Passages in the Life of a Radical (1)
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NOTE


IN revising Bamford's "Early Days" and "Passages in the Life of a Radical," with a view to the present publication, it has been judged desirable to omit some portions which were but of trivial or passing interest, and occasionally to compress the narrative by leaving out formal documents and lists of names, and throwing together a number of short chapters dealing with the same group of facts.   A few personal animadversions, which after the lapse of fifty years it was hardly worth while to repeat, are also omitted.   But beyond the correction of obvious errors no other change has been made, nor hardly a sentence altered.   The works are reproduced exactly as Bamford wrote them.   One other point may be mentioned.   The "Passages," &c., was published some years before the "Early Days," but in reprinting both as parts of the same publication, it seemed proper to reverse the order.   The two together form a continuous piece of autobiography.



INTRODUCTION.


ON the last day of March three-quarters of a century ago a coach drew up at Bow Street conveying a batch of political prisoners from Lancashire.  There were eight of them, and one of the number was a young man named Samuel Bamford, a native of Middleton and a weaver by trade, whom we wish to introduce to those of our readers who may not yet have heard of him.  It was a time of much excitement throughout the country.  The close of the war had not brought with it the blessings which had been expected.  There was a sudden stop to Government expenditure on a great scale.  The world was impoverised by a twenty years' struggle, and had little left for trade.  Our manufacturers were substituting machinery for manual labour, and this meant for the moment the throwing of a large number of "hands" out of employ.  There was great distress in the manufacturing districts of the north, and much discontent.  The people threw the blame upon the Government; they had no voice in Parliament, and they were persuaded that if they had there would soon be an end to their misery.  At any rate a House of Commons which fairly represented the nation would never have passed the infamous Corn Law for keeping up agricultural rents by making broad dear.  With or without reason the workpeople in the north looked upon their hardships as wrongs for which the men in power were responsible.  They petitioned Parliament, and finding that their petitions were not listened to they began to conspire.  Secret meetings were held in almost every town and village.  Wild schemes were broached; though ministers turned a deaf ear to the cries of famishing multitudes, they were not beyond the reach of vengeance.  A few desperate men might easily make London or Manchester "a second Moscow."  It was believed that Government spies were abroad, and that in the furtherance of their trade, in order to have something to disclose, the most violent suggestions came from them.  It is certain that the Government were greatly alarmed.  Detective measures were set in motion, and the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended to give them free play.

    The party who arrived at Bow Street were supposed to have been engaged in these secret meetings, and they had been arrested on suspicion of high treason.  They had been travelling since five o'clock of the morning of the day before; they were poorly clad; they were chained to each other, and in this plight most of them, and Bamford for one, made their first acquaintance with London.  But they were brimful of Lancashire humour.  At an hostelry opposite Bow Street, where they were lodged for the night, they had a heartier meal than had fallen to their share for many a day, and after supper they amused the "King's messengers" and the Bow Street officers in whose charge they were with songs and recitations.  The next day they were taken before the Privy Council, where Lord Sidmouth presided, with Lord Castlereagh by his side.  After a few questions asked of them separately they were sent by way of detention to Coldbath Fields prison.  They were brought up several times before the Privy Council, and at the end of a month their fate was decided.  Some of Bamford's companions were more or less implicated in proceedings which might be held to convey a suspicion of treasonable designs.  These were sent to distant gaols till the Privy Council might choose to release them.  Bamford had not gone so far.  He shared their political ideas, but he shrank from acts of violence.  He was of an ardent temperament, he could not long brook the monotony of ordinary life, and was always ready for an adventure of any sort.  But he was good-natured, kind-hearted, and open as the day.  There was nothing of the stuff of a conspirator in him.  He was also shrewd enough to see through the itinerant agitators who were taking advantage of the general discontent and endeavouring to instigate the working classes to desperate measures.  He had early taken alarm at what he heard; he had warned others against having anything to do with secret meetings, and had kept aloof from them himself.  The Privy Council had no doubt plenty of evidence good and bad in their hands, but none of it told against Bamford.  His personal appearance, his manner and style of address, appear to have made a favourable impression upon the Council.  Naturally frank and fearless, he was not the man to be cowed by the sight of the "green cloth" and of the great people round it.  He was rather fond of figuring as a "freeborn Englishman," and of magnifying the prerogatives which belonged to him in that capacity.  He questioned their lordships about his right to petition Parliament, and among other favours asked to be allowed the use of pen, ink, and paper, that he might keep a diary.  Would they let him have books and a supply of clean linen?  Delighting in his native Doric, he could speak fluently in language which had in it something of a literary flavour.  Lord Castlereagh eyed him curiously.  Lord Sidmouth treated him with perfect courtesy and bestowed some compliments.  At his last appearance before the Council Lord Sidmouth said he had great pleasure in restoring him to his family, and, trusting that he would not be seen there again, assured him that he wished him well.  Bamford did not appear again before the Privy Council, but two years later he was involved, most undeservedly, in more serious trouble.  It was in connection with the famous meeting of Reformers held at St.  Peter's Field, Manchester, on the 16th of August, 1819, generally known as "Peterloo."  The measures taken by the Government had not put a stop to agitation, but the proceedings were of a more open and public character.  Sir Charles Wolseley, Major Cartwright, and Mr. Hunt, were at the head of the movement, and great care was taken to keep it within lawful bounds.  Perhaps one of the plans adopted was open to misapprehension.  The people were exhorted to drill, not, it was said, with any view to an armed outbreak, but merely that they might appear at public meetings in better order.  Drilling went on at Middleton, as at other places, and Bamford was one of the leaders.  At nightfall, or in the early mornings, they would betake themselves to the moors, form themselves into companies, march, and face about at the word of command.  The day appointed for the Manchester meeting was coming on, a great procession was to set out from Middleton, and all were anxious that they should acquit themselves with credit.  When the day came Bamford headed the procession.  They carried banners, but no weapons, not even walking sticks.  Many of the men had their wives and sweethearts with them.  It was a great holiday "turn out," the prevailing merriment being a little subdued by a sense of patriotic aims, and it was moreover a grand thing to march and pause at the sound of the bugle.  The magistrates were in a state of alarm.  They had communicated with the Government and received instructions.  Special constables were sworn in, the Manchester and Cheshire Yeomanry were stationed near the spot where the meeting was to be held, and a company of the 15th Hussars was within call.  Everybody knows how the meeting was broken up, and at what cost of violence and bloodshed.  A few days after the meeting Bamford, along with Hunt and others, was apprehended.  The charge was again one of high treason, and Nadin, an historical personage in the Manchester police, whispered to him that he would certainly be hanged this time.  The accused were committed to Lancaster Castle, but the trial was appointed to take place at York, the charge being reduced from high treason to one of seditious assembly.  Bamford and three others were found guilty.  Sir John Bayley summed up strongly in Bamford's favour, but prejudice carried the day.  They were liberated on their recognisances to appear at the Court of King's Bench in the ensuing Easter term to receive judgment, which in Bamford's case was that he should be imprisoned in Lincoln Castle for twelve months, and afterwards give securities for good behaviour.

    His year's imprisonment was a turn in Bamford's life.  He took it with his usual good humour.  He held the verdict to be infamous, but he had done that which a jury found to be a crime, and he had a sort of proud willingness to pay the forfeit.  His maxim as a prisoner was to submit himself cheerfully to discipline and pay implicit obedience to orders.  He soon became a general favourite.  The governor treated him with the utmost kindness.  He and an old comrade shared the same room, his political friends supplied him with a moderate allowance of cash, and he was permitted to provide for himself.  His only hardship was detention, and this had many alleviations.  The visiting justices took an especial interest in his case, and from the conversations they had with him they seem to have come to the conclusion that he was in many ways deserving of respect.  It came to be understood that Lincoln Castle had not often opened its gates to a better or more intelligent man.  He took with him the reputation of being a poet, and his claim was acknowledged.  He could sing his own songs and tell capital stories.  Indulgence in his favour was carried to unusual limits.  He wished to see his wife, and she was allowed to visit and stay with him, a room being fitted up for them.  She stayed with him several months, going in and out as she pleased, and doing her marketing as at home.  No wonder that on the day of his discharge he thanked the magistrates for the kindness which had been shown to him.  Mr. Scarlett, afterwards Lord Abinger, who had conducted the prosecution, singled him out for special attention.  The "King's messengers" who took charge of him on his way to London to appear before the Privy Council, surprised him by their civility.  He found that people in the upper ranks and those they employed, whom he had been accustomed to denounce as tyrants and oppressors, were not so bad as he had imagined.  The discovery told upon him, and had some permanent results.  It modified to a considerable extent the colouring if not the texture of his opinions.

    Perhaps the truth is that as a politician Bamford is not to be taken too seriously.  His politics were a part of his temperament, and varied with its changing moods.  His character was essentially romantic, and he leaned to the sentimental side of everything.  The result was a sort of every-day idealism, a dream of something brighter and in every way more desirable than the present moment happened to have brought with it.  In his youth he had been left pretty much to himself.  There had been an actual lack of discipline, though it is very likely that if the yoke had been forced upon him by parental or other authority, he would have shaken it off.  He had fair opportunities for making his way in the world.  He had plenty of ability, everybody liked him, and patient application would have enabled him to reach what is usually understood by "a good position."  It was certainly his own choice, or the result of a series of voluntary failures, that he took to silk-weaving as a permanent occupation.  Who shall say that his choice is to be regretted?  Who shall say that he was not on the whole happier and better than if he had kept to the beaten track which leads to success and made a fortune?  At any rate, we should have been the poorer.  Hundreds of Lancashire men, then and since, starting where he did, and with talents smaller than his, have attained to great wealth, and have passed away without leaving a vestige of anything to remind the next generation that they had lived at all.  Bamford escaped a common-place career.  He followed the bent of his inclinations.  He lived his own life, proud as an aristocrat and gay as a bird.  It was not given him to attain to a high place in literature.  The wonder is that he found a place in it at all.  But he was not without culture.  He had read some of the best books, he was fond of poetry, and believed himself to be a poet.  In this persuasion he no doubt flattered himself too highly, but he had a gift of versification which was a source of constant delight.  In prose he succeeded better.  The narrative he has left us of his "Early Days," and his "Passages in the Life of a Radical," need no apology.  If allowance be made for some technical defects due to an irregular education, they may be said to reach a high level in point of style.  He knows how to use his mother tongue.  His diction is copious and unfettered, and not wholly of the homely cast, which might have been expected from the pen of a hand-loom weaver.  There is enough of homeliness to give an agreeable flavour, but the more cultivated forms of expression come naturally to him.  He is at home in telling a good story, and overflows with humour in describing a grotesque situation, or in painting the foibles of his friends, while his love of nature supplies his imagination with illustrations which err only on being at times perhaps too exuberant.  All may read him with pleasure.  They will find in his pages such pictures of Lancashire life and manners, of from fifty to a hundred years ago, as are hardly to be met with elsewhere.  In the work by which he is best known, Bamford describes himself as "a Radical," and the designation is no doubt correct, especially when used retrospectively.  But his political attitude underwent a change after his release from Lincoln Castle.  He was not on the best of terms with his old friends, and the fault was probably not wholly theirs.  Often modest and even humble in his professions, he nevertheless thought a good deal of himself, and any failure to recognise his claims was noted down and resented.  The habit of self-assertion must have made him an inconvenient colleague.  He was sensitive and suspicious, apt to take offence where none was intended.  He was quick to imagine himself the victim of some intrigue engaged in for the purpose of lowering his credit or impeaching his integrity.  By way of reprisal he turned his back upon the offenders, would have no more to do with them, and played the part of a Radical in retreat.  In referring to his past experiences, he spoke as one who had been for a time deluded, but whose eyes had been opened and was thenceforth half-repentant.  To some extent this was due to his closer acquaintance with Mr. Hunt, the principal figure at the Peterloo meeting, who had been arrested and tried along with him.  He had looked up to Hunt as a leader.  He was awed by his oratory, and taking him on his own terms, believed him to be a patriot of the loftiest type.  On coming to know him better this flattering estimate gave way to disapproval and contempt.  Rightly or wrongly, he came to the conclusion that Hunt was a vain-glorious, self-seeking demagogue, willing to sell his soul for the cheers of the mob.  He resented the deception, and resolved to take good care never to be deceived again.  In pursuance of this resolution he extended the inference drawn from the single example of Hunt to all who took a prominent part in agitating for political reforms.  He had done with agitators for ever.  He fancied that he understood their craft, and he was not going to be victimised a second time.  Looking back upon his own exploits, he regarded them in the light of escapades, the outcome of untaught and undisciplined sentiment, and such perhaps they were, though influenced by a good deal of honest feeling.  In his own opinion he had grown wiser, and he made it thenceforth a part of his duty to warn others against the false lights which had led him astray.

