Walks in South Lancashire (1)
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HOPE!


    Ah! fair Hope! what a pleasing, but illusive companion hast thou often been to me!  Many a bright morning hast thou called me forth, and hast led me by meadow-paths, and through wild-flowers, and wood-gloomings, all echoing bird-songs, and brilliant with dew-pearls.  How often hast thou so guiled me forth with thy sweet wind-whispers, telling me we should have a live-long day, all bright, and melodious as that happy hour?  How often hast thou told me so? how often have I believed thee? when, alas! a breath of wind; the moving of a vapour; a flash of lightning, hath engloomed heaven, and earth, and marred all thy happy dreams, and mine.

    Still thou sayest, "Be of good cheer! remember thy book! 'tis a long night which has no day, a long journey which has no end.  Life is full of vicissitude, and shall thine have no change? shall providence, for thine especial persecution exhibit a miracle? think not so; be thou not vain enough to think it.  When thou hast done thy work, thou shalt have rest, and not till then.  Lag not, therefore, behind now, when the struggle is almost over, when the race is nearly run, and thou art looked for, victorious, at the goal!"  Remember, "there is no hill without its dale; no storm without its calm; no shadow without its sun."  Come forth then with thy book; cast it on the waters, it will be to thee and others, a blessing! live, and be thankful.

    Ah! fair Hope!  I am thankful; thankful for the humblest of God's gifts, and my book is one of them.  Thankful am I also, for thy words of advice, but I dare not cast my book upon the waters.  No, fair Hope; one sop in the mouth is worth two in the millpond.

    Encouraged however, by thee, I again venture forth, my little pen-work in hand.  The booksellers I cannot deal with largely, the sops being too few for both them and me.  I must, therefore, as hath been my wont, do much of my business myself, and sell my pen-work wherever I can find a market.

    To my humble brothers of the anvil, the loom, and the jenny, will I offer it; and they will read it, well pleased, when they have sat down from their night-toil, and have wiped the sweat from their brow, and have partaken the homely meal.  It will be to them, what thou, Oh Hope, hast been to me; a comforter in adversity; a star in mid-gloom; a well in their desert journey; a soother of life; a putter-away of evil broodings.

    I will tender it unto the dealer who sells food from behind his counter; to the dark-vested, hard-handed son of crispin; to the apothecary, who dispenses anodynes for whining children, it will keep even him awake; to the manufacturer, who, "reduces wages," as well as to him who pays them honourably; to the warehouseman, who, enquiring after knowledge, nightly associates with others for instruction, with him it may beguile an hour, stolen from more severe reflections.  The man of law shall behold my book.  To the door of his closet will I venture, where he sits amidst wills, writs, conveyances, and bankrupt commissions: I will fear not his grave and learned look through his glasses, though his eye do scan me with the plain fore-question,—"who can this be? this is no client of mine, why comes he here?" also that most useful and industrious, dumb-sitting, back-bending, and knee-cramping man, who makes our clothes, shall hear my footstep on his stair, and peruse my little inimitable, when, o'nights, he has time to stretch his limbs.  The tradesman who buys and sells, to me will be a buyer.  If Webster and company offered him their Calicoes yesterday, why may not I offer him my prints to day; my living, moving, soul-vivid prints; my dyes of human life.  The merchant too shall have my book laid before him.  He may look at it, turn it over, and haggle a little, if he choose, but he also will buy; aye! and read, and buy more for his friends in the south country.  "Hast thou anything to do? do it thyself," says Poor Richard; even so will I do my business myself, and sell my book.  The clergy, I know, will be readers of mine: they are always glad to see individuals of the humble class rising up to do good.  They never forget, that their Lord and Master was one of "our order;" they are friends to instruction; to the enlightenment and enlargement of mind, and most especially will they patronize a book penned by one who learned to make letters at a sunday school.  Wesleyans will hail, with joy, the "one sinner that hath repented."  Catholics will absolve me, having humbly confessed.  Friends will, no doubt, tender me the hand of friendship; whilst nobles, statesmen, judges, and legislators of our land, will read my book with deep thought and reflection, beholding therein, a kind of indicator; a whisper of the rising wind; a ripple of the coming tide; a footstep before the tramping of the multitude which is putting on the shoe, and binding the latchet, before it sets forth, to tread over the whole land.

    May God so direct the hearts of our rulers and law-makers, that they may be disposed to meet this universal movement of mind, whilst it is yet of mind only; in a spirit of justice, and of peace, such as shall make the honest labourer contented, and rescue him from the influence of designing and incendiary agitators.  May they at last relent, and permit him to have that for which he bowed to the primeval curse—bread, for the sweat of his toil.  And may our gold exalted great ones, whether of the land or of manufacture, also come forward as liberators, ere the pent up souls, and down-bended bodies of their toiling ones, rise up, and rush forth with the mad joy of cage-broken wolves.

    May they, whilst it is yet in time, "loose the band of wickedness, and undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke."

    And "may the Lord then guide them continually, and satisfy their souls in draught, and make fat their bones, and may they be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose water fails not."

    And "may they that be of them, build the old waste places; may they raise up the foundations of goodness, in the hearts of many generations; may they be called the repairers of the breach, the restorers of paths to dwell in."  So be it.


 
SOUTH LANCASHIRE.


    WHAT a naturally fine country is this SOUTH LANCASHIRE! and what an interesting people inhabit it! let us approach nearer, as it were ; let us cast an observant eye over the land; let us note the actions, and listen to the conversation of the people, and endeavour to express in writing, our impressions as to both. the country and its inhabitants.

    From Liverpool to Manchester, the land is generally level, and is almost wholly applied to agriculture; but in traversing the country from Manchester to Todmorden, which is on the extreme northern verge of the district, probably not one mile of continuously level ground will be passed over.  Betwixt Bury on the western, and Oldham, on the eastern verge, some comparatively level tracts are found, as those of Radcliffe, Whitemoss, and Failsworth; but they are small as compared with the distance, and all the remaining parts of this northern district, are composed of ups and downs, hillocks, and dells, bent, twisted, and turned in every direction.  Take a sheet of stiffened paper for instance, crumple it up in your hand, then just distend it again, and you will have a pretty fair specimen of the surface of the northern part of South Lancashire.  The hills are chiefly masses of valuable stone and coal; on the north, some heathlands overlap them, but their sides are often brilliant with a herbage that yields the best of milk and butter, whilst of all the valleys, you shall traverse none, where a stream of water does not run at your side, blabbing all manner of imaginary tidings, and asking unthought of, and unanswerable questions.  To be sure, during six days out of the seven, the brooks, and lowland waters, are often turgid and discoloured with the refuse of manufactures; but, steal along one of these quiet dells an a Sunday morning, go over the shallows, where the loaches used to lie basking, and look into the deeps, and quiet pools, and shady shots, where the trout were wont to be found, creep under the owlers, and through the hazels, when their golden blossoms are hung in the sun; go plashing among the willows, and over the hippin-stones, and along the gravel-beds, where the pebbles lie as white as hail turned to stone.  Go maundering, solitary and thoughtful, for an hour or two, amid these lonely haunts, and you shall confess that our county is not reft of all its poetry, and its fairy dells, and its witching scenes.

    Then, the meadows and fields spread fair and green betwixt the towns.  Clean, sleek milk-kine are there, licking up the white clover, and tender grass.  Small farms are indicated by the many well-built, and close-roofed homesteads, contiguous to which are patches of potatoe, corn, and winter food for cattle.  A farmer's man is never met with here, whose cheek does not shew that he lives far above want, and that, if he dines not on delicacies, he feeds on rude plenty.

