TO THE EDITOR OF THE PRECURSOR OF UNITY. 
REVD. AND DEAR SIR,
I am greatly obliged by your sending to me the two first
numbers of your publication, "The Precursor of Unity," both of which
numbers I have read with much pleasure; though, I must confess, I have no
very strong hopes of your being able to carry out the plan of association
which you propose. Men's habits, thoughts, feelings, wants, and
dispositions are so various, that I hardly think it possible for any human
means, so far to divest them of their individuality, as to make them work
permanently for one common object only. The spectacle of bees
working in a hive certainly presents to our contemplation a striking and
persuasive example; but after all, bees will be bees, and men will remain
men, ever diversified. Who knows also, but it may be an exactitude
in the physical formation of bees, producing an exactitude of wants, and,
consequently, of habits, which compels them to labour in the harmony which
they do? Men, we know, are ever varying, both internally and
externally. In some a peg appears to be too far driven, with others
it is loose, and they are ricketty; with one a cord is tightly strung,
with another it is too tight, and they are fearfully energetic; with
another it is slack, and he is feeble. One man has a dry, hot skin,
a hot breath, and his blood goes along his veins at a ramping gallop.
That man, whether he think or not, must act,—he cannot be still; another
perspires when he exercises, and he will be cool in action; his breath
does not scorch his tongue, and his blood moves with a tranquil force;
gush,—gush,—no hurry, no impetuosity is there, no palpitation; that man
shall think, whether he act or not,—he cannot help thinking. So we
humans, for some wise purpose of providence, no doubt, vary continually,
and shall do so I believe, as long as our race exists. Now, such
men, you cannot, by any means of which I have heard, induce constantly to
draw all one way at one time; the wants of their bodies, and the desires
of their souls continually prompt them to individual action. The
wish for final salvation is perhaps as universal as any one wish of the
human race, yet, how various are the modes for obtaining it. The
desire to be united with the happy in a future state, pervades all our
hearts, yet how few of our fellow-beings are there with whom we choose to
associate in our search for eternal happiness? Money again, we
nearly all want, but we dont go in flocks to seek it, in whole nations, as
rooks go to their food; we disperse, and break into little companies or
parties, or act individually, and the means we make use of to obtain our
idol, are as various as are our dispositions.
Thus you see, sir, I doubt, whether men,—that is, any
considerable number of them,—ever can be brought to act permanently, and
voluntarily for one common object irrespective of self. I should, I
must confess, like much to see the plan of the bees tried. I should
like to watch the progress of an experiment with a thousand or two of our
young bairns, rescued from the contamination of the world, and trained up,
body and mind, to every noble and christian purpose. I should like
to watch the budding of that orchard bloom: to behold the fruit of that
harvest. Possibly something like an unity of disposition, and of
action for good, might be thereby produced; but, though I wish it might, I
doubt whether it ever can be produced by experimenting on grown persons,
and fixed habits.
But, there is one part of your plan which was tried and found
to answer nearly two thousand years ago, and consequently, there cannot be
any doubt as to its answering now, if fairly tested. Jesus Christ
tried it, I think, when he gave sight to the blind, and healed the lame,
and fed the hungry, and comforted the afflicted, and I have not found any
account of His having failed, in any one case. You do well,
therefore, to copy His patent, which is enrolled in heaven's chancery,
though almost forgotten on earth. You cant do better than stick to
His plan, which like all good plans, begins with the beginning, and ends
with the end. In heaven and on earth, divine wisdom works in one
unvarying way; and true christianity is only an exemplification of that
divine wisdom. Jesus Christ, therefore knew where to begin, and
where to end. He first shewed mercy to the bodies of sinners, and
their souls yearned towards him, even as at this day they would do, were a
great king-hearted benefactor to appear amongst there, and feed the
hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the afflicted, as Christ did.
But, the christianity of our days, is I fear, too
etherealized, too intangible for the requirements of mankind. We may
climb to the top of Mont-blanc, but we cannot remain there, you know: the
air is too attenuated for our bodily life; we must have something of more
substance to breathe, or we die. Even so is our modern christianity:
it is far too high-flighted for our common comprehensions; it is so
fine-spun, that we cant lay hold of it, and feel it, and appropriate it,
and keep it, and love it: it escapes us, whether we will or no. The
body of our christianity—if I may be allowed the expression—is so slim
and unsubstantial, that the soul dies in it, for the want of earthly, as
well as heavenly warmth: it is all faith! faith! faith! our ministers
forgetting, or nearly so, that faith without works is dead: forgetting
that, it is not he who saith, Lord! Lord! but he that doeth the will of my
Father which is in heaven;" forgetting, that of faith, hope and
charity—the greatest is charity: forgetting that Dives,—whatever faith
he had,—was damned for his want of works; forgetting that the first thing
Christ prayed for, was bread; and that the last thing he blessed on earth,
was that same essential body-sustainer, and soul comforter.
You do well therefore, to look first to the bodily wants of
your fellow-creatures; you begin at the right end, and depend upon it
their hearts, their affections, will not be far astray from you.
What more touching; what more ennobling than gratitude? The heart
feels an impulse it perhaps never felt before; it awakes to a new life of
pleasure; envy and hatred no longer rankle there; but attachment, and
devotedness occupy the place which those former baneful passions once
held. Oh! noblest on earth is he who creates gratitude in darkened,
and obdurate, and trodden down, and outcast souls; and noble in heaven
will he be, when Christ says, "Come ye, unto everlasting rest."
I am, Revd. and Dear Sir,
Yours most truly,
WALKS AMONGST THE WORKERS.
IN attempting to describe the actual
condition of the labouring classes of this township, I feel that I am
entering on a task with still fewer of gratifying subjects in its detail
than the one I last performed. Here must be left behind the open
fields, the sunny hill sides, the garden plots with their stray flowers;
the clear springs, rilling by hedges and down rush-crofts, and shorn
pastures, are no longer to be noticed; but, instead of them, we see a
multitude of human dwellings crowded round huge factories, whose high
taper funnels vomit clouds of darkening smoke. These objects, as we
approach them from the west, occupy the slope of a rather steep hill, and
the town, lapping over its back, as it were, descends on the other side,
and spreads towards the Yorkshire borders at Water Head and Sholver Moor.
