Waugh: Rambles in the Lake Country (1)

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Come unto these yellow sands,
    Then take hands:
Court'sied when you have, and kiss'd,
    (The wild waves whist).


AT the western edge of that quiet tract of Lancashire, called "The Fylde," lying mainly between Wyre, Ribble, and the Irish Channel, the little wind-swept hamlet of Norbreck stands, half asleep, on the brow of a green ridge close to the sea.  The windows of a whitewashed cottage wink over their garden wall, as the traveller comes up the slope, between tall hedgerows; and very likely he will find all so still, that, but for wild birds that crowd the air with music, he could hear his footsteps ring on the hard road, as clearly as if he were walking on the flags of a gentleman's greenhouse.  In summer time, when its buildings are glittering in their annual suit of new whitewash, and when all the country round looks green and glad, it is a pleasant spot to set eyes upon, this quiet little hamlet overlooking the sea.  At that time of year it smells of roses, and of "cribs where oxen lie;" and the place is so steeped in murmurs of the ocean, that its natural dreaminess seems deepened thereby.  I cannot find that any great barons of the old time, or that any world-shaking people have lived there; or that any great events which startle a nation have happened on that ground; but the tranquil charm that fills the air repays for the absence of historic fame.

    There is seldom much stir in Norbreck, except what the elements make.  The inhabitants would think the place busy with a dozen people upon its grass-grown road at once, whatever the season might be.  It is true that on fine days in summer I have now and then seen a little life just at the entrance of the hamlet.  There, stands a pretty cottage, of one storey, consisting of six cosy rooms, that run lengthwise; its white walls adorned with rose trees and fruit trees, and its windows bordered with green trellis work.  Two trim grass-plats with narrow beds of flowers, and neat walks mosaically paved with blue and white pebbles from the sea, fill up the front garden, which a low white wall and a little green gate encloses from the road.  In front of this cottage I have sometimes seen a troop of rosy children playing about a pale girl, who was hopelessly infirm, and, perhaps on that account, the darling of the household.  I have seen her rocking in the sun, and with patient melancholy, watching the gambols of these merry children, whilst they strove to please her with all kinds of artless attentions.  Poor Lucy!  Sometimes, after swaying to and fro thoughtfully in her chair, she would stop and ask questions that sent her father out of the room to wipe his eyes.  "Papa, are people lame in heaven?"  "Papa, are angels poorly sometimes, like we are here?" *  *  *  It is one of those beautiful compensations that mingle with the worst mishaps of life that such a calamity has often the sweet effect of keeping kind hearts continually kind.  The poor Lancashire widow, when asked why she seemed to fret more for the loss of her helpless lad than for any of her other children, said she couldn't tell, except it was "becose hoo'd had to nurse th' poor thing moor nor o' tother put together."  Surely "there is a soul of good in all things evil."  About this pretty cottage, where little Lucy lives, is the busiest part of the hamlet in summer time.  There may chance to be two or three visitors sauntering in the sunshine; or, perhaps, old Thomas Smith, better known as "Owd England," the sea-beaten patriarch of Norbreck, may paddle across the road to look after his cattle, or, staff in hand, he may be going down to "low water" a-shrimping, with his thin hair playing in the breeze.  Perhaps Lizzy, the milkmaid, may run from the house to the shippon, with her skirt tucked up, and the neb of an old bonnet pulled down to shade her eyes; or Tom, the cow lad, may be leaning against a sunny wall, whistling, and mending his whip, and wondering how long it wants to dinner-time.  There may be a fine cat dozing on the garden wall, or gliding stealthily towards the outhouses, with dainty step, noiseless as a little cloud, and considering to herself whether this would be a likely time to surprise the mouse which slipped her in a certain corner of the barn yester-evening.  These are the common features of life there.  For the rest, the sounds heard are mostly the cackle of poultry, the clatter of milk cans, the occasional bark of a dog, the distant lowing of kine, a snatch of country song floating from the fields, the wild birds' "tipsy routs of lyric joy," and that all-embracing murmur of the surge which fills one's ears wherever we go.  In Norbreck everything smacks of the sea.  On a grassy border of the road, about the middle of the hamlet, there is generally a pile of wreck waiting the periodical sale which takes place all along the coast.  I have sometimes looked at this pile, and thought that perhaps to this or that spar some seaman might have clung with desperate energy among the hungry waters, until he sank overpowered into his uncrowded grave.  The walls of gardens and farm-yards are mostly built of cobles gathered from the beach, sometimes fantastically laid in patterns of different hues.  The garden beds are edged with shells, and the walks laid with blue and white pebbles.  Here and there are rockeries of curiously-shaped stones from the shore.  Every house has its little store of marine rarities, which meet the eye on cornices and shelves wherever we turn.  Now and then we meet with a dead sea-mew on the road;—and noisy flocks of gulls make fitful excursions landward, particularly in ploughing time, when they crowd after the plough to pick slugs and worms out of the new furrows.