    The smoke of the towns and manufactories is somewhat annoying certainly, and at times it detracts considerably from the ideality of the landscape; but, bad as it is, it might have been a great deal worse; for we may observe that the smoke only goes one way at one time; that the winds do not divide and scatter it over all the land: it sails far away in streams, towards the north, east, west, or south, and all the remainder of sky, and hill, and vale, are pure and cloudless.

    From the top of one of the moor-edges, Old Birkle, for instance, on a clear day, with the wind from the south west, we may perceive that the spaces betwixt the large towns of Bury, Bolton, Manchester, Stockport, Ashton, Oldham, Rochdale, Middleton, and Heywood, are dotted with villages, and groups of dwellings, and white detached houses, and manufactories, presenting an appearance somewhat like that of a vast city scattered amongst meads and pastures, and belts of woodland; over which, at times, volumes of black furnace clouds go trailing their long wreaths on the wind.

    Such is the appearance of the country to the east and south of where we stand, (Old Birkle) whilst the aspect of that to the west and north, is more strongly marked by nature, being ridged with high moor-land hills, dark and bleak; and furrowed by deep vallies and precipitous dells, which are swept by brooks, and mill streams, and enlivened by nooks of evergreen pasture, and groups of cottages, and far detached dwellings.  Here also is generally found, the eternal money-making-mill, the heart-work, the life-organ, the bread-finder, and the deformity of the place.

    The inhabitants are a mixture of Celts, Saxons, and Norse-men, or Danes; but the Saxon blood is supposed to predominate, and it may be affirmed with certainty, that Saxon is prevalent in the dialect of the rural population.  The name of nearly every hill, valley, stream, or homestead, is Celtic or Saxon, and of the old families, perhaps, a still greater proportion are designated in Saxon terms.

    The population may be divided into three classes; the monied—the middle—and the labouring classes.  The former we will suppose to comprise all persons of independent property, whether they be engaged in trade or otherwise;—the middle, includes tradesmen, manufacturers, shopkeepers, and masters in every branch of industry;—and the working class, will, of course, consist of such as labour daily to supply the necessaries of life.  The first class are here more numerous than in any other equal space of ground out of Middlesex, and probably they are more wealthy than any other equal number of persons, residing in any one district of the same extent—the above excepted—on the whole earth.  They are therefore vastly powerful, so far as money can make them so.  In matters of trade, exports, imports, profit, and loss, their information cannot be exceeded.  In the management of banking concerns they are not so acute, as has recently been shewn; they have been too credulous of plausibility; the rise in life, of many of them, seeming almost a miracle, they have been the more disposed to believe in other miracles, and so became deceived.  In politics, they, as a body, are but new beginners; and it is but lately that leaders of ability in their own rank, have sprung up amongst them.

    Some of them still appear to consider politics as a forbidden theme, and are vastly sensitive if such subjects are introduced, even in connection with matters, the very essentials of which are political, but the number of these fastidious gentlemen is becoming less, as common sense comes more into use.  The prejudice has been rather clung to, in consequence of the strong feelings which have too often characterized political advocacy in this neighbourhood; some exhibitions of the sort occupy a place in history, and though scenes and actors pass away impressions remain which are a long time in wearing out.

    When we find members of this monied class acting in bodies, we see them perform nobly; their time, their labour, and their money are given profusely; and this, the ministers of religion, the promoters of public institutions, and the leaders of any movement where wealth and energy are required, know, and they take their measures accordingly.  In their individual characters, members of this class evince less promptitude; not, probably, because they are less inclined to act, but because they wish to know what others are prepared to do; they seem to be shy of leading, save in matters of trade, and hence they act better in public, as a class, than as individuals.

    The middle class is still more numerous than is the monied, and the remark with respect to the wealth of the former may be applied here.  In politics they are better informed, and more public-spirited; more honest also, and more zealous in the support of their several views of things.  As a body, they are perhaps unequalled for general information, as well as for talent in the application of it to public uses.  Of all municipal matters, they are the life and soul.  In literature, they are far before the monied class; and liberally patronise resident talent; they number among them many who are eminent in science; many who are patrons of, and no mean proficients in the fine arts; whilst music is becoming to them a passion, oratory a relaxation, and poetry a great favourite.

    And what shall I say of the working class?

    That they are the most intelligent of any in the island—in the world.  The Scotch-workers are the only ones who approach them in intelligence; they are the greatest readers; can shew the greatest number of good writers; the greatest number of sensible and considerate public speakers.  They can shew a greater number of botanists; a greater number of horticulturists; a greater number who are acquainted with the abstruse sciences; the greatest number of poets, and a greater number of good musicians, whether choral or instrumental.  From the loom they will bring out any thing that has ever been worked in Europe; in mechanics they are no-where surpassed, and in mining take rank with the best.  They probably turn out a greater amount of work than any other equal number of people under the sun.  They are ardent in temperament, which helps them to support their heavy labour, but which also tends to lead them into ill considered schemes and projects, and into the traps and snares of designing political quacks.  Being of honest intention themselves, they have seldom paused to examine the pretensions of those who sought to become their leaders; hence they have been miserably duped.  The late Henry Hunt was the first who obtained their blind devotion: some of his distinguished followers also shared his popularity, but of those, Hunt, as is well known, was jealous, and if any co-patriot received more attention than the leader liked to share, he kicked the aspirant, or tried to do so, and there was a feud; his own train, however, at last dwindled into something more like a country stang-riding than a gathering of radicals.

    After him followed successive contentions about wages.  Combinations, conspiracies, and turn-outs, came in their turn, and some of them were stained with blood.  Each event had its leader, who for the time, occupied a share of the public notice.  Then came the three glorious days, and parliamentary reform, and when O'Connell deemed it needful to whisk off a joint or two from his tail, he did so, and Mr. Feargus O'Connor appeared on our stage.  He has tried to enact the English Hunt, and the Irish O'Connel over again before us, and he has failed in both characters; not having the nerve of the one, nor a tithe of the talent of either.  Latterly, he has been holding forth about the purchase of land, by a class who cannot entirely purchase bread; just at present, I understand, he is experimenting amongst the colliers: and thus the miserable deluder is hastening through life to find himself, at last, deluded.

    At present, there is not amongst our workers any political leader, in whom is united any considerable share of their confidence.  Joseph Sturge has made one or two efforts that way, but he is not the man to walk at the head of this people.  He is, I think, too amiable, and too honest,—although a little, meekly vain perhaps—for the trade of a demagogue.  He may be useful in some way however, and I doubt not he will endeavour to be so; but assuredly he is not calculated for a mob-rider.

    Meanwhile the seed, which from time to time has been sown, whether of tares or of corn, is germinating amongst a thoughtful people: the advancement is silently at work, down in the coal mines, up in the factories, abroad in the fields, far o'er the moors, and close by in the cottages: the ground is moving with emotion; the moral atmosphere is thickening with words, and thoughts, and silent expressions, more significant than words.  All are moving, in some manner or other, forward! forward!  There is no turning back.  And when this motion becomes united in one stream, to which it is daily tending, what shall resist it? whither shall it go? how shall it end?

    And is this tendency to be wondered at?  The people are born in masses, we may almost say; they live in masses; they work in masses; they drink in masses; they applaud in masses; they condemn in masses; they joy in masses; they sorrow in masses; and, as surely as that Etna will vomit fire, they will, unless they be wisely and timely dealt with, some day, act in masses.