    There was another feature of Bamford's character which helped towards this result.  He had an amiable desire to be thought well of by others.  He was a good deal less than indifferent to approbation, and he valued it according to the social heights from which it descended.  When it was known that he had separated himself from those who were supposed to aim at accomplishing political changes by violent methods, and that he viewed his own past conduct with some degree of reprehension, he became an object of interest to local men of the wealthier class.  They praised him for what they naturally described as his moderation and good sense.  In turbulent times they pointed him out as a laudable example.  If their own workmen, striking perhaps for higher wages and even threatening to break their machines, would only follow the advice of Bamford, everything, it was suggested, would go well.  The workpeople did not care to be confronted with such an example, and they gradually came to look upon Bamford as a renegade from the class to which he once belonged.  The severance became wider when it was known that he no longer depended for a living upon the work of the loom.  His prominence as a politician and his literary talents had been the means of procuring employment on the press.  He was the correspondent of a London newspaper, and he acted as occasional reporter for papers in the neighbourhood.  He removed to a better house.  He could make verses, moreover, and a corner was sometimes found for them in the newspapers.  To counsel men not to break machines might well be regarded as easy talk for one who had ceased to weave at all, and to whom, therefore, the question of machinery was a matter of indifference.  The outcry against him served only to confirm his isolation, and though he was always the zealous advocate of what he took to be the real interests of the working classes he liked quite as well to play the part of their critic and candid friend.  He had no sympathy with the Chartist agitation.  The objects aimed at by the Chartists were the same as those for which he had gone to prison; but he denounced them and their leaders with a hearty virulence which would have won the praise of any Tory.  When special constables were called out to put down disturbances, he took up the truncheon.  If there are any of the Conservative school who may fancy that their time would be thrown away in reading "Passages in the Life of a Radical," they need not be deterred by any such consideration.  They will find a good deal in him that is in entire harmony with their own views.  The spirit of much that he has written, detached from particular expressions of opinion, can hardly fail to command their sympathy.  All this did not disqualify him for the place he held in the ranks of local Liberalism—then rather Whig than Radical—and there can be no doubt that he was sincere and honest throughout.

    Bamford took naturally to the press.  He was communicative, and, having something to say, he did not rest till he had said it.  He published in pamphlet form an account of his first arrest and of the subsequent proceedings connected with it.  This was soon followed by a small volume of verses, entitled "The Weaver Boy, or Miscellaneous Poetry."  His poetical reputation went with him to York and London on his second arrest.  Mr. Scarlett, the prosecuting counsel, had heard of the "Weaver Boy," and asked Bamford to send him a copy.  We have said that he was known as "a poet" at Lincoln Castle.  That circumstance probably influenced the magistrates in his favour, and procured him more indulgent treatment than he would otherwise have received.  The Peterloo meeting was a great event in his personal history.  For his share in it he had been, as he believed, unjustly condemned and imprisoned.  It was also an event of national importance.  It had attracted the attention of the whole country, and had led to animated debates in Parliament.  Bamford could not help feeling that the whole affair was the result of a deplorable misunderstanding.  The "upper classes" were unacquainted with the condition and wants of the poor; they were badly informed as to the character of their political aspirations; and perhaps the poor were to some extent prejudiced in the view they took of the attitude of the "upper classes" towards them.  Bamford was also impressed with what seemed to him a certain hollowness of the agitation on the popular side.  He had been brought into close acquaintance with the leaders, and was on the whole disgusted.  Here, then, was something to be told.  The epic almost demanded a narrator.  It seemed to him a duty to give to his countrymen the benefit of his experiences.  His first attempt was a failure.  He wrote an introduction and sent it to Mr. Tait, of "Tait's Magazine," together with an outline of the proposed work, and offered to supply "copy" monthly.  Mr. Tait declined the offer, but gave him advice.  He urged him to go on with the work, and when he had finished to submit it to some intelligent and sensible friend—naming Ebenezer Elliott—with full permission to cut out all its redundancies.  Mr. Tait's judgment was no doubt correct, but it was based upon an unfortunate specimen.  The introduction, which Bamford loved too well to give up, was the worst part of the work as it afterwards appeared, and if the whole had been written in the same high flown style it would have been unreadable.  Bamford did not relish the experienced publisher's advice, and abandoned the project for a time.

    It was resumed in 1839.  The Chartist agitation was then in full swing.  The scheme of a "Sacred Month" was proposed, during which all work should be abandoned.  A friend had furnished him with a prose translation of Berenger's "La Lyonnaise."  This he had thrown into verse, and he now published it as a pamphlet, together with a stirring and eloquent address.  It is said to have had some considerable influence in dissuading the working men of the neighbourhood from taking part in the questionable proceedings then contemplated.  His former project was now revived.  He saw the bookseller's windows filled with numbers of "Pickwick," "Nicholas Nickleby," and “Jack Sheppard."  Surely he could do something better than "the trashy, unreal novels which the press deigned to extol."  But he could not find a publisher.  One to whom he applied would not take the work even with a present of the copyright.  It was clear that if it was to be done at all he must assume the sole responsibility.  Accordingly he engaged a printer, got five hundred copies of the introduction and the first chapter printed off, and paid for them.  His wife stitched them into covers, and then his business was to sell them.  By the time the ninth and tenth sheets were published he had twelve hundred subscribers, and the earlier sheets had to be reprinted.  The work was a success and the profit it yielded was highly acceptable.  It was noticed in the "Athenæum" and the "Quarterly."  His friend Ebenezer Elliott sent him warm congratulations.  Mr. Scarlett, then Lord Abinger, took copies, and mentioned the work to Lord Campbell, Lord Brougham, the Duke of Buccleuch, and others who showed a warm interest in promoting its circulation.  "The head of the great Tory Lowthers," the Earl of Lonsdale, wrote to assure him that he had "read his works with great satisfaction."  Bamford speaks rather bitterly of the very different treatment he received from "some Liberals."  With the general result he had every reason to be satisfied.  He was now a public character.  He was appealed to as an authority on working-class politics.  His writings were made to furnish lessons of reproof as well as instruction for those who were being led astray by "the wiles of the agitator."  The position was in some respects unfortunate, but he had no great difficulty in maintaining the character thus pressed upon him.

    In 1848 Bamford published his "Early Days," giving us his own history down to the time of his first arrest, and recollections embracing the whole life of the district as far back as his memory carried him.  This is a delightful production, abounding in idyllic pictures and romantic adventures, and in passages of genuine pathos.  He had something in the way of ancestry to boast of.  His family had long been rooted in the soil, and but for an ancestor's Puritan scruples, he might have been a country squire instead of a hand-loom weaver.  A fine opportunity was thrown away when his father took him from the Manchester Grammar School.  If he had been permitted to reap the full advantages afforded by that institution, even as it was then, his natural talents would have found their proper scope, though in that case the Peterloo meeting would have missed one of its heroes, and we should not have had the "Passages in the Life of a Radical."  Bamford's autobiography has the stamp of truthfulness.  He lays his heart open and tells us everything.  His youth was wild and stormy, and it must be said that he was anything but exemplary in point of morals.  He had to run away from the parish constables to escape the pecuniary consequences of one of his indiscretions.  A little girl whom he had loved as a boy, after some temporary transfer of affection on his part, became his wife.  But the nuptial knot was tied too late for his reputation.  Their only child, then "just beginning to take notice," was placed in his arms with some ceremony at the wedding festival, and he speaks of her constantly as his "love child."  But having said this we have said the worst, and never was a wrong more amply atoned for.  He was the most faithful of husbands, the most loving of fathers.  The three were bound together by the tenderest ties.  His wife shared his trials with uncomplaining devotion, and he lavished upon his "Mima" the treasures of a homely but passionate poetry.  A more beautiful picture can hardly be imagined than that presented by their domestic life.  His narrative is full of interest in other respects.  He gives us a graphic portraiture of a state of manners which has passed away.  We see modern Lancashire in its first making, before the period of big factories set in, when the weaver fetched his materials from Manchester, wrought them up in his own cottage, and took them back again when the task was finished.  Five minutes would take the weaver from his loom into paths that led soon into the loveliest solitudes.  He was thus enabled to live in close companionship with nature.  Usages which had come down unchanged for centuries were still in full vigour, and life, though laborious, and in hard times pinched with poverty, was nevertheless full of joy.  The traditions of a distant time had floated down unbroken.  There were stories to be told of Flodden, and the events of '45, when the local Jacobites were blessing the Pretender, seemed a thing of yesterday.  All this Bamford gives us in his raciest style and with never-failing humour.  The historian who wishes to present us with certain aspects of English life at the beginning of the century can hardly afford to miss his pages.

    From some remarks which occur in one of the chapters subsequently added as supplementary to his "Passages in the Life of a Radical," it would seem that a time came when Bamford thought himself entitled to some recognition from the Government.  It appears that Mr. (afterwards Sir Benjamin) Hawes said in the House of Commons how desirable it was that "rewards and encouragements" should be bestowed upon those of the working classes "who distinguished themselves by attention to reading and the cultivation of their minds," and that Sir Robert Peel, in expressing his approval of the suggestion, "pointed out a mode by which such individuals might be rewarded without bringing an additional burden upon the country."  Bamford's comment is this: "If studious readers, then, and self-cultivators among the working classes are to be distinguished and rewarded, what shall be done to those of the same grade who not only have read a deal and thought a deal, but have also written good books for others to read?  Aye, books that mayhap have not only been read by working men with advantage, but also with profit as well as pleasure by some whose robes have brushed the throne, if not by the fair one who sits upon the throne herself; what shall be the reward of these men?"  He says a page or two later that he had been led into these remarks by a strong desire to do justice to others rather than to benefit himself.  He was "tainted with the irredeemable sin of political leadership," and was "prepared for the consequences."  "An independent but unassuming spirit, and contentment with the humblest fare" had rendered him "almost impervious to vicissitude," and had made him the sort of man and his wife the sort of woman "to smile at things and at the want of things which to many would be an affliction."  Whatever may have been Bamford's intention, there can be no doubt as to the interpretation which his friends would put upon those professions, and there were some who were in a position to help him.  In 1852 he had the offer of an appointment in Somerset House, and it was accepted.  It was that of doorkeeper or messenger.  He was then sixty-four years of age.  The hours were easy and the duties light, but he did not keep it long.  It is said that he pined for old scenery and old friends.  This may be true, but it is also true that he thought the position beneath him.  He was too proud for the place, and he soon gave it up, preferring a precarious livelihood in the midst of his old haunts to a certainty which seemed to him to be associated with some degree of degradation.  It was also to some extent the outbreak of a constitutional foible.  He had never from the days of his youth been able to endure the monotony of fixed and regular employment.

