Warblin's fro' an Owd Songster (8)

Home Up Biographical Kesmus Singin' Election of M.P. Broadsheets Miscellanea Main Index Site Search
 


 

[Previous Page]


READ AT A TEMPERANCE MEETING, OF WHICH
THE WRITER WAS CHAIRMAN.


MY dear friends, I must say I feel out of my sphere, .
In taking this prominent part with you here;
There are other kind friends laid aside on the shelf,
More fit for a chairman than I am myself.
But our dear brother Carter so planted his bait,
Used his powers of persuasion—well known to be great,—
So praised my good points, that I'm bound to confess
I was "knocked down" at once, and I had to say "Yes."

Had you asked me to come here some two years ago,
I'm afraid my reply would have been a harsh "No!"
For then you had gained an unenvied renown
Not as sober "Queen's Park," but as drunken "Queen's Town."
Two years ago, some of the trees in this park
Were strangers to sunshine; they grew in the dark.
The young plants, if not bare, were but scantily clad,
And the fruit—well, I hardly need tell you—was bad.

But pioneers came from the left and the right,
Cleared away the obstructions, and let in the light;
Showers of sympathy fell, to refresh and illume,
Till the trees and young saplings burst forth into bloom.
And features long marred by the drink and its wiles,
Were becoming more human, and lit up with smiles;
And many were snatched from the drink traffic's jaws,
Who are now shining lights in the temperance cause.

Well, friends, I am pleased to be with you, I'm sure;
Our warfare is God-like, our motives are pure;
'Tis an honour to serve in this army of ours—
To cut down the thorns, and replace them with flowers.
We fight for the truth—not to curse, but to bless,
And—this being so—we may hope for success;
We have brought to the sunshine those once in the dark,
Changed unlovely "Queen's Town" into lovely "Queen's Park!"

In what nobler work can a mortal engage,
Be he statesman, or orator, poet, or sage,
Be he youthful or aged, be he poor, be he rich,
Than in helping his fellow-man out of the ditch?
What mind can conceive a more soul-stirring sight,
Than the one we have here now before us to-night?
Men made in God's image can reason and think;
Once groping in darkness, and slaves to the drink!

I have lived in this neighbourhood twenty long years;
I have joined in your hopes, shared your sorrows and fears;
Done what little I could with pen, paper, and ink,
To put down this horrible traffic in drink.
Many years have I worn the Good Templar's badge;
For I helped to establish the "Gleam of Hope" lodge.
My mind has experienced both pleasure and pain,
As our work might succeed, or our labour seem vain.

One has seen many efforts successfully made,
But the work at Queen's Park here throws all in the shade;
The wonders achieved here no language can tell;
For we now have a heaven where once was a hell!
The bright star of temperance has thrown down her light,
And homesteads once dark are now cheerful and bright;
Men have knocked off their chains who were slaves to the dram,
While the wolf and the lion lie down with the lamb.

Is not this a grand work, friends?   Then tell us no more
Of the victories they won in the good days of yore!
Those victories were reeking with bloodshed and strife;
While ours teem with hopefulness, happiness, life.
Their victories were won with the cannon and sword,
Ours are often achieved with a kind, loving word;
We put on our armour, and march to the fray,
With a certain conviction of winning the day.

I am proud to belong to the temperance ranks;
Tho' 'tis true we may meet with more insults than thanks;
But a brave-hearted soldier who girds on his sword,
Must rise above these things when duty's the word!
Yes, the fight must be fought, and the race must be run,
Ere the battlements fall, or the goal can be won.
We get the pure gold by removing the dross;
And the crown must be reached after passing the cross.

But you came to the lecture—I must not go on:
One word to the folks at Queen's Park, and I've done:
Stand firm to the pledge;—more even than this—
Try to make all your homes into Edens of bliss.
A park should be blessed with a health-giving breeze,
With fountains and grottoes, with foliage and trees,
Where the robin may sing, and the lark build her nest,
And the sickly, and wearied-out toilers may rest.

Let your influence, like breezes, go sweeping along,
Flooding fountain and grotto with sunshine and song.
May the trees in this park have a permanent root,
And make known their existence by bearing good fruit.
May God's blessing fall on you, like soft April showers,
Unfolding the leaves, making fragrant the flowers;
May light fall on spots that are still in the dark,
And the temperance cause flourish still more at Queen's Park!

 

_______________________________

 
GET IN HARNESS, YOUNG MEN!


THERE is something to our mind ennobling and grand,
In the efforts to train the young men of our land;
So the help and instruction we seek to impart,
Should aim to improve both the head and the heart.
Would to God we had wisdom to train them aright,
For the battle of life they are destined to fight!
Young men, be in earnest in all that you do,
For the future of England depends upon you.

'Tis to you we must look for the men of the day,
When the Gladstones and Salisburys have all passed away;
It is you who must fill posts of honour and trust,
When we who are older are laid in the dust.
Yes, a work lies before you important and great,—
Affecting the mighty affairs of the state.
Be true to your trust then; take care what you do,
For old England must one day be governed by you.

Yon sturdy oak trees that defy the rude blast—
Were but delicate plants in the days that are past;
But our forefathers nursed them and trained them with care,
And look at them now; how vigorous and fair!
How firm, how unmoved and majestic they stand,
In spite of the storms that sweep over the land!
Be firm like these oaks, and keep this fact in view,—
That the strength of this nation is centred in you.

One by one our great actors are leaving the stage;
They have written their names upon history's page:
And now they withdraw from the conflict and strife,
Leaving others to fight the great battle of life.
Give your names in, young men! there's a race to be run,—
A goal to be reached, and a fight to be won!
The old veterans are passing away from our view,
And the gaps in the ranks must be filled by you.

Young men! you've a lot of hard work to perform:
Do it now, while your hearts and affections are warm;
Do it now,—as life's morn opens out into day,
And the powers God has given you are all in full play.
Do it now, while your youthful ambition soars high.
And the sun seems unclouded and bright in your sky.
Oh! brothers and sons, you've a duty to do,
And much will be claimed and expected from you.

The great minds that now charm us with music and song,
Look to you to fill posts they have toiled in so long;
Yes, to you, the young men of our dear native land;
Oh, shall not your lives then be noble and grand!
Shall the talents with which Heaven hath blessed you be hid,
Or allowed to remain unemployed?   God forbid!
Young men,—and this holds good to young women too,—
Your country is anxiously looking to you.

Would you rise to real nobleness, now is your chance,
If you've any bad habits, uproot them at once;
All that tends to degrade put away out of sight,
Have the courage to do what you know to be right.
Let the world ever find you to be what you seem,
And thus you will merit respect and esteem.
Young men, act with care,—conscientiously too;
Be honest and upright in all that you do.

In conclusion; I know it is not very nice,
To be acting as teacher, and giving advice;
Still, I'm free to say this—what I have to impart—
Is the fruit of much thought, and comes warm from my heart
I have tried to amuse, and instruct in the past,
And hope to toil on in this groove to the last.
Like yourselves, I must try to be faithful and true,
And keep the great end of my mission in view.

 

_______________________________

 
TO MY BROTHER.
ON REVISITING MY BIRTHPLACE.


ONCE; again (perhaps the last time,)
I have been to see my birthplace;—
Been to see the humble cottage,
Where I first beheld the daylight,
Where I gained my first impressions,
Some of which have never left me.
These dear scenes I now revisit,—
This dear home of early childhood,
On the borders of the moorland.
Oh, how changed since first I saw it!
Then the garden near our cottage
Bloomed in summer-time with roses,
And in winter-time with snowdrops.
Now the house stands there deserted;
Not a trace is seen of garden,
Save one lone and rugged hawthorn,
Weeping o'er the desolation!
Where are now my childish playmates,
Those who roamed the meadows with me,—
With me gathered honeysuckles,—
Chasing butterflies in summer,
Rolling snowballs in the winter?
Where are now my youthful schoolmates,—
William Schonfield, Henry Dyson,
Sarah Hoyle, and Phillis Charlesworth?
Some are sleeping in the graveyard;
Others following, tired and weary,—
Count the milestones as they pass them,
Wishing they could end their journey!
Brother, you will still remember,
How one stormy winter's morning,
Every window in our cottage
By the drifted snow was darkened!
How we waited for the daylight,—
Waited hours, and yet it came not;—
How we strained our ears to hearken
To the voices or the footsteps
Of the neighbours living near us,
Till at length our parents heard them,
Then arose and sought the doorway.
This the snow had blocked completely,
But the neighbours came to help us,
Moved the snow away with shovels,—
Told us it was nearly noonday,—
That the darkness had deceived us.
Yes, dear brother, you'll remember
How we had to make a pathway
Through the snow, right down the meadow,
So that we might hold communion
With the people in the village.
Yes, and winters then were winters!
Snow would lie for weeks together;
Dams and ponds were frozen over,
While King Frost would show his skill-craft
In his sketches on our windows.
Then the spring-time—glorious spring-time!
How our youthful hearts were gladdened
When we saw the budding hedge-rows;
Saw our favourite pinks and wallflowers,
Blooming in our little garden!
Saw the fields in all their glory,
Clothed with buttercups and daises.
We are old, now, and these pictures
Linger only in our memories,
Where they've lain for half a century.
Still, 'tis pleasant to revisit
Scenes we looked upon in childhood,
Where we formed our first impressions.
True, the homes once filled with gladness,—
With the sound of children's voices,—
Now are silent as the graveyard!

 

_______________________________

 
PROSE IN THE LANCASHIRE DIALECT
____________________

HEAW BILLY ARMATAGE MANAGED TO GET
A NEET'S LODGIN'S.


THERE'S noan mony foalk abeawt here but what knew owd Billy Armatage.  He kept toathry ceaws, an' a horse or two once, but he's swallowed 'em o long sin'; for he wur terribly fond ov his drink, wur Billy, an' mony a rare scrape it's getten him into.  Aw've yeard it said 'at he once ate a peawnd o' candles for a pint; but whether that's true or not aw conno' say; but he did look loike a chap 'at wouldn't be very partickler abeawt what he ate, iv he could nobbut manage to sup what he'd a moind.  He'rn summat loike th' chap i' Howmfurth—he loiked his drink—


                 New an' owd,
                 Warm an' cowd;
A sup in a possit aw lawk;
                 Saar an' sweet,
                 Dark an' leet—
Gie me ony o' these, an' am'd empty a dawk.