    With a single exception, all the half-dozen dwellings in Norbreck are on one side of the road with their backs to the north.  On the other side there are gardens, and a few whitewashed outhouses, with weather-beaten walls.  The main body of the hamlet consists of a great irregular range of buildings, formerly the residence of a wealthy family.  This pile is now divided into several dwellings, in some of which are snug retreats for such as prefer the seclusion of this sea-nest to the bustle of a great watering-place.  A little enclosed lawn, belonging to the endmost of the group, and then a broad field, divides this main cluster from the only other habitation.  The latter seems to stand off a little, as if it had more pretensions to gentility than the rest.  It is a picturesque house, of different heights, built at different times.  At the landward end, a spacious yard, with great doors close to the road, contains the outbuildings, which have an old-fashioned weather-vane on the top of them.  The lowmost part of the dwelling is a combination of neat cottages of one storey; the larger and newer part is a substantial brick edifice of two storeys, with attics. This portion has great bow windows, which sweep the sea-view finely, from the coast of Wales, round by the Isle of Man, to the mountains of Cumberland.  In summer time, the white walls of the cottage part are covered with roses and creeping plants, and there is an air of order and tasteful rusticity about the whole, even to the neat coble pavement which borders the wayside.  On the top of the porch a stately peacock sometimes struts, like a spangled showman in front of a booth, whilst his mate paces to and fro, cackling on the field wall immediately opposite.  There are probably a few poultry pecking about the front; and, if it happens to be a sunny day, a fine old English bearhound, of the Lyme breed, called "Lion," and not much unlike his namesake in the main, may be seen stretched in a sphynx-like posture on the middle of the road, as if the whole Fylde belonged to him by right of entail; and slowly moving his head with majestic gaze, as if turning over in his mind whether or not it would be polite to take a piece out of the passing traveller for presuming to walk that way.  Perhaps in the southward fields a few kine are grazing and whisking their tails in the sunshine, or galloping from gap to gap impelled by the gad-fly's spur; and it may happen that some wanderer from Blackpool can be seen on the cliffs, with his garments flapping in the breeze.  Except these, and the rolling surge below, all is still at this end of the hamlet, unless the jovial face of the owner appear above the wall that encloses his outbuildings, wishing the passer-by "the fortune of the day."  Norbreck, as a whole, is no way painfully genteel in appearance, but it is sweet and serene, and its cluster of houses seems to know how to be comfortable, without caring much for display.  Dirt and destitution are unknown there; in fact, I was told that this applies generally to all the scattered population of that quiet Fylde country.  Though there are many people there whose means of existence are almost as simple as those of the wild bird and the field mouse, yet squalor and starvation are strangers amongst them.  If any mischance happen to these Fylde folk, everybody knows everybody else, and, somehow, they stick to one another like Paddy's shrimps,—if you take up one you take up twenty.  The road, which comes up thither from many a mile of playful meandering through the green country, as soon as it quits the last house, immediately dives through the cliffs, with a sudden impulse, as if it had been reading "Robinson Crusoe," and had been drawn all that long way solely by its love for the ocean.  The sea-beach at this spot is a fine sight at any time, but in a clear sunset the scene is too grand to be touched by any imperfect words.  Somebody has very well called this part of the coast, "the region of glorious sunsets."  When the waters retire, they leave a noble solitude, where a man may wander a mile or two north or south, upon a floor of sand finer than any marble, "and yet no footing seen," except his own; nor any sounds heard mingling with the mysterious murmurs of the sea, but the cry of the wheeling gull, the piping of a flock of silver-winged tern, or the scream of the wild sea-mew.  Even in summer there are but few stragglers to disturb those endless forms of beauty which the moody waves, at every ebb, leave printed all over that grand expanse, in patterns ever new.

    Such is little Norbreck as I have seen it in the glory of the year.  In winter, when the year's whitewash upon its houses is getting a little weather-worn, it looks rather moulty and ragged to the eye; and it is more lonely and wild, simply because nature itself is so then; and Norbreck and nature are not very distant relations.


The wave shall flow o'er this lilye lea,
    And Penny Stone fearful' flee:
The Red Bank scar scud away dismay's,
    When Englond's in jeopardise.


IT was a bonny day in March 1860 when I reached Norbreck, just before those tides came on which had been foretold as higher than any for a century previous.  This announcement brought thousands of people from the interior into Blackpool and other places on that coast.  Many came expecting the streets to be invaded by the tide, and a great part of the level Fylde laid under water, with boats plying above the deluged fields, to rescue its inhabitants from the towers of churches and the tops of farm-houses.  Knowing as little of these things as inland people generally do, I had something of the same expectation; but when I came to the coast, and found people going quietly about their usual business, I thought that, somehow, I must be wrong.  It is true that one or two farmers had raised their stacks several feet, and another had sent his "deeds" to Preston, that they might be high and dry till the waters left his land again, and that certain old ladies who had been reading the newspapers, were a little troubled thereby; but, in the main, these seaside folk didn't seem afraid of the tide.

    During the two days when the sea was to reach its height, Blackpool was as gay, and the weather almost as fine, as if it had been the month of June, instead of "March—mony weathers," as Fylde folk call it.  The promenade was lively with curious inlanders, who had left their "looms" at this unusual season, to see the wonders of the great deep.  But, when it came to pass that, because there was no wind to help in the water, the tide rose but little higher than common, many people murmured thereat, and the town emptied as quickly as it had filled.  Not finding a deluge, they went landward again, with a painful impression that the whole thing was a hoax.  The sky was blue, the wind was still, and the sun was shining clearly; but this was not what they had come forth to see.  Though some were glad of any excuse for wandering again by the shore of the many-sounding ocean, and bathing soul and body in its renovating charms, the majority were sorely disappointed.  Among these, I met one old gentleman, close on seventy, who declared, in a burst of impassioned vernacular, that he wouldn't come to Blackpool again "for th' next fifty year, sink or swim."  He said that he "wur gradely say-sick neaw, iv he never wur afore.  Their great tide were nowt i' th' world but an arran' sell, getten up by lodgin'-heawse keepers, an' railway chaps, an' newspapper folk, and sich like waistril devils, a-purpose to bring country folk to th' wayter-side, an' pike brass eawt o'their pockets.  It were a lond tide at Blackpool folk were after;—an' they wanted to get it up i' winter as weel as summer.  He could see through it weel enough.  But they'd done their do wi' him.  He'd to mich white in his e'en to be humbugged twice i' th' same gate, or else he'd worn his yed a great while to vast little end.  But he'd come no moor a-seein' their tides, nor nowt else,—naw, not if th' whole hole were borne't away, folk and o'—bigod!  He didn't blame th' say so mich,—not he.  Th' say would behave itsel' reet enough, if a rook o' thievin' devils would let it alone, an' not go an' belie it shamefully, just for th' sheer lucre o' ill-gotten gain, an' nowt else.  *  *  *  He coom fro Bowton, an' he're beawn back to Bowton by th' next train; an' iv onybody ever seed him i' Blackpool again, they met tell him on't at th' time, an' he'd ston a bottle o' wine for 'em, as who they were.  They had a little saup o' wayter aside o' whoam, that onser't for their bit so' jobs reet enough.  It're nob-but a mak ov a bruck; but he'd be content wi' it for th' futurtide or no tide.  They met tak' their say, and sup it, for him, trashy devils!  Bowton folk had brass enough to buy saut an' wayter, an' make a say o' their own, beawt bein' behowden to a rook o' mussel-catchers."  Of course, this was an extreme case, but there were many grumblers on the same ground, and some amusement arising of their disappointment.

