Lancashire Sketches Vol. 1 (I.)

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                                     A merrier man,
Within the limits of becoming mirth,
I never spent an hour's talk withal.


THERE is a quiet tract of country on the eastern border of Lancashire, lying in a corner, formed by the junction of the rivers Mersey and Irwell, and having but little intercourse with those great towns of the county which boil with the industry of these days, to the north and eastward.  It is the green selvedge of our toilful district, in that direction; and the winding waters of the Mersey lace its meadows, lengthwise, until that river joins the more soiled and sullen Irwell, on the northern boundary of the parish.  In all the landscape there are no hills to break the view; and, considering the extent of land, trees are but sparely scattered over it.  It is singular, also, that the oak will not flourish in this particular spot; although there are fine specimens of other trees common to the English soil.  But the country is fertile, and prettily undulated in some places; and it is a pleasant scene in hay-time, "when leaves are large and long," and birds are singing with full-throated gladness in the green shade, whilst the dewy swathe is falling to the mower's stroke, in the sunlight of a June morning.  Looking eastward, across the Mersey, the park-like plains and rustling woods of Cheshire stretch away in unbroken beauty, as far as the eye can see.  Indeed, the whole of this secluded tract, upon the Lancashire side of the river, may be naturally reckoned part of that fruitful Cheshire district which has, not inappropriately, been called the "market-garden of Manchester."  The parish of Flixton occupies nearly the whole of this border nook of Lancashire; and the scattered hamlet of Urmston, in the same parish, lays claim to the honour of being the birthplace of our first native humourist, the celebrated John Collier, better known by his self-chosen name of "Tim Bobbin,"—

        A lad whose fame did resound
Through every village and town around,
For fun, for frolic, and for whim.

    And, certainly, the hamlet of Urmston is a spot quite in keeping with all we know of the general character, and all we can imagine of the early training of a man who owed so much to nature, and who described the manners of the country-folk of his day with such living truth, enriched with the quaint tinge of a humorous genius, which was his, and his only.  Fortune, and his own liking, seem to have made him a constant dweller in the country.  He was, by fits, fond of social company, and business led him into towns occasionally; but, whenever he visited towns, he seems to have always turned again towards the chimney-corner of his country-home with an undying love, which fairly glows in every allusion he makes to his dwelling-place in the village of Milnrow, and even to the honest uncouth hinds, who were his neighbours there, whose portraits he has drawn for us, so quaintly, in his celebrated story of "Tummus and Mary."  He was "a fellow of infinite jest; of most excellent fancy."

    Here, then, in green Urmston, John Collier is said to have been born; and the almost unrecorded days of his childhood were passed here.  Even now, the scattered inhabitants are mostly employed in agriculture, and their language and customs savour more of three centuries ago than those which we are used to in manufacturing towns.  From the cottage homes, and old-established farmhouses, which are dropped over the landscape, like birds' nests, "each in its nook of leaves," generation after generation has come forth to wander through the same grass-grown byways and brambly old lanes; to weave the same checkered web of simple joys and sorrows, and cares and toils; and to lie down at last in the same old churchyard, where the "rude forefathers of the hamlet" are sleeping together so quietly.  It is a country well worth visiting by any lover of nature, for its own sake.  Its natural features, however, are those common to English rural scenery in districts where there are no great elevations, nor anything like thick woodlands; and though such scenery is always pleasing to my mind, it was not on account of its natural charms; nor to see its ancient halls, with the interesting associations of past generations playing about them; nor the ivied porches of its picturesque farmhouses; nor to peep through the flower-shaded lattices of its cottage nests; nor even to scrape acquaintance with the old-fashioned people who live in them, that I first wandered out to Flixton;  though there is more than one quaint soul down there that I would gladly spend an hour with, particularly "Owd Rondle," the market-gardener, who used to tell me curious country tales.  He had a dog, which "wur never quiet but when it wur feightin."  He was a man of cheerful temper and clear judgment, mingled with a genial undercurrent of humour, which thawed cold manners in an instant.  The last time I saw him, a friend of his was complaining of the gloom of the times, and saying that he thought England's sun had set.  "Set!" said Rondle.  "Not it!  But if it wur set, we'd get a devilish good moon up!  Dunnot be so ready to mout yor fithers afore th' time.  Owd Englan's yung yet, for oather peace or war, though quietness is th' best, an' th' chepest: if they'n let us be quiet on a daicent fuuting.  So, keep yor heart up; for th' shell shall be brokken; an' th' chicken shall come forth; an' it shall be a cock-chicken; an' a feighter, with a single kom!"  But old Rondal was not always in this humour.  He could doff his cap and bells at will; and liked what he called "sarviceable talk," when any serious matter was afoot.  Yet, it was not to see curious "Owd Rondle" that I first went down to Flixton.  The district is so far out of the common "trod," as Lancashire people say, that I doubt whether I should ever have rambled far in that direction if it had not been for the oft-repeated assertion that Urmston, in Flixton, was the birthplace of John Collier.  And it was a desire to see the reputed place of his nativity, and to verify the fact, as far as I could, on the spot, that first led me out there.

    In my next chapter, gentle reader, if thou art so minded, we will ramble down that way together; and I doubt not that in the course of our journey thou wilt hear or see something or other which may repay thee for the trouble of going so far out of thy way with me.



                                          By the crackling fire,
We'll hold our little snug, domestic court,
Plying the work with song and tale between.

IT was on a cold forenoon, early in the month of April, 1857, that I set off to see Urmston, in Flixton.  The sky was gloomy, and the air chill; but the cold was bracing, and the time convenient, so I went towards Oxford Road Station in a cheerful temper.  Stretford is the nearest point on the line, and I took my ticket to that village.  We left the huge manufactories, and the miserable chimney tops of "Little Ireland" down by the dirty Medlock; we ran over a web of dingy streets swarming with dingy people; we flitted by the end of Deansgate and over the top of Knot Mill, the site of the Roman Station,—now covered with warehouses connected with the Bridgewater Trust; we left the black stagnant canal, coiled in the hollow, and stretching its dark length into the distance, like a slimy snake we cleared the cotton mills and dyeworks and chemical manufactories of Cornbrook, Pomona Gardens, too, we left behind, with the carpentry of its great picture sticking up raggedly in the air, like the charred relics of a burnt wood-yard.  These all passed in swift panorama, and the train stopped at Old Trafford, which takes its name from the Trafford family, or rather, I believe, gives its name to that family, whose ancient dwelling, Old Trafford Hall, stands in part of its once extensive gardens, near the railway.  Baines says of this family, "The Traffords were settled here (at Trafford) at a period anterior to the Norman conquest, and ancient documents in possession of the family show that their property has descended to the present representative not only by an uninterrupted line of male heirs, but without alienation, during the mutations in national faith, and the violence of civil war.  Henry, the great-grandson of Ranulphus de Trafford, who resided at Trafford in the reign of Canute and Edward the Confessor, received lands from Helius de Pendlebury; in Chorlton, from Gospatrick de Chorlton; and in Stretford, from Hamo, the third baron of that name, of Dunham Massie; and from Pain of Ecborn (Ashburn) he had the whole of the lordship of Stretford."  The whole of Stretford belongs to the Traffords still.  "In the reign of Henry VI. Sir Edmund Trafford, of Trafford, assisted at the coronation of the king, and received the honour of Knight of the Bath on that occasion."  A certain poet says truly—

Though much the centuries take, and much bestow,
Most through them all immutable remains;

but the mind sets out upon a curious journey when it starts from modern Manchester, with its industrialism and its political unions, its hard workers and its wealthy traders, its charities and its poverties, its mechanics' institutions and its ignorance, its religions and its sins, and travels through the successive growths of change which have come over the life of man since the days of Canute (when Manchester must have been a rude little woodland town), speculating as it goes as to what is virtually changed, and what remains the same through the long lapse of time, linking the "then" and "there" with "now" and "here."  But we are now fairly in the country, and the early grass is peeping out of the ground, making all the landscape look freshly green.  In a few minutes the whole distance had been run, and I heard the cry "Out here for Stretford!"  Leaving the station, I went to the top of the railway bridge, which carries the high-road over the line.  From that elevation I looked about me.  It commands a good view of the village, and of the country for miles around.  This great tract of meadows, gardens, and pasture-land, was once a thick woodland, famous, in the Withington district, for its fine oak trees.  In Flixton the oak was never found, except of stunted growth.  A few miles to westward, the parks of Dunham and Tatton show how grand the growth of native trees must have been on the Cheshire border; and in the north-east, the Woods of Trafford make a dark shadow on the scene.  And here at hand is the old village of Stretford, the property of the Traffords of Trafford, whose arms give name to the principal inn of the village, as well as one or two others on the road from Manchester.  The man in motley, with a flail in his hand, and the mottoes, "Now, thus;" "Gripe Griffin; hold fast!" greet the traveller with a kind of grim historic salutation as he goes by.  These are household phrases with the inhabitants, many of whom are descendants of the old tenantry of the family.  Quiet Stretford; close to the Cheshire border; the first rural village after leaving that great machine-shop called Manchester.  Depart from that city in almost any other direction, and you come upon a quick succession of the same manufacturing features you have left behind,—divided, of course, by many a beautiful nook of country green.  But, somehow, though a man may feel proud of these industrial triumphs, yet, if he has a natural love of the country, he breathes all the more freely when he comes out in this direction, from the knowledge that he is entering upon a country of unmixed rural quietness, and that the tremendous bustle of manufacture is behind him for the time.  Stretford is an agricultural village, but there is a kind of manufacture which it excels in.  Ormskirk is famous for its gingerbread; Bury for its "simblins," or simnels; Eccles for those spicy cakes, which "Owd Chum,"—the delight of every country fair in these parts,—used to sell at the "Rushbearings" of Lancashire; but the mission of Stretford is black-puddings.  And, certainly, a Stretford black-pudding would not be despised even by a famishing Israelite, if he happened to value a dinner more than the ancient faith of his fathers.  Fruit, flowers, green market-stuff, black-puddings, and swine's flesh in general,—these are the pride of the village.  Roast pork, stuffed in a certain savoury way, is a favourite dish here.  The village folks call it the "Stretford Goose;" and it is not a bad substitute for that pleasant bird, as I found.  Stretford is nearly all in one street, by the side of the highway.  It has grown very much of late years, but enow of its old features remain to give it a quaint tone, and to show what it was fifty years ago, before Manchester merchants began to build mansions in the neighbourhood, and Manchester tradesmen began to go out there to lodge.  There was once an old church in Stretford, of very simple architecture, built and endowed by the Trafford family.  Nothing of it now remains but the graveyard, which is carefully enclosed.  I looked through the rails into this weedy sanctuary of human decay.  It had a still, neglected look.  "The poor inhabitants below" had been gathering there a long while, and their memories now floating down the stream of time, far away from the sympathies of the living, except in that honourable reverence for the dead which had here enclosed their dust from unfeeling intrusion.  It was useless for me to wonder who they were that lay there; how long they had been mouldering in company; or what manner of life they had led.  Their simple annals had faded or were fading away.  The wind was playing with the grave-grass.  The village life of Stretford was going on as blithe as ever round this quiet enclosure, and I walked forward.  Even such is Time,—

Who in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days.

The "curfew" has " tolled the knell of parting day" over the woods and fields around this village ever since the time of William the Conqueror.  I had agreed to call upon a friend of mine here before going down to Flixton, so I walked a little way farther down the village, and then turning through a certain orchard, as directed, I came into a green lane beyond.  There stood the house, on the opposite side of the lane, at the top of a gentle slope of garden, shaded with evergreens, among which rose up one remarkably fine holly.  The hedgerows were trim, and the cottage on the knoll, with its bright windows "winking through their screen of leaves," looked very sweet, still, and nest-like.  And then the little garden—

A garden faire, and in the corner set
Ane harbour grene, with wandis long and small
Railit about, and so with treis set
Was all the place, and hawthorn hegeis knet,
That lyf was non walking there forbye,
That might within scarce ony wight aspye.

I stood still a minute, for the place was pleasant to look upon, and then opening the gate, and starting the birds from every bush, went up through the little garden.  I met with a hearty welcome, and mine host and myself soon had the snug tree-shaded parlour to ourselves.  I was at home in a minute; but, as we chatted about the books on the shelves and the pictures on the walls, there came from somewhere in the house an aroma that "made my teeth shoot water."  I was talking of books, but in my mind I was wondering what it was that sent forth such a goodly smell; for I was hungry.  My friend either divined my thoughts, or else he was secretly affected in the same way, for he said, "We are going to have a 'Stretford Goose' to-day."  Now, I was curious, and the smell was fine, and my appetite keen, and I was fain when the goose and its trimmings came in.  When we fell to, I certainly was the hero of the attack, and the goose came down before our combined forces like a waste-warehouse in flames.  It was a wholesome, bountiful, English meal, "wi' no fancy wark abeawt it;" and since that April noontide I have always felt an inward respect for a "Stretford Goose."

    When dinner was fairly over, I lost no time in starting for Flixton, which was only three miles off, with what some people call "a good road" to it.  And it certainly is better than those terrible old roads of North Lancashire, of which Arthur Young writes with such graphic ferocity: "Reader," says he, "didst thou ever go from Wigan to Preston?  If not, don't.  Go to the devil, rather; for nothing can be so infernal as that road is."  The hedges by the wayside were covered with little buds.  The murky clouds had left the sky, and the day was fine.  There was a wintry nip in the air, which was pleasant enough to me; but it gave the young grass and the thorn-buds a shrinking look, as if they had come out too soon to be comfortable.  The ground was soft under foot, and I had to pick my way through the "slutch."  There had been long and heavy rains, and I could see gleaming sheets of water left on the low-lying meadow-lands on the Cheshire side of the river.  But I was in no humour for grumbling, for the country was new to me, and I looked around with pleasure, though the land was rather bare and shrivelled,—like a fowl in the moult,—for it had hardly got rid of winter's bleakness, and had not fairly donned the new suit of spring green.  But the birds seemed satisfied, for they chirruped blithely among the shivering thorns, and hopped and played from bough to bough in the scant-leaved trees.  If these feathered tremblers had weathered the hard winter, by the kindness of Providence, and amidst this lingering chill could hail the drawing near of spring with such glad content, why should I repine?  By the way, that phrase, "the drawing near of spring," reminds me of the burden of an ancient May song, peculiar to the people of this district.  In the villages hereabouts they have an old custom of singing-in the month of May; and companies of musicians and "May-singers" go from house to house among their neighbours, on April nights, to sing under their chamber windows this old song about "the drawing near unto the merry month of May."  An old man, known in Stretford as a "May-singer," an "herb-gatherer," and a "Yule-singer," who gets a scanty living out of the customs of each season of the year as it comes, furnished me with a rough copy of the words and music of this old May song.  In one verse of the song, each member of the sleeping family is addressed by name in succession,—

Then rise up, Sarah Brundrit, all in your gown of green.

After my visit I was enabled, through the kindness of John Harland, Esq., F.S.A., to give this old May song in complete shape, as it appeared in his first volume of "Lancashire Ballads:"—

All in this pleasant evening together come are we,
    For the summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
We'll tell you of a blossom that buds on every tree,
    Drawing near to the merry month of May.

Rise up the master of this house, put on your chain of gold,
    For the summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
We hope you're not offended, (with) your house we make so bold,
    Drawing near to the merry month of May.

Rise up the mistress of this house, with gold along (upon) your breast,
    For the summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
And if your body be asleep, I hope your soul's at rest,
    Drawing near to the merry month of May.

Rise up the children of this house, all in your rich attire,
    For the summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
For every hair upon your head shines like the silver wire,
    Drawing near to the merry month of May.

God bless this house and harbour, your riches and your store,
    For the summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
We hope the Lord will prosper you, both now and evermore,
    Drawing near to the merry month of May.

So now we're going to leave you in peace and plenty here,
    For the summer springs so fresh, green, and gay;
We shall not sing you May again until another year,—
    For to draw you the cold winter away.

