original features are in no
degree obscured.

Hall-i'th'-Wood is in its associations one of the most interesting
spots in England, since it was in the large upper chamber, the one
with a window of no fewer than twenty-four compartments, that Samuel
Crompton constructed the exquisitely skilful machine upon which the
cotton industry of Lancashire arose to its present magnitude and
importance. The way to it is from the little wayside station called the
"Oaks," crossing the fields, a pleasant walk of about a mile. The hall
stands upon the edge of a cliff, at the foot of which flows a little
river called the Eagley, one of the early collectors for the Irwell,
the scenery on every side just such as would recommend the site to
that fine old race of country gentlemen, neither barons nor vassals,
under whose authority marks so enduring as these old Lancashire halls
were impressed upon the land. When Crompton lived at Hall-i'th'-Wood,
it was embosomed in trees, many of them so mighty that when cut down
it was like attacking granite columns. As at Turton, the material is
twofold, a portion being magpie, believed to have been put together in
1483, while the remainder is grey stone, erected in 1648; the former,
to appearance, wholly untouched, and the latter altered only by the
introduction, at a little later period than that of the building of the
walls, of some mouldings and other exterior ornaments. Altogether, the
hall is unquestionably to be regarded as a first-rate specimen of the
style it illustrates. This is proved by its having often been taken as
a model for modern Elizabethan houses--we do not mean by copyists, but
by the men of higher platform--those with whom knowledge and learning
are never the limit of thought, but only the basis.[28]

Smithills Hall, now the residence of Mr. R. H. Ainsworth, claims to
occupy the site of an ancient Norman abode, which itself, if all
be true in the legends, succeeded a Saxon palatial one. There can
be no doubt that the spot is one of genuine historical interest. A
chapel, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, was consecrated at Smithills
in 793, nearly a hundred years before the time of King Alfred; and
the locality, like that of Hall-i'th'-Wood, is precisely of the
kind that would be selected for their stronghold by the lords then
having authority over the district, being at the head of two or
three beautiful little glens, at once charming in complexion, and
facilitating defence in case of assault. Much of the original hall has
been renewed from time to time, but it is still a glorious type of the
best work of the sixteenth century, and in the interior, as to antique
carving and other treasures, is rich beyond description. The gardens
also are delightful, and awaken reflections in the most interesting
manner, on the way in which good planting now-a-days links past and
present. The ancient Britons, the oak, the birch, and the hawthorn are
there just as a thousand years ago;--alongside of them are the shapely
evergreens which modern enterprise has brought from the Himalayas and
Japan. A pleasant though somewhat round about way to Smithills, when
permission can be obtained to enter,--a privilege not to be thought
lightly of--is to go first to Hall-i'th'-Wood, then after crossing the
Eagley, past Sweetloves, to Horrocks Fold, and along the edge of the
moor, locally called the Scout, to the top of Deane Road, when the hall
is just below. The distance from Bolton is about three miles.

Entwistle, the station next beyond Turton, gives access to a bit of
water-scenery that would scarcely be expected. Lymm and Hollingworth
have prepared us for magnificent reservoirs; "Entwistle Lodge,"
the embankment for which was constructed about fifty years ago, is
little inferior in beauty. As at Lymm, it has given existence also
to a dell beneath, into which, after heavy rain, causing the water
to overflow, there descends a cataract of at least a hundred and
fifty feet fall. The dell is the only place near Manchester where
the lily-of-the-valley appears to grow truly wild. In autumn it
abounds with golden-rod, ferns, hawkweeds, and the blue jasione, and
upon the slopes, as in Hurst Clough, there are many bushes of the
deepest-coloured of the wild English roses, the _Rosa villosa_. A
romantic natural dell called "The Jumbles," near Edgworth, is also rich
in wild-flowers, but a factory having taken possession, it invites one
no longer.

The valley through which the railway pursues its course, running on
to Darwen, and thence to Blackburn, is one of those which perfectly
illustrates the rich character of the Lancashire uplands. An excellent
idea of its various wealth is gathered from near the Scout, when on the
way to Smithills, and even while travelling it is impossible not to
perceive how fruitful is every part in the picturesque, particularly
in amphitheatres receding among the hills, which if somewhat naked,
still always have a cheerful look. All the way, moreover, there is
the noble spectacle of human activity. Langho station, a quarter of
an hour beyond Blackburn, opens the way once more to pleasing novelty
of scene, not to mention its ancient and beautiful little chapel, the
oldest place of Christian worship in Lancashire still used as one, and
from which it is no more than a pleasant walk of two or three miles
to Whalley itself, the locality of the earliest Christian preaching
in our county. Here it was that Paulinus, in 627, made his first
efforts to convert the Northumbrians--crosses in the ancient graveyard
commemorate the event, memorials of pious labour which belong, in
truth, not more to this once lonesome valley than to the nation. The
church, immensely venerable, portions of it being Norman, is crowded
with interesting antiquities, and would itself well repay the journey,
even were there no Whalley Abbey alongside; say rather the few portions
of the grand old pile that have been spared by Time, and by that still
heavier despoiler, man bent on destruction. The abbey, founded in
1296, belonged to the Cistercians, and, as usual with that fraternity,
was dedicated to the Virgin, whence the sacred monogram M still
discoverable upon some of the relics. Like all other abbeys, it was for
more than two hundred and forty years a place of refuge for every one
who needed succour or counsel. Within its consecrated precincts there
was always wisdom to guide the inexperienced, and charity to relieve
the famishing and distressed. The dissolution of the monasteries in the
calamitous year 1539 by a monarch who thirsted less for reformation
than for spoil, brought everything to an end; and though the building
itself was not demolished till some time afterwards, the delay was less
designed than accidental. Eventually the very stones were scattered far
and wide; hence there is no identifying the various portions as we do
at Furness, and Fountains, and Tintern, and Glastonbury, and Rievaulx.
The archæologist conversant with monastic ruins is able to trace them,
but for the ordinary visitor, after the abbot's house, long since
modernised, and the two grand old gateways, there are only a few grey
and shattered walls, some fragments of arches, and broken corridors.
The extent of the abbey grounds, enclosed partly by the river, partly
by an artificial trench or moat, exceeds thirty-six acres. The building
itself appears to have consisted of three quadrangles, the westernmost
holding the cloisters, and being edged upon the north by the wall
of the church. There were, in addition, as usual, stables and outer
offices. In the presence of so vast an extinction, it is pleasant to
mark the abundance of trees now growing within the ancient boundaries;
and more particularly to note the taste with which in ancient nooks of
aisle and corridor, clumps of green fern have been planted by the owner
or resident, Mr. Appleby. At one time these most interesting ruins were
opened to the public as freely as the church. Now they are virtually
closed, owing to the misconduct of a party of excursionists--not from
Manchester--the innocent, as in so many other places that have been
abused, suffering for the guilty. When will people privileged to enter
a gentleman's private grounds learn to conduct themselves with the same
decorum they would expect others to observe in regard to their own; or
if unpossessed of grounds or gardens, with regard to any other private
property? That the ignorant and selfish will continue to abuse their
privileges to the end of time, is perhaps only too lamentably certain.
Contrariwise, what a happy day it will be when curiosity in regard to
such places will be synonymous with good manners. When at Whalley, of
course we ascend the Nab, that beautiful tree-clad hill which overlooks
the abbey, and gives the first taste of the landscape grandeurs to be
enjoyed later on from the crest of Pendle.

For those who love to feel their feet pressing the turf, Whalley is
the best point of departure also for Stonyhurst, and for the pretty
villages of Great and Little Mitton, the former upon the opposite
bank of the Ribble, which here separates Lancashire from Yorkshire.
The announcement, when half-way over the bridge, comes with most
curious unexpectedness. All of a sudden, while delighting in the
sweet spectacle of the stream, silver-eddied like the immortal ones
in the greatest of epics, an inscription upon the wall says we are
in the county of the white rose! How can this be? Our faces are
turned westwards! Yorkshire is not in front of us, but behind! Look
at the map, and you will discover that Mitton stands upon an odd bit
which darts away from all the rest, after traversing which we are in
Lancashire again. Little Mitton Hall is accounted one of the finest
specimens in England of the style of domestic architecture which
prevailed at the commencement of the sixteenth century, or that of the
building of Henry the Seventh's Chapel at Westminster. The basement is
stone, the upper portion timber, including the roof of the great hall,
which is ceiled with oak in wrought compartments of singular beauty.
Great Mitton Church (in Yorkshire) is no less interesting in respect of
its antiquities and to the admirer of sculpture in the private chapel,
near the altar, once belonging to the Shireburns, the very ancient
and honourable family, long since extinct, by which Stonyhurst was
founded and originally occupied. The marble monuments bear epitaphs
of rare tenderness, though antiquated in phraseology, foremost among
them being that which commemorates the last of the race, Richard
Francis Shireburn, who died, poor boy, in 1702, at the age of only
nine--poisoned, tradition says, by eating yew-berries, though as the
time of his death is stated on the monument to have been June, and it
is impossible for yew-berries to exist except in October and November,
there is something in need of explanation. It is not, by the way, the
yew-_berry_ that is poisonous, for that is perfectly innocuous, but the
_seed_.

Stonyhurst needs at least half-a-day purely and entirely to itself.
At present, as well known, it is the principal college maintained
in this country by the Jesuits, a party of whom obtained possession
of it in 1794, when driven from Liege by the terrors of the French
Revolution. The site was occupied by a hall in exceedingly remote
times, a Shireburn going hence in 1347 to attend Queen Philippa at
Calais. The existing edifice was raised in the time of Elizabeth, by
whom the head of the family was so highly esteemed, that although a
Catholic, she allowed him to retain his private oratory and domestic
priest. The lofty and battlemented centre and the noble cupolas give it
a character among our Lancashire mansions quite unique. The interior
is in perfect harmony with the external design. It is richly stored,
moreover, with works of art, and with archæological and historical
curiosities, the latter including various treasures brought from the
continent at the time of the establishment of the college. The present
refectory was the old state reception hall, left unfinished through the
death of the builder of this splendid place, magnificent nevertheless
in its incompleteness, especially in regard to the ceiling and the
friezes. Of late years very considerable additions have been made to
the building, so as to adapt it more thoroughly to educational use of
the highest character, and these, happily, are all consistent with the
original scheme of decoration as well of architectural plan. Visitors
are allowed to go through on making previous and proper application.

A more delightful neighbourhood for a great residence it would be
difficult to find. Everywhere in the vicinity alike of Stonyhurst and
of the two Mittons, the country constantly reminds one of the south.
Upon foot it is impossible to go astray, for if in rambling we do
not reach the particular point that was contemplated at the outset,
meadows, running water, woodlands, and the sweet spectacle of hills,
both near and distant, and of all chaste hues, are everywhere our own,
and the last hour is no less animating than the first. A very lovely
walk in particular is that one from Mitton to Clitheroe, keeping the
Lancashire side of the stream. The babble of the broad and shining
water, the patient expectancy of many anglers, majestic Pendle upon the
right, a thousand green trees, and by turning the head a little, after
the manner of

  ... travellers oft, at evening's close,
  When eastwards slowly moving,

the glimpse still obtainable of lofty Stonyhurst, which ever and anon
recalls the inimitable ode, "Ye distant spires, ye antique towers."
Each and every element in turn invites a pause, and linger as one may,
Clitheroe is still too near, and reached too soon.

Arrived, there is new pleasure in inspection of the remains of the
ancient castle, one of the most interesting feudal relics in the
county,--built towards the close of the twelfth century by one of
the De Lacy family, whose landed possessions extended from this
neighbourhood uninterruptedly to Pontefract. It never was a castle
in the thorough sense of the word, merely a stronghold to which the
lords of the house came at intervals, to receive tribute and to
dispense justice. There never was room for much more than a donjon, the
rock upon which the little fortalice was erected, rising out of the
flat like an islet, a sort of Beeston rock in miniature. There were
buildings no doubt upon the slope, predecessors of the present, the
former including a chapel, but these were quite external to the castle
_ipsissima_. The view from the summit is delightfully picturesque, and
when this has been enjoyed, there is, as at Smithills, that curious
blending of past and present, old and new, which always awakens
gratitude to the gardener, for here, in this ancient keep, leaning
against stones laid in their places nearly eight centuries ago, is one
of the glossy little cotoneasters of northern India, unknown in England
before 1825.

From Clitheroe we do well to proceed to Chatburn, by rail, if
preferred, but far preferably on foot. Going about half-a-mile
along the highway, presently, upon the left, there is a gate into a
downward-sloping field, the path through which is continued under a
flat railway bridge, then past the first of the celebrated Chatburn
quarries, and into the fields again. Or we may go along the foot of
mighty Pendle itself, and along a series of narrow and winding green
lanes to Downham. The Chatburn quarries are capital hunting-grounds for
the student of fossil shells, encrinites, and other remains found in
limestone. We are enjoined to "consider the lilies of the field"--not
foreign to the Divine behest is it to consider the Crinoidea, the
wonderful stone-lilies of the limestone rock, the petrified flower-like
heads of which here occur in inexpressible abundance. The great
stones set up edgeways in place of stiles between the fields near the
quarries, are crowded with fragments, and show the rough condition of
a favourite material for chimneypieces. For the sake of ladies who may
think of going this way, it may be well to add that the vertical stone
barriers in question were plainly erected in defiance of the art of
dress.

Chatburn is the point to start from when the top of Pendle is the
object, a rather heavy climb of two miles and a half, but if the
atmosphere be clear, well rewarded. The view from Whalley Nab was
magnificent. Pendle is to the latter just what Cobden Edge is to
Marple--a brow upon which the former grandeurs seem diminished to a
fifth. The glistening waters of the Irish Sea beyond the broad green
plain in front; in the north, dim vistas and dark peaks, or mild
blue masses, that declare the mountains of the Lake District,--old
Coniston tossing the clouds from his hoary brows; proximately the
smiling valley of the Ribble, the whole of the upper portion of which
is overlooked; of the Hodder also, in temperament so wild and dashing,
and the wandering Calder; and, turning to the east, the land towards
the German Ocean as far as the powers of the eye can reach. The highest
point of this huge mountain--the most prominent feature in the physical
geography of mid-Lancashire--is stated by the Ordnance Survey to be one
thousand eight hundred and fifty feet, thus falling very little short
of the loftiest part of Kinder Scout, which nowhere claims a full two
thousand. Keeping to the level, there is endless recreation, whether we
penetrate Ribblesdale, or cross the river at the ferry, a mile below,
for the fragments of Sawley, or content ourselves with the peaceful
borders. Not what the Ribble is at "proud Preston," some seven leagues
lower down, a broad and majestic river, do we find it here, but rural,
chaste, and tranquil, the water shallow and clear, the _beau-ideal_ of
a Peneus, the laurels only wanting.

[Illustration]

Footnote

[28: See an excellent description of Hall-i'th'-Wood,
accompanied by a drawing, in the _Manchester Literary Club_ volume for
1880, p. 254.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER XVII.

PRESTON AND SOUTHPORT WAY.


    The Bridegroom Sea
  Is toying with his wedded spouse, the shore.
  He decorates her tawny brow with shells,
  Retires a space, to see how fair she looks,
  Then, proud, runs up to kiss her.

ALEXANDER SMITH.


