SOME FILOSOFY; AN' JOE SHORT'S FUST FEIGHT.
"I WONDER," said
Joe Short,"if bawd yeds is ony relation to midges?"
"What?" I axed, an' as I oppened my meawth i' surprise at th'
question my pipe dropped eaut, an' I swallowed a looad o' smook.
Then I started cowfin' till I were red in th' face, an' I were welly
choked. When I were able to speik, I says, "Whatever dost
We'd been havin' a walk o'er th' cliffs at Bispham, an' had
getten as far as th' Gynn on th' road back.
"Well, Anoch," he says, "if tha'll not kill thysel' I'll tell
thee. I've noticed that whenever I've walked alung these
cliffs to Bispham I've bin welly blinded by th' midges followin' me,
an' gettin' in my ears an' meawth, an' aw o'er my face. They
were as thick as summer hailstones afore th' rainbow comes.
But there's bin noan abeaut this back end. I seed lots o'
chaps last summer walkin' on th' cliffs beaut hats, dressed in knee
breeches, wi' their legs padded as fat as their yeds, an' there were
some on um as bawd on their nappers as th' top uv a collifleawer.
I've noticed, too, as th' midges followed thoose bawd yeds as far as
they went, an' tickled an' bit their soft places till th' chaps were
fain to turn back to Blackpool, th' midges stickin' to um aw th'
road. An' I were wonderin' if thoose fellies took aw th' breed
on um away fro' Blackpool."
"I durnt know, Joe," I said, "but neaw as tha's mentioned
that, it brings summat to my mind as I were witness on mony a yer
sin'. . . . A day-skoo taycher o' my owdest lass were gettin' wed; I
knowed her an' aw th' family on um by seet, but they didn't know me.
I weren't warkin' that day, an' as I were near th' church when th'
carriages drove up, I went an' watched th' ceremony eaut o'
"Well, I geet in a pew just at th' back uv her parents.
Her fayther had a bawd yed, an' as we were prayin', an' everythin'
were so quiet an' solemn, I yerd a blue-bottle buzzin abeaut, an' in
a minute its buzzin stopt aside o' me. I lifted my yed an'
looked (I couldn't help it), an' it had settled on th' owd
gentlemon's nob, which, as I said, had no yure on th' top. It
were havin' a good tuck in off th' gracey part, as it were a very
hot day. It tickled him, for he slapped his flat hond on th'
top uv his yed, an' it seaunded all o'er th' church. But th'
blue-bottle had gone.
"He pood his honkercher eaut uv his pocket, an' rubbed it aw
o'er his yed, an' he seemed reet then. In a bit I yerd th'
buzzin again, an' th' blue-bottle dropped reet on th' top o'th' bawd
lump. It mun ha' bit him hard, for his hond went slap on th'
spot, wi' a neise like a plank fawin' off a scaffold. An' he
missed it again.
"He were so mad he sit up straight in th' pew, an' I think
he'd blue-bottle-murder in his e'en, nobbut I couldn't see um.
Well, aw were quiet for a bit a short bit when I yerd th' music
once moor, so did th' owd gentlemon, for he'd his hond ready when th'
blue-bottle dropt on th' back uv his yed, an' th' hond coom deaun,
just as we were singin' 'A-men,' wi' a bang on th' blue-un an'
squashed it. That fly were big enoof to ha' bin slaughtered at
th' abattoir. His yed were in a fine mess, an' as he wiped it,
th' skeleton uv his tormentor dropt on his collar, wheer it hung as
if it were danglin' fro' a spider's web. So, neaw as tha's
made me think on it, there may be some connection between midges an'
blue-bottles an' bawd yeds. It's like th' looadstone an'
needle, one draws t'other."
"I'm fain tha agrees wi' me on that p'int," said Joe,
"because it looked so soft, I dare hardly mention it."
"Joe," I said, after thinkin' a minute or two, "thoose bawd
yeds theau's seen on th' cliffs puts me in mind o' summat I've
noticed mony a time, an' I didn't know whether to lowf or cry for
shame when I've seed it. It's this: Every day in th' sayson
tha may see young men an' women generally three or four couple
walkin' abeaut these cliffs witheaut caps or bonnets, th' chaps in
knee breeches an th' wenches witheaut cloaks but plenty o' frills
an' folderols on their dresses, an' they strut as airy as if they
owned th' lond, an' say, an' all that therein is. Th'
procession's generally tailed up wi' a chap wi' a bawd yed linkin'
up a lass wi' red yure. An', as tha mentioned at fust, I've
seen mony a time whole columns o' midges floatin' abeaut th' last
couple. They'll drop on th' red yure fust, then they'll shift
for refreshment on th' poor chap's bawd yed. He pretends he's
injoyin' th' walk, but it's aw make-believe, an' she wishes she were
"Th' chaps, tha knows, are strangers to th' wenches, but
they'd met um th' neet afore at one o' th' dancin' reaums, an' they
agreed to meet in th' mornin'. They do meet, an', as tha met
expect, they're aw bare-yedded. That's swagger. Well, th'
chap wi' th' bawd yed is moor often than not th' sharpest i'th' lot,
an' he tries for th' fust pick o'th' lasses. But th' one he
spots has happen been amung th' midges afore, an' hoo says, 'Where's
your hat, Charlie?' That settles it, as far as hoo's consarned.
Noan o'th' lasses wants him, but th' feawest on um's left witheaut
cheice, so Mester Bawdyed has to have her. An', as I said,
hoo's generally red yure. But I'm not meonin' as every woman
wi' red yure is feaw. Nowt o'th' sort. Any skoo-lad ull
tell thee as Queen Elizabeth had red yure, an' it set th' continent
o' fire, an' Philip o' Spain were so ta'n up wi' her gowden strands
as he sent word sayin' he'd wed her. 'Wilta?' hoo axed; 'nay I
think not! I'st never ha' thee as lung as tha lives by suckin'
oranges.' Philip were mad at that, for he were a greit king.
'Go back an' tell her,' he said to his flunkey as were a ambassador,
'as I'll have her, if its nobbut to show her who's th' mester.'
An' Elizabeth said, 'Let him fotch me then.' Hoo were a
detarmined woman red-yured uns are so hoo coom to Lancashire to
raise a' army. Hoo went to Owdham th' fust, an' when hoo towd
what Philip had said, th' chaps rushed off for sowjers theer an'
then, an' hadn't time to ready their yure, so hoo cawd th' regiment
'Owdham Ruffyeds.' Then hoo went to Bowton, an' chaps trotted
off to list in as greit a hurry. Th' Wiggin colliers went i'
their clugs, an' there weren't arms enuff to goo reaund, so she cawd
them her 'Wiggin Puncers.' When Philip yerd as Queen Bess, as
they cawd her, had getten such a army as that, he'd sense enuff to
know as it couldn't or wouldn't be licked, so he awterd his plans,
an' sent th' Armada filled wi' powder an' stuff to blow eaur little
country up, but th' Armada's not been yerd on sin'."
"Tha'rt skippin' th' subject, Anoch," Joe said, "I know aw
abeaut that; it's history."
"So it is, Joe; I'd forgetten. But I were talkin'
abeaut th' folk on th' cliffs, weren't I?"
"That's reet, Anoch; tha were."
"Well, tha'll see groups like as I've mentioned any day in th'
sayson, an' when tha sees um again just try to imagine heaw rich
this country is, for every one o' thoose young men mun be gettin' at
th' very lowest five hunderd a yer."
"Nowt o'th' soart," said Joe, an' he struck a match to leet
his pipe again. "I'll bet their wages are nearer fifty peaund
a yer nor five hunderd."
"Well, that may be so," I ansert, "but I'm nobbut showin'
thee heaw they'd like to make folk think they geet so much."
"I see neaw what tha'rt drivin' at, Anoch, an' I've often
lowft at their impudence mysel'."
"But that's not th' wust on it, Joe," I said; "what pains me
moor is to see heaw yezzy it is for young men to get sweethearts
neaw-a-days. Thoose lasses tha'll see walkin' on th' cliffs
stick howd o' th' lads' arms as if they'd have um, wilta-shalta.
It's disgustin'. When I were a lad we had to feight for eaur
wenches an' a good lass wouldn't look at a lad unless he'd had a
black e'e or two for her sake. If he'd had his nose brokken
hoo valued it still moor as a ornyment, an' hoo'd love him harder.
I fowt twice for eaur Susan, an' I've had her forty yer, yet we're
as happy as two red robins at Christmas. Though she's gettin'
owd neaw, an' th' lines on her face show deeper, still, when hoo
smiles at me, an' I see traces o' th' breetness uv her young days
flashin eaut uv her e'en, I feel as I'd feight for her again, as owd
as I am. In thoose days th' Divoorce Cooart weren't bothered
unteein' church knots; th' mon stuck to th' wench he'd fowt for an'
won, an' she stood by him; but neaw th' Cooart's at it every day
upsettin' th' weddins o' rich folk who owt to know better. So,
I tell thee, a woman what's wuth havin' is wuth feightin' for."
I were a bit excited on th' subject, an' when I'd done I felt
When I looked at Joe his e'en were starin' across th' say,
an' his pipe had gone eaut again. He'd been thinkin'.
When I stopped he roused himsel.
"What tha says, Anoch," he said, "is very true, an' my thowts
has wandered back to my cooartin' days. My fust feight were
for a wench, an' th' lad as I fowt were one o'th' best friends I
ever had, but we'd a good battle for eaur fust sweetheart, an'
noather on us geet her. But that boxin' match were good
practice, for yers after then I had to feight my road into eaur
Grace's affections, an' I'm sure hoo thowt moor on me for it."
"I never yerd thee tell o' that fust feight, Joe," I said,
"but I should like to yer it."
