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TO ALL GOOD AND TRUE
FREEMASONS,

FROM

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE OF WALES,
DOWNWARDS,


THIS BOOK IS, WITH BROTHERLY
AFFECTION, INSCRIBED.


HARPURHEY,
        MANCHESTER.


――――♦――――

 

MAY.
(Manchester Guardian, 1854.)


MAY is come!—the month of flowers,—
O'er the banks, and through the bowers,
Laughing breezes, light and gay,
Bear the greeting —"Welcome May!"
    Drinking ether as he sings,
Flashing sunlight from his wings,
The soaring lark, with merry throat,
Warbles shrill his Maying note.
Other songsters from the grove,
Pour their matin songs of love,
And blithely hop from spray to spray,
Hailing nature's holiday.
    Trooping down the vale below,—
Weaving garlands as they go;
Sweet as heav'nly seraphim,
Little vale nymphs chant their hymn,—
    "Come, ye children, hither come,
Through the woodlands let us roam,
And chase the wand'ring butterfly,
Ere he seeks some other sky.
Let us go where flowery banks
Offer up their morning thanks,
To the home of every pray'r,
For the pretty robes they wear.
There watch how fairy hands distil
Sparkling wine-drops from the rill;
And pass the cup from flow'r to flow'r,
To celebrate the festal hour;
Whilst Dryads, decked in dewy gems,
    Gaily trip it o'er the lea,
To tiny bells, on nodding stems,
    Ringing elfin minstrelsy.
Merry shouts ring through the dell;
Ling'ring whispers haunt the well;
Echo calls from far away,
List ye what its voices say—
    "Away, and seek the greenwood shade
Come each village youth and maid,
Bring ye flowers fresh and gay,
To strew before the Queen of May.
Here are dainties to allure
From his feast the epicure;
For the simple honey bee
Hath a sweeter feast than he.
Bring the old, the hale, the young,—
Bring the feeble and the strong,
To watch the merry pranking troop
Round the flow'ry May Queen group.
Mingle in the dance and song,
All who would their lives prolong,
And ne'er rest till shadows gray
Indicate the close of day,
For 'tis May! 'tis May! 'tis May!


――――♦――――

 

WIGAN SAM.


THERE is in Bury's ancient town
    An inn of good report;
'Tis not the "Albion," "Keys," nor "Queens,"
    Nor one of humbler sort.

But high it towers above the roofs
    Of "Swans," "Grey Mares," and "Grapes;"
And many a peddling hostelry,
    Its grander neighbour apes.

But none can match the "Eagle's Nest"
    In quality of fare,
Though some aver the figure's high;
    But such are poor and rare.

The cream of good society,
    The privileged, and proud,
Have on our inn, for years gone by,
    Their patronage bestowed.

Look on the stately front, and say
    Who of plebeian soil
    Shall e'er presume to take it's wines,
Or share the barmaid's smile?

The host, than whom a neater man
    Is known in Bury town,
Can either welcome with a bow,
    Or freeze you with a frown.

That means, when you're good company,
    Or tavern laws transgress;
But though he turns on points so nice,
    Esteem him not the less.

A wit he is, and fond of joke,
    Albeit of high degree;
And though he courts a coronet,
    To lowly worth is free.

What can be said of man the more,
    However high his birth ?
The wight who owns a generous heart
    Is emperor of the earth!

A tyke there came to Bury town,
    One "Wigan Sam" by name ;
A dog whom neither house, nor clan,
    Nor parish cared to claim.

Friends he had none, nor kith, nor kin,—
    No home wherein to creep
When winds were fierce, and frosts were keen,
    And snows were wild and deep,

Save the "big house" upon the hill,
    Where dwell the lost to earth—
Where feeds the vagabond beside
    The wreck of humble worth.

Sam lay in fallow half his time
    Within those sheltering walls,
Nor sought to lift by fruitful toil
    Himself to higher calls.

But when the flowers began to peep,
    And birds began to sing,
And nettles grew on sunny banks—
    The firstlings of the spring,—

Then Sam would from his furrow creep,
    And shaking off the earth
That pauper sloth had heaped on him,
    For change would wander forth.

'Mongst brick-crofts, farms, and buildings new,
    A living, Sam would make,
And sleep at nights in barn or stall,
    Or taproom lodgings take.

When other work could not be found,
    A basket he would sling,
And vend young onions, mustard, cress—
    The edibles of spring;

Or he would trundle through the street,
    A one-wheeled truck, with sand
And "idle-back" for rags and bones,
    Or "aught" that came to hand.

But Sam had one ambitious wish,
    Though paltry it might seem,
To raise a modest donkey cart,
    With single brute, or team.

Yet how the needful to obtain,
    Such "rolling stock" to buy,
Had bothered oft his scheming pate,
    And turned his wits awry.

But, lucky thought! each dog's his hour,
    And Sam's had come at last;
His wand'rings through the streets one day
    The "Eyrie" led him past.

Mine host just out of band-box turned,
    Stood whistling at the door,
With hands deep in his pockets thrust,
    Their contents jingling o'er.

Our vagabond from Wigan town
    Soon Boniface espied,
And, waxing keen to try a joke,
    Thus to the yokel cried.

"Hallo, old sinner ! what's your game?
    You're out again, I see.
No work?   Eh, eh!   Old story, Sam
    Oh,—want to speak to me?

Well, cut it short.   What is't you want?"
    "A friend," was Sam's reply;
"I want to raise a suvverin
    A jackass cart to buy.

I know wheere I con have a moke
    Two days a week or so;
An' if yo'n lend me th' twenty bob
    Yo'n be th' best friend I know."

"But what security can t' give?"
    Mine host said with a grin;
"A man these times must have some hold
    Before he parts with tin."

"That's bothered me for weeks an' months,"
    Said Sam with hopeful leer;
"But now I've getten o'er it straight
    An' tidy.   It's just here—

I're thinkin', if yo' lent me th' brass,
    Ut I could make a start,
For security, an' sich as that,
    Yo' could have yo'r name on th' cart."


――――♦――――

 

OWD PIGEON.

"THE RULING PASSION STRONG IN DEATH."


OWD PIGEON wur as dry a brid
    As ever swiped his drink;
He liked to see a frothy pint
    Smile at his nose, an' wink.

At morn or neet, 'twur aulus reet,
    A quart, or pint, or gill
Wur th' same to him; if th' pot wur full
    He never had his fill.

If e'er he geet his breeches' knees
    Beneath a taproom table,
He'd sit, an' drink, an' smoke, an' wink
    As long as he wur able.

He'd grown so firm to th' alehouse nook,
    An' swiped so mony mixtures,
That when it coom to changin' honds
    He're reckoned among th' fixtures.

Whene'er their Betty brewed a "peck,"
    If he could find a jug,
He wouldno' wait till th' ale wur "tunned,"
    He'd lade it eaut o'th' mug.

One neet Owd Pigeon flew to'ard whoam,
    Wi' a very wobblin' flutter;
Sometimes he'd tumble into th' hedge,
    An' sometimes into th' gutter.

He knew he're late, an' didno' want
    Their Betty t' see a leet;
So crept upstairs to bed i'th' dark
    An' in his stockin' feet.

He groped abeaut i'th' sleepin' cote,
    An' felt for th' drawers an' th' bed;
But nowt he touched till th' bedpost flew,
    An' banged again his yead.

"Theigher," said Pigeon, "that's a go;
    There' someb'dy bin workin' charms;
For it's th' fust time e'er I knew mi nose
    Wur longer than mi arms."

But poor Owd Pigeon's time had come,
    An' when his will he'd signt,
He said he ailed nowt nobbut "drooth,"
    An' begged for another pint.

His "rulin passion" stuck till death,
    An' as th' Slayer raised his dart,
He licked his lips, an' faintly said,
    "Just mak' it int' a quart.

I wouldno' care a pin for th' grave,
    Though I'm totterin' upo' th' brink,
If I could come back wi' th' buryin' folk,
    An' ha' my share o'th' drink."


――――♦――――

 

TO HER ROYAL HIGHNESS
THE DUCHESS OF EDINBURGH
ON HER WEDDING.