Camden, in his famous seventeenth century tour, says that he approached
Lancashire from Yorkshire, "that part of the country lying beyond
the mountains towards the western ocean," with "a kind of dread,"
but trusted to Divine Providence, which, he said, "had gone with
him hitherto," to help him in the attempt. His apprehensions arose,
no doubt, partly upon the immense difficulties which in those days
attended travelling; but Lancashire west of the Rivington range was,
in its rural portions, at the same period almost as rude and cheerless
as Connemara. Towards the sea there were vast expanses of moor and
marsh, and even the inland parts were cold and inhospitable. How
changed by the wand of that greatest of magicians, Commerce! Though
there is still abundant need of polish, Camden himself, could he come
back, would surrender his fears, let him only be one of a party up to
the Pike. Conspicuous from a hundred spots on the western margin of
our city, Rivington Pike is little less worthy of a visit than Pendle,
and has the advantage over the latter in being comparatively near.
Proceeding first to Horwich, six miles beyond Bolton, on the main
northern line, the ascent is quite easy, and may be undertaken by two
or three different routes--one by the side of the little river Douglas;
another by the quarry and Tiger Wood, a deep ravine containing all the
accustomed pretty features of Lancashire mountain defiles, rushing
water, many cascades, and abundance of trees. Ferns, mosses, and sylvan
wild-flowers grow in plenty, and in one part, where the water collects
in a large natural pool, there is quite a remarkable display of aquatic
plants. The summit gained, over fifteen hundred feet above the sea, the
prospect is magnificent, especially if we delay till the green country
glows with a summer evening's sunset. The great plain that stretches to
the Ribble, and renews itself as the "Fylde," lies at our feet. Chorley
and Preston seem quite close; in the distance the church-towers and
other aspiring portions of Southport are plainly visible, and beyond
all there is a shining streak that is unmistakably the play-ground of
the sea-gulls. North Cheshire, North Wales, and the nearer Derbyshire
hills, are also seen. A very particularly fine view is obtained from
the Anglezark end of the hill, a rough and broken eminence reached by a
zigzag path from the base, which leads eventually to a soft and turfy
brow. Upon the opposite side of the field, a trifle higher, there is a
wall with a narrow iron gate in it, and here we take our stand. Now and
then, on fine and perfectly tranquil evenings towards sunset, Lancaster
Castle may be distinguished; if the tide be in, Morecambe Bay, and even
Coniston.

Quite as interesting, every way, as the Pike, and more so in some
respects, are the great reservoirs belonging to the Liverpool
Waterworks, altogether out of sight from the railway, but as a
spectacle from the hill-side undeniably one of the most charming in the
county. The area of the entire water-surface is five hundred acres; the
supply comes from ten thousand acres of moorland above, brought down
chiefly by the little rivers called the Douglas, the Yarrow, and the
Roddlesworth. The Act of Parliament authorising the construction of
these great reservoirs was obtained in 1847. Water was first delivered
from them in Liverpool January 2nd, 1857. Rivington Pike, after all, is
not the highest point of the range. Winter Hill, well named, so wild
and cold and dreary is the complexion, and so often is it beaten by
storms, claims a considerably greater altitude.

By this same line we go also to Chorley for Whittle-le-Woods, distant
only four miles from Hoghton Tower, a romantic and secluded spot,
noted for its historical associations, its "Springs," and, if we care
to pursue a quiet and pretty walk by the edge of the canal, for
wild-flowers found nowhere else near Manchester. Excepting in the canal
at Disley, there is not another within the distance where there are
in particular so many pond-weeds, that beautiful plant the _lucens_
leading the way. Of these submerged things the question has been asked
perhaps more frequently than of any others, What use are they? Rest
upon them, then, for a moment. Use is a triple idea. Taking the entire
mass of the vegetation of our planet, first there is economic use, as
for food, which last being rendered to brute creatures as well as to
mankind, is at the best but at a low and menial one. Secondly, comes
the admirable use subserved by beauty, which brutes are incapable
of appreciating, and blindness to which, like the use of foul and
profane language, may be taken perhaps as the infallible sign of an
imbecile. Plants can never be truly learned, nor is their highest use
realised so long as we rest in the contemplation, albeit so salutary,
even of their loveliness. Their last and crowning use comes of their
_interpreting_ power. There is not a species that does not cast some
welcome side-light, that does not open our understanding to something
previously unperceived. The pond-weeds do this, if nothing below, so
that meeting with them we may rejoice.

The fine old halls scattered so freely about Bolton have counterparts
in the neighbourhood of Wigan, all this part of the county having been
in the hands of wealthy men during the time of the Stuarts and of
the Commonwealth. Ince Hall, black and white, with its five gables,
though of late much disfigured; Lostock Old Hall, Standish, Pemberton,
Birchley, and Winstanley, are all very interesting; and if Haigh Hall,
the Lancashire seat of the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, be less
curious, archæologically, there is not one that will compare with it
in respect of gardens or romantic approach. The walk through the wood,
beginning at a mile from the Wigan market-place, is in its way, for so
near a coal and factory centre, without a rival.

For a charming bit of wild nature thereabouts, commend us, however,
to Dean Wood. Nothing, as regards landscape and prospects of sylvan
solitude, can be more unpromising than the approach thereto through
Hindley and Wigan. Two or three miles beyond the latter, where the
ground begins to rise, and trees and streams of water make their
appearance, it seems possible, after all, that something picturesque
may lie concealed; and leaving the line at Gathurst, sure enough, we
are by no means disappointed. Turning up on the left, after a few
minutes along field-paths, the way changes into a beautiful clough, in
many respects not unlike Bamford Wood, and which goes on improving to
the end. Of course it is not to be confounded with the Dean Wood upon
the slopes of Rivington; nor is the river below to be confounded with
the Rivington "Douglas." This one, in truth, is the Lancashire Douglas
pre-eminently: a stream of fifteen miles' flow before entering the
Ribble, and the same with which tradition connects bloody conflicts in
the time of the Danes. A tributary comes down the wood, after rain
often so much swollen as to drown the path beside, when we may take an
upper one, every bit as enjoyable, especially in autumn, since it gives
a charming view of the trees below, among which there is unusual plenty
of the kinds that bear red berries. Ferns and mosses grow in equal
abundance; wild-flowers also, and flowering shrubs. The Gueldres-rose
is especially abundant, and upon one occasion--October 10th, 1868--the
ground was strewed in certain spots with the fallen fruit of the wild
apple. In the upper part of the wood there are some curious varieties
of the common oak, the leaves so small that they might be thought
to belong to a different species. Emerging near the green lane, the
homeward path lies first through Up-Holland, then either by the lanes
to Wigan--four miles distant--or more speedily to Orrel station on the
Bolton and Liverpool line.

Appley Bridge, the station succeeding Gathurst, is the nearest for
that glorious eminence, Ashurst Hill, the prospect from which is once
again all that heart can desire, let only the day be fair. Now, too,
we have something quite different, the great flat, looking southwards,
being that which reaches to the estuary of the Mersey, the eye resting
upon the distant trees of Knowsley Park, and detecting even Liverpool;
while to the west, almost underneath, is Lathom, Ormskirk beyond, and
exquisitely upon the horizon, the lucid sea, and the mountains that
talk quietly of the Vale of Llangollen. A similar view is obtainable
from the summit of Billinge, half-way between Wigan and St. Helens,
but access thereto is not so easy, nor is there the same sweet sense of
remote and airy solitude, green as the early spring, which, unless the
visit happens to be most unfortunately timed, always awaits the pilgrim
to Ashurst. The beacon upon the summit, a stone tower with pyramidal
spire, was erected in the time of the French Revolutionary wars, taking
the place of one established on the identical spot in the memorable
August of 1588,--the year, as Charles Kingsley says, of Britain's
Salamis.

From Appley Bridge there is also a grand walk to the summits upon the
_right-hand_ side of the rails, the chief of them, Horrocks Hill,
lying about two miles away to the north, and at a spot called Higher
Barn, attaining an elevation superior even to Ashurst. But it is not
so well adapted for a signalling station, and hence, instead of a
beacon, is marked only by a tree. The view from the top is singularly
fine, embracing the whole country up to the Lune, with the towers of
Lancaster city, Blackpool, Rufford (where there is a very interesting
old hall, black and white), the Ribble, and the entire course of the
Douglas, embouchure included. For variety, the return walk may be made
_viâ_ Standish.

Lathom Park implies, upon the Newborough side, a delicious walk
through the intricacies of what in this part would be better called
Lathom Wood. The trees are lofty; the shade is dense; the path, gently
undulated, crosses about the middle a swiftly-running stream called
the Sawd. This, like the water in Dean Wood, is a tributary of the
Douglas. Just outside the park there is another, now called the Slate
Brook, and of special historical interest, being that one which in the
records of the memorable siege of Lathom House is called the Golforden.

Shortly after emerging from the wood, and crossing the smooth
greensward of the park where open to the sunshine, the house itself
comes in view, a noble mansion, worthy alike of the domain and of the
owner. That it is not the original Lathom House--the Lathom which
belongs not more to the history of Lancashire than to the annals of
English courage and to the biography of great-souled women, scarcely
needs saying. The original,--the magnificent building honoured by the
visit of Henry VII. and his queen, when the "singing women" walked in
front,--which had no fewer than eighteen towers, in addition to the
lofty "eagle," and a fosse of eight yards in width, received so much
injury at the time of the siege that on the removal of the family,
shortly afterwards, to Knowsley, it soon fell into a state of utter
dilapidation. Passing into the hands of the Bootle family, restoration
was found impracticable, and during the ten years following 1724 the
present building superseded the historic one. Nothing in its style can
be finer than the north front, one hundred and fifty-six feet long,
rising from a massive rustic basement, with double flight of steps to
the first story, the lateral portions supported by Ionic columns. The
interior corresponds; the great hall being forty feet square, with
a height of thirty feet; the saloon, of almost similar dimensions,
and the library fifty feet by twenty. When given over to decay, the
original hall was literally carried off stone by stone, the country
people in the vicinity being permitted to take whatever they liked for
private use, so that now, as has happened with many an ancient abbey
and castle, the building may be said to be diffused over the whole
district. In farmyard and cottage walls it is not difficult to identify
now and then, on a very fair basis of conjecture, a fragment or two
of the ancestral home of the Stanleys, every atom suggestive, as we
contemplate it, of ancient dignity and heroism almost unique.

To recite, once again, the majestic old story of the siege is not
needful. Suffice it to say that in 1642, when James, the seventh Earl
of Derby, whose steadfast loyalty so well fulfilled the family motto,
_Sans changer_, was in the Isle of Man, approach was made to Lathom
House with a view to capture by the Parliamentarians under Fairfax. The
countess, originally Charlotte de Tremouille, a high-born lady whose
kindred were connected with the blood-royal of France, replied to the
summons to surrender that she had a double trust to sustain--faith
to her lord the Earl, who had entrusted her with the safe keeping,
and allegiance to her king--and that she was resolved not to swerve
from either honour or obedience. The nature of the long defence,
the discomfiture of the assailants, and what happened subsequently,
constitutes, as well known, a chapter in the family history at once
consummately noble and profoundly sorrowful. It reads more touchingly
than any romance or tale of fancy, and would supply subjects for many a
great picture. Plenty of memorials of the siege have been preserved. A
little while ago, upon removal of a tree near the site of the original
hall, numbers of bullets were found in the earth about the roots.
Tradition also has plenty to say, and apparently with more truth than
is sometimes the case. In the history of the siege, written shortly
after its time, seven of the defenders are said to have lost their
lives, and one of these, called on account of his great stature, Long
Jan, is said to have owed his death-wound to his head rising above the
wall or parapet. Very interesting was it, therefore, a few years since,
when during some alterations in the level of the ground, there were
discovered seven skeletons, one of them indicating a frame little less
than gigantic. The bones, when uncovered, were seemingly perfect, but
all soon crumbled away, and not a trace remained. Another circumstance
mentioned in the old history of the siege is that supplies of coal were
obtained by excavating in the courtyard. The Earl of Lathom was so
fortunate, a year or two ago, as to personally prove the truthfulness
of this statement by the discovery of an outcrop below the turf, just
in front of the drawing-room windows of the modern mansion.

The Lathom pleasure-grounds and gardens are not less beautiful than the
wood. In the former, among many other rare and admirable trees, there
is a plane, in Lancashire quite a stranger; this one the very emblem
of health and nobleness, a sight, as Dame Quickly says, "to thank God
on:" the latter teem with interesting hardy herbaceous plants, quite
refreshing to behold after the inlay of chromatic geometry which at
the present day is so often substituted for a garden. The flowers, in
great abundance and variety, are chiefly of the kinds that the poets
and artists always loved, those that have been sung of in a thousand
simple verses, which the poets still love best of all, and which, when
neatly and nicely marshalled and tended, keep up an unrelaxing flow of
tinted loveliness from the time of Christmas-roses and yellow aconites
until that of the last lingering asters of November. Access to this
charming place is for the favoured few not beyond the range of the
possibilities. Never yet, when properly asked, has the Earl of Lathom
refused to give proof of generous courtesy such as distinguishes the
Lancashire gentleman and the English nobleman.

Not far from Lathom Park there is another very interesting old family
seat, Blythe Hall, the residence of the Hon. Mrs. Bootle-Wilbraham.
This is approached most pleasantly from Burscough, through lanes,
meadows, and corn-fields, and in its garden, like Lathom, and, we may
add, like Cheshire Tatton, gives delightful guarantee that, despite
the enmity of modern planters, genuine floriculture will, with the
tasteful, outlive them all. There are fit and proper places, no doubt,
for every style and system of flower-planting. Any mode that pleases a
considerable number of rational people is proved, by the simple fact of
its doing so, to be right under certain conditions, local ones, and
limited. The misfortune is that "bedding-out" very generally implies,
if it does not necessitate, the abolition of a thousand things that
are individually and supremely meritorious, the piece of land which
it embosses becoming only by a euphemism, "a garden," and this at
infinitely greater pains than if cultivated.

When at Blythe, it would be a pity to forget that at a few fields'
distance remains exist to this day of the once celebrated and stately
Burscough Priory. The fragments, for they really are no more, consist
of portions of one of the principal interior arches, deeply sunk in
the mass of earth and rubbish accumulated after the overthrow of the
building, the arched head of a piscina alone declaring the ancient
level. The ruins seem to have stood untouched and grey, as at this
moment, for at least a couple of centuries. The grass comes up to their
feet, and looks as if it had been there always. Very interesting,
however, is it to note, close by, orchards comparatively young, in
their season full of honey-plums and damsons; corn also, within a
few yards, the fruit and the grain renewing to-day what no doubt was
the exact spectacle five hundred years ago. The priory was founded
by Robert Fitz-Henry, lord of Lathom, temp. Richard I. It was richly
endowed, and at the time of the suppression required as many as forty
servants. Some of the Stanley monuments, and eight of the bells, were
then removed to Ormskirk church, where a new tower was built for
the reception of the latter, the remainder going to Croston. The
mutilated alabaster effigies of knights and ladies from the old Derby
burial-place, form one of the most interesting of the many attractions
of remarkable Ormskirk. Excepting a few portraits, these effigies,
strange to say, are the only extant art memorials of that ancient line!
A tablet, an epitaph, even a gravestone in honour of a Derby of the
lang syne, is sought in vain. Knowsley, the present seat of the family,
seven miles from Liverpool and two from Prescot, is celebrated for the
magnitude, rather than the symmetry, of its splendid hall. Built at
very various times, it presents as many different styles. The park,
nine or ten miles in circumference, abounds with pretty bits of the
picturesque given by trees. Many of these, however, have the curious
look presented by such as growing near the shore, are constantly
wind-beaten.

From various points near Lathom and Ormskirk there is seen, in
the Southport direction, to all appearance a village spire. This
indicates, in reality, Scarisbrick Hall, one of the most striking
and successful efforts in architecture the county possesses. The
ancestors of the Scarisbrick family having owned the estates for at
least seven centuries, we learn without surprise that, as in other
cases, where the present building now stands there was once a black
and white; further, that the family being Catholic, it was well
provided with outer defences, and had its "secret chamber" for refuge
in times of persecution. The original was in 1799 the residence of the
philanthropic Mr. Eccleston at whose cost and under whose guidance
Martin Mere was reclaimed. In 1814 all was changed. The old timbered
building was cased in stone so completely that now not a trace remains
in view; and the general form, a centre with projecting wings, is all
that exists in the shape of memorial. But how magnificently effected!
The work was entrusted to the elder Pugin, and continued by his
son, without stint as to cost, the result being an edifice in the
Tudor style, treated with power and opulence so astonishing that all
ordinary domestic buildings of similar character seem by comparison
insignificant. Sculptures and every kind of decorative stone-work
contribute to the wonderful beauty of the vast exterior. Along the
base of the enriched cornices or parapets scripture texts have been
introduced--"I have raised up the ruins, and I have builded it as in
the days of old;" "Every house is builded by some man, but He that
buildeth all is God;"--the ample windows, in their turn, are freely
traced with lines and patterns of shining gold. The superb tower, which
in the distance seems a village spire, erected about a dozen years ago,
is over one hundred and sixty feet in height, and is understood to be
an exact copy of the Victoria Tower of the Houses of Parliament. The
cost of this portion alone approached the sum of £25,000. Gardens and
conservatories add to the interest of this splendid place; the former
containing a holly, the stem of which, at twenty inches above the
ground, is six feet in circumference; while the latter are renowned
for their tropical ferns. The very low situation, and the flatness of
all the surrounding country, unfortunately prevent this noble building
being seen to advantage. It is a marvel, nevertheless, to all who
approach. The Scarisbrick family has of late years experienced changes.
The present owner of the hall, by marriage to the daughter of the Lady
Scarisbrick who died in 1872, is the Marquis de Blandos de Castèja.