Owd Billy 'ud ha' supped ony sooart, beawt oather smellin' or tastin' it aforehand.  Iv it wur co'd drink it wur reet.

    Well, one neet, him an' a lot mooar o' th' same stamp wur ceawered drinkin' at an owd aleheawse co'd th' "Plough Inn," an' it seems they didn't know heaw th' toime wur gettin' on, till th' lon'lord went an' towd 'em they'd better be goin' whoam.  Well, owd Billy began o feelin' rayther uneasy, an' wonderin' what he must do, for he wur a long way off their heawse, an' he'd spent every hawpenny ov his brass.  "Aw mun try iv aw conno' shape it to get lodgin's somewheer," he said to hissel; "aw'll co' at th' furst aleheawse aw come at on th' road-side, an' aw'll pretend to be deof, an' iv they sen they conno' foind me reawm aw'll be same as iv aw didn't yer 'em."  So he did as he said he would, an' co'd at th' "Waggon an' Horses," an owd licensed heawse upo' th' road-side.  Th' lon'lord wur just gerrin' ready for shuttin' up, for it wur somewheer abeawt twelve o'clock.

    "Han yo a bed at liberty here?" Billy inquired, "becose aw should loike to tarry here to-neet, if yo con do wi' me."

    "I am sorry to have to say that i believe all our beds are occupied," said th' lan'lord.

    "That's reet," said Billy, "aw thought aw shouldn't be denied.  Aw wur towd aw should get a bed here—yo'd allis plenty o' reawm; so iv it winno be to' mich trouble for yo, aw'll have a hit o' supper afore aw goo."

    "I told you we had no beds at liberty," said th' lan'lord, hardly knowin' what to mak' of his customer.

    "Well, a bit o' cowd mate, or owt'll do; aw'm noan very partickler what aw have.  Aw dunno' want to put yo to mich trouble, as it's gerrin' so late."

    Th' lon'lady wur stood hearkenin', so thinkin' th' chap must he deof, went up to him, an' bawled in his earhole, "You cannot stay here; all our beds are taken up."

    "Etten up, yo'r cowd mate, is it?  Well, yo can let me have a bit o' cheese an' bread—owt'll do.  Aw wouldn't trouble you at this toime o' th' neet, but aw'm feart mi back an' mi bally ull be foin' eawt afore mornin' iv aw dunno' get a morsel o' summat to keep 'em separated.  This bit o' stomach o' moine's bin so used to havin' a feed abeawt supper toime 'at aw deawt aw shall ha' no quietness iv aw try to put it off beawt owt."

    "Seein' 'at they could do no good wi' th' owd chap, they left him, an' went into another reawm to talk matters o'er.

    "Come, aw'm gerrin' on very noicely," said Billy to hissel; "Iv all's weel aw shall nooan be long afore aw'm nestled among th' blankets.  A chap may do as weel beawt brass as wi', iv he's nobbut his wits abeawt him.  Aw'm goin' to work this dodge noicely to-neet, aw see aw am.  Eh, aw wish owd Thatcher wur here neaw, an' could see this bit o' game aw'm carryin' on; wouldn't he shake that big corporation o' his! he would so.  Aw shall tell him o abeawt it when aw leet on him—that is iv aw get through it middlin' weel."

    "Well, James," said th' lon'lady to her husband, when they'rn getten bi theirsels, "what are we to do with yond man?"

    "Nay, I don't know; he does not appear to take in any thing that we say.  I suppose we shall have to do the best we can with him."

    "Well, James, we have no room for him; you know that as well as I do.  Number one, over the parlour, is occupied by Mrs. Davies, and the one over the kitchen by that Scotchman.  There is only the chamber over here, and that we shall want for ourselves."

    Owd Billy had crept as near th' door as he could get, an' yeard so mich o' what they'd bin sayin' as gan him to understond wheer there wur a chamber to let; so he made no moor ado, but he seet off upsteers as fast as he could leather away, went straight into th' chamber, an' fastened th' dur after him.  Th' lon'lord thowt he yeard some soart ov a noise, an' went to see if th' chap wur wheer they'd left him; an' as soon as he fun it eawt he wur gone, he off upsteers after him, an' th' lon'lady an' o, an' they tried to oppen th' dur, but couldn't.  Of course, Billy yeard 'em, so he pretended to be talkin' to hissel.  "They looken daycent foalk enuff here, for owt aw con see on 'em, but there's no tellin' who they may have lodgin' wi' 'em, so it's safest to ha' one's chamber dur fastened.  Aw shouldn't loike to ha' th' bit o' brass at aw've getten for th' owd mare takken off me.  Aw'd better ne'er ha' come.  Aw've been at a deol o' places i' mi toime, but aw've never bin at one afoor wheer they tell'n th' ledgers to goa upsteers bi theirsel's; but it matters nowt as aw know on.  Aw'd rayther ha' had a bit o' leet after o."

    Th' lon'lord an' his woife had bin hearkenin' at the dur, so when Billy gan o'er talkin', one on 'em gan it a regular good thump, an' th' lon'lord sheawted eawt "You cannot have this room, so you may as well come out at once.  I don't know what business deaf people have away from home.  Open this door, and come out."

    Owd Billy pretended to yer nowt he said, but kept on talkin' to hissel.  "This is a rare noice reawm; aw'm fain 'at aw've let o' sich a shop.  Aw dur say this bed belongs to th' lon'lord an' his woife.  They'll very loikely mak' up a bed on th' floor, or else lie on th' sophy; at ony rate, it stroikes me very powerfully at it's their bed, an' a rare good un it looks.  Aw'll say mi prayers, an' then get in an' feel what mak' o' one it is.  Th' best on it is, awst ha' nowt to pay; at least, Joe Winterbottom towd me soa, an' he's put up here mony a toime."

    Thump went th' dur ogen, for th' lon'lady fot it a welt same as iv hoo wur beawn t' break it in.  "Do you hear?" hoo said, "will you open this door?  This room belongs to myself and husband, so be kind enough to leave it."  It wur o' no earthly use hur sheawtin', for owd Billy pretended to yer nowt at hoo said, but kept talkin' to hissel.  "It's a capital bed, this is; it feels as weel as it looks.  Aw dar say its made o' fithers ,at they'n plucked eawt o' sich loike chaps as me; they'n had mony a hundred peawnd o' my brass among 'em, they han indeed.  That's very loikely th' reason why they chargen newt here.  Aw wonder heaw my owd woman's gerrin' on awhoam; hoo'd expect me back afooar neaw, aw know hoo would.  Good neet to thee, owd wench; aw nobbut wish tha'd as good a bed as aw have.  But aw'm gerrin' sleepy, so aw'll have an eawr or two while aw've th' chance."

    O wur as still as deoth for a minute or so, an' then owd Billy pretended t' begin a snoorin'.  When th' lon'lord yeard that, he poo'd a great long face—abeawt as long an' as sweet as owd Nancy Platt's toffy sticks—an' said to his woife, "Sarah, it's of no use making any more bother; the fellow is fast asleep, and there is no possibility of arousing a deaf man; we may as well leave him, for any good we can do now."  So they went deawn th' steers, an' left owd Billy to hissel, an' he wur no' long afoor he wur fast asleep, an' dreamin' abeawt sleepin' on fither beds, walkin' on carpets, an' eatin' cheese an' bread at other foalks' expense.

    Well, after sleepin' very seawndly for a toathry heawrs th' owd chap wackened sometoime abeawt hawve-past seven i' th' mornin', dressed hissel, an' went creepin' deawn th' steers.  He went an' ceawered on a couch cheer i' th' kitchen, an' th' lon'lord wur no' long afoor he wur at him, an' talkin' to him.

    "I say, my good fellow, do you know you have been sleeping in my chamber?"

    "O, aw loiked sleepin' i' yond chamber very weel; aw've had a middlin' good neet's rest.  Couldn't ha' had a better, 'at a know on."

    Th' lon'lord, seein' 'at owd Billy didn't appear t' understond what he said, went a bit nearer, an' bawled eawt in his earhole, "What I say is this, you have been occupying the bed belonging to myself and missis."

    "Well, th' bed's reet enuff, aw've no deawt; aw've noather seen nor felt owt o' th' sort.  Aw should think 'at i' country places loike this yo'r noan mich troubled wi' bugs."

    "I did not say anything about bugs."

    "Ah, aw see; they wouldn't boite me iv yo' had ony.  They met boite somb'dy loike yo' 'at's so fat."

    Th' lon'lord geet gradely vex'd at Billy for talkin' i' that road, an', fixin' his een on him, said, "What's the reason you talk in the way you do?  Are you deaf?"

    "Whor?"

    "Cannot you hear?"

    "Tarryin' here?  Now; at leost no longer nor whoile aw've had a bit o' brekfast; aw shouldn't exactly loike to set off beawt."

    Th' lon'lady coom in while they were talkin', so Billy bid her good mornin'; but didn't hoo look rare an' feaw at him!  Hoo looked abeawt th' same as a friend o' mine once did, when a chap 'at wur noan gradely reet went into th' heawse, one foine Sunday, an' geet owd ov his dinner an' ate it o.  Well, hoo started a axin' her husband what owd Billy said, loike, abeawt goin' upstairs as he did, beawt axin' leov.  "Why the man must be a fool," said th' lon'Iord; "I asked him if he knew he had been sleeping in our chamber, and his reply was, 'O, aw loiked sleepin' i' yond chamber very weel.'  Really, Sarah, of all the customers we have ever had since we opened this place, this fellow beats them all.  He is either mad or deaf."

    Th' missis thowt hoo'd try her hand on him a bit, so hoo went up to him, an' sheawted, "Where do you come from?"  "Now; aw want no comb; aw ne'er mak' a practice o' combin' my yead, only on a Sunday mornin'.  Aw'm noan as preawd as some foalk.  Aw let my yure brow as it's a moind, six days eawt o' th' seven."