    About a mile on the road, I came to a green dingle, called "Gamershaw."  A large brick dwelling-house now occupies the spot, which was formerly shaded by spreading trees,—a flaysome nook, of which the country-folk were afraid at night-time, as the haunt of a goblin called "Gamershaw Boggart."  Every rustle of the trees at Gamershaw was big with terror to them half a century ago.  Even now, when Gamershaw Boggart has hardly a leaf to shelter its old haunt, the place is fearful, after dark, to the superstitious people of Flixton parish.  And yet there seems to be some change working in this respect, for when I asked a villager whether Gamershaw Boggart was ever seen now, he said, "Naw; we never see'n no boggarts neaw; nobbut when th' brade-fleigh's (bread-rack) empty!"



I there wi' something did forgather,
That put me in an eerie swither.


LEAVING Gamershaw, I "sceawrt eendway," as Collier says.  Here I had the advantage of an intelligent companion, with a rich store of local anecdote in him.  He was not a man inclined to superstition; but he said he once had an adventure at this spot which startled him.  Walking by Gamershaw on a pitch-dark night, and thinking of anything but boggarts, he heard something in the black gloom behind, following his footsteps with a soft unearthly trot, accompanied by an unmistakable rattle of chains.  He stopped.  It stopped.  He went on; and the fearful sounds dogged him again, with malignant regularity.  "Gamershaw Boggart, after all, and no mistake," thought he; and in spite of all reason a cold sweat began to come over him.  Just then the goblin made a dash by, and went helter-skelter down the middle of the road, trailing the horrible clang of chains behind it with infernal glee, and then diving into the midnight beyond.  To his relief, however, he bethought him that it was a large dog belonging to a farmer in the neighbourhood.  The dog had got loose and was thus making night hideous by unconsciously personifying Gamershaw Boggart.

    And now my companion and I whiled away the time from Gamershaw with a pleasant interchange of country anecdote.  I have just room for one, which I remember hearing in some of my rambles among the moorland folk of my native district.  It is a story of a poor hand-loom weaver, called "Thrum," trying to sell his dog "Snap" to a moorland farmer.  I have put it in the form of a dialogue, that it may be the more understandable to the general reader.  It runs thus:—

Thrum.  Maister, dun yo want a nice bull-an-tarrier?

Farmer.  A what?

Thrum.  A bull-an-tarrier dog, wi' feet as white as snow!  Brass wouldn't ha' parted me an' that dog, iv there hadn't bin sich ill deed for weyvers just neaw,—it wouldn't, for sure.  For aw'd taen to th' dog, an' the dog had taen to me, ver mich, for o' at it had nobbut thin pikein' sometimes.  But poverty parts good friends neaw and then, maister.

Farmer.  A bull-an-tarrier, saysto?

Thrum.  Ay an' th' smartest o'th breed at ever ran at a mon's heels!  It's brother to that dog o' Lolloper's, that stoole a shoolder o' mutton, and ran up a soof with it.

Farmer.  Ay; is it one o' that family?

Thrum.  It is, for sure.  They're prime steylers, o' on em.

Farmer.  Has it a nick under it nose?

Thrum.  A nick,—nawe it hasn't. . . . Houd; what mak ov a nick dun yu meeon?

Farmer.  Has it a meawth?

Thrum.  Ay; it's a grand meawth; an' a set o'th prattiest teeth at ever were pegged into a pair o' choles! A sharper, seawnder set o' dog-teeth never snapt at a ratton!  Then, look at it een; they're as breet as th' north star on a frosty neet!  An' feel at it nose; it's as cowd as icicles!  That dog's i' good tune, maister.

Farmer.  Aw'll tell tho what,—it looks hungry.

Thrum.  Hungry!  It's olez hungry!  An' it'll heyt aught i'th world, fro a collop to a dur latch. . . . Oh, ay; it's reet enough for that.

Farmer.  Well, owd lad; aw've nought again thi dog, but that nick under it nose.  To tell tho truth, we maken meawths here faster nor we maken mehyt.  Look at yon woman!  Aw would e'en ha' tho to tak thi dog wheer they're noan as thick upo' th' clod as they are here.

Thrum.  Oh, aw see. . . . Well, eawr Matty's just the very same; nobbut her nose has rayther a sharper poynt to't than yor wife's. . . . Yo see'n aw thought it wur time to sell th' dog when aw had to ax owd Thunge to lend me a bite of his moufin till aw'd deawn't my piece.  But aw'll go fur on.  So good day to yo! . . . Come, Snap, owd lad; aw'll find thee a shop, or else aw'll sweat!

    Chatting about such things as these, we came up to a plain whitewashed hall-house, standing a little off the road, called "Newcroft."  This was pointed out to me as the residence of a gentleman related to the famous "Whitworth doctors."  The place looked neat and homely, and had orderly grounds and gardens about it, but there was nothing else in its general appearance which would have stopped me, but for the interesting fact just mentioned.  It brought to my mind many a racy story connected with that quaint old family of country doctors, and their independent way of life in the little moorland village of Whitworth, near "Fairies' Chapel," the scene of one of those "Lancashire Traditions" which Mr. Roby wrote about.  I found afterwards that this Newcroft was, in that time, the homestead of the Cheshire family of Warburton, of which family R. E. E. Warburton, Esq., of Arley Hall, is the present representative.  I understand that the foundations of the old hall are incorporated with the present building.  There are very few trees about the place now; and these afford neither shade to the house nor much ornament to the scene.  The name of Warburton is still common about here, both among the living, and on the gravestones of Flixton churchyard.  The saying, "Aw'll tear tho limb fro Warbu'ton," is common all over Lancashire as well as Cheshire.  One side of its meaning is evident enough, but its allusions used to puzzle me.  I find that it has its origin in the curiously-involved relations of the two Cheshire rectories of Lymn and Warburton, and in some futile effort which was once made to separate them.  Written this way, "I'll tear tho limb (Lymm) fro Warbu'ton (Warburton)," the saying explains itself better.  There is a ballad in Dr. Latham's work on "The English Language," in which the present "Squoir ov Arley Haw" is mentioned in a characteristic way.  It is given in that work as a specimen of the Cheshire dialect.  It certainly is the raciest modern ballad of its kind that I know of.  The breeze of nature played lovingly in the heart of the "Squoir of Arley Haw" when he penned this spirited lyric.  Its allusions and language have so much affinity with the Lancashire side of the water, that the reader will forgive me for introducing it, that he may judge for himself.  The title is "Farmer Dobbin; or, a Day wi' the Cheshire Fox Dogs."  Here it is; and I fancy that a man with any blood in his body will hunt as he reads it:—

"Theer's slutch upo thi coat, mon, theer's blood upo thi chin!
 It's welly toim for milkin, now, where ever 'ast ee bin?"
"Oiv bin to see the gentlefolks o' Cheshire roid a run!
 Owd wench! oiv bin a-huntin, an oiv seen some rattling fun!

"Th' owd mare was in the smithy when the huntsman he trots through,
 Black Bill agate o' 'ammerin the last nail in her shoe:
 The cuvver laid so wheam like, and so jovial fine the day,
 Says I, 'Owd mare, we'll tak a fling, an' see 'em go away.'

"When up, and oid got shut ov aw the hackney pads an' traps,
 Orse dealers and orse jockey lads, and such-loike swaggering chaps,
 Then what a power o' gentlefolk did oi set eyes upon!
 A-reining in their hunters,—aw blood orses every one!

"They'd aw got bookskin leathers on, a fitten 'em so toight,
 As roind an plump as turmits be, an just about as whoite:
 Their spurs were made o' silver, and their buttons made o' brass,
 Their coats wur red as carrots, an their collars green as grass.

"A varment-looking gemman on a woiry tit I seed,
 An' another close besoide him sittin noble on his steed;
 They ca' them both owd codgers, but as fresh as paint they look,
 John Glegg, Esquoir, o' Withington, an bowd Sir Richard Brooke.

"I seed Squoir Geffrey Shakerly, the best un o' that breed—
 His smoiling face tould plainly how the sport wi him agreed;
 I seed the Arl o' Grosvenor, a loikely lad to roid;
 Aw seed a soight worth aw the rest, his farrently young broid.

"Sir Umferry de Trafford, an the Squoir ov Arley Haw,
 His pockets full o' rigmarole, a-rhoimin' on 'em aw;
 Two members for the cointy, both aloike ca'd Egerton;
 Squoir Henry Brooks and Tummus Brooks, they'd aw green collars on.

"Eh! what a mon be Dixon John, ov Astle Haw, Esquoir!
 You wudna foind, an mezzur him, his marrow in the shoir!
 Squoir Wilbraham o' the Forest, death and danger he defois,
 When his coat he toightly buttoned up, an shut up both his oies.

"The Honerable Lazzles, who from forrin parts be cum,
 An a chip of owd Lord Delamere, the Honerable Tum;
 Squoir Fox, an Booth, and Worthington, Squoir Massey an Squoir Harne,
 And many more big sportsmen, but their names I didna larn.

"I seed that greet commander in the saddle, Captain Whoite;
 An the pack as thrung'd about him was indeed a gradely soight:
 The dogs look'd foine as satin, an himsel look'd hard as nails,
 An' he giv the swells a caution not to roid upo their tails.

"Says he, 'Yung men o' Manchester and Liverpoo, cum near—
 Oiv just a word, a warning word, to whisper in your ear;
 When, starting from the cuvver snide, ye see bowd Reynard burst,
 We canna 'ave no 'untin, if the gemmen go it first.'

"Tom Rance has got a single oie worth many another's two.
 He held his cap abuv his yed to show he'd had a view.
 Tom's voice was loik th' owd raven's when he skroik'd out 'Tally-ho!'
 For when the fox had seen Tom's face he thought it time to go.

"Eh moy! a pratty jingle then went ringing through the skoy
 First Victory, then Villager began the merry croy;
 Then every maith was open, from the owd 'un to the pup,
 An' aw the pack together took the swelling chorus up.

"Eh moy! a pratty scouver then was kick'd up in the vale
 They skimm'd across the running brook, they topp'd the post an rail,
 They didna stop for razzur cop, but play'd at touch-an-go,
 An them as miss'd a footin there lay doubled up below.

"I seed the 'ounds a crossing Farmer Flareup's boundary loin,
 Whose daughter plays the peany and drinks whoit sherry woin;
 Gowd rings upon her fingers, and silk stockings on her feet.
 Says I, 'It won't do him no harm to roid across his wheat.'

"So, toightly houdin on by th' yed, I hits th' owd mare a whop!
 Hoo plumps into the middle o' the wheatfield neck and crop!
 And when hoo floinder'd out on it I catch'd another spin,
 An, missis, that's the cagion o' the blood upo my chin.

"I never oss'd another lep, but kept the lane, and then
 In twenty minutes' toime about they turn'd toart me again;
 The fox was foinly daggled, and the tits aw out o' breath,
 When they kilt him in the open, an owd Dobbin seed the death.

"Loik dangling of a babby, then, the huntsman hove him up,
 The dugs a-baying round him, while the gemmen cried, 'Whoo-up!'
 Then clane and quick, as doosome cauves lick fleetings from the pail,
 They worried every inch on 'im except his yed and tail.

"What's up wi' them rich gentlefolk an lords as wasna there?
 There was neither Marquis Chumley, nor the Viscount Combermere;
 Neither Legh, nor France o' Bostock, nor the Squoir o' Peckforton.
 How cums it they can stop awhoam, such sport a-goin on?

"Now, missis, sin the markets be a-doin moderate well,
 Oiv welly made my mind up just to buy a nag mysel;
 For to keep a farmer's spirits up gen things be gettin low,
 There's nothing loik fox-hunting and a rattling 'Tally-ho!'"

    I think the reader will agree with me in saying that this song has much of the old ballad simplicity and vigour about it.  The county of Cheshire is rich in local song; and R. E. E. Warburton, Esq., mentioned in these verses as the "Squoir of Arley Haw,—

His pockets full o' rigmarole, a-rhoimin' on 'em aw,—"

is the author of several other fine hunting songs, in the dialect of that county; he is also editor of a valuable and interesting volume of Cheshire Songs.



In sunshine and in shade, in wet and fair,
Drooping or blithe of heart, as might befall
My best companions now the driving winds,
And now the "trotting trotting brooks" and
        whispering trees,
And now the music of my own sad steps,
With many a short-lived thought that passed
And disappeared.


A SHORT walk from "Newcroft" brought me to a dip in the highway, at a spot where four roads meet in the hollow, a "four-lone-eends," as country folk call it.  Such places had an awful interest for the simple hinds of Lancashire in old times; and, in remote parts of the county, the same feeling is strong yet with regard to them.  In ancient days, robbers, and other malefactors, were sometimes buried at the ends of four cross roads, unhallowed by "bell, book, or candle."  The old superstitions of the people, cherished by their manner of life, dwelling, as they did, in secluded spots scattered over the country around, made these the meeting-places of witches, and all sorts of unholy things of a weird nature.  It is a common belief now, among the natives of the hills and solitary cloughs of Lancashire, that the best way of laying a ghost, or quieting any unearthly spirit whose restlessness troubles their lonely lives, is to sacrifice a cock to the goblin, and, with certain curious ceremonies, to bury the same deep in the earth at a "four-lone-eends," firmly pinned to the ground by a hedge-stake driven through its body.  The coldly-learnèd, "lost in a gloom of uninspired research," may sneer at these rustic superstitions; yet, surely, he was wiser who said that he would rather decline to the "traditionary sympathies of unlettered ignorance," than constantly see and hear

The repetitions wearisome of sense,
Where soul is dead, and feeling hath no place,—
Where knowledge, ill begun in cold remark
On outward things, in formal inference ends.

    Near this place stands the handsome mansion of J. T. Hibbert, Esq., the president of the Mutual Improvement Society at Stretford, and a general benefactor to the neighbourhood in which he resides.  He seems to have awakened that locality to the spirit of modern improvement, and is making what was, comparatively, a desert nook before, now gradually smile around him.  The people thereabouts say that "it wur quite a lost place afore he coom."  We are now in the township of Urmston, though not in the exact spot where Tim Bobbin was born.  As I stood in the hollow, looking round at the little cluster of dwellings, my friend pointed to a large sleepy-looking old brick house, with a slip of greensward peeping through the paling in front, as the dwelling of Mr. William Shore, an eminent local musician, the author of that beautiful glee-arrangement of the music to Burns's carousal song, "Willie brewed a peck o' maut," so much admired by lovers of the concord of sweet sounds.  And, certainly, if the musician had never done anything more than that exquisite gem of harmony, it would have added an interest to his dwelling-place.  Who, that loved music, could go by such a spot without noticing it?  Not I; for, as Wordsworth says of the pedlar who sometimes accompanied him in his mountain rambles, so, partly, may I say—

                     Not a hamlet could we pass,
Rarely a house that did not yield to him

And yet I have a misgiving that the reader thinks I am lingering too tediously on the way; but, wherever one goes in England, apart from the natural beauty of the country, he finds the ground rich as "three-pile velvet" in all sorts of interesting things.  It is a curiously-illuminated miscellany of the finest kind; and, in spite of all it has gone through, it is neither moth-eaten nor mildewed, nor in any way weakened by age.  Its history is written all over the land in rich memorials, with a picturesque freshness which he that runs may read, if he only have feeling and thought to accompany him about the island, as he wades through the harvest of its historic annals, strewn with flowers of old romance and tale and hoary legend, and dewy with gems of native song.

    Quitting the hamlet, we passed a mansion half hidden by a brick wall and thinly shaded by trees; a few straggling cottages; a neat village school came next; one or two substantial granges, surrounded by large outhouses and spacious yards, with glittering windows adorned with flowers, and a general air of comfort and repose about them; and then the hamlet dribbled away with a few more cottages, and we were in the open country, upon the high level land, from whence we could look westward over the fields, below which "the Cheshire waters,"

                                    To their resting-place serene,
Came fresh'ning and refreshing all the scene.