Southport should be visited for the sake of its unusually good
Aquarium, with Winter Gardens above, a flower-show all the year round;
for the beautiful Churchtown Botanical Gardens, the fernery belonging
to which has no rival, as regards our own neighbourhood, except at
Tatton; and for the Birkdale sandhills, no dreary place except to
the dreary-hearted, but in their way so remarkable and picturesque,
so richly stored with curious plants, and breathing an air so soft
and salubrious that in the north of England they stand alone. In
their wild and ever-changing complexion they supply enjoyments quite
distinct from the uniformity of a corn and pastoral country. Standing
upon their spear-clad ridges, we seem to be surveying a miniature
Cordillera. In winter the northward and eastward slopes are flecked
with snow, while the southern and western ones bask in the sunshine;
mosses of all shades of green and coppery-gold strew the former parts
with little islands of sweet brightness; and in July the open plateaux
are crowded with the white cups of the parnassia. Up to about twenty
years ago, no place in the entire county, excepting Grange, was so rich
for the botanist as Southport in general. Building, drainage, and the
changes incident to town-extension, have obliterated many of the best
localities; still, so long as the Birkdale sandhills remain intact, it
will preserve no trifling part of the reputation. The want at Southport
is more sea. The tide not only goes out to an incredible distance,
but always seems reluctant to return. It is in respect of this that
superiority is so justly claimed by Blackpool, the sea at the latter
place, save on exceptional days, being always within view, always grand
and inspiring.

South Lancashire, _viâ_ the original Liverpool and Manchester line,
or that which runs through Barton, offers few attractions to the
excursionist, being flat and very seldom relieved by wood and water.
The best part of the country traversed by the line in question is
that which holds Worsley Hall, the seat of the Earl of Ellesmere, the
ground here rising into a terrace which commands a view over the whole
of the great plain bounded upon the opposite side by Dunham Park. The
summit of the lofty tower at Wren's Wood, a little to the west of the
hall, overlooks or allows of glimpses of no fewer than six counties.
Hence it is itself seen from great distances. The grounds pertaining
to the hall, access to which is granted at certain times, supply an
excellent example of high-class professional laying-out, without
exciting the sense of surfeit such as at Alton is scarcely avoidable.
The woodland paths are pretty, and in autumn the floricultural part
emulates even Vale Royal. The hall, just beyond the village, upon
the left hand, is the third of the name. The original, or "Old"
hall, a most interesting, quaintly-timbered structure, still exists,
and is at present occupied by the Hon. Algernon Egerton. The second
was pulled down about twenty years ago. The present magnificent
structure, so conspicuous from the railway, was commenced in or about
1839 by the first Earl of Ellesmere, then Lord Francis Egerton, under
the superintendence of Mr. Blore, the architect of the new façade
of Buckingham Palace. Upon the right-hand side of the road, after
emerging from the village, there is a very pretty sylvan adjunct to
the park called the Hen Pen, the paths meandering through which often
recall the scenery of Mere Clough. The village itself is exceptionally
picturesque, the late Earl having encouraged the erection of private
houses and other buildings in the style of the old hall, the ancient
black and white or "magpie" fashion, these gaining in turn from the
happily chosen position of the church, which last is considered to be
one of the most successful productions of Mr. Gilbert Scott, and is in
any case a most beautiful example of Geometrical Decorated. Worsley may
be reached by three different routes. First, there is the station of
its own name, upon the Tyldesley line, going thence across the fields.
Secondly, there is the old way _viâ_ Patricroft, proceeding thence on
foot by the side of the canal, a walk of about two miles. Thirdly,
when permission can be obtained, there is the delightful path through
Botany Bay Wood, one of the most sequestered to be found anywhere
near Manchester. Being strictly preserved, it is of course only at
certain seasons, and then only by special favour, that people are
allowed to pass through, or can reasonably ask for leave. The entrance
to it is from Barton Moss, beginning with the station, then crossing
the waste at right angles, so as to step on to a broad causeway which
borders the moss in a line parallel with the rails, and after becoming
greener and softer, at last enters the wood. Filling the whole of the
space between the grounds of Worsley Hall and the edge of the moss,
and of purely artificial origin, this charming leafy covert received
its somewhat singular name from the workmen by whose labour it was
formed. So arduous was the toil demanded by the draining and subsequent
planting, that they compared it to the penalty of transportation to
the eighty years ago famous "Botany Bay" of the antipodes, the terror
of evil doers, and precursor of the Dartmoor of to-day. Barton Moss
is essentially a portion or adjunct of Chat Moss, an element of the
landscape as surveyed from the higher parts of Worsley, which can
hardly be considered cheerful, though rich in interesting associations,
foremost among which is the history of the means adopted to overcome
the difficulties it presented to the constructors of the original
Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The naturalist still finds upon it
abundance of welcome objects, including the bog-myrtle, _Myrica Galë_,
one of the very few really indigenous British plants which can be
rightfully called aromatic. A surface like Chat Moss, saturated with
wet, seems in little danger of ignition, yet no further back than in
June, 1868, a very considerable portion was on fire. The conflagration
commenced in a plantation near Astley. Within an hour most of the
trees were levelled with the ground. A strong wind was blowing at the
time, the fire spread rapidly, and the flames and clouds of smoke were
seen for miles. Continuing for between four and five days, at last it
approached Barton, and only then did it die away. The moss is traversed
hereabouts by many ditches cut for draining purposes. They are from
five to eight feet wide, and twelve to fifteen feet in depth, and are
generally full of water. So powerful, however, was the action of the
fire, that when it expired in many of them there was scarcely an inch,
and others were entirely dry. A conflagration of similar character
occurred in 1790 upon Lindow Common, resulting in the destruction of an
enormous quantity of the game then so plentiful there.

Newton-le-Willows, a place of more names than any other in the
county, being also called Newton Bridge, and Newton-in-Makerfield,
and by sporting men simply Newton, all these superseding the ancient
"Rokeden," gives access to interesting places both right and left.
The town itself has its attractions, consisting of little more than
the one old original broad street, with plenty of archæological
curiosities, which preserves the primitive idea of a rural English
village. Some very pleasant walks, partly sylvan, invite us to the
northern side, where also will be found a large and picturesque sheet
of water. Like Taxal and Rudyard it is artificial, having been formed
by barricading the outlets of two small streams--the Dene and the
Sankey--which previously occupied little independent valleys of their
own, so that the outline of the "lake" so called, is most agreeably
irregular. In parts it is abundantly flowered with water-lilies, so
easy is it for good taste to confer a pure and lasting ornament. On the
southern side of the line the specialty consists in the very ancient
and interesting village of Winwick, with its celebrated church and
innumerable antiquities, including a runic cross in the graveyard.
Thence, by permission, there is a charming walk towards Warrington,
first along the old lane in front of the church, then through the
grounds and shrubberies attached to Winwick Hall, after leaving which
the path becomes public. The rhododendrons at Winwick Hall are probably
the oldest, as they are certainly the largest and finest in the
district. They give one a perfect idea of the stalwart vitality of this
inestimable flowering shrub, and place it before us, in all likelihood,
just as developed in its native valleys upon the borders of the Euxine,
all these very large and venerable rhododendrons, wherever seen, being
the original _Ponticum_. While the original "anemone" was the flower
we now call the cistus, the original "rhododendron" was after all,
not our universal garden favourite so named, but a totally different
thing--the shrub, originally from Palestine, cherished in greenhouses
as the "oleander." Such, at least, was the application of the name in
the times immediately preceding those when Pliny wrote.

On the extreme south-western margin of the county, where the simple
rustic streams we found near Marple, the Goyt and the Etherowe, after
uniting their strength, and receiving the waters of the Tame, the
Irwell, and the Bollin, at length become glorious as the estuary of the
Mersey, there remain for us, in conclusion, two of the most interesting
places in Lancashire. These are Speke Hall, near Garston, and the
village of Hale; the latter possessed of some fine archæological
fragments, with, close by, the park and gardens appertaining to the
residence of Colonel Blackburne.

Speke Hall is a most charming example of genuine Elizabethan
work, affording, both inside and out, some of the best and most
characteristic features of the better kind of domestic architecture
which came into general use soon after the middle of the sixteenth
century. To compare small things with great, it may be described as
a miniature Bramhall. It stands only a few minutes' walk from the
edge of the estuary, and in the olden time would often, no doubt, be
approached from the water, to which an avenue or arcade of lofty trees
at present shows the way. In front the ground is level, consisting of
green fields which reach to the garden fence. The want of elevation,
as at Scarisbrick, rather hinders full appreciation of the singular
beauty of the building, at all events until we draw near enough to
perceive that, like nearly all other mansions of the kind, it was
originally protected by a moat. This has long since been superseded by
turf, the bridge alone remaining to show the depth and width, and the
grand old structure now rising up in all its nobleness of design. It
is not the original Speke Hall. At the period of the Domesday survey
the estate was held by a Saxon thane. After the Conquest, it fell to
the share of that famous Norman, Roger de Poictou, who as a reward for
his conduct at the battle of Hastings, received so large a portion
of Lancashire. Roger, as we all remember, took part in sundry small
acts of disloyalty, for which, in turn, he was punished by forfeiture.
Subsequently changing hands yet again, at last--perhaps about 1350--the
property came to be owned by a branch of the celebrated old family of
Norreys (one of the descendants of which fought under Lord Stanley
at Flodden, A.D. 1513), and by these the first hall of the name was
erected, in what style is not known. Remaining in their possession,
Speke, as we see it to-day, was the work of one Edward Norreys, who
commemorates himself in an inscription in antique letters over the
principal entrance:--"This worke 25 yards long was wolly built by Edw.
N., Esq. Anno 1598." The ground-plan, as in similar halls, consisted
of a spacious quadrangular courtyard, buildings occupying all four
of the sides, so that by means of the corridors and galleries, any
portion can be reached by an inmate without stepping into the open
air. The richness of these corridors, the beauty of the wood-carving,
and the general ornamentation, it is impossible to describe briefly;
some of the carved oak was brought from Holyrood by the Sir Wm.
Norreys of Flodden fame. There is a fine collection also of ancient
weapons, miscellaneous curiosities, and paintings. A wonderful and
probably unique spectacle, as regards our own country, is presented
upon entering the quadrangle. A very considerable portion of its large
area is occupied by a pair of yew trees, much older than the building
itself, and to accommodate which the builder seems to have given his
first thought while measuring, not forgetting that while his walls
would remain unchanged, the trees would grow. They are not of the same
age. The yew being one of the trees which are distinctly unisexual, it
is plain that the object in introducing the second individual was to
secure red berries, such as are still produced abundantly every year.
In 1736 the Speke estate passed, through a marriage, into the hands
of one of the Beauclerk family, concerning whom the historians seem
to care to say no more than is needful; and in 1780 it was purchased
by Mr. Richard Watt, an opulent Liverpool merchant. Continuing in
his family, it is now held by the lady--Miss Ada Watt--whose kindly
permission to enter the gates is indispensable.

[Illustration: Tho. Letherbrow.

_Hale Hut._]

Hale, renowned for its cottage-gardens, with lilies and roses beyond
the counting, is a quiet, peaceful, salubrious little place, claiming
celebrity as regards historical mention long anterior to that of
Liverpool. When the site of that wealthy city was known to few but
fishermen, Hale, so its people assert, already possessed a royal
charter. To-day the archæologist turns with interest to the remains of
a mansion which in its way must have been a fitting companion even
for Speke--the ancient baronial residence called the Hutte, about two
miles upon the Liverpool side of the village, and lying back a little
distance from the turnpike road. The great hall was a hundred feet long
by thirty feet wide; scarcely anything is to be seen now beyond some of
the grand old windows, an ancient chimneypiece, and the moat, with its
drawbridge. Hale Church, like the Hutte, tells of a time when the maps
did not insert Liverpool.[29] The body dates from about the middle of
the last century, but the tower is of immemorial age, contemporaneous
perhaps with the vast pile at the western extremity of Ormskirk old
church, thus with the very earliest ecclesiastical remains extant in
Lancashire. Here, too, we have a beautiful example of the ancient
lych-gate.

Soon after the Restoration the Hutte would seem to have been
relinquished as a place of residence by the local family. A new
one at all events was built in 1674--the Hale Hall of the present
day--mentioned above as the seat of Colonel Blackburne. Like many
another first-class country-house, in style it is substantially
domestic, extremely comfortable to look at, and no doubt well appointed
within; but still neither in outline or physiognomy can it be said to
preserve the traditions of any particular school of art. The park is
spacious, full of fine trees, including many lindens, so valuable
wherever men are sagacious enough to set up beehives. It supplies,
also, many a delightful prospect, especially when the eye crosses the
water and rests upon the opposite distant hills of North-West Cheshire,
which are said to resemble very strikingly the rising grounds about
Bethany and Bethphage. The gardens have great historic interest, since
it was to Hale that the famous collection of plants once existing at
Orford Mount was transferred, these including vines now two or three
centuries old, but still prolific of grapes. Vines in this healthful
village seem comfortable anywhere, mounting, as in the south, to the
cottage eaves, and outstripping in their beautiful green ambition even
the honeysuckles.

[Illustration]

Footnote

[29: Liverpool was omitted even so late as 1635. _Vide_
Selden's "Mare Clausum, seu de Dominio Maris," p. 239, Chetham Library,
Manchester.]



[Illustration]



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE LOCAL ORNITHOLOGY.

  'Twas then we heard the cuckoo's note
    Sound sweetly through the air,
  And everything around us looked
    Most beautiful and fair.

OLD SONG.


All lovers of the woods and fields are interested in our native birds.
Many of their sincerest pleasures are associated with birds; they
listen for the song of the thrush in early spring; for the note of
the cuckoo, inestimable herald of the summer, voiceful when all else
is voiceless, magnet of the heart in quiet evenings as we tread the
rising grass or scent the new-cut hay;--and when the corn is awaiting
the sickle, for the _crec crec_ of the land-rail. So with the sweet
spectacle of the little nests, hidden away in the hawthorn or ancient
ivy-bush. So again with the graceful movements of very many,

  The thin-winged swallow skating on the air;

the lengthened undulations of the yellow wagtail; the flutter of the
goldfinch about the thistle-stems; the rich and massive sailing of the
rooks when homeward bound, so grand, in particular, as they descend to
their night covert in the trees. "Who was it," asks Mr. Bright, who so
happily applied to rooks the lines in the sixth Æneid, where Virgil,
speaking of the descent of Æneas and his guide upon the Elysian plains,
says,

  Devenere locos lætos, et amoena vireta
  Fortunatorum nemorum, sedesque beatas?

  And down they came upon the happy haunts,
  The pleasant greenery of the favoured groves,
  Their blissful resting-place.[30]

We propose, accordingly, now to add a brief account of the ornithology
of the district these Rambles cover, so far, at all events, as regards
the immediate neighbourhood of Manchester. The detailed observations
upon the habits of the various species as originally given in the
"Walks and Wild flowers" were, as stated in that work, supplied to
a considerable extent by two old friends, both long since deceased,
Samuel Carter and Edward Jacques. Many others will now be found, and
for these we have chiefly to thank Mr. Charles E. Reade.