    As time went on Bamford took a sort of historical position among the Liberals of Manchester.  Minor incidents were forgotten.  He was regarded as a relic of a past around which legends began to gather.  His tall and erect form, his rugged and massive features, a flowing beard, and locks of grey hair that were left to fall upon his shoulders made him a conspicuous object everywhere.  One could almost fancy him a Druid in modern garb.  His friends delighted to do him honour.  His portrait hangs in the Manchester Reform Club, along with those of Cobden, Bright, Gladstone, the Duke of Devonshire, and the Earl Grey of the first Reform Bill.  At private gatherings he would often be present as the lion of the night, but he was gruff, and often growled at those who tried to stroke him.  When his infirmities increased with advancing years a "syndicate" of admirers supplied him with a modest income sufficient for all his wants.  He died on April 13, 1872, at the ripe age of 84.  A flat stone in Middleton churchyard marks the spot where his remains lie interred, along with those of his wife and daughter.  Beneath each of their names is an epitaph in verse of his own composing.  Beneath his own is a brief record of what he was and did.  A short distance off, where the churchyard hill overhangs the town, a stone obelisk, bearing his effigy in bronze, has been erected to his memory; but his works will prove a more enduring monument.

 
EARLY DAYS.

CHAPTER I.

BIRTH, PARENTAGE, AND OTHER MATTERS.


MY parents were a worthy and honest couple, residing, when I was born, in the town of Middleton, near Manchester.  My father was a weaver of muslin, at that time considered a fine course of work, and requiring a superior hand; whilst my mother found plenty of employment in occasional weaving, in winding bobbins or pins for my father, and in looking after the house and the children, of whom I was the fourth born; and the third then living.  I have always been given to understand that I was brought into the world on the 28th day of February, in "the Gallic æra—eighty-eight," when, certainly, many of the world's troubles, as well as my own, had a beginning.  My parents were religious, of which further will appear hereafter.  My father, for his station in life, was a superior man.  He had many talents, both natural and acquired, which in those days were not often possessed by men of his condition in society.  He was considerably imbued with book knowledge, particularly of a religious kind; wrote a good hand; understood arithmetic; had some acquaintance with astronomy; was a vocal and instrumental musician, singing from the book and playing on the flute; he had a deep taste for melody, as I can recollect from the tunes he played; he was likewise an occasional composer of music, and introduced several of his pieces amongst the religious body with which he was connected; he was also a writer of verses of no mean order—so that, take him for all in all, he stood far above his rustic acquaintance in the village, and had to endure the usual consequences—envy, and detraction from the meanest of them.  During the hot blood of his youth few young men could stand before him, either in the wrestling bout or the battle.  I have heard it told that, in those days, notwithstanding his taste for books, and music, and other means for true enjoyment, he at times associated with the wild rough fellows of the neighbourhood at the Church Alehouse, or at the Boar's Head Inn, and drank, danced, or, when nothing less would do, fought with the moodiest or merriest of them.  He stood six feet in height, with a good breadth of chest, a powerful arm, a strong, well-formed leg, and a neat, compact foot that could either spring over a five-barred gate, or deal a bone-breaking kick to an adversary.  Such, however, was not his wont; when he did fight it was almost certain to be either in self-defence, or in behalf of right which some bully would be trying to domineer over or coerce.  At one of these battles, which were forced upon him, the contest took place in a room called "the thrashing-bay," at the Boar's Head, Middleton; it lasted two full hours, up and down fighting, and at the end of that time his adversary, a very powerful man from a neighbouring township, lay helpless on the floor, and had to be carried home by his companions.  I mention these feats of my father's youth not in a spirit commendatory of their mere featship; with him, his physical power was never a matter of boast, but rather led him to a pacific guardedness of its use; whilst with me the dominance of mere muscle and bone never was, never will be, held in honour, except when exercised in the repression of other brute forces employed in the perpetration of wrong, or in the maltreatment of right.  In such a case I would say, "Let physical power bend the full weight of its vigour to its work, and not give over too soon, not leave off when part done."

    But irregularities like these of my father's young days, violent probably in proportion to their unfrequency, could not be indulged in without producing their natural consequences.  His health was impaired; he took cold after cold, and disregarded them, and at length a violent fever laid him prostrate at the verge of the grave.  On his recovery he was an altered man.  His own natural sense, supported by the serious advice of relatives and friends, determined him on endeavouring to lead a different life.  Being convinced that the course he had pursued was fraught with evil as well as folly, he sought divine aid in abandoning it, and he joined a society of Methodists, of which his parents and several individuals of the family were already members.

    When his health had become re-established, neither his good resolutions nor God's help forsook him.  He continued a member of the religious society he had joined; became "a burning and a shining light," as the Methodists term an exemplary young member; and soon afterwards marrying my mother, he set forward, as we may say, on his pilgrimage through this world, and "Zionward."  In due time a young family began to sprout about his heels, and, with a view to meet increasing expenditure, he and a brother of his named Thomas adventured a small capital of money in the spinning line, which was then done by jenny, and in weaving their yarns into grey cloth.  They succeeded in proportion to their most sanguine expectations, for there was then a market for anything which the spindle or the hand-loom could make, and they were about to realise all they had dared to hope, when a member of their religious body, one of their "brethren in Israel," piqued, as they supposed, by their increasing influence in a religious as well as worldly sense, suddenly called on them for the repayment of a sum which he had lent them for the purpose of commencing their business, and persisting in his demand, they sold off their stock of cloth and machinery, paid every farthing they owed, and closed their concern, my father sitting down to the business of schoolmaster, and my uncle resuming the manual operations of a weaver and small farmer.  Difficulties still increased with the wants of our family; my father's school profits were not sufficiently steady to be depended upon, and he relinquished them and returned to the loom.  The throes of the French Revolution and the excitement they created in England soon afterwards deranged both money transactions and mercantile affairs.  Banks stopped, payments were suspended, and trade was at a stand.  Woe to the poor weaver then, with his loom without work, the provision shop without credit, and his wife and weans foodless, and looking at each other, and at him, as if saying—Husband! father! hast thou neither bread nor hope for us?

    It was at about such a period as this that my earliest recollections of my parents and our family commence.  My father, as I have said, was a huge-framed body of a man, but at that time he was pale, stooping, and attenuated, probably from scanty fare, as well as repeated visitations of sickness.  My mother—and I have her image distinctly before me—was a person of very womanly and motherly presence.  Tall, upright, active, and cleanly to an excess: her cheeks were fair and ruddy as apples; her dark hair was combed over a roll before and behind, and confined by a mob cap as white as bleached linen could be made; her neck was covered by a handkerchief, over which she wore a bed-gown, and a clean checked apron, with black hose and shoes, completed her every-day attire.  Her name was Hannah—a name I shall always love for her sake; she was the youngest daughter of Jeffrey Battersby, a master boot and shoemaker, of whom more hereafter.  She had two sisters married, one to a tradesman named Healey, residing at Rochdale, and the other to a woollen-draper living at Manchester; consequently they were both doing comparatively well in the world, whilst my poor mother's dark cloud was ascending and spreading over herself, her husband, and her five children.  Small and fitful was the comfort she received from her kindred; but her sister Clemmy (Clementine), at Manchester, treated her with a coolness and indifference which cut my mother to the soul.  I perhaps should not have mentioned names in connection with these circumstances had not the recollections of my mother's sufferings divested me of every wish for reserve.  Oh! how immeasurably superior was, my poor, but noble-hearted parent, to her proud, mean, sordid sister.  I remember as it were but yesterday, after one of her visits to the dwelling of that "fine lady," she had divested herself of her wet bonnet, her soaked shoes, and changing her dripping outer garments, stood leaning with her elbow on the window sill, her hand up to her cheek, her eyes looking on vacancy, and the tears trickling over her fingers.  She had been all the weary way to Manchester and back—and it was a long weary road in those days; she had knocked at her "great" sister's door, a servant had admitted her, and, more humane than her mistress, had ventured to ask her to a seat by the kitchen fire, where her proud sister saw her in passing, and scarcely deigned to notice her.  The servants, however, in whom the impulses of common humanity had not been suppressed by pride, offered her refreshment; but her heart was too full, and back through the rain, and the wind, and the stormy weather, less inclement than her misnamed relative, did she return to her young and anxiously waiting family, to whose caresses and tender questionings her only reply was, for a while, unrestrained tears.

    The recollection of my heart-wounded, but noble-minded and forgiving mother, as she suffered under that trial, is still vividly before me; and never, I believe, will it be obliterated from my memory so long as consciousness remains.  Ever since I had the faculty for reasoning on these recollections I have cherished an unmitigable contempt for mere money pride, much of it though there be in the world, and as thorough a contempt have I ever felt for the unfeelingness which mammonish superiority too often produces.  Samson said, "Out of the eater came forth meat"; and in application of the parable I may truly say that, out of the unnatural conduct of my mother's sister, arose the very natural and self-sustaining disdain of that mother's son towards all pretension not based on worth, towards all superiority not exalted by goodness.  To rank, office, or to station arising from office, suitable concedence would I make; to the man filling that office or station such deference as were commensurate with his known worth would I tender; but to the poor human hull, irrespective of self-desert, would I not concede anything.  Before the mere man-husk, however large his money-bag—nay, though he were "plated with gold," not one hair of my head should be abased.  Thus the germ of this feeling of repulsion (calculated for evil or for good, according to its right or wrong application) became interwoven with my existence, and part of my being, for all my after life.

 
CHAPTER II.

OF MY FOREFATHERS.


HAVING thus, as it were, identified myself and my parents, it may not be improper to give some account of my progenitors, especially as two of them were connected with the historical events of their country; and the religious tenacity of a third was said to have decided the fate of his descendants with respect to worldly condition.

    It would be about a hundred and thirty-two years since, or the year 1716, that my father's grandfather, James Bamford, lived at Hools Wood, in Thornham, keeping there a small farm, and making cane reeds for weavers of flannel and coarse cotton.  Of his children I know not anything, save that he had many sons from whom the Bamfords of Middleton, Alkrington, Tonge, and some other neighbouring places are descended.  According to what was handed down in our branch of his posterity, he was the next heir to the estate of Bamford Hall, where he used to visit and be on terms of intimacy with William Bamford, the last male of the old family, who resided at the hall.  My ancestor was, it seems, fond of the chase, and on hunting and shooting days, he was frequently at the hall and dined with the other guests.  At this time the property was said to be entailed; though for the truth of that I vouch not any more than I do for other traditionary matters which follow.  My aunt, who was, I believe, a contemporary of some of the parties, narrated the story to me as I give it.  This William Bamford had no offspring save two daughters, and as they could not inherit the property, when he lay on his death-bed, he sent for my ancestor, and by much entreaty, and many solemn promises, backed perhaps by a douceur, he induced my ancestor to forego his claim in favour of the young ladies, on condition that at their decease the property should revert to the next heir in his family.  The entail was accordingly cut off; Bamford, of Bamford, made his will and died; and his daughter, "Madam Ann," as she was titled, held the property.  The other sister married, and went to reside in Yorkshire; but Madam Ann lived and died a spinster at Bamford Hall.  And thus, according to traditionary accounts, were the rightful heirs cut off from the property, which had descended through their ancestors from the time when the Saxon wrested it from the Celt.

