Ab-o'th'-Yate Sketches, Vol. III (IV)
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AB-O'-TH'-YATE AN' OWD DIZZY.
_____________



                                                                                                             WALMSLEY FOWT,
                                                                                                                                                             April 3th, 18—


MISTHER YEADHITTER,


AW'VE bin blue for a day—not a milk-an'-wayter colour, nor even a sky-blue, but a deep wimberry—though heaw it'll stick aw connot tell; happen as lung as some folks would if th' curn laws wur put on agen.  Aw dar'say yo'n wonder heaw this has come abeaut; but when aw tell yo' ut a woman has had summat to do wi' it yo' need no' be surprised.  This wur th' road aw geet put into th' dye-tub.

    My owd rib geet to know ut owd Dizzy wur comin' to Manchester, an' as women generally are Tories—wed women, aw meean—through so mich black cloth co'in a-seein' 'em, an' talkin' to 'em when the'r husbands are at the'r wark, my bit o' muslin has getten dyed i'th' same mixin', an' hoo's bin tryin' mony a ye'r for t' get me i' her way o' not thinkin'.  Heaw hoo's managed to come o'er me, aw'll tell yo'.

    Eaur Sal an' me han bin at twos-an'-threes o'er this Tichborne trial [1] ever sin it begun.  Hoo would have it ut him ut wur co'ed th' "Claimant" wur th' reet mon, an' aw've kept stickin' to it he wurno'.  We'n frapt o'er it eendless o' times, but aulus finished up wi' her sayin', "He is—he is—he is!  Neaw, then, Abram."  Well, last Monday, after we'd polished off th' fifth dumplin', hoo crept to th' back o' my cheear, an' strokin' my what-should-be-whiskers, as hoo aulus does when hoo wants summat new, hoo said—

    "Ab, Owd Dizzy's comin' t' Manchester t' morn."

    "Is he?" aw said.

    "Aye," hoo says.  "Aw want thee t' goo an' see him, so ut theau con tell me what he's like."

    "Well, but folk 'll think aw've turned int' a Tory if aw do," aw said.

    "They'n ne'er think no wurr on thee if theau does," hoo said.  "Beside, it's a bit i' th' breed.  Theau knows thi great-grondfeyther wur one, so ther' is a good excuse.  Neaw, aw'll tell thi what aw'll do if theau'll turn."  An' hoo gan booath sides o' mi face sich a nice pattin' ut aw'd ha' gan in to owt just then.

    "What wilt' do, owd crayther?" aw said.

    "Well," hoo says, "theau knows aw've aulus stuck to th' Claimant bein' Tichborne—have not I?"

    "It's me ut knows theau has," aw said.

    "An' he is, too, chus what onybody says," hoo said.

    "Goo on," aw said.

    "Well," hoo says, quite coaxin' like, "aw'll give in ut he isno' th' reet mon if theau'll turn Tory.  Neaw, then!"

    "Agreed on, just for an experiment," aw said.

    "An' theau'll goo an' see owd Dizzy t' morn?" hoo said.

    "Aye, an' moore nur that," aw said; "aw'll tak' mi' owd feel-loss-o'-speed wi' me."

    "That's reet," hoo said.  "Aw'll see theaur't nicely trimmed up for thi' eaut.  Theau'st ha' thi blue cooat on' an' a blue napkin, an' a blue ribbin' i' thi button-hole.  Aw'd thowt to ha' bin a hauve-crown to'ard th' bail for Tichborne, but neaw he may goo t' th' Owd Lad, for owt aw care, an' theau con have th' hauve-creawn for thi spendin' brass."  Eh, these women!

    Pityin' poor Tichborne if he'd no truer backers nur eaur Sal, an' wonderin' heaw blue would suit my complexion, as soon as Aister Tuesday broke aw prepared for settin' eaut to Manchester, a-seein' this great mon ut's done so mich for poor folk, an' promises to do so mich moore. "Fawse Juddie" said aw mustno' be beheend mi neighbours; an' as he's a staunch owd never-stir, he meaunted me a blue colour ut he'd getten up o' purpose for t' put o'th' top ov his chimdy.  He said it ud look betther at th' tail-end o' my feel-loss-o'-speed.  He'd painted on it i' white letters


DIZZY AND CHEAP BREAD.
DIZZY AND FREE TRADE.
DIZZY AND EQUAL REPRESENTATION.
DIZZY AND NO CHURCH RATES.
DIZZY AND VOTE BY BALLOT.
DIZZY AND A CHEAP PRESS.
DIZZY AND A FREE BREAKFAST TABLE.
DIZZY AND COBDEN FOR EVER.


    Th' owd lad sticks to it to this day ut Cobden wur a Tory, becose he'd done some good, an' th' Liberals never did ony; they nobbut showed th' Tories heaw to do it.  Heaw far he's reet or wrung it isno' for me to say, neaw aw've bin dipt i'th' indigo tub.

    "What are my principles, neaw aw'm changed?" aw axt owd Juddie, just afore settin' eaut, as aw didno' know whether th' owd uns would do fettled up a bit, or aw should want bran new uns.

    "Principles?" he said, in a surprised way; "wheay, Consarvative principles—what else?"

    "Well, an' what's th' difference between Consarvative principles an' Radical principles?" aw axt; becose aw've one or two neighbours ut co'en the'rsel's Tories, an' they say'n they're greater reformers nur ever aw wur, an' aw know they wurno' at one time."

    "Difference, be hanged he said they' is no difference.  It's o i'th' colour.  Ther' had used to be a difference at one time, an' a great un too, but th' Tories han wakkent up neaw, an' getten to th' front.  They known it's no use stickin' to th' owd stond-still, so they'n o'erplayed th' Radicals at the'r own game.  They'n gone furr, an' that's th' reeason ther's sich runnin' after 'em neaw-a-days.  If owd Dizzy had bin i' peawer at th' time, they'd ha' bin no bother at Peterloo, unless he'd order't one or two Radicals shot for no' gooin' far enoogh."

    "Then aw am-no' givin' mich up for mi hauve-creawn?" aw said.

    "Not a penno'th!" he said.  "Sheaut, 'Dizzy an' onythin' for ever!' an' theau'rt as good a Consarvative as ony on us!  If theau's a bit ov a deaut theau con drop a crocodile tear or two for a church theau sees moore o' th' eautside on nur th' inside, an' a constitution we'n helped to change moore nur ever th' Radicals did, an' then theau'll feel reet i' thi new clooas."

    Aw ponder't deeply upo' what owd Juddie towd me; but when eaur Sal see'd aw'd getten mi studyin'-cap on hoo gan me a shake, an' said if aw begun a-thinkin' aw met change mi mind.  Do as a woman does, an' throw reeason o' one side."  So hoo festen't a blue ribbin i' mi buttonhole, chucked me under th' chin when hoo'd done it, an' just as aw're wheelin' mi owd bobbin-jigger eaut o' th' heause, "Jack o' Flunters" coome runnin' in wi' a Owdham newspapper in his hont.

    "Ab " he said, "theau munno' miss this."

    "Miss what?" aw said.

    "Wheay," he said, "ther's gooin' to be a railroad train walkin' i' th' processhion."

    "Theau doesno' meean that?" aw said.

    "But aw do," he said.  "Look for thisel."  An' he honded th' newspapper to me.

    Aw read this—


"The Conservatives of the Parliamentary Borough of Oldham and neighbourhood are respectfully informed that a special train will leave Oldham via the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway for Victoria Station, Manchester, on Easter Tuesday, at one o'clock at noon, and on arriving at Manchester will march in procession along Hunt's Bank and Deansgate to Brazenose Street, and there take up their position for the grand procession to Pomona Gardens."


    "Wonders never ceeasen!" owd Juddie said, when aw'd finished readin'.  "A railroad train marchin' in a procession!  That's one for us, Ab.  Th' Radicals could never ha' managed a job o' that soart.  Talk abeaut makkin' a bridge to France!  If ever owd Dizzy gets i' peawer he'll ha' that done; an' if th' Yankees dunno' mak' less o' the'r bother he'll tak' Ameriky in a balloon.  Wonderful days ar' comin', aw con see."

    Th' mornin' wur a beauty for a start.  Th' gaffers o'er th' weather wareheause show'd the'rsels owt but Tories; for i'stead o' the'r bein' ony blue i' th' sky, they're wringin' th' deeshcleaut so as aw ha' no' seen it wrung for some time, an' that's sayin' a great deeal.  Owd Juddie said it wur what met ha' bin expected wi' a Liberal Government i' peawer.  They owt to hang "Owd Merrypebble," as he coe's Gladstone, for a witch.  He aulus thowt they summat abeaut him ut smelt like that stuff they tippen matches wi'.  To goo beaut humbrell wur not to be thowt at, though aw had mi uncle Jammy's topcooat, ut he says would stond a week's rain, and' be as dree as a tinder-box after o.  We had nobbut one humbrell, an' that bein' a green un aw couldno' purtend to tak' it.  Aw should ha' had it slit int' ribbins afore aw'd getten eaut o' th' fowt!  Th' owd rib had foreseen this, an' had dyed it th' neet afore i' some bluestone-an'-vitril ut we'd used for white-weshin'.  What calkilashion that woman has!

    Th' owd bit o' gingham didno' look so very smart in it' new complexion; but then it wur blue, an' that wur o ut wur wanted.  At hauve past ten aw meaunted mi cockhawse, an' geet mi fust dose o' th' liberal weather.  Th' snow coome slap into mi face like a lot o' little deeshcleauts, ut made me grin like a foomart.  Jack o' Flunter's said if th' colour didno' get weskit eaut o' booath me an' th' humbrell, we're ov a fast dye.  He's a Radical, Jack is, an' looked as fain as if someb'dy had set a quart o' th' Owd Bell fourpenny afore him becose th' day wur sich a grand un.  Fause Juddie thowt a boat would ha' bin betther nur a feel-loss-o'-speed, unless aw're duck-built, an' had mi fithers weal oil't; an' for o ut he's a Tory he made as mich gam' on me as would ha' turned mony a one back.  Thar' nob'dy du'st put the'r yeads eawt to watch mi off.  If they'd done so they'd ha' wanted it wringin' like a mop.  So aw steeamed deawn th' lone, wi' not a sheaut to cheer mi pluck, an' mi colour hangin' abeaut th' pow as sulky as an owd maid at a weddin'.

    Aw treddled away to Manchester beaut seein' mich o' owt beside weather.  Aw passed th' Hazelwo'th procession ut wur shelterin' under a bridge, an' they wanted me to join 'em.  If aw'd leead up it ud be like bein' led up wi' a carriage.  So aw put misel' i' th' front, an' th' order bein' gan to "march," we plashed off t' th' general meetin' place.  Th' band played "Th' Men of Merry England," an' th' procession joined in t' singin'.  They couldno' meean us, becose wer'n anythin' but "merry;" an' when they said, "Let the bottle pass an' we'll drink another glass," it seaunded like dismal mockery,—ther no bottle t' pass!  Aw wish't mony a time ther' had bin.  But it wur happen betther as it wur, becose it would ha' bin ten to one they'd never ha' raiched Manchester.  When we geet to Swan Street aw wheeled reaund, an' promisin' t' meet th' procession i' Albert Square, aw beawled deawn to Victoria Station, for t' watch Owdham marchin' train come in.  Aw're abeaut an heaur to' soon; so aw stabled mi hawse at th' "Duck wi' th' Lung Throttle," an' raised a steeam afore th' fire ut made th' place look like a brewheause.  When th' heaur wur up aw trindled off to th' station.

    Aw expected ther' bein' theausants o' folk waitin' for t' see th' train march, but aw fund aw're very nee th' odd mon; an' aw begun a havin' some misgivin's ut aw'd bin sowd as usual.  Ther' nob'dy upo' th' station ut looked ony livelier nur a comic singer eaut o' wark, or an undertakker i' paradise.  They must ha' bin Radicals, ut wur feart they're gooin' t' ha' th' steeam takken eaut on 'em.  Abeaut hauve-past one th' train beawled in, an aw're surprised t' see it wur so mich like common trains ut awcouldno' ha' towd th' difference.  Aw axt a chap ut geet eaut if that wur th' marchin' train, an' geet a druzz o'th' side o'th' yed for mi onswer; but when he seed heave mi buttonhole wur adorn't he begged mi pardon, an' towd me th' marchin' train wur gan up, as th' carriages couldno' swim.  Aw felt disappointed, an' no deaut everybody felt th' same, becose they could ha' bin nicely under cover o th' time.  Two chaps passed me carryin' a square box, ut they hondled as choisily as if it had bin a kayther wi' a babby in it.

    "What han yo getter theere?" aw said to th' chaps.  "Is it that glass case one's yerd so mich talk abeaut?"

    "Nawe," one on 'em said; "that's at th' Knott Mill, wi' th' last Radical in it!"

    One for Ab's nob, aw thowt.

    "What is ther' in it, then?" aw said; an' th' onswer wur—

    "It's th' banner.  We dar'no' put it up for fear o'th' colour comin' eaut.  It's an owd green un dyed, ut we bowt off th' Radicals when they geet to' thin to muster a procession.  If th' colour geet wesht eaut, beside bein' green, it ud show—


'COBDEN AND BRIGHT FOR EVER!'


an' that wouldno' do to carry to Pomona."  That caused me to tak' stock o' mi humbrell, an' aw fund it showed signs o' summat ut made me feel rayther queer.  Beside th' colour gooin', it favvort takkin' th' cloth wi' it, an' leeavin' mi nowt nobbut th' stick an' th' ribs.  Aw didno' venture to put it up agen for a while.

    "March!" th' captain sung eaut.  "Carriage pooers i' th' front, an' four deep!"  An' they marched—close t'gether they wur, for t' keep one another warm; an' it caused sich a spree amung th' humbrells ut ther' lots o' cripples laid up afore they geet to th' rallying pleck.  Rare jobs for tinkers!  One o'th' carriage pooers sulked becose he mustno' be i'th' shafts, so ut he could b' next to owd Dizzy.  A disappointed place hunter, aw thowt!  Aw're disappointed misel' i' moore things nur one.  Aw couldno' see a "Tory i' clogs" i' o th' procession, an' aw'd bin towd ther lots i' Owdham.  When aw axt heaw it wur, they towd me ut through owd Dizzy takkin' th' curn laws off, an' losenin' trade, they'd bin able to buy shoon.  Aw felt as aw could like t' ha' shaked honds wi' th' owd lad for that.

    Aw beawled off t' th' square a quiet rooad, an' fund Hazlewo'th procession under a lamp, rulin' Britannia wi' rayther dismal lines; ther' a lot had come'n in fro' Bacup an' other places, an' they'rn stondin' reaund th' picture o' owd Dizzy hung between two pows; an' a band wur playin', "We won't go whoam till mornin'."  It struck me as bein' very true abeaut some, if no' very moral an' patriotic.  After stondin' under th' deggin-can for abeaut an' heaur, as if we'd bin a bed o' onions, we formed into what wur co'ed a procession, but it wur a slattery sooart o' one; an' sometimes th' yead an' tail wur so far separated ut it wur hard wark to piece agen.  Then they'd be cluttert o ov a rook; an' one band ud be playin' one thing, an' another another, till it wur like bein' at Knott Mill fair.  Through th' bother aw had o'er gettin' mi owd bobbin-jigger registered, so as aw could goo amung th' carriages, aw lost th' Hazlewo'th squad till we geet to Chester Road; but wantin' to goo int' th' gardens wi' 'em, aw axt a policeman if he knew wheere aw could find 'em.  He pointed deawn th' road toward Hulme Church, an'said—

    "You'll find 'em behind yon lurry," an' aw did.

    Aw geet takken for owd Dizzy mony a time as aw're spinnin' deawn; an' one o' th' bands, ut had done its wark, played "See the Conquering Hero comes!" an' aw stood a gallon for 'em at th' Bull's Yead.  They wanted me to leead up one o' th' Orange squads, but aw said—

    "Nawe, aw'm an Englishmen.  Go' to yo'r Boyne wayter, an' drink it if yo' liken; but aw think by th' looks on yo', yo'd rayther hav' a sope o summat strunger.  Glorious William doesno' look so preaud on yo'.  If he'd had no betther men for wadin' th' Boyne wi' they'd ha' letten' him dreawn.  Aw'll be true blue, an' not a mixture."

    Aw had to wade to th' gardens, an' draw mi carriage after me, th' road wur so deep i' slutch; but when aw did get in, an' see'd th' creawd ther' wur met, an' ut had powler't through o that rain, aw said to misel'; "Ther's some life i' Toryism yet, or else they're foe's.  Which?  Aw geet jammed arming a lot ut 'ad abeaut five heaurs rain i' the'r clooas, an' a rare steeamin' they gan mi!  They ruled Britannia abeaut ev'ry two minutes, an' hurray'd for everybody ut coome on t' platform, so ut they'd be sure o' sheautin' for th' reet men.  Aw gan my lungs middlin' exercise, aw con tell yo'!  Aw forgeet misel' once, an' sheauted, "Bright for ever!" but th' luck on 't wur, nob'dy fund eaut wheere th' noise coome fro'.  Aw shall happen get off it wi' a bit o' practice.  When owd Dizzy did show hissel' wi' th' owd rib bi his side, ther a noise rose like a storm at Blackpoo' wi' a thunner chorus, an' aw fancied within misel' ut he look't a bit feart.  Aw dar'say he'd bin towd ut Lancashire folk showed the'r likin' for a mon bi polishin' the'r clog-noses agen his shins, an' abeaut thirty or forty thousant pair would want a good decal o' rubbin' up.  They'd ha' tried what sooart o' stuff his tailor wur made on.

    Ther a lot o' folk wi' rowls o' papper i' the'r honds an' aw axt a chap what wur th' meeanin' on't.  He said:

    "Owd Dizzy wants his heause papperin', an' yond are samples."

    "Oh!" aw said.

    Ther' favvort bein' some talkin' gooin' on, but nowt could be yerd, becose folk begun o' creawdin' eaut when they'd sin th' main mon.  When Dizzy spoke hissel' o ut aw could yer wur this:—

    —(Rule Britannia!)—(Hurray!)—(send her victorious)—(Hurray!)—(Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the waves; Britons ne-e-e-e-ver shall be slaves!)—(Hurray, hurray, hurray!)

    Aw mun say ut whenever aw yer "Rule Britannia," sung or played, it warms up my English blood till aw feel ready for jumpin' upo' th' owd lion's back, an' dashin' through fire an' wayter wi' him.  Whatever else aw may be, aw'm a TRUE BRITON, an' wouldno' be fund inside a soof if mi country wur invaded, though ther's nobbut abeaut six foot on't belungs to me.  Neaw, then! put that i' yo'r pipes, a lot o' yo'! an' smooke it!