When Dr. Latham published his famous history of birds, exactly a
hundred years ago, the number of ascertained species, in all countries,
was about four thousand. It is now beyond question that the number
is not less than eleven thousand, and many others no doubt exist in
remote corners of which little or nothing has yet been learned. Europe
contains a fair proportion of the great total. So does old England
individually. The Rev. F. O. Morris, in his six well-known volumes, the
first of which is dated 1863, describes and figures no fewer than three
hundred and fifty-eight, or about a thirtieth of the whole number,
which, very curiously, is just about the same proportion as that of
the inhabitants of the British Islands to the aggregate of the world
in general. In this list are included the genuine Ancient Britons,
the aborigines, the birds that never go away, hence called "Permanent
Residents;" the migratory birds, or such as come for awhile in summer
or winter, hence called "Periodical Visitors;" and, thirdly, the
vagrants, the lost, and the adventurous, collectively called "Casuals."
The introduction of the last-named, though legitimate, gives, it must
be confessed, a certain deceptiveness to the figures. In the whole
range of natural history there is no fact more interesting than that
birds, in their airy voyages, often wander inconceivably far from home,
so that in all countries solitary examples of different kinds are met
with in turn, not one of them perhaps ever revisiting that particular
spot. Well may the poets, that is to say, the philosophers, find in
birds the representatives and emblems of human thought, which, as
we all know, travels illimitably. To give these casuals, however, a
place in the catalogue commensurate with that of the aborigines, the
birds residing in the country all the year round, or even with that
of the established visitors, which, like the cuckoo, never forget
their appointed season, is manifestly to introduce confusion. At
least fifty out of Mr. Morris's three hundred and fifty-eight have not
occurred more than once or twice in any part of Great Britain; and
another hundred are particularised as "extremely rare." To say that
there are about two hundred British species is thus nearer the truth
as regards the established denizens of our island--the birds we are
familiar with, or with which we may become so by steady watching; and
of these, proper to our own neighbourhood, there would seem to occur
within a few miles of Manchester about ninety. The number of permanent
residents mentioned in the "Walks" is fifty-nine, and of regular summer
and winter visitors between twenty-five and thirty; if there is any
difference at the present moment, the changes of twenty-four years
will certainly not indicate increase. Why we have no more than about
one-half of the proper ornithology of the country is that Lancashire
is too far to the north, and its climate too damp and chilly, for
many of the summer immigrants from beyond the channel, though some of
these have no objection to visit the adjacent county of York; while in
respect of the winter visitors from the colder parts of the Continent
and the Baltic regions, we are rather too far to the west. If few in
comparison with the possessions of more favoured districts, the ninety
or a hundred are still enough to be proud of and to rejoice in. It is
with birds as with wild-flowers: we do not want lengthy catalogues, but
that which shall gladden the heart. A single life-history, followed up
in every little particular, supplies, exactly as in botany, more real
and lasting enjoyment than acquaintance, however sounding, with a score
of mere shapes and measurements, and resting therein.

The parts most abounding in birds are naturally those which supply food
in the greatest abundance. The peat-mosses, the cold and treeless hills
have their inhabitants. Still, it is where fruit abounds, and where
the insects depending on vegetation are most numerous, that birds must
always be expected to gather in largest numbers. Trees and substantial
hedgerows are also inviting, so that, all things considered, the
southern and south-western parts of the neighbourhood are probably the
richest both in number of species and of individuals.

The simple fact of so many as ninety of the prettiest and most
interesting of the birds accounted British being denizens of our own
district should operate as a strong inducement, especially with young
people, to commence earnest study of ornithology. If the gathering
and examination of ferns and wild-flowers be a perennial pastime,
quite as hearty is the enjoyment that comes of observing the forms of
birds, always so elegant, the diversities of their vestures, their odd
and entertaining manners and customs, their ingenuity, characters,
and tempers, their almost human instincts, and their incessant
prefiguration of human character. This last is, in truth, not simply
one of the most curious and amusing parts of ornithology, but literally
the inexhaustible part. The best and most precious lessons in natural
history, whatever may be the department, are those which enable us
to trace the harmonies between the lower forms of life and our own,
seeing that man is not so much contained in nature, as the continent of
it, the summary, compend, and epitome of all that is outside of him,
and of all that has gone before. It is not necessary, as some seem to
suppose, that we should _shoot_ every unlucky bird we may desire to
be acquainted with. The museums are now so amply stocked with good
stuffed specimens, that there is no need for further slaughter, unless
under peculiar circumstances; all that we may want to know about form
and colour is procurable indoors, and the best part of the subject is
always that which is followed up with our eyes and ears in the fields.
There is no harm in killing birds, any more than in the insecticide
of the entomologist, so long as necessary for the genuine purposes of
science; but to make a point of bringing down every poor wayfarer that
may come within range is wanton cruelty. Instead of glorying in the
destruction of a rare bird, or of a brilliant butterfly that an instant
before had been waving its painted fans like an animated flower, it
should rather be matter of regret that it has now been prevented from
any longer brightening the earth and air, and that the beauty of the
world has been thus much defaced. If a bird in the hand be worth two in
the bush, a bird in the woods, rejoicing in the freedom of nature, is
worth twenty in a museum or a glass case.

Assuredly, too, it is a great mistake to shoot down birds because of
the damage they do in orchards and corn-fields. Caterpillars, grubs,
and flies of various kinds multiply in precisely the degree that pains
are taken to protect the fruit by destroying the birds disposed to
attack it. The prudent man, instead of killing all he can, knows that
his best policy is so to alarm the invaders that they shall go away of
their own accord. Birds of a feather not only flock together, but, as
every ornithologist knows full well, can confabulate. Warned by the
discharge of small shot such as will do them no harm, they soon discern
that mischief is brewing, and though, like boys, they will "try it
on" again, by and by they take their departure, and conscience is not
smitten with the reflection that, after all, the poor creature was more
of a friend than an adversary. By killing off birds systematically, not
to say malevolently and vindictively, those who do so strive their best
to exterminate a leading section of the sanitary police of nature. No
policy is more short-sighted; it is the opprobrium of the present day,
and if persisted in will induce results that, when too late, will be
deplored.

While speaking thus of the wanton destruction of birds, let it be
added that the words apply with equal force to the wanton destruction
of flowers and ferns. Gather what can be applied to good and useful
purposes, but _no more_; and as regards roots, never dig up anything
that cannot be relied upon as quite sure to take kindly to the garden
or the rockery it is destined for. All true naturalists love to
contemplate Life, and living things, and no one deserves the name who
wilfully and wantonly or even heedlessly puts things to death, or who
treats them in such a way that they will presently be sure to die.

Let us proceed, however, with our list, adding only that the original
localities of 1858 have all been allowed to stand, so that it may be
seen what Manchester possessed then, if not to-day. The scientific
appellations are those which lead off the lists of synonyms given by
Morris. To facilitate reference to his useful work, the volume and
the number of the plate are cited after every name, the plates being
counted as No. 1 and thence onwards up to 358.


I. PERMANENT RESIDENTS.

THE KESTREL, OR WINDHOVER (_Falco Tinnunculus_), Morris, vol. i., pl.
17.

Common, building in woods, especially where little disturbed by
visitors. One of the most beautiful and harmless of its race, and
remarkable for hovering over its prey, which is often a field-mouse. It
may be seen suspended in the air by quick, short flapping of the wings,
sometimes for five minutes, then dropping down upon its victim with
wonderful speed and force.

THE SPARROW-HAWK (_Accipiter Fringillarius_), i., 19.

Common, a bird of great daring, and a very general and successful
destroyer of smaller ones, pouncing at once upon its prey. Usually
builds in a tree which commands a good view in every direction.

THE SHORT-EARED OWL (_Strix brachyotus_), i., 23.

Frequently found on the mosses. Two upon Trafford Moss in the winter of
1858-9.

THE WHITE OR BARN OWL (_Strix flammea_), i., 29.

Common. The most frequent, familiar, and useful of the British owls,
being a great destroyer of mice and young rats, therefore especially
valuable to farmers who have granaries. Often laughed at because of
its "stupid" look, the owl is a bird of consummate interest. The great
size of the eyes is adapted to the small amount of light in which they
are usually to be employed. In the broad light of day the poor creature
is dazzled, and may well look irrational. Mark also the beautiful
fringe around the eyes. This prevents the interference of lateral
light, and the bird can concentrate the whole of its power upon what
lies immediately before it, just as we ourselves shade the eye with
the hand, and curve the fingers, when we want to examine some distant
object more particularly.

THE SONG THRUSH (_Turdus musicus_), iii., 127.

Everywhere in the district, and its sweet voice known to every one. In
congenial seasons it begins to sing in February. The nests, with the
eggs, are brought every year to the market for sale. In the work of no
creatures more than of birds, as in higher circles of life, is there
more of "love's labour lost." But to balance extreme lack of wisdom,
so great in the present instance is the perseverance, that if in
endeavouring to raise a brood it is foiled by one of its many enemies,
the thrush almost invariably follows that good old rule, "try again."

THE MISSEL THRUSH (_Turdus viscivorus_), iii., 124.

Common, breeding freely and very early, and building a nest similar to
that of the song-thrush, but in rather slovenly fashion, and usually
very conspicuous, being placed in the forks of the branches of trees.
Any odd stuff is used for it, as pieces of torn-up newspaper, bits of
old flannel, stray cotton-wool, old ribbon, &c.

THE BLACKBIRD (_Turdus merula_), iii., 131.

Common everywhere, restless and vigilant, breeding freely, known to
every one, and a great plague to gardeners. Blackbirds, however,
consume so many snails, that in the matter of spoiled fruit we can
quite afford to be lenient.

THE HEDGE SPARROW, OR DUNNOCK (_Accentor modularis_), iii., 135.

Common, and especially attached to gardens. Begins to sing towards
dusk, never any sooner; then mounts to the highest twig it can find
near its nest, and is tuneful to the highest degree, saying, as well
as a bird can, "Home, home, sweet, sweet home, my day's work is done,
like yours; good night, all's well." A more exquisitely beautiful and
immaculate shade of blue than that of the eggs it is scarcely possible
to discover.

THE ROBIN, OR REDBREAST (_Sylvia rubecula_), iii., 136.

Universally known and beloved; very fond of visiting timber-yards in
the town during the winter, where it sings freely; and in the country
an excellent prophet of the weather, for if the next day is to be fine,
the robin mounts to the top of the tallest tree; if the contrary, it
warbles softly underneath. The young birds are nearly the colour of
throstles, the distinctive hue not appearing till after the first
moult. At this period the bird seems patched with red, presenting a
most comical appearance.

THE STONECHAT (_Sylvia rubicola_), iii., 140.

Seen every winter in the neighbourhood of Withington, haunting the
Swedish turnip fields. In the summer it lodges elsewhere.

THE GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN (_Regulus cristatus_), iii., 162.

This bird builds annually in the yews in the grounds at Dunham Hall,
and is common on the outskirts of the town generally. The note
resembles that of a weak cricket, and is often repeated, as if the
little creatures, like children, were afraid of losing one another. The
male and female are never seen apart, and usually there are three or
four couples together.

THE GREAT TITMOUSE (_Parus major_), i., 36.

Common, haunting woods and gardens, and busy most of its time in
looking for insects and spiders. Imitating other birds, and making all
sorts of queer noises, the reward it often gets is to be shot for its
pains, the wonder being what droll creature can it be.

THE BLUE TITMOUSE (_Parus coeruleus_), i., 39.

Very beautiful in plumage, usually a sweet light blue or dark blue and
yellow, common in woods and gardens, and building its nest in holes of
trees, in letter-boxes, old pumps, and anything else that has a cavity
in it and it takes a fancy to. In late autumn and winter there is no
prettier sight than to watch one of these elegant little creatures
pecking away at one of the two or three apples that a kind-hearted man
always leaves for it.

THE COLE TITMOUSE (_Parus ater_), i., 37.

Common, but chiefly found in winter, usually going northwards to breed.

THE MARSH TITMOUSE. (_Parus palustris_), i., 40.

Similar to the last both in habits and note, but building more
frequently.

THE LONG-TAILED TITMOUSE (_Parus caudatus_), i., 41.

The nest, which is usually suspended from the ends of branches in the
thick of the hedge, is most beautifully formed, and resembles a little
bee-hive. It is constructed of moss, lichens, and spiders' webs, and
lined with feathers, as many, when pulled out and scattered abroad, as
would fill a couple of hats. In autumn, parties of about half-a-dozen
usually go about together, scampering through the orchards, generally
from east to west, examining every tree with remarkable rapidity,
always moving, never resting; after which they are not seen again
perhaps for months.

THE PIED WAG-TAIL, OR DISH-WASHER (_Motacilla Yarrellii_), ii., 80.

A common and very elegant bird, building under bridges, and near the
water, but always in some rough or stony place, such as a hole where a
brick has fallen out. Haunting stream and pond-sides in quest of food,
it is quite as particular as a lady is over her dress, flirting its
little tail so as to preserve it from getting soiled.

THE GRAY WAG-TAIL, (_Motacilla sulphurea_), ii., 82.

Similar to the last in habits, and very beautiful in its breeding
plumage, showing yellow, blue, black, white, green, and many other
tints. Near Manchester rather rare.

THE MEADOW PIPIT, OR TITLING (_Anthus pratensis_), ii., 86.

Common in meadows and upon the mosses, as Chat Moss and White Moss, on
which it breeds abundantly. This bird has most young cuckoos to rear of
any of the feathered tribe that build on the ground, and a good deal of
work to do, for the young cuckoos are both big and hungry. It is one
also of many which, if they think their young are in danger, feign to
be wounded, so as to draw attention away from the nest.

THE SKYLARK, OR LAVROCK (_Alauda arvensis_), ii., 93.

Common everywhere, building on the ground. The male bird seems to
collect the materials, while the female employs herself in arranging
them. Seldom alighting upon either tree or bush, the lark, rather
singular to say, is, except when soaring, in its habits almost wholly
terrestrial.

THE COMMON BUNTING (_Emberiza miliaria_), ii., 97.

Not infrequent, singing, in a shrill note, in March, on the tops of
trees near cultivated fields. The nest is built on the ground, near the
sides of ditches.

THE BLACK-HEADED BUNTING, OR BLACK-CAP (_Emberiza schoeniculus_),
ii., 98.

Common about pit-sides and wide ditches.

THE YELLOW-AMMER (_Emberiza citrinella_), ii., 90.

Common. The song, in March and April, is very peculiar, and sounds
like the words, "A little bit of bread and no ch-e-e-se," the first
part of the sentence uttered rapidly, and the latter long drawn out.
(This name, often mis-written yellow-_h_ammer, represents the German
_goldammer_, literally "yellow-bunting.")

THE CHAFFINCH (_Fringilla cælebs_), ii., 102.

Common. A very early harbinger of spring, in woods, fields, and
gardens, and very fond of orchards, building a beautiful nest of
all sorts of materials within reach. One has been found constructed
entirely of raw cotton. The eggs are sometimes blue, sometimes white
with pale spots, or pinky, or red, as if pencil-marked. Named _cælebs_
by Linnæus, because in winter, especially when the season is severe, in
many parts the sexes say good-bye to one another, and live asunder till
spring, when they re-unite. One of the neatest in habits of all English
birds. Even in the depth of winter the chaffinch seeks a lavatory every
day.

THE TREE SPARROW (_Passer montanus_), ii., 104.

A sharp little bird, not uncommon, and usually building in hollow
oak-trees. If the tree be approached during incubation it flies off
like a shot.

THE HOUSE SPARROW (_Passer domesticus_), ii., 105.

The bold, pert, quarrelsome bird, indifferent alike to our kindness and
our enmity, which nevertheless one is glad to see feeding on the crumbs
considerately thrown to it from the parlour breakfast-table.

THE GREENFINCH (_Coccothraustes chloris_), ii., 106.

Common in cultivated fields and gardens. Song sweet but monotonous.

THE COMMON LINNET (_Linaria cannabina_), ii., 110.

