Blackburn Poets

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"Humble and self-taught, there is a wholesome quality in the simple verse of these men that we shall seek in vain in the sophisticated products of most contemporary poetry."

George C. Miller.

 

 

LIST OF PORTRAITS
_______________

JOSEPH HODGSON

GEORGE THOS. COLLINS

RICHARD DUGDALE

JOHN WALKER

JOHN C. PRINCE

ROBT. WEST WHALLEY

ROBERT CLEMESHA

JOHN WALSH

GEORGE HULL
            (Photo by F. Burton.)

WM. HALL BURNETT

ROBERT WM. THOM

JAMES RUSHTON

JOHN BARON

JOSEPH JARDINE

JAMES WALKDEN

JAMES DUXBURY

WM. BILLINGTON

THOS. CHIPPENDALE

HUGH G. GRAHAM

JOHN T. BARON

GEORGE SALISBURY

JOSEPH BARON

WM. ALEX. ABRAM
            (Photo by L. Shawcross.)

JOHN PICKUP

ALEX. B. GROSART

WILLIAM BOLTON

RALPH DITCHFIELD

CORNELIUS MCMANUS

RICHARD RAWCLIFFE

WILLIAM BARON

WILLIAM WHITAKER

THOMAS CLOUNIE

JAMES CHADBURN

MARGARET MUNRO
            (Photo by Wyatt.)

HENRY YATES

CLARA E. RAMSKILL

LUKE S. WALMSLEY

ELLEN LING

JAMES SHORROCK

 

JOHN RAWCLIFFE

 

 

CONTENTS.
_______________

i.

INTRODUCTION

ii.

GEORGE HULL (By Joseph Baron)

I.

EARLY FUGITIVE POEMS

II.

RACHEL PRESCOTT

III.

JOSEPH HODGSON

IV.

RICHARD DUGDALE

V.

ALFRED WHITEHEAD

VI.

WILLIAM GASPEY

VII.

JOHN CRITCHLEY PRINCE

VIII.

ROBERT CLEMESHA

IX.

ROBERT WILLIAM THOM

X.

JOHN BARON

XI.

JAMES WALKDEN

XII.

WILLIAM BILLINGTON

XIII.

JOHN RUSHTON

XIV.

DAVID LITTLE

XV.

HUGH GARDINER GRAHAM

XVI.

JOHN CHARLTON

XVII.

GEORGE SALISBURY

XVIII.

WILLIAM ALEXANDER ABRAM

XIX.

ALEXANDER BALLOCH GROSART

XX.

RALPH DITCHFIELD

XXI.

RICHARD RAWCLIFFE

XXII.

JOHN DALY

XXIII.

WILLIAM WHITAKER

XXIV.

JAMES CHADBURN

XXV.

HENRY YATES

XXVI.

LUKE SLATER WALMSLEY

XXVII.

JAMES SHORROCK

XXVIII.

JOHN RAWCLIFFE

XXIX.

GEORGE THOMAS COLLINS

XXX.

JOHN WALKER

XXXI.

SARAH LOUISA MOORE

XXXII.

ROBERT WEST WHALLEY

XXXIII.

JOHN WALSH

XXXIV.

WILLIAM HALL BURNETT

XXXV.

THOMAS INCE

XXXVI.

JAMES RUSHTON

XXXVII.

JOSEPH JARDINE

XXXVIII.

SAMUEL PERRING

XXXIX.

JAMES DUXBURY

XL.

THOMAS CHIPPENDALE

XLI.

JOHN THOMAS BARON

XLII.

JOSEPH BARON

XLIII.

JOHN PICKUP

XLIV.

CHARLES F. J. N. STOTT

XLV.

GIDEON ISHERWOOD

XLVI.

WILLIAM BOLTON

XLVII.

CORNELIUS MC.MANUS

XLVIII.

WILLIAM BARON

XLIX.

THOMAS CLOUNIE

L.

MARGARET MUNRO

LI.

CLARA EVELINE RAMSKILL

LII.

A POETIC AFTER-MATH:--

 

HENRY BURGESS

 

E. S. LITTLETON

 

ELLEN LING

 

JOSEPH JARDINE JUNR.

 
Introduction.


The present writer seldom reads the well-known poem, from which the lines on our title-page are quoted, without being strongly reminded of his native Blackburn.  It is true that Blackburn, though a "town of toil and traffic," has very few "memories of the middle ages" to delight the diligent student of the past; that it possesses no hoary castle, and no ancient cathedral with "saints and bishops carved in stone" above its doorways.  Nor is it in such a place as Blackburn that the pilgrim will find everywhere around him--


    The wondrous world of art,
Fountains wrought with richest sculpture
    Standing in the common mart.