    "Really, my good man, you did not understand my question."

    "Oh, aw see; what will aw ha' to mi brekfast.  Well, yo' can boil me a couple o' eggs, an' mak' me a sope o' coffee, iv yo' pleosen.  Yo hanno' sich a thing as a bit o' cowd ham i' th' heawse, han' yo', missis?"

    "Have you ever been this road before?" asked th' lon'lady.

    "Eh dear, now, bless you; aw couldn't eat four; aw never eat no moor nor two eggs at a toime; two ull be quite plenty.  Aw ha' seen th' day, when aw'rn younger, when aw should ha' thowt newt abeawt polishin' off hawve a dozen, but thoose days han' gone by long sin'."

    Th' lon'lady stood hearkenin' him till hoo could howd no longer, for hoo turned to him, an' said, "I tell you what, you're a regular bore."

    "Nay, aw shall want newt no moor, as aw know on; aw noather eat saut nor pepper to 'em.  Neaw yo'll let 'em be new-laid uns, missis, iv yo' pleosen; shop eggs are very oft rotten abeawt this time o' th' year."

    "Sarah, get him some breakfast ready, and let us be without him.  The sooner he goes and the better it will be for us, I can assure you.  It's of no use wasting any more time with him."

    So hoo started an' boil'd him a couple o' eggs, an' made him some coffee an' buttercakes, an' th' owd mon wur no' long afoor he had 'em put eawt o' th' seet.

    "You seem to be rather deaf," said th' lon'lord, as he went an' ceawered him deawn near to owd Billy.

    "Oh, yo' con eat what's left, con yo'?  Well, yo'll be welcome to o 'at aw leov, an' that'll noan be mich, aw con tell yo'.  Aw've generally a good appetite in a mornin'.  Heawever, yo' con sit here a bit, an' see heaw aw go on, an' then iv there is owt yo'll be ready for it."

    When th' lan'lord yeard that, he begun a poikin' off as nicely as he could.  Owd Billy cleant his plate as weel as iv it had been weshed.  When he'd done, he buttoned his cooat, an' began a shapin' for goin' whom.  Th' lan'lord thowt it wur abeawt toime to be lookin' after his brass, iv he wur to have ony, so he went and put his meawth close to owd Billy's earhole, and bawled eawt leawd enuff to be yeard welly a hawve-a-mile off,—"Let me see, I think you have not paid us yet?"

    "Newt to pay, yo' sen, dun yo', mester; o reet.  Aw wur towd afoor aw coom 'at yo' charged nowt here.  Well one con but thank yo'.  Aw dar' say aw've bin a bit o' trouble to yo', bein' as aw'm so deof; but yo'll happen think nowt abeawt that.  Aw'm very much obliged to yo'."

    "James," said th' lon'lady to her husband, you are not letting him go without paying, are you?"

    "I don't care whether he pays or not, if he will be off.  If you think you can do anything with him he is there."

    "Dear me, James, how annoying it is—a man coming as he has done, at twelve o'clock at night, wanting a supper getting ready, and then taking possession of the only bed we had unoccupied in the house!"

    "What a sayrious misfortin' it is to a body when they're deof," said Billy, "aw should soa loike to yer what foalk are talkin' abeawt, but aw connot, yo' see.  Aw've hard wark to mak' owt eawt 'at foalk sen to me.  Aw dar say, iv one could yer 'em, th' brids are sin-in' as sweetly as con be eawt o' th' dur.  Nowt used to pleos me better, when aw're younger, nor to have a ramble up into th' fields an' th' woods, to yer th' cuckoo sing.  But aw con yer newt o' that sooart neaw.  Well, aw'll be makin' my way a bit shorter.  Afoor aw leov yo', heawever, aw should just loike to say 'at aw've bin weel done to while here."

    "Well, pay for it then," said th' lon'lady to owd Billy.

    "Yo'll ha' no pay for it; well, aw recon yo' winnot.  Neaw, th' teetotallers may prate as hard as they loiken abeawt public heawses; but aw've never yet cum across a smo'-drink establishment wheer they'd find a chap wi' supper, bed, an' breakfast for newt.  Aw dunno loike to go away beawt givin' yo' sum'at; but, heawever, yo' mun co' at eawr heawse sometoime when yo' come eawr road, an' iv ever yo' want a bed, eawr Betty an' me ull let yo' have eawrs, wi' o th' pleasure i' th' world.  So good mornin' to yo', an' thank yo', an iv ever aw happen to come this way agen aw shall be sure to gi' yo' a co."

 

_______________________________

 
A WHOLESALE KESSUNIN' DOOMENT AT TORRINGTON.


WHATEVER is there to do neaw, aw wonder," said owd Matty Fletcher, as hoo stoode wi' her honds on her hips, starin' i' th' direction o' th' village church, wheer a lot o' foalk had collected together.  "There's summat moor nor common, or there'd never be o yond sturrin."

    It wur a foine frosty winter's day when these words wur uttered; th' sun shone splendidly upo' th' hillsides, makin' 'em look as iv they'd bin weshed o'er wi' gowd.  Th' greawnd looked soa warm that aw believe one met ha' baked fatcakes on it, hadn't it been 'at King Frost had bin th' neet afore, an' spread a lot o' cowd white stuff o'er it.  Th' sparrows wur hoppin' abeawt fro' twig to twig, an' th' little robin redbreasts poppin' their yeads into th' cottages an' lookin' sensible enuff to ax th' occupants to send 'em a hon'full o' crums eawt.  Th' cattle wur breawsin' i' th' meadows, an' pigs gruntin' i' their cotes.  Th' poultry i' th' farmyards were amusin' theirsel's i' different ways; some wur eightin', an' others wur feightin'.  Aw believe there wur a cricket or two makin' their noise abeawt owd Gronny Gregory's foyar place, but aw dunnot feel quiet certain abeawt this, so connot speak positively.  Here an' theer met be seen a toathry flees maunderin' abeawt, but they wurn't hawve as wick, nor nowt near so numerous, as they are i' owd Durty Molly's eatin' heawse i' th' middle o' July.  There met ha' bin a few snails trailin' abeawt i' their cellars, or a lot o' grubs abeawt th' cabbages i' th' garden, for owt 'at aw know to th' contrary; for aw didn't feel to care so mich abeawt it as to mak' ony inquiries.  But one thing aw know, heawever, an' that is, 'at th' church bells o' Torrington wur ringin' reet merrily that mornin', as iv they wished to tell th' villagers there wur summat grand goin' to come off.  Happenin' to be i' th' village at this time, aw began to inquire what there were to do.  Some o' th' owder eend said they thowt at it wur th' foyar bell, but a parcel o' lads 'at wur stondin' at a street corner said it wur th' church bell, an' it wur ringin' becose it wur poncake Tuesday.  Heawever, it appears, 'at a week or two afore th' toime 'at aw'm speakin' on, th' parson o' th' church had bin reawnd th' nayburhood, an' foindin' at there wur a lot o' childer 'at had never bin kessund, he towd their parents 'at iv they'd tak' 'em to th' church on a certain day he'd kessun 'em o for nowt, an' it appears 'at this wur th' day 'at he'd fixed on.  Theer they wur,—men, women, an' childer gethered reawnd th' church till it looked moor loike a rushbearin' nor a religious ceremony.


There wur Daff wi' his concertina,
An' Dorothy wi' hur choilt;
An' eh! it wur some pratty,
Altho' a troifle spoilt.
There wur Darron Bill among 'em,
An' th' woife in a bran new geawn;
An' th' choilt, wi' a spank new frock on,
Wi' tucks in th' haw've road deawn.
Well, th' next coom Tom-o'-Mary's
An' th' woife—a charmin' pair!
An' they'd wi' 'em two foine childer,
Real chucks, aw do declare!
An' th' next wur a chap fro Canrow;
Aw think they co' him Jim;
He's a noted breek for squintin',
An' th' woife's as good as him.
These brought three woppin' childer,
An' had 'em kessund too;
Said Jim to th' woife at after,
"Wurn't this a rare chep do?"
"Ah, ah, it wur," said Betty,
"But, Jim, thee howd thi tongue;
Iv ever we mun save owt,
It mun be while we're young."
"Well, well," said Jim to Betty,
"That's reet enuff, but come,
Let's buy some sweets for th' childer,
An' then be trudgin' whoam."