    My grandfather was Daniel Bamford, the youngest son of James Bamford.  He came to reside at Middleton, and was a small farmer and weaver.  He married Hannah, the daughter of Samuel Cheetham, who was a watch and clock maker, and was, consequently, considered something better in condition than common in those days.  My grandfather had a family of, I believe, six sons and two daughters; and Daniel, my father, was the youngest of his children.  The house in which my grandfather lived was situated at Back o'th' Brow.  It was an old timber and daub house, with thatched roof, low windows, and a porch.  I saw it after it was abandoned and was tottering to its fall.  There had been a garden beside it, but the fences were then tore down, the beds trampled, and a few stumps of trees, with sprouts of sweet herbs shooting amongst struggling weeds, marked what it had been.  The door of this ruined dwelling was the first that opened at Middleton for the reception of Methodist preachers; and John and Charles Wesley, John Nelson, Thomas Taylor, and many of the first promulgators of their doctrines, had addressed their humble and simple hearers on the floor of that ruined dwelling.  The house stood about some three score yards from the arched bridge over the Irk, in the direction towards the Free School, and the cart road now passes over its site.  My grandfather and all his family had been strict church-goers, but on their joining the Methodists, their attendance at church was less constant than it had been.  The rector one day in conversation with my grandfather expressed his regret at the change, and wondered what made him dissatisfied with his religion.  He replied that he was not certified as to the state of his soul, nor with the way in which he was bringing up his family.  Why, asked the rector, what did he desire or expect on the score of religion?  He came regularly to church; he took the sacrament, and paid all dues and oblations; and what could he do more?  He thought that my grandfather would scarcely mend that religion, whatever party he joined.  He might consider himself quite as safe in returning to the church, as he would be in remaining with his new friends.  No argument, however, could satisfy my grandfather, who had become "convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of a judgment to come;" who felt the necessity of "justification by faith," of "saving grace," and of "being born again."  In short, my grandfather exhibited so much of the "new light," that the worthy pastor, dazzled, probably, if not illumined, gave up the attempt at reclamation, and my grandfather and his family remained Methodists.

    Whether or not Madam Ann Bamford, the lady before mentioned, had given up all thoughts of marriage, or whether she ever entertained any, does not appear; but, as if she were wishful to do some justice to the ancient stock, she came to my grandfather's house at Middleton, saw his family, and conversed with them.  It was even added, that she expressed a particular preference for my father, then a child, and proposed to adopt him, and make him her heir, but that my grandfather, whose views "were not of this world," declined the lady's offer, alleging that the possession of wealth would only lead this child into temptations, and might perhaps cause the loss of his soul eternally.  It was after this incident, as was said, that Madam Ann directed her attention to another quarter in search of an heir and successor.  Certain it is, that at her death she willed the estate and property to a William Bamford who was not at all of the old stock, but was said to be descended from a family settled in Staffordshire.

    My grandmother, in her mature years, acted as a midwife; and herself and another dame at Hollinwood were the only two on this side of the country who then practised the obstetric art.  Surgeons were never called to act in those days, except in perilous cases; for wives and mothers of the humble classes had not as yet become reconciled to a custom which one cannot but wish should be repugnant to their private feelings.

    My great-grandfather, Samuel Cheetham, was a thorough "King's man."  During the troubles in 1745, he loaded his gun, and swore he would blow out the brains of any rebel who interfered with him; and judging from his conduct on several other occasions, there is but small reason for supposing he would not have been as good as his word.  On the approach of the Scottish army towards Manchester, the Assheton family at Middleton Hall retired into Yorkshire, leaving my progenitor and one trusty servant to secrete the plate and the other valuables which the family had not had time or convenience for carrying with them.  These articles were placed in a chest, and buried by the two confidants in the stable-court at midnight, the place being afterwards paved and strewn over with hay seeds.  The Scotch army having entered Manchester, lost not much time in proceeding to ascertain what good things lay within their reach in the surrounding districts.  Middleton received a speedy visit.  My ancestor and his assistant were on the premises when a party of horsemen entered the hall yard, and the commander, leaping from his steed, flung the reins to the poor waiting-man, who, on receiving them, sighed deeply.  "Hoot, mon! wot d'ye sigh for?" asked the Scot, as if he were surprised to hear such an escape of feeling from an English retainer.  "It's mi way, sir," replied the servant, meekly taking charge of the steed.  The party having searched the hall, without finding either money or plate, which they seemed mostly, to be in pursuit of, they came forth to take their departure, when the officer espying my great- grandfather, demanded of him "Waur's the heed inn in the toon?"  "Gullook!" was the immediate reply.  Supposing that he had not been understood, the question was repeated more distinctly; "I say, mon, waur's the heed inn in the toon?"  "Gullook!" was as promptly replied as before; and in a tone and manner which left no doubt with respect to the feelings of the individual who had been questioned.  The officer and his party, however, rode off without stopping to parley with the sturdy Southron.

    At this period, and for some time after, party feeling would naturally be in a state of exasperation, and but few opportunities for displaying it would be permitted to pass by the adherents of either the Stuart or the Guelph.  If, as we see, during evanescent political squabbles, a bitterness is engendered which would, if it could, give a mortal thrust to its opponent, what must be the deadly hatred of rude minds and stormy hearts alternately suffering and inflicting irreparable wrong, when a population are in a state of civil war, when the sword is made naked avowedly to cut down, to kill, and when neighbourhood and brotherhood are no longer recognised except side by side in camp, or in battle?  During such a state of things, many would be the outrages and insults perpetrated by individuals of each party, when one of the other happened to come in their way; and that this zealous forefather of mine was less overbearing than the rudest, I have not much reason to suppose.  It was customary in those days for Scotch hawkers to travel slowly and laboriously from town to town, not affecting the gentleman, as they do at present, but carrying huge and weighty packs on their backs, some four feet in length and two or more in depth, as large, in fact, as a family meal ark, and stored with hosiery, drapery, and other necessary articles; tea, coffee, and sugar, not being then in much use amongst the working classes.  These packs being securely locked, were generally deposited in some convenient place—the corner of a street, or the side of a friendly door—whilst the chapman went round to a few customers close at hand.  Well, my great-grandfather, one day, ere the exasperation of feeling consequent on the rebellion had subsided, met one of those useful and self-minding tradesmen, crossing over the causeway by the mill-doors, at Middleton; and laying hold of him, demanded that he should say, "Deawn wi'th' Rump" (down with the Rump); an offensive phrase signifying, "Down with the Scottish party."  The Scot, of course, would utter nothing of the sort—how was he likely—and he tried to argue with the unreasonable fellow who had him in hand, but to no purpose.  "Sithe," said the latter, "ifto dusno say, 'Deawn wi'th' Rump,' theawst goo yed fost into that dam;" pointing to the deep mill-stream just below them.  The Scot still would not: my progenitor griped him firmer; and happy should I have been to have recorded that the traveller had soused him into the water head first.  But it was otherwise.  Might overcame right on that occasion, as it has on others, both before and since; and the traveller, probably calculating on the loss of time and money which a regular contest might cause him, said at length, "Weel, if
it mast be so, it mast be so; doon with the Ramp then."  And so he got rid of his pertinacious opponent.

    Whilst this surly and stalwart English Saxon was bearding the Scottish officer in the hall yard, as before narrated, my mother's father, Jeffrey Battersby, who was quite his opposite in person, manner, and sentiment, was with the Pretender's party at the Boar's Head, assisting them in the collection of King's taxes, and in the levying of contributions; in which his local knowledge, and his quick perception, would, doubtless, be very useful.  He was, when I knew him, a little old man, with sharp features and ruddy complexion.  He wore a black coat, of the old-fashioned cut of the time; a waistcoat and small cloths of the same material; with black stockings, and silver buckles at the knees, and on the shoes; on his head he wore a grizzled full-buttoned wig, and a small squareset cocked hat.  He walked with a quick short step (toes turned inward), as shoemakers often do; a silver-headed cane steadied his forward gait, his waistcoat was dusted with snuff, and a small leathern apron flapped against him as he tripped on his way.

    This quick and lively person, at the time of the appearance of the rebels, would be about twenty-nine years of age; an active, lightsome, free-company keeping young fellow, no doubt.  He was a native of Bury, whence he had probably but recently removed to Middleton, and being an excellent hand at his boot-making, he was employed by most of the genteel families in the neighbourhood.  The Ashtons of Alkrington; the Asshetons of Middleton; the Radcliffs of Foxdenton; the Hortons of Chadderton; the Hopwoods of Hopwood; the Starkies of Heywood; and the Bamfords of Bamford, were each, at that time, living in their own paternal mansions, and were severally, as their requirements occurred, the patrons and employers of the young craftsman at Middleton.  He was, consequently, personally well known to the heads of these old families; with several of them he was on such terms of freedom as we find frequently existed betwixt the old race of gentry and the better sort of their tenants and trades-people.  Gentlemen then lived as they ought to live; as real gentlemen will ever be found living; in kindliness with their tenants; in open-handed charity towards the poor; and in hospitality towards all friendly comers.  There were no grinding bailiffs and land-stewards in those days, to stand betwixt the gentleman and his labourer, or his tenant; to screw up rents, to screw down livings, and to invent and transact all little meannesses for so much per annum.  Mercenaries of this description were not then prevalent on our Lancashire estates.  The gentleman transacted his own business; he met his farmer, or his labourer, face to face.  When he did that which was wrong, he was told of it in unmistakable language; or, at any rate, he stood a good chance of being so told.  When he did that which was right—which was noble-hearted—he got blessings, no doubt, and made friends who stood by him whilst living, and spoke well of him when dead; and that is a kind of speaking of which one does not hear over-much nowadays.  There was no racking up of old tenants; no rooting out of old cottiers; no screwing down of servants' or labourers' wages; no cutting off of allowances, either of the beggar at the door, or the visitor at the servants' hall; no grabbing at waste candle-ends, and musty cheese parings.  Gentlemen were gentlemen indeed; as ladies were what they pretended to be,—loaf-givers—dispensers of good.  If they lived carefully, they were not mean.  If they lived sumptuously, their waste was scattered at home—on the spot whence it was derived; and those who toiled to produce it had the benefit of it.  The treasure and all the fatness of the land was not carried out of the country, to be wasted and thrown away like dust, in the pride and big-babyism of courtly life, nor in the brothels and gambling hells of London, Paris, or other Babylon of the world.

    At such a time, and amongst such a race of English gentlemen, was it the lot of this my grandsire to be cast.  He was in agreeable person to converse with; droll, witty, and a rhymster also; and as he had not much disinclination to a pipe and a jack of ale, he was frequently, when he went with his work home, called from the servants' hall into the parlour, where his budget of wit, verse, and country news, made him a welcome guest.  It will not be presuming too much, if we suppose that some of the gentry of those days were imbued with Jacobitical principles; and to such, in their moments of conviviality and confidence, the following verse, which I have heard sung as one of my grandfather's productions, would no doubt be responded to.