He who seeks these things may indeed find them, or some of them, in the immediate vicinity--at Clitheroe, or Hoghton, at Whalley, or at Mitton--but in our town itself, since the demolition of the farmer very ancient parish church of Saint Marie, he will find no building old enough to remind him of the days "when art was still religion," and when England's heart was young.  But what he will find is a population descended from the "brave and thrifty burghers" who in the course of a few generations have made Blackburn the largest cotton manufacturing town in the world; and who might with as much truth as the burghers of Nuremberg, boast "in uncouth rhyme," that their busy town has indeed "stretched its hand through every clime."

    He will find, too--and this brings us to the immediate subject of these chapters--that a life spent amid the smoke and smudge of the factory and the foundry has not blinded the vision of the Blackburn man to those beauties of nature which may be found so plentifully scattered around him: as soon as he has climbed any of the hills that encircle the town itself.  This strong love of nature, the visitor will find, has been the means of fostering, in many a humble home, the first germs of that poetic genius with which Blackburn has been so richly dowered.

    Its position in this respect is, indeed, unique.  As a large town, it is not nearly so old as many of its neighbours; yet it excels them all in the number and versatility of its native poets.  "Proud Preston" was a borough many centuries ago--when Blackburn, though "a market town," was practically only a village.  Lancaster--"time-honoured Lancaster"--is certainly not less ancient as a town than Preston.  Yet neither of these historic towns can boast such poetic wealth as belongs to Blackburn.  To find anything like a parallel, one would have to go as far as Manchester; and there, doubtless,--through that city drawing to itself the poets of surrounding districts,--would our glory be eclipsed.  The Manchester school of poets will be remembered far ages; thanks to the genius of Waugh, Brierley, Swain, and a host of others, aided by the scholarly labours of such men as Harland, Wilkinson, and Milner.  And if our "Blackburn School" be not so eminent, it is at least worthy to take rank close behind that of Manchester as a nursery of native Lancashire literature.

    Such names as Baron and Billington, Dugdale, Walker, Rawcliffe, Yates, and others "too numerous to mention," suggest to an old Blackburnian a garland of poesy such as very few towns can show; and it has been through a "hope long deferred," that some one older and better qualified than himself might undertake the task, that the present writer has delayed for several years the execution of a work in which he has long been interested.

    The writer regrets, and apologises beforehand, for his own lack of biographical and other information about many of our local poets--and this regret and apology apply with threefold force to the very earliest of the writers whose poems will be quoted; but he trusts that the poems themselves will be found generally acceptable; some for their real merit--and these, he hopes, will be many--others less for their intrinsic merit than for their historical or topographical interest; and others again--of a lighter kind--as examples of the kind of humour which has found favour in this part of Lancashire during many changeful generations.

    Perhaps a few words of explanation may be necessary in order to indicate the rule followed in the compilation of the work.  The immense amount of matter to be dealt with necessitated the adoption of, and the strict adherence to, some limiting principle.  After long and careful consideration, the writer decided to include two classes of poets only: the one consisting of natives of Blackburn or its immediate neighbourhood; and the other comprising poets who had not merely resided in or close to Blackburn, but had been contributors to one or another of the several journals published in the town.  Had the work been extended, so as to include all poets who are known to have resided here, it is quite certain that it would have got far beyond its present size; and would consequently have been too large for publication in one complete and compact volume.

    The writer has spared no pains to make the work (within the limits just mentioned) as complete as possible.  He has made frequent and careful inquiries, extending over more than three years, about all the Blackburn poets whose names have, from time to time, become known to him.  There are three, however,--mentioned in a locally well known poem by William Billington,-- whom he has not succeeded in tracing.  These were named respectively Bradley, Stewart, and Hughes; but none of the living poets of Blackburn appear to have known them; and no poems, bearing their signatures, seem to have been locally printed.

    In order to add to the permanent interest and value of the volume, Portraits have been given of all the Blackburn poets of whom it was possible to obtain good likenesses.  This has been done at the suggestion of Mr. James Rostron, Editor of the "Blackburn Times," to whom the writer is indebted, not merely for consistent encouragement, but, to a large extent for the opportunity of accomplishing the work: many of these chapters,--since revised and supplemented,--having first appeared in that journal.

    The writer thanks the living poets, and the representatives of deceased poets, for permission to quote from printed works; also, in some cases, far the privilege of including valuable poems not previously printed.  He wishes gratefully to record the fact that the living poets have, each according to his or her opportunities,--given great assistance to the work: not merely as it affects themselves, but especially in regard to the preservation of the best work of their literary predecessors.  Finally, he thanks Messrs. Abel Heywood and Son for their courteously-expressed permission to quote from Lithgow's edition of the Life and Poetical Works of John Critchley Prince.

G. H.

 

 


 

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