    "Stop a bit," said Betty, "th' parson hasn't done yet, mon.  There's Ned-o'-Jim's lad to do, an' Bill-o'Molly's, an' Jim-o'-Robin's, an' another or two besides."  Well, they wurn't long afore they geet this business noicely o'er, but there were some rare laffin' o'er it aw con tell yo.  There wur one couple stood before th' parson 'at didn't seem so mich accustomed to that mack o' wark, for when his reverence held his honds for th' choilt, th' mother on't turned it o'er to him heels furst.  Eh! but there wur a bonny titter i' that hole!  But th' parson took it o i' good part.  Aw thowt aw seed him laffin' a toime or two, an' no wonder, for some on 'em wur so very wooden.  Aw could ha' done better misel, aw know.  Yo would ha' laffed iv yo'd yeard th' childer, when the parson wur puttin' wayter on their faces.  They sung eawt till yo couldn't yer a word at wur said.  Heawever, they managed to get thro' this nomony someheaw, an' th' clerk finished up wi' sheawtin' "Amen."  Everyone wur eawt o' that church i' quicksticks, an' when they'd getten noicely into th' street, they held a bit ov a ceawncil wheer they must put up at.  They agreed to go to th' "Jolly Printers," an' have a saup o' their seawr rum, just to warm their throttles wi', an' they wurn't so very long afore some on em' began to be rayther jolly, while other some thowt it wur toime to be trudgin' tort whoam.  Before doin' so, heawever, they collected some brass among 'em, an' bowt some ale, which they put in a bottle to drink on th' road.  Havin' filled a bottle wi' black creom, they seet off eawt o' th' village to wheer they lived, wheer they soon londed, as it wur not so far off.  When they geet theer, some on 'em wanted to go to th' "Frozen Mop," an' keep th' kessunin' up a bit longer, but others on 'em said 'at a mop wur no place for foalk to stick their yeads in 'at wanted to be comfortable.  Ned o' Jim's said 'at they'd a besom at their heawse, 'at he'd back ogen ony mop they could foind 'i that quarter, so that settled th' matter at once, an' they o agreed to go to Mary o' Tommy's, fro' Tom Nook, an' spend th' neet eawt theer.  When they geet to owd Mary's, they began to poo their brass an' their bottles eawt, an' shapin' for havin' a jolly good spree.  One owd chap said iv they'd o be ov his moind, they'd ha' some gradely owd fashund drink, some 'at wouldn't tremble i' th' bag, but ston it greawnd.  So it wur agreed on 'at they should send to th' "Mop" for a saup o' breawn steawt, unmixed wi' sooap.  Well this coom, an' wur soon made warm an' gradely good, an' directly they wur sarvin' it reawnd, an' th' neet passed o'er very comfortably.  At length, what wi' drinkin', singin', an' doancin', some on 'em began to get rayther sleepy, an' one or two on 'em wauted reet o'er i' th' owd woman's heawse, an' th' little childer wur lyin', some i' one corner an' some in another.  Inneaw there wur one mon 'at seemed to ha' bin doin' a tidy business wi' John Barleycorn, tho' he didn't seem to ha' made sich a good bargin, bethowt him he'd go whoam, an' seein' 'at their Betty wur rayther flusht i' th' face, he thowt he'd better tak' th' choilt wi' him, which he did, an' they wur soon booth on 'em i' bed.  Th' woife wurn't long afore hoo missed him, an' concludin' in her moind 'at he must be gone whoam, hoo nips up a choilt an' off hoo gooas; not knowin' 'at her husband had ta'en one an' o.  Hoo geet into bed as quietly as hoo could, an' o went on reet enuff till mornin'.  When they wackened, heawever, they were some surprised at seein' two childer i' bed!  "Heaw's this," said Bill, "'at we'n getten two childer i' bed?  Whoa's chilt has ta browt wi' thee, Betty?"  "Whoy, aw've browt eawr own choilt, to be sure!  Theaw must ha browt someb'dy's else.  But, heawever, let's see which has browt th' reet un, an' which has browt th' wrong un."  Soa after makin' th' examination, Betty said, "By th' mass, Bill, we've booath on us wrong this toime, for they noather on 'em belong to us, aw do declare!"  "Well," said Bill, "we mun mak' th' best on't, an' say nowt abeawt it, for there'll be a bonny bother, there will for sure!  Away wi' thee deawn th' lone, Betty, an' see iv theaw con yer owt o' onybody bein' beawt choilt, or onybody havin' a wrung un."  Soa away Betty went deawn th' lone, but foindin' o very quiet, hoo turned her face tort whoam ogen; but hadn't gone fur afoor hoo met another on th' look eawt.  "Well, Betty, lass, what's to do as theaw's sturrin' so soon this mornin'?"  "Oh, nowt," said Betty, "only aw thowt aw'd have a bit ov a walk as it's a foine mornin', an' see if o wur reet after these kessunins."  "Reet!" said th' woman, "theaw'll yer sich a row i' this lone as theaw never yeard afoor, aw con tell thee."  "Well, whatever is there to do," said Betty.  "Do! it'll be a country's talk, this will.  Sithee, aw wouldn't ha' been mixed up wi' that lot iv aw'd known, now, not for summat.  Theaw knows that chap 'at skens?  Well, his woife lost her choilt, an' conno foind it nowheer; they'n bin up an' deawn o neet seechin' it, but wheer they are neaw aw conno tell.  There's bin weary wark o'er it, aw con assure thee.  Well, then, to mak' things wur, somebody's ta'en o th' best kessunin' things off Ponto's choilt, an' put it some other things on 'at arn't hawve as good as it own.  It's bonny wark for sure, when one connot have a bit ov a kessunin' doo but they mun go an' rob one another o' their bits o' clooas, an' th' choilt lost in at th' bargain."  "Well," said Betty, "let's hope 'at they'll foind their choilt; as for th' bits o' clooas, they winno matter so very mich.  But aw mun be goin', an' seein' abeawt gerrin' th' childer their brekfasts ready, and then gerrin' 'em off to th' schoo'!"  Soa they bade one another "good mornin'," an' parted.  After th' brekfasts, wur o'er, an' th' husbands had getten to their wark, they began to meet together an' talk matters o'er.  Soa th' woman 'at had lost her choilt wur sent for, an' very ill off hoo wur, yo may be sure.  Heawever, owd Molly seemed to think o ud be made reet ogen, for hoo said 'at hoo could recollect bein' at a kessunin' when hoo wur young, an' it took 'em a three week afoor they o geet their own childer an' th' clooas reeted.  But th' woman 'at had lost hur choilt wur very uneasy, an' wanted to know what plan could be adopted tort foindin' th' choilt, for her husband swore he'd very nee kill her iv it wur no' feawnd, when he coom whoam at neet.  Soa we axed th' owd woman to put her wits to wark, an' hoo made a proposition 'at everyone 'at had had their childer kessund must meet that very day at one o'clock, an' bring their childer donned i' their kessunin' clooas, just as they wur th' neet afoor, an' thoose 'at wurn't theer at th' toime must be foined a shillin', to be spent among th' company.  Soa they o agreed to this.  When th' toime for meetin' coom, they wur o middlin' punctual except th' woman 'at wur beawt choilt an' Betty.  Heawever, these two coom directly after, an' a bonny way Betty wur in.  Hoo browt one o' th' childer, an' th' other hoo left awhoam.  Well, they began to examine these childer, an' hadn't bin agate long afore Ponto bawled eawt, "Thoose are my choilt's clooas, chus heaw."  "Well, then," said th' owd woman, "yo'd better examine th' choilt, an' see iv that's yo'rs an' o."  Soa they looked at it, an' turned it o'er a toime or two, an' it proved to be hur choilt, an' that 'at hoo had belonged to Betty.  Soa thoose two got reeted, an' Betty off whoam wi' hurs, an' said hoo'd be back i' toathry minutes, which hoo wur, an' browt th' other choilt wi' her.  Th' woman 'at wur beawt choilt wur ceawered theer lamentin' aboon a bit, soa Betty, when hoo coom in, crommed th' choilt deawn into a creddle they had i' th' heawse, as iv nowt wur.  Th' women wur o gabberin' an' talkin' ov a lump, an' took no notice o' noather Betty nor th' choilt.  Soa, after sendin' for a saup moor comfortin' cordial, they supped reawnd, an' had this for th' tooast, "May th' poor woman's choilt soon be feawnd ogen." Directly after this tooast wur drunk (an' it looks queer to me 'at they should drink tooast, as they used to ate it when aw wur a lad, an' drank tay)—but, as aw wur sayin', they began to get merry, an' this helped, to some extent, to droive th' woman's sorrow away, an' hoo seemed for a toime to forget o abeawt her choilt.  Heawever, th' owd woman as wur th' cheermon proposed havin' another look reawnd to see iv they could meet wi' this lost choilt.  Soa they o geet up to go a lookin', but Betty managed to keep beheend a' bit, and when they'd o getten noicely eawtside, hoo bawled eawt, "Eh, aw say! some of yo's leavin' yo're choilt ogen!"  On yerin' this they o stood stock still, an' began to stare at one another.  Well, they everyone declared they'd their own children wi' em, an' Betty said hur's wur awhoam.  Soa they agreed to go back an' see what there wur.  Th' woman 'at had lost her choilt said hoo'd have a look an' see iv it wur hur's, so hoo went back i' th' heawse, an' theer lay afoor her i' th creddle, "as snug as a button," her own dearly beloved duck-a-darlin'!  Hoo had howd on it i' hawve a snifter, an' pressed it to her bussom as if it had been missin' a week.  "Th' choilt's mine," hoo said, "an' neaw aw'm as reet as a wooden clock."  "Well, come," said one on 'em, "as th' childer an' th' clooas are o getten reeted, we conno do less nor send for a thimbleful o' th' owd sooart."  So they scraped up a bit o' brass among 'em, an' sent for some moor drink, an' o went on as merrily as could be, an' they'd as good a spree on th' second day as they had o' th' furst.  One o' th' women sung a song 'at hoo said hoo'd made afoor hoo coom.  Here it is :—


One winter's day there coom this way
    A parson noan beawt thowt;
An' foindin' some childer unkessund i' th' place
    He promised to do 'em for newt.
Soa thinkin' this fair, there wur lots on us theer,
    An' some rare cracks o' laffin' we had;
For th' blunderin' wark 'at some on us made
    Wur really past tellin' for bad.

One fellow stood theer wi' his billycock on;
    But this case wur noan one o' th' wurst,
For another, when hondin' to th' parson her choilt,
    Hoo gan it him th' wrong eend th' furst!
Eh, dear! but there wur some rare titterin', too,
    But th' owd parson he let them a-be;
He knew what a lot o' rum covies we wur,
    An' he cared nowt abeawt it, not he!

When we'd getten 'em kessund, we o left th' church,
    An' had a short meetin' i' th' street,
Wheer we clubbed up among us a foine lump o' brass—
    An' what do yo think we did we 't?
We sent to owd Skeawter's, at th' four lone eends,
    For a saup o' their best seawer rum,
An' as true as aw'm here, afoor ten o'clock,
    We'rn o on us fuddled, by gum!