"Well, tha shall," Joe ansert. "But let's goo into th'
shelter. Th' sun's beilin' hot here. It might be
midsummer, i'stead o'th' middle o' December."
"Th' weather's very good; but it owt to be nice at
Blackpool," I said, as we walked across to one o' th' kiosks, an'
carred us deaun.
Joe started. "Tha knows," said he, "when a lad's
between fifteen an' sixteen he gets an idea that he's quite a mon.
Well, a lot on us abeaut that age signed th' temperance pledge, not
as we knowed owt abeaut it, for we were life teetotalers, but there
were a lot o' Temperance Halls abeaut Bowton in thoose days, an' we
wanted somewheer to goo on wet neets, an' there were plenty o' fun
to be had at thoose places. We jeined a society somewheer
abeaut Halliwell Road, an' every Sunday neet we used to be at th'
meetins, an' oft enoof in th' wick time. Th' yed mon were a
foreman fitter in th' foundry, but he were mooastly away fro' whoam
fittin' machinery up. He were a nice-lookin' chap, an' favvort
a gentlemen when he were dressed up. He gan a deol o' brass to
th' cause, for one time he'd bin a greit drunkard hissel', so he
wanted to make his owd pals believe as cowd wayter were better for
th' constitution than nut-brown ale, but I mun tell thee th' owd
topers were slow at believin' him. For thoose raysons th'
committee made him cheermon, an' when he were awhoam they made a
fuss on him.
"His name were Ormrod, an' he'd three fine dowters. Th'
owdest, Mary, were cooartin'; th' next, Jessie, were abeaut sixteen,
but hoo looked twenty, for hoo were weel built, an' hoo wore lung
frocks; t'other lass were too young for lads to bother abeaut.
"Neaw, one or two uv us lads geet it into eaur silly yeds
that Jessie were noddin' her cap at us, an', uv cooarse, we
swaggered abeaut, like gam cocks, showin' eaursels, when hoo were at
th' meetins. We were so jealous o' one another, that, though
we didn't come to blows, we were awlus ready. But two on us,
Harry Farnworth an' me, were badly smitten, for Jessie ud talk to
oather on us, when t'other were away, as if there weren't another
lad in th' world.
"We used to have two parties a yer, an' after th' tay were
shifted we'd spend th' evenin' in rompin'. Eh, what fun we
used to have! There were as mony lasses as lads, an' if that
Temperance Hall did nowt else good, it were th' meons o' mony a
couple gettin' wed, an' th' population uv Halliwell to-day is th'
result on it. But I'm gooin' to tell thee uv some bother we
had, as happen shaped th' cooarse o' my life. One neet, at a
party, after tay we'd settled deaun for th' fun, as usual, when I
noticed as Jessie Ormrod, were talkin' very sayriously to a chap a
full-grown mon cawd Joe Benson. He'd not been a member so
lung, but he'd jeined for a purpose, as tha'll see. He were a
moulder, but o' Sunday neets he wore a cleon collar an' a striped
tie, fastened wi' a goold breast pin. But what disgusted me
were as at th' bottom uv his cooat sleeves he had a pair o' starched
cuffs hangin' eaut, an' he tried to talk fine-but, sometimes he
forgeet hissel'. When I seed him talkin' so nice to Jessie
Ormrod, an' she liked it, I hated him.
"Well, when th' forms were shifted, somebry axed what we
should play at, an' one o' th' lasses sheauted, 'Drop honkercherf.'
An' we started. Tha knows that gam, Anoch: we make a ring, an'
stick howd uv honds, an' then th' lass starts o' runnin' eautside o'
th' ring wi' a honkercher in her hond, an' hoo drops it on th' road,
beaut stoppin', at th' heels o'th' lad hoo likes best. It's a
good gam; it gives one a seet in th' inner workins o' human nature,
for it shows heaw every lad i'th' ring mun think hissel' th' nicest
in th' cruush, for he looks reaund to see if hoo hasn't dropt th'
honkercher behind him. When hoo has let it faw th' lad has to
pick it up an' catch her afore hoo gets to th' place he's just left,
or else he loases th' kiss as would ha' been his reward.
"Well, some lass dropt that honkercher at me, an' I were
after her like a whippet dug, an' byet her yezzy. Then I went
reaund wi' it, an' dropt it at th' back o' Jessie Ormrod. Neaw
I did try for a kiss fro' her, but hoo were too smart for me.
I were a bit mad, an' I couldn't help bein'. But I felt wuss
when I seed her drop that honkercher at th' back o' Joe Benson, an'
when he started o' runnin' hoo slackened her speed so as he could
catch her. In a bit some other lass dropt it behind me again,
an' I very yezzily won a road to her lips. Then I let th'
honkercher drop at th' back o' Jessie for th' second time. Hoo
expected it foo as I were an' if hoo didn't byet me at runnin'
again I'll be hanged. I needn't tell thee wheer th' white
linen went to after that, but I thowt after as Jessie could ha' done
wi' bein' kissed wi' Joe Benson aw neet.
"Heawever, Harry Farnworth geet th' honkercher fro' somebry,
an' as he went reaund he let it slide very nicely at th' back o'
Jessie Ormrod. Hoo knowed it were comin', an' hoo seet off
runnin'. Well, hoo'd ha' licked him, but just as hoo were
droppin' into his place her foote slipped, an' he won. My
human nature could stond no moor, an' I were grumpy aw neet.
When th' party broke up, an' as we were gooin' eaut, Harry Farnworth
begun o' chaffin' me, just because he'd kissed Jessie an' I hadn't,
an' he said she wouldn't let a cove like me shuv th' dobby-horses
reaund if hoo were ridin'. T'other lads lowft, an' they walked
aside uv Harry, as if they were shomed o' me. This welly broke
my heart, an' altho' I weren't cryin', my cheeks were gradely weet
wi' wayter fro' my e'en. Harry were speilin' for a feight, an'
he couldn't ha' gone abeaut gettin' it in a smarter road.
"So I went up to him, an' said, 'Harry, if tha says that
again, I'll make th' words choke thee.' When I thowt o' that
at after it were a bit foolish on me talkin' that road, for Harry
were two inches bigger nor me, but he were thin an' lanky, while I
were a sturdy lad.
"'Ger on wi' thy makin',' said Harry, 'an' I'll spread some
o' that stuff on th' flure eaut o' thy puddin' yed,' an' he pood his
"Harry's temper were gooin' up, an', what were strange, mine
were coolin' deaun very fast. I were sorry I'd spokken, but I
daren't draw back neaw.
"When we'd rowled eaur sleeves up, Harry axed Bill Johnson,
th' strungest lad amung us, if he'd see fair play. Bill had
fowt mony a time, an' he were one as wouldn't stond any nonsense
fro' owt his size. 'Oh, aye,' ansert Bill, 'if yo'll feight wi'
yo'r neives. No puncin', remember.'
"So we agreed to feight wi' fair boxin', an' Harry sheauts to
me, 'Arto ready?' 'Aye, I am,' I ansert, an' he coom on.
I mun ha' shut my e'en then, for I didn't see him, but I felt he
were somewheer abeaut, an' in a bit my heel kenched o'er a stone,
an' as I felt summat touch my face I fawd on my back. I rowled
o'er an' were up sharp, but as I stood up Harry gan me a regular baz
reet o'er my meawth, an' I went deaun again.
"'Time,' sheauted Bill; 'a minute's rest. Th' fust
reaund goes to thee, Harry.'
"While we rested, Bill says to me, 'Goo for his face, Joe;'
an' then he went to Harry, an' advised him to hit me just above my
"We started again, an' I were tryin' to do what Bill towd me,
but I fund I weren't tall enuff to reich Harry's face, an' he were
too high up to come deaun to my body, so we dodged abeaut doin' very
little till Bill cawd 'Time.'
"I coom back to my own style, if I had one, at th' thard
round, I were larnin' to keep my e'en oppen neaw, so I went for
Harry as hard as I could goo. He were faster on his feet nor
me, an' I had to run after him reaund a circle. Sometimes he'd
stop an' catch me one on th' chops, an' start runnin again, me after
him. Th' lads were chaffin' him for runnin', so he stopped an'
sent his arm eaut, an' I fawd again. I'd lost my wynt wi'
skippin' after Harry, so I lay on th' flure till I yerd Bill
ceauntin' me eaut. Then I jumped up for th' fourth reaund.
"My paddy were up neaw. I didn't know whether to cry or
not, but I thowt I'd bite my lip instead. I tried to put it in
my meawth, but I couldn't, for oather my face had run up or my lip
had swelled. When I looked in th' glass next mornin' my lip
were swelled. That made me sure as Harry Farnworth had hit
"Th' fourth reaund begun weel. Harry started runnin'
reaund, but I didn't follow him far. I turned afore he did,
an' as he were passin' I put my fute eaut, an' tripped him up or,
should I say, tripped him deaun. I waited for his gettin' up,
an', as he did, I planked one fro' my reet fist bang on his chops.
I should ha' gan him some moor, but Bill Johnson geet howd on me,
an' said that reaund were mine.
"While we rested I were gettin' used to it, an' I didn't feel
feared a bit. 'This is th' fifth reaund,' said Bill johnson; 'neaw,
Harry get on.' I were waitin' wi' my neives up, but he were a
while a-comin', an' I thowt he were feelin' like I did at th' start.
But he did come, an' I helped mysel' to his body pratty weel, an' as
he were tumblin' again my left fist londed on his lips. He
were up again, afore I'd time to steady mysel', an' I geet some
attention fro' his reet neive just under my left e'e. It made
me blink a bit, an' I run reaund wi' Harry after me. I stopped
in a hurry, an' he went flyin', but he dropped on th' flure.