    Then o wur o'er ut we'd come for, obbut gooin' whoam, an' warmin' flannels, an' makkin' gruel, an' wonderin' what o this bother had bin abeaut.  One mon towd me he'd lost a deeal o' money wi' spekilatin' i' blue ribbin.  Ther lots o' folk ut made the'r noses sarve i'stead.  As aw're comin' eaut aw wonder't if it wurno' possible for Englishmen to strive for one another's good witheaut showin' the'r teeth, an' doin' a bit o' worryin'.  What a grand wo'ld this would be if they no foo's in it!


AB.


    P.S.—Aw'd forgetter to tell yo' ut when aw coome to put mi humbrell up aw fund th' gingham had flown.  Th' blue stone-an'-vitril had etten it away.

AB.


    P.S., N.B.--Summat ut eaur Sal put i' mi gruel when aw went t' bed set me a-dreeamin', an' aw thowt owd Dizzy had come'n to mi bedside, an' tappin' me on th' bob o' mi neetcap, said—

    "Ab, wakken!"  An' aw wakkent.

    "Bi that curl i' th' front o' y'or toppin' aw should tak' yo' to be owd Dizzy," aw said.

    "The same jovial chicken," he said.  "How's your political pulse beating?"

    "Fine!" aw said.

    "Got rid of the Radical fever?"

    "Quite!" aw said.  "Aw've had a touch o' th' blue uns sin' then."

    "Good!  May I reckon upon you as one of my supporters through all shades of fortune?"

    "Through thick an' thin!" aw said.

    "Thank you!  Do you think I've done much public good by coming down?"

    "A great deeal," aw said.  "Ther's bin lots o' drink sowd."

    "So I've been told; but I mean political good."

    "Oh, aye; everybody 'll be o' yo're side afore lung."

    "Do you think John Bright will?"

    "Sure to be.  But which on yo'll goo o'er to t'other aw winno' say."

    "Hum!  May I class you among my blind supporters, or as one that backs me on principle?"

    "Aw've put th' blinkers on," aw said.

    "You know what my principles are, don't you?"

    "Well, aw dunno' purtend to be moore fur-seein' nur other folk, so conno' say."

    "But you know what my policy has hitherto been?"

    "Aw know a bit abeaut what yo' han bin; but it would tak' o th' fortin-tellers, an' race tippers, an' newspapper writers i' th' wo'ld to tell what yo'n be next ye'r!  If yo' dar' jump deawn Niagara, i'th' dark, too, after sayin' sich a thing would swamp th' constitution of onybody, yo' may swim up agen, for owt aw know."

    "Would such a feat alter your attachment to me?"

    "Not a bit!  Neaw aw'm listed i' yo're regiment aw shall sheaut for yo' just th' same as lung as yo' keepen blazin' int' owd Merrypebble."

    "Of course you would like to see me in office again?"

    "Next week if it could be managed."

    "What is your special reason for wishing that?"

    "Quietness.  Ther's never no bother when yo're peawer.  If yo' dun owt reet, everybody's satisfied; an' if yo' dun owt wrung, nob'dy dar' grumble; so it comes to th' same thing."

    "He shaked his curl at that, an' gan me a poke i'th' ribs."

    "Ah, Ab," he said, "you're a funny dog!  If ever it should be my fortune to take office, I will take care that Her Majesty confers the honour of knighthood upon you, in commemoration of this day's conversion."

    "Aw'd rayther yo'd knight th' owd rib," aw said.  "What is your reason?"

    "Then folk ud say aw're a disinterested patriot, an' aw could bamboozle 'em as aw liked, like Oliver Cromwell turnin' up his nose at th' Creawn, an' owd Di"—but he'd gone, an' aw fund aw're talkin' to th' bedstump.

AB.

 
1. Ed.—the affair of the Tichborne claimant (1871-4) was the celebrated 19th-century legal case of Arthur Orton (1834–1898), an imposter who claimed to be Sir Roger Tichborne (1829–1854), the missing heir to the Tichborne Baronetcy.


――――♦――――

 
WALMSLEY FOWT GOOSE CLUB.


THOOSE ut han never bin a member ov a goose club connot ha' mich ov a notion as to what sich an institution is like.  If a goose knew heaw little it had to do wi' th' consarn itsel', it wouldno' look so preaud as it does abeaut th' middle o' December; nor fatten up its carcase as it does afore th' time it has to have its giblets put eaut o' seet.  Whisky, an' 'bacco, an' talk, han moore to do wi' th' club nur a barn-dur cackler has; becose, when we come to reckon up what we'n spent at meetin's, sayin' nowt abeaut time lost, which is never put i'th' calkilation, we mooestly find ut we could ha' bowt a goose apiece wi' th' cost, an' had a sope slat in.

    For th' last four year we'n had a goose club at th' "Owd Bell;" an' it's likely we'st keep it up—no' for th' sake o'th' goose, but forth' sake o'th' meetin's.  Rare sprees thoose meetin's han bin; an' rare scrambles we'n aulus had for office!  We generally begun a-getherin' t'gether as soon as th' fifth o' November wur off eaur honds, becose summat must be gooin' on, if it's nobbut a rearin' supper, or a 'bacco-box show.  Then th' goose club is th' biggest do we han i'th' year, unless it's when a member o'th' Local Board invites his supporters to a pottito-pie, or a shank stew.  It's th' only time, too, when th' nobs o'th' fowt mixen wi' th' common litter; an' that circumstance gi'es it a seemin' o' respectability ut goes a good way to'ards bees-waxin' life.  Ther's just one bit ov a drawback—eaur wives dunno' like th' club; becose they thinken—an' what a woman thinks hoo'll say—ut th' meetin's are nobbut an excuse for gettin' eaut o'th' heause at neets.  They met be furr wrung.

    Up to last Kesmas, Fause Juddie had bin th' cheearmon o'th' club—aulus elected witheaut a contest.  But th' Scratchetary, and th' money howder, an' th' buyer o'th' goose, an' th' committee, han aulus bin chosen wi' a feight.  It's no use eaur sayin' ut politics should never be dragged into things they'n nowt to do wi'.  Someheaw ther's a bit o' long-ear'dness i' every mon's natur' an' that aulus shows itsel' when politics are put afore owt else.  Th' cap may be worn by booath sides.  Let 'em toss up which keeps it.

    But last Kesmas Juddie wur to be disturbed.  It wur proved ut he'd used some influence for th' sake ov a farmer ut didno' live i'th' neighbourhood; an' a goose had bin bowt off this farmer ut wur dearer, an' tougher, nur ony we'd had afore.  This bit o' jobbery couldno' be sanctioned, speshly when it had bin done by one howdin' sich an important office as cheearmon; so th' owd lad geet ousted eaut ov his seeat.  Lorjus, heaw he stared when he fund they a mijority o' votes agen him! an' heaw he prophesied ut th' day would come, an' afore lung too, when they'd be fain to undo what they'd done that neet.

    "Heaw mich did that farmer give yo' for t' get that goose off his honds?" Jack o' Flunter's axt him o'th' neet ov election.

    "Aw nobbut geet a shillin'," Juddie said; "so aw've no' made a fortin eaut on't.  It's not as mich as theau gets sometimes for recommendin' someb'dy's breek to builders.  Neaw then, John!"

    "But that's nobbut swindlin' one mon," Jack said.  "Yo'n bin swindlin' a club, an' that's th' difference.  But aw'll tell yo' what aw'll do.  If yo'n turn up that shillin' to th' club, aw'll propose ut yo'r put on yo'r peearch agen."

    That seemed to meet everybody's likin'; an' Juddie considered.  We knew ut gettin' th' shillin' eaut on him wur like drawin' a pint ov his blood; but what winnot honour cause a mon to do?  He bit his lip, scrat his yead, an' rubbed his spectekles.  Then he said "Aw'll agree to that."

    What a sheaut ther' wur when it wur known ut Juddie had gan in!  Purity o' principles had triumphed.

    We voted th' owd lad back to his peearch, an' th' shillin' wur paid.  Juddie wur as humble, an' good tempered as need be after that; an' a smile kept flittin' abeaut his face like a butterflee.  It sometimes does a mon good takkin' him deawn a peg, an' lettin' him know ut he connot aulus have his own road.

    Th' election o'er, things went on swimmin'ly.  Th' tuppences apiece for th' goose subscription, an' th' thrippences for that neet's punch, wur collected witheaut ony bother an' we finished up wi' a speech fro' th' cheear.  Juddie said—

    "Members o'th' Walmsley Fowt Goose Club,—It gi'es me great pleasure to know that, if there has bin a bit ov a shock felt i'th' ramifications o' this grand society, yo'r confidence in me hasno' o'together gone to pieces.  Aw may ha' done that i' mi wakeness what mi strunger feelin's wouldno' ha' letten me do.  But who hasno' a bit o' owd Eve i' the'r lappin's up?  Temptations i' this life lie'n everywheere abeaut; an' th' mooest o' eaur fingers are aulus itchin' to be havin' howd.  Sometimes they getten brunt, an' it's then we repenten, not before.  Sin, when it feels nice, is very oft mistakken for summat betther; an' when that's th' case we go'en in for a dollop on't.  Heaw pleasant would be thievin', if it wur-no' for law, an' conscience!  It met be co'ed wrung; but aw'm feeart ther very few on us ut wouldno' do it.  Well, seein', like, ut ther's this corruption in eaur natur', let's pray ut it may be kept eaut o' seet.  Aw've bin the cheearmon o' this noble club ever sin' it begun; an' it would ha' browt grey yure to my yead if yo'd bagged me gradely —that is, if it hadno' bin grey afore.  When aw look at th' list o' members neaw before me, aw think we could afford a prize for th' lowest shake; an' aw should like someb'dy to propose ut we han one.  If aw met chuse what that prize should be, aw'd say a duck."

    "Aw propose it's a duck," aw said.

    It wur seconded, an' carried.

    "Theigher, neaw," Juddie went on, "heaw mich pleasanter things are when we're o i' one mind, an' that a good mind!  It shows weel for th' sperrit ut governs this grand society.  Neaw, then, let harmony prevail.  Let us be like doves in a cote; never forgettin' that i'th' perambilations o' this life it's betther to goo hond i' hond, nur fratchin' an' feighten' on th' road.  Aw've no deaubt this noble society has a grand futur' before it; that may have a good deeal to do wi' smootenin' th' flints an' thurns ut besetten us i' this vale o' tears; an' thereby settin' an example to other nations, ut are as strange to goose clubs as they are to, to, ha—Local Boards.  This meetin's neaw closed; an' th' committee 'll meet i'th' bar, for t' do what business they han to do, threepennoth's apiece alleawed."

    Juddie had no sooner finished his speech nor aw yerd a bump, followed by a bit o' langwidge ut didno' seaund like comin' eaut ov a "dove cote."  Someb'dy had drawn his cheear away while he're on his feet, an' he'd gone th' heels uppert on th' floor.

    "If aw knew whoa'd done that aw'd have his husk," he muttered, as he gether't hissel up.  "Aw'd peel it off his carcase like th' skin ov a onion.  Swither my stockin's if aw wouldno'! "

What followed aw dunno know, for Jack o' Flunter's an' me shuttered deawn steears as soon as we could find a road; an' when th' owd lad joined us, rubbin' that part ut had bin agen th' floor, we purtended we didno' know what he ailed. A glass an' a crusher soothed him deawn, after we'd promised for t' investigate th' matter, an' bring desarved an' condign punishment upo' someb'dy ut wur a disgrace to th' goose club. At eleven o'clock he'd getten his temper reaund to th' west, blowin' a gentle breeze, like th' quiet settin' ov a summer day.



THE RAFFLE.


    Th' neet of o neets coome at last, an' we'd two fust rate animals i'th' fithert line to be shaked for.  Hazelwo'th had th' honour o' supplyin' us this time, an' a extry depilation had gone to th' farm fort' pike 'em eaut.  Th' goose looked like a three-decker, wi' nobbut th' fore mast up; an' th' duck met be compared to a frigate, waddlin' by its side.  Ther lots o' folk went a-lookin' at 'em, as they'rn coted i'th' "Owd Bell" stable, wonderin' what wur th' meeanin' o' so mony visitors.  Th' londlord made a good thing eaut o' showin' 'em, becose nob'dy could for-shawm to leeave th' heause beaut havin' a gill.  Booath th' goose an' th' duck fund it eaut in a day or two what theyr'n theere for.  They fell, one mornin', a sacrifice to that grand institution—guzzlin' an' stuffin'— so necessary to show off Christian feelin' an' self-denial at that time o'th' year.

    But, as aw said, th' neet of o neets coome; an' th' "Owd Bell" chamber wur one blaze o' leet—not leet fro' candles, or gas, but fro' a lump o' pine wood, sawn i' three, an' fixed upreet i'th foire-place.  Onybody ut went into th' reaum stopped at th' dur an' looked at th' foire afore venturin' furr.  Then they shaded the'r faces, an' sit as far away as they could get.  Th' latest comers had to keep droppin' in closer to th' foire, till it geet to owd Peg-leg, an' he had to peearch at th' end o'th' fender, wheere, later on i'th' neet, he made hissel useful by pokin' th' foire with his "timber toe," till it wur very nee gettin' on a blaze.  Th' "Churchwarden Band" wur at the'r wark directly, the'r pipes sendin' eaut spurts o' reech ut filled th' reaum wi' cleauds o' blued muslin.  Soon th' pitcher begun a-gooin' reaund, one wi' warm an' t' other wi' cowd; an' this soart o' foirin'-up browt th' steeam o' good humour to brastin' pressure afore th' raffle begun.  Then th' cheearman turn't up.

    "Bring in owd Smutch's hymn book," owd Juddie said, as soon as he geet fixed at his post.  He meant th' dice.

    So these unsaintly things were flung on th' table, an' th' fust name wur coed o'er.  Then th' raffle begun wi' a sperrit ut wur kept up for nearly an heaur, becose it took th' cheearmon sich a while to book th' number of a throw.  Some shook savagely, as if the'r aim wur to knock th' bottom eaut o'th' box; an' th' length o' tongue ut wur exhibited o'er this soart o' shakin' showed ut that member wur thowt to have a good deeal to do wi' luck.  Others shook in a quiet an' philosophic fashion, as if they didno' care for winnin', an' would rayther ha' gan the'r chance away nur ha' bin at th' trouble o' shakin'.  One or two fause uns put the'r ears to th' box, an' talked to th' dice, tellin' th' sixes to lay th' ones on the'r backs, when they leet upo' th' table.  Fun an' spekilation ran hee, speshly spekilation.  But as th' game went on, thoose ut wur shaked eaut fell away fro' th' table, an' consoled the'rsels by thinkin' they wouldno' have a great deeal o' cookin' to do, an' a sickly smell to put up wi' that Kesmas.  At last th' winners wur declared—him ut had won th' goose sayin' he thowt he should win when he coome, becose his wife had dreeamt th' nest afore ut hoo'd bin in a snow-storm, wheere th' flakes wur as big as goose fithers.  Him ut piked th' duck up said he'd a notion o' winnin', too, as a "quack" doctor had coed at his heause that mornin' wantin' him to buy some worm peawthers.  Heaw things had dropt eaut!

    "Aw never win nowt, do aw hecky as like!" owd Peg-leg said, hopping abeaut th' reaum, an' makkin' a black dot every time he set his peg deawn.

    "Be satisfied," Jack o' Flunter's said, ut had won nowt hissel.  "Yo' known they're aulus th' biggest foos ut han th' best luck."

    "Then heaw is it he's won nowt?" Peg-leg said, meeanin' owd Juddie.  "He's about th' biggest leatheryead aw know.  If ever they catchen me shakin' for a goose agen, aw'll be goosed misel'," an' Peg-leg gan th' foire a poke, an' sent a flock o' sparks up th' chimdy.

    I' less nur hauve an heaur after th' raffle it wur known througheaut Hazelwo'th who 'ad won th' goose; an' bi th' time th' prize wur loaded whoam th' Frog Lone band wur gether't reaund th' dur, playin' th' Conquerin' Hayro."

    Th' shakin' bein' sattled, we formed reaund for singin' an' tale-tellin', an' a bit o' quiet fratchin'.  Owd Juddie wur thrutcht into th' chimdy-nook, a-facin' owd Peg-leg; an' they neaw-an'-then leet fly at one another, for t' keep the'r tempers fro' gettin' meault.  Just when they'rn abeaut gettin' howd o' one another's noses ther a sheaut set up.

    "He's here; he's here—th' uncle's come'n!"

    Well, thoose ut had no' known th' "uncle would ha' thowt he're a grey or bare-headed owd mon, jolly-faced, like Winter, wi' its berries, an' as merry as Kesmas bells.  Merry he wur, an' jolly; but no furr travell't i' life nur th' hauve-way heause, wheere owd Time owt t' alleaw him to stop.  His senglet stood eaut till it threw a broad, reaund, shadow upo' th' floor; an' his face sparkl't o'er wi' rubies o' fun.

    "A nice, brokken-hearted-lookin' lot yo' are," he said, as soon as he could fix hissel' for lookin' reaund.  "Yo' o looken as if yo'd lost summat."

    "Sit thi deawn, an' get that orgin o' thine i' tune," Jack o' Flunter's said, gettin' howd o'th' uncle by th' shoothers, an' wheelin' him to a seeat.  "Theau's just come'n i'th' nick o' time.  We'rn gettin' quite mopesed."

    "Aye, yo' looken like it, by th' way thoose pitchers are gooin' reaund," th' uncle said.  "Aw never see'd sich a set-eaut o' faces sin' aw're kessunt.  They looken like two rows o' red lamps.  What han yon chaps agate?"  These were Fause Juddie an' owd Peg-leg.

    "Summat o'er one o' Juddie's hens ut's missing', an' th' smell of a pie ut owd Peg-leg's had to the'r dinner t'other day," Jack o' Flunter's said.  "They're nobbut bin at it abeaut ten minutes, an' Juddie has bin on his feet twice, for t' lash eaut.  Every time he rises owd Peg's timber rises too; an' he sticks it i'th front on him, like a bayonet.  We'd best let 'em have it to the'rsels."

    "Neaw, uncle; sing us th' Miller," Jim Thuston coed eaut.  "It'll happen save a bit o' bloodshed."

    "Aye, sing us th' Miller," someb'dy else sheauted.

    "Aw reckon, chaps, yo'n made yo'r minds up not to be satisfied till yo'n had it," th' uncle said, pooin' a young blanket fro' reaund his neck, an' givin' a soart of a startin' signal, by clearin' his throat.  "Yo'r on, aw con see; so aw met as weel get it o'er, as th' lad said when his feyther raiched th' rope deawn."