    Well, this pleased 'em rarely, yo may be sure, an' th' owd woman's heawse fairly rung ogen wi' th' noise they made.  But it wur gettin' toime to break up, which they did very soon after, an' they o geet safe whoam.  When th' husbands fun' it eawt at they'd getten o things reet an' square ogen, they agreed to have another jollification, an' they kept at it till th' clock fingers wur booath straight up.  When they began o shapin' for goin' whoam, th' husbands declared there should be noa mishaps that neet, for they'd tak' care o' th' childer theirsels, an' th' wives met follow after.  This wur done, an' they o managed to get whoam safe an' seawnd, wi' their own cloas an' their own childer.  Neaw this shows 'at there's bin great an' important improvements i' kessunin' dooments sin' th' owd woman wur young, when it took 'em three weeks to get their childer an' their clooas o reet ogen.  Neaw, yo seen, it's done i' two days.  Th' husbands sen at th' next Kessunin' doo they han they'll ha' th' childer properly marked wi' big letters i' blue an' red, so that they con everyone know their own, an' then there'll be noan o' this mak' o' bother no moor, some tackin' th' wrong childer, an' others bein' left beawt.  So neaw o seems to be getten reet an' straight ogen, but iv aw should happen to yer owt ony moor abeawt these kessunin's aw'll try to let you know abeawt it at some other toime.


"Adoo!" as poor Artemus Ward says—
    Kind readers an' hearers, adoo;
Aw dare say yo're getten weel toyart
    For one toime—well, soa am I, too.

 

_______________________________

 
LANCASHIRE KESMUS SINGIN' FIFTY YEAR' SIN'.


ONE fine afternoon, last autumn, as I was walking leisurely along the turnpike road leading out of one of our large manufacturing towns in Lancashire, I was overtaken by an old man, apparently about 70 years of age.  With the freedom usually manifested by country people, he accosted me thus: "It's a foine day, mestur."  I said it was.  "Aw think yo'r a stranger abeawt here, for aw connot recollect seein' yo afore, an' aw've lived i' this naybourhood summat loike fifty or sixty year."  I told him he was right, for I was a stranger in that part of the country, and asked him what trade the people followed in that locality.  "Why some do one thing, an' some another, an' plenty do nowt at o, nobbut shankle abeawt wi' their honds i' their pockets.  Th' biggest part on 'em are owd hondloom wayvers; aw'rn used to be one misel' when aw'rn younger, but aw've ne'er done noan neaw for this last four or five year'.'' "How do you manage to get your living, then?" I asked.  I saw the tears trickling down the old man's cheeks, as he replied—"Well, to tell yo th' truth, mester, aw'm loike mony a one besoide me, at's getten owd, aw have to depend upo' other foalk."  "Is your old woman living?" I inquired.  "Nawe, hoo's been deed just two year' this September.  We'rn livin' wi' a dowter o' mine, at that time, on i'th' cloof, yonder, but sin' hoo deed aw've bin livin' wi' mi owdest son, Jim, just across th' fielt theer.  Will yo co' a bit an' have a poipe o' bacco wi' me?  Eawr Jim's at his wark i'th' loom-heawse, an' th' childer are at th' schoo'; so if yo'n slip across wi' me we can have a comfortable chat together.  Anxious to hear a little more of the old man's history, I thanked him for the invitation, and at once accompanied him to his dwelling.  It was an old stone house, built, if I remember rightly, in the year 1760, and beautifully situated on a slight eminence, about two hundred yards from the turnpike road.  As we approached the cottage, it appears we were observed by the old man's son, for he came to meet us at the garden gate, and holding out his hand to me, said, "Heaw are yo, sir?  Aw dunno know yo, but aw reccon mi feyther does; come in, an' sit yo deawn.  Aw'm expectin' eawr Betty in every minute, an' when hoo comes yo can have a sope o' tay wi' mi' feyther.  Aw never ha' nowt o'th' soart misel', but aw loike to see other foalk have it, if they loiken it.  Win yo have a poipe o' bacco with us?  Yo happen dunno smook?"  I told him I did not, but thanked him all the same.

    "What rent may you pay for a house like this" I inquired.  "We ne'er pay nowt, mestur; we wur used to pay thirty shillin' a year, but th' squire up at th' Ho' said he thowt we'd as mich as we could do, beawt payin' rent; he'd let us live a bit for nowt;—that's abeawt two year sin' an' we'n never paid a haupney fro' that day to this."  "It is very kind of your landlord," I observed, "in allowing you to live rent free.  Are any of your neighbours thus favoured?"  "Nawe, not as aw know on.  Aw reccon it's becose mi feyther's a bit ov a favourite wi' em.  He used to play th' double bass up at th' chapel yonder, yo seen, an' they'n loike made a bit more ado on him on that akeawnt.  Then there's another thing—mi mother wer'n th' cook up at th' Ho', afore mi feyther wed her, an' they'n allis taen to us a bit ever sin."

    Just as Jim was concluding the last sentence, his wife came in, carrying a fine baby of some three months old.  She seemed a little surprised at seeing a stranger in the house; it was some thing rather unusual, no doubt.  She had not advanced many steps before her husband took the child from her arms, and, giving it a kiss, said to its mother, "There's a gentleman here, tha' sees, Betty; tha' mun make 'em a sope o' tay, lass, as soon us t'con; an' when they'n had sum'at t' eat they can sit an' chat together awhile.  Mi feyther can tell yo some rare tales, mestur, iv he's a moind," he said, addressing himself to me.  I told him I was exceedingly fond of tales, and should like to hear some good ones.

    "Aw'll gie yo a bit of a skit or two," said the old man, when aw've getten some o'th' woind off mi stomach; for aw'm nowt at talkin' when aw'm hungry."

    In a few minutes the good woman had the tea-things placed on the table, and, although I had partaken of dinner only about an hour before, I enjoyed their kind hospitality very much.  Tea being over, I, along with my old friend, repaired to a wooden seat in the garden, the old man taking his pipe with him.  We sat a few moments in silence, which was at length broken by my friend saying—"Well aw reccon aw shall ha' to try iv aw can tell yo a tale or two, neaw; an' as eawr Jim's towd yo at aw used to be a bit ov a music chap, aw'll tell yo one or two bits o' skits at aw remember very weel.  Yo'll think they seawnden strange, no deawt, but aw can assure yo, they're quite true, an some o' th' characters mentioned are livin' yet.

    "Well, one Kesmus neet—neaw abeawt fifty year' sin'—ther'n me an' a lot moor ov eawr singers at th' chapel, made it up among eawrsel's to go eawt a-singing th' Kesmus hymn, an' we agreed to meet at th' schoo' at eleven o'clock, an' have a bit ov a practice afore we started eawt.  Aw conno' remember th' names ov o on 'em neaw, but aw con tell yo some on 'em.  There were Simeon Carter, Ike-o'-Abram's, Sammy Hallsworth, Tommy Yetton, Tummy-o'-Sharp's, an' Jabez Barrowclough.

    "Yo ne'er seed sich a seet i' o yo'r loife, as we looked, when we o stood in a reawnd ring i' th' middle o' th' floor!

    "Owd Simeon Carter, a bass singer, had getten his woife's red cloak on, an' a great woollen shawl lapped reawnd his meawth, so that we could only just see his nose-end poppin' eawt.  Ike-o'-Abram's had borrowed a top-coat off someb'dy 'at reached reet deawn to his feet; an he'd a pair o gloves on his honds 'at looked big enough for Daniel Lambert.  Sammy Hallsworth had getten his feyther's breeches on th' top ov his own, an' his legs looked moor loike elephants legs nor owt else.  Aw can assure yo we wur a bonny lot o together.  Well, we tried th' Kesmus hymn, 'Hark, Hark,' an' toathry o' them things o'er, an' just as th' church clock struck twelve, we turned eawt.  But aw'm forgettin' to tell yo abeawt Johnny-o'-Neddys, a chap 'at should ha' bin wi' us.  Johnny aw understond, had a rare do wi' th' woife afore he seet off fro' whoam.  Hoo didn't loike him to go a basoon playin', when he owt to be i' bed, an' wur freetund sum'ut ud happen him iv he went eawt; an' hoo wur no' fur off reet, for on his way t' th' schoo', he had to cross a wood, an' i' doin' so, as there wur nob'dy onywheer abeawt he thowt he met as weel be tryin' a tune or two o'er.  Well, he geet owd ov his basoon, an started a puffin away.  As it happened, theer wur a bull noan fur off 'at yerd this noise 'at Johnny wur makin', an' it began a tryin' to imitate him as weel as it could.

    "'What's that?  What's that?' ax'd Johnny, lookin' sharply abeawt him.  'Iv theawrt a musician let's yer thi seawnd thi keighnote.'  Well, he'd hardly getten th' words eawt of his meawth afoor th' bull laid howd on him wi' it horns an' threw him reet o'er it yead.  His clooas wur ripped o to rags, an' his basoon smashed o to pieces.  Th' owd lad scramblet off whoam as weel as he could, but he wur cured ov his basoon playin' that neet—he ne'er played no moor.

    "Well, neaw then, aw'll go back to mi tale agen.  As aw wur tellin' yo', we started eawt o' singin' at twelve o'clock.  There'n a parcel o' lads gethert reawn th' schoo' dur, an' as soon as ever they seed us they seet up a great sheawt, an' started a makin' remarks abeawt us.  One on 'em said, 'Eh! look theer at that mon wi' th' long top-cooat on; he looks loike a clooas-prop dressed up.'  An' then another young rascal sheawted eawt, 'Wheer hast getten thi red cloak fro', owd mon?  What wilt' tak' for a whelp off it?'  Sammy Hallsworth, when he yeard that, began a poikin' off as noicely as he could, for he knew iv they seed his breeches they'd hardly, ever ha' done makin' remarks abeawt 'em.  Well, we geet o'er this as weel as we could; owd Simeon grumbled at 'em a bit, an' said iv he could only get owd on 'em he'd poo their ears till they'rn as long as pig ears.

    "Th' parson's heawse bein' close to th' schoo', we went theer th' furst, an' started a singin' 'Christians, awake!'  When we geet to th' third loine, wheer it says 'Rise to adore,' somb'dy sheawted eawt, 'Rise, an' let these chaps sup.'  Well, when we yeard that, one o' th' lads 'at wur singin' ceawnter brasted eawt a-laffin', an' seet some o' th' others agate, an' we broke deawn afore we geet to th' end o' th' furst verse.  Aw wur playin' th' double bass at th' toime, an' aw felt so vex'd at aw up wi' th' fiddlestick, an' wur beawn to fot one on 'em a crack o'er th' yead, but aw missed mi aim an' hit one o' th' women singers a welt o'er her bonnet, an' made it as flat as a poncake.  Yo may guess what a row there'd be then.

