Passages in the Life of a Radical (6)
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CHAPTER VIII.

THE VALLEY OF HOLCOMBE—HEALEY IN FULL PRACTICE—THE WOMAN OF MUSBURY.


ON the morning following we bid our worthy host and his family good-bye, and after taking the way towards Edenfield a short distance, we struck into a deep stony road on our left, and descended to the valley of Holcombe.  We had counted our stock of money after turning out, and found it to be greatly diminished; for as Uncle Richard refused pay for our board and lodging, we had spent in liquor more freely than we otherwise should have done, and our finances were now exceedingly light.  Our intention was to enter Bolton that night, where Healey had a brother possessed of property, who he thought would either assist him with a little money, or find him a retreat for a short time, whilst I could easily get a loom in some of the neighbouring villages.  But this plan was afterwards abandoned, as will shortly be seen.

    After traversing this beautiful valley for some distance we entered a public house and took seats in the kitchen.  A stumpy, rosy-cheeked lass, with cherry-ripe lips, and arms as red as apples, served us with ale; after which a decent elderly dame came in and told her to "goo an' get some moor o' that stuff, for Mary's tooth wur no betther."  I nudged the doctor, who immediately took the hint, and informed the dame, with his best grace, that if any of the family were ill of the toothache he could either cure it or take out the tooth.  She said her daughter had got it very bad, and was in another room.  Healey said he was a surgeon, and would extract it if she liked.  "Well, really," said she, with surprise, looking at his unctuous clothes, "yo may be a dochtur, but you look'n more like a kawve-lad."  Healey seemed offended, and I assured the dame that he was "as regular a bred surgeon as ever wur born ov a woman"—and in confirmation Healey pulled out a case of lancets and his tooth-drawing instrument.  At this moment a young woman entered the room with her face rolled in flannel, and one cheek puffed and swollen.  Her mother told her what Healey said, and being in extreme anguish, she suffered him to examine her mouth, after which he assured her it would be a mere flea-bite, and he could have the tooth out in "no time," and at last she consented to have it drawn.  I never liked to hear the crash of bones pulled out of living flesh, and so I walked into the yard, but had not been there a minute ere a piercing scream called me in again, and I beheld the young woman on the floor sputtering blood, and the doctor also on the floor near the fire, and literally swamped in a pool of cream, the mug of which lay in fragments beside him.  I saw there was no murder in the case, and if my life had been at stake I could not have refrained from loud and hearty laughter.  I assisted the young woman to rise, but my mirth was abated when, on spitting out, two teeth instead of one dropped into her lap.  The doctor, meantime, had got up and began to wipe the fluid from his face and clothes; he was quite silent and looked very rueful.  The old woman now came into the place, and with her two men, one of whom we soon understood to be a constable, and the other an overseer.  "These ar um," she said, "yo seen what havock theyn made, an iv ye hadno comn they met ha' kilt us for owt I kno.'  That little devil pretended to be a docthur, an' put a pair o' pincers into th' wench's meawth, an' has very nee poo'd her yed off; an' th' tother's no better nor him.  Beside, theyn brokken my mug an' shed my kryem."  "An' look at theese," said the patient, casting an enraged glance at the doctor, "hee's poo'd two teeth eawt istid o' one."  The doctor begged to be heard; the constable said he "had bin sworn at Howkham Kwort, an' munt do his duty; an' iv thur wur a charge he munt take us afore a magistrate."  The overseer said, "that wur reet, ackwordin' to Burn's justice."  I did not relish the idea of going before a magistrate just at that time, lest something might escape as to who we were and what had brought us into that part, so I said I and my friend were quite ready to go with the gentlemen anywhere to have this misfortune explained; but as they appeared to be men of good understanding and respectable manners, and seemed to know something of law, I thought the matter might as well be talked over a little, and if a glass of something to drink were added it would not, at any rate, make matters worse than they were.  This was declared to be very reasonable by all parties, and accordingly we adjourned with the officers to another room, and were soon afterwards joined by two persons, apparently farmers; and a jug of warm ale with some grated ginger in, and I think also a dash of the first syllabled liquid, being placed on the table, with tobacco and pipes, we drew round the fire.  Healey now requested that the young woman might be called, and she making her appearance, he very submissively requested to see the teeth; they were produced, and he then wished to examine her mouth without his instruments, which was also conceded after some persuasion, when he cleverly slipped one of the teeth, a sound one, into the orifice from which it had been taken, gently compressed the gum to make it close up, and ordering a squib of rum, with directions to keep it in her mouth a minute, and then put it out, he declared she was as well as ever.  The patient did as she was bid, only instead of putting out the rum she swallowed it, and then said she thought she was better.  This made Healey proud as chanticleer, and taking a hearty draught of the ale, he said he would not stand in second place to any doctor they could produce in the whole country.  The overseer was next instituted chairman, and the dame of the house was called; asked what was her charge, she said as her daughter was better, she would only charge five shillin' for "th' mug breakin' an' kryem sheedin', an' if that wur sattl't o' wud be reet."  The doctor said he thought the case was a very hard one, for he had done his patient a great service at the risk of his limbs almost.  The young woman, he said, was in a most favourable position for the operation, the extractors were fixed, and he was bringing out the tooth very nicely, when she screamed, threw up her foot, with which she took him in the ribs, and sent him to the other end of the room, where he alighted slap against the wall; and falling on the mug, broke it, and was at the same time seriously bruised himself.  The young woman was asked if that was true.  She replied, she believed it was; and the company then agreed that, as there was no charge except for damage, the patient had best pay half-a-crown for tooth-drawing, and the doctor three shillings for the mug and cream.  The doctor heard the decision with a kind of inward groan, for nothing hurt his feelings more than paying money when he should be receiving it.  He, however, threw down one of the few sixpences which he had left, and the old woman took it in settlement of the damage.  This matter being adjusted, we were partaking another pot, when a man came in from Bolton, and in conversing said the Radicals were in great alarm there, it being reported that King's officers had arrived in London for the purpose of arresting some of the leaders, and that the police were very sharp on the look-out for them.  This information was not lost by us, and we exchanged significant glances without being observed.

