AFTER the traveller had crossed the water, as already narrated, and had
walked some distance, he became more collected, and then felt for the
first time, that one knee was painful, and that he had a wound on his forehead; but he did not consider them of much consequence, as, with the
exception of a trifling halt, he was able to walk pretty well when the
road was perceptible. Murky he found to be an excellent leader; with his
nose almost constantly on the ground, he soon discovered a path, and
traced it without stopping, except when occasionally he waited for his
master to come up, and with a faint whine invited him to follow. He
therefore gave himself up to the guidance of his faithful companion, and
followed him a considerable distance by the side of the stream, in the
contrary direction from that they had before come. Afterwards Murky led
him by a narrow path over several inclosures, next by the side of a wood,
where the bray of an ass saluted his ears, and in a minute they were in a
lane, and in company with a laden donkey, and a pedlar who was driving
"It's a dark night, sir," said the driver.
"It is, indeed;" replied the traveller.
"Get on, Billy," said the driver, giving his beast a tap with his open
hand; "get on, and let us have company whilst we can."
"That you may easily," said the traveller, "for you see I don't walk very
"Ah, quick enough for the road, and the night," observed the driver, "it's not good to be in too great a hurry;
'more haste and worse speed,' as
the old saying goes."
"But before I go much further, I should like to be quite certain as to
what town or place we shall find at the end of our walk," said the
"Don't you know we are on the road to Brimbeck? Are you a stranger in the
"Not properly speaking a stranger;" said the traveller; "I have been in
this part before, but it is so long ago, that I am not certain as to where
"Oh! you will find that out, if you will have a little patience," said the
pedlar, "you will see the lights of Brimbeck ere long."
"I should think you are not a native of Lancashire," observed the
"No. I am from Staffordshire," said the man; "I was born, I believe, at Stoke-on-Trent."
"And do you sell pots?"
"I deal in many things, sir; a few pots, an umbrella or so, in wet weather:
sometimes I tinker a bit, make swaps, or sell a little Sheffield ware."
"And you contrive to make a pretty snug living for yourself and your
donkey?" queried the traveller.
"Why we can hardly call it a snug living," said the pedlar, "though
compared with the living that some humans and their brutes get, it is a
snug one. We are up early and late you see to go our journeys; we are out
in all weathers; we stand all chances; we call on all sorts of people,
good, bad, and indifferent, and we find but few of the first; we wait at
the doors of all sorts of dwellings, we encounter all kinds of company,
drunk and sober, brutal and civilized, learned and ignorant, ragged and
genteel, mean and honourable, hospitable and penurious. Aye! some would
live and let live; give a man a chance of making a crust for himself, or
a wisp for his poor beast; whilst others are voracious! they are
ravenous-mad, sir, for gain; they can never have enough; they would suck
in, myself, ass, panniers, old bones and all, so they could but, 'get
something.' Oh; but theirs
is a weary life; I would not change mine for it. No nor do I think Billy
would change with them either."
"You have a decent opinion of your donkey, then?"
"Billy, sir, knows as well as myself, when he has to do with a human
brute, with a brutal minded person
I mean; he knows, sir, a soft hand from a hard one; a pat an the back
from a kick of the belly; a kind word from an unkind one; he knows all
the doors where he gets a crust of bread; and though he don't pass
compliments, I have no doubt but he is as thankful as those who palaver
and make French bows; aye, aye, the poor dumb creature knows his friends,
and I believe he respects them."
"I should suppose that you stand well in his favour," said the traveller.
"Why, I do now and then hit him, but only when he's lazy, and that's not
often;" said his master. He fares almost as well as we ourselves do, sir;
he eats of the same bread—for the children will give him their
crusts,—he has as good a straw bed as I have, we give him boil'd tatoes,
and take him in summer into the lanes, to the green grass, and in winter
he lies indoors with us, and we make him warm mashes for his supper, and I
don't know what more we could do for
him. Aye, he knows his friends, sir; once I swapped him at Turton fair,
to a coal-man, and the morning after, before day-break, what should we
hear but a loud hee haw at our door. "That's our Billy, said I, jumping out of bed;" "it
never can be Billy," said my wife; "but it is, said I, I'll pound it;" and
sure enough, when I opened the door, there stood he the poor brute, all
miry, and as wet as if he had swum a pit: Come in, Billy, said I, and he
gave one of his low grunts—as he will when he's pleased—just as
much as to say, "Master, I am here again." Come in, Billy, said I, and
came in, and the children all got up—there was no keeping them in
bed—and they made a fire, and gave him bits of bread, and he lay down
amongst them on the hearth, and Billy and the children were as happy as
"We'll never part with him again," said my wife, "I have parted with
him, said I, he's sold, and I dare say the man will soon be here about
him." "Well, let him have his own again," said she, "and give him a
shilling or two for a rue-bargain; we'll not let Billy
go again." And so it was like to be, for you see, she would have her own
way; and when the coal-man came for him, which he did soon, he was about
to lay a merciless stick on him, but I said, hold! hold, friend! till
I've had a word or two with you; come, sit down, and he did so; and so,
in the end, it was settled, and he led his old ass off, with two shillings
extra in his pocket, and Billy has ever since been in our family."
"It's greatly to your credit that you behave kindly to the poor beast,"
said the traveller, "and more so that you cultivate the same feelings
amongst your children; how many have you?"
"We have four," said the pedlar; "and though they are but rudely clad,
and coarsely fed—that is coarsely, as they call it now a-days,—they get
meat enough, and have all good health, and their common senses, thank God!"
"Those are great blessings," said the traveller, "though but seldom
thought of as such."
"Aye! that's what I sometimes say to our neighbour weavers," observed the
pedlar, "when they'r grumbling about every thing under heaven except
themselves. I tell them not to look so much on the dark side of things: I
tell them to cast their thoughts around, and try to reckon up all the good
they enjoy, and make the most of it, instead of being eternally brooding
over what they have not. Why Sam O' Ned's, the other day, was croaking as
usual about the distress, and saying, "there were none that worked for
their living, but were badly off." "Why now, Sam," said I, "to begin with
thee, thou'rt not badly off; thou talks about what thou does not
understand; thou'rt not badly off, I tell thee."
He said he was, and asked how I could prove to the contrary?
"Well," I said, "thou hadst a breakfast before thou left home?" he said he
had; "and thou wilt have a dinner, I'll be bound?" he said he should;
"and thou wilt have a supper, when thou gets home?" allowed; "and thou
hast a roof to cover thee, and a bed to sleep in, mayhap?" he said he
had. "Well, and I'll be sworn, thou art as well dressed, as is many an
Irish land-owner on a sunday; thou hast a decent cap on thy head, a coat
without hole or patch on thy back, trowsers the same, stockings and shoes
good enough to carry thee across England; and to my own knowledge, for I
see it, thou hast a good shirt—nearly new—next thy skin; what in the
name of goodness is being well off, if thou art badly off?"
"Being well off," he said, "is being like those folks there, who are
riding i'th omnibus; have not I as much right to ride as they have?" and
then he began cursing great folks, as he called them.
"Thou hast," I said, "and thou may ride if thou'lst pay." Just then we
were entering Toilington, and there sat a weaver at his jack loom, plying
his shuttle like a machine, for it never ceased, and it flew almost as
quick as thought; "look at that poor fellow," I said, and we stopped,
and looked down through his cellar window, and there he sat, as white as
a boil'd stewbone, as gaunt as a gre-hund, and as ragged as a scarecrow;
working with hand and foot as yernstfully as if he were weaving by the
mile, and death were on the road behind him, and the match were for life. "Look at him," I said, "there is one, who compared with thee, is badly off
indeed! But what wouldst thou say if he were to come up here, and curse
thee because thou hast a better coat on than he has; if he were to meet
thee as thou returns, and abuse thee because thou hast earned more money
than he can? What wouldst thou think of him, Sam?"