    "Tummy Yetton, a young fellow at purtended to cooart her a bit neaw an' then, ax'd me what aw'd done that for.  He said he'd punse his foote thro' th' fiddle iv aw didn't keep that clumsy stick to mysel'.  We wur o foin' eawt ov a lump for abeawt five minutes, an' aw wur freetened we should never be able to muster no moor; but owd Simeon coom an' stretched hisel' up among us, an' said it wur a shawm 'at we should be carryin' on i' that'n, an' a lot o' chapel singers as we wur; we should have o th' folk i' th' place talkin' abeawt us.  Inneaw, who should come creepin' back but Sammy Hallsworth; he'd poo'd one o' th' pair o' breeches off, an' had 'em slung o'er his shooder.  Well, we managed to get i' summat loike order agen, an' then we went forrard to owd Pogson's.  (Owd Pogson wur th' clark o' th' chapel.)  We started a singin' th' Kesmus hymn, an' geet thro' very weel to th' eend o' th' fust verse, an, then Skennin' Jonas, as we used to co him, began a thumpin' at th' dur, an' tryin' to wakken 'em up.  When we'd getten to th' eend o' th' next verse, he gan it another bang wi' th' eend o' his knob-stick.  Owd Pogson geet up and stuck his yead eawt o' th' window, an' towd us he wur very sorry, but he couldn't ger a leet—th' matches wur damp, or summat.  Aw wur stondin' at th' side o' Skennin' Jonas at th' toime, an' yeard him mutter summat abeawt him loikin' his ale to weel hissel' to ger up an' give a poor body a sup.  Well, after we'd bin to two or three moor places, we went to owd Daniel Whitley's, at th' Hey Barn.  When we geet theer it wur abeawt two o'clock i' th' mornin', noice an' moonleet, but very cowd, for it wur freezin' keenly.  We o stood reawnd th' dur, an' began a-singin'.  Tummy-o-Sharps, 'at wur playin' th clarinett, cock'd up his yead tort chamber window, to see iv ony on 'em wur gerrin' up—for we'd rapped at th' dur to let 'em know 'at we'd go in iv they'd let us—an' to get a better seet, he walked back a foote or two.  Neaw, reet facin' th' dur, but at th' other side o' th' fowt, wur a well, where they fot water fro' for th' ceaws, an' for weshin'-up wi'; but whether Tummy knew abeawt it or not, aw conno say, but at ony rate in he plopt, reet up to th' chin.  By gum! didn't th' owd lad stare! an' his chin reet wackert agen wi' cowd, for it very nee froze him stiff.  Nancy Greenhalgh—hoo wur his sweetheart, yo noan—when hoo yeard it wur Tummy 'at had backed into th' well, hoo seet up sich a skroike as aw ne' er yeard afore sin aw'rn wick.  'For God's sake, ger him eawt,' hoo said; 'do ger him eawt!  We should be wed o' th' twenty-second o' next month.  Th' ring's bowt neaw, an' th' weddin' dress is very nee made.  Jabez,' hoo said, to a great long chap as wur stondin' laffin', 'thee ger howd on him, theaw great starin' foo'!  What are t' laffin' at?  It's nowt to mak' fun abeawt, this isn't.'

    "While Nancy wur makin' this bother, an' lettin' th' cat eawt o' th' bag, me an' two or three moor on us had managed to get Tummy eawt o' th' well.  Didn't he look rare an' mad at Nancy, for he'd yeard every word hoo'd said.  Th' owd lad shaked hissel' a bit, an' then poiked hissel' off whoam an' to bed as soon as he could.  Well, when Tummy wur gone, owd Simeon coom an' fixed hissel' reet i th' middle on us, an' said, 'Aw think we met as weel drop it neaw, folk.  Th' clarinet player's gone, an' yo knoan we conno do mich beawt him.  But afore we separate aw should loike to say a word or two respectin' th' way 'at we'n bin carryin' on.  It seems very clear to my moind at it's nowt nobbut proide an' a hankerin' after other foalk's stuff 'at's bin th' cause o' th' misfortins we'n had to-neet.  I' th' fust place, iv we'd turned eawt in us own clooas, as we owt to ha' done, i' th' stead o' makin' eawrsel's look loike a lot o' meawntebanks, th' lads would ne'er ha' sheawted us.  I' th' next place, iv we'd gone eawt wi' a proper motive—that is, a-singin' th' Kesmus hymn in a gradely soart of a way, an' then goan abeawt us business—we should noan ha' brocken deawn as we did'n, when we'rn singin' at th' parson's heawse, nor that young woman wouldn't ha' had her bonnet spoiled wi' th' fiddlestick.  Aw feel very ill hurt, for my own part, 'at Tummy-o'-Sharps has met wi' that misfortin.  Its bin sich a lettin' deawn to him; not only i' bein' letten deawn into th' wayter—that wur bad enuff, certainly—but yo see Nancy's letten it eawt abeawt th' weddin', an' there'n a ruck o' lads abeawt 'at yeard it as weel as us, an' no deawt they'll mak' it middlin' weel known.  Let's go whoam, an' keep these things as quiet as we con, an' iv ever we go eawt a singin' ony moor let's do it in a gradely sperrit, as we owt, an' not be hankerin' so mich after mate an' drink.  Heaw con we expect owt good to come eawt o' this mak' o' wark, think'n yo?  There's One up aboon yonder 'at knows heaw we'n bin carryin' on; an' whoa knows but what Tummy-o'-Sharp's tumblet into th' wayter as a sooart ov a judgement on us for bein' so wicked.  Sich things as these han happened afoor neaw, an' it's not at o unloikely at it is so i' this case.'

    "Well, when Simeon had finished his sarmonizin', Ike-o'Abram's said he thowt we'd better go back to th' schoo' an separate in a respectable sooart ov a way.  So we went, an' when we'd o getten sit deawn, aw geet up an' gan eawt a short-metre hymn;—an' aw've forgetten neaw whoa it wur, but som'b'dy struck up wi' a long-metre tune; so, to mak' it come in, we had to lengthen th' last words o' some o' th' lines; an', as it happent, th' last word o' one o' th' loines we'rn 'Jacob,' so we sung it i' this road: Ja-fol-da-diddle-i-do-cob.  "Well, mestur," he said, "what dun yo think abeawt eawr Kesmus singin'?"  I said they had made a bad job of it.  "A bad job on it!  Aw think we did."

    "Aw reccon yo never knew owd Robin Dumplin-yead, as we used t' co him, did yo, mestur?"  I said I did not remember having heard the name before.

    "Iv yo'n a moind aw'll tell yo heaw he once sarved a lot o' singers 'at went to their heawse.  Yo known Robin wur a very eccentric sooart ov a chap.  He wur no' mich of a chapel goer hissel; but, as he used to say, he could't abide to see religion bein' made a trade on; an' these singers wur nowt nobbut a lot o' great awkart lads, an' toathry wenches 'at livt i' th' place, 'at wur goin' reawnd to get howd ov o they could, an' then have a spree with it.  They went an fixed theirsel's under Robin's window, an' began a singin'.  Robin yeard 'em, an' said to the woife, 'Yond's th' singers, Matty; has't owt for 'em?'  'Nawe, indeed I,' said Matty; tha emptied th' last bottle we had i' th' heawse, afore we coom to bed.  Has t' forgetten?'  'Nawe, aw've noan forgetten, not I marry; mi yead warches rather too ill for that.  It's very kind on 'em comin' eawt a singin' ov a cowd frosty neet loike this, an' aw'll give 'em summat 'at ull satisfy 'em for th' next yer an' o, except they're ill to pleos.'  'Robin, tha knows very weel 'at we'n nowt to spare; tha's had thi loom empty a week neaw, an' conno tell when tha'll get another warp.  Tha's moor need to go reawnd wi' em an' try to mak' a hit o' summat nor give 'em owt; that's what aw think, Robin.'  'Well, well, lass, we're noan so weel off, aw know, but th' owd Book says 'at it's better to give nor to receive; and iv tha conno believe me aw'll gie thee a bit o' what they co'n hoccular demonstration, iv tha'll ger eawt o' bed an' come wi' me to th' window.'  So they booath geet up an' went to th' chamber window, an' when Robin oppened it they wur just finishin' th' last verse, an' very nee o on 'em gaupin' an' starin' up at th' window.'  'Neaw then,' said Robin, 'which on yo tak's it?'  So the leader sheawted eawt 'Me.'  'Tak' that, then,' said Robin, emptyin' a two-gallon potful o' water on 'em: 'tak' that, an' divide it among yo; an' iv yo feel dry when it gets tort dayleet, iv yo'n a moind to come this way, ogen, aw'll see iv aw conno foind yo a sope moor.'  Well, mestur, aw think yo'll do for tales; aw'll have a poipe o' bacco, neaw."

    When the old man had finished, I could not help saying, "Thank you, thank you kindly, my old friend; I am sorry to have to leave you so soon, but I have an engagement about two miles from here, which I am obliged to attend to."  I wished him good night, exclaiming to myself—


Tha's noan so fur to tramp, owd friend;
Tha's welly reach'd thi journey's end;
                    Trudge along.
Thi fiddle's mony a toime bin strung,
An' aw've no deawt bo what tha's sung
                    Mony a song.
But neaw, owd mon, thi days are few,
So, iv there's owt tha has to do,
                    Do it soon;
An' th' bit o' toime tha has to stop,
Get ready for another shop
                    Up aboon.

 

_______________________________

 
APPENDIX.

THE MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS.