    In the "History of Preston and its Environs," by Mr. Charles Hardwick, the author speculates upon the derivation of the name of this river, and after suggesting that its name may be derived from "mere" and "sea," or "sea-lake," he says, "South of Manchester, at this day, the river is not known by many of the peasantry as the Mersey.  It is called by them the 'Cheshire Waters.'  The modern name appears to have been derived from the estuary, and not from the fresh-water stream."  Mr. Hardwick's remark is equally true of the people dwelling here by that river, on the eastern side of Manchester.  A few fields divide the high-road from the water, and then slope down to its margin.  From the road we could see the fertile expanse of Cheshire meadows and woods spread away to the edge of the horizon in one green level.  When the river was swollen by long rains, the nearer part of the Cheshire side used to present the appearance of a great lake, before the embankment was thrown up to protect the fields from inundation.  In past times that tract must have been a great marsh.  But yonder stands Urmston Hall, upon a green bank overlooking the river.  As I drew nearer the building, I was struck with its picturesque appearance, as seen from the high-road, which passes at a distance of about one hundred yards.  It is a fine specimen of the wood-and-plaster hall, once common in Lancashire, of which Hulme Hall was an older and perhaps the richest example so near Manchester.  Urmston Hall is "of the age of Elizabeth, adorned by a gable, painted in lozenges and trefoils."  Baines says, "According to Seacombe, Sir Thomas Latham possessed the manor of Urmston, in this parish (Flixton), and at his death 1. Edward III., he settled upon his natural son, Sir Oscatel, and his heirs, the manors of Irlam and Urmston, about the time when the Stanleys, whose heir had married Lady Elizabeth Latham, assumed the crest of the Eagle and Child."  He says further, "That according to other and higher authorities, the lands and lordship of Urmston have been the property of the Urmstons and Hydes in succession, from the time of King John to the seventeenth century; and that the Urmstons resided at Urmston Hall until they removed to Westleigh, and were succeeded by the Hydes."  The wide carriage road still preserves its old proportions, though now rutted by farmers' carts belonging to the present occupants of the place.  A few tall relics of the fine trees which once surrounded the hall are still standing about, like faithful domestics clinging to the fallen fortunes of an ancient master.

    And now, I begin to think of the special errand which has brought me to the place.  There stands the old hall; and yonder is a row of four or five raw-looking new brick cottages, such as one sees spring up at the edges of great factory towns, by whole streets at once, almost in a night, like Jonah's gourd.  They hold nothing, they cost nothing, they are made out of nothing, they look nothing, and they come to nothing,—as a satirical friend of mine says, who is satisfied with nothing.  If it were not that one knows how poorly the common people were housed in those old days, when the hall was in its glory, it is enough to make one dissatisfied with the whole thing.  With the exception of the hall and these cottages, the green country spreads out all around for some distance.  When we came up to the row, my friend said that the endmost house stood on the spot which, three years before, was occupied by the old building in which Tim Bobbin was born, and in which his father, John Collier the elder, taught the children of Flixton parish, gathered from the rural folds around.  The house was gone, but, nevertheless, I must make what research I could, and to that end I referred to my notebook, and found that Baines says, "In a small house opposite (Urmston Hall), bearing the name of 'Richard o' Jone's,' was born John Collier, the renowned 'Tim Bobbin,' the provincial satirist of Lancashire, as appears from the following document: 'Baptism in the parish church of Flixton in the year 1709—John, son of Mr. John Collier, of Urmston, baptised January the 8th. [p.27]  I hereby certify this to be a true extract of the parish register book at Flixton.  As witness my hand, this 30th November, 1824. (Signed) THOMAS HARPER, parish clerk."  This was all clear and straightforward, so far as it went, but I wanted to prove the thing for myself, as far as possible, on the spot.  I thought it best to begin by inquiring at the nearest of these cottages opposite Urmston Hall.  Inside I heard the dismal rattle of hand-looms at work, and through the window I could see the web and the wooden beams of the machine, and a pale gingham weaver, swaying back and forward as he threw his shuttle to and fro.  The door which led into the other part of the cottage was open, and a middle-aged woman, with a thin patient face, was spinning there, on the wooden wheel used in country places.  This was the first indication I had noticed of any part of the population being employed in manufacture.  I went to the open door, and asked the woman if this was not the spot where Tim Bobbin was born, expecting a ready and enthusiastic affirmative.  She gazed at me for an instant, with a kind of vague curiosity, and to my astonishment said she really couldn't tell.  She hardly seemed to know who Tim Bobbin was.  Poor as the inmates were, everything inside spoke of industry and cleanliness, and simple honest living.  She called her husband from his looms, in the other part of the cottage; but his answer was nearly the same, except that he referred me to a person in the neighbourhood, who was formerly master of the school kept in this old house called "Richard o' Jone's."  I turned and left the spot with a feeling of disappointment, but with a stronger desire to find whether anything was known about the matter among the inhabitants of the locality.  To this end, I and my friend rambled on towards Flixton, inquiring of high and low, and still nobody knew anything definite about it, though there was a general impression that he was born at the old cottage formerly standing opposite Urmston Hall; but they perpetually finished by referring to "Jockey Johnson," "Owd Cottrill, th' pavor," "Owd White-yed, th' Saxton," and the parish schoolmaster before-mentioned.  The parish clerk, too, might know something, they said.  And here, as we wandered about in this way, a tall gentleman, a little past middle age, dressed in black, came quietly up the road.  My friend, to whom he was known, at once introduced me to the Rev. Arthur T. Gregory, the incumbent of Flixton, and told him my errand.  The incumbent kindly invited me to look through the parish register, at his house, the first convenient afternoon I had to spare, which I did very soon after.  Setting aside "Jockey Johnson," and "Owd Cottrill th' pavor," and other authorities of the hamlet so oft referred to, till a better opportunity, I thought that the schoolmaster, being a native man, and having lived long in the very house where Tim is said to have been born, would probably feel some pride in his celebrated predecessor, and perhaps be a willing conservator of any tradition existing in the hamlet respecting him.  His house was a little more than a mile off; and I started along the high-road back to a point from whence an old lane led out eastward to the schoolmaster's solitary cottage in the fields.



In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.


LEAVING the high-road at the place I had been told of, I went up an old lane which led between a little fold of cottages.  The first of these were rude buildings of stone, with the roofs fallen in, and seemingly abandoned to decay.  The others were of more modern appearance, and partly tenanted by hand-loom weavers.  Through the open door of one or two I saw that cheerful twinkle of humble comfort, which is, perhaps, more delightful to meet with in such lowly nooks than in prouder quarters; because it shows how much happiness may be drawn out of little means, by wholesome minds.  If the doors had been closed, I could have guessed at the condition of the interior by the clean door-step and windows, and by the healthy pot-flowers peeping prettily through the panes.  Folks who can make such places beautiful by simple cleanliness and native taste, are the unlettered gentry of nature, more blessed in their low estate than they can understand, when they compare it with the glitter of the fuming world in the distance.  Like the lark's nest, though near the ground, their homes are neat and sweet, out of humble materials, and blithe with the neighbourhood of nature.  Some of these cottages were of duller aspect, though there was nothing of that dirty sickliness about them which is so common in the low quarters of city life.  But I have noticed that, even in the worst part of great towns, now and then there comes a cottage all cleanliness and order, a sweet little household oasis amidst the wilderness of filth around; shining in the gloom, "like a good deed in a naughty world."

    When I came to the end of the fold I found that the lane went forward in two directions; one right into the open green country, where I could see no dwellings at hand, the other winding back towards the village which I had left behind me at the high-road side.  An old woman was looking from the cottage door at the corner, and I asked her the way to the schoolmaster's house.  Country-folk are not always known in Lancashire by their real name, even on their own ground, and she had to consult somebody inside about the matter.  In a minute or so, a voice from the cottage called out, "Does he belung to th' owd body, thinken yo?"—meaning the old body of Wesleyan Methodists.  I said that I thought he did.  "Oh, ay," replied the voice, "it'll be William, sure enough. . . . Yo mun go reet forrud up th' lone afore yo, till yo come'n to a heawse i'th fields,—an' that'll be it.  It stops a bit off th' lone-side. . . . Yo'n ha' to pike yor gate, mind yo; for it's nobbut a mak o' durty underfuut."  On I went, between the hedge-rows, slipping and stepping from pool to pool, down the miry cow-lane for nearly half a mile, slutching myself up to the collar as I went; and there, about a stone-throw from the way-side, I saw the schoolmaster's low-built cottage standing in a bit of sweet garden in the middle of the green fields.  Entering by a tiny wooden gate at the back, I went along a narrow garden walk, between little piles of rockery and rows of shells which ornamented the beds, till I came up to the door in front, which was shaded, if I remember right, by some kind of simple trelliswork.  The wind was still,—everything was still but the birds fluttering about, and filling the evening silence with their little melodies.  The garden and the cottage looked sweet and sleepily-beautiful.  The windows blazed in the sunset, which was flooding all the level landscape with its departing splendour.  I heard no stir inside, but knocking at the door, it was opened by a quiet middle-aged man, who asked me in.  This was the schoolmaster himself; and by the fireside sat a taller, older man, who was his brother.  The only other inmate was a staid elderly woman, whose dress and mild countenance were in perfect keeping with the order and peace of everything around.  It was quite a sample of a quaint, comfortable English cottage interior.  As I glanced about, I could fancy that many of the clean little nick-packs which I saw so carefully arranged were the treasured heirlooms of old country housekeepers.  Everything was in its right place, and cleaned up to its height.  The house was as serene, and the demeanour of the people as seemly and subdued, as if it had been a little chapel; and the setting sun, streaming through the front window, filled the cottage with a melting glory which no magnificence of wealth could imitate.  Catching, unconsciously, the spirit of the hour, my voice crept down nearer to the delicate stillness of the scene; and I whispered my questions to the two brothers, as if to speak at all was a desecration of that contemplative silence, which seemed to steep everything around, like a delicious slumber filled with holy dreams.  We gradually got into conversation, and in the course of our talk I gathered from the two brothers that they had lived and kept school in the house where Baines says that Tim Bobbin was born.  They said that, though there was a general belief that he was born in that house, yet they did not themselves possess anything which clearly proved the fact.  And yet it might be true, they said; for they had often known artists come out there to sketch the building as his birthplace.  There were other people in the parish who, they thought, might perhaps know more about the matter.  They said that there were many curious Latin mottoes and armorial bearings painted on the walls and other parts of the schoolhouse, which many people attributed to Tim Bobbin; but they were not quite sure that people were right in doing so.  I agreed with the two brothers in this.  There is little doubt that Tim was a fair Latin scholar in after life.  I myself possessed a pocket copy of Terence's "Comedies," which had undoubtedly belonged to him, and in the margin of which he had corrected the Latinity.  But, according to what is known of Tim's life elsewhere, he must have left the place of his birth very early in youth, probably with some migration of his father's family, long before he could be able to deal with such matters.  The brothers did not know whether these relics had been preserved or not when the house was taken down,—they thought not.  The house had been occupied by them and their fathers, as schoolmasters, for more than a hundred years gone by; but they really could not tell much more about the matter.  They thought, however, that Owd Tummus so-and-so would be likely to know something about it,—or owd Hannah Wood.  They were "two o'th owd'st folk i' Urmston; and that wur sayin' summat."  Was I in the reporting line or something? . . . Well, it was no matter,—but Owd Tummus lived about half a mile off, "o'er anent Cis Lone;" and I should be sure to find him in.  Thanking them for the information they had given me, I left the quaint trio in their quiet cottage, and came away.  The evening was cold and clear, and the birds were twittering the last notes of their vespers in little solos about the hedges.  In the far east, the glimmering landscape was melting away but the glory which hovered on the skirts of the sunken sun dazzled my eyes as I came down the lane in the gloaming; and I was happy in my lonely walk, come of it what might.

    I came up to the old man's house, just as the evening candles were beginning to twinkle through cottage windows by the way.  He sat by the fire,—a little man thin and bent, but with a face that spoke an old age that was "frosty, but kindly."  There were young people in the house, seemingly belonging to the farm.  After some preliminary chat about weather and the like, I drew him in the direction of the subject I had come about, asking whether he had ever heard that Tim Bobbin was born in Urmston.  He replied, "Well; aw have yerd it said so, aw think,—but my memory houds nought, neaw. . . . Tim Bobbin, say'n yo?  Aw like as aw could mind summat abeawt that,—aw do. . . . Owd Back'll know, if onybody does,—he will. . . . He's a goodish age, is th' owd lad,—he is; an' fause with it,—very . . . Tim Bobbin!  Tim Bobbin! . . . Aw'st be eighty-three come th' time o'th year.  Owd Back's a quarter younger. . . . Aw've a pain taks me across here, neaw and then.  We're made o' stuff at winnut last for ever.  Ay, ay; we'n sin summat i' eawr time, has Owd Back an' me,—we han. . . . Dun yo know Kit o' Ottiwell's?  Hoo lives at Davyhulme; ax hur; ax hur.  Hoo'll be likker to leeten yo abeawt this job nor me.  Yo see'n aw connot piece things together neaw.  If yo'd'n come'd fifty year sin, aw could ha' towd yo a tale, an' bowdly too,—aw could.  But th' gam's up.  The dule's getten th' porritch, an th' Lord's getten th' pon to scrape,—as usal."  I was inquiring further about his friend "Owd Back," when he stopped me by saying, "Oh, there's Owd Hannah Wood; aw'd like to forgetter hur.  Eh, that aw should forget Owd Hannah!  Hoo lives by the hee-gate, as yo gwon to Stretford,—hoo does.  What, are yo after property, or summat? "  "No."  "Whau then? . . . Yo mun see Owd Hannah soon, yung mon; or yo'n ha' to look for her i' Flixton churchyard; an' aw deawt that would sarve yor turn but little. . . . Folk dunnot like so mich talk when they're getten theer. . .. My feyther an' mother's theer, an' o' th' owd set;—aw'st be amoon 'em in a bit.  Well, well; 'Neighbour fare's no ill fare,' as th' sayin' is."  In this way the old man wandered on till I rose to go; when, turning to the old woman sitting near, he said, "Aw've just unbethought me.  William—will be the very mon to ax abeawt this Tim Bobbin; an' so will their Sam.  They liv't i'th heawse 'at he's speykin' on; an' so did their on-setters (ancestors) afore 'em. B eside they're a mak o' larnt folk.  They're schoomaisters; an' so then."  The old man did not know that these were the men I had just left.  After resting a few minutes, he raised his head again, just before I came away, to tell me, as others had done, that "Jockey Johnson, an' Cottrill, th' pavor, were likely folk to sper on."  In this way I wandered to and fro, meeting, in most cases, with little more than a glimmering remembrance of the thing, the dimness of which, seeing that few seemed to take any strong interest in the matter, I found afterwards was not difficult to account for.  One old man said, as soon as the name was mentioned to him, "Let's see.  Aw'm just thinking.  Ay, ay; it's one o' yon heawses opposite th' owd ho.'  They'n bin built up again, lately.  An' there wur writin' an' stuff upo' th' woles; but it took somebory with a deeal o' larnin' to understond it."  When I called upon the parish-clerk, he told me that a few years ago a gentleman had called to make inquiry upon the same subject, and left instructions for everything in the register relating to Tim to be extracted for him, which was done; but he never called to get the manuscript, which was now lost or mislaid.



To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all cur yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.


I WAS a little disappointed at first to find that, wherever I went in the parish of Flixton, the inhabitants showed no strong interest in the quaint man of genius whose early records I was in search of.  But this is no wonder, when one considers what a thinly-inhabited place this must have been at the beginning of Queen Anne's reign, and remembering also that nearly the whole of Tim's long life was spent elsewhere, first as an apprentice to Dutch-loom weaving, which was looked upon as a rather genteel occupation in those days.  But, as his friend and biographer, Richard Townley, Esq., of Bellfield Hall, says, "such a sedentary employment not at all agreeing with his volatile spirits and eccentric genius, he prevailed upon his master to release him from the remainder of his servitude.  Though then very young, he soon commenced itinerant schoolmaster; going about the country from one small town to another, to teach reading, writing, and accounts; and generally having a night school as well as a day one."  Now, seeing that the theatre of these obscure and honourable struggles of Tim's youth was the town of Oldham, and the villages thereabouts, it is not surprising that the scattered inhabitants of the solitary nook where he was born should have few remembrances of him, who left them when he was yet but a child.  Tim's father was only forty years old when he was overtaken by total blindness; and this, necessarily, changed the plan he had formed of bringing up his son, our hero, to the Church, for "he had conceived a favourable opinion of his abilities."  Now, this calamity did not befall the elder Mr. Collier during the time that he was schoolmaster at Urmston, in Flixton; and everything shows that he was not a native of that place, but came from some other part to teach there, remaining only for a short time,—during which Tim and his brother Nathan were born,—and then moving away again, with his young family of nine children, to another quarter.  What Baines says, on the authority of the inhabitants of Flixton, of the elder Collier never being a clergyman, may be true, so far as it relates to Urmston, of which place there never was a curate, nor was he in holy orders during his residence there; and yet he may have been so elsewhere.  This supposition is strengthened by Tim's own words: "In the reign of Queen Anne I was a boy, and one of the nine children of a poor Lancashire curate, whose stipend never amounted to thirty pounds a year; and consequently the family must feel the iron teeth of penury with a witness.  These, indeed, were sometimes blunted by the charitable disposition of the good rector (the Rev. Mr. H—, of W—n.)  What an interesting glimpse this gives us of the home of Tim Bobbin's childhood!  Now, it is just possible that the "good rector" may have been the rector of Warrington of that time, whose name begins with the same initial letter. [p.38]  All things considered, I did not wonder that the family had left but little mark among the people of Flixton.