    We were talking on various matters when the door was opened, and a personally fine-looking woman, with an infant at the breast, advanced timidly and said she wished to speak to the overseer.  Her outer garments were of very homely material, being seemingly cotton fents dyed blue, but neatly fitting her person, and very clean.  She had a pair of light clogs on her feet, and her stockings were, I could perceive, well darned above the buckles.  Her petticoat and bedgown were of the same blue cotton, and the latter was open at the bosom, where a fine boy lay smiling at his pap.  Her apron was striped calico, and her headgear consisted of a striped napkin, apparently also a fent, over a mob cap, very white, from beneath which a lock of black hair had escaped, and hung as if in contrast with a bosom of as pure white as ever appertained to human nature.  Her features also were handsome; her cheeks were faintly tinged on a very pale ground; her mouth was somewhat wan; she seemed rather exhausted, and as she stood the tears came into her dark and modest eyes.  "Weer dusto com fro'," asked the overseer, "an' wat dusto want? theawrt a new un at ony rate," he continued.  She said she came from Musbury, and wanted relief for her husband, herself, and two children, besides the infant.  "An' wot dun yo do for a livin'?" interrogated the overseer.  They wove calico, she said, when they could get work and were able; but the children at home were ill of the measles; the shopkeeper had refused them any more credit, and her husban' had "wurched for 'em till he fell off his looms, and wur beginnin' o'th' feyver, th' docthur said so."  "Hang thoose docthurs," said the overseer, "why conno' they let foke dee when thur time comes."  "I hope he'll no' dee yet," said the poor woman, tears streaming in plenty.  "I think he'd com' reawnd iv yo'd nobbut let us have a trifle o' summut to carry on wi' ; an' iv yo' win" (intreatingly) "I'll hie me whom, an' I'll put th' chylt i'th' keyther an' set at you wark, an' I'll finish it mysel'; an' we'en not trouble yo' ogen unless we'en sum new misfortin'."  The overseer asked the farmers, who, it appeared, were ratepayers, what they thought of the case; and the result was that he gave her two shillings, and promised to call and see the family.  But she must tell her husband he must not begin of the fever.  Its o' idelty, idelty; an' iv th' paupers o'th' teawn yerd 'at he Pet owt wi' bein' ill o'th' feyver, they'd o' begin."  "Nowe, nowe, theyd'n ha' no feyvers i' their teawnship."  She took the money, curtseyed, and thanked the overseer and ratepayers.  One of them said she had been "a decent wench"; he knew her father in better days, and offered her a glass of the warm ale, which she put to her lips and swallowed a small quantity.  Her cheeks turned deadly pale; she put out her hand as if her sight was gone, her grasp relaxed, the child dropped on Healey's knee, and I caught the fainting woman in my arms.  "Hoo's clem'd to dyeth," said one of the ratepayers.  "Hoo's as dyed as a dur nail," said the other.  "I didno' deny her relief," said the overseer.  The doctor handed the child to the landlady, and called for some brandy, which was brought, together with a sharp smelling-bottle, which was applied, but there was not any perceptible breathing, and she shrunk down seated upon the floor, I kneeling and still keeping her in a leaning posture.

    And shall I be ashamed to say that, whilst I thus held her, tears escaped, and chased down a furrow already made by care on that cold and pale brow?  Oh, no! could I have withheld my deepest sympathy from that beauteous mother, my sister in humanity, perishing thus for want of food, my heart must have turned to stone.  Healey chafed her temples with the liquor, sprinkled her face with water, opened her hands, and tried to get a drop of liquid into her mouth, but her teeth were set.  "Poor thing," said the doctor, "she must have been very ill."  "Hoo's dun for i' this ward," said one of the men, "I relieft hur," said the overseer, "for I seed hoo'r none o' eawr reggilur paupers."  "We shan ha' to have an inquest," said the constable.  "Moor expense, au' moor," said the overseer;" but they conno' say 'at I neglected 'em, con they?"  Whilst these observations and many others were passing, the features of the sufferer became less rigid, the jaw relaxed; a drop of brandy and water was administered; a slight tinge of pink appeared on her cheeks; the chafings and smellings were continued; a sigh after some time escaped, and in a minute or two those dark-fringed eyes unclosed; she looked inquiringly around, and soon appeared to comprehend her situation.  In a short time she was restored; her child was again pressed to her bosom, the two shillings were made up to five, she took a cup of warm tea with the family, and in another hour she was slowly wending up the hill towards Musbury.

 
CHAPTER IX.

BURY—A NIGHT HAG—THE HUSH SHOP.


IT was dark when we entered the neat country town of Bury; for, after what we heard of the state of things at Bolton, we deemed it best to avoid that neighbourhood; probably, also, we were influenced by a natural leaning towards home; and, in consequence, though scarcely determined, we were travelling thitherward ere we had agreed so to end our journey.  After the departure of the woman, we consented to another libation with our new acquaintance, and our stay was prolonged at some risk, as questions were asked, and suppositions expressed, which required more caution than it was agreeable to maintain.  My little comrade also was, in his own estimation, become a very big man, and a most important personage.  The liquor was getting into his head, and he showed his wonted inclination for "sprozing," the best exemplification of which is that of a turkey-cock spreading his feathers.  It was at the sacrifice of a considerable share of vanity that he was restrained from telling the constable and overseer who and what he was, his great abilities—which he would have proved by singing and recitations (in both of which he murdered everything he uttered)—and his great practice, and the cures he had effected.  I therefore got him away decently; and our next halting-place was "The Grey Mare," a public house opposite the church in the aforementioned market town.  We were both hungry, not having tasted food since morning.  We bought a steak, which we wished to have cooked at this house, but were informed it could not be done; "they had something else to do than to cook steaks on Saturday nights."  The place indeed was full of customers, apparently country people, come to the town to make their markets, so we went on to the next house, where our meat was cooked, and we washed it down with a jug of pretty good ale.  There was here also much company; and we learned from their conversation that several persons had been arrested the day before for high treason at Manchester, and that two of them were named Ogden and Johnson.  This was no very encouraging news to us; nor were our feelings tranquillised when, soon after, a respectable-looking, rather elderly man came into the room, and, surveying the company round, went away without saying a word.  We soon learned that he was the deputy-constable of the town, and this incident hastened our departure.

    The night was cloudy and overcast, but the glare of the shops threw a good light into the street, which was well filled with market people.  We were anxious to get out of the way, and resolved to take the field road, as being most calculated to favour escape if we should be pursued, as well as to prevent pursuit.  We accordingly inquired the way to "Gig Bridge," and, following our directions, we found ourselves, after a short walk, on the bank of an apparently deep stream, which we knew must be the Roach; and following its course we were soon on a narrow wooden bridge, which we passed without any of that unpleasant motion which had obtained for it the reputation of a dangerous passage.  The clouds now, instead of blowing off, as we had thought they would, became more thick, and the night darker.  We knew little of the way; Healey not a foot of it, and I had only a slight notion of its general direction.  At the worst, however, we could take the hunter's road till we came to a house.  The path led us between a high bank on our right, and what, in the darkness, seemed to be a deep and tangled wood on our left.  Proceeding cautiously, for the road was crooked and uneven, we came to the verge of the wood, where two roads lay before us; and we were considering which to take, when the light of a lanthorn flashed close upon us, and we asked the person who bore it (a woman) where the two roads led to.  She was low in stature, with an old red cloak thrown over her shoulders, and a handkerchief, tied hoodlike, around her head and face.  She held the light up to Healey as he stood next to her, and looked at him steadfastly, and I had an opportunity for observing that she was considerably aged.  Some thin locks of grey hair were streaming in the wind and flapping across her face; her eyebrows were expansive and grey; and her two quick, dark eyes, set in wrinkles, seemed peculiarly brilliant for her age.  Her face was furrowed and brown; her features had been regular, perhaps handsome, but now appeared careworn and anxious; and her teeth were still even and white.  She evidently had not been a-marketing, as she had not either bundle or basket, but held a stick, on which she leaned, in one hand, and the lanthorn in the other.  "Good mother," said Healey, "weer dun theese two roads lyed to?"  "To mony places i' this ward," she replied, "an' mayhap some i'th' tother.  This," pointing to the left, "lyeds to th' Frogg Hole, an' Yep-fowd, an' Yeddy Hill, on th' Top o' Yep; an' that," pointing to the one before us, "lyeds to th' Hollins, an' th' Cat Hole, an' th' Castle, an' Thurston-fowd.  But weer dun yo' want to goo to," she asked, "o'er sitch a 'wilderin' counthry, an' sitch o' neet as this?"  We said we were strangers, but if we could find Whittle or Bowlee we should be right.  "Follow me, then," she said, and immediately stepped out at a pace which we little expected.  Healey followed close after the lanthorn, now making an observation more free than wise; now asking questions, some of which must have sounded mysteriously to our guide.  "Yo're no' meety good uns, I daresay," she muttered.  "Yo're as like excisemen as owt 'at I ever see'd."  Healey seemed wishful to humour the supposition, and asked if there were any hush shops in that part of the country.  She turned round, thrust the light's full glare close to his face, and, with a furious voice and gesture, said, "Hush, foo; keep the secret; iv I dunno' tell the' theaw winno' know."  That moment lanthorn and lanthorn-bearer disappeared, and the next there was a crash and a plash.  Healey had fallen through a hedge, down a steep bank, and into the channel of a brook.  I should have followed him, but saved myself from going over by clasping a young tree, by which I held; whilst, stooping down, I got hold of my companion, and he was again safely landed.

