Lancashire Sketches Vol. 2 (IV.)

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CHAPTER IV.


RETURNING to the little shop mentioned in my last ― the "little provision shop," where there was nothing left to eat ― nothing, indeed, of any kind, except one mug of buttermilk, and a miserable remnant of little empty things, which nobody would buy; four or five glass bottles in the window, two or three poor deal shelves, and a doleful little counter, rudely put together, and looking as if it felt, now, that there was nothing in the world left for it but to become chips at no distant date.  Everything in the place had a sad, subdued look, and seemed conscious of having come down in the world, without hope of ever rising again; even the stript walls appeared to look at one another with a stony gaze of settled despair.  But there was a clean, matronly woman in the place, gliding about from side to side with a cloth in her hands, and wiping first one, then another, of these poor little relics of better days in a caressing way.  The shop had been her special care when times were good, and she clung affectionately to its ruins still.  Besides, going about cleaning and arranging the little empty things in this way looked almost like doing business.  But, nevertheless, the woman had a cheerful, good-humoured countenance.  The sunshine of hope was still warm in her heart; though there was a touch of pathos in the way she gave the little rough counter another kindly wipe now and then, as if she wished to keep its spirits up; and in the way she looked, now at the buttermilk mug, then at the open door, and then at the four glass bottles in the window, which had been gazed at so oft and so eagerly by little children outside, in the days when spice was in them. . . . The husband came in from the little back room.  He was a hardy, frank-looking man, and, like his wife, a trifle past middle age, I thought; but he had nothing to say, as he stood there with his wife, by the counter side.  She answered our questions freely and simply, and in an uncomplaining way, not making any attempt to awaken sympathy by enlarging upon the facts of their condition.  Theirs was a family of seven ― man, wife, and five children.  The man was a spinner; and his thrifty wife had managed the little shop, whilst he worked at the mill.  There are many striving people among the factory operatives, who help up the family earnings by keeping a little shop in this way.  But this family was another of those instances in which working people have been pulled down by misfortune before the present crisis came on.  Just previous to the mills beginning to work short time, four of their five children had been lying ill, all at once, for five months; and, before that trouble befell them, one of the lads had two of his fingers taken off, whilst working at the factory, and so was disabled a good while.  It takes little additional weight to sink those whose chins are only just above water; and these untoward circumstances oiled the way of this struggling family to the ground, before the mills stopped.  A few months' want of work, with their little stock of shop stuff oozing away ― partly on credit to their poor neighbours, and partly to live upon themselves ― and they become destitute of all, except a few beggarly remnants of empty shop furniture.  Looking round the place, I said, "Well, missis, how's trade?"  "Oh, brisk," said she; and then the man and his wife smiled at one another.  "Well," said I, "yo'n sowd up, I see, heawever."  "Ay," answered she, "we'n sowd up, for sure ― a good while sin';" and then she smiled again, as if she thought she had said a clever thing.  They had been receiving relief from the parish several weeks; but she told me that some ill-natured neighbour had "set it eawt," that they had sold off their stock out of the shop, and put the money into the bank.  Through this report, the Board of Guardians had "knocked off" their relief for a fortnight, until the falsity of the report was made clear.  After that, the Board gave orders for the man and his wife and three of the children to be admitted to the workhouse, leaving the other two lads, who were working at the "Stone Yard," to "fend for theirsels," and find new nests wherever they could.  This, however, was overruled afterwards; and the family is still holding together in the empty shop, ― receiving from all sources, work and relief, about 13s. a week for the seven, ― not bad, compared with the income of very many others.  It is sad to think how many poor families get sundered and scattered about the world in a time like this, never to meet again.  And the false report respecting this family in the little shop, reminds me that the poor are not always kind to the poor.  I learnt, from a gentleman who is Secretary to the Relief Committee of one of the wards, that it is not uncommon for the committees to receive anonymous letters, saying that so and so is unworthy of relief, on some ground or other.  These complaints were generally found to be either wholly false, or founded upon some mistake.  I have three such letters now before me.  The first, written on a torn scrap of ruled paper, runs thus: ―


May 19th, 1862.

If you please be so kind as to look after ― Back Newton Street Formerly a Resident of ― as i think he is not Deserving Relief.

A RATEPAYER.


    In each case I give the spelling, and everything else, exactly as in the originals before me, except the names.  The next of these epistles says: ―


Preston, May 29th.

Sir, I beg to inform you that ― , of Park Road, in receipt from the Relief Fund, is a very unworthy person, having worked two days since the 16 and drunk the remainder and his wife also; for the most part, he has plenty of work for himself his wife and a journeyman but that is their regular course of life.  And the S ― s have all their family working full time. Yours respectfully.


    These last two are anonymous.  The next is written in a very good hand, upon a square piece of very blue writing paper.  It has a name attached, but no address: ―


Preston, June 2nd, 1862.

Mr. Dunn, ― Dear Sir, Would you please to inquire into the case of ― , of ― . the are a family of 3 the man work four or more days per week on the moor the woman works 6 days per week at Messrs Simpsons North Road the third is a daughter 13 or 14 should be a weaver but to lasey she has good places such as Mr. Hollins and Horrocks and Millers as been sent a way for being to lasey. the man and woman very fond of drink. I as a Nabour and a subscriber do not think this a proper case for your charity. Yours truly,                ― .


    The committee could not find out the writer of this, although a name is given.  Such things as these need no comment.

    The next house we called at was inhabited by an old widow and her only daughter.  The daughter had been grievously afflicted with disease of the heart, and quite incapable of helping herself during the last eleven years.  The poor worn girl sat upon an old tattered kind of sofa, near the fire, panting for breath in the close atmosphere.  She sat there in feverish helplessness, sallow and shrunken, and unable to bear up her head.  It was a painful thing to look at her.  She had great difficulty in uttering a few words.  I can hardly guess what her age may be now; I should think about twenty-five.  Mr Toulmin, one of the visitors who accompanied me to the place, reminded the young woman of his having called upon them there more than four years ago, to leave some bedding which had been bestowed upon an old woman by a certain charity in the town.  He saw no more of them after that, until the present hard times began, when he was deputed by the Relief Committee to call at that distressed corner amongst others in his own neighbourhood; and when he first opened the door, after a lapse of four years, he was surprised to find the same young woman, sitting in the same place, gasping painfully for breath, as he had last seen her.  The old widow had just been able to earn what kept soul and body together in her sick girl and herself, during the last eleven years, by washing and such like work.  But even this resource had fallen away a good deal during these bad times; there are so many poor creatures like herself, driven to extremity, and glad to grasp at any little bit of employment which can be had.  In addition to what the old woman could get by a day's washing now and then, she received 1s. 6d. a week from the parish.  Think of the poor old soul trailing about the world, trying to "scratch a living" for herself and her daughter by washing; and having to hurry home from her labour to attend to that sick girl through eleven long years.  Such a life is a good deal like a slow funeral.  It is struggling for a few breaths more, with the worms crawling over you.  And yet I am told that the old woman was not accustomed to "make a poor mouth," as the saying goes.  How true it is that "a great many people in this world have only one form of rhetoric for their profoundest experiences, namely ― to waste away and die."

    Our next visit was to an Irish family.  There was an old woman in, and a flaxen-headed lad about ten years of age.  She was sitting upon a low chair, ― the only seat in the place, ― and the tattered lad was kneeling on the ground before her, whilst she combed his hair out.  "Well, missis, how are you getting on amongst it?"  "Oh, well, then, just middlin', Mr T.  Ye see, I am busy combin' this boy's hair a bit, for 'tis gettin' like a wisp o' hay."  There was not a vestige of furniture in the cottage, except the chair the old woman sat on.  She said, "I did sell the childer's bedstead for 2s. 6d.; an' after that I sold the bed from under them for 1s. 6d., just to keep them from starvin' to death.  The childer had been two days without mate then, an' faith I couldn't bear it any longer.  After that I did sell the big pan, an' then the new rockin' chair, an' so on, one thing after another, till all wint entirely, barrin' this I am sittin' on, an' they wint for next to nothin' too.  Sure, I paid 9s. 6d. for the bed itself, which was sold for 1s. 6d.  We all sleep on straw now."  This family was seven in number.  The mill at which they used to work had been stopped about ten months.  One of the family had found employment at another mill, three months out of the ten, and the old man himself had got a few days' work in that time.  The rest of the family had been wholly unemployed, during the ten months.  Except the little money this work brought in, and a trifle raised now and then by the sale of a bit of furniture when hunger and cold pressed them hard, the whole family had been living upon 5s. a week for the last ten months.  The rent was running on.  The eldest daughter was twenty-eight years of age.  As we came away Mr Toulmin said to me, "Well, I have called at that house regularly for the last sixteen weeks, and this is the first time I ever saw a fire in the place.  But the old man has got two days' work this week ― that may account for the fire."

    It was now close upon half-past seven in the evening, at which time I had promised to call upon the Secretary of the Trinity Ward Relief Committee, whose admirable letter in the London Times, attracted so much attention about a month ago.  I met several members of the committee at his lodgings, and we had an hour's interesting conversation.  I learnt that, in cases of sickness arising from mere weakness, from poorness of diet, or from unsuitableness of the food commonly provided by the committee, orders were now issued for such kind of "kitchen physic" as was recommended by the doctors.  The committee had many cases of this kind.  One instance was mentioned, in which, by the doctor's advice, four ounces of mutton chop daily had been ordered to be given to a certain sick man, until further notice.  The thing went on and was forgotten, until one day, when the distributor of food said to the committeeman who had issued the order, "I suppose I must continue that daily mutton chop to so-and-so?"  "Eh, no; he's been quite well two months?"  The chop had been going on for ninety-five days.  We had some talk with that class of operatives who are both clean, provident, and "heawse-preawd," as Lancashire folk call it.  The Secretary told me that he was averse to such people living upon the sale of their furniture; and the committee had generally relieved the distress of such people, just as if they had no furniture, at all.  He mentioned the case of a family of factory operatives, who were all fervent lovers of music, as so many of the working people of Lancashire are.  Whilst in full work, they had scraped up money to buy a piano; and, long after the ploughshare of ruin had begun to drive over the little household, they clung to the darling instrument, which was such a source of pure pleasure to them, and they were advised to keep it by the committee which relieved them.  "Yes," said another member of the committee, "but I called there lately, and the piano's gone at last."  Many interesting things came out in the course of our conversation.  One mentioned a house he had called at, where there was neither chair, table, nor bed; and one of the little lads had to hold up a piece of board for him to write upon.  Another spoke of the difficulties which "lone women" have to encounter in these hard times.  "I knocked so-and-so off my list," said one of the committee, "till I had inquired into an ill report I heard of her.  But she came crying to me; and I found out that the woman had been grossly belied."  Another (Mr Nowell) told of a house on his list, where they had no less than one hundred and fifty pawn tickets.  He told, also, of a moulder's family, who had been all out of work and starving so long, that their poor neighbours came at last and recommended the committee to relieve them, as they would not apply for relief themselves.  They accepted relief just one week, and then the man came and said that he had a prospect of work; and he shouldn't need relief tickets any longer.  It was here that I heard so much about anonymous letters, of which I have given you three samples.  Having said that I should like to see the soup kitchen, one of the committee offered to go with me thither at six o'clock the next morning; and so I came away from the meeting in the cool twilight.

