Ab-o'th'-Yate Vol. I.
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The Letterpress printed at Oldham by W. E. CLEGG.
The Illustrations produced by "Collotype" process.

 

 


PREFACE.
____________


BEN BRIERLEY.


LANCASHIRE mourns the loss of her popular and worthy author Mr. Ben Brierley, who breathed his last at his residence "The Poplars," Moston Vale, on Saturday, January 18th, 1896, in the 71st year of his age.

    He was born at Failsworth, on the 26th of June, 1825, and the humble cottage in the "Rocks," in which he first saw the light, although now very much altered, is still standing near to the bridge which spans the Rochdale Canal, not far off Failsworth Pole.  The locality of his birth never lost its interest for him in after life.  With it are associated the greater part of his literary creations, many of his characters being drawn from the old hand-loom weavers of the neighbourhood, a class of honest hard-working men to which he himself belonged.

    The many droll stories which he has told of these people are full of a peculiar humour much relished by Lancashire readers.  They possess a pathos, too, which makes them locally appreciated.  It is not too much to say, that there is hardly a home in South Lancashire but has been made the brighter and happier by these efforts of Ben Brierley to faithfully portray scenes and characters, once so familiar to him, of every-day provincial life.

    Comparisons have been made between Edwin Waugh and Ben Brierley, as Lancashire authors, and frequently to the latter's disadvantage.  I have been an admirer of both throughout their careers as authors, and always found it difficult and even unfair to compare the two, there being such a marked difference both in the style and the characters they portray.  Each in his own locality was inimitable.  Waugh was in his happiest moods when describing the heathery moorlands with their rippling rills and tumbling cascades, or depicting the quaint humour of the sturdy farmers and quarrymen, and other lone dwellers on the moor borders.  His songs and poems are highly treasured and will prove a lasting monument to his fame.  Brierley was no less successful in his portrayal of the joys and sorrows of the hand-loom weavers and other residents of Walmsley and Treadlepin Fowts, Hazelworth, Birchwood, Daisy Nook, &c., such as "Ned i'th' Ginnel," "James o' Joe's," "Billy up steps," "Fause Juddie," "Jack o' Flunters," "Owd Thuston," "Tum Hobson," "Red Bill," "Th' Owd Poet," "Owd Shadow," and best known of all, the Walmsley Fowt philosopher—"Ab-o'th'-Yate."  He exhibited the sterling qualities he found existing in this humble class of society in the quiet nooks and villages of his day, where original characters dwelt almost shrouded in obscurity.  The models from which he drew his graphic characters are now, alas! almost passed out of existence, and now that Mr. Brierley is laid low, Lancashire loses a chronicler of country scenes and local events such as she may never be able to replace.

    I was much amused some time ago when talking with a man who was a stranger to me, about the merits of Lancashire authors.  He was inclined to be rather critical.  He was an admirer, he said, of Edwin Waugh's songs—Come Whoam to thi Childer an' Me; What ails 'thee my son Robin; The Dules i' this Bonnet o' Mine; and Sweetheart Gate.  He declared them to be gems of original poetry.  He also admired Ben Brierley's songs such as Th' Wayver o' Wellbrook; Live in a Cot o' your own; Fotchin' th' Keaws up; and Waverlow Bells.  These, he admitted, were grand songs and true to nature; but he wound up his enthusiasm by saying—"Yo' may talk abeawt Edwin Waugh and Ben Brierley! but, for real Lancashire wit and humour, "Ab-o'th'-Yate" "bangs 'em boath."  He was not aware that "Owd Ab" and "Ben " were synonymous.  To place "Owd Ab" at the head of his contemporaries in this fashion was rather a flattering compliment to Ben Brierley.

    The Manchester Weekly Times in its literary notice on Ben Brierley says:—


"He was no great believer in himself as a poet, and his gifts in this direction cannot even be put in comparison with those of Edwin Waugh.  Yet he could write a good ballad, with real local humour and flavour therein, as for instance his Go tak' thi ragged Childer and Flit, and that he could touch the note of true pathos, is shewn in The Weaver of Wellbrook, and some of the poems occasioned by the early death of his only child . . . . Brierley sheaved the sterling worth of the metal he was made of.  There was humour in almost every line; there was keen observance and loving record of the beautiful in nature; there was discernment of the Lancashire character to its inmost nook and cranny; and there was the power of telling in their own language the quaint and tender and pathetic things which the people he knew so well did and said.  These gifts have enriched almost everything he has done.  He could also construct a good, elaborate, and interesting plot; and on this point he contrasts strongly with Waugh, whose stories were always short and sketchy.  He had genuine dramatic instinct and could group his characters effectively as well as make them speak with homely truth and vigour."


The relationship existing between the two great Lancashire authors thus contrasted is well seen from the following reminiscence contributed by Mr. Thomas Lythgoe:—



AN AFFECTING INCIDENT.


    "An incident of an affecting nature, and of which I was a witness, may be of interest to a many of your readers, and especially to the personal friends and admirers of these two Lancashire writers.  In November, 1866, I had just completed my apprenticeship as a letterpress printer in Leigh, and was offered and accepted a situation in Manchester.  I was on very intimate terms of acquaintance with an uncle of Mr. Brierley's, a Mr. Richard Taylor, of whom Ben speaks so highly in his Home Memories, and to whom he dedicated one of his early works, Irkdale.  On informing Mr. Taylor, who then resided in Leigh, of my coming to Manchester, he gave me a letter to Mr. Brierley.  After reading the same, Mr. Brierley handed it to his wife, and it turned out to be a request that Ben should secure me a 'safe retreat.'  Though putting herself to some inconvenience, Mrs. Brierley decided that I must stay with them, and it was during the period that I was under their 'protection' that the incident I am about to narrate occurred.  It appears that in the early portion of that year some little misunderstanding existed on the part of Waugh which created a coolness towards Ben.  Ben had been advised to put himself forward for some post which Waugh was anxious to secure.  Waugh's desire for the position was quite unknown to Ben.  The two had been almost in nightly companionship when their engagements would allow, together with several of their friends.  For many months they had been in the habit of meeting at the Clarence Hotel, the Shakespeare, or the Balmoral, Queen's-road, behind which Brierley at that time was residing.  A little later on in the year Ben composed a parody on Waugh's beautiful production—Come Whoam to thi Childer an' Me, which old Wallet, the jester, was so fond of reciting in his circus.  The parody was entitled—Go tak thi Ragged Childer an' Flit, and was printed and published by Abel Heywood & Son, and many thousands were sold.  This act on the part of Ben caused Waugh to completely isolate himself from his former companion, and, on occasions when about to meet in the street, he would cross over the road, or dart into a shop, or down a bye street.  These actions caused Ben much pain, and after each occurrence he would moan and mutter in his sleep, and could not take his food, which caused his wife to say that if something did not alter soon he would be ill.  One morning, after he had been tossing about all night, Ben got up earlier than his usual time, and, after a slight attempt at breakfast, he went into his sanctum and remained there all day.  In the evening, soon after my arrival, he called me to him, and handed me some slips of manuscript, asking me to read them.  When I had finished, he said, 'Well, what does t' think o' that?'  I replied, 'It should fetch him.'  'If it winno', he's a foo'.'  The production was a long poem, and was headed 'The Two Robins.'  It began by depicting the grief borne by poor Robin Ben at being forsaken by his brother Robin Ned, who had for so long twittered and nestled together in their nest, but


Neest seems desolate beaut
Thee hustlin' up to me.


The poem appeared in Country Words, and in the supplementary portion of the Manchester Weekly Times, but shorn of its original head and the first three or four verses, the following being substituted:


TO EDWIN WAUGH.


What ails thee, Ned?   Theau'rt not as't wur,
Or else no' what aw took thee for,
When fust theau made sich noise an' stir
            I' this quare pleck.
Hast' flown at Fame wi'sich a ber
            As t' break thi neck?

Or ar'ta droppin' fithers, eh
An' keepin' th' neest warm till some day,
To'ard April tide or Sunny May,
            When theau may'st spring
An' warble eaut a new-made lay
            On strengthen't wing?

For brids o' sung mun ha' the'r meawt,
As weel as other brids, aw deaut:
But though they peearch beneath a speaut,
            Or roost 'mung heather,
They're saved fro' mony a shiverin' beaut
            By hutchin' t'gether.

Come, let Owd Mother Dumps a-be,
An' wag thi yead wi' friendly glee;
Fly o'er, a humble brid to see.
            This wo'ld is wide;
Ther's reaum for boath thee an' me,
            An' mooar beside.


On the Monday forenoon following its appearance in the 'Weekly Times,' Ben and I were proceeding along Rochdale-road, he having an appointment with some gentleman at the Fox Hotel, Victoria-street, when just as we got to the bridge nearly opposite to Reather-street, Ben suddenly gave a start and me a nudge, saying 'Sithi!  Does't see whoa's yon comin'?'  'Yes,' I replied, 'It's Ned.'  'Watch him scamper off, as soon as he sees us.'  But Waugh was looking straight at Ben, and came on with quickened strides, and when about half a dozen yards from us, he jumped forward, with outstretched hand, crying 'Ben, forgie me!'  'O reet, lad!'  And the two stood looking at each other as well as they could, for tears of joy by the one and of regret by the other were streaming down their cheeks.  Their disengaged hands were placed on those already locked, and both were speechless for a couple of minutes it seemed to me.  Ben was the first to recover himself, and feebly articulated 'Wheere art beaun?' 'Nowheere,' replied Waugh.  The fact was, he was proceeding to Ben's residence to make the 'amende honorable.'  'Well, come on,' said Ben, and we proceeded on our way to the Fox.  On arriving there, the room was empty, with the exception of the gentleman Ben had come to meet, but in little over half an hour the room became filled with close friends of both parties, who had in some way been informed of the reconciliation and of their whereabouts.  'Pop,' such as 'Ab-o'th'-Yate' partook of when 'eating a bootjack' in London, and which 'took away mi wynt,' flowed freely.  I stayed with them some time, and on leaving, Ben asked me to tell his wife that he should not be home for dinner.  When I narrated the incident to Mrs. Brierley, she was quite overcome with gladness.  We sat together at night awaiting Ben's arrival, but it was not until very late that he landed, and after being assisted to his chair, his wife smilingly addressed him with 'Well, theau'rt a nice lookin' chap, that theau art.'  'Howd thi noise, lass, howd thi noise, t'other chap's wur nor me!'"


    As a portrayer of the Lancashire weaver-life Mr. Ben Brierley established a reputation such as was never before attained by any other writer in provincial literature.  Having been born and reared amongst the rattle of shuttles and buzzing of bobbin wheels he had every opportunity of studying the weavers' characteristics and getting thoroughly intimate with their quaint mode of expression in the pure dialect, which then existed in the quiet "nooks," "fowls," and scattered villages all over the country side of south Lancashire.  Whilst a piecer in the cotton mill at Hollinwood he began to read the earlier works of Charles Dickens, a privilege granted to him by the manager who was a subscriber to the same.  This created in him a thirst for literature, and he began to purchase such books as his limited means would afford, he being then under thirteen years of age and somewhat delicate in health.  He extended his readings to Shakespeare, Burns, Shelley, and Byron, and by the time he entered his "teens" he began to use his pen with a determination to become an author.  He was looked upon as a precocious youth, for although young in years he had an old-fashioned head, which seemed to have done duty upon the shoulders of some quaint philosopher of a by-gone period.  At sixteen years of age he ventured to write an Italian tragedy, and ere he had attained his twentieth year he was giving Shakespearian readings in the village institute.  The youthful aspirant ventured to submit some of his early poetical effusions to his "Uncle Dick," (Richard Taylor) a relation on his father's side, a well-read man, and one conversant with the works of eminent authors.  His uncle used to smile at Ben's efforts, and nicknamed him, with kindly sarcasm, "Owd Pee Colin," after a quaint character who lived in the neighbourhood.  He failed to get a favourable opinion from that quarter however, Uncle Dick shaking his head as he returned the manuscripts with a smile, saying "That he thought 'Owd Pee' would make more progress in weaving silk than writing poetry."  These remarks somewhat damped Ben's efforts, but he still continued to write being fully confident that he would in future make his mark as an author.

    Subsequently Ben's favourite companion, William Crossley, submitted a poem in manuscript to Uncle Dick, asking his opinion of the verses.  After carefully reading the lines he pronounced them to be excellent and well worthy of a place in the "poets' corner" of the newspaper, and he eagerly enquired who was the author.  Crossley replied that "Benny" had written them, but that he, Crossley, had had them copied in another handwriting in order to get an unbiassed criticism.  The uncle was struck with astonishment and exclaimed, "Has 'Owd Pee Colin' really composed that poem?  Well, I must admit that it is very good, and he seems to have more in him than I have previously given him credit for."  Ben, as may be imagined, was in ecstacy when his friend, Crossley, made known to him the result of the stratagem he had devised to obtain Uncle Dick's unprejudiced opinion.  Elated with the compliment thus paid him, Ben's ambition was aroused, and he was determined to venture into the field of literature as an author.

    He began to write in a vigorous and original style, and soon made his mark as a humorist, his pictures of Lancashire life and character being strikingly true to nature.

    About that time Brierley and his companions established an Amateur Dramatic Society in Failsworth, where he soon became an adept and versatile actor, the role of characters for which he was cast ranging from Shakespeare's tragic heroes down to the rollicking Irish comedian.  This part of his history, however, will best be told in his own words, for it was a memorable event in Brierley's life when the Old School in Pole Lane, Failsworth, was transformed into a Thespian Temple.



BRIERLEY AS AN AMATEUR ACTOR AND DRAMATIST.


    "We set about at once and planned a stage.  Rude and meagre were the materials out of which we proposed to do honour to the histrionic art.  A number of planks that served as a gallery for the choir at 'Charities' and Christmas 'piece speakings,' were appropriated to our use; and, in the absence of scenery, we had a pair of green bed-quilts strung across the stage.  An orchestra composed of a flute, a clarionet and a bassoon, played the 'overture,' which had been arranged out of a dovetailing of several hymn tunes.  Our first piece was 'Ducks and Peas; or the Newcastle Rider,' a little behind Shakespeare, but good enough for a start.  I played 'Joseph,' which brought down the advice of my mother, not to be 'too consequential.'

    The success of our first attempt at acting led us to try another rung on fame's ladder.  This was Christmas, and the interval betwixt then and Easter would afford us time to cook something bigger than 'Ducks and Peas.'  The ambition of a Bonaparte fired my breast,—I would write the piece; and set about the work with as much assurance as if I had written all Shakespeare's plays, and allowed him for a consideration to claim the authorship.  In a few days, during which my father thought the loom was very silent, as I did not weave in the same room as he worked in, I produced a terrible tragedy under the title of 'Marinello the Monk; or, the Italian Lovers.'

    With what a shout of approval it was welcomed!  Every character was a 'part,' so that there was no murmuring at the cast.  There were daggers to be used in the piece,—two tin ones, cost threehalfpence each, and a veritable pistol,—an old flint and steel that sometimes would not 'go off' when murder was to be committed, but create a scare when it was not in the plot.  Being the author, I had the privilege assigned to me of taking the leading part,—the villain of the piece.  Almost smothered beneath the folds of a black cloak belonging to an aunt, I stalked about the stage—planks, I mean—intent upon my murderous design, in a manner that I have imagined since, Irving must have copied, it was so melodramatic.

    When the performance was over, all who had taken part in it were lionized, excepting myself, who had created such a dislike that my little sweetheart declared she would have nothing more to say to 'sich a bad un as thee.'  That cured me of dramatic authorship for a very long time.  If I am suffering from a severe cold, and wish to sweat it away, I think of that attempt to become great; and perspiration requires no additional stimulus to make it boil out of me."


    I would advise those who wish to know more about the early career of Mr. Brierley to read his Autobiographical Sketch Home Memories.  It is teeming with racy humour, and is a graphic little history of his native village at that period.

    Reverting to the time when Brierley began to aspire to literary fame he became quite a notable in his little community.  Being full of confidence in his ability to succeed as an author he ventured into print with a few of his short sketches, which created no little envy amongst his associates, who were reluctant enough to admit his literary talent.  Adverse criticism on his early productions apparently served only to stimulate him to renewed energy, for he had a soul within him which soared above difficulties, and to use his own words which he has often been heard to express,—"I had to make my own ladder before I could climb."

    I remember a companion of Mr. Brierley's once asking me if I had seen an article in the Manchester Spectator the previous Saturday from the pen of a gentleman named "Saxon Wallbridge," describing a summer ramble in the country.  I replied that I had read the article named and considered it to be very good.

    "Good?  It is excellent!" exclaimed my interrogator, "and decidedly the best sketch written in the dialect that I ever read.  That man, whoever he is, will make his mark in that class of literature," and he wound up by saying, "If I were Ben Brierley I would never again venture as a Lancashire writer because he cannot compare with Saxon Wallbridge."  When he had finished his laudations I told him that I was very glad to hear him express such a favourable opinion, because I confidently believed that Saxon Wallbridge and Ben Brierley were one and the same person.  Ere I had read many paragraphs I concluded from certain local incidents mentioned therein that no other person but Ben Brierley could possibly have written the story.  The critic pooh-poohed my assertions and walked away sceptically, shaking his head, but in a short time afterwards he had to admit that my judgment was correct.

    Meeting with Mr. Brierley some time afterwards I began to talk the matter over with him about the unknown author.  He seemed rather reticent at first, but I noticed a faint smile on his countenance when I began to beat about the bush for information.  At length I ventured to enquire if Saxon Wallbridge was any relation of Ben Brierley's.  His smile was soon transformed into a hearty laugh, and he replied, "Gex agen and theau'll happen be fur off th' mark."

    It afforded him much amusement when I told him the opinion of his friend and would-be critic on his popular story, A Day out, or a Summer Ramble to Daisy Nook.  Amongst his voluminous productions that sketch stands yet unsurpassed for truthful and graphic description.  It provokes the risible faculties with its broad humour, and draws the tear of sympathy with its pathetic touches.

    At the time The Day Out was published in the Spectator, I carefully cut out the slips and posted them to Samuel Bamford, the Lancashire poet and author, who at that time was employed at Somerset House, London.  I considered that he would be a good authority to judge of their literary merits, and I sent him the real name of the writer.  Shortly afterwards I received a letter from Bamford which contained the following reply:—"I cannot say that I have the pleasure of knowing the Mr. Brierley you mention; he is, however, a clever person, there is no doubt about that; the slips you sent me—and for which I thank you—are sufficient proof of his power as a writer, whilst his orthography of the Lancashire dialect is as good as any I have read, since I could read, and that is saying a good deal, since Waugh is in the field.  Indeed I had seen one or two slips in the Spectator, and I had not the remotest idea that any other than Waugh had written them or could have written them.  I am getting old, and must soon drop these kind of things, but I am really happy to think that after I am laid low others will remain to do justice, I hope, to the local records, and homely, kindly modes of expression of days long past."  Such was the honest, out-spoken opinion of Bamford on the merits of a rising literary genius, for such Ben Brierley has proved himself to be, as his works bear testimony.

    Mr. Brierley has not confined himself to the dialect, but has written many stories in current English, with great success.  Cast upon the World he considered the best amongst his novels.

    His "Ab-o'th'-Yate's" stories are in the main broadly humorous, and may be said, in loom-house phraseology, to be a warp of reality "picked" with the weft of fiction.

    It is said of Fielding in the preface to "Joseph Andrews," that "there was scarce a character or action which he had not taken from his own observation and experience, but the characters were so disguised that it would be impossible to guess at them with certainty."  The same remarks are applicable to Mr. Brierley's writings.  "Owd Thuston," "Fause Juddie," and "Sam Smithies," who take prominent parts in "Ab-o'th'-Yate's" little comedies, were drawn from real life, and the originals were all well known to me before they were laid in their graves.

    The late Mr. Samuel Broadbent, of Mossley, who formerly was in the silk trade at Woodhouses, was proud of being the original of "Sam Smithies"—"Ab's" friend and patron.  "Owd Thuston" ("Owd Smethurst ") was a well-to-do farmer who lived in a fold in Failsworth.  From this place the author got his idea of "Walmsley Fowt "where the dwellings of "Ab-o'th'-Yate" and "Fause Juddie" are supposed to be located.

    You may search in vain for "Fause Juddie's" grocer's shop, where he sailed for bacon in a flour tub when the cellar was flooded, his frail boat capsizing ere he had reached the "Cheshire side."

    "Ab-o'th'-Yate" is a mythical character of the author's own creation, but the "Walmsley Fowt" philosopher is well drawn and resembles several well-known country humorists ingeniously rolled into one person, and he has been the happy medium through which the author tells his droll stories, many of which are pure inventions of his fertile brain.

    If Mr. Brierley had been asked who "Ab-o'th'-Yate" really was, he would have been puzzled to answer the question—quite as much so as Washington Irving was to define the original of the "Stout Gentleman" or the "Great Unknown" in "Bracebridge Hall."  His answer to the enquiry was, that he was as anxious to know as his readers, and was often at a loss to distinguish in his own works what to believe,—reality being so interwoven with fiction.

    Some of the "Ab-o'th'-Yate" stories may be thought to be improbable; perhaps they may be so, but be it remembered that "Ab" was an eccentric dreamer, and we all know the strange vagaries of the mind when rambling in dreamland.

    Mr. Brierley may also be said to be the architect of several of the villages mentioned in his stories.  "Th' Owd Bell," "Pig and Fork," and "Wheel and Barrels," quaint old country inns, named in his sketches of Hazelworth, Langleyside, Birchwood and Waverlow, also the old halls and rustic cottages, are real material gathered, as it were, in different parts of the countryside and "knocked together," as an artist would say, to make up a picture—fact blended with fiction.

    For a period of about 30 years Mr. Brierley was before the public as a reader of his own works and was very successful in that capacity.  When Samuel Bamford, the Lancashire author, returned from London about 1858, I introduced Mr. Brierley to him at his cottage in Hall Street, Moston, and a very cordial greeting took place.  Mr. Bamford having recently been reading the Daisy Nook Sketches, complimented the author upon his cleverly written stories, and from that time a friendship sprang up between them which lasted until the old veteran was laid low in Middleton Church yard.  When Bamford was over 70 years of age he commenced to give readings in public as a means of obtaining a livelihood, Mr. Brierley assisting him in several entertainments.  Thus the two weavers for a time wove as it were on the same loom, but it was evidently too late in life for Bamford to engage in such an undertaking and eventually a number of his admirers kindly allowed him a competency of five pounds a month and smoothed his declining days, his death taking place April 20th, 1872, when he was eighty-four years of age.  Mr. Brierley continued to give readings in public, until about the year 1889, when his health broke down.  At one time he was writing stories to eleven local papers, some of which were afterwards published in book form and proved a fair source of income.  In 1869 he commenced his Ben Brierley's Journal, which he piloted with success for about 16 years, the stories which appeared from his pen being eagerly read, more especially his "Ab-o'th'-Yate" papers.

    Mr. Brierley dramatised the following selections from his Popular stories:—Thistledown Hall; The Cobbler's Stratagem; Fratchingtons of Fratchingthorpe; The Layrock of Langleyside; and Ab-o'th'-Yate Insuring his Life.  Mr. Brierley was frequently engaged to appear in their production in such parts as 'Joe o' Dicks;' 'Solomon Mak' a Penny,' &c., his most successful character being Joe o' Dicks in The Layrock of Langleyside.  This play had a successful run of several nights at the Theatre Royal, Manchester, with the stock company of that period.  Mr. Brierley was highly complimented by the press for his clever and humorous acting of the wily old weaver, and was especially successful in the "courting" scene with Widow Andrew.

    With close application to mental work for so long a time, his health gave way, and about 1880 he paid a visit to America to recruit his energies.  He paid a second visit about four years afterwards, and the result of his two trips are now before the public in a volume of 324 pages, entitled Ab-o'th'-Yate in Yankeeland.

    From this book an extract was published in the Manchester Guardian entitled, How Englishmen have risen in America, and as a proof that it was well received in that country, a gentleman connected with the American shipping trade asked Mr. Brierley's permission to reprint 50,000 copies, which may be regarded as a tribute to the breadth and accuracy of the statements the book contained.

    It was previous to Mr. Brierley's setting sail to America that a public testimonial was set on foot to be presented to him on his return.

    His native townspeople entertained him at a soiree and presented him with a splendid album containing twenty-seven photographic views of familiar places, as well as the portraits of a large number of friends and celebrities.

    He was also feted at Manchester, Oldham, Leigh, and Clayton Bridge.  A performance was given at the Prince's Theatre, Manchester in aid of the testimonial fund, and the example was followed at the Theatre Royal, Oldham.  The testimonial was presented to Mr. Brierley in the Mayor's parlour of the Town Hall, Manchester, in the presence of a large number of friends and admirers.  The Mayor (Mr. Alderman Harwood), presided, and after several complimentary speeches had been made, he presented Mr. Brierley with a silk purse shaped like an old stocking which contained a cheque for £650.  In the course of his remarks, the Mayor said that Brierley and Burns were very much alike in one respect, for Burns said of his father—


He bade me act an honest part,
    Though I had ne'er a farthing,
For man without a manly heart
    Is never worth regarding.


Mr. Brierley, he said, might properly say the same of his father.  He wished him every blessing, and that he might enjoy good health, and consecrate his remaining days to doing good to those who needed it.

    Mr. Brierley received a grant, many years afterwards, from the Royal Literary Fund of £150.  This sum was well bestowed at the time, because in his shattered state of health he was unable to follow his literary pursuit, his right side being disabled by an attack of paralysis and his speech was much impeded.

    It was a source of consolation to Mr. Brierley to live to see his talents substantially recognised by English-speaking people in almost every part of the globe, for wherever Lancashire men have set foot, (and in what part of the world have they not?) they have to thank Ben Brierley for many joyous hours whilst perusing his graphic glimpses of the old home life.

    The following lines by Mr. David Lawton, of Greenfield, which appeared in several of the local newspapers shortly after Ben Brierley's death, are much too good to be lost, and are very suitable for insertion here:—
 

In Memoriam.

BEN BRIERLEY (AB-O'TH'-YATE),

Died January 18th, 1896.


THREE voices now are hushed, three singers sweet
    Are gone to sing their stirring songs elsewhere:—
Waugh, Laycock, Brierley; now, methinks, they greet
    And mingle voices in yon happier sphere.
Each one—a son of toil, a child of song—
    Has added to his county's fair renown,
Has striv'n to make his fellows pure and strong
    And worthily has worn the poet's crown.
Not least, though last to go, we mourn to-day
    Fun loving, mirth provoking Ben, whose mind
Was like a child's,—transparent, yet refined,—
    And whose creations cannot pass away.
Now by his darling's* side lay him to rest,
    And may each mourner feel that God knows best.


DAVID LAWTON.

Greenfield,
        Jany 10th, 1896.


* Referring to his only child, Annie, who died in her nineteenth year, on the 13th of June, 1875.


    In the preparation and selection of these sketches and short stories, I have received considerable assistance from Mr. John Dronsfield, whose intimacy with the writings of Mr. Brierley is well known through his public recitals.

    With the exception of the frontispiece to the first volume, which is a truthful portrait of the author, from a photograph taken in June, 1894, the illustrating of the three volumes has been intrusted to Mr. Fred W. Jackson, whose intimate acquaintance with Lancashire life in the districts from whence the author found most of his material has been of much service in finding and drawing characters suitable to the text.  Mr. Jackson has drawn nine good pictures, all of which have been most carefully reproduced by the "Collotype" process, and add considerably to the interest of this edition.

    The following lines are probably the last which Ben Brierley wrote.  They reveal a side of his character which was scarcely known except to his intimate friends.  Mrs. Brierley found them a few days after his death, written in lead pencil, amongst the papers he had last handled:—


SONGS OF THE ANGELS.


Round the Great Creator's throne,
    Hear the loud hosannas ring;
Earth is silent when 'tis known
    We can hear the angels sing.

How sweetly now the music steals
    Through the air in liquid strains
Each tone the sacred truth reveals,
    That in heaven Jehovah reigns.


JAMES DRONSFIELD.


2nd June, 1896.

――――――


    It is the mournful duty of the Publisher of these volumes to announce that the Editor, Mr. JAMES DRONSFIELD, died on the 24th of June last, after a short illness of eighteen days' duration, having been stricken by an apoplectic fit whilst in the performance of his ordinary occupation.

    Mr. D
RONSFIELD's duties as Editor were, with one or two exceptions, completed a few days before his attack.  What he left undone in the way of examining and passing the proof sheets has been ably performed by his son, Mr. JOHN DRONSFIELD, and Mr. CHARLES WALTERS.  To these gentlemen the Publisher's thanks are due, and he hereby gratefully acknowledges their kind services.


25th September, 1896.

――――♦――――



CONTENTS.
――――――――――――
 

 

PAGE

A MOSTON RENT DINNER

1.

AB-O'TH'-YATE IN LONDON:

 

1st Letter. —The journey up, and First Impressions 12

12.

2nd «  «  « —Up and Doing The Crossing Sweeper—St. Paul's

25.

3rd «  «  « —At the Crystal Palace

39.

4th «  «  « —Eating a Bootjack

53.

5th «  «  « —Hyde Park—In the Streets—Lost

66.

6th «  «  « —Going to the Play

80.

7th «  «  « —A Climax and a Fall

94.

8th «  «  « —Two Phases of a London Sabbath

107.

PREPARIN' FOR WALMSLEY FOWT JUBILEE CELEBRATION:

 

Chap. 1.—First Committee Meeting

121.

            2.—Second Committee Meeting — Nowt done

129.

            3.—A New Move

138.

            4.—Conclusion

145.

WALMSLEY FOWT BONFIRE

153.

PRINCE O' WALES' VISIT TO WALMSLEY FOWT :

 

        Whiteweshin' th' Fowt

161.

WALMSLEY FOWT WELCOMES TH' PRINCE O' WALES:

 

        Ab's Adress

170.

RECOLLECTIONS OF THE GREAT JUBILEE EXHIBITION :

 

Owd Manchester and Sawfort

179.

On the Switchback

188.

AT THE MANCHESTER EXHIBITION:

 

Things are not what they seem

196.

REFLECTIONS ON THE GREAT JUBILEE EXHIBITION:

204.

AB-O'TH'-YATE AT THE ISLE OF MAN:

 

1st Letter

211.

2nd    «

231.

HEAW WE SUNG TH' KESMAS HYMN IN THE OLDEN TIME

242.

HEAW TO DO BEAUT COAL

252.

OWD PIGEON (Verses)

267.

HARD TIMES (Song)

270.

____________


ILLUSTRATIONS.
――――――――――――
 

PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR

       Frontispiece

"BRING ME TH' SAME!"

    facing page 55

CRONIES AT "TH' OWD BELL"

        «    «    «  145.

PREPARING FOR THE ISLE OF MAN

        «    «    «  215.


――――♦――――
 

 


 

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