WHAT! me have a seat i' th' Teawn Ceawncil? dear, dear!
Why! what earthly use would a rhymster be theer?
An e'en if aw went, unless th' May'r had good e'en,
If aw got up to speak, aw should never be seen.
.            .            .            .            .            .            .            .
Besides, what con aw know o' sewerage an' things;
Or heaw con a honest mon join one o' th' "rings"
'At meet i' bar-parlours wheer plots may be laid
Disasterous to th' borough, an' favourin' th' "trade?"
Mister Ceawncillor Laycock may seawnd very nice;
An' a child may be pleased wi' a paper o' spice.
But are we quite sure 'at sich acts would be reet?
Would th' child's tender stomach be better for th' sweet?
At ony rate, please to tak' notice o' this—
Aw shall ne'er be won o'er, or betrayed wi' a kiss.
.            .            .            .            .            .            .            .
An' what abeawt th' men i' eawr Ceawncil to-day?
Don't yo think some o' these would be better away?
An' should I—whose sole tools are pen, paper, an' ink—
Turn eawt ony better than these do yo' think?
At ony rate one thing th' electors would find—
An' that is, aw've getten no axes to grind;
An' aw wouldn't turn th' hondle for others 'at had,
Or sacrifice manhood to Tory or Rad.
But aw'm gettin' near boastin', it's time aw should stop,
Or mi naybors may fancy aw'm after a shop;
But aw'll tell yo at once 'at it's nowt i' my line—
Spendin' th' ratepayers' money on "walnuts an' wine."
True, aw might see a wrong wheer another mon wouldn't,
An' could creep up a soof where an alderman couldn't;
But at licensin' donkeys—as most on yo know—
Well, aw couldn't pretend to be in it at o;
An', as to that matter o' stuffin' mi crop,
Why, aw couldn't find reawm for a bottle o' pop.

*            *            *            *            *            *            *            *
But if th' truth must be spocken, aw connot just see,
Heaw winkin' at evils could suit sich as me;
An' one's brains may as weel be lapped up in a cleawt,
As be bothered wi' plans 'at are ne'er carried eawt.
Theer isn't mitch "fat" eawt o' scribblin' o' verse,
But bein' i' th' Teawn Ceawncil's a theawsand times worse;
If one gives up his manhood, an' forks out his "tin"
As a bribe to th' electors to carry him in.
Aw'm stoppin' awhoam wi' my books an' th' owd lass;
An' shall give noather time, mi experience, nor brass,
For bubbles 'at burst, or mere perishin' fame,
'At oft prove disastrous, an' soil a good name.
Aw shall allus be willin' to fill up a gap,
When mi naybours are getten' hard up for a chap;
But judgin' bi th' meetin's they held th' other neet,
When that day arrives aw'st be gone eawt o' th' seet.

 

_______________________________

 
BISHOP FRASER AN' TH' COLLIER.


SIT still, an' aw'll tell yo a bit ov a skit,
I' which th' late Bishop Fraser once figured a bit.
Iv yo'n yeard it befoor, yo'll not think it a crime
Iv aw tell th' tale agen i' plain Lancashire rhyme.

Well, th' Bishop, it seems, when on one of his tours,
Had to preach at a place they co' Bolton-le-Moors;
An', tho' so vast clever, aw'm sorry to say,
He someheaw or other geet eawt ov his way.

Soa seein' an' owd collier a little ahead,
Th' Bishop wasn't very long ere he're at him an' said,
"Can you tell me the best way to Bolton, my man?
"Ah," said th' chap, looking up, "iv aw try hard aw can.

"But tha seems to ha' getten a heavyish load;
Walk on here wi' me, an' aw'll put thee i' th' road."
Then he eyed th' Bishop o'er fro' his yead to his feet,
An', after bein' satisfied o' would be reet,

Th' collier pood an' owd pipe eawt, an' soon had it lit,
Then said, "Hand o'er th' bag, an' aw'll carry it a bit."
Th' Bishop handed it o'er, an' what followed aw'll tell
As near as aw can as aw yeard it misel!

"It strikes me," said th' collier, "tha ne'er does no wurtch:
Art a parson, or summat at's heigh up i' th' Church?"
"Well, yes," said th' good Bishop, "I cannot deny
That I am in the Church, and may say rather high."

"Well, what dun they co' thee? an' whom may ta be?
Tha's a fine shovel-hat, an' wears leggin's, aw see."
"I'm the Bishop, my man, as you're anxious to know."
"Yo're th' Bishop?" said th' chap, staring at him. "What!  Yo'?"

"Well, aw never yeard th' like!  An' tha'rt th' Bishop, tha says,
An' walkin' wi' me, wi' my black-lookin' face!"
"Why shouldn't I?" said th' Bishop, still striding along,
"For in walking with you I can see nothing wrong."

"Well, happen it's nowt nobbut reet 'at tha should;
But there isn't so many Lord Bishops 'at would,
If tha'rt th' Bishop tha'll know th' road to Heaven, aw guess?"
"Well," said th' Bishop, a little bit fluttered like, "yes.

"I think, my good man, I may venture to say,
That I'm able and willing to point out the way;
If you'll come to the church where I'm preaching to-night
I think we can manage to put matters right."

Said the collier: "Aw'm no' so sure abeawt that;
Tho' tha'rt th' Bishop, wears leggin's an' fine shovel-hat,
If tha conno find Bowton wi'eawt axin' me,
Heaw tha knows th' road to heaven—well, aw connot just
        see!"

 

_______________________________

 
TO MY FRIEND, JOSEPH COOPER,
THE DERBYSHIRE BARD.


AW can fancy aw see just a bit ov a scowl
On th' face o' th' owd bard 'at lives up at Eaves Knowl;
An' after reflection, it's easy to see
'At that black-looking scowl is intended for me.
Well, it just sarves me reet; aw deserve a good kick;
For didn't th' dear songster once give me a stick;
An' haven't aw neglected to thank him for th' same?
Aw have, an' aw feel 'at aw'm sadly to blame.

Mon, aw've thowt abeawt thankin' thee time after time,
An' do it as mooast o' mi wark's done—i' rhyme;
But, hang it! th' moment aw've set misel deawn,
Mi thowts—iv aw had ony—seemed to ha' fleawn.
But aw'm noan beawn to wait o' mi muse an' her pranks,
But get eawt o' debt, an' return thee mi thanks.
An' aw do thank thee heartily Cooper, for th' stick,
An' shall prize it an' use it as long as aw'm wick.

An' when wi life's wearisome journey aw've done,
Aw'll carry thi wish eawt, an' leave it to th' son.
It wur hard for thee t' part wi' th' owd helper, aw know;
Th' dear friend 'at stood by thee i' weal an' i' woe:
To sever fro' props one has leaned on so long
Mars mich o' man's pleasure an' saddens his song;
An' his friends droppin' off brings a tear to his e'e,
An' he fancies it's time he should lie deawn an' dee.

Try an' send me a line or two, wilta, owd brid?
For aw'm thinkin' it's just abeawt time 'at tha did;
Of coorse aw'm assumin' tha'rt still up aboon,
Thi brain i' full vigour, thi harp still i' tune.
Aw'm beginnin' to feel a bit like an owd mon,
For aw made sixty-two up last Tuesday but one:
But as this life may lead to a better, it's reet,
We shall lond i' that haven we're fit for.—Good neet!

 

_______________________________

 
EXTRACTS FROM A "MUNICIPAL LAY."


WE travel Life's journey together,
Hope to land i' th' same peaceful abode;
Ole childer belongin' one feyther,
Then why should we quarrel on th' road?
Wouldn't th' world be much better to live in
If political strife were suprest?
Could we find e'en a sparrow soa foolish,
As to wilfully "feaul" its own nest?
Are we to be thowt ony wiser
If we sacrifice God-given peawers,
To forcin' a way among brambles,
When there's one ready-made among fleawers!
Mi yead's grey wi' age an' hard thinkin',
An' yet aw feel beawnd to confess,
'At we needn't mitch trouble to look for
What's known as th' Millenium unless—
We resolve to put down that bad feelin'
'At must injure boath yo an' us too.
Heaw con th' lion an' th' lamb lie together,
While they quarrel as mitch as they do?
We're cursed wi' divisions an' parties,
Split up into sects o'er a creed;
An' while we keep fightin' these shadows,
Heaw on earth con we hope to succeed!

 

_______________________________

 
EXTRACTS FROM POEM TO A BROTHER BARD.


BUT B—, just one word o' caution—
Don't look for a livin' i' song;
If tha's getten a job 'at brings brass in,
Stick to it—or else tha'll be wrong.
Mon, it's ole very weel to get honour,
For it certainly cheers an' elates;
But money's a lot moor convenient,
When one's payin' his rent an' his rates.
Neaw, aw'm noan windin' yarns off at random—
Aw'm writin' abeaut what aw know;
One may labour for fame an' may get it,
But it keeps him as "poor as a crow."
Keep on wi' thi rhymin' bi ole means,
An' tha'rt certain o' mackin' thi mark;
But tak' an owd scribbler's advice, lad,
An' see tha gets paid for thi wark.
We've thousands o' drones drawin' pensions,
But what a commotion one sees—
If some Socialist ventures th' opinion
'At none should eat th' honey but th' bees!
Well, these are th' conditions at present,
A lot o' things seem eawt o' tune;
But we 'at are known as reformers,
Would alter these matters an' soon.
We want to see labour rewarded—
Be it done wi' a hammer or pen;
In a schoo', or a shop, or a factory—
In th' earth, or on th' top on't—what then?
Why, th' paupers 'at draw these big pensions
Are sendin' their tools up an' deawn,
To tell us 'at th' country's i' danger—
'At we're aimin' at th' Bible an' th' Creawn!
But we meon to go on as we have done—
Keep workin' an' peggin' away,
"Till th' toiler gets th' fruits ov his labour,
An' th' poet gets paid for his lay."

 

_______________________________
 
A FEW PRESS NOTICES

ON

WARBLIN' S FRO' AN OWD SONGSTER

BY THE LATE

SAMUEL LAYCOCK.
_______________

"Literary World," February 23rd, 1894.


"Mr. S. Laycock, the author of Warblin's fro' an Owd Songster, is at his best in such poems as the twelve Lancashire Lyrics he wrote during the 'Cotton Panic,' a catastrophe which, we learn from Mr. Trevor's biographical sketch, through the writer himself out of work.  The following are the opening verses of one of these lyrics:—


CHEER UP A BIT LONGER.