    Seeing that so little was known by the inhabitants, I turned my thoughts towards the parish register, setting an afternoon apart for visiting the incumbent, who had invited me to look through it at his house.  At the appointed time, I walked through the village of Flixton, a little way into the country beyond the village; and there, by the wayside, at the top of a little sloping lawn, partially screened by stunted trees and bushes,

The village preacher's modest mansion rose.

The incumbent received me courteously, and entered kindly into my purpose.  Ushering me into a parlour at the front, he brought forth the two oldest register volumes of the parish from their hiding-place.  The first thing which struck me was the difference in their condition. The oldest was perfectly sound, inside and outside.  Its leaves were of vellum; and, with the exception of a slight discolouration in some places, they were as clear and perfect as ever they had been; and the entries in it were beautifully distinct, written in the old English character, and mostly in the Latin language.  The change in the latter volume was very remarkable.  Its binding was poor and shaky, and its leaves of a sottish and most perishable writing paper, many of them quite loose in the book, and so worn, tattered, and crumbly, as to be scarcely touchable without damage.  I could not help thinking that if any important question should arise a hundred years hence, the settling of which depended on such a mouldering record as this, it was just possible that decay might have forestalled the inquiry.  After a careful examination of the register, I found the following entries relating to Tim's family, and besides these, there is no mention of any other person of the name of Collier for the space of half a century before, and a century after that date.  First, under the heads of "Births and Baptisms in the year 1706," appears "Nathan, ye son of John Collier, schoolmaster, borne May 17, baptised May 31." [p.39]  Singularly, I found the same baptism entered a second time, three pages forward, in the same year, with a slight variation, in the following manner "Baptised Nathan, the son of Master John Collier, schoolmaster, born May ye 18th."  And then the last and only other mention of the Colliers is the register of the baptism of John, the renowned "Tim Bobbin," which is entered thus, among the baptisms of the year 1710: "John, son of Mr. John Collier, of Urmstone, baptised January the 6th."  In Baines's "Lancashire," the baptism is given as occurring in 1709, which is a slight mistake.  The origin of that mistake was evident to me, with the register before my eyes.  The book seems to have been very irregularly kept in those days; and the baptisms in the year 1709 are entered under a head-line, "Baptisms in the year 1709;" but at the end of the baptisms of that year, the list runs on into those of the following year, 1710, without any such head-line to divide them; and this entry of Tim's baptism, being one of the first, might easily be transcribed by a
careless observer as belonging to the previous year.  I thought there was something significant about the curious manner in which these three entries relating to the Colliers are made in the register.  In the first entry of the baptism of Nathan, Tim's eldest brother, the father is called "John Collier, schoolmaster;" in the second entry of the same baptism he is called "Master John Collier, schoolmaster;" and in the entry of Tim's baptism, three years later, the clerk, having written down the father's name as "John Collier, of Urmstone," has, upon after-thought, made a caret between "the son of" and "John Collier, of Urmstone," and carefully written "Mr." above it, making it read, "Mr. John Collier, of Urmstone."  This addition to the names of schoolmasters, or even of the wealthy inhabitants of the parish, occurs so rarely in the register, that I could not help thinking this singular exception indicative of an honourable estimate of the character of Tim's father among his neighbours.  Such was the result of my search; and it strengthens my conviction that old Mr. John Collier's family were not natives of Flixton, nor dwelt there long, but departed after a short residence to some other quarter, where the family was born, married, died, and buried, except the two before mentioned.

    Whilst I was sitting in the incumbent's parlour, looking over these old books on that day, a little thing befell which pleased me, though the reader may think it trifling.  The weather was very cold, and I happened to have on one of those red and black tartan wool shirts, which are comfortable wear enough in winter, though they look rather gaudy, and don't satisfy one's mind so well as a clean white shirt does.  As I sat turning over the leaves of these ancient records, in came the incumbent's son, a slim, intelligent boy, with large thoughtful eyes.  He watched me attentively for two or three minutes, and then coming a little nearer, so as to get a good look at the wrists and front of my extraordinary under-gear, he called out, with unreserved astonishment, "Papa! he has got no shirt on!"  The clergyman checked the lad instantly, though he could not help smiling at this burst of frank, childish simplicity.  The lad was evidently surprised to see me enjoy the thing so much.

    I cannot dismiss this old parish register without noticing some other things in it which were interesting to me.  And I can tell thee, reader, by-the-by, that there are worse ways of spending a few hours than in poring over such a record.  How significantly the births, marriages, and deaths tread one upon another's heels, as they do in the columns of newspapers!  How solemnly the decaying pages represent the checkered pattern of our moral estate!  The exits and entrances of these ephemeral players in the drama of life continually interweave in the musty chronicle, as they do in the current of human action.  There was a quaint tone running through the whole, which I could not well pass by.  In the year 1688, the phrase, "buried in woollen only," first appears, and marks the date of an act for the encouragement of the woollen trade.  This phrase is carefully added to every registration of burial thenceforth for a considerable time, except in a few cases, where the phrase changes to "buried in sweet flowers only."  What a world of mingled pathos and prettiness that phrase awakes in the mind!  To a loving student of Shakspere, it might not, inaptly, call up that beautiful passage in Ophelia's burial scene:—

    Laertes.                  Lay her i' the earth;—
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring! . . .
    Queen.  Sweets to the sweet!   Farewell!

(Scattering flowers.)

    Sometimes an instance occurs where a burial takes place "in linen only."  In this year of 1688 it is singular that there are only two marriages entered in the Flixton parish register.  There was, perhaps, some particular reason for this at the time; but the fact will give the reader some idea of the smallness of the population in those days.  From this time the phrase, "Sworn by so-and-so, before Justice so-and-so," is attached to some entries of burial, as thus: "Thomas, ye son of John Owen, of Carrington, buried in sweet floweres, attested by ye wife of George Twickins.  Ye same day of burial, viz., 10th Oct. (1705), John, ye son of John Millatt, jun., of Carrington, an infant, buried in sweet floweres only."  Then follows, "James Parren was not buried in any materiall contrary to a late Act for Buryinge in Woollen.—Sworn by Mary Parren, before Justice Peter Egerton, Jan. 28th, 1705."  The burials in the year 1706 are almost all in "sweet floweres only."  This is the year when Nathan Collier was born, being the first mention of that family in the register.  Three years after, his brother John (Tim Bobbin) was born; after which the Colliers disappear from the register altogether.  Some of the burials occurring between 1720 and 1726 are remarkable for the manner of their entry, as, "Sarah, daughter of Schoolmaster Pony;" "James, Thomas Jaddock's father;" "John Swindell, taken out of ye river;" "Widow Peers' child, Aug. 5th;" and this is followed three days after by "Richd., son of Widow Peers, Aug. 30th;" "Old Ralph Haslam, from Carrington;"  "Old Henery Roile, from Stretford;" "Old Mrs. Starkey;" "Old John Groons;" "Moss's wife of Urmeston;" "Horox's child of Urmestone;" and "Hannah, daughter of one Dean, of Stretford."  Then come these, in their proper order, entered in a clerkly hand Thomas, Willis, of Bleckly, in the county of Buckingham, Esq., and Mrs. Ann Hulme, Heiress of Davy Hulme, and of the lordship and manor of Urmston, were marry'd. Sept. 3rd, 1735;" and "Anna Willis, the first daughter of Thomas Willis, Esq., born August the 11th, 1736, and baptised ye 14th August.—John Willis, clerk of Bleckley, in Bucks."  I found the Christian name of Randal very common in this register; the names of Starkey, Holt, Rogers, and Egerton, ever accompanied by the title of gentleman; and for the rest, the names of Warburton, Taylor, Royle, Coupe, Darbishire, Shawcross, Gilbody, and Knight, form the staple of the list, with the addition of the Owens of Carrington Moss, who seem to have been a very prolific generation.



The evening comes, and brings the dew along;
The rodie welkin sheeneth to the eyne;
Around the alestake minstrels sing the song;
Young ivy round the door-post doth entwine;
I lay me down upon the grass, yet to my will,
Albeit all is fair, there lacketh something still.


THE people of southern England are apt to sneer at the enthusiasm with which Lancashire men speak of Tim Bobbin; and if this imperfect sketch should fall into the hands of any such readers, it is not improbable that they may look upon the whole thing as a great ado about next to nothing.  One reason for this is that, for the most part, they know next to nothing of the man,—which is not much to be wondered at.  But the greatest difficulty in their case is the remote character of the words and idioms used by Tim.  To the majority of such readers, the dialogue of "Tummus and Mary" is little more than an unintelligible curiosity; and, I believe, speaking generally, that it would be as well understood by the natives of the metropolis if it had been written in French.  The language in which the commanding genius of Chaucer wrought five hundred years ago, and which was the common language of the London of those days, is, even in its most idiomatic part, very much the same as that used in the country parts of Lancashire at this hour.  But great changes have come round since the time of Chaucer, and though an Englishman is an Englishman in general character all the world over, there is as much difference now in the tone of manners and language in the North and South as there is between the tones of an organ and those of a piano.  I have hardly ever met with a southern man able to comprehend the quaint dramatic gem which flashes and sparkles with living fire and country humour, under the equally quaint garb of old language in which Tim clothes his story of "Tummus and Mary."  But, on its first appearance, the people of his own district at once recognised an exquisite picture of themselves; and they hailed it with delight.  He superintended several editions of his works during his lifetime,—a time when the population of Lancashire was very scanty, and scattered over large, bleak spaces, and when publishing was a very different thing to what it is now.  Since then, his principal story has continually grown in the estimation of scholars and students as a valuable addition to the treasures of English philology, even apart from the genius which combined its humorous details with such masterly art, and finished and rounded it into the completeness of a literary dewdrop.  That tale was calculated to command attention and awaken delight at once,—and it will long be cherished with pride, by Lancashire men at least, as a "glimpse of auld lang syne."  But those who wish to understand the force of Tim's character must look to his letters, and other prose fragments, such as "Truth in a Mask."  These chiefly reveal the sterling excellence of the man.  He was a clear-sighted, daring, independent politician,—one of the strong old pioneers of human freedom in these parts.  He had a curious audience in that secluded corner of Lancashire where he lived,—in those days,—a people who had worn their political shackles so long that they almost looked upon them as ornaments.

But Tim kept what was fu bravely;

and he was continually blurting out some startling truth or another, in vigorous unmistakable English; and he gloried in the then disreputable and dangerous epithet of "Reforming John."  This, too, in the teeth of patrons and friends whose political tendencies were in an entirely opposite direction.  Let any man turn to the letter he writes to his friend, the Rev. Mr. Heap, of Dorking, who had desired him to "spare the levitical order," and then say whether there was any shadow of sycophancy in the soul of John Collier.  Under the correction of magnifying the matter through the medium of one's native likings, then, I will venture to declare a feeling akin to veneration for the spot where he was born; and I know that it is shared by the men of his native county generally, even by those who find themselves at a difficult distance from his quaint tone of thought and language,—for it takes a man thoroughly akin to the Lancashire soil to appreciate him thoroughly.  But, apart from all, local inclinings, men of thought and feeling will ever welcome any spark of genuine creative fire which glows with such genial human sympathies, and such an honourable sense of justice, as John Collier evinces, however humble it may be in comparison with the achievements of those mighty spirits who have made the literature of Britain glorious in the earth.  The waters of the little mountain stream, singing its lone low song as it struggles through its rocky channel, are dear to that ruggèd solitude as is the great ocean to the shores on which its surges play.  Nay, what is that ocean but the gathered chorus of these lonely waters, in which the individual voice is lost in one grand combination of varied tones?  With this imperfect notice, I will, at present, leave our old local favourite, and take another glance at Flixton before I come away.

    The reader may remember that, on the day of my first visit to John Collier's birthplace, I lounged some time about the hamlet of Urmston, conversing with the inhabitants.  Leaving that spot, I rambled leisurely along the high-road to Flixton, hob-nobbing and enquiring among different sorts of people, about him, wherever opportunity offered.  When I drew near to Shaw Hall, I had traversed a considerable part of the length of the parish, which is only four miles, at most, by about two in breadth.  There is nothing like a hill to be seen; but as one wanders on, the country rises and falls, in gentle undulations.  Now and then a pool of water gleamed afar off in the green fields, or close by the road, rippled into wavelets by the keen wind, which came down steadily from the north that day, whistling shrill cadences among the starved thorns.  I cannot give a better idea of the character of the soil than by borrowing the words of Baines, who says: "Much of the land in the parish of Flixton is arable, probably to the amount of nine-tenths of the whole.  The farms are comparatively large, and the soil is in general a rich black, sandy vegetable loam, producing corn, fruit, and potatoes in abundance."  I believe the land is now in better cultivation than when these words were written.  Shaw Hall is an important place in the history of Flixton.  The lords of the land dwelt there in old times.  At the time of my visit it was occupied as a boarding school by Mr. James M'Dougall, who was kind enough to show me through the interior when I called there in my ramble.  Baines says of Shaw Hall: "It is a venerable mansion, of the age of James I., with gables and wooden parapets on the S.W. and N. sides.  The roof has a profusion of chimneys, and a cupola in the centre.  In one of the apartments is a painting, covering the principal part of the ceiling, which represents the family of Darius kneeling in supplication before Alexander the Great.  This picture, though two hundred years old, is in fine preservation, and the faces and figures indicate the hand of a master.  There are some smaller paintings and tapestry in the rooms, on one of which is represented a Persian chief at parley with Alexander, and afterwards submitting to the conqueror.  Stained glass in the windows exhibit the arms of Asshawe and Egerton, successive lords of Flixton. . . . Adjoining the ample gardens and filbert grove was once a moat; which has partly disappeared."  I cannot leave this place without mentioning that the then tenant of the hall was a poet of no mean promise, who has contributed an interesting volume of poems and songs to the literature of this district.  From the high-road, a little beyond the hall, the most prominent and pleasing object in the landscape is the old parish church of Flixton, standing in its still more ancient graveyard, upon the brow of a green knoll, about an arrow-flight off, with the village of Flixton clustered behind it.  At the foot of that green knoll, to the westward, where all the country beyond is one unbroken green,—

The river glideth by the hamlet old.

The ground occupied by the church seemed to me the highest in the landscape, and the venerable fane stands there, looking round upon the quiet parish like a mother watching her children at play, and waiting till they come home to lie down and sleep with the rest.  It was getting late in the evening when I sauntered about the churchyard, looking over the gravestones of Warburtons, Taylors, Cowpes, Gilbodys, Egertons, and Owens of Carrington.  Among the rest, I found the following well-known epitaph upon William Oldfield, of Stretford, smith:—

My anvil and my hammer lie declined,
My bellows have quite lost their wind,
My coals are done, my debt is paid,
My vices in the dust are laid.

This epitaph, which appears here in such an imperfect shape, is commonly attributed to Tim.  In the Rochdale parish churchyard, it appears in a much completer form on the gravestone of a blacksmith who lived in Tim's time.

    I rambled about the old village a while in the dusk.  Now and then a villager lounged along in the direction of the inn, near the church, where I could hear several hearty country fellows talking together in high glee, whilst one of them sang snatches of an old ballad, called the "Golden Glove":—

Coat, waistcoat, and breeches she then did put on,
And a-hunting she went with her dog and gun;
She hunted all around where the farmer did dwell,
Because in her heart she did love him full well.

    At length the horses were put to, and we got fairly upon the road, which took us back in another direction, round by Davy Hulme, the seat of the Norreys family.  Immediately after clearing the village, Flixton House was pointed out to me,—"a plain family mansion, with extensive grounds and gardens."  The wind was cold, and the shades of night gathered fast around; and before we quitted Flixton parish the birthplace of Tim Bobbin had faded from view.  I felt disappointed in finding that the place of his nativity yielded so little reminiscence of our worthy old humourist—the simple reason for which is that very little is known of him there.  But there was compensating pleasure to me in meeting with so many interesting things which I did not go in search of.



If thou on men, their works and ways,
    Canst throw uncommon light, man,
Here lies wha weel had won thy praise,
    For Matthew was a bright man.


IT is not in its large towns that the true type of the natives of Lancashire can be seen.  The character of its town population is greatly modified by mixture with settlers from distant quarters.  Not so in the country parts, because the tenancy of land, and employment upon it, are sufficiently filled by the natives; and while temptations to change of settlement are fewer, the difficulties in the way of change are greater there than in towns.  Country people, too, stick to their old sod, with hereditary love, as long as they can keep soul and body together upon it in any honest way.  As numbers begin to press upon the means of living, the surplus fights its way in cities, or in foreign lands, or lingers out a miserable life in neglected corners, for want of work and want of means to remove to a market where it might, at least, exchange its labour for its living.  The growth of manufactures and railways, and the influx of hordes of poor, down-trodden Irish, are stirring up Lancashire, and changing its features in a surprising way; and this change is rapidly augmenting by a varied infusion of new human elements, attracted from all quarters of the kingdom by the increase of capital, boldly embarked in new inventions and ever-developing appliances of science, by a people remarkable for enterprise and industry.  Still, he who wishes to see the genuine descendants of those old Saxons who came over here some fourteen hundred years ago, to help the Britons of that day to fight for their land, and remained to farm it and govern in it, let him ramble through the villages on the western side of Blackstone Edge.  He will there find the open manners, the independent bearing, the steady perseverance, and the manly sense of right and wrong, which characterised their Teutonic forefathers.  There, too, he will find the fair comeliness and massive physical constitution of those broad-shouldered farmer-warriors who made a smiling England out of an island of forests and bogs,—who felled the woods, and drained the marshes, and pastured their quiet kine in the ancient lair of the wild bull, the boar, and the wolf.

    Milnrow is an old village, a mile and a half eastward from the Rochdale Station.  The external marks of its antiquity are now few, and much obscured by the increase of manufacture there, but it is, for many reasons, well worth a visit.  It is part of the township of Butterworth, enriched with many a scene of mountain beauty.  A hardy moorland race, half-farmers, half-woollen-weavers, inhabit the district; and their substantial cottages and farmsteads often perch picturesquely about the summits and sides of the hills, or nestle pleasantly in green holms and dells, which are watered by rivulets from the wild uplands bounding the township on the east.  There is also a beautiful lake, three miles in circumference, filling a green valley up in the hills, about a mile and a half from the village.  Flocks of sea-fowl often rest on this water in their flight from the eastern to the western seas.  From its margin the view of the wild ridges of the "Backbone of England" is fine to the north, while that part of it called "Blackstone Edge" slopes up majestically from the cart-road that winds along the eastern bank.  A massive cathedral-looking crag frowns on the forehead of the mountain.  This rock is a great point of attraction to ramblers from the vales below, and is known as "Robin Hood Bed."  Hundreds of names are sculptured on the surface of the rock, some in most extraordinary situations; and often have the keepers of the moor been startled at peep of summer dawn by the strokes of some adventurous chiseller hammering his initials into its hard face as stealthily as possible.  But the sounds float clear as a bell miles over the moor in the quiet of the morning, and disturb the game.  One of the favourite rambles of my youth was from Rochdale town, through that part of Butterworth which leads by Clegg Hall, commemorated in Roby's tradition of "Clegg Ho' Boggart," and thence across the green hills, by the old farmhouse called "Pennock," or "Pea-nook," and skirting along the edge of this quiet lake,—upon whose waters I have spent many a happy summer day alone,—up the lofty moorside beyond, to this rock called "Robin Hood Bed," upon the bleak summit of Blackstone Edge.  It is so large that it can be seen at a distance of four miles by the naked eye, on a clear day.  The name of Robin Hood, that brave outlaw of the olden time,—"the English ballad-singer's joy,"—is not only wedded to this wild crag, but to at least one other congenial spot in this parish, where the traditions of the people point to another rock, of several tons weight, as having been thrown thither by the king of the greenwoods from an opposite hill, nearly seven miles off.  The romantic scene where the lake lies is above the level of Milnrow, and quite out of the ordinary way of the traveller, who is too apt to form his opinion of the features of the whole district from the sample he sees on the sides of the rail between Manchester and Rochdale.  But if he wishes to know the country and its inhabitants, he must get off that "an' tak th' crow-gate," and he will find vast moors, green cloughs and dells, and

Shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals,

which will repay him for his pains.  And then, if he be a Lancashire man, and a lover of genius, let him go to Milnrow,—it was the dwelling-place of Tim Bobbin, with whose works I hope he is not unacquainted.  His written works are not much in extent.  He was a painter, and his rough brush was replete with Hogarthian sketches, full of nature, and radiant with his own humorous originality.  He also left a richly-humorous dialectic tale, and a few poems, and letters, characteristic of the sterling quality of his heart and head, and just serving to show us how much greater the man was than his book.

    I was always proud of Tim, and in my early days made many a pilgrimage to the village where he used to live, wandering home again through the green hills of Butterworth.  Bent on seeing the place once more, I went up to Hunt's Bank, one fine day at the end of hay-time, to catch the train to Rochdale.  I paid my shilling, and took my seat among a lot of workmen and country-folk coming back from Wales and the bathing-places on the Lancashire coast.  The season had been uncommonly fine, and the trippers looked brighter for their out, and, to use their own phrase, felt "fain at they'rn wick," and ready to buckle to work again with fresh vigour.  The smile of summer had got into the saddest of us a little, and we were communicative and comfortable.  A long-limbed collier lad, after settling his body in a corner, began to hum, in a jolting metre, with as much freedom of mind as if he was at the mouth of a lonely "breast-hee" on his native moorside, a long country ditty , about the courtship of Phœbe and Colin,—

Well met, dearest Phoebe!   Oh, why is such haste?
The fields and the meadows all day I have chased,
In search of the fair one who does me disdain,
You ought to reward me for all my past pain.

The late-comers, having rushed through the ticket-office into the carriages, were wiping their foreheads and wedging themselves into their seats, in spite of many protestations about being "to full o' ready."  The doors were slammed, the bell rung, the tickets were shown, the whistle screamed its shrill signal, and off we went, like a street on wheels, over the little Irk that makes such a slushy riot under the wooden bridge by the college wall.  Within the memory of living men, the angler used to come down the bank and settle himself among the grass, to fish in its clear waters.  But since Arkwright set this part of the world astir with his practicable combination of other men's inventions, the Irk, like the rest of South Lancashire streams, has been put to work, and its complexion is now so "subdued to what it works in" that the angler comes no more to its banks to beguile the delicate loach and the dainty trout in his glittering suit of silver mail.

    The train is now past Miles Platting, and about a mile over the fields, on the north side, lies the romantic dell called "Boggart-Hole Clough," hard by the village of Blackley,—a pleasant spot for an afternoon walk from Manchester.  Very soon, now, the skirts of Oldham town are in sight, scattered about the site and summit of a barren slope, with the tower of the parish church peeping up between the chimneys of the cotton factories.  The country has a monotonous look, and is bleak and sterile, with hardly anything worthy of the name of a tree to be seen upon it.  But now, about a hundred yards past the Oldham Station, there is a little of the picturesque to feast on.  We are crossing a green valley, running north and south.  Following the rivulet through the hollow, a thick wood waves on a rising ground to the south.  In that wood stands Chadderton Hall, anciently the seat of the Chaddertons,—some of whom were notable men,—and since then the seat of the Horton family.  The situation is pleasant, and the land about it looks richer than the rest of the neighbourhood.  There was a deer-park here in the time of the Hortons.  Chadderton is a place of some note in the history of the county; and it is said to have formerly belonged to one of the old orders of knighthood.  On the other side of the line, about a mile and a half off, the south-east end of Middleton is in sight, with its old church on the top of a green hill.  The greater part of the parish of Middleton, with other possessions in South Lancashire, belonging to the Ashetons from before Richard III., when extraordinary powers were granted to Randulph Asheton.  The famous Sir Ralph Asheton, called "The Black Lad," from his wearing black armour, is traditionally said to have ruled in his territories in South Lancashire with great severity.  In the town of Ashton, one of the lordships of this family, his name is still remembered with a kind of hereditary dislike; and till within the last five or six years he has been shot at and torn to pieces, in effigy, by the inhabitants, at the annual custom of "The Riding of the Black Lad."  The hero of the fine ballad called "The Wild Rider," written by Bamford, the Lancashire poet, was one of this family.  The Middleton estates, in 1776, failing male issue, passed by marriage into the families of De Wilton and Suffield.  Now, many a rich cotton spinner, perhaps lineally descended from some of the villain-serfs of the "Black Lad," has an eye to buying the broad lands of the proud old Ashetons.

    The train is now hard by Blue Pits Station, and the, moorland hills sail into sight, stretching from the round peak of Knowl, on the north-west, to the romantic heights of Saddleworth on the south-east.  The train is three minutes from Rochdale, but, before it reaches there, let the traveller note that picturesque old mansion, on the green, above Castleton Clough, at the left-hand side of the rail.  This is Castleton Hall, formerly a seat of the Holts of Stubley, an ancient and powerful family in this parish in the reign of Henry VIII.  Castleton Hall came afterwards into the possession of Humphrey Chetham, the founder of Chetham College, in Manchester.  Since then it has passed into other hands; but the proverb, "As rich as a Chetham o' Castleton," is often used by the people of the district at this day.  Castleton Hall was an interesting place to me when I was a lad.  As I pass by it now I sometimes think of the time when I first sauntered down the shady avenue which leads to it from the high-road behind, and climbed upon a mossy wall to look into the green gloom of a mysterious wood at the rear of the building.  Even now, I remember the flush of imaginations which came over me then.  I had picked up some historic lore about the hall which deepened the interest I felt in it.  The solemn old rustling wood, the quaint appearance and serene dignity of the hall, and the spell of interest which lingers around every relic of the works and haunts of men of bygone times made the place eloquent to me.  It seemed to me like a monumental history of its old inhabitants and their times.  I remember, too, that I once got a peep into a part of the hall where some ancient armour hung against the wall, silent and rusty enough, but to me, teeming with tales of chivalry and knightly emprise.  But here is Rochdale station, where he who wishes to visit the village of Milnrow had better alight.

    If the traveller had time to go down into Rochdale town he might see some interesting things there.  The town is picturesquely situated.  It lines the sides of a deep valley on the banks of the Roch, overlooked by moorland hills.  In Saxon times it was an insignificant village called "Rocheddam," consisting of a few rural dwellings in Church Lane, a steep and narrow old street, which was, down to the middle of last century, the principal thoroughfare of the town, though now the meanest and obscurest.  The Right Hon. John Bright,—a man whose fame as a true patriot and statesman will wrestle hard with time,—was born in this town, and lives at One Ash, on the north side of it.  John Roby, author of the "Traditions of Lancashire," was a banker, in Rochdale, of the firm of Fenton and Roby.  The bank was next door to the shop of Thomas Holden, the principal bookseller of the town, to whom I was apprentice.  For the clergy of the district, and a certain class of politicians, this shop was the cheap rendezvous of the place.  Roby used to slip in at evening, to have a chat with my employer and a knot of congenial spirits who met him there.  Rochdale was one of the places where the woollen manufacture was first practised in England.  It is still famous for its flannel.  The history of Rochdale is in one respect but the counterpart of that of almost every other South Lancashire town.  With the birth of cotton manufacture, it shot up suddenly into one of the most populous and wealthy country towns in England.  After the traveller has contemplated the manufacturing might of the place, he may walk up the quaint street from which the woollen merchants of old used to despatch their goods, on pack-horses, to all parts of the kingdom, and from which it takes the name of Packer Street.  At the top, a flight of one hundred and twenty-two steps leads into the churchyard, which commands an excellent view of the town below.  There, too, lies Tim Bobbin.  Few Lancashire strangers visit the town without looking at the old rhymer's resting-place.  Bamford, author of "Passages in the Life of a Radical," thus chronicles an imaginary visit to Tim's grave, in happy imitation of the dialect of the neighbourhood:—

Aw stood beside Tim Bobbin grave,
    At looks o'er Rachda teawn,
An th' owd lad woke within his yearth,
    An sed, "Wheer arto beawn?"

"Aw'm gooin into th' Packer Street,
    As far as th' Gowden Bell,
To taste o' Daniel Kesmus ale."
    Tim: "Aw could like a saup mysel."

"An by this bent o' my reet arm,
    If fro that hole theawl reawk,
Theawst have a saup o'th best breawn ale
    At ever lips did seawk."

The greawnd it sturrd beneath meh feet,
    An then aw yerd a groan
He shook the dust fro off his skull,
    And rowlt away the stone.

Aw brought him op a deep breawn jug,
    At a gallon did contain:
He took it at one blessed droight,
    An laid him deawn again.

    Some of the epitaphs on the gravestones were written by Tim.  The following one, on Joe Green, the sexton, is published with Tim's works:—

Here lies Joe Green, who arch has been,
    And drove a painful trade
With powerful Death, till out of breath
    He threw away his spade.
When Death beheld his comrade yield,
    He, like a cunning knave,
Came, soft as wind, poor Joe behind,
    And pushed him into his grave.

"Blind Abraham," who rang the curfew, and who used to imitate the chimes of the old church in a wonderful way for the lads at the Grammar School, could lead a stranger from any point of the churchyard, straight as an arrow-flight, to Tim's gravestone.  The Grammar School was founded in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, by Archbishop Parker.  The parish church is an interesting old edifice, standing on the edge of an eminence which overlooks the town.  Tradition says its foundations were laid by "Goblin Builders."  The living was anciently dependent on the Abbey of Whalley.  It is now the richest vicarage in the kingdom.  A short walk through the glebe lands, and past "Th' Cant-hill Well," [p.61] west of the vicarage, will bring the traveller to the hill on which, in 1080, stood the castle of Gamel, the Saxon thane, above the valley called "Kill-Danes," where the northern pirates once lost a great fight with the Saxon.

    After spending a few days in the town, I set out for Milnrow, one fine afternoon.  The hay was mostly gathered in, but the smell of it lingered on the meadows, and perfumed the wind, which sung a low melody among the leaves of the hedges.  Along the vale of the Roch, on my left, lay a succession of manufacturing villages, with innumerable mills, collieries, farmsteads, mansions, and cottages, clustering in the valley, and running up into the hills in all directions, from Rochdale to Littleborough, a distance of three miles.  As I went on, I was reminded of "wimberry time," by meeting knots of flaxen-headed lads and lasses from the moors, with their baskets filled, and mouths all stained with the juice of that delicious fruit.  There are many pleasant customs in vogue here at this season.  The country folk generally know something of local botany, and gather in a stock of medicinal herbs to dry for use throughout the year.  There is still some "spoin"' at the mineral springs in the hills.  Whether these springs are really remarkable for peculiar mineral virtues, or what these peculiar virtues are, I am not prepared to say; but it is certain that many of the inhabitants of this district firmly believe in their medicinal qualities, and, at set seasons of the year, go forth in jovial companies, to drink "spo wayter."  Some go with great faith in the virtues of the water, and, having drunk well of it, they will sometimes fill a bottle with it, and ramble back to their houses, gathering on their way edible herbs, such as "payshun docks," and "green-sauce," or "a burn o' nettles," to put in their broth, and of which they also make a wholesome "yarb-puddin'," mixed with meal; or they scour the hill-sides in search of "mountainflax," a " capital yarb for a cowd," and for the herb called "tormentil," which, I have heard them say, grows oftenest "abeawt th' edge o'th singing layrock neest" or they will call upon some country botanist to beg a handful of "Solomon's seal," to "cure black een wi.'"  But some go to these springs mainly for the sake of a pleasant stroll and a quiet feast.  One of the most noted of these "spoin'" haunts is "Blue Pots Spring," situated upon a lofty moorland, at the head of a green glen, called "Long Clough," about three miles from the village of Littleborough.  The ancient Lancashire festival of "Rushbearing" and the hay-harvest fall together, in the month of August, and make it a pleasant time of the year to the folk of the neighbourhood.  At about a mile on the road to Milnrow, the highway passes close by a green dingle, called "Th' Gentlewoman's Nook," which is some way connected with the unfortunate fate of a lady, once belonging to an influential family near Milnrow.  Some of the country people yet believe that the place is haunted, and after dark has come on they steal fearfully and hastily by.