"Bill Johnson sheauted 'Time.' He slapped me on th'
back, an' said, 'That's thy reaund too, Joe.'
"We sat us deaun on th' low wo' for a bit, when Bill cawd us
for t' sixth reaund. We'd squared up, an' somebry sheauted,
'He's bleedin'. I could feel nowt, so I rubbed my honds o'er
my face, an' there were nowt theer, so I doubled my neives again,
an' set mysel'. When I looked at Harry, oh, what a face he'd
getten! It were covered all o'er. I felt sorry for him,
an' would ha' stopped feightin' if he'd said owt. But he
didn't. I'stead, he coom rushin' at me like a mad bull, an' we
fowt faster that reaund nor any. We were in th' thick on it
when somebry catcht howd on me bi th' back o' th' neck an' th' top
o' th' division o' my breeches an' run me reaund into th' next
street. As I were gooin' I seed Joe Benson were carryin' Harry
Farnworth, just as if he were a babby, an' he chucked him o'er th'
churchyard wo', amung th' gravestones.
"When th' mon as were dreivin' me had had aw th' fun he
wanted, he gan me an extra shuv, an I went to th' flure face fust.
'Theighur!' he said, 'stop theer till tha con behave thysel'.'
Then he walked away. I knowed him; he were a blacksmith, an'
his smithy were aside o'th' Temperance Hall.
"I geet up as weel as I could, for my limbs were gettin'
stiff an' sore, an' I started cryin'. I couldn't help it, for
I were beilin' wi' rage, an' I tried again to put my lip in my
meawth, but I couldn't, an' bit it instead, which made me howl.
'That big coward,' I said to mysel, 'to drag me away fro' a job I
were just gettin' used to, an' when I were winnin' an' aw I wait
till I grow up, an' I'll show that mon summat!' I leoned agen
a wo', an' a chap as were passin, seein' me troubled, axed me what
were to do. This browt me to my senses, an' I were shomed, so
I towd him th' fust lie as coom to my lips. "I've lost my
little brother,' I said. 'Hasta?' he axed; 'well, there's a
bobby reaund th' corner wi' a little lad; happen that's him.
I'll goo back an' tell him, an' p'raps he'll tak thee an' aw.'
An' he turned back, so' I slunk off. As Igeet to th' eend o'th'
street Abram Tacks were bringin' my jacket.
"'Tha's byetten him,' he said; 'two lads has tan him whoam.'
"I never spoke to that, for I felt just then as if I never wanted to
go whoam, or onywheer fro' theer, as I were gettin' stiffer. Heawever, Abram helped me on wi' my jacket, an' stuck to my arm as I
walked. On th' road we met Jessie Ormrod an' Joe Benson, walkin'
arm-i-arm, an' as they looked at me I could see they were havin' a
good lowf. Th' wust on it were as it were Saturday, an' th' teawn
"There were to be a big meeting at th' Temperance Hall next day. Professor
Crosky and Madame Crosky, th' eminent temperance
lecturers, mesmerists, and phrenologists, were advertised all o'er
th' teawnship to address a monster meetin' in th' hall, an', mind
thee, th' place wouldn't howd two hunderd. Well, I wanted to goo,
but my face were in such a mess. When I looked in th' glass my lips
an' my face were so swollen till I didn't know mysel', an' my e'en
were so little I hardly knowed onybody else. When I coom to put a
collar on, it wouldn't goo above hauf road reaund my neck, so I put
a muffler on, an' I went to th' meetin'. When I geet near th' hall I
were just turnin' th' corner to goo in when I bumped reet agen Harry
Farnworth! I thowt he'd done it o' purpose, an' I were shapin' for
another feight, but he said, 'Beg thy pardon, Joe; I didn't meeon
"'Aw reet,' I towd him; 'no harm done.'
"Then he axed me to come aside a bit, as he wanted to say summat to
me. We went under th' lamp, an' when I looked at his face I should
ha' brasted eaut o' lowfin' only my face wouldn't crumple, an' it
hurt me. He looked like a pace-egger wi' a mask on. Booath his e'en
were black, an' one side uv his jaw looked as if he'd had a tacker-up
on it aw neet.
"'Doesn't tha think,' he axed, 'we were very foolish last neet for
feightin' for a wench like Jessie Ormrod, when hoo's made a foo o'
booath on us?'
"'I do,' I ansert, 'but I didn't know then as hoo were after Joe
Benson, an' made use o' thee an' me to get him.'
"'Well, we'st ha' moor sense another time. Let's be friends again,'
an' he offered me his hond. I took it, an' we shook. 'I'st never
forgive Joe Benson,' he said, 'for throwin' me o'er th' churchyard
wo'. When I'm a gradely mon I'll punce him to pieces.'
"'Well, I think th' same o' Horseshoe Bill,' I said; 'he scufted me
into th' next street, an' then shuved me on my face. Look at it. (I
wanted to make Harry believe he hadn't speilt my looks, but he had.) If ever I get big enuff I'st goo for that mon for aw I'm wuth.'
"'Well, never mind neaw,' said Harry, 'we're thick again; let's goo
in afore th' meetin' starts.'
"So we went in, an' th' reaum were welly full, but we geet a place
at th' front, an' Harry were on th' same form as me at th' t'other
"Madame Crosky were th' fust to lecture on th' evils o' drink, an'
hoo towd heaw a friend uv hers, what were a lord, geet so drunken
that he didn't know what he were dooin'; heaw he chucked her
ladyship, his wife, into th' cut, an' heaw, when hoo geet eaut at
t'other side, he had her locked up for tryin' to dreawn hersel'. Then hoo said th' same lord, another neet in one uv his drunken
sprees, climbed up a lamp-post, an' unscrewed three brass balls fro'
a pawnshop front, an' sent his footmon th' next day wi' um to th'
pawnbroker, who lant him three shillin' on um; heaw he'd wasted his
brass on drink an' riotous livin', till he'd come so low in th'
world that he had to jein th' police force, an' he were a bobby yet.
'That's drink! Drink!' hoo said, 'an' if it will bring a friend o'
mine, a real lord, deaun, heaw much woss will it be for poor folk
like you,' an' then hoo set deaun.
"Th' folk didn't seem to like that soart o' talk, but th' speaker
bein' a woman, they said nowt.
"Then th' Professor geet up to make a few remarks, but I didn't yer
um, for Madame had left th' platform an' come feeshin' for drunkards
to tak th' pledge. Th' fust one hoo ooom to were me. She bent her yed deaun, an' I thowt I smelt gin fro' her breath, but I weren't so
sure o'th' flavour then.
"'Will you sign the pledge, my man?' said she; 'you know drink will
bring you to the grave, if you don't alter your course of life. It's
terrible to see a man in the prime of life going to a drunkard's
doom. Come and sign the pledge.'
"I have signed th' pledge once,' I said, 'but I'll sign again if
it'll do ony good.'
"'That's right,' said she, 'I'm glad you've got a resolution. Just
sit on the platform. There's a form there for penitents.'
"So I went on th' platform an' signed my name, an' th' Professor
clapped his honds.
"'Number one,' said he; 'send them up, Madame.'
"One or two moor coom up, an' then Madame geet to Harry Farnworth. After talkin' to him a bit, he were persuaded to come on th'
platform. He were lowfin' as weel as his face would let him, an' I
made reaum for him at th' side o' me. When th' form were full, an'
they'd aw signed, th' Professor started his discoorse. He
spouted for a bit, an' walked up an' deaun th' platform wavin' his honds,
an' then he turned reaund an' peinted to us as examples o' what
drink does for warkin' folk.
"'Look at these two men,' he said, peintin' to Harry an' me, 'how
distorted their features are. Lock at their bloated faces; isn't it
a warning to you all.'
"Somebry sheauted, 'Thoos lads are life tee-totalers.'
"Th' Professor looked gloppent. He were let deaun a bit, but he were
ready for owt. He stared at us a while, an' then he let off a joke
on me. He said he could see I were only a lad, but I favvort a
monkey wi' its jowl filled wi' nuts. I durn't know heaw I looked
then, wi' everybody starin', an' Jessie Ormrod an' Joe Benson lowfin'
ready to bust, at me, but I felt hot. Then th' Professor said, 'If
these lads aren't drunkards, their faythers an' mothers are.'
"Thats a lie,' sheauted Harry, 'noather my fayther nor mother ever
touched ale. An' mind what yo're sayin'.' He were stondin' up then,
an' I never seed him or onybody else in such a temper. He stared at th' Professor, who seemed a bit freetened uv a row, an' then walked
off th' platform. On th' road eaut o'th' hall ]oe Benson geet up
fro' his seat aside o' Iessie Ormrod as if he'd stop Harry, so I
stood up an' sheauted, 'Let him alone, wilta,' so he didn't bother
to touch Harry. If he had I should ha' fowt too, for we'd said if
oather him or Horseshoe Bill ever tackled oather on us again we'd 'two' him. Then I walked eaut o'th' hall, an' I never went theer
"In a while after I begun o gooin' to another temperance reaum in
Little Bowton, an' when I geet to know um they axed me to jine th'
choir, as I were a good singer. Well, I did, an' as I were abeaut
twenty by then, I fixed my ee'n on a bonny lass as I used to sit
aside on, named Grace Peacock. We booath seemed to like meetin' on
practice neets, an' when th' singin' were o'er hoo didn't object to
stop wi' me at th' street corner, wheer we'd talk for hauf-an-hower.
One neet I took her a bit o'th' road whoam, an' I axed her slap-bang
if hoo were cooartin'.
"'Well, I am an' I'm not,' hoo ansert, but I thowt by th' road she
spoke she'd rayther ha' said, 'Nawe, I'm not.' So I says, 'Well, wilta ha' me?'