"I should think he was very unreasonable, to be sure," said Sam.
"Then never let me hear thee again reflect upon people, who are a
little better clothed, and have a little
more money in their pockets than thou hast. But let us go down and hear
what this poor fellow says about his condition. And so Sam and me went
down, and I said, "hallo, my good man, how do you do this morning?" and
he said, "pretty well, thank you, I hope you are the same;" and I said,
"why I'm pretty well at present, but this neighbour of mine complains
sadly; he says he's very badly off." And with that the poor weaver gave
him a look which I thought would have doubled him up.
"Badly off, indeed!" said the weaver; "that man badly off! well, to
be sure, he looks as if he were. I thought I was badly off till this
morning; cause if my shuttle runs from monday to saturday, I can't lay
anything by at the week's end, and sometimes I am short, do whatever I
will; yes, I thought I was badly off, but I don't think so now."
"And what made you alter your mind?" asked Sam.
"Come this way, and I'll shew you," was the reply; and with that he
jumped off his loom, and went out at the back door, and we followed him. He led us into a lone back street, where sat a grey-haired, venerable
woman, shaking with palsy, and almost blind. The place was very humbly
furnished, but cleanly enough; and the old woman had a little fire in the
grate, over which she was endeavouring to warm her shaking hands.
"How are you, Nanny?" asked our conductor.
"Why as weel as can be expected," said the old woman; "th' neighbours
are very good! very good! one sent me her tea leaves, and another a bit
of sugar, an' I've had a breakfast, thank God! an' th' o'erseer has been,
and I expect something will be ordered for us this afternoon."
"I'm glad to hear it," said our conductor; "I think it's time something
were done for you."
"It's happen all for the best," she said, "we cannot tell; we must wait
the Lord's will, using our utmost endeavours in the meantime."
The rattle of a chain sounded up stairs, and soon after we heard a low
moan. "Come this way," said our conductor, and we followed him into the
chamber, where we found a young woman, her eldest daughter, chained and
raving mad, on one side; and her youngest daughter, delirious with fever,
in a bed on the other side of the chamber.
We came out of the house, and Sam looked at me. "This is not all," said
the weaver; "that old woman, who has not a tear left to shed, lost two
sons in battle; a third dishonoured himself by desertion; his sister went
mad when she heard of it; and you see the rest. Now this is what I call
being badly off," said the weaver; and with that he went into his cellar,
shut the door, and the same instant the shuttle was again in motion.
"I'll tell thee what, Sam!" I said; "it is not because thou art really
distressed, that thou grumbles;
but because of the bad, envious, unthankful disposition thou hast got
engendered in thy heart. Instead of enjoying, and making the most of what
thou hast, thou turns sulky and makes an outcry about what thou hast
not—perhaps never will have,—and certainly, in thy present frame of
mind, canst not deserve to have. Like the dog with the meat in his mouth,
thou drops thy realities to snap at shadows, and then howls at the
consequences of thy own folly."
"But here we are at Brimbeck," said the pedlar, and with that he bade our
traveller good night, and turning down a back street, he disappeared.
In a short time the young man approached a cottage that stood on the left,
rather alone, and opening a garden wicket, he walked down and knocked at
the door of the dwelling. He was bid to come in, and he did so, and found
an elderly dame darning hose, and a young man, in the dress of a mechanic,
sit enjoying his homely supper of oat-meal porridge and milk, whilst a
cat, evidently a favourite one, lay basking on the warm hearth. The
cottage was amply furnished with old fashioned chairs, tables, and other
articles of the sort, whose well-polished surfaces reflected the gleams of
the cheerful coal fire.
Both the inmates looked in apparent surprise at the intruder, and an
exclamation of; "Bless us! what's to do?" escaped from the old woman,
as she rose from her seat, and gazed more earnestly.
"Don't you know me?" asked the traveller,
advancing and holding out a hand to the aged dame. "I cannot say I do,"
she replied, keeping back, and peering at him with a candle which she had
lighted. She saw him stagger a little, and thought he was tipsy: his
appearance also tended to confirm that supposition, for his clothes were
miry, and his face was streaked with blood; and surprised and alarmed, she
continued to eye him, as he stood before her resting on his stick.
"You are surely Nelly Duerdin," he said, "I cannot be mistaken in that;
and this is the cottage you lived in many years ago."
"I am Nelly Duerdin," she replied; "but I cannot call to mind who you
are; still I think I must have known you; I have heard that voice before,
"Ah! Nelly! Nelly! you are like all the rest of the world," he said, "you forget early friends; you don't know your nursling, master Richard."
"Master Richard!" she exclaimed, "master Richard! heaven bless you!
you are him, indeed; you are my little brave, kind-hearted, naughty boy!" and putting down the light, she embraced him, and kissed his forehead,
all gory as it was. But what is the matter with you, my dear child?" she
continued, "come, sit down; lay down on the couch-chair; what is the
matter? you are all bloody and miry. Will,
blow up the fire; we must have some hot water. And whose is that ugly dog? has he been worrying you? Bill, turn him out."
"No, no!" exclaimed the traveller; "don't, he is a friend."
"The dog is bloody too," said Will, who had been examining him by the
light of the candle.
"I dare say he is," said his master; "poor fellow, he has done good
service to-night; I will tell you all about it soon. But, Will! give me
your hand," he said, "we are old play-mates, met once more!"
"I knew your voice the moment I heard it," said Will, "but for the life
of me I could not make you out, in this plight; your brow is cut, and your
lips are swelled."
"I dare say they are," said the traveller, "but don't trouble
yourselves, it might have been worse."
By this time, old Nelly had drawn a jug of ripe ale, which the thirsty
guest nearly took off at a draught, and thanked her for what he called "a
blessed boon." His hurts were next examined, and bathed, and dressed, and
some clothes belonging to his foster brother Will, were taken out of the
kist, and supplied the place of his soiled and bloody ones. A good
cup of tea, and some boiled eggs were then set before him, and whilst he
heartily partook the repast, he gave an account of his adventures since leaving
the publichouse at Webster-dyke; which narrative obtained for Murky, not
only plenty of caresses, but a good supper; Will gave the dog the
remainder of his porridge and milk, saying, "if it were the last meat he
had in the world, he should share it with him."
"Did the men come to rob you, or to abuse you?" asked old Nelly.
"I can't tell that," replied the guest, "I don't know what motive they
could have to ill-treat me; and as for robbing, I am not aware of having
lost anything by their attack; but I can soon ascertain that," and so
saying, he went up stairs and examined the clothes he had doffed, and the
linen he had on, when he found that a steel purse, containing a small sum
in coin, a breast-pin, and a silver wrist-button, were missing. "Had they
taken my pocket book," said he, opening it, and shewing a roll of notes,
"I should have been somewhat more poor."
"Had they taken your life, which perhaps they would have done, had they
known of those notes, it would have been far worse," observed old Nelly.
Various conjectures were hazarded by the dame and her son, as to who the
robbers could be, and schemes were proposed for bringing them to justice,
but the guest declared that he was not very anxious about that; if they
fell in his way, he might probably hand them over to a constable, but at
present his mind was engaged on other matters, which he would talk over
with his old mother when he had an opportunity. Will took the hint and
soon afterwards went to bed, and a long and interesting conversation
ensued betwixt the dame and her guest, which lasted until near midnight,
when he rose, took the old woman affectionately by the hand, and said, "Thank God! it is as I hoped! as I
expected! I can now rest indeed; good night, my dear old mother! but
mind! not a word must escape—not a word about my being here. I must sit
in your back room until I can get away. And dear Nelly, caution Will, and
don't let him go to work to-morrow; I shall want him to do me a trifling
service." Nelly promised to observe all he desired, and taking a candle,
she showed him to the little chamber in which he had often slept when a
boy; and there on a bed as hard as a hermit's, but as white as a lily cup,
he soon found that repose of which he now began to feel the want, Murky
taking undisputed possession of the rug at his door.
