Tufts of Heather II.

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"THE WHITE HOUSE," BLACKSTONE EDGE.
From a drawing by George Sheffield.

 

Ed. ― some of Waugh's exceptionally long paragraphs have been reduced to shorter sections to make easier reading the text on the screen.  Readers unfamiliar with the Lancashire dialect might find Samuel Bamford's lexicon to be a useful source of reference.




CONTENTS.
――――♦――――

 

PAGE

THE OLD "COACH AND HORSES," OR "THE WHITE HOUSE," ON BLACKSTONE EDGE. FROM A DRAWING BY GEORGE SHEFFIELD.

Frontispiece

VIGNETTE BY RANDOLPH CALDECOTT, "A TUFT OF HEATHER."

Title page

PREFATORY NOTE BY THE EDITOR

v.

SNOWED-UP

1.

THE HERMIT COBBLER

94.

OH, THIS TOOTH

192.

A DAB O' PUTTY

197.

I WISH THI MOTHER WOULD COME

201.

COCK ROBIN

207.

BERRIN' BRASS

213.

TH' WRONG SIDE UP

221.

SAUNTERING' WHOAM

226.

OWD MALLY'S CART

236.

THE DULE'S I'TH BUTTERY

242.

FLOUNCES AN' RIBBINS

248.

LOVE IN A SWILL-TUB

252.

A BONNY PICTUR'

259.

TOPPING' FAT

264.

UNDER TH' OWD TREE

269.

FREETENIN'

278.

ELF-LOND

288.


 

――――♦――――


 
PREFATORY NOTE.
――――♦――――


Two long stories   "Snowed-up" and "The Hermit Cobbler" open this Second Series of "Tufts of Heather."  These are followed by a number of shorter, anecdotal sketches, similar in style to the papers which are included under the title of "The Chimney Corner."  Although fragmentary in character, they are full of pith and humour.  "Snowed-up" was published with some other pieces in 1873; and again, as a separate volume of 115 pages, in 1874.  It is a Christmas story, or rather a "Round of Stories," and shows traces of the influence of Dickens in its overflowing love of fun, its delineation of odd and exceptional forms of life, and its general tone of kindliness and heartiness.  The wild, moorland snowstorm (which the late George Sheffield rendered with great power in the drawing reproduced as a frontispiece to this volume) makes an admirable setting, and is in fine contrast with the warmth and cosiness and cheeriness of the inn-kitchen where the stories are told.  The kind-hearted landlady, the rough hostler, the timid and half-starved pedlar, and the pedantic sexton are all types of character of which Waugh was fond, and which he knew well how to handle.  Joe's soliloquy in the open grave, which occurs in the "Sexton's Story," is a good specimen of Waugh's peculiar humour.

    "The Hermit Cobbler" deserves more attention than it has hitherto received.  Waugh has done no better work than is to be found in this piece.  While "Snowed-up" gives us the aspect of the moorland in mid-winter under a death-like shroud of snow, the "Hermit Cobbler" shows us the same scenery in late autumn after a "weet back-end," when all the streams are swollen and the air is filled with the sound of rushing water, and the sough of a rainy wind.  Mary Buckley, the farmer's widow, who sends elder-wine and black currants to ailing people, and watches over the dying hours of the Hermit Cobbler, is drawn from the life, and with a loving hand.  In her tenderness, as well as in her use of diminutive oaths, she reminds us of Chaucer's Prioress.  Such expletives as these are frequent in her speech, "Bi lakin " (By our ladykin).  "I' godsnam " (I' God's name).  "Bi lady" (By our Lady).  "Belike!" and "By my song."  Attention may also be drawn to a fine passage in praise of the moorlands, put into the mouth of an old farmer named Abram, which will be found at pages 151 and 152; and to the same man's charming description of his wife Sally, and of the simple, wholesome happiness of their wedded life.

    The dialectal work in this volume is of the best kind, and its excellence is seen not in single words only, but also in those phrases and proverbs of the County which Waugh had at his finger's end as completely as Cervantes had those of Spain.  A few specimens of these may be given : "Wherever there's idlement there's devilment noan so far off."  "The Dule had thrut (thrown) his club o'er him" (Had bewitched him).  "As swipper as a kitlin' (nimble as a kitten), an' as peeort (pert) as a pynot (magpie).  "A better-hearted craiter never nipped th' edge of a cake o' tirade."  "Anybody can manage th' bull better than thoose that han it bi th' horns."  "His faither begun a wrostlin 'the' champion' when he were a young chap" (Began taking strong drink in youth).  "The whole seed, breed, and generation on 'em" (All the family from the beginning).

    It may be added that many of the shorter stories, like the longer one which opens the volume, are suitable for Christmas reading, and are full of the cheery spirit of what is called an "old-fashioned winter."  Of these there may be mentioned "Cock Robin," "Owd Mally's Cart," and "Th' Dule's i'th Buttery."

G. M.

 


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