"Jammy sits upon the throne;
 He bears the gowden sceptre;
 He is the darlin' of our hearts;
 He is our right protector.
 Ween tak' yon cuckud by his burns,
 An' poo him deawn to Dover;
 An' stuff him full o' turmit-tops,
 Au' pack him to Hanover."

    In joining the Pretender, and taking the active part he had done, my grandfather had sinned too far to be slightly passed over.  On the retreat of the Scottish army, and the reinstatement of the former authority, he was denounced with many others; was arrested, and placed in Lancaster Castle for trial on a charge of high treason.  Happy was it then for him that he had made friends of some influential persons, and that neither his ready genius nor his friends forsook him.  Many of his fellow-prisoners were taken out of their cells for trial; and trial was then almost synonymous with conviction, conviction with death.  At last it was his turn to be called, and they called him, but the man was raving mad; and the keepers stood aghast, not knowing what to do with the lunatic.  He had been expecting his trial from day to day, and had acted his part accordingly; and on the morning on which he was certified it would take place, he thumped his elbow against the bedstead until his pulse beat a hundred and sixty a-minute and the doctor, on his being sufficiently coerced, and ascertaining that such was his actual condition, declared that he could not be tried.  He was consequently passed over, some poor fellow thus meeting his doom before the time, and when the next jail delivery took place, his friends at Middleton and the neighbourhood had so far used their influence that he was amongst those discharged by proclamation.  He returned home, probably somewhat wiser for his mad fit, but certainly to take his pipe and potation; to write squibs, satires, and rhymes; and to make the best boots and shoes in the whole country side.  Years rolled over him; the blithe young fellow became mellowed down into the more sedate head of a family, though he had always a fund of wit and humour at command.  At the age of seventy-eight, he was the little old man I have described; and in the year ninety-six came the finale to all his fancies.  He died in the eighty-first year of his age, and was interred in the old yard at Middleton Church.  Such were the men and women from whom I derived my being.  The rebel blood, it would seem, after all, was the more impulsive; it got the ascendency—and I was born a Radical.

 
CHAPTER III.

OF MIDDLETON, AT THE TIME I HAVE BEEN WRITING ABOUT.


READER, having thus described to thee the persons, and conditions, and habits of my forefathers, it may not be going too far from my personal history, if I give thee an idea of the sort of place Middleton was at the time they inhabited it.  Beginning with the church, thou must know that externally it was much in the same state as at present.  Internally, the chapel of the Asshetons would be somewhat different.  The staircase mounting to that piece of "pride " in a place of "humility," the Suffield's pew, did not then cover up and obscure the grave-stone of Colonel Assheton, who commanded the Parliamentary forces of Lancashire during the Civil War of the Commonwealth.  The monument of "Old Sir Raphe," the last of the Asshetons of Middleton, was not then in existence, nor were the pennons and flag-staffs, the sword, helmet, and spurs, which always accompany the last of an ancient house to the grave, then suspended in that chapel.  Those unsightly things, the pews, more like show-cribs than anything else, a modern invention of sordid pride, lest a poor woman's kirtle should by chance touch a "fine lady's" gown, were not then cumbering and disfiguring either this chapel, or the body of the church.  The whole floor was strewn with rushes in winter; and the whole congregation sat on plain oaken benches, the poor and the rich faring alike in the presence of that Being to whom they were taught to pray—"From all blindness of heart; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy; from envy, hatred, and malice; Good Lord, deliver us."

    The appearance of the chancel was also much different from its present one.  A large window with open traceries shed a cheerful and plenteous light on the communion-table, which was surrounded by a curious and quaint-looking oaken railing of spiral staves, carved from the solid piece.  The said window then exhibited in its lower compartment, the arms and crests, in stained glass, which now adorn the side windows.  Where the benches now stand, were large oaken pews, with carvings and quaint devices.  The stalls were in their present state; and the Archer, the Haughton, and the Tetlow monuments, were not on the walls.  In a window of the northern aisle was a representation of a band of archers kneeling, each with his bow on his shoulder, his quiver at his breast, and his name above his head; tradition representing them as parishioners who were slain at the battle of Flodden Field, under the command of the Black Knight, who won his spurs that day.  This emblazonment is now placed in one of the side windows of the chancel, a situation where it certainly is more likely to be preserved than in its former one.  There was not then an organ in the singer's gallery; a tall arch, with zig-zag tracery, sprung from antique pillars at the base of the steeple, and spanned high above the heads of choristers and musicians.  A large and bold emblazomnent of the Royal arms, with the initials "A. R." at the two upper corners, and the motto, "Semper eadem," at the bottom, hung in front of the singers' gallery.  On the walls betwixt the aisles hung several large tablets containing lists of benefactions to the poor, which have recently been removed to more fitting places.  The font then stood beneath the said gallery: the pulpit, a plain oaken one, was placed against the centre pillar on the north side of the middle aisle; and the congregation, as I before said, were arranged on seats, their feet in the rushes; and neither hassocks, nor foot-boards, nor lolling cushions, were then deemed indispensable to a becoming discharge of religious duties.  The galleries, on neither side, would probably then be placed; nor would that piece of gim-crackery, the painted and pannelled pew, be stuck out above, more like a garish ball-room than a place for repentance and humiliation.  But this has also passed away.

    Outside of the yard wall, towards the north, stood an old thatched timber and daub house, which one entered down a step, through a strong low door with a wooden latch.  This was "Old Joe Wellins's," the church alehouse, a place particularly resorted to by rough fellows when they had a mind to a private drinking bout.  The sacred edifice itself is dedicated to Saint Leonard, the patron of thieves, and whether or not thieves and outlaws felt more assured than common under the wing, as it were, of their saint, it was a current tradition in my younger days, that more than one of "the gentlemen roadsters " who lived by levying contributions on the northern highways, made it his "boozing ken," or place of concealment and repose after their foraging expeditions: Nevison and Turpin were especially mentioned as having frequented this house.  When this old building was pulled down several curious antique coins were found; of what date no one who saw them could tell.  On the other side of the church, the space which is now occupied as a burial-ground, was a large and excellent bowling-green, which was much frequented by the idle fellows of the village, who preferred ale-bibbing in the sun before confinement on the loom or at the lap-stone.  At last it was broken up and the games put a stop to, chiefly, it was said, because the late steward under the Suffields could not, when he resorted to the place, overawe, or keep the rustic frequenters in such respectful bounds as he wished to do: and from this statement I cannot withhold my belief; for it was just such an action as those who knew him would expect from the man.

    The bridge over the Irk, at Back-o'th'-Brow, was a wooden one with hand rails.  On the other side of the stream, on the right hand, were three or four thatched cottages, in the usual style; a barn and shippon stood on the left; whilst the Irk itself, then a stream like crystal, rippled and dimpled away over a channel of smooth sand beds, and dark gravel mingled with white pebbles which, like drops of unmelted snow, lay shimmering beneath the ripples.  Trout were to be found then in the dark old stockholes, where the water was deep and quiet; and loaches lay basking and wallowing their green backs scarcely distinguishable from the dark pebbles.

    Owler Bridge, which a little further eastward crosses another branch of the Irk, was to be much dreaded.  The field along which the path lay betwixt Back-o'th'-Brow and Owler Bridge, was said to be thronged by spirits, whilst "fairees" were frequently seen dancing and gambolling on the bridge, and the bank of the stream on either side.  Woe to the wight or the wean, who had to pass that way on a starless windy night!  My father, when a boy, went to take lessons from a wise-man at Hilton-fold, and consequently he had to traverse the haunted field, and to pass the perilous bridge; but he seldom forgot to hum a psalm or hymn tune whilst on his way.  It was rumoured that a murder had been committed in that field, and if a strange looking bone was found, it was supposed to have been one belonging to the murdered person.  A dreaded place was that.

    The Free Grammar School was also a haunted place.  The endowment, for those days, was liberal, and the establishment possessed an extensive reputation.  Gentlemen's sons, from many parts of the country, were sent to Middleton to receive their education preparatory to going to college.  Some, around the neighbourhood, came to school on ponies, which in summer time they turned into the paddock opposite the school, until at night they were again mounted to return home.  Some of these youths were wild and reckless, no doubt; and others were said to be more "deeply learned " than the master supposed them to be.  On one occasion when they had the school to themselves, they set about raising the devil; and after a due course of conjuration the "dark being" appeared, and stamping a hole into a flag with his foot—the mark of which was shown in my days—he asked what they wanted.  The conjurers, being terrified, wished him to retire as quietly as he came, but that he would not do, so they then demanded that he should make a rope out of the sand which lay in the sandbed at the foot of the church-bank, and he was busy at the work, when the head master fortunately came; and with the highest ceremonial dismissed him and saved the scholars whom he fain would have taken, whereupon he became so enraged, that he flew away in a flash of fire, breaking down an entire window, and part of the wall of the school.  The school was conducted by a head master and an usher; the former generally teaching at the northern end, and the latter at the southern one.  It was also customary for each to reside in a spacious chamber over the part of the school in which he taught, to which chamber access was gained up a flight of wooden stairs, by a door at the back, and through a dark place with which the scholars were wont to associate many superstitious terrors.  One of these head masters was a Mr. Dean, a curate, who on a certain day, as the story narrated, on entering his room at the noon-hour of dismissal, met a clergyman in full canonicals, with a book open in his hand as if he were going to read a funeral service. The appearance passed Mr. Dean, who, in great surprise, turned and looked at it.  It went out at the door, and apparently towards the stairs, but on Mr. Dean's returning to watch it down, it was not to be seen, nor could anything whatever be heard of any such person having been seen by others about the place.  Mr. Dean took it as a warning to himself, and soon afterwards he sickened and died.  The school-lane was also haunted by an apparition which came sometimes in one form, and sometimes in another.  Two men, it was said, of adverse parties met here during the Civil Wars, when one killed the other, and the deceased's spirit had ever since haunted the place.

    Stanicliffe was frequented by a demon which has but very recently quitted his haunt.  At an old gloomy looking house,—partly of timber and partly of brick work,—situated on the brow of the hill, and looking, as it were, over the rindle towards Boarshaw, lived, during the Civil Wars, one of the Hopwood retainers, named Blomoley.  He would seem to have been a man of ferocious disposition, since his name has been handed down in traditions, the fearfulness of which time has not diminished.  Several men he was said to have wantonly put to death with his own hand, during those lawless periods; one he shot on his farm yard, and the bullet, after quitting the man's body, passed through two of his own barn doors.  Ever after, until a comparatively recent date, the house and premises he occupied were haunted by "fyerin" (boggarts or apparitions) which came sometimes in the form of a calf, sometimes in that of a huge black dog, and sometimes in the human form, but hideous and terrible.  A heavy nailed door, which was hung in such a manner that it shut to with violence, would at times open of itself before a stranger, or one of the family.  A dog, or a calf, would at times trot along the passage before a person seeking admittance; the door would open wide; the person would enter the dwelling part, but nothing could be seen or heard of the mysterious appearance.  At the dead of night, sounds would be heard as if persons were holding a conversation in whispers; doleful cries would break forth, or a crash would resound as if every piece of crockery in the dwelling was broken, when, in the morning, everything would be found in its place.  I am not saying that I credit these accounts, but they were certainly narrated to me by one who had lived in the building during many years: one who could not gain anything by stating that which he did not believe to be true; and whose account was furthermore subsequently corroborated by another of the same family.  It was even added, and confirmed in like manner, that other members of the family, besides the narrator, whilst sitting by the fire at night, had seen the cream-mug, or the drink bottle, move from the hearth to the hob, or from the hob to the hearth, without any visible being touching the vessels.  Other things in the house were also frequently shifted, but nothing was ever broken; and the noises, appearances, and displacements, at length became so little thought of, that the common observation would be, "Oh! it's nobbut Owd Blomoley;" or, "Th' owd lad's agate agen."  The house subsequently underwent some alteration, and about fourteen years ago it was pulled down, and another was rebuilt on its site; since which time, I have not heard of any disturbance at the place.  The clough or dingle at the base of the meadow on which the house stood, retains the name of "Blomoley Cloof."