WALKS AMONGST THE WORKERS.
GREAT AND LITTLE HEATON.
ACCORDING to the returns of the last census, the
townships of Great and Little Heaton contained one thousand three hundred
and seventy-eight acres—one hundred and seventy-seven inhabited
houses—ten uninhabited—four in building—four hundred and ninety-one
males—and four hundred and seventy-four female inhabitants. As it
respects the extent of population, the Heatons are not, therefore, of much
consequence, but, as exhibiting an interesting group of hand-loom weavers,
these two small townships are worthy of notice. Here may be found
the fancy and plain silk weaver, the weaver of cotton gingham, the weaver
of strong, fancy, and plain nankeen, and, lowest in the scale, perhaps,
the weaver of common umbrell, which are next to calicoes in the lowness
of wages, a large piece being woven for a few shillings. At present my
notice will be confined to some of the poorest of these weavers, as
exhibiting traits and positions worthy of the study of the artist, the
philosopher, and the philanthropist.
The overseer, an intelligent and respectable man, represented the
condition of the working population as being "very bad." He had been in
the habit annually, of paying a particular visit of examination to the
poor, and he had never found them in so bad a state as at present—many of
them were actually starving, and how they contrived to carry on, day after
day, he was at a loss to determine. Wednesday week was "a giving day," at
the hall (Heaton Hall.) A quantity of clothing and bedding is annually
distributed to the poor of the two townships, and of Pilsworth. The poor
are visited and examined by the overseers, and those they recommend
receive gifts of linen, woollen, blankets, and other articles, according
to their respective necessities, but none are relieved except those
belonging to the estate—the others must apply to the townships where they
have a settlement. He never saw the poor people, he said, look so
miserable before, when they came to be relieved. About seventy-two or three
were relieved on Wednesday week, belonging to Great and Little Heaton, and
about twenty from Pilsworth. I expressed a wish to see some of these poor
families, and he very obligingly consented to accompany me, but first he
would show me a family which had not received any relief from the hall,
reason being that the man had lived in his cottage a number of years,
perhaps ten or twelve, without paying rent, and he was afraid, if he went
to the hall, he should have notice to quit; and so he never went, and did
not get any relief, as his neighbours did. The forenoon of Tuesday last
was a kind of twilight in the country, the trees and hedges were thickly
bearded by a hoar-frost. [This as before stated, was in the early part of
1841.] We passed through several fields, and presently, in the looming of
the grey, appeared an irregular mass, which at first seemed more like a
hay-stack than anything else; this, however, was the habitation of the
family we were going to see, and I will name it in my list,
No. 1.—A very low old thatched house. The roof at one end had been blown
off, or had fallen in, and the spars and timbers which remained sticking
out, gave an idea of utter and naked desolation. Clusters of young elder
trees grew around; a garden, or rather orchard, over-run with weeds,
extended at the bottom of the dwelling; and a ditch, like a little moat, embraced the whole ruin on the side next the foot-path. What a habitation
wherein to spend not a winter's day only, but a winter's season; aye, a
long series of winters, when
First comes the white hoar-frost at morn,
Next comes the red sun, bald and shorn,
Then comes the sleet, and then comes the snow,
And then o'er the winter-fields howling doth go
The cold, dark, wind forlorn.
The roof formerly extended over two cottages, but one had, as before
mentioned, become dilapidated; and the other still covered, in some
manner, a wretched family of seven persons, namely, the husband, the wife,
his sister, and four children. We opened the low door, and entered a small
dark room: "It's a cold morning," said some one in the place to my
conductor, and I immediately shut the door, else my first wish had been to
leave it open for the admission of light and air. On looking, as well as I
could, through the dim, smoky mist of the place, the first object which
caught my attention was a slender female of rather low stature, squatting
before a fire of fresh gathered sticks, which she was trying to fan into a
blaze. On her right sat another female, with a child on her knee; on the
hearth stood a boy; and, sitting beside a wheel, near the door, was a fine
little girl, with a cotton bonnet on her head. A low dim window admitted a
faint light, which was more obscured by the escape of smoke from the
sticks, and some articles of furniture which interfered. We could scarcely
stand upright on any part of the floor, and in passing under the large
beams we had to stoop. A few pieces of furniture, some much broken, and
all of very primitive form, were scattered around the place. A stool or
two, one or more old chairs, a wheel, a very few pots, a pan, and such
like articles, seemed to be all the furniture and cooking utensils which
the humble family possessed. As I stood looking on this group before the
fire, my conductor put back a piece of what
appeared to be old sacking, which hung against the wall; he went behind
it, and beckoning me to follow, disappeared. We entered a place in which
the beams seemed about to fall and crush us; two small low windows
admitted very scanty light to two looms, in each of which was a warp of
cotton gingham. A few moments passed before I could detect any being in
the place except myself and friend. At length something like a human head
moved, and I found that
a weaver was there, "getting up his rods." When he stood up, and I could
see him better, I perceived that he was a tall man, about thirty-five
years of age, thin and pale looking, and with rather a heavy cast of
countenance. I questioned him about his work, and he said it came to
fourteen shillings a cut, and he could weave one in three weeks. I
mentioned the apparent insecurity of the building, and he said it
certainly did rock a little, when the wind blew, but he minded not that;
it was secure enough, and he should be well satisfied if he could only get
a little straw wherewith to thatch it! I asked him about the chamber, and
my conductor led me up five or six wooden steps, and into a small dark
loft, more like a hen-roost than a sleeping-room for a human family—in
fact, it was a hen-roost as well, and a fine poot jumped off one of the
bed's feet as we entered. "He has four hens and a cock," said my friend,
when I expressed my surprise at finding a hen perched there. A small
window admitted a gleam of light into the place, by which I could see
that on either hand, and almost close to the thatch, stood an old
bedstead, covered with a dark-coloured mass of what appeared to be coarse,
dirty sacking, but which was certainly all the bedding this wretched
family possessed. I could not but advert, in thought, to some of the
comfortable houses which I had seen at Heywood—to those which I knew were
enjoyed by the weavers of Middleton and the spinners of Crompton; and I
mentally remarked, "If this man had such a home, how happy, how grateful
he would be!" Yet he wished only for "a little straw to thatch his cottage!" "He won't apply to the guardians," said my conductor, as we
returned; "he is afraid they would put him in the union workhouse, and he
assuredly would perish with his family in yonder place before he would be
separated from them." He further said, he did not believe the family had
more than sixpence a week each to live upon. They generally came to his
shop in the morning for two pound and a half of meal, which cost fourpence
halfpenny, and that was chiefly what they subsisted on till the following
day, and so they continued. He also said, it was probable the cottage
would be pulled down next spring; it was unfit to live in, and the
materials would be made use of for draining and fencing.
No. .2, or the
second family we visited, had only two looms, and one was without work. The family were five in number, and
they seemed to be in poor circumstances.
No. 3, had two looms empty, and
two with work in; the family
were seven in number, and were all up-grown; they, however, appeared to
be poorly situated.
No. 4, had two looms empty, and two at work, with
No. 5, had four looms, all at work; a family of thirteen
persons; and seemed better circumstanced than some of his neighbours.
6, had a family of six persons, viz: wife and self, and four young
children. Had two looms, (cotton), both at work, one with gingham, and one
with umbrell, and the latter was paid at the rate of about eight
shillings for eighty yards. He was betwixt thirteen and fourteen years in
the army, and received three wounds, viz: two at the storming of Badajos
and one at Albuera. Was also at the battles of Salamanca, Vittoria,
Roncesvalles, the Pyrenees, Orthes, Toulouse, and at New Orleans. "Was
very lucky in seldom being sick, except from wounds;" was nearly always on
duty, and in most of the battles fought in the Peninsula and America. Was
discharged without pension, in consequence of going for limited service.