On the saddle of the hill, if we may so term it, rises the lofty tower of
a very handsome church; at the bottom of the hill, on the other side,
another church tower, of less elegant proportions, is seen; and on the
slope of the elevation, looking towards the south, and a little to the
east, stands a noble building, turretted and pinnacled in the Gothic
style; this is the munificent endowment called the Blue Coat School, of
which the towns-people are justly proud; but both it and the churches,
though of a ten years' standing only, are as venerably sombre a hue as if
they had stood during centuries. Such is a rude sketch of the
appearance of the town as we approach it from Westwood; an appearance by
no means so inviting as we shall find the place to be after a little
intercourse with its hospitable and warm-hearted inhabitants.
On seeking information in quarters entirely worthy of
confidence, I found that the number of inhabitants of the township was, on
the completion of the census, forty-two thousand five hundred and
ninety-three, viz: twenty thousand six hundred and ninety-one males, and
twenty-one thousand nine hundred and two females; that the number of
inhabited houses was seven thousand nine hundred and eighty-two; of the
uninhabited, one thousand one hundred and six; of houses in building,
fifty-two; of mills, fifty-seven; and of mills unoccupied, formerly
employing about one thousand hands,—six; that seven mills were working
short time, or about five days a week each; that the number of spinners in
work was supposed to be about one thousand two hundred; the number out of
work, six hundred; and the number who had recently emigrated to foreign
parts, or were going about seeking work near home, was supposed to be from
three to four hundred; that the number of card-room hands was about five
thousand five hundred; of piecers, three thousand two hundred; of
power-loom weavers, two thousand five hundred; of hatters, three thousand;
of colliers, one thousand three hundred; and unemployed of all trades,
about four thousand; that the average earnings of spinners in full work,
would be eighteen shillings per week; of card-room hands, six shillings;
of piecers, six shillings; of power-loom weavers with two looms, nine
shillings; of the same with four looms, thirteen shillings; of hand-loom
weavers, (there being however very few in the township), six shillings; of
hatters, eighteen shillings; of colliers, sixteen shillings; of
shuttle-makers, twenty shillings; of cloggers, twenty-four shillings; of
tin-plate workers, twenty-four shillings; of blacksmiths, twenty-four
shillings; and of sawyers, two pounds. The sawyers in the employ of
one master had just turned out, because he refused to permit men from
another yard to come upon his premises during working hours. The
whole of the above wages are supposed to require full work to earn them.
The number of families relieved from the poors' rate was six hundred and
five, or about three thousand and twenty-five individuals, and the amount
paid to the poor weekly, in money only, was ninety-five pounds.
The duties of collectors of rates, or of rents, were
described as being most irksome. One collector said he never knew
any thing like the present state of things before, and he had been in
office fifteen or sixteen years. A county rate of seven hundred
pounds should have been paid that week, but the money could not be raised,
and the overseer had to ask for a few days extra to obtain it; and it was
only three months since a similar rate of between five and six hundred
pounds was paid. Poverty was increasing on all hands, and the people
were getting into a worse condition every week. A collector of rents
said people were crowding by two and three families into one house; they
could not pay rents for entire houses, and nearly all the workers, who
could raise money enough, were leaving the country. These
representations were corroborated in many points by other persons with
whom I conversed. A master hatter said the hatting branch was dull,
but the bonnet trade was rather brisk, and most of the hands now employed
were working on that article. A considerable number of men who were
engaged in the late turn-out were, he said, still unemployed, and would
probably so remain for some time; the masters had got fresh hands, and
they would not now receive the old ones; with them they could do no good.
This gentleman, however gave a different statement as to their earnings
from the one previously set down, he said, body makers when in full employ
would earn, at present prices, their thirty shillings a week; roughers
would earn the same, and finishers would get from thirty shillings to
fifty shillings a week.
Of, the state of other employments, some notion may be formed
from the following facts which I learned at the several places to which
they refer. At a certain millwright's shop, where from twenty to
twenty-five hands used to be employed, only one hand was employed now.
Shuttle making was stated to be in a bad way; the prices of shuttles had
greatly depreciated; and when manufacturers were asked for orders, they
said they durst not give any. The leather trade was never worse; the
sale of bespoken shoes was dropping off very fast, and working people wore
little else save clogs. Shoes were commonly sold on credit, to be
paid for by instalments at the pay-day. Some of the shoe dealers
went round to collect their weekly payments—a practice which was not
known until of late. The clogging business, in consequence of so
many being worn, was rather better than had been expected. The
strap-leather business had been for some months much duller than
previously; the manufacturers kept working their old straps as long as
they possibly could, and would not replace them, or any other article, so
long as it could be used. Iron founders had very little to do; the
men's wages had not been reduced, but many of them were out of employ, and
others working short time. In one foundry, where ten moulders were a
short time since employed, only one man and a boy were now at work.
Machine makers were represented as not having more than half of the hands
employed which they had two years since; one concern is still worse,
having only three at work instead of ninety, and an engine master who
formerly employed sixteen men, had now only one apprentice on the
premises. Reed makers, picker makers, rope and band twiners, and
bobbin turners, were partaking the general difficulty of the times, whilst
brick making was not more than half of what it was last season; many hands
in this branch had sailed for America; numbers of colliers had done the
same, and these departures accounted, in some degree, for the empty houses
so often visible. Seminaries for the instruction of youth and
children had, in some instances, become nearly deserted—one teacher, who
lately had a hundred scholars, had not now more than twenty; and another,
who should have been earning his two hundred pounds per annum, was getting
only after the rate of twenty pounds; all schools were more or less
affected by the bad times. Pawnbrokers were crowded up with articles
pledged by the poor; such quantities had never been taken in before in the
same space of time. Much of their best clothes and bedding had been
deposited long ago, and now they were in the habit of bringing their
meaner parts of dress for a little present aid. Handkerchiefs, caps,
pinafores, and aprons, they would now pledge for a sixpence or a shilling
"to carry on with," until something else occurred to sustain them for a
few days, after which their bits of clothing would again be tendered until
nothing else was left to dispose of. As no evil is entirely without
some good, it may be stated that the number of beer-shops is weekly
decreasing, and that a person who, a short time since, could have counted
six of those noisome dens, the "hush shops," can now only count one from
the same place. A shopkeeper in a large way said, "he now sold as
great a weight of tea and sugar in one and two pennyworths, as he some
years since sold weight of flour in two and three pound lots."