Abundant everywhere on heaths and in hedgerows. Many are kept in cages
for the beauty of the song. Not only among mankind, it would seem, does
a fine voice sometimes prove the road to ruin.

THE LESS RED-POLE (_Linaria minor_), ii., 111.

This bird breeds in Marple Wood, Cotterill Clough, and similar places.
The nest, rather hard to discover, is round, the size of a racket-ball,
and composed of fibrous roots and the hemp-like bark of the dead
nettle-stalks of the previous year, with which the little architect
ties them together, the inside being lined with the pappus or down of
the coltsfoot seed. It is generally placed in high hedges or in the
boughs of fir-trees.

THE BULLFINCH (_Loxia Pyrrhula_), ii., 114.

Rare. Remarkable for the beauty of its nest, which is constructed of
the withered ends of the slenderest woodbine twigs the bird can find,
laid crosswise like a woven fabric. Generally found in a bush, and
about a yard from the ground.

THE STARLING, OR SHEPSTER (_Sturnus vulgaris_), iii., 121.

A bird well-known as stopping up waterspouts with its nest, and never
going to bed till after a prolonged chatter. Common everywhere.

THE CARRION CROW (_Corvus corone_), i., 52.

Formerly common in Hough-end Clough, but now extinct, and fast
disappearing from the neighbourhood in general.

THE ROOK (_Corvus frugilegus_), i., 54.

Common everywhere. Their clamour one of the most familiar of rural
sounds, and their great feathers, of the only shade of black that is
lively, constantly seen lying upon the ground.

THE JACKDAW (_Corvus monedula_), i., 55.

Formerly an inhabitant of the steeples of St. John's, St. Anne's, St.
Matthew's, and St. Mary's churches. Plentiful wherever there is an old
ruin.

THE MAGPIE (_Pica caudata_), i., 56.

Formerly very abundant about Urmston, but has become scarce with the
disappearance of the tall trees, especially poplars, once so plentiful
there. It suffers sadly, also, from sportsmen and gamekeepers.

THE JAY (_Garrulus glandarius_), i., 58.

Frequent about Withington, Didsbury, Northen, and in that part of the
neighbourhood.

THE GREEN WOODPECKER (_Picus viridis_), ii., 64.

This bird used to breed in Dunham Park. One was seen there in January,
1859.

THE GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER (_Picus major_), ii., 65.

Rare. Dunham Park; Barlow Moor.

THE COMMON CREEPER (_Certhia familiaris_), ii., 62.

Abundant, but, in consequence of its retired habits, little known. At a
short distance it looks like a mouse, running up the tree from the very
bottom, and clearing it all round of every insect that may happen to be
in the way. Plentiful at Gatley Carrs.

THE COMMON WREN (_Sylvia Troglodytes_), iii., 160.

Well-known, and common everywhere in gardens, woods, and hedgerows.
Often found with a few scattered white feathers, and sometimes with
white wings. The large and pretty nest reminds one of what women do
for the world. The hen commences one and completes it. Meantime the
male bird begins two or three in succession, a short distance from
his mate's, but never completes one of them. The materials are moss,
feathers, hair, dead leaves, and dead fern.

THE PEEWIT, OR LAPWING (_Vanellus cristatus_), iv., 192.

Common everywhere in marshy grounds, and known to most people by the
peculiar cry represented in the name. The young ones are particularly
fond of being in the bottom of deep ditches and drains, squatting down
close to the ground.

THE KING-FISHER (_Alcedo ispida_), i., 46.

Cheadle, Urmston, Flixton, and elsewhere in those directions, by
all the tributaries of the Mersey. A beautiful but very timid bird,
darting with great speed, its glossy green back glancing quick as
thought.--(See, in reference to the Lancashire localities, the
_Manchester Guardian_ of Feb. 4th, 1882.)

THE MOOR-HEN, OR WATER-HEN (_Gallinula chloropus_), v., 247.

Common by old pits. Many breed on the ponds in Dunham Park, where we
cannot go in the summer without seeing them in companies of four or
five, their little white tails cocked up, and looking as if they were
swimming on their necks.

THE GREAT CRESTED GREBE (_Colymbus cristatus_), v., 294.

On all the Cheshire meres, Tatton, Tabley, Rostherne, &c.

THE LITTLE GREBE, OR DAB-CHICK (_Colymbus Hebridicus_), v., 298.

Common on the Cheshire meres.

THE NUTHATCH (_Sitta Europæa_), i., 60.

Dunham Park, but only a few.

THE RINGDOVE, CUSHAT, OR WOOD-PIGEON (_Columba palumbus_), iii., 164.

Breeds in the woods in Trafford Park and about Chat Moss; plentiful
about Urmston, though rather rare in the district generally.

THE STOCKDOVE (_Columba ænas_), iii., 165.

Very scarce. Marple Wood.--(On the Lancashire localities, see
_Manchester Guardian_, Jan. 21, 1882.)

THE RED GROUSE (_Lagopus Scoticus_), iii., 172.

On the moors.

THE COMMON PARTRIDGE (_Perdrix cinerea_), iii., 174.

Upon farm-land, common.

THE WILD DUCK (_Anas Boschas_), v., 270.

This bird breeds on Carrington Moss, Chat Moss, and in many other
places.

THE COMMON HERON (_Ardea cinerea_), iv., 197.

In the _Manchester Guardian_ of December 28, 1881, it is stated that
there is a heronry "within about fourteen miles of the Exchange," and
that within forty miles of Manchester there are a dozen other stations
for this beautiful and celebrated bird. The former is probably that
one which it is further stated has existed since 1871 in Tabley Park,
though the older stations, Dunham Park, Oulton Park, and the trees near
the water at Arley Hall, have long since been deserted.--(_Vide_ also
the _Guardian_ of March 18th, 1882.)


II. PERIODICAL VISITORS.


I. COMING IN SPRING AND SUMMER.

THE WHEAT-EAR (_Sylvia Oenanthe_), iii., 142.

The earliest of our summer visitants, coming by the end of March, but
staying in the fields not longer than two or three weeks, when it moves
off to the mountainous districts to breed. Very fond of placing its
nest in deserted rabbit-holes, and in cavities in old stone walls.

THE GRASSHOPPER WARBLER (_Sylvia locustella_), iii., 143.

No one who has heard this bird can ever forget it, the note resembling
the voice of the grasshopper, but prolonged into a whirr, like the
noise of a spinning-wheel. Towards midnight, when all other birds are
still, if approached, it will begin. Found haunting thickets and
hedge-bottoms, but rather uncommon, and rarely seen, though often
heard, on account of its habit of running among the low brushwood.

THE SEDGE WARBLER (_Sylvia salicaria_), iii., 145.

Common by the sides of pitsteads. This is the bird so often mistaken in
our neighbourhood for the nightingale. No bird takes more care to let
us know of its presence; the moment it is disturbed, it begins to sing.

THE BLACK-CAP WARBLER (_Sylvia atricapilla_), iii., 150.

A most beautiful song-bird, and common in woods. When it arrives, it
is fond of mounting high into the trees; the males, like most of the
warblers, coming a week or two before the females, and selecting a
station, where they sing until their mates arrive.

THE GARDEN WARBLER (_Sylvia hortensis_), iii., 152.

Unlike the preceding, this bird never gets up high into the trees to
sing, nor does it care to warble until the female arrives, when its
lovely trill is heard plentifully in the low bushes. It will build in
gardens among peas. Common in Hough-end Clough and about Urmston.

THE COMMON WHITETHROAT (_Sylvia cinerea_), iii., 153.

Common everywhere, and apt to warble when on the wing, springing up out
of the hedge, with its jar-jar-jar, jee-jee-jee, and in a minute or two
diving down into it again.

THE LESS WHITETHROAT (_Sylvia sylvicella_), iii., 154.

Rare about Manchester, building in hedges a large and clumsy nest,
similar to that of a greenfinch. The song is given only from the very
heart of thick-foliaged trees.

THE WOOD WARBLER, OR WOOD WREN (_Sylvia sylvicola_), iii., 155.

A very lovely little bird; its song, or trill, a repetition of two
notes, and its nest very hard to find. While singing, it sits on the
bough and seems to tremble, the wings being quivered elegantly.

THE WHINCHAT (_Sylvia rubetra_), iii., 141.

A common little bird, breeding everywhere, usually selecting
uncultivated lands, and sometimes hay-fields, but always having its
nest upon the ground. About Urmston it is known as the "utic," from
its peculiar cry, "tic, tic, utic." In habits sprightly and cheerful,
popping about for ever from one spray to another.

THE WILLOW WARBLER, OR WILLOW WREN (_Sylvia Trochilus_), iii., 156.

This little fellow is common in most places,--woods, gardens,
hedgerows,--choosing the top of the trees to sing in. It ceases to
sing after pairing, devoting itself to the construction of its large
nest, which is usually protected with a lid, and built of grass, moss,
and feathers. In the summer of 1858, Edward Jacques found a nest in
Hough-end Clough, with a dead blackbird alongside, from which the
feathers had all been plucked, and used in the construction. Nowhere
is it more numerous or happy than about Urmston, arriving clean as a
daisy, after its journey of a thousand miles or more.

THE CHIFF-CHAFF (_Sylvia rufa_), iii., 158.

This little creature, which is one of the smallest of the warblers,
arrives a trifle later, or about the middle of March, when it at
once begins its cry in the very highest branches it can find of the
tallest poplars and fir-trees, perching itself on the topmost pinnacle.
Not common about Manchester generally, though plentiful in Marple
Wood. First it cries "chiff," then "chaff," then "chaff" and "chiff"
alternately.

THE WHITE WAG-TAIL (_Motacilla alba_), ii., 81.

Arrives at the end of March or the beginning of April, but does not
appear to breed in our neighbourhood.

THE YELLOW WAG-TAIL (_Motacilla flava_), ii., 84.

Common in open fields, building its nest among young corn, and in
hay-grass. Like all the other wag-tails, a bird of very poor song, but
singularly gentle and affectionate. It arrives the last week in March,
apparently all the better for its journey, the plumage being often more
clean and beautiful the day of arrival than at any later period.

THE REDSTART (_Sylvia phoenicurus_), iii., 138.

Formerly very common in Hulme, Chorlton, and Withington, but now become
scarce, being shy in temperament, and retiring before the advance of
population. Plentiful in the rural parts of Cheshire. To get a full
view of a redstart is also very difficult, as it is for ever dodging
behind a branch, and, as the name implies, is never still.

THE TREE PIPIT (_Anthus arboreus_), ii., 88.

A lively bird, arriving at the beginning of April, and commencing to
sing immediately. Common, building its nest on the ground, and laying
the most variously coloured eggs, some being blood-red and others deep
black.

THE CUCKOO (_Cuculus canorus_), ii., 71.

Arrives abundantly about the 27th of April, remaining until about
August, though young birds of the year have been found in October.
However disregardful of its young, the cuckoo makes ample amends in its
conjugal fidelity, for when one of either sex is seen, you may be quite
sure that its mate is not far off.

THE WRYNECK, OR CUCKOO'S MATE (_Yunx Torquilla_), ii., 61.

Rare, coming mostly with the cuckoo, which it somewhat resembles.

THE SWALLOW (_Hirundo rustica_), ii., 76.

Common and familiar everywhere. Social, harmless, and useful, and
perhaps as much beloved as the robin itself, if only because of its
fondness for human habitations.

THE HOUSE MARTIN (_Hirundo riparia_), ii., 79.

Common and familiar, and, like the swallow, always welcome. This odd
bird often takes for the foundation of its nest one constructed the
previous year by the swallow. The swallow's nest is open at the top.
The house-martin likes to have a roof or lid, so goes on with the one
it adopts till finished to its own fancy, keeping only an aperture for
ingress.

THE SAND MARTIN (_Hirundo urbica_), ii., 78.

Comes in spring from North Africa and Malta, then common everywhere
in sand-banks, in which it excavates horizontal galleries. It never
alights on the ground, but gathers the blades of green grass used for
the nest while on the wing, and in the same way collects the feathers
for lining it.

THE DOTTEREL (_Charadrius morinellus_), iv., 187.

This bird visits us in the beginning of May, arriving in large flocks.
It is very tame, silly, and easily approached. If a fowler once gets
among them, he may shoot the whole before they take alarm. It remains
only for three or four days or a week, and then moves on to its
breeding stations among the mountains in the north.--(On the Lancashire
localities, see _Manchester Guardian_, Feb. 25, 1882.)

THE SPOTTED FLY-CATCHER (_Muscicapa grisola_), i., 44.

Common, making its appearance in the middle of May, building in gardens
and woods, and generally choosing very odd situations for the nest.
Remarkable for the constancy of its return to the same old dead
tree or rail, or old and ivied wall. After its long aërial sail it
seems well content also to stop there till the time for departure in
autumn. "From morn till dewy eve" it keeps in its chosen place, though
incessantly darting out to secure a fly.

THE PIED FLY-CATCHER (_Muscicapa luctuosa_), i., 43.

This bird has been seen frequently between Middleton and Oldham, where
also it builds its nest, choosing old trees.

THE COMMON SAND-PIPER (_Tringa hypoleucos_), iv., 217.

Tolerably common on the banks of the Mersey at Northen, and thence down
the river.

THE LAND-RAIL, OR CORN-CRAKE (_Crex pratensis_), v., 242.

Common everywhere in hay and corn-fields. The voice of the corn-crake
has in it something so nearly akin to ventriloquism that the birds
themselves are rarely where we seem to hear them, furnishing in summer
much pleasant amusement.

THE SPOTTED CRAKE, OR GALLINEW (_Crex porzana_), v., 243.

These birds haunt the pit-bottoms, and cannot be got without a good
dog; hence they appear to be less common than they really are.

THE COMMON QUAIL (_Perdrix coturnix_), iii., 178.

Occasionally met with, and no doubt breeds, like the partridge, which
it resembles, in open fields. It may be known by its peculiar cry in
summer evenings, _But-me-but! But-me-but!_

THE COMMON DIPPER (_Cinclus aquaticus_), iii., 123.

The only place in the neighbourhood known to be visited by this curious
bird is Stalybridge Brushes, from which nests and eggs have several
times been brought. At home only in and about brooks and streams in
mountainous districts, it generally builds its nests under the ledge
of a cascade on rocks perfectly wet, having to go through the curtain
of water to reach it. When wishing to feed, it goes to the bottom
of the water, there walking about like a diver.--(On the Lancashire
localities, see the _Manchester Guardian_, Feb. 4, 1882.)

THE RING OUZEL (_Turdus torquatus_), iii., 132.

Builds every summer in Stalybridge Brushes; occasionally about
Withington. Remarkable for its loud and beautiful song.


II. VISITORS COMING IN AUTUMN AND WINTER.

THE FIELD-FARE (_Turdus pilaris_), iii., 125.

A common winter visitor, breeding in Norway and Sweden, and one of the
eminently social birds, always travelling in large companies. Comes
about the end of October, and leaves again not later than the beginning
of April.

THE REDWING (_Turdus iliacus_), iii., 126.

The habits of this bird are the same as those of the field-fare, with
which it comes and goes.

THE SISKIN (_Carduelis spinus_), ii., 109.

The siskin visits us in November and December, but sometimes not for
seven or eight years together, though coming plentifully when it
chooses to make its appearance.

THE MEALY RED-POLE (_Linaria canescens_), ii., 112.

Comes and goes in flocks with the siskins, and at equally long and
uncertain intervals.

THE COMMON SNIPE (_Scolopax Gallinago_), iv., 227.

Abundant, haunting old brick-pits and unfrozen brooks; plentiful about
Gorton, Belle Vue, and Cheetham Hill.

THE JACK SNIPE (_Scolopax Gallinula_), iv., 228.

A smaller bird than the common snipe; not so plentiful, but often seen
in company with it.

THE WOODCOCK (_Scolopax rusticola_), iv., 225.

Formerly very plentiful about Hough-end, but now rare, owing to the
filling up of the pits and the clearing away of the brushwood.


III. CASUAL, STRAY, AND OCCASIONAL
BIRDS.

Several of the birds named below are permanent residents in the British
Islands, and others are regular visitors to this country. They are put
in the present place because seen near Manchester only at uncertain
intervals, or as casuals, the only one that can be looked for with
any degree of probability, being the sea-gull. The visits, as will
be seen from the dates, have in some cases occurred at periods so far
back, that except for completeness' sake, they would scarcely be worth
mention. I quote them from standard works upon ornithology, and from
the late Mr. John Blackwall's paper upon the migrations of Manchester
birds in the "Transactions of the Literary and Philosophical Society
for 1822," the observations having been made during the eight years
1814-1821.

THE LITTLE CRAKE (_Crex pusilla_), v., 244.

One at Ardwick in 1807.

THE GOLDEN ORIOLE (_Oriolus galbula_), iii., 133.

One near Manchester in 1811.

THE ORTOLAN (_Emberiza hortulana_), ii., 101.

One near Manchester in 1827.

THE CROSSBILL (_Loxia curvirostra_), ii., 116.

About the year 1840, in the month of August, a large flock of these
birds, old and young in company, visited Hough-end Clough for a few
hours. Mr. Blackwall gives as its Manchester period, August 5th to
November 19th.

THE CHATTERER (_Ampelis garrulus_), i., 59.

In Mr. Blackwall's list.

THE HOOPOE (_Upupa epops_), i., 49.

In Mr. Blackwall's list.

THE RED-BACKED SHRIKE (_Lanius collurio_), i., 34.

Sometimes seen in the summer.

THE GREAT SHRIKE (_Lanius excubitor_), i., 33.

In Mr. Blackwall's list, and was seen at Cheadle about 1850. (On
the Lancashire localities of the three species of Lanius, see the
_Manchester Guardian_ for March 11th, 1882.)

THE MERLIN (_Falco æsalon_), i., 16.

In Mr. Blackwall's list. (On the Lancashire localities, see _Manchester
Guardian_, January 14th, 1882.)

THE DUSKY GREBE (_Colymbus obscurus_), v., 296.

Once near Manchester.

BEWICK'S SWAN (_Cygnus Bewickii_), v., 262.

A flock of twenty-nine at Crumpsall on December 10th, 1829, and another
of seventy-three at the same place, February 28th, 1830.

THE LITTLE BITTERN (_Ardea minuta_), iv., 205.

A very shy and sulky little bird, sitting all of a heap, and looking
like a bit of brown stump.

THE COMMON BITTERN (_Botaurus stellaris_), iv., 204.

THE GREAT OR SOLITARY SNIPE (_Scolopax major_), iv., 226.

Has been seen at Urmston.

THE NIGHTINGALE (_Sylvia Luscinia_), iii., 147.

The visit of the nightingales to our neighbourhood will long be
remembered by those who heard their song.

It took place in 1863. The first came to Wilmslow early in May,
establishing itself in the little grove near the end of Bollin Hall
Park, on the Manchester side of the railway viaduct. For several
weeks it sang nightly, and the crowds of people who were attracted
by the fame of the bird from distances of many miles, at last became
quite a trouble to that usually quiet neighbourhood. The second took
up its lodging in a grove close to the Strines Printworks, where,
says Mr. Joel Wainwright,[31] no greater sensation was ever caused
by a little thing. It began at ten every night, and continued almost
uninterruptedly until three a.m. A third is said to have visited a
plantation adjacent to the railway station at Sale, but over this one
there may possibly have been an error.

THE SNOW BUNTING (_Emberiza nivalis_), ii., 95.

Occasionally visits us in severe winters, breeding in Norway and Sweden.

THE MOUNTAIN FINCH, OR BRAMBLING (_Fringilla montifringilla_), ii., 103.

Visits us from the north in winter time, but rarely.

THE PECTORAL SAND-PIPER (_Tringa pectoralis_), iv., 239.

Once by a pit near the White House, Stretford Road.

THE COMMON WILD GOOSE (_Anser palustris_), v., 251.

A flock of these birds was once seen feeding in a field at Withington.

THE WILD SWAN (_Cygnus ferus_), v., 261.

One preserved in the Peel Park Museum was shot near Bolton.
Occasionally seen at Lymm.

THE SCLAVONIAN GREBE (_Podiceps cornutus_), v., 296.

One shot near Oldham many years ago is now in the Peel Park Museum.

THE COMMON TERN (_Sterna Hirundo_), vi., 316.

Occasionally seen upon the Mersey and the lower Irwell.

THE BLACK TERN (_Sterna nigra_), vi., 323.

THE BLACK-HEADED GULL (_Larus ridibundus_), vi., 331.

THE COMMON GULL (_Larus canus_), vi., 334.

THE KITTIWAKE (_Larus tridactylus_), vi., 340.

Gulls are frequently seen in the winter on the mosses and in ploughed
fields, feeding, but whether they are the kittiwake or common gull
cannot always be ascertained with certainty, as they are very shy
birds, and fly away before they can be approached.

THE WATER RAIL (_Rallus aquaticus_), v., 246.

THE CURLEW (_Numenius arquata_), iv., 211.

Occasionally breeds on Chat Moss.

THE TEAL (_Anas crecca_), v., 272.

Occasionally seen by pit-sides.

THE BLACK-START (_Sylvia Tithys_), iii., 139.

Two were seen at Didsbury about 1855.

THE GOLDEN PLOVER (_Charadrius pluvialis_), iv., 186.

Occasionally seen in large flocks upon the flat fields near Stretford
and thereabouts.--(On the Lancashire localities, see _Manchester
Guardian_, January 28th, 1882.)

THE RINGED PLOVER (_Charadrius hiaticula_), iv., 188.

Single birds are seen occasionally, both in summer and winter.

THE STORM PETREL (_Procellaria pelagica_), vi., 353.

One was picked up alive near Stockport in the winter of 1856, and
another, dead, at Pendleton, shortly before. A third had fallen at
Withington, these birds being blown inland by tempestuous weather, and
dropping when exhausted.

THE HOBBY (_Falco subbuteo_), i., 14.

Once near Brooks' Bar, as a summer visitant. The hobby is the only
British bird of prey that is migratory.

THE DUNLIN (_Tringa variabilis_), iv., 240.

This bird has been known to breed on Chat Moss, but very rarely.

THE COMMON SWIFT (_Hirundo apus_), ii., 73.

Occasionally.

THE NIGHT-JAR (_Caprimulgus Europæus_), ii., 72.

Chat Moss, and other out of the way moors.


IV. INTRODUCED AND NATURALIZED.

THE COMMON PHEASANT (_Phasianus colchicus_), iii., 169.

In "Preserves."

[Illustration]

Footnotes

[30: "A Year in a Lancashire Garden," p. 27.]

[31: In _loc. cit._, p. 20.]



[Illustration]

CHAPTER XIX.

NATURAL HISTORY IN THE LIBRARY.


  As he who southward sails, beholds each night,
  New constellations rise, all clear and fair;
  So, o'er the waters of the world, as we
  Reach the mid zone of life, or go beyond,
  Beauty and bounty still beset our course;
  New beauties wait upon us everywhere,
  New lights enlighten, and new worlds attract.

J. P. BAILEY.


The immense value of the Manchester libraries to the student of Natural
History has already been mentioned. Treasure-houses at all times, it
is impossible to over-estimate the privileges they confer on rainy
days. "Some days," says the poet, must needs be "dark and dreary." We
have all, at some time or other, had our plans and projects baffled by
the wet, and very disappointing it certainly is, when a nice party has
been made up for an afternoon's pleasure in the country, to see the
sky grow black and the drops begin to fall, with not a chance of its
clearing up until too late to go. But the streets lead the way to as
much pleasure, after another manner, as the field-paths. It is nothing
but a thoughtless mistake which lauds the country at the expense of
the town, crying out that God made the one, but that the other is the
work of man. Each is complementary to the other; each, as with the
sexes, affords pleasures which itself only can give; each is best in
turn, and full of compensation, and whatever may be thought of the
adjacent country, no town is more enjoyable to the intelligent, by
virtue simply and sufficiently of its Free Libraries, than Manchester.
With these inexpressibly precious stores at perfect command, the
private property, virtually, of every man who takes interest in their
contents, let none, then, ever deplore rain, or piercing winds, mud,
snow, sleet, or any species of atmospheric hindrance to rural pleasure.
More lies within the walls of our three great Free Libraries than a
life-time is sufficient to consume. To the student of wild nature they
are peculiarly valuable, since they supply interpretation of everything
that can possibly come before him in the fields.

The books in our three great Free Libraries--the Chetham, the City,
and the Peel Park--which deal with zoological subjects, and with
palæontology, are easily discoverable, the number of important ones,
especially such as have plates, being limited. The printed catalogues,
and the courtesy of the respective librarians, give ready information
as to these, and the titles of the various works generally indicate the
contents with sufficient clearness. With works upon botanical matters
it is different. The number of these is too vast for any librarian's
easy reference, and to ascertain what ground they cover also very
generally requires personal examination. In the aggregate, the three
Free Libraries contain quite a thousand distinct and independent works
of this latter class--books treating of floriculture as well as of
botany--very many of them single volumes, but the average the same as
that of the fashionable novel, the grand total being, in other words,
over three thousand, a weight of literature pertaining to plants
certainly without parallel in any other English city after London. Our
remaining space we shall devote accordingly to a select list of the
botanical works, old and new, enumerating them in chronological order.
For in the eyes of the accomplished student fine old books always count
with the great kings of history,

  The dead but sceptred sovereigns who still rule
  Our spirits from their urns.

_Chet._ signifies the Chetham; _City_, the King-street; and _P. P._,
the Peel Park or Salford Library.[32]

A.D.

1532. Brunfels: Herbarum Vivæ eicones. Folio. 130 curious old
woodcuts.--_Chet._

1542. Fuchsius: De Historia Stirpium. About 450 full-page cuts, many of
them admirable, others very droll.--_City, Chet._

1576. Lobel: Stirpium Adversaria. Woodcuts.--_City, Chet._

1611. Renealm: Specimen Historia Plantarum. Many curious drawings,
including one of the sun-flower, then a novelty.--_City._

1613. Besler: Hortus Eystettensis. Full of wonderful old
plates.--_City, Chet._

1635. Cornutus: Canadensium Plantarum. Curious and very interesting old
plates.--_City._

1678. Breynius: Exoticarum aliarumque minus, &c. 100 fine old and very
curious copperplates.--_Chet._

1680. Morison: Plantarum Historia. A massive folio, with innumerable
exquisite drawings.--_City, Chet._

1691-1705. Plukenet: Works. Innumerable figures.--_City, Chet._

1693. Charles Plumier: Description des Plantes de l'Amerique. Full of
very fine old plates.--_City, Chet._

1728. John Martyn: Historia Plantarum Rariorum. 100 fine old coloured
plates.--_City, Chet._

1748. Weinmann: Duidelyke Vertoning. Four thick folios, containing
1,025 coloured plates, with innumerable figures, old-fashioned, but
bold, characteristic, and very curious.--_P. P._

1750. Rumphius: Herbarium Amboinense. Six vols., folio. Full of fine
old plates.--_City, Chet._

1755. C. Plumier: Plantarum Americanarum Fasciculus. Folio. Full of
fine old copperplates.--_City._

1757-1773. Elizabeth Blackwell: Herbarium. Six vols., folio. Containing
601 coloured plates of economic plants, every one of them drawn and
engraved by herself, in order to raise money to liberate her husband
from a debtor's prison.--_Chet._

1759-1775. Sir John Hill: The Vegetable System. Twenty-six folio
volumes. With 1,600 copperplates, containing 6,560 figures.--_City, P.
P._ (The latter bound in ten vols.)

1760. Philip Miller: Figures of Plants. Two vols., folio., and new
edit., in four vols., 1807.--_Chet._ (An admirable work, with 300
plates.)

1766-1797. G. C. Oeder: Flora Danica. Eleven vols., folio, with 1,200
plates.--_City._

1770. John Edwards: Herbal. A thin folio of 100 beautiful coloured
plates.--_Chet., P. P._

1772. N. J. Jacquin: Hortus Botanicus Vindobonensis. Two vols., folio.
Full of the most beautiful coloured plates.--_Chet._

1773. N. J. Jacquin: Flora Austriaca. Five vols., folio. Full of
splendid coloured plates.--_City._

1775. Aublet: Histoire des Plantes de la Guiane Française. Four
vols., 4to. Two of them made up of very beautiful and interesting
plates.--_City, Chet._

1777. John Miller: The Sexual System of Linnæus. A massive elephant
folio, with 103 magnificent coloured plates.--_Chet., City._

1777. Curtis: Flora Londinensis. Folio. Several vols. The finest
coloured plates of British wild-flowers ever given to the
world.--_Chet., City._ (See 1828 for continuation.)

1781-1786. N. J. Jacquin: Icones Plantarum Rariorum. Contains 200
splendid coloured plates. Three vols.--_Chet._; vol. i., _City_.

1784. Pallas: Flora Rossica. Folio. Full of beautiful coloured
plates.--_City._

1784. L'Heritier: Stirpes Novæ, &c. Folio. Full of fine plates.--_City._

1787. Curtis: The renowned "Botanical Magazine" was commenced this
year. No Manchester library contains the whole. The following are the
localities of all the town possesses, including a portion in the "Royal
Exchange":--1787-1842, vols. 1 to 68, _City_; 1843-1859, vols. 69 to
85, _Royal Exchange_; 1860-1869, vols.

86 to 95, nowhere; 1870-1882, vols. 96 onwards to present time, _City._

1790-1814. Smith and Sowerby's "English Botany." Thirty-six vols., 8vo.
2,592 coloured plates.--_City, P. P._

1800. Desfontaines. Flora Atlantica. Four vols., 4to. Contains 261 fine
old plates.--_City._

1816. W. J. Hooker: The British Jungermannias. 4to. Full of exquisite
coloured plates.--_City._

1818-1833. Loddiges: The Botanical Cabinet. Contains 2,000 coloured
plates.--_P. P._

1823. Alex. Humboldt: Melastomaceæ. 64 very fine coloured
plates.--_P. P._

1823-1827. W. J. Hooker: Exotic Flora. Three vols., 8vo. 232 beautiful
coloured plates.--_City._

1827. W. J. Hooker and T. Taylor: Muscologia Britannica. Exquisitely
illustrated.--_City._

1828. Curtis's Flora Londinensis. Continued by W. J. Hooker. Two vols.,
folio. Most beautiful plates.--_City._

1828. Wm. Roscoe: Monandrian Plants. Atlas folio. Contains 112 splendid
coloured plates.--_Chet._

1829. W. J. Hooker and Greville: Icones Filicum. Two vols., folio. Full
of splendid plates.--_City._

1830-1832. N. Wallich: Plantæ Asiaticæ Rariores. Three vols., huge
folio, containing 295 superb coloured plates.--_City, Chet._

1834-1843.--Baxter: British Flowering-plants. Six vols., 8vo. Full of
beautiful coloured plates.--_City._

1837. Jas. Bateman: The Orchidaceæ of Mexico and Guatemala. Folio. 40
superb coloured plates.--_Chet._

1838. Endlicher: Nova Genera (of South American plants). Folio. Full of
fine plates.--_City._

1838. J. C. Loudon: Arboretum Britannicum. Eight vols. Over 400 plates
and 2,500 woodcuts.--_P. P._

1838. John Lindley: Sertum Orchidaceum. A wreath of the most beautiful
orchidaceous flowers. Splendid coloured plates.--_Chet._

1839. J. F. Royle: Illustrations of the Botany of the Himalayan
Mountains and of the Flora of Cashmere. Two vols., folio. 90 beautiful
coloured plates.--_City._

1840-1853. R. Wight: Icones Plantarum Indiæ Orientalis. Six vols.,
4to.--_City._

1843. John Torrey: The Flora of the State of New York. Two vols., 4to.
Beautiful coloured plates.--_City, P. P._

1846-1851. W. H. Harvey: Phycologia Britannica. (Sea-weeds.) Four
vols., 8vo. 360 beautiful coloured plates.--_City._