HAIL to thee, chick o'th' eagle hee,
Ut flaps its wings o'er th' Baltic Sea;
Theau'rt welcome to eaur Sal an' me,
                                    An' Walmsley Fowt.

Theau comes wi' th' snowdrops, fair as they,
Peepin' eaut at th' wintry day;
But soon theau'll see an English May
                                    I' Lunnon Fowt.

Theau should ha' come'n some years bygone,
Just when I're shepst'rin'* th' owdest son,
Before thoose feights wur lost and won
                                    I'th' Crimean Fowt.

Theau met ha' saved us summat then,
I' peawther, gowd, an' lives o' men;
But theau'd hardly crept fro' under th' hen,
                                    When th' War-cocks fowght.

Come o'er t'eaur heause—bring Alfred, too;
Beaut him th' owd rib mit jealous groo—
We'n have a glorious Lanky brew,
                                    I' Walmsley Fowt.

We'n have a crimbly-crusted pie
O' Paddy's grapes; an' if theau'll try
A plateful on't, soon th' news 'll fly
                                    To Peter's fowt.

They'd raise a steeam o' Neva's shore
Would keep th' owd brook fro' freezin' o'er,
An' warm folk as they're ne'er warmed before,
                                    Not e'en wi' th' Knout.

I'll show thee what theau's seldom seen—
Some happier folks than king or queen;
Wheere warmer hearts an' breeter e'en
                                    Ne'er blessed a fowt.

For o that, we'r no' donned like thee,
I' silk an' gowd and fiddle-de-de:
Blue print is eaur best finery,
                                    I' Walmsley Fowt.

We are no' fed o' nifles rare;
An' yet we'n just a little t' spare
For folk tit han their cubborts bare,
                                    I' any fowt.

Theau's not had porritch twice a day,
As I've had mony a time, nor tae
Ut's tasted like a brew o hay,
                                    An' sometimes nowt.

It's hardly likely theau'll e'er see
A whitenin' lip an' glazin' e'e,
Through want o' that God sent for me,
                                    An' o i'th fowt.

Theau winno' yer a little moan
I'th neet-time, when theau'rt feelin' lone.
When lips han muttered—"Is there noane—
                                    No bread i'th' fowt?"

But why wi' back-thowts fill my e'en?
That th' wo'ld's groon breeter may be seen—
On every face, an' hearth, an' green,
                                    I' mony a fowt.

Theau's made it breeter wi' that star
O' promise theau's browt from afar,
Ut tells us love shall conquer war,
                                    I' every fowt.

Better' ha weddin'-bells than th' clang
O' glitterin' steel, or cannon's bang:
A welcomer peal than thine ne'er rang
                                    O'er ne'er a fowt.

Yo'r Alfred's thine an' England's pride—
Spotless he laft his mother's side;
An' may no good that tongue betide
                                    Ut says he's prowt,

Look to him, then, wi' wifely care,
To keep him shy o' wicked snare;
Guard him wi' booath hont an' prayer,
                                    When eaut i'th' fowt;

For princes are no common folk,
But marks at which to fire a joke,
An' dirty wits their fun to poke,
                                    I' every fowt.

That brother-in-law o' thine—yo'r Ned—
Ever sin' he their Alick wed,
Has had a deeal abeaut him said
                                    I' mony a fowt.

But I ne'er tak' o in ut's towd:
A mon may be as good as gowd,
An' scandil's tongue shall have him jowed
                                    An' pown to nowt.

If e'er th' owd woman meddles o' thee—
But surely that con never be—
Dunno' like some wives, goo on th' spree,
                                    An' tell o th' fowt;

But use her kindly—hers has been
A life ne'er lived by other queen.
No wrong words ever passed between
                                    Her an' her fowt.

Walk theau i'th' track her shoon han made,
An' tak no heed o' whisperin' jade,
Ut yers things that han ne'er been said,
                                    I' ne'er a fowt.

Happen theau'll have a family—
A big un, sometime—we shall see.
If th' fust's a lad, then send for me
                                    To Walmsley Fowt;

An' I'll be godfeyther to th' bab—
(Just tak' a hint an' co' him AB)—
Then wouldno' there be a a roarin' gab
                                    I' England Fowt?


* Shepst'rin, nursing.


――――♦――――

 

"OWD AB'S" LAMENT OVER KNOTT
MILL FAIR.


AIR.—The harp that once through Tara's Halls.


THE lungs that once through Knott Mill Fair
    Their classic music shed,
Are now as mute in Knott Mill Fair
    As if that voice were dead.
So gone's the strut of former days,
    So tinselled glory's o'er;
And hearts that beat to penny praise
    Now feel that throb no more.

No more the chief with tawdry dight
    The roar of tumult swells;
The noise alone that's heard at night
    Its tale of drinkin' tells.
Thus talent now whene'er it wakes,
    Our feelings to engage,
Is when some poor old Thespian takes
    A taproom for a stage.


――――♦――――

 

FOTCHIN TH' KEAWS UP.


                ONE summer e'enin
                When the screenin
Cleauds drew o'er the settin sun.
                Madge went trippin
                Eaut o'th' shipp'n,—
Fotchin th' keaws, as oft hoo'd done.
                In th' owd lane
                Hoo met a swain
Pluckin blossoms from the spray.
                "Madge," said he,—
                "It's strange to see
Thee fotchin th' keaws so late i'th' day."

                Madge said nowt,
                Yet truly thowt
Ther summat wicked in his e'e:
                But when her waist
                He tightly pressed
Heaw could hoo longer silent be?
                Hoo said—"Jim Dawson,
                Eh, theau fause un,
What dos't think my mam'll say,
                If hoo sees thee
                Offer t' squeeze me—
Fotchin th' keaws up late i'th' day?

                "Let me goo, Jim;
                Neaw, then, do, Jim—
Aw've no time for stoppin here."
                But the youth,
                To tell the truth,
Wi' cobweb could ha' held her theere:
                Then the gate
                Was not too strait
For two to pass, an' goo ther way:
                But who could pass
                A bonny lass,
When fotchin th' keaws up late i'th' day?

                "Madge," said Jim—
                Whilst hoo to him
As closely clung as he to her—
                "It's strange if time
                I' th' summer's prime
An heaur to lovers conno spare.
                If th' owd sun's gone,
                Ther's th' young moon yon,
Stringin' silver beads on th' hay;
                An' thoos bits o'
                Leet that flit so,
Are keaws hoo's fotchin' late i'th' day.

                "Two cleauds meetin',
                Neaw are greetin';
See 'em kissin' as they pass?"
                Madge, not thinkin'
                Ill, said, shrinkin',
"Which is th' lad, an' which is th' lass?"
                "That," said Jim,
                "Ut's breet an' slim,
Must be the lass, neaw on her way
                Spreadin' charms
                O'er heaven's farms,
Whilst fotchin th' keaws up late i'th' day."

                ' T' had been a wonder
                An' a blunder,
Had the skies their lessons lost;
                If two cleauds, meetin',
                Did o'th' greetin',
Why did Jim the maid accost?
                But oh! the kisses,
                And the blisses,
That took Madge's heart away!
                Neaw hoo's fain
                Hoo met a swain
When fotchin th' keaws up late i'th' day.


――――♦――――

 

THE BONNIE LAD WI' TH' APRON ON.*
(MASONIC SONG.)

Music by Bro. Past Master N. Dumville. Manchester:
Hime and Addison; Forsyth Brothers.


MY JAMIE is a Mason bold
    His mother's age ten seventy seven
His word to me's as good as gold
    His soul's as pure as smile from Heaven.
Whene'er we take our walks at eve,
    A face for him—there's only one;
Than lose his heart a world I'd give—
    My bonnie lad wi' th' apron on!

He jewels wears upon his breast,
    And three upon his brat so white;
And when he's donned up in his best,
    Oh, is he not my heart's delight?
He says I ought to cautious be
    When other lads try on their fun;
But surely he's no doubts of me—
    My bonnie lad wi' th' apron on!

Why need he says he's on the square,
    And true his life to rule and plumb?
You'll find few young men anywhere,
    That virtues such as his become.
He kissed me at the gate to-neet,
    And now he to his lodge is gone;
But later on I'm bound to meet
    My bonnie lad wi' th' apron on.