    Down at Norbreck, about four miles north of Blackpool, though there was a little talk, here and there about the curious throng at the neighbouring watering-place, all else was still, as usual.  "Owd England," the quaint farmer and fisherman of the hamlet, knew these things well.  He had lived nearly seventy-four years on that part of the coast, and he still loved the great waters with the fervour of a sea-smitten lad.  From childhood he had been acquainted with the moods and tenses of the ocean; and it was a rare day that didn't see him hobble to "low water" for some purpose or other.  He explained to me that a tide of much lower register in the tables, if brought in by a strong wind, would be higher in fact than this one with an opposite wind; and he laughed at the fears of such as didn't know much about the matter.  "Thoose as are flayed," said he, "hed better go to bed i' boats, an' then they'll ston a chance o' wakkenin' aboon watter i' th' mornin'.  Th' idea ov a whol tawny o' folk comin' to't seea for this.  Pshaw!  I've no patience wi' 'em!  *  *  *  Tide!  There'll be no tide warth speykin' on,—silly divuls,—what I knaw.  I've sin a fifteen faut tide come far heigher nor this twenty-one foot eleven can come wi' th' wind again it,—sewer, aw hev.  So fittin it should, too.  *  *  * But some folk knawn nowt o' th' natur o' things."  Lame Billy Singleton, a weather-worn fisherman, better known by the name of "Peg Leg," sat knitting under the window, with his dim eyes bent over a broken net.  "Owd England" turned to him and said, "It wur a fifteen fuut tide, Billy, at did o' that damage at Cleveless, where th' bevel-men are at wark."  Old "Peg Leg" lifted his head, and replied, "Sewer, it wor, Thomas; an', by the hectum, that wor a tide.  If we'd hed a strang sou'-west wind, this wad ha' played rickin' too.  I've heeard as there wor once a place, ca'd Singleton Thorpe, between Cleveless and Rossal, weshed away by a heigh tide, abaat three hundred year sin'.  By the hectum, if that hed happen't i' these days, Thomas, here wed ha' bin some cheeop trips an' things stirrin' ower it."  He then went on mending his net.

    Old bed-ridden Alice, who had spent most of the daylight of seven years stretched upon a couch under the window, said, "But it never could touch us at Norbreck,—nowt o't sooart.  It's nearly th' highest point i't country; isn't it uncle?"  "Satiny," said "Owd England;"  "but," continued he, "iv ye want to see summat warth rememberin', ye mun go to low water.  It'll be a rare seet.  Th' seea'll ebb far nor ever wor knawn i'th' memory o' men; an' here'll be skeers an' rocks eawt as hesn't bin sin ov a hundred year.  Iv ye'd like to set fuut o' greawnd at nobody livin' mun walk on again, go daan with us at five o'clock o' Friday afternoon."  I felt that this would indeed be an interesting sight, and I agreed to go with the old fisherman to low water.

    It was a cloudless, summer-like evening, when our little company of four set out from Norbreck.  As we went down between the cliffs, the track of the declining sun's beams upon the sea was too glorious for eyes to endure, and every little pool and rill upon the sands gleamed like liquid gold.  A general hush pervaded the scene, and we could hear nothing but our own voices, and a subdued murmurs of the distant waves, which made the prevailing silence more evident to the senses.  "Owd England" led the way, with his favourite staff in hand, and a basket on his arm for the collection of a kind of salt-water snail, called "whilks," which, he said, were "th' finest heytin' ov ony sort o' fish i' th' world for folk i' consumptions."  "Ye happen wodn't think it," said he, "bod I wor i' danger o' consumption when I were a yang mon."  As we went on, now over a firm, swelling sand-bank; now stepping from stone to stone through a ragged "skewer," and slipping into pools and channels left by the tide, or wading the water in reckless glee—the fine old man kept steadily ahead, muttering his wayward fancies as he made towards the silver fringe that played upon the skirts of the sea.  Now and then he stopped to point out the rocks, and tell their names.  "That's th' 'Carlin' an' Cowt,'a common seet enough.  Ye see, it's noan so far eawt.  *  *  * Yon's 'Th' Mussel Rock,' deawn to so'thard.  There's folk mussolin' on it neaw, I believe.  But we'n go that way on.  Tak raand bith sond-bank their.  Yaar noan shod for wadin'; an' this skeer's a varra rough un.  *  *  *  That's 'Penny Stone,' refight afore you, toward th' seea.  Ye'll hey heard o' 'Th' Penny Stone Rock,' mony a time, aw warnd.  There wor once a public-heawse where it stons; and they sowd ale there, at a penny a pot.  Bod then one connot tell whether it wor dear or cheeop till they knaw whot size th' pot wor—an' that I dunnot knaw.  Mr. Thornbier, o' Blackpool, hes written a book abaat this 'Penny Stone;' an' I believe at Mr. Wood, o' Bispham Schoo', hes one.  He'll land it yo in a minute, aw warnd.  Ye mun send little Tom wi' a bit ov a note.  I never see 'Penny Stone' eawt so as to get raand it afore.  *  *  *  Neaw, yon far'est, near low watter, is 'Th' Owd Woman's Heyd.'  I've oft heeard on it, an' sometimes sin a bit o't tip aboon water, bod I never see it dry i' my life afore,—an' I never mun again,—never."  He then paddled on, filling his basket, and muttering to himself about this extraordinary ebb, and about the shortness of human life.  The sun began to "steep his glowing axle in the western wave," and the scene was melting every moment into a new tone of grandeur.  As we neared the water, the skeers became more rugged and wet, and, in a few minutes, we picked up a basketful of "whilks," and a beautiful variety of the sea anemone.  After the sun had dipped, his lingering glory still crowded the western heavens, and seemed to deepen in splendour as it died upon the scene; while the golden ripples of the sea sang daylight down to rest.  I never saw mild evening close over the world with such dreamy magnificence.  We wandered by the water till

                                            "Golden Hesperus
Was mounted high in top of heaven sheen,
And warned his other brethren joyeous
To light their blessed lamps in Jove's eternal house."

The tide was returning, and the air getting cold; so we went homewards, with wandering steps, in the wake of our old fisherman, by way of "Penny Stone Rock."  There is a tradition all over the Fylde, that this rock, now only visible "on the utmost verge of the retired wave," marks the locality of a once famous hostelry.  Doubtless the tradition has some foundation in fact, as the encroachments of the sea upon this coast have been great, and sometimes disastrous, as in the destruction of the village of Singleton Thorpe, about a mile and a half to northward, in 1555.

    In the Rev. W. Thornber's interesting little volume, called "Penny Stone; or a Tradition of the Spanish Armada," he says of the old hostelry associated with this now submerged rock, "it was situated in a vale, protected from the sea by a barrier of sand-hills, at a short distance from a village called Singleton Thorpe, in the foreland of the Fylde, Lancashire.  The site of the homestead was romantic, for it was in the very centre of a Druidical circle, described in a former tradition of the country, one of the huge stones of which reared its mis-shapen block near the porch.  Into this stone a ring had been inserted by the thrifty Jock, its host, to which he was wont to attach the horses of his customers whilst they regaled themselves with a penny pot of his far-famed ale.  Hither the whole country resorted on holidays to spend them in athletic games, and to quaff the beloved beverage; nay, so renowned was the hostel, that merrie days of hie away to Penny Stone' was common even to a proverb.  Here lay the secret enchantment of its popularity.  The old distich tells us that—

"Hops, reformation, bays, and beer,
 Came into England all in a year.