1847. Mrs. Hussey: Illustrations of British Mycology. (Fungi.)
4to.--_City._

1847. J. D. Hooker: Botany of the Antarctic Voyage of the Erebus and
Terror. Two vols., 4to. 198 fine coloured plates.--_City._

1847. C. D. Badham: The Esculent Funguses of England. 8vo. 20 coloured
plates.--_P. P._

1852-1857. B. Seeman: Botany of the Voyage of H.M.S. Herald.--_City._

1854. Sir W. J. Hooker: Century of Ferns. 4to. 100 plates.--_P. P._

1855. Wm. Wilson: Bryologia Britannica. 8vo.--_City._

1857. Mudd: Photographs of trees destroyed by fumes from chemical
works. Folio.--_P. P._

1857. Henry Smith: Indian Flowering-plants and Ferns. A large folio of
about 100 beautiful nature-prints.--_P. P._

1858. E. J. Lowe: Natural History of British Grasses. 74 coloured
plates.--_City._

1859-1860. Johnstone and Croall: Nature-printed British
Sea-weeds.--_City_, _P. P._

1859. Thos. Moore: Nature-printed Ferns. Two vols., 8vo.--_City_, _P.
P._

1860. M. J. Berkeley: Outlines of British Fungology. 8vo. 24 coloured
plates, with innumerable figures.--_City_, _P. P._

1861. E. J. Lowe: Beautiful-leaved Plants. 60 coloured plates.--_P. P._

1861. E. J. Lowe: Ferns, British and Exotic. Eight vols., 8vo. 479
coloured plates.--_City_, _P. P._

1862. E. J. Lowe: New and Rare Ferns. 8vo. 72 coloured plates.--_City_,
_P. P._

1863. C. P. Johnson: Useful Plants of Great Britain. 8vo. 25 plates,
containing figures of 300 species.--_P. P._

1863-1872. English Botany. Edited by J. T. Boswell Syme. Eleven vols.,
large 8vo. Over 2,000 coloured plates.--_City._

1864. Blume: Remarkable Orchids of India and Japan. Folio. Fine
coloured plates.--_City._

1865. R. Warner and B. S. Williams: Select Orchidaceous Plants. Folio.
Fine plates.--_City._

1865. E. J. Lowe: Our Native Ferns. Two vols., 8vo. 79 coloured plates
and 909 woodcuts.--_City._

1868. L. E. Tripp: British Mosses. Two vols., 4to. Coloured figures of
every known species.--_City_, _P. P._

1872. Horatio C. Wood: North American Fresh-water Algæ. 4to. 21 plates
filled with exquisite coloured figures.--_P. P._

1872. Flore Forestiére, &c. Folio. 18 splendid coloured plates,
representing about 120 of the most interesting trees and shrubs of
central Europe.--_P. P._

1872-1874. D. Wooster: Alpine Plants. Two vols., 8vo. 108 coloured
plates.--_City._

1873. Le Maout and Decaisne: General System of Botany. Translated by
Mrs. Hooker. 5,500 woodcuts.--_City._

1875. Sachs: Text-book of Botany. A massive 8vo., with innumerable
woodcuts.--_City._

1877. F. G. Heath: The Fern World. 12 coloured plates.--_City._

1878. F. G. Heath: Our Woodland Trees. Contains excellent coloured
drawings of their leaves.--_City._

In addition to the thousand botanical works contained in the three
great Free Libraries, there are many of considerable value, which they
do not possess, in the Portico, the Athenæum, the "Royal Exchange," the
Owens College, and other collections not open to the general public.
The following are the most important of the illustrated volumes. The
aggregate of all kinds in the subscription libraries is about four
hundred volumes.


A.D.

1834. Stephenson and Churchill: Medical Botany. Three vols.,
8vo.--_Owens._

1834-1849. Paxton's Magazine of Botany and Gardening. Sixteen vols.
Nearly 600 fine coloured plates.--_Royal Exchange._

1838-1847. John Lindley: Botanical Register. New series. Ten vols.,
8vo. 688 fine coloured plates.--_Portico._

1841. Mrs. Loudon: Ornamental Bulbous Plants. 4to.--_Royal Exchange._

1843-1844. Mrs. Loudon: Ornamental Perennials. Two vols., 4to.--_Royal
Exchange._

1845. A. H. Hassall: British Fresh-water Algæ. Two vols., 8vo. 100
plates.--_Owens._

1848. John Ralfs: The British Desmidiaceæ. 8vo.--_Owens._

1850. Wm. Griffiths: Palms of British East India. Large folio. 133
plates.--_Owens._

1851-1853. Lindley and Paxton: The Flower Garden. Three vols., 4to. 108
admirable plates and 314 woodcuts.--_Royal Exchange._

[Illustration]

Footnote

[32: A complete catalogue of the thousand botanical works in the
Manchester Libraries, with notes upon their various contents, has been
prepared by the author of this volume, and only waits publication.
Meantime it can be consulted by any person who may wish to use it.]



[Illustration]

SUMMARY OF RAILWAY STATIONS AND DISTANCES.


_The figures after the names of the respective places denote the number
of miles they are distant from the Manchester Station of departure
previously mentioned._


I. LONDON ROAD STATION.

(_a_)--_London and North-Western._


(1) THROUGH STOCKPORT.
  To Cheadle Hulme, 8-1/4.
  "  Handforth, 10-1/2, for Handforth Hall, Norcliffe, and Oversley.
  "  Wilmslow, 12, for Norcliffe, Lindow Common, the
       Morley Meadows, and the Upper Bollin Valley.
  "  Alderley, 13-3/4, for Lindow Common, Alderley Edge,
      Birtles, and Capesthorne.
  "  Chelford, 17, for Capesthorne and Astle Park.
  "  Crewe, 31, for Wrenbury, 39-1/2, _en route_ for Combermere.
  "  Crewe, 31, for Beeston and Peckforton.
  "  Crewe, 31, for Shrewsbury, 63-1/4, _en route_ to Wroxeter
      (Uriconium).


(2) THROUGH STOCKPORT.
  To Davenport, 7, for Bramhall.
  "  Hazel Grove, 8, for the Bramhall Valley, Marple Wood,
      Dan-bank Wood, &c.
  "  Disley, 12, for Middlewood, Lyme Park, Lyme Hall,
      Jackson Edge, Marple Ridge, the Strines Valley, and
      Cobden Edge.
  "  New Mills, 13-1/2.
  "  Furness Vale, 15.
  "  Whaley Bridge, 16, for Taxal, Eccles Pike, &c.
  "  Chapel-en-le-Frith, 19-3/4, for Castleton.
  "  Doveholes, 22, for Castleton.
  "  Buxton, 25, for Ashwood Dale, Miller's Dale, &c.


(3) THROUGH STOCKPORT.
  To Cheadle Hulme, 8-1/4.
  "  Bramhall, 9-3/4, for Bramhall Hall and the Bramhall
      Valley.
  "  Poynton, 12-1/4.
  "  Adlington, 13-1/4, for Pott Shrigley and Harrop Wood.
  "  Prestbury, 15-1/4, for Mottram St. Andrew, Bollington,
      and the Kerridge Hills.
  "  Macclesfield, 17-1/4, for Wild-boar Clough, Shutlings
      Low, &c.


(4) THROUGH STOCKPORT AND MACCLESFIELD, continuing per
    "North Staffordshire."
  To North Rode Junction, 22, for Cloud-end, Gawsworth, and Marton.
  "  Congleton, 26-1/4, for Biddulph Castle and Biddulph Grange.
  "  Mow Cop, 29-1/4.
  "  Trentham, 40-1/4.


(5) THROUGH STOCKPORT AND MACCLESFIELD, to North Rode
    Junction, 22, continuing per "Churnet Valley."
  To Bosley, 24, for Cloud-end.
  "  Rushton, 26.
  "  Rudyard, 29.
  "  Leek, 31.
  "  Froghall, 38.
  "  Oakamoor, 40.
  "  Alton, 42, for Alton Towers.
  "  "Rocester Junction," 45-1/2, for Ashbourne, 52, _en route_
      to Dovedale.


LONDON ROAD STATION.

(_b_)--_Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire._


(1) THROUGH ASHBURYS AND GUIDE BRIDGE JUNCTION, 5, MAIN LINE.
  To Mottram, 10, for Broadbottom, Stirrup-benches, Charlesworth
      Coombs, the lower valley of the Etherowe, &c.
  "  Dinting Junction, 12, for Glossop, 13, for Whiteley Nab,
      Melandra Castle, Chunal Clough, Ramsley Clough, &c.
  "  Woodhead, 19-1/4.
  "  Penistone (through the tunnel), 28, there changing to the
      Doncaster line, for Wentworth.
  "  Wortley, 32-1/2, for Wharncliffe Crags.
  "  Oughty Bridge, 36-1/2.
  "  Sheffield, 41-1/4.
  "  Worksop, 57.


(2) THROUGH ASHBURYS, REDDISH, AND WOODLEY JUNCTION.
  To Reddish, 3-3/4.
  "  Bredbury, 6-1/2.
  "  Woodley Junction, 7-1/2, for Werneth Low.
  "  Romiley, 7-1/2, for Chadkirk, Marple Hall, Dan-bank
      Wood, Offerton, &c.
  "  Marple (Rose Hill), 9-1/2.
  "  High Lane, 11-3/4.
  "  Middlewood, 12-1/4.
  "  Poynton, 13.
  "  Bollington, 17, for Pott Shrigley.
  "  Macclesfield, 19-1/2.

(3) As in No. 2, to Marple, 9-1/2. Thence
  To Strines, 11-1/4.
  "  New Mills, 12-3/4.
  "  Birch Vale, 14-3/4.
  "  Hayfield, 15-1/2, for Kinder Scout.


II. VICTORIA STATION.

(_a_)--_London and North-Western._


(1) THROUGH MILES PLATTING.
  To Stalybridge, 7, for Staley-brushes, "North Britain," and
    "Bucton Castle."
  "  Mossley, 10-1/2.
  "  Greenfield, 12-3/4, for Bill's-o'-Jack's, "Pots and Pans,"
      Seal Bark, and the "Isle of Skye."
  "  Saddleworth, 13-3/4.
  "  Marsden (through the tunnel), 18-3/4, for Wessenden
      Clough.
  "  Huddersfield, 26.
  "  Leeds, 42-1/2, _en route_ for Harrogate, 60-1/2, Ripon, 72,
      Fountains Abbey, &c.


(2) THROUGH ORDSALL LANE (Chat Moss line).
  To Eccles, 4.
  "  Patricroft, 5, for Worsley.
  "  Barton Moss, 7, for Botany Bay Wood.
  "  Huyton, 25, for Knowsley.
  "  Edge Hill, 30-1/2.
  "  Liverpool, 31-1/2.


(3) THROUGH ORDSALL LANE (Chat Moss line).
  To Warrington, 21-1/2, for Hill Cliff.
  "  Norton, 21, for Norton Park, Norton Priory, and Halton Castle.
  "  Halton, 23.
  "  Frodsham, 30, for the Overton Hills.
  "  Helsby, 27.
  "  Chester, 39-3/4, for Eaton Hall; and _viâ_ Broxton, 36-1/2,
     for the Broxton Hills; also, _viâ_ Rhyl, 69-3/4, for Llandudno,
     81-1/2, Conway, 85, Bangor, 91-1/2, Beaumaris,
     &c.; also, _viâ_ Ruabon, for the Vale of Llangollen,
     Bala, Dolgelly, &c.


(4) THROUGH ORDSALL LANE (Tyldesley line).
  To Worsley, 5-3/4.
  "  Tyldesley, 10-1/4.
  "  Wigan, 17. Thence to Preston, Lancaster, Grange, &c.


VICTORIA STATION.

(_b_)--_Lancashire and Yorkshire._


(1) THROUGH MILES PLATTING, 1-1/2 to Middleton Junction, 5-1/4;
    thence to Heywood, 10-1/4, for Bamford Wood.
  To Bury, 13-1/4.


(2) THROUGH MILES PLATTING, keeping on main line to Rochdale
    Junction, 10-3/4. Thence
  To Shawclough and Healey, 13-3/4.
  "  Facit, 16-1/2.
  "  Bacup, 19-1/2.


(3) Same as No. 2, to Rochdale 10-3/4. Thence on
    To Littleborough, 13-1/4, for Hollingworth Lake, Whiteley
    Dean, and Blackstone Edge.


(4) Same as No. 3, keeping on main line to Todmorden Junction,
    19. Thence, by Burnley Valley,
  To Portsmouth, 22-3/4, for Cliviger, &c.
  "  Burnley, 28.


(5) THROUGH PENDLETON to Clifton Junction, for the Agecroft
    Valley and Mere Clough.


(6) THROUGH PENDLETON AND CLIFTON JUNCTION, by the
    Bury line. [These trains pick up at Salford Station.]
  To Molyneux Brow, 4-3/4, for Hurst Clough.
  "  Ringley Road, 7.
  "  Radcliffe Bridge, 7-1/4.
  "  Bury, 10.
  "  Summerseat, 12-1/2.
  "  Ramsbottom, 14.
  "  Helmshore, 16-1/2.
  "  Haslingden, 18-1/2.
  "  Accrington, 22, and thence to Skipton for Bolton Abbey.


(7) THROUGH PENDLETON, MOLYNEUX BROW, AND BURY.
  To Rawtenstall.
  "  Bacup, 19-1/2.


(8) THROUGH PENDLETON AND CLIFTON JUNCTION, by the Bolton line.

  To Bolton, 10-1/2.
    Thence, on the original main line,
  To Horwich, 17-1/4, for Rivington Pike.
  "  Adlington, 19-1/4, for the Liverpool Waterworks Reservoirs.
  "  Chorley, 22-1/4, for Whittle-le-Woods.
  "  Preston, 30-3/4,
     Thence to Blackpool, 50.
    "  Fleetwood, 50-1/2, for sail to Piel, for Furness Abbey,
       continuing thence by rail to Newby Bridge, Windermere,
       Coniston, &c.
    "  Lancaster, 51-1/2, for the Lune Valley, Morecambe,
       Silverdale, Grange, &c.


(9) THROUGH PENDLETON AND CLIFTON to Bolton, 10-1/2. Thence
  by the Wigan line,

  To Wigan, 18.
  "  Gathurst, 21, for Dean Wood.
  "  Appley Bridge, 23, for Ashurst and Horrocks Hill.
  "  Parbold (Newbro'), 25.
  "  Southport, 37-1/4.


(10) THROUGH PENDLETON AND CLIFTON to Bolton, 10-1/2.
  Thence by the Darwen line,

  To The Oaks, 13, for Hall-i'th'-Wood.
  "  Turton, 15.
  "  Entwistle, 17.
  "  Over Darwen, 20.
  "  Lower Darwen, 22.
  "  Blackburn, 25.
  "  Wilpshire, for Ribchester, 27.
  "  Langho, 30.
  "  Whalley, 32, for Whalley Abbey, Whalley Nab, Stonyhurst,
     Mitton, and the Ribble.
  "  Clitheroe, 35, for the Castle.
  "  Chatburn, 37, for Pendle.
  "  Gisburn, 43.
  "  Hellifield, 49.


(11) THROUGH CRUMPSALL, to Bury.

  To Heaton Park, 4.
  "  Prestwich, 4.
  "  Radcliffe, 7.
  "  Bury, 9, thence to Summerseat, &c., as above.


III. CENTRAL STATION.


(_a_)--_Midland._


The distances are differently stated. Those given below are from
Bradshaw's 3d. Guide.

THROUGH DIDSBURY, 5-3/4.

  To Heaton Mersey, 7.
  "  Romiley, 12-1/4.
  "  Marple, 14.
  "  Strines, 16.
  "  New Mills, 17-1/2.
  "  Chinley, 21-1/4.
  "  Chapel-en-le-Frith, 23, for Castleton.
  "  Miller's Dale, 31-1/4.
  "  Monsal Dale, 34.
  "  Hassop, 36-3/4.
  "  Bakewell, 37-3/4.
  "  Rowsley, 41-1/4.
  "  Darley, 43-1/2.
  "  Matlock Bath, 46-3/4.
  "  Derby, 62-3/4.