"She eyed me all o'er for a minute, then she spoke sayriously:
'Well, there's two chap in th' road one's a moulder, an t'other
chap dreives his own cab they'n booath axed me th' same question,
an' I've towd um I wouldn't have oather on um, but they winnat tak 'Nawe'
for a answer. If tha con shift um fro' botherin' me ony moor I'll
have thee, for I think I should like thee for a husbond.'
"That were enuff. She'd put me on my mettle, an' I went to their heause to ax her parents! consent th' very next neet. When I geet to
their door I seed a chap stondin' on th' opposite side o'th' road at
th' corner uv a bye street. I felt, fro' th' description Grace had
gan me, that he were th' cabman, so I went across to him. He were a
bit less nor me. I axed him were he waitin' for sombry.
"'What's that to do wi' thee?' he says.
"'Oh, I durn't mind what tha'rt hangin' abeaut for at aw,' I towd
him, 'so as tha'rt not waitin' for Grace Peacook.'
"'Well, I tell thee,' he says, 'as tha seems particular abeaut
knowin' I am waitin' for Grace Peacock,' an' he put hissel', as th'
pappers would say, in a feightin' attitude.
"My jacket were off sharp, an' I went at him ding-dong. I winnat
tell thee heaw I banged him abeaut, but he said he'd give in when I
were having a bit o' good practice wi' him, an' uv cooarse I had to
stop then. Yerrin' th' neise Grace an' her mother coom eaut, an'
seed him on th' flure, cryin' for marcy, as one may say.
"'Durn't hit him again, Joe,' hoo said, as soon as hoo knowed who we
were. Then hoo turned to him, as he were gettin' up, an' sheauted in
his face, 'Tha's bin a pest here lung enuff; happen tha'll keep away
for a bit.' He slinked off then, an' he bothered her no moor.
"Grace lifted my jacket, an' her mother were as preaud on me as if
I'd saved a Chinamon fro' a wattery grave by stickin' to his pigtail.
'Come in th' heause, an' wash thy honds,' hoo says, an' I went in,
an' th' owd lady (bless her memory!) gan' my clooas a good brushin',
while Grace put my necktie straight.
"That were a extraordinary introduction," I ventured, just to give
Joe time to get some wynt.
"It were, Anoch; an' it made things yezzy for me, for when I axed th'
mother for her consent to me walkin her dowter eaut, hoo said, 'Aye;
tha'rt just th' lad as I've dreomed eaur Grace would have. I'm glad tha con fend for thysel'. I want no milk-sop in eaur family,' Grace
towd me at after as her mother were quite preaud on me, an' when th'
fayther coom whoam he said wi' a chuckle, after he'd yerd th' tale,
'Good lad; he's th' reet soart; plenty o' Lanky in him.' An' he towd
th' mother he'd be very fain to see me.
"That seaunded aw reet, but I'd some trouble to come yet. . . . Arto
"I am that, Joe,' I says, "it's like th' story uv a tournyment . . . . .
But th' sun's gradely hot; it make's one sleepy, doesn't it'?"
"It does, Anoch; but I'st not be so lung neaw. Well, Grace an' me
were comin' fro' th' meetin' one neet, arm-i-arm, when a felly
tapped me on th' chest, an' says, 'Here, I want thee.' He were th'
moulder, an' I could smell he'd had some drink. So I loased mysel'
fro' Grace, an' went aside wi' him.
"'What didta meeon by leatherin' Dick Button t'other neet,' he said'
'a chap less than thysel'.'
"I seed I were in for it, but I were owt but feared, so I said,
'What business is it o' thine? If he were less, tha'rt bigger, an'
as tha's hit me on th' breast, tak that," an' my fist went between
his e'en. He staggered, an' as he straitened hissel' I were at him
again. I didn't give him time to put his neives up. When Grace seed
who I were feightin' wi', hoo were railly angry, an' hoo said, 'Give
it him, Joe. He's insulted me oft enuff. Stop his impidence for
"'I will,' I said, an' I bashed at him again. He made such a poor
show, that I were feelin' sorry for him. After knockin' him this
road an' then that, I stopped, an' axed him if he'd had enoof, but
he couldn't speik, an' then he dropped to ith' flure beaut bein'
touched. Some men had gathered reaund injoyin' th' scrap, an' one on
um helped me wi' him to a durstep. I wiped his face wi' my own
honkercher, an' in a bithe were better. I axed him if he felt aw reet, an' as he looked into my face so sorrowful it hurt me very
much. Grace (thowtful wench) went to a milk shop a tothri doors off,
an' borrowin' a jug bowt a pint o' milk, an' hoo held it to his lips
"In a while he coom reaund, an' thanked Grace, an' said he thowt
he'd manage hissel'. I held eaut my hond to him, an' towd him I were
sorry, but I'd nowt agen him, an' we'd be friends. He shook it, an'
agreed it were his own faut, an' it sarved him reet. 'Good neet,' he
said, as we left him, an' then he cawd eaut, 'Stick to him, Grace;
he's won thee. That mon ull feight a road for thee aw through this
life. Good neet.'"
Joe stopped suddenly, an' as I turned my e'en to his face he were
starin' across th' say as if he were peerin' at th' picture after th'
battle. One or two boats, stragglers fro' th' Fleetwood fishin'
fleet, were lazily makin their way whoam.
"Hasta finished, Joe?" I axed. "It's been like a tale eaut uv a
"I've hardly finished yet, Anoch. I were tryin' to picter that
feight o'er again. I towd thee as Harry Farnworth an' me were fast
friends after eaur feight, an' I may as weel tell thee heaw it coom
abeaut. When he'd yerd I'd jined another Temperance Hall he cawd at
eaur heause one neet, an' said he'd felt lonely sin' we'd left
Halliwell Road, an' axed me if I'd tak him wi' me to th' place I
went to uv a Sunday. Well, I couldn't refuse, noather did I want to,
speshally as he could sing a bit. Grace's younger sister Ellen had jined th' choir just afore then, an' when I introduced Harry I'll be
hanged if he didn't make up to Ellen th' very fust neet he went, an'
th' aggravation uv it were he hadn't to feight for her. But I towd
her he could feight, for I'd had a scrap wi' him when we were
younger. Then hoo had him, an' they'n been wed nearly as lung as us,
an' he's as good a husbond an' brother-in-law as I know. But, as I
started wi' sayin', th' best lasses in thoose days would rayther be
fowt for, an' they liked their chaps better after a flare-up o' that
Joe stopped aw at once, an' were pooin' hard at his pipe, as if it
owed him summat.
"Well, ger on wi' thy tale," I said.
"It's finished," he ansert.
"Is it? Why, what becoom o' Horseshoe Bill, an' Joe Benson, an'
"I didn't think that would interest thee," he said; "I only meant to
tell thee abeaut th' feight . . . . Well, Horseshoe Bill deed abeaut
two yer after th' outrage had bin done on me. But I durn't think I
should ha' bothered to quarrel wi' him, anyheaw, an' he thowt he
were doin' me good.
"Joe Benson an' Jessie geet wed, an' though I never bothered my yed
abeaut um, I yerd as they'd three childer when me an' Grace were
"But did tha never see um after they were wed?" I axed.
"Nawe, I durn't think so," Joe ansert. "They were dooin' very weel,
an' they were suited to one another; an' when I were fixed up wi'
Grace I were satisfied, an' bore um no ill-will."
I thowt that were railly th' last o'th' tale, till Joe, after bein'
quiet for a minute or two, took his pipe eaut uv his meawth, an'
blowin' a cleaud o' smook away, brasted eaut lowfin'.
"Neaw as I bethink me," he went on, "I have seen Jessie again, an'
it were in such a funny way that I corn't keep my face straight as I
caw it to mind. A while after me an' Grace geet wed I think I've
towd thee as Harry Farnworth an' Ellen were glued together at th'
same time we left Bowton an' coom to live at Blackpool. We'n made
it a practice to spend to'thri days wi' um at Christmas, an' they
return th' visit in th' summer. Well, four yer sin', we were sat
smookin' after finishin' th' Christmas goose deaun to th' lucky
booan, an' th' talk turned back to eaur lad days, an' th'
remembrances uv Halliwell Temperance Hall coom on th' carpet. We
were very merry o'er it, when I axed Harry if he'd ever seen Joe
Benson an' Jessie Ormrod sin' they were wed.
"Oh, aye," he ansert, "I've seen her mony a time. Joe's been deeod
mony a yer, an' neaw as their family's grown up hoo keeps a shop in
"For a bit o' divilment I said, 'Let's goo an' have a look at her.' I could see as Grace's e'en twinkled to'rt Ellen as I used thoose
words, for they were ready for fun when it were to be had. 'Is that th' wench yo' two fowt for when yo' were lads?' Grace wanted to
"We towd her it were, an' hoo turned to Ellen, an' said, 'Get thee
ready. It's a grand neet; let's see th' dark-eyed beauty as turned
eaur husbonds' yeds, an seet their hearts afire.' Th' women put
their things on, an' we aw went for a strowl.
"Th' air were crisp an' sharp, an' we went reaund by th' Gilnow to
Dean Lone, comin' back by Dobhill. Abeaut ten minutes walk fro'
whoam Harry stopped us at a bacca shop, an' said, 'This is it. Hello! hoo's theer.'
"I looked through th' winder, an' I seed a woman abeaut fifty-six
yer owd sarvin' a lad wi' a penn'orth o' fags. 'That's not Jessie Ormrod, is it?' I axed.
"'It is,' ansert Harry. 'Isn't hoo awterd?'
"'Hoo has. I shouldn't ha' known her.'