    I do not undertake to say that here is a power capable alone, of disarranging the present order of things; but I do say that I am of opinion, that here, in time will be found, mind sufficient to conceive, and will—aided by circumstances—to give the first impulse to a movement, the like of which has not been known in England.  These explosive elements—ever increasing—cannot be continually tampered with, without producing their result.

    If God has bestowed upon me some little ability, and by his own ways of adversity, led me to dwell amongst this people, one of them, and still apart,—having thoughts, and ways, and views of my own;—loving all that should be loved, and despising only the despicable,—if he has so fortified my heart by severe experience, that I can judge in charity, and disapprove without anger; that I can support the right without wishing to retaliate in wrong; that I would feed the hungry without robbing the plenteous; that I would free the enslaved, without enchaining their task-masters; that I would mitigate asperities, and promote kindly regards amongst all classes: if my Creator has given me a heart to wish these things, and a head to labour for their accomplishment, or any part of it, shall I not evince my gratitude to Him, by exercising the little talent he has bestowed?  Assuredly so.  And if, as the greatest reformer and patriot that ever lived, once said, "Blessčd are the peace-makers," may it be my endeavour to deserve a place,—however humble—amongst those blessed.


 
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
_________________


FRIEND ACRELAND,

    You ask my opinion as to what should be done in the present state of the country.  You seem to have a kind of fore-boding of some great change shortly to take place, and you are pretty much of my way of thinking, as to the part the people,—the working classes—are likely to take during such change, should it occur.  How they are likely to conduct themselves during the transaction; and what should be done, to render them instrumental for good, instead of evil, when the time arrives, seem to be the main questions of your letter, and I will, if you please, confine my reply to the second question.  "What should be done?" the other depends entirely on it, and may be shortly answered.  The people are likely to conduct themselves, during any great change that may occur, exactly as they have been instructed to conduct themselves; or, in other words, as they have cause to conduct themselves; therefore the question is, "What should be done?"

    This is a momentous question, friend Acreland; you do me no small honour by asking my opinion upon it; and to you, I will frankly give it, because I know you will receive it in the same spirit of candid sincerity in which it is tendered; that spirit which is always essential to a useful correspondence, will undoubtedly benefit us both in our present enquiry; and with such mutual good-will, we may proceed.

    You ask, "What should be done?" and I reply, the working people—the masses—should be cultivated.  That, in my opinion, is what should be done.

    Oh! methinks I hear you say, "we are doing that, you know, we are instructing them.  You must have read in the papers how the dissenters are stirring in the cause; what noble donations they have given; and you cannot have overlooked the meeting lately held in Manchester, of the members and friends of 'The Church Education Society.'  You must have heard of these proceedings."

    I have heard of them, dear Acreland; I have read the details in the newspapers, and have been greatly interested by the reading.  I have been much pleased to see even these movements, greatly short though they fall, of the purposes one might have expected from such high quarters.  I could expatiate most disparagingly, but I wont; my task being to shew what should be done, rather than what is purposed to be done, and the inefficiency of the purpose.

    The people then, I say—emphatically—should be cultivated, and your education schemes, good, and well intended as they are, do not go that length.

    "Why, what would you have? again you say.  What is cultivation but instruction, education, training up of the mind?"

    Oh, cultivation, my friend, is a little more than that.  The Irish tell us they are the most learned people in the world; that their bog-cutters speak the dead languages; the Scotch say they are the best educated, but I believe neither the one nor the other; and if both were true, our people here want something more than either; they want cultivation, and that, you know, begins with succour.  They must be fed.

    "Oh, but your cultivation is likely to lead a great way then."

    Still farther, good Acreland.  They must be fed; they must be clothed; they must be sheltered; and how is all this to be accomplished? they must be employed; aye! and paid for their employment.

    After you have thus cultivated their outward life, you will find but little difficulty in winning their inner life to any thing which is reasonable and proper.  If you really care for their well-being, they will soon find it out,—you need not make a parade of your sympathy.  Was there ever a class of sentient beings in the world which did not, in some way or other, evince a regard for their benefactors?  Certainly not.  And does any reason exist which might lead us to suppose, that man is less grateful than other animals?  Certainly not.  Try the experiment then.  Feed our people; clothe them; shelter them; or in other words, employ them; pay them; and give them an opportunity for feeding, clothing, and sheltering themselves.  Watch over their interests; be regardful of their worldly welfare, help the feeble; vindicate the oppressed; comfort the sorrowful; relieve the destitute.  Do these things, and I may defy all the fire-brand demagogues that ever flared away at torch-light meetings, to estrange one heart from its affection towards you and your order.

    Above all things, be just towards them in respect of their civil rights, and fear not.  You need not hesitate, they will never be like a French mob.  There is more of an aristocratic spirit in the commonalty of England, than any other people; there is indeed too much of it.  They are as regularly stratified, as are the the rocks of our island, and they wont be disrupted, except by great, and long continued ill usage.  Oh! no, no, they wont be elbowed out of their place by a trifle; they wont stand that, nor do they wish to mount into yours, you may depend upon it.  They want none of your fineries, nor your sumptualities, nor your knackeries of big babyism; they rather contemn those things, but they do want what they have a right to have, a good living for their right good labour; aye! and they will have it too, either with labour or without it.  Let them have their cottages then, with their bright warm hearths in winter—let them have their neat gardens, with flowers, and spring herbs and potatoe plats: let those in towns have money where-with to purchase from the baker, and the butcher, and the butter maid, and the herb seller, that they may have broth on sundays, and, good hash or hot-pie on week days, with something left for a gown or a shirt, or duds for the little ones, when they are wanted.  In short, live, and let live, and stand aside for once, and ever, that God's sun-shine may fall on other hearts than your own.  Do these things, friend Acreland; that is, let your order do them, and Oh! I need not say how very easily all your and our difficulties would be overcome.

    Then, my dear friend, you might begin to instruct us at railway speed.  We should drink it all in, and never forget the lessons given by those we loved.  Our hearts, teeming with grateful emotions, would be like ground prepared for every good seed, and you might sow and cultivate a harvest, at which angels might weep with joy.  Oh, what a glorious work is spread before the great ones of our land, if they would but perform it, or would but lend aid that others might do it for them.

    Will they do this, friend Acreland?  I believe you would if you could, but will your order take up the good work?  Will they plow down the old sour sods of prejudice, and selfishness, and ignorance, and turn up the new mould, which has long been waiting to give forth—to God's glory and man's benefit,—all the riches, and blessings with which it is endowed.

    Still, the subject is not exhausted; we have agreed, I will suppose, that, "the people should be cultivated," in order to which, "they should be employed."  Then the question arises, how is employment to be found for them? and the answer to that will explain my views with respect to their physical cultivation, and the means for that end.  We may afterwards discuss the subject of their mental cultivation; but for the present, perhaps enough has been advanced.

    Adieu! dear Acreland.  I shall be happy to hear from you again; and still more so to learn that you have become a convert to the opinions of,

                                                                        Yours most truly,
                                                                                       SAMUEL BAMFORD.
TO THOMAS ACRELAND, GENT.
              Sperrington Grange,
                       North Lancashire.


 
WALKS AMONGST THE WORKERS.


THE condition of the working classes, physically, morally, and mentally, having of late begun to attract that degree of attention which it ought long ago to have done, I conceived that, at this particular crisis, some good might be rendered to the country―some advancement made towards the Truth―by an actual survey of the present condition of such labouring persons.  I determined therefore, on taking a series of perambulations amongst them, for the purpose of noting down their real state and condition, and of making it known through the public press of the country.