    After some puffing and gasping, and sundry emphatic wishes bestowed on "the owd hag," as Healey called our late guide, I reminded him that he had brought it upon himself by pretending to be an exciseman, and pressing unpleasant questions about the neighbourhood.  "Where was the owd limb?" he asked.  Had she sunk into th' earth, or flown into th' air?  "Hoo went in a flash as quick as gun-shot—lanthorn, leet, an' o'—an' nobody should make him believe 'at hoo wur owt elze but an arrant witch."  I said it was a strange occurrence, and not to be exactly accounted for at that time; but it was no use standing there—we must move in some direction, or we should not get home before daylight.  So we groped about, and at last perceived a tree which lay across the gully, over which we stepped, holding by the branches, and soon had footing on a rising ground and an open field, over which we were directing our course, when our attention was excited by a laugh of almost unearthly tone, which came like a jeering yell upon the wind; and, looking towards our right, we perceived below us, at some distance, a light, dancing, as it were, and moving at a rapid pace through the profound darkness.  "There gwos yon beldame, an' crone, an' hoo devil, on' bowt an' sowd infernal as hoo is," said Healey.  The laugh was renewed, but sounded fainter, and almost like a scream of pain; and the next moment the light began to descend, and suddenly disappeared as if sunk into the earth.  An exclamation of horror and surprise escaped my companion; and we continued over an uneven country—now by the roar of waters and weirs, now across dingles, levels, and swamps—until at length espying a glimmer which was stationary, we concluded it must come from a house, and, hastening forwards, we soon heard noises of song, laughter, and revelry; and, finding they proceeded from a human habitation which we thought must be a tavern, we opened the door and entered without ceremony.

 
CHAPTER X.

AN INTERIOR—A RECEPTION—A BATTLE—AN OPERATION IN SURGERY—HOME.


THE building was thatched, and consisted of several rooms on the ground floor, two of which were occupied by company.  The room into which we entered was a square one, with a good fire of turf and wood burning opposite the door.  On the centre of the floor stood a kind of low table, formed of an inner door which had been lifted from its hinges, and placed on bricks and logs of wood to serve as a table, and on it two candles in clay sockets were burning.  About a dozen pots, of nearly all sorts and shapes, were upon the table; each pot containing ale, or what appeared to be so.  The room was dimmed by tobacco smoke; but we could discern not fewer than some eight or ten men seated in various parts of it, some on stools, some on piled bricks, some on logs of wood; whilst others occupied empty firkins, mugs capsized, or any other article affording a seat.  The company was not less dissimilar in appearance, though all seemed of the labouring class.  Some were farm servants, some factory workers, and some were weavers; there were also one or two, who we found were poor men, but not workers at any branch, being known sots, bullies, and occasionally thieves.  The other room was occupied by customers much the same as these; but the blows on their table, and the tremendous cursings, told us they were at high words about a game at cards.  On our entering, all eyes were directed towards us, and the hum of their voices was hushed to silence.  "Well, what dun yo' want," said a brawny dark-bearded fellow, turning towards us with a most unwelcoming look.  I informed him we had lost our way, and merely called to inquire about it; but, as we were in the house, we would taste his ale if he had no particular objection.  "Wot are yo', an' weer dun yo' come fro'," was demanded sternly; several of the company rising and repeating the questions.  I said that if it was of consequence to the master or mistress of the place, they should know before we went away.  If we drank their ale, we would satisfy them for it, and whether we had any or not, there would not be any harm done, we supposed.

    "Mother! come heer;" shouted the dark man from the stair's foot; when, who should make her appearance but the same old woman who about an hour before had vanished so unaccountably.  "Excisemen!"  "Informers!" she screamed, at the top of a thrilling voice; and at that moment each man of the company was on his feet; hands were clutching at our throats, and a prospect of certain manglement or murder stared from those ferocious countenances.  A crash in the next room, and a smashing of pots was heard; and whilst we were vainly, as it seemed, endeavouring to evade our fate, a stout, low-built man, rather decently clad, and with a weaver's green apron twisted around his middle, rushed into the room, said he knew us both well, that we were neither excisemen nor informers, and that he would pledge his life for us.  The company then fell back; candles were brought, a circle was formed around us, gazing in curiosity and doubt, and at last we were permitted to sit down and partake of the ale.  The old woman, however, persisted that we were excisemen, or sent by the Excise, and narrated what Healey had asked, and how she slipped the light under her cloak at a sudden turn of the road, leaving Healey to walk into a ditch, and his comrade after him.  This caused a loud laugh at our expense; and it was repeated when we admitted that it was true except in one particular.  Our friend the poacher, for such he was, meantime had taken the dark-bearded youth, the son, aside, and explained our names and condition to him, he whispered to his mother, and a word was passed round, which caused an entire change of manner to us by the whole company.  I felt a curiosity to observe human nature in such a place, and being now readily supplied with ale, I took my pipe, and being with some interest to the conversation; whilst Healey made himself agreeable by singing, in his best manner,

"The deil cam fiddlin' thro' the toon,
 An' danc'd awa wi' th' exciseman."