"We were shapin' to goo away, when Grace axed, 'Arn't yo' gooin' to
speik to yo'r fust love?' An' I looked at her. Her face were ripplin' wi' smiles, an' so were Ellen's, so, as I seed as they took
it so comically, I says, 'Yah, I'll goo in an' buy some cigs.'
walked in, an' said, 'Good afternoon. Han yo' ony Black Dug
"'Nawe," hoo ansert, 'but wo'n Red Robins an' Sergeant-Majors.'
"'Well, gi' me hauf-a-peaund o' Red Robins.'
Hoo lifted a drawer fro' th' back uv her, an' while hoo were findin'
th' cigarettes, I looked at her. I never seed such a change in my
lifetime. She'd looked to us, o'er thirty yer afore, a rare bonny
wench, but neaw she'd no bottom teeth an' she'd a lump at th' top uv
her yed as big as a duck's egg. She were th' fattest woman I'd seen
for a lung time, an' her neck were level wi' her face. I wondered
then wheer my e'en were when I were so young.
"She looked for th' cigarettes up an' deaun, then she coom to me. 'I'm
sorry I'm run eaut o' Red Robins, but th' Sergeant Major is very
good; will yo' have them?' an' as hoo said this, I seed her starin'
"'Well, I durn't care much for thoose,' I said; 'but I'll have an
ounce on um.'
"As hoo were weighin' um I spoke to her. 'Weren't yo' cawd Jessie
Ormrod afore yo' were wed?'
"Hoo looked full at me. 'I were,' she ansert, 'but I'm Mrs. Benson
"'Well," I axed her 'did yo' remember two lads, named Joe Short an'
Harry Farnworth, as went to th' Temperance Hall at th' same time as
yo' an' yo'r husbond?.'
"'I do,' she said; 'an' art theau Harry Farnworth?'
"'Nawe; I'm Joe Short.'
"'Heaw lung's thy wife been deeod?' she axed in a hurry.
"'Hoo's not deeod, I hope,' I says; 'hoo were lookin' through th'
window when I coom in; an' so were Harry Farnworth an' his wife!"
"Ah, dear," hoo sighed; "what a while sin' then. Fotch him in,"
"So I cawd Harry in, an' he shook honds wi' her. 'I'm fain to see
you booath,' hoo said. 'My husbond's bin deeod three yer. See yo',
that's my youngest dowter,' as a young woman coom fro' th' kitchen
to ax her summat. I felt a shock come o'er me as I looked at th'
young woman, for hoo were th' very spit uv her mother in her younger
"Well, we talked o'er owd times for a minute or two, an' I axed her
at last if hoo remembered me an' Harry havin' a pitched battle at
side o'th' church when we were lads.
"'Aye, I remember,' hoo ansert, 'but I never yerd what yo' fowt
"'Well, I'll tell yo,' I said, 'we fowt for thee, an' noather on us
"'Nawe, yo' didn't. Well, it corn't be helped. I durn't think yo'd
feight for me neaw; would yo.'
"'Nawe, we shouldn't,' Harry blurted eaut, witheaut thinkin'. I seed
Harry had put his fute in it, an' hoo looked shomed, so I chimed in,
'We wed two sisters; they're theer at th' window grinnin' at us. We're gradely mated, an' very weel satisfied wi' um.'
"'That's reet,' said Mrs. Benson, 'stick to um.'
"Grace knocked at th' window for us to come eaut, as they were
gettin' cowd stondin' theer, so I held eaut my hond. Mrs. Benson
took it, an' said, 'Caw to see me again, ony time yo're abeaut,
booath on yo'. Good neet; good neet.'
"So we left her, an' aw th' road whoam Grace an' Ellen were chaffin
abeaut what we'd missed in not weddin' eaur fust sweetheart. 'Just
fancy,' said Ellen to Grace, 'these two honsome men marryin' such
feaw beggars as us when there were such dark-eyed beauties as yond
knockin' abeaut.' I felt a bit mad, an' I towd Grace hoo owt to be
ashamed uv hersel', lowfin as hoo did, for it were Nature as had
awterd Mrs. Benson, an' hoo didn't know but what hoo'd have a bob on
her yed afore hoo deed. This made um sayrious, an' they said no
"Heaw's Mrs. Benson gettin' on neaw, Joe?" I axed.
"I've never seen her sin'," he ansert.
It were gettin' dusk neaw, so we went towards whoam. Grace were stondin' at th' dur lookin' for him when we geet to their street,
an' I waved my hond to her an' bid Joe "Good neet."
Remembrances of the Cotton Famine.
1.The American War.
IT is fifty years ago, this 1911, since the commencement of the
American Civil War. Fifty years! It is a long time, certainly, but
to one who has lived much over half a century the occurrence of some
happening of unusual magnitude during that one's youth leaves its
impress upon the memory till the end of life. The history of the
American War has been written more than once, and the interest in it
has lost its significance for Europeans. Yet there are many people
living in Lancashire who do
remember the effect it had upon our trade, and those old people will
testify, with a saddened sigh, to what working folk endured during
No one thought, when the war started, that it would be greatly
prolonged; the Northern States, not expecting war, were entirely
unprepared for it, and as they were badly beaten in the initial
engagements, it seemed much as there would be two Americas, and that
very quickly. But President Lincoln took, as the Persian maxim has
it, the bit between his teeth, and, by his untiring energy, not only
utilised all the known forces of the loyal States, but created an
enthusiasm which resulted in the organisation and equipment of
armies large enough in those days to astonish the world.
When the war broke out in 1861 America's fleet was so small as not
to be considered seriously as a factor in war, and that was one
reason why British folk didn't fear that the war's horrors would be
felt over here more severely than hostilities between any two
civilised nations must disturb trade in any other country who had
had close commercial relations with them.
Our eyes were opened, however, when we read that within a period of
eight months after the fall of Fort Sumter the Northern States had
doubled the tonnage of her war fleet, and that they had stretched an
effective blockading chain across the Southern ports, right from
Cape Hatteras to the Rio Grande.
2.Cotton "Famine" or "Panic."
After then there was a "famine" in cotton, but that was only a name
given to the stoppage of importation, for many wise heads among
cotton brokers and factors had foreseen or professed to foresee a
dearth in the raw article, and had bought and stored every pound of
cotton they could lay their hands on.
The Lancashire operative, ever alert in matters concerning his work,
read with satisfaction of the accumulation of large stocks of the
raw material in our county, and naturally concluded that this
abundance meant continued work for him, and his chagrin was intense
when he was told that the mill from whence he earned his living
would be closed until further notice.
In reply to representations made later, the masters urged that there
were tremendous stocks of manufactured cloth on hand, that
remunerative prices had not ruled for a long time previously, and
that the mills could not be re-opened until those stocks had been
depleted. The explanation was mostly true, and, as the war had
affected the demand, the over-production was a long time in being
In the meantime events were occurring which developed disastrously
for the workers. When the surplus stocks of cloth did begin to move,
holders were able to get better prices, not, however, so great as to
show a large profit on manufacture and stock, but such as made it
more profitable to sell than to hold.
Now came the factory masters' chance. The blockade of the Southern
ports was so vigilant and effective that the importation of cotton
was stopped, and the masters and brokers held the whole available
supply. The temptation to make big fortunes was too great to
withstand, and the brokers offered high prices to the masters for
repurchase of the raw cotton they had previously sold them. This
caused what Lancashire called the "Cotton Panic," by which name the
effects of the Civil War are remembered to-day. The scenes on the
Exchanges were bewildering. Brokers, in their frenzy to get hold of
the untouched bales of cotton, offered fabulous prices for it. Manufacturers, who had been wont to use the Exchanges for buying
cotton now became the sellers of it, and the brokers who had sold it
to them bought it back again. Then it was re-shipped to America
this time to the Northern States for manufacture. The Americans
paid our brokers three times as much as it originally cost from the
Southern planters. So, men who had never done a fair day's work in
their lives amassed handsome fortunes out of the traffic in a
commodity which was necessary for providing us with a means of
livelihood, and that at a time when Lancashire was starving! But I
have noticed since then that there were men always ready, and quite
willing, to wax fat by their country's calamities.
The stoppage of the mills had its effect on other industries which
were dependent to a degree on their running. Coal mining,
engineering, and machine making were seriously affected, and
thousands of workers who followed those occupations for a livelihood
were soon in as sad straits as the cotton workers themselves.
Now and again a ship laden with cotton would succeed in "running the
blockade," but the prices asked for it were almost prohibitive, and
the mill-owners those with large hearts who succeeded in getting
hold of it would work it more out of sympathy with their suffering
dependents than with regard to profit for themselves. But such
relief was spasmodic, and but served to temporarily soften the
privation and misery. The whole north of England suffered, but there
were degrees of distress in different parts. The towns of Preston,
Ashton, Blackburn (Lancashire), Stockport (Cheshire), and Glossop
(Derbyshire), were very hard hit.
Indian cotton, of a very coarse fibre, which had been despised when
there was a plenitude of American grown, now came in vogue, but as
the demand for it grew, the planters, in their greed for big
profits, sent it here so poorly picked that, although special
machinery was adapted to its treatment, the bales contained so much
pod and green cotton that it often spoiled the machines, and tore
the hands of the workers who manipulated it.
As the imported Surat became worse so grew the operatives dread of
working it, until eventually many of them preferred to go hungry
rather than have anything to do with the vile stuff. When these were
driven to apply for relief to the Guardians, and were taunted with
idleness or malingering, they would retort, "Look at my honds!" and
they would show them, mutilated, bleeding, or indented with cuts, in
proof of their inability to continue working the material.
The pitiful state of distress into which the factory worker was
reduced was well pictured in the following poem, by Joseph
Ramsbottom, a rhymer of some distinction in Lancashire forty years
THE OPERATIVE'S LAMENT.
Eh, dear! What weary toimes are these,
When scores o' honest workin' folk
Reaund th' poor-law office dur one sees,
Like cadgers, wi' a cadgin poke;
It's bad to see't, but woss a deeal,
When one's sel helps to make up th' lot ;
We'n nowt to do, we dareno' stayl,
Nor con we beighl an empty pot.
Aw hate this pooin' oakum wark,
An' breakin' stones for t' get relief;
To be a pauper pity's mark
Ull break an honest heart wi' grief.
We're mixt wi th' stondin' paupers, too,
Ut winno wark when wark's t' be had,
A scurvy, fawnin', whinin' crew
It's hard to clem, but that's as bad.
An' for mysel' aw wouldna do 't,
Aw'd starve until I sunk to th' flure;
But th' little childer bring me to 't,
An would do th' best i'th' lond, I'm sure.
If folk han childer starvin' theer,
An' still keep eaut, they're noan so good;
Aw've mouy a time felt rayther queer,
But then I knew they must ha' food.
When wark fell off aw did my best
To keep mysel' an' fam'ly clear;
My wants aw've never forrud pressed,
For pity is a thing aw fear.
My little savins soon were done,
An then aw sowd my twoth'ry things
My books an' bookcase o' are gone,
My mother's picter, too, fund wings.
A bacco-box wi' two queer lids,
Sent whoam fro' Indy by Jim Bell,
My fuschia plants an' pots, my brids,
An' cages, too, aw'm forced to sell;
My fayther's rockin-cheer's gone,
My mother's corner cubbert too;
An' th' eight-days' clock has followed, mon
What con a hungry body do?
Aw've gan my little garden up,
Wi' mony a pratty flower an' root,
Aw've sowd my gronny's silver cup,
Aw've sowd my Uncle Robin's flute;
Aw've sowd my tables, sowd my beds,
My bedstocks, blankets, sheets as weel;
Each neet on straw we rest eaur yeds,
An' we an' God know what we feel.
Aw've sowd until aw've nowt to sell,
An' heaw we'n clemmed's past o' belief;
What next for 't do I couldna tell,
It were degradin' t' ax relief.
There were no wark, for th' mill were stopt,
My childer couldn't dee, yo' known;
Aw'm neaw a pauper cose aw've dropt
To this low state o' breikin' stone.
But wonst aw knew a diff'rent day,
When every heawr ud comfort bring;
Aw earned my bread, aw paid my way,
Aw wouldna stoop to lord nor king.
Aw felt my independence then,
My sad dependence neaw, I know;
Aw ne'er shall taste thoose jeighs again
Aw'm sinkin' wi' my weight o' woe.
4.When Lancashire "Clemmed."
There were, as I mentioned, those who never forgot their duty to the
workers who had been instrumental in giving them the opportunity of
obtaining wealth. These men, when they couldn't run their mills for
lack of cotton, assisted in forming relief societies and emptied fat
purses into their coffers. Their wives and daughters found useful
occupation in organising and working sewing schools, which made
garments for the women and children most in need, and tradesmen gave
of their time and depleted means in managing soup kitchens.
All classes were brought closer together by common suffering. The
poorest were kept from actual starvation by voluntary inspectors,
who hunted out and immediately relieved those in dire need. Tickets
were left with heads of families entitling them to so much soup per
head on two days per week, and these tickets were supplemented by
other coupons representing value in bread and groceries on the same
ratio. Those doles and the times are still remembered in Lancashire
as "Th' Dow Days."
As time went on, without prospect of improvement, the drain on
public charity began to tell, and the distribution of food had to be
curtailed to such limits that there was not sufficient to satisfy
the cravings of Nature; little more, indeed, than was necessary to
sustain life. The outlook was dark, and the times were hard!
It was pitiable to hear of the efforts, with poor returns, of the
more independent workers to help themselves; they resorted to every
thinkable means of getting a penny honestly. Sturdy men, whose hands
were so torn and blistered by spade work, or working Surat cotton,
in return for relief, that they could labour no longer, formed
singing groups, and the more clever among them would compose
ballads, which they sang in market places and at street corners, and
sold copies to any who would buy. I remember a verse of one of
these, which I print as a curiosity:
See a poor mother weeping,
Heart-broken and sad.
Her garments all threadbare,
Her children half clad.
Save a chair and a table
No furniture there,
And the cupboard, once laden,
Now empty and bare
For want and starvation
Look in at the door
Of the once happy homes
Of the Lancashire poor.
Such was the condition of the county folk in 1864. Life was a misery
to many but still it was Life, and the veriest poor shrink from
the alternative! Lancashire was broken, and the hitherto hearty and
industrious worker had nothing in prospect save Hope and Dow!
5. Some Personal Experiences.
In the remaining pages of this book are some of my own experiences
during the Cotton Panic, the names of persons (some of whom are
still living) and of places being, for obvious reasons, imaginary:
Hope-street might have been visited by a plague. One-third of the
forty houses of which it was composed was empty, not from any fault
in their construction, or that they were in bad repair. There was
nothing to complain of in the width or position of the street, for
it was typical of those generally occupied by factory workers long
rows of small tenements, two rooms up and two down, with the windows
well polished and the footpath flags always scrubbed as clean as
hands could make them. But the tenants had had to abandon their
homes through lack of work. Some of them had gone to other parts of
the town, to live with other families almost as poor as themselves,
and, by so doing, being able to economise both rent and fuel. Others
had sent their children to friends in distant counties, who
generously undertook their care till times mended, and the father
would go on tramp, seeking a job by which he might earn a living;
whilst the mother would char, wash clothes, or take domestic
service, where it could be got. Where others got a lodgement I
cannot say, for sure, but I am sorry to think it was the work-house. Of the remaining two-thirds then occupying Hope-street one half
would be out of work or only casually employed.
I lived in Hope-street, the topmost house on one side. It was the
smallest house, as, being built at the top, there were four similar
ones round the corner, and, having no yard space, we had only two
rooms, a kitchen and a bedroom. The rent was 2s. 9d. per week.
I was one of the fortunates, having as much work as enabled me to
earn nine shillings a week, certainly no more. I had not long been
married, and my wife, as a weaver, had the good luck to work for one
of those sympathetic employers who strove hard to keep his sheds
running, even if he lost money, rather than let his workpeople
starve. But he had to divide his work to enable a greater number to
earn a subsistence, so the ordinary four-loom weaver had to be
contented with two, and as the cloth woven was not of the best, my
wife would be able to earn about as much as myself. We couldn't
perform miracles with eighteen shillings a week, but as we had been
even worse off, we had learnt frugality, so we managed to save even
a trifle out of that. The sum was small, about nine-pence a week,
but when we married we had very little indeed to furnish even our
small house, and the savings were accumulated until we had
sufficient to buy an extra chair or two, or anything we felt we most
We had managed to get together five shillings as the result of a few
weeks' savings, and as we had had to use candles for light in the
evenings, we decided to have gas. A company owned and controlled the
gas lighting in Bolton then (it has for many years past been owned
by the Corporation), so we had to lay down a deposit of five
shillings before being served. I paid it, and the gas was turned on
from the street. When we lighted the jet the glare was so great by
comparison with what we had been used to that we were afraid the
house would catch fire. I smile when I remember hearing a pair of
clogs wander up the street and the wearer would stop under our
window, look with amazement at the illumination through the blind,
then clomp back again, followed by the sound of another, and yet
another, repeating the performance, and when I opened the door there
were gathered several of my neighbours anxious to discover what had
illumined the street, for there was no light at the top, the only
public lamp being at the bottom. During the first night of our using
gas we were kept awake very long by a bad smell, which we found
emanated from some of the fittings, and I went to the Gas Office to
complain of it, thinking, in my innocence of such matters, they
would put them right. I was taken down a bit when they told me to
call in my plumber to make the fittings tight. "My plumber!" I
exclaimed; "plumbers are luxuries, an' I've no brass for owt o' that
soart." "Well, then," replied the clerk, "you'd better have your
deposit back, and we'll turn the gas off. We'll check the meter
to-day, and if you'll call to-morrow we'll return you the balance."
I went during my dinner hour the next day, and he returned me 2s.
8d., saying that we had consumed 2s. 4d. worth of gas. I was glad
afterwards that we had settled up, for we had only one gas jet in
the house, and 1s. 2d. a day for gas was about equal to the amount
we could then spend on food.
I may mention an incident in connection with the gas which, though
it hurt me very much when it occurred, furnished the best lesson I
ever learned, and served as a model rule which I adopted in
business, and has been largely responsible for whatever success I
have had in life. Young men in those days did not think it
derogatory to their dignity to attend a Sunday School. The teacher
of our class at the one I attended was a good living man, and his
lessons and addresses were much appreciated by us. He was a friend
to us all, and we reciprocated his good feelings. Kind-hearted he
was, and would often invite us in batches to take tea with him at
his house in the week evenings, and so we came to know his wife and
family very well. He was a manager at some kind of works, and he
also owned an ironmonger's shop, which his wife and daughter tended.
A fortnight after I had drawn what remained of the gas deposit I was
going home on the Saturday afternoon. As I passed my teacher's shop,
the thought struck me that if I bought an oil lamp it would be much
better than candles, and as I saw some of those commodities in the
shop window, I went in and asked Mrs. Brown, my teacher's wife, to
show me two or three different patterns, and tell me the prices of
them. She arranged several on the counter, and I chose one that I
thought would suit us.
"That's two-and-sixpence," she remarked.
"Well, I think that will please my wife, Mrs. Brown, and I'll take
it. I'm coming down again after tea, and I'll bring the money then."
"Nay, yo' winnat," she said, and she removed the lamps from the
counter. "We durn't trust onybody here."
I remember being very much ashamed then, as I had really intended to
bring her the money within two hours. I went home, however, and
without waiting to have my tea, got the money and bought the lamp,
more to let her see we had the cash than with the intention of
hurrying the purchase.
It was a smart warning which left an impression, for since that day
I don't think I have ever asked anyone to give me credit. I have
bought everything, be it little or much, with my cash ready, and I
soon earned a reputation among the business men I traded with for
paying promptly. This system has been very beneficial, by enabling
me to buy cheaper, and often to laugh at market prices. That
experience of mine may be of benefit to some people starting married
life; if so, it will have been worth the telling.
6.―How we Lived.
Some of my friends have doubted the statement that we could have
lived and worked on seventeen shillings a week, and I have smiled at
their doubts. The fact is easily explained, for coarser, but much
more wholesome, foods were ordinary diet. Oatmeal porridge was a
staple dish; treacle, now called golden syrup, was kept in large
tin jugs, and sold by every grocer at 2d. per lb.; whilst black, or
Scotch treacle, was only l½d.
per lb. Every child would have his "butty" covered with treacle, and
it had the merit of keeping the bowels right. Margarine and butter
substitutes were neither known nor wanted. Tea was dear, but
splendid buttermilk could be got for a penny a quart. Again, good
Irish bacon cost but 5d. a pound; whilst good house coals were to
be had from the pit mouth by the load at 4½d. per cwt., and the
customer, if reliable, was not called upon to pay for his load until
he ordered its successor. Added to this, every Lancashire lass over
sixteen years old could cook and bake, knit and darn stockings, wash
and starch and iron clothes, and do everything required for keeping
a house in order, and on entering the cottage of a young married
couple there would be seen an antimacasser over every chair back, on
the table, and on the sideboard, and each cover had been "crowsherd"
by the wife's own hands. I don't know if the Lancashire lasses of
to-day have been so well tutored; one may hope that they make such
good housewives. I have shared, with five others, a potato pie made
by a Lancashire housewife, and we have each had a satisfying meal,
the whole of the ingredients of which cost only ninepence.
At the time I have in mind the war was just over. General Grant had
compelled General Lee, the Confederate leader, to surrender his army
and Richmond, some months before, and although there was some
scattered fighting by minor armies, the end was at hand. The hope
which had buoyanted the cotton worker through the terrible ordeal
was near realisation, but now was "the darkest hour before the
dawn," and the suffering was intense.
7. Our Neighbours.
My home was at 39, Hope-street. Our neighbour at 37, Jim Hitchin,
was a moulder. He had been out of work a long time, and their wealth
consisted of a large family, they owning five children ranging in
years from five to two. Jim was a life teetotaller, and, I
understood, a good workman. His mother, who owned a small shop not
far away, had helped them as well as she could; his trade club had
done something, and wherever he could find a temporary job within
his capacity he was eager to earn a trifle for doing it. But they
were poor, and as the children were sometimes short of food it was
not to be wondered at that their father should often be dejected and
miserable. Jim's neighbour Tom Cross, at No. 35, was a collier, and
was working about two days a week. He had a wife and child.
low in price in those days,
and the miner, when in regular work, couldn't be charged with
receiving extravagant wages when fully employed. Though the price of
coal was low, it was very scarce in our neighbourhood. I know we had
to be very sparing in the use of it, and we and the Cross's used to
sit in each other's houses on alternate evenings to save one fire,
and Jim Hitchin and his wife would often join us to warm themselves
after their children had been put to rest.
We were sitting in Tom Cross's house early one night when Jim
Hitchin lifted the door latch and walked in. His face was as pale as
one could imagine a man yet alive to wear. Mrs. Cross had been
baking three pounds of flour, and there were several muffin cakes
on the clean table. I was going to speak to him, when I saw him look
across the table to where Mrs. Cross stood.
"It's come, Emma," he said.
Mrs. Cross knew what he meant.
"Has it?" she retorted. "What is it, Jim?"
"Another lad," he answered, and he sank down in a chair beside me,
and he rested his elbows on his knees, and with his head in his
hands, he cried bitterly.
I have been many times since then a witness of, and on occasion,
unfortunately, a participator in, scenes that were grief-laden and
distressing, but I shall never forget the agony of that cry. I was
too inexperienced to understand the meaning of it, for up to then we
had no children of our own, and I thought the advent of a child to
bear one's name through life was an occasion for joy rather than
sorrow. But I didn't know at that moment there was neither bite nor
sup in Jim's cupboard, and that his fire-grate was empty.
Jim's trouble cast a damper on what little spirits we had within us,
but the womenfolk grasped the situation at once. There was a little
whispering between them, and my wife went home. Mrs. Cross toasted a
cake and buttered it, and my wife returned with some tea and sugar
in a paper. We had bought a pound of black currants the week
previous, and had them preserved for our use on Sundays, as long as
they would last, and we did make such luxuries spin out then! This,
however, was requisitioned, and a nice repast was made for the sick
woman, which she enjoyed, and for which I know she was thankful. Tom
and I went in to see Mrs. Hitchin and the baby when matters were
composed. Tom Cross, looking at the fire-grate, whispered, "Th'
place looks cowd; let's build um a foire." And we did, giving them a
day or two's supply of coals from our scanty stores.
After all the years which have intervened between then and now it is
still one of my most pleasurable memories to recall how our wives
tended Mrs. Hitchin when they had the time. The self-denial
exhibited by the Cross's I couldn't forget, and they so poor! If
ever men prayed devoutly for a change of fortune they were we three
of Hope-street. The change in our circumstances still seemed afar
off, but it did come.
Mrs. Hitchin was getting about again, and her baby boy was healthy
and strong; we had lusty "vocal" evidences of the fact, and that was
something to be thankful for. We were "camping" in our house about a
fortnight after the "event" just mentioned, when Jim Hitchin joined
us. Our conversation turned, as was generally the case, on our day's
experiences and an exchange of views as to what prospect there was
of an improvement in our circumstances. In a while Jim told us he
had been trying to borrow a little money from some friends, but they
had been unable to accommodate him.
"I durn't know what to do," he said, "nobry seems to have owt. I yerd to-day as Molyneux's were startin' moulders, an' I went. They
promised me a job, but it'll be a month afore they con get ready. Heaw we're gooin' to live for a month on nowt I connot tell."
We all stared at the little bright fire, for no answer was ready. Eventually I remembered the gas deposit, which we made up into over
five shillings again, and I remarked, "Jim, I've five shillin'; tha
con have that till tha'rt able to pay me back."
A load seemed lifted from him. "Well, I shouldn't know heaw to thank
thee if tha would land it me. Tha'st have it back, if I live."
I went upstairs quite cheerily, for poverty had seemed to strengthen
our friendship. We kept our savings in a hair trunk, bound with
strips of leather and studded with brass nails (a style of box much
in use fifty years ago), and scraped the money, nearly all copper,
from the bottom. We had five shillings and twopence-halfpenny, and,
leaving the twopence-halfpenny to "breed off," I took the five
shillings down, and as I placed it in Jim's hand I never heard
gratitude more strongly expressed.
9.Luck at Last.
Now fortune's wheel began to turn in my favour. The week after
I lent Jim the five shillings I was offered a job in Manchester at
thirty shillings a week a fabulous sum it appeared to me. Of
course I accepted it, and we removed our goods in about three weeks
afterwards. The extent of our worldly possessions may be gauged from
the cost of removal. The railway company sent a lorry to
Hope-street, Bolton, then transferred the goods to a railway truck,
conveyed them to Manchester, and delivered them more than two miles
from their station, at a cost of 4s. 7d.!
Having been compelled to be frugal when poor it was quite easy to
practice economy in our improved circumstances, and we managed to
put a few shillings aside every week. In a few years I was able to
start business on my own account, and as time rolled on I was fairly
successful. I learned that business was often so speculative as to
become a gamble, and, although I had lost many pounds in early
efforts, and had dismissed from my mind many bad debts, I never
forgot that I had once lent a man, when at the bottom of his luck,
the only five shillings I had, and that he had promised to pay it
back to me, "if he lived." I never doubted his honour, but I
remembered his large and increasing family of youngsters, and
wondered if ill-fortune still kept him company.
10. After Twenty Years.
Twenty years after I had left Bolton I was agreeably astonished one
day at seeing Tom Cross enter my shop. I knew him at once, and I
persuaded him to stay and have tea with us. He could hardly believe
his eyes when I introduced him to my three daughters, fast
developing into womanhood, and when my wife came into the room he
couldn't restrain his joyous feelings. He took her hand in his
strong grip, and shook it so hard, that I had to laughingly ask him
to release it.
"Why, bless yo', yo're lookin' younger nor ever," he remarked; "Eh,
eaur Emma would be fain to be here just neaw."
"Well, tha should ha' browt her," replied my wife, humouring his
mood by dropping into the dialect; "whatever makes thee tak such
lung journeys by thysel'? Tha'll be gettin lost some day."
"Not as lung as I've such owd chums as yo' for t' tak' care on me. Hoo'll goo off her yed when I tell her I've seen yo' booath."
"Well, sit thee deaun an' mak thysel' a-whoam. I'll soon have some tay ready, an' it'll warm thee up a bit."
Tom did her bidding, and, when he did recover from his surprise and
pleasure, we talked of the old dark days of the "cotton panic," and
then the conversation lightened up to the changes in fortune that
had fallen to the lot of each of us. I asked him if Hope-street
still occupied a place on the town's map, and, if it did, was there
any change in its appearance since the time we lived there as
"Oh, aye," he replied, "th' owd streets still theer. I were through
it abeaut two months sin', but everybody were strangers to me. It's
as cleon as it were when we used for t' cleon th' flags to stop eaur
limbs from growin' stiff an' rusty."
"Well, neaw, Tum," said I, "I want thee to tell me summat abeaut
thysel'. Tha sees I'm better off nor when we lived at th' side o'
thee; an', besides, wen getten these three wenches, an' they're a
comfort to booath on us.' So, tell me heaw yo'n bin dooin' for th'
last twenty yer."
The huge smile left his face, and he looked serious in a moment.
"We'n had aw soarts o' luck sin' then," he replied, "but mooastly
good. After yo' left, eaur Emma had another babby a gradely bonny
lad but when he were abeaut a yer owd he couldn't get through his
teethin', an' he deed o' croup. It were a great trouble to us for t'
loase him, an' th' wife were two or three yer afore hoo geet o'er
it, she took it so much to heart."
"I'm sorry to yer that," I told him, "but we corn't have things eaur
own road. If tha goes to th' sayside in th' summer, or to th'
country when Nature's in her happiest mood, tha doesn't give a thowt
that th' grander th' place is then, wi' th' sky so clear o'eryed,
an' th' leaves on th' trees rustlin' abeaut so merrily, when winter
comes it gets just as dismal, when th' trees are bare an' th' sky
gets grey, an' th' winds are howlin' o'er th' say, an' one connot
stond upreet. So it is wi' life, Tum: th' greater pleasures we han
mun be followed by doses o' pain, or else we shouldnt know what
"I see," answered Tom, "tha talks just th' same as tha awlus did,
an' tak's things as they come . . . . . Well, when yo' left Bowton
we lost two pals we thowt summat on, an' what made it woss, th' pit
stopped at th' time; it were flooded for a month, an' I durn't know
to this day heaw eaur Emma managed to keep eaur sowls an' bodies
together, for I didn't earn a penny aw th' time."
"One doesn't know what a good woman con do," I remarked, "till
they're tried by circumstances. Emma were awlus careful, an' happen
she'd saved a bit as tha knowed nowt abeaut."
"Maybe so," he said; "hoo awlus were clever. Well, when th' pit
oppend again we started full rig, an' we worked lung heaurs. We made
up what we'd lost, I think, an' after abeaut three yer I were made
under-manager, an' I've had th' job ever sin'."
"An' I reckon tha's ta'n care o' thy brass, so tha'll be weel off
neaw, I hope."
"Aye," continued Tum, "we never wasted much, an' after what we'd
gone through we were feared o' ever bein' poor again. I bowt a row
o' heauses ten yer sin', an' they're cleared fro' debt, an' I'm
buildin' two nice uns neaw, an' we're gooin' to live in one eaursels."
"That's th' best news I've yerd for a month," I said; "I've mony an'
mony a time talked abeaut yo' to th' wife, an' we'n awlus hoped to
yer on yo' again, an' that yo' were doin' weel. But, let me see, yo'd a babby wench when we lived i' Hope-street. Hoo's still livin',
"Livin!" he shouted, and his face assumed an even broader grin than
I had seen before; "Livin! Hoo's th' bonniest woman tha ever seed
th' image uv her mother. Hoo's bin married two yer, and what dost
think?" he asked, and, without waiting for a reply, shouted, "I'm a
gronfayther!" and he chinked with laughter, upsetting some of the
tea from the cup he was conveying to his lips.
11. A Talk of Old Friends.
Tom's merriment set us all in good humour. I laughed at the idea of
his being a grandfather, and my family joined in because they
couldn't help it he had infected them all. When he got his emotion
under control, he blushed like a maiden! He seemed ashamed of his
hilarity, but he needn't have been. A fellow like Tom Cross wouldn't
have offended anyone wilfully; true-hearted and guileless, didn't I
remember him sharing his fuel to the last scuttle-full with a sick
woman who had no ire? Yea, I did, and the memory of that unsolicited
but necessary kindness was burned within me!
We had a most pleasant afternoon together, and when he had to leave
us I accompanied him to the station. On the way I asked him if he
ever heard of Jim Hitchin. (That five shillings I once lent him still
rankled in my memory, not for its value, but I remembered his
promise to pay the debt, "if he lived.")
"Oh aye," replied Tom, still using the old dialect, "I see him very
oft. He's a gentlemon neaw; wears a top hat an' frock cooat. Folk
says he'll be th' Mayor in a bit."
"Is that so?" I asked, hardly comprehending the extent of his reply. "I wonder if he's forgetten me!"
"Not he!" remarked Tom, as though such a thing were impossible. "He's axed me mony a time abeaut thee, an' if I knowed wheer tha
lived . . . . Let me see; didn't tha once land him five shillin'
when we were neighbours in Hope-street?"
"I did," I answered, "an' he promised to pay me back when he could. It's a good bit o'er twenty yer sin' he made that promise, but I've
never heard of or abeaut him."
"Well, he has mentioned it to me, an' he axed me to let him know if
ever I did yer owt abeaut thee. But I'st goo o' purpose to tell him
to-morn, an' he'll be only too glad to get eaut o' thy debt. But I
know it's hard wark to catch him, he's such a busy mon."
"I'm glad to yer he's doing so weel. I hope he's not forgetten that
he was once poorer than ourselves," I remarked, with a touch of
reproach in my voice.
"Sithee!" exclaimed Tom, and he stopped in the pathway to emphasize
his remarks by slapping one clenched fist into the palm of his other
hand, "he'll never forget that, I'm sure an' certain he wurn't, an'
I hope tha'll not think so." I had, for sure, struck a wrong note,
and the discord had irritated him, but he went on: "He's one o'th'
best men as ever lived, an' folk says he gives brass away faster nor
he makes it. I were at an owd folks' doo abeaut two months sin', an'
he took th' cheer at th' concert after tay, an' he gan' every one
o'th' owd uns as were theer a piece o' silver to tak whoam. Eaur
Emma an' me gets invited to their heause sometimes, an' when we goo
they tak us in th' drawin'-room no matter whoa's theer an' they
mak' as much fuss uv us as they do o'th' best. There's not a preaud
booan in their bodies. But tha'll know him soon; I'st be at his
wareheause th' fust thing, an' he'll be as fain as a lad in his fust
britches to yer abeaut thee again."
We talked of the Hitchin's all the way, and when the train steamed
out of the station I was greatly depressed, and felt as though,
after finding some long-lost treasure, it had again slipt from my
possession, never to be recovered again.
Dear Tom! how time does fly, and what changes there are in this
revolving old world!
12. I Hear from Jim Hitchin.
Tom Cross kept his word. Many a time I have tried to picture his
pleased excitement as he hurried that next morning to tell Jim
Hitchin of his "find." In the day but one after Tom's call I
received a bulky letter written on twelve pages of note paper, and
signed "James Hitchin." It was so interesting, and contained such a
history of the rise in the writers fortunes that, did space permit,
I would print the whole of it, as I value it now. But details may be
summarised so that the reader can understand.
He did not work again as a moulder, but took a job as vanman for a
wholesale grocer. Part of his duties was to seek fresh custom when
on his delivering rounds, and he added much to his employers
business. Evil days, however, fell on the concern, and from some
cause the whole estate had to be sold under the hammer. There was no
bid for the whole, so it had to be sold piecemeal. Jim had had his
two eldest children at work for a time before this happened, and his
thrifty wife had been able to put a little money away week by week. At the sale Jim bid for the horse and van he so long had charge of,
and they were knocked down to him.
The person who bought the warehouse and stock (not the goodwill)
offered to take Jim into his employ at a slightly decreased rate of
pay, but Jim stood out out for a junior partnership, very justly
advancing the argument that he had added much to the business. A
partnership was denied him, so he made use of the ground as a
wholesale grocer, having arranged with another firm to supply him
with goods at a fair discount for prompt payment. This was
satisfactory, as it left Jim a free business man, with a good
remuneration for his labours. He also added other branches to his
business, buying direct from the importers.
Misfortune dogged the old firm, for the person who bought the
warehouse and stock failed. His selfishness had out-distanced his
tact, and he regretted when too late that he had treated Jim's
desire for partnership so indifferently. Anyway, the whole went into
the auctioneer's hands again. This time Jim's friends among the
importers with whom he dealt persuaded him to make a bid for the
lot, promising him financial help if he required it. So Jim bought
it, and by honourable dealing so increased his business that he
quickly repaid his sponsors the sums they had been responsible for.
His children were grown into men and women (they had none since that
notable evening I have previously mentioned), and two were married. He told me how he had improved his position in life by being fair in
his dealings, and he felt he had nothing to reproach himself with,
for he had ever tried to err on the side of charity, remembering
that he and his had been at one time very poor.
He finished his epistle by reminding me that at the darkest period
of his life I had befriended him by the loan of Live shillings. The
knowledge that it was still owing had often troubled him, and the
only thing that solaced him was that he felt I wasn't in want, and
that some day he would hear of me. Mr. Cross had called and told him
of us, and he was delighted to hear we were well and doing well. "Thank God for His mercies," he wrote; "I enclose you twelve
shillings, being the five shillings I borrowed, and five per cent
compound interest for the use of it." His gratitude and good wishes
Of course I answered his note at once, and returned the seven
shillings plus the loan, telling him I didn't require interest for a
trifle lent under such circumstances. He sent it again, however,
saying it was my due, but if I didn't like to take it myself, I
might hear of some person "happen as poor as we once were," and I
might give him a lift.
I saw him awhile after, and the pleasure of our meeting was enjoyed
by each of us.
PRINTED BY SAUNDERS & Co., OLDHAM RD., MANCHESTER.