Nearly all his groceries were sold in such small quantities to the working
people, and they seldom asked for more than would just suffice for the
meal they were about to prepare. Flour was selling at from two
shillings and fourpence, to two shillings and sixpence per dozen; meal, at
one shilling and sixpence; bacon, at eight-pence the lb.; cheese, at
seven-pence to eight-pence the lb.; malt, at one shilling and elevenpence
to two shillings per peck; hops, at one shilling to one shilling and
fourpence the lb.; and butchers' meat, at seven-pence to eight-pence the
lb. Some of the manufacturers, particularly in the "above town"
district, were connected with provision shops, and expected their
workpeople to purchase at such shops. The system of letting houses
to the hands, whether they wanted them or not, was in some instances acted
upon by employers, who also took care to set the rents pretty high.
The dwellings of the working classes I observed to be
generally very clean; much more so than I had known them to be twenty
years ago. A great improvement was perceptible in Oldham, in this
respect; and now, I am persuaded they will bear comparison, by whole
street rows, to those of any houses in the county. The women and
children were cleanly attired, and seemed quite as healthy as other town
populations, and the men's shirt collars and outer clothes were in a
condition which entirely forbade the notion of their having sluttish wives
at home. It was evident that the poor people, though sorely pressed,
were struggling nobly with their adverse circumstances—that they were
fighting with a stout heart, and would not descend to rags and squalor,
however they might suffer from toil and hunger. A spirit of honest
manly and womanly pride had come over them, and however poor their
condition might be, but little of raggedness and filth was seen amongst
them. Even the aged and the trembling, and the destitute who stood
in the public office waiting for parochial relief, seemed to have put on
their best attire to come before their guardians, and their fellows in
The health of the factory workers appeared to be as good as
that of the general run of operatives similarly employed. Some of
the young people in the carding-rooms seemed to suffer from the close air
of the place, as was evinced by their sallow complexion and the hoarseness
of their voices; but in other parts of the factories, in the cooler and
loftier weaving shops, I found a fair proportion of as good-looking
youths, and of married persons, as would be met with in one spot, in the
country—they were healthy, and really well-dressed in every respect.
I remarked this particularly at a shop at Lyon Mill, where three hundred
looms were in motion in one room, and at another at Banktop Mill, near
Clarksfield, where perhaps one hundred and fifty looms were at work.
Such are the facts and observations which I now lay before the reader. I
present them without comment, and with but little arrangement, lest it
might be said that I am directing them to foregone conclusions, with
which, however, I have nothing to do. But it should be remarked, that the
factory operatives may be classed under three distinct heads, viz., those
who are in full employ, and are, consequently, in comfortable
circumstances,—those who are only partially employed, and are not so well
off as the former,—and those who are destitute of employ, and are,
therefore, in distress. The first class consists chiefly of young persons,
of both sexes, who support themselves, and contribute also towards the
support of other members of their families, where such aid is required,
and of young married persons in the prime of life; the second is composed
of persons whose strength and activity are on the wane, but whose good
character retains them in occasional notice and attendance about the
mills; and to the third class belong the sick, the crippled, the aged,
and the disorderly, the latter being kept out of the works lest their
example should contaminate others. It may
also be added, that the second class is receiving frequent augmentations
in consequence of the introduction of improved machinery, such as the
coupling of large mules or spinning frames, and the practice, (now
becoming very common,) of employing self-acting mules, which perform an
increased quantity of labour, at much less expense, and in less time than
manual labour can perform it.
ROBERT, THE WAITER.
I respected Robert, the waiter at Spooner's well known chop-house, and the
more so, because of a little trait of benevolence in which I knew he was
An elderly person of gentlemanly appearance had been in the habit during
several years, of regularly taking his dinner and wine at the place,
Robert generally attending on him. At length, after one of the money
panics, the gentleman, dropped his wine and took beer; and some time after
that he ceased taking beer, and asked for water.
At all times he was distant and taciturn, and now more so than before,
though he seemed grateful for any little extra attentions that were paid
It was not long ere the quality of his dinners underwent a change; from
the rarest and most costly dishes the place afforded, he had now come down
to plain beef or mutton; next to half a plate, and at length that was
substituted by a small plate of soup and bread.
For a long time his apparel betrayed no change of circumstances. His coat
was still fresh and of the newest cut, his hat retained its gloss, his
hair was still powdered, his watch guard and rings of gold were still
displayed, and his neck-kerchief and linen were of the
clearest, white, and most neatly plaited. But one by one these exteriors
of ease and competence disappeared. His coat became thread-bare, his hat denuded of its beaver, his
trinkets were not seen, his neck-kerchief was replaced by a faded stock,
and his linen, though clean, was evidently far worn, the wrist band had
lost its buttons, and the collar was loose from the gatherings. Still he
maintained his distant self respect; and when others were present, he
took his soup leisurely, and with the affected indifference of a well fed
person; but when alone, he was observed to devour it; and there could no
longer be a doubt that he was suffering from hunger. At length he began to
miss coming to the place for a day or two at once, and then he would step
in on the second or third day and have his small plate of soup. His nose
became sharp and pinched, his cheek bones protruded, his eyes sunken and
staring from their orbits; his lips hollow, and his look earnest and
cadaverous. He next gave over coming at all, but at dinner-hour he might
be seen, sometimes shivering near the spout, and at other times pacing
slowly past the door, when he would look in, stop a moment, as if to
inhale the savoury fumes and then walk away.
"I'm sure the old gentleman could like an invitation to dinner," said the
carver, as he stood cutting up, "But these are no times for charity,
except at home, and there are very good accommodations for such like in
Robert heard these remarks, but he took his tray and said nothing.
There was a young man dining in the room, whom Robert had known before he
came to the town, and he asked the young man's permission to invite a
gentleman in reduced circumstances to a little dinner, in his name, which
the young man instantly acceded to. Robert accordingly stepped out, and
told the old gentleman, that a gentleman within wished to speak with him.
The old man appeared taken by surprise, he looked enquiringly, as if he
suspected more than met his ear, and then, with his habitual politeness he
acceded, and followed the waiter.
The young man, who had got the cue, intimated that they could speak of
business after dinner, and pressed the old gentleman, meantime, to partake
a trifle of something. The latter acceded with evident satisfaction, and
after they had despatched their meal, the young man pretended to recollect
an urgent appointment, said he should be glad to see his guest
on another day, and departed. The old gentleman now strongly suspected
what was really the case,—that he had been invited for the purpose of
giving him a
dinner, without hurting his self-respect, and he felt grateful both for
the act and the motive. He went a second time, and continued to dine there
during the greater part of two months, Robert the waiter supplying the
funds, and his friend keeping the secret.