    "Order for a song, mesther Cheearmon," Jack o' Flunter's coed eaut.  "It tak's a whul reaum-full fort' keep yo' two onywhat-like."

    "Well, if he'll give in ut it wur my hen ut he had made int' a pie, aw'll say nowt no moore abeaut it," owd Juddie said, givin' his enemy what wur intended to be a mild look.  "Aw'll forgive him."

    "Theau'll forgive me, wilta?" owd Peg-leg said, turnin' up his nose at Juddie; "as if aw cared whether theau did or not.  Let me tell thi, once an' for o, ut theau hasno' a hen i' thi cote ut would raise a smell.  Ony hen ut's bin fed upo' nowt nobbut brokken pots 'll never be fit to lie under a crust."

    "There was a jolly miller, lived on the river Dee," th' uncle begun; an' ther' quietness at once, except a bit o' under-voiced mutterin', ut neaw an' then went backort and forrad across th' hearthstone; an' th' singin' went on.

    When th' sung wur finished, an' th' sheautin' an' clappin' an' hommerin' th' tables had ceeased, owd Juddie an' owd Peg-leg rose upo' what they had to stored on; an' gettin' howd o' one another's honds, like two foos i' drink, they gan a hearty shake, ut took th' company quite bi storm.  We'd had th' last o' the'r bother for that neet.

    "Well done, uncle!" Jack o' Flunter's said, offerin' th' singer a wesh-deawn.  "That orgin o' thine's i' fust rate tune— different to that wur at th' Ranter's Chapel."

    "Whoa's towd thee abeaut that?" th' uncle said, lookin' reaund an' up into Jack's face.

    "A little brid ut wur peearcht upo' th' chimdy at th' time," Jack, said i' rayther a mystarious way.  "Theau may be sure it wur one ut understood th' difference between a orgin an' a harmonium."

    "It wur a rum go, wurn't it?" th' uncle said, laafin'.

    "It wur nowt elze," Jack said.  "Some folk han th' cheek for owt, if ther's summat at th' end on't.  Theau met mak' a rare tale eaut o' that spree if theau'd tell it to th' company."

    "Should aw do, dost think?" th' uncle said.

    "Aye, it 'ud just suit 'em," Jack said.  "Aw dunno' think ther's one on 'em knows abeaut it.  Shall aw sheaut for order?"

    "O reet—hommer away!"

    "Mak' a less noise, chaps," Jack sheauted, after he'd losent th' table joints wi' his fist; "we met ha' no cheearmon!  Th' uncle's gooin' t' tell us a bit of a tale."

    Ther quietness at once, an' th' uncle begun.

    "Well," he said, "yo' known th' Ranter's Chapel, up i'th' Plattin' Lone?  They'n, like, getten on as fast theere as at ony pleck aw know.  Fro' a flute an' a bass fiddle, an' a dowdy squad o' singers, they geet to a harmonium an' a slap-up choir in next to no time.  But they wurno' satisfied wi' thoose."

    "Folk never are satisfied," owd Juddie put in.

    "Yo'r reet theere, George, they never are.  Well," th' uncle went on, "I they must have a orgin i'th' place o'th harmonium.  So they geet a orgin—th' part o' one, heawever—an' yo'r uncle, here, wur engaged for th' oppenin'.  It wur to be a grand do.  Bills wur put up th' size of a heause, an' a extry teeam of praichers wur mustered.  Aw had to sing a solo—'And the trumpet shall seaund'—wi' a trumpet obligato, if yo' known what that meeans.  As aw didno' like singin' it beaut a bit o' practice, we'd a rehearsal o'th' Setterday neet, me an' th' orginist.  When he'd played th' recitative—that's a soart o' introduction, like, ut aw thowt seaunded rayther cat-maawish for a orgin o' that size—aw brasted off.  When aw coome to 'And the trumpet shall seaund' he should ha' blown a pipe ut seaunds like a trumpet.  But it didno' cheep, so aw drops mi singin'.

    "'Here, owd Smoothie'-iron,' aw said, 'poo that trumpet-stop eaut.'

    "'Ther' is no trumpet-stop,' he said.

    "'What! a orgin beaut trumpet stop?' aw said.

    "'Orgin behanged!' he said; "this is th' owd harmonium they'n fotcht eaut o'th' skoo.  Th' orgin builder has bin on th' spree, an' hasno' finished his job; so we're like to do th' best we con.'

    "If th' orgin makker hasno' finished his job, thi uncle doesno' finish his,' aw said; an' aw rowlt mi music up, an' walked eaut o'th' chapel."

    "Didtno' sing o'th' Sunday?" Jim Thuston wanted to know.

    "Would theau ha' sung?" th' uncle said.

    "Aw hardly think aw should," Jim said.  "Wur th' orgin oppent?"

    "Th' harmonium wur; an' aw dunno' think th' congregation known to this day but what th' music coome fro' th' orgin; becose th' harmonium wur shoved reet agen it.  Well, it wur for a good cause; so aw reckon a little bit o' hanky-panky meant nowt.  Whoa's won th' goose?"

    "Jammie Whiteyead."  This wur after ther'd bin a sheaut for th' uncle's tale.

    "Has he ta'en it whoam?"

    "Theau may be sure o' that.  We expecten him back every minute."

    "Aw yerd a queer tale abeaut it as aw're comin'," th' uncle said.

    "Aye?  What's that?"

    "Wait a bit.  Let's yer what Jammie says when he comes back."

    "Heaw wur it abeaut that goose ut owd Siah bowt i' Manchester once, uncle?" someb'dy sheauted across th' reaum.

    "Aye, poor owd Siah!" th' uncle begun.  "He're gradely done i' that.  He're a deeal betther off then nur he is neaw.  It wur when he kept th' 'Gowden Ball.'  Siah thowt he'd give his neighbours a gradely blow-eaut one Kesmas; so, beside a lump o' beef, abeaut th size of a wheelbarrow, he'd have a goose.  Ther wur no goose clubs then; an' th' smell o' one wur seldom snifted i' Hazelwo'th.  Well, Siah spent a day i' Manchester i' pikin one eaut; so he satisfied hissel, an' browt a wick un under his arm, like a pair o' bagpipes.  He'd never examined th' bottoms of its feet, or else he met ha' seen ut it had segs on as thick as sole leather.  It had travell't mony a hundert mile, aw darsay, in it' time, an' seen different countries.  He fed it a fortnit, an' kept it in a empty pig-cote at back o'th' heause.  One neet owd So'derin'-iron crept i'th' pig-cote, an' festent two pieces o' tin to th' botthoms o'th' goose's feet for shoon.  Then he went into owd Siah's kitchen, an' begun' a-talkin' abeaut th' dinner.

    "'It's a fine goose, they'rn sayin' at th' 'Owd Bell' yesterneet,' owd So'derin'-iron said, after they'd talked a bit.

    "'Theau shall look at it,' owd Siah said; an' off he went to th' pig-cote, a-fotchin' th' goose.

    "When he londed back wi' th' brid he turned it deawn; an it begun a-clickin' abeaut upo' th' kitchen floor like an owd woman i' ring pattens.

    "'Wheay, yo'n bowt a traveller,' So'derin'-iron said, laafin' to see what antics th' goose played wi' it' new shoon.

    "Siah stared like a lad ut's lost o his marbles.

    "'Aw never yerd tell of a travellin' goose afore,' he said, 'but, by goss, aw see one neaw.  Dost' think it'll be ateable?'

    "'To someb'dy ut's good teeth it may be,' So'derin'-iron said.  'But aw should say that goose knows as mich abeaut a whip as ony tit ut ever went on a road.  They han 'em i' Dublin for drawin' childer's carriages abeaut, four in a yoke.  Yo' may see reaund it' neck theere wheere th' collar's bin! '

    "'An' so aw do,' owd Siah said.  'Well, it's a capper ut aw've gone wi' my een oppen an' bowt that owd wesherwoman.  But aw conno' swap it, becose aw dunno' know who aw bowt it off.  Aw shall be like to try if it con be getten i' pieces.  Dunno' thee say nowt abeaut it.  Happen th' brid may turn eaut to be betther nur it promises.'

    "'Aw winno' slatter a word,' So'derin'-iron said; an' he stuck to it.

    "Well, when th' day coome owd Siah had this goose nicely stuffed, an' he had it roastin' i'th' oon for abeaut six heaurs.  Then he tried th' edge of a knife on it.  He met as weel ha' tried th' knife agen th' oon-dur, for ony wark it geet through.  It wur no use, try wheerever he would, it wur o'th' same, no road could be fund.

    "'Mary,' he said to th' owd woman, 'this mun be a boiler.  If six heaurs' roastin' winno' mak' it give in to th' thwittle, a day winno'.'

    "'Put it i'th' pon then, Siah,' owd Mary said; 'we shall ha' th' company here eenneaw.'

    "So into th' pon th' goose went, an' it had three heaurs i' that shop; but when it wur ta'en eaut nob'dy could ha' towd th' carcas fro' one leg of a pair o' leather breeches, teed up at booath ends.

    "When th' dinner wur put upo' th' table—beaut th' goose, mind yo—owd Siah towd th' company they must mak' eaut wi' th' beef, as he'd had th' misfortin' to buy a brid ut would noather roast nor boil.

    "'Didno' aw tell yo' it wur a traveller?' So'derin'-iron said.'

    "'Yoi, theau did,' Siah said.  'But what by that?'

    "'Yo' should ha' cooked it wi' th' shoon on!'"

    Th' uncle had no sooner finished his tale nur Jammie Whiteyead coome spinnin' into th' reaum like a mad scopperil.

    "It's a gonner," he said, lookin' reaund, as if he thowt here amung a gang o' thieves.

    "What, Jammie?" everybody wanted to know.

    "Th' goose," Jammie said.

    "Nay, Jammie, nay, it wur a goose."

    "Aw know that, but it's gone; that's what aw mean!"

    "Another traveller?" Jack o' Flunter's said to th' uncle.

    "Aye; but it hasno' travelled far sin' it went eaut o' this shop," th' uncle said; "Aw'll bet aw could find it."

    " Some o' yo' known wheere it is," Jammie said; an' he begun a-peawchin' as if he had lost o he had.

    Nob'dy knew; but in abeaut two heaurs, me, an' Jammie, an' Jack o' Flunter's, an' th' uncle, wur sent for, to a supper at th' 'Gowden Ball.'  We o went; an' if ever ther' wur a nicer goose cooked nur wur put upo' th' table that neet, it must ha' bin under th' nose o' royalty.  It wur Jammie's goose; but whoa'd stown it nob'dy said; tho' Sam Smithies paid for it; an' he winked at me as he tumbled th' brass upo' th' table.  Heaw th' next goose'll goo on aw dunno' know, but th' list is made up.


――――♦――――

 
THE DEAD BRIDE.

He had no breath, no being, but in hers.'—Byron.


"NOW then," said my uncle, as we were crossing the bridge leading to the great landing-stage at Liverpool, "is it to be Wales, or the Isle of Man?"

    Everybody appeared to be going to the latter place.  Crowds jostled us on the bridge—on the pier,—and were eagerly pushing their way towards the "Mona's Queen," that, with steam up, lay panting and snorting below, as if struggling to slip its cable.  It did not take us a long time to decide upon which place should be our destination, as we were out for quiet pleasuring; and the thronged appearance of the Manx packet did not seem to promise an over pleasant passage.  People were shouting and swearing in all dialects spoken east of Liverpool; pitching travelling-bags, trunks, parcels, and bundles in all directions; trampling, elbowing, and pushing with a reckless persistence that made the timid voyager look anxiously about him, as if afraid of being annihilated.  On board the Welsh boat there was nothing of this crowding and scrambling; it was like going to church, in comparison—crossing the gangway, and selecting our places on the deck, whilst the passengers already on board appeared to be, in many respects, of a superior class.

    "Let us take the Welsh packet, by all means," I suggested; whereupon my uncle inclined his head in a consenting manner, and at the next minute we had relieved ourselves of our luggage, and were snugly ensconced on the main deck of the "Prince of Wales," destined for Bangor.

    We steamed out of harbour with a slight head wind, that freshened up the sea into white-crested waves, and fluttered the loosely-reefed canvas over our heads, giving promise of a brisk, if not a stirring passage.  As we left the Mersey, and noted the last object of interest that drew our attention shoreward, we began to listen more attentively to the music which was being discoursed by a sort of marine "German band" that had taken up its quarters near us.  I love to hear music on the sea.  It has a charm about it that the land, with all its accessories of sound, cannot give; especially such music as partakes of a nautical character, which tells us of "The sea, the sea, the open sea," or "A life on the ocean wave, a home on the rolling deep."  The sighing of the breeze through the vessel's rigging, the dashing of the water against the prow, and those mysterious undertones struck in solemn chords upon the wave-harp, lend accompaniments to the music that enhance its sweetness to a degree of sublimity.  The band was now playing—"Adieu, my native land," and as I listened to the soft farewells that seemed to breathe through the harmony, and looked out to the shore that was receding from my sight, I felt how overwhelming must be the emotion of one who is straining for a last fond glimpse of his native land, when all that is dear to him is left behind.  I could see by the expression of my uncle's countenance that he was touched with the same feeling; and that, in consequence, there was an increased demand upon the consolation afforded by the bottle of porter that was conveniently placed beneath his seat.  Often, as he drew forth the comforter and poured its contents into his glass, he seemed to do so with a view to shake off attachments that clung to him as if they were parts of himself, and could not be severed without leaving a wound.

    After making a number of us as sad as we well could be, the band struck up a livelier strain: I think it was the air to that salt-flavoured song of Allan Cunningham's, "A wet sheet, and a flowing sea."  Under the influence of this characteristic melody we got to be merry in a twinkling—all except a pale, languid, consumptive-looking young fellow, who, reclining against a heap of luggage, had never once changed his position, or the melancholy expression of his countenance, during the time we had been out.  My uncle was quite interested in this individual; and twice or thrice he offered him a draught of his porter, which was as often declined by a seemingly unconscious shake of the head.  Chat he would not, though often challenged to a conversation.  If my uncle made a remark concerning the weather, or the sea, or the distant Welsh mountains, his listener would say "Yes," or "No," as might be applicable, sigh, and roll his languid eyes around, as if there was nothing on either sea or land that could enlist his attention in the least possible way.

    "I wonder if he's in love?" said my uncle in a whisper to me.

    "Or insane?" I suggested; though why I scarcely knew.

    "Same thing," said my uncle, as he took another pull at his bottle, and subsided into a thoughtful and speculative mood, giving now and then a glance at our reserved fellow-passenger, as if engaged in making a mental sketch of his character, or for the purpose of obtaining a connecting link to the train of passing reflections.

    We were now reminded by a couple of gentlemen in official uniform that it was time to "shell out."  The band had made several levies upon our purses; and on each occasion had our companion been most liberal in his contributions, at the same time making a request that they would play a sad tune.  On the fare-collectors touching their caps to him he drew forth a purse, upon which his eyes fell with such an expression of fond regard, that I could not help remarking to myself that there might be some probability of my uncle's speculations being near the truth.  The purse was exquisitely wrought, but of what material principally, I could not guess.  Here and there were loops of silver taking up threads of what appeared to be gold enwoven with silk, and strung with stones of various hues; but how incorporated with the rest of the material I could not make out.  Long did the owner gaze at this purse before replacing it in his pocket; and when at last his hand consented to relinquish its hold upon it, I could see that it did so with a fondling unwillingness.  I turned to my uncle.  His eyes met mine with a significant glance, and we looked at our companion again.  The latter had sunk into his former listless attitude; and though the vessel was now pitching in a most lively manner, he seemed to be quite unconscious of its motion.  As the band was taking a rest, my uncle suggested a song to fill up the pause.  Porter and sea breeze had put him in excellent spirits, and when in proper trim he sings most delightfully.  Setting his head on one side, as if sighting a horizontal plane, and at the same time giving a few preparatory coughs and hums, he commenced singing, to the listening of some dozen of us that tender pastoral of Burns's—"Flow gently, sweet Afton."  He was in excellent voice, and when entreating the river not to disturb by its murmurings his "Mary's" dream, the countenance of the strange young man lighted up with an expression of interest that encouraged the singer to give some of his best touches to the tenderest of the passages.  When the song was finished, our companion arose from his recumbent position, and paced the deck in an agitated manner, which he continued to do for some time; then pausing opposite a vacant seat next the one upon which I sat, he gave me a look which seemed to say, "May I be allowed to have a word with you?"  I motioned him to the seat, which he at once accepted, and the preliminaries to a conversation were commenced.

    "Going to Bangor?" he inquired, rather timidly.

    "We purpose staying there to-night," I replied, "and going on to Carnarvon to-morrow."

    "I intend going to Carnarvon to-morrow," he observed, "if all be well," he added, with a sigh.

    "Indeed?"

    "Yes; there is to be a grand festival held inside the castle, and I mean to be present.  I have come all the way from Scotland almost on purpose."

    "What is it to celebrate?"

    "The presentation of a sword and service of plate to one of the heroes of the late war—Major Rowlands.  He is a distant relation of—well, no matter who.  It is to be a grand affair.  The sword itself is valued at a hundred guineas; and I suppose the plate will be of corresponding value."

    "I'm glad you've named it," I said, "otherwise we might have delayed our journey, and missed it."

    "That would have been a pity.  I would not miss it for the world.  Your friend sings that song beautifully," he added, after a pause. "I don't often hear a song.  My father's a clergyman, and very strict about secular music.  I don't think there's any harm in it; do you? "

    "Not at all, when the sentiment is pure," I replied; "and nothing could be more chaste than the song we have just listened to."

    "'Mary' is a sweet name.  I love it for its simplicity;" and the young man heaved another sigh.

    Was it really the simplicity of the name that made him love it?  I wondered; or was there some attachment that gave it its charm?  I did not wonder long.

    "Perhaps you are acquainted with some pretty owner of the name," I ventured to remark.

    "I was once—as charming a girl as ever made man happy.  But she died about eight months ago.  I have not seemed to live since.  Her death gave me a shock that I do not hope to survive.  I never was strong, and I now feel myself sinking daily."

    "Probably a few weeks at the seaside would do you good."

    "Oh, no—I have tried all the summer.  I have been at Southport, Brighton, Scarborough, and other places, all to no purpose.  I know I'm going home."

    I suppose he meant his eternal home.

    The band resuming its duties broke off our conversation at this juncture; and I took the opportunity to remind my uncle that we ought by all means to proceed to Carnarvon on the morrow.  Then I thought about "Mary."