    Old Preston looked fine to me in the clear air of that declining day.  I stood a while at the end of the "Bull" gateway.  There was a comical-looking little knock-kneed fellow in the middle of the street ― a wandering minstrel, well known in Preston by the name of "Whistling Jack."  There he stood, warbling and waving his band, and looking from side to side, ― in vain.  At last I got him to whistle the "Flowers of Edinburgh."  He did it, vigorously; and earned his penny well.  But even "Whistling Jack" complained of the times.  He said Preston folk had "no taste for music."  But he assured me the time would come when there would be a monument to him in that town.



CHAPTER V.


ABOUT half-past six I found my friend waiting at the end of the "Bull" gateway.  It was a lovely morning.  The air was cool and clear, and the sky was bright.  It was easy to see which was the way to the soup kitchen, by the stragglers going and coming.  We passed the famous "Orchard," now a kind of fairground, which has been the scene of so many popular excitements in troubled times.  All was quiet in the "Orchard" that morning, except that, here, a starved-looking woman, with a bit of old shawl tucked round her head, and a pitcher in her hand, and there, a bare-footed lass, carrying a tin can, hurried across the sunny space towards the soup kitchen.  We passed a new inn, called "The Port Admiral."  On the top of the building there were three life-sized statues ― Wellington and Nelson, with the Greek slave between them ― a curious companionship.  These statues reminded me of a certain Englishman riding through Dublin, for the first time, upon an Irish car.  "What are the three figures yonder?" said he to the car-boy, pointing to the top of some public building.  "Thim three is the twelve apostles, your honour," answered the driver.  "Nay, nay," said the traveller, "that'll not do.  How do you make twelve out of three?"  "Bedad," replied the driver, "your honour couldn't expect the whole twelve to be out at once such a murtherin' wet day as this."  But we had other things than these to think of that day.  As we drew near the baths and washhouses, where the soup kitchen is, the stream of people increased.  About the gate there was a cluster of melancholy loungers, looking cold and hungry.  They were neither going in nor going away.  I was told afterwards that many of these were people who had neither money nor tickets for food ― some of them wanderers from town to town; anybody may meet them limping, footsore and forlorn, upon the roads in Lancashire, just now ― houseless wanderers, who had made their way to the soup kitchen to beg a mouthful from those who were themselves at death's door.  In the best of times there are such wanderers; and, in spite of the generous provision made for the relief of the poor, there must be, in a time like the present, a great number who let go their hold of home (if they have any), and drift away in search of better fortune, and, sometimes, into irregular courses of life, never to settle more.  Entering the yard, we found the wooden sheds crowded with people at breakfast ― all ages, from white-haired men, bent with years, to eager childhood, yammering over its morning meal, and careless till the next nip of hunger came.  Here and there a bonny lass had crept into the shade with her basin; and there was many a brown-faced man, who had been hardened by working upon the moor or at the "stone-yard."  "Theer, thae's shap't that at last, as how?" said one of these to his friend, who had just finished and stood wiping his mouth complacently.  "Shap't that," replied the other, "ay, lad, aw can do a ticket and a hafe (three pints of soup) every morning."  Five hundred people breakfast in the sheds alone, every day.  The soup kitchen opens at five in the morning, and there is always a crowd waiting to get in.  This looks like the eagerness of hunger.  I was told that they often deliver 3000 quarts of soup at this kitchen in two hours.  The superintendent of the bread department informed me that, on that morning, he had served out two thousand loaves, of 3lb. 11oz. each.  There was a window at one end, where soup was delivered to such as brought money for it instead of tickets.  Those who came with tickets ― by far the greatest number ― had to pass in single file through a strong wooden maze, which restrained their eagerness, and compelled them to order.  I noticed that only a small proportion of men went through the maze; they were mostly women and children.  There was many a fine, intelligent young face hurried blushing through that maze ― many a bonny lad and lass who will be heard of honourably hereafter.  The variety of utensils presented showed that some of the poor souls had been hard put to it for things to fetch their soup in.  One brought a pitcher; another a bowl; and another a tin can, a world too big for what it had to hold.  "Yo mun mind th' jug," said one old woman; "it's cracked, an' it's noan o' mine."  "Will ye bring me some?" said a little, light-haired lass, holding up her rosy neb to the soupmaster.  "Aw want a ha'poth," said a lad with a three-quart can in his hand.  The benevolent-looking old gentleman who had taken the superintendence of the soup department as a labour of love, told me that there had been a woman there by half-past five that morning, who had come four miles for some coffee.  There was a poor fellow breakfasting in the shed at the same time; and he gave the woman a thick shive of his bread as she went away.  He mentioned other instances of the same humane feeling; and he said, "After what I have seen of them here, I say, 'Let me fall into the hands of the poor.'"


They who, half-fed, feed the breadless, in the travail of distress;
They who, taking from a little, give to those who still have less;
They who, needy, yet can pity when they look on greater need;
These are Charity's disciples, ― these are Mercy's sons indeed.


    We returned to the middle of the town just as the shopkeepers in Friargate were beginning to take their shutters down.  I had another engagement at half-past nine.  A member of the Trinity Ward Relief Committee, who is master of the Catholic school in that ward, had offered to go with me to visit some distressed people who were under his care in that part of the town.  We left Friargate at the appointed time.  As we came along there was a crowd in front of Messrs Wards', the fishmongers.  A fine sturgeon had just been brought in.  It had been caught in the Ribble that morning.  We went in to look at the royal fish.  It was six feet long, and weighed above a hundred pounds.  I don't know that I ever saw a sturgeon before.  But we had other fish to fry; and so we went on.  The first place we called at was a cellar in Nile Street.  "Here," said my companion, "let us have a look at old John."  A gray-headed little man, of seventy, lived down in this one room, sunken from the street.  He had been married forty years, and if I remember aright, he lost his wife about four years ago.  Since that time, he had lived in this cellar, all alone, washing and cooking for himself.  But I think the last would not trouble him much, for "they have no need for fine cooks who have only one potato to their dinner."  When a lad, he had been apprenticed to a bobbin turner.  Afterwards he picked up some knowledge of engineering; and he had been "well off in his day."  He now got a few coppers occasionally from the poor folk about, by grinding knives, and doing little tinkering jobs.  Under the window he had a rude bench, with a few rusty tools upon it, and in one corner there was a low, miserable bedstead, without clothing upon it.  There was one cratchinly chair in the place, too; but hardly anything else.  He had no fire; he generally went into neighbours' houses to warm himself.  He was not short of such food as the Relief Committees bestow.  There was a piece of bread upon the bench, left from his morning meal; and the old fellow chirruped about, and looked as blithe as if he was up to the middle in clover.  He showed us a little thing which he had done "for a bit ov a prank."  The number of his cellar was 8, and he had cut out a large tin figure of 8, a foot long, and nailed it upon his door, for the benefit of some of his friends that were getting bad in their eyesight, and "couldn't read smo' print so low deawn as that."  "Well, John," said my companion, when we went in, "how are you getting on?"  "Oh, bravely," replied he, handing a piece of blue paper to the inquirer, "bravely; look at that!"  "Why, this is a summons," said my companion.  "Ay, bigad is't, too," answered the old man.  "Never had sich a thing i' my life afore!  Think o' me gettin' a summons for breakin' windows at seventy year owd.  A bonny marlock, that, isn't it?  Why, th' whole street went afore th' magistrates to get mo off."  "Then you did get off, John?"  "Get off!  Sure, aw did.  It wur noan o' me.  It wur a keaw jobber, at did it. . . . Aw'll tell yo what, for two pins aw'd frame that summons, an' hang it eawt o' th' window; but it would look so impudent."  Old John's wants were inquired into, and we left him fiddling among his rusty tools.  We next went to a place called Hammond's Row ― thirteen poor cottages, side by side.  Twelve of the thirteen were inhabited by people living, almost entirely, upon relief, either from the parish or from the Relief Committee.  There was only one house where no relief was needed.  As we passed by, the doors were nearly all open, and the interiors all presented the same monotonous phase of destitution.  They looked as if they had been sacked by bum-bailiffs.  The topmost house was the only place where I saw a fire.  A family of eight lived there.  They were Irish people.  The wife, a tall, cheerful woman, sat suckling her child, and giving a helping hand now and then to her husband's work.  He was a little, pale fellow, with only one arm, and he had an impediment in his speech.  He had taken to making cheap boxes of thin, rough deal, afterwards covered with paper.  With the help of his wife he could make one in a day, and he got ninepence profit out of it ― when the box was sold.  He was working at one when we went in, and he twirled it proudly about with his one arm, and stammered out a long explanation about the way it had been made; and then he got upon the lid, and sprang about a little, to let us see how much it would bear.  As the brave little tattered man stood there upon the box-lid, springing, and sputtering, and waving his one arm, his wife looked up at him with a smile, as if she thought him "the greatest wight on ground."  There was a little curly-headed child standing by, quietly taking in all that was going on.  I laid my hand upon her head; and asked her what her name was.  She popped her thumb into her mouth, and looked shyly about from one to another, but never a word could I get her to say.  "That's Lizzy," said the woman; "she is a little visitor belongin' to one o' the neighbours. They are badly off, and she often comes in. Sure, our childer is very fond of her, an' so she is of them. She is fine company wid ourselves, but always very shy wid strangers. Come now, Lizzy, darlin'; tell us your name, love, won't you, now?" But it was no use; we couldn't get her to speak.

In the next cottage where we called, in this row, there was a woman washing. Her mug was standing upon a stool in the middle of the floor; and there was not any other thing in the place in the shape of furniture or household utensil. The walls were bare of everything, except a printed paper, bearing these words:


"The wages of sin is death. But the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord."


We now went to another street, and visited the cottage of a blind chair-maker, called John Singleton. He was a kind of oracle among the poor folk of the neighbourhood. The old chair-maker was sitting by the fire when we went in; and opposite to him sat "Old John," the hero of the broken windows in Nile Street. He had come up to have a crack with his blind crony. The chair-maker was seventy years of age, and he had benefited by the advantage of good fundamental instruction in his youth. He was very communicative. He said he should have been educated for the priesthood, at Stonyhurst College. "My clothes were made, an' everything was ready for me to start to Stonyhurst. There was a stagecoach load of us going; but I failed th' heart, an' wouldn't go ― an' I've forethought ever sin'. Mr Newby said to my friends at the same time, he said, 'You don't need to be frightened of him; he'll make the brightest priest of all the lot ― an' I should, too. . . . I consider mysel' a young man yet, i' everything, except it be somethin' at's uncuth to me." And now, old John, the grinder, began to complain again of how badly he had been used about the broken windows in Nile Street. But the old chair-maker stopped him; and, turning up his blind eyes, he said, "John, don't you be foolish. Bother no moor abeawt it. All things has but a time."



CHAPTER VI.