    About a mile on the road stands Belfield Hall, on the site of an ancient house formerly belonging to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem.  It is a large old building, belonging to the Townley family.  A little further on, Fir Grove Bridge crosses the Rochdale Canal, and commands a good view of the surrounding country.  I rested here a little while, and looked back upon the spot which is for ever dear to my remembrance.  The vale of the Koch lay smiling before me, and the wide-stretching circle of dark hills closed in the landscape on all sides except the southwest.  Two weavers were lounging on the bridge, bare headed, and in their working gear, with stocking-legs drawn on their arms.  They had come out of the looms to spend their "baggin-time" in the open air, and were humming one of Alexander Wilson's songs:—

Hey, Hal o' Nabs, an Sam, an Sue,
Hey, Jonathan, art thea theer too?
We're o' alike, there's nought to do,
        So bring a quart afore us!
Aw're at Tinker's gardens yester noon,
An' what aw see'd aw'll tell yo soon,
In a bran new sung; it's to th' owd tune,—
        Yo'st ha't if yo'n join chorus.
                Fal, lal, de ral.

At the door of the Fir Grove alehouse, a lot of raw-boned young fellows were talking in strong phrase about the exploits of a fighting-cock of great local renown, known by the name of "Crash-Bwons."  The theme was exciting, and in the course of it they gesticulated with great vehemence, and, in their own phrase, "swore like horse-swappers."  Some were colliers, and sat on the ground, in that peculiar squat, with the knees up to a level with the chin, which is a favourite resting-attitude with them.  At slack times they like to sit thus by the road-side, and exchange cracks over their ale, amusing themselves meanwhile by trying the wit and temper of every passer-by.  These humorous roadside commentators are generally the roughest lads of the neighbourhood, who have no dislike to anybody willing to accommodate them with a tough battle; for they are hardy, bold, and independent; and while their manners are open and blunt, their training and amusements are very rough.

    I was now approaching Milnrow; and here and there a tenter-field ribbed the landscape, with lines of woollen webs hung upon the hooks to dry.  Severe laws were anciently enacted for the protection of goods thus necessarily exposed.  Depredations on such property were punished after the manner of that savage old "Maiden" with the thin lip, who stood so long on the "Gibbet Hill" at Halifax, kissing evil-doers out of the world.  Much of the famous Rochdale flannel is still woven by the country people here in the old-fashioned independent way at their own homes, as the traveller will see by "stretchers," which are used for drying their warps upon, so frequently standing at the doors of the roomy dwelling-houses near the road.

    There were old people then living in Milnrow who had been taught to read and write and "do sums" in Tim Bobbin's school; yet the majority of the inhabitants were unacquainted with his residence.  I had myself been misled respecting it; but having obtained correct information, and a reference from a friend in Rochdale to an old relative of his who lived in the veritable cottage of renowned Tim, I set about enquiring for him.  As I entered the village, I met a good-looking woman, with a chocolate-coloured silk kerchief tied over her snowy cap in that graceful way which is known all over the country-side as a "Milnrow Bonnet."  She stopped me and said, "Mestur, how fur han yo com'd?"  "From Rochdale."  "Han yo sin aught of a felly wi breeches on, an' rayther forrud, upo' th' gate between here an' th' Fir Grove?"  I told her I had not; and I then inquired for Scholefield, that lived in Tim Bobbin's cottage.  She reckoned up all the people she knew of that name, but none of them answering the description, I went on my way.  I next asked a tall woollen-weaver, who was striding up the street with his shuttle to the mending.  Scratching his head, and looking thoughtfully around among the houses, he said, "Scwofil?  Aw know no Scwofils, but thoose at th' Tim Bobbin aleheawse.  Yodd'n better ax theer."  Stepping over to the Tim Bobbin inn, Mrs. Scholefield described to me the situation of Tim's cottage, near the bridge.  Retracing my steps towards the place, I went into the house of an old acquaintance of my childhood.  On the strength of a dim remembrance of my features, he invited me to sit down and share the meal just got ready for the family.  "Come, poo a cheer up," said he, "an' need no moor lathein'." [p.66]  After we had finished, he said, "Neaw, win yo have a reech o' bacco?  Molly, reytch us some pipes, an th' pot out o'th nook.  Let's see, who's lad are yo, sen yo, for aw welly forgetten?"  After a fruitless attempt at enlightening him thereon in ordinary English I took to the dialect, and, in the country fashion, described my genealogy on the mother's side.  I was instantly comprehended; for he stopped me short with,—"Why, then, aw'll be sunken iv yo are not gron'son to 'Billy wi' th' Pipes at th' Biggins!'"  "Yo han it neaw," said I.  "Eh," replied he, "aw knowed him as weel as aw knew my own feythur!  He're a terrible chap for music, an' sich like; an' he used to letter gravestones, an' do masonwark.  Eh, aw've bin to mony a orrytory wi' Owd Billy!  Why,—let's see,—Owd Wesley preytched at his heawse, i' Wardle fowd, once't. [p.67]  An' han yo some relations i'th Mildro, then?"  I told him my errand, and inquired for Scholefield, who lived in Tim Bobbin's cottage.  As he pondered, and turned the name over in his mind, one of his lads shouted out, "By th' mon, fayther, it's 'Owd Mahogany.'  Aw think he's code (called) Scwofil, an' he lives i'th garden at th' bottom o'th bonk, by th' wayter-side."  It was generally agreed that this was the place, so I parted with my friends, and went towards it.  The old man came out without his hat a short distance to set me right.  After bidding me a hearty "Good neet," he turned round as he walked away, and shouted out, "Neaw, tak care yo coan th' next time yo com'n this gate, an' wi'n have a gradely do!"

    About twenty yards from the west end of the little stone bridge that spans the river, a lane leads between the dwelling-houses down to the water-side.  There, still sweetly secluded, stands the quaint substantial cottage of John Collier, in its old garden on the bank of the Beal, which, flowing through the fields in front towards the cottage, is there dammed up into a reservoir for the use of the mill close by, and then tumbling over in a noisy little fall under the garden edge, goes shouting and frolicking under the north-east side of it, over water-worn rocks and under the bridge, till the cadence dies away in a low murmur beyond, where the bed of the stream gets smoother.  Lifting the latch, I walked through the garden to the cottage, where I found Owd Mahogany and his maiden sister, two plain clean substantial working-people, who were sitting in the low-roofed but otherwise roomy apartment in front, used as a kitchen.  They entered heartily into the purpose of my visit, and showed me everything about the house with a genial pride.  What made the matter more interesting was the fact that Owd Mahogany had been, when a lad, a pupil of Collier's.  The house was built expressly for Tim by his father-in-law; and the uncommon thickness of the walls, the number and arrangement of the rooms, and the remains of a fine oak staircase, showed that more than usual care and expense had been bestowed upon it.  As we went through the rooms on the ground-floor, my ancient guide gave me a good deal of anecdote connected with each.  Pointing to a clean, cold, whitewashed cell, with a great flag table in it, and a grid-window at one end, he said, "This wur his buttery, wheer he kept pullen, [p.68] an gam, an sich like; for there wur no mon i' Rachda' parish liv't betther than Tim, nor moor like a gentleman; nor one at had moor friends, gentle an simple.  Th' Teawnleys took'n to him fearfully, an thir'n olez comin' to see him, or sendin' him presents o' some mak."  He next showed me the parlour where he used to write and receive company,—a little oblong room, low in the roof, and dimly lighted by a small window from the garden.  Tim used to keep this room tastefully adorned with the flowers of each season, and one might have eaten his dinner off the floor in his time.  In the garden he pointed out the corner where Tim had a green arbour, with a smooth stone table in the middle, on which lay his books, his flute, or his meals, as he was in the mood.  He would stretch himself out here, and muse for hours together.  The lads used to bring their tasks from the school behind the house to this arbour, for Tim to examine.  He had a green shaded walk from the school into his garden.  When in the school, or about the house, he wore a silk velvet skull-cap.  The famous Radical, William Cobbett, used to wear a similar one, occasionally; and I have heard those who have seen both in this trim say that the likeness of the two men was then singularly striking.  Owd Mahogany having now shown and told me many interesting things respecting Tim's house and habits, he then began heartily to praise his character as a man and a schoolmaster.  "He wur a fine, straight-forrad mon, wi' no maffle abeawt him; for o' his quire cranky ways."  As an author, he thought him "The finest writer that Englan' bred, at that time o'th day."  Of his caligraphy, too, he seemed particularly proud, for he declared that "Tim could write a clear print hond, as smo' as smithy smudge."  He finished by saying that he saw him carried out of the doorway we were standing in to his grave.

    At the edge of dark, I bade adieu to Tim's cottage, and the quaint old couple that lived in it.  As I looked back from the garden-gate, the house wore a plaintive aspect, in my imagination, as if it were thinking of its fine old tenant.  Having heard that there was something uncommon to be learned of him at the Tim Bobbin Inn, I went there again.  It was the largest and most respectable hostelry in the village, kept in a fine state of homely comfort by a motherly old widow.  I found that she could tell me something of the quaint schoolmaster and his wife Mary, who, as she said, "helped to bring her into th' world."  She brought out a folio volume of engravings, from designs by Tim, with many pieces of prose and verse of his, in engraved facsimile of his handwriting.  The book was bound in dark morocco, with the author's name on the side in gold.  I turned it over with pleasure, for there were things in it not found in any edition of his works.  The landlady showed this book with pride to Tim's admirers; by some she had been offered large sums of money for it; and once a party of curious visitors had well-nigh carried it off by stealth, in their carriage, after making fruitless offers of purchase; but the plan was detected in time, and the treasure restored to its proper custody.  I read in it one of his addresses to his subscribers, in which he says of himself, he's "Lancashire born; and, by-the-by, all his acquaintance agree, his wife not excepted, that he's an odd fellow. . . . In the reign of Queen Anne he was a boy, and one of the nine children of a poor curate in Lancashire, whose stipend never amounted to thirty pounds a year; and consequently the family must feel the iron teeth of penury with a witness.  These, indeed, were sometimes blunted by the charitable disposition of the good rector (the Rev. Mr. H.—, of W—n).  So this T. B. lived as other boys did, content with water-pottage, buttermilk and jannock, till he was between thirteen and fourteen years of age, when Providence began to smile on him in his advancement to a pair of Dutch looms, when he met with treacle to his pottage, and sometimes a little in his buttermilk, or spread on his jannock.  However, the reflections of his father's circumstances (which now and then start up and still edge his teeth) make him believe that Pluralists are not good Christians; that he who will accept of two or more places of one hundred a year would not say, I have enough, though he were Pope Clement, Urban, or Boniface,—could affirm himself infallible, and offer his toe to kings; that the unequal distribution of Church emoluments is as great a grievance in the ecclesiastic as undeserved pensions and places are in the State,—both of which, he presumes to prophesy, will prove canker-worms at the roots of those succulent plants, and in a few years cause leaf and branch to shrivel up, and dry them to tinder."  The spirit of this passage seems the natural growth, in such a mind as his, of the course of study in the hard college of Tim's early days.  In the thrifty home of the poor Lancashire curate, though harrowed by "the iron teeth of penury," Tim inherited riches that wealth could not buy.  Under the tuition of a good father, who could train his reflective and susceptible mind, and teach him many excellent things, together with that keen struggle to keep the wolf from the door of his childhood, which pressed upon his thoughts, he grew up contemplative, self-reliant, and manly, on oatmeal porridge and jannock, with a little treacle for a Godsend.  His feelings were deepened, and his natural love of independence strengthened there, with that hatred of all kinds of injustice which flashes through the rich humour and genial kindness of his nature,—for Nature was strong in him, and he relished her realities.  Poverty is not pleasant, yet the world has more to thank poverty for than it dreams of.  With honourable pride he fought his way to a pair of Dutch looms, where he learned to win his jannock and treacle by honest weaving.  Subsequently he endeavoured to support himself honourably by pursuits no less useful but more congenial to the bias of his faculties; but, to the last, his heart's desire was less to live in external plenty and precedence among men than to live conscientiously, in the sweet relations of honourable independence in the world.  This feeling was strong in him, and gives dignity to his character.  As a politician, John Collier was considerably ahead of the time he lived in, and especially of the simple, slow-minded race of people dwelling then in that remote nook of Lancashire, at the foot of Blackstone Edge.  Among such people, and in such a time, he spoke and wrote things which few men dared to write and speak.  He spoke, too, in a way which was as independent and pithy as it was quaintly-expressive.  His words, like his actions, stood upon their own feet, and looked up.  Perhaps, if he had been a man of a drier nature,—of less genial and attractive genius than he was,—he might have had to suffer more for the enunciation of truths and the recognition of principles which were unfashionable in those days.  But Collier was not only a man of considerable valour and insight, with a manly mind and temper, but he was also genial and humorous, as be was earnest and honest.  He was an eminently human-hearted man, who abhorred all kinds of cant and seeming.  His life was a greater honour to him even than his pencil or his pen; and the memory of his sayings and doings will be long and affectionately cherished, at least by Lancashire men.

Eh!   Whoo-who-whoo!   What wofo wark!
He's laft um aw, to lie i'th dark.

    The following brief memoir, written by his friend and patron, Richard Towneley, Esq., of Belfield Hall, near Milnrow, for insertion in Dr. Aitken's "History of the Environs of Manchester," contains the best and completest account of his life and character which has yet appeared:—

Mr. JOHN COLLIER, alias TIM BOBBIN, was born near Warrington, in Lancashire.  His father, a clergyman of the Established Church, had a small curacy, and for several years taught a school.  With the joint income of those, he managed so as to maintain a wife and several children decently, and also to give them a tolerable share of useful learning, until a dreadful calamity befell him, about his fortieth year—the total loss of sight.  His former intentions of bringing up his son John,—of whose abilities he had conceived a favourable opinion,—to the Church, were then over, and he placed him out an apprentice to a Dutch-loom weaver, at which business he worked more than a year; but such a sedentary employment not at all according with his volatile spirits and eccentric genius, he prevailed upon his master to release him from the remainder of his servitude.  Though then very young, he soon commenced itinerant schoolmaster, going about the country from one small town to another, to teach reading, writing, and accounts; and generally having a night school (as well as a day one), for the sake of those whose necessary employments would not allow their attendance at the usual school hours.

    In one of his adjournments to the small but populous town of Oldham, he had an intimation that the Rev. Mr. Pearson, curate and schoolmaster of Milnrow, near Rochdale, wanted an assistant in the school.  To that gentleman he applied, and after a short examination was taken in by him to the school, and he divided his salary, twenty pounds a year, with him.  This Tim considered as a material advance in the world, as he still could have a night school, which answered very well in that populous neighbourhood, and was considered by Tim, too, as a state of independency,—a favourite idea, ever afterwards, with his high spirits.  Mr. Pearson, not very long afterwards, falling a martyr to the gout, my honoured father gave Mr. Collier the school, which not only made him happy in the thought of being more independent, but made him consider himself a rich man.

    Having now more leisure hours by dropping his night school there, though he continued to teach at Oldham, and some other places, during the vacations of Whitsuntide and Christmas, he began to instruct himself in music and drawing, and soon was such a proficient in both as to be able to instruct others very well in those amusing arts.

    The hautboy and common flute were his chief instruments, and upon the former he very much excelled—the fine modulations that have since been acquired or introduced upon that noble instrument being then unknown in England.  He drew landscapes in good taste, understanding the rules of perspective, and attempted some heads in profile, with very decent success; but it did not hit his humour, for I have heard him say, when urged to go on in that line, that "drawing heads and faces was as dry and insipid as leading a life without frolic and fun, unless he was allowed to steal in some leers of comic humour, or to give them a good dash of the caricature."  Very early in life he discovered some poetic talents, or rather an easy habit for humorous rhyme, by several anonymous squibs he sent about in ridicule of some notoriously absurd or eccentric characters.  These were fathered upon him very justly, which created him some enemies, but more friends.  I had once in my possession some humorous relations, in tolerable rhyme, of his own frolic and fun with persons he met with, of the like description, in his hours of festive humour, which was sure to take place when released for any time from school duty, and not too much engaged in his lucrative employment of painting.  The first regular poetic composition which he published was "The Blackbird," containing some spirited ridicule upon a Lancashire justice, more renowned for political zeal and ill-timed loyalty than good sense and discretion.  In point of easy, regular versification, perhaps this was his best specimen, and it also exhibited some strokes of humour.

    About this period of life he fell seriously in love with a handsome young woman, a daughter of Mr. Clay, of Flockton, near Huddersfield, and soon after took her unto him for a wife, or, as he used to style her, his crooked rib, who, in proper time, increased his family, and proved to be a virtuous, discreet, sensible, and prudent woman, a good wife, and an excellent mother.  His family continuing to increase nearly every year, the hautboy, flute, and amusing pencil were pretty much discarded, and the brush and pallet taken up seriously.  His was chiefly engaged for some time in painting altar-pieces for chapels and signs for publicans, which pretty well rewarded the labours of his vacant hours from school attendance; but, after some time, family expenses increasing more with his family, he devised, or luckily hit upon, a more lucrative employment for his leisure hours,—this was copying Dame Nature in some of her humorous performances, and grotesque sportings with the human face (especially where the visage had the greatest share in those sportings) [Ed.see charicature], into which his pencil contrived to throw some pointed features of grotesque humour, such as were best adapted to excite risibility, as long as such strange objects had the advantage of novelty to recommend them.  These pieces he worked off with uncommon celerity; a single portrait in the leisure hours of two days, at least, and a group of three or four in a week.  As soon as finished, he was wont to carry them to the first-rate inns at Rochdale and Littleborough, in the great road to Yorkshire, with the lowest prices fixed upon them, the innkeepers willingly becoming Tim's agents.  The droll humour, as well as singularity of style, of those pieces, procured him a most ready sale, from riders out, and travellers of other descriptions, who had heard of Tim's character.  These whimsical productions soon began to be in such general repute, that he had large orders for them, especially from merchants in Liverpool, who sent them, upon speculation, into the West Indies and America.  He used, at that time, to say, that "if Providence had ever meant him to be a rich man, that would have been the proper time, especially if she had kindly bestowed upon him two pairs of hands instead of one."  But when cash came in readily, it was sure to go merrily; a cheerful glass with a joyous companion was so much in unison with his own disposition, that a temptation of that kind could never be resisted by poor Tim.  So the season to grow rich never arrived, but Tim remained poor Tim to the end of the chapter.

    Collier had been for many years collecting, not only from the rustics in his own neighbourhood, but also wherever he made excursions, all the awkward, vulgar, and obsolete words, and local expressions, which ever occurred to him in conversation amongst the lower classes.  A very retentive memory brought them safe back for insertion in his vocabulary, or glossary, and from thence he formed and executed the plan of his "Lancashire Dialect," which he exhibited to public cognisance in the "Adventures of a Lancashire Clown," formed from some rustic sports and gambols, and also some whimsical modes of circulating fun at the expense of silly, credulous boobies amongst the then cheery gentlemen of that peculiar neighbourhood.  This publication, from its novelty, together with some real strokes of comic humour interlarded into it, took very much with the middle and lower class of people in the northern counties (and I believe everywhere in the south, too, where it had the chance of being noticed), so that a new edition was soon necessary.  This was a matter of exultation to Tim, but not of very long duration, for the rapid sale of the second edition soon brought forth two or three pirated editions, which made the honest, unsuspecting owner to exclaim with great vehemence, "that he did not believe there was one honest printer in Lancashire;" and afterwards to lash some of the most culpable of those insidious offenders with his keen, sarcastic pen, when engaged in drawing up a preface to a future publication.  The above-named performances, with his pencil, his brush, and his pen, made Tim's name and repute for whimsical archness pretty generally known, not only within his native county, but also through the adjoining counties of Yorkshire and Cheshire; and his repute for a peculiar species of pleasantry, in his hours of frolic, often induced persons of much higher rank to send for him to an inn (when in the neighbourhood of his residence), to have a personal specimen of his uncommon drollery.  Tim was seldom backward in obeying a summons to good cheer, and seldom, I believe, disappointed the expectations of his generous host, for he had a wonderful flow of spirits, with an inexhaustible fund of humour, and that, too, of a very peculiar character.

    Blest with a clear and masculine understanding, and a keen discernment into the humours and foibles of others, he knew how to take the best advantage of those occasional interviews in order to promote trade, as he was wont to call it, though his natural temper was very far from being of a mercenary cast; it was often rather too free and generous; more so than prudence, with respect to his family, would advise, for he would sooner have had a Lenten day or two at home than done a shabby and mean thing abroad.

    Amongst other persons of good fortune, who often called upon him at Milnrow, or sent for him to spend a few hours with him at Rochdale, was a Mr. Richard Hill, of Kibroid and Halifax, in Yorkshire, then one of the greatest cloth merchants, and also one of the most considerable manufacturers of baizes and shalloons in the north of England.  This gentleman was not only fond of his humorous conversation, but also had taken up an opinion that he would be highly useful to him as his head clerk in business, from his being very ready at accounts, and writing a most beautiful small hand, in any kind of type, but especially in imitation of printed characters.  After several fruitless attempts, he at last, by offers of an extravagant salary, prevailed upon Mr. Collier to enter into articles of service for three years, certain, and to take his family to Kibroid.  After signing and sealing, he called upon me to give notice that he must resign the school, and to thank me for my long-continued friendship to him.  At taking leave, he, like the honest Moor

        Albeit unused to the melting mood,
Dropped tears as fast as the Arabian tree,
Their medicinal gum,

and, in faltering accents, entreated me not to be too hasty in filling up the vacancy in that school where he had lived so many years contented and happy; for he had already some forebodings that he should never relish his new situation and new occupation.  I granted his request, but hoped that he would soon reconcile himself to his new situation, as it promised to be so advantageous both to himself and family.  He replied, that "it was for the sake of his wife and children that he was at last induced to accept Mr. Hill's very tempting offers; no other consideration whatever could have made him give up Milnrow school, and independency."

    About two months afterwards, some business of his master's bringing him to Rochdale market, he took that opportunity of returning by Belfield.  I instantly perceived a wonderful change in his looks; that countenance which used ever to be gay, serene, or smiling, was then covered or disguised with a pensive, settled gloom.  On asking him how he liked his new situation at Kibroid, he replied, "Not at all;" then, enumerating several causes for discontent, concluded with an observation, that "he never could abide the ways of that country, for they neither kept red-letter days themselves nor allowed their servants to keep any."  Before he left me, he passionately entreated that I would not give away the school, for he should never be happy again until he was seated in the crazy old elbow chair within his school.  I granted his request, being less anxious to fill up the vacancy, as there were two other free schools for the same uses within the same townships, which have decent salaries annexed to them.

    Some weeks afterwards I received a letter from Tim, that he had some hopes of getting released from his vassalage; for that the father, having found out what very high wages his son had agreed to give him, was exceedingly angry with him for being so extravagant in his allowance to a clerk; that a violent quarrel betwixt them had been the consequence; and from that circumstance he meant,—at least hoped,—to derive some advantage in the way of regaining his liberty, which he lingered after, and panted for, as much as any galley-slave upon earth.

    Another letter announced that his master perceived that he was dejected, and had lost his wonted spirits and cheerfulness; had hinted to him, that if he disliked his present situation, he should be released at the end of the year; concluding his letter with a most earnest imploring that I would not dispose of the school before that time.  By the interposition of the old gentleman, and some others, he got the agreement cancelled a considerable time before the year expired; and in the evening of the day when the liberation took place, he hired a large Yorkshire cart to bring away bag and baggage by six o'clock next morning, to his own house at Milnrow.  When he arrived upon the west side of Blackstone Edge, he thought himself once more a F
REE MAN; and his heart was as light as a feather.  The next morning he came to Belfield, to know if he might take possession of his school again; which being readily consented to, tears of gratitude instantly streamed down his cheeks, and such a suffusion of joy illumined his countenance as plainly bespoke the heart being in unison with his looks.  He then declared his unalterable resolution never more to quit the humble village of Milnrow; that it was not in the power of kings, nor their prime ministers, to make him any offers, if so disposed, that would allure him from his tottering elbow chair, from humble fare, with liberty and contentment.  A hint was thrown out that he must work hard with his pencil, his brush, and his pen, to make up the deficiency in income to his family.  That he promised to do, and was as good as his promise, for he used double diligence, so that the inns at Rochdale and Littleborough were soon ornamented, more than ever, with ugly grinning old fellows, and mambling old women on broomsticks, &c.

    Tim's last literary productions, as I recollect, were "Remarks upon the Rev. Mr. Whittaker's History of Manchester" (in two parts).  The "Remarks" will speak for themselves.  There appears rather too much seasoning and salt in some of them, mixed with a degree of acerbity for which he was rather blamed.

    Mr. Collier died in possession of his faculties, with his mental powers but little impaired, at nearly eighty years of age, and his eyesight was not so much injured as might have been expected from such a severe use of it, during so long a space of time.  His wife died a few years before him, but he left three sons and two daughters behind him.

    In a sketch like this, it is not easy to select such examples from Collier's writings as will give an adequate idea of their manner and significance.  His quaint story, called "Tummus and Mary," will bear no mutilation.  Of his rhymes, perhaps the best is the one called "The Blackbird."  The following extract from Tim's preface to the third edition of his works, in the form of a dialogue between the author and his book, though far from the best thing he has written, contains some very characteristic touches:—

    Tim.    Well, boh we'n had enough o' this foisty matter; let's talk o' summat elze; an furst tell me heaw thea went on eh thi last jaunt.

    Book.     Gu on!  Belady, aw could ha' gwon on wheantly, an' bin awhoam again wi' th' crap eh meh slop in a sniff, iv id na met, at oytch nook, thoose basthartly whelps sent eawt be Stuart, Finch, an Schofield.

    Tim.    Pooh!  I dunnot meeon heaw folk harbort'nt an cutternt o'er tho; boh what thoose fause Lunnoners said'n abeawt te jump, at's new o'er-bodyt.

    Book.    Oh, oh!  Neaw aw ha't!  Yo meeon'n thoose lung-seeted folk at glooar'n a second time at books; an whooa awr fyert would rent meh jump to chatters.

    Tim.    Reet, mon, reet; that's it,—

    Book.    Whau then, to tello true, awr breeod wi' a gorse waggin; for they took'n mo i'th reet leet to a yure.

    Tim.    Heaw's tat, eh Gods' num!

    Book.    Whau, at yoad'n donned mo o' thiss'n, like a meawntebank's foo, for th' wonst, to mey' th' rabblement fun.

    Tim.    Eh, law!  An did'n th' awvish shap, an th' peckl't jump pan, said'n they?

    Book.    Aye, aye: primely, i'faith!—for they glooarn't sonar at mo; turn't mo reawnd like a tayliur, when he mezzurs folk; chuckt mo under th' chin; ga' mo a honey butter-cake, an said oppenly, they ne'er saigh an awkert look, a quare shap, an a peckl't jump gee better eh their live.

    Tim.    Neaw, e'en fair fa' um, say aw!  These wur'n th' boggarts at flayd'n tho!  But aw'd olez a notion at tear'n no gonner-yeds.

    Book.    Gonner-yeds!  Naw, naw, not te marry!  Bob, aw carry't mysel' meety meeverly too-to, an did as o bidd'n mo.

    Tim.    Then theaw towd um th' tale, and said th' rimes an aw, did to?

    Book.    Th' tale an th' rimes!  'Sflesh, aw believe eh did; but aw know no moor on um neaw than a seawkin' pig.

    Tim.    'Od rottle the! what says to?  Has to foryeat'n th' tayliur findin' th' urchon? an th' rimes?

    Book.    Quite, quite; as eh hope to chieve

    Tim.    Neaw e'en the dule steawnd to, say aw!  What a fuss mun aw have to teytch um tho again!

    Book.    Come, come; dunno fly up in a frap; a body conno carry oytch mander o' think eh their nob.

    Tim.    Whau boh, mind neaw, theaw gawmblin' tyke, at to can tell th' tale an say th' rimes be rot tightly.

    Book.    "Fear me na" said Doton.  Begin.

    Tim.    A tayliur, eh Crummil's time, wur thrunk pooin' turmits in his pingot, an fund an urchon i'th hadloont reean. [p.81-1]  He glendurt at't lung, boh could may nowt on't.  He whoav't his whisket o'ert, runs whoam, an tells his neighbours he thowt in his guts at he'd fund a think at God ne'er made eawt, for it'd nother yed nor tale, nor hont nor hough, nor midst nor eend!  Loath t' believe this, hauve a dozen on um would gu t' see iv they could'n may shift t' gawm it; boh it capt um aw; for they newer a one on um e'er saigh th' like afore.  Then theyd'n a keawncil, an th' eend on't wur at teyd'n fotch a lawm, fause owd felly, hef [p.81-2] an elder, at could tell oytch think,—for they look'nt on him as th' hamil-scoance, an thowt him fuller o' leet than a glowworm's a—se.  When they'n towd him th' case, he stroke't his beeart; sowght; an ordert't th' wheelbarrow wi' spon-new trindle t' be fotcht.  'Twur dun; an they beawln't him away to th' urchon in a crack.  He glooart at't a good while; dried his beeart deawn, an wawtud it o'er with his crutch.  "Wheel mo abeawt again, o'th tother side," said he, "for it sturs, an by that, it should be wick."  Then he dons his spectacles, stare't at't again, an sowghin' said, "Breethur, its summat; boh feyther Adam nother did nor could kersun it!  Wheel mo whoam again!"

    Book.    Aw remember it neaw, weel enough; boh iv these viewers could gawm it oytch body couldna; for aw find neaw at yo compare'n me to a urchon, ut has nother yed nor tale; 'sflesh, is not it like running mo deawn, an a bit to bobbersome?

    Tim.    Naw, naw, not it; for meeny o' folk would gawm th' rimes, boh very lite would underston th' tayliur an his urchon.

    Book.    Th' rimes,—hum,—lemme see.  'Sbilid, aw foryeat'n thoose, too, aw deawt!

    Tim.    Whoo-who-whoo!  What a dozening jobberknow art teaw!

    Book.    Good lorjus o' me!  A body conna do moor thin they con, con they?  Bob iv in teytch mo again, an aw foryeat um again, e'en raddle meh hoyd tightly, say aw.

    Tim.    Mind te hits, then!

Some write to show their wit and parts,
Some show you whig, some tory hearts,
Some flatter knaves, some fops, some fools,
And some are ministerial tools.

    Book.    Eigh, marry, oytch body says so; an gonner-yeds they are for their labbor.


Some few in virtue's cause do write;
But these, alas! get little by't.

    Book.    Indeed, aw can believe o!  Weel rime't, heawe'er.  Gu on.


Some turn out maggots from their head,
Which die before their author's dead.

    Book.    Zuns!  Aw Englanshire 'll think at yo'r glentin' at toose fratchin', byzen, craddlinly tykes as write'n sich papers as th' Test, an sich cawve-tales as Cornish Peter, at fund a new ward, snyin' wi glums an gawries.


Some write such sense in prose and rhyme,
Their works will wrestle hard with Time.

    Book.    That'll be prime wrostlin', i'faith; for aw've yerd um say, Time conquers aw things.


Some few print truth, but many lies,
On spirits, down to butterflies.

    Book.    Reet abeawt boggarts; an' th' tother ward; an th' mon i'th moon, an sich like gear.  Get eendway; it's prime, i'faith.


Some write to please, some do't for spite,
But want of money makes me write.

    Book.    By th' mass, th' owd story again!  Bob aw think eh me guts at it's true.  It'll do.  Yo need'n rime no moor, for it's better t'in lickly.  Whewt [p.82] on Tummus an Mary.