A day he's named—a day to come,
    When I must take the first degree
In the Free Masonry of home,
    Then happy sister shall I be.
His secrets I already know,
    And in the grips we both are one;
A spotless vesture soon I'll show
    My bonnie lad wi' th' apron on!


*Dedicated to Bro. Colonel Le Gendre N. Starkie, Rt. Wor-
shipful Prov. Grand Master of Masons in East Lancashire.


――――♦――――

 

FALL OF SEBASTOPOL.


HUSH! methought I heard a sound,
As 'twere a booming thunder-burst,
Awake the startled echoes 'round,
And cleave the midnight air.   The first
Hath scarcely died ere pealing flies
A second volley to the skies:—
A third! and now a crash of bells
The new-born tale of triumph tells.
    Strange whispers pass from door to door,
Which grow to shouts from street to street,
    'Till swelling in one distant roar,—
Where rushing myriads, myriads meet,
Is climax'd by one thundering voice—
                    "Sebastopol hath fallen!"

                                               Rejoice,
Ye youths and maidens of the land;
Ye grey-haired sires, a noble band;
Ye mothers of a race as brave
As ever fought on field, or wave,—
Rejoice! this is no time to mourn,
Though heroes bleed and cities burn.
From crimson rain shall vineyards flow,—
From smouldering ashes harvests grow.

      Beside a humble cottage door
A woman stood, who oft before
Had lingered there to read of wars,
As presaged in the book of stars.
At times the face of heaven would seem
As if illumed by glory's beam.
At others, drops of lurid light
Would leave the sky to blackest night.
Then would despair the watcher seize,
Who, falling on her suppliant knees,
Would pray—and would 'twere not in vain!—
Her "Geordie" might come home again.

      "What does it mean?" the woman cries,
As past her door a neighbour flies.
"What does it mean?—What does it mean?
The war is o'er,—God bless the Queen!"
"The war is o'er; and England won!
Then shall I see—again—my son."
Yes, in thy visions, woman grey,
But not in dance or revel gay.
Look, where the battle's smoke divides;
Where 'mongst the slain the victor rides;
There see, the rising cloud reveals
A form that from a saddle reels.
A wound, made by a sabre stroke,
Like winter sun through fog and smoke,
Or iron bar in heated forge,
Marks for the grave thy darling George.

      "What will they say in England now?"
Exclaims the youth, with bleeding brow.
"Alas! I shall not hear what's said,
For now I'm quartered with the dead!"
Then takes he from his breast a charm,
Worn not to shield from battle's harm,
But one to kiss at evening prayer—
It is a lock of silver hair.

      "What will they say in mine own land?"
Exclaims a youth of another band.
Victorious you, and conquered we—
Though why we fought's unknown to me.
That fatal cut was from my sword,
And your own steel my blood hath gored!"
Then takes he from his breast a charm,
Worn not to shield from battle's harm,
But one to kiss at evening prayer—
It is a lock of golden hair.

      Two hands are clasped in death's embrace:
Two foes are prostrate, face to face.
"You leave a mother," said the one—
His power of utterance nearly gone:
"I leave a wife and children dear;
And 'twas not glory led me here.
They said 'twas fealty to the Czar
That forced his subjects into war.
But why it was that I slew you,
Or why it was that me you slew,
Is not for us but kings to say,
On Greater Field and Greater Day."

      Locked in each other's arms, the twain
Were told at roll-call with the slain.
As foes they fought, as friends they bled—
The martyr triumph of the dead.
What holier voice could sound afar
A protest 'gainst the sin of war?


――――♦――――

 

THE WAVERLOW BELLS.


OLD Jammie and Ailse went a-down the brookside,
Arm-in-arm, as when young, before Ailse was a bride;
And what made them pause near the Hollybank wells?
'Twas to list to the chimes of the Waverlow bells.

"How sweet," said old Jammie, "How sweet on the ear,
Comes the ding-donging sound of yon curfew, my dear !"
But old Ailse ne'er replies—for her bosom now swells—
Oh, she loved in her childhood those Waverlow bells.

"Thou remember'st," said Jammie "the night we first met,
Near the Abbey Field gate—the old gate is there yet—
When we roamed in the moonlight, o'er fields and through dells,
And our hearts beat along with the Waverlow bells.

"And then that wakes morning, so early at church,
When I led thee a bride through the old ivy porch,
And our new home we made where the curate now dwells,
And we danced to the music of Waverlow bells.

"And when that wakes morning came round the next year,
How we bore a sweet child to the christ'ning font there;
But our joy-peals soon changed to the saddest of knells,
And we mourned at the sound of the Waverlow bells."

Then in silence, a moment, the old couple stood,
Their hearts in the churchyard, their eyes on the flood;
And the tear, as it starts, a sad memory tells—
Oh! they heard a loved voice in those Waverlow bells.

"Our Ann," said old Ailse, "was the fairest of girls;
She had heaven in her face, and the sun in her curls;
Now she sleeps in a bed where the worm makes its cells,
And her lullaby's sung by the Waverlow bells."

"But her soul," Jammie said, "she'd a soul in her eyes,
And their brightness is gone to its home in the skies;
We may meet her there yet, where the good spirit dwells,
When we'll hear them no more—those old Waverlow bells."

Once again—only once—this old couple were seen
Stepping out in the gloaming across the old green,
And to wander adown by the Hollybank wells,
Just to list to the chimes of the Waverlow bells.

Now the good folks are sleeping beneath the cold sod,
But their souls are in bliss with their daughter and God,
And each maid in the village now mournfully tells
How old Jamie and Ailse loved the Waverlow bells.


――――♦――――

 

THE BONNIE BLUE RIBBON.


'TWAS down in the vale,
    Where the Medlock runs clear,
That I met with young Colin,
    In the fall of the year.
The glance that he gave,
    Made my heart bound with glee,—
He'd a bonnie blue ribbon,
    Tied under his knee.

He asked for my heart,
    But he'd had it before
If I'd twenty to give,
    I'd have given him a score.
My looks must have told him
    What I could not see,—
Oh, the bonnie blue ribbon,
    Tied under the knee.

His voice is so tender,
    So mellow and sweet,
Which the thrush in the gloaming
    Its tones would repeat.
The mirth of the village
    No charm had for me;
'Twas the bonnie blue ribbon,
    Tied under the knee.

But woe's me, my love
    Has been pressed to the wars;
He'll return crowned with glory,
    Or covered with scars.
If the fates be as kind,
    As his heart's been to me,
He'll wear the blue ribbon,
    Tied under the knee.

The summer is past
    And the birds are all fled,
Yet no word of my Colin,
    Is he living, or dead?
If he'd send me a line,
    'Twould be hearts-ease to me;
Or the bonnie blue ribbon,
    Tied under the knee.

Oh, why this strange feeling,
    This hope and this fear?
There's something that tells me
    My lover is near.
'Tis my Colin come back,
    To his home, and to me
With the bonnie blue ribbon,
    Tied under his knee.


――――♦――――

 

TO MY WIFE.
(ON HER 59TH BIRTHDAY.)


NOW "all that glitters is not gold,"
    A lesson learn from that, dear wife!
The sun that's bright at morning-tide,
    Is like the transient morn of life.
At noon it pales its morning beams;
    The sky assumes a sober grey,
As if the calm of eventide,
    Would chase in sleep all cares away.

Another morn, a brighter morn,
    May greet with joy our waking hour,
A sun of Heavenly gold may shine,
    Not plated o'er by earthly power,
But gemmed as with a coronal,
    Formed of the purest crystal ray,
And stream afar, like an angel's smile;
    The light of an Eternal day.


HALL STREET, MOSTON,
         April 29th, 1893.


――――♦――――

 

WELCOME TO OUR OLD FRIEND,
" BEN."


WELCOME, "Owd Brid!"   We give thee hearty cheer,
    In this, the happiest place of all thy life.
Oft have we heard thee sing, with voice so clear,
    Of all the charms with which it is so rife.

Here hast thou gazed, as only Poets can,
And felt the landscape not the work of man;
And, gazing thus, thy soul has filled with light,
To brighten up the wearied "Cotter's Night;"
And, bursting forth in many a joyous strain,
Hast made the welkin fairly ring again.

And now that thou dost come to bid "Adieu!"
    To all the scenes that made thy boyhood bright,
And hast the Valleys of the West in view
    (Yet none so happy as this one to-night),
We bid thee welcome; and, with hearts made light,
Would cheer up thine, that it may now feel right.

Come! keep thi drooping "pecker" up, "owd lad,"
It will no' do that thou shouldst now be sad;
We'll keep thy memory dear—and fresh and green—
Though other features come upon the scene.

We'll not forget "Owd Ab," nor all his ways;
    And when he's landed on yon distant shore,
May riches crown the warbling of his lays,
    And all his sighings and his cares be o'er.

May "mighty dollars" rain upon his path,
    And comforts give (which here have been but few),
That what he there may get, and what he hath,
    Be quite sufficient for the end in view.

And should he, as the dreary months roll on,
    For England and for Failsworth once more pine,
We'll hail the ship that brings us back a Son,
    And give him welcome with a loud "lang syne;"
We'll sing "lang syne" with all our might and main,
And welcome back our OLD FRIEND BEN again.


JULIUS.

March 28th, 1884.


――――♦――――

 

TO BENJAMIN BRIERLEY, ESQ.,

IN VIEW OF HIS LEAVING THIS COUNTRY FOR A TOUR
IN THE U. S. A.
(Copyright.)


FAREWELL thou son of song;
Well dost thou stand among
    Th' elitè of men!
Thy name and fame are great;
We now congratulate
In full and fitting state,
    Thy gifted pen.

Thy pen has facile pow'r!
In volumetric show'r
    And gifted grace;
Thy quill has writ of truth
And beauty; and, forsooth,
Of man: his moral growth
    And chequered race.

Perchance in yon great land—
The deep blue sea beyond—
    A welcome sweet;
Replete with gen'rous love,
And sweet as voice of dove,
In tidal waves may move
    Thy soul to greet.

The people there are great
In virtue and in state—
    A noble race!
Their speech is England's tongue;
Their life is grand and young;
Their love is pure and strong:
    Go thou and trace.

A joyous voyage then,
To thee, beloved "Ben,"
    And safe return!
O'er ocean's rudest wave
May He, that's mighty, save
A life that's more than brave:
    Then we'll not mourn.

ARNICA.

Moston Priory, Manchester,
    March 5th, 1884.


――――♦――――

 

LANCASHIRE'S BEN.


EACH branch of Art and Science boasts,
Within our own and other coasts,
Peculiarly its famous Ben,
Who sways by tongue or brush or pen.
The world of politics, you'll own,
Few bolder than Ben Dizzy's known.
The Drama—ne'er to be effaced—
By "rare Ben Jenson" has been graced,
And by Ben Webster, eke, I ween—
Illumined by their talents' sheen!
Ben Franklin, philosophic guide!
Achieved renown as fair as wide;
While as a painter, lo, Ben West,
By Western States is counted best.
Nay, nature, high o'er woods and glens,
Displays and revels in her Bens:
Ben Nevis, and Ben Lomond, too;
Ben Ledi and brave Ben Venue.
E'en London has its own "Big Ben,"
O'er its Cathedral reared by Wren.
And in this busy shire, we ken
A glorious and victorious Ben,
With greenest laurels on his brow,
Whom it delights to honour now,
With golden tokens of regard,
As author, humorist, and bard—
Oh, say, where shall we meet a life
With truer love of freedom rife.
More free from spurious sentiments,
More in the people's welfare spent?
His banter, when in fullest play,
Is sparkling as the summer's ray;
His wit, though keen as rapier found,
Unlike the rapier, ne'er doth wound;
His homely virtues him endear
To hosts of friends both far and near,
Who bid him "God-speed" o'er the main,
And wish him safely home again!

JAMES HOLDEN.

Rochdale.


――――♦――――

 

FAREWELL TO AMERICA.


FAREWELL land of "booms," "tickets," "platforms," and "vetoes,"
Of lightening bugs, whistling frogs, snakes and mosquitoes,
Land of fried oysters, of clam-bakes, and chowder,
And the rowdy's best arguments, bullets and powder;
Land of all races, all colours, and mixings,
Of candy and peanuts, of notions and fixings,
Where prohibitive laws do not stop folks from drinking,
But old Bourbon and rye can be had for the winking.
Where a man who robs banks is held up as a "smart one;"
But let him take bread that will just keep life's cart on,
He'll get it quite hot from the judge who ne'er justice meant,
And sent up for weeks to the home of the penitent.
Land of "road agents," of pedlars and "drummers,"
Of confidence tricksters, "bushwhackers," and "bummers,"
Where political knaves fatten out of the taxes,
And how they get hold of them no man e'er "axes."
If I tell thee thy faults 'tis because that I love thee,—
Oh, land of the free! while the bird soars above thee,
That swoops on thy foes like thy blizzards and cyclones,
'Twixt thee and old England may bygones be bygones!
Do what has been done by thy mother before thee,
Deeds blazoned in history, ballad, and story;
Drive out the vile rascals that plunder thy coffers,
And cease to be jeered at by railers and scoffers.
Take the bull by the horns, not the "John" of that "aire" name;
And throw down the beast that has trod on thy fair fame;
'Twill have to be done either sooner or later,—
So here's to the doing of 't my "darlin' young crater!"
"So long!"*

* So Long: the American for "good bye!"


――――♦――――

 

A "DAUGHTER OF EVE."

A BLACKPOOL IDYL.


PENSIVE she sat—alone—upon the pier,
Watching the setting sun its lessening disc
Dip in the western wave.
And long she gazed.   Andromeda, held captive in the sea,
Was not more sad than she—sad beyond tears.
I picture to myself the fading form
Of some fair barque, bound for a foreign shore,
And with it all she loved on earth.
I tried to read her thoughts.   Were maidens fair,
And matchless in their beauty, in that land
Towards where the swelling sails their canvas bent?
And would a glance from their dark eyes so fill
The soul with the sweet ecstasy of love,
That he'd forget the love he'd left behind?
She'd heard of syrens hid in ocean caves
That so beguile the faithless mariner
With soul-enslaving harmonies, that he
Forgets he's mortal, and's for ever lost.
Anon she did avert her face, then cast
Her eyes again across the angry deep.
I ventured to ask the cause of all her grief—
Why she, like Niobe, was all in tears?
She sighed, and said—"Wait till I get him whoam!"


――――♦――――

 

BURNS'S BIRTHDAY.

POETICAL ADDRESS, DELIVERED
AT AN IMAGINARY FESTIVAL.


O YE wha hae nae higher aims
Than fill wi' drink your drouthy wames,
Ye need hae schoolings frae your dames
                                            When ye forget
That nichts are langer at your hames
                                            Than where ye set.

I am nae Solomon, nor sage,
Whose virtue only comes with age,
Who war eternal nightly wage
                                            'Gainst saups o' drink;
But tak a drop i' "Tammy's Cage"
                                            To mak 'em wink.

This day young Rab first saw the light
Shine o'er his head—a wond'rous sight!
'Twas like a holy nimbus, bright,
                                            To greet his birth.
Then darkness skelpit like the night
                                            Frae off the earth.

He saw around him as he grew,
A grabbin, keen, and selfish crew,
To naething but their int'rests true
                                            The God they serve.
Aught good in man they naething knew
                                            To make them swerve.

On hypocrite he laid the stick
They kept for decent folk, an' sic
As woulda, like dumb spaniels, lick
                                            Their dirty neive.
(I maun keep friendly wi' Auld Nick,
                                            He hands my brief.)

He made the sanctimonious squeal,
Like rattons in an empty biel;
The Sunday saint an' Monday de'il
                                            He wouldna spare:
But like a doughty, honest chiel,
                                            He'd strip them bare.

But in his gentler nature he
In wounded hare a friend could see;
Or birdie, wounded wantonly.
                                            (They ca' it game
A bairn sae scared, an' canno flee,
                                            Is just the same).

For poor auld "Mailie" he'd a tear
To shed beside her mountain bier;
He ca'd the sheep frae far an' near,
                                            Wi' grief to wrestle;
But "Mailie" was beyont the fear
                                            Of butcher's trestle.

And een the wee an' tremblin mousie,
He wouldna' rob of its bit housie.
He made that crawlin pest, the ―――
                                            A judge o' fashions:
An' gave to it, sae prim an' doucie,
                                            A critic's notions.

Wha kens wha Rabbie might ha been,
If life a longer lease had gi'en?
Yet ere he left this earthly scene,
                                            For Death's dark portal,
A simple flower* o' modest mien,
                                            He'd made immortal.


* The Daisy.


――――♦――――

 

LAMENT FOR THE FAILSWORTH
"POLE."


This ancient landmark, so well known throughout the country,
has been taken down, as it was deemed unsafe on account of
decay.   "Ab" overhears the wail of the wooden relic on his
return one evening from the "Old Bell.''—Manchester Guardian.


THEY'VE ta'en me down at last, theau sees,
    Becose I'm gettin rotten,
An' that's no wonder when I think
    I've been so long forgotten.

There's nob'dy tricked me eaut wi' paint,
    Nor trimmed my vane an' points,
Nor weshed my face, nor combed my yure,
    Nor oiled my creakin joints,

Sin' I're put here to face the storm,
    An' wintry frosts an' snows:
An' not a drop o' comfort sent
    To thaw my frozen nose.

It wurno so when th' lord o'th' lond
    Wi' ribbons decked by yead,
An' made me change my politics
    By turnip blue to red.

I wonder what th' "Owd Ship"* would say,
    An' "Trumpet-foot"* would do,
If they could rise before their time,
    An' see what I've come to?

Th' owd "smith"* would make his anvil ring,
    An' eke his bellows blow,
If he wur towd th' "V.R." wur gone
    He'd fashioned years ago.

An' chanticleer has left his perch,
    Becose he're eaut o' place;
To stond wi' th' creawn beneath his tail
    He felt wur a disgrace.

So long as we'n a Queen to rule
    The fates of fowls an' men,
An' show us th' way eaur feelins blow,
    It owt t' ha' been a hen.

Farewell, owd brid! an' when I'm gone
    To join the shades o' men,
They'll wish they'd spared a bit o' paint
    To mak me young again.

But neaw another'll tak my place,
    A masher for a time,
But he'll come deawn to rust and chips
    Before he's past his prime.

So 'tis wi' men as weel as pows,
    Neglected i' their day;
An' when they're come to coffin dust
    They'll find a bed o' clay.


* Local celebrities of the past.


――――♦――――

 

THE STONEBREAKER'S SONG.

 


    It was a study to see him at work.  Seated on a wisp of hay that he had twisted and coiled into a cushion; a girdle of the same material laid on a large flat-surfaced stone in front of him; a large hammer laid by his side, and in his hand a smaller one, with which he would now and then peg away, as if in the act of breaking Jacobins' heads by the score; a visor of wire-cloth suspended over his face, to prevent splinters of stone from flying into his eyes; an old blue jacket, that at one time had been a coat, looped over a red plush "singlet" of perhaps twenty or even forty years' wear: his almost hairless sconce bared to the sun, from which it had received an imperishable coating of tan, he was an object that few would pass without hailing with observations, either concerning the weather, or the crops or the idle gossip of the time.

    Strange!  This Sunday morning the old fellow was at work— busily, merrily at work.  The church bells seemed to swing in time to the song he was trolling; and the lark that would poise itself over the patch of wrinkled tan as if it had been a note-book, sang in a strain that made the hammer quicken in its descent; and the splinters of stone would be threshed out of the girdle till the tawny patch would be as pearled over with dew as were the fields around.  Suddenly he paused to take wind.  He wiped his shining sconce with a tattered napkin, and raised his visor to look about him.  How still and serene and Sabbath-like were the old road-mender's reflections, as he contemplated the quiet and sunny landscape before him—"meetily" Sabbath-like!—and he listened to the bells again.

    "What is ther up at th' church this mornin!" he asked himself, wiping his face, and listening again.  "Is some foo or other gettin wed, I wonder?  Ay, I dar'say; ther's aulus someb'dy thinkin they con mend other folk's wark; it's th' natur of a foo."  And down went the visor with a jerk; "click" went the hammer, and showers of splinters flew out of the girdle as he sang—

 

Young Robin at th' smithy a-cooarten did go,
With his heigh smithy ballis an' anvil an' o!
He wur one score an' nothin, just th' age for a foo',
But owder wur Kit by a haytime or two.
                                        Singin derry down, Robin.
                                        No sighin nor sobbin
W'll e'er tee a love-knot 'tween Kitty an' thee.

Neaw Robin he begged, as he stood i'th' heause porch,
Ut Kitty ud let him just tak her to th' church;
But Kitty said, "Nawe, lad, no church yet for me
For a yer or two lunger aw meean to be free."
                                        Singin derry down, ditty,
                                        A snicket wur Kitty;
Her heart wur as hard as a weightstone, aw'm sure.

 

    "He should ha' gan her a whizz i'th earhole, an' axed her how hoo liked that," commented the singer, raising his hammer and bringing it down with a force that made more fragments than were intended.   "Nowt like a good hommerin for a saucy besom ut wants so—husk!—so mich trouble makkin on her," and again the stones flew out of the girdle, and again the road-mender took up the strain—

 

Her lover had waited a twelvemonth or more,
An' neetly he'd striven her heart to get o'er;
But seein at last ut hoo laafed as he spoke,
His pluck dropt so low ut he're ready to choke.
                                        Singin derry down, Robin,
                                        Theau's done to mich sobbin,
Cock thi hat o' one side, an' goo whistlin whoam.

"Aw'll see thee once moore," young Robin he said,
"An' ax thee agen if theau means to be wed;
An' if theau says nawe, theau may go to th' owd lad,
For Margit o' Peter's is toyert of her dad."
                                        Singin bravely spoke, Robin,
                                        That's better nor sobbin
Hoo'll smile no moore yet at th' breet side ov her een.

 

    "Ay, that trick onswers sometimes.  Try some other wench on—someb'dy they care no' mich about.  It'll be as straight forrad as hay makkin i' good sun and wynt.  Then th' tother 'll come round like midsummer, or a rent day; an' be as whinin an' as fain as a new-byetten hound.  Ay, ay; better nor churnin ee-wayter, an' pooin a face as long an' as feaw as a milestone ut's had smo'-pox."

 

Next time he went armed wi' a peawer he'd ne'er tried,
An' owd oak back-spittle he'd slung by his side,
Ut wur chalked o'er wi X's, hauve moon's an' reaund O's,
Wi' a lot o' straight strokes ut wur set eaut i' rows.
                                        Singin derry down, Robin,
                                        Theau's entered a job in
Ut'll be murder to Kitty, an' hangin to thee.

 

    "Owd Nanny i'th' fowt used to reckon up her shop-scores o' that fashion.  A X stood for a farthin; a straight stroke for a penny; a hauve moon for a sixpence, and a reaund O for a shillin.  Hoo'd every inch o' wood i'th' shop chalked o'er once for brass ut wur owin; an' when they nowt else ut 'ud howd a figger hoo began o' scorin upo' their Ned's back, till lads abeaut coed him th' walkin shopbook,"

 

"Well, does theau say nawe yet?" young Robin he said.
Kitty made him no onswer, but threw up her yed.
"Then look here at this—pay me o ut theau owes."
An' he flourished th' owd back-spittle under her nose.
                                        Singin derry down, ditty,
                                        A floorer for Kitty,
Wur th' X's, straight strokes, an' reaund O's, an' hauve moons.

 

"He should ha' laid it on her back till her stays ud ha' skriked out.  I would ha' done."

 

"This is what aw wore on thee last yer," Robin cried,
"For a fippunny pincushion t' hang bi thi side;
Two link of a necklace, a pin for thi gown
An a new fleawred huzziff aw breawt eaut o'th' teawn."
                                        Singin derry down, Robin,
                                        Theau's set Kit a-sobbin;
Theau'll have her i' fits if theau reads any moore.

"Then aw I took thee to th' fair," Robin said with a sigh,
"An' bowt thee some nuts an' a gingybread pie;
Some porter aw paid for at th' 'Skewer an' Cop,'
An' two eaunces o' towfy at owd Nanny's shop."
                                        Singin derry down, Kitty,
                                        Thy Robin's no pity.
Or else he'd wipe th' score off an' set thi hont free.


"Th' next byets cock-feightin."


Kitty sighed, and said "Robin, aw'll pay thee thi shot;
Wilt have it i' money, or papper, or what?"
But, before he could spake hoo'd her arm reaund his neck,
An' th' owd oak back-spittle were wiped to a speck.
                                        Singin derry down, ditty,
                                        Neaw Robin an' Kitty
Han chalked up a score ut'll last 'em for life.


――――♦――――

 

TO EDWIN WAUGH.

 

    The writer had not heard from his poetical friend for a considerable time. The circumstance suggested this epistle, which Mr. Waugh included in an edition of his own poems.

 

WHAT ails thee, Ned?   Thour't not as 'twur,
Or else no' what I took thee for,
When fust thou made sich noise an' stir
                        I' this quare pleck.
Hast' flown at Fame wi' sich a ber,
                        As t' break thy neck?

Or arty droppin' fithers, eh;
An' keepin' th' neest warm till some day,
Toart April-tide, or sunny May,
                        When thou may'st spring,
An' warble out a new-made lay,
                        On strengthened wing?

For brids o' sung mun ha' they mou't,
As weel as other brids I doubt;
But though they peearch beneath a spout,
                        Or roost 'mong heather,
They're saved fro' mony a shiverin' bout,
                        By hutchin' t'gether.

Come, let owd Mother Dumps a-be,
An' wag thy yead wi' friendly glee;
Fly o'er, a humble brid to see—
                        This wo'ld is wide—
There's reaum for booath thee an' me,
                        An' more beside.

Come, scrat' thy bill, an' bat thy wings;
Hark how the merry "Layrock" sings!
Good news fro' flowerlond he brings
                        In his glad throat;
An' conno' thou, 'mong lesser things,
                        Put in a note?

The buds that peep fro' every spray;
The cock that wakkens up the day;
The thrush that sings its roundelay
                        I' bower an' tree,
Shout—"Come, owd brid, an' have a say
                        I' nature's spree!"

For 'tis a spree, this life o' ours;
Drinkin' wine fro' cups o' flowers,
An' takkin' insence in i' showers,
                        Enoogh to crack us;
Or havin' glorious neetly cowers
                        Wi' a fithered Bacchus.

Fly o'er thysel, or if thou chooses
To bring some other brids o' th' Muses,
Pike out a flock, an' come an' rooze this,
                        My peearchin cote;
The mou't seize him who then refuses
                        To tune his throat.

Foremost in flight, on gentle wing,
The "Prestwich Philomela" [1] bring.
It swells my crop to yer him sing,
                        I' plaintive strain;
To squeeze his claw wi' friendly wring
                        I would be fain.

Then ther's that owd gray-toppined lark,
Who sang when thou an' I wur dark,
Long years sin', o'er toart th' "Little Park,"
                        "Bamford" [2] his name;
Let's give our years a reverent jark,
                        An' own his fame.

Bring in thy train thoose brids o' note,
Blithe "Charlie," [3] with his wattled throat,
An' "Dick,"' [4] who never sang nor wrote
                        To hurt his fellow;
With him, [5] who aye wi' "seed-box" sote
                        To mak' brids mellow.

Bring him who to the Past still clings, [6]
Who in some moss-grown ruin sings,
Whilst delvin' deep for bygone things
                        I' tombs an' ditches;
Now croonin' o'er the deeds o' kings,
                        Or pranks o' witches.

An' bring that honest soul thy skoo' in, [7]
Who notes what other birds are dooin';
Who at a "weed" is aules pooin',
                        To sweel his throttle
Who if he's mute is surely brewin'
                        Some genial prattle.

An' bring that grizzly weazent wren, [8]
Who twitters nobbut now an' then;
Who "ale" prescribes to "physic" men,
                        An' brids as weel.
(If souls obeyed his guidin' ken,
                        They'd starve the de'il.)

An' to mak' up the festive cage,
Bring that plump brid, the "Happy Page;" [9]
Who'd give in song the exact gauge
                        Of throat o' viper, [10]
An' tell, by countin' fishers, th' age
                        O' woodland piper.

Wi' hop an' twitter, chirp an' sung,
We'd drive the scamperin' hours alung;
An' it thy glee, an' 'Lijah's lung
                        I' tone should slacken,
Ther'd be enoogh o' Charlie's tongue
                        To keep us wakken.

We'd ha' "Tim's Grave," an "Th' Sweetheart Gate,"
An' "Owd Pegge's" cure for th' wakkerin' state;[11]
An "Jerry," [12] too, should shake his pate
                        Wi' monkey claiver;
An' if yo'rn short o' rhymin prate,
                        I'd croon "Th' Owd Wayver."

We mit o' love an' friendship sing;
O' Charity's exhaustless spring;
O' Beauty, that wi' radiant wing,
                        Charms brid and bard;
An' then, for th' sake o'th' fun 'twould bring,
                        Try th' jokin' "card." [13]

A neet o' sick like mirthfu' croozin',
No friend forgettin'—no foe abusin';
Now leaud i' sung, now sweetly musin',
                        Were "bliss divine;"
An' to the soul a deep infusin'
                        O' Jove's best wine.

Thus may we flutter through life's grove,
Now crack's wi' glee, now steeped i' love,
Till wingin' to that roost above,
                        Where dwell the blest,
We find, like Noah's faithful dove,
                        A place o' rest.

 

1.

Charles Swain; author of "The Mud" and other poems.

2.

Samuel Bamford; author of "Passages in the Life of a Radical," &c.

3.

Charles Hardwick; author of "The History of Preston," &c.

4.

R. R. Bealey; author of "After Business Jottings," &c.

5.

Joseph Chatwood, President of the Manchester Literary Club.

6.

John Harland; Editor of "Baine's History of Lancashire," &c.

7.

J. P. Stokes, Esq., Correspondent of the Times.

8.

Elijah Ridings; author of the "Village Muse," &c.

9.

John Page (Felix Folio); author of "Street Dealers and Quacks," &c.

10.

Mr. Page, in "Letters on Natural History," maintains that the viper, in time of danger, swallows its young.

11.

Vide "Ale versus Physic," by Elijah Ridings.

12.

Alluding to a humorous story about a "monkey," told with considerable gusto by Charles Hardwick.

13.

A term much used in conversation by one of the worthies above named.


――――♦――――

 

ON ATTAINING HIS 70TH YEAR,
JANUARY 29TH, 1887.


'TIS over thirty years, friend Waugh,
    Since thou and I first met,
A manly face, a twinkling eye,
    A voice to music set,

Were thine to please, to charm, to win,
    All round the social board,
Where kindly sympathetic ears
    Hung on each tuneful word.

Since then I've roamed the moorland wild,
    With poesy and thee;
And pressed the fragrant heather bell
    With footstep light and free.

And I have known thee since, when care
    And dire affliction traced
The lines that tell of weary days
    No healing hath effaced—

When silver crept amongst thy hair,
    Now changed to wintry rime:
And stooped thy form beneath the load
    Of unrelenting Time.

Thy lyre hath sounded mid the strife
    Of worldly thoughts and ways;
Thy song hath cheered the helpless wight,
    With dreams of happier days.

Soon thou must lay thy harp aside,
    Hushed for the passing hour;
But Memory may wake its tones
    With echoes of its power.

The sun of thy poetic day
    For ever may have set;
But rosy are the twilight tints
    That linger round thee yet.

Ere these dissolve in darksome night,
    And leave thy soul forlorn,
May'st thou behold the breaking light
    Of an eternal morn.


――――♦――――

 

THOSE TOWN HALL STAIRS.

MAIDEN SPEECH

 

Delivered in the Manchester City Council, May 3, 1876, on the question locating the Free Reference Library in the upper rooms of the New Town Hall.