    Was she wife to our fellow-passenger, I wondered.  Impossible; he was but a mere youth; just at that age when the realities of life seem as nothing when compared with the romantic ideas which fill the soul.

    Probably the girl was his first love, and as such would occupy the first place in his heart and memory so long as either retained anything.

    We had passed the Great Orme's Head, and were gliding smoothly past Puffin Island, when our companion observed, pointing to the island—"Would it not be pleasant to end one's days in this great solitude, with nothing but dreams of those gone before us as our companions?"

    I scarcely could conceive it to be pleasant ending one's days anywhere; but preferred, in the event of mortality overtaking me, having a comfortable feather bed to lie on, and "troops of friends" about me, to the association of cold grey rocks, and the companionship of unsubstantial visitors.  I expressed as much to my stranger friend, at which he gave a wan smile, threw himself back in his seat, and sank into silence again.

    "We are in sight of Beaumaris," I remarked, with a desire to promote further conversation. This was after a pause of some minutes.

    "Beaumaris!" exclaimed my friend, jumping up, and looking out.  "Yes, there it is; more beautiful to me than it is to you, I dare say."

    "How so?"

    The young man again seated himself.

    "I have made you my confidant thus far," said he, "and I may as well give you the history of the most painful, and yet the happiest period of my life.  It may or may not interest you; but if you will please to listen you shall hear it."

    I notified my willingness to give audience to his narrative, and my friend proceeded.

    "A year ago I was sojourning with my father at Beaumaris.  We occupied a cottage a little outside the town.  It was a sweet spot, from which the loveliest bits of landscape could be seen.  I was in the habit of taking a stroll in the evening—rambling by the old priory and down upon the beach.  I frequently met a young lady in my walks, whose absence, when it did occur, made me feel as if some charm had been displaced, or some object of interest swept away.  I missed her on one occasion for a whole week, and I grew downright miserable.  Until then I had not asked myself the question—was I in love with her?  Now the answer came before the question could suggest itself—I was in love—deeply in love; and I resolved on the first opportunity to declare my passion to her.  That opportunity came.  I was down by the old priory one evening, taking my accustomed walk.  It was near sunset.  A stream of orange light flushed the woods, and cast long shadows across the bay.  The mountains had donned their purple to preside over the empire of night, and the sea lay like a listener to the soft echoes that were floating around.  The time was made for love.  Not to feel its presence suffusing your whole being was not to live at all.  It was a time, too, when you might wish creation would stand still, and the future be an eternity of love and sunset.  Oh, how my heart throbbed with that delicious rapture!  A thousand years of misery were nothing wherewith to purchase an hereafter of such bliss.  My feet touched not earth; they seemed to tread on down clips from the wings of angels.  The air was the breath of Paradise ere its fall—laden with the fragrance of flowers that never die.  I was just lifting my heart in thanksgiving to Heaven for the happiness of those swift moments, when I heard a footstep advancing.  I was breathless with expectation.  Another moment of suspense and I should have fainted.  I felt myself going delirious.  I—but there is a gap between that moment and the next conscious one that my memory cannot fill up.  It is to me like the faintest trace of a long-remembered, long-fading dream.  When I awoke to myself, she was standing by me.  Her hand was within mine.  I felt her breath upon my cheek.  Her heart beat with mine in audible pulsations.  It was a moment when we feel ourselves one being—inseparable through life—one soul throughout the vast future.  I know not what language love had prompted me to speak; but my heart overflowed with an eloquence that I had never been conscious of before.  Every word I uttered seemed to draw her soul nearer to mine; and when our rapture was culminating in one long and fervent embrace, I heard other footsteps approaching.  They were my father's.  He passed us, but spoke not a word; yet, by the severe look he gave me, I could see his heart was full of reproof, and I had unpleasant forebodings for the morrow.

    "At what hour we parted I know not.  Time was nothing to me then.  The moon was looking down upon the bay with a serene face, and its light had changed the golden tinge of the still woods to a pale silver.  The owl's cry was the only sound which broke the stillness of the night; and the glow-worm's lamp shone dimly in the broader light.  Through leafy lane and misty path we went—slowly, yet how swiftly—on our too brief journey home.  If pilgrimages to some saintly shrine were half so delightful as that short journey was to me, how devout the world would find itself to-morrow.

    "The cottage where Mary lived (that was her name) was just the spot to make my passion more intense, if that were possible.  It was not far removed from our own.  I wish it had been: then matters might have turned out differently.  As it is impossible to describe that home, I will not make the attempt; let it suffice to say that it was such as Love, had he been an architect, would himself have fashioned—poetry from its very chimneys to its foundations, with a fairyland of garden around it.  I noticed there being a small chapel attached to the dwelling, and was told by Mary that her father was minister of the place.  That information gave me no slight concern, when I further discovered that he was a dissenter.  My father never could bear to hear of dissent.  He was a Churchman to the core, and had striven by education and training to make me the same.  The discovery I had made was a fatal one.  The week following we left the place for our permanent home in England.  My father had given me a severe lecture for what he termed my boyish imprudence, and even threatened to disown me if I continued my attention to the "Wesleyan's" daughter.  If I could have heeded his injunctions I would have done so; for filial disregard was never one of my failings.  I, however, found it impossible to obey him in this instance.  I had a parting interview with Mary on the eve of our departure.  It was on the spot where we had first met, near the old priory.  I gave her a Bible as a pledge of my affection, and as a remembrances of the few happy evenings we had spent together.  She gave me this purse in return.  [Here the narrator drew forth the purse before mentioned]  We parted; but with the hope to meet again.  Our faith was plighted to it.  On that day twelvemonth, Heaven willing, on that spot consecrated to love by our first interview, our tokens of affection were to be exchanged, and our intercourse renewed.

    "After our parting we kept up a correspondence for several months unknown to my parents.  Mary's letters were full of expressions of tenderness, couched in such delicate and lady-like terms, and suffused with such a glow of poetic feeling, that the receipt of one made the event a red-letter day to me.  Scarcely a week passed over without bringing its welcome missive.  This correspondence continued up to Christmas; when all at once it ceased.  I had written, but received no reply.  I wrote again the week following, to be again disappointed.  I grew uneasy; and, after despatching a third letter with no better result, I determined at once to make a journey to Wales, to ascertain what was the cause of this silence.  I intended doing this unknown to my parents, so that all my preparations had to be made by stealth.  I had got everything in readiness for my journey, and was only waiting an opportunity to slip away unobserved or unsuspected, when one morning the postman brought me what I took to be a letter enclosed in a black-bordered envelope.  My heart sank within me as I broke the seal and read the contents of a Mourning card—the only enclosure:—'In affectionate remembrance of Mary—, only daughter of the Rev.—, who departed this life, &c., &c.'  This was a blow indeed!  I felt as though I had been playing hazard, and lost the world at one throw.  Existence was nothing to me—only an irksome encumbrance that I would gladly have laid aside for the repose of death.  I need not describe to you how wayward and erratic has been my life since then.  I have sought a resting-place, but could not find one.  To me the last eight months have seemed an eternity, with my soul yearning for the day of tryste, which is now drawing near.  I shall keep my promise.  Sunday next will be the anniversary of our parting.  I shall go down by the old priory at the hour appointed for our reunion; and if there be such a thing as mortal communication with the spirits of the departed, I hope to be with Mary that night."

    "Ease her! stop her!" sang out the captain from his look-out on the bridge of the paddle-box; and in another minute we were moored along the pier at Beaumaris, where we were welcomed by a crowd of pretty idlers, who had congregated near the stairs to wait our arrival.

    With many protestations of friendship and kind wishes for the morrow, our fellow-voyager left us; and I could not help noticing that he no sooner got footing on the pier than his eyes were turned in the direction of the old priory, and that he began to move hurridly away.


 *                                   *                                   *                                   *


    The morrow was as lovely a day as we could have desired.  The sun streamed over the heights of Bangor, and popped its countenance into my bedroom all on a sudden, as if it had been in a hurry to be off to Carnarvon, and do its best shining there.  My uncle was stirring early, and I immediately joined him in a short excursion up the heights, taking something with us wherewith to temper the coldness of the spring which gushed out of the mountain-side opposite our lodgings.  Everything augured a delightful day.  People who had chosen to do the journey to Carnarvon on foot were already on the road, giving it quite a holiday appearance.  We made a hasty breakfast, after which we walked down to the station, and in little more than half an hour from the time of starting, the massive grey towers of Carnarvon were looking down grandly upon us.  As it was not yet time for the festivities to commence, we took a stroll through the town—rambled on the romantic banks of the Seiont, and contemplated the beautiful prospect which is to be seen from every point.  By-and-by the boom of cannon and the peal of bells announced the hour of presentation, and we joined the crowd of spectators that was pouring in at the castle gates.

    To have seen that picturesque multitude assembled in any place would have been a sight worth remembering; but to meet with it between the walls of one of the finest castles in Europe rendered the event doubly interesting.  All types of Welsh costumes were represented in the throng: the primitive high-peaked hat and mob cap of the matron, and the less quaint but no less characteristic head attire of the maiden, mingled with the gay coiffure which modern English taste had introduced into the principality.  The Welsh harper was present, but without the traditional flowing beard; and "bards," in blue coats and brass buttons, congregated about the dais which had been erected in the shadow of the north wall.  We found our fellow-excursionist on the top of Eagle tower, which had been named as the place of rendezvous; and after exchanging civilities we each took an abstract view of the scene below.  The several choirs engaged to sing were arranged in order in front of the platform; the silver-plate shone upon a table in the centre; the cannon boomed at intervals; when suddenly, as if a shot had struck him, our companion bounded from his seat, and was hurrying down the staircase at a headlong speed.  We saw him emerge from the tower entrance, but he was instantly absorbed by the surging crowd, and we saw him no more.

    Ere we had time to speculate as to the cause of this unaccountable conduct of our friend, the harper had drawn his hand across his instrument; hymn books were flashing in the sun; a loud cheer had announced the arrival of the gallant major, and the proceeding at once commenced by singing—if I remember right—the doxology; the music swelling up from below, and reverberating between the walls with a sound that, for the time, made the castle assume the character of an unroofed cathedral.  The ceremony of presentation was touchingly impressive.  The gallant major shed tears like a child, and shook hands with those about him with the seeming affection of a brother.  We looked for our stranger friend among this favoured group, but he was not to be found; and though we were among the last to quit the castle, and closely scrutinised the departing crowd, we could see no one who bore the least resemblance to him.


 *                                   *                                   *                                   *


    We are again on board the packet, this time homeward bound.  We are slackening speed for Beaumaris, and there is a gay assemblage on the pier.  I observe a familiar face above the railings, but it is not turned towards us.  It is basking in the light of another face that is shining near.


And both were young, and one was beautiful;
And both were young—yet not alike in youth.


    One is the face of our former sea companion; but to whom does the other belong?  A few turns of the paddles; a lingering good-bye a reluctant descent of the pier stairs, and our friend is beside us, his breast so full of wild emotion that it seems as if it would emulate the steam boiler in its apparent effort to burst itself.  How he shakes me by the hand—looking shorewards all the time, and pouring into my ear an explanation of what had brought about this marvellous change in his spirits and disposition

    "Oh, my dear friend!  I should like to call you friend through life," he exclaimed, as the boat was being unmoored; "this has been wonderful.  I kept my tryste yester' evening, and met—not her spirit, but herself, as beautiful—yes, more beautiful than ever, because as I might have supposed her to have risen from the dead.  But stop—is it not a dream?"  And a shade passed over his countenance.  No; there she is, bless her!  A thousand heavens in her face, each brighter than anything beside.  I fancied I saw her in the castle when we were looking down from the tower.  She was there at the time; but I sought her in vain among the crowd, and thought at last that my eyes had deceived me.  I kept my tryste, however; and when the church clock struck the appointed hour, her form burst like a spell of enchantment upon my astonished gaze.  I will give you more particulars on our passage home; but I may at once tell you that the funeral card I received eight months ago was a deception practised by one who ought to have been above it, and resorted to as the most effectual means of estranging me from Mary.  Ah, some people knew little of the immortality of love!"

    We were steaming ahead again; the pier was receding from our sight; but so long as there was a spot on which the eye could rest our companion's gaze was turned towards it, and scarcely a word escaped his lips the while.  As we were passing Puffin Island, he turned to me with a smile, and observed—"I am no longer anxious to end my days on that dreary spot.  Life has all at once become dear and delightful to me; and I feel so much improved in health that I think I may venture—yes, I may venture—to marry in a month hence."  Oh, the curative properties of requited love!


――――♦――――

 
BOGGART NOOKS.

A TALE OF THE TELEPHONE.


WE'RN havin' a "fender" at eaur heause one neet, a gradely Lancashire "fender."  Sich like are gooin' eaut o' fashin neaw, aw'm sorry to say, for ther' seldom is one.  They'n had the'r uses, han these "fenders," when ther nowheere else wheere a tale could be towd; an' then tale tellin' an' hearthstone croonin' wur o th' fun poor folk had, unless they went to th' aleheause.  But what, yo'n ax, is a fender?  It's a getherin' reaund th' foire o' childer, or neighbours, sittin' i'th form ov a hauve moon, an raichin' fro' hob to hob.  When ther's an owd gronfeyther at one end an' an owd gronmother at t'other, wi' a strappin' son ut's just begun a silverin' his whiskers, an' a buxom wife of his wi' a face like a red an' white fleawerpot, at the'r elbows; younger branches, so full o' health they dunno' know what to do wi' it, an' so full o' glee it seems to be oozin' eaut at th' top o' the'r yeads, sittin' at th' back front;—it's a pictur' o' owd Lancashire winter pastime ut conno' be made up for wi' noather theaytres, singin' shops, drinkin' shops, social clubs, nor ony soart o' new "fads" ut are gooin'.  At these "fenders" wits wur sharpened an' polished, sich as they wur; an' a joke, ut wouldno' mak' a men smile neaw, would cause a dozen meauths to fly oppen like so mony steel traps set for catchin' rottans, obbut they'd be ivory. Aw've sit at one o' these "fenders," hearkenin' boggart tales till aw du'st hardly look beheend me, an' when aw've gone to bed, an' aw had to goo witheaut candle, aw've had mi yure so lifted wi' fingers aw couldno' see, ut aw've wonder's it didno' come off like owd Johnny-o'-Sammul's wig. Thoose days are o'er neaw, an' th' ghosts, an' th' "Black Sams," an' th' pig-faced women, are gone wi' 'em!

    Well, we'rn havin' this "fender" i'th' owd style, becose it wur th' neet of All Hallows, or what used to be coed th' "fearin' neet."  Happen we shouldno' ha' bin wheere we wur if times had bin betther.  Moast likely three or four on us would ha' bin i'th' "Owd Bell" kitchen, drawin' slow foire eaut o' owd Peg-leg, an' windin' Fause Juddie's temper up, like windin' up a clock, for it to run deawn in a sheawer o' pint pots or spittoons.  But brass wur gettin' skase, an' we calkilated ther a blue look-eaut for Kesmas; so ut if we wur to have a bit o' fun it must come chep.  Ther me an' eaur Sal—th' owd crayther lookin' as breet as if someb'dy had laft her a fortin' witheaut havin' to dee for it.  Then ther owd Juddie, wi' his botthom lip abeaut hauve-cock, noather i' temper nor eaut o' temper, but ready for gooin' oather road.  Owd Peg-leg sit next but one to owd Juddie, wi' Jack o' Flunters between 'em, actin' as a soart ov a wall, or cage bars, for t' keep 'em fro' clawin' one another.  Peg-leg had axt Juddie if he'd gan o'er weighin' sugar beawt weights; but aw think fause-un didno' yer him, as his fithers didno' rise.  Aw advised Peg-leg not to draw Juddie eaut, as he'd bin livin' o cock chickens lately, an' wur gettin' quite red at back o'th' ears.  Peg-leg looked at his timber toe, ut wur gettin' worn thin through usin' it for a foire-potter, an' said, as that hadno' bin fed upo' cock chickens, he'd betther swallow a word or two nur go to war.  So he kept quiet.  Jim Thuston, an' Little Dody, an' Siah-at-owd-Bob's sit 'gether, th' wives havin' it by the'rsels at th' oon side o'th' hearthstone.  Th' rattle these women kept up when ther no tale bein' towd, nor song bein' sung, wur like ricklin' pots in a basket.  Put three or four women t'gether ut han never sin one another afore, an' they'n know o abeaut one another, an' everybody else, afore as mony chaps could oppen the'r meauths.  What if ther' wur a parlyment o' women?  Th' heause ud aulus look as if it wur lit up wi' phosphorus!

    Jim Thuston had browt an owd stock eaut o' the'r barn, an' put it on th' foire; an' when it geet gradely agate o' blazin', wi' sparks doancin' abeaut th' rack-an'-hook like a cleaud o' fiery midges, it looked like a Kesmas yule neet.  We needed no candles.  Aw could ha' read a ready-reckoner at th' yead o'th' heause, it wur so leet; an' ther's nowt so cheerful as a good heause foire, unless it be a woman's face when hoo's just fingerin' a week's wage, an' nowt stopt eaut on't.  It wur a breet "fender," considerin' ther a good deeal o' things for t' mak' one feel consarned abeaut,—th' price o' pottitos an' th' skasity o' wark, wi' a prospect o' times bein' still wurr.  I'stead o' havin' a fotchin' o' "Owd Bell " fourpenny, ut we considered would be to' extravagant, we'd two bottles o' owd Sally's "bend-'em-straight," at threehawpence a quart an' onybody ut could be merry off that wouldno' ha' to have his inside bother't wi' a second-honded liver!  We couldno' ha' sich bad livers, for we'rn as merry as crickets—a part o'th' time; an' that wur at th' beginnin'.

    Little Dody had sung, Jack o' Flunter's had towd a tale, an' eaur Sal had brokken deawn i' "Lovely Nancy," when ther abeaut a minute ut nowt wur said, which aw considered strange, sayin' as ther so mony women on th' hearthstone.  When th' minute wur abeaut up Siah-atowd-Bob's said—

    "Aw'm no' sure whether summat winno' happen t' neet or not."

    "Why?" owd Juddie said, throwin' his lip eaut at him.

    "Aw've seen summat," Siah said.

    "Very likely theau has if theau's had thi een oppen," Juddie said.  "But what hast' seen?"

    "Aw're givin' th' pigs the'r swill just afore dark," Siah said, "when aw noticed a strange mon hangin' abeaut ut didno' look as if he'd let a shillin' lie upo' th' greaund if he seed one."

    "He'd be a foo' if he did," Juddie put in.

    "Well, he looked like one ut wouldno' be within takkin' it eaut o' yo'r drawer if yo' hadno' yo'r e'en on him," Siah said.  But that could never happen if yo'rn i'th' shop; nowt so sure.  Yo' wouldno' ha' trusted him no furr nur yo' could throw a bull by th' tail."

    "Did he look as if he geet his livin' by getherin' rags?" owd Peg-leg wanted to know, wi' a wink at Siah.

    "Neaw, owd timber trotter," Juddie said; "thee keep that writhen meauth o' thine under good management afore aw set it straight for thi.  Theau promised me, at th' last goose raffle, theau'd never hint at that 'Shootin' a Thief' agen."

    "Ther's no keepin' th' bant i'th' nick wi' someb'dy as touchous as thee," Peg-leg said.  "Aw're hintin' noane at that thief shootin'; not I.  If aw conno' ax a civil onswer beawt thee puttin' thi motty in it's strange.  Just bethink thisel.  Theau'rt noane drinkin' rum neetcaps neaw.  Theau conno' purtend to rip thi dicky eaut wi' drinkin' bend-'em-straight."

    "Well, aw'd rayther yer Siah talk nur thee," Juddie said; "so clap thi gooms t'gether, an' keep thi tongue ut th' back on 'em."

    "If yo' two dald tinkers 'll howd off fratchin'," Siah said, "aw'll goo on.  But yo'r aulus like two barn cats, hurr-r-rin' an' spittin' at one another."

    "Well, what abeaut this chap?" aw said.

    "Aw didno' like th' looks on him," Siah said.  "He favvort he'd bin born i' very frosty weather, an' browt up on icicles an' snow broth.  He carried a lot o' bandin' on his arm, as if he're gooin' t' fly a dragon (kite), or had bin flyin' one.  He axt me wheere th' Knowe Heause wur; an' when aw'd towd him—tho' aw've afterthowt sin—he wanted t' know if aw'd go deawn to th' 'Owd Bell,' an' have a dog's nose wi' him."

    "He happen feeds upo' dog's noses 'at mak's him look so frosty," Jack o' Flunter's said.

    "Dog's nose is a soart o' drink, Yorney!" owd Juddie said.  "There's no taichin' a lot on yo' nowt.  Had this mon a queer shaped hat on?—brims weel turned up?"

    "He had," Siah said.

    "Aw seed him misel then," Juddie said.

    "But he didno' ax thee to go deawn to th' 'Owd Bell,'" Peg-leg said.  "Theau'd ha' gone, an' stopt theere till neaw, if he'd ha' bin hard."

    "Aw'll tell thi what, Mesther Dibblin'-peg," Juddie said, spakin' o'er Jack o' Flunter's shoother, "ther's nob'dy likes chep stuff, an' plenty on it, betther nur thee.  Theau's drunken twice at bend-'em-straight for onybody elze once.  Goo on wi' what theau're sayin' Siah, an' never mind this one-winged oozle."

    "Well," Siah went on, "aw've wondered ever sin' what this mon wanted up at th' Knowe Heause.  Aw didno' see at he'd a crowbar, or a dark lantern wi' him; but he met ha' picklocks an' pistils.  Aw wish aw'd never shown him th' road."

    "Didt' say he'd a lot o' clewkin wi' him?" Juddie axt.

    "Well, it wurno' exactly like clewkin," Siah said.  "It wur moore like cotton bandin', such as they user i' factories."

    "Yo' may depend on't," Juddie said, "that bandin' wur for bindin' limbs t'gether.  It's as sure a case o' robbery as aw'm here, if no' murder!"

    "Should we goo up to th' Knowe, an' see?" Jim Thuston said.  "Ther's no tellin' what may happen.  Aw con get yo' plenty o' arms eaut o' th' barn.  Aw know Juddie 'll leead us up."

    "Will he?" Peg-leg squeeaked eaut.  "It'll be when yo' turn back if he does.  He'll be the fust by a fielt, then."

    What Juddie met ha' said to that con nobbut be gexed at.  But no deaut it would ha' bin summat savage, as he geet on his feet to it, an' gript his fist.  But just as he're puttin' a leet to his peawther a knock coome to th' dur.

    "Whoever's that?" eaur Sal said, gooin' o of a tremble.  "It's to' late for beggars.  Ab, thee go to th' dur.  Whoever it is he's happen summat to lunge one with."

    "So it matters nowt if aw get lunged!" aw said, an aw geet up an' went to th dur.  "Who's theere?" aw sheauted.

    "Does Ab-of-the-Yate live here?" someb'dy said eautside.

    "Tell him theau'rt coed Abram Fletcher," th' owd rib said; hoo doesno' like t'other name neaw aw'm on th' Local Board.

    "Aw darsay th' same chap yo' meean lives here," aw said.  "What dun yo' want with him?"

    "I want to see him; that is all."

    "Juddie, come an' stond at back on me, an' bring th' fire potter wi' yo'," aw said, in a leaud whisper.

    "Theau knows aw've th' rheumatic i' mi reet arm," Juddie said, an' he begun a-rubbin' his reet elbow.  "Ther's others younger nur me."

    "Here, aw'll stond a gun for thi," Peg-leg said; an' he jumped up, an' made to'ard th' speer, draggin' his cheear after him.  When he geet to me, he planted his cheear abeaut two yard fro' th' dur, then he dropt deawn on it, an' shot his timber leg eaut like th' bowsprit of a ship.  "If he's after ony lumber," he said, "aw'll mak' a pin-wheel on him afore he knows wheere he is."

    Aw oppent th' dur; an' aw mun say aw didno' like th' looks o'th' chap ut had bin knockin'.  It wur th' mon wi' th' queer hat an' th' turned up brim; an' aw could see bi' th' leet he'd a face wi' a frozzen look.  He're very nicely spokken, an' he did nowt to mak' me think he intended bein' auvish.""

    "Can I come in?" th' mon said.

    "Well, if yo'd let me know yo'r business th' fust yo'd obleege me," aw said; an' aw held th' dur.

    "I've no business, Mister Ab-of-the-Yate, if you're the gentleman," he said, very politely; "but I've been down at the public-house below, and they told me you lived here.  I've often heard of you, so I thought I'd like to see you.  No offence, I hope."

    "Drop yo'r danger signal, Peg-leg," aw said; "aw think th' mon meeans no hurt."  Then aw said to th' stranger, "Come in."

    "How do ye do, ladies?" th' mon said, brushin' past owd Peg-leg, an' pooin' his hat off.  "Excuse me introducing myself."

    "Tak' this cheear, an' mak' yo'rsel' awhoam," aw said to th' stranger.  Aw thowt aw met as weel be civil to him, if he're th' owd Lad hissel'.

    "Thank you," he said, an' dropt deawn in his seeat.  "You will pardon me carrying this bit of string on my arm.  If I put it away I'm apt to forget it."

    "Yo'n not as mich on't as yo' had when aw seed yo' before," Siah-at-owd-Bob's said to th' stranger.

    "When was that?"

    "When aw're feedin' th' pigs this afternoon."

    "Oh, yes, I remember; I was going up to the Knoll House.  I asked you to direct me.  I'm obliged to you."

    "Yo'n happen sowd t'other?" owd Juddie said, in his pumpin' way.  "It's a good soart o' bandin' aw con see."

    "Yes, a peculiar kind; we sell a good deal of it," th' mon said.  Then he turned to me—"And so you are the celebrated Ab-of-the-Yate?"

    "Th' same chap," aw towd him.

    "Th' biggest liar i' England" someb'dy said, but aw couldno' say who it wur.

    Everybody looked at everybody, an' th' stranger looked puzzled.

    "Not very complimentary to a gentleman in his own house," he said.

    "As good as he desarves," somb'dy said.

    "That wur thee, Peg-leg," owd Juddie said.

    "Theau'rt a lyin' owd Short-o'-weight!" Peg-leg said back.  "Aw never spoke.  It's moore likely thee nur onybody else."

    "Ift' says that agen aw'll knock thee off thi peearch," Juddie said, makkin' a spring on his feet.

    "Goo into him, Juddie," someb'dy said, "Let him ha' some second-honded cock-chicken broth."

    "Aw dunno' want thy backin'," Juddie said, turnin' upo Little Dody.  "If theau gets someb'dy agate o' feightin', an' keeps eaut thisel', theau'rt o reet.  Theau'd like some chicken broth, no deaut."

    "What have I to do wi' it?  Aw've said nowt," Dody said."

    "Yo' stole thoose cock chickens, Juddie," someb'dy said.

    "Siah," Juddie said, turnin' upo' Siah-at-owd-Bob's, "it wouldno' tak' mich to sattle thee; so keep thy meauth shut."

    "Aw never oppent it afore," Siah said.

    "Theau knows theau'rt lyin'," Juddie said, an' he sit deawn.

    "I hope, gentlemen, there won't be any unpleasantness while I'm with you," th' stranger said, an' he looked a little bit hurt.

    "Yo' dunno' know these yorneys as weel as aw know em," Juddie said, "or elze yo' wouldno' be surprised."

    "Yor'e th' biggest waistrel i'th' lot, too," someb'dy said.

    "Ab, art theau th' mesther o' this heause? " Juddie said, gettin' on his feet agen, an' gripin' his fist.

    "When th' wife's away I am," aw said.

    "Aye, an' when hoo's awhoam, too!" th' owd rib said.

    "An' will theau be coed a liar, an' see me abused?" Juddie said, lookin' desperately at everybody.

    "But aw conno' tell whoa's dooin' it," aw said.

    "Peg-leg," someb'dy said.

    "Yer thi, neaw, theau owd rascal!" Juddie said, turnin' upo' owd Peg-leg.  "Ther's someb'dy thinks so beside me."

    "It's someb'dy at th' window," eaur Sal said; "aw could see a shadow then.  Some impidence or other."

    "Then they'n ha' th' weight o' this," aw said; an' aw nipt howd o'th' fire potter, an' ran to th' dur.

    Ther' wur nob'dy abeaut.  Aw looked reaund th' fowt, an' deawn th' lone, but not a soul could aw see.  So aw made for whoam agen.  Just as aw geet to th' dur aw met Jack o' Flunter's comin' witherin' eaut.

    "Wheere is he?" Jack said, lookin' wildly reaund.

    "Wheere's whoa?" aw said.

    "Wheay, him ut's bin at th' window."

    "Aw've seen nob'dy," aw said.

    "Ther's bin someb'dy just neaw challengin' me eaut.  They said if aw'd come eaut they'd gi'e me th' daldest quiltin' ever aw had i' my life."

    "Well, aw've seen nob'dy," aw said.

    "That's strange," Jack said; "we yerd him as plain as owt."

    "It is strange," aw said; an' aw begun a-feelin' a bit queer, "It conno' be yon stranger ut's dooin' it, surely."

    "Heaw con it be him?  He knows nowt abeaut us," Jack said.  "It's my belief, Ab, it's fearin'."

    "Nowt so sure," aw said.  "Aw'd forgetten it wur th' fearin' neet.  Let's say nowt i'th' women's yerrin'.  They'n goo into fits if we dun.  But aw'll tell thi what, Jack, it'll be a bother for t' explain it ony other road."

    "It'll be nowt elze," Jack said; an' we turned into th' heause.

    "Well, has theau gan it him, Ab?" eaur Sal said, as soon as hood a chance o' axin' me.

    "Aw've seen nob'dy, aw said; an' aw dar'say aw looked rayther wild, as Jack o' Flunter's did, too.

    "Aw'm sure aw seed someb'dy at th' window," eaur Sal would have it.  "Someb'dy wi' a billy-cock on his yead."

    "Nay, nor a billy-hen, noather," someb'dy said.

    Aw're watchin' th' stranger's meauth at th' time; but his lips ne'er moved, an' not a seaund coome fro' between 'em.

    "Aw reckon that's me, owd sugar-sond!" Peg-leg said, raichin' o'er to owd Juddie.  "It's moore like thee, or someb'dy i' league wi' thi.  Aw aulus thowt theau'd summat t' do wi' witches; an' theau's one i'th' noose neaw."

    At th' mention o' witches th' women gan a screeam.

    "Brun him," someb'dy said.  "He's dooin's wi' th' Owd Lad."

    Everybody's yure seemed to rise, obbut th' stranger's; an' he sit theere, lookin' abeaut as if he couldno' mak' eaut what ther wur to do.  Owd Juddie geet up, an' looked under his cheear.  No' satisfied wi' that, he groped abeaut i'th' nook, knockin' his shins agen th' fire shoo, an' coolin' his nose end again a flat iron.

    "Aw'm sure th' seaund coome fro' here," he said, as he blundered abeaut.  "It seaunded quite plain."

    "Nay, it wur i' this nook," th' owd rib said; an' t'other women bore her eaut in it.

    "Yo'n a boggart i' every nook," someb'dy said; an' then wurno' ther' some stirrin's i'th' heause!"

    "Ab!" eaur Sal said, "we'n leeave this heause.  We'n ne'er had no luck in it this mony a year.  Aw've kept yerrin' seaunds in it ut aw couldno' mak' nowt on when theau's bin stoppin' eaut at neets; but when it's come to havin' a boggart i' every nook, it's time we flitted.  Eh, dear me!"

    "Aw'm for shiftin' eaut o' this shop," Jim Thuston said, jumpin' up fro' his cheear, an' buttonin' his jacket.

    "So am I," Little Dody said, followin' suit.

    "Yo'n be followed if yo' dun!" someb'dy said; an' everybody seemed staggered, no' knowin' what for t' do.

    "Thoose ut con raise boggarts con lay 'em," Peg-leg said; an' he looked meanin'ly at owd Juddie.

    "Theau conno' say aw've raised 'em," Juddie said, turnin' white wheere wur red afore.  "Aw've nowt to do wi' fearin'."

    "Try him!" someb'dy said.

    "Dun yo' yer that, chaps?" Peg-leg said, lookin' reaund.  "If we dunno' mak' an example o' this owd waistrel, we shall have a pair o' horns bobbin' up amung us."

    "What mun we do?" Siah-at-owd-Bob's said, wildly.

    "Dip him in a pit!" someb'dy said.  "We wauten th' spell brokken, so ut we con goo whoam."

    "Aw should think yo' known what to do neaw," owd Peg-leg said, as full o' glee as if we'rn gooin' on a weasel hunt.

    "It'll be a cowd bath for yo', Juddie," Jack o' Flunter's said; "but yo'n ha' to chance it.  We're no' gooin' t' ha' this bother o neet; so come on."

    "Aw'm as innocent as a babby," Juddie said, gooin' o of a tremble.  "Aw'll swear that upo' th' owd Book."

    "To execution with him!" owd Peg-leg said, doancin' abeaut.

    "Ther's another condition," someb'dy said. "He mun be blacked o'er wi' charcoal made eaut o' Peg-leg's timber."

    "Does theau yer that?" Juddie said, turnin' on his owd enemy.  "Aw'll stond it o just to ha' thee winged o' one side."

    "Get unscrewed," Jack o' Flunter's said.  "We mun ha' th' job done gradely."

    Peg-leg looked dropt on.

    "Is ther' no meeans o' gettin' eaut on't, aw wonder?" he said.

    "As fair for thee as me," owd Juddie said.

    "Go deawn to th' ' Owd Bell,' an' pay for a bowl o' punch between yo'!" someb'dy said.  "That'll lay us."

    "Aw'll agree to that," Juddie said.

    "So will I," Peg-leg said.

    "We're off, then,—good neet!" someb'dy said.

    "No' sich bad boggarts noather," Jack o' Flunter's said.

    "Aw shouldno' care if they come t'morn neet," Dody said.

    "Now, then, ladies and gentlemen," th' stranger said, gettin' on his feet, an' lookin' very pleasant,—speshly at th' women, ut were huddled o of a rook, "I wish to say a word about this mystery.  You see this coil of what appears to be string.  One end I have kept concealed.  The other end is in the kitchen of the public-house below.  All that you have heard has come from there, and has been spoken by a neighbour of yours that the company called Softly.  He could hear all that was going on in this house, and adapted his language to what he heard.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is the new and startling invention called the Telephone!  I shall be happy to pay for the bowl of punch myself, if I can have your company at the—the――"

    "Owd Bell," aw said, feelin' quite relieved.

    "At the 'Old Bell,' yes," th' stranger said.  "The ladies, I dare say, can spare you.  They won't be frightened now that I have explained matters."

    "Eh, nawe," eaur Sal said, "we're satisfied.  It seaunded like Billy Softly's talk, didno' it, women?"

    They everyone thowt so.

    "But aw'll tell yo' what, mesther," th' owd crayther went on, "thoose things 'll be very useful wheere ther's women."

    "Why so?" th' stranger wanted to know.

    "They con get to know everybody's business!" hoo said.


                             *                             *                             *                             *                             *


    Aw need no' tell yo' what a "do" we had at th' "Owd Bell."  Th' stranger wur as jolly as onybody; ut shows heaw we con be decaived wi' appearances.  Owd Juddie an' owd Peg-leg had a fratch through th' telephone, ut caused sich fun they couldno' help joinin' in it the'rsels.  Afore they parted they shaked honds for another time; so th' telephone may be a meeans o' makkin' friends otherwheere—i' families, an' happen nations.


――――♦――――
 

AN OLD STOCKING-MENDER


FAILSWORTH,
MY NATIVE VILLAGE.


I WAS born in the "Rocks."  Do not imagine from this, dear reader, that my earliest home was among the mountains.  There is nothing so wild and romantic attached to the place of my nativity.  The humble tenement in which I first saw what should have been light is situated in a hole caused by the raising of the road, so as to be on a level with the bridge that spans the Rochdale Canal at Failsworth.  This hole, called the "Rocks," from its being walled with stone, is wedge-shaped; and I was placed at the thin end.  The upper portion of the house has since been rebuilt; and now forms a dwelling of itself, the lower part, in which I groped my way when I began to toddle and go into mischief, now serving only as a foundation.  In the original plan of the building there was a door communicating with the principal bedroom and the road.  This door served more purposes than one.  Besides affording a means of escape when the basement was flooded, as was often the case, it was a convenience for drunken people to use their clogs against.  Many a time have I listened to the music thus produced when wakened out of my childish dreams, as these serenades were more frequent than agreeable.  The only peace we had was when my grandfather, who lived within a few doors, was constable.

    My father, who was a handloom weaver, had been a soldier, but was discharged when very young, as the following record will attest:—"His Majesty's Rocket Brigade of Royal Horse Artillery, whereof Lieut.-Colonel P. Tyers is Colonel.  These are to certify that James Brierley, Gunner, in Major E. C. Whinyates' Rocket Troop, in the Brigade aforesaid, born in the Parish of Middleton, in or near the town of Oldham, in the County of Lancaster, was enlisted at the age of 17 years, and has served in the same Regiment for the space of 4 Years and 119 Days, as well as in other Corps, after the age of Eighteen, according to the following Statement, but in consequence of a Reduction is hereby discharged; having first received all just Demands of Pay, Clothing, &c., from his entry into the said Regiment to the Date of his Discharge, as appears by his receipt on the back hereof, and to prevent any improper use being made of this Discharge by its falling into other Hands, the following is a description of the said James Brierley:—He is about 21 Years of Age, is 5 feet 7 inches in height, light hair, grey eyes, fresh complexion, by trade a weaver.  STATEMENT OF SERVICE.—R. H. Artillery.  From 2nd April, 1812, to July, 1816, 4 years 119 days.  Waterloo, 2 years.  Total, 6 years, 119 days. [1]"  This was beginning life, as a man, rather early; and singularly enough, he enlisted on his birthday.  My grandfather used to say he ought to have been born a day earlier.

    My father must have married soon after his return home, as, before I was introduced to a station in life that was not of my seeking, there had been four other victims,—two brothers and two sisters.  Fortunately they had but a short account to render to their Maker,—they died in their infancy.  The immediate successor to the family cradle, your humble servant, began to suck his thumbs—so I have been informed, as I have no personal knowledge of the fact—on the 26th of June, 1825.  My parents could not have grieved much if I had followed the youthful departed, as times were so bad that the look-out for rising progeny was of the most unpromising.  But I cheated the sexton, as many children do, who are felt to be in the way.  My parents had to do the best they could with the little intruder, and help me to struggle to get a footing in the world.  I have often thought that I owe as much to my mother's voice as I do to her love, for the charm of life which even poverty can sometimes experience.  She had been a singer in the All Saints' Church choir at Newton Heath, the choir-master at the time being James Ridings, the father of the late Elijah of that "ilk."  Her voice was a powerful contralto; and I can remember its clear mellow tones as far back in the past as I can remember anything.  I can hear them even now.  She was a gentle creature; and, like the mother of Malcolm in "Macbeth," "died every day she lived."  No woman of my acquaintance ever suffered more than she, or bore her sufferings with truer fortitude.  But I speak now of her later life.  It was her deep religious feeling that supported her in all her trials, and gave her cheerfulness when physical pain held her in its grip.

    Before I was of a sufficient age to be sent to school, I had a brother born.  I did not give him the heartiest welcome, as I had fears that he might claim a joint possession of my spoon.  I hated the sight of "Owd Jacky Wife" for bringing him into the world, and had serious thoughts of damaging her "parsley bed" by the introduction of cats.  But "Little Tummy" grew into my liking as he grew more plump, until I allowed him to suck most of my farthing "humbug."  I remember well my first "breeching"—and my father taking me by the hand to walk all the way to Manchester for the purpose, and his stripping me in a shop in Sugar Lane for a "try on."  I could not then have been more than four years old; but the suit of "bell-buttoned" velveteen, in which my limbs had to look out for a proper place in which to exercise themselves, would have fitted a boy of ten.  But I was expected to grow prodigiously, and the clothes had to do for my brother when I cast them off.  Two maiden aunts who made a plaything of me because of my being the oldest nephew, subscribed their pence and endowed me with a hat.  A jealous uncle, not many years my senior, played such tricks upon this hat that instead of using it as a covering for my head, I soon converted it into a substitute for a football.  Previous to thus being attired I strutted about, with all the pride of a juvenile dandy, surrounded by the capacious folds of an old waistcoat belonging to my grandfather.  My uncles gave me the nickname of "Owd Pee Collin," the name of a man who worked on the road, because, like him, I walked with my hands behind me, and was so slow in my movements that even a sudden downpour of rain would not have made me alter the pace at which I was walking.

    Now came the time of my introduction to Pole Lane classics.  I was sent to school; John Goodier's modest academy for very young ladies and very young gentlemen, being the place selected, because there was no other for the exercise of the ruler and thimble in the development of my bumps.  I was an apt pupil, and rose from the A. B. C.'s in such a short time that before I was five years old I took the first prize in spelling.  The word to be spelt was "victuals;" the prize three marbles.  Elated by this success, visions of academical honours, never to be attained, floated before my fancy; and a prospect bright as a summer morn opened before me.

    But a cloud drifted over the scene.  The nation was without a crowned king; and the coronation of William IV was made an excuse for holidays everywhere.  The day before this event took place was the last on which I attended John Goodier's school, or, indeed, any other day school.  Great were the rejoicings, I remember, on the day of the Coronation.  The May Pole was taken down and re-painted; the vane and points re-gilded; and all Failsworth turned out in its grandeur of holiday dress, flags, banners, bands, and processions.  The most conspicuous object in one of these pageants was a cart, on the sides of which a handloom had been erected.  A weaver was seated at his work, and by his side a winder plying the bobbinwheel.  "God Save the King" was sung at each public-house door; for the loyalty of that day had to be kept damp.  Dryness interfered with the weaver's work.  It caused his yarn to snap; and the winder alleged that it caused the weft so to snarl that he found it impossible to make good bobbins unless it was steeped in "fourpenny."

    But pageantry and drink were not everything provided to celebrate the glorious event.  An ox was roasted in front of the Crown and Cushion.  The boiling parts were converted into " stew" to be served out to all comers, the almoner being a woman living near the scene of "dole."  I was sent with a jug to get a share of what the Yankees would call "beef juice."  But the woman pushed me aside.  "Nawe, theau mun ha' noane," she said; "thy gronfeyther's a Jacobin."  Heartbroken and empty, I returned home.  I had been led to anticipate such a "blow-out" as I had never had before, and the disappointment was overwhelming.  What had Jacobinism to do with an empty stomach?  I wondered; or how was a child of five to reason out the cause that politics should operate as a kind of caste among poor people?  From that day I began to think; but I have not yet arrived at the conclusion that we ought to be made responsible for the opinions held by our ancestors, or to suffer on account of their actions.

    Taken away from school, I had to assist in the "bread winning" by hawking from door to door.  But that was mostly in winter.  On summer days it would have been difficult to find me if I once got my heels to the back door, which afforded the readiest means of escape.  Two of the younger scions of the Thorley family, afterwards to be known as eminent musicians, were oftentimes my companions.  Our favourite haunt was the "clough," where there were facilities for swimming, boats, and other attractions.  I remember the late Robert Thorley doing me a kindness that has often crossed my memory since, and we seldom met in after life without laughing over it.

    It was Christmas time,—an old-fashioned Christmas, when the waits did not hurry over their work on purpose to get through a lot of it, but stood around their neighbours' doors with the patience of donkeys, and sang the "Christmas Hymn" with becoming slowness and with a reverent spirit.  The snow lay thick upon the ground on the morning that I had to turn out with my little basket of oranges, which I was to dispose of at the price of "two for threehaupence."  The air was crisp and keen; and as a protection from the cold I had a check napkin tied round my head; another was pinned round my shoulders for a shawl; and shod with a pair of clogs that were miniature stilts, I had to face the winter morn to go my round.  I had called at Thorley's, who lived only across the bridge from the "Rocks;" had said my "two for threehaupence,"—nothing more; made a sale; then set out for "Pee Fletcher's," the next house.  But the snow had so accumulated on the bottoms of my clogs that I found locomotion to be impossible.  Down I dropped at the corner of Walmsley's garden wall; and my limbs being benumbed by cold, I could not regain my feet.  In my strait the only thing I could do was to yell, and I daresay I exerted my lungs in a creditable manner.  Robert Thorley was coming out of the house at the time, and hearing my well-developed treble, picked me up out of the snow, swung me on his back, basket and all, and carried me home.  I think that was the last time I followed the occupation of a pedlar.  In the kindness of her heart my mother bought me a screw money-box with the penny out of the threehalfpence I had drawn; and putting the halfpenny inside, made a Christmas gift to me of what I was to regard as the foundation of a fortune.  But a stick of liquorice was too tempting for the foundation to be laid just then.

    The next event in my life of any importance, was our removal from Failsworth to Hollinwood, a distance of something like three-quarters of a mile.  This to me was a delightful change.  We had got out of the hole, and were now on a level with other people.  The house we were to inhabit had not been vacated when our cart arrived.  It was Saturday night, and the wife was baking.  One of the sons was weaving,—a lame youth who walked with a crutch.  A companion, also lame, and who walked with a crutch, was sitting on the loom-rail; and I began to wonder if I had been cast among a community of cripples, and whether I should have to go upon crutches as well.  How the double-flitting went on during the night I never knew, as I was sent off to a shake-down bed; but on the Sunday morning I found that we had the domicile to ourselves.  I made an early exploration of the neighbourhood, and discovered that our house was one of a row of such, standing close to the towing path of the Peak Forest canal.  There was a farmhouse on the opposite side of the canal; a spacious orchard, the trees in which were covered with bloom, ran to the edge of the water; a thorn fence, well grown, and in which I looked for birds nests, was within a few yards of the door; beyond the fence was a carpet of green meadow, and a cornmill; and when a new "chum" gave me a bite of his buttercake, I began to realise, or thought I did, what Paradise was before the Fall.

    There are few places in Lancashire that have been less favoured by Nature than Failsworth.  Its very name is suggestive of some defect in design, or creative manipulation, as if it had merely gone through the process of tinkering.  Originally, its terraqueous endowments were extremely uninviting.  There was nothing to recommend the spot to other than the small dairy farmer, the grower of potatoes, or the breeder of poultry; and the probability is that if it had not been on the high road to more important places, it would at the present time have been as far in the rear of commercial progress as the neighbouring township of Moston, which has been retarded in its growth by the lack of means of communication with other parts.

    With a cold soil, imperfectly drained, Failsworth at one time offered but small inducements to husbandry in its more developed sense; so that a century and a half ago the country was little more than an uncultivated waste, with here and there a farmstead settled on its greener spots, as if to relieve the eye of a totally barren prospect, its only importance derived from its being the line of connection between Manchester and the southern districts of the West Riding.  This latter circumstance is, however, a feature in the history of the locality that must not be overlooked, nor have its significance set aside.

    For a decade of centuries Failsworth has been an important channel through which civilisation has flowed and ebbed; and I may be pardoned if I draw deductions from this fact that would to some extent account for the character of the people inhabiting the place.  No country that I am aware of contains so fine a remnant of the Roman Road that connected Manchester with York; and the question has often occurred to me, what were the Arabs of this desert when the armies of Agricola passed over it, and commerce opened up the riches of the South, to be shared by the barbaric North?  Evidently, there were no rivers to fish in, no forests to hunt in, no mines out of which to dig the precious metals.  They must have led at the best a nomadic life—an existence, perhaps, eked out by plundering the pack-trains of merchandise that fell in their way, as the Arabs at the present time subsist in the greater deserts of the East.

    That Failsworth was little more than a desert is borne out by the fact that a large portion of the Roman Road, which is upwards of a mile in length, is laid upon brushwood, the peaty subsoil extending several feet in depth.  These discoveries I made in my boyhood, when explorations by youthful excavators were at once a science and a pastime, and vigorously pushed in the interests of both.  This fact leads me to conclude that at the time of the Roman occupation the country lying betwixt the Tame and the Irk was one vast morass, with the Medlock between, deepening its channel into a noble valley, and draining and fertilising the land.  The unanimous opinion of antiquarians has placed the genuineness of the Failsworth Roman Road beyond question.  This certainly cannot be said of some so called Roman roads in other parts of the country.  The reader will perhaps pardon me if I here make a short digression, and give an account of my experiences, some short time since, when trying to ascertain the genuiness of a well-known road of the latter description which is to be found on Blackstone Edge, near Littleborough.

    On the occasion of my visit to this spot, I prevailed upon mine host of the White House, whither I had gone for some little refreshment, to accompany me over the debated ground.  Together we descended the moor on the Lancashire side, and about a quarter of a mile from the house we struck into a road leading to a stone quarry on the top of the Edge.  We came upon a kind of conduit, and proceeding along its course for a short distance, my friend pointed to a line of grooved stones, and I knew by that indication we had "struck" the said to be Roman Road.  Although I must have been on the spot more than once, I could not call to mind ever having seen the "trough" before; and I felt that to account for its origin and use was far beyond any archaeological knowledge that I possessed.  We followed the groove up to the top, examining each section carefully; and, finding that the slight ridge in the middle was correspondingly even in all, I concluded that it could not have been intended for a watercourse.  It must have been meant for some mechanical purpose, but of what character?  There I stuck, and, so far as my knowledge has assisted me, I am sticking yet.  But this was the identical track that twenty years before I was led to believe was an old quarry road, and one possessing no greater historical interest than that which could attach to such a road.

    After parting with my companion I trudged back to Littleborough, calling on my way to have a peep at the pavement in front of the Lydgate Inn, and finding it as I remembered having seen it in the "long ago."  Night had set in when I reached the foot of the moor; and the weather having undergone a change for the worse, I was glad to avail myself of the hospitality of the old "Rake" where I found a good fire, and hot water.  An old man, whose face looked like a fragment of history, sat in the nook, enjoying his pipe and his pint.

    A conversation was started at once by his observing,

    "It's gone very cowd, maister."

    I admitted that it was very cold, especially coming down from Blackstone Edge, with the damp wind blowing in my face.

    "Hev yo come o'er th' top?" the old man inquired.

    "No, only from the White House," I replied.

    "Hev yo' been a lookin' at this Roman Road?" he asked.

    I told him that had been my business up there.

    "I think," he said, blowing an extra cloud from his pipe, "Yo' Manchester folk hev very little to do if yo' con find time to goo huntin' up owd roads.  Yon's nobbut an owd delph road yo'n been lookin' at."

    "Now," I thought, "here I have my man.  I can get something out of him, surely"; and I proceeded at once to apply the pump.

    "Only an old quarry road?" I observed, assuming an air of surprise.

    "Nought no more."

    "How know you that?"

    "Aw had it fro' mi gronfeyther; he worked at th' delph when th' road wur made."

    I noticed a twinkle in the old man's eye; and that led me to think I ought to be careful as to how much of the information he had to give I might rely upon as being truer.  But there could be no harm in listening to what he had to say.

    "That must have been long ago," I remarked.

    "Aye, it wur afore ther mich steeam used.  It wur watter peawer, an' horse peawer, an' jackass peawer i' thoose days.  Yond owd jig wur reckoned to be a big thing when it wur laid down; but its up to nought now."

    I knew what a "jig" was, but pushed my inquiries as though I had never see one.

    "A jig," said the old man, "is a road up an' down th' side of a hill, or boath sides, for that matter, wheere th' full waggons gooin' fro' th' top hev to draw th' empties up fro' th' bottom.  When yond road wur made rails hadno' been invented, so they laid a stone rut i'th' middle o'th' road for th' fore wheel o'th' carts to run in.  They wur three-wheel carts, sich as navvies use i' makkin railroads, an' that rut had to guide 'em."

    "But there is a slight ridge in the middle of the groove.  What was that intended for?"

    "Th' front wheel o' thoose carts wur split i'th' middle so as to steady 'em, or else they'd ha' gone rompin' up th' sides, an' happen getten eaut o'th' rut; that's what th' ridge wur for."

    "But I find there are what appear to be cross sections of the road at intervals.  How do you account for those?"

    "Oh, yo' meean wheer th' huts used to be."

    "Were there huts erected there?"

    "Aye, thoose wur th' tallegraph stations."

    "Telegraphs in those days?"

    "To be sure.  Did yo' never hear about th' Saddlewo'th shoutin' tallegraph?"

    "I have read of something of the sort in an old sketch called 'Tum Grunt and Whistlepig.'"

    "It wur ta'en fro' this tallegraph.  At every one o' these stations, o' boath sides o'th' Edge, a lad had to be, an' his wark wur, when th' jig carts had gone deawn wi' a load o' stone fro' th' delph, to put a roller across for t' carry th' rope, an' tak' it away when th' train wur gooin' up.  When they wur ready for windin' up, th' botthom lad shouted to th' next; an' he had to shout to th' one above him; an' that road to th' top—that wur th' shoutin' tallegraph."

    "But what of the remains of entrenchments at the top?"

    "Oh' thoose be hanged!  What they sayn are trenches are nobbut th' owd gin hole 'at used to be worked when only one side o'th' Edge wur wantin' stone.  This gin wur turned by two jackasses.  They had to wind th' empty carts up when th' jig wurno workin'.  Th' delph chaps made a mistake once.  They thowt one donkey wur enoogh to wind five empty carts up fro' th' Littlebro' side.  So they sent one whoam.  But t'other wur as near bein' flung into eternity as ever a donkey wur.  It had w'und th' carts up to about th' hauve road when its strength gev way; an' th' carts didno' care whether they went to th' top or th' botthom.  So they turn't back, an' whizz th' owd gin went reaund, takkin' th' donkey with it—flyin' i'th' air, like a great four-legged bit-bat, an' lettin' eaut sich music as never wur yerd before sin' th' days o' Balaam!  They never tried to wind wi' one jackass after that."

    "If your account of the road be the correct one, it destroys all the other theories that I have read of.  Some people seem to think that it has been a packhorse road.  Others that it was constructed for the Roman legions to march along."

    "Aye, aw've yerd o' thoose; an' 'at th' rut wur for th' horses to travel in.  But onybody 'at has seen a packhorse 'ud know'at it 'ud want a rut width 'o this table.  An aw've yerd it said 'at it wur made for th' Roman so'diers; an' they had to walk one abreeast; an' th' rut wur made narrow so as to prevent 'em bein' splay-footed.  But that's mere catty-watty.  Eh, yo' Manchester folk are a knowin' lot!  Aye, well, maister, aw dunno' mind, thank yo'.  Aw'm never to a pint.  Bein' a cowd day aw'll redden th' poker, an' tak' th' chill off it."

    From my experience of Lancashire people I have gathered that they are sometimes given to romancing, or leading one to think, as a Cockney would say, "they are a-kidding of me."  I may have been a victim in this instance.  But I am bound to say that there are some feasible points in the old man's version of the history of the old road leading over Blackstone Edge.  When the archæological savants have exhausted their stock of theories on the groove question it would not surprise me if it turned out to be a repetition of the mystery attached to


X
B I L S T
U M
P S H I
S. M.
A R K. [2]


    To return to my native village.  The more inhospitable the soil the hardier the produce, whether it be in the form of vegetable life, or that to which we attach an anthropological distinction.  Rushes and rustics, hardy plants and hard-headed men, have sprung and existed together; and these have each performed their functions, after an important fashion in the natural and social arrangements of the locality.  What place has been more celebrated for its rush-carts and its mathematicians?—the one showing the quality of the soil, the other the result of that continual warfare with physical disadvantages which we may denominate the friction of mind against matter.  What country has produced better samples of tough, knotty manhood, than were to be found amongst its hand-loom weavers of thirty years ago, and which may yet be found in the lingering remnants by the social wayside?  It would be no slight task to go back, even in the imagination, to the early settlers in this district—by which distinction I mean those who stuck to the soil and cultivated it—since there is no trustworthy evidence to fall back upon; and even tradition, so prolific of semi-historical circumstance in the more northern parts of the county, is silent here.  No monastic pile has risen, flourished, and decayed in this place; no frowning castle has wrung obedience and contribution from trembling vassals; no witches' broomstick scattered blight over fruitful pastures.  History restores not to us the noble ruin whose foundations lead us back in the sepulchred past.  The antiquarian delves not in fosse or tumulus; nor reads he in heraldic lore the pedigree of noble blood.  The "Black Knight" may have ridden over "Shepley Meadows," as containing the only track of direct road connecting Ashton with Middleton; and the "Lord of Lime" may have mustered his billmen on "Cutler's Hill," when civil discord jarred upon the nation's ear; but conjecture must alone suffice to fill up the void which history and tradition have left in a country's annals.  The gossips aver, though, that a body of sympathisers with the "Pretender" passed Fletcher Fold, one of whom was shot by a farmer, who afterwards concealed himself in a meal "kist," and thus escaped detection.

    Of one thing, however, we may feel tolerably certain: the early inhabitants of Failsworth were not the growth of ease and luxury.  Revolution in its varied forms must have rolled over the land to have produced a race of men so strong of limb, and so vigorous of intellect, as that which characterised the dwellers thereon of even a century ago.  Some people, studied in antiquarian matters, have given it as their opinion that stray bands of the "Lollards" found refuge here when Rome was laying its ironed sandal upon heretical hosts; but whether these were of the original sect that sprang up in, and spread over, Germany, or were merely the followers of Wycliffe, whose great patron in this part of the country was the redoubted "John of Gaunt," no definition is ventured upon.  It is supposed that the art of weaving was introduced by these people, and that it has continued to be a staple branch of industry ever since.  But this is simply conjecture, as no reliable trace can be found of events that would warrant such a supposition.

    That there were men who led what the general populace regarded as a mysterious life, is attested by circumstances that later events have brought to the surface, and established as clear historical data.  These were men who read books,—strange pursuit! could write and cipher,—devilish innovations! studied botany, and dabbled in medicines.  They were not church-going people, these supposed descendants of the Lollards; but held on to mysterious forms of dissent, that caused them to be suspected of being students in the black art.  They had associates in other parts of the county who rose to eminence as botanists and mathematicians, and who with them suffered from the persecutions of the ignorant;—the old, old story of other times and other countries.

    As with its other attributes, so has Failsworth been with its politics—rugged, cold, austere—standing out in the upheaval of our political system like the rock that the yielding drift has left only to show in more strong relief the grand outline of its base.  It may be urged that I am here drawing an extravagant figure; but whoever might object to the simile would be a stranger to the subject sought to be illustrated.  Failsworth hath a history, which, comparatively modern though it be, is one more closely connected with important national events than it might obtain credit for possessing.  Here, so far remote from the centre of its influence, what was termed "French Jacobinism" found root, and gave a tone to popular thought and action.  The shock of revolution awakened a sympathetic vibration far north of the English Channel; and "Constitutional Associations" were formed, whose avowed object was to re-model the legislative machinery of our country, without assimilating it particularly to that of France.  A branch of this association was established in Failsworth, which its opponents designated the "Jacobin Club."  This society, whether the truth may be palatable or not in some quarters, absorbed most of the active intellect of the neighbourhood, and had a powerful organization, the influences of which are felt even at the present day.  Opposed to this body was the "Church and King Club;" and the two factions, whether under their original distinctions, or known under the more temperate phraseology of modern Radicalism and Conservatism, have been at constant and bitter feud ever since their organisation.

    What may be regarded as the centre of the township, or what would be at that time the "Three Lane Ends," and which asserts its importance by the number of taverns erected thereabouts, was the field upon which most of this political warfare was fought out.  This spot was known as the "rallyin' point," and fierce were the encounters that from time to time took place.  Here the annual rush-cart was built; the fair held—if that could be called a fair which seldom mustered more than a half-dozen head of cattle, three or four pigs, and a hamper each of ducks and hens.  Here cocks were fought and badgers drawn.  Here the effigies of Tom Payne and the first Napoleon were burnt.  Here the last of the Jacobins was tied in the saddle of a dragoon's horse, whilst the mad and bigoted populace stuck pins into his legs.  Here the coronation ox was roasted, and the gifts of the charitable doled out to starving hundreds in the good old times.  Here the bonfire was made, the May-pole erected.  Here was once a mock king crowned, whilst shouts of idolatrous loyalty rang on every hand.  Here the procession to "Peterloo" halted to refresh.  Here the maidens of the village presented a fair companion with the "Cap of Liberty," afterwards so ignobly struck down by cavalry sabres.  Here have Radical heads been broken, Tory garments strewn to the winds; and here I first heard the cry of—"Down with the base, bloody and brutal Wigs!"

    Going back to the earlier manifestations of this awakening of a dormant spirit, these politically subterranean rumblings so significant of the eruptions that were to follow, we find what we will term the "Jacobin Club" working mysteriously at the problems it proposed to solve.  Unobtrusively the members met, and read, and debated.  With as little show of revolutionary purpose they gathered together a library of books that, for the period in which these men lived, was a marvel of extensiveness and selection, and had no equal in the mansions of the rich.  The room in which these books were kept was next to the one in which I was born; so that if all other of my surroundings were of the very humblest kind, I may say that I was born amidst the best society the world at that time could furnish.

    I have heard my father relate an anecdote concerning a prominent member of the Jacobin fraternity that affords a striking proof of the many dangers that surrounded these people, and the superior tactics by which those dangers were met.  "Old Moffatt," who was curator of the library, was suspected of having in his possession a copy of Paine's "Rights of Man," which was held to be a misdemeanour in the eye of the law.  No sooner had this suspicion got hold of the popular mind than a formidable descent upon the Jacobin's house was resolved upon.  Accordingly, a mob collected at the Pole, and led by a sergeant of dragoons, who were patrolling the district, sallied out to the "Rocks," where their intended victim lived.  Arriving at the house, the trooper struck the door with his sword, and, on the appearance of old Moffatt, demanded, in the name of the king, the surrender of the prescribed book.  The old man retired without a murmur, and on his reappearance presented the soldier with the family Bible.  "What is this?" exclaimed the sergeant, with an expression of surprise and disappointment.  "The only book of the 'Rights of Man' that I read!" was the reply.  The soldier turned upon the crowd, waved his sword in anger at thus being fooled, and, bidding the people disperse, said, "Go home, you cowards!  Be as good a Christian as this man is, and you will be better citizens."  It was upon this incident that I founded one of my stories in the "Marlocks of Merriton."

    Not only were the Failsworth Jacobins readers of Voltaire, Mirabeau, and other great thinkers whom the French Revolution sent to the fore, but they were students in Shakespeare and the early British poets.  Several devoted themselves to the study of the abstract sciences; and it was by no means a rare occurrence to hear the recital of some favourite poetical passage either precede or follow a dissertation on the problems of Euclid.  The brothers Thomas and Samuel Whittaker, names well known among students in mathematical science, were active members of this association.  Samuel, who lived till he was about ninety years of age, died recently at the Shakespere Inn, Gorton, where he had resided and denounced intolerance for many years.  Thomas was the victim of the fury of the "Church and King" mob, who was compelled to ride through the township, not with a crown of thorns upon his head, but a guerdon of pins stuck in his legs.  That cruel act drove the poor fellow from his native country, it is supposed to America, but nothing reliable has been heard of him since the day of his disappearance.  No doubt he was heartbroken at the ingratitude of the people whom he had striven all his previous life to enlighten, and sought in a more genial atmosphere opportunities to follow the peculiar bent of his inclinations.

    Spectators, in a political sense, of the issue of the French Revolution, the Jacobins were further suspected of being secret sympathisers with the Americans in their struggle for independence; and, although Washington had retired to Mount Vernon several years before Louis XVI was led to the scaffold, the events of the two periods were not so far apart as to be regarded as other than contemporaneous in their occurrence.  There can be no doubt that passive sympathy was felt for the pioneers of the Transatlantic Republic, and might have assumed an active form had opportunity offered; but herein, as on many other occasions, the local guardians of the constitution saw a substance in a shadow, and heard the rattle of revolutionary musketry in every Jacobin's shuttle that flew.  It was alleged of these early reformers that a complete subversion of the then existing regime was the only object by which they sought to crown their labours, and that the destruction of the Church, and the demolition of all things that were regarded as political safeguards, were to be the means to that end.

    But a Republic was not proclaimed at Westminster, although the "Farmer King" succumbed to a malady from which even monarchs are not exempt; and the "first gentleman of Europe" had little beyond the character of a "fribble" to recommend him to the possession of regal emoluments.  There had been a lull in political agitation, only to be roused up into active life by the advocates of "Radical Reform" appearing on the scene.  The "Church and King" party, and the reputed "Jacobins," again flew to arms; and the warfare was carried on with even greater virulence than in preceding years.  An old man was once heard to say, when speaking of that time—'Thoose ut wurno' Radikils wur Tories; an' thoose ut wurno' Tories wur Radikils.  Ther' no go-betweens nor hauve-an-hauves.  We knew one another as weel as if we'd pappers pinned on eaur breasts.  An aleheause nook then wur like a cockpit.  If a Tory batted his wings, a Radikil crowed, and fithers would ha' begun a-flyin' in a minit."  These were times of even greater danger to those who marched in front of the democratic crusade than had ever been known before.  In former days the mob administered law and execution; but here the State itself shook the terrors of the prison in the faces of reputed abettors of anarchy, and martial law closed the mouth of clamorous agitation for reform.  Failsworth afforded a productive hunting ground for Nadin, the famous deputy-constable of Manchester [Ed.—see Bamford, Passages from the Life of a Radical]; and frequent raids were made in the neighbourhood for the discovery and capture of offending malcontents.  A story is told of one of these hunting excursions, which I here take the liberty of quoting from one of my earlier sketches.  The passage reads as follows:—


"BILLY QUICK" AND NADIN.


    Someone hearing Nadin's name mentioned, requested Neddy to 'tell abeaut' that race that once took place betwixt the notorious deputy-constable and a certain demagogue who was known by the sobriquet of 'Billy Quick.'  "Well, yo' seen," said the old man, "Joe Nadin had someb'dy at everybody's keighole, hearkenin' eaut for treeason.  By thoose meeans he geet to know a good deeal moore nur folk thowt he did abeaut sich as wouldno' be satisfied wi' things as they wur; an' ther hardly a day went by but someb'dy wur bein' marched off to th' New Bailey.  Billy had bin sayin' summat at a meetin' ut wurno exactly liked; an' th' day after owd Joe an' his runners wur seen comin' deawn th' fowt, an' stop at th' dur wheere Billy lived.  Billy had seen 'em comin' hissel', an' what should he do but he oppens th' dur an' tak's a run-a-bar jump, an' springs reet through 'em.  Nadin made a grab at him, and so did o'th' t'other chaps; but they met as weel ha' catcht at th' leetenin', for Billy wur as swipper a mon as ony i'th' teawnship, an' managed to slip through 'em like a shuttle afore th' blood-heaunds knew what they wur doin'.  Heaw they star't when they seed Billy battin' away across a fielt, wi' a good two acre an' a five-barred gate between 'em!

    "Owd Joe wurno' for bein' slipped quietly, noather; so he gethert up his legs, an' wi' an oath ut leet like a breek o' the'r ears, coed his men for t' follow.  Well, they did follow, an' middlin' sharply too, for ther one or two good-legged uns amung 'um; an' folk said ut if it hadno' bin ut Billy had th' start, th' race would ha' bin rayther shorter nur it wur.  But Billy had th' leead, an kept it for a fielt or two, till he dropt deawn into th' Wrigley-Yead cloof; an' then it favvort bein' o'er wi' th' race, for ther plenty o' chances o' takkin' cover, an' it wur thowt he'd get eaut o' th' road yezzily.

    "Well, Nadin, like a fause owd file ut he wur, thowt Billy would be takkin deawnart, an' he drew his pack off the scent, an' made straight for a turn i'th' cloof o' purpose to nick him in.  Just as they geet to th' edge o'th' cloof Billy wur seen dartin' past like a hare wi' new wynt, an' sich a hullabaloo they set up yo' never yerd, an' off they went i' full cry agen.  Billy showed hissel' th' better mon upo' bad greaund, an' beaunced o'er gutters an' hillocks like a huntin' boss.  Owd Joe shook th' handcuffs at him, an' coed on him i'th' name o' King George for t' give hissel' up; but Billy nobbut went faster, an' dashed on through wick thurn, an' wayter, an' o'er backins an' railins, just as if he knew what he're runnin' for.

    "'They co'en him Quick; an' quick he is, by gum!' owd Joe said; for Billy distanced 'em like a two year owd.  When he geet deawn to th' cut [3] it wur made sure ut Billy would be pinned, for it favvort ther no chance for him nobbut takkin' th' wayter, an' swimmin' for it.

    "'We han him neaw,' Nadin said.  'He'll not ha' wynt enough for t' swim.  Throw yo'rsels eawt, lads, an' nail him.'  But Billy knew th' greaund too weel for 'em, for o of a sudden he popt eaut o'th' seet like a meaudiwart.  'Rot his radikil shanks!  Where's he gone to neaw?' owd Joe sheauted.  But when he coome to th' culver' meauth, an' see'd ut Billy must oather ha' gone into it or ha' sunken i'th' yearth, he stopt an' shaked his yead.  'Ther's no livin' soul could goo in there an' come eaut wick,' he said; for th' bruck wur runnin' very hee at th' time.  An' then he said, 'I'd rayther ha' ta'en him alive, but, onyheaw, we mun have his corpse.  Run to t'other eend, lads, he'll be rowlin' eaut directly.'

    "So they run reaund by th' bridge, an' planted the'rsels at t'other end o'th' culver', waitin' for the'r game.  Well, they snooted abeaut th' culver' meauth, like dogs at a rot hole, for above two heaurs, but no Billy turned up; so Nadin made it eaut ut he'd swum deawn th' bruck, for nowt could stond sich a streeam as that wur, he're sure.  Well, they seecht th' bruck, like childer rootin for loaches; but they met ha' turned o' th' stones up they' wur between theere an' Moston Mill, an' ne'er ha' fund him; so they gan it up to'ard neet, an' went the'r ways whoam agen."

    "And did they never find him?" inquired a shabby-genteel person, who had been eagerly listening to Neddy's story.

    "Yoi, they fund him abeaut a month after," replied the old man, putting on a look of concern.

    "Much decomposed, I daresay?"

    "Nay, no' so mich o' that; he liked rum too weel."

    "Was he far below the culvert?"

    "Aye, about twenty mile."

    "Indeed!"

    "They fund him," said Neddy, "peearcht in a aleheause nook i' Mac'sfielt, singin' 'Johnny Cope.'"

    Such scenes, but with more serious terminations, were of frequent occurrence, not only subsequent to but preceding the memorable gathering at "Peterloo."  Party feeling entered into every social arrangement, severed domestic ties, and gave up to the persecution of the law and of popular odium the sharer of the same hearth, the offspring of the same loins.  Brother betrayed brother; and the spy wormed the secrets from his friend's bosom, that he might consign him to the dungeon.  There never was a time in which the truer metal of humanity was put through a more severe ordeal, or when the overtures of friendship were so dangerous to be made.  A warm aspiration breathed in an apparently sympathetic ear was the following day repeated in the witness-box, as evidence of seditious designs in the utterer; so that the aspirant to what he deemed a purer national existence had to draw the mantle of silence around him, and suffer the more generous impulses of his nature to be wasted in the solitude of his own thoughts.

    But I will not be guilty of assigning the odium of improper actions to one party alone.  In the ranks of advanced politicians were to be found men whose uppermost desire was the subversion of order; and these had too great an influence in the Radical councils.  There can be no doubt that drilling parties were organised, ostensibly for the better method of marching in procession, but in reality for the practice of military discipline; and these doings would fill with alarm the minds of the would-be peaceable inhabitants, who were content with things as they were, if they could not be made better by adhering to the old groove, or by slight moral divergencies into a new track.  When the procession marched to St. Peter's Field, led by the beautiful and heroic Jane Winterbottom, and her fair sisterhood, each clad in a vesture of white, with bays woven in their hair, and carrying imitations of the olive branch in their hands, as emblems of a peaceful purpose, the black flag, bearing the motto, "Liberty or Death," floated behind them, and gave another colouring to the objects of that day's issues.

    After dwelling on convulsions that kept disjointed the social life of Failsworth for a long series of years, it is pleasant to turn to subjects of a more pacific character, and trace the progress of the peaceful arts and sciences that marked the period which followed.  The spirit of inquiry which had been instilled into the youthful mind by the hated, and now all but defunct, Jacobins, grew into an active principle, and the energy that had been wasted upon party warfare was directed to the pursuit of learning in its various branches.  A building had been erected, now known as the "Old School," in which all parties were represented in the children attending.  It was a school for all denominations, and sectarian influences were rigorously shut out for a time.  By-and-by, however, the Church party gained the ascendancy over the others, and the school became in spirit attached to the chapelry of Newton, then the only branch of the establishment that had to serve for the populations of four townships, spreading over an area of many miles each way.

    A new school was, however, erected in 1837, which was solely devoted to the Church; and social dissensions quickly followed the separation of that party from the mother establishment.

    If the older building has for a long series of years been the bone of contention betwixt the Church party and the "Anythingarians," as I have heard their opponents termed, it has in its more peaceful times been the poor man's college, in which, if the student did not wear "mortarboard" caps, nor take part in "town and gown" fights, they received an education which, in after life, they might use as a ladder to raise themselves to more exalted places.  Its history, which can only be slightly touched upon here, for fear of awakening those party animosities that for the present are happily slumbering, would form a most interesting volume if compiled with that spirit of fair treatment which only an unprejudiced spectator could bring to bear upon its many and varied issues.  But there are a few events and incidents in connection therewith, that it would be impossible for me to pass over without regret, on account of their being so closely linked with the earlier struggles of my life.  These, however, I will treat with a hand careful to guard itself against wounding the susceptibilities of such as may not have looked upon these events with the same regard that I have viewed them myself, and who consequently cannot be expected to share the sympathy I have always felt with the much-misrepresented doings at the Old School.