"Ale was a beverage which had been well known in England, but in the reign of Henry VIII. it assumed a new name from the infusion of hops.  Now, Jock's father, a cunning lout, was the first to commence in the Fylde this new, and at that time mysterious system of brewing, which so pleased the palate of his customers, that while others sold their insipid malt liquor at twopence per gallon he vended his ale at a penny per pot.  Hence his hostel became known by the name of the Penny Stone, the resort of revellers from far and near, notwithstanding the character of its owner was branded with the stigma of being a wizard, a dealer in spells and medicaments so powerful and enticing that a draft of his foaming stoop always created a longing and a thirst after more.  Jock, with the hostel, inherited his father's receipt and character; by the former he took care to profit, and the other, as yet, had not been injurious either to his prosperity or his peace.  His popularity as a good-hearted fellow had well nigh obliterated all remembrance of his wizardship, except when it was renewed by an irritated drunkard's threat, or on a stormy night, when some old crone terrified noisy youngsters into silence by telling them that Jock's familiar was abroad on his way to assist at the brewing at the hostel."

    "The spot where Penny Stone stood was a rural retreat, not devoid of beauty, though age and storms had destroyed most of the groves of oak trees which once had flourished there; and though the few that protracted their existence on the margin of a sluggish brook that meandered through the vale were deprived of their former luxuriance by the blighting violence of the western winds.  The neatness of Jock was conspicuous around his homestead.  There was an exterior appearance of comfort, plainly manifesting that its owner was well to do in the world.  The garden in front was laid out after the prim formal fashion of the age, while it was well stored with radishes, skirrets, parsnips, carrots, cabbages, turnips and sallad herb, which were then in use among the poor.  The porch was clothed with creepers and ivy, the thatch of the roof in good repair, and the narrow lights were of different dates, some of them being latticed with rifts of oak, others having horn set in calmes, and a few glazed with glass.  The interior also betokened the presence of a thrifty house-wife.  It consisted of a thorough lobby, a hall precisely like the hull of a ship inverted, being supported on crooks, low, dark, and picturesque, with a parlour beyond it on one side, and the kitchens and offices, etc., on the other.  The windows were apertures, not originally intended for glass; the floors of clay, and the partitions of rudely carved oak.  The furniture shone brightly: there was the massy long table, the carved "armary," the dated court-cupboard, and logs, benches, and three-legged stools in plenty.  The smoky rafters (the hungry traveller might turn his eyes towards them with delight) were laden with dried beef, bacon, and fish; and the great "kist" in the corner was rammed with oatmeal for the consumption of the family."

    Such is the kind of embodiment Mr. Thornber has given to the common tradition of "Penny Stone," which rock we were now approaching on our homeward way.  As we drew near it, we saw five persons come over the shining sands towards the same spot; and we heard merry voices ringing in the evening air.  I first made out my friend Alston, of Bispham, in his strong shooting-dress of light-coloured tweed, and attended by two favourite terriers, "Wasp" and "Snap."  We met at the rock, and I found my friend accompanied by three "brethren of the mystic tie," one of whom was Mr. Thornber—the veritable chronicler of "Penny Stone."  The latter had wandered thus far to avail himself of this rare chance of climbing his pet legendary crag.  His hands were full of botanical specimens from the sea, and, in his fervid way, he discoursed upon them, and upon the geology of the coast, in a manner which, I am sorry to say, was almost lost to my uninitiated mind.  I took the opportunity of inquiring where he found the materials for his tradition.  He answered that there was no doubt of its fundamental truth; "but, as to the details wrought in to the story," said he, pointing to his forehead, with a laugh, "I found them in a cellar, in the rock there." 

    The gloomy mass was surrounded by a little moat of salt water, nearly knee deep, through which we passed; and then, clinging to its Triton locks of seaweed, we climbed the slippery peaks of "Penny Stone."  The stout lad in attendance drew a bottle from his basket; and each in his way celebrated this unexpected meeting in that singular spot, where we should never meet together again.

    I shall never forget the sombre splendour of the scene, nor the striking appearance of the group upon that lonely rock, when the rearward hues of day were yielding their room to "sad succeeding night."  We lingered there awhile; but the air was cold, and the sea began to claim its own again.  Four then returned by the cliffs to Blackpool, and the rest crossed the sands hastily to Norbreck, where, after an hour's chat by the old fisherman's great kitchen fire, I crept to bed, with the sound of the sea in my ears.


A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by the scroll; masters, spread yourselves.


THE "million-fingered" rain was tapping at the kitchen window as I sat by "Owd England's" bright hearthstone one forenoon, hearkening to the wind, that moaned outside like a thing in pain.  I could hear by a subdued thump, that "Lizzy" was churning in the dairy; and I knew by the smell of fresh bread, which came from a spacious out-kitchen, that "Granny" was baking.  "Little Tom," the cow lad, had started early with the cart to Poulton for coals, making knots on his whip lash as he went along, to help his memory, which was crowded with orders to call at one place for meal, at another for mutton, and at others for physic, and snuff, and such like oddments, wanted by the neighbours.  "Owd England" had gone to the seaside, with his staff and his leather strap, to fetch the daily "burn" of firewood, and—to see what he could see; for every tide brought something.  One day he hauled a barrel of Stockholm tar from the water; on another, part of the cabin furniture of an unfortunate steamer; and then a great baulk of pine was thrown ashore; in all of which the old man had a certain interest as "wreck-master."  "Peg-leg," the fisherman, was mending a net; and lame Alice lay, as usual, wrapped up in shadow, on the couch under the window, with her pale face, and a nose "as sharp as a pen," turned to the ceiling; while Tib, with her soft legs folded under, lay basking luxuriously in the fire-shine, dreaming of milk and of mice.  The old clock ticked audibly in the corner, and a pin-drop silence prevailed in the room.  "That's a fine cat," said I.  "Aye," replied old Alice, "isn't it a varra fine cat?  It's mother to that as Missies Alston hes.  It cam fra Lunnon, an' it's worth a deeal o' money, is that cat.  The varra day as yo cam, it weshed it face an' sneeze't twice,—it dud, for sewer.  Mssis Eastwood wor gettin' dinner ready at th' time, an' hoo said, 'We'st hev a stranger fra some quarter this day, mind i' we hevn't;' an' directly after, yo cam walkin' into th' heawse, I tell yo, just as nowt were.  I offens think it's queer; bod I've sin cats as good as ony almanac for tellin' weather, an' sich like."  "Will it scrat," said I, stroking "Tib" as she stretched and yawned in my face.  "Well," replied Alice, "it's like everything else for that; it just depends what ye do at it.  Bod, I can onser for one thing—it'll not scrat as ill as 'Th' Red Cat' at Bispham does.  I hev sin folk a bit mauled after playin' wi' that."  "Aye, an' so hev I, too," said old "Peg-Leg."  "I ca'd theer tother neet, an', by the hectum, heaw they wor gooin' on, to be sewer.  I crope into a corner wi' my gill, there wor such liltin' agate; an', ye knaw, a mon wi' one leg made o' wood and tother full o' rheumatic pains is nowt mich at it.  Beside, I've ten a likin' to quietness,—one does, ye knaw, Alice, as they getten owd.  I geet aside of a mon as wor tellin' abeawt Jem Duck'orth, o' Preston, sellin' his midden.  Ye'll hev heeard o' that, Alice?"  "Nay, I don't know as I hev, Billy; what isn't?  I dud hear at once th' baillies were in his heawse, an' they agreed to go away if he'd find 'em a bondsman.  So Jem towd'em that he hed a respectable owd friend i' th' next room that he thowt would be bund wi' him to ony amount, if they'd let him fotch him.  So they towd him to bring his hond in at once, an' hev it sattle't baat ony bother—for th' baillies wor friends o' Jem's, ye knaw; an' they didn't want to be hard with him.  Well, what does Jem do, bod go an' fotch a great brown bear, as he'd hed mony a year, an' turns it into th' place where th' baillies were, baat muzzle; and says, 'Gentlemen, that theer's him!'  Bod, never ye mind if th' baillies didn't go through that window, moor sharper.  *  *  *  I've heard mony a quare tale o' Jem.  What's this abaat th' midden, Billy?"  "Well, ye knaw, Jem wor a good-tempered sort ov a mon, but full o' strange marlocks.  He wor varra strong, an' a noted feighter;—th' cock o' th' clod in his day, for that.  An' he kept a deeal o' horses that he leet aat for hire.  Well, he'd once gether't a good midden together fra' th' stables, an' farmers began o' comin' abaat th' yard to look at it; so, one on 'em says, 'Jem, what'll to tak for th' midden?'  'Five paand,' says Jem.  "Well, I'll gi' tho five paand,' says th' farmer.  So he ped him, an' said he'd send th' carts in a day or two.  In a bit, another comes an' axes th' price o' th' midden.  Jem stack to th' owd tale, an' said 'five paand, and cheeop too;' an' th' farmer gev him th' brass at once.  'Sowd again,' says Jem, 'an' th' money drawn.'  Well, at th' end ov o', it happen't at both sets o' carts cam for th' midden o' th' same day, an' there were the devil's delight agate i' th' yard between 'em.  At last, they agreed to send for Jem; so he cam wi' a face as innocent as a flea, an' pretended to want to know whatever there were to do.  'Didn't I buy this midden, Jem?' said one.  'Yigh, sure, thae did,' says Jem.  'Well, an' didn't I pay tho for't at th' same time?"  "Sure thae did, owd lad—reet enough,' says Jem, ' whatever's o' this hullabaloo abeawt?'  'Well, but,' says tother, 'Didn't I buy it on tho?'  'Yigh, thae did,' says Jem, 'an' thae ped me for't, too, honourably, like a mon,—an' I'll tak varra good care as nob'dy but yo two hes it.'  That wor awkert, ye knaw; an' I cannot tell heaw they'd end it,—for Jem wor bad to manage.  They were tellin' it at th' 'Red Cat' tother neet, bod I could hardly yer for th' gam at wor afoot.  Lor bless you!  There wor a gentleman fra Fleetwood tryin' to donce i' th' middle o' th' floor: an' owd Jack Backh'us stood i' one corner, wi' his yure ower his face, starin' like wild, an' recitin' abaat th' Battle o' Waterloo.  Three chaps sit uppo th' sofa as hed been ower Wyre o' day, an' they'd etten so mich snig-pie at th' 'Shard,' that it hed made 'em say-sick, so Tom Poole were mixin' 'em stuff to cure it.  Another were seawnd asleep on a cheer, an' little 'Twinkle,' fra Poulton, doncin' abeawt challengin' him to feight.  An' it wor welly as bad eawtside, for there wor a oppen trap coom up wi' a lot o' trippers as hed bin to Cleveless, an' 'Bugle Bob' uppo th' box, playin' 'Rule Brittannia.'  Bod I laft when th' bevel men fra' Rossall began o' comin' in, singin' 'Said Dick unto Tom,' for I felt my yed givin' way under it."

    The song, "Said Dick unto Tom," alluded to by the old man, is a rude fishing ditty, never printed before, and hardly known out of the Fylde, to which it relates.  I wrote it down from the recitation of a friend near Norbreck.  There is not much in the words except a quiet, natural tone, with one or two graphic strokes, which breathe the spirit of the country it belongs to.  The tune is a very quaint one, which I never heard before the time when I obtained the words.  The song was written some time ago, by William Garlick, a very poor man, and a weaver of "pow-davy," a kind of sail cloth.  These are the words:

Said Dick unto Tom, one Friday at noon,
                      Loddle iddle, fol de diddle ido;
Said Dick unto Tom, one Friday at noon,
Aw could like to go a-bobbin' i' th' mornin' varra soon.
                      To my heigho, wi' my bob-rods an' o';
                      Loddle iddle, fol de diddle ido.

Then up i' th' mornin' Dick dud rise,
                      Loddle iddle, etc.;
Then up i' th' mornin' Dick dud rise,
An' to Tom's door like leetnin' flies.
                      To my heigho, wi' my worm-can an' o';
                      Loddle iddle, etc.

So, up Tom jumped an' deawn th' stairs dart,
                      Loddle iddle, etc.;
So, up Tom jumped an' deawn th' stairs dart,
To go a gettin' dew-worms afore they start.
                      Wi' my heigho, an' my worm-can an' o';
                      Loddle iddle, etc.

Then they hunted, an' rooted, an' seeched abaat,
                      Loddle iddle, etc.;
Then they hunted, an' rooted, an' seeched abaat,
Egad, says little Tom, there's noan so mony aat,
                      To my heigho, wi' my worm-can an' o';
                      Loddle iddle, etc.

So, off they set wi' th' bob-rods i' hond,
                      Loddle iddle, etc. ;
So, off they set wi' th' bob-rods i' hond,
Like justices o' pace, or governors o' lond.
                      To my heigho, wi' my snig-bags an' o';
                      Loddle fiddle, etc.

An' when they gat to Kellamoor, that little country place,
                      Loddle iddle, etc.
An' when they gat to Kellamoor, that little country place,
Th' childer were so freeten't 'at they dorsn't show their face.
                      To my heigho, wi' my bob-rods an' o';
                      Loddle iddle, etc.