    The noticing of these supposed supernatural appearances in, may seem puerile to some readers.  The suppositions in themselves may be so; but taken in connection with, and affecting as they did, in a degree, the minds and manners of the rural population of the period, they are of more consequence than may at the first glance be apparent.  At all events, in giving an account of a place and its inhabitants in past times, one cannot well refrain from alluding to whatever might have influenced their actions, any more than one can remain silent with respect to the actions themselves.  I will, therefore, once for all mention, that but few of the lonely, out-of-the-way places—the wells, the bye-paths, the dark old lanes, the solitary houses—escaped the reputation of being haunted.  "Boggarts," "fyerin," "witches," "fairees," "clap-cans," and such like beings of terror, were supposed to be lurking in almost every retired corner, or sombre-looking place; whence they come forth at their permitted hours, to enjoy their nocturnal freedom.  Ruffian Lane—the old road to Hopwood Hall—was one of these haunted places: haunted once, as its name would purport, by less harmless beings than "boggarts."  A footpath, leading through certain fields belonging to the "Black Bull" public-house, was notoriously the resort of "fyerin" (spirits): and here, indeed, there was reason to be shown why it should be so, since that ominous and awe-creating plant, Saint John's Wort, grew there in its pale, feathery pride.  The present road—then a retired one, and overshadowed by a tall hedge and spreading trees—which leads from the bottom of Church Street to the Free School, was then nightly traversed by the appearance of a large four-footed animal, sometimes in the likeness of a dog or a bear, with great glaring eyes; at other times it would start up like a beautiful child, and moving before to a certain place, would disappear.  The churchyard could not, of course, be free from supernatural appearances; and of the few who ventured through it after night-fall—the road then leading that way—not many left it whose hair was not standing on end.  The path leading from the southern steps of the churchyard, down to the "Gypsy Croft" and the highway, was another haunt of these appearances; whilst the solitary footpath, which led from the same steps along the Warren, beneath the tall elms and sycamores, past the lonely summer-house, and down the wooded bank to the highway, seems to have been a favourite promenade to the beings of another world.

    The Rectory was then an old irregular-looking edifice, built partly of brick and partly of stone, with a moat around it, and shot holes in the walls for musketry or cross-bows.  The present unsightly brick wall, fronting the highway, was not then in existence.  In place of it was a green sod rampart, planted with hawthorns and hedge-shrubs, which were protected by a low neat palisading, so that passengers, whilst walking under the beech trees, could enjoy a look at the fields, and into the shrubberies skirting the garden.  Gentlemen in those days were not afraid, it would seem, of the poor man or woman enjoying a look through their hedges, nor catching a sweet wind-waft of their rosebuds, or apple-bloom, as they travelled the droughty dusty high-road.

    The old Hall was perhaps one of the finest relics of the sort in the county.  It was built of plaster and framework, with panels, carvings, and massy beams of black oak, strong enough for a mill floor.  The yard was entered through a low wicket, at a ponderous gate; the interior of the yard was laid with small diamond-shaped flags; a door led on the left into a large and lofty hall, which was hung round with matchlocks, swords, targets, and hunting weapons, intermingled with trophies of the battle-field and the chase.  But all disappeared before the spirit of Vandalism which commenced with the Harboard accession to the property, and their transference of power to one whose chief thought seemed to be how he might by any means increase the amount of remittances to his employer.  Not a vestige of the edifice now remains.  The exact site is at present unoccupied, but is understood to be let for the erection of a cotton-mill.  A couple of factories and a gasworks are already close to the spot.  The great oaken barn, before mentioned, and a cottage or two, and a remnant of the stabling, are the only vestiges remaining on the place.  And so passes the vain stability of this world.

    Having thus, as it were, led the reader, not only into the presence of my later ancestors, but also into the country which they inhabited, giving him glimpses of the manners, legends, and superstitions of those days, and thereby enabling him to perceive the great change which has come over the inhabitants of these parts, as well as over the country itself—having thus, in a measure, discharged a duty to some who are no more, and to scenes and things which have departed with them, I may, with a less divided retrospection, take up the narrative of my own life, and to that task—craving the reader's kind indulgence—I now address myself.

 
CHAPTER IV.

EARLY IMPRESSIONS-MIDDLETON REFORMERS-MEETING AT ROYTON—DENIAL OF JUSTICE.


MANY of the earliest of my, impressions were calculated to make me feel, and think, and reflect, and thus I became, imperceptibly, as it were, and amidst all the exuberant lightsomeness of childhood, impressible and observant.  The notice I took of my mother's anguish and her tears (as before mentioned), whilst it made me hateful of all wrong—hateful so far as my young heart could be so—disposed me, at the same time, to be pitiful towards all suffering.  It was the means of calling into action two of the strongest and most durable impulses of my heart—justice and mercy.  Hence I was, in my infantile degree, a friend to every living being that suffered wrong, and an enemy to, or rather a disliker of, every living being that inflicted it.  The cause of the unfortunate was mine own cause, from that of the crushed worm, which I put aside from my path, to that of the more noble animals, the dog, the steer, and the horse, when they suffered outrage at the hand of ruthless man.  Everything which could not plead its own cause had a pleader in my heart.  The horse had an especial one, inasmuch, probably, as whatever pain he might suffer, the expression of it was almost denied to him.  The dog could howl, the steer could bellow, but the noble horse was mutely endurant; and these impulses, notwithstanding all that reason, and convenience, and necessity, as we term our palliatives, have at times suggested, and would still suggest, I never could put aside, never could subdue.  So in this instance again, "Out of the eater came forth meat"; out of the evil came forth goodness.

    The first book which attracted my particular notice was "The Pilgrim's Progress," with rude woodcuts; it excited my curiosity in an extraordinary degree.  There was "Christian knocking at the strait gate," his "fight with Apollyon," his "passing near the lions," his "escape from Giant Despair," his perils at "Vanity Fair," his arrival in "the land of Beulah," and his final passage to "Eternal Rest"; all these were matters for the exercise of my feeling and my imagination.  And then, when it was explained to me, as it was by my mother and my sister, how that Christian was a godly man, who left his wife, and his children, and all he had in the world, to go forth and seek the blessed land afar off; and that, through many trials, and perils, and hardships, he arrived at that land, and entered another life, never to return; that his wife and family, in hopes of joining him, also left their home and journeyed the same weary and perilous way, my heart was filled with pleasing, yet melancholy impressions.  The whole pilgrimage was to me a story mournfully soothing, like that of a light coming from an eclipsed sun.

    Others of my early impressions were also of a saddening nature, and I mention them, not because I would be understood to have been less joyous and playsome than were other children of my age—for I was probably quite as much so as the generality of my playmates were—but because, with me, the bright moments are but dimly remembered now, whilst the more sombre impressions remain distinctly present as I now write.  The reader, however, need not be afraid of my drawing a totally darksome picture; there may be some strong clouding here and there.  There must be if truth and nature are adhered to, and from them we assuredly will not depart.

    And now came to myself and my childish playmates strange and alarming rumours of a dreadful war.  "The war," we heard, was coming afar off; the French people were bringing it, and "the war" would come to Middleton, and kill all the fathers, and mothers, and children that it could find.  This was a sad prospect to me, and I pondered I it over it until I hit on a scheme which I thought would avert the danger.  This was that I and all our family, at least, should hide in the wooden coal-shed at the Free Grammar School, and there I was quite certain "the war" could never find us.

    One incident of my childhood will serve to show the sort of daily, fireside education which my parents bestowed on their children.  I mention it to their honour, and not from a wish to claim any precocity of intellect, which indeed I did not possess.  I was probably about three years of age when some one made me a present of a little tin can, as a plaything, and to sup my porridge and milk from.  I slept with Sally Owen, a young woman who, having been left an orphan and brought up in my grandfather's family, was now living more as a sister than as a servant with my uncle Thomas.  Well, this little tin can nothing could prevail on me to part from, and I was allowed to take it with me to bed.  Probably Sally Owen would find it a rather sharp article to turn upon at night.  However that were, when I awoke in the morning Sally Owen was gone, and my little bright plaything was gone also.  I then cried out, and when the kind-hearted creature came to the bedside, I learned from her replies that she had taken my can, and that if I was not a good boy I must not have it any more.  So, looking in her face, I said, "Sally, whot dus Katekiss say?"  "Say? why wot dus it say?" asked Sally.  "Dus it no say, thou shalt not steal?"  "Aye, it dus," replied Sally, "an' wotbi that?"  "Well, then," was my rejoinder, "thou shalt not steal my little can."  Her tender eyes were brimming full; she snatched me out of bed, gave me my little can, and took me to my mother, who also shed tears of joy when she heard what I had said.  "Oh!" she would sometimes ejaculate, "theaw shud habin kess'nt Jeffrey or Daniel."

    My father, as before stated, was a reader, and amongst other books which he now read was Paine's "Rights of Man."  He also read Paine's "Age of Reason," and his other theological works, but they made not the least alteration in his religious opinions.  Both he and my uncle had left the society of Methodists, but to the doctrines of John Wesley they continued adherents so long as they lived.  At the commencement of the French Revolution a small band only of readers and inquirers after truth was to be found in Middleton.  They were called "Jacobins" and "Painites," and were treated with much obloquy by such of their bigoted neighbours as could not or would not understand that other truths existed in the world than "were dreamt of in their philosophy."  This band of thinkers included Edmund Johnson, a druggist and apothecary; Jacob Johnson, his brother, a weaver and herb doctor; Simeon Johnson, another brother, weaver; Samuel Ogden, shoemaker; Thomas Bamford, my uncle; and Daniel, my father.  They met at each other's houses to read such of the current publications as their small means allowed them to obtain, and to converse on the affairs of the nation, and other political subjects.  They were also supporters of Parliamentary Reform, as it was then advocated by the Duke of Richmond, Mr. Pitt, and other distinguished characters.  This notice will explain the rancour which they had to endure, some traits of which I shall proceed to describe.

    One Middleton wakes, as I remember, I, a mere child, sat on the steps of my father's dwelling, watching the holiday folks draw their rush-carts towards the church.  They went close past our door; very grand and gaudy the drawers and carts were, with ribbons, and streamers, and banners, and garlands, and silver ornaments, and morrice bells, and other music, quite joyous and delightful.  At length came a cart more richly decked than others, on the flake of which behind was placed the figure of a man, which I thought was a real living being.  A rabble which followed the cart kept throwing stones at the figure, and shouting, "Tum Paine a Jacobin!"  "Tum Paine a thief!"  "Deawn wi' o' th' Jacobins!"  "Deawn wi' th' Painites!"  whilst others with guns and pistols kept discharging them at the figure.  They took care to stop when they came to the residence of a reformer; the shouting and the firing were renewed, and then they moved on.  Poor Paine was thus shot in effigy on Saturday, repaired, re-embellished, and again set upright on Sunday, and "murdered out-and-out" on Monday, being again riddled with shot, and finally burned.  I, of course, became a friend of Thomas Paine's.  Such was one of the modes of annoyance and persecution to which the few who dared be honest were subjected by the sires and grandsires of the present race of reforming Englishmen.  But this was perfect amenity compared with what took place at Royton.