"The old lord," at Heaton, (the first Earl of Wilton), would have got him
a pension had he not fell ill and died, and a kind of clerk, at Bury,
cheated the poor fellow and others out of their tickets and prize money. Surely the guardians of the union at Manchester might do something for
this deserving man, were it only, as I observed, "to keep him off the
township." "He is not on the township," said my friend the overseer, "he
has had a large
family to provide for, and he has had but a very few shillings off the
Some women were lading water at a fine clear well by the road side, and my
conductor informed me it was the "Katty Green Well," and the hollow
where we stood, was "The Katty Green." I asked the woman if the water made
good punch; they said they had not tried it, and one said she had never
seen whisky. We entered a very old, but well-thatched cottage; like the
first I visited, it had a large garden attached, and was fenced off with a
hedge of young elder trees. The inside was about the same, with respect to
space and elevation, as the one before noticed, but this was much more
cleanly, and was also better lighted and furnished. This, indeed, was a
comfortable warm place in comparison. A young woman, who stood on the
hearth, said it was called "Katty Green Hall." I remarked, that at a hall
there was often a lord and a lady, and she, laughing, said she was the
lady. I asked where was the lord, then? and she, still laughing, said, "that was him," meaning a light, low-set man, who was in the act of pulling
a drying iron out of the good coal fire. I observed that there must be a
chamber, but I could not see any road to it. I was, however, soon shewn a
ladder of three or four stones, reared on the other side of the hob, which
the lady had to ascend when she went to her dressing-room. This place, my
conductor informed me, was now a freehold. It originally, or so
far back as could be traced, belonged to a family named Holt, which
merged in a single young man named William, who was seen going towards
Rochdale one Sunday morning, and never returned or was again heard of. The
parish officers, after a time, broke into the premises, but found no clue
as to his retreat or the disposal of the property. It is to be supposed
there were not any acknowledged relatives, or at least any who chose to
claim property which was perhaps considered disputable. There were two
cottages at the time, and the parish put in them two pauper families, who
occupied without paying rent or any acknowledgment. One of the cottages
was blown down some years since, and the remaining one had been in the
occupation of the present possessor, his father, and grandfather, during
eighty years, and, of course, was as good a freehold as any in England.
SONGS OF THE LANCASHIRE DIALECT.
The celebrated song of Joan O' Grinfilt, beginning
"Sed Joan to his wife on a wot summer's day."
Of which, perhaps, more copies were sold amongst the rural population of
Lancashire, than of any other song known, has been generally ascribed to
the pen of James Butterworth, the author of a poem, called "Rochervale,"
and other productions of considerable literary merit. The writer of this,
long held the common opinion as to the origin of "Joan." The song took
amazingly; it was war-time; volunteering was all the go then, and he
remembers standing at the bottom of Miller-street, in Manchester, with a
cockade in his bat, and viewing with surprise, the almost rage with which
the very indifferent verses were purchased, by a crowd which stood around
a little old-fashioned fellow, with a withered leg, who, leaning; on a
crutch, with a countenance full of quaint humour, and a speech of the
perfect dialect of the county, sung the song, and collected the halfpence
as quickly as he could distribute it. Some years ago, the writer fell
in with this same personage at Ashton-Under-Lyne, and took the opportunity
for acquiring further information respecting the origin of a song once so
much in vogue. He accordingly invited the minstrel to a little rest
and chat at a neighbouring tavern, where over a pipe, and a pot or two of
ale, he learned all he wished to know on the subject, which he noted down
in short hand as the narrator gave it.
It was a cold and rainy day in winter; the door was
accordingly shut, the fire stirred up to a warm glow; the cripple sat
basking before the fire with his lame leg thrown across his crutch, his
other foot on the tender, when after putting a quid of the tobacco into
his mouth, and taking a swig of the ale, he went on gaily with his
narrative for some minutes, until glancing towards the paper and seeing
uncouth figures multiplying upon it, he sprung on his one foot, and with a
look of astonishment, not unmixed with concern, he exclaimed, "Heigh!
heigh! theer! I say! wot mack o lett-ters arto settin deawn? theer I
say? wot dusto ko thoose lett-ters? dusto think at nobody knows wot
theawrt dooin? busithe, I'd hathe to know, at I know wot theawrt doin az
weel az theaw dus thisel. Theaw pretends to rule th' plannits, dusto?
busithe I con rule um az weel az theaw con, an that I'll let-te know, iv
theaw awses to put ony othe tricks o' me."
A hearty laugh, a brief explanation, and more than both, a
kindly invitation to the drink and tobacco, soon brought the guest to his
seat again, and to his wonted jovial humour. He then said there were
thirteen "Joan's O' Grinfilt" produced within a short time; but the
original one,—that above mentioned—was composed by Joseph Lees, a weaver
residing at Glodwick, near Oldham, and himself,—Joseph Coupe—who at the
time of the composition was a barber, tooth-drawer, blood-letter, warper,
spinner, carder, twiner, sibber, and rhymester, residing at Oldham.
He said they were both in a terrible predicament, without drink or money
to procure any, after being drinking all night. They had been at
Manchester to see the play, and were returning to Oldham the day
following, when, in order to raise the wind, they agreed to compose a song
to be sung at certain public-houses on the road, where they supposed it
would be likely to take, and procure them what they wanted, the means for
prolonging their dissipation. A storm came on, and they sheltered
under a hedge, and the first verse of the song was composed by him in that
situation. Lees composed the next verse, and they continued
composing verse and verse, until the song was finished as afterwards
printed; but it took them three days to complete it. They then "put
it ith press," and he said, "we met habin worth mony a hunthert peawnd iv
widdin had sense to ta'care oth brass.
RADCLIFFE OLD HALL.
THIS interesting relic of old English
domestic architecture was taken down a number of years ago to make room
for a row of cottages for the workpeople of Mrs. Bealey and Sons,
bleachers. It is understood that the Earl of Wilton, to whom the place
belonged, sold the materials to the above parties, and rented the land to
them, and so, in the spirit of modern improvement, the order was given,
"take it down, why cumbereth it the ground." This venerable pile was
highly interesting to all who loved to gaze on the relics of other days;
and it was probably calculated to convey a more correct idea of the rude
but strongly built habitations and festive halls of our forefathers than
any other object to which the curious of this neighbourhood had access;
and by them, no doubt, its destruction has been much regretted. Sir Walter
Scott directed public attention to Haddon hall, as a representative of the
halls of the early Norman or latter Saxon chiefs, but the hall at Radcliffe must have been much older than Haddon hall, as Sir Walter
describes it. The materials at Radcliffe, were chiefly beams and planks of
solid black oak, which, together with the simplicity of the construction,
and the rudeness of the workmanship testified to the great age of the
edifice. What a pity that it could not have been let alone, or rather that
it was not deemed worth a little expense and trouble in covering it in
once more; that it was not given as a shelter to some half dozen poor
families, on condition of their keeping it in perfect order: it would
have thus endured for ages. The square tower, or fortified part of the
ancient residence, still remains, but tottering with decay. The vaulted
roof of the lower room almost hangs by a single stone, and unless it be
protected from further wanton outrage, it must soon share the fate of the
hall, and leave only its name in the remembrance of things that have been.
THE following morning betimes, Jonathan Handy, the
overlooker of Mr. Staidley's mill, at Brimbeck, was waiting for him, when
he came down stairs at his house at Glyeminside.
"An incident has just now come to my knowledge," said Jonathan, when Mr.