    We had not, however, been at peace long, ere the carders in the next room again quarrelled, and proceeded to that length, that a battle was determined upon.  Lights—of candles and pitch-rope, and bog-pine—were procured, and the combatants stripped, and accompanied by every man, went into a small plot of ground behind the house.  The combatants were our friend the poacher, and another man, younger and heavier, who chiefly earned his living by dog breaking, and under strapping to gamekeepers and their masters.  Betwixt the men there had been an unfriendly feeling for some time, and now, over this potent ale, for it was good, though new, their hostility was again excited, and probably decided.  The ring was formed with as much silence as possible.  The men stripped to their waists, and then kneeled down and tied their shoes fast on their feet.  They then dogged for the first grip, much as game cocks do for the first fly; and after about a minute so spent, they rushed together and grappled, and in a moment the dog-man gave the poacher a heavy kick on the knee, and was at the same time thrown violently on the ground, on his back, his antagonist alighting on him like "a bag of bones."  It was now a ground fight for some time, and exhibited all the feats of a Lancashire battle, which I take to have been derived from a very remote date, long before the "Art of Self-defence," or indeed, almost any other art, was known in these islands.  There was not, however, any of that gouging of the eyes, orbiting the flesh, or tearing, or lacerating other parts, which are so often imputed to Lancashire fighters by cockney sportsmen and others, who know little about them.  It was all fair play, though certainly of a rough sort, and as thorough a thing of the kind as I had ever seen.  Doggy, after gaining breath, tried to turn on his belly, which Poacher aimed to prevent, pressing the wind out of him by his weight upon the chest as he lay across him, and at times throttling him until his eyes stared as if they were looking into another world.  In one of those suffocating agonies, Doggy flung round one leg, and locked it in one of his opponent's, and in a moment they were twisted together like the knot of a boa constrictor; and the next, Doggy turned on his belly, and got upon his knees.  There was a loud shout, and much cursing and swearing; and several bets were offered and taken as to the issues of the contest.  Poacher now laid all the weight he could on Doggy's head and neck, to prevent him from getting upright.  He grasped him below the arms, and kept clutching his throat; and the latter, for want of breath to carry on with, kept tearing his hands from their grip: both snorted like porpoises, and it began to appear that our friend Poacher was the worst for wind.  Some heavy kicking now ensued, until the white bones were seen grinning through the gashes in their lags, and their stockings were soaked in blood.  Poacher was evidently a brave man, though now coming second; in one of his struggles, Doggy freed himself and rushed on Poacher with a kick that made the crew set their teeth and look for splintered bones: and Poacher stood it though he felt it.  There was another clutch, and a sudden fling, in which Poacher was uppermost, and Doggy, falling with his neck doubled under, rolled over and lay without breath or motion, black in the face, and with blood oozing from his ears and nostrils.  All said he was killed, and that opinion probably softened the shout of triumph which was set up by those who had won their bets.  The doctor, who had been trodden out of the ring during the battle, was now loudly called for; and at length, with that air of important gravity so habitual to the "profession," he approached along an avenue made through these wildlings, and, kneeling by the man on one side, Poacher being on the other, holding a pitch torch in great concernment, he felt for a pulse, declared there was none, and, binding the arm, he pulled out a lancet, and opened a vein cleverly, the blood, as if still in battle, dashing hot and red in Poacher's face—a circumstance which made some laugh and others look grave, it being taken by them as a dying accusation of murder.  The man bled freely, the blood trickling into a dark red sud on the trodden grass.  Poacher presented a picture of horror and misery.  After the accident he stepped aside, and putting on his shirt, returned to the where he took his station as before described, looking with intense anxiety on the livid features of his prostrate foe.  He had wiped the blood from his own eyes with his knuckles, and the ghastly white of those cavities, contrasting with the gore on his cheek and beard, now parched and glittering in the torch-light, gave him an appearance of more than mortal horror and despair.  The arm being bound up, Doggy was conveyed into the house and laid on the table, a turf or two being placed under his head, by way of pillow.  He had, to the great joy of Poacher, begun to breathe during the bleeding, and now appeared in a sound sleep, and the doctor assured the Poacher he would come round in a short time; he had only been a little "stunished," which had "brought on a fainting fit," and he would soon be better.  Poacher was most grateful for the information; he declared he would never fight again, and swore the doctor was the finest man in all England, and that if one hare only was living on Lord Suffield's grounds, he should have it for his stew-pot next Sunday.  The doctor enjoyed his triumph; he drank to the company all round, not emitting the wounded man, who remained motionless and prostrate.  Some of them said his neck was awry, and the doctor, examining him more minutely, bathed his head in cold water; after which, adjusting the neck, he got two staves of a butter tub, and placing one on each side, resting on the shoulders, and jutting above the head, he tied them firmly but gently with a couple of red cotton hanks, and the man soon after opening his eyes, though scarcely sensible, he was conveyed home on the shoulders of his party.  The doctor then dressed Poacher's wounds; we soon after left the place, guided into the road by Poacher, who was going that way, and arrived at Middleton without further adventure.

    And, shall we part here, friend reader?  On my very threshold shall we part?  Nay, come in from the frozen rain, and from the night wind, which is blowing the clouds into sheets like torn sails before a gale.  Now down a step or two. [10]  'Tis better to keep low in the world than to climb only to fall.  It is dark, save when the clouds break into white scud above, and silent, except the snort of the wind, and the rattling of hail, and the eaves of dropping rain.  Come in!  A glimmer shows that the place is inhabited, that the nest has not been rifled whilst the old bird was away.  Now shalt thou see what a miser a poor man can be in his heart's treasury.  A second door opens, and a flash of light shows we are in a weaving room, clean and flagged, and in which are two looms with silken work of green and gold.  A young woman, of short stature, fair, round, and fresh as Hebe; with light brown hair escaping in ringlets from the sides of her clean cap, and with a thoughtful and meditative look, sits darning beside a good fire, which sheds warmth upon the clean swept hearth and gives light throughout the room, or rather cell.  A fine little girl, seven years of age, with a sensible and affectionate expression of countenance, is reading in a low tone to her mother:

    "And He opened His mouth and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.  Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake."

    Observe the room and its furniture.  A humble but cleanly bed, screened by a dark old-fashioned curtain, stands on our left.  At the foot of the bed is a window, closed from the looks of all street passers.  Next are some chairs, and a round table of mahogany; then another chair, and next it a long table, scoured very white.  Above that is a looking glass with a picture on each side, of the Resurrection and Ascension, on glass, "copied from Rubens."  A well-stocked shelf of crockery ware is the next object, and in a nook near it are a black oak carved chair or two, with a curious desk, or box to match; and lastly, above the fireplace, are hung a rusty basket-hilted sword, an old fusee, and a leathern cap.  Such are the appearance and furniture of that humble abode.  But my wife?

"She look'd; she redden'd like the rose;
 Syne, pale as ony lily."

Ah! did they hear the throb of my heart, when they sprung to embrace me—my little love child to my knees, and my wife to my bosom?

    Such were the treasures I had hoarded in that lowly cell—treasures that, with contentment, would have made into a palace

                  "the lowest shed
That ever rose in England's plain,"

They had been at prayers, and were reading the Testament before retiring to rest.  And now, as they a hundred times caressed me, they found that indeed, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."

 
CHAPTER XI.

A MIDNIGHT VISITANT--A SECRET MEETING--A PLOT--OLIVER THE SPY--HIS FIRST ESSAY IN THE WAY OF BUSINESS.


ABOUT the middle of the night, on the night after my return home, we were awoke by a gentle knocking at our outer door.  I arose and asked who was there.  A voice replied, "A friend;" and I opened the door, and a man walked in, muffled up to the eyes.  I asked him who he was; when, half laughing, in his natural voice he said, "Don't you know me?" and I then recognised him as my most intimate acquaintance and co-delegate at London.  He said he had particular reasons for coming disguised, and at that unseasonable hour, and that he wished to see me and some half-dozen of our most trusty reformers in the morning, at the house of a friend whom he named, residing at Stannicliffe, a short distance from Middleton.  I promised to attend him as desired, and he departed.  At the time appointed, myself and several others went to the house, and being shown into a private room with our visitant, he commenced by entering into details of his private business transactions, from which it appeared that he was greatly embarrassed, and knew not how to extricate himself.  He had been at various places; at home he durst not remain, and had last come from London, where he had been in communication with some of the best friends to reform, who, with himself, had come to a determination to strike a decisive blow at once.  He then detailed a plan which, if acted upon with energy, would, he said, effect all that was required.  Some ten or a dozen of our best men were to provide themselves with arms, and march to London, where they would be joined by others, and, at a time agreed upon, the united body were to rush upon the ministers at a cabinet council, or a dinner, and assassinate the whole of them.  All London would then rise; the population would subdue all before it; the country would be our own, and a new Government would be established.  Our arms were to consist of a stout walking staff, with a socket at one end for the reception of a dagger, which, he said, "may be easily made from the blade of a common knife, such as this," (taking one from the table).  Pistols might also be carried by those who could procure them.  When asked how the money for the journey was to be raised, he pulled a gold watch from his pocket, and said, if no other means were left, he would dispose of that to raise money.  This would not do: it was rather too bare a trap.  Besides, it was far wide of our code of reform, and we declined having anything to do with it.  We also endeavoured to dissuade him from lending himself to such projects; and we left him without making any impression upon him.