    That village was in those days looked upon as the chief resort of Jacobins on that side of Manchester.  A few clever, sensible men lived there also, as well as at Middleton, but those of Royton would seem to have taken more active measures for the promotion of reform than did others living in the neighbouring districts.  I well remember, in the dolorous days of ninety-two, or three, a small band from Royton perambulating our secluded nook of the town, and singing a piece, one verse of which was as follows:

"Our Our masters play us roguish pranks;
 Our bankrupt bankers close their banks;
 Which makes our wives and children cry.
 But times shall alter by and by."

    One forenoon we were alarmed by the appearance of men armed with thick cudgels and bludgeons, who passed by our house in groups, swearing and threatening what they would do at the "Painites" when they returned.  They came from Ringley and Radcliffe, and other places; desperate and ruthless men they seemed, and we children were so terrified that we crept into the hen-roost as a place of the greatest safety.  Many eventful hours of anxious expectation succeeded; my father did not remove his family, but I believe he made preparations for self-defence if attacked.  The ruffians, however, returned past our house without offering any serious molestation, my father not being a man slightly to be put aside; my uncle also being at hand.  Not so, however, did the scoundrels withhold from poor Samuel Ogden; for there they broke open his door, pulled him out of the house, broke his windows and some furniture, and maltreated his person; for none of which outrages did the law ever afford him any satisfaction.  The occasion on which these brutes were let loose in the country, was as follows.

    On the 31st of April, 1794, a public meeting, for the promotion of Parliamentary Reform, was appointed to be held at Thorpe, near Royton.  It was called by a few friends to reform who were correspondents of the society in London; [1] and the purpose of the originators of the meeting was to get a petition adopted, praying Parliament to grant an amendment in the representation of the people.  Previous to the commencement of the proceedings, a number of well-wishers to the cause, who had come from a distance, together with several promoters of the meeting, were assembled at "The Light Horseman" public-house, in Royton Lane.  They were taking refreshments, and arranging the proceedings, when a mob of several hundred people, led up by one Harrop, of Barrowshaw, an atrocious ruffian, came in front of the house, and with shouts of "Church an' King for ever!" "Deawn wi' th' Jacobins!" began to smash the windows, and break open the doors.  As many of the mob were armed with clubs and staves, and there was a supply of stones in the lane, the few inside could neither make effectual resistance to their entrance, nor defend themselves from violence.  The mob broke everything down before them.  The windows were smashed; the doors and shutters were kicked into splinters.  The loyal sign of the old pensioner was torn down; every article of furniture was broken; the glasses, jugs, and other vessels, were dashed on the floor, and trampled under foot; the bar was gutted; the cellars were entered, and the ale and liquors were drunk or poured on the floor; and such being the violence committed on the property, it may be supposed that the obnoxious persons would not be suffered to escape.  Oh, no!—this was a real "Church and King mob," and was too faithful to its employers to suffer the "Painites" to escape without punishment.  Whilst some of the brutes were guzzling, and others were breaking furniture, others again were beating, and kicking, and maltreating in various ways the persons found in the house.  Several of these were lamed; others were seriously crushed and injured in their persons.  The constables of the place had been called upon by the peaceably disposed inhabitants to act, but they declined to interfere, and the mob had their own way.  Mr. Pickford, of Royton Hall, a magistrate, never made his appearance, though he lived within a few score yards of the scene of riot, and was supposed to have been at home all the time during which the outrage was perpetrated.  He was afterwards known as Sir Joseph Ratcliffe, of Milnes Brig, in Yorkshire.  Such of the Reformers as had the good fortune to escape out of the house, ran for their lives, and sought hiding-places wherever they could be found; whilst the parson of the place, whose name was Berry, standing on an elevated situation, pointed them out to the mob, saying—"There goes one; and there goes one!" "That's a Jacobin; that's another!" and so continued until his services were no longer effectual.  A few stout-hearted reformers who had possession of one part of the house would not be beaten like children; they retaliated blow for blow, and kick for kick, until the cowards who assailed them were fain to pause.  The strife outside was then nearly over, and these few reformers consented, at length, to go with their assailants before the magistrate above mentioned.  About half a score of reformers, in the whole, were conducted as prisoners to Royton Hall, where they were placed in a stable, and treated with every contumely, until the great man was ready to receive them.  They were then shown into his presence, and were ultimately held in bail to appear at Lancaster, to answer a charge of rioting.  At the August assizes, the case was traversed; and in the spring assizes of 1795, the Grand Jury having "found a true bill," the "rioters" were arraigned; but as the fourth witness for the prosecution was under examination, the judge stopped the trial, and the defendants were discharged.  The reformers caused bills of indictment to be presented to the Grand Jury, against a number of the real rioters; but, as in the case of the later affair in Manchester, the same Grand Jury which could find true bills against the unoffending people, could not find any bills against the guilty parties.  The persons who had been so shamefully maltreated could not obtain any redress at law; even the poor old soldier, whose house had been broken into and plundered in open sunlight, never received compensation.  Everything he had in the world was destroyed or carried away; he was a ruined man, and a ruined man he remained to the end of his days.  Such was a specimen of "Justice of the Peace" justicing, of "Church and King Parsons" parsoning; and of "Grand juries" jurying, in the blessed times of 1794!  With such an example as this on the records of the county, need we wonder at what took place in 1819?

 
CHAPTER V.

"Straight is the lane that has never a turning:
 Long is the joy that has never a mourning."


IT must have been when I was in the sixth year of my age, that one day as I was rolling on the floor with my younger brother and sister, we were surprised and checked by the appearance of a good-looking, fresh complexioned gentleman, who asked for my father.  My mother respectfully attended on the visitor, and my father was called up from his loom in the cellar where he was at work.  My father, my mother, and the gentleman had some conversation, after which my father put on his better coat and hat, and went out with the gentleman to the place, as I have since understood, where his horse was put up.  My father returned, after being absent a short time, and I recollect well, having noticed a change in the look and manner of both my parents, my mother frequently applying her apron to her eyes, whilst my father was quite cheerful.  The visitor who had caused this change was one of the churchwardens for the township of Manchester, and his business at our house was to induce my father to undertake the management of a manufactory of cotton goods at the work house for that township.  The terms offered were such as my father accepted, and on a day appointed, after appearing before the board of parish officers, and being by them approved of, the agreement was ratified, and my father thence-forward applied sedulously to his new avocation, sleeping at the workhouse, boarding at the governor's table, during the week days, and spending his Saturday evenings and his Sundays with his family at home.  He must have discharged the duties of his office in a manner which gave satisfaction, inasmuch as sometime after his appointment, he became governor of the workhouse, and my mother governess; my uncle Thomas at the same time being appointed to succeed my father in the manufactory.

    And now, with respect to that beloved relation, let me say a word.  He was to all the children of his brother a second father, whilst to their father he was a true brother indeed.  A provident counsellor in adversity, what his head advised his hand would assist to effect.  In temper he was equable and calm; steadfast in purpose, and unbendingly upright in his dealings.  His religion was that of a devout, but unostentatious Christian, and his outward ceremonial of it was that of John Wesley.  In stature he was tall, and of a powerful solidity, whilst the clothed appearance of his person and limbs, indicated symmetry united with the fastness of great strength.  His features were such as are generally deemed handsome, their expression was indicative of a calm, thoughtful, and benevolent mind.  His complexion was that of raven dark; and his black glossy hair hung slightly curling over the front of his shoulders.  Reader, hast thou ever beheld a half length "Salvator Mundi," by Bartolozzi?  If thou hast—and deem me not impious, for the engraving itself is but the idea of a human genius—if thou hast seen such engraving, then hast thou beheld as good a likeness as could be drawn of the features of my ever-dear uncle Thomas.  And, with such a wife as I have described my mother to be; with such a brother as this, and with five healthy, joysome children, did my father wend his way from Middleton, and take up his abode in his new situation at Manchester.

    This was to us a vast and surprising change in life.  At our little country home, everything was conducted in that plain thrifty way, by means of which a good house-wife renders her cottage so comfortable, and her family so well provided, out of comparatively very small incomings.  Our fare was of the simplest kind, and far from profuse, whilst our clothing, though cleanly and well mended, was such as would raise a smile amongst the mothers of these days; big boys, as well as big girls, very frequently wearing their infantile skirts until they became kilts, and those too not of the longest.  Then, in summer days, we spent much of our time out of doors, digging holes in the sand, or making little gardens and houses in the hollows amongst the fern, or on the green banks of the Irk where the sweet willows, and the hazels, and gorses formed natural harbours, sheltering us from the passing showers.  Or we would form wading parties, and a dozen of us together, big girls and boys, taking the little ones on our backs, would thus go wading up the stream, maybe laying hold of a trout now and then, or bringing up a few loaches: or we would go a bird-nesting, or a moss-gathering, to deck our peace-egg baskets; or a primrose-plucking towards Littlegreen and "Owd Hall-cloof," until, when we turned home—our cheeks brown and ruddy, bare-footed, bare-legged, bareheaded, and bare-necked—our milk and bread, or our meal of solid dumpling, was, to us, a repast so entirely delicious, that of anything more excellent we could not form an idea.  Then in schooling, I learned the alphabet from my father at his loom; I afterwards went a short time to the parish clerk at the Free School, but I learned not anything there; I was not, at that age, quick at imbibing instruction.  On Sundays I went with the bigger children to the chapel school, which was next door to our house, until another was built on the road to Boarshaw, but neither did I profit by my Sunday tuition.  On Sunday evenings we often sang hymns; and we always said our prayers before going to bed.  At meals my father never omitted asking a blessing before we partook the food, nor did he omit returning thanks afterwards.  Bending reverently forward, and with his hands clasped, he would say, "Merciful God! bless this food to our temporal use, and sanctify our selves to Thy service, for Christ's sake."  In returning thanks he would say, "Lord! for the blessing we have received at Thy hands, accept our thanks, for Christ's sake."  And these devout customs were continued so long as the family remained together.

    But now we had entered a far different scene of life.  My parents and the younger part of the family removed first to Manchester, leaving myself and a brother at Middleton until some clothes which the tailor was making were finished.  In a few days my father came for us, and leading me by the hand, I went trotting by his side, full of busy imaginings, and asking all kinds of questions about "the great town," and I "the big house," I was going to live at.  The sound of the old church [2] bell came booming through the closing day, as we hastened across Smedley fields; and I thought I never heard so deep a tone in all my life.  Next we passed over "The Butter-style," and turned on our left, a vast gloom darkening before us as we advanced.  Then we heard the rumbling of wheels, and the clang of hammers, and a hubbub of confused sounds from workshops and manufactories.  As we approached the "Mile-house," human shouts and cries in the streets became distinguishable; and on the top of Red Bank, the glare of many lights, and faint outlines of buildings in a noisy chaos below, told us we beheld Manchester.  We descended the hill, and the lamps which were burning in the Mill-gate excited my attention, whilst the huge pile of the old church—blackest amidst the blackness—inspired me with feelings of disquietude and wonder.  The Irwell darkly rolled towards our feet, whilst, on our right, the walls and pinnacles of the old Baron's Hall [3] were dimly visible; and before us, washing the base of the ancient edifice, hurried another stream; my father, pointing towards it, told us it was the same which whimpled so brightly and merrily past our door at Middleton.  I looked over the battlement, wishing to behold it as I would a dear companion, but it was lost in the darkness, and a slight murmur was the only response to my fond regret.  After proceeding a short distance, we began to ascend a brow.  My father knocked at a gate; a bolt was presently shot back, and we proceeded along a flagged walk, until we came to a flight of steps, when my father opening a folding door, we entered a large hall, flashing with light, and before we had time to recover our surprise, my dear mother, my uncle, and the children were enfolding us in their arms.