Staidley asked his business, "which, though it be trifling as compared
with some of our events, I thought it best to communicate it to you
Before the mill started I accidentally heard two of the hands talking, and
one said to the other,
'I could like to beg off for to-day, I must ask
Jonathan about it at breakfast time.'
'Pho!' said the other, 'If I'd a mind of a holiday, I'd have one, and
never bother Jonathan about it.'
'I'll not go without leave,' said the first; 'we'er very busy with these
'And suppose Jonathan won't give you leave,' said the second.
'Well then I must stop at work,' said the other. 'I'll not go away without
permission; I'm sure if I can show any fair and good reason why I should
go, neither the master nor Jonathan will deny me; and I think if I'm hard
pushed I can show a reason that won't easily be denied.'
"And who were those hands?" asked Mr. Staidley.
"The one who wanted to be off, was Will Duerdin," said Jonathan, "and the
other was Yedd Burfielt; whom we shopped last week."
"You have done rightly in coming up to inform me. The circumstance, though
apparently but of small consequence, affords traits of character which we
should never lose sight of," said Mr. Staidley. "Such things are not
trifling, though they are commonly deemed so; they are the indicators of
feelings, which combined, affect both ourselves and our operatives either
for good or for evil. Let us never lose an opportunity, Mr. Handy, of
cultivating amongst our work-people a right trustful confidence, in the
good and considerate intentions of your management and my supervision. It
is well to have the machinery going and in good order; it is well that we
make a profit by our productions; but it is far better, if conjointly
with these things, we can so deal with our workpeople as to make them our
friends. Just we will be, whilst I have the mill, and kind in all reason,
when possible. You know my views Mr. Handy, and I believe I can depend on
your best endeavours to give them effect. The reply of Will Duerdin
affords another instance of the good resulting from the system we have
hitherto acted upon. Let us continue it, and if possible still further
increase that confidence and attachment which our people have on more than
one occasion manifested towards us."
"I shall always be most happy, sir, to be the instrument for carrying
your honourable intentions into effect," said Jonathan, "and in pursuance
of that pleasing duty, I determined to make known to you Will's conduct
"He has not yet spoken to you?" queried Mr. Staidley.
"No; but I expect he will when the engine stops for breakfast."
"I am glad you have told me," said Mr. Staidley. Will shall have his
holiday, but when he speaks to you, you can say he had better ask me about
"I will do so," said Mr. Handy, as he left the room, but recollecting
himself he asked "should any notice be taken of Burfielt?"
"Yes," said Mr. Staidley, "by all means; should he ask you for any
reasonable favour, be sure to let him have it. Let him understand
practically, that he need not go off without asking; that he need not be
afraid to 'bother Jonathan about it,' for that if he 'can show any fair
and good reason,' as Will Duerdin said
for any favour he wants, he will not be denied. After two or three proofs
of our wish to oblige him, and when he has had ample opportunity for
understanding our system, should he then absent himself without leave, the
consequences must be on his own head, and he must be made to feel them. At
present, however, don't appear to notice him more than another; we should
not think hard of him as yet; he may have learned from bad examples where
he came from." And with these instructions Jonathan departed.
Mr. Staidley and the ladies were at breakfast, when a servant made known
that William Duerdin wanted to see master if he was at liberty.
"Show him here," said Mr. Staidley.
Will made his appearance, and was saluted with a good morning by his
employer; "Good morning, sir," said Will; the ladies nodded and smiled;
Miss Staidley motioned him to take a seat, and asked kindly about his
mother, and Will respectfully answered her enquiries.
"I wanted to beg a favour this morning," said Will to Mr. Staidley, after
the introductory remarks were over.
"What favour wouldst thou have, Will?" asked Mr. Staidley.
"I wish to beg off work to-day," said Will, "if you would be so kind."
"And could not Jonathan have done that for thee?" asked his master.
"I went to Jonathan," said Will, "and he said I had best
see you about it, and so I made bold to come up."
"Very good," said Mr. Staidley, "I know Jonathan is a considerate man. And pray Will, what is it that makes thee wish to leave work at this busy
"A very particular friend, both of mine and my mothers came to Brimbeck
last night, and he wishes to have my company to-day, if you please, sir."
"Aye, let Will have his holiday, brother, if you possibly can," said Miss
The master remained silent, and seemed to be considering.
"I'll fetch the time up ith next fortnight," said Will.
"Don't make thyself uneasy about that," said Mr. Staidley, "I am disposed
to grant to any of my hands whatever indulgence they can in reason ask
for. Thou knows, Will, we are busy about the new frames, and, under the
circumstances, I think I should be assured that a holiday is necessary to
some good thou hast in view, or at least that it will not be spent in a
manner entirely unprofitable to thee. I think the benefit, whether from
pleasure or business, ought to be somewhat nearly commensurate with the
worth of thy time, and my loss of thy immediate labour. I wish not to pry
into thy private affairs, but tell me, Will, how is it likely thy day will
be spent? will it be spent in mere pleasure, or business, or in both?"
"In both, I hope," said Will, "for my business will be a pleasure. The
gentleman—the friend I mean,—has not been at Brimbeck these last five
years, and I'm sure the rendering of a service to my honest
comrade," said Will, embarrassed, "will afford me great satisfaction."
Miss Staidley put down the coffee pot rather suddenly; her hand shook that
she could not hold it, and the colour went and came on her cheeks. Mr. Staidley did not notice the circumstance, though others did, for, turning
in his chair, he said, "Will, take thy holiday, and I wish thee all
pleasure with it; but if thou be merry with thy friend, don't forget to be
"I thank you, sir, and if necessary, I will remember your good advice,"
said Will; as he made his bow and left the room.
"Well, I'm sure! master Will Duerdin," said Lissy, the servant maid, as
Will took up his hat and was leaving the kitchen. "Well, I'm sure, but
some folks are very high this mornin, an going away without so much as
good bye, or the sperrin of one civil question."
"I really am in a hurry, Lissy, else, you know there is not a lass within
miles o' Glyeminside, with whom I would rather have a five minutes chat,
or a ten minutes whisper at any time than with Lissy Estain."
"I know nothin oth sort, nor do I believe it, only you think you'll make
up for your skulkin away, by a a bit of flam, as usual; if you were so
desirous of a
chat, or a whisper, as you say, why, it's not so very far, fro Brimbeck
"Well, but Lissy, excuse me this mornin. I shall be up again before long,
I dare say; at present, a friend, a stranger in a way, is waiting for me."
"A friend? what sort of a friend? is it a he friend or a she friend that
you are in such a hurry about? I should think it is the latter."
"Well, it's a he friend," said Will, impatient to be gone; "it's a
gentleman"—our young master,—he said, but correcting himself—"it's one
I've not seen these last five years. So good bye, Lissy; mayhap I may see
a bonny ribbon that will please somebody, ere long; " and with that he
Will did not retreat so suddeny, but Miss Staidley, who at the moment
came out of the parlour, caught a glance of him as he left the door; the
servant also, she thought, was in a rather musing mood, and the latter,
on seeing her mistress, betrayed some confusion.
"What were you studying about, Lissy?" said Miss Staidley, in her usual
good tempered, free way.
"Why, mam; I was thinking about what Will Duerdin said before be went,"
"And what might that be?" asked Miss Staidley.
He said that a young gentleman,—a young master—I think it was
master—was waiting for him, and he was in a great hurry.
"A young master, was it?"
"I think it was master; at any rate he said mast—and then he stopped, as
if he could not get the word out of his mouth."
"Did he not mention a name?" asked Miss Staidley.
"No, he only said," 'a young gentleman; young master;' and then he
stopped himself. "Oh yes, he said, 'our young master.'"
"Lissy, open the door; what a hot fire you have," said Miss Staidley, as
she took a seat on the couch-chair.
"Sure, mam; you said we must roast the beef for dinner, and we'er quite
out for bread, so I thought I'd best heat the oven."
"Yes! yes! I know you must; you'll do what's proper, Lissy, I have no
doubt; only just water that plant there in the window; and Lissy, let me
have a drop also."
As Will was hastening home, he overtook Yed Burfielt, who was returning to
work after breakfast. "Well," said Yed, "didto ax Jonathan obeawt gettin
off for to-day?"
"I did," answered Will.
"On did he githe lyev?"
"He did not," said Will.
"I towd the heaw it wud be," said Burfielt, in a kind of triumph, "I knew theaw'd never get lyev, iv theaw axt for it."
"But I have gett'n lyev," said Will.
"Heaws that? theaw sed he wudno give it the."
"But th' mester gan it mhe," said Will.
"Why, an hasto bin at th' mester, then?" asked Burfielt.
Will said he had, and that he was so well satisfied with the course he had
taken, and with what Mr. Staidley had said to him, that he would never
attempt himself, nor advise any other of the hands to leave work without
"That's thy way," said Burfielt, as he smiled rather contemptuously at
Will, and turned down towards the factory.
When Will got home, he found his mother and master Richard at breakfast in
the little back-room; and he streight made known to them the result of
his application, and they both launched forth in praises of his good
"I'll tell thee what I've been thinking about," said master Richard.
Will intimated attention.
"I find I'm not much the worse for last night's rough and tumble; my knee
is stiff, and my face is bruised and disfigured, which latter circumstance
is favourable to my project. Thou shall get a gig or a car, and a horse,
as good as thou canst have for money, and instead of dispatching thee on
my business, I'll go with thee."
"Very good," said Will; "I'll have a tit and a vehicle of some sort at the
door in a short time."
"Make a good breakfast first," said master Richard, "and then be as quick
as you please."
In a few minutes Will had left the house to seek a conveyance, and master
Richard eyeing himself in the glass, said, "he was sure no one would know
"There will not be any danger of that," said Nelly Duerdin; "you are next
to my own child, and if I met you on the road a hundred times, I should
not know you."
"That will do," said master Richard; "I shall be relieved from
confinement here, and shall the better be able to fulfil my friend's
commission, without the whole country being aware of my sojourn in these
Will Duerdin was not long in dispatching his errand; he found a neat
vehicle, and an excellent horse, which Mr. Thumbroad, the hosier and
draper, let him have for the reasonable consideration of a guinea. Will
knew there was no time for haggling, and so he assented to the modest
demand, and in less than an hour after he came from Glyeminside, he and
master Richard were on the high road to Webster-dyke.
It happened the same forenoon, that Miss Staidley discovered they were
without a vast number of articles which were wanted in the house; she
therefore, very properly, would go down to Brimbeck and order them, and
she did go down. Nelly Duerdin's garden gate stood open as she got to the
bottom of the lane, and though she would have been glad to chat with the
old woman—as she generally did—she felt a kind of inward consciousness
restrain her from visiting the cottage that morning; accordingly she
into the village, and after doing business at several places, she called
at Tryscales, the grocers, and was immediately attended to by the mistress
of the house.
"I wonder who Nelly Duerdin has had to breakfast this morning," said Mr.
Tryscale, to a respectable. looking customer at the other counter.
"I don't know I'm sure," said the man; "I have not heard of any visitor."
"She came here for lump sugar and mocha coffee," said Tryscale, which she
never buys for her own use; and she got change for a bank-note."
"Some one must have called to see her then," said the other; perhaps some
of her London acquaintance."
"I should rather think not, from so high a quarter as that," said Tryscale,
"for in a short time after old Nelly had been here, her son Will went
down the street with another man in a gig."
"Did he so?" said the customer, "that would probably be Mr. Plugman, the
engine maker; young Duerdin, I believe, sometimes goes with him on
business for the mill."
"No, it was not Plugman, I know him," said Tryscale; "this was a different
kind of person; a snub-nosed, thick-lipped man; with a top-coat on, and
a shawl tied nearly over his ears."
"That couldn't be Plugman," said the other.
"Oh no, it wasn't Plugman; but we shall be hearing in the course of the
day. They seemed in a hurry," said the grocer.
At this stage of the conversation, Miss Staidley, having given her orders,
left the shop, and proceeded towards home in a somewhat more calm state of
mind than she left it. It was evident to her, that whoever it was, with
whom Will Duerdin was associated for the day, that person was not the one
whom Will's confused manner, and half intimations, had led her to expect;
and, that particular individual being thus set aside, there was no other
that could interest her feelings. Thus she was returning home in a state
of tranquility, which but a short time before, she did not expect to have
enjoyed on that day. When going up the main-street, her ears were assailed
by a confused noise, and she presently met a crowd of persons, chiefly
composed of boys and girls, with a hundred or two of young and up-grown
men. They advanced at a hurried pace, and it was said they came from Toilington, and were going round to stop all the mills. Whenever they
passed a provision shop, or met a person of respectable appearance, they
set up a shout, and when Miss Staidley stepped aside on the foot-path the
shout was repeated; one or two called to her by name, whilst others used
words of threatening import, with something added about the mill, and so
the crowd rolled on. But some stragglers of a worse class hung
on the outskirts and rear of the mob. These were men of a suspicious
appearance, and females of a hardened and abandoned demeanour; they went
into shops and houses, stealing, craving charity, or intimidating;
they even stopped persons in the street, and by cajolery, reproaches, or
threats, endeavoured to levy contributions, and in many instances they
succeeded. A ruffian of this class accosted Miss Staidley, and taking hold
of her reticule, asked her in an almost menacing tone, "to leave a trifle
for the poor women, who were almost dropping it'h' street for want of
something to eat."
Miss Staidley twisted the strings of the reticule round her hand, and
grasping it more tightly, with rare firmness, asked the man, "whether he
intended to beg or to rob?"
"Oh! to beg, certainly, mam," said the fellow, quailing before her calm,
"Then let go my property," said the lady, "and ask in a civil manner,"
and with that the man loosed his hold of the bag.
"Oh! that's one o'th Staidley's," shouted a virago; "the rich Miss Staidley, an all they have in the world they've got out o poor foke."
"Leave her to us," cried another woman, "off with her furs," said a third; "strip her," shouted another; "up with her fine veil, and let her look th' cowd day ith face, same as we do," vociferated another amazon, from
the further side of the street. And thereupon, several of the women came
around Miss Staidley, and were in the act of removing her bonnet and fur
tippet, when a young woman suddenly grasped the locks of one, and tore her
to the ground, and a blow from a crutch paralyzed the arm of another, of
the assailants. "The
hands! the hands!" was shouted down the street "Staidley! Staidley!" was echoed from the other end, and in that instant a fierce battle was
gathered around the astonished, though not affrighted lady; and in one
minute the thievish hangers on of the mob were beaten, routed, or in
When the mob appeared before Mr. Staidley's mill, to which they proceeded
direct on entering the village, the hands were about going to dinner. Most
of the men and boys stopped to hear what the mob was about, and a kind of
meeting took place near the mill: the women and girls, however, went their
way, and a body of them having to pass along the street they came up just
at the time the mob followers were abusing the sister of their employer, "Now lasses! will you stand by and see that?" asked an old woman,
pointing with her crutch; and ere another word could escape, the onset
before described was made on the despoilers, and a few men joining the
factory women, the whole body of thieves and prostitutes were disposed of
as before narrated. The young women, and the men then formed around Miss Staidley, and insisted on escorting her towards home, until she was out of
danger. "Oh! I wish I could go with you," said an old woman, who came
hobbling out of the kennel on her crutch. She was Nelly Duerdin, the
leader of the onset, and they all gave a shout, and gathered about her,
and praised her, telling Miss Staidley how the brave old woman had acted. Miss Staidley spoke very kindly to her,
and asked if she had received any injuries, and being assured she had not
met with any mischance save a roll in the gutter, she would have had the
old woman home with her, but she begged to be let off; and so, Miss Staidley, charging some of her friends to see her safely home, she, with
her escort, left the village and ascended the hill towards Glyeminside.