In November, 1875, Mr. Brierley was elected a city councillor, and his maiden speech was in support of the Free Libraries Committee's successful attempt to prevent the reference department being located in the attic of the Town Hall.  Here was his opportunity.  The chairman of the Free Libraries Committee, Mr. Alderman (afterwards Sir Thomas) Baker, said, addressing Mr. Brierley, 'We shall want all the help we can get, see what you can do.'  On the day fixed for the debate, Mr. Brierley rose and said 'He felt that to place a vast collection of literary treasures out of the reach of many for whom they were got together would be legislating backwards, unless it were the desire of the Corporation to preserve them as some country dames did their copper kettles, by never allowing them to be made use of. (Laughter.)  Great stress had been laid, but mostly inside the Council, upon the cost of an independent structure erected in a central part of the city.  Whoever brought that argument forward as an objection to a general scheme forgot the importance of the institution sought to be located, and the great value set upon such institutions by our neighbours across the Channel.  A North Country friend of his, describing the extent and splendour of the temples devoted to the arts, the sciences, and the literature of a nation, to be met with in even the smaller cities of continental Europe, and comparing them with our own, observed—'Why, mon, we're not in it at a'.' (Laughter.)  He told the truth, we are not in it. (Hear, hear.)  When a few months ago the Watch Committee asked the Council for an additional £40,000 to enlarge an already palatial residence for our criminal population, not a murmur was raised against the demand.  But when they asked that a powerful instrument for preventing crime might be properly and not extravagantly housed, they were told that an attic in the new Town Hall was quite good enough for the purpose.  And what was this retreat, or sepulchre, for the great minds of the world?  To paraphrase a favourite couplet of Mr. Fox Turner's —


I have been there, but would not go
Again, I'd rather stay below.


(Laughter.)  Independent of other considerations, a library of reference was of little service unless it were of ready access; and locating it at an altitude that could not be reached without having to climb steps to the number of 120, would be like placing a piece of bread on a dog's nose, and counting 120 before allowing it to be snapped up. (Loud laughter.)  His experience of this part of the building had more than confirmed, if possible, the opinions he had always held as to its unsuitableness for any important purpose whatever.  A few weeks ago he had been one of an expedition that had volunteered to explore the mysterious regions of the carillons, and the conclusion he then came to was, that none but such adventurous spirits as the Mayor and Mr. Alderman Heywood would ever have the hardihood to climb that giddy height. (Laughter.)  The whole party commenced the ascent of the stairs at the same time, but like amateur mountaineers climbing Ben Lomond, they gradually became separated—some hanging on here and there by a balustrade. and others trying to emulate the pranks of their boyish days by a grotesque attempt to look nimble. (Laughter.)  By dint of dogged perseverance they all reached the top, but not in a body.  They turned up in panting and perspiring driblets (laughter), the last man being a little over ten minutes behind his immediate predecessor.  (Renewed Laughter.)  He would not repeat the expression this laggard made use of on landing, but would describe it as an empathic kind of thinking aloud.  (Laughter.)  If, then, such difficulties presented themselves to the active and energetic members of the City Council, what would they be to men of more than ordinary bulk, and when getting into years?  Only imagine an elderly man of fifteen stone spending half an hour in worming himself up this crenated corkscrew for the purpose of ascertaining at what period of the world's history Manchester was besieged by the Shandeans.  (Laughter.)  He imagined it to be some such possibility that gave the idea for the construction of a piece of doggrel that had recently come under his notice.  Whether it be from the pen of Long-Short-or-any-other-fellow he would leave them to surmise when they had given it the favour of a hearing. It was as follows:—

 

The shades of night were falling fast,
As up the Town Hall steps there passed,
A man who on his shoulders bore
Full seventy winters,—and he swore—
             "These cursèd stairs!"

Firmly he grasped an alpenstock,
To help his legs from block to block;
And as he toiled his way along,
Throughout each corridor there rang—
             "Confound these stairs!"

From warehouse window came no light,
Which could illume that misty height;
And when he found himself alone,
From out his breast escaped a groan—
             "These Town Hall stairs!"

"Wither goest thou?" a porter said,
With buttons on his coat o'erspread.
"I go to con historic lore;
But clamber up I'll never more
             "These Town Hall stairs!"

A maiden old, with features brown,
The balusters was cleaning down;
And as the pilgrim raised his head,
Half frightened at the sight she said—
             "Oh, drat these stairs."

Rough was the night, the storm without
A torrent made in lead and spout,
And rattled 'gainst the window pane,
That none could hear the echo, vain—
             "Where are the stairs?"

At early morn, as duty-ward
The porters trod the pavement hard,
They heard a voice call from on high,
As if 'twere shouted from the sky—
             "Where are the stairs?"

There on the cold mosiac, lay
The old man bent, and worn, and grey.
He'd been locked in; and as he grasped
An Alpenstock, he faintly gasped—
             "These Town Hall stairs!"

Ye who of Helicon have quaffed,
And studied till you're nearly daft,
Is this the watchword of your craft
You'd shout along that spiral shaft—
             "Excelsior?"

Oh! what would Grundy say, or Lamb,
If without aid of 'bus or tram,
They'd thus to climb, their heads to cram?
All right, Excelsior, but d—
             "These Town Hall stairs!"

 

The reading of these verses caused much merriment, and Mr. Brierley sat down amid shouts of laughter and cheers.

"Mr. Alderman Lamb said he must confess that it required one to be possessed of considerable nerve who rose to speak after what they had just heard from the new councillor, &c., &c.

"The report was adopted by a large majority.

"When the council rose Mr. Alderman Baker, slapping Mr. Brierley on the shoulder, said—You've settled the question. No other man in the council could have done it."

"Thus, an uneducated weaver, almost fresh from the loom, had to champion the cause of the learned societies of Manchester, a service that has not yet been acknowledged.  Mr. Brierley had made his mark as a councillor.


――――♦――――

 

EPILOGUE,

Delivered on the occasion of closing the Oldham Exhibition,
January 5th, 1884.


NOW does the engine end its busy run,
Rake out its fires, and say its work is done.
No more its throbbings, scarcely heard or felt,
Shall send pulsations through each cord and belt—
But like a giant whose journey's at it's close,
Lays down its limbs, and seeks well-earned repose.
No more we'll listen to the throstle's song,—
Not the wild notes we hear when days are long,
But more like hum of bee when at its toil,
(I think my Muse requires a little oil.)
No more we'll watch the steady pace of mule,—
Not the queer animal from Balaam's school—
But from that stud erst vitalised by Watt,
And given shape and motion by a Platt.
No more we'll see Niagara from a pump,
Nor feel old times renewed in "double bump,"
No more the rattle of the busy loom
Shall ears assail, as 'twere the tongue of doom.
No more we'll watch with wondering regards
Grow line by line the sharp and bristling cards,—
I do not mean those square and painted things,
On which we see quaint forms of queens and kings,—
With which sometimes we're skinned to the last "rap,"
By joining in a friendly game at "nap"—
But cards to comb with, as we comb our hair,—
Not as our wives do with a stool or chair.
No more we'll see how without wheels, or cranks,
They weave a worsted covering for our shanks;
Nor feel as if some danger near might lurk,
By seeing the "devil" (printers') at his work.
No more we'll see the "masher" at the bar,
Ord'ring his B. and S., and a cigar,
Whilst "Hebe," with Skye terrier fringe or "bang,"
Smiles as she listens to his pretty slang.
Gone are the visions, or shall soon depart,
Of those creations struck from the mould of art:—
The painted canvass, or the sculptured form,—
The peaceful landscape, and old ocean's storm.
To things that touch the soul, and charm the eye
We now must bid a lingering good-bye.
No, not to all, thanks to the "Rough-head's" pluck.—
(The envious might say 'twas only luck)—
Some things of beauty will remain to be
A joy for aye—a life's eternity.
Who would have thought the time would ever come
When Art in Oldham would have found a home?
Yet here she is, well housed, and clothed, and fed;
To Industry allied, to Science wed.
But now for words I'm getting sorely pressed,—
So mote it be! the Mayor will do the rest.


――――♦――――

 

JOHNNY OVER THE SALT SEA.

(Betty-o'er-lone's song in the "Layrock of Langleyside.")