A man cannot go wrong in Trinity Ward just now, if he wants to see poor folk.  He may find them there at any time, but now he cannot help but meet them; and nobody can imagine how badly off they are, unless he goes amongst them.  They are biding the hard time out wonderfully well, and they will do so to the end.  They certainly have not more than a common share of human frailty.  There are those who seem to think that when people are suddenly reduced to poverty, they should become suddenly endowed with the rarest virtues; but it never was so, and, perhaps, never will be so long as the world rolls.  In my rambles about this ward, I was astonished at the dismal succession of destitute homes, and the number of struggling owners of little shops, who were watching their stocks sink gradually down to nothing, and looking despondingly at the cold approach of pauperism.  I was astonished at the strings of dwellings, side by side, stript, more or less, of the commonest household utensils ― the poor little bare houses, often crowded with lodgers, whose homes had been broken up elsewhere; sometimes crowded, three or four families of decent working people in a cottage of half-a-crown a-week rental; sleeping anywhere, on benches or on straw, and afraid to doff their clothes at night time because they had no other covering.  Now and then the weekly visitor comes to the door of a house where he has regularly called.  He lifts the latch, and finds the door locked.  He looks in at the window.  The house is empty, and the people are gone ― the Lord knows where.  Who can tell what tales of sorrow will have their rise in the pressure of a time like this ― tales that will never be written, and that no statistics will reveal.  Trinity Ward swarms with factory operatives; and, after our chat with blind John, the chair-maker, and his ancient crony the grinder from Nile Street, we set off again to see something more of them.  Fitful showers came down through the day, and we had to shelter now and then.  In one cottage, where we stopped a few minutes, the old woman told us that, in addition to their own family, they had three young women living with them ― the orphan daughters of her husband's brother.  They had been out of work thirty-four weeks, and their uncle ― a very poor man ― had been obliged to take them into his house, "till sich times as they could afford to pay for lodgin's somewheer else."  My companion asked whether they were all out of work still.  "Naw," replied the old woman, "one on 'em has getten on to wortch a few days for t' sick (that is, in the place of some sick person).  Hoo's wortchin' i' th' cardreawn at 'Th' Big-un.'" (This is the name they give to Messrs Swainson and Birley's mill.)  The next place we called at was the house of an old joiner.  He was lying very ill upstairs.  As we drew up to the door, my companion said, "Now, this is a clean, respectable family.  They have struggled hard and suffered a great deal, before they would ask for relief."  When we went in, the wife was cleaning her well-nigh empty house.  "Eh," said she," I thought it wur th' clubman comin', an' I wur just goin' to tell him that I had nothin' for him."  The family was seven in number ― man, wife, and five children.  The husband, as I have said, was lying ill.  The wife told me that they had only 6s. a-week coming in for the seven to live upon.  My companion was the weekly visitor who relieved them.  She told me that her husband was sixty-eight years old; she was not forty.  She said that her husband was not strong, and he had been going nearly barefoot and "clemmed" all through last winter, and she was afraid he had got his death of cold.  They had not a bed left to lie upon.  "My husband," said she, "was a master joiner once, an' was doin' very well.  But you see how we are now."  There were two portraits ― oil paintings ― hanging against the wall.  "Whose portraits are these?" said I.  "Well; that's my master ― an' this is me," replied she.  "He would have 'em taken some time since.  I couldn't think o' sellin' 'em; or else, yo see, we've sold nearly everything we had.  I did try to pawn 'em, too, thinkin' we could get 'em back again when things came round; but, I can assure yo, I couldn't find a broker anywhere that would tak' 'em in."  "Well, Missis," said my companion, "yo have one comfort; you are always clean."  "Eh, bless yo!" replied she, "I couldn't live among dirt!  My husban' tells me that I clean all the luck away; but aw'm sure there's no luck i' filth; if there is, anybody may tak' it for me."  The rain had stopt again; and after my friend had made a note respecting some additional relief for the family, we bade the woman good day.  We had not gone far before a little ragged lass looked up admiringly at two pinks I had stuck in my buttonhole, and holding up her hand, said, "Eh, gi' me a posy!"  My friend pointed to one of the cottages we passed, and said that the last time he called there, he found the family all seated round a large bowl of porridge, made of Indian meal.  This meal is sold at a penny a pound.  He stopped at another cottage and said, "Here's a house where I always find them reading when I call.  I know the people very well."  He knocked and tried the latch, but there was nobody in.  As we passed an open door, the pleasant smell of oatcake baking came suddenly upon me.  It woke up many memories of days gone by.  I saw through the window a stout, meal-dusted old woman, busy with her wooden ladle and baking-shovel at a brisk oven.  "Now, I should like to look in there for a minute or two, if it can be done," said I.  "Well," replied my friend, "this woman is not on our books; she gets her own living in the way you see.  But come in; it will be all right; I know her very well."  I was glad of that, for I wanted to have a chat with her, and to peep at the baking.  "Good morning, Missis," said he; "how are you?"  "Why, just in a middlin' way."  "How long is this wet weather going to last, think you?"  "Nay, there ye hev me fast; ― but what brings ye here this mornin'?" said the old woman, resting the end of her ladle on the little counter; "I never trouble sic like chaps as ye."  "No, no," replied my friend; "we have not called about anything of that kind."  "What, then, pray ye?"  "Well, my friend, here, is almost a stranger in Preston; and as soon as ever he smelt the baking, he said he should like to see it, so I took the liberty of bringing him in."  "Oh, ay; come in, an' welcome.  Ye're just i' time, too; for I've bin sat at t' back to sarra (serve) t' pigs."  "You're not a native of Lancashire, Missis," said I.  "Why, wheer then? come, now; let's be knowin', as ye're so sharp."  "Cumberland," said I.  "Well, now; ye're reight, sewer enough.  But how did ye find it out, now?"  "Why, you said that you had been out to sarra t' pigs.  A native of Lancashire would have said 'serve' instead of 'sarra.'"  "Well, that's varra queer; for I've bin a lang time away from my awn country.  But, whereivver do ye belang to, as ye're so bowd wi' me?" said she, smiling, and turning over a cake which was baking upon the oven.  I told her that I was born a few miles from Manchester.  "Manchester! never, sewer;" said she, resting her ladle again; "why, I lived ever so long i' Manchester when I was young.  I was cook at th' Swan i' Shudehill, aboon forty year sin."  She said that, in those days, the Swan, in Shudehill, was much frequented by the commercial men of Manchester.  It was a favourite dining house for them.  Many of them even brought their own beefsteak on a skewer; and paid a penny for the cooking of it.  She said she always liked Manchester very well; but she had not been there for a good while.  "But," said she, "ye'll hev plenty o' oatcake theer ― sartin."  "Not much, now," replied I; "it's getting out o' fashion."  I told her that we had to get it once a week from a man who came all the way from Stretford into Manchester, with a large basketful upon his head, crying "Woat cakes, two a penny!"  "Two a penny!" said she; "why, they'll not be near as big as these, belike."  "Not quite," replied I.  "Not quite! naw; not hauf t' size, aw warnd!  Why, th' poor fellow desarves his brass iv he niver gev a farthin' for th' stuff to mak 'em on.  What! I knaw what oatcake bakin' is."  Leaving the canny old Cumberland woman at her baking, we called at a cottage in Everton Gardens.  It was as clean as a gentleman's parlour; but there was no furniture in sight except a table, and, upon the table, a fine bush of fresh hawthorn blossom, stuck in a pint jug full of water.  Here, I heard again the common story ― they had been several months out of work; their household goods had dribbled away in ruinous sales, for something to live upon; and now, they had very little left but the walls.  The little woman said to me, "Bless yo, there is at thinks we need'n nought, becose we keepen a daycent eawtside.  But, I know my own know abeawt that.  Beside, one doesn't like to fill folk's meawths, iv one is ill off."  It was now a little past noon, and we spent a few minutes looking through the Catholic schoolhouse, in Trinity Ward ― a spacious brick building.  The scholars were away at dinner.  My friend is master of the school.  His assistant offered to go with us to one or two Irish families in a close wynd, hard by, called Wilkie's Court.  In every case I had the great advantage of being thus accompanied by gentlemen who were friendly and familiar with the poor we visited.  This was a great facility to me.  Wilkie's Court is a little cul de sac, with about half-a-dozen wretched cottages in it, fronted by a dead wall.  The inhabitants of the place are all Irish.  They were nearly all kept alive by relief from one source or other; but their poverty was not relieved by that cleanliness which I had witnessed in so many equally poor houses, making the best use of those simple means of comfort which are invaluable, although they cost little or nothing.  In the first house we called at, a middle-aged woman was pacing slowly about the unwholesome house with a child in her arms.  My friend inquired where the children were.  "They are in the houses about; all but the one poor boy."  "And where is he?" said I.  "Well, he comes home now an' agin; he comes an' goes; sure, we don't know how. . . . Ah, thin, sir," continued she, beginning to cry, "I'll tell ye the rale truth, now.  He was drawn away by some bad lads, an' he got three months in the New Bailey; that's God's truth. . . . Ah, what'll I do wid him," said she, bursting into tears afresh; "what'll I do wid him? sure, he is my own!"  We did not stop long to intrude upon such trouble as this.  She called out as we came away to tell us that the poor crayter next door was quite helpless.  The next house was, in some respects, more comfortable than the last, though it was quite as poor in household goods.  There was one flimsy deal table, one little chair, and two half-penny pictures of Catholic saints pinned against the wall.  "Sure, I sold the other table since you wor here before," said the woman to my friend; "I sold it for two-an'-aightpence, an' bought this one for sixpence."  At the house of another Irish family, my friend inquired where all the chairs were gone.  "Oh," said a young woman, "the baillies did fetch uvverything away, barrin' the one sate, when we were livin' in Lancaster Street."  "Where do you all sit now, then?"  "My mother sits there," replied she, "an' we sit upon the flure."  "I heard they were goin' to sell these heawses," said one of the lads, "but, begorra," continued he, with a laugh, "I wouldn't wonder did they sell the ground from under us next."  In the course of our visitation a thunder storm came on, during which we took shelter with a poor widow woman, who had a plateful of steeped peas for sale, in the window.  She also dealt in rags and bones in a small way, and so managed to get a living, as she said, "beawt troublin' onybody for charity."  She said it was a thing that folk had to wait a good deal out in the cold for.  It was market-day, and there were many country people in Preston.  On my way back to the middle of the town, I called at an old inn, in Friargate, where I listened with pleasure a few minutes to the old-fashioned talk of three farmers from the Fylde country.  Their conversation was principally upon cow-drinks.  One of them said there was nothing in the world like "peppermint tay an' new butter" for cows that had the belly-ache.  "They'll be reet in a varra few minutes at after yo gotten that into 'em," said he.  As evening came on the weather settled into one continuous shower, and I left Preston in the heavy rain, weary, and thinking of what I had seen during the day.  Since then I have visited the town again, and I shall say something about that visit hereafter.



CHAPTER VII.


THE rain had been falling heavily through the night.  It was raw and gusty, and thick clouds were sailing wildly overhead, as I went to the first train for Preston.  It was that time of morning when there is a lull in the streets of Manchester, between six and eight.  The "knocker-up" had shouldered his long wand, and paddled home to bed again; and the little stalls, at which the early workman stops for his half-penny cup of coffee, were packing up.  A cheerless morning, and the few people that were about looked damp and low spirited.  I bought the day's paper, and tried to read it, as we flitted by the glimpses of dirty garret-life, through the forest of chimneys, gushing forth their thick morning fumes into the drizzly air, and over the dingy web of Salford streets.  We rolled on through Pendleton, where the country is still trying to look green here and there, under increasing difficulties; but it was not till we came to where the green vale of Clifton opened out, that I became quite reconciled to the weather.  Before we were well out of sight of the ancient tower of Prestwich Church, the day brightened a little.  The shifting folds of gloomy cloud began to glide asunder, and through the gauzy veils which lingered in the interspaces, there came a dim radiance which lighted up the rain-drops


Lingering on the pointed thorns;


and the tall meadow grasses were swaying to and fro with their loads of liquid pearls, in courtesies full of exquisite grace, as we whirled along.  I enjoyed the ride that raw morning, although the sky was all gloom again long before we came in sight of the Ribble.  I met my friend, in Preston, at half-past nine; and we started at once for another ramble amongst the poor, in a different part of Trinity Ward.  We went first to a little court, behind Bell Street.  There is only one house in the court, and it is known as "Th' Back Heawse."  In this cottage the little house-things had escaped the ruin which I had witnessed in so many other places.  There were two small tables, and three chairs; and there were a few pots and a pan or two.  Upon the cornice there were two pot spaniels, and two painted stone apples; and, between them, there was a sailor waving a union jack, and a little pudgy pot man, for holding tobacco.  On the windowsill there was a musk-plant; and, upon the table by the staircase, there was a rude cage, containing three young throstles.
The place was tidy; and there was a kind-looking old couple inside.  The old man stood at the table in the middle of the floor, washing the pots, and the old woman was wiping them, and putting them away.  A little lad sat by the fire, thwittling at a piece of stick.  The old man spoke very few words the whole time we were there, but he kept smiling and going on with his washing.  The old woman was very civil, and rather shy at first; but we soon got into free talk together.  She told me that she had borne thirteen children.  Seven of them were dead; and the other six were all married, and all poor.  "I have one son," said she; "he's a sailmaker.  He's th' best off of any of 'em.  But, Lord bless yo; he's not able to help us.  He gets very little, and he has to pay a woman to nurse his sick wife. . . . This lad that's here, ― he's a little grandson o' mine; he's one of my dowter's childer.  He brings his meight with him every day, an' sleeps with us.  They han bod one bed, yo see.  His father hasn't had a stroke o' work sin Christmas.  They're badly off.  As for us ― my husband has four days a week on th' moor, ― that's 4s., an' we've 2s. a week to pay out o' that for rent.  Yo may guess fro that, heaw we are.  He should ha' been workin' on the moor today, but they've bin rain't off.  We've no kind o' meight i' this house bod three-ha'poth o' peas; an' we've no firin'.  He's just brokken up an owd cheer to heat th' watter wi'.  (The old man smiled at this, as if he thought it was a good joke.)  He helps me to wesh, an' sich like; an' yo' know, it's a good deal better than gooin' into bad company, isn't it?  (Here the old man gave her a quiet, approving look, like a good little lad taking notice of his mother's advice.)  Aw'm very glad of a bit o' help," continued she, "for aw'm not so terrible mich use, mysel'.  Yo see; aw had a paralytic stroke seven year sin, an' we've not getten ower it.  For two year aw hadn't a smite o' use all deawn this side.  One arm an' one leg trail't quite helpless.  Aw drunk for ever o' stuff for it.  At last aw gat somethin' ov a yarb doctor.  He said that he could cure me for a very trifle, an' he did me a deal o' good, sure enough.  He nobbut charged me hauve-a-creawn. . . .We never knowed what it was to want a meal's meight till lately.  We never had a penny off th' parish, nor never trouble't anybody till neaw.  Aw wish times would mend, please God! . . . We once had a pig, an' was in a nice way o' gettin' a livin'. . . . When things began o' gooin' worse an' worse with us, we went to live in a cellar, at sixpence a week rent; and we made it very comfortable, too.  We didn't go there because we liked th' place; but we thought nobody would know; an, we didn't care, so as we could put on till times mended, an' keep aat o' debt.  But th' inspectors turned us out, an' we had to come here, an' pay 2s. a week. . . . Aw do not like to ask for charity, iv one could help it.  They were givin' clothin' up at th' church a while sin', an' some o' th' neighbours wanted me to go an' ax for some singlets, ye see aw cannot do without flannels, ― but aw couldn't put th' face on."  Now, the young throstles in the cage by the staircase began to chirp one after another.  "Yer yo at that! "said the old man, turning round to the cage; "yer yo at that!  Nobbut three week owd!"  "Yes," replied the old woman; "they belong to my grandson theer.  He brought 'em in one day ― neest an' all; an' poor nake't crayters they were.  He's a great lad for birds."  "He's no worse nor me for that," answered the old man; "aw use't to be terrible fond o' brids when aw wur yung."  After a little more talk, we bade the old couple good day, and went to peep at the cellar where they had crept stealthily away, for the sake of keeping their expenses close to their lessening income.  The place was empty, and the door was open.  It was a damp and cheerless little hole, down in the corner of a dirty court.  We went next into Pole Street, and tried the door of a cottage where a widow woman lived with her children less than a week before.  They were gone, and the house was cleared out.  "They have had neither fire nor candle in that house for weeks past," said my companion.  We then turned up a narrow entry, which was so dark and low overhead that my companion only told me just in time to "mind my hat!"  There are several such entries leading out of Pole Street to little courts behind.  Here we turned into a cold and nearly empty cottage, where a middle-aged woman sat nursing a sick child.  She looked worn and ill herself, and she had sore eyes.  She told me that the child was her daughter's.  Her daughter's husband had died of asthma in the workhouse, about six weeks before.  He had not "addled" a penny for twelve months before he died.  She said, "We hed a varra good heawse i' Stanley Street once; but we hed to sell up an' creep hitherto.  This heawse is 2s. 3d. a week; an' we mun pay it, or go into th' street.  Aw nobbut owed him for one week, an' he said, 'Iv yo connot pay yo mun turn eawt for thoose 'at will do.'  Aw did think o' gooin' to th' Board," continued she, "for a pair o' clogs.  My een are bad; an' awm ill all o'er, an' it's wi' nought but gooin' weet o' my feet.  My daughter's wortchin'.  Hoo gets 5s. 6d. a week.  We han to live an' pay th' rent, too, eawt o' that."  I guessed, from the little paper pictures on the wall, that they were Catholics.  In another corner behind Pole Street, we called at a cottage of two rooms, each about three yards square.  A brother and sister lived together here.  They were each about fifty years of age.  They had three female lodgers, factory operatives, out of work.  The sister said that her brother had been round to the factories that morning, "Thinking that as it wur a pastime, there would haply be somebody off; but he couldn't yer o' nought."  She said she got a trifle by charing, but not much now; for folks were "beginnin' to do it for theirsels."  We now turned into Cunliffe Street, and called upon an Irish family there.  It was a family of seven ― an old tailor, and his wife and children.  They had "dismissed the relief," as he expressed it, "because they got a bit o' work."  The family was making a little living by ripping up old clothes, and turning the cloth to make it up afresh into lads' caps and other cheap things.  The old man had had a great deal of trouble with his family.  "I have one girl," said he, "who has bothered my mind a dale.  She is under the influence o' bad advice.  I had her on my hands for many months; an', after that, the furst week's wages she got, she up, an' cut stick, an' left me.  I have another daughter, now nigh nineteen years of age.  The trouble I have with her I am content with; because it can't be helped.  The poor crayter hasn't the use of all her faculties.  I have taken no end o' pains with her, but I can't get her to count twenty on her finger ends wid a whole life's tachein'.  Fortune has turned her dark side to me this long time, now; and, bedad, iv it wasn't for contrivin', an' workin' hard to boot, I wouldn't be able to keep above the flood.  I assure ye it goes agin me to trouble the gentlemen o' the Board; an' so long as I am able, I will not.  I was born in King's County; an' I was once well off in the city of Waterford.  I once had 400 pounds in the bank.  I seen the time I didn't drame of a cloudy day; but things take quare turns in this world.  How-an-ever, since it's no better, thank God it's no worse.  Sure, it's a long lane that has never a turn in it."



CHAPTER VIII.


There's nob'dy but the Lord an' me
    That knows what I've to bide.

― NATTERIN NAN.


THE slipshod old tailor shuffled after us to the door, talking about the signs of the times.  His frame was bowed with age and labour, and his shoulders drooped away.  It was drawing near the time when the grasshopper would be a burden to him.  A hard life had silently engraved its faithful records upon that furrowed face; but there was a cheerful ring in his voice which told of a hopeful spirit within him still.  The old man's nostrils were dusty with snuff, and his poor garments hung about his shrunken form in the careless ease which is common to the tailor's shop board.  I could not help admiring the brave old wrinkled workman as he stood in the doorway talking about his second-hand trade, whilst the gusty wind fondled about in his thin gray hair.  I took a friendly pinch from his little wooden box at parting, and left him to go on struggling with his troublesome family to "keep above the flood," by translating old clothes into new.  We called at some other houses, where the features of life were so much the same that it is not necessary to say more than that the inhabitants were all workless, or nearly so, and all living upon the charitable provision which is the only thin plank between so many people and death, just now.  In one house, where the furniture had been sold, the poor souls had brought a great stone into the place, and this was their only seat.  In Cunliffe Street, we passed the cottage of a boilermaker, whom I had heard of before.  His family was four in number.  This was one of those cases of wholesome pride in which the family had struggled with extreme penury, seeking for work in vain, but never asking for charity, until their own poor neighbours were at last so moved with pity for their condition, that they drew the attention of the Relief Committee to it.  The man accepted relief for one week, but after that, he declined receiving it any longer, because he had met with a promise of employment.  But the promise failed him when the time came.  The employer, who had promised, was himself disappointed of the expected work.  After this; the boilermaker's family was compelled to fall back upon the Relief Committee's allowance.  He who has never gone hungry about the world, with a strong love of independence in his heart, seeking eagerly for work from day to day, and coming home night after night to a foodless, fireless house, and a starving family, disappointed and desponding, with the gloom of destitution deepening around him, can never fully realise what the feelings of such a man may be from anything that mere words can tell.  In Park Road, we called at the house of a hand-loom weaver.  I learnt, before we went in, that two families lived here, numbering together eight persons; and, though it was well known to the committee that they had suffered as severely as any on the relief list, yet their sufferings had been increased by the anonymous slanders of some ill-disposed neighbours.  They were quiet, well-conducted working people; and these slanders had grieved them very much.  I found the poor weaver's wife very sensitive on this subject.  Man's inhumanity to man may be found among the poor sometimes.  It is not every one who suffers that learns mercy from that suffering.  As I have said before, the husband was a calico weaver on the hand-loom.  He had to weave about seventy-three yards of a kind of check for 3s., and a full week's work rarely brought him more than 5s.  It seems astonishing that a man should stick year after year to such labour as this.  But there is a strong adhesiveness, mingled with timidity, in some men, which helps to keep them down.  In the front room of the cottage there was not a single article of furniture left, so far as I can remember.  The weaver's wife was in the little kitchen, and, knowing the gentleman who was with me, she invited us forward.  She was a wan woman, with sunken eyes, and she was not much under fifty years of age.  Her scanty clothing was whole and clean.  She must have been a very good-looking woman sometime, though she seemed to me as if long years of hard work and poor diet had sapped the foundations of her constitution; and there was a curious changeful blending of pallor and feverish flush upon that worn face.  But, even in the physical ruins of her countenance, a pleasing expression lingered still.  She was timid and quiet in her manner at first, as if wondering what we had come for; but she asked me to sit down.  There was no seat for my friend, and he stood leaning against the wall, trying to get her into easy conversation.  The little kitchen looked so cheerless and bare that dull morning that it reminded me again of a passage in that rude, racy song of the Lancashire weaver, "Jone o' Greenfeelt" ―


Owd Bill o' Dan's sent us th' baillies one day,
For a shop-score aw owed him, at aw couldn't pay;
But, he were too lat, for owd Billy at th' Bent
Had sent th' tit an' cart, an' taen th' goods off for rent, ―
                  They laft nought but th' owd stoo;
                  It were seats for us two,
        An' on it keawr't Margit an' me.

Then, th' baillies looked reawnd 'em as sly as a meawse,
When they see'd at o'th goods had bin taen eawt o' th' heawse;
Says tone chap to tother, "O's gone, ― thae may see," ―
Says aw, "Lads, ne'er fret, for yo're welcome to me!"
                  Then they made no moor do,
                  But nipt up wi' owd stoo,
        An' we both letten thwack upo' th' flags.

Then aw said to eawr Margit, while we're upo' the floor,
"We's never be lower i' this world, aw'm sure;
Iv ever things awtern they're likely to mend,
For aw think i' my heart that we're both at th' fur end;
                  For meight we han noan,
                  Nor no looms to weighve on,
        An' egad, they're as good lost as fund!"


    We had something to do to get the weaver's wife to talk to us freely, and I believe the reason was, that, after the slanders they had been subject to, she harboured a sensitive fear lest anything like doubt should be cast upon her story.  "Well, Mrs," said my friend, "let's see; how many are you altogether in this house?"  "We're two families, yo know," replied she; "there's eight on us all altogether."  "Well," continued he, "and how much have you coming in, now?"  He had asked this question so oft before, and had so often received the same answer, that the poor soul began to wonder what was the meaning of it all.  She looked at us silently, her wan face flushed, and then, with tears rising in her eyes, she said, tremulously, "Well, iv yo' cannot believe folk ― " My friend stopped her at once, and said, "Nay, Mrs ―, you must not think that I doubt your story.  I know all about it; but my friend wanted me to let you tell it your own way.  We have come here to do you good, if possible, and no harm.  You don't need to fear that."  "Oh, well," said she, slowly wiping her moist forehead, and looking relieved, "but yo know, aw was very much put about o'er th' ill-natur't talk as somebody set eawt."  "Take no notice of them," said my friend; "take no notice.  I meet with such things every day."  "Well," continued she, "yo know heaw we're situated.  We were nine months an' hesn't a stroke o' wark.  Eawr wenches are gettin' a day for t' sick, neaw and then, but that's all.  There's a brother o' mine lives with us, ― he'd a been clemmed into th' grave but for th' relief; an' aw've been many a time an' hesn't put a bit i' my meawth fro mornin' to mornin' again.  We've bin married twenty-four year; an' aw don't think at him an' me together has spent a shillin' i' drink all that time.  Why, to tell yo truth, we never had nought to stir on.  My husband does bod get varra little upo th' hand-loom i' th' best o' times ― 5s. a week or so.  He weighves a sort o' check ― seventy-three yards for 3s."  The back door opened into a little damp yard, hemmed in by brick walls.

    Over in the next yard we could see a man bustling about, and singing in a loud voice,


Hard times come again no more.


"Yon fellow doesn't care much about th' hard times, I think," said I.  "Eh, naw," replied she.  "He'll live where mony a one would dee, will yon.  He has that little shop, next dur; an' he keeps sellin' a bit o' toffy, an' then singin' a bit, an' then sellin' a bit moor toffy, ― an' he's as happy as a pig amung slutch."  Leaving the weaver's cottage, the rain came on, and we sat a few minutes with a young shoemaker, who was busy at his bench, doing a cobbling job.  His wife was lying ill upstairs.  He had been so short of work for some time past that he had been compelled to apply for relief.  He complained that the cheap gutta percha shoes were hurting his trade.  He said a pair of men's gutta percha shoes could be bought for 5s. 6d., whilst it would cost him 7s. 6d. for the materials alone to make a pair of men's shoes.  When the rain was over, we left his house, and as we went along I saw in a cottage window a printed paper containing these words, "Bitter beer.  This beer is made of herbs and roots of the native country."  I know that there are many poor people yet in Lancashire who use decoctions of herbs instead of tea ― mint and balm are the favourite herbs for this purpose; but I could not imagine what this herb beer could be, at a halfpenny a bottle, unless it was made of nettles.  At the cottage door there was about four-pennyworth of mauled garden stuff upon an old tray.  There was nobody inside but a little ragged lass, who could not tell us what the beer was made of.  She had only one drinking glass in the place, and that had a snip out of the rim.  The beer was exceedingly bitter.  We drank as we could, and then went into Pump Street, to the house of a "core-maker," a kind of labourer for moulders.  The core-maker's wife was in.  They had four children.  The whole six had lived for thirteen weeks on 3s. 6d. a week.  When work first began to fall off, the husband told the visitors who came to inquire into their condition, that he had a little money saved up, and he could manage a while.  The family lived upon their savings as long as they lasted, and then were compelled to apply for relief, or "clem."  It was not quite noon when we left this house, and my friend proposed that before we went farther we should call upon Mrs G ―, an interesting old woman, in Cunliffe Street.  We turned back to the place, and there we found


                     In lowly shed, and mean attire,
A matron old, whom we schoolmistress name,
Who boasts unruly brats with birch to tame.


In a small room fronting the street, the mild old woman sat, with her bed in one corner, and her simple vassals ranged upon the forms around.  Here, "with quaint arts," she swayed the giddy crowd of little imprisoned elves, whilst they fretted away their irksome school time, and unconsciously played their innocent prelude to the serious drama of life.  As we approach the open door ―


The noises intermix'd, which thence resound,
        Do learning's little tenement betray;
Where sits the dame disguised in look profound,
       And eyes her fairy throng, and turns her wheel around.


The venerable little woman had lived in this house fourteen years.  She was seventy-three years of age, and a native of Limerick.  She was educated at St Ann's School, in Dublin, and she had lived fourteen years in the service of a lady in that city.  The old dame made an effort to raise her feeble form when we entered, and she received us as courteously as the finest lady in the land could have done.  She told us that she charged only a penny a-week for her teaching; but, said she, "some of them can't pay it."  "There's a poor child," continued she, "his father has been out of work eleven months, and they are starving but for the relief.  Still, I do get a little, and I like to have the children about me.  Oh, my case is not the worst, I know.  I have people lodging in the house who are not so well off as me.  I have three families living here.  One is a family of four; they have only 3s. a-week to live upon.  Another is a family of three; they have 6s. a-week from a club, but they pay me 2s. a-week. for rent out of that. . . . . I am very much troubled with my eyes; my sight is failing fast.  If I drop a stitch when I'm knitting, I can't see to take it up again.  If I could buy a pair of spectacles, they would help me a good dale; but I cannot afford till times are better."  I could not help thinking how many kind souls there are in the world who would be glad to give the old woman a pair of spectacles, if they knew her.



CHAPTER IX.


We talked with the old schoolmistress in Cunliffe Street till it was "high twelve" at noon, and then the kind jailer of learning's little prison-house let all her fretful captives go.  The clamorous elves rushed through the doorway into the street, like a stream too big for its vent, rejoicing in their new-found freedom and the open face of day.  The buzz of the little teaching mill was hushed once more, and the old dame laid her knitting down, and quietly wiped her weak and weary eyes.  The daughters of music were brought low with her, but, in the last thin treble of second childhood, she trembled forth mild complaints of her neighbours' troubles, but very little of her own.  We left her to enjoy her frugal meal and her noontide reprieve in peace, and came back to the middle of the town.  On our way I noticed again some features of street life which are more common in manufacturing towns just now than when times are good.  Now and then one meets with a man in the dress of a factory worker selling newspapers, or religious tracts, or back numbers of the penny periodicals, which do not cost much.  It is easy to see, from their shy and awkward manner, that they are new to the trade, and do not like it.  They are far less dexterous, and much more easily "said," than the brisk young salesmen who hawk newspapers in the streets of Manchester.  I know that many of these are unemployed operatives trying to make an honest penny in this manner till better days return.  Now and then, too, a grown-up girl trails along the street,


With wandering steps and slow,


ragged, and soiled, and starved, and looking as if she had travelled far in the rainy weather, houseless and forlorn.  I know that such sights may be seen at any time, but not near so often as just now; and I cannot help thinking that many of these are poor sheep which have strayed away from the broken folds of labour.  Sometimes it is an older woman that goes by, with a child at the breast, and one or two holding by the skirt of her tattered gown, and perhaps one or two more limping after, as she crawls along the pavement, gazing languidly from side to side among the heedless crowd, as if giving her last look round the world for help, without knowing where to get it, and without heart to ask for it.  It is easy to give wholesale reasons why nobody needs to be in such a condition as this; but it is not improbable that there are some poor souls who, from no fault of their own, drop through the great sieve of charity into utter destitution.  "They are well kept that God keeps."  May the continual dew of Heaven's blessing gladden the hearts of those who deal kindly with them!

    After dinner I fell into company with some gentlemen who were talking about the coming guild ― that ancient local festival, which is so dear to the people of Preston, that they are not likely to allow it to go by wholly unhonoured, however severe the times may be.  Amongst them was a gray-haired friend of mine, who is a genuine humorist.  He told us many quaint anecdotes.  One of them was of a man who went to inquire the price of graves in a certain cemetery.  The sexton told him that they were 1 pound on this side, and 2 pounds on the other side of the knoll.  "How is it that they are 2 pounds on the other side?" inquired the man.  "Well, becose there's a better view there," replied the sexton.  There were three or four millowners in the company, and, when the conversation turned upon the state of trade, one of them said, "I admit that there is a great deal of distress, but we are not so badly off yet as to drive the operatives to work for reasonable wages.  For instance, I had a labourer working for me at 10s. a-week; he threw up my employ, and went to work upon the moor for 1s. a-day.  How do you account for that?  And then, again, I had another man employed as a watchman and roller coverer, at 18s. a-week.  I found that I couldn't afford to keep him on at 18s., so I offered him 15s. a-week; but he left it, and went to work on the moor at 1s. a-day; and, just now, I want a man to take his place, and cannot get one."  Another said, "I am only giving low wages to my workpeople, but they get more with me than they can make on the moor, and yet I cannot keep them."  I heard some other things of the same kind, for which there might be special reasons; but these gentlemen admitted the general prevalence of severe distress, and the likelihood of its becoming much worse.