At parting, she stopped and thanked them most emphatically, telling the
women she would give them an early proof of her gratitude, and the men,
that a full representation of their conduct should be made to her
brother, who, she doubted not, would find some means of marking his sense
of their desert.
NOT deeming it necessary to describe Mr. Staidley's
mill minutely, we will merely say that it was considered a large
establishment, for that part of the country. Besides the usual appearances
of a manufactory, it was well white-washed, both inside and out, and the
wood-work of the building was painted and in good repair; the windows
also, were constantly cleaned, and the hands generally, falling in with
their employers wishes, took a pride in the respectable appearance of
their huge workshop. It had cost the proprietor, as may be supposed, some
time, and many exertions to create, and improve so desirable a feeling
amongst his operatives: every practicable thing, which, so far as was
known, could add to their health and comfort during working hours, was
supplied; and whenever a workman or other person offered a useful
suggestion, it was acknowledged with thanks, and attended to. The
apartments were lofty and roomy; the machinery chiefly new, and that,
together with the floors, and all within the building, was kept
fastidiously clean. The moving geering was boxed off, where
practicable or necessary; besides which, strict rules were laid down, and
rigidly enforced, for preventing any save authorized persons from meddling
with it. In addition to these, no man or boy, was allowed to work in
the place, with his shirt sleeves exposed, or an apron on, or the ends of
a handkerchief dangling from his neck; all the females wore long
pinafores, or vests, with close sleeves at the elbow, and tied in several
places behind, so that their garments could not become entangled in the
machinery; they were also forbidden working with their hair loose, and if
they wore it in combs, or in ringlets, as most of the younger portion
would, they never entered their working room without previously putting on
a cap, generally of fine network, which fitted close to the head, and
fastened with a clasp on one side; every female must work in a cap of some
sort. All those who were employed on the ground floor of the mill
were expected to wear wooden clogs whilst at work, unless tender feet made
them inconvenient. This was done with a view to guard them against
the possibility of ill effects from cold or damp, though, the lowest rooms
at Brimbeck, did not in those respects, present any extraordinary
exception to the general condition of such places. "Our
Christopher," the workpeople would sometimes say, "cares as much for us as
if we were his children."
The mill was situated on the bank of a deep and generally
placid, though not very broad stream, which was sometimes visited by
floods, when heavy rains, or sudden thaws had taken place in the uplands.
A low wall surrounded the mill on the land side, and fronting a lane which
led from Brimbeck, stood a lodge, and a pair of gates, marking the main
entrance to the works. A school and several rows of neat cottages,
all white, and with gardens attached, stood at a short distance from the
factory; other cottages in various situations, and at greater distances,
were interspersed amongst fields, and on the hill sides; these were the
residences of some of the workpeople, whilst others occupied tenements in
the streets and old garden lanes of the village.
The refuse of the mob having been disposed of as before
described, the main body, after parading the village, collected near the
closed gates of the mill, and as the hands returned from dinner they
became mingled with the crowd, and various arguments and wordy contentions
were going on when a person on foot was seen descending the hill at some
"It's Staidley!" was murmured amongst the crowd.
"Let him come; who cares for him, or the likes of him," said
one of the leaders, an Irishman, who stood on a fence by the road side.
"He will come," said a stout man in a soiled jacket, in reply
to the spokesman; "he will come, and he shall return when he chooses;
Chris Staidley is not going to ask either Shuffleby's or their hands, or
any mob fro Toilington, whether be must come to, or goo fro his mill."
"We'll try that," said the leader, "peaceably if we can,
forcibly if we must;" and stooping to some men below him, he said, "mark
that fellow who stands prating at the gates" and several moved forward,
and stood near the man.
"Oh! I know him," said one, "he was a skulker during th'
last turn-out." "It's Dick O' Brella," said another, "as great a
nobstick as ever lived."
"You're a brace o' liars," said Dick, "an yo' need not ha
come to Brimbeck a bein towd so."
"A nobstick! a nobstick!" shouted several voices.
"Where," said some; "pummel him," said others; "punse his yed
off," shouted a third party; and there was a general rush towards the
gates, when the person before observed appeared at the bend of the lane,
and advancing to the crowd, he made his way through them, and turning at
the gates, he fronted the mob, before a word was spoken.
"What now? what will he say?" "hush! hush!" said others; and
there was a dead silence, all the faces being turned towards the person.
"What is your business here to-day?" asked Mr. Staidley; for
it was he.
"We want the loan of your hands, for a small job we'er
about," said the speaker on the hedge: joining in the laugh which
"Then it is not me you want," said Mr. Staidley.
"No! no!" was the general answer.
"Nor my property, perhaps?"
"No! no!" was again the reply.
"Why then do you come upon my premises in this hostile
"Bekase we want the loan of your hands, as I towld you, sur;"
said the speaker.
"Where are my hands? those who are present, let them come
forward," shouted Mr. Staidley; and a considerable number separated from
the crowd, and stood in front of the gates, men and women, and youths of
both sexes were intermingled, for the females, would not go into the rear.
"I don't pretend to have so absolute a command over my
workpeople as to be able to dispose of their services, either to you or
any other persons," said Mr. Staidley, "but here they are, you can speak
to them, and if they choose your employment rather than mine, I have not,
as you see, any means for preventing them, even had I the will to do so."
"Speak out then, and tell us what you are about, and what it
is you want," said one of Mr. Staidley's carders, to the mob leader.
"Well! a dillicat meeting was held at a sartn place last
night," said the hedge orator, "and it was detarmined to bring out all the
hands until we get the owld prices. We were to begin with the hands
at Downfasts, of Toilington, and then march to Brimbeck to get the people
there out; and then wid go round and gain the whole counthry; and that's
what we wants the hands at this place for."
"Well, my lads and lasses; you hear what they want you for,"
said Mr. Staidley, "will you enter their service, or remain in mine?"
Speak out and tell your minds, whichever service you choose."
"For my part, I think it's only reasonable, what they want,"
said Ned Burfielt; whereupon there was a great shout, and cries of "hear
him! hear him!" "I say I think it's only reasonable, because we here
have our full wages, the same as they ask for, and it's only right that we
should assist others in gettin their's."
"Bravo! bravo!" "good lad!" "fine fellow!" were vociferated,
in compliment to the speaker; and, "Come along, let's be off, Brimbeck for
ever, hurra! hurra!" were shouted by the crowd.
"Three cheers for the brave lads of Brimbeck," shouted the
orator, taking off his hat and waving it; three loud cheers, and one cheer
more, were given, with waving of hats in the air.
"I suppose you are all for liberty," said a light-haired,
tall young fellow, who stood above the crowd opposite the fugleman.
"Oh, aye! liberty for ever!" shouted the mob. "Three
cheers for liberty, then;" said the young man.
"Now for liberty," said the fugleman; "hip, hip hurrah!" and
the mob shouted for liberty.
"Very good," said the young man; "I'm glad to see that; now
I, for one, shall take the liberty to go to my work inside the mill here."
"An' so will I," "an' so will I," an' so will I," shouted a
number of voices. "We'll all go that has a mind," cried out another.
"Aye, all that has a mind," cried most of the hands.
"Won't you abide the resolutions of the dillicat meetin?"
said the fugleman.
"Who was the delegate for Brimbeck?" asked the young man.
"I don't know his name, but he stands there," said the
leader, pointing to Ned Burfielt.