Cheer up a bit longer, mi brothers i' want,
    There's breeter days for us i' store;
There'll be plenty o' 'tommy' an' wark for us o,
    When this dark-lookin' cleawd's blown o'er.
Yo'n struggled reet nobly and battled reet hard,
    While things han been lookin' so feaw;
Yo'n borne wi' yo're troubles an' trials so long,
    'At it's no use o' givin' up neaw.

Feight on, as yo han done, an' victory's sure,
    For th' battle seems very near won;
Be firm i' yore sufferin' an' dunno give way,
    For they're nowt nobbut ceawards 'at run,
Yo' know heaw they'n praised us for stondin' so firm,
    An' shall we neaw stagger an' fo?
Not we! if we nobbut brace up an' be hard,
    We con stood a bit longer aw know.


    The cheery optimism which inspires these lines distinguishes all Mr. Laycock's poems, and is as characteristic of them as the fidelity with which he paints the simple joys and pleasures of the homely life which he himself had shared.  He does not, however, look at its bright side only.  Teetotallers will read with pleasure the earnest and outspoken lines in which Mr. Laycock perpetually denounces the evils of drink.  As a humorist Mr. Laycock appears to us more successful in prose than in verse.  But his humorous pieces can only be properly judged by those familiar with the Lancashire dialect.  He is above all a Lancashire man writing for Lancashire men; though the simple, quiet dignity of his thoughts and the kindly goodness of his heart are qualities too conspicuous in his writings to be veiled by any obscurity of dialect."

____________________

"London Daily News," December 1st, 1893.


    No one can read these touching little poems, which have something of the ruggedness and tenderness of Burns, without feeling that the writer is a man of lofty principles and high ideal.  His temperance rhymes are perhaps as good as anything we have of the kind, but it is in the domestic sentiment that he is at his best."

____________________

The "Bookman," November, 1893.


    "Both humour and pathos are in the poems."

____________________

"Huddersfield Examiner," November 18th, 1893.


    "Many a Yorkshireman, as well as many a Lancashireman, will rejoice in the publication of Warblin's fro' an Owd Songster.  The poem of chief local interest is one descriptive of Marsden, though there are others relating to Yorkshire."

____________________

The "Preston Herald," November 15th, 1893.


    "The author of this work is himself one of the people of whom his poems present such homely pictures.  His intimate knowledge of the poor folk of Lancashire' enables him to depict most truthfully and musically their manners and quaint but intensely homely speech.  While there is plenty of humour in his writings, there is no vulgarity.  There is a charming simplicity in the rhymes, with a high moral tone pervading them, and they are bound to do good.  There is deep pathos, lofty thought, and manliness of expression in many of his lines, and altogether the book would form a valuable acquisition to any library, and would well grace the table of either the drawing-room or the parlour."

____________________

"Liverpool Murcury," Novernber 8th, 1893.


    "A remarkably bulky collection of poems, grave and gay, the result of years of thought, and sung out in this volume in the Lancashire dialect chiefly.  The topics and sentiments tell of a son of genius, often stirred by aspects of the grotesque, but moved still oftener by sights that awaken pity and meditation."

____________________

The "Christian Life and Unitarian Herald," Nov. 11th, 1893.


    "This is one of the most handsome volumes of poems, of nearly 400 pages, we have been privileged to look over for some time.  For many years Mr. Laycock has delighted a large circle of friends in the north and elsewhere by his compositions, which have always not only a well defined but a right good object in view.  In many of the poems he appeals to us in his own peculiar dialect, and in all of them with that touch of nature that makes us all akin."

____________________

"Yorkshire Post," October 25th, 1893.


    "Much of his vernacular verse will be read with great delight in the north, for many of his subjects are as homely as his verse.  An excellent portrait of the author serves as a most suitable frontispiece to the volume."

____________________

"Oldham, Chronicle," October 21st, 1893.


    "As the Laureate of Lancashire, Samuel Laycock is a worthy successor of Edwin Waugh.  His poems are simple, homely rhymes that touch the heart with their tenderness and pathos.  Amongst the poems included in the work before us are twelve that were written and published during the Cotton Famine, which breathed words of hope and encouragement to the poor starving operatives.  The first of these is the well-known one entitled 'Welcome, Bonny Brid,' which for sweetness and tenderness deserves to be known throughout the length and breadth of the land.  The short sketches in prose make one wish that Mr. Laycock had given us more of them, they are so full of humour."

____________________

"Publishers' Circular, October 21st, 1893.


    "Mr. Laycock is certainly a laureate of and for the people.  A large number of readers should welcome this volume in which the 'Owd Songster's' verses are gathered together.  The bright optimism shining through the poems, the homely pathos and humour, should win them a way to the hearts of people far from that portion of the North Country where they have long been familiar friends.  The son of a weaver, and himself an operative in a cotton mill, the poet has been enabled to touch the feelings of the great mass of humanity directly, and without any of that straining after simplicity, the result of which is worse than the most euphuistic art."

____________________

"Preston Guardian," October 21st, 1893.

"Warblin's fro' an owd Songster."


    "These songs, in the Lancashire dialect, are written by a man whose life is a story of striving and honest endeavour, and the book before us is an honour to himself and the class from which he sprung.  In the too brief sketch at the beginning we are told some things of Samuel Laycock's history.  Although a writer of the Lancashire dialect, he is a Yorkshireman by birth—the son of John Laycock, a handloom weaver.  After a very brief time at his books, he began life as a weaver at the early age of nine, and though working from six in a morning to eight at night the ordinary mill hours of those days, he earned only 2/- a week.  For seventeen years he continued a weaver, and up to the time of the American Civil War he worked as a cotton operative.  He lived a life of sober industry and frugality, and trained his mind so as to leave behind him a goodly collection of verse.  The first volume of his poems, issued twenty-nine years ago, had for its subject the "Cotton Panic," and these attained great popularity.  Many of them were printed on sheets, and sold up to as many as forty thousand.  Mr. Laycock's best works are those which are so well known: "Ode to the Sun," "Welcome, Bonny Brid," "Bowton's Yard," &c.  His poems always teach honesty, manliness, and pure living: and the dedication of the present vol. to "my dear wife and children," is a fitting tribute to the life he has led.  The publication of the present handsome volume must be a great joy to him.  The portrait prefixed shows us a man of strong determination and fine character.  The book is published by Clegg, Oldham."

____________________

"Liverpool Courier," October 18th, 1893.


    "It would be hopeless to attempt, by a few isolated verses, to give anything like an adequate representation of the wealth of tenderness and humour with which the poems, as a whole, are permeated.  The volume is a noteworthy addition to our homeliest poetry, and contains not a line which does not make for virtue, courage, and strength."

____________________

The "Manchester Guardian," October 17th, 1893.


    "These poems express with great truth and vigour the feelings and sentiments of the average Lancashire workman.  They have usually a good lyric swing with them; they are always on the side of honesty and manliness and clear living.  Mr. Laycock is a genuine optimist.  He does not rail at fortune; he has no fault to find even with the reviewers; he is satisfied with the measure of success which he has achieved; and is to be congratulated on the publication of this handsome volume in the evening of his days."

____________________

"Manchester Clarion," October 14th, 1893.


    "Samuel Laycock's Lancashire Dialect Poems have just been published in very handsome form by W. E. Clegg, of Oldham, under the title of " Warblin's fro' an owd Songster."  The large and elegant volume contains all the poems which have established Laycock's fame with that of Edwin Waugh and Ben Brierley in Lancashire literary annals, including the quaint "Ode to the Sun," the tender "Welcome, Bonny Brid," the impressive "Evening Prayer," and many well known poems illustrating the patience and fortitude of the workers during suffering—poems inspired by the great cotton famine, but very applicable to the present day.  The book contains also a memoir of the Author by W. Trevor, and a capital portrait of the author."

____________________

The "Speaker," October 14th, 1893 .


    "Next to Edwin Waugh, probably no Lancashire poet is more widely known than Samuel Laycock, the author of many homely songs and ballads, written in the quaint dialect which prevails amongst the cotton operatives and mill hands in the towns and villages which are scattered around Manchester.  Mr. Laycock understands the life of the operatives; indeed, he worked himself many years at the loom, and his ballads reveal the lights and shadows of their daily toil.  He is a genial optimist as well as a zealous social reformer, and all his songs are set to the music of brotherly kindness, manly self-help, and cheery hopefulness.  There is shrewd humour as well as genuine pathos in such appeals to the common heart, as "Welcome, Bonny Brid," a poem addressed to the child born into an anxious and straitened home; and it would be easy to name other ballads written with the same vigour and tenderness."

____________________

"Public Opinion," October 13th, 1893.


    "This is a complete selection of the best of a Lancashire poet's life's work, a poet who has been the recipient of much praise in the press for his verses, and who has thoroughly deserved it.  Dialect poetry is too often difficult to appreciate, and does not always draw that amount of sympathy which an earnest poet desires to attract.  This can never be laid to Mr. Laycock's charge.  It is refreshing to find a man whose true poetic instincts have led him to choose the vehicle of expression with which he is most familiar."

____________________

The " Times," October 13th, 1893.


    "Samuel Laycock is the popular and vernacular poet of Lancashire, who, since the time of the cotton famine, has been recognised as the lyrical spokesman of his own people.  His poems in dialect are vigorous and racy, spontaneous and original, instinct with the working life of Lancashire, and full of good humour and good sense."

____________________

"Examiner and Times," October 11th, 1893.


    "Samuel Laycock, like the late Edwin Waugh, was familiar in his early days with poverty and the struggle for existence.  Like him, too, he shows a thorough knowledge of the habits and home-life and the native humour of Lancashire folk in the humbler walks of life.  Many of his poems have been circulated by thousands, and are so well known and appreciated in the cottage homes in this county, that it is almost unnecessary to say a word in commendation of "Warblin's fro' an' owd Songster."  Of most of the verses here given it may be said that they have the true ring of poetry."




THE END.
______


W. E. CLEGG, PRINTER, OLDHAM.

 


 

[Home] [Up] [Biographical] [Kesmus Singin'] [Election of M.P.] [Broadsheets] [Miscellanea] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be sent to Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk