Besom Ben

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VIGNETTE BY RANDOLPH CALDECOTT:
"
BESOM BEN".


BESOM BEN AND HIS MOORLAND HOME
BY J. E. PARTINGTON.

 

PREFATORY NOTE.
――――♦――――


THE two first volumes of this Collected Edition of the works of Edwin Waugh contain his earliest miscellaneous prose writings, including those which were originally published under the title of Lancashire Sketches, and a few which are especially interesting on account of their having reference to the period of the Cotton Famine in Lancashire.

    The present volume, being the third of the series, reproduces the whole of the stories which have "Besom Ben" for their hero.  In the "Introduction" which accompanies the first volume of this edition I have drawn attention to the great merit of these Besom Ben Stories.  In them Waugh makes a serious attempt to construct and maintain a character.  Evidently the light-hearted besom-maker of Lobden moor-side was a favourite with him, and, like Wordsworth, he tries to show how tenderness, and kindly feeling, and gentleness, as of one well-born, and even susceptibility to the influences of external nature, may co-exist with comparative ignorance and a menial employment.  One may desire that less prominence had been given to the rough pastime of rustic clowns; but there remains an abundance of finer material.  The descriptions of nature are wonderfully accurate and vivid, and show a minute acquaintance with all the phenomena of the changing seasons; the account of Ben's cleanly cottage and smiling garden presents an ever-delightful picture; the landlady's story of the "Old Blanket" needs only the "accomplishment of verse" to make it equal to one of Tennyson's best dialectal poems; and the passage which seeks to prove that Ben's donkey was a gentleman is full of ingenious humour.  Best of all, however, is the tender delineation of the poor besom-maker's guileless affection for his wife and child.  In the pages devoted to this subject the sweet household sentiment, which made the poem of "Come Whoam to thi Childer and Me" so popular, is expanded without being weakened, and the result is a country idyll in prose, which, for simple beauty and natural pathos, has not often been surpassed.

G. M.



CONTENTS.
――――♦――――

BESOM BEN AND HIS DONKEY.

I; II; III; IV; V; VI; VII; VIII; IX.
___________

BEN AN' TH' BANTAM.

I; II; III; IV; V; VI.
___________

THE OLD BLANKET.

I; II; III; IV.
___________

SNECK-BANT; OR, THE OLD TOLL BAR.

I; II; III; IV.

 


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