    At two o'clock I sallied forth again, under convoy of another member of the Relief Committee, into the neighbourhood of Messrs Horrocks, Miller, and Co.'s works.  Their mill is known as "Th' Yard Factory."  Hereabouts the people generally are not so much reduced as in some parts of the town, because they have had more employment, until lately, than has been common elsewhere.  But our business lay with those distressed families who were in receipt of relief, and, even here, they were very easy to find.  The first house we called at was inhabited by a family of five ― man and wife and three children.  The man was working on the moor at one shilling a-day.  The wife was unwell, but she was moving about the house.  They had buried one girl three weeks before; and one of the three remaining children lay ill of the measles.  They had suffered a great deal from sickness.  The wife said, "My husband is a peawer-loom weighver.  He had to come whoam ill fro' his wark; an' then they shopped his looms, (gave his work to somebody else,) an' he couldn't get 'em back again.  He'll get 'em back as soon as he con, yo may depend; for we don't want to bother folk for no mak o' relief no lunger than we can help."  In addition to the husband's pay upon the moor, they were receiving 2s. a week from the Committee, making altogether 8s. a week for the five, with 2s. 6d. to pay out of it for rent.  She said, "We would rayther ha' soup than coffee, becose there's moor heytin' in it."  My friend looked in at the door of a cottage in Barton Street.  There was a sickly-looking woman inside. "Well, missis," said my friend, jocularly, "how are you? because, if you're ill, I've brought a doctor here."  "Eh," replied she, "aw could be ill in a minute, if aw could afford, but these times winnot ston doctors' bills.  Besides, aw never were partial to doctors' physic; it's kitchen physic at aw want.  Han yo ony o' that mak' wi' yo?" she said, "My husban' were th' o'erlooker o' th'weighvers at 'Owd Tom's.'  They stopt to fettle th' engine a while back, an' they'n never started sin'.  But aw guess they wi'n do some day."  We had not many yards to go to the next place, which was a poor cottage in Fletcher's Row, where a family of eight persons resided.  There was very little furniture in the place, but I noticed a small shelf of books in a corner by the window.  A feeble woman, upwards of seventy years old, sat upon a stool tending the cradle of a sleeping infant.  This infant was the youngest of five children, the oldest of the five was seven years of age.  The mother of the three-weeks-old infant had just gone out to the mill to claim her work from the person who had been filling her place during her confinement.  The old woman said that the husband was "a grinder in a card-room when they geet wed, an' he addled about 8s. a week; but, after they geet wed, his wife larn't him to weighve upo' th' peawer-looms."  She said that she was no relation to them, but she nursed, and looked after the house for them.  "They connot afford to pay mo nought," continued she, "but aw fare as they fare'n, an' they dunnot want to part wi' me.  Aw'm not good to mich, but aw can manage what they wanten, yo see'n.  Aw never trouble't noather teawn nor country i' my life, an' aw hope aw never shall for the bit o' time aw have to do on."  She said that the Board of Guardians had allowed the family 10s. a week for the two first weeks of the wife's confinement, but now their income amounted to a little less than one shilling a head per week.

    Leaving this house, we turned round the corner into St Mary's Street North.  Here we found a clean-looking young working man standing shivering by a cottage door, with his hands in his pockets.  He was dressed in well-mended fustian, and he had a cloth cap on his head.  His face had a healthy hunger-nipt look.  "Hollo," said my friend, "I thought you was working on the moor."  "Ay," replied the young man, "Aw have bin, but we'n bin rain't off this afternoon."  "Is there nobody in?" said my friend.  "Naw, my wife's gone eawt; hoo'll not be mony minutes.  Hoo's here neaw."  A clean little pale woman came up, with a child in her arms, and we went in.  They had not much furniture in the small kitchen, which was the only place we saw, but everything was sweet and orderly.  Their income was, as usual in relief cases, about one shilling a head per week.  "You had some lodgers," said my friend.  "Ay," said she, "but they're gone."  "How's that?"  "We had a few words.  Their little lad was makin' a great noise i' the passage theer, an' aw were very ill o' my yed, an' aw towd him to go an' play him at tother side o' th' street, ― so, they took it amiss, an' went to lodge wi' some folk i' Ribbleton Lone."  We called at another house in this street.  A family of six lived there.  The only furniture I saw in the place was two chairs, a table, a large stool, a cheap clock, and a few pots.  The man and his wife were in.  She was washing.  The man was a stiff-built, shock-headed little fellow, with a squint in his eye that seemed to enrich the good-humoured expression of his countenance.  Sitting smiling by the window, he looked as if he had lots of fun in him, if he only had a fair chance of letting it off.  He told us that he was a "tackler" by trade.  A tackler is one who fettles looms when they get out of order.  "Couldn't you get on at Horrocks's?" said my friend.  "Naw," replied he; "they'n not ha' men-weighvers theer."  The wife said, "We're a deal better off than some.  He has six days a week upo th' moor, an' we'n 3s. a week fro th' Relief Committee.  We'n 2s. 6d. a week to pay eawt on it for rent; but then, we'n a lad that gets 4d. a day neaw an' then for puttin' bobbins on; an' every little makes a mickle, yo known."  "How is it that your clock's stopt?" said I.  "Nay," said the little fellow; "aw don't know.  Want o' cotton, happen, ― same as everything else is stopt for."  Leaving this house we met with another member of the Relief Committee, who was overlooker of a mill a little way off.  I parted here with the gentleman who had accompanied me hitherto, and the overlooker went on with me.  In Newton Street he stopped, and said, "Let's look in here."  We went up two steps, and met a young woman coming out at the cottage door.  "How's Ruth?" said my friend.  "Well, hoo is here.  Hoo's busy bakin' for Betty."  We went in.  "You're not bakin' for yourselves, then?" said he.  "Eh, naw," replied the young woman, "it's mony a year sin' we had a bakin' o' fleawr! Isn't it, Ruth?"  The old woman who was baking turned round and said, "Ay; an' it'll be mony another afore we han one aw deawt."  There were three dirty-looking hens picking and croodling about the cottage floor.  "How is it you don't sell these, or else eat 'em?" said he.  "Eh, dear," replied the old woman, "dun yo want mo kilt?  He's had thoose hens mony a year; an' they rooten abeawt th' heawse just th' same as gradley Christians.  He did gi' consent for one on 'em to be kilt yesterday; but aw'll be hanged iv th' owd cracky didn't cry like a chylt when he see'd it beawt yed.  He'd as soon part wi' one o'th childer as one o'th hens.  He says they're so mich like owd friends, neaw.  He's as quare as Dick's hat-bant 'at went nine times reawnd an' wouldn't tee. . . . We thought we'd getten a shop for yon lad o' mine t'other day.  We yerd ov a chap at Lytham at wanted a lad to tak care o' six jackasses an' a pony.  Th' pony were to tak th' quality to Blackpool, and such like.  So we fettled th' lad's bits o' clooas up and made him ever so daycent, and set him off to try to get on wi' th' chap at Lytham.  Well, th' lad were i' good heart abeawt it; an' when he geet theer th' chap towd him at he thought he wur very likely for th' job, so that made it better, ― an' th' lad begun o' wearin' his bit o' brass o' summat to eat, an' sich like, thinkin' he're sure o' th' shop.  Well, they kept him there, dallyin', aw tell yo, an' never tellin' him a greadley tale, fro Sunday till Monday o' th' neet, an' then, ― lo an' behold, ― th' mon towd him that he'd hire't another; and th' lad had to come trailin' whoam again, quite deawn i'th' meawth.  Eh, aw wur some mad!  Iv aw'd been at th' back o' that chap, aw could ha' punce't him, see yo!"  "Well," said my friend, "there's no work yet, Ruth, is there?"  "Wark! naw; nor never will be no moor, aw believe."  "Hello, Ruth!" said the young woman, pointing through the window, "dun yo know who yon is?"  "Know? ay," replied the old woman; "He's getten aboon porritch neaw, has yon.  He walks by me i'th street, as peart as a pynot, an' never cheeps.  But, he's no 'casion.  Aw know'd him when his yure stickt out at top ov his hat; and his shurt would ha' hanged eawt beheend, too, ― like a Wigan lantron, ― iv he'd had a shurt."



CHAPTER X.


Oh, reason not the deed; our basest beggars
Are in the poorest things superfluous:
Allow not nature more than nature needs,
Man's life is cheap as beast's.

― King Lear.


A SHORT fit of rain came on whilst we were in the cottage in Newton Street, so we sat a little while with Ruth, listening to her quaint tattle about the old man and his feathered pets; about the children, the hard times, and her own personal ailments; ― for, though I could not help thinking her a very good-hearted, humorous old woman, bravely disposed to fight it out with the troubles of her humble lot, yet it was clear that she was inclined to ease her harassed mind now and then by a little wholesome grumbling; and I dare say that sometimes she might lose her balance so far as to think, like "Natterin' Nan,"


No livin' soul atop o't earth's
        Bin tried as I've bin tried:
There's nob'dy but the Lord an' me
        That knows what I've to bide.


Old age and infirmity, too, had found Ruth out, in her penurious obscurity; and she was disposed to complain a little, like Nan, sometimes, of "the ills that flesh is heir to:" ―


Fro' t' wind i't stomach, rheumatism,
        Tengin pains i't gooms,
An' coughs, an' cowds, an' t' spine o't back,
        I suffer martyrdom.

"Yet nob'dy pities mo, or thinks
        I'm ailin' owt at all;
T' poor slave mun tug an' tew wi't wark,
        Wolivver shoo can crawl.