    The course which I marked out for myself in the performance of this self-imposed but important task, was to obtain the best information I could from persons supposed capable of giving it; to converse with the employers, wherever I found them accessible, as well as with the employed; to notice the latter at their dwellings and at their places of labour―in their hours of rest as well as at their daily toil―and generally, whilst I sought information from others, from men and women of all classes and conditions, not to omit any opportunity for the exercise of my own observation.  With the effect, however feeble, which my notices might have on a great question of the day―with their tendencies for or against the doctrines of contending parties―I conceived that I had nothing to do; the elucidation of the simple truth, for its own sake, and the good which accompanies it, being the only object of my solicitude.

    Directing my steps to the northward of my dwelling, I first paused on gaining the summit of the highway across the township of Thornham, near Middleton, and looking around, I felt that a few minutes would not be mis-spent in glancing over the bold and interesting scene which was spread out before me.  Going forth to note the brief joys and sorrows of my fellowman, could I feel less than admiration and thankfulness at the prospect of the goodly land which his beneficent Creator had spread out for his habitations.  To the west are the hills and moors of Crompton, the green pastures year by year, cutting further up into the hills; the ridge of Blackstone-edge, with Robin Hood's bed, darkened as usual by shadows; whilst the moors, sweeping round to the left, (the hills of Caldermoor, Whitworth, and Wuerdle) bend somewhat in the form of a shepherd's crook around a fair and sunny vale, through which the Roche flows past cottages, farms, and manufactories.  Such is the scene before us, fair and lovely at a distance, mute to the ear and tranquil to the eye―like a cradle below the hills, where the bright day reposes amid sweet airs and cooling streams.  So much for the landscape before us; now then, for the closer realities of our task.

    The colliery of Messrs. Wilde, Andrew, and Co., at Addershaw, or Hathershaw, or Heathershaw, first claims our inspection.  The shaft is about a hundred yards in depth, the coal about forty-two inches in thickness, and some of the coals extend to the distance of eleven hundred yards from the shaft; the coal is wound up by a perpetual chain, which works admirably.  The men are paid by "the quarter," which contains fifteen loads, or thirty baskets, or sixty hundred weight of coal; for this they get three shillings and nine-pence, with three-pence added for every hundred yards they have to waggon the coal to the shaft; so that a man working close to the shaft receives three shillings and nine-pence for his quarter, he who works one hundred yards off, gets four shillings, one working at two hundred yards, four shillings and three-pence, and so in proportion.  The price of coal at the pit is seven-pence halfpenny per basket, a very reasonable price in comparison with some necessaries.  A man at full work would get eight quarters of coal in six days, and his wages for them would be one pound ten shillings, besides the allowance of three-pence per hundred yards for waggoning.  The man working at a distance from the shaft has generally a stout lad to waggon for him, and the lad's wages are one-third of whatever the collier gets.  A man, therefore, who gets his eight quarters, and pays a waggoner, will have twenty shillings for himself, and he who does without a waggoner, will have his thirty shillings.  These earnings would, one is apt to suppose, be a pretty comfortable thing for the cottage of a working man.  Colliers, however, such is the nature of their employment, can hardly be too well paid, and, unfortunately, we have something else to take into consideration.  The men are now, both at this and the adjoining colliery, compelled to work "short time," a short but expressive phrase which we meet with at nearly every step.  They are paid fortnightly, and sometimes, of late, they have only been allowed to get six quarters in the fortnight.  The cause is want of sale, in consequence of the neighbouring factories working short time also: the good brisk sale which they formerly had, "is gone out of this side of the country;" it is only about two-thirds of what it used to be, and the falling off in employment is proportionate.

    Several wives and children came to the pits with the men's dinners; they mostly carried a small tin can with a lid on, and a ring to hold it by.  Some would bring the victuals in a hot basin, tied in a napkin, or pinned in a bit of clean rag.  I felt a curiosity to know what the poor, panting, toiling fellows in the dark mine had to sustain them, but I could not make up my mind to ask the women to let me see of what their humble supply consisted; a banksman at Hanging Chadder (the next colliery) informed me that the men generally got boiled milk and loaf for their dinner, at their work; sometimes they might have potatoes and a little flesh-meat, and sometimes they would get potatoes and salt only, and very seldom was it, he said, that they had any ale at meals.  I must own I was disappointed in this bill of fare; I had expected that these men would be living on good substantial food, as they ought to do; I had not supposed that a collier could sustain his most laborious and horrid toil without plenty of highly nourishing food, but I thus found it otherwise.  Well might the poor women look half sorrowful, half ashamed, as I thought some of them did, when they handed the uncheering meal to the banksman; they cast an averted glance as it descended, and then hurried away.  I did not hear of any dissatisfaction against the coal-masters―their rate of wages is probably as good as any in the district; the complaints were against the shortness of work, occasioned by the low demand for coal.

    We are now at a place called Gravel Hole, a fold or hamlet of some fifty brick houses, situated on an elevated site in the township of Thornham.  About twelve or fourteen years since, these houses were all inhabited by fustian hand-loom weavers; they are now occupied, one or two excepted, by fustian cutters.

    The old inhabitants have gone down into the vallies to work at the factories, and the present residents are new-comers from many parts of the country―from Manchester, from Lymm in Cheshire, and from Yorkshire.  The master cutters, I am informed, make a good living here; they are supposed to earn from thirty to thirty-four shillings per week.  A young boy or girl, working journey-work, will get from seven to nine shillings, by five days' labour.  They work, four or five together, in the old loom-shops and the chambers, and farm very agreeable company, wiling away their monotonous employment by singing in a very pleasing manner, in concert, snatches of popular songs, or religious pieces.  The rent of a house with a shop which formerly held four looms, and with present convenience for about twelve cutting-frames, is six pounds; and eight shillings for poor rates, and one shilling for highway rate; the firing of course is very cheap, not in any case probably exceeding one shilling a week.  Every house is now occupied, and the fustian cutters are, as we have seen, not in a condition to make complaint.

    At Narrow-head-Brow, whither I turned instead of going into the valley of the Roche, I found some hand-loom weavers employed on toilonett, a neat light cloth, made of black cotton warp, and shot with white woollen yarn in hank.  It is about an eighteen hundred reed, thirty-two inches in width, and the pieces or cuts are thirty yards in length; the shoots from one hundred and eighty, to two hundred in the inch.  A weaver will be four days in dressing his warp, and about eight in weaving a cut, and his wages will be seventeen shillings, including the charge for winding, and sow, or paste for dressing, which if we reckon at two shillings and sixpence, will leave his actual gain about seven shillings and three-pence per week.  The cloth is made for the Yorkshire market; it is dyed and finished for cloaks, and some of it is probably used for Macintosh cloth.  The rents here are about four pound ten shillings to five pounds, for a four-loomed house, with all rates, probably making ten shillings more.  The condition of these hand-loom weavers―the remnant of the old fustian weavers―is not so comfortable as that of the fustian cutters last described.  Several houses were unoccupied; others in a state of partial dilapidation; garden fences were broken down, and the gardens had become grass plats.  The interior of the dwellings were not so comfortable nor well ordered as the last I had seen; the poor occupants were not by any means uncleanly or slovenly, but they seemed to be contending against necessities, which left them small leisure for thinking of niceties in dress or furniture.