(_b_)--_Cheshire Lines._


(1) LIVERPOOL LINE.

  To Urmston, 5.
  "  Flixton, 6-1/4.
  "  Irlam, 8-1/4.
  "  Glazebrook, 9-1/2.
  "  Warrington, 15-3/4.
  "  Halewood, 25-1/2.
  "  Garston, 28-1/2.
  "  Liverpool, 34.


(2) CHESTER LINE.

  To Altrincham.
  "  Peel Causeway, 8-1/2, for the Bollin Valley.
  "  Ashley, 10.
  "  Mobberley, 12.
  "  Knutsford, 14-1/2.
  "  Plumbley, 17-1/4.
  "  Lostock Gralam, 19-1/4.
  "  Northwich, 20-1/2.
  "  Hartford, 22-1/4.
  "  Cuddington, 25-1/4.
  "  Delamere, 28.
  "  Chester (Northgate), 38-1/2.


IV. OXFORD ROAD STATION.


(1) BOWDON LINE.

  To Old Trafford, 2.
  "  Stretford, 3-1/2.
  "  Sale, 5.
  "  Brooklands, 5-3/4.
  "  Timperley, 6-3/4.
  "  Altrincham and Bowdon, 8.


(2) LIVERPOOL LINE.

  To Broadheath, 7-3/4.
  "  Dunham Massey, 10.
  "  Heatley and Warburton, 11-1/2.
  "  Lymm, 13.
  "  Thelwall, 14-1/2.
  "  Latchford, 16-1/2.
  "  Warrington, 17-3/4.
  "  Hale Bank, 26-3/4.
  "  Speke, 29.
  "  Edge Hill, 35.
  "  Liverpool, 36-1/4.



[Illustration]

INDEX.


A

Abney Hall, 68.

Agden Hall, 65.

Agecroft Clough, 177.

  "      Valley, The, 182.

  "      Park, 184.

Alderley Edge, 85, 89.

  "      Park, 91.

Alton Towers, 118.

_Anemone, The Wood_, 108, 180.

_Anodonta cygnea_, 63.

Arden Hall, 100.

Arkwright's Mill, 132.

_Arum, The_, 24.

Ashbourne, 120.

Ashley Meadows, The, 14.

Ashurst, 237.

Ashwood Dale, 128, 138.

Ashworth Wood, 161.

_Asphodel, The Lancashire_, 53.

Astle Hall, 92.

Axe Edge, 120.


B

Baguley Old Hall, 81.

Bakewell, 136.

Bamford Wood, 160.

Banksian Society, The, 169.

Barlow Hall, 82.

Beeston Castle, 93.

Biddulph Grange, 118.

Billinge, 237.

Bill's-o'-Jack's, 147.

Bin Green, 147.

Birchen Clough, 149.

_Birch-trees_, Ancient, 57.

Birds, Manchester, 257.

  "    Songs of, 29.

Birkdale Sandhills, The, 246.

Birkin, River, 34.

Birtles, 91.

Blackpool, 247.

Blackstone Edge, 164.

_Bluebells_ at Pott Shrigley, 115.

Blythe Hall, 242.

Boggart-hole Clough, 155.

Bollin, River, 20, 34.

Bollington, 113.

Booth Hall, 37.

Botanical Names, 49, 55.

  "       Societies, 194.

Botany Bay Wood, 248.

Bottoms-hall Wood, 143.

Bowden Bridge, 141.

Bramhall, 112.

  "       Brook, 122.

  "       Valley, The, 123.

Broadbottom, 142.

Brown Wardle, 163.

Bucton Castle, 147.

Burleyhurst Wood, 36.

Burnley Valley, The, 165.

Burscough Priory, 243.

_Butter-bur, The_, 18.

Butts Clough, 23.

Buxton, 128.

Buxton's "Guide," 173.


C

Caley, George, 198.

Camden (quoted), 232.

Capesthorne, 92.

Carrington Moss, 47.

Carr-wood, 161.

Castleton, 134.

"Cat and Fiddle," The, 120.

Chad, St. (_i.e._, Saint), 129.

Chadkirk, 129.

   "      Vale, 130.

Chapel-en-le-Frith, 134.

Charlesworth Coombs, 143.

Chatburn, 229.

Chat Moss, 59, 249.

Chatsworth, 136.

Cheadle (Cheshire), 192.

Cheeryble Brothers, 214.

Cheeseden-water, 161.

Chee Tor, 137.

Chelford, 92.

Cholmondeley Family, 41.

Chunal Clough, 144.

Clegg's Wood, 164.

Cliffe Hall, 118.

Clitheroe Castle, 229.

Cliviger, 216.

_Cloudberry, The_, 148.

Cloud-end, 116.

"Clough," Meaning of the term, 176.

Cobden Edge, 125.

_Coltsfoot, The_, 17.

Combermere, 93.

Common Things, Value of, 3.

Compstall, 142.

Congleton, 118.

_Conifers_, 85, 92.

Cotterill Wood, 21.

Cotton Family, 94.

_Cotton-sedge, The_, 155.

"Cranford," 37.

_Crocus, The Autumn_, 189.

Crompton, Samuel, 220.

Crowther, James, 197.

_Crinoidea, The_, 230.

Crozier, George, 153, 168.


D

Daisy-nook, 151.

Dan-bank Wood, 131.

Dane, River, 119.

Darley Dale, 137.

Darwen, River, 219.

Davenport Family, 92, 112.

Dean Wood, 236.

Delamere Forest, 40.

   "     Lord, 41.

Derby Family, 240.

Derpley Hill, 225.

Derwent, River, 145.

Dewhurst, John, 207.

Didsbury, 70.

Disley, 121.

Dobb-wood, 161.

Douglas, River, 236.

Dovedale, 120.

Drayton, Michael (quoted), 35.

Drift, 191.

_Droseras_, 49.

Dunham Massey, 67.

  "    Park, 61.


E

Eagley, River, 220.

Eccles Pike, 128.

Eddisbury, 42.

Entwistle, 222.

_Equisetum (sylvaticum), The_, 178.

Ernocroft Woods, 130.

Ethelfleda, 43.

Etherowe, River, 130, 142.

Evans, Joseph, 208.


F

Flixton, 67.

Flora, The Manchester, 5.

Fo'edge, 215.

Forest, Original Meaning of the word, 41.

_Forget-me-not, The_, 25.

Frodsham Hills, The, 66.


G

Gaskell, Mrs., 37.

Gatley Carrs, 68.

Gawsworth, 116.

Geology, The Local, 190.

_Germander-speedwell, The_, 25.

Gibson, Samuel, 166.

Glazebrook, 67.

Glossop, 144.

Goyt, River, 130.

Grant's Tower, 214.

Greenfield, 147.


H

Haddon Hall, 136.

Hades Hill, 216.

Hale, 254.

Hall-i'th'-Wood, 220.

Halton Castle, 66.

Hanging-banks Wood, 88.

Hardcastle Crags, 165.

Hayfield, 141.

_Heather, The_, 53.

Healey Dene, 215.

Hebden Bridge, 166.

Helsby, 66.

Herbarium, How to form an, 78.

High Green Wood, 166.

High Legh, 65.

Hill Cliff, 66.

Hodder, River, 231.

Hoghton Bottoms, 217.

   "    Family, 217.

   "    Tower, 218.

Holcombe Hill, 214.

Holford Moss, 59.

Hollingworth, 146.

     "        Lake, 162.

Holyngworthe Family, 146.

Hope Dale, 135.

Horrocks Hill, 238.

_Horse-chestnut_, The Singleton, 68, 83.

Horsefield, John, 192.

Horsley Bath, 99.

Hurst Clough, 177.


I

Irk, River, 160.

Irwell, River, 181.

   "    Valley, The, 182.

"Isle of Skye," 148.

Ivy, Value of, 37.


J

Jack's Bridge, 155.

Jackson Edge, 124.

Jowkin-wood, 161.

Jumbles, The, 223.


K

Kerridge Hills, The, 113.

Kinder Downfall, 141.

   "   Scout, 140.

Knowsley, 244.

Knutsford, 34.


L

_Labiatæ, The_, 185.

Lady Bridge, 123.

_Lady-smock, The_, 38.

Lancashire Botanists, The, 194.

Langho, 223.

_Larch, The_, 26.

Latchford, 66.

Lathom, Earl of, 242.

   "    House, 239.

   "    Park, 238.

Lees-hall Dingle, 144.

Lepidoptera, 29.

Lever, Sir Ashton, 152.

_Linden-trees_, 42, 124, 255.

Lindow Common, 88.

Littleborough, 164.

Ludworth Moor, 143.

Lyme Cage, 123.

  "  Hall, 123.

  "  Park, 123.

Lymm, 62.


M

Macclesfield, 115.

"Magpie" Architecture, 39.

Mamelons, 163.

Mam Tor, 135.

Marple Aqueduct, 131.

  "    Old Hall, 132.

  "    Ridge, 125.

  "    Wood, 131.

  "    Dell, 131.

Martin, John, 211.

Marton, 117.

Melandra Castle, 144.

Mellor, John, 198.

Mere Clough, 175.

Meres, Origin of the Vale Royal, 45.

Mersey, River, 130.

  "     Origin of the name, 44.

Mickley Hill, 65.

Middlewood, 122.

Miller's Dale, 136.

Mitton, 226, 228.

Mobberley, 34.

Monsall Dale, 136.

Moors, 59.

Morley Meadows, The, 87.

Mosses, Origin of the Peat, 55.

Mottram-in-Longdendale, 142.

Mow Cop, 118.


N

Newton-le-Willows, 250.

_Nightingale, The_, 75, 286.

Norcliffe, 85, 120.

Norden-water, 161.

Norreys Family, 253.

"North Britain," 146.

North Rode, 116.

Northen, 74.

Northwich, 39.

    "      Salt Mines, 39.

Norton Park, 66.


O

Oakmere, 44.

Oak, The Marton, 117.

Oldknow, Samuel, 132.

_Oreopteris, The_, 143.

Ormskirk Church, 243.

Otterspool Bridge, 131.

Oughtrington, 65.

Oulton Park, 42.

Oversley, 87.


P

Paulinus, 223.

Peak Cavern, The, 135.

Peat, 56.

Peckforton, 98.

Peel Monument, The, 214.

Pendle, 230.

Peover, 38.

  "     Church, 39.

Percival, James, 199.

Peveril Castle, 136.

Photographs in Manchester, The first, 110.

Plumbley, 38.

"Pots and Pans," 147.

Pott Shrigley, 114.

Prestbury, 113.

Prestwich Dells, 177.

_Primroses_, 27.

Prince Charles Edward, 79.


R

Radnor Mere, 91.

Railways, 9, 127, 186.

Ramsbottom, 214.

Ramsley Clough, 144.

Ravenstone Brow, 150.

Reddish Valley, The, 100.

Reeds Mere, 92.

Reservoirs, Picturesque effects of, 127.

_Rhododendrons_, 86, 251.

Ribble, River, 226, 228, 231.

Ribblesdale, 231.

Riddings Brook, 64.

Rimmon Clough, 149.

River-terraces, 192.

Rivington Pike, 233.

    "     Reservoirs, 234.

Robin Hood Rocks, 164.

Roche, River, 161.

Roman Road, 164.

Romiley, 130.

_Rosa villosa, The_, 179, 223.

Rossendale, 215.

Rostherne, 51.

    "      Mere, 52.

_Rubus Chamoemorus, The_, 148.

   "    _saxatilis, The_, 162.

Rudyard Lake, 118.

Rushton, 118.


S

Salley Abbey, 231.

Scarisbrick Hall, 244.

Seal Bark, 140, 149.

Shire-hill, 144.

Shivering Mountain, The, 135.

Shutlings Low, 116, 118, 120.

Sidebotham, Mr. Joseph, 107.

Simpson Clough, 160.

Smithills Hall, 221.

Solitude, 55.

Southport, 246.

Southshore, 187.

Speke Hall, 252.

Spring-wood, 37.

Spring, Phenomena of, 20.

Staley Brushes, 145, 146.

Stanley Family, 244.

Statham, 65.

Stirrup-benches, 143.

   "    Wood, 143.

Stockport, 111, 132.

Stonyhurst, 226.

Strawberry Hill, 133.

Strines Valley, The, 134.

Summerseat, 214.

_Sundews, The_, 49.


T

Tabley Old Hall, 37.

   "   Park, 37.

Tame, River, 101.

Tandle Hill, 160.

Tatton Park, 33.

  "    Gardens, 34, 242.

Taxal, 126.

Tegsnose, 113.

Thelwall, 64.

Thieveley Pike, 216.

Throstle Glen, 151.

Thrutch, The, 215.

Tintwistle, 144.

Todmorden Valley, The, 165.

Toft Park, 37.

Townley, Thomas, 172.

Trees, How to learn, 35.

Trentham, 118.

_Trulove, The_, 36.

Turton Tower, 219.


U

Urmston, 67.

Use, True idea of, 235.


V

Vale Royal, 40.

  "  Abbey, 41.

  "  Mere, 42.


W

Warburton Church, 65.

Waterworks, Liverpool, 234.

    "       Manchester, 145.

Weaver, River, 42.

Werneth Low, 125, 130, 143.

Wessenden Clough, 150.

Whaley Bridge, 126.

Whalley Abbey, 224.

Whalley Church, 223.

  "     Nab, 225.

Whiteley Dean, 163.

  "      Nab, 144.

White Moss, 153.

"White Nancy," 113.

Whittle-le-Woods, 234.

Wigan, 235.

Wild-boar Clough, 120.

_Willows_, 16.

Wilmslow, 85.

Windybottom Bridge, 133.

Windy-cliff Wood, 161.

Windgates, The, or, "Winnats," 134.

Winter Hill, 234.

Winwick, 251.

Woodhead, 144.

Wormhill Springs, The, 137.

Worsley, 248.

   "     Hall, 247.

Wrenbury, 93.

Wren's Wood, 247.

Wye, River, 128.

Wythenshawe Hall, 79.


Y

Yew-berries, 227.

 "  Trees, Old, 35, 66.

Youth and Age, True idea of, 8, 204.


[Illustration]

_Palmer and Howe, Printers, Princess St., Manchester._



Transcriber's Notes:


Words standardised for consistency by the addition of a hyphen:

  Besses-o'th'-Barn standardised as Besses-o'-th'-Barn
  firwood standardised as fir-wood
  dryshod standardised as dry-shod
  hillside(s) standardised as hill-side(s)
  butterbur standardised as butter-bur
  buttercup standardised as butter-cup
  truelove standardised as true-love
  playground standardised as play-ground
  stonework standardised as stone-work
  miswritten standardised as mis-written
  lifetime standardised as life-time
  half way standardised as half-way

Words standardised for consistency by the removal of a hyphen:

  sand-stone standardised as sandstone
  under-tone standardised as undertone
  brook-side standardised as brookside
  Brown-wardle standardised as Brown Wardle
  sax-field standardised as saxfield
  sun-shine standardised as sunshine
  thorough-fare standardised as thoroughfare
  Down-fall standardised as Downfall
  delight-ful standardised as delightful
  flori-culture standardised as floriculture
  Church-town standardised as Churchtown
  green-house standardised as greenhouse
  Fringilla monti-fringilla
  farm-yard standardised as farmyard
  Wind-gates standardised as Windgates
  re-appear(s) standardised as reappear(s)
  in-doors standardised as indoors
  salt-crystal standardised as salt crystal
  Salt-Mines standardised as salt mines
  PRINCESS-ST dehyphenated
  Fo'-edge (in index) changed to Fo'edge as used in the main text

Accentuation:

  aerial standardised as aërial. All other accentuation unchanged.

Typographical errors:

  misletoe changed to mistletoe
  turnpike-toad changed to turnpike-road
  develope (unusual spelling) has been retained
  There is one instance of Tintwisle for Tintwistle, this has
  been corrected.

The title for Chapter XVII in the Contents differs from the heading on
p. 232 and has not been changed from the original.





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