Old Ruth was far from being as nattle and querulous as the famous ill-natured grumbler so racily pictured by Benjamin Preston, of Bradford; but, like most of the dwellers upon earth, she was a little bit touched with the same complaint.  When the rain was over, we came away.  I cannot say that the weather ever "cleared up" that day; for, at the end of every shower, the dark, slow-moving clouds always seemed to be mustering for another downfall.  We came away, and left the "cant" old body "busy bakin' for Betty," and "shooing" the hens away from her feet, and she shuffled about the house.  A few yards lower in Newton Street, we turned up a low, dark entry, which led to a gloomy little court behind.  This was one of those unhealthy, pent-up cloisters, where misery stagnates and broods among the "foul congregation of pestilential vapours" which haunt the backdoor life of the poorest parts of great towns.  Here, those viewless ministers of health ― the fresh winds of heaven ― had no free play; and poor human nature inhaled destruction from the poisonous effluvia that festered there.  And, in such nooks as this, there may be found many decent working people, who have been accustomed to live a cleanly life in their humble way in healthy quarters, now reduced to extreme penury, pinching, and pining, and nursing the flickering hope of better days, which may enable them to flee from the foul harbour which strong necessity has driven them to.  The dark aspect of the day filled the court with a tomb-like gloom.  If I remember aright, there were only three or four cottages in it.  We called at two of them.  Before we entered the first, my friend said, "A young couple lives here.  They are very decent people.  They have not been here long; and they have gone through a great deal before they came here."  There were two or three pot ornaments on the cornice; but there was no furniture in the place, save one chair, which was occupied by a pale young woman, nursing her child.  Her thin, intelligent face looked very sad.  Her clothing, though poor, was remarkably clean; and, as she sat there, in the gloomy, fireless house, she said very little, and what she said she said very quietly, as if she had hardly strength to complain, and was even half-ashamed to do so.  She told us, however, that her husband had been out of work six months.  "He didn't know what to turn to after we sowd th' things," said she; "but he's takken to cheer-bottomin', for he doesn't want to lie upo' folk for relief, if he can help it.  He doesn't get much above a cheer, or happen two in a week, one week wi' another, an' even then he doesn't olez get paid, for folks ha' not brass.  It runs very hard with us, an' I'm nobbut sickly."  The poor soul did not need to say much; her own person, which evinced such a touching struggle to keep up a decent appearance to the last, and everything about her, as she sat there in the gloomy place, trying to keep the child warm upon her cold breast, told eloquently what her tongue faltered at and failed to express.  The next place we called at in this court was a cottage kept by a withered old woman, with one foot in the grave.  We found her in the house, sallow, and shrivelled, and panting for breath.  She had three young women, out of work, lodging with her; and, in addition to these, a widow with her two children lived there.  One of these children, a girl, was earning 2s. 6d. a week for working short time at a mill; the other, a lad, was earning 3s. a week.  The rest were all unemployed, and had been so for several months past.  This 5s. 6d. a week was all the seven people had to live upon, with the exception of a trifle the sickly old woman received from the Board of Guardians.  As we left the court, two young fellows were lounging at the entry end, as if waiting for us.  One of them stepped up to my friend, and whispered something plaintively, pointing to his feet.  I did not catch the reply; but my friend made a note, and we went on.  Before we had gone many yards down the street a storm of rain and thunder came on, and we hurried into the house of an old Irishwoman close by.  My friend knew the old woman.  She was on his list of relief cases.  "Will you let us shelter a few minutes, Mrs ―?" said he.  "I will, an' thank ye," replied she.  "Come in an' sit down.  Sure, it's not fit to turn out a dog.  Faith, that's a great storm.  Oh, see the rain!  Thank God it's not him that made the house that made the pot!  Dear, dear; did ye see the awful flash that time?  I don't like to be by myself, I am so terrified wi' the thunder.  There has been a great dale o' wet this long time."  "There, has," replied my friend; "but how have ye been getting on since I called before?"  "Well," said the old woman, sitting down, "things is quare with us as ever they can be, an' that you know very well."  There was a young woman reared against the table by the window.  My friend turned towards her, and said, "Well, and how does the Indian meal agree with you?"  The young woman blushed, and smiled, but said nothing; but the old woman turned sharply round and replied, "Well, now, it is better nor starvation; it is chape, an' it fills up ― an' that's all."  "Is your son working?" inquired my friend.  "Troth, he is," replied she.  "He does be gettin' a day now an' again at the breek-croft in Ribbleton Lone.  Faith, it is time he did somethin', too, for he was nine months out o' work entirely.  I am got greatly into debt, an' I don't think I'll ever be able to get over it any more.  I don't know how does poor folk be able to spind money on drink such times as thim; bedad, I cannot do it.  It is hard enough to get mate of any kind to keep the bare life in a body.  Oh, see now; but for the relief, the half o' the country would die out."  "You're a native of Ireland, missis," said I.  "Troth, I am," replied she; "an' had a good farm o' greawnd in it too, one time.  Ah! many's the dark day I went through between that an' this.  Before thim bad times came on, long ago, people were well off in ould Ireland.  I seen them wid as many as tin cows standin' at the door at one time. . . . Ah, then! but the Irish people is greatly scattered now! . . . But, for the matter of that, folk are as badly off here as anywhere in the world, I think.  I dunno know how does poor folk be able to spind money for dhrink.  I am a widow this seventeen year now, an' the divle a man or woman uvver seen me goin' to a public-house.  I seen women goin' a drinkin' widout a shift to their backs.  I dunno how the divvle they done it.  Begorra, I think, if I drunk a glass of ale just now, my two legs would fail from under me immadiately ― I am that wake."  The old woman was a little too censorious, I think.  There is no doubt that even people who are starving do drink a little sometimes.  The wonder would be if they did not, in some degree, share the follies of the rest of the world.  Besides, it is a well-known fact, that those who are in employ, are apt, from a feeling of misdirected kindness, to treat those who are out of work to a glass of ale or two, now and then; and it is very natural, too, that those who have been but ill-fed for a long time are not able to stand it well.

    After leaving the old Irishwoman's house, we called upon a man who had got his living by the sale of newspapers.  There was nothing specially worthy of remark in this case, except that he complained of his trade having fallen away a good deal.  "I used to sell three papers where I now sell one," said he.  This may not arise from there being fewer papers sold, but from there being more people selling them than when times were good.  I came back to Manchester in the evening.  I have visited Preston again since then, and have spent some time upon Preston Moor, where there are nearly fifteen hundred men, principally factory operatives, at work.  Of this I shall have something to say in my next paper.



CHAPTER XI.

The rose of Lancaster for lack of nurture pales.
                                                                                     ― B
LACKBURN BARD.


IT was early on a fine morning in July when I next set off to see Preston again; the long-continued rains seemed to be ended, and the unclouded sun flooded all the landscape with splendour.  All nature rejoiced in the change, and the heart of man was glad.  In Clifton Vale, the white-sleeved mowers were at work among the rich grass, and the scent of new hay came sweetly through our carriage windows.  In the leafy cloughs and hedges, the small birds were wild with joy, and every garden sent forth a goodly smell.  Along its romantic vale the glittering Irwell meandered, here, through nooks,


O'erhung wi' wildwoods, thickening green,


and there, among lush unshaded pastures; gathering on its way many a mild whispering brook, whose sunlit waters laced the green land with freakish lines of trembling gold.  To me this ride is always interesting, so many points of historic interest line the way; but it was doubly delightful on that glorious July morning.  And I never saw Fishergate, in Preston, look better than it did then.  On my arrival there I called upon the Secretary of the Trinity Ward Relief Committee.  In a quiet bye-street, where there are four pleasant cottages, with little gardens in front of them, I found him in his studious nook, among books, relief tickets, and correspondence.  We had a few minutes' talk about the increasing distress of the town; and he gave me a short account of the workroom which has been opened in Knowsley Street, for the employment of female factory operatives out of work.  This workroom is managed by a committee of ladies, some of whom are in attendance every day.  The young women are employed upon plain sewing.  They have two days' work a week, at one shilling a day, and the Relief Committee adds sixpence to this 2s. in each case.  Most of them are merely learning to sew.  Many of them prove to be wholly untrained to this simple domestic accomplishment.  The work is not remunerative, nor is it expected to be so; but the benefit which may grow out of the teaching which these young women get here ― and the evil their employment here may prevent, cannot be calculated.  I find that such workrooms are established in some of the other towns now suffering from the depression of trade.  Some of these I intend to visit hereafter.  I spent an interesting half-hour with the secretary, after which I went to see the factory operatives at work upon Preston Moor.

    Preston Moor is a tract of waste land on the western edge of the town.  It belongs to the corporation.  A little vale runs through a great part of this moor, from south-east to north-west; and the ground was, until lately, altogether uneven.  On the town side of the little dividing vale the land is a light, sandy soil; on the other side, there is abundance of clay for brick-making.  Upon this moor there are now fifteen hundred men, chiefly factory operatives, at work, levelling the land for building purposes, and making a great main sewer for the drainage of future streets.  The men, being almost all unused to this kind of labour, are paid only one shilling per day; and the whole scheme has been devised for the employment of those who are suffering from the present depression of trade.  The work had been going on several months before I saw it, and a great part of the land was levelled.  When I came in sight of the men, working in scattered gangs that fine morning, there was, as might be expected, a visible difference between their motions and those of trained "navvies" engaged upon the same kind of labour.  There were also very great differences of age and physical condition amongst them ― old men and consumptive-looking lads, hardly out of their teens.  They looked hard at me as I walked down the central line, but they were not anyway uncivil.  "What time is 't, maister?" asked a middle-aged man, with gray hair, as he wiped his forehead.  "Hauve-past ten," said I.  "What time says he?" inquired a feeble young fellow, who was resting upon his barrow.  "Hauve-past ten, he says," replied the other.  "Eh; it's warm!" said the tired lad, lying down upon his barrow again.  One thing I noticed amongst these men, with very rare exceptions, their apparel, however poor, evinced that wholesome English love of order and cleanliness which generally indicates something of self-respect in the wearer ― especially among poor folk.  There is something touching in the whiteness of a well-worn shirt, and the careful patches of a poor man's old fustian coat.  As I lounged about amongst the men, a mild-eyed policeman came up, and offered to conduct me to Jackson, the labour-master, who had gone down to the other end of the moor, to look after the men at work at the great sewer ― a wet clay cutting ― the heaviest bit of work on the ground.  We passed some busy brick-makers, all plastered and splashed with wet clay ― of the earth, earthy.  Unlike the factory operatives around them, these men clashed, and kneaded, and sliced among the clay, as if they were working for a wager.  But they were used to the job, and working piece-work.  A little further on, we came to an unbroken bit of the moor.  Here, on a green slope we saw a poor lad sitting chirruping upon the grass, with a little cloutful of groundsel for bird meat in his hand, watching another, who was on his knees, delving for earth-nuts with an old knife.  Lower down the slope there were three other lads plaguing a young jackass colt; and further off, on the town edge of the moor, several children from the streets hard by, were wandering about the green hollow, picking daisies, and playing together in the sunshine.  There are several cotton factories close to the moor, but they were quiet enough.  Whilst I looked about me here, the policeman pointed to the distance and said, "Jackson's comin' up, I see.  Yon's him, wi' th' white lin' jacket on."  Jackson seems to have won the esteem of the men upon the moor by his judicious management and calm determination.  I have heard that he had a little trouble at first, through an injurious report spread amongst the men immediately before he undertook the management.  Some person previously employed upon the ground had "set it eawt that there wur a chap comin' that would make 'em addle a hauve-a-creawn a day for their shillin'."  Of course this increased the difficulty of his position; but he seems to have fought handsomely through all that sort of thing.  I had met him for a few minutes once before, so there was no difficulty between us.  "Well, Jackson," said I, "heaw are yo gettin' on among it?"  "Oh, very well, very well," said he, "We'n more men at work than we had, an' we shall happen have more yet.  But we'n getten things into something like system, an' then tak 'em one with another th' chaps are willin' enough.  You see they're not men that have getten a livin' by idling aforetime; they're workin' men, but they're strange to this job, an' one cannot expect 'em to work like trained honds, no moor than one could expect a lot o' navvies to work weel at factory wark.  Oh, they done middlin', tak 'em one with another."  I now asked him if he had not had some trouble with the men at first.  "Well," said he, "I had at first, an' that's the truth.  I remember th' first day that I came to th' job.  As I walked on to th' ground there was a great lump o' clay coom bang into my earhole th' first thing; but I walked on, an' took no notice, no moor than if it had bin a midge flyin' again my face.  Well, that kind o' thing took place, now an' then, for two or three days, but I kept agate o' never mindin'; till I fund there were some things that I thought could be managed a deal better in a different way; so I gav' th' men notice that I would have 'em altered.  For instance, now, when I coom here at first, there was a great shed in yon hollow; an' every mornin' th' men had to pass through that shed one after another, an' have their names booked for th' day.  The result wur, that after they'd walked through th' shed, there was many on 'em walked out at t'other end o' th' moor straight into teawn a-playin' 'em.  Well, I was determined to have that system done away with.  An', when th' men fund that I was gooin' to make these alterations, they growled a good deal, you may depend, an' two or three on 'em coom up an' spoke to me abeawt th' matter, while tother stood clustered a bit off.  Well, I was beginnin' to tell 'em plain an' straight-forrud what I would have done, when one o' these three sheawted out to th' whole lot, "Here, chaps, come an' gether reawnd th' devil.  Let's yer what he's for!"  'Well,' said I, 'come on, an' you shall yer,' for aw felt cawmer just then, than I did when it were o'er.  There they were, gethered reawnd me in a minute, ― th' whole lot, ― I were fair hemmed in.  But I geet atop ov a bit ov a knowe, an' towd 'em a fair tale, ― what I wanted, an' what I would have, an' I put it to 'em whether they didn't consider it reet.  An' I believe they see'd th' thing in a reet leet, but they said nought about it, but went back to their wark, lookin' sulky.  But I've had very little bother with 'em sin'.  "I never see'd a lot o' chaps so altered sin' th' last February, as they are.  At that time no mortal mon hardly could walk through 'em 'beawt havin' a bit o' slack-jaw, or a lump o' clay or summat flung a-him.  But it isn't so, neaw.  I consider th' men are doin' very weel.  But, come; yo mun go deawn wi' me a-lookin' at yon main sewer."