    The fact was, this unfortunate person, in the confidence of an unsuspecting mind, as I believe, had, during one of his visits to London, formed a connection with Oliver the spy, which connection, during several succeeding months, gave a new impulse to secret meetings and plots in various parts of Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Derbyshire, and ended in the tragedy of Brandreth, Ludlam, and Turner, at Derby.  This was probably Oliver's first demonstration on his "professional tour:" it failed--but from that very week, private meetings, for highly criminal purposes, again commenced.  Agents came from Manchester, and glided through the country, depositing their poison wherever they could.  Meetings were held at Blackley; two or three at Middleton; one or two at Chadderton; the same at Failsworth; and again at Manchester, where some fools and their deluders having been collected, a partial explosion took place, of which further notice will occur shortly.

    Let us not, however, in recounting these transactions, lay blame where it ought not to be.  Let us not confound the blind instrument with the intelligent agent who directed it.  If the individual before alluded to, our mysterious visitant, erred greatly in these matters, he suffered for his error.  A leading provincial journalist, with much apparent truth, afterwards stigmatised him as "a spy;" the sore obloquy stuck to him long, and whether it has yet been entirely removed admits of doubt.  But, had he been a spy, he would not have been left to struggle with poverty and disgrace in England, but would have been removed and provided for, as Oliver was.  Had he been a spy he would have betrayed those who never were betrayed.  We may allow that he was credulous and inconsiderate, and consequently unfit to be a leader in those or any other times; but this is far short of an admission that he was a co-villain with Oliver.  He was an egregious dupe, no doubt, but he was not a spy.

    If it be asked, why did not you, as consistent and honest reformers, denounce this plot to the government at once as, in obedience to the laws, you ought to have done?  My reply is, because we were persuaded the government knew of it already; that, consequently, if attempted it would fail; and lastly, because we had accepted the man's confidence, and he had placed his safety in our hands.  This last dilemma may serve to caution others how they accept responsibilities which may lead to criminality or dishonour.

 
CHAPTER XII.

TREASONABLE MEETING AT ARDWICK BRIDGE--APPREHENSION OF THE DELEGATES--ARREST OF THE AUTHOR--OCCURRENCES AT ROYTON, OLDHAM, AND MANCHESTER.


I HAD reprehended the doctor freely for attending one or two of the private meetings before alluded to, and he had avoided my company during nearly a fortnight, when, on the morning of Saturday, the 29th of March, he suddenly made his appearance at my residence, and with a woeful look asked if I had heard of the arrest of the delegates at a private meeting, at Ardwick Bridge, the night previous.  I said I had heard of the transaction; it was only what I had been expecting, and I had offended him by speaking my opinion.  He said he wished I would go to his house for a short consultation; I went, and found there one William Elson, who had been connected with one or two of these meetings.  They wished for my advice as to what was best to be done under the circumstances.

    Amongst the persons arrested was John Lancashire, a Middleton man, who had been delegated from a meeting at which both of my friends, as I understood, had attended.  I blamed them for having anything to do with private meetings, and advised them, they having committed themselves, to leave home for a time, as I had not a doubt the police were in possession of their names and would be after them.  Elson I said might go anywhere, as he was not much known: Healey I advised to go to his brother at Bolton, and get some money, and keep out of sight entirely, until something further was known.  His best way would be to avoid Manchester, and go over Kersal moor and Agecroft bridge; and as I had a relation in that quarter who wished to see me, I would keep him company as far as Agecroft.  My advice was adopted; Elson went to prepare for his flight, and Healey commenced doing the same.  I was now informed that Lancashire had a pike concealed in his house, and I went thither and got that destroyed.  On my return, instead of finding Healey ready he was busy combing his hair, and adjusting his neckcloth.  I urged him to get away if he valued his life; and after some further delay I saw him fairly on the road, and then went to prepare myself, and in a few minutes I set out after him.  We had appointed to meet at Rhodes, Healey taking a circuitous road over Bowlee, whilst I went a nearer but still indirect way through Alkrington wood.

    I was walking towards the churchyard at my usual leisurely, but rather swift pace, quite satisfied that Healey was out of all danger of being captured, and without the remotest idea of any peril to myself, when a voice hallooed, and looking back I beheld Joseph Scott, the deputy-constable of Middleton, hastening towards me.  I concluded instantly that he wanted me; and disdaining the thought of flying, I returned and met him, and he took hold of me, saying I was the King's prisoner.  I asked him what for? and he said I should see presently; and we had not gone many yards on our return when we we were met by Mr. Nadin, [11] the deputy constable of Manchester, and about six or eight police officers, all well armed with staves, pistols, and blunderbusses: two of these took hold of me, and the whole party marched back to the doctor's house.

    Here they handcuffed me; and whilst they searched for the doctor my wife, in great distress, rushed into the room, and desired to know what I had done amiss that I should be treated in that manner.  One of the men had threatened to shoot her at the door, but she rushed past him, and now, whilst she clung to me distracted and terrified, another would have rudely forced her away, but was rebuked by his superior, which saved him from punishment and the party probably from the unpleasantness of a street battle with my neighbours.  A crowd had collected in front of the house, and when we came out, and were proceeding down the street, there was a shout, and a piece of brick passed near the head of Mr. Nadin, who, probably apprehensive, and not without reason, of a volley, snatched a blunderbuss from one of the men, and, facing about, swore dreadfully that he would fire amongst the crowd if another stone was thrown.  I turned round, and begged they would not commit any violence, for I was willing to suffer for the cause I had espoused.  Either from the threat, or my wish, or both, my neighbours paused, and I was conducted to the Assheton Arms public house, at the lower end of the town.  We stopped here some time, and I had an opportunity for observing the person of my principal captor, Mr. Nadin.  He was, I should suppose, about 6 feet 1 inch in height, with an uncommon breadth and solidity of frame.  He was also as well as he was strongly built; upright in gait and active in motion.  His head was full sized, his complexion sallow, his hair dark and slightly grey; his features were broad and non-intellectual, his voice loud, his language coarse and illiterate, and his manner rude and overbearing to equals or inferiors.  He was represented as being exceedingly crafty in his business, and somewhat unfeeling withal; but I never heard, and certainly never knew, that he maltreated his prisoners.  At times he would indulge in a little raillery with them, possibly from a reason of his own, but I never was led to suppose that he threw away a word of condolement on those occasions.  He was certainly a somewhat remarkable person in uncommon times, and acting in an arduous situation.  He showed, however, that he had the homely tact to take care of his own interests.  He housed a good harvest whilst his sun was up, and retired to spend his evening in ease and plenty on a farm of his own within the borders of Cheshire.  I shall have to recur to him frequently in the course of this work.  At present such was he who, with firm step but uneasy bearing, paced the floor of the parlour at the Assheton Arms inn.  His men were all about the house, and some of them would frequently step in and communicate something to him, and orders and observations passed, which were unintelligible to me.  I was seated at the further end of the room, near a table.  On another table near to which he passed and repassed were a couple of blunderbusses and some pistols, and also a jug of ale and some glasses, one of which he filled and gave to me.  "Yor a set o' roof devils," he said, "i' this Middleton, but we mun ha' sum moor on yo' afore lung."  "We are pretty fair for that," I replied, "but," looking through the window, and seeing the people collecting, "I wudno' advise yo'," I said, "to walk me eawt oth' teawn, as yo' did'n hitherto; iv yo' dun, there will be some yeds brokken."  "Dunno' consarn thesel' obeawt that," he replied with a knowing look; " theaw'l see heaw ween orthert that, afore long," and whilst we talked a coach, escorted by a party of dragoons, drove up to the door; I was handed in, with Mr. Nadin and one of his men, and we drove at a rapid pace towards Chadderton, I chanting to myself