An' when they gat to Brynin', folk thought there'd bin a mob
                      Loddle iddle, etc.
An' when they gat to Brynin', folk thought there'd bin a mob,
Till little Tom persuaded 'em they were bod baan to bob.
                      To my heigho, wi' their snig-bags an' o'
                      Loddle iddle, etc.

An' when they gat to Warton, they wor afore the tide,
                      Loddle iddle, etc.
An' when they gat to Warton, they wor afore the tide;
They jumped into a boat, an' away they both did ride.
                      To my heigho, wi' their bob-rods an' o'.
                      Loddle iddle, etc.

    Soon after dinner the clouds broke, and it was fine again.  I went to the seaside; and, after pacing to and fro by the waves awhile, I struck out towards Rossall, through the wandering byepaths of a wilderness of sand and tall grass, called "Star-hills," upon the edge of the cliffs.  I had scarcely gone a mile before "rattlin' showers drave on the blast" again, and the sky was all thick gloom.  Dripping wet, I hurried towards the old hotel at Cleveless, and, darting in, got planted in a snug arm-chair by the parlour fire, watching the storm that swept furiously aslant the window, and splashed upon the road in front.  Three other persons were in the room, one a workman from Rossall College, hard by, and the other commercial men on their route to Fleetwood.  It is wonderful how much rough weather enhances the beauty of the inside of a house.  "Better a wee bush than nae bield."  Well, we were just getting into talk when the door opened, and a humorous face looked in.  It was a bright-eyed middle-aged man, shining all over with wet; a blue woollen apron was twisted round his waist, and he had a basket on his arm.  Leaning against one door-cheek, and sticking a knife into the other, he said, "By gobs, didn't I get a fine peltin' out o' that!  *  *  *  Do yees want any oysters, gentlemen?  The shells is small," said he, stepping forward, "but they're chock full o' the finest fish in the world.  Divul a aiqual thim oysters has in the say, for flavour; mind I'm tellin' ye  *  *  *  Taste that!"—"Hollow, Dennis!" said one of the company, "how is it you aren't in Fleetwood?"—"Well, because I'm here, I suppose," said Dennis.  "Bedad, ye can't expect a man to be in two places at once—barrin' he was a burd.  Maybe it's good fortune sent me here to meet wid a few daycent customers.  Sorra one I met an the way, but rain powrin' down in lashins till the oysters in my basket begun to think they were in the say agin."—"Well, Dennis," said the traveller, "I'll have a score if you'll tell us about the Irishman in the cook's shop."  "Ye will?  Then divul recave the toe I stir till ye get both!  *  *  *  Will you take another score, sir, till I tell the tale?  It's little chance ye'll have o' meetin' thim oysters agin—for they're gettin scarce.  Oh, murtherin' fortin'," continued he, putting down the basket, "how that villain torments my poor bones this day!  Many a time I was nigh chuckun it over the hedge, an' sittin down an a shtone to shtarve right out, for its better to die aisy an' idle, than to be slavin' to death for nothun.  *  *  *  Begorra, see, there's a splendid oyster!  That fellow's a mouthful for a king!  *  *  *  If it wasn't for the fun an' the comfort there is in meetin' wud rale gentleman sometimes, I'd lose heart entirely.  Things is quarely divided in this world.  *  *  *  How-an'-ever, since it's no better, thank God it's no worse.  *  *  *  If I could meet wid a customer to buy the stock, an' the basket, an' the knife, at cost price,—I'd give him the goodwill an' the run o' the country for a pint o' porter, an' then I'd hurry to the nearest barracks, an' change clothes.  *  *  *  But,—now for the tale," said he, with his knife and his tongue in motion together.  "It was a man from Nenagh, in Tipperary—a kind o' ganger an the railway; an' he wint to a cook-shop in a teawn not far from this, an', ses he to the missis o' the heawse, 'A basin o' pay-soop, ma'am, plaze,'—for, mind ye, an Irishman's natterally polite till he's vext, an' thin he's as fiery as Julius Sayzur.  Well, whin she brought the soop, Paddy tuk a taste mighty sly; an' turnin' reawnd, ses he just for spooart, mind—ses he, 'Bedad, ma'am, your soop tastes mighty strong o' the water.'  Well, av coorse, the woman was vext all out, an' she up an' tould him he didn't understand good aitin' an' drinkin', an' he might lave the soop for thim that had bin better eddicated.  But bowld Paddy wint on widout losin' a stroke o' the spoon; an'—purtindin' not to hear her—ses he, 'I'll go bail I'll make as good broth as thim wud a penny candle an' a trifle o' pepper.'  Well, by gobs, this riz the poor woman's dander to the full hoight, an' she made right at him wid her fist, an' swore by this an' by that, if he didn't lave the heawse she'd knock him into the boiler.  But Paddy was nigh finishin' his soop, an' he made up his mind to take the last word; an' ses he, 'Bi the powers! that'll be the best bit o' mate ever went into your pan, ma'am;' an' wi' that, he burst into a laugh, an' the philanderin' rogue up an 'towld her how he said it all for divarshun; an' divul a better soop he tasted in his life.  Well, she changed her tune, like a child.  By dad, it was like playin' a piano or a flute, or somethin'.  An', mind ye, there's nothin' like an Irishman for gettin' the right music out ov a woman—all the world over.  So tale's ended, an' I'd like to see the bottom o' my basket.  Ye may as well brake me, gintlemen.  There's not more nor five score.  Take the lot, an' let me go home; for I've a long step to the fore, an' I'm wet to the bone, an' the roads is bad after dark."


Still lingering in the quiet paths.


AFTER a good deal of pleasantry, Dennis got rid of his oysters in the hotel at Cleveless; and, as the storm was still raging without, he called for a glass, just, as he said, "to keep the damp away from the spark in his heart; more by token that he had no other fire to dry his clothes at.  But, begorra, for the matter o' that," said he, "they're not worth a grate-full o' coals.  Look at my trowsers.  They're on the varge o' superannuation; an' they'll require a substitute before long, or else, I'm thinking, they'll not combine daycently.  How-an'-ever, gentlemen," continued he, "here's hopin' the fruition ov your purses may never fail ye, nor health to consign their contents to utility.  An' neaw," said he, lighting his pipe, and putting the empty basket on his head like a cowl, "I must go, iv the rain comes in pailfuls, for I'm not over well; and if I could get home wud wishin' I'd be in bed by the time ye'd say 'trap-sticks!'  But dramin' and schamin's neither ridin' nor flyin', so I'll be trampin', for there's no more use in wishin' than there would be in a doctor feelin' a man's pulse through a hole in a wall wid the end ov a kitchen poker.  An' neaw, I'll be proud iv any gintl man would oblige me by comin' a couple o' mile an the road; to see the way I'll spin over the greawnd. *  *  *  Ye'd rather not?  Well, fun an' fine weather's not always together, so good bye, an' long life to ye! an' here's wishin' that your appetites an' your mate may be close companions an' good friends; an' that yees may never die in child-bed!" and so, away went Dennis through the rain towards Fleetwood.

    Waiting for the shower to abate, I sat a while; and, as one of the company had been to a funeral, it led to a conversation about benefit societies; in relation to which, one person said he objected to funeral benefits being allowed to people who had died by their own hand; because it would encourage others to commit suicide also.  A little stiff fellow in the corner told an anecdote about a country man who, on returning from the burial of one of his acquaintances, said he shouldn't like to go to another funeral, "becose it wur sich a malancholy spree; an' they sang sick' soory tunes 'at he couldn't help cryin'."  From this we glided to the subject of consecrated ground; and a question arose respecting a man who had been accidentally buried partly in consecrated and partly in unconsecrated ground,—as to what result would ensue from that mistake to the poor corpse in the end of all.  The doubt was as to whose influence the unconsecrated half came under.  The dispute ran high, without anybody making the subject clearer, so I came away before the shower was over.

    Next day I went to Blackpool; and, while awaiting at the station the arrival of a friend of mine, I recognized the face of an old woman whom I had known in better days.  Tall and thin, with a head as white as a moss-crop, she was still active, and remarkably clean and neat in appearance.  Her countenance, though naturally melancholy, had a spice of the shrew in it.  "Eh," said she, "I'm glad to see you.  It's not oft I have a chance of meeting an old face now, for I'm seldom out."  She then told me she had been two years and a half housekeeper to a decrepit old gentleman and his two maiden sisters, in a neighbouring town.  "But," said she, "I'm going to leave.  You see I've got into years; and, though I'm active, thank God, yet I'm often ill; and people don't like to be troubled with servants that are ill, you know.  So, I'm forced to work on, ill or well; for I'm but a lone woman, with no friends to help me, but my son, and he's been a long time in Canada, and I haven't heard from him this three years.  I look out for th' postman day by day,—but nothing comes.  Sometimes I think he's dead.  But the Lord knows.  It's like to trouble one, you're sure.  It's hard work, with one thing and another, very; for I have to 'scrat before I can peck,' as th' sayings, and shall to th' end o' my day now.  But, if you can hear of anything likely, I wish you would let me know,—for leave yonder I will.  I wouldn't stop if they'd hang my hair wi' diamonds,— I wouldn't indeed.  I've said it, an' signed it—so there's an end.  But what, they'll never ask me to stop, I doubt.  It's very hard.  You see I have to keep my son's little boy in a neighbour's house,—this is him,—an' that eats up nearly all my bit o' wage,— and where's my clothing to come from?  But, don't yo see, our people are greedy to a degree.  Lord bless you!  They'd skin three devils for one hide,—they would for sure. See yo; one day—(here she whispered something which I didn't exactly catch)—they did indeed!  As Missis Dixon said, when I met her i' Friargate, on Monday forenoon, 'It was a nasty, dirty trick!'  But I've had my fill, an' I shall sing 'Oh, be joyful' when my time's up.  I shall be glad to get to my own country again,—yes, if I have to beg my bread.  See; they're actually afraid of me going out o' th' house for, fear I should talk about 'em to th' neighbours.  Bless you, they judge everybody by theirselves.  But I'd scorn the action!  It is just as Missis Smith said, 'They're frightened o' the world being done before they've done wi' th' world,'—they are for sure.  Such gripin' grindin' ways!  They'll never prosper,—never."  "And is this your grandson?" said I.  "Yes, an' he's a wonderful child for his age.  He's such a memory!  His father was just same.  I often think he'd make a rare 'tourney, he remembers things so, and he's such, queer sayings.  I've taught him many a piece off by heart.  Come, George, say that little piece for this gentleman.  Take your fingers out of your mouth.  Come now." The lad looked a minute, and then rattled out:

"Said Aaron to Moses, aw'll swap tho' noses;"

"Oh, for shame," said she, "not that."  But he went on,

"Said Moses to Aaron, thine's sich a quare un."

"For shame!" said she.  "You see they teach him all sorts o' nonsense; and he remembers everything.  Come, be quick; 'Twinkle, twinkle.'"  But here the train was ready; and, in five minutes more, she was on her way to Preston; and, not finding my friend, I walked back by the cliffs.

    In my rambles about Norbreck I met with many racy characters standing in relief among their neighbours, and marked with local peculiarities as distinctly as anything that grows from the soil.  In a crowded city they might be unnoticed; but, amid "the hamlet's hawthorn wild," where existence seems to glide as noiselessly as a cloud upon a summer sky, save where friendly gossips meet like a choir of crickets by some country fire, they are threads of vivid interest woven into the quiet tale of life; and, among their own folk they are prized something like those old books which people hand from generation to generation,—because they bear the quaint inscriptions of their forefathers.  In my wanderings I had also the benefit of a genial and intelligent companion; and whether we were under his own roof, among books and flowers, and fireside talk about the world in the distance, or roving the green lanes and coppice-trods, chatting with stray villagers by the way, or airing ourselves in the wind, "on the beached margent of the sea," I found great pleasure and assistance in his society.  My friend lives about a mile down the winding road from Norbreck, in a substantial hall, built about a hundred years ago, and pleasantly dropt at the foot of a great natural embankment, which divides the low-lying plain from the sea.  The, house stands among slips of orderly garden and plantation, with poultry yards and out-houses at the north-east end.  The front of the house is flanked by two little groves of trees, and a tasteful well-tended flower-garden slopes softly down to the iron railings which divide the garden from a great level field, across which a broad, green walk leads to the gates at the highway side.  The road is just far enough removed from the house to conceal the features of any passer by, and yet neat enough for any familiar gait and figure to be discernible from the windows.  From this road the sound of the postman's horn comes cheerily every forenoon, except on Sundays; and in summer, vehicles laden with visitors from Blackpool roll lazily along through the sunshine, on their way to Cleveless, Rossall, or Fleetwood.  The green country, sparely sprinkled with white farmhouses and cottages, spreads out in front, far and wide, to where the fells of Lancashire bound the eastward view.  The scene is as quiet as a country church just before service begins, except where the sails of a windmill are whirling in the wind, or the fleecy steam-cloud of a distant train gushes across the landscape, like a flying fountain of snow.  On a knoll behind the house there is a little rich orchard, trimly hemmed in by thick thorn hedges.  I have seen it when its shadeless walks were open to the sky, and all its holiday glory was brooding patiently down in the cold ground; but I remember how oft in summer, when the boughs were bending with fruit, and the leaves were so thick overhead that the sunshine could only find its way through chinks of the green ceiling, we have pushed the branches aside, and walked and talked among its bowery shades; or sitting on benches at the edge of the fish-pond, have read and watched our floats, and hearkened to the birds, until we have risen, as if drawn by some fascination in the air, and gone unconsciously towards the sea again.  There we have spent many a glorious hour; and there, at certain times of the day we should meet with "Quick," or "Mitch," or some other coast-guardsman belonging to the gunboat's crew at Fleetwood, pacing to and fro, on the look-out for Frenchmen, smugglers, and wreck.  As we returned from the shore one afternoon, an old man was walking on the road before us, carrying what looked in the distance like two milk pails.  These he set down now and then, and looked quietly around.  My friend told me that this part of the Fylde was famous for singing birds, especially larks.  He said that bird-catchers came from all parts of Lancashire, particularly Manchester, to ply their craft there; and he would venture a guess that the quaint figure before us was a Manchester bird-catcher, though it was rather early in the season.  When we overtook the old man, who had set down his covered cages in a bye-lane, we found that he was a bird-catcher, and from Manchester too.  I learnt, also, that it was not uncommon for a clever catcher to make a pound a day by his "calling."