IT was down by yonder river side
    Where cat-tails they do grow,
I met a pretty fair maid
    With bosom white as snow,
I said, my pretty maiden fair,
    My dearest love, said I,
Wilt thou be mine in sweet wedlock ?
    Come answer me properly.

She blushed and took from off her neck,
    From off her neck she took,
A ribbon fair tied with a bow,
    And then gave me a look.
She said, you see this ribbon fair,
    This ribbon fair you see;
Oh, I prize it more than silver or gold,
    For my true-love gave it me.

My Johnny's gone o'er the salt sea
    On board of a man-of-war,
And letters I get every month
    From my true-hearted tar.
Don't think that I would him deceive,
    Who constant thus hath been;
But I said, my dear, I'll soon settle that,
    Your Johnny I have seen.

She fainted straight into my arms
    At the mention of Johnny's name;
Then said, oh, tell me, is he still,
    Oh, is he still the same?
I said he'd married a black-a-moor,
    All in East Indi-a;
And he would never come to England more
    Across the wide salt sea.

This maiden then the ribbon took
    All by that cat-tailed river,
And threw as far as she could throw
    The keepsake of her lover;
She said, kind sir, your wife I'll be,
    If you'll be true to me,
And I never will think of Johnny more,
    All over the salt sea.


――――♦――――

 

LINES

ADDRESSED BY SAM LAYCOCK TO THE "FAILSWORTH
GATHERING," MARCH 29
TH.


OLD friends of Ben Brierley, I'm sure your are right
In promoting this praisworthy gathering to-night;
And all thoughtful right-minded men will approve
Of the spirit displayed in the "labour of love;"
So it seems that the country is wakening at last
To the errors our forefathers made in the past.
Namely, treating their bees as no better than drones,
And, when dead, raising monuments over their bones;
They neglected the tune till the player was mute,
Then all they could do was to honour the flute.
Well, now, friends, I think I may venture to say
Than in matters like this we are wiser to-day;
And, if we may judge from this gathering to-night,
The outlook for authors is getting more bright.
I feel proud of this meeting; like good men and true.
You give honour to one to whom honour is due;
For while London reared Dickens, and others as great,
It was Failsworth that reared the renowned Ab-o'th'-Yate.
It was here the weaver lad spent his young days,
And here as a man composed his first lays;
And it seems only natural, and fitting, that now,
When age and the deep lines of care mark his brow,
You should honour the bard with his silvery hairs,
And as far as you can do so—lighten his cares;
And authors have cares, there is not the least doubt,
Yes, cares that the world can know little about,
For have you not read of "Wearisome toil,"
In some attic, aloft, burning "midnight oil,"
And nothing on earth seems more certain or sure,
Than this well-known fact that "all poets are poor."
Well, who is to blame, then, for this state of things—
The people who hear, or the singer who sings?
Which needs the most effort ? let this be the test,
And then common sense will decide all the rest.
But the feeling that seems to be current to day,
Is to give those who need it "a lift on the way;"
I honour Tom Nash, with his warm manly heart,
For taking so noble and active a part.
And to my mind it greatly enhances the deed,
When we take in account his political creed.
It shows that the bard is esteemed for his worth,
Irrespective of politics, favour or birth.
I should like to be with you to show the regard
That I have for my genial and famed brother bard
But this must not be, so I cannot do less
Than wish that your meeting may prove a success.
God bless "Ab-o'th'-Yate" in his basket and store,
And when he lands safe on Columbian's shore,
May he meet with kind friends, true in heart and in hand
As those he will leave in his own native land.


――――♦――――

 

JONE O' GRINFILT'S GHOST.


I'RE sitting one neet in my owd two-armed chair,
Wi' my feet upo' th' fender—my nose cocked i'th' air;
When I thowt I smelt summat like matches ablaze,
Then a hont cowd as ice coom an' felt at my face.
                   Thinks I—Am I wick;
                   Or is this chap Owd Nick,
            Comn a fotchin me deawn to his whoam?

Yo'r sure I're weel waken't an, gloppent wi' th' shock;
I groped o reawnd th' hearthstone, an' felt up at th' clock;
Peeped under th' couch-cheear, an'th' table i'th' nook;
Felt abeawt th' chimdy bottom, an' struck th' rack-an-hook;
                   But nowt could I feel
                   Ut wur owt like the di'el,
            Nor see what I couldno' male eawt.

So I seete deawn agen an' kept lookin' o reawnd;
But nowt could I see, an' could yer not a seawnd,
Till th' clock dinged eawt ten, an' then eh, what a seet!
Ther summat crept past in a blaze o' blue leet.
                   I hutcht i' mi hoide,
                   An' could hardly aboide
            To look wheere it seete itsel' deawn.

I said—"Mesther Sooty, if that's what yo'r co'ed,
What maks you come here, so far eawt o' yo'r road?
I'd ha' thowt ther moore pikin' i' Lunnon nor here,
For ther's lots o' fat sinners I'm towd liven theer."
                   Th' owd lad he ne'er stir'd,
                   An' he spoke not a word,
            But kept sittin' an' starin' at me.

When he gleawert awhile wi' a look quite as keen
As the bore of a gimlet, he twinkled his een;
An' his face looked so mich like a face ut I'd known,
Ut I couldno' help sheawtin'—"By gad, it's Owd Jone!"
                   He said—"Dody Kicker,—
                   Heaw arta for liquor?
            It's dry wheere I come fro' theaw'rt sure.

"I've chew'd coffin lids till my teeth are like saws,
An' gravestones are rayther too hard for my jaws;
Hast getten owt better, if nobbut a snack;
For digesshun's noane good when one's laid o' ther back.
                   So bring out thy table,
                   And get what theaw'rt able,—
            I'm wambly wi' trudgin' so far."

I said—"If that's thee, theaw'st ha' th' best I con bring;
But times are so bad sin' we geet a new king;
I've nowt nobbut wayther just drawn eaut o'th' well,
An' a cob o breawn jannock I'd saved for mysel'.
                   Theaw'rt welcome to feed on't,
                   If mayte theaw has need on't,
            An' I'll whistle for th' next ut'll come."

Owd Jone shaked his noddle, and felt at his chin—
"Bring it out then" he said, "for I long to begin,
Dost no' think theaw con get me a drop o maut tae;
For wayther's a bad thing for keepin' one's clay.
                   A drop o good toddy's
                   A comfort for bodies,
            Whether livin' or laid into the ground."

"Just wait thee a minnit," I said, "an' I'll goo
An' see if Owd Mall has a sope o' th' last brew;
Put thy hont into th' cubbart an' tak' what ther' is;
If theaw's had nowt but coffins theaw'll do noan amiss."
                   So wi' th' jug eawt I sallies,
                   An' runs to Owd Mally's,
            An' gets it brim full o' breawn ale.

When I geet back to th' heawse Jone wur wipin' his lips;
He seemed to think jannock wur better than chips.
"Gie me howd o' that pitcher," he said, "an' let's drink;
Yo're no' mich better off nor what we are, I think.
                   O' th' jannock, to be sure,
                   I could do wi' some moore;
            But th' beef wur o' gristle I'll swear."

Wi' that he swiped th' ale up, and looked into th' pot,
Took his neetcap an' crutches, an' said he must trot;
But what he used th' sticks for I never could tell,
For he dropt straight through th' floor an'—left me by mysel.
                   Then wonnerin' an' starin',
                   Thinks I, theaw'rt a quare un,
            If beef theaw could find where ther' noane.

I struck up a leet, for neaw th' heawse wur o' dark,
An' I skeawlt deawn at th' floor, but I fund not a mark;
When at the table I looked—theer wur th' heels o' mi shoon,
Ut I'd just stumpt wi' hobnails an' put upo' th' oon.
                   An' heaw jaunock an' leather
                   Ud mix up together,
            Owd Jone happen knows afore neaw.


MORAL.


A moral, I'm sure, yo' con see i' this sung;
It may ha' bin taydious, it may ha' bin lung;
But o' this ther's no deawt, that heaw hungry one feels,
There are others wur off if they'n tackle shoon heels;
                   So let's give o'er sighin'
                   An' grumblin' an' cryin',
            An' try to do th' best ut we con.


――――♦――――



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