    To a liberal and observant stranger, one of the richest results of a visit to this quarter will arise from a contemplation of the well-defined character of the people that live in it.  The whole population is distinguished by a fine, strong, natural character, which would do honour to the refinements of education.  A genteel visitor, unable to read the heart of this people through their blunt manners, would, perhaps, think them a little boorish.  But though they have not much bend in the neck, and their rough dialect is little blessed with set phrases of courtesy, there are no braver men in the world, and under their uncouth demeanour lives the spirit of true chivalry.  They have a favourite proverb, that "Fair play's a jewel," and are generally careful in all their dealings to act upon it.  They feel a generous pride in the man who can prove himself their master in anything.  Unfortunately, little has yet been done for them in the way of book-education, except what has been diffused by the Sunday schools, since the times of John Wesley, who, in person, as well as by his enthusiastic early preachers, laboured much and earnestly among them, in many parts of South Lancashire.  Yet nature has blest them with a fine vein of mother-wit, and has drilled some useful pages of her horn-book into them in the loom, the mine, and the farm, for they are naturally hard workers and proud of honest labour.  They are keen critics of character, too, and have a sharp eye to the nooks and corners of a stranger's attire, to see that, at least, whether rich or poor, it be sound, and, as they say, "bothomly cleean," for they are jealous of dirty folk.  They are accustomed to a frank expression of what is in them, and like the open countenance, where the time of day may be read in the dial, naturally abhorring "hudden wark, an' meawseneeses."  Among the many anecdotes illustrative of the character of this people, there is one which, though simple, bears a strong stamp of native truth upon it.  A stalwart young fellow, who had long been employed as carter for a firm in this neighbourhood, had an irresistible propensity to fighting, which was constantly leading him into scrapes.  He was an excellent servant in every other respect, but no admonition could cure him of this; and at length he was discharged, in hope to work the desired change.  Dressing himself in his best, he applied to an eminent native merchant for a similar situation.  After other necessary questions, the merchant asked whether he had brought his character with him.  "My character!" replied our hero.  "Naw, aw'm a damned deeol better beawt it!"  This anecdote conveys a very true idea of the rough vigour and candour of the Lancashire country population.  They dislike dandyism and the shabby-genteel, and the mere bandbox exquisite would think them a hopeless generation.  Yet, little as they are tinctured with literature, a few remarkable books are very common among them.  I could almost venture to prophesy, before going into any substantial farmhouse, or any humble cottage in this quarter, that some of the following books might be found there: the Bible, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, the Book of Common Prayer, Baxter's Saints' Rest, and often Wesley's Hymn-Book, Barclay's Dictionary, Culpepper's Herbal, and sometimes Thomas Kempis, or a few old Puritan sermons.  One of their chief delights is the practice of sacred music; and I have heard the works of Haydn, Handel, Mozart, and Beethoven executed with remarkable correctness and taste, in the lonely farmhouses and cottages of South Lancashire.  In no other part of England does such an intense love of sacred music pervade the poorer classes.  It is not uncommon for them to come from the farthest extremity of South Lancashire, and even over the "Edge" from Huddersfield, and other towns of the West Riding of Yorkshire, to hear an oratorio in Manchester, returning home again, sometimes a distance of thirty miles, in the morning.

    I will now suppose that the traveller has seen Tim Bobbin's grave, and has strolled up by Silver Hills, through the scenery of Butterworth, and, having partly contemplated the character of this genuine specimen of a South Lancashire village, is again standing on the little stone bridge which spans the river Beal.  Let him turn his back to the Rochdale road a little while,—we have not done with him yet.  Across the space there, used as a fair-ground, at "Rushbearing" time, stands an old-fashioned stone alehouse, called "Th' Stump and Pie Lad," commemorating by its scabbèd and weather-beaten sign, one of the triumphs of a noted Milnrow runner, on Doncaster racecourse.  Milnrow is still famous for its foot-racers; and Lancashire generally is more famous for foot-racers than any other county in the kingdom.  In that building the ancient lords of Rochdale manor used to hold their court-leets.  Now the dry-throated "lads o'th fowd" meet there to grumble at bad warps and low wages; and to "fettle th' nation" over pitchers of cold ale.  And now, if the traveller is inclined to climb "the slopes of old renown," let him go with me to the other end of the village.

    Milnrow lies on the ground not unlike a tall tree laid lengthwise, in a valley, by a river side.  At the bridge, its roots spread themselves in clots and fibrous shoots, in all directions: while the almost branchless trunk runs up, with a slight bend, about half a mile towards Oldham, where it again spreads out in an umbrageous way at the little fold called Butterworth Hall.  In walking through the village, he who has seen a tolerably-built woollen mill will find no wonders of architectural art at all.  The houses are almost entirely inhabited by working people, and marked by a certain rough, comfortable solidity,—not a bad reflex of the character of the inhabitants.  At the eastern extremity, a road leads on the left hand to a cluster of houses called Butterworth Hall.  This old fold is worth notice, both for what it is and what it has been.  It is a suggestive spot.  It is the ground once occupied by one of the homesteads of the Byrons, barons of Rochdale, the last baron of which family was Lord Byron the poet.  A gentleman in this township, who is well acquainted with the history and archæology of the whole county, lately met with a licence from the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, dated A.D. 1400, granting to Sir John Byron and his wife leave to have divine service performed within their oratories at Clayton and Butterworth, in the county of Lancashire. (Lane. MSS., vol. xxxii., p.184.)  This was doubtless the old wooden chapel which traditionally is said to have existed at Butterworth Hall, and which is still pointed out by the names of two small fields, called "Chapel Yard" and "Chapel Meadow."  These names occur in deeds at Pike House (the residence of the Halliwell family, about two miles off), of the time of Queen Elizabeth, and are known to this day.  It is probable that the Byrons never lived at Butterworth Hall after the Wars of the Roses.  They quitted Clayton, as a permanent residence, on acquiring Newstead, in the reign of Henry the Eighth, although "Young Sir John," as he was called, lived at Royton Hall, near Oldham, another seat of the family, between 1592 and 1608.

    At Butterworth Hall, the little river Beal, flowing down fresh from the heathery mountains, which throw their shadows upon the valley where it runs, divides the fold; and upon a green plot close to the northern margin of its water stands an old-fashioned stone hall, upon the site of the ancient residence of the Byrons.  After spending an hour at the other end of the village, and with the ruggèd comfortable generation dwelling there, among the memorials of Tim Bobbin,—that quaint old schoolmaster of the last century, who was "the observed of all observers" there in his day,—it may not be uninteresting to come and muse a little upon the spot where the Byrons lived in feudal state.  But let not any contemplative visitor here lose himself among antiquarian dreams and shadows of the past, for there are factory-bells close by.  However large the discourse of his mind may be, let him not forget that there is a strong and important present in the social life around him.  And wherever he sets his foot in South Lancashire, he may find that there are shuttles flying where once was the council chamber of a baron: and that the people of these days are drying warps in the shooting-butts and tilt-yards of the olden time!

    The following information respecting the Byron family, Barons of Rochdale, copied from an article in the Manchester Guardian, by the eminent antiquarian contributor to that journal, will not be uninteresting to some people:—

    The Byrons of Clayton and Rochdale, Lancashire, and Newstead Abbey, Notts, are descended from Ralph de Buron, who at the time of the Conquest, and of the Doomsday Survey, held divers manors in Notts and Derbyshire.  Hugo de Buron, grandson of Ralph, and feudal Baron of Horsetan, retiring temp. Henry III. from secular affairs, professed himself a monk, and held the hermitage of Kirsale or Kersal, under the priory of Lenton.  His son was Sir Roger de Buron.  Robert de Byron, son of Sir Roger de Buron in the John 1st [1199-1200], married Cecilia, daughter and heiress of Richard Clayton, of Clayton, and thus obtained the manor and estates of Clayton.  Failsworth and the township of Droylsden were soon after added to their Lancashire estates.  Their son, Robert de Byron, lord of Clayton, was witness to a grant of Plying Hay in this country to the monks of Cockersand, for the souls of Henry II. and Richard I.  And his son, John de Byron, who was seated at Clayton, 28th Edward I. [1299-30], was governor of York, and had all his lands in Rochdale, with his wife Joan, by gift of her father, Sir Baldwin Teutonicus, or Thies, or de Tyas, who was conservator of the peace in Lancashire, l0th Edward [1281-82].  Her first husband was Sir Robert Holland, secretary of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster.  Their son was Sir John de Byron, knight, lord of Clayton, who was one of the witnesses to the charter granted to the burgesses of Manchester by Thomas Grelle, lord of that manor, in 1301.  The two first witnesses to that document were "Sirs John Byron, Richard Byron, knights."  These were father and son.  Sir John married Alice, cousin and heir of Robert Bonastre, of Hindley, in this county.  Their son, Sir Richard, lord of Cadency and Clifton, had grant of free warren in his demense lands in Clayton, Butterworth, and Royton, on the 28th June, 1303.  He served in Parliament for Lincolnshire, and died before 21st Edward III. [1347-8].  His son was James de Byron, who died before 24th Edward III. [1350-51].  His son and heir was Sir John de Byron, who was knighted by Edward III. at the siege of Calais [1346-7], and, dying without issue, was succeeded by his brother, Sir Richard, before 4th Richard II. [1380-81].  Sir Richard died in 1398, and was succeeded by his son, Sir John le Byron, who received knighthood before 3rd Henry V. [1415-16], and was one of the knights of the shire, 7th Henry VI. [1428-9].  He married Margery, daughter of John Booth, of Barton.  His eldest son, Richard le Byron, dying in his father's lifetime, and Richard's son, James, dying without issue, the estate passed to Richard's brother, Sir Nicholas, of Clayton, who married Alice, daughter of Sir John Boteler, of Beausey or Bewsey, near Warrington.  Their son and heir was Sir John, who was constable of Nottingham Castle and sheriff of Lancaster in 1441 and 1442.  Sir John fought in the Battle of Bosworth Field, on the side of Henry VII., and was knighted on the field.  Dying without issue in 1488, he was succeeded by his brother (then 30) Sir Nicholas, sheriff of Lancaster, in 1459.  He was made Knight of the Bath in 1501, and died in January, 1503-4.  This son and heir, Sir John Byron (the one named in the above document), was steward of the manors of Manchester and Rochdale, and, on the dissolution of the monasteries, he had a grant of the Priory of Newstead, 28th May, 1540.  From that time the family made Newstead their principal seat, instead of Clayton.  This will explain, to some extent, the transfer of Clayton, in 1547, from this same Sir John Byron to John Arderon, or Arderne.  Either this Sir John or his son, of the same name, in the year 1560, inclosed 260 acres of land on Beurdsell Moor, near Rochdale.  His three eldest sons dying without issue (and we may just note that Kuerden preserves a copy of claim, without date, of Nicholas, the eldest, to the serjeanty of the king's free court of Rochdale, and to have the execution of all attachments and distresses, and all other things which belong to the king's bailiff there), Sir John was succeeded by his youngest son, Sir John, whom Baines states to have been knighted in 1759—probably a transposition of the figures 1579.  This Sir John, in the 39th Elizabeth [1596-7], styles himself "Farmer of the Manor of Rochdale," and makes an annual payment to the Crown, being a fee farm rent to the honour of Rochdale.  In the 1st Charles I. [1625-6], the manor of Rochdale passed from the Byrons; but in 1638 it was reconveyed to them; and though confiscated during the Commonwealth, Richard, Lord Byron, held the manor in 1660.  Sir John's eldest son, Sir Nicholas, distinguished himself in the wars in the Low Countries, and at the Battle of Edgehill (23rd October, 1642).  He was a general of Cheshire and Shropshire.  His younger brother, Sir John, was made K.B. at the coronation of James I., and a baronet in 1603.  Owing to the failure of the elder line, this Sir John became ancestor of the Lords Byron.  Sir Nicholas was succeeded by his son, Sir John, who was made K.B. at the coronation of Charles I. was appointed by that king Lieutenant of the Tower, in 1642, contrary to the wish of Parliament; commanded the body of reserve at Edgehill; and was created Lord Byron of Rochdale, 24th October, 1643.  In consequence of his devotion to the royal cause (for he fought against Oliver Cromwell at the battle of Preston, in August, 1648), his manor of Rochdale was sequestered, and held for several years by Sir Thomas Alcock, who held courts there in 1654, two years after Lord Byron's death.  So great was his lordship's royalist zeal that he was one of the seven specially exempted from the clemency of the Government in the "Act of Oblivion," passed by Parliament on the execution of Charles I.  Dying at Paris, in 1652, without issue, he was succeeded by his cousin Richard (son of Sir John, the baronet just mentioned), who became second Lord Byron, and died 4th October, 1679, aged 74.  He was succeeded by his eldest son, William, who died 13th November, 1695, and was succeeded by his fourth son, William, who died August 8th, 1736, and was succeeded by a younger son, William, fifth Lord Byron, born in November, 1722, killed William Chaworth, Esq., in a duel, in January, 1765, and died 19th May, 1798.  He was succeeded by his great nephew, George Gordon, the poet, sixth Lord Byron, who was born 22nd January, 1788, and died at Missolonghi, in April, 1824.  In 1823, he sold Newstead Abbey to James Dearden, Esq., of Rochdale; and in the same year he sold the manor and estate of Rochdale to the same gentleman, by whose son and heir they are now possessed.  The manorial rights of Rochdale are reputed (says Baines) to extend over 32,000 statute acres of land, with the privileges of court baron and court leet in all the townships of the parish, including that portion of Saddleworth which lies within the parish of Rochdale, but excepting such district as Robert de Lacy gave to the abbots of Whalley, with right to inclose the same.

    The article goes on to say that the manor of Rochdale was anciently held by the Ellands of Elland, and the Savilles, and that on the death of Sir Henry Saville it appears to have merged in the possession of the Duchy of Lancaster; and Queen Elizabeth, in right of her duchy possessions, demised that manor to Sir John Byron, by letters patent, dated May 12th, 27th year of her reign (1585), from Lady-day, 1585, to the end of thirty-one years.

    The eye having now satisfied itself with what was notable in and about Milnrow, I took my way home, with a mind more at liberty to reflect on what I had seen.  The history of Lancashire passed in review before me, especially its latest history.  I saw the country that was once thick with trees that canopied herds of wild animals, and thinnest of people, now bare of trees and thickest of population; the land which was of least account of any in the kingdom in the last century now most sought after and those rude elements which were looked upon as the "riddlings of creation" more productive of riches than all the Sacramento's gold, and ministers of a spirit which is destined to change the social aspect of Britain.  I saw the spade sinking into old hunting-grounds, and old parks trampled by the increasing press of new feet.  The hard cold soil is now made to grow food for man and beast.  Masses of stone and flag are shaken from their sleep in the hills, and dragged forth to build mills and houses with.  Streams which have frolicked and sung in undisturbed limpidity thousands of years are dammed up and made to wash, and scour, and generate steam.  Fathoms below the feet of the traveller the miner is painfully worming his way in gloomy tunnels, and the earth is belching coal at a thousand mouths.  The region teems with coal, stone, and water, and a people able to subdue them all to their purposes. These elements quietly bide their time, century after century, till the grand plot is ripe, and the mysterious signal given.  Anon, when a thoughtful barber sets certain wheels spinning, and a contemplative lad takes a fine hint from his mother's tea-kettle, these slumbering powers start into astonishing activity, like an army of warriors roused to battle by the trumpet; cloth is woven for the world, and the world buys it, and wears it; commerce shoots up from a poor pedlar, with his pack on a mule, to a giant merchant, stepping from continent to continent over the ocean, to make his bargains; railways are invented, and the land is ribbed with iron, for iron messengers to run upon, through mountains and over valleys, on business commissions; the very lightning turns errand-boy; a great fusion of thought and sentiment springs up, and Old England is in hysterics about its ancient opinions; a new aristocracy rises from the prudent, persevering working-people of the district, and threatens to push the old one from its stool.  What is to be the upshot of it all?  The senses are stunned by the din of toil, and the view obscured by the dust of bargain-making.  But, through an opening in the clouds, Hope's stars are shining still in the blue heaven that overspans us!  Take heart, ye toiling millions!  The spirits of your heroic forefathers are watching to see what sort of England you leave to your sons!


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