    At High Crompton, the factory hands were all returning from dinner to their work.  I noticed them particularly, and did not observe one, of either sex, who was not decently and cleanly attired.  Some of the young men and women were very respectably dressed, for their station; and, with but few exceptions, all the hands appeared to be healthy.  One of the principal manufacturers at Shaw coming up the street, I stated to him, candidly, the motive for my visit to this part, and expressed a hope, that when I called at his mill, as I probably should, no difficulty would be experienced by me in endeavouring to ascertain the actual condition of his workpeople.  He said there would be no difficulty, but seemed to think that the best information might be obtained from the overseer of the poor, and the collector of rates, the latter of whose address he gave.  I said I should be glad to avail myself of whatever information they could afford, but must at the same time make use of my own observation as much as possible.  After parting from this gentleman, I called on Mr. J. C., a manufacturer at this place, to whom I explained the nature of my visit, as before.  He readily entered into my views, and without the least hesitation took me into his counting house, and shewed me his book of the wages he paid to his spinners and weavers.  He employed about one hundred and sixty hands, spun thirties counts, and paid from two shillings and sixpence to two shillings and eightpence per thousand hanks.  His mules were of the largest size and newest construction, running four hundred and eighty spindles each, and one spinner, with two piecers, would superintend two mules, or nine hundred and sixty spindles.  The spinner would get from three pound ten shillings, to four pound seven shillings in fifteen days, and the average of his earnings would be three pound eighteen shillings and sixpence in the same time, and of this he would have to pay his piecers seven shillings a week each, that would be one pound eight shillings in the fortnight, and it would leave him one pound ten shillings, of clear gain, or fifteen shillings a week.  Mr. C. employed sixtyseven power-loom weavers of cords and velveteens.  The weavers generally superintended two looms each, several had three looms, and one or two had four looms, the latter being assisted tenters, whom they had to pay.  A weaver of average ability, would earn, on two looms, from ten to twelve shillings per week; one with three looms, would get from thirteen to fourteen shillings; and one with four looms, would earn as much as fifteen shillings a week clear.  A number of the hands lived in houses belonging to Mr. C., for which they paid from one shilling and sixpence, to two shillings and nine-pence per week, and their rent was settled every pay day.  I made excuses to enter some of the houses, and found them uniformly neat and clean, one tenement was beautifully clean; the walls were as white as lime could make them; the good housewife, who was up to the elbows in suds, gave me liberty to see her chambers, and I found the walls and the beds on a par with the house below; they were almost spotless, and the air was as untainted as the wind.  This was one of a row of houses; several others which I entered were almost in as good condition; they had generally flowers and green shrubs in the windows, and before the doors were small gardens with flowers and a few pot herbs.  The tenements consisted of a front room, a kitchen, and two chambers, and the front rooms were furnished with handsome fire-grates, ovens, and boilers, all as well burnished as black lead, a good brush, and a willing hand could make them.  The rent of these dwellings was two shillings and nine-pence per week, clear of all rates.  At another house which I visited I found a dame-school.  A young married woman sat with about a dozen fine, cleanly, and healthy looking children around her.  She learned them reading, knitting, and sewing, and charged from three-pence to four-pence a week; but complained that the factories working short time had deprived her of many scholars (this was in the year 1841).

    At the village of Shaw I readily found the overseer, the collector of rates, and the registrar of births and deaths, each of whom, with the greatest frankness communicated to me such facts as lay within his respective province.  I am sorry to say that the gentleman, the manufacturer whom I have mentioned as having met at High Crompton, did not, any more than his partners, evince an equal willingness to oblige me.  One of these persons, as a preliminary question, asked who paid me, and expressed his belief that I must be employed by "some government spy!"  The gentleman first alluded to, when asked to inform me what wages he gave his workmen? said he thought he had given me ample reference for my purpose, in directing me to the overseer and the collector of rates.  Had I not seen the collector?  I said I had, and he had given me all the information he could.  Well, and was not that sufficient? did it not show the distress of the township?  I said it did, but that was not what I was looking after; I wished to ascertain the actual condition of the labouring population, in order to which I must have a knowledge of their earnings.  Perhaps, he said, I wished to ascertain their prosperity?  No, I said, I wished not to ascertain either their prosperity or their distress; I wished to know their actual condition only; I had nothing to do with party questions.  Well, he could not see what good could arise from an enquiry so directed.  I said he must allow me to judge on that point myself, but as there seemed to be some reluctance to afford the information, I should not press for it, and so I left him.

    From the three public officers before-mentioned, I learned that the township of Crompton, of which Shaw is the principal village, was two and a half miles in length, and two in breadth, comprising about two thousand one hundred and forty-four statute acres; that its population, in one thousand eight hundred and thirtyone, was―six thousand nine hundred and ninety-three; and in one thousand eight hundred and forty-one―six thousand seven hundred and twenty-four; that the number of inhabited houses, was one thousand two hundred and twenty-six, uninhabited, two hundred and twelve; that there were twenty-one public-houses in the township, and twenty-three cotton manufactories six of which were stopped; that there were two schools at which reading, writing, and arithmetic were taught; several day schools at which factory children were instructed, and eight sunday schools, at four of which writing was taught; that the number of families relieved from the poors' rate was seventy-five, and the number of persons relieved on an average, four hundred and ninety-two.  The amount paid to the poor fortnightly, was about twenty-five pounds.  The amount of poors' rate in one thousand eight hundred and forty, was―one thousand nine hundred and fifteen pound, seven shillings and fourpence halfpenny, and it would be as heavy this year; the amount of uncollected rates at present, was sixty-eight pounds fourteen shillings and eleven-pence, exclusive of rates which had been remitted to some of the poorest inhabitants.  The collector said he had been in office six years, and he never knew the rates so difficult to collect as at present; it arose from the factories working short time.  They had been continually working short time during the last six months, until a week or two of late, when they again commenced working full time.  The millworkers in general were not so very badly off, but many who appeared in comfortable circumstances as working people, were actually distressed.  There was not a pawn-shop in the township, but many of the necessitous people went to Oldham and Royton to pledge articles.  Many ratepayers, who, five years since, always paid their rates on the first application, now could not pay, and he had to call upon them many times.  The licensed victuallers were frequently transferring their houses; the business was not a steady or a profitable one.  There was no mechanics' institute―no public library―no reading room, except one supported by chartists―nor any bookseller's or stationer's shop in the place.  I also ascertained, from various sources, that it is customary to have provision shops connected with the mills.  These shops were not conducted in the master's name, but were superintended by the family of an overlooker, or a relative of the master manufacturer (as in one instance, where the master's brother kept the shop).  Those workmen who bought their necessaries at these shops were generally in steady employment, whilst those who, through previous engagement, or a wish to better themselves, went elsewhere, were not so sure of employment.  The prices of articles at a shop not connected with a mill were as follow:―Flour, two shillings and sixpence per dozen; meal, one shilling and seven-pence per dozen; malt, two shillings her peck; hops, one shilling and fourpence per lb.; butter, (Irish,) eleven-pence per lb.; cheese, seven-pence halfpenny per lb.; bacon, seven-pence to eight-pence per lb.; and potatoes, one halfpenny per lb.  I had not an opportunity of ascertaining what the prices were at the mill shops, but was informed that it is well understood, that articles may be purchased for less money at the shops not belonging to the mills, and very often of better quality.


 
THE TRAVELLER.


    IT was on the afternoon of a day in the month of November, that a stranger, travelling on foot, entered the little inn at the village of Webster-dyke, in the well known district of South Lancashire.  He was, apparently, about the age of thirty years, of a tall and sinewy form.  He wore a drab coat, buttoned tight at the waist, cord breeches, kersey gaiters, and stout, well thonged shoes; a brown spotted silk neck-kerchief was neatly tied below his white shirt collar, a black beaver hat, seemingly new, was on his head, and he carried a knotted crab-stick in his hand, whilst a powerful, rough-haired, surly looking dog followed close at his heels; in short, he would have been taken, at nineteen places out of twenty, for a young farmer, or a farmer's son, travelling across the country on leisurely business, or pleasure.

    Betty, the waiting maid, showed him into a comfortable parlour, and having received his commands which he gave in a kindly and unassuming tone, she soon set before him a jug of ale, some cold meat, and bread and cheese.

    At that time the hostel of the Grey Mare was kept by a very worthy couple, in their way, named Jacob and Dorothy Deawkintwig, who, with three children, the maid Betty, and Curry the ostler,―claiming to be an offshoot of the Scotch Curries―formed the family group at that well known inn.

    The idea resulting from a glance at the person of our host was far different from that conveyed by his name; for, whilst the term Deawkintwig conveys the notion of a slender drooping branch, the person of Jacob presented that strength of body and limb, and height of stature, which are generally found in representations of our old English yeomen.  True, he was of quiet demeanour, and almost of child-like simplicity; still he was as fearless as he was simple and powerful; probably nothing human was capable of coercively moving him, except the voice of his wife, and when that broke upon his ear, either in tone of request or command―and the latter was far the most prevalent―he would instantly move as if this pulsation was accelerated, and without a why, or a wherefore, straight set about obeying the command.  Still he was far from being devoid of plain, strong sense; in some things he was rather shrewd; had a compassionate heart; and, when out of the hearing of his checkmate, he would launch into conversation, or would joke and banter with the company, always having the fairness to receive back, in good humour, principal and interest of the jokes he gave out.  Like a school-boy escaped from the surveillance of his pedagogue, he would enjoy the natural buoyancy of his spirits, but he was unlike most school-boys in other respects, for Jacob loved, almost adored his ruler, whilst his reverence for her high qualities, and understanding, was equal to his love.  His fatherly feelings were of the same mould as the husbands; he doated on his children, especially his first-born son, whose cradle he was rocking when our traveller entered; he would snatch his children to his heart, and almost smother them with caresses, and when, as he supposed, no one was near, he would try to divert them with a nursery rhyme, or to sing a lullaby; on which latter occasions he was sure to be heard by all in the house, for he bellowed like a bull, and generally set the infant a crying.

    Mrs. Deawkintwig, both in person and character, presented, in many respects, a strong contrast to her husband.  She was of middle stature; and, whilst he was as dark as a dunnock, she was of that excessively fair complexion, which being too delicate to withstand our feeble sun, frequently breaks into brown blotches, called fawn-freckles.  Her hair was inclining to what we call red, and was worn in profusion; her expressive eyes were of a lively grey colour, and either flashed with anger, or twinkled with expressions of pleasure, as the case might be.  She was of a good form; incessantly active; with a rather handsome nose, thin compressed lips, and a general expression of countenance which displayed more of a will and a determination of her own, than of the milder attributes of her sex.  In temper indeed, she was hasty and imperious―held her head high in the town, and failed not, whenever an opportunity occurred, to impress her husband with a conviction of her vast understanding, and unapproachable management.  From the servants, and all who dependently approached her kitchen, as well as from her husband, she exacted the most implicit obedience, and that once yielded, she also had her blind side; a word of submission, or of flattery, was quite sufficient to ensure from her, forgiveness, or indulgence.

    Betty, the maid of all work, was a pretty, cleanly, hard-handed, apple-cheeked lass, from the neighbourhood of Cannock Chase, in Staffordshire.  Her dress was generally a printed cotton bed-gown, or short vest; a knot of strong hair behind, and curls before; a twisted necklace of many coloured beads, a striped kirtle of linsey-wolsey, black, knitted hose, and neat clogs, fastened with clasps of brass upon her feet: after dinner, she would, of course, appear in her gingham gown, with long sleeves and flounces, according to the newest fashion; her feet would trip in a pair of smart shoes; and a green calimanco kirtle might be seen below her tucked up skirt.

    As for Curry, the ostler, there was nothing whatever remarkable about his person, and the reader may take him in whatever guise his imagination presents him.  The only thing worth notice in his history, so far, was the circumstance of his having been disappointed in love.  He fell into the company of a very pretty girl, at a neighbouring wakes, and courted her to the verge of matrimony, without either party knowing the others real surname, until the morning when Joseph Curry was asked at church to Catherine Combe; there was a general titter in the congregation, and the girl that day dismissed him, declaring it had never entered her head to become a Curry-Combe.

    Jacob was pleasantly, as usefully employed in smoking his pipe and rocking the cradle, where lay his first-born son, crowing and kicking the clothes off his heels, when the mistress of the house made her appearance from up-stairs, where she had been dressing for the day, and taking the child from the cradle, sat down and gave it the breast.

    "Was it Mc. Sandy, or Mc. Rabb that came in?" she asked of Betty.

    "Neither of them, Mrs." replied the girl; "he's a young man, a traveller, I think, an I've taen him a jug of ale, meat, and bread and cheese."

    "What sort of ale?" asked the landlady.

     "Best ale," said Betty.

    "Then you put a little alegar into the sixpenny, did not you?" interrogated the mistress.

    "Yes," said Betty, "I asked him what sort he would like, and he said our best old ale."

    "That's a good lass," said the mistress; has he a horse?"

    "No," said Betty; "he came on foot; he's only a dog with him."

    "You unconscionable slut!" exclaimed the mistress; "how could you think of putting a tramp, and a dog, into a room furnished as yonder is? the next thing you'll be handing carters through the bar."

    "He's a very farrantly lookin young man," said Betty.

    "Dont tell me of your farrantlies; I never knew a respectable traveller who didn't ride on something;" said the dame.

    "The Scotchmen sit in that room, an they dont ride," said Betty.

    "And what's that to you, hussey, if they do; arnt they respectable tradesmen, and good customers," replied the mistress; "have you the impudence to compare them with highway tramps, and dog trailers; marry, come up!  I wish I'd never heard that."

"No, mam; I dont compare them with any one," said the lass, in a humble tone: "no doubt you know better than I do, what tramps are; you've seen the world more than I have; only the Scotch gentlemen come on foot, the same as this young man did."

    "Yes, Betty, but they'r regular customers; they'r known in the country; and then, they dont sit over ale; they've a good tea, or a hot supper, and glass it afterwards.  And then consider," said the mistress―"consider what yon room has cost us furnishing.  There's the brass fender and the eight days' clock, and mahogany card and dining tables, and prints of the leger, and the great coursing at Waterloo, where my father's sister's son-in-law stands in a corner holding dogs; and there's my likeness in the room, in oil painting, and Jacob's here,―an old sober-sides as he is,―and bran new chairs, and a Turkey carpet that cost no less than thirty shillings, when old Mrs. Dusty's furniture was sold.  I say, turn these matters over in your mind, and consider whether if they were yours, you'd put strange footpads into the room.  But here, he rings, lass; see what he wants; and if he's done, we'll shift him into the tap at once.  Be sharp, will you."

    Betty did as she was ordered, and returning into the kitchen with the tray in her hand, proceeded to pour some hot water into a jug.