    Here was a theatre for the active habits and kindly feelings of my dear parents and my uncle.  A new life, a confiding spirit, was infused into the poor inmates.  The men found friendly advisers in all their difficulties and vexations, and there were such even in this sheltering place.  They found also encouragers and assistants in the prosecution of every good purpose, as well as power which would be obeyed in whatever was right and necessary.  The poor orphans, as well as ourselves, had now a kind father, mother, and uncle; the sick were tenderly nursed and provided for; the aged were treated with indulgent regard, whilst the healthy were put to useful employment, and continued at it day by day.  My mother's quick eye was everywhere; her active step was unwearied; no dust, or slop, or sluttishness, would she tolerate: there was a place for everything, and everything would she have in its place.  Moving about in a morning in her skirted bed-gown, the long sleeves turned up, and with her milk-white mop-cap fringing the healthy bloom of her cheek, she enforced activity and cleanliness in the servants, and nurses, and attendants; there was a movement to work whenever her step approached; a stirring to industry, whenever her voice was heard.

    Thus everything being adjusted, and the routine of management and subordination working in regularity, my parents would probably hope that a long day of prosperity was before them.  Who can tell the fond anticipations in which they would indulge?  Who could estimate the depth of gratitude which in fervent thanks they would endeavour to express towards "the Giver of all good?"  He alone to whom those thanks were addressed—He alone could know how truly grateful were my poor parents for this gleam of prosperity.  But even now, the fiat which makes mute all joy had gone forth.  God would have His own when He would.  The death-smell was amongst us; the doomed were moving towards their unseen grave.

    Several cases of virulent small-pox broke out amongst the children of the house.  My little sister Hannah, then in the fourth year of her age, and as lovely a specimen of child-like beauty as I ever beheld, took the disorder and died; and in twenty-eight days afterwards, my little brother James, then in the second year of his age, followed her to eternity.  A few weeks only had passed, when my grandfather Battersby died, at Middleton; and we were mourning, after mourning, three persons of our family and kindred having thus been called to another world.  But further trials were yet at hand.

    My mother bore up like a Christian heroine; my father submitted in silent resignation; whilst my uncle was probably as much affected as any of the three.  Weeks, however, wore away, grief was mitigated, and tears were again almost dried, when a female whose manners and conversation indicated that she had seen better days, was announced to be ill of the fever.  Everything was done for her which good nursing and the medical skill of those days could effect, but she continued to get worse and her recovery becoming hopeless, she wished some one to make prayer for her.  My uncle, as humane as he was trustful in God, knelt down by her beside, as had been his wont in other cases, and prayed with a solemnity and feeling which softened and comforted her heart, and she begged he would visit her again before she died; he did so, and with thanks on her lips, and an assurance of a joyful hereafter, she expired.  In a few days my uncle became unwell; his indisposition increased; the strong man was prostrated by the infecting disorder; and his last words were, "Hannah, I'm coming!  Jimmy, I'm coming!"

    I slept in the same room with my uncle during the former part of his illness, and I took the disorder, which was now pronounced to be fever of a malignant kind, or what would be called in these days, a typhus of the worst type.  My mother would nurse me herself as much as her other pressing duties permitted; at all events, she was determined that I should not suffer from want of attendance during the night, and she had me removed to her own room and her own bed, my father going to sleep in another apartment.  She was tenderly assiduous, nursing me as a dove would its young; but I sank and sank, until at last consciousness departed and I knew no more.  How long I remained in this condition I have no knowledge, but it must have been during a considerable time, probably a week or two; and when consciousness returned, I was in another bed in the same room, and my mother was delirious and raving in her own bed beside me.

    Some days and nights passed in this manner, my mother at times insensible, and at other times praying on behalf of herself and family; my father also frequently knelt at her bedside, praying God, "if it so pleased Him, to let this cup pass away: nevertheless, not his will but God's be done."  At length, one night, as I recollect, my father, my brother, my sister, and the nurses stood around my mother's bed.  She was conscious of her approaching end, and wished to take leave of us all.  That was a solemn time: she would have me wrapt in blankets and brought to her.  Every one was in tears.  My father besought God to sustain and comfort her now that all human aid had failed; and she invoked blessings on the husband and children she was about to leave.  As the nurse held me I stretched out my arms towards my dying parent, when, blessing me with a fervent blessing, she said I should soon be better when she was gone.  I remember no more of this sad scene.  My father went back to the bed from which he had arisen to take this last farewell; and the next thing that I recollect was my awakening one night, and becoming aware of a terrible stillness.  I listened to hear my mother breathing, or praying, but nothing could I hear, and I lay some time in a state of sad foreboding.  After gazing long in the darkness, I thought I could perceive that the curtains of my mother's bed were drawn back, and that something white and perfectly still lay there, which I concluded was my mother's corpse, and I began to cry.  In a short time there was a light in the next room, and a sound of feet, and doors were opened and shut, and there was much passing and repassing, with the clatter of tea-things; and the persons began to talk, some of them in a very cheerful strain; and they seemed to be sitting down to tea.  I then called out and one or two came into the room, and spoke comfortingly to me.  They also wrapped me up in blankets and carried me into the room they had come from, and ill passing my mother's bed I saw her lying dead and covered with a sheet.

 
CHAPTER VI.

LIVING BESIDE THE DEAD—A NURSE.


IN the next room were the nurse and several women, with a young man who, since the death of my uncle, had superintended the manufactory.  There was a good fire in the place; the kettle was on the hob, and they were preparing to have "a comfortable cup of tea," with "something in it," previous to washing and laying-out my mother's corpse.  I was warmly wrapped up, and placed in as easy a position as my weakness would allow, in a two-armed chair by the fireside.  This was another trial to me; the time was midnight, or early morning; the room was the one in which I had been accustomed to meet my father, mother, uncle, and other members of our family.  It had been our household room, but none of our family were now present; the voices I heard, the faces I beheld, were mostly those of strangers, and I felt a sense of loneliness such as I never before experienced.  The women, stout, hardy working women, who had probably been early and late, toiling in the dangerous task of attending the sick and dying, and more especially my poor mother and father, partook of their refection with a zest and a cheerfulness of conversation, which, however natural it might be in persons of their situation, presented such a contrast to the silence of the other room, and was so little in accordance with my present feelings, that I burst into tears.  The kind-hearted creatures no sooner saw my distress than they did everything they could to console me, telling me my mother was now happy, that my father would soon be better, and that I should quickly be able to run about again; and so kind and assiduous were they in their endeavours to mitigate my grief, that at length the feeling of desolateness which had afflicted me passed away.  I felt that all friends were not yet lost to me.  I thanked them with renewed tears, and with expressions of trustful confidence; and after partaking their refreshment—which their hearty enjoyment of it made me think must be very good—they put me to bed in another room, and went to perform their necessary offices to my mother's dead body.  The funeral took place on the day following at the old church; and my father was unconscious of her decease, being himself at the time in a delirium of the fever.

    As my mother had foretold, soon after her death I began rapidly to recover, and my father being placed in the same room with me, one nurse attended to both of us during the night.  This night-nurse was an elderly female, whose name I will not mention, because, although during years and years afterwards the very word inspired me with horror, it is the distinctive appellation of many worthy persons.  She was a tall, brown, bony, hard-featured woman, with long tanned arms, and wearing a dark dingy bed-gown, and with a profusion of snuff on her face and on her soiled cap.  She had a callous and unfeeling way of performing whatever offices our situation required; and she was probably assigned to this duty more from a belief of her capability to sustain it than from any other qualification.  At first the old hag was very attentive, giving us our medicine, or wine, or whatever was necessary, at their prescribed seasons; soon, however, she became neglectful, and somewhat rude, and my father being delirious and incoherent at times, she over-awed and terrified me.  At length, one night as I remember, my father being in his better mood, asked her to give him his wine; she said there was none, and when he questioned her as to what had become of it, she straightway opened upon him a torrent of oaths, curses, and abuse, such as I had never heard.  She was quite drunk, and he had the strength to tell her audibly that she was "a vile woman"; whereupon she went raving mad, and swore she would murder us both in our beds, and she looked round the place, seemingly for a weapon with which to dash our brains out.  I thereupon called as loudly as I could, but it being midnight, and no one being awake in our part of the house, it was a considerable time, or, at least, so it seemed, before any person came to our assistance; and during that interval, the words, looks, and gestures of the old crone were those of a perfect demoniac.  She had drunk every drop of the wine we should have had, and when at length the desired help arrived, she was dragged out of the place, and went blaspheming and yelling down the long corridors and passages, doors closing after her one by one, until her howlings were no longer heard.

    After this we had very good nurses, and though my father had a crisis almost as perilous as myself had had, he at length gradually recovered, and we both turned, as it were, though wearily and feebly, into a world, oh! how different from the one we found on our first arrival at this once inviting, but now dolorous place.  Brother, sister, grandfather, uncle, mother, five persons out of nine, parts, as it were, of our own being, torn from us in the space of a few brief months.  What a change we felt!  What a void was around us—and what a diminished and unsheltered group we seemed to be!  Surely "the bitterness of death" is in the lonesome desolation of the living; and this bitterness, notwithstanding my naturally cheerful temper and all which kindness could do to console me; was long my portion, until it began to be feared whether or not I should ever be called from "the valley of the shadow of eternity."  We had our sympathisers, however, and though they were of the humblest station of their race, their friendship was probably not the least sincere, nor, consequently, ought it to be the least regarded.  When I got strong enough to falter into the yard, I was surrounded by the pleased countenances of children who accompanied me with every demonstration of joy, singing at times a rude rhyme somewhat like the following:

"Here's a health to Daniel Bamford,
 Who is so kind and true;
 When he gets better we'll write him a letter,
 And send it to Middleton too."

The mature and elderly paupers also would stop, look at me and walk away invoking blessings on "the poor motherless boy."

    When my father had completely recovered, he was grieved that my mother had not been buried at Middleton, with her children, as it was her expressed desire to be.  He accordingly took measures with a view to having her wish complied with, but Doctor Ashton, who was at the time rector of Middleton and warden of the Collegiate Church at Manchester, refused to grant permission for the removal of her remains, alleging as his reason—and that perhaps a proper one—that the infection of which she died might be communicated to persons attending the ceremony.  She therefore remained in her grave, on the north side of the steeple at the Collegiate Church, where my father caused a stone to be placed, with a suitable inscription; but in the alterations which some years ago were made in the churchyard, my mother's gravestone, like many others, disappeared.


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NOTES.


1. The Corresponding Society formed in 1792 for the promotion of Parliamentary Reform.


2. The present Cathedral.

3. Purchased in 1654 by the trustees of Humphrey Chetham, for the purpose of founding the Chetham Hospital and Library.

 



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