"Farewell! ye honey-winged gales;
 Farewell! ye sloping hills and dales;
 Ye waving woods that sweep the sky;
 Ye daisyd meadows that lowly lie.
 No more to pluck your sweets I rove,
 My fond arm locked round my love;
 I now must bid a long adieu,
 To Midia's lonely bowers and you."


    On arriving at the "Red Rose" at Chadderton the coach stopped, and some of the men having entered the house, returned and informed Mr. Nadin that "he was not at home, but his wife expected him soon, as he was only gone to Manchester."  This was one of the houses at which private meetings had been held, and the person alluded to was Mr. Edward O'Connor, who, for having unwittingly permitted such a meeting, was involved in this affair, as will shortly appear.  On the road towards Chadderton Hall I advised my conductor to draw up and return to Manchester, assuring him he would not capture any more of my batch that day, and in confirmation I pointed to Chadderton Heights and the neighbouring country, over which scores of people were running like hunters, as if to meet the coach near Royton.  All the country was up, I said, and every one whom he might want would be apprised of his coming.  He growled a deep oath, saying he had never seen anything like that before; the officer commanding the dragoons, who rode by the coach door, observed that he had seen something like it in Ireland, but never anywhere else.

    Passing Street-bridge and Rowley, we entered the village of Royton, the streets of which were deserted, and the doors shut.  We soon returned to Rowley, and the constables made a dash into a house in search of a man named Mellor, but he was not there.  A crowd was collected near the carriage, and as I was expecting to move on, the door was suddenly opened, and a long, thin, barrel of a human body was thrust into the coach, head first--a couple of stilt-like legs being doubled up after it.  "Lock 'em together," said Mr. Nadin, and it was no sooner said than done. This person had met some of the runners in a back court or alley, and threatened to beat in their brains with a walling hammer which he had in his hand.

    George Howarth, for that was the name of my new companion, was a decent, labouring, married man of Royton, and was about 6 feet 4 inches in height.  He said he thought it a very hard case--"he cudno' tell wot he'd dun amiss."  Mr. Nadin said he'd know "wot he'd done amiss" before he was much older.

    "Why, bless your life Mesthur Nadin," said George, "yore a graidly felley for owt 'at I kno' to th' contrary, an' I never sed nowt ogen yo' i' my lyve."

    "Aye, an' I'll make thee into a graidly felley too afore I ha' dun wi' the.  Theaw'rt a moderate length to be begin wi', but theaw'll be lunger afore theaw comes back to Reighton; ween ha' thee hang'd," said our keeper.

    "Nay, Mesthur Nadin," said George, "dunno' say so; they axt wot I had i' mi' hont, an' I shode 'em; it wur nobbut a bit ov a walling hommer 'at I'd bin a-borroin'."

    "Aye," said Mr. Nadin, "an' theaw sed theawd knock their brains eawt wi' it.  But ween larn thee, an' o' yo Jacobins, heaw yo' threaten to kill th' King's officers; theaw'll be hang'd as sure as theaw sits theer."  George seemed thoughtful upon this.  He looked at the shackles and at me, and soon after we drew up at the Spread Eagle public house, in Manchester Street, Oldham.

    The soldiers were here regaled with bread, cheese, and ale.  The street was filled with a great concourse of people, and some of the military kept guard whilst the others refreshed.  George and I were seated on a form at the back of the room, the policemen took other seats, and Mr. Nadin and the officer placed themselves at a table, on which were set forth some nice ham, and bread and cheese, and a flagon or two of ale.  They had all cut and drank, and helped themselves without ceremony; and, observing George give a most wolfish look towards the victuals, I asked him if he would like some?  Had he not breakfasted?  He said he had not; he was just going to breakfast when he happened to call for that unlucky walling hammer.

    "Captain," I said, addressing the officer of dragoons, "are your prisoners to remain without food?"

    "Oh, certainly not," he replied; "come up and take what you choose."  George and I then advanced, and each got a decent wedge of cheese with bread to it, and a quart of ale was also set before us.

    It would have created an appetite in a satiated alderman had he seen, as I did, the heathful gusto with which my companion disposed of huge and sundry uncut lumps of bread and cheese; his nether jaw paused not, except when he sucked down a stream of ale, after which it churned again as vigorously as that of a wild boar.  I too paid no small compliment to the savoury viands, but was a small epicure beside my companion, who never ceased until both our rations were devoured, after which he finished with the last draught of ale, and soon after the whole party set off towards Manchester.

    The coach stopped at Hollinwood, whilst search was made for a man named Wilson, who, however, was not captured.  George and I were left in the coach alone, but guarded, and I took the opportunity to dispel any concern he might entertain on the subject of hanging, telling him, if there was any preference in that line, I should obtain the favour before him.

    A stream of people followed the coach and dragoons through the streets of Manchester, and on approaching the Exchange, down Market Street, the "Merchant Princes" crowded the steps, and welcomed the poor captain with loud huzzas!

 
CHAPTER XIII.

THE BRIDGE OF TEARS--THE TRIBULATORY--A GROUP--A DUNGEON--AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE--NEW COMRADES.


READER!  Hath it ever been thy fortune, or misfortune, to pass from Bridge Street, in Manchester, to New Bailey Street, in Salford?  Hath business, or pleasure, or curiosity, or charity towards an afflicted prisoner, or mercy, or a yearning love for some of thine own in trouble, or interest, or duty, ever led thee that way?  If so, thou hast passed a very plain bridge, with high parapets of a dull red stone, and spanning, with two arches, a rather broad stream, which here flows turbid, black, and deep betwixt the said towns.  That, reader, is "The Bridge of Tears."  Venice hath her "Bridge of Sighs," Manchester its "Bridge of Tears," and this is it.

    How many hundreds of human beings have crossed this bridge, conscious they were never to return?  What strings of victims have been dragged over it?--some in the serenity of innocence, some in the consciousness of habitual guilt, and others in a bowed and contrite spirit, but each followed by weeping friends, who still loved, when all the world besides was hostile or indifferent to their fate!  Aye, times have been when life was paltered to petty law, and the gallows was rigged for a fraud on a bank, or a theft from a warehouse, or a potato scramble, when children were perishing at home for want of food.

    And now a sad spectacle occurs to my recollection.  It was a fine sunny forenoon, and the church bells were tolling funereally, and Bridge Street was so crowded that you might have walked on human heads.  All eyes were turned towards this Bridge of Tears, and what came there?  Ah! men on horseback, with scarlet liveries and white wands, and trumpeters richly invested, who sent forth a note of wail that might have won pity from a heart of stone.  Next came halberdiers and javelin men, and then a horseman of lofty but gentle bearing, who, as he rode, turned and cast a kind look towards one who followed, sitting high in a chair of shame placed in a cart.  And who is he? that youth so heart-broken and hopeless, that draws tears from all eyes, at whose approach all heads are bared, all expressions are hushed, save sobs and prayers?  For though he was but "a poor Irish lad," they said "he was very comely," and "it it was a great pity," and "hard that he could not be spared," and then, "might God support and comfort him!"  High he sat, with his back to the horses, his whole person exposed, his feet and well-formed limbs being incased in white trousers, stockings, and pumps, as if he were going to a bridal.  His vest also was light coloured, and a short jacket displayed his square and elegant bust; his shirt was open at the collar, and his brown hair was parted gracefully on his forehead, and hung upon his shoulders.  Despair and grief beyond utterance were stamped on his countenance.  He seemed faint at times, and his colour changed, and he tasted an orange, listening anon to the consolations of religion.  Tears would gush down his cheeks, and as he stooped to wipe them with his handkerchief he was somewhat withheld by the cords which bound him to that seat of shame.  A coffin, a ladder, and a rope were in the cart below him, whilst by its side walked a dogged-looking fellow, whose eyes were perhaps the only ones unmoistened that day.  This was indeed a passage of tears, and a day of sadness, and of contemplation on the mysteries of life and death, with the consolement at last that now "his troubles were ended," and "all tears were wiped from his eyes."  Such was the spectacle of that "poor Irish lad," George Russel, who was hanged on Newton Heath, for--stealing a piece of fustian, or, as the old ballad had it--

"To rob the croft
     I did intend,
 Of Master Sharrock's,
     At Mill-gate end."

    Far be it from my wish, friend reader, to palliate wrong of any degree; but let us hope, and, if necessary, entreat that all waste of life like this may have now passed for ever from England; that all useless inflictions may be ameliorated; and that henceforth Justice may be enthroned with Equity and Mercy, for without these she is but a sanguinary executioner.

    Now, reader, what do we next approach?  A building of sombre appearance, with flanking towers and shot-holes, and iron spikes jutting above high walls, and ponderous black fetters hung above the barred window and grated portal.  That, reader, is the Golgotha, the living sepulchre of those victims I have described.  It is commonly called "The New Bailey," [12] but that being a term of obsolete meaning, I shall take the freedom to coin an expressive one, and call it "The Tribulatory."

    The coach drove up to these cage-looking gates; the people by hundreds were trodden back by the dragoons; the gates flew open, as if saying, "Come! Come!" to victims for a feast, and I and George entered, and were immediately conducted into an interior courtyard, where a number of gentlemen and several military officers stood to receive us, and my fellow-prisoner being taken away, I was left in the midst of a circle formed by these new observers.  The late Rev. W. R. Hay and the late Mr. Norris, both magistrates, were there.  The late Colonel Teasdale, of the First Dragoon Guards, then a major, I believe, scanned me from top to toe; and, perhaps, piqued at my cool reserve, a young officer of the same regiment, very laddish, and with limbs long enough for windmill arms, stepped a foot, and said, "You look very fierce this morning," to which I quietly replied, " 'Tis well you cannot."  A person, whom I took to be the Boroughreeve of Manchester for the time, uttered a small impertinence, which I answered by a look; and Messrs. Hay and Norris coming up, the former, after a civil recognition, told me that I was arrested on suspicion of high treason, and would be immediately sent to London for examination by the Secretary of State, under whose warrant I was a prisoner.  I thanked the magistrates for their information, and said I was willing to be examined anywhere, but not having a change of linen, could I not write to my wife for some?  Mr. Hay said I might, and they would take care it was sent, but I must leave the letter unsealed, as it must be examined before it was forwarded, and when the things arrived there they would give instructions to have them transmitted to London.  With this arrangement I was satisfied, and thanked the magistrates for their kindness.  I bowed to them, and was conducted into the governor's office, where I wrote home to the above effect, and also encouraged my wife and child to be of good cheer, for I was unconscious of any crime, and hoped soon to be with them again.  A turnkey then led me up a winding stone stair, very clean, and sanded with white sand; at the top was a long arched gallery, also well limed and clean, and here, opening a strong nailed door, he motioned me to step inside, which I did, when, swinging the door to with a bang that sounded through the corridor, he turned the key, and I was left alone.

    My cell was the first on the second floor, on the left side of the governor's office, and I thought they had shut me in there to have a quick eye and ear upon me.  The dungeon was as compact as if cut from solid rock, and the floors and wall, like all that I had seen, were unexceptionable with regard to cleanliness.  It was of an oblong form, probably about nine feet in length, by five in width; the door was at one end, and a window of a half circle in form was at the other; it was unglazed, but by a careful forethought against any accidental tumbling out, by sleep walkers or others, it was provided with a cross net work of massy iron bars.  There were also a couple of wooden shutters inside, which the occupant might close when he had no wish for the free winds to come with their visits of mock condolement, or to catch a glimpse of the moon and her glorious children, to remind him of some one at home and her clustering brood around her.  On each side of the cell, close to the wall, stood a narrow bed on cross legs, and beneath the window was a stone ledge, which might serve for a seat, or a step to get up to the window shutters.

    I had been in this place some time, and was pacing backwards and forwards to preserve warmth, when a noise in the yard excited my curiosity, and getting up to the iron bars of the window, I was astonished and concerned on beholding there my neighbour, the doctor, stalking, or rather staggering along the flags below, with all the dignity he could assume.  With his hands resting upon his hips, his legs extended to a straddle, and an air of authority, he shouted to some persons who were laughing at him--"Bring me that bundle, I say; I am a reformer, and such will I live and die.  My name is Dr. Healey, and I will never flinch, so help me God!  I say, bring hither that bundle."  I could not contain any longer; flinging myself on one of the beds I gave way to a hearty burst of laughter, and soon afterwards heard them conduct his majesty into one of the lock-ups.

    I now expected every moment being called out for my journey, and began to wish it, as I had become very cold.  Four o'clock arrived, and I heard the turnkeys locking the prisoners in their cells for the night; and, soon after, four young lads were put into the cell in which I was.  They asked me what I was there for; and having satisfied them, they showed not any reservations in letting me know they had each been convicted of felony.  They were good-tempered lads, and appeared to be naturally well disposed; one of them gave up his share of bed to me, for which I divided amongst them my supper of bread and cheese; and after having sung a number of flash songs, and exchanged inquiries with their acquaintance in other cells, they betook themselves to repose, and I did the same as well as my situation and excited mind permitted.

 
CHAPTER XIV.

COMPANIONS FOR A JOURNEY--COMFORTABLE EQUIPMENTS--HOW THE DOCTOR HAD BEEN OVERTAKEN AND CAPTURED
--STOCKPORT--DISLEY--DERBY--LEICESTER.