Ned seemed to shrink from this public recognition.
"And who appointed thee a delegate?" asked the young man,
accompanying, the word thee, with a contemptuous and searching
gaze. "Where, when, and by whom was thou appointed to act as a
delegate for Brimbeck?"
"Well," said Ned, putting the best face he could on the
matter, "as the thing has come out in this way—though I don't think that
Mister O'Flabberty, the speaker there, had a right to mention my name; but
as it has come out—I'll tell the whole truth about it. A man whom I
knew, came to my house on the night before last, and said, 'there was to
be a delegate meeting, at the Three Wheels, at Toilington, and some person
from Brimbeck was wanted to attend, and I might as well just go over and
hear what was determined.' So I went to the meeting last night,
after the mill was closed, and about half a dozen persons were there, and
when they called over the names of places that sent delegates, there were
none for Brimbeck only me, and I told 'em I was not regularly appointed,
and O'Flabberty there, and all the rest of 'em said, 'pho! pho! what did
it matter whether I was appointed or not, they would appoint me,' and so
they put down my name for Brimbeck; an' that was how I was made a
Cheers and laughter followed this declaration, mingled with
expressions of disapproval.
"And what did you do after you was made a delegate?" asked
the young man.
O'Flabberty protested against the question, as an attempt to
"worm into the secrets of the trade," and to "upset the freedom of
discussion;" and there was a great uproar and noise in the mob; whilst
most of the workpeople stood laughing at the scene.
"Come," said the young man, "I will not be put down, I'm for
freedom, you know; tell us, Ned, what took place after you were made a
"Well," said Ned, "I will, I'll tell all;" for he had begun
to perceive that the hands were a strong party, and that besides those at
the gates, there was at the end of the lane, another body of the mill-men
with Jonathan Handy at their head, and he thought that some of them seemed
to have short cudgels under their jackets: "I will, I'll tell all about
it," said Ned.
"Hear him! hear him!" shouted the young man, and the mill
hands. "Down with the knobsticks!" shouted O'Flabberty, and the
shout was repeated by the mob.
"Liberty! liberty!" cried the mill hands, "let the delegate
speak," and in the end they prevailed, and Ned went on.
"Well! O'Flabberty there, was chairman," said Ned, "and
he made a speech, telling us, trade was getting worse, and workmen's wages
lower. He said there was too much work in the market, and that the
masters were tyrants, and ought to be resisted; and then he talked
gloriously about liberty, and freedom, and such like; and he said some
poetry about "Who so base as be a slave," and "Oppressions, woes, and
pains," and such like, till he quite bothered me, and I believe most of
the others were the same. Well, at last we agreed there should be a
turn-out, and a collection; and when the turn-out took place, the
delegates should have five shillings a day, and meet every night, at some
place; and the chairman and secretary were to have three shillings a day
extra, because, as they said, they would have to be "always at work for
the good cause," and O'Flabberty was made into the chairman, and one Mr.
Haggis, a north countryman, was appointed secretary, and—
"Oh! the thraitor!" cried O'Flabberty; "Down with him! down
with all knobsticks! all inimies of working men."
"Down with all enemies," shouted some of the mob, whilst
others cried, "hear him! let him speak! go on, go on! "
"Well! after drawing up the rules, and signing our names as
delegates," said Ned, "we left the Three Wheels, and went to a public
house called, The Crib, where we found a number of Shuffleby's hands, and
our chairman told 'em about the strike that was to take place, and that a
number of mills were coming out, and they might as well join the others,
and they seemed to like the plan. And he asked if they had not
something in dispute about gas and the size of wheels? they said they had;
and he said they might as well join in "the glorious struggle for their
rights," and they said they would; and it was agreed to set persons to let
the hands know as they went in this morning, about what was to be done,
and that they were to turn out at breakfast time, and then go in a body,
and call the other mills out, and that is all I know," said Ned.
"And enough too," said Dick O'Brella, looking fiercely at the
men whom the leader had planted near him. "Enough too, be off, you
humbugs and foos, and let honest men go to their work."
"Hold, Dick, hold," said Mr, Staidley; "be not so hard;
recollect the people have been duped;" the remainder of his rebuke was
unheard in the uproar which arose.
"Here's a knobstick," shouted one who had been planted to
mark Dick. "A knobstick! a knobstick? down with Staidley and his
knobsticks!" was shouted by the mob. O'Flabberty, the leader,
promoting the tumult by his voice and gestures.
A stone was flung, and alighted near Mr. Staidley.
"Ah! you scoundrels," shouted the hands at the gates.
"We'll not join you. Be off with your delegates! we have our wages,
and will keep 'em!"
The leader had disappeared from his elevated situation during
the last tumult, and a voice and accent much like his, now shouted from
amid the crowd, "Down with Staidley! down with the gates." Others,
who imperfectly heard the command, cried, "Down with the delegate," and a
fellow who stood near Ned Burfielt, felled him to the ground, and others
kicked him whilst there; Ned bellowing most loudly, and crying for mercy.
Meantime a rush forward was made by the mob, and a counter movement by the
hands, brought the two parties into contact. Two fellows laid hold
of Dick O'Brella, but he shook them from him with a bitter smile, and one
went down with a blow, and the other with a kick that made the blood spirt.
Half a dozen soon followed the others, for as the song of Grinfilt says,
"He fought at both ends," and there was soon a clear space before him.
The tall young fellow, before noticed, whose name was Alik O' Salls, also
did considerable damage with his feet and hands. He made a ring for
himself, and then cleared a passage towards his respected employer, whom
he determined to defend with his life; a strong band was already around
Mr. Staidley, and Alik took his place in the front, where he fought side
by side with Dick O' Brella, and the mob was kept at a respectful
distance. Several of the women also rushed out, and beat their
bagging cans until they were flattened about the heads of the individuals
whom they encountered, and numbers of the mob fell back, whilst others
stood shaking their gory locks, and wiping their bloody faces unwilling to
renew the contest,
"Stone 'em;" shouted the same voice and accent as before, and
immediately a shower of stones was hurled at the defending party; a charge
which proved rather disastrous to them, for Dick O'Brella was knocked down
by a blow on the mouth, and Alik O'Salls was floored by a like salute on
the temple, which drew blood in abundance, and so probably saved his life;
the mob then made another rush towards the gates, and there was a shout of
"pull him eawt, deawn wi' him;" and several of the mob attempted to lay
hold of Mr. Staidley for that purpose, but his workpeople fought bravely,
and soon rid him of his assailants. Meantime a great confusion took
place amongst the rear party of the mob, who were supplying stones to the
others. Jonathan Handy deemed it time that he and his men should go
to work, which, as they were chiefly armed with sticks, he wished to avoid
if possible , lest serious damage should ensue to some of the misguided
multitude. He now, however, gave the word to set on, and in a
moment, cudgels were playing as quick as batting sticks, on the shoulders
and arms of the mob, and cries, curses, and tones of wonderment and pain,
broke from the astonished and affrighted crowd, which separating, rushed
through gates, and over gaps and fences, continuing their flight, in
ludicrous and almost pitiable terror. A small party alone,
unconscious of what had taken place behind, continued the attack at the
gates; and these also, after getting a sound drubbing, which Mr. Staidley
in vain endeavoured to prevent, were, at length kicked down the lane, and
allowed to escape.
The gates of the mill were then opened; the wounded were
taken care of; and Mr. Staidley, after exchanging friendly congratulations
with his faithful workpeople, and giving all necessary directions to Mr.
Handy, returned alone through the streets of the village, where he
occasionally passed groups of the mob that still lingered drinking at the
public houses; few of them however, then noticed him; they seemed ashamed,
and dispirited, and he with a feeling rather of pity than of anger, went
on his way towards home.