    "What's that for?" demanded the mistress.

    "He wants brandy and hot water," said the girl; "and to speak with master."

    "Master! what can he want you for, Jacob?" said the mistress, musingly.

    "Mayhap it's something about those sheep at we picked up last week," said Jacob.

    "Betty!" said the mistress, prompted by female curiosity; "take the child, and I'll go in with the brandy and water myself."

    "Hadn't I best take it in?" asked Jacob.

    "No! sit still till I come back; and if he really wants you on business, you can go in then," said the dame, and with that she took up the tray and entered the room.

    The stranger was looking at a newspaper; but on seeing the mistress, he courteously accosted her, and said if Mr. Deawkintwig were at hand, he should be happy to have his company over a glass.

    "He will attend you directly, sir," replied the good woman, whose austerity,―the moment he spoke,―became changed to a most obliging manner.

    "Bless me!" said she, on returning to the kitchen, "yon is a civil and well-behaved young man, to say the least of him.  Jacob, you must go to him, he wants you for something: Betty, take your master's glass in.  Why you ninnyhammer," she continued,―addressing the patient servitor―"you might have told me at once that yon person was none of your common padding tramps."

    "I told you what I thought, mam; that he was a decent young man, but you chose to think differently, and so you have done best to judge for yourself," said Betty, as she went to attend her master's bell.

    After the usual introductions of civility had passed betwixt Mr. Deawkintwig and the stranger, the latter enquired about a farm which he saw was advertised to be let, and which he understood was in that neighbourhood.

    Deawkintwig said he knew the farm right well; it was the property of Sir Thomas Lookout, as indeed, the whole of the manor was; and Daisy-knowe, the farm in question, was as nice a bit of land as any on the estate.  The present family and their predescessors, he said, had farmed it, time out of mind, but something had fallen wrong betwixt widow Barnet, and the agent of Sir Thomas; and she being unable to come forward with her rent, was to be sold up the day following, and the farm was to be let.  Every one was sorry for the widow, said Jacob.

    "Was she much respected then?" asked the stranger.

    "Very much," said Deawkintwig; "she is a worthy woman, and has been unfortunate."

    "'That was a pity," said the stranger.

    "First her husband died," said Jacob; "then her eldest son, who was the main stay of the house, died; then her second son went abroad, some said to the East Indies; then her youngest daughter got entangled with a young spark of an officer, whose party was sent out here during the first election.  Some said they were married, but however it was, a child increased the family, and added to the old woman's trouble of mind.  The girl has scarcely ever been abroad since; she has stopped at home, and has worked like a horse, they say, to keep her old mother's head above water, but all wont do, it seems; and now they will be rooted out of house and harbour."

    "I wish," said the traveller, "the poor woman may have a good sale, and find something over and above paying her rent."

    "I wish she may," said Jacob, "for if she doesn't, she will find herself unroofed in her old age, it is to be feared."

    "I should like to walk over the place," said the stranger.

    "That you may easily do," said Jacob, "it is not more than a mile from hence, and if you dont know the road I'll go with you, if you'll accept of my guidance."

    The traveller thanked him, but said the day was too far spent, and he should perhaps come on the morrow to the sale.

    Jacob then asked how far the stranger purposed going that evening? and was informed that he intended going as far as Brimbeck, where he had a friend to see.

    Jacob said it was good six miles off, and nights came early at that season.

    The traveller said he did not think much of walking twice that distance, either by night or day; and after receiving a few directions, he called for the shot, and paid it, and was about to depart, when Jacob noticed his dog which lay on the floor, casting wistful glances at his master.  He was a rough, broken haired dog, young and powerful, though not large; as ugly a looking brute as we might meet with in a year's travel, and, as his master said, chiefly remarkable for his ugliness, and a set of fangs more like those of a wolf than of a dog; in confirmation he laid hold of him and showed his teeth.

    "What's the price on him?" asked the landlord.  "Why its a matter I've never thought about," said the young fellow; "its the first time I've ever had the question put."

    "Will he do for a tenter? will he bark at night?" queried the host.

    "Well I cannot say much for his barking," said the traveller; "he's chiefly in the other line, I should think."

    "What! will he hunt?" asked the landlord, in his wonted simplicity."

    "No! no! man," replied the guest, "he's chiefly for getting hold and sticking fast."

    "Hum!" ejaculated the landlord, "I wanted a bit of a tenter; but he is as you say, a deawr, sulky lookin' thing: what do yo call him?"

    "Murky," said the traveller.

    "Murphy! is he Irish then? " asked Jacob.

    "Not an atom of Irish has he in his carcase, he's thorough Saxon, and that's something in his favour," said the traveller, in as grave a manner as he could command.  "I call him Murky because of his sullen temper."

    "Aye! that's right; and he's murky enough by the looks of him," said Jacob.

    "Do you fancy him?" asked the owner.

    "If he was mine I'd take care of him," said Jacob, I think he'd suit us.

    "Take him then, and behave well to him.  I believe he's an honest brute," said his master; "though I never found much good in him yet."

    Murky was accordingly taken possession of by the landlord, whilst his late owner started upon his journey, at one of those paces, which appear so easy in a good pedestrian, and which, without the least hurry carry him about his five miles an hour.

    The road lay for some distance, across enclosures marked by stone walls, and it became evident to the traveller, soon after his setting out, that the best indicators of the path, were the gap-steads left in the walls for a passage: the rock-head of that noted hill, called Cleawd-rip, also loomed before him on the right; and with these land-marks, and the host's directions, he doubted not being able to track the way as readily as if a forest ranger stepped it before him.

    He now leaped a brook, and crept through some stunted alders, and began to cross a field which appeared to be the last patch of enclosed ground adjoining a common.  Briskly and lightly, though he trod, night he found, was treading faster.  Old Cloud-rip seemed less distinct every time he glanced that way; wide tree-less slopes, and sweeping vales, were settling into gloom on his left, whilst before him lay what appeared to be a wayless, shelterless moor, stretching far below, and darkening to the horizon.

    He had not walked much longer, when he found there was no track before him.  He stopped at once, and tried to discover a path, but nothing of the kind was perceivable.  He listened; there was no sound save the sooing of the wind in a solitary tree; no light above; nothing but a thick rayless air; and not a gleam below, except one that seemed at great distance, somewhat on his right.  He inclined to blame himself for adventuring forth, that, however, would not avail.  He thought to return, but that was scarcely practicable, as there was now, not any way-mark, either before or behind; he therefore resolved to make for the only object he could perceive, namely, the light before-mentioned.  As he proceeded, complete darkness overtook him, and had he not carried as good a pair of eyes as ever did night-hunter, he would have had many an unpleasant flounder into quags and over jutting boulders; but he escaped pretty well considering all circumstances, and after a long and tiresome tramp, he found himself at the door of an old stone building, like most of the habitations on the moor-sides of the county.  He looked through the window; a lamp hung from the ceiling, and a few sparks of fire were in the grate; before which, sat an old dame whose visage and manner brought to his mind the stories of Mother Demdike, and other witches of Lancashire.  She was seated on a low chair rocking a child, which kept whining in a cradle, whilst she sung the following words, to an air he had never heard before,


"Bla bla Blacksheep,
 Hasto onny wool?
 Turn ogen, curly yed,
 And fillthe poke full.
 Sum for the meastur,
 Sum forthe dame,
 An sum for that little lad
 At lies ibed lame."