    Our rambles sometimes took us by the farmstead of John Whiteside, a man well known and respected in that part.  A romantic thing lately befel this old Fylde farmer.  It seems that about sixteen years before the time of my last visit to Norbreck, he found a man lying in the "Star-hills," or sandy cliffs, close to the shore, nearly naked, and almost dead with hunger and cold.  Now, he had compassion on him, and took him to his own house, and had him nursed there, until he recovered strength.  The man was a painter, and he remained there, painting the carts and other things, and working in the hay.  The farmer took a liking to him, and paid him well for his labour, and thus enabled him to clothe himself, and send money to his family.  At the end of six weeks, he said that he must depart; but, if ever he was able to reward the farmer for his kindness, he would do so.  He then went his way, and in a little while was forgotten.  Now, when sixteen years had passed away, without any tidings of the man, a stranger came up to the farmer's door, saying that the once destitute painter was now dead.  He then produced a duly-attested copy of his will, in which be had bequeathed to the farmer land and other property, to the value of sixteen hundred pounds, in return for the kindness shown to him sixteen years before.

    The primitive little parish church of Bispham was always an interesting object to me.  It stands on a knoll, about a quarter of a mile over the fields from Norbreck; and its foundation is of great antiquity.  It appears that the Roman Catholic form of worship was celebrated in this church until the ascension of Elizabeth to the throne.  Speaking of the time of the Reformation, the following passage occurs in Mr. Thornber's "Penny Stone; or, a Tradition of the Spanish Armada;"—"Lancashire at this period was particularly torn by adverse parties; for while in other parts of the kingdom the new religion progressed rapidly, there it was retrograde; Romanists multiplied, the mass was commonly performed, priests were harboured, many churches shut up, and the cures unsupplied, except by the rejected.  In the Foreland of the Fylde, local circumstances had increased the dissatisfaction, which had been chiefly excited by the dissemination of the infamous publications of Dr. Allen, a native of Rossall—the preaching of Campian and others, while in hiding at the Heskets' of the Maynes, Poulton, and at the Rigbys' of Layton Hall—by the unjust ejection of Widow Allen and her daughter from Rossall Grange, before the expiration of their lease—its plunder and sacking—the constant repetition of acts of oppression—and finally, by the deprivation of Jeromine Allen, the respected cure of Bispham church, who from the smallness of his cure, and the insignificance of its yearly value was probably screened from the notice of the reformers."  The last time this Jeromine Allen officiated in Bisphain church was On the 25th of March 1559.  After the celebration of the mass, the old priest preached from the text "Obey the powers that be, for they are ordained of God;" and then, taking a solemn farewell of his congregation, he departed, to spend the remainder of his days at Lambspring in Germany.  The grave-yard of Bispham church contains some interesting memorials, but none more solemnly eloquent than a certain row of mounds covering the remains of the unknown drowned washed upon that coast from time to time.  Several of these, which drifted ashore after the burning of the Ocean Monarch off the coast of Wales, in 1848 lie mouldering together in this quiet country churchyard, all unknown, save a lady from Bury, in Lancashire, to whose memory a tombstone is erected here.

    As the great tides declined, the weather began to be troubled with wintry fits, but when the day of my return came it brought summer again.  After dinner at Bispham House, I went up with my friend to bid farewell to "Owd England" at Norbreck; and it was like parting with some quaint volume of forgotten lore.  Nursed here in the lap of nature, the people and customs of the country were part of himself; and his native landscape, with all the shifting elements in the scene, was a kind of barometer, the slightest changes of which were intelligible to him.  At the eastern edge of Norbreck, a low wall of Coble stones encloses his garden.  Here, where I have sometimes made a little havoc among his "Bergamots," "Old Keswicks," and "Scotch Bridges," we walked about, whilst I took a parting look at the landscape.  Immediately behind us the sea was singing its old song; and below lay the little rural parish, "where," as I heard the rector say in one of his sermons, "a man cannot walk into the open air but all his neighbours can see him."  Beyond, the tranquil Fylde stretches out its drowsy green, now oblivious of all remembrance of piratical ravage, which so soften swept over it in ancient times.  Yonder the shipping of Fleetwood is clearly in sight to the north.  And there, a sunbeam, stealing between the fleecy clouds, glides across the land from field to field, with a kind of plaintive grace, as if looking for a lost garden.  Over meadow, over wood and little town it goes, dying away upon yon rolling hills in the east.  The first of these hills is Longridge, and behind it, weird old Pendle, standing in a world of its own, is dimly visible.  Northward, the hills roll on in bold relief, Parlick, and Bleasdale, and the fells between Morecambe and "time-honoured Lancaster."  Still northward, to where yon proud brotherhood of snow-crowned giants, the mountains of Cumberland and Westmorland, look so glorious in the sunlight; awaking enchanting dreams of that land of romance, the "Lake District," hallowed by so many rich associations of genius.  They toss their mighty heads on westward, till solemn old "Black Coomb" dips into the Irish Sea.  Altogether a fine setting for the peaceful scene below.

    The afternoon was waning, so, taking leave of the old fisherman and his household, I turned from Norbreck like a man who rises from his dinner before he is half satisfied.  Accompanied by my friend, I walked four miles, on highways and bye-ways, to meet the train at Poulton.  The road was pleasant, and the day was fine; and I reached Manchester before midnight, feeling better in soul and body for my sojourn at this little hamlet down by the western sea.

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