AB-O'-TH'-YATE AN' OWD DIZZY.
April 3th, 18—
bin blue for a day—not a milk-an'-wayter colour, nor even a
sky-blue, but a deep wimberry—though heaw it'll stick aw connot tell;
happen as lung as some folks would if th' curn laws wur put on agen. Aw dar'say yo'n wonder heaw this has come abeaut; but when aw tell
yo' ut a woman has had summat to do wi' it yo' need no' be
surprised. This wur th' road aw geet put into th' dye-tub.
My owd rib geet to know ut owd Dizzy wur comin' to Manchester, an'
as women generally are Tories—wed women, aw meean—through so mich
black cloth co'in a-seein' 'em, an' talkin' to 'em when the'r
husbands are at the'r wark, my bit o' muslin has getten dyed i'th'
same mixin', an' hoo's bin tryin' mony a ye'r for t' get me i' her
way o' not thinkin'. Heaw hoo's managed to come o'er me, aw'll tell
Eaur Sal an' me han bin at twos-an'-threes o'er this Tichborne trial
 ever sin it begun. Hoo would have it ut him ut wur co'ed th'
"Claimant" wur th' reet mon, an' aw've kept stickin' to it he wurno'. We'n frapt o'er it eendless o' times, but aulus finished up wi' her
sayin', "He is—he is—he is! Neaw, then, Abram." Well, last Monday,
after we'd polished off th' fifth dumplin', hoo crept to th' back o'
my cheear, an' strokin' my what-should-be-whiskers, as hoo aulus
does when hoo wants summat new, hoo said—
"Ab, Owd Dizzy's comin' t' Manchester t' morn."
"Is he?" aw said.
"Aye," hoo says. "Aw want thee t' goo an' see him, so ut theau con
tell me what he's like."
"Well, but folk 'll think aw've turned int' a Tory if aw do," aw
"They'n ne'er think no wurr on thee if theau does," hoo said. "Beside, it's a bit i' th' breed. Theau knows thi great-grondfeyther wur one, so ther' is a good excuse. Neaw, aw'll tell
thi what aw'll do if theau'll turn." An' hoo gan booath sides o' mi
face sich a nice pattin' ut aw'd ha' gan in to owt just then.
"What wilt' do, owd crayther?" aw said.
"Well," hoo says, "theau knows aw've aulus stuck to th' Claimant
bein' Tichborne—have not I?"
"It's me ut knows theau has," aw said.
"An' he is, too, chus what onybody says," hoo said.
"Goo on," aw said.
"Well," hoo says, quite coaxin' like, "aw'll give in ut he isno' th'
reet mon if theau'll turn Tory. Neaw, then!"
"Agreed on, just for an experiment," aw said.
"An' theau'll goo an' see owd Dizzy t' morn?" hoo said.
"Aye, an' moore nur that," aw said; "aw'll tak' mi' owd
feel-loss-o'-speed wi' me."
"That's reet," hoo said. "Aw'll see theaur't nicely trimmed up for
thi' eaut. Theau'st ha' thi blue cooat on' an' a blue napkin, an' a
blue ribbin' i' thi button-hole. Aw'd thowt to ha' bin a hauve-crown
to'ard th' bail for Tichborne, but neaw he may goo t' th' Owd Lad,
for owt aw care, an' theau con have th' hauve-creawn for thi spendin'
brass." Eh, these women!
Pityin' poor Tichborne if he'd no truer backers nur eaur Sal, an'
wonderin' heaw blue would suit my complexion, as soon as Aister
Tuesday broke aw prepared for settin' eaut to Manchester, a-seein'
this great mon ut's done so mich for poor folk, an' promises to do
so mich moore. "Fawse Juddie" said aw mustno' be beheend mi
neighbours; an' as he's a staunch owd never-stir, he meaunted me a
blue colour ut he'd getten up o' purpose for t' put o'th' top ov his
chimdy. He said it ud look betther at th' tail-end o' my
feel-loss-o'-speed. He'd painted on it i' white letters
DIZZY AND CHEAP BREAD.
DIZZY AND FREE TRADE.
DIZZY AND EQUAL REPRESENTATION.
DIZZY AND NO CHURCH RATES.
DIZZY AND VOTE BY BALLOT.
DIZZY AND A CHEAP PRESS.
DIZZY AND A FREE BREAKFAST TABLE.
DIZZY AND COBDEN FOR EVER.
Th' owd lad sticks to it to this day ut Cobden wur a Tory, becose
he'd done some good, an' th' Liberals never did ony; they nobbut
showed th' Tories heaw to do it. Heaw far he's reet or wrung it
isno' for me to say, neaw aw've bin dipt i'th' indigo tub.
"What are my principles, neaw aw'm changed?" aw axt owd Juddie, just
afore settin' eaut, as aw didno' know whether th' owd uns would do
fettled up a bit, or aw should want bran new uns.
"Principles?" he said, in a surprised way; "wheay, Consarvative
"Well, an' what's th' difference between Consarvative principles an'
Radical principles?" aw axt; becose aw've one or two neighbours ut
co'en the'rsel's Tories, an' they say'n they're greater reformers
nur ever aw wur, an' aw know they wurno' at one time."
"Difference, be hanged he said they' is no difference. It's o i'th'
colour. Ther' had used to be a difference at one time, an' a great
un too, but th' Tories han wakkent up neaw, an' getten to th' front. They known it's no use stickin' to th' owd stond-still, so they'n
o'erplayed th' Radicals at the'r own game. They'n gone furr, an'
that's th' reeason ther's sich runnin' after 'em neaw-a-days. If owd
Dizzy had bin i' peawer at th' time, they'd ha' bin no bother at
Peterloo, unless he'd order't one or two Radicals shot for no' gooin'
"Then aw am-no' givin' mich up for mi hauve-creawn?" aw said.
"Not a penno'th!" he said. "Sheaut, 'Dizzy an'
onythin' for ever!'
an' theau'rt as good a Consarvative as ony on us! If theau's a bit
ov a deaut theau con drop a crocodile tear or two for a church theau
sees moore o' th' eautside on nur th' inside, an' a constitution
we'n helped to change moore nur ever th' Radicals did, an' then
theau'll feel reet i' thi new clooas."
Aw ponder't deeply upo' what owd Juddie towd me; but when eaur Sal
see'd aw'd getten mi studyin'-cap on hoo gan me a shake, an' said
if aw begun a-thinkin' aw met change mi mind. Do as a woman does,
an' throw reeason o' one side." So hoo festen't a blue ribbin i' mi
buttonhole, chucked me under th' chin when hoo'd done it, an' just
as aw're wheelin' mi owd bobbin-jigger eaut o' th' heause, "Jack o' Flunters" coome runnin' in wi' a Owdham newspapper in his hont.
"Ab " he said, "theau munno' miss this."
"Miss what?" aw said.
"Wheay," he said, "ther's gooin' to be a railroad train walkin' i'
"Theau doesno' meean that?" aw said.
"But aw do," he said. "Look for thisel." An' he honded th'
newspapper to me.
Aw read this—
"The Conservatives of the Parliamentary Borough of Oldham and
neighbourhood are respectfully informed that a special train will
leave Oldham via the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway for Victoria
Station, Manchester, on Easter Tuesday, at one o'clock at noon, and
on arriving at Manchester will march in procession along Hunt's Bank
and Deansgate to Brazenose Street, and there take up their position
for the grand procession to Pomona Gardens."
"Wonders never ceeasen!" owd Juddie said, when aw'd finished readin'. "A railroad train marchin' in a procession! That's one for us, Ab. Th' Radicals could never ha' managed a job o' that soart. Talk abeaut makkin' a bridge to France! If ever owd Dizzy gets i' peawer
he'll ha' that done; an' if th' Yankees dunno' mak' less o' the'r
bother he'll tak' Ameriky in a balloon. Wonderful days ar' comin',
aw con see."
Th' mornin' wur a beauty for a start. Th' gaffers o'er th' weather
wareheause show'd the'rsels owt but Tories; for i'stead o' the'r
bein' ony blue i' th' sky, they're wringin' th' deeshcleaut so as aw
ha' no' seen it wrung for some time, an' that's sayin' a great deeal. Owd Juddie said it wur what met ha' bin expected wi' a Liberal
Government i' peawer. They owt to hang "Owd Merrypebble," as he coe's Gladstone, for a witch. He aulus thowt they summat abeaut him
ut smelt like that stuff they tippen matches wi'. To goo beaut
humbrell wur not to be thowt at, though aw had mi uncle Jammy's
topcooat, ut he says would stond a week's rain, and' be as dree as a
tinder-box after o. We had nobbut one humbrell, an' that bein' a
green un aw couldno' purtend to tak' it. Aw should ha' had it slit int' ribbins afore aw'd getten eaut o' th' fowt! Th' owd rib had
foreseen this, an' had dyed it th' neet afore i' some bluestone-an'-vitril ut we'd used for white-weshin'. What calkilashion that woman
Th' owd bit o' gingham didno' look so very smart in it' new
complexion; but then it wur blue, an' that wur o ut wur wanted. At hauve past ten aw meaunted mi cockhawse, an' geet mi fust dose o' th'
liberal weather. Th' snow coome slap into mi face like a lot o'
little deeshcleauts, ut made me grin like a foomart. Jack o' Flunter's said if th' colour didno' get weskit eaut o' booath me an'
th' humbrell, we're ov a fast dye. He's a Radical, Jack is, an'
looked as fain as if someb'dy had set a quart o' th' Owd Bell
fourpenny afore him becose th' day wur sich a grand un. Fause Juddie
thowt a boat would ha' bin betther nur a feel-loss-o'-speed, unless
aw're duck-built, an' had mi fithers weal oil't; an' for o ut he's a
Tory he made as mich gam' on me as would ha' turned mony a one back. Thar' nob'dy du'st put the'r yeads eawt to watch mi off. If they'd
done so they'd ha' wanted it wringin' like a mop. So aw steeamed
deawn th' lone, wi' not a sheaut to cheer mi pluck, an' mi colour
hangin' abeaut th' pow as sulky as an owd maid at a weddin'.
Aw treddled away to Manchester beaut seein' mich o' owt beside
weather. Aw passed th' Hazelwo'th procession ut wur shelterin' under
a bridge, an' they wanted me to join 'em. If aw'd leead up it ud be
like bein' led up wi' a carriage. So aw put misel' i' th' front, an'
th' order bein' gan to "march," we plashed off t' th' general meetin'
place. Th' band played "Th' Men of Merry England," an' th' procession
joined in t' singin'. They couldno' meean us, becose wer'n anythin'
but "merry;" an' when they said, "Let the bottle pass an' we'll
drink another glass," it seaunded like dismal mockery,—ther no
bottle t' pass! Aw wish't mony a time ther' had bin. But it wur
happen betther as it wur, becose it would ha' bin ten to one they'd
never ha' raiched Manchester. When we geet to Swan Street aw wheeled
reaund, an' promisin' t' meet th' procession i' Albert Square, aw
beawled deawn to Victoria Station, for t' watch Owdham marchin'
train come in. Aw're abeaut an heaur to' soon; so aw stabled mi
hawse at th' "Duck wi' th' Lung Throttle," an' raised a steeam afore
th' fire ut made th' place look like a brewheause. When th' heaur
wur up aw trindled off to th' station.
Aw expected ther' bein' theausants o' folk waitin' for t' see th'
train march, but aw fund aw're very nee th' odd mon; an' aw begun a
havin' some misgivin's ut aw'd bin sowd as usual. Ther' nob'dy upo'
th' station ut looked ony livelier nur a comic singer eaut o' wark,
or an undertakker i' paradise. They must ha' bin Radicals, ut wur
feart they're gooin' t' ha' th' steeam takken eaut on 'em. Abeaut
hauve-past one th' train beawled in, an aw're surprised t' see it
wur so mich like common trains ut awcouldno' ha' towd th'
difference. Aw axt a chap ut geet eaut if that wur th' marchin'
train, an' geet a druzz o'th' side o'th' yed for mi onswer; but when
he seed heave mi buttonhole wur adorn't he begged mi pardon, an'
towd me th' marchin' train wur gan up, as th' carriages couldno'
swim. Aw felt disappointed, an' no deaut everybody felt th' same,
becose they could ha' bin nicely under cover o th' time. Two chaps
passed me carryin' a square box, ut they hondled as choisily as if
it had bin a kayther wi' a babby in it.
"What han yo getter theere?" aw said to th' chaps. "Is it that glass
case one's yerd so mich talk abeaut?"
"Nawe," one on 'em said; "that's at th' Knott Mill, wi' th' last
Radical in it!"
One for Ab's nob, aw thowt.
"What is ther' in it, then?" aw said; an' th' onswer wur—
"It's th' banner. We dar'no' put it up for fear o'th' colour comin'
eaut. It's an owd green un dyed, ut we bowt off th' Radicals when
they geet to' thin to muster a procession. If th' colour geet wesht
eaut, beside bein' green, it ud show—
'COBDEN AND BRIGHT FOR EVER!'
an' that wouldno' do to carry to Pomona." That caused me to tak'
stock o' mi humbrell, an' aw fund it showed signs o' summat ut made
me feel rayther queer. Beside th' colour gooin', it favvort takkin'
th' cloth wi' it, an' leeavin' mi nowt nobbut th' stick an' th'
ribs. Aw didno' venture to put it up agen for a while.
"March!" th' captain sung eaut. "Carriage pooers i' th' front, an'
four deep!" An' they marched—close t'gether they wur, for t' keep
one another warm; an' it caused sich a spree amung th' humbrells ut
ther' lots o' cripples laid up afore they geet to th' rallying pleck. Rare jobs for tinkers! One o'th' carriage pooers sulked becose he
mustno' be i'th' shafts, so ut he could b' next to owd Dizzy. A
disappointed place hunter, aw thowt! Aw're disappointed misel' i'
moore things nur one. Aw couldno' see a "Tory i' clogs" i' o th'
procession, an' aw'd bin towd ther lots i' Owdham. When aw axt heaw
it wur, they towd me ut through owd Dizzy takkin' th' curn laws off,
an' losenin' trade, they'd bin able to buy shoon. Aw felt as aw
could like t' ha' shaked honds wi' th' owd lad for that.
Aw beawled off t' th' square a quiet rooad, an' fund Hazlewo'th
procession under a lamp, rulin' Britannia wi' rayther dismal lines;
ther' a lot had come'n in fro' Bacup an' other places, an' they'rn
stondin' reaund th' picture o' owd Dizzy hung between two pows; an'
a band wur playin', "We won't go whoam till mornin'." It struck me as bein' very true abeaut some, if no' very moral an' patriotic. After stondin' under th' deggin-can for abeaut an' heaur, as if we'd bin a
bed o' onions, we formed into what wur co'ed a procession, but it
wur a slattery sooart o' one; an' sometimes th' yead an' tail wur so
far separated ut it wur hard wark to piece agen. Then they'd be
cluttert o ov a rook; an' one band ud be playin' one thing, an'
another another, till it wur like bein' at Knott Mill fair. Through th' bother aw had o'er gettin' mi owd bobbin-jigger registered, so
as aw could goo amung th' carriages, aw lost th' Hazlewo'th squad
till we geet to Chester Road; but wantin' to goo int' th' gardens wi'
'em, aw axt a policeman if he knew wheere aw could find 'em. He
pointed deawn th' road toward Hulme Church, an'said—
"You'll find 'em behind yon lurry," an' aw did.
Aw geet takken for owd Dizzy mony a time as aw're spinnin' deawn;
an' one o' th' bands, ut had done its wark, played "See the
Conquering Hero comes!" an' aw stood a gallon for 'em at th' Bull's
Yead. They wanted me to leead up one o' th' Orange squads, but aw
"Nawe, aw'm an Englishmen. Go' to yo'r Boyne wayter, an' drink it if
yo' liken; but aw think by th' looks on yo', yo'd rayther hav' a
sope o summat strunger. Glorious William doesno' look so preaud on
yo'. If he'd had no betther men for wadin' th' Boyne wi' they'd ha'
letten' him dreawn. Aw'll be true blue, an' not a mixture."
Aw had to wade to th' gardens, an' draw mi carriage after me, th'
road wur so deep i' slutch; but when aw did get in, an' see'd th'
creawd ther' wur met, an' ut had powler't through o that rain, aw
said to misel'; "Ther's some life i' Toryism yet, or else they're
foe's. Which? Aw geet jammed arming a lot ut 'ad abeaut five heaurs
rain i' the'r clooas, an' a rare steeamin' they gan mi! They ruled
Britannia abeaut ev'ry two minutes, an' hurray'd for everybody ut
coome on t' platform, so ut they'd be sure o' sheautin' for th' reet
men. Aw gan my lungs middlin' exercise, aw con tell yo'! Aw forgeet
misel' once, an' sheauted, "Bright for ever!" but th' luck on 't
wur, nob'dy fund eaut wheere th' noise coome fro'. Aw shall happen
get off it wi' a bit o' practice. When owd Dizzy did show hissel' wi'
th' owd rib bi his side, ther a noise rose like a storm at Blackpoo'
wi' a thunner chorus, an' aw fancied within misel' ut he look't a
bit feart. Aw dar'say he'd bin towd ut Lancashire folk showed the'r
likin' for a mon bi polishin' the'r clog-noses agen his shins, an'
abeaut thirty or forty thousant pair would want a good decal o'
rubbin' up. They'd ha' tried what sooart o' stuff his tailor wur
Ther a lot o' folk wi' rowls o' papper i' the'r honds an' aw axt a
chap what wur th' meeanin' on't. He said:
"Owd Dizzy wants his heause papperin', an' yond are samples."
"Oh!" aw said.
Ther' favvort bein' some talkin' gooin' on, but nowt could be yerd,
becose folk begun o' creawdin' eaut when they'd sin th' main mon. When Dizzy spoke
hissel' o ut aw could yer wur this:—
—(Rule Britannia!)—(Hurray!)—(send her victorious)—(Hurray!)—(Rule
Britannia, Britannia rule the waves; Britons ne-e-e-e-ver shall be
slaves!)—(Hurray, hurray, hurray!)
Aw mun say ut whenever aw yer "Rule Britannia," sung or played, it
warms up my English blood till aw feel ready for jumpin' upo' th'
owd lion's back, an' dashin' through fire an' wayter wi' him. Whatever else aw may be, aw'm a TRUE BRITON, an' wouldno' be fund
inside a soof if mi country wur invaded, though ther's nobbut abeaut
six foot on't belungs to me. Neaw, then! put that i' yo'r pipes, a
lot o' yo'! an' smooke it!
Then o wur o'er ut we'd come for, obbut gooin' whoam, an' warmin'
flannels, an' makkin' gruel, an' wonderin' what o this bother had
bin abeaut. One mon towd me he'd lost a deeal o' money wi'
spekilatin' i' blue ribbin. Ther lots o' folk ut made the'r noses
sarve i'stead. As aw're comin' eaut aw wonder't if it wurno'
possible for Englishmen to strive for one another's good
witheaut showin' the'r teeth, an' doin' a bit o' worryin'. What a
grand wo'ld this would be if they no foo's in it!
P.S.—Aw'd forgetter to tell yo' ut when aw coome to put mi humbrell
up aw fund th' gingham had flown. Th' blue stone-an'-vitril had
etten it away.
P.S., N.B.--Summat ut eaur Sal put i' mi gruel when aw went t' bed
set me a-dreeamin', an' aw thowt owd Dizzy had come'n to mi bedside,
an' tappin' me on th' bob o' mi neetcap, said—
"Ab, wakken!" An' aw wakkent.
"Bi that curl i' th' front o' y'or toppin' aw should tak' yo' to be
owd Dizzy," aw said.
"The same jovial chicken," he said. "How's your political pulse
"Fine!" aw said.
"Got rid of the Radical fever?"
"Quite!" aw said. "Aw've had a touch o' th' blue uns sin' then."
"Good! May I reckon upon you as one of my supporters through all
shades of fortune?"
"Through thick an' thin!" aw said.
"Thank you! Do you think I've done much public good by coming down?"
"A great deeal," aw said. "Ther's bin lots o' drink sowd."
"So I've been told; but I mean political good."
"Oh, aye; everybody 'll be o' yo're side afore lung."
"Do you think John Bright will?"
"Sure to be. But which on yo'll goo o'er to t'other aw winno' say."
"Hum! May I class you among my blind supporters, or as one that
backs me on principle?"
"Aw've put th' blinkers on," aw said.
"You know what my principles are, don't you?"
"Well, aw dunno' purtend to be moore fur-seein' nur other folk, so
"But you know what my policy has hitherto been?"
"Aw know a bit abeaut what yo' han bin; but it would tak' o th'
fortin-tellers, an' race tippers, an' newspapper writers i' th'
wo'ld to tell what yo'n be next ye'r! If yo' dar' jump deawn
Niagara, i'th' dark, too, after sayin' sich a thing would swamp th'
constitution of onybody, yo' may swim up agen, for owt aw know."
"Would such a feat alter your attachment to me?"
"Not a bit! Neaw aw'm listed i' yo're regiment aw shall sheaut for
yo' just th' same as lung as yo' keepen blazin' int' owd Merrypebble."
"Of course you would like to see me in office again?"
"Next week if it could be managed."
"What is your special reason for wishing that?"
"Quietness. Ther's never no bother when yo're peawer. If yo' dun owt
reet, everybody's satisfied; an' if yo' dun owt wrung, nob'dy dar'
grumble; so it comes to th' same thing."
"He shaked his curl at that, an' gan me a poke i'th' ribs."
"Ah, Ab," he said, "you're a funny dog! If ever it should be my
fortune to take office, I will take care that Her Majesty confers
the honour of knighthood upon you, in commemoration of this day's
"Aw'd rayther yo'd knight th' owd rib," aw said. "What is your
"Then folk ud say aw're a disinterested patriot, an' aw could
bamboozle 'em as aw liked, like Oliver Cromwell turnin' up his nose
at th' Creawn, an' owd Di"—but he'd gone, an' aw fund aw're talkin'
to th' bedstump.
1. Ed.—the affair of the Tichborne claimant
(1871-4) was the celebrated 19th-century legal case of Arthur Orton
(1834–1898), an imposter who claimed to be Sir Roger Tichborne
(1829–1854), the missing heir to the Tichborne Baronetcy.
WALMSLEY FOWT GOOSE CLUB.
THOOSE ut han
never bin a member ov a goose club connot ha' mich ov a notion as to
what sich an institution is like. If a goose knew heaw little it had
to do wi' th' consarn itsel', it wouldno' look so preaud as it does
abeaut th' middle o' December; nor fatten up its carcase as it does
afore th' time it has to have its giblets put eaut o' seet. Whisky,
an' 'bacco, an' talk, han moore to do wi' th' club nur a barn-dur
cackler has; becose, when we come to reckon up what we'n spent at
meetin's, sayin' nowt abeaut time lost, which is never put i'th'
calkilation, we mooestly find ut we could ha' bowt a goose apiece wi'
th' cost, an' had a sope slat in.
For th' last four year we'n had a goose club at th' "Owd Bell;" an'
it's likely we'st keep it up—no' for th' sake o'th' goose, but forth'
sake o'th' meetin's. Rare sprees thoose meetin's han bin; an' rare
scrambles we'n aulus had for office! We generally begun a-getherin'
t'gether as soon as th' fifth o' November wur off eaur honds, becose
summat must be gooin' on, if it's nobbut a rearin' supper, or a 'bacco-box
show. Then th' goose club is th' biggest do we han i'th' year,
unless it's when a member o'th' Local Board invites his supporters
to a pottito-pie, or a shank stew. It's th' only time, too, when th'
nobs o'th' fowt mixen wi' th' common litter; an' that circumstance
gi'es it a seemin' o' respectability ut goes a good way to'ards bees-waxin'
life. Ther's just one bit ov a drawback—eaur wives dunno' like th'
club; becose they thinken—an' what a woman thinks hoo'll say—ut th'
meetin's are nobbut an excuse for gettin' eaut o'th' heause at neets. They met be furr wrung.
Up to last Kesmas, Fause Juddie had bin th' cheearmon o'th' club—aulus
elected witheaut a contest. But th' Scratchetary, and th' money
howder, an' th' buyer o'th' goose, an' th' committee, han aulus bin
chosen wi' a feight. It's no use eaur sayin' ut politics should
never be dragged into things they'n nowt to do wi'. Someheaw ther's
a bit o' long-ear'dness i' every mon's natur' an' that aulus shows
itsel' when politics are put afore owt else. Th' cap may be worn by
booath sides. Let 'em toss up which keeps it.
But last Kesmas Juddie wur to be disturbed. It wur proved ut he'd
used some influence for th' sake ov a farmer ut didno' live i'th'
neighbourhood; an' a goose had bin bowt off this farmer ut wur
dearer, an' tougher, nur ony we'd had afore. This bit o' jobbery couldno' be sanctioned, speshly when it had bin done by one howdin'
sich an important office as cheearmon; so th' owd lad geet ousted
eaut ov his seeat. Lorjus, heaw he stared when he fund they a
mijority o' votes agen him! an' heaw he prophesied ut th' day would
come, an' afore lung too, when they'd be fain to undo what they'd
done that neet.
"Heaw mich did that farmer give yo' for t' get that goose off his
honds?" Jack o' Flunter's axt him o'th' neet ov election.
"Aw nobbut geet a shillin'," Juddie said; "so aw've no' made a
fortin eaut on't. It's not as mich as theau gets sometimes for
recommendin' someb'dy's breek to builders. Neaw then, John!"
"But that's nobbut swindlin' one mon," Jack said. "Yo'n bin swindlin'
a club, an' that's th' difference. But aw'll tell yo' what aw'll do. If yo'n turn up that shillin' to th' club, aw'll propose ut yo'r put
on yo'r peearch agen."
That seemed to meet everybody's likin'; an' Juddie considered. We
knew ut gettin' th' shillin' eaut on him wur like drawin' a pint ov
his blood; but what winnot honour cause a mon to do? He bit his
lip, scrat his yead, an' rubbed his spectekles. Then he said "Aw'll
agree to that."
What a sheaut ther' wur when it wur known ut Juddie had gan in!
Purity o' principles had triumphed.
We voted th' owd lad back to his peearch, an' th' shillin' wur paid. Juddie wur as humble, an' good tempered as need be after that; an'
a smile kept flittin' abeaut his face like a butterflee. It
sometimes does a mon good takkin' him deawn a peg, an' lettin' him
know ut he connot aulus have his own road.
Th' election o'er, things went on swimmin'ly. Th' tuppences apiece
for th' goose subscription, an' th' thrippences for that neet's
punch, wur collected witheaut ony bother an' we finished up wi' a
speech fro' th' cheear. Juddie said—
"Members o'th' Walmsley Fowt Goose Club,—It gi'es me great pleasure
to know that, if there has bin a bit ov a shock felt i'th'
ramifications o' this grand society, yo'r confidence in me hasno'
o'together gone to pieces. Aw may ha' done that i' mi wakeness what
feelin's wouldno' ha' letten me do. But who hasno' a bit o' owd Eve
i' the'r lappin's up? Temptations i' this life lie'n everywheere
abeaut; an' th' mooest o' eaur fingers are aulus itchin' to be
havin' howd. Sometimes they getten brunt, an' it's then we repenten, not before. Sin, when it feels nice, is very oft mistakken for summat betther; an' when that's th' case we go'en in
for a dollop on't. Heaw pleasant would be thievin', if it wur-no'
for law, an' conscience! It met be co'ed wrung; but aw'm feeart
ther very few on us ut wouldno' do it. Well, seein', like, ut ther's
this corruption in eaur natur', let's pray ut it may be kept eaut o'
seet. Aw've bin the cheearmon o' this noble club ever sin' it begun; an' it would ha' browt grey yure to my yead if yo'd bagged me
gradely —that is, if it hadno' bin grey afore. When aw look at th'
list o' members neaw before me, aw think we could afford a prize for
th' lowest shake; an' aw should like someb'dy to propose ut we han
one. If aw met chuse what that prize should be, aw'd say a duck."
"Aw propose it's a duck," aw said.
It wur seconded, an' carried.
"Theigher, neaw," Juddie went on, "heaw mich pleasanter things are
when we're o i' one mind, an' that a good mind! It shows weel for
th' sperrit ut governs this grand society. Neaw, then, let harmony
prevail. Let us be like doves in a cote; never forgettin' that i'th'
perambilations o' this life it's betther to goo hond i' hond, nur
fratchin' an' feighten' on th' road. Aw've no deaubt this noble
society has a grand futur' before it; that may have a good deeal to
do wi' smootenin' th' flints an' thurns ut besetten us i' this vale
o' tears; an' thereby settin' an example to other nations, ut are
as strange to goose clubs as they are to, to, ha—Local Boards. This meetin's neaw closed; an' th' committee 'll meet i'th' bar, for t'
do what business they han to do, threepennoth's apiece alleawed."
Juddie had no sooner finished his speech nor aw yerd a bump,
followed by a bit o' langwidge ut didno' seaund like comin' eaut ov
a "dove cote." Someb'dy had drawn his cheear away while he're on
his feet, an' he'd gone th' heels uppert on th' floor.
"If aw knew whoa'd done that aw'd have his husk," he muttered, as he
gether't hissel up. "Aw'd peel it off his carcase like th' skin ov
a onion. Swither my stockin's if aw wouldno'! "
What followed aw dunno know, for Jack o' Flunter's an' me shuttered
deawn steears as soon as we could find a road; an' when th' owd lad
joined us, rubbin' that part ut had bin agen th' floor, we purtended
we didno' know what he ailed. A glass an' a crusher soothed him
deawn, after we'd promised for t' investigate th' matter, an' bring
desarved an' condign punishment upo' someb'dy ut wur a disgrace to
th' goose club. At eleven o'clock he'd getten his temper reaund to
th' west, blowin' a gentle breeze, like th' quiet settin' ov a
Th' neet of o neets coome at last, an' we'd two fust rate animals
i'th' fithert line to be shaked for. Hazelwo'th had th' honour o'
supplyin' us this time, an' a extry depilation had gone to th' farm
fort' pike 'em eaut. Th' goose looked like a three-decker, wi'
nobbut th' fore mast up; an' th' duck met be compared to a frigate,
waddlin' by its side. Ther lots o' folk went a-lookin' at 'em,
as they'rn coted i'th' "Owd Bell" stable, wonderin' what wur th'
meeanin' o' so mony visitors. Th' londlord made a good thing eaut o'
showin' 'em, becose nob'dy could for-shawm to leeave th' heause
beaut havin' a gill. Booath th' goose an' th' duck fund it eaut in a
day or two what theyr'n theere for. They fell, one mornin', a
sacrifice to that grand institution—guzzlin' an' stuffin'— so
necessary to show off Christian feelin' an' self-denial at that time
But, as aw said, th' neet of o neets coome; an' th' "Owd Bell"
chamber wur one blaze o' leet—not leet fro' candles, or gas, but
fro' a lump o' pine wood, sawn i' three, an' fixed upreet i'th foire-place. Onybody ut went into th' reaum stopped at th' dur an' looked at th'
foire afore venturin' furr. Then they shaded the'r faces, an' sit as
far away as they could get. Th' latest comers had to keep droppin'
in closer to th' foire, till it geet to owd Peg-leg, an' he had to
peearch at th' end o'th' fender, wheere, later on i'th' neet, he
made hissel useful by pokin' th' foire with his "timber toe," till
it wur very nee gettin' on a blaze. Th' "Churchwarden Band" wur at
the'r wark directly, the'r pipes sendin' eaut spurts o' reech ut
filled th' reaum wi' cleauds o' blued muslin. Soon th' pitcher begun
a-gooin' reaund, one wi' warm an' t' other wi' cowd; an' this soart
o' foirin'-up browt th' steeam o' good humour to brastin' pressure
afore th' raffle begun. Then th' cheearman turn't up.
"Bring in owd Smutch's hymn book," owd Juddie said, as soon as he
geet fixed at his post. He meant th' dice.
So these unsaintly things were flung on th' table, an' th' fust name
wur coed o'er. Then th' raffle begun wi' a sperrit ut wur kept up
for nearly an heaur, becose it took th' cheearmon sich a while to
book th' number of a throw. Some shook savagely, as if the'r aim wur
to knock th' bottom eaut o'th' box; an' th' length o' tongue ut wur
exhibited o'er this soart o' shakin' showed ut that member wur thowt
to have a good deeal to do wi' luck. Others shook in a quiet an'
philosophic fashion, as if they didno' care for winnin', an' would
rayther ha' gan the'r chance away nur ha' bin at th' trouble o'
shakin'. One or two fause uns put the'r ears to th' box, an' talked
to th' dice, tellin' th' sixes to lay th' ones on the'r backs, when
they leet upo' th' table. Fun an' spekilation ran hee, speshly
spekilation. But as th' game went on, thoose ut wur shaked eaut fell
away fro' th' table, an' consoled the'rsels by thinkin' they wouldno'
have a great deeal o' cookin' to do, an' a sickly smell to put up wi'
that Kesmas. At last th' winners wur declared—him ut had won th'
goose sayin' he thowt he should win when he coome, becose his wife
had dreeamt th' nest afore ut hoo'd bin in a snow-storm, wheere th'
flakes wur as big as goose fithers. Him ut piked th' duck up said
he'd a notion o' winnin', too, as a "quack" doctor had coed at his
heause that mornin' wantin' him to buy some worm peawthers. Heaw
things had dropt eaut!
"Aw never win nowt, do aw hecky as like!" owd Peg-leg said, hopping
abeaut th' reaum, an' makkin' a black dot every time he set his peg
"Be satisfied," Jack o' Flunter's said, ut had won nowt hissel. "Yo'
known they're aulus th' biggest foos ut han th' best luck."
"Then heaw is it he's won nowt?" Peg-leg said, meeanin' owd Juddie. "He's about th' biggest leatheryead aw know. If ever they catchen me
shakin' for a goose agen, aw'll be goosed misel'," an' Peg-leg gan
th' foire a poke, an' sent a flock o' sparks up th' chimdy.
I' less nur hauve an heaur after th' raffle it wur known througheaut
Hazelwo'th who 'ad won th' goose; an' bi th' time th' prize wur
loaded whoam th' Frog Lone band wur gether't reaund th' dur, playin'
th' Conquerin' Hayro."
Th' shakin' bein' sattled, we formed reaund for singin' an' tale-tellin',
an' a bit o' quiet fratchin'. Owd Juddie wur thrutcht into th'
chimdy-nook, a-facin' owd Peg-leg; an' they neaw-an'-then leet fly
at one another, for t' keep the'r tempers fro' gettin' meault. Just
when they'rn abeaut gettin' howd o' one another's noses ther a sheaut set up.
"He's here; he's here—th' uncle's come'n!"
Well, thoose ut had no' known th' "uncle would ha' thowt he're a
grey or bare-headed owd mon, jolly-faced, like Winter, wi' its
berries, an' as merry as Kesmas bells. Merry he wur, an'
jolly; but no furr travell't i' life nur th' hauve-way heause, wheere owd Time
owt t' alleaw him to stop. His senglet stood eaut till it threw a
broad, reaund, shadow upo' th' floor; an' his face sparkl't o'er wi'
rubies o' fun.
"A nice, brokken-hearted-lookin' lot yo' are," he said, as soon as
he could fix hissel' for lookin' reaund. "Yo' o looken as if yo'd
"Sit thi deawn, an' get that orgin o' thine i' tune," Jack o'
Flunter's said, gettin' howd o'th' uncle by th' shoothers, an' wheelin' him to a seeat. "Theau's just come'n i'th' nick o' time. We'rn gettin' quite mopesed."
"Aye, yo' looken like it, by th' way thoose pitchers are gooin'
reaund," th' uncle said. "Aw never see'd sich a set-eaut o' faces
sin' aw're kessunt. They looken like two rows o' red lamps. What
han yon chaps agate?" These were Fause Juddie an' owd Peg-leg.
"Summat o'er one o' Juddie's hens ut's missing', an' th' smell of a
pie ut owd Peg-leg's had to the'r dinner t'other day," Jack o'
Flunter's said. "They're nobbut bin at it abeaut ten minutes, an'
Juddie has bin on his feet twice, for t' lash eaut. Every time he
rises owd Peg's timber rises too; an' he sticks it i'th front on
him, like a bayonet. We'd best let 'em have it to the'rsels."
"Neaw, uncle; sing us th' Miller," Jim Thuston coed eaut. "It'll
happen save a bit o' bloodshed."
"Aye, sing us th' Miller," someb'dy else sheauted.
"Aw reckon, chaps, yo'n made yo'r minds up not to be satisfied till
yo'n had it," th' uncle said, pooin' a young blanket fro' reaund his
neck, an' givin' a soart of a startin' signal, by clearin' his
throat. "Yo'r on, aw con see; so aw met as weel get it o'er, as th'
lad said when his feyther raiched th' rope deawn."
"Order for a song, mesther Cheearmon," Jack o' Flunter's coed eaut.
"It tak's a whul reaum-full fort' keep yo' two onywhat-like."
"Well, if he'll give in ut it wur my hen ut he had made int' a pie,
aw'll say nowt no moore abeaut it," owd Juddie said, givin' his
enemy what wur intended to be a mild look. "Aw'll forgive him."
"Theau'll forgive me, wilta?" owd Peg-leg said, turnin' up his nose
at Juddie; "as if aw cared whether theau did or not. Let me tell thi,
once an' for o, ut theau hasno' a hen i' thi cote ut would raise a
smell. Ony hen ut's bin fed upo' nowt nobbut brokken pots 'll never
be fit to lie under a crust."
"There was a jolly miller, lived on the river Dee,"
th' uncle begun; an' ther' quietness at once, except a bit o'
under-voiced mutterin', ut neaw an' then went backort and forrad
across th' hearthstone; an' th' singin' went on.
When th' sung wur finished, an' th' sheautin' an' clappin' an'
hommerin' th' tables had ceeased, owd Juddie an' owd Peg-leg rose
upo' what they had to stored on; an' gettin' howd o' one another's
honds, like two foos i' drink, they gan a hearty shake, ut took th'
company quite bi storm. We'd had th' last o' the'r bother for that
"Well done, uncle!" Jack o' Flunter's said, offerin' th' singer a
wesh-deawn. "That orgin o' thine's i' fust rate tune— different to
that wur at th' Ranter's Chapel."
"Whoa's towd thee abeaut that?" th' uncle said, lookin' reaund an'
up into Jack's face.
"A little brid ut wur peearcht upo' th' chimdy at th' time," Jack,
said i' rayther a mystarious way. "Theau may be sure it wur one ut
understood th' difference between a orgin an' a harmonium."
"It wur a rum go, wurn't it?" th' uncle said, laafin'.
"It wur nowt elze," Jack said. "Some folk han th' cheek for owt, if
ther's summat at th' end on't. Theau met mak' a rare tale eaut o'
that spree if theau'd tell it to th' company."
"Should aw do, dost think?" th' uncle said.
"Aye, it 'ud just suit 'em," Jack said. "Aw dunno' think ther's one
on 'em knows abeaut it. Shall aw sheaut for order?"
"O reet—hommer away!"
"Mak' a less noise, chaps," Jack sheauted, after he'd losent th'
table joints wi' his fist; "we met ha' no cheearmon! Th' uncle's
gooin' t' tell us a bit of a tale."
Ther quietness at once, an' th' uncle begun.
"Well," he said, "yo' known th' Ranter's Chapel, up i'th' Plattin'
Lone? They'n, like, getten on as fast theere as at ony pleck aw
know. Fro' a flute an' a bass fiddle, an' a dowdy squad o' singers,
they geet to a harmonium an' a slap-up choir in next to no time. But
they wurno' satisfied wi' thoose."
"Folk never are satisfied," owd Juddie put in.
"Yo'r reet theere, George, they never are. Well," th' uncle went on,
"I they must have a orgin i'th' place o'th harmonium. So they geet a
orgin—th' part o' one, heawever—an' yo'r uncle, here, wur engaged
for th' oppenin'. It wur to be a grand do. Bills wur put up th' size
of a heause, an' a extry teeam of praichers wur mustered. Aw had to
sing a solo—'And the trumpet shall seaund'—wi' a trumpet obligato,
if yo' known what that meeans. As aw didno' like singin' it beaut a
bit o' practice, we'd a rehearsal o'th' Setterday neet, me an' th'
orginist. When he'd played th' recitative—that's a soart o'
introduction, like, ut aw thowt seaunded rayther cat-maawish for a
orgin o' that size—aw brasted off. When aw coome to 'And the trumpet
shall seaund' he should ha' blown a pipe ut seaunds like a trumpet.
But it didno' cheep, so aw drops mi singin'.
"'Here, owd Smoothie'-iron,' aw said, 'poo that trumpet-stop eaut.'
"'Ther' is no trumpet-stop,' he said.
"'What! a orgin beaut trumpet stop?' aw said.
"'Orgin behanged!' he said; "this is th' owd harmonium they'n fotcht
eaut o'th' skoo. Th' orgin builder has bin on th' spree, an' hasno'
finished his job; so we're like to do th' best we con.'
"If th' orgin makker hasno' finished his job, thi uncle doesno'
finish his,' aw said; an' aw rowlt mi music up, an' walked eaut
"Didtno' sing o'th' Sunday?" Jim Thuston wanted to know.
"Would theau ha' sung?" th' uncle said.
"Aw hardly think aw should," Jim said. "Wur th' orgin oppent?"
"Th' harmonium wur; an' aw dunno' think th' congregation known to
this day but what th' music coome fro' th' orgin; becose th'
harmonium wur shoved reet agen it. Well, it wur for a good cause;
so aw reckon a little bit o' hanky-panky meant nowt. Whoa's won th'
"Jammie Whiteyead." This wur after ther'd bin a sheaut for th'
"Has he ta'en it whoam?"
"Theau may be sure o' that. We expecten him back every minute."
"Aw yerd a queer tale abeaut it as aw're comin'," th' uncle said.
"Aye? What's that?"
"Wait a bit. Let's yer what Jammie says when he comes back."
"Heaw wur it abeaut that goose ut owd Siah bowt i' Manchester once,
uncle?" someb'dy sheauted across th' reaum.
"Aye, poor owd Siah!" th' uncle begun. "He're gradely done i' that. He're a deeal betther off then nur he is neaw.
It wur when he kept th' 'Gowden Ball.' Siah thowt he'd give his
neighbours a gradely blow-eaut one Kesmas; so, beside a lump o'
beef, abeaut th size of a wheelbarrow, he'd have a goose. Ther wur
no goose clubs then; an' th' smell o' one wur seldom snifted i'
Hazelwo'th. Well, Siah spent a day i' Manchester i' pikin one eaut;
so he satisfied hissel, an' browt a wick un under his arm, like a
pair o' bagpipes. He'd never examined th' bottoms of its feet, or
else he met ha' seen ut it had segs on as thick as sole leather. It
had travell't mony a hundert mile, aw darsay, in it' time, an' seen
different countries. He fed it a fortnit, an' kept it in a empty
pig-cote at back o'th' heause. One neet owd So'derin'-iron crept
i'th' pig-cote, an' festent two pieces o' tin to th' botthoms o'th'
goose's feet for shoon. Then he went into owd Siah's kitchen, an'
begun' a-talkin' abeaut th' dinner.
"'It's a fine goose, they'rn sayin' at th' 'Owd Bell' yesterneet,'
owd So'derin'-iron said, after they'd talked a bit.
"'Theau shall look at it,' owd Siah said; an' off he went to th'
pig-cote, a-fotchin' th' goose.
"When he londed back wi' th' brid he turned it deawn; an it begun
a-clickin' abeaut upo' th' kitchen floor like an owd woman i' ring
"'Wheay, yo'n bowt a traveller,' So'derin'-iron said, laafin' to see
what antics th' goose played wi' it' new shoon.
"Siah stared like a lad ut's lost o his marbles.
"'Aw never yerd tell of a travellin' goose afore,' he said, 'but, by
goss, aw see one neaw. Dost' think it'll be ateable?'
"'To someb'dy ut's good teeth it may be,' So'derin'-iron said. 'But
aw should say that goose knows as mich abeaut a whip as ony tit ut
ever went on a road. They han 'em i' Dublin for drawin' childer's
carriages abeaut, four in a yoke. Yo' may see reaund it' neck theere
wheere th' collar's bin! '
"'An' so aw do,' owd Siah said. 'Well, it's a capper ut aw've gone
wi' my een oppen an' bowt that owd wesherwoman. But aw conno' swap
it, becose aw dunno' know who aw bowt it off. Aw shall be like to
try if it con be getten i' pieces. Dunno' thee say nowt abeaut it. Happen th' brid may turn eaut to be betther nur it promises.'
"'Aw winno' slatter a word,' So'derin'-iron said; an' he stuck to
"Well, when th' day coome owd Siah had this goose nicely stuffed,
an' he had it roastin' i'th' oon for abeaut six heaurs. Then he
tried th' edge of a knife on it. He met as weel ha' tried th' knife
agen th' oon-dur, for ony wark it geet through. It wur no use, try
wheerever he would, it wur o'th' same, no road could be fund.
"'Mary,' he said to th' owd woman, 'this mun be a boiler. If six heaurs' roastin' winno' mak' it give in to th' thwittle, a day winno'.'
"'Put it i'th' pon then, Siah,' owd Mary said; 'we shall ha' th'
company here eenneaw.'
"So into th' pon th' goose went, an' it had three heaurs i' that
shop; but when it wur ta'en eaut nob'dy could ha' towd th' carcas
fro' one leg of a pair o' leather breeches, teed up at booath ends.
"When th' dinner wur put upo' th' table—beaut th' goose, mind yo—owd
Siah towd th' company they must mak' eaut wi' th' beef, as he'd had
th' misfortin' to buy a brid ut would noather roast nor boil.
"'Didno' aw tell yo' it wur a traveller?' So'derin'-iron said.'
"'Yoi, theau did,' Siah said. 'But what by that?'
"'Yo' should ha' cooked it wi' th' shoon on!'"
Th' uncle had no sooner finished his tale nur Jammie Whiteyead coome
spinnin' into th' reaum like a mad scopperil.
"It's a gonner," he said, lookin' reaund, as if he thowt here
amung a gang o' thieves.
"What, Jammie?" everybody wanted to know.
"Th' goose," Jammie said.
"Nay, Jammie, nay, it wur a goose."
"Aw know that, but it's gone; that's what aw mean!"
"Another traveller?" Jack o' Flunter's said to th' uncle.
"Aye; but it hasno' travelled far sin' it went eaut o' this shop,"
th' uncle said; "Aw'll bet aw could find it."
" Some o' yo' known wheere it is," Jammie said; an' he begun a-peawchin'
as if he had lost o he had.
Nob'dy knew; but in abeaut two heaurs, me, an' Jammie, an' Jack o'
Flunter's, an' th' uncle, wur sent for, to a supper at th' 'Gowden
Ball.' We o went; an' if ever ther' wur a nicer goose cooked nur
wur put upo' th' table that neet, it must ha' bin under th' nose o'
royalty. It wur Jammie's goose; but whoa'd stown it nob'dy said;
tho' Sam Smithies paid for it; an' he winked at me as he tumbled th'
brass upo' th' table. Heaw th' next goose'll goo on aw dunno' know,
but th' list is made up.
THE DEAD BRIDE.
He had no breath, no being, but in hers.'—Byron.
"NOW then," said
my uncle, as we were crossing the bridge leading to the great
landing-stage at Liverpool, "is it to be Wales, or the Isle of Man?"
Everybody appeared to be going to the latter place. Crowds jostled
us on the bridge—on the pier,—and were eagerly pushing their way
towards the "Mona's Queen," that, with steam up, lay panting and
snorting below, as if struggling to slip its cable. It did not take
us a long time to decide upon which place should be our destination,
as we were out for quiet pleasuring; and the thronged appearance
of the Manx packet did not seem to promise an over pleasant passage. People were shouting and swearing in all dialects spoken east of
Liverpool; pitching travelling-bags, trunks, parcels, and bundles
in all directions; trampling, elbowing, and pushing with a reckless
persistence that made the timid voyager look anxiously about him, as
if afraid of being annihilated. On board the Welsh boat there was
nothing of this crowding and scrambling; it was like going to
church, in comparison—crossing the gangway, and selecting our places
on the deck, whilst the passengers already on board appeared to be,
in many respects, of a superior class.
"Let us take the Welsh packet, by all means," I suggested;
whereupon my uncle inclined his head in a consenting manner, and at
the next minute we had relieved ourselves of our luggage, and were
snugly ensconced on the main deck of the "Prince of Wales," destined
We steamed out of harbour with a slight head wind, that
freshened up the sea into white-crested waves, and fluttered the
loosely-reefed canvas over our heads, giving promise of a brisk, if
not a stirring passage. As we left the Mersey, and noted the
last object of interest that drew our attention shoreward, we began
to listen more attentively to the music which was being discoursed
by a sort of marine "German band" that had taken up its quarters
near us. I love to hear music on the sea. It has a charm
about it that the land, with all its accessories of sound, cannot
give; especially such music as partakes of a nautical character,
which tells us of "The sea, the sea, the open sea," or "A life on
the ocean wave, a home on the rolling deep." The sighing of
the breeze through the vessel's rigging, the dashing of the water
against the prow, and those mysterious undertones struck in solemn
chords upon the wave-harp, lend accompaniments to the music that
enhance its sweetness to a degree of sublimity. The band was
now playing—"Adieu, my native land," and as I listened to the soft
farewells that seemed to breathe through the harmony, and looked out
to the shore that was receding from my sight, I felt how
overwhelming must be the emotion of one who is straining for a last
fond glimpse of his native land, when all that is dear to him is
left behind. I could see by the expression of my uncle's
countenance that he was touched with the same feeling; and that, in
consequence, there was an increased demand upon the consolation
afforded by the bottle of porter that was conveniently placed
beneath his seat. Often, as he drew forth the comforter and
poured its contents into his glass, he seemed to do so with a view
to shake off attachments that clung to him as if they were parts of
himself, and could not be severed without leaving a wound.
After making a number of us as sad as we well could be, the
band struck up a livelier strain: I think it was the air to that
salt-flavoured song of Allan Cunningham's, "A wet sheet, and a
flowing sea." Under the influence of this characteristic
melody we got to be merry in a twinkling—all except a pale, languid,
consumptive-looking young fellow, who, reclining against a heap of
luggage, had never once changed his position, or the melancholy
expression of his countenance, during the time we had been out.
My uncle was quite interested in this individual; and twice or
thrice he offered him a draught of his porter, which was as often
declined by a seemingly unconscious shake of the head. Chat he
would not, though often challenged to a conversation. If my
uncle made a remark concerning the weather, or the sea, or the
distant Welsh mountains, his listener would say "Yes," or "No," as
might be applicable, sigh, and roll his languid eyes around, as if
there was nothing on either sea or land that could enlist his
attention in the least possible way.
"I wonder if he's in love?" said my uncle in a whisper to me.
"Or insane?" I suggested; though why I scarcely knew.
"Same thing," said my uncle, as he took another pull at his
bottle, and subsided into a thoughtful and speculative mood, giving
now and then a glance at our reserved fellow-passenger, as if
engaged in making a mental sketch of his character, or for the
purpose of obtaining a connecting link to the train of passing
We were now reminded by a couple of gentlemen in official
uniform that it was time to "shell out." The band had made
several levies upon our purses; and on each occasion had our
companion been most liberal in his contributions, at the same time
making a request that they would play a sad tune. On the
fare-collectors touching their caps to him he drew forth a purse,
upon which his eyes fell with such an expression of fond regard,
that I could not help remarking to myself that there might be some
probability of my uncle's speculations being near the truth.
The purse was exquisitely wrought, but of what material principally,
I could not guess. Here and there were loops of silver taking
up threads of what appeared to be gold enwoven with silk, and strung
with stones of various hues; but how incorporated with the rest of
the material I could not make out. Long did the owner gaze at
this purse before replacing it in his pocket; and when at last his
hand consented to relinquish its hold upon it, I could see that it
did so with a fondling unwillingness. I turned to my uncle.
His eyes met mine with a significant glance, and we looked at our
companion again. The latter had sunk into his former listless
attitude; and though the vessel was now pitching in a most lively
manner, he seemed to be quite unconscious of its motion. As
the band was taking a rest, my uncle suggested a song to fill up the
pause. Porter and sea breeze had put him in excellent spirits,
and when in proper trim he sings most delightfully. Setting
his head on one side, as if sighting a horizontal plane, and at the
same time giving a few preparatory coughs and hums, he commenced
singing, to the listening of some dozen of us that tender pastoral
of Burns's—"Flow gently, sweet Afton." He was in excellent
voice, and when entreating the river not to disturb by its
murmurings his "Mary's" dream, the countenance of the strange young
man lighted up with an expression of interest that encouraged the
singer to give some of his best touches to the tenderest of the
passages. When the song was finished, our companion arose from
his recumbent position, and paced the deck in an agitated manner,
which he continued to do for some time; then pausing opposite a
vacant seat next the one upon which I sat, he gave me a look which
seemed to say, "May I be allowed to have a word with you?" I
motioned him to the seat, which he at once accepted, and the
preliminaries to a conversation were commenced.
"Going to Bangor?" he inquired, rather timidly.
"We purpose staying there to-night," I replied, "and going on
to Carnarvon to-morrow."
"I intend going to Carnarvon to-morrow," he observed, "if all
be well," he added, with a sigh.
"Yes; there is to be a grand festival held inside the castle,
and I mean to be present. I have come all the way from
Scotland almost on purpose."
"What is it to celebrate?"
"The presentation of a sword and service of plate to one of
the heroes of the late war—Major Rowlands. He is a distant
relation of—well, no matter who. It is to be a grand affair.
The sword itself is valued at a hundred guineas; and I suppose the
plate will be of corresponding value."
"I'm glad you've named it," I said, "otherwise we might have
delayed our journey, and missed it."
"That would have been a pity. I would not miss it for
the world. Your friend sings that song beautifully," he added,
after a pause. "I don't often hear a song. My father's a
clergyman, and very strict about secular music. I don't think
there's any harm in it; do you? "
"Not at all, when the sentiment is pure," I replied; "and
nothing could be more chaste than the song we have just listened
"'Mary' is a sweet name. I love it for its simplicity;"
and the young man heaved another sigh.
Was it really the simplicity of the name that made him love
it? I wondered; or was there some attachment that gave it its
charm? I did not wonder long.
"Perhaps you are acquainted with some pretty owner of the
name," I ventured to remark.
"I was once—as charming a girl as ever made man happy.
But she died about eight months ago. I have not seemed to live
since. Her death gave me a shock that I do not hope to
survive. I never was strong, and I now feel myself sinking
"Probably a few weeks at the seaside would do you good."
"Oh, no—I have tried all the summer. I have been at
Southport, Brighton, Scarborough, and other places, all to no
purpose. I know I'm going home."
I suppose he meant his eternal home.
The band resuming its duties broke off our conversation at
this juncture; and I took the opportunity to remind my uncle that we
ought by all means to proceed to Carnarvon on the morrow. Then
I thought about "Mary."
Was she wife to our fellow-passenger, I wondered.
Impossible; he was but a mere youth; just at that age when the
realities of life seem as nothing when compared with the romantic
ideas which fill the soul.
Probably the girl was his first love, and as such would
occupy the first place in his heart and memory so long as either
We had passed the Great Orme's Head, and were gliding
smoothly past Puffin Island, when our companion observed, pointing
to the island—"Would it not be pleasant to end one's days in this
great solitude, with nothing but dreams of those gone before us as
I scarcely could conceive it to be pleasant ending one's days
anywhere; but preferred, in the event of mortality overtaking me,
having a comfortable feather bed to lie on, and "troops of friends"
about me, to the association of cold grey rocks, and the
companionship of unsubstantial visitors. I expressed as much
to my stranger friend, at which he gave a wan smile, threw himself
back in his seat, and sank into silence again.
"We are in sight of Beaumaris," I remarked, with a desire to
promote further conversation. This was after a pause of some
"Beaumaris!" exclaimed my friend, jumping up, and looking
out. "Yes, there it is; more beautiful to me than it is to
you, I dare say."
The young man again seated himself.
"I have made you my confidant thus far," said he, "and I may
as well give you the history of the most painful, and yet the
happiest period of my life. It may or may not interest you;
but if you will please to listen you shall hear it."
I notified my willingness to give audience to his narrative,
and my friend proceeded.
"A year ago I was sojourning with my father at Beaumaris.
We occupied a cottage a little outside the town. It was a
sweet spot, from which the loveliest bits of landscape could be
seen. I was in the habit of taking a stroll in the
evening—rambling by the old priory and down upon the beach. I
frequently met a young lady in my walks, whose absence, when it did
occur, made me feel as if some charm had been displaced, or some
object of interest swept away. I missed her on one occasion
for a whole week, and I grew downright miserable. Until then I
had not asked myself the question—was I in love with her? Now
the answer came before the question could suggest itself—I was in
love—deeply in love; and I resolved on the first opportunity to
declare my passion to her. That opportunity came. I was
down by the old priory one evening, taking my accustomed walk.
It was near sunset. A stream of orange light flushed the
woods, and cast long shadows across the bay. The mountains had
donned their purple to preside over the empire of night, and the sea
lay like a listener to the soft echoes that were floating around.
The time was made for love. Not to feel its presence suffusing
your whole being was not to live at all. It was a time, too,
when you might wish creation would stand still, and the future be an
eternity of love and sunset. Oh, how my heart throbbed with
that delicious rapture! A thousand years of misery were
nothing wherewith to purchase an hereafter of such bliss. My
feet touched not earth; they seemed to tread on down clips from the
wings of angels. The air was the breath of Paradise ere its
fall—laden with the fragrance of flowers that never die. I was
just lifting my heart in thanksgiving to Heaven for the happiness of
those swift moments, when I heard a footstep advancing. I was
breathless with expectation. Another moment of suspense and I
should have fainted. I felt myself going delirious.
I—but there is a gap between that moment and the next conscious one
that my memory cannot fill up. It is to me like the faintest
trace of a long-remembered, long-fading dream. When I awoke to
myself, she was standing by me. Her hand was within mine.
I felt her breath upon my cheek. Her heart beat with mine in
audible pulsations. It was a moment when we feel ourselves one
being—inseparable through life—one soul throughout the vast future.
I know not what language love had prompted me to speak; but my heart
overflowed with an eloquence that I had never been conscious of
before. Every word I uttered seemed to draw her soul nearer to
mine; and when our rapture was culminating in one long and fervent
embrace, I heard other footsteps approaching. They were my
father's. He passed us, but spoke not a word; yet, by the
severe look he gave me, I could see his heart was full of reproof,
and I had unpleasant forebodings for the morrow.
"At what hour we parted I know not. Time was nothing to
me then. The moon was looking down upon the bay with a serene
face, and its light had changed the golden tinge of the still woods
to a pale silver. The owl's cry was the only sound which broke
the stillness of the night; and the glow-worm's lamp shone dimly in
the broader light. Through leafy lane and misty path we
went—slowly, yet how swiftly—on our too brief journey home. If
pilgrimages to some saintly shrine were half so delightful as that
short journey was to me, how devout the world would find itself
"The cottage where Mary lived (that was her name) was just
the spot to make my passion more intense, if that were possible.
It was not far removed from our own. I wish it had been: then
matters might have turned out differently. As it is impossible
to describe that home, I will not make the attempt; let it suffice
to say that it was such as Love, had he been an architect, would
himself have fashioned—poetry from its very chimneys to its
foundations, with a fairyland of garden around it. I noticed
there being a small chapel attached to the dwelling, and was told by
Mary that her father was minister of the place. That
information gave me no slight concern, when I further discovered
that he was a dissenter. My father never could bear to hear of
dissent. He was a Churchman to the core, and had striven by
education and training to make me the same. The discovery I
had made was a fatal one. The week following we left the place
for our permanent home in England. My father had given me a
severe lecture for what he termed my boyish imprudence, and even
threatened to disown me if I continued my attention to the
"Wesleyan's" daughter. If I could have heeded his injunctions
I would have done so; for filial disregard was never one of my
failings. I, however, found it impossible to obey him in this
instance. I had a parting interview with Mary on the eve of
our departure. It was on the spot where we had first met, near
the old priory. I gave her a Bible as a pledge of my
affection, and as a remembrances of the few happy evenings we had
spent together. She gave me this purse in return. [Here
the narrator drew forth the purse before mentioned] We parted;
but with the hope to meet again. Our faith was plighted to it.
On that day twelvemonth, Heaven willing, on that spot consecrated to
love by our first interview, our tokens of affection were to be
exchanged, and our intercourse renewed.
"After our parting we kept up a correspondence for several
months unknown to my parents. Mary's letters were full of
expressions of tenderness, couched in such delicate and lady-like
terms, and suffused with such a glow of poetic feeling, that the
receipt of one made the event a red-letter day to me. Scarcely
a week passed over without bringing its welcome missive. This
correspondence continued up to Christmas; when all at once it
ceased. I had written, but received no reply. I wrote
again the week following, to be again disappointed. I grew
uneasy; and, after despatching a third letter with no better result,
I determined at once to make a journey to Wales, to ascertain what
was the cause of this silence. I intended doing this unknown
to my parents, so that all my preparations had to be made by
stealth. I had got everything in readiness for my journey, and
was only waiting an opportunity to slip away unobserved or
unsuspected, when one morning the postman brought me what I took to
be a letter enclosed in a black-bordered envelope. My heart
sank within me as I broke the seal and read the contents of a
Mourning card—the only enclosure:—'In affectionate remembrance of
Mary—, only daughter of the Rev.—, who departed this life, &c., &c.'
This was a blow indeed! I felt as though I had been playing
hazard, and lost the world at one throw. Existence was nothing
to me—only an irksome encumbrance that I would gladly have laid
aside for the repose of death. I need not describe to you how
wayward and erratic has been my life since then. I have sought
a resting-place, but could not find one. To me the last eight
months have seemed an eternity, with my soul yearning for the day of
tryste, which is now drawing near. I shall keep my promise.
Sunday next will be the anniversary of our parting. I shall go
down by the old priory at the hour appointed for our reunion; and if
there be such a thing as mortal communication with the spirits of
the departed, I hope to be with Mary that night."
"Ease her! stop her!" sang out the captain from his look-out
on the bridge of the paddle-box; and in another minute we were
moored along the pier at Beaumaris, where we were welcomed by a
crowd of pretty idlers, who had congregated near the stairs to wait
With many protestations of friendship and kind wishes for the
morrow, our fellow-voyager left us; and I could not help noticing
that he no sooner got footing on the pier than his eyes were turned
in the direction of the old priory, and that he began to move
The morrow was as lovely a day as we could have desired.
The sun streamed over the heights of Bangor, and popped its
countenance into my bedroom all on a sudden, as if it had been in a
hurry to be off to Carnarvon, and do its best shining there.
My uncle was stirring early, and I immediately joined him in a short
excursion up the heights, taking something with us wherewith to
temper the coldness of the spring which gushed out of the
mountain-side opposite our lodgings. Everything augured a
delightful day. People who had chosen to do the journey to
Carnarvon on foot were already on the road, giving it quite a
holiday appearance. We made a hasty breakfast, after which we
walked down to the station, and in little more than half an hour
from the time of starting, the massive grey towers of Carnarvon were
looking down grandly upon us. As it was not yet time for the
festivities to commence, we took a stroll through the town—rambled
on the romantic banks of the Seiont, and contemplated the beautiful
prospect which is to be seen from every point. By-and-by the
boom of cannon and the peal of bells announced the hour of
presentation, and we joined the crowd of spectators that was pouring
in at the castle gates.
To have seen that picturesque multitude assembled in any
place would have been a sight worth remembering; but to meet with it
between the walls of one of the finest castles in Europe rendered
the event doubly interesting. All types of Welsh costumes were
represented in the throng: the primitive high-peaked hat and mob cap
of the matron, and the less quaint but no less characteristic head
attire of the maiden, mingled with the gay coiffure which modern
English taste had introduced into the principality. The Welsh
harper was present, but without the traditional flowing beard; and
"bards," in blue coats and brass buttons, congregated about the dais
which had been erected in the shadow of the north wall. We
found our fellow-excursionist on the top of Eagle tower, which had
been named as the place of rendezvous; and after exchanging
civilities we each took an abstract view of the scene below.
The several choirs engaged to sing were arranged in order in front
of the platform; the silver-plate shone upon a table in the centre;
the cannon boomed at intervals; when suddenly, as if a shot had
struck him, our companion bounded from his seat, and was hurrying
down the staircase at a headlong speed. We saw him emerge from
the tower entrance, but he was instantly absorbed by the surging
crowd, and we saw him no more.
Ere we had time to speculate as to the cause of this
unaccountable conduct of our friend, the harper had drawn his hand
across his instrument; hymn books were flashing in the sun; a loud
cheer had announced the arrival of the gallant major, and the
proceeding at once commenced by singing—if I remember right—the
doxology; the music swelling up from below, and reverberating
between the walls with a sound that, for the time, made the castle
assume the character of an unroofed cathedral. The ceremony of
presentation was touchingly impressive. The gallant major shed
tears like a child, and shook hands with those about him with the
seeming affection of a brother. We looked for our stranger
friend among this favoured group, but he was not to be found; and
though we were among the last to quit the castle, and closely
scrutinised the departing crowd, we could see no one who bore the
least resemblance to him.
We are again on board the packet, this time homeward bound.
We are slackening speed for Beaumaris, and there is a gay assemblage
on the pier. I observe a familiar face above the railings, but
it is not turned towards us. It is basking in the light of
another face that is shining near.
And both were young, and one was beautiful;
And both were young—yet not alike in youth.
One is the face of our former sea companion; but to whom does
the other belong? A few turns of the paddles; a lingering
good-bye a reluctant descent of the pier stairs, and our friend is
beside us, his breast so full of wild emotion that it seems as if it
would emulate the steam boiler in its apparent effort to burst
itself. How he shakes me by the hand—looking shorewards all
the time, and pouring into my ear an explanation of what had brought
about this marvellous change in his spirits and disposition
"Oh, my dear friend! I should like to call you friend
through life," he exclaimed, as the boat was being unmoored; "this
has been wonderful. I kept my tryste yester' evening, and
met—not her spirit, but herself, as beautiful—yes, more beautiful
than ever, because as I might have supposed her to have risen from
the dead. But stop—is it not a dream?" And a shade
passed over his countenance. No; there she is, bless her!
A thousand heavens in her face, each brighter than anything beside.
I fancied I saw her in the castle when we were looking down from the
tower. She was there at the time; but I sought her in vain
among the crowd, and thought at last that my eyes had deceived me.
I kept my tryste, however; and when the church clock struck the
appointed hour, her form burst like a spell of enchantment upon my
astonished gaze. I will give you more particulars on our
passage home; but I may at once tell you that the funeral card I
received eight months ago was a deception practised by one who ought
to have been above it, and resorted to as the most effectual means
of estranging me from Mary. Ah, some people knew little of the
immortality of love!"
We were steaming ahead again; the pier was receding from our
sight; but so long as there was a spot on which the eye could rest
our companion's gaze was turned towards it, and scarcely a word
escaped his lips the while. As we were passing Puffin Island,
he turned to me with a smile, and observed—"I am no longer anxious
to end my days on that dreary spot. Life has all at once
become dear and delightful to me; and I feel so much improved in
health that I think I may venture—yes, I may venture—to marry in a
month hence." Oh, the curative properties of requited love!
A TALE OF THE TELEPHONE.
WE'RN havin' a "fender" at eaur heause one neet, a gradely
Lancashire "fender." Sich like are gooin' eaut o' fashin neaw, aw'm
sorry to say, for ther' seldom is one. They'n had the'r uses, han
these "fenders," when ther nowheere else wheere a tale could be towd; an' then tale tellin' an' hearthstone croonin' wur o th' fun poor
folk had, unless they went to th' aleheause. But what, yo'n ax, is a
fender? It's a getherin' reaund th' foire o' childer, or
neighbours, sittin' i'th form ov a hauve moon, an raichin' fro' hob
to hob. When ther's an owd gronfeyther at one end an' an owd
gronmother at t'other, wi' a strappin' son ut's just begun a
silverin' his whiskers, an' a buxom wife of his wi' a face like a
red an' white fleawerpot, at the'r elbows; younger branches, so
full o' health they dunno' know what to do wi' it, an' so full o'
glee it seems to be oozin' eaut at th' top o' the'r yeads, sittin'
at th' back front;—it's a pictur' o' owd Lancashire winter pastime
ut conno' be made up for wi' noather theaytres, singin' shops,
drinkin' shops, social clubs, nor ony soart o' new "fads" ut are
gooin'. At these "fenders" wits wur sharpened an' polished, sich as
they wur; an' a joke, ut wouldno' mak' a men smile neaw, would
cause a dozen meauths to fly oppen like so mony steel traps set for
catchin' rottans, obbut they'd be ivory. Aw've sit at one o' these
"fenders," hearkenin' boggart tales till aw du'st hardly look
beheend me, an' when aw've gone to bed, an' aw had to goo witheaut
candle, aw've had mi yure so lifted wi' fingers aw couldno' see, ut
aw've wonder's it didno' come off like owd Johnny-o'-Sammul's wig.
Thoose days are o'er neaw, an' th' ghosts, an' th' "Black Sams," an'
th' pig-faced women, are gone wi' 'em!
Well, we'rn havin' this "fender" i'th' owd style, becose it wur th'
neet of All Hallows, or what used to be coed th' "fearin' neet." Happen we shouldno' ha' bin wheere we wur if times had bin betther. Moast likely three or four on us would ha' bin i'th' "Owd Bell"
kitchen, drawin' slow foire eaut o' owd Peg-leg, an' windin' Fause
Juddie's temper up, like windin' up a clock, for it to run deawn in
a sheawer o' pint pots or spittoons. But brass wur gettin' skase,
an' we calkilated ther a blue look-eaut for Kesmas; so ut if we wur
to have a bit o' fun it must come chep. Ther me an' eaur Sal—th' owd
crayther lookin' as breet as if someb'dy had laft her a fortin'
witheaut havin' to dee for it. Then ther owd Juddie, wi' his botthom
lip abeaut hauve-cock, noather i' temper nor eaut o' temper, but
ready for gooin' oather road. Owd Peg-leg sit next but one to owd
Juddie, wi' Jack o' Flunters between 'em, actin' as a soart ov a
wall, or cage bars, for t' keep 'em fro' clawin' one another. Peg-leg had axt Juddie if he'd gan o'er weighin' sugar beawt weights; but aw think fause-un didno' yer him, as his fithers didno' rise. Aw advised Peg-leg not to draw Juddie eaut, as he'd bin livin' o
cock chickens lately, an' wur gettin' quite red at back o'th' ears. Peg-leg looked at his timber toe, ut wur gettin' worn thin
through usin' it for a foire-potter, an' said, as that hadno' bin fed
upo' cock chickens, he'd betther swallow a word or two nur go to
war. So he kept quiet. Jim Thuston, an' Little Dody, an'
Siah-at-owd-Bob's sit 'gether, th' wives havin' it by the'rsels at
th' oon side o'th' hearthstone. Th' rattle these women kept up when
ther no tale bein' towd, nor song bein' sung, wur like ricklin' pots
in a basket. Put three or four women t'gether ut han never sin one
another afore, an' they'n know o abeaut one another, an' everybody
else, afore as mony chaps could oppen the'r meauths. What if ther'
wur a parlyment o' women? Th' heause ud aulus look as if it wur lit
up wi' phosphorus!
Jim Thuston had browt an owd stock eaut o' the'r barn, an' put it on
th' foire; an' when it geet gradely agate o' blazin', wi' sparks
doancin' abeaut th' rack-an'-hook like a cleaud o' fiery midges, it
looked like a Kesmas yule neet. We needed no candles. Aw could ha'
read a ready-reckoner at th' yead o'th' heause, it wur so leet; an' ther's nowt so cheerful as a good heause foire, unless it be a
woman's face when hoo's just fingerin' a week's wage, an' nowt stopt eaut on't. It wur a breet "fender," considerin' ther a good deeal o'
things for t' mak' one feel consarned abeaut,—th' price o' pottitos
an' th' skasity o' wark, wi' a prospect o' times bein' still wurr. I'stead o' havin' a fotchin' o'
"Owd Bell " fourpenny, ut we
considered would be to' extravagant, we'd two bottles o' owd Sally's
"bend-'em-straight," at threehawpence a quart an' onybody ut could be
merry off that wouldno' ha' to have his inside bother't wi' a
second-honded liver! We couldno' ha' sich bad livers, for we'rn as
merry as crickets—a part o'th' time; an' that wur at th' beginnin'.
Little Dody had sung, Jack o' Flunter's had towd a tale, an' eaur
Sal had brokken deawn i' "Lovely Nancy," when ther abeaut a minute
ut nowt wur said, which aw considered strange, sayin' as ther so
mony women on th' hearthstone. When th' minute wur abeaut up
"Aw'm no' sure whether summat winno' happen t' neet or not."
"Why?" owd Juddie said, throwin' his lip eaut at him.
"Aw've seen summat," Siah said.
"Very likely theau has if theau's had thi een oppen," Juddie said. "But what hast' seen?"
"Aw're givin' th' pigs the'r swill just afore dark," Siah said,
aw noticed a strange mon hangin' abeaut ut didno' look as if he'd
let a shillin' lie upo' th' greaund if he seed one."
"He'd be a foo' if he did," Juddie put in.
"Well, he looked like one ut wouldno' be within takkin' it eaut o'
yo'r drawer if yo' hadno' yo'r e'en on him," Siah said. But that
could never happen if yo'rn i'th' shop; nowt so sure. Yo' wouldno'
ha' trusted him no furr nur yo' could throw a bull by th' tail."
"Did he look as if he geet his livin' by getherin' rags?" owd
Peg-leg wanted to know, wi' a wink at Siah.
"Neaw, owd timber trotter," Juddie said; "thee keep that writhen meauth o' thine under good management afore aw set it straight for
thi. Theau promised me, at th' last goose raffle, theau'd
never hint at that 'Shootin' a Thief' agen."
"Ther's no keepin' th' bant i'th' nick wi' someb'dy as touchous as
thee," Peg-leg said. "Aw're hintin' noane at that thief shootin';
not I. If aw conno' ax a civil onswer beawt thee puttin' thi motty
in it's strange. Just bethink thisel. Theau'rt noane drinkin' rum
neetcaps neaw. Theau conno' purtend to rip thi dicky eaut wi'
"Well, aw'd rayther yer Siah talk nur thee," Juddie said;
"so clap thi
gooms t'gether, an' keep thi tongue ut th' back on 'em."
"If yo' two dald tinkers 'll howd off fratchin'," Siah said, "aw'll
goo on. But yo'r aulus like two barn cats, hurr-r-rin' an' spittin'
at one another."
"Well, what abeaut this chap?" aw said.
"Aw didno' like th' looks on him," Siah said. "He favvort he'd bin
born i' very frosty weather, an' browt up on icicles an' snow broth. He carried a lot o' bandin' on his arm, as if he're gooin' t' fly a
dragon (kite), or had bin flyin' one. He axt me wheere th' Knowe
Heause wur; an' when aw'd towd him—tho' aw've afterthowt sin—he
wanted t' know if aw'd go deawn to th' 'Owd Bell,' an' have a dog's
nose wi' him."
"He happen feeds upo' dog's noses 'at mak's him look so frosty,"
Jack o' Flunter's said.
"Dog's nose is a soart o' drink, Yorney!" owd Juddie said. "There's
no taichin' a lot on yo' nowt. Had this mon a queer shaped hat on?—brims weel turned up?"
"He had," Siah said.
"Aw seed him misel then," Juddie said.
"But he didno' ax thee to go deawn to th' 'Owd Bell,'" Peg-leg
said. "Theau'd ha' gone, an' stopt theere till neaw, if he'd ha' bin
"Aw'll tell thi what, Mesther Dibblin'-peg," Juddie said, spakin'
o'er Jack o' Flunter's shoother, "ther's nob'dy likes chep stuff,
an' plenty on it, betther nur thee. Theau's drunken twice at bend-'em-straight
for onybody elze once. Goo on wi' what theau're sayin' Siah, an'
never mind this one-winged oozle."
"Well," Siah went on, "aw've wondered ever sin' what this mon wanted
up at th' Knowe Heause. Aw didno' see at he'd a crowbar, or a dark
lantern wi' him; but he met ha' picklocks an' pistils. Aw wish aw'd
never shown him th' road."
"Didt' say he'd a lot o' clewkin wi' him?" Juddie axt.
"Well, it wurno' exactly like clewkin," Siah said. "It wur moore
like cotton bandin', such as they user i' factories."
"Yo' may depend on't," Juddie said, "that bandin' wur for bindin'
limbs t'gether. It's as sure a case o' robbery as aw'm here, if no'
"Should we goo up to th' Knowe, an' see?" Jim Thuston said. "Ther's
no tellin' what may happen. Aw con get yo' plenty o' arms eaut o' th'
barn. Aw know Juddie 'll leead us up."
"Will he?" Peg-leg squeeaked eaut. "It'll be when yo' turn back if
he does. He'll be the fust by a fielt, then."
What Juddie met ha' said to that con nobbut be gexed at. But no deaut it would ha' bin summat savage, as he geet on his feet to it,
an' gript his fist. But just as he're puttin' a leet to his peawther
a knock coome to th' dur.
"Whoever's that?" eaur Sal said, gooin' o of a tremble. "It's to'
late for beggars. Ab, thee go to th' dur. Whoever it is he's happen summat to lunge one with."
"So it matters nowt if aw get lunged!" aw said, an aw geet up an'
went to th dur. "Who's theere?" aw sheauted.
"Does Ab-of-the-Yate live here?" someb'dy said eautside.
"Tell him theau'rt coed Abram Fletcher," th' owd rib said; hoo
doesno' like t'other name neaw aw'm on th' Local Board.
"Aw darsay th' same chap yo' meean lives here," aw said. "What dun yo' want with him?"
"I want to see him; that is all."
"Juddie, come an' stond at back on me, an' bring th' fire potter wi'
yo'," aw said, in a leaud whisper.
"Theau knows aw've th' rheumatic i' mi reet arm," Juddie said, an'
he begun a-rubbin' his reet elbow. "Ther's others younger nur me."
"Here, aw'll stond a gun for thi," Peg-leg said; an' he jumped up,
an' made to'ard th' speer, draggin' his cheear after him. When he geet to me, he planted his cheear abeaut two yard fro' th' dur, then
he dropt deawn on it, an' shot his timber leg eaut like th' bowsprit
of a ship. "If he's after ony lumber," he said, "aw'll mak' a
pin-wheel on him afore he knows wheere he is."
Aw oppent th' dur; an' aw mun say aw didno' like th' looks o'th'
chap ut had bin knockin'. It wur th' mon wi' th' queer hat an' th'
turned up brim; an' aw could see bi' th' leet he'd a face wi' a
frozzen look. He're very nicely spokken, an' he did nowt to mak' me
think he intended bein' auvish.""
"Can I come in?" th' mon said.
"Well, if yo'd let me know yo'r business th' fust yo'd obleege me,"
aw said; an' aw held th' dur.
"I've no business, Mister Ab-of-the-Yate, if you're the gentleman,"
he said, very politely; "but I've been down at the public-house
below, and they told me you lived here. I've often heard of you, so
I thought I'd like to see you. No offence, I hope."
"Drop yo'r danger signal, Peg-leg," aw said; "aw think th' mon
meeans no hurt." Then aw said to th' stranger, "Come in."
"How do ye do, ladies?" th' mon said, brushin' past owd Peg-leg,
an' pooin' his hat off. "Excuse me introducing myself."
"Tak' this cheear, an' mak' yo'rsel' awhoam," aw said to th'
stranger. Aw thowt aw met as weel be civil to him, if he're th' owd
"Thank you," he said, an' dropt deawn in his seeat. "You will pardon
me carrying this bit of string on my arm. If I put it away I'm apt
to forget it."
"Yo'n not as mich on't as yo' had when aw seed yo' before,"
Siah-at-owd-Bob's said to th' stranger.
"When was that?"
"When aw're feedin' th' pigs this afternoon."
"Oh, yes, I remember; I was going up to the Knoll House. I asked
you to direct me. I'm obliged to you."
"Yo'n happen sowd t'other?" owd Juddie said, in his pumpin' way. "It's a good soart o' bandin' aw con see."
"Yes, a peculiar kind; we sell a good deal of it," th' mon said. Then he turned to me—"And so you are the celebrated Ab-of-the-Yate?"
"Th' same chap," aw towd him.
"Th' biggest liar i' England" someb'dy said, but aw couldno' say
who it wur.
Everybody looked at everybody, an' th' stranger looked puzzled.
"Not very complimentary to a gentleman in his own house," he said.
"As good as he desarves," somb'dy said.
"That wur thee, Peg-leg," owd Juddie said.
"Theau'rt a lyin' owd Short-o'-weight!" Peg-leg said back. "Aw
never spoke. It's moore likely thee nur onybody else."
"Ift' says that agen aw'll knock thee off thi peearch," Juddie said,
makkin' a spring on his feet.
"Goo into him, Juddie," someb'dy said,
"Let him ha' some second-honded
"Aw dunno' want thy backin'," Juddie said, turnin'
upo Little Dody. "If theau gets someb'dy agate o' feightin', an' keeps eaut thisel',
theau'rt o reet. Theau'd like some chicken broth, no deaut."
"What have I to do wi' it? Aw've said nowt," Dody said."
"Yo' stole thoose cock chickens, Juddie," someb'dy
"Siah," Juddie said, turnin' upo' Siah-at-owd-Bob's, "it wouldno'
tak' mich to sattle thee; so keep thy meauth shut."
"Aw never oppent it afore," Siah said.
"Theau knows theau'rt lyin'," Juddie said, an' he sit deawn.
"I hope, gentlemen, there won't be any unpleasantness while I'm with
you," th' stranger said, an' he looked a little bit hurt.
"Yo' dunno' know these yorneys as weel as aw know em," Juddie said,
"or elze yo' wouldno' be surprised."
"Yor'e th' biggest waistrel i'th' lot,
too," someb'dy said.
"Ab, art theau th' mesther o' this heause? " Juddie said, gettin'
on his feet agen, an' gripin' his fist.
"When th' wife's away I am," aw said.
"Aye, an' when hoo's awhoam, too!" th' owd rib said.
"An' will theau be coed a liar, an' see me abused?" Juddie said,
lookin' desperately at everybody.
"But aw conno' tell whoa's dooin' it," aw said.
"Peg-leg," someb'dy said.
"Yer thi, neaw, theau owd rascal!" Juddie said, turnin' upo' owd
Peg-leg. "Ther's someb'dy thinks so beside me."
"It's someb'dy at th' window," eaur Sal said; "aw could see a
shadow then. Some impidence or other."
"Then they'n ha' th' weight o' this," aw said; an' aw nipt howd o'th'
fire potter, an' ran to th' dur.
Ther' wur nob'dy abeaut. Aw looked reaund th' fowt, an' deawn th'
lone, but not a soul could aw see. So aw made for whoam agen. Just
as aw geet to th' dur aw met Jack o' Flunter's comin' witherin' eaut.
"Wheere is he?" Jack said, lookin' wildly reaund.
"Wheere's whoa?" aw said.
"Wheay, him ut's bin at th' window."
"Aw've seen nob'dy," aw said.
"Ther's bin someb'dy just neaw challengin' me eaut. They said if aw'd come eaut they'd gi'e me th' daldest quiltin' ever aw had i' my
"Well, aw've seen nob'dy," aw said.
"That's strange," Jack said; "we yerd him as plain as owt."
"It is strange," aw said; an' aw begun a-feelin' a bit queer, "It
conno' be yon stranger ut's dooin' it, surely."
"Heaw con it be him? He knows nowt abeaut us," Jack said. "It's my
belief, Ab, it's fearin'."
"Nowt so sure," aw said. "Aw'd forgetten it wur th' fearin' neet. Let's say nowt i'th' women's yerrin'. They'n goo into fits if we
dun. But aw'll tell thi what, Jack, it'll be a bother for t' explain
it ony other road."
"It'll be nowt elze," Jack said; an' we turned into th' heause.
"Well, has theau gan it him, Ab?" eaur Sal said, as soon as hood a
chance o' axin' me.
"Aw've seen nob'dy, aw said; an' aw dar'say aw looked rayther wild,
as Jack o' Flunter's did, too.
"Aw'm sure aw seed someb'dy at th' window," eaur Sal would have it.
"Someb'dy wi' a billy-cock on his yead."
"Nay, nor a billy-hen, noather," someb'dy said.
Aw're watchin' th' stranger's meauth at th' time; but his lips
ne'er moved, an' not a seaund coome fro' between 'em.
"Aw reckon that's me, owd sugar-sond!" Peg-leg said, raichin' o'er
to owd Juddie. "It's moore like thee, or someb'dy i' league wi' thi. Aw aulus thowt theau'd summat t' do wi' witches; an' theau's one
i'th' noose neaw."
At th' mention o' witches th' women gan a screeam.
"Brun him," someb'dy said. "He's dooin's wi' th' Owd Lad."
Everybody's yure seemed to rise, obbut th' stranger's; an' he sit
theere, lookin' abeaut as if he couldno' mak' eaut what ther wur to
do. Owd Juddie geet up, an' looked under his cheear. No' satisfied wi' that, he groped abeaut i'th' nook, knockin' his shins agen th'
fire shoo, an' coolin' his nose end again a flat iron.
"Aw'm sure th' seaund coome fro' here," he said, as he blundered
abeaut. "It seaunded quite plain."
"Nay, it wur i' this nook," th' owd rib said; an' t'other women
bore her eaut in it.
"Yo'n a boggart i' every nook," someb'dy said; an' then wurno'
ther' some stirrin's i'th' heause!"
"Ab!" eaur Sal said, "we'n leeave this heause. We'n ne'er had no
luck in it this mony a year. Aw've kept yerrin' seaunds in it ut aw
couldno' mak' nowt on when theau's bin stoppin' eaut at neets; but
when it's come to havin' a boggart i' every nook, it's time we
flitted. Eh, dear me!"
"Aw'm for shiftin' eaut o' this shop," Jim Thuston said, jumpin' up
fro' his cheear, an' buttonin' his jacket.
"So am I," Little Dody
said, followin' suit.
"Yo'n be followed if yo' dun!" someb'dy said; an' everybody
seemed staggered, no' knowin' what for t' do.
"Thoose ut con raise boggarts con lay 'em," Peg-leg said; an' he
looked meanin'ly at owd Juddie.
"Theau conno' say aw've raised 'em," Juddie said, turnin' white
wheere wur red afore. "Aw've nowt to do wi' fearin'."
"Try him!" someb'dy said.
"Dun yo' yer that, chaps?" Peg-leg said, lookin' reaund. "If we dunno' mak' an example o' this owd waistrel, we shall have a pair o'
horns bobbin' up amung us."
"What mun we do?" Siah-at-owd-Bob's said, wildly.
"Dip him in a pit!" someb'dy said.
"We wauten th' spell brokken,
so ut we con goo whoam."
"Aw should think yo' known what to do neaw," owd Peg-leg said, as
full o' glee as if we'rn gooin' on a weasel hunt.
"It'll be a cowd bath for yo', Juddie," Jack o' Flunter's said;
"but yo'n ha' to chance it. We're no' gooin' t' ha' this bother o
neet; so come on."
"Aw'm as innocent as a babby," Juddie said, gooin' o of a tremble. "Aw'll
swear that upo' th' owd Book."
"To execution with him!" owd Peg-leg said, doancin' abeaut.
"Ther's another condition," someb'dy said.
"He mun be blacked o'er
wi' charcoal made eaut o' Peg-leg's timber."
"Does theau yer that?" Juddie said, turnin' on his owd enemy. "Aw'll
stond it o just to ha' thee winged o' one side."
"Get unscrewed," Jack o' Flunter's said. "We mun ha' th' job done
Peg-leg looked dropt on.
"Is ther' no meeans o' gettin' eaut on't, aw wonder?" he said.
"As fair for thee as me," owd Juddie said.
"Go deawn to th' ' Owd Bell,' an' pay for a bowl o' punch between yo'!" someb'dy said.
"That'll lay us."
"Aw'll agree to that," Juddie said.
"So will I," Peg-leg said.
"We're off, then,—good neet!" someb'dy said.
"No' sich bad boggarts noather," Jack o' Flunter's said.
"Aw shouldno' care if they come t'morn neet," Dody said.
"Now, then, ladies and gentlemen," th' stranger said, gettin' on his
feet, an' lookin' very pleasant,—speshly at th' women, ut were
huddled o of a rook, "I wish to say a word about this mystery. You
see this coil of what appears to be string. One end I have kept
concealed. The other end is in the kitchen of the public-house
below. All that you have heard has come from there, and has been
spoken by a neighbour of yours that the company called Softly. He
could hear all that was going on in this house, and adapted his
language to what he heard. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the new and
startling invention called the Telephone! I shall be happy to pay
for the bowl of punch myself, if I can have your company at the—the――"
"Owd Bell," aw said, feelin' quite relieved.
"At the 'Old Bell,' yes," th' stranger said. "The ladies, I dare
say, can spare you. They won't be frightened now that I have
"Eh, nawe," eaur Sal said, "we're satisfied. It seaunded like Billy
Softly's talk, didno' it, women?"
They everyone thowt so.
"But aw'll tell yo' what, mesther," th' owd crayther went on, "thoose
things 'll be very useful wheere ther's women."
"Why so?" th' stranger wanted to know.
"They con get to know everybody's business!" hoo said.
Aw need no' tell yo' what a "do" we had at th' "Owd Bell." Th'
stranger wur as jolly as onybody; ut shows heaw we con be decaived
wi' appearances. Owd Juddie an' owd Peg-leg had a fratch through th'
telephone, ut caused sich fun they couldno' help joinin' in it
the'rsels. Afore they parted they shaked honds for another time; so
th' telephone may be a meeans o' makkin' friends otherwheere—i'
families, an' happen nations.
AN OLD STOCKING-MENDER
MY NATIVE VILLAGE.
I WAS born in the
"Rocks." Do not imagine from this, dear reader, that my
earliest home was among the mountains. There is nothing so
wild and romantic attached to the place of my nativity. The
humble tenement in which I first saw what should have been light is
situated in a hole caused by the raising of the road, so as to be on
a level with the bridge that spans the Rochdale Canal at Failsworth.
This hole, called the "Rocks," from its being walled with stone, is
wedge-shaped; and I was placed at the thin end. The upper
portion of the house has since been rebuilt; and now forms a
dwelling of itself, the lower part, in which I groped my way when I
began to toddle and go into mischief, now serving only as a
foundation. In the original plan of the building there was a
door communicating with the principal bedroom and the road.
This door served more purposes than one. Besides affording a
means of escape when the basement was flooded, as was often the
case, it was a convenience for drunken people to use their clogs
against. Many a time have I listened to the music thus
produced when wakened out of my childish dreams, as these serenades
were more frequent than agreeable. The only peace we had was
when my grandfather, who lived within a few doors, was constable.
My father, who was a handloom weaver, had been a soldier, but
was discharged when very young, as the following record will
attest:—"His Majesty's Rocket Brigade of Royal Horse Artillery,
whereof Lieut.-Colonel P. Tyers is Colonel. These are to
certify that James Brierley, Gunner, in Major E. C. Whinyates'
Rocket Troop, in the Brigade aforesaid, born in the Parish of
Middleton, in or near the town of Oldham, in the County of
Lancaster, was enlisted at the age of 17 years, and has served in
the same Regiment for the space of 4 Years and 119 Days, as well as
in other Corps, after the age of Eighteen, according to the
following Statement, but in consequence of a Reduction is hereby
discharged; having first received all just Demands of Pay, Clothing,
&c., from his entry into the said Regiment to the Date of his
Discharge, as appears by his receipt on the back hereof, and to
prevent any improper use being made of this Discharge by its falling
into other Hands, the following is a description of the said James
Brierley:—He is about 21 Years of Age, is 5 feet 7 inches in height,
light hair, grey eyes, fresh complexion, by trade a weaver.
STATEMENT OF SERVICE.—R. H. Artillery. From 2nd April, 1812,
to July, 1816, 4 years 119 days. Waterloo, 2 years.
Total, 6 years, 119 days. " This was
beginning life, as a man, rather early; and singularly enough, he
enlisted on his birthday. My grandfather used to say he ought
to have been born a day earlier.
My father must have married soon after his return home, as,
before I was introduced to a station in life that was not of my
seeking, there had been four other victims,—two brothers and two
sisters. Fortunately they had but a short account to render to
their Maker,—they died in their infancy. The immediate
successor to the family cradle, your humble servant, began to suck
his thumbs—so I have been informed, as I have no personal knowledge
of the fact—on the 26th of June, 1825. My parents could not
have grieved much if I had followed the youthful departed, as times
were so bad that the look-out for rising progeny was of the most
unpromising. But I cheated the sexton, as many children do,
who are felt to be in the way. My parents had to do the best
they could with the little intruder, and help me to struggle to get
a footing in the world. I have often thought that I owe as
much to my mother's voice as I do to her love, for the charm of life
which even poverty can sometimes experience. She had been a
singer in the All Saints' Church choir at Newton Heath, the
choir-master at the time being James Ridings, the father of the late
Elijah of that "ilk." Her voice was a powerful contralto; and
I can remember its clear mellow tones as far back in the past as I
can remember anything. I can hear them even now. She was
a gentle creature; and, like the mother of Malcolm in "Macbeth,"
"died every day she lived." No woman of my acquaintance ever
suffered more than she, or bore her sufferings with truer fortitude.
But I speak now of her later life. It was her deep religious
feeling that supported her in all her trials, and gave her
cheerfulness when physical pain held her in its grip.
Before I was of a sufficient age to be sent to school, I had
a brother born. I did not give him the heartiest welcome, as I
had fears that he might claim a joint possession of my spoon.
I hated the sight of "Owd Jacky Wife" for bringing him into the
world, and had serious thoughts of damaging her "parsley bed" by the
introduction of cats. But "Little Tummy" grew into my liking
as he grew more plump, until I allowed him to suck most of my
farthing "humbug." I remember well my first "breeching"—and my
father taking me by the hand to walk all the way to Manchester for
the purpose, and his stripping me in a shop in Sugar Lane for a "try
on." I could not then have been more than four years old; but
the suit of "bell-buttoned" velveteen, in which my limbs had to look
out for a proper place in which to exercise themselves, would have
fitted a boy of ten. But I was expected to grow prodigiously,
and the clothes had to do for my brother when I cast them off.
Two maiden aunts who made a plaything of me because of my being the
oldest nephew, subscribed their pence and endowed me with a hat.
A jealous uncle, not many years my senior, played such tricks upon
this hat that instead of using it as a covering for my head, I soon
converted it into a substitute for a football. Previous to
thus being attired I strutted about, with all the pride of a
juvenile dandy, surrounded by the capacious folds of an old
waistcoat belonging to my grandfather. My uncles gave me the
nickname of "Owd Pee Collin," the name of a man who worked on the
road, because, like him, I walked with my hands behind me, and was
so slow in my movements that even a sudden downpour of rain would
not have made me alter the pace at which I was walking.
Now came the time of my introduction to Pole Lane classics.
I was sent to school; John Goodier's modest academy for very young
ladies and very young gentlemen, being the place selected, because
there was no other for the exercise of the ruler and thimble in the
development of my bumps. I was an apt pupil, and rose from the
A. B. C.'s in such a short time that before I was five years old I
took the first prize in spelling. The word to be spelt was
"victuals;" the prize three marbles. Elated by this success,
visions of academical honours, never to be attained, floated before
my fancy; and a prospect bright as a summer morn opened before me.
But a cloud drifted over the scene. The nation was
without a crowned king; and the coronation of William IV was made an
excuse for holidays everywhere. The day before this event took
place was the last on which I attended John Goodier's school, or,
indeed, any other day school. Great were the rejoicings, I
remember, on the day of the Coronation. The May Pole was taken
down and re-painted; the vane and points re-gilded; and all
Failsworth turned out in its grandeur of holiday dress, flags,
banners, bands, and processions. The most conspicuous object
in one of these pageants was a cart, on the sides of which a
handloom had been erected. A weaver was seated at his work,
and by his side a winder plying the bobbinwheel. "God Save the
King" was sung at each public-house door; for the loyalty of that
day had to be kept damp. Dryness interfered with the weaver's
work. It caused his yarn to snap; and the winder alleged that
it caused the weft so to snarl that he found it impossible to make
good bobbins unless it was steeped in "fourpenny."
But pageantry and drink were not everything provided to
celebrate the glorious event. An ox was roasted in front of
the Crown and Cushion. The boiling parts were converted into "
stew" to be served out to all comers, the almoner being a woman
living near the scene of "dole." I was sent with a jug to get
a share of what the Yankees would call "beef juice." But the
woman pushed me aside. "Nawe, theau mun ha' noane," she said;
"thy gronfeyther's a Jacobin." Heartbroken and empty, I
returned home. I had been led to anticipate such a "blow-out"
as I had never had before, and the disappointment was overwhelming.
What had Jacobinism to do with an empty stomach? I wondered;
or how was a child of five to reason out the cause that politics
should operate as a kind of caste among poor people? From that
day I began to think; but I have not yet arrived at the conclusion
that we ought to be made responsible for the opinions held by our
ancestors, or to suffer on account of their actions.
Taken away from school, I had to assist in the "bread
winning" by hawking from door to door. But that was mostly in
winter. On summer days it would have been difficult to find me
if I once got my heels to the back door, which afforded the readiest
means of escape. Two of the younger scions of the Thorley
family, afterwards to be known as eminent musicians, were oftentimes
my companions. Our favourite haunt was the "clough," where
there were facilities for swimming, boats, and other attractions.
I remember the late Robert Thorley doing me a kindness that has
often crossed my memory since, and we seldom met in after life
without laughing over it.
It was Christmas time,—an old-fashioned Christmas, when the
waits did not hurry over their work on purpose to get through a lot
of it, but stood around their neighbours' doors with the patience of
donkeys, and sang the "Christmas Hymn" with becoming slowness and
with a reverent spirit. The snow lay thick upon the ground on
the morning that I had to turn out with my little basket of oranges,
which I was to dispose of at the price of "two for threehaupence."
The air was crisp and keen; and as a protection from the cold I had
a check napkin tied round my head; another was pinned round my
shoulders for a shawl; and shod with a pair of clogs that were
miniature stilts, I had to face the winter morn to go my round.
I had called at Thorley's, who lived only across the bridge from the
"Rocks;" had said my "two for threehaupence,"—nothing more; made a
sale; then set out for "Pee Fletcher's," the next house. But
the snow had so accumulated on the bottoms of my clogs that I found
locomotion to be impossible. Down I dropped at the corner of
Walmsley's garden wall; and my limbs being benumbed by cold, I could
not regain my feet. In my strait the only thing I could do was
to yell, and I daresay I exerted my lungs in a creditable manner.
Robert Thorley was coming out of the house at the time, and hearing
my well-developed treble, picked me up out of the snow, swung me on
his back, basket and all, and carried me home. I think that
was the last time I followed the occupation of a pedlar. In
the kindness of her heart my mother bought me a screw money-box with
the penny out of the threehalfpence I had drawn; and putting the
halfpenny inside, made a Christmas gift to me of what I was to
regard as the foundation of a fortune. But a stick of
liquorice was too tempting for the foundation to be laid just then.
The next event in my life of any importance, was our removal
from Failsworth to Hollinwood, a distance of something like
three-quarters of a mile. This to me was a delightful change.
We had got out of the hole, and were now on a level with other
people. The house we were to inhabit had not been vacated when
our cart arrived. It was Saturday night, and the wife was
baking. One of the sons was weaving,—a lame youth who walked
with a crutch. A companion, also lame, and who walked with a
crutch, was sitting on the loom-rail; and I began to wonder if I had
been cast among a community of cripples, and whether I should have
to go upon crutches as well. How the double-flitting went on
during the night I never knew, as I was sent off to a shake-down
bed; but on the Sunday morning I found that we had the domicile to
ourselves. I made an early exploration of the neighbourhood,
and discovered that our house was one of a row of such, standing
close to the towing path of the Peak Forest canal. There was a
farmhouse on the opposite side of the canal; a spacious orchard, the
trees in which were covered with bloom, ran to the edge of the
water; a thorn fence, well grown, and in which I looked for birds
nests, was within a few yards of the door; beyond the fence was a
carpet of green meadow, and a cornmill; and when a new "chum" gave
me a bite of his buttercake, I began to realise, or thought I did,
what Paradise was before the Fall.
There are few places in Lancashire that have been less
favoured by Nature than Failsworth. Its very name is
suggestive of some defect in design, or creative manipulation, as if
it had merely gone through the process of tinkering.
Originally, its terraqueous endowments were extremely uninviting.
There was nothing to recommend the spot to other than the small
dairy farmer, the grower of potatoes, or the breeder of poultry; and
the probability is that if it had not been on the high road to more
important places, it would at the present time have been as far in
the rear of commercial progress as the neighbouring township of
Moston, which has been retarded in its growth by the lack of means
of communication with other parts.
With a cold soil, imperfectly drained, Failsworth at one time
offered but small inducements to husbandry in its more developed
sense; so that a century and a half ago the country was little more
than an uncultivated waste, with here and there a farmstead settled
on its greener spots, as if to relieve the eye of a totally barren
prospect, its only importance derived from its being the line of
connection between Manchester and the southern districts of the West
Riding. This latter circumstance is, however, a feature in the
history of the locality that must not be overlooked, nor have its
significance set aside.
For a decade of centuries Failsworth has been an important
channel through which civilisation has flowed and ebbed; and I may
be pardoned if I draw deductions from this fact that would to some
extent account for the character of the people inhabiting the place.
No country that I am aware of contains so fine a remnant of the
Roman Road that connected Manchester with York; and the question has
often occurred to me, what were the Arabs of this desert when the
armies of Agricola passed over it, and commerce opened up the riches
of the South, to be shared by the barbaric North? Evidently,
there were no rivers to fish in, no forests to hunt in, no mines out
of which to dig the precious metals. They must have led at the
best a nomadic life—an existence, perhaps, eked out by plundering
the pack-trains of merchandise that fell in their way, as the Arabs
at the present time subsist in the greater deserts of the East.
That Failsworth was little more than a desert is borne out by
the fact that a large portion of the Roman Road, which is upwards of
a mile in length, is laid upon brushwood, the peaty subsoil
extending several feet in depth. These discoveries I made in
my boyhood, when explorations by youthful excavators were at once a
science and a pastime, and vigorously pushed in the interests of
both. This fact leads me to conclude that at the time of the
Roman occupation the country lying betwixt the Tame and the Irk was
one vast morass, with the Medlock between, deepening its channel
into a noble valley, and draining and fertilising the land.
The unanimous opinion of antiquarians has placed the genuineness of
the Failsworth Roman Road beyond question. This certainly
cannot be said of some so called Roman roads in other parts of the
country. The reader will perhaps pardon me if I here make a
short digression, and give an account of my experiences, some short
time since, when trying to ascertain the genuiness of a well-known
road of the latter description which is to be found on Blackstone
Edge, near Littleborough.
On the occasion of my visit to this spot, I prevailed upon
mine host of the White House, whither I had gone for some little
refreshment, to accompany me over the debated ground. Together
we descended the moor on the Lancashire side, and about a quarter of
a mile from the house we struck into a road leading to a stone
quarry on the top of the Edge. We came upon a kind of conduit,
and proceeding along its course for a short distance, my friend
pointed to a line of grooved stones, and I knew by that indication
we had "struck" the said to be Roman Road. Although I must
have been on the spot more than once, I could not call to mind ever
having seen the "trough" before; and I felt that to account for its
origin and use was far beyond any archaeological knowledge that I
possessed. We followed the groove up to the top, examining
each section carefully; and, finding that the slight ridge in the
middle was correspondingly even in all, I concluded that it could
not have been intended for a watercourse. It must have been
meant for some mechanical purpose, but of what character?
There I stuck, and, so far as my knowledge has assisted me, I am
sticking yet. But this was the identical track that twenty
years before I was led to believe was an old quarry road, and one
possessing no greater historical interest than that which could
attach to such a road.
After parting with my companion I trudged back to
Littleborough, calling on my way to have a peep at the pavement in
front of the Lydgate Inn, and finding it as I remembered having seen
it in the "long ago." Night had set in when I reached the foot
of the moor; and the weather having undergone a change for the
worse, I was glad to avail myself of the hospitality of the old
"Rake" where I found a good fire, and hot water. An old man,
whose face looked like a fragment of history, sat in the nook,
enjoying his pipe and his pint.
A conversation was started at once by his observing,
"It's gone very cowd, maister."
I admitted that it was very cold, especially coming down from
Blackstone Edge, with the damp wind blowing in my face.
"Hev yo come o'er th' top?" the old man inquired.
"No, only from the White House," I replied.
"Hev yo' been a lookin' at this Roman Road?" he asked.
I told him that had been my business up there.
"I think," he said, blowing an extra cloud from his pipe, "Yo'
Manchester folk hev very little to do if yo' con find time to goo
huntin' up owd roads. Yon's nobbut an owd delph road yo'n been
"Now," I thought, "here I have my man. I can get
something out of him, surely"; and I proceeded at once to apply the
"Only an old quarry road?" I observed, assuming an air of
"Nought no more."
"How know you that?"
"Aw had it fro' mi gronfeyther; he worked at th' delph when
th' road wur made."
I noticed a twinkle in the old man's eye; and that led me to
think I ought to be careful as to how much of the information he had
to give I might rely upon as being truer. But there could be
no harm in listening to what he had to say.
"That must have been long ago," I remarked.
"Aye, it wur afore ther mich steeam used. It wur watter
peawer, an' horse peawer, an' jackass peawer i' thoose days.
Yond owd jig wur reckoned to be a big thing when it wur laid down;
but its up to nought now."
I knew what a "jig" was, but pushed my inquiries as though I
had never see one.
"A jig," said the old man, "is a road up an' down th' side of
a hill, or boath sides, for that matter, wheere th' full waggons
gooin' fro' th' top hev to draw th' empties up fro' th' bottom.
When yond road wur made rails hadno' been invented, so they laid a
stone rut i'th' middle o'th' road for th' fore wheel o'th' carts to
run in. They wur three-wheel carts, sich as navvies use i'
makkin railroads, an' that rut had to guide 'em."
"But there is a slight ridge in the middle of the groove.
What was that intended for?"
"Th' front wheel o' thoose carts wur split i'th' middle so as
to steady 'em, or else they'd ha' gone rompin' up th' sides, an'
happen getten eaut o'th' rut; that's what th' ridge wur for."
"But I find there are what appear to be cross sections of the
road at intervals. How do you account for those?"
"Oh, yo' meean wheer th' huts used to be."
"Were there huts erected there?"
"Aye, thoose wur th' tallegraph stations."
"Telegraphs in those days?"
"To be sure. Did yo' never hear about th' Saddlewo'th
"I have read of something of the sort in an old sketch called
'Tum Grunt and Whistlepig.'"
"It wur ta'en fro' this tallegraph. At every one o'
these stations, o' boath sides o'th' Edge, a lad had to be, an' his
wark wur, when th' jig carts had gone deawn wi' a load o' stone fro'
th' delph, to put a roller across for t' carry th' rope, an' tak' it
away when th' train wur gooin' up. When they wur ready for
windin' up, th' botthom lad shouted to th' next; an' he had to shout
to th' one above him; an' that road to th' top—that wur th' shoutin'
"But what of the remains of entrenchments at the top?"
"Oh' thoose be hanged! What they sayn are trenches are
nobbut th' owd gin hole 'at used to be worked when only one side
o'th' Edge wur wantin' stone. This gin wur turned by two
jackasses. They had to wind th' empty carts up when th' jig
wurno workin'. Th' delph chaps made a mistake once. They
thowt one donkey wur enoogh to wind five empty carts up fro' th'
Littlebro' side. So they sent one whoam. But t'other wur
as near bein' flung into eternity as ever a donkey wur. It had
w'und th' carts up to about th' hauve road when its strength gev
way; an' th' carts didno' care whether they went to th' top or th'
botthom. So they turn't back, an' whizz th' owd gin went
reaund, takkin' th' donkey with it—flyin' i'th' air, like a great
four-legged bit-bat, an' lettin' eaut sich music as never wur yerd
before sin' th' days o' Balaam! They never tried to wind wi'
one jackass after that."
"If your account of the road be the correct one, it destroys
all the other theories that I have read of. Some people seem
to think that it has been a packhorse road. Others that it was
constructed for the Roman legions to march along."
"Aye, aw've yerd o' thoose; an' 'at th' rut wur for th'
horses to travel in. But onybody 'at has seen a packhorse 'ud
know'at it 'ud want a rut width 'o this table. An aw've yerd
it said 'at it wur made for th' Roman so'diers; an' they had to walk
one abreeast; an' th' rut wur made narrow so as to prevent 'em bein'
splay-footed. But that's mere catty-watty. Eh, yo'
Manchester folk are a knowin' lot! Aye, well, maister, aw
dunno' mind, thank yo'. Aw'm never to a pint. Bein' a
cowd day aw'll redden th' poker, an' tak' th' chill off it."
From my experience of Lancashire people I have gathered that
they are sometimes given to romancing, or leading one to think, as a
Cockney would say, "they are a-kidding of me." I may have been
a victim in this instance. But I am bound to say that there
are some feasible points in the old man's version of the history of
the old road leading over Blackstone Edge. When the
archæological savants have exhausted their stock of theories on the
groove question it would not surprise me if it turned out to be a
repetition of the mystery attached to
B I L S T
P S H I
A R K. 
To return to my native village. The more inhospitable
the soil the hardier the produce, whether it be in the form of
vegetable life, or that to which we attach an anthropological
distinction. Rushes and rustics, hardy plants and hard-headed
men, have sprung and existed together; and these have each performed
their functions, after an important fashion in the natural and
social arrangements of the locality. What place has been more
celebrated for its rush-carts and its mathematicians?—the one
showing the quality of the soil, the other the result of that
continual warfare with physical disadvantages which we may
denominate the friction of mind against matter. What country
has produced better samples of tough, knotty manhood, than were to
be found amongst its hand-loom weavers of thirty years ago, and
which may yet be found in the lingering remnants by the social
wayside? It would be no slight task to go back, even in the
imagination, to the early settlers in this district—by which
distinction I mean those who stuck to the soil and cultivated
it—since there is no trustworthy evidence to fall back upon; and
even tradition, so prolific of semi-historical circumstance in the
more northern parts of the county, is silent here. No monastic
pile has risen, flourished, and decayed in this place; no frowning
castle has wrung obedience and contribution from trembling vassals;
no witches' broomstick scattered blight over fruitful pastures.
History restores not to us the noble ruin whose foundations lead us
back in the sepulchred past. The antiquarian delves not in
fosse or tumulus; nor reads he in heraldic lore the pedigree of
noble blood. The "Black Knight" may have ridden over "Shepley
Meadows," as containing the only track of direct road connecting
Ashton with Middleton; and the "Lord of Lime" may have mustered his
billmen on "Cutler's Hill," when civil discord jarred upon the
nation's ear; but conjecture must alone suffice to fill up the void
which history and tradition have left in a country's annals.
The gossips aver, though, that a body of sympathisers with the
"Pretender" passed Fletcher Fold, one of whom was shot by a farmer,
who afterwards concealed himself in a meal "kist," and thus escaped
Of one thing, however, we may feel tolerably certain: the
early inhabitants of Failsworth were not the growth of ease and
luxury. Revolution in its varied forms must have rolled over
the land to have produced a race of men so strong of limb, and so
vigorous of intellect, as that which characterised the dwellers
thereon of even a century ago. Some people, studied in
antiquarian matters, have given it as their opinion that stray bands
of the "Lollards" found refuge here when Rome was laying its ironed
sandal upon heretical hosts; but whether these were of the original
sect that sprang up in, and spread over, Germany, or were merely the
followers of Wycliffe, whose great patron in this part of the
country was the redoubted "John of Gaunt," no definition is ventured
upon. It is supposed that the art of weaving was introduced by
these people, and that it has continued to be a staple branch of
industry ever since. But this is simply conjecture, as no
reliable trace can be found of events that would warrant such a
That there were men who led what the general populace
regarded as a mysterious life, is attested by circumstances that
later events have brought to the surface, and established as clear
historical data. These were men who read books,—strange
pursuit! could write and cipher,—devilish innovations! studied
botany, and dabbled in medicines. They were not church-going
people, these supposed descendants of the Lollards; but held on to
mysterious forms of dissent, that caused them to be suspected of
being students in the black art. They had associates in other
parts of the county who rose to eminence as botanists and
mathematicians, and who with them suffered from the persecutions of
the ignorant;—the old, old story of other times and other countries.
As with its other attributes, so has Failsworth been with its
politics—rugged, cold, austere—standing out in the upheaval of our
political system like the rock that the yielding drift has left only
to show in more strong relief the grand outline of its base.
It may be urged that I am here drawing an extravagant figure; but
whoever might object to the simile would be a stranger to the
subject sought to be illustrated. Failsworth hath a history,
which, comparatively modern though it be, is one more closely
connected with important national events than it might obtain credit
for possessing. Here, so far remote from the centre of its
influence, what was termed "French Jacobinism" found root, and gave
a tone to popular thought and action. The shock of revolution
awakened a sympathetic vibration far north of the English Channel;
and "Constitutional Associations" were formed, whose avowed object
was to re-model the legislative machinery of our country, without
assimilating it particularly to that of France. A branch of
this association was established in Failsworth, which its opponents
designated the "Jacobin Club." This society, whether the truth
may be palatable or not in some quarters, absorbed most of the
active intellect of the neighbourhood, and had a powerful
organization, the influences of which are felt even at the present
day. Opposed to this body was the "Church and King Club;" and
the two factions, whether under their original distinctions, or
known under the more temperate phraseology of modern Radicalism and
Conservatism, have been at constant and bitter feud ever since their
What may be regarded as the centre of the township, or what
would be at that time the "Three Lane Ends," and which asserts its
importance by the number of taverns erected thereabouts, was the
field upon which most of this political warfare was fought out.
This spot was known as the "rallyin' point," and fierce were the
encounters that from time to time took place. Here the annual
rush-cart was built; the fair held—if that could be called a fair
which seldom mustered more than a half-dozen head of cattle, three
or four pigs, and a hamper each of ducks and hens. Here cocks
were fought and badgers drawn. Here the effigies of Tom Payne
and the first Napoleon were burnt. Here the last of the
Jacobins was tied in the saddle of a dragoon's horse, whilst the mad
and bigoted populace stuck pins into his legs. Here the
coronation ox was roasted, and the gifts of the charitable doled out
to starving hundreds in the good old times. Here the
bonfire was made, the May-pole erected. Here was once a mock
king crowned, whilst shouts of idolatrous loyalty rang on every
hand. Here the procession to "Peterloo"
halted to refresh. Here the maidens of the village presented a
fair companion with the "Cap of Liberty," afterwards so ignobly
struck down by cavalry sabres. Here have Radical heads been
broken, Tory garments strewn to the winds; and here I first heard
the cry of—"Down with the base, bloody and brutal Wigs!"
Going back to the earlier manifestations of this awakening of
a dormant spirit, these politically subterranean rumblings so
significant of the eruptions that were to follow, we find what we
will term the "Jacobin Club" working mysteriously at the problems it
proposed to solve. Unobtrusively the members met, and read,
and debated. With as little show of revolutionary purpose they
gathered together a library of books that, for the period in which
these men lived, was a marvel of extensiveness and selection, and
had no equal in the mansions of the rich. The room in which
these books were kept was next to the one in which I was born; so
that if all other of my surroundings were of the very humblest kind,
I may say that I was born amidst the best society the world at that
time could furnish.
I have heard my father relate an anecdote concerning a
prominent member of the Jacobin fraternity that affords a striking
proof of the many dangers that surrounded these people, and the
superior tactics by which those dangers were met. "Old Moffatt,"
who was curator of the library, was suspected of having in his
possession a copy of Paine's "Rights of Man," which was held to be a
misdemeanour in the eye of the law. No sooner had this
suspicion got hold of the popular mind than a formidable descent
upon the Jacobin's house was resolved upon. Accordingly, a mob
collected at the Pole, and led by a sergeant of dragoons, who were
patrolling the district, sallied out to the "Rocks," where their
intended victim lived. Arriving at the house, the trooper
struck the door with his sword, and, on the appearance of old
Moffatt, demanded, in the name of the king, the surrender of the
prescribed book. The old man retired without a murmur, and on
his reappearance presented the soldier with the family Bible.
"What is this?" exclaimed the sergeant, with an expression of
surprise and disappointment. "The only book of the 'Rights of
Man' that I read!" was the reply. The soldier turned upon the
crowd, waved his sword in anger at thus being fooled, and, bidding
the people disperse, said, "Go home, you cowards! Be as good a
Christian as this man is, and you will be better citizens." It
was upon this incident that I founded one of my stories in the "Marlocks
Not only were the Failsworth Jacobins readers of Voltaire,
Mirabeau, and other great thinkers whom the French Revolution sent
to the fore, but they were students in Shakespeare and the early
British poets. Several devoted themselves to the study of the
abstract sciences; and it was by no means a rare occurrence to hear
the recital of some favourite poetical passage either precede or
follow a dissertation on the problems of Euclid. The brothers
Thomas and Samuel Whittaker, names well known among students in
mathematical science, were active members of this association.
Samuel, who lived till he was about ninety years of age, died
recently at the Shakespere Inn, Gorton, where he had resided and
denounced intolerance for many years. Thomas was the victim of
the fury of the "Church and King" mob, who was compelled to ride
through the township, not with a crown of thorns upon his head, but
a guerdon of pins stuck in his legs. That cruel act drove the
poor fellow from his native country, it is supposed to America, but
nothing reliable has been heard of him since the day of his
disappearance. No doubt he was heartbroken at the ingratitude
of the people whom he had striven all his previous life to
enlighten, and sought in a more genial atmosphere opportunities to
follow the peculiar bent of his inclinations.
Spectators, in a political sense, of the issue of the French
Revolution, the Jacobins were further suspected of being secret
sympathisers with the Americans in their struggle for independence;
and, although Washington had retired to Mount Vernon several years
before Louis XVI was led to the scaffold, the events of the two
periods were not so far apart as to be regarded as other than
contemporaneous in their occurrence. There can be no doubt
that passive sympathy was felt for the pioneers of the Transatlantic
Republic, and might have assumed an active form had opportunity
offered; but herein, as on many other occasions, the local guardians
of the constitution saw a substance in a shadow, and heard the
rattle of revolutionary musketry in every Jacobin's shuttle that
flew. It was alleged of these early reformers that a complete
subversion of the then existing regime was the only object by which
they sought to crown their labours, and that the destruction of the
Church, and the demolition of all things that were regarded as
political safeguards, were to be the means to that end.
But a Republic was not proclaimed at Westminster, although
the "Farmer King" succumbed to a malady from which even monarchs are
not exempt; and the "first gentleman of Europe" had little beyond
the character of a "fribble" to recommend him to the possession of
regal emoluments. There had been a lull in political
agitation, only to be roused up into active life by the advocates of
"Radical Reform" appearing on the scene. The "Church and King"
party, and the reputed "Jacobins," again flew to arms; and the
warfare was carried on with even greater virulence than in preceding
years. An old man was once heard to say, when speaking of that
time—'Thoose ut wurno' Radikils wur Tories; an' thoose ut wurno'
Tories wur Radikils. Ther' no go-betweens nor hauve-an-hauves.
We knew one another as weel as if we'd pappers pinned on eaur
breasts. An aleheause nook then wur like a cockpit. If a
Tory batted his wings, a Radikil crowed, and fithers would ha' begun
a-flyin' in a minit." These were times of even greater danger
to those who marched in front of the democratic crusade than had
ever been known before. In former days the mob administered
law and execution; but here the State itself shook the terrors of
the prison in the faces of reputed abettors of anarchy, and martial
law closed the mouth of clamorous agitation for reform.
Failsworth afforded a productive hunting ground for Nadin, the
famous deputy-constable of Manchester [Ed.—see Bamford,
Passages from the Life
of a Radical]; and frequent raids were made in the
neighbourhood for the discovery and capture of offending
malcontents. A story is told of one of these hunting
excursions, which I here take the liberty of quoting from one of my
earlier sketches. The passage reads as follows:—
"BILLY QUICK" AND NADIN.
Someone hearing Nadin's name mentioned, requested Neddy to
'tell abeaut' that race that once took place betwixt the notorious
deputy-constable and a certain demagogue who was known by the
sobriquet of 'Billy Quick.' "Well, yo' seen," said the old
man, "Joe Nadin had someb'dy at everybody's keighole, hearkenin'
eaut for treeason. By thoose meeans he geet to know a good
deeal moore nur folk thowt he did abeaut sich as wouldno' be
satisfied wi' things as they wur; an' ther hardly a day went by but
someb'dy wur bein' marched off to th' New Bailey. Billy had
bin sayin' summat at a meetin' ut wurno exactly liked; an' th' day
after owd Joe an' his runners wur seen comin' deawn th' fowt, an'
stop at th' dur wheere Billy lived. Billy had seen 'em comin'
hissel', an' what should he do but he oppens th' dur an' tak's a
run-a-bar jump, an' springs reet through 'em. Nadin made a
grab at him, and so did o'th' t'other chaps; but they met as weel
ha' catcht at th' leetenin', for Billy wur as swipper a mon as ony
i'th' teawnship, an' managed to slip through 'em like a shuttle
afore th' blood-heaunds knew what they wur doin'. Heaw they
star't when they seed Billy battin' away across a fielt, wi' a good
two acre an' a five-barred gate between 'em!
"Owd Joe wurno' for bein' slipped quietly, noather; so he
gethert up his legs, an' wi' an oath ut leet like a breek o' the'r
ears, coed his men for t' follow. Well, they did follow, an'
middlin' sharply too, for ther one or two good-legged uns amung 'um;
an' folk said ut if it hadno' bin ut Billy had th' start, th' race
would ha' bin rayther shorter nur it wur. But Billy had th'
leead, an kept it for a fielt or two, till he dropt deawn into th'
Wrigley-Yead cloof; an' then it favvort bein' o'er wi' th' race, for
ther plenty o' chances o' takkin' cover, an' it wur thowt he'd get
eaut o' th' road yezzily.
"Well, Nadin, like a fause owd file ut he wur, thowt Billy
would be takkin deawnart, an' he drew his pack off the scent, an'
made straight for a turn i'th' cloof o' purpose to nick him in.
Just as they geet to th' edge o'th' cloof Billy wur seen dartin'
past like a hare wi' new wynt, an' sich a hullabaloo they set up yo'
never yerd, an' off they went i' full cry agen. Billy showed
hissel' th' better mon upo' bad greaund, an' beaunced o'er gutters
an' hillocks like a huntin' boss. Owd Joe shook th' handcuffs
at him, an' coed on him i'th' name o' King George for t' give hissel'
up; but Billy nobbut went faster, an' dashed on through wick thurn,
an' wayter, an' o'er backins an' railins, just as if he knew what
he're runnin' for.
"'They co'en him Quick; an' quick he is, by gum!' owd Joe
said; for Billy distanced 'em like a two year owd. When he
geet deawn to th' cut  it wur made sure ut
Billy would be pinned, for it favvort ther no chance for him nobbut
takkin' th' wayter, an' swimmin' for it.
"'We han him neaw,' Nadin said. 'He'll not ha' wynt
enough for t' swim. Throw yo'rsels eawt, lads, an' nail him.'
But Billy knew th' greaund too weel for 'em, for o of a sudden he
popt eaut o'th' seet like a meaudiwart. 'Rot his radikil
shanks! Where's he gone to neaw?' owd Joe sheauted. But
when he coome to th' culver' meauth, an' see'd ut Billy must oather
ha' gone into it or ha' sunken i'th' yearth, he stopt an' shaked his
yead. 'Ther's no livin' soul could goo in there an' come eaut
wick,' he said; for th' bruck wur runnin' very hee at th' time.
An' then he said, 'I'd rayther ha' ta'en him alive, but, onyheaw, we
mun have his corpse. Run to t'other eend, lads, he'll be
rowlin' eaut directly.'
"So they run reaund by th' bridge, an' planted the'rsels at
t'other end o'th' culver', waitin' for the'r game. Well, they
snooted abeaut th' culver' meauth, like dogs at a rot hole, for
above two heaurs, but no Billy turned up; so Nadin made it eaut ut
he'd swum deawn th' bruck, for nowt could stond sich a streeam as
that wur, he're sure. Well, they seecht th' bruck, like
childer rootin for loaches; but they met ha' turned o' th' stones up
they' wur between theere an' Moston Mill, an' ne'er ha' fund him; so
they gan it up to'ard neet, an' went the'r ways whoam agen."
"And did they never find him?" inquired a shabby-genteel
person, who had been eagerly listening to Neddy's story.
"Yoi, they fund him abeaut a month after," replied the old
man, putting on a look of concern.
"Much decomposed, I daresay?"
"Nay, no' so mich o' that; he liked rum too weel."
"Was he far below the culvert?"
"Aye, about twenty mile."
"They fund him," said Neddy, "peearcht in a aleheause nook i'
Mac'sfielt, singin' 'Johnny Cope.'"
Such scenes, but with more serious terminations, were of
frequent occurrence, not only subsequent to but preceding the
memorable gathering at "Peterloo." Party feeling entered into
every social arrangement, severed domestic ties, and gave up to the
persecution of the law and of popular odium the sharer of the same
hearth, the offspring of the same loins. Brother betrayed
brother; and the spy wormed the secrets from his friend's bosom,
that he might consign him to the dungeon. There never was a
time in which the truer metal of humanity was put through a more
severe ordeal, or when the overtures of friendship were so dangerous
to be made. A warm aspiration breathed in an apparently
sympathetic ear was the following day repeated in the witness-box,
as evidence of seditious designs in the utterer; so that the
aspirant to what he deemed a purer national existence had to draw
the mantle of silence around him, and suffer the more generous
impulses of his nature to be wasted in the solitude of his own
But I will not be guilty of assigning the odium of improper
actions to one party alone. In the ranks of advanced
politicians were to be found men whose uppermost desire was the
subversion of order; and these had too great an influence in the
Radical councils. There can be no doubt that drilling parties
were organised, ostensibly for the better method of marching in
procession, but in reality for the practice of military discipline;
and these doings would fill with alarm the minds of the would-be
peaceable inhabitants, who were content with things as they were, if
they could not be made better by adhering to the old groove, or by
slight moral divergencies into a new track. When the
procession marched to St. Peter's Field, led by the beautiful and
heroic Jane Winterbottom, and her fair sisterhood, each clad in a
vesture of white, with bays woven in their hair, and carrying
imitations of the olive branch in their hands, as emblems of a
peaceful purpose, the black flag, bearing the motto, "Liberty or
Death," floated behind them, and gave another colouring to the
objects of that day's issues.
After dwelling on convulsions that kept disjointed the social
life of Failsworth for a long series of years, it is pleasant to
turn to subjects of a more pacific character, and trace the progress
of the peaceful arts and sciences that marked the period which
followed. The spirit of inquiry which had been instilled into
the youthful mind by the hated, and now all but defunct, Jacobins,
grew into an active principle, and the energy that had been wasted
upon party warfare was directed to the pursuit of learning in its
various branches. A building had been erected, now known as
the "Old School," in which all parties were represented in the
children attending. It was a school for all denominations, and
sectarian influences were rigorously shut out for a time.
By-and-by, however, the Church party gained the ascendancy over the
others, and the school became in spirit attached to the chapelry of
Newton, then the only branch of the establishment that had to serve
for the populations of four townships, spreading over an area of
many miles each way.
A new school was, however, erected in 1837, which was solely
devoted to the Church; and social dissensions quickly followed the
separation of that party from the mother establishment.
If the older building has for a long series of years been the
bone of contention betwixt the Church party and the "Anythingarians,"
as I have heard their opponents termed, it has in its more peaceful
times been the poor man's college, in which, if the student did not
wear "mortarboard" caps, nor take part in "town and gown" fights,
they received an education which, in after life, they might use as a
ladder to raise themselves to more exalted places. Its
history, which can only be slightly touched upon here, for fear of
awakening those party animosities that for the present are happily
slumbering, would form a most interesting volume if compiled with
that spirit of fair treatment which only an unprejudiced spectator
could bring to bear upon its many and varied issues. But there
are a few events and incidents in connection therewith, that it
would be impossible for me to pass over without regret, on account
of their being so closely linked with the earlier struggles of my
life. These, however, I will treat with a hand careful to
guard itself against wounding the susceptibilities of such as may
not have looked upon these events with the same regard that I have
viewed them myself, and who consequently cannot be expected to share
the sympathy I have always felt with the much-misrepresented doings
at the Old School.
At what time of life I was placed at this establishment to be
nursed I do not remember; but my parents removing to
Hollinwood led to my removal out of the shadow of those "classic
walls" at the early age of five years, to run in the fields, ride "rantypows"
on "Twis's" timber, study canal navigation in the interests of a
local and fundless "Humane Society." After an interval of
years passed, so far as education was concerned, at the Sunday and
night school, I returned to my alma mater, but in the
capacity then of a Sunday teacher. I found my early
schoolfellows to be in their more matured life such desirable
companions for one who had begun to dream of something better than
following the general run of youthful hobbies, that I felt as though
I had entered upon a life-friendship at once, a relative condition
which time has not changed, nor circumstances modified.
We had a glorious period of it so long as we were not
interfered with by those who derived their notions of propriety from
old-fashioned formularies—spending our summer Sabbath mornings in my
uncle's garden, and offering up, from that humble flower-temple, as
pure and earnest devotion to the Eternal as ever rose from walled
fane, or was made acceptable by priestly robe and velvet-appointed
altar. We read after, and marvelled at, the colossal
Shakespere; we traced the deep subtleties of the philosophic
Wordsworth; we revelled in the grand imagery of Byron; and
sympathised with the robust humanity of Burns. We reasoned
with Locke; drew ethical sustenance from grand old Jeremy Bentham;
and had our eyes directed towards the beginning of that life which
is to come by the pious eloquence of Channing. If others, whom
I may term our opponents at that time, were doing more than we were
towards fostering the true spirit of moral and intellectual culture,
the results have not yet appeared in that form and that light which
I would rejoice to see. Yet, for all that, we were doomed to a
long period of persecution, the bitterness of which had better be
forgotten than animadverted upon here. I have reason to
believe that many honest regrets have been felt by parties who at
that time were actively hostile towards us, but who, if uninfluenced
by that intolerant spirit which then guided the uninquiring mind,
would not only have been with us, but would have entered heartily
and beneficially into our work.
We began, young as we were, to feel a kindling love for
sociality. Boys at our age, when they left off their tops and
marbles, had nothing to supply the place of such recreations except
the deleterious amusements of the public house. They danced on
the taproom hearthstone; held contests in what had the name of
"alehouse singing;" and, if strongly-limbed, grew proud of each
triumphant essay in a more muscular kind of pastime.
We had a nobler ambition. We felt a consciousness that
better things were to be done than we could see practised around us.
We accordingly formed ourselves into a "Mutual Improvement Society,"
not merely to follow our scholastic ideas, but to promote social
intercourse, and establish the basis of more solid friendships.
The nucleus of a library was formed, and we had the satisfaction of
seeing the books well-thumbed. Classes for elementary
instruction were commenced, and bore gratifying results. We
were assisted in these pursuits by men who had fought their battle
and hugged their share of odium years before; and it was to this
assistance, gratuitously given, that most of us owe the guiding
precepts of our after life. Uncle John Thomason, Johnny Moffat,
and the brothers Whittaker, had not lived in vain, for they had left
behind them the Whiteheads, the Booths, the Taylors, the Brierleys,
the Smiths, and the Fletchers, to continue the work they had with
such self-sacrifice inaugurated. Younger still than these
there were in an advanced stage of training, and our Arcadia
flourished under their discipline.
As an evidence of our earnest work, it may be recorded that
we got up the first tea-party ever held in any school betwixt
Manchester and Oldham; and a great undertaking it was, though
successfully and satisfactorily carried out. This took place
on the Easter Monday of 1840, but remembered as if it occurred only
yesterday. We had dramatic representations upon a stage fitted
up by our unaided selves with what we were pleased to call
"scenery," but which consisted only of strips of coloured calico
stitched together and wound upon rollers, after a primitive
theatrical fashion, but answering our purpose as well as the most
artistically painted canvas.
Well do I remember the curtain rising for the first time—the
extreme nervous agitation betrayed by everyone who had to take a
part, and the speculations as to the manner in which such a
tremendous innovation would be received by a public whose sympathies
we could not at all times calculate upon. Strongly
photographed on my memory are the images of my aunt's cloak, which,
as an assassin, I wore; the tin daggers, that cost three-halfpence
each; the swords we bought in Manchester and broke before we got
them home; the tea-tray that was to make the indispensable thunder;
the swollen cheeks of the "Cat-alley Band," as they blew out the
concluding bars of the noisy overture, and the encouraging smiles of
the tea-fed audience when we strutted proudly upon the scene.
You of my readers who have never felt these sensations so
inevitably associated with a "first appearance" know not how to
estimate their influence. I have stood on the boards of our
Theatre Royal for the first time, and before a "crowded house,"
without feeling half the trepidation I experienced when, upon our
amateur stage, I raised my glittering but harmless weapon to plunge
somewhere amongst the buttons of "the wretch that stood in my path,"
and brought down the plaudits of the auditory for the heroic deed.
You who profess to teach men to act, but who have never passed
through the ordeal of "ring up," take just one leaf out of my
experience in these matters, and I will be bound to say that you
will be more charitable towards your brethren's shortcomings for
ever afterwards, and more inclined to the opinion that it is one
thing to perform and another to criticise. Such my experience
has taught me, and I bequeath the lesson to you, an untaxed legacy.
It would be a puzzle to members of the theatrical profession
to discover by what art-agency we contrived to bring out the glories
of Shakespere and his satellites upon three planks, a window-bottom,
and the top of a staircase. But we did manage to do all these
things nevertheless, and in the most ambitious manner possible.
We performed "Othello," "Hamlet," "Merchant of Venice,"
"William Tell," "Virginias," "Pizarro," "The Stranger," "Douglas," "Wat
Tyler," "The Bleeding Nun," "Luke the Labourer," "Black-eyed Susan,"
"The Lear of Private Life," and laughable farces too numerous to
name. Lest it should be thought that the whole of our time was
absorbed by these histrionic pursuits, I may here explain that the
performances took place once a year only; so that the whole of our
representations occupied a period comprising a long series of years,
at the end of which the boys had become men, and had taken to manly
duties; the children of some of them lisping out their first
attempts at dramatic elocution.
But these things were not to go on uninterrupted in their
pleasant course. The rector of St. John's 
had begun to denounce us from the pulpit; and sanctimonious horror
seized upon the "unco gude" of our neighbours, who warned their
children to keep out of our paths, for fear that terrible
consequences might ensue. This alarm was not without a cause.
A score or so of strapping fellows such as we were, with beards of
downy incipiency, and reputations unsullied by the immoralities of
other youths, were not to be left unassailed by girlish witchery, or
allowed to continue our Platonic attachments to the neglect of more
tender obligations. We made interesting conversions to our way
of thinking and living which threatened to drain the other school of
its more engaging youth, and rob its Whitsuntide procession of some
of its prettiest ornaments. This was not to be submitted to by
dominant respectability, and schemes were laid for our overthrow.
An opportunity for putting one of these schemes into execution
presented itself. How it succeeded remains to be told.
The master of the day school, who occupied the house
adjoining, died. A successor was elected by the votes of the
"inhabitants" of the township, but was never permitted to assume the
whole of his functions. The Church party seized upon the lower
schoolroom, fastened up the entrance door, but allowed the one
communicating with the school-house to remain open. The widow
of the deceased schoolmaster was kept in possession, and induced,
perhaps reluctantly, to follow out the dictates of the aggressors.
A series of riots followed these arbitrary doings, and for a period
of time reaching over years the township was given up to lawlessness
and party rancour. Riots and prosecutions were of almost
weekly occurrence; and Failsworth faces were as familiar at the New
Bailey as were those of the lawyers who practised there. Time
rolled stormily on, and the Sunday school was all but broken up for
want of room in which to locate the scholars. The "Mechanics'
Institution," which had emerged out of the "Mutual Improvement
Society," languished from the same cause; and social demoralisation
and the alienation of kindred were the fruits of this righteous
interference with the liberties of well-meaning people.
An incident occurred at this time which is worth detailing in
full. It was decided that the lower schoolroom must be
transferred to our possession at whatever cost. Various plans
were submitted, of more or less practicability; and the "Council of
War," after much professional deliberation, at length agreed upon
one. We were to take the place by strategy, and means to that
end were at once proceeded with.
A watchman held nightly ward in the schoolhouse, and had
foiled several attempts on our part to make a lodgement in the
beleaguered room. To get this official out of the way, or
throw him off his guard, was the chief point to be aimed at, and was
absolutely necessary to the success of our scheme.
Fortunately, he was not a teetotaller, and this circumstance
favoured our purpose in no small degree. A passive sympathiser
with our cause, who was in the habit of frequenting the enemy's
camp, plied the two-legged "Cerebus" with plentiful potations, and
got him in such a such a state of obliviousness, that when the hour
of attack presented itself, lo, the watch "slumbered and slept!"
The plans for storming the old school were matured; the time fixed
for putting them into operation; and, when executed, were so
successful in their issue, that before the muddled watchman had
awakened to the consciousness of what had caused his head to be in
such a state of "fives and sixes," the jubilant voices of rejoicing
children were ringing in the captured schoolroom.
Satisfied that the watchman would be properly attended to,
and made as "safe" as "Zach's fourpenny" could make him, we who had
been told off as the besieging party ensconced ourselves in the
upper story, and waited for the hour to strike.
It was on a Saturday evening. We made merry until
twelve; then stretched ourselves on the bare forms to sleep, if
possible, until daybreak. Fitful, however, were our slumbers,
as doubtless are the somnolent relaxations of soldiers encamped
before the enemy on the eve of battle; and many a drolly-told tale,
and the listening thereto, had to be substituted for the refreshing
"forty winks." Daylight at length broke, and the "forlorn
hope" was on the alert. We had reliable information conveyed
to us that the begrogged sentry was as firmly gripped in the
clutches of "Morpheus" as sleep could hold him, and that the nasal
monotone was sounding beautifully.
"Then to wark, lads!" said J—, who led the attack; and
instantly everyone was in readiness to perform the duties assigned
J—hereupon produced a joiner's brace-and-bit, and commenced
boring one of the boards in the floor. The noise of a saw
might have betrayed our purpose, and every precaution was necessary
for the success of such an undertaking. After much patient
boring and anxious listening a board was divided, and a large hole
made in the floor. As there was no ceiling beneath, we could
reconnoitre the position, and easily ascertain the strength of the
fortifications. The entrance door we found was fastened by
three strong iron bars securely screwed to the door posts; but we
were not to be disconcerted by such formidable defences, as we were
possessed of implements that would have opened a bank.
"Neaw, then, who's for gooin' deawn?" said C—, drawing a rope
out of the coal hole. "Leet weights preferred."
No sooner were the words uttered than I found the rope
hitched beneath my shoulders, and my clogs dangling through the
hole. I was the first let down. The duty assigned to me
was to secure the door communicating with the schoolhouse—the most
important item in our programme. This I made right by passing
a cord several times through the door-handle and round a cross-wood
of reliable strength. That job done, we could follow out our
other operations at leisure. Presently another pair of legs
were dangling through the hole, and another body gave me some idea
of the spectacle of an execution, by the suggestive twisting of the
rope in its descent. A third followed, armed with a powerful
screwdriver, and the unscrewing of the iron bars was at once
commenced. This was not the formidable difficulty we had
anticipated, for the screws readily gave way, the bars yielded
rapidly, and before a less venturous spirit could be prevailed upon
to trust his bones to the capriciousness of twisted hemp, we had
returned to our companions by the proper and legitimate way,
flourishing the bars as trophies of our success. The section
of board was quickly replaced in the floor, and smeared over with
dust, so as to give it the appearance of being "owd done," as was
observed by one of an examining party; and long ere the hour for
commencing school had arrived, some of us were miles away!
What consternation there was in our opponents' camp when it
became known that business was being carried on in the lower
schoolroom as if it had never been at all interrupted! News of
the affair flew about the township like a delectable bit of scandal,
and everybody marvelled how the feat had been accomplished.
Spiritualism was at that time unknown amongst us, so that it could
not be attributed to the agency of the unseen. The work must
have been done by corporeal instrumentality; but how had it been
exercised? The floor was examined at a subsequent meeting of
the inhabitants, but nothing could be discovered that would lead to
a supposition that the boards had been tampered with, and the affair
remained a mystery for a considerable time, and may be still to some
people. Nobody, of course, had taken any part in it, even when
questioned by their friends; and, had I not now been a trustee of
the building, I might myself have hesitated before making these
From the date of this coup de main, party animosities
began to cool down. A few prosecutions followed, but the
spirit of opposition was broken in the back, and people who had been
foremost in the ranks of our opponents began to see that they were
engaged in an unholy work, notwithstanding that it was carried on in
the name of something better. No doubt there were faults on
both sides, and if certain leaders of each party could only have
brought themselves to the possibility of regarding the whole
proceedings in their true light, such an understanding might have
been arrived at as would have saved the township a great scandal,
and been the means of promoting goodwill amongst people whom, from
their homogeneity of opinions and sympathies, in political as well
as social matters, ought never to have quarrelled. It is to be
regretted that a fine opportunity of placing Failsworth in a more
advanced position was thus sacrificed by the domination of passion
over principle, and a thirst for power that could bring with it no
Passing from this subject, upon which I have dwelt longer
than I had intended, I will draw the reader's attention for a moment
to matters more characteristic of the locality as dissociated from
party spirit and the differences it engenders. I have in
another place alluded to Failsworth as being celebrated for its "Rushbearings,"
and I may be pardoned if I make a clean breast of the fact that I
still regard those institutions with a feeling of pride that others
affect to disown now that the shows and pageantries of the "olden
time" are out of fashion, and only remembered as one of many amongst
the barbaric pastimes of our forefathers.
It is a well-known fact in history that rushbearings
originated in the necessity for securing comfort in our churches
during the winter months; the rushes conveyed thither being used as
carpets for the feet, in place of the now prevalent matting.
The church of All Saints', Newton Heath, being the only
representative of the Establishment that had to serve for the
spiritual care of four townships, Newton, Failsworth, Droylsden, and
Moston—notwithstanding that Failsworth alone could boast of its
three dissenting chapels—was annually supplied with rushes for the
purpose named; the "Wakes" being the time selected for the
rushbearing festivities to be observed.
The four townships each did the work in turn, and the spirit
of rivalry ran high at every celebration. Failsworth often
took the lead; the last display being one of extraordinary
magnificence. But I have heard old people say that for
picturesqueness the modern rush-cart was nothing to the one of fifty
years ago, when the dancers were fewer in number, but more
artistically dressed, and entered more into the spirit of such
pastimes than the youths of twenty years ago cared to display.
An artist has depicted one of these pageants as they were got up
when it was deemed effeminate to wear trousers; when the women wore
bonnets that served alike for head-shelters and sunshades; when the
now "Royal Oak" was a warehouse, and a blacksmith's shed abutted on
the "fowt" of the "Crown and Cushion;" when the population was
sparse, and men eligible for dancing the Morris dance were few; when
"Sam Simister" was a young man, and could call out "backort an'
forred three times o'er" in tones louder than his bell; when "Tom
Etchells" built the cart, and had no rival at his handicraft; when
sots were few, and "Good Templars" unknown; when men and women knew
how to live without being held in leading-strings by this society
and that, and saved up out of small earnings, so that they might not
be a burden on the parish when their life's work was done.
Do not imagine, dear reader, that the "Pole" at the end of
the lane has any connections with rushbearings, or that it was
erected for the purpose of May-day festivities. It hath a
political as well as a national significance, and was placed in its
position as a monument of party triumph, and as an attestation of
the township's loyalty when "George the Third was King," and the
"Star Chamber" was held at the "Pack Horse," and Jacobin ink had to
be borrowed with which to sign an address of attachment to his royal
person at a period when it was thought to be in danger. Many a
time has this trophy been assailed by both friend and foe; and I
look upon it as quite a wonder that it has survived the many and
fierce conflicts that have from time to time shaken the township
from its propriety. But there it still stands; not the symbol
of peaceful merrymakers, but as a taunting remembrance of civil
strife, and a puzzle to the curious stranger who, on beholding it,
may be led to think what glorious doings Failsworth must have known
in years gone by. Betwixt the "Pole" and the "School" a wide
gulf has existed that remains for the future to bridge over.
Once more reverting to the School, as I bring to a close this
somewhat attenuated sketch, I may say that in this unassuming
structure men who were distinguished for their learning in
after-life obtained the rudiments of education; continuing their
studies at night-schools when the needs of the family required that
they should contribute to the household supplies. Many
instances of the self-denial of these men, and their enthusiastic
devotion to the pursuit of knowledge amongst difficulties almost
insuperable, have passed under my notice, and caused me to marvel no
little at the exhibition of human endurance under sore trials and
heavy burdens; for such it was the fortune of many whom I knew to
bear. A gentleman with whom I was well acquainted, and who has
but recently passed out of existence, commenced his struggles as a
handloom weaver, received his early tuition at this school, was
afterwards taught by a lame weaver, who followed his vocation in a
corner of the schoolhouse during the hours of teaching, and lived to
acquire an independency by teaching the "young idea" as he had been
taught himself. A companion ended his days as master of a
workhouse in Yorkshire. A third is the proprietor of an
extensive mill in the district; and the members of two of the
largest firms of silk manufacturers ever known in Lancashire were
born, or lived, in cottages close by the School. Others are
growing up who, I have no doubt, will some time do honour to their
"benign mother" in various walks of life; and who, I hope, when
enemies assail its character, will proudly insist that the School
has done good work in its day.
In taking leave of this theme, although my heart lingers upon
it as does the memory of some loved melody, let me not be accused of
vanity when I say that my "native village" has been associated with
persons and events that have, or will have, a name in history, as
aiding in the uplifting of our political and social well-being in no
small degree, and thus contributing a lustre to its many-sided
reputation. The weaving of "Canton shawls" was at one time an
achievement in a branch of manufacturing art that few other villages
dared attempt, and a prosperous time the weavers had of it.
The first jacquard machine ever imported into Lancashire was erected
in the "Rocks," and old John Robinson "gaited" it. Poetry,
science, and art in its higher developments have each given a tone
to the annals of the locality. Elijah Ridings, the poet, was
born in the old road, near the canal bridge and the brothers
Thorley, the well-known musicians, first saw the light in a house
close by. Mr. Bennett Woodcroft, the first comptroller of
patents, carved, during his apprenticeship, his initials on a door
opposite the "Traveller's Inn;" and Shakespeare Wood, the eminent
sculptor, spent much of his early pastime in the sunshine of the
"Lady Bottoms." Add to these, although the list is not
exhausted, that a peer of the realm at one time inhabited a
three-storey house in Dob Lane, and that the late Sir Robert Peel is
said to have received a part of his education at a mansion called
"The Lodge," and you will at once admit that Failsworth,
notwithstanding its physical disadvantages, has played no
unimportant part in the political and social history of our common
1. Being present at the Battle of Waterloo entitled
him to an addition of 2 years to his service.
2. Bill Stumps his mark. See "Pickwick Papers."
3. Rochdale Canal.
4. Similar performances have taken place in the Church school since
then, —such has been the change in popular taste and opinion! The
"old school" was only in advance of the times.
END OF VOL. III.