At last the old gentleman ceased coming, and soon after the young man
received a note requesting his attendance at the Royal Hotel. He went
there; it was dinner-hour, a choice repast was set out, and as he stood
wondering what all this could mean, his old friend of the chop-house
entered, and shaking him cordially by the hand, expressed his gratitude in
the warmest terms, and begged to have the pleasure of his company to
They dined, of course, and whilst taking wine afterwards, the old
gentleman gave his friend to know that he had come into the possession of
an independence; and expressed a determination to make an ample return for
the kindness experienced at his hands.
The young man, with a rare virtue above temptation, declared the truth;
how Robert the waiter had broached the plan to him, and afterwards
continued to pay for the refreshments, his own means, as he said, and
truly, being too limited to allow of his being generous.
Robert, the waiter, is now a gentleman by property, as he was before by
the ennobling virtues of humanity and generosity. The old gentleman,
besides giving him a fortune, has made him into his heir, and is spending
the evening of his days, at a pleasant little
box in the country, carefully and tenderly nursed by Robert and his
amiable wife, and amused by their prattling children.
Robert's friend was not forgotten; he soon after went into business on
his own account, and the integrity with which he set out, has marked the
whole of his career. He has consequently escaped the speculations and
wrecks of the times, and bids fair for becoming one of the leading
characters on change.
I knew Tom Woodford well; he was a decent, hardworking, unpretending
young fellow. He once applied for a situation in a Manchester warehouse;
it was a subordinate place to be sure, but he had been out of employ long,
and neither he, nor his poor old father had latterly had what they should
have had, so Tom would put up with any thing for the old man's sake.
"What religion are you of?" asked the master.
Tom, who was expecting being asked about goods, warehouse work, or
book-keeping, was rather taken unaware by this interrogation, but replied,
"that his religion was to do as much good as he could, and as little
"Very well!" said the master, "I like thy reply; there is only thee and
another young man for the place, and if I dont engage him I'll take thee; call again next saturday, and thou shall have a final answer."
Tom called again, but the place was engaged; the other young man was busy
packing up pieces. "I heard a very good account of thee," said the
master, "but on the whole I preferred him; he goes to the same place of
worship that I do."
Tom went home in a thoughtful mood, to his old father, and pulling out a
penny roll, and a little cheese which he had bought with his last
two-pence, he laid them on the table. "Take some," said the old man;
father," said Tom, "I have been with a friend to night, and have brought
that for you; eat it." The old man eat voraciously whilst it lasted; he
eat it all, and Tom went to bed without having broken his fast that day.
It was on one of the next nights of winter, when a cry of fire was heard
along the streets, and Tom Woodford was soon at the place. The flames had
spread through nearly the whole of the inside of the building; the engines
seemed to play in vain, and a few daring fellows only remained throwing
out burning pieces. Suddenly one was seen standing on a window sill, with
the books under his arm, which had been given up as consumed. "Tom
Woodford! Tom Woodford!" exclaimed a number of voices, "he'll be
lost, he'll be lost!" "Tom, Tom, come down!" shouted his old
grey-headed father, wildly rushing through the crowd. Tom seemed to bear
the voice, and waved his hand as if in token; at that moment the roof fell
in with a dreadful crash, carrying down the half-burnt floors; a red
glaring blaze rose to the
heavens, and there was a general cry of "poor fellow! poor brave lad!"
Tom was shortly after pulled out of one of the cellars, the books still in
his arms; one thigh broken; his hair was burned off his head; and his eyes
were scorched blind in their sockets. He was taken to the infirmary, and
every possible assistance was rendered, but he died in a few days.
The warehouse was the one at which he had applied for a situation; the
firm set up in another building, and they discharged the warehouseman whom
they had preferred to Tom, he having remained during the fire, at a safe
distance, uttering ejaculations, and imploring divine interposition.
"We do not disapprove of your religious feelings," said the master, "they are at all times proper, but on this occasion you should have prayed
About three weeks afterwards, a bier with a coffin upon it, covered by a
humble grey pall, borne by six lowly looking men, with threadbare cloaks
and faded scarfs, and followed by an official looking personage, went
slowly through the street. Some one had the curiosity to ask, "whose
funeral is that?" and the answer was, "Tom Woodford's father."
The old man was never well after that dreadful night. He became delirious,
and the last words he uttered were, "Tom! Tom! come down."
WALKS AMONGST THE WORKERS.
HEYWOOD is a large and modern village, in the
township of Heap, the parish of Bury, the magisterial division of
Middleton, and about eight miles northwest of Manchester. The
township is near two miles in length, one and a half in breadth, and
comprises about two thousand two hundred and forty statute acres. It
is bounded on the north by the township of Birklecum-Bamford, on the south
by those of Pilsworth and Unsworth, on the west by that of Bury, and on
the east by the townships of Castleton and Hopwood. Heywood has but
recently come into note as one of the largest and most populous villages
in the county of Lancaster; for which advancement it is indebted to the
mines of excellent coal in the townships of Bamford and Hopwood, and to
its industry in the production of manufactures. Forty-five years ago there
was not probably a foundry, a machine-maker's shop, nor a cotton factory
in the place—that of Makeant mill (commenced by old Sir Robert Peel)
excepted. It was then inhabited by a few hundreds of hand-loom
fustian weavers and manufacturers: it has now the appearance of a busy and
populous manufacturing town, having several cattle fairs yearly, but no
market. The number of houses, according to the last census return,
is two thousand nine hundred and fifty-two—viz: occupied, two thousand six
hundred and ninety-one; empty, two hundred and fifty-nine; and in
building, two. The number of cotton factories, and of woollen and falling
mills, is, according to the same return, fortyone—of which thirty-one are
at present working full time, three are working four days a week, and
seven are standing unemployed. The amount of population in the
township is fourteen thousand eight hundred and forty-seven—viz: seven thousand and
seventy-one males, and seven thousand seven hundred and seventysix
From enquiries and observations made by the writer on the spot, it would
seem that the working classes in the township of Heap, and those in the
village of Heywood in particular, are by no means in so destitute, a
condition as the operatives of other districts are currently represented
to be. Here (at Heywood) a public officer states, "That the rates are
certainly somewhat difficult to collect, but that the poor are not yet in
that low, starving condition, of which so much is heard at other places;
that a new rate of one thousand five hundred and fifty-four pounds has
been laid, and it must be collected by the twenty-fifth of March, 1842;
that there are no arrears of rate, for the churchwardens and head
overseers will not allow a new rate until the old one has been collected
or accounted for; and that about seventy persons only have been summoned
for rates during the year, and those were cases arising as much from a
spirit of reluctance, as inability to pay." The system of the collector of
rates in this township deserves notice, and is worthy of imitation. He
calls on the working people on Saturdays after they have received their
wages, and before they are entirely disbursed; and he generally receives a
trifle, more or less, towards keeping them clear in the book. Shopkeepers
and other tradesmen he makes a point to call upon on Tuesdays; and the
large ratepayers, the manufacturers and landowners, on Wednesdays. And
thus, by an undeviating method, affording the poor opportunities to pay
when they have money, he keeps his book clear; and at the close of the
year he can say, "There are no arrears of rates."
Most of the manufacturers pay their workpeople fortnightly; one or two pay
weekly; and at one mill it is found more convenient to pay for the work on
the same day on which it is finished. From the information the writer
received, he would suppose the average earnings of card-room hands to be
seven shillings weekly; those of piecers, at six to eight shillings; those
of weavers, from nine to twelve shillings, according to their number of
looms; and those of spinners, at twenty shillings clear; supposing all to
full time. One manufacturer, a most respectable referee, supposed the
average weekly earnings of the whole of his hands (and he employed eight
hundred) one with another, would be twelve shillings a week; at a rough
guess he calculated that the average weekly earnings of the factory
population of the township, when in work, would be about ten shillings per
head per week; but if we suppose nine shillings, we shall be pretty
safely within the mark.
It is only recently that the three mills working short time have commenced
doing so. One of them is in the twist line only, and another is in the
manufacture of light cloths. It is probable that three out of every four
lbs. of cotton brought to Heywood are made into fustians, which is a
branch of manufacture which has felt less of the depression of trade, than
perhaps has any other of the cotton fabric; three-fourths of the hands
have, therefore, with slight interruptions, been kept at work, and, as was
observed by one party, "so long as a family are in employment they know
little of distress." "The workers," observed the same person, "have not
yet begun to feel the pressure of actual distress; the shopkeepers and
others of the middle class are more embarrassed; and next to them are the
manufacturers, whose credit and capital are at stake; many of these
classes are in reality distressed; for though they do not experience want
of necessaries, they feel distressed by the badness of trade, and the
consequent involvement of their money transactions.
Most of the shopkeepers, it was stated, sold their goods on credit, and
took pay by instalments; when a family was thrown out of employment, or
partially so, the payments would cease, unless work was again obtained
speedily. In that case the debt would be worth very little, factory hands
being in the habit of removing to other places, and their habitations
being rarely so well furnished as those of operatives working at their own
A person, well acquainted with the condition of the operatives, informed
the writer, that many of those out of work were in a most distressed
condition, both as it regarded their food, clothing, and bedding; and,
that so numerous were the applications for relief at the residence of a
wealthy and benevolent tradesman, that the lady of the house was quite at
a loss how to comply with their solicitations. A schoolmaster said his
receipts this year had been so much as fifteen shillings per week less
than the year previous. He described the condition of his neighbours as
very bad; he had from sixty to seventy very fine children of both sexes in
the school, all of whom were no less than well dressed, very cleanly in
their apparel, and, with one or two exceptions, healthy in their looks;
and, without doubt, well fed. On this being remarked, he said they were
mostly the children of persons above the common level of working men, such
as book-keepers, overlookers, and the better sort of workmen. The children
of another school were,
however, going to dinner soon after, and the writer observed that they
were about as good-looking as those he had just left.
The habitations of the factory hands were of a slighter build than those
which the writer had noticed at Crompton and Oldham; they seemed to have,
been run up quickly, and for present need almost; they were not in general
so well finished in the interior. In one of these houses a working family
were just finishing their dinner of butcher's meat and potatoes. They all
seemed to be in good health, well clothed, and cleanly, and two
good-looking young girls were in robust health. The floors were clean, the
walls white, and the housewife had gotten her week's clothes well washed
and hung to dry on lines across the house. They gave the same account of
the condition of the which unemployed, as well as the short-time workers,
others had done, saying they were very much distressed, and many families
were actually starving. Their own condition, they candidly acknowledged,
was much better. They were five of a family, and three
were workers. One of the daughters earned eight shillings a week at a
carding frame, and another daughter and the father, got seven shillings
a week each at steam weaving. Out of this they paid one shilling and a
penny per week for coal, two shillings and sixpence for rent; and soap and
candles could not be less than nine-pence per week, so they would have
four shillings and fourpence to pay for these extras, leaving them
seventeen shillings and eight-pence for meat and
clothing. This may be considered a fair account so far as they were
concerned; but it must be remarked that the two weavers were working
Perhaps the best opportunity of noticing a mixed crowd of factory hands is
at noon, when they are going from, or returning to, their employ. The
latter was the case in the present instance, and the writer does say,
that, at Heywood, he was both surprised and pleased on beholding the
hands, of all descriptions, going along the main street, in cheerfulness
and civility. He recollects a time when such would hardly have been the
case. The young lads were, moreover, cleanly and well clad; there was not
a ragged jacket in the whole lot, and they all wore good warm wooden
clogs. The girls were as well dressed, and as cleanly,
or more so, if it were possible. There was not a torn petticoat nor gown
to be seen, (for they all wore gowns) nor one dim or sluttish. All were
neat and becoming. It was raining smartly at the time, and the girls in
consequence, were all covered, either with stout cotton napkins tied round
their heads, or with good woollen shawls, or else they carried umbrellas,
and not one of these latter were either broken or shabby. A very pleasing
and becoming pride, the pride of decency, appeared to be commonly felt and
acted upon by the young people of both sexes. So much for the factory
Blacksmiths were earning twenty-four shillings per week, when at full
work, but many were working short
time. A master, however, allowed that there were other places at which the
smith trade was doing worse. Moulders in iron works were getting their
usual wages of thirty shillings a week, when doing full time; mechanics,
turners, and filers, would have twenty-four shillings, but all these
branches were often on short time. Fustian cutters, of whom a considerable
number reside in one part of the village (Goodwin-lane) were all doing
very well; many of them would probably earn their fifteen shillings a week
regularly, and some of them so much as twenty shillings.
On the whole, we may conclude, that, as at other places, those of the
population only are distressed, who are in want of employment, and
according to the estimate of an intelligent person, they were here about
one-sixth of the whole number. Nor were all such in the extremity of
destitution, but some were much better, some much worse off, than were the
bulk of those out of employ. Of the number of factory hands there was not
any account in the town, and therefore, for the present, the number out of
employ, or partially so, can only be approached by a guess, which, in the
absence of sufficient data, it were best to decline.
"WEER i'th name o' owd Sooti, hasto fund that four legg'd fiend?" said
one, of two ill-looking fellows who were carousing in the tap-room of the
inn, as the land- lord led Murky through, to consign him to the stable.
"I'm lucky, am not I?" said the host.
"Theawrt olis lucky," said the man, drawing his pipe from his mouth, and
looking closely at the dog; "hooas stown him for the?"
"He favvors one at went fro Squire Farrinton's o' Leylond; a tramp stoole
him, an' they follo'd him into Yorshur, an' gan him three months at
Preston," said the other fellow.
"Yon yung gentlemon at's just set off, has made me a present on him," said
the landlord. "He seems to think he's good for nowt, but I know whether
he is or not; his breed shows that: did'n yo ever see sitch o meawth," he
continued, showing the dog's teeth, somewhat carefully.
The first speaker then laid hold of Murky, and patting him, sang:
"Neaw my dogg gen thy dogg,
I'll bet-te, wot-to will
At my dogg, nor thy dogg
Will sooner hunt, an' kill.
Aye, my dogg's a shy dogg,
Whene'er abroad he goes;
No high-dogg is my dogg,
For deawn he lays his nose.
Back thy dogg, gen my dogg,
On that I know of him,
'At my dogg, for thy dogg,
Shall either hunt or swim.
No dry dogg, is my dogg,
No weatur doth he fear;
Nor shy dogg is my dogg,
Whene'er the game is near."
"He's a bonny un," said one. "He's a worryer," said the other; "wot yung
gentlemon wur it at gan him the? which road is he gone?" he asked.
"He's a stranger to me, an' toth' country too, I think," said the
landlord; "but he's a gentleman, I'm sure, an' no dogg stealer; he eawt wi'
his purse and paid like a king, an' gan meth' dogg beside."
"I dare say he's one o' thoose Lunnuners, at's comn o'er toth' great
heawse at Morningaze," said one.
"I dunno kno hooa he is," said the landlord, "nor weer he comes fro."
"Weer wur he gooin to?" asked the other.
"He sed heer gooin to Brimbeck, an' I sent him th' road o'er th'
moor-edge, and byth' cloof, an' byth' Cudless, an' th' Gronny-Cote; he'll
have a fine treawnce afore he gets o'erth' Slip-brigg to neet," said the
landlord; "but he's a swipper chap, an' seemt to to think nothin' oth'
"Why, he'll ha to goo byth' Warlocks, an byth' Glyemin-side," said one of
"That's just the road," said the landlord, as he lead poor Murky off to
his place of durance.
"Mun us try eawr luck to-neet?" said one to the other, when they were
alone. "He mun goo o'er th' Teemin," said the other, "an' we con be theer afore him."
"That's the place," said the first, whose name was Blackstrap; "agreed
too," said his companion, Nudger, but—in a lower tone—mind te, we'n goo
share an' share alike this time; theaw munno doo asto did when theaw
tumblt that owd felley with' spade aces, yed furst, froth' top oth'
"Howd the blab-chops," said the other; "an' ifto will jabber like a
un-rest, tawk wi' that white woman at theaw sees folloin' the every time
theaw comes byth' Brim-weatur. Eh! theaw doekin!"
"Well," said his companion, "that jobs done, an' its o' no use moythurin
one's mind obeawt it. I'll
never speak obeawt th' owd mon no moor, if theawl not mention th' woman;
so cut thee off, eawt at th' front dur, an' I'll go reawnd byth' Gank, an'
o'erta the lung afore thur con be ony business dun."
Nudger immediately went out, whilst Blackstrap stopped and smoked out his
pipe, and then going into the yard, accosted the landlord, saying he would
give him five shillings for the dog if he would keep him till morning.
"I wudno tak twice five," said the host.
"Twice five!" said the man in affected surprise, "theaw man be jokin. Come, thea'll let me hav him to-morn, an I'll be summut to drink beside."
"He's no common stuff," said the landlord, opening the stable door
cautiously, and calling, "heer, Murky! heer!"
Murky did not make his appearance. "Murky, Murky," again called the
landlord; "suss, dogg, suss;" and then he looked into the stall where he
had tied him up.
"By G—, he's off," he said; "he's gone yed an' tail shoyar away." "He's
bitten th' rope i'teaw," said Blackstrap; he's jumpt through th'
"He's a devil," said the landlord; "he's a devil's imp, goo wheer he will:
heawever theers one comfort; he cost me nowt."
"That dus mend it, sartinly," said the fellow, "but iv oather me or th'
Nudger leetn on him, we'n brim, him the back."
"Wheer is owd Nudger?" asked the landlord.
"Oh, he leaft me;" was the reply; "he had to goo obeawt o pig killin', as
far asth' Grimdin, an' he sed he endue com back to-neet, but he'll be heer ith' mornin."
"Curse the dogg," said the landlord, as he went towards the house.
"Aye! an' I'll say amen to that, iv I leet on him," said the fellow, as
he lounged carelessly past the corner of the stable, whilst the landlord
went into the house, in no good humour, having a suspicion that Nudger had
stolen the dog.
Whilst ascending the hill which had been pointed out to him from the
weaver's cottage, the way-farer beard a kind of whine at his side, and his
dog Murky leaped up, and licked his hand, and straight went on in his old
abstracted way, trotting beside his master. He was at a loss to know how
the dog had got away, or whether, as was most probable, his new owner,
taking a second thought, had also turned him out as worthless; however, he
made the poor brute welcome, patted him on the head, and resolved, as he
had evinced attachment, to observe his ways more closely in future.
On gaining the summit of the hill, after leaving the cottage, the stranger
stopped and listened; but he heard not any noise of a water-fall, nor was
any light visible, save a solitary one which seemed to be on another
higher hill at a distance from where he stood, and betwixt which and
himself there appeared to be a
deep valley. He therefore began to descend, and, at length came to a
water, but as it was too broad to leap ever, and too still to be shallow,
he sought for the bridge which the man had spoken of, and wandered a long
time up and down the, bank, but could not find any passage. At length he
resolved to swim, and was about to put his purpose in execution, when the
sound of a foot arrested his attention, and the next moment he was felled
to the ground by a blow which rendered him powerless, but not senseless. Trying to recover himself, he rolled over on his back, and the same moment
a knee was upon his breast, and a hand on his throat, throttling him with
a deadly grasp. He tried to tear the hand away, but could not; "blast
the, deliver," said the villain, "or I'll tear the weasand eawt." The
young man tried to lock the villain's foot in his, that he might turn him
over, but he could not, and he soon found that he had an old wrestler to
deal with. The villain did not strike, he was doing his work better, by
taking the breath from his victim, who began to dread being throttled till
senseless, and then murdered by having his brains kicked out, and he
determined for the last resource of a desperate conflict; he felt in his
pocket for his knife, when a short growl caught his ear, and his faithful
dog seizing the hand which held his master's throat, sent in his teeth
until they were heard to craunch upon the bones. At the same time the
villain received a well directed blow betwixt the eyes, and his victim
locking his legs, rolled him down by
his side, and they both sprung to their feet. The traveller, in turn
sought to fell the robber with his crabstick, for the conflict had
rendered him furious; he aimed a blow at the villain's head, but it
struck an arm, and it fell powerless to his side, when, uttering a cry of
pain, he turned and fled, followed by Murky, whose sore lacerations evoked
sundry curses, as the villain disappeared in the darkness.
"Wots op," demanded a rough voice at the travellers side, as the last
scene had just closed. The traveller cast his eye upon him a moment, and
sent in a blow which floored the interrogator like a log. "I'm up," he
said,"and thou'rt down."
"Hell gripe thee," said the fellow, and coiling like a serpent, he clasped
the travellers legs, and he rolled down on the ground.
"Om not alone," said the robber, as he endeavoured to rise uppermost. "I've others at
"So have I," said the young man, "but I can manage thee myself," and
rising to his feet, and stepping back, he dealt one of the most
satisfactory kicks that ever was heard to sound on the ribs of a
"Nudger! Nudger!" shouted the fellow.
"That's Nudger," said the traveller, giving him a smasher with his fist.
At that moment Murky seized the villain by the thigh, and the fellow
crying out "Oh! curse that dog!" turned like his companion, and
disappeared behind a stone wall.
Murky would have followed, but was held by his master, who had some
expectations of a combined attack, and felt sure now of thrashing both, if
they came together, but they did not return.
He patted his brave dog, who stood panting at his side. His conscience
now, more than ever upbraided him for having abandoned so noble a being to
strangers: he caressed him again; called him his true, his priceless
friend; and vowing never more to forsake him, they went side by side along
the bank of the stream, until Murky stood still and whined, when his
master stooping, saw a tree lying across the water, with a slender
hand-rail attached, and judging this to be the promised bridge, he and his
faithful companion went over.
AT that time there lived near the place, a very worthy man named
Christopher Staidley. He occupied a farm under Squire Lookout, as they
called him, who was the principal in the great firm of Lookout and Son,
India merchants in London. The elder Mr. Lookout, almost constantly
resided in the capital; the younger one, who was said to be a little wild,
was at present travelling somewhere abroad; and the management of the
property was confided to Mr. Reacho'er, a south country attorney, who with
his family, lived at the old hall, at Morningaze.
Besides farming, Mr. Staidley was an extensive manufacturer, and employed
at his mill, and in the country round, as weavers, about one thousand
hands. His conduct to all with whom he had concerns, was such as commanded
more than attention and confidence. The rich respected him, because,
besides being an agreeable man himself, and well informed, he was as
rich as the best of them, gave parties at his house, and was strictly
religious, although from certain strong notions of his own, which he
followed up, he was hardly liked by the clergy. With him religion was
"Not a thing of forms and creeds,
But of good and noble deeds."
The poor loved, almost adored him; for to them he was at all times, a
counsellor, a father, and a friend.
He was upwards of fifty years of age, and a bachelor; in stature he was
of the middle height; of mild and prepossessing appearance, though of
upright and firm bearing; his hair was dark, rather long, and parted
above two calm, clear eyes, which seemed to comprehend without
questioning; his features were pale, and their expression was one of
His sister Edda, was considerably younger than him. She had all the
intelligence of his look, but with it was mingled a thoughtfulness which
seemed to arise from a constant endeavour to regulate emotions which could
not be suppressed. A tender, but severe beauty dwelt upon her features,
indicating that though mind subdued melancholy, there was still less
tolerance of frivolity there. Her eye was darkly clear; her step was still
light, her complexion a healthy pale; her hair was long, glossy,
luxuriant, and black as night, save a very few silver threads that had
begun to appear; in stature she was rather above the common
height; her dress was such as might be expected on such a woman, neither
oldly fashioned, nor newly fancied; but, without being strikingly
singular, it was conducive to health, neatness, and womanly embellishment. Such was Edda Staidley at thirty; what she had been at fifteen, the gifted
only may imagine.
A fair being, in the fifth year of her age, whom we shall call Lucy, was
Miss Staidley's young companion; she was an orphan, as was commonly
supposed, on the mother's side at least, and Mr. Staidley had adopted her
as his own; not less from a charitable feeling, than with a view to
divert his sister from reflections which at that time had impaired her
health and threatened her life. Lucy was a blessing in the house of Mr. Staidley; her innocent and affectionate attentions were at all times
soothing and agreeable to her benefactors; the sweetness of her
disposition made into friends all who approached her, and when she played,
as she sometimes would, on the sward before the door, or laded the crystal
clear water from the well, her hair all aloose, down to the girdle of her
white vest; when at such times she went forth, and the sun looked on her
locks of pale gold, she might have been taken for an immortal being, the
genius of the place.
An elderly lady, aunt Frances, or anty, as Mr. and Miss Staidley sometimes
called her, was also one of the parlour circle. She was their maternal
aunt, the widow of a merchant, who having become reduced, died leaving his
wife and a daughter a small annuity
only to subsist upon. She was of a venerable age, and accomplished manners; and besides the value of her agreeable conversation, emanating from a
mind chastened by adversity, she both gave and derived pleasure from the
instructions and accomplishments which she imparted to the lovely orphan. When conversing with the child, tears would often gush into her eyes, and
trickle down her cheeks, as if the recurrence of some agonizing reflection
harrowed her feelings.
"Why do you weep?" the child would say, wiping her tears and kissing her
cheek. "Why do you weep, my anty, my dear anty? cease weeping and I will
be a good girl, I will indeed; I will be your own good Lucy."
The old lady would look on her with inexpressible tenderness; and then
rising and hurrying to her chamber, would remain shut up some time, until
probably, having sought comfort where alone it can be found, she would at
last come forth, serenely thoughtful, and resume her duties.
The other inmates of the house, were a tidy, neat handed servant maid,
clad in mob-cap, a striped bedgown, and a linsey-wolsey kirtle; Robin o'
Dolls was cowman and carter on the farm; a fine Newfoundland dog, and a
cat or two, were favourites with the family; in the yard were a pretty
numerous colony of ducks, geese, and fowls, whilst a young donkey,
sometimes stolidly grave, anon as playful as a kitten, took a wisp
of hay, or a lick, wherever he found them, and made acquaintance of all
The house which Mr. Staidley occupied was a good sized, substantial stone
building, with square chimnies, steep roofs, and gables, with low,
mullioned windows, and porch, as in the olden time. It stood on the top of
a pasture, to which a lane, darkened by hazels, white-thorns, and
rose-briars, led up a slope on the left. On the east and south of the
green knoll, were precipitous dells, in the calm shelter of which the pine
and the yew enrobed themselves in their most brilliant green; the ash,
elm, and beech were ranged higher on the slopes, whilst the proud oak,
emblem of the indomitable, waved above all, battling with the winds, and
defying the storms. Comely sprouts, and matted tendrils were the
undergrowth of the place, whilst protected by them, grew wild flowers, and
scarce herbs, strewn by the hand of nature, and seldom disturbed by the
hand of man.
Behind the house, in the nook of a fine meadow, and garlanded with
honeysuckles and rose trees, glimmered a little bright well, paven with
white stones, from which, a rill trickled over cresses and sweet herbs,
until it tumbled into a trout-stream, as yet uncontaminated; and rising
again in bubbles like silver pearls, went murmuring away.
On the north and west were rising grounds, covered with rich herbage,
where the primrose and the snowdrop would often peep forth at Christmas. The early
spring was first to look down there, and the sunbeams so often traversed
that spot, and seemed to linger so long, that, from the earliest
settlement of our Saxon ancestors, the place had been known by the name of
The interior of the dwelling was not less characteristic of the good
English taste of the master and mistress, than were the arrangements out
of doors. The reader may imagine a number of rather low, but spacious
flagged rooms, fitted up in a style more calculated for usefulness than
elegance. Every thing, from the floor to the roof, is scrupulously clean,
with walls and ceilings of shining white: a gun or two and some spits
hang above a massive oaken mantle tree; a fire of coal and wood, is
spurting from a large clean grate; in the recess of the chimney, some
covered mugs, containing cream, are arranged on one side; in each nook is
a spacious oaken chair, one a little modernized, by having a cushion on
the seat, and a foot-stool before it. In the window, balsams and myrtle
are growing, and in a vase of special form, is a plant, with broad,
red-streaked leaves, pearl-shaped, and a long trailing, languid flower, of
blood-scarlet, called "Love lies a bleeding." Beneath the window behold a
dark oak table, polished like a mirror, with carved oaken chairs to match
at each end; other stout seats, and a long-settle, or oaken couch, are
placed at intervals; a large dining table; a spacious shelf with
earthenware and another stored with pewter utensils as bright as
silver, are on one side of the room. In a dry corner are displayed various
articles of brass and copper, all very clean; from the joists and rafters
above, depends a large flake stored with excellent oat cakes, homebaked; a
tub of ripe ale-wort is humming on a stool, whilst the carcase of a fine
hog, well-salted, floured, and hung up, has become excellent bacon. A
bridle or two, and a couple of saddles, neatly covered from the dust, hang
against the wall, and we may perceive by the stirrup that one of them is a
lady's saddle; whilst reins, bridles, hedging-bills, mittens, and other
articles are variously disposed. In another room shall be seen a piano, a
violin, in a green cloth case; some music books; a set of mahogany
drawers with an escrutoire; a mirror in an old fashioned frame of gnarled
chestnut, or ebony; stout oaken chairs, and other articles to match; here
also may be found a book-case, containing the Bible; the Book of Common
Prayer; the Whole Duty of Man; Robinson Crusoe; Thomas a Kempis; Henry,
Earl of Moreland; Milton's Paradise Lost, and Miscellaneous Poems;
Shakespeare's Works; the Pilgrim's Progress; Pope's Iliad and Odyssey;
Bunyan's Holy War; Culpepper's Herbal; a true History of the Lancashire
Witches; Watts' Hymns; a book on the Diseases of Cattle, and many other
useful and instructive publications.
The bed-rooms too are furnished after the same fashion; the windows are
thrown open, the breeze
sweeping freely through; the air perfectly pure; the floors clean swept;
the furniture without a particle of dust; whilst the beds, though not of
the softest, are covered with milk white sheets; warm woolly blankets;
stout woollen rugs in winter, and printed covers, or bleached counterpanes
Then in the buttery are beef in salt, and pork in pickle; mugs of
home-made butter, both fresh and salted down; a cask or two of flour; a
fine cheshire cheese; an old ark stored with meal, and a decent stock of
soap, candles, and groceries. In the cellars are sundry stone bottles of
ale, several sorts of home-made, and some foreign wines and spirits; kept
more as cordials, or for a sick neighbour, or a stranger friend than the
use of the family.
Let the reader picture to his mind a house such as has been described, and
stored with every thing necessary to plain, homely comfort; that comfort
which, in fact, is known only in England; and which Englishwomen alone
know how to produce and conserve, and he will have an idea of the interior
of Mr. Staidley's house at Glyemin-side.
1. " A Monthly Magazine for the Many,
illustrative of the System of Association upon Christian Principles, for
the production and distribution of Wealth, and the Physical, Mental, and
Spiritual improvement of Mankind." Metcalf, Grocer's Hall Court,