    At what time of life I was placed at this establishment to be nursed I do not remember; but my parents removing to Hollinwood led to my removal out of the shadow of those "classic walls" at the early age of five years, to run in the fields, ride "rantypows" on "Twis's" timber, study canal navigation in the interests of a local and fundless "Humane Society."  After an interval of years passed, so far as education was concerned, at the Sunday and night school, I returned to my alma mater, but in the capacity then of a Sunday teacher.  I found my early schoolfellows to be in their more matured life such desirable companions for one who had begun to dream of something better than following the general run of youthful hobbies, that I felt as though I had entered upon a life-friendship at once, a relative condition which time has not changed, nor circumstances modified.

    We had a glorious period of it so long as we were not interfered with by those who derived their notions of propriety from old-fashioned formularies—spending our summer Sabbath mornings in my uncle's garden, and offering up, from that humble flower-temple, as pure and earnest devotion to the Eternal as ever rose from walled fane, or was made acceptable by priestly robe and velvet-appointed altar.  We read after, and marvelled at, the colossal Shakespere; we traced the deep subtleties of the philosophic Wordsworth; we revelled in the grand imagery of Byron; and sympathised with the robust humanity of Burns.  We reasoned with Locke; drew ethical sustenance from grand old Jeremy Bentham; and had our eyes directed towards the beginning of that life which is to come by the pious eloquence of Channing.  If others, whom I may term our opponents at that time, were doing more than we were towards fostering the true spirit of moral and intellectual culture, the results have not yet appeared in that form and that light which I would rejoice to see.  Yet, for all that, we were doomed to a long period of persecution, the bitterness of which had better be forgotten than animadverted upon here.  I have reason to believe that many honest regrets have been felt by parties who at that time were actively hostile towards us, but who, if uninfluenced by that intolerant spirit which then guided the uninquiring mind, would not only have been with us, but would have entered heartily and beneficially into our work.

    We began, young as we were, to feel a kindling love for sociality.  Boys at our age, when they left off their tops and marbles, had nothing to supply the place of such recreations except the deleterious amusements of the public house.  They danced on the taproom hearthstone; held contests in what had the name of "alehouse singing;" and, if strongly-limbed, grew proud of each triumphant essay in a more muscular kind of pastime.

    We had a nobler ambition.  We felt a consciousness that better things were to be done than we could see practised around us.  We accordingly formed ourselves into a "Mutual Improvement Society," not merely to follow our scholastic ideas, but to promote social intercourse, and establish the basis of more solid friendships.  The nucleus of a library was formed, and we had the satisfaction of seeing the books well-thumbed.  Classes for elementary instruction were commenced, and bore gratifying results.  We were assisted in these pursuits by men who had fought their battle and hugged their share of odium years before; and it was to this assistance, gratuitously given, that most of us owe the guiding precepts of our after life.  Uncle John Thomason, Johnny Moffat, and the brothers Whittaker, had not lived in vain, for they had left behind them the Whiteheads, the Booths, the Taylors, the Brierleys, the Smiths, and the Fletchers, to continue the work they had with such self-sacrifice inaugurated.  Younger still than these there were in an advanced stage of training, and our Arcadia flourished under their discipline.

    As an evidence of our earnest work, it may be recorded that we got up the first tea-party ever held in any school betwixt Manchester and Oldham; and a great undertaking it was, though successfully and satisfactorily carried out.  This took place on the Easter Monday of 1840, but remembered as if it occurred only yesterday.  We had dramatic representations upon a stage fitted up by our unaided selves with what we were pleased to call "scenery," but which consisted only of strips of coloured calico stitched together and wound upon rollers, after a primitive theatrical fashion, but answering our purpose as well as the most artistically painted canvas.

    Well do I remember the curtain rising for the first time—the extreme nervous agitation betrayed by everyone who had to take a part, and the speculations as to the manner in which such a tremendous innovation would be received by a public whose sympathies we could not at all times calculate upon.  Strongly photographed on my memory are the images of my aunt's cloak, which, as an assassin, I wore; the tin daggers, that cost three-halfpence each; the swords we bought in Manchester and broke before we got them home; the tea-tray that was to make the indispensable thunder; the swollen cheeks of the "Cat-alley Band," as they blew out the concluding bars of the noisy overture, and the encouraging smiles of the tea-fed audience when we strutted proudly upon the scene.

    You of my readers who have never felt these sensations so inevitably associated with a "first appearance" know not how to estimate their influence.  I have stood on the boards of our Theatre Royal for the first time, and before a "crowded house," without feeling half the trepidation I experienced when, upon our amateur stage, I raised my glittering but harmless weapon to plunge somewhere amongst the buttons of "the wretch that stood in my path," and brought down the plaudits of the auditory for the heroic deed.  You who profess to teach men to act, but who have never passed through the ordeal of "ring up," take just one leaf out of my experience in these matters, and I will be bound to say that you will be more charitable towards your brethren's shortcomings for ever afterwards, and more inclined to the opinion that it is one thing to perform and another to criticise.  Such my experience has taught me, and I bequeath the lesson to you, an untaxed legacy.

    It would be a puzzle to members of the theatrical profession to discover by what art-agency we contrived to bring out the glories of Shakespere and his satellites upon three planks, a window-bottom, and the top of a staircase.  But we did manage to do all these things nevertheless, and in the most ambitious manner possible.  We performed "Othello," "Hamlet," "Merchant of Venice," "William Tell," "Virginias," "Pizarro," "The Stranger," "Douglas," "Wat Tyler," "The Bleeding Nun," "Luke the Labourer," "Black-eyed Susan," "The Lear of Private Life," and laughable farces too numerous to name.  Lest it should be thought that the whole of our time was absorbed by these histrionic pursuits, I may here explain that the performances took place once a year only; so that the whole of our representations occupied a period comprising a long series of years, at the end of which the boys had become men, and had taken to manly duties; the children of some of them lisping out their first attempts at dramatic elocution.

    But these things were not to go on uninterrupted in their pleasant course.  The rector of St. John's [4] had begun to denounce us from the pulpit; and sanctimonious horror seized upon the "unco gude" of our neighbours, who warned their children to keep out of our paths, for fear that terrible consequences might ensue.  This alarm was not without a cause.  A score or so of strapping fellows such as we were, with beards of downy incipiency, and reputations unsullied by the immoralities of other youths, were not to be left unassailed by girlish witchery, or allowed to continue our Platonic attachments to the neglect of more tender obligations.  We made interesting conversions to our way of thinking and living which threatened to drain the other school of its more engaging youth, and rob its Whitsuntide procession of some of its prettiest ornaments.  This was not to be submitted to by dominant respectability, and schemes were laid for our overthrow.  An opportunity for putting one of these schemes into execution presented itself.  How it succeeded remains to be told.

    The master of the day school, who occupied the house adjoining, died.  A successor was elected by the votes of the "inhabitants" of the township, but was never permitted to assume the whole of his functions.  The Church party seized upon the lower schoolroom, fastened up the entrance door, but allowed the one communicating with the school-house to remain open.  The widow of the deceased schoolmaster was kept in possession, and induced, perhaps reluctantly, to follow out the dictates of the aggressors.  A series of riots followed these arbitrary doings, and for a period of time reaching over years the township was given up to lawlessness and party rancour.  Riots and prosecutions were of almost weekly occurrence; and Failsworth faces were as familiar at the New Bailey as were those of the lawyers who practised there.  Time rolled stormily on, and the Sunday school was all but broken up for want of room in which to locate the scholars.  The "Mechanics' Institution," which had emerged out of the "Mutual Improvement Society," languished from the same cause; and social demoralisation and the alienation of kindred were the fruits of this righteous interference with the liberties of well-meaning people.

    An incident occurred at this time which is worth detailing in full.  It was decided that the lower schoolroom must be transferred to our possession at whatever cost.  Various plans were submitted, of more or less practicability; and the "Council of War," after much professional deliberation, at length agreed upon one.  We were to take the place by strategy, and means to that end were at once proceeded with.

    A watchman held nightly ward in the schoolhouse, and had foiled several attempts on our part to make a lodgement in the beleaguered room.  To get this official out of the way, or throw him off his guard, was the chief point to be aimed at, and was absolutely necessary to the success of our scheme.  Fortunately, he was not a teetotaller, and this circumstance favoured our purpose in no small degree.  A passive sympathiser with our cause, who was in the habit of frequenting the enemy's camp, plied the two-legged "Cerebus" with plentiful potations, and got him in such a such a state of obliviousness, that when the hour of attack presented itself, lo, the watch "slumbered and slept!"  The plans for storming the old school were matured; the time fixed for putting them into operation; and, when executed, were so successful in their issue, that before the muddled watchman had awakened to the consciousness of what had caused his head to be in such a state of "fives and sixes," the jubilant voices of rejoicing children were ringing in the captured schoolroom.

    Satisfied that the watchman would be properly attended to, and made as "safe" as "Zach's fourpenny" could make him, we who had been told off as the besieging party ensconced ourselves in the upper story, and waited for the hour to strike.

    It was on a Saturday evening.  We made merry until twelve; then stretched ourselves on the bare forms to sleep, if possible, until daybreak.  Fitful, however, were our slumbers, as doubtless are the somnolent relaxations of soldiers encamped before the enemy on the eve of battle; and many a drolly-told tale, and the listening thereto, had to be substituted for the refreshing "forty winks."  Daylight at length broke, and the "forlorn hope" was on the alert.  We had reliable information conveyed to us that the begrogged sentry was as firmly gripped in the clutches of "Morpheus" as sleep could hold him, and that the nasal monotone was sounding beautifully.

    "Then to wark, lads!" said J—, who led the attack; and instantly everyone was in readiness to perform the duties assigned to him.

    J—hereupon produced a joiner's brace-and-bit, and commenced boring one of the boards in the floor.  The noise of a saw might have betrayed our purpose, and every precaution was necessary for the success of such an undertaking.  After much patient boring and anxious listening a board was divided, and a large hole made in the floor.  As there was no ceiling beneath, we could reconnoitre the position, and easily ascertain the strength of the fortifications.  The entrance door we found was fastened by three strong iron bars securely screwed to the door posts; but we were not to be disconcerted by such formidable defences, as we were possessed of implements that would have opened a bank.

    "Neaw, then, who's for gooin' deawn?" said C—, drawing a rope out of the coal hole.  "Leet weights preferred."

    No sooner were the words uttered than I found the rope hitched beneath my shoulders, and my clogs dangling through the hole.  I was the first let down.  The duty assigned to me was to secure the door communicating with the schoolhouse—the most important item in our programme.  This I made right by passing a cord several times through the door-handle and round a cross-wood of reliable strength.  That job done, we could follow out our other operations at leisure.  Presently another pair of legs were dangling through the hole, and another body gave me some idea of the spectacle of an execution, by the suggestive twisting of the rope in its descent.  A third followed, armed with a powerful screwdriver, and the unscrewing of the iron bars was at once commenced.  This was not the formidable difficulty we had anticipated, for the screws readily gave way, the bars yielded rapidly, and before a less venturous spirit could be prevailed upon to trust his bones to the capriciousness of twisted hemp, we had returned to our companions by the proper and legitimate way, flourishing the bars as trophies of our success.  The section of board was quickly replaced in the floor, and smeared over with dust, so as to give it the appearance of being "owd done," as was observed by one of an examining party; and long ere the hour for commencing school had arrived, some of us were miles away!

    What consternation there was in our opponents' camp when it became known that business was being carried on in the lower schoolroom as if it had never been at all interrupted!  News of the affair flew about the township like a delectable bit of scandal, and everybody marvelled how the feat had been accomplished.  Spiritualism was at that time unknown amongst us, so that it could not be attributed to the agency of the unseen.  The work must have been done by corporeal instrumentality; but how had it been exercised?  The floor was examined at a subsequent meeting of the inhabitants, but nothing could be discovered that would lead to a supposition that the boards had been tampered with, and the affair remained a mystery for a considerable time, and may be still to some people.  Nobody, of course, had taken any part in it, even when questioned by their friends; and, had I not now been a trustee of the building, I might myself have hesitated before making these disclosures.

    From the date of this coup de main, party animosities began to cool down.  A few prosecutions followed, but the spirit of opposition was broken in the back, and people who had been foremost in the ranks of our opponents began to see that they were engaged in an unholy work, notwithstanding that it was carried on in the name of something better.  No doubt there were faults on both sides, and if certain leaders of each party could only have brought themselves to the possibility of regarding the whole proceedings in their true light, such an understanding might have been arrived at as would have saved the township a great scandal, and been the means of promoting goodwill amongst people whom, from their homogeneity of opinions and sympathies, in political as well as social matters, ought never to have quarrelled.  It is to be regretted that a fine opportunity of placing Failsworth in a more advanced position was thus sacrificed by the domination of passion over principle, and a thirst for power that could bring with it no beneficial results.

    Passing from this subject, upon which I have dwelt longer than I had intended, I will draw the reader's attention for a moment to matters more characteristic of the locality as dissociated from party spirit and the differences it engenders.  I have in another place alluded to Failsworth as being celebrated for its "Rushbearings," and I may be pardoned if I make a clean breast of the fact that I still regard those institutions with a feeling of pride that others affect to disown now that the shows and pageantries of the "olden time" are out of fashion, and only remembered as one of many amongst the barbaric pastimes of our forefathers.

    It is a well-known fact in history that rushbearings originated in the necessity for securing comfort in our churches during the winter months; the rushes conveyed thither being used as carpets for the feet, in place of the now prevalent matting.  The church of All Saints', Newton Heath, being the only representative of the Establishment that had to serve for the spiritual care of four townships, Newton, Failsworth, Droylsden, and Moston—notwithstanding that Failsworth alone could boast of its three dissenting chapels—was annually supplied with rushes for the purpose named; the "Wakes" being the time selected for the rushbearing festivities to be observed.

    The four townships each did the work in turn, and the spirit of rivalry ran high at every celebration.  Failsworth often took the lead; the last display being one of extraordinary magnificence.  But I have heard old people say that for picturesqueness the modern rush-cart was nothing to the one of fifty years ago, when the dancers were fewer in number, but more artistically dressed, and entered more into the spirit of such pastimes than the youths of twenty years ago cared to display.  An artist has depicted one of these pageants as they were got up when it was deemed effeminate to wear trousers; when the women wore bonnets that served alike for head-shelters and sunshades; when the now "Royal Oak" was a warehouse, and a blacksmith's shed abutted on the "fowt" of the "Crown and Cushion;" when the population was sparse, and men eligible for dancing the Morris dance were few; when "Sam Simister" was a young man, and could call out "backort an' forred three times o'er" in tones louder than his bell; when "Tom Etchells" built the cart, and had no rival at his handicraft; when sots were few, and "Good Templars" unknown; when men and women knew how to live without being held in leading-strings by this society and that, and saved up out of small earnings, so that they might not be a burden on the parish when their life's work was done.

    Do not imagine, dear reader, that the "Pole" at the end of the lane has any connections with rushbearings, or that it was erected for the purpose of May-day festivities.  It hath a political as well as a national significance, and was placed in its position as a monument of party triumph, and as an attestation of the township's loyalty when "George the Third was King," and the "Star Chamber" was held at the "Pack Horse," and Jacobin ink had to be borrowed with which to sign an address of attachment to his royal person at a period when it was thought to be in danger.  Many a time has this trophy been assailed by both friend and foe; and I look upon it as quite a wonder that it has survived the many and fierce conflicts that have from time to time shaken the township from its propriety.  But there it still stands; not the symbol of peaceful merrymakers, but as a taunting remembrance of civil strife, and a puzzle to the curious stranger who, on beholding it, may be led to think what glorious doings Failsworth must have known in years gone by.  Betwixt the "Pole" and the "School" a wide gulf has existed that remains for the future to bridge over.

    Once more reverting to the School, as I bring to a close this somewhat attenuated sketch, I may say that in this unassuming structure men who were distinguished for their learning in after-life obtained the rudiments of education; continuing their studies at night-schools when the needs of the family required that they should contribute to the household supplies.  Many instances of the self-denial of these men, and their enthusiastic devotion to the pursuit of knowledge amongst difficulties almost insuperable, have passed under my notice, and caused me to marvel no little at the exhibition of human endurance under sore trials and heavy burdens; for such it was the fortune of many whom I knew to bear.  A gentleman with whom I was well acquainted, and who has but recently passed out of existence, commenced his struggles as a handloom weaver, received his early tuition at this school, was afterwards taught by a lame weaver, who followed his vocation in a corner of the schoolhouse during the hours of teaching, and lived to acquire an independency by teaching the "young idea" as he had been taught himself.  A companion ended his days as master of a workhouse in Yorkshire.  A third is the proprietor of an extensive mill in the district; and the members of two of the largest firms of silk manufacturers ever known in Lancashire were born, or lived, in cottages close by the School.  Others are growing up who, I have no doubt, will some time do honour to their "benign mother" in various walks of life; and who, I hope, when enemies assail its character, will proudly insist that the School has done good work in its day.

    In taking leave of this theme, although my heart lingers upon it as does the memory of some loved melody, let me not be accused of vanity when I say that my "native village" has been associated with persons and events that have, or will have, a name in history, as aiding in the uplifting of our political and social well-being in no small degree, and thus contributing a lustre to its many-sided reputation.  The weaving of "Canton shawls" was at one time an achievement in a branch of manufacturing art that few other villages dared attempt, and a prosperous time the weavers had of it.  The first jacquard machine ever imported into Lancashire was erected in the "Rocks," and old John Robinson "gaited" it.  Poetry, science, and art in its higher developments have each given a tone to the annals of the locality.  Elijah Ridings, the poet, was born in the old road, near the canal bridge and the brothers Thorley, the well-known musicians, first saw the light in a house close by.  Mr. Bennett Woodcroft, the first comptroller of patents, carved, during his apprenticeship, his initials on a door opposite the "Traveller's Inn;" and Shakespeare Wood, the eminent sculptor, spent much of his early pastime in the sunshine of the "Lady Bottoms."  Add to these, although the list is not exhausted, that a peer of the realm at one time inhabited a three-storey house in Dob Lane, and that the late Sir Robert Peel is said to have received a part of his education at a mansion called "The Lodge," and you will at once admit that Failsworth, notwithstanding its physical disadvantages, has played no unimportant part in the political and social history of our common country.


Footnotes


 
1. Being present at the Battle of Waterloo entitled him to an addition of 2 years to his service.
 
2. Bill Stumps his mark. See "Pickwick Papers."
 
3. Rochdale Canal.
 
4. Similar performances have taken place in the Church school since then, —such has been the change in popular taste and opinion! The "old school" was only in advance of the times.




END OF VOL. III.

 


 

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