AT five o'clock on Sunday morning I heard the welcome rattling of keys, and soon after I was taken into the yard, where to my surprise I found, besides Healey, John Lancashire, a weaver, from Middleton; Joseph Sellers, a cutler and grinder, from Manchester; Nathan Hulton, a bleacher, I think, from New Mills, in Derbyshire; John Roberts, a cooper, from Manchester; Robert Ridings, a weaver, from Failsworth; and Edward O'Connor, publican, of the "Red Rose," at Chadderton.  I had expected being conducted to London alone, and certainly was not prepared for a mix-up with these men, who I knew were part of those taken at the plot meeting at Ardwick.  Being here, however, and without the power to extricate myself, I resolved to make the best of my situation, and soon recalled my wonted cheerfulness.  Healey was as grim as a sweep: he had been tumbling in a dirty, smoky lock-up all night, and was now ready to perform "The Moor of Venice."  I shook my head, and, in order to rouse him, said he was a fine fellow to bring himself into that place.  He turned quickly, as I expected, and said, What did I think of myself?  Was not I in as great a hobble as he was?--which retort turned the laugh against me as I intended, and put us all in good humour; and the doctor then went to a water-tap and washed his face.

    Having been arranged in two parties, of four and four, we were heavily ironed by the legs.  Mr. Nadin, who superintended the operation, ordered out body and neck collars, and armlets, with chains; but Mr. George Williams and Mr. Stephen Dykes, King's messengers, into whose company we were transferred, objected to the use of those irons, and they were put in the boot of the coach, which awaited us at the gates.  Besides the messengers we were accompanied by Joseph Mills and James Platt, both officers of the Manchester police.  The messengers then formally took us into custody in the King's name, and gave us to understand that if we conducted ourselves with propriety on the road, every indulgence would be extended to us.  We assured them we would try to deserve their kindness; and, congratulating each other on our removal from a place to which, above all others, we had a dislike, we mounted the coach, and left The Tribulatory at six o'clock on the morning of Sunday, the 30th of March, 1817.

    And now, whilst we traverse the dull streets, void of inhabitants, save watchmen retiring from their beats, drowsy topers staggering home, with bleared eyes, torn clothes, and empty pockets, and here and there a sprightly maid on hands and knees, cleaning steps and door-plates, let us recur to the doctor, and give an account of his apprehension, as I had learned it from him whilst we were being ironed.

    On leaving home, he took with him, besides his top-coat, a bundle of clothes, his tooth-drawing and bleeding instruments, and a Barclay's dictionary in quarto; intending to raise money on the latter, if no other means presented itself.  The Middleton constables, after seeing me safely lodged at the Assheton's Arms, got a hint about the doctor, and set out after him at full speed, but without cry.  The little man had stepped into a shop in Simister Lane, in hopes of selling his dictionary, which, after some time lost in conversation, was declined; and he was returning down the lane, when a woman called him into a house to draw a tooth.  He gladly accepted the invitation, performed the operation cleverly, pocketed his fee, and was coming away to join me, but was too late.  The constables got a view of him, and, encumbered as he was, with top-coat, bundle, and dictionary, it would have been useless attempting to run, so he resigned himself to his fate, and was taken in great triumph to the Royal Oak public house, at top of Bowlee.  There were about half a dozen constables and helpers; and now, having made good their capture, they sat down, determined to enjoy themselves after their morning's exertions.  A plentiful ale posset was first despatched, after which there came hot and cold ale, and, lastly, some potent glasses, many of which were paid for by farmers and others, who, knowing the doctor, came to see him, and bid him good-bye.  Of all these things the doctor partook to his wish, which was not a small one according to his size; one of the farmers also bought his dictionary, and the little man was, in a short time, as happy as a king, and for anything he seemed to know to the contrary, as potent.  An hour or two were passed in jocular entertainment, the doctor spouted and sung for them as was his wont, and a verse of a fine old song, on a genial subject, made his captors almost as jovial as himself.

"I love no roast but a nut-brown toast,
     Or a crab laid on the fire;
 But little bread will do my stead--
     Much bread I nought desire.
 No frost, no snow, no wine I trow,
     Could hurt me if it would;
 I am so wrapp't, and thoroughly lapp't,
     Of this jolly good ale, and old.
 Back and side, go bare, go bare;
     Both foot and hand go cold;
 But belly, God send thee good ale enough,
     Whether it be new or old."

    From this last place they adjourned to the "Black Boy" in Old Millgate, where the party dined, and the doctor again went through his performances, to the great amusement of a room full of country and townspeople, who were glad to obtain admission by feeing the waiters.  He was next taken to the Police Office; his presence at which place was said to have given the chief of the police great satisfaction; and shortly after he made his appearance at The Tribulatory, as before described.

    And now let us proceed on our journey.  Our appearance at Stockport, where the horses were changed, seemed to excite much interest and attention, and we learned from the observations of several of the townspeople that we were known as "The Manchester Rebels."  At Disley we breakfasted; and the doctor so much enjoyed it that he said if that was being a State prisoner, he wished he had been one five years before--an expression which, coupled with the hearty compliment we all paid to the viands, probably impressed our conductors with the belief that we had been most cruelly famished ere we became prisoners.  At Derby we had just got seated comfortably at dinner when our Jehu came in, whip in hand, saying, as usual, "Coach, gentlemen; coach, coach."  Mr. Williams told him to go back, and when we were ready we would let him know; he seemed not to comprehend this, and showed an air, until he was bid peremptorily to walk out; the coach, he was informed, was ours, and must wait for us, and not we for it.  The vehicle had been specially hired for the journey.

    We had by this time so won the good opinion of the King's messengers that they did me the honour to say privately the irons should be taken off, and we should travel the remainder of the journey as common passengers, if I would give my word for the sure conveyance of the party.  I said I could not do that: three of the men only were personally known to me; a fourth I knew only by name, and the others I had never seen before that morning.  Besides, their conduct towards us had been so kind that I should be extremely sorry if they incurred any blame by endeavouring to render us comfortable: we could do as we were, the conveyance which carried us carried our chains also.  On emerging from the courtyard into the street we found that a considerable crowd had collected, many being persons of respectable appearance.  They gazed with a strong curiosity; several lent us a hand to mount; the coach dashed forward, and as we waved a farewell we received their cheers in return.

    Nothing requiring notice occurred until we arrived at Leicester, where we stopped at the head inn.  The landlord, supposing probably that we were transported felons, showed us into a taproom, ejecting a number of coach cads, stable helpers, and others to make way for us.  He refused to find a better room, and was impertinent and rude towards the King's messengers, until they exhibited their badges of office, informed him who and what they were, and demanded, at his peril for refusing, the best accommodation the house afforded.  The master then became a most obsequious servant, showed us into a large and elegantly furnished room, and in a very short time set before us a good warm supper.  The windows here looked into the street, and they were presently darkened by curious gazers, who climbed up the shutters to get a peep at us, and hung to one another like bees swarming about a hive.  Before we left this house we were each presented with a nightcap; and on remounting the coach several gentlemen, whom we understood to be magistrates, handed us a glass of wine each, with which we drank their good healths and drove off.

 


NOTES.

 
10. The cottage is still to be seen. It is at the end of a row, and recent changes in the front street have almost turned it into a cellar dwelling.
 
11. A famous local character of sombre repute of whom many stories are still told.
 
12. The gaol no longer exists.  The latest incident in its history was the execution of the "Manchester Martyrs" in 1867 for the murder of Constable Brett.

 



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