    He could only see part of the room, but there were evidently other persons within, as shadows occasionally darkened the opposite wall, and the clack of a shuttle was heard.

    When he knocked at the door, the old woman gave over croning, and a female of youthful appearance, but of a care-worn and dejected look, opened the door, and bade him step in, which he did.  A pale emaciated young fellow sat at a loom, weaving calico.  He ceased weaving when the stranger entered, and began to cough in a painful manner, the perspiration standing in drops on his forehead.  He looked a wistful and staring look, as gasping for breath, he rested on his loom.

    It was a sad looking place, was that cottage, though quite clean in appearance.  Another loom, but without work, stood beside a window; not a particle of any thing like food was to be seen; the place felt miserably chill; the air mouldy and stagnant; the walls were oozing wet; the floor black with damp; whilst, as if to make it still more dolesome, the wind was heard at intervals, howling o'er the lumm, and down the cold, dark chimney, in tones quite in unison with a place so lorn, and beings so destitute.

    "Wot may be your wish, sir?" asked the young woman, in a manner rather polite, as the traveller gazed around, forgetful of himself.

    "God help you, poor people," he ejaculated.

    The woman looked surprised.  The weaver raised his bony, blue-veined hand, and wiping his clammy forehead, said in a humble tone, "thank yo sir, an may God bless yo."

    "You are the new overseer, sir, I suppose," said the young woman.

    "Oerseer! oerseer!" interrupted the old one, "hooa ever yerd God bless yo, come eawt ov an oerseer's meawth?" and then she began winding again at a furious speed, singing


"Hasto ony wool?
 Hasto ony wool?
 Fill the poke full.
 War I a sheep
 Heaw warm cud I sleep."


    "I am not an overseer.  I almost wish I were, for your sakes," the stranger said, "I am travelling in these parts, and am wishing to get as far as Brimbeck to night, but I fear I am far out of the way."

    "Weer didn yo start fro?" asked the weaver.

    "I set out last from the inn at Webster-dyke;" replied the traveller.

    "Then yo are indeed eawt o' yur way," said the weaver.


"Eawt oth way dusto say?
     Why dus he stray?
 Iv he'll not stop o'whom,
     Hie him away,
 Till he meets dooming day."


sang the old woman again.

    The young woman motioned him not to notice her, intimating, what he had begun to suspect, that she was not in her senses.

    The weaver dragged himself off his loom, and taking the lamp, hobbled to the door, and pointing across the fold, asked the stranger if he saw a gate?  He replied that he did.  "Well," continued the man, "yo mun goo throo that, and keep byth wall-side, till yo gett'n toth' top oth' hill, yo'n then yer a roor o' weatur, unless th' clews are up, an mayhap yo may see a leet afore yo; but however, yo mun make forth' weatur, an follo' th' bruck, till yo comn to a brig, an yo man goo o'er it, an op th' lone till yo comn to some heawses, an th' foke theer win sho yo th' road eend-way."

    The stranger thanked him, and remarked that they seemed very poor and destitute.  "Poor indeed!'' said the man, "but still honest, I hope."  "I hope so too," said the traveller.  "No bein i' this heawse," continued the man, "has tasted food sin yuster-neet, except th' chylt, an there's no pap for it neaw."

    "And how happens it to be so?" asked the stranger.

    "It wud be a weary lung tale," said the man, "to tell it o'; but th' short ont is, at I am ill,―deein i' fact.  My wife, at shad weave o' that tother loom, has had no wark a lung time; th' owd women, as yo seen, isno her own person; an wot wi rent, an foyer, an sickness, wee'n bin torn deawn, and conno get op ogen; we conno even get one meal a day."

    "And the overseer, have you not been to him?"

    "Yo may be sure at we han;" said the man.  "He refust to relieve us, an we summunt him, paying th' last farthin at we had forth' summuns; an th' justices orthert us to attend at th' vestry, which dusno sit till th' next week, an so iv we con live till then, we may happen get summut, an if we dee'n, we shanno want it," said the poor fellow, leaning against the door-post.

    "Had I resided permanently in this neighbourhood," said the stranger, taking out his purse, "I might have rendered you some service, but as my stay is likely to be short, accept that in return for your present services," and he put a broad piece of silver into the man's hand.

    "A theawsun, theawsun blessins on yo, kynd gentleman," shouted the poor weaver, as well as his feeble voice enabled him.  "I wudha gone wi yo mysel, but yo seen I'm so kilt for my wynt.  "Good neet, sur; good neet," again he shouted.  "Good neet, kynd sir, a hunthurt times o'er," said the young woman, who stood at the door with her child in her arms, tears of joy and gratitude glistening in her eyes.

    "Didno I tell the at we shud'n ha good luck;" the young woman said, kissing her child, and shutting the door.  "Didno I tell the so, yusterneet, when th' cinder flew eawt oth foyer, an it wur a purse, an this mornin when I don'd me stockin oth left leg furst, an it wur th' wrung side eawt.  God bless my little bab!" she continued, "but it shall ha summut in it pap soon."

    "I dunno believe i' sitch yethen nonsense," said the husband; "it's o the providence ov a good God, an so let us goo deawn on eawr knees an thank him."

    That poor and humble couple drew each a seat, and kneeled down before it; the old woman also ceased winding, and took the whim to join their devotions, in her way.  The man poured forth his feelings in terms of the most fervent gratitude.  He recounted his unworthiness, and his many acts of sin against God; he remembered God's great mercies towards himself and his dear family; how they had been sustained under affliction of body, and tribulation of mind: how amidst all their troubles they had been mindful of another and a better world, where sorrow was unknown, and the weary were at rest; and he humbly besought God to prepare them for so blessed a change.  He next implored blessings on the head of the kind stranger who had been the instrument that night for effecting another of God's merciful interpositions on their behalf.  He prayed God to protect their benefactor in the dark shadows of the night; to be his guide and his supporter under all the circumstances of life; to return him in safety to his family, to his old father and anxious mother, if he had such, who were perhaps waiting to hear his welcome footsteps at the door: to bless all belonging to the stranger, however they were related; and finally he prayed God to remember him on that great day, when he should say, "Come ye blessed, for I was hungry, and ye gave me meat."

    During this affecting act of heartfelt devotion, the sobs of the wife prevented her utterance, except the broken ejaculations, "Thank God! thank God!  Lord, accept our prayers!  God bless him!  God bless him!  God save him!"

    The old woman also occasionally prayed, and as they were accustomed to her ways, there was no interruption, nor breach of gravity.  Her constant expressions were, "Bless the Lord, O my soul! and let all that is within me bless his holy name.  Bless the Lord, Oh my soul! Jack, set th' porritch on; Bless the Lord!  Jack, Jack, fetch sum meal, mon.  Bless the Lord! an wod-cakes too; an mowffens too, mon; an potatus too; there's curn i' Egypt yet.  Eh; bless the Lord!  Jack, bless the Lord."

    The husband and wife arose from their knees, and met each others looks with moistened eyes and tranquil hearts.  The old woman was despatched to the yard, to bring in a turf or two, and the last piece of coal: whilst the wife, on the certainty of being able to repay, hurried off to the nearest house, about a half a mile distant, to borrow a piggin of meal, and an oat-cake, if they had any.

    The fire was quickly blazing; water was shortly afterwards boiling in a pan; the wife, who was not long absent, returned with meal and bread; and what was more, a little treacle; a good warm dish of porridge was soon smoking on the table, and that grateful family, after asking a blessing, partook, were satisfied and returned thanks.



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