CHAPTER XII.


The time will come, as come again it must,
When Lancashire shall lift her head once more;
Her suffering sons, now down amid the dust
Of Indigence, shall pass through Plenty's door;
Her commerce cover seas from shore to shore;
Her arts arise to highest eminence;
Her products prove unrivall'd, as of yore;
Her valour and her virtue ― men of sense

         And blue-eyed beauties ― England's pride and her defence.
― B
LACKBURN BARD.


JACKSON'S office as labour-master kept him constantly tramping about the sandy moor from one point to another.  He was forced to be in sight, and on the move, during working hours, amongst his fifteen hundred scattered workmen.  It was heavy walking, even in dry weather; and as we kneaded through the loose soil that hot forenoon, we wiped our foreheads now and then.  "Ay," said he, halting, and looking round upon the scene, "I can assure you, that when I first took howd o' this job, I fund my honds full, as quiet as it looks now.  I was laid up for nearly a week, an' I had to have two doctors.  But, as I'd undertakken the thing, I was determined to go through with it to th' best o' my ability; an' I have confidence now that we shall be able to feight through th' bad time wi' summat like satisfaction, so far as this job's consarned, though it's next to impossible to please everybody, do what one will.  But come wi' me down this road.  I've some men agate o' cuttin' a main sewer.  It's very little farther than where th' cattle pens are i' th' hollow yonder; and it's different wark to what you see here.  Th' main sewer will have to be brought clean across i' this direction, an' it'll be a stiffish job.  Th' cattle market's goin' to be shifted out o' yon hollow, an' in another year or two th' whole scene about here will be changed."  Jackson and I both remembered something of the troubles of the cotton manufacture in past times.  We had seen something of the "shuttle gatherings," the "plug-drawings," the wild starvation riots, and strikes of days gone by; and he agreed with me that one reason for the difference of their demeanour during the present trying circumstances lies in their increasing intelligence.  The great growth of free discussion through the cheap press has done no little to work out this salutary change.  There is more of human sympathy, and of a perception of the union of interests between employers and employed than ever existed before in the history of the cotton trade.  Employers know that their workpeople are human beings, of like feelings and passions with themselves, and like themselves, endowed with no mean degree of independent spirit and natural intelligence; and working men know better than beforetime that their employers are not all the heartless tyrants which it has been too fashionable to encourage them to believe.  The working men have a better insight into the real causes of trade panics than they used to have; and both masters and men feel more every day that their fortunes are naturally bound together for good or evil; and if the working men of Lancashire continue to struggle through the present trying pass of their lives with the brave patience which they have shown hitherto, they will have done more to defeat the arguments of those who hold them to be unfit for political power than the finest eloquence of their best friends could have done in the same time.  The labour master and I had a little talk about these things as we went towards the lower end of the moor.  A few minutes' slow walk brought us to the spot, where some twenty of the hardier sort of operatives were at work in a damp clay cutting.  "This is heavy work for sich chaps as these," said Jackson; "but I let 'em work bi'th lump here.  I give'em so much clay apiece to shift, and they can begin when they like, an' drop it th' same.  Th' men seem satisfied wi' that arrangement, an' they done wonders, considerin' th' nature o'th job.  There's many o'th men that come on to this moor are badly off for suitable things for their feet.  I've had to give lots o' clogs away among'em.  You see men cannot work with ony comfort among stuff o' this sort without summat substantial on.  It rives poor shoon to pieces i' no time.  Beside, they're not men that can ston bein' witchod (wetshod) like some.  They haven't been used to it as a rule.  Now, this is one o'th' finest days we've had this year; an' you haven't sin what th' ground is like in bad weather.  But you'd be astonished what a difference wet makes on this moor.  When it's bin rain for a day or two th' wark's as heavy again.  Th' stuff's heavier to lift, an' worse to wheel; an' th' ground is slutchy.  That tries 'em up, an' poo's their shoon to pieces; an' men that are wakely get knocked out o' time with it.  But thoose that can stand it get hardened by it.  There's a great difference; what would do one man's constitution good will kill another.  Winter time 'll try 'em up tightly. . . Wait there a bit," continued he, "I'll be with you again directly."  He then went down into the cutting to speak to some of his men, whilst I walked about the edge of the bank.  From a distant part of the moor, the bray of a jackass came faint upon the sleepy wind.  "Yer tho', Jone," said one of the men, resting upon his spade; "another cally-weighver gone!"  "Ay," replied Jone, "th' owd lad's deawn't his cut.  He'll want no more tickets, yon mon!"  The country folk of Lancashire say that a weaver dies every time a jackass brays.  Jackson came up from the cutting, and we walked back to where the greatest number of men were at work.  "You should ha' bin here last Saturday," said he; "we'd rather a curious scene.  One o' the men coom to me an' axed if I'd allow 'em hauve-an-hour to howd a meetin' about havin' a procession i' th' guild week.  I gav' 'em consent, on condition that they'd conduct their meetin' in an orderly way.  Well, they gethered together upo' that level theer; an' th' speakers stood upo' th' edge o' that cuttin', close to Charnock Fowd.  Th' meetin' lasted abeawt a quarter ov an hour longer than I bargained for; but they lost no time wi' what they had to do.  O' went off quietly; an' they finished with 'Rule Britannia,' i' full chorus, an' then went back to their wark.  You'll see th' report in today's paper."  This meeting was so curious, and so characteristic of the men, that I think the report is worth repeating here: ―


On Saturday afternoon, a meeting of the parish labourers was held on the moor, to consider the propriety of having a demonstration of their numbers on one day in the guild week.  There were upwards of a thousand present.  An operative, named John Houlker, was elected to conduct the proceedings.  After stating the object of the assembly, a series of propositions were read to the meeting by William Gillow, to the effect that a procession take place of the parish labourers in the guild week; that no person be allowed to join in it except those whose names were on the books of the timekeepers; that no one should receive any of the benefits which might accrue who did not conduct himself in an orderly manner; that all persons joining the procession should be required to appear on the ground washed and shaven, and their clogs, shoes, and other clothes cleaned; that they were not expected to purchase or redeem any articles of clothing in order to take part in the demonstration; and that any one absenting himself from the procession should be expelled from any participation in the advantages which might arise from the subscriptions to be collected by their fellow-labourers.  These were all agreed to, and a committee of twelve was appointed to collect subscriptions and donations.  A president, secretary, and treasurer were also elected, and a number of resolutions agreed to in reference to the carrying out of the details of their scheme.  The managing committee consist of Messrs W. Gillow, Robert Upton, Thomas Greenwood Riley, John Houlker, John Taylor, James Ray, James Whalley, Wm. Banks, Joseph Redhead, James Clayton, and James McDermot.  The men agreed to subscribe a penny per week to form a fund out of which a dinner should be provided, and they expressed themselves confident that they could secure the gratuitous services of a band of music.  During the meeting there was great order.  At the conclusion, a vote of thanks was accorded to the chairman, to the labour master for granting them three-quarters of an hour for the purpose of holding the meeting, and to William Gillow for drawing up the resolutions.  Three times three then followed; after which, George Dewhurst mounted a hillock, and, by desire, sang 'Rule Britannia,' the chorus being taken up by the whole crowd, and the whole being wound up with a hearty cheer.


    There are various schemes devised in Preston for regaling the poor during the guild; and not the worst of them is the proposal to give them a little extra money for that week, so as to enable them to enjoy the holiday with their families at home.

    It was now about half-past eleven.  "It's getting on for dinner time," said Jackson, looking at his watch.  "Let's have a look at th' opposite side yonder; an' then we'll come back, an' you'll see th' men drop work when the five minutes' bell rings.  There's many of 'em live so far off that they couldn't well get whoam an' back in an hour; so, we give'em an hour an' a half to their dinner, now, an' they work half an' hour longer i'th afternoon."  We crossed the hollow which divides the moor, and went to the top of a sandy cutting at the rear of the workhouse.  This eminence commanded a full view of the men at work on different parts of the ground, with the time-keepers going to and fro amongst them, book in hand.  Here were men at work with picks and spades; there, a slow-moving train of full barrows came along; and, yonder, a train of empty barrows stood, with the men sitting upon them, waiting.  Jackson pointed out some of his most remarkable men to me; after which we went up to a little plot of ground behind the workhouse, where we found a few apparently older or weaker men, riddling pebbly stuff, brought from the bed of the Ribble.  The smaller pebbles were thrown into heaps, to make a hard floor for the workhouse schoolyard.  The master of the workhouse said that the others were too big for this purpose ― the lads would break the windows with them.  The largest pebbles were cast aside to be broken up, for the making of garden walks.  Whilst the master of the workhouse was showing us round the building, Jackson looked at his watch again, and said, "Come, we've just time to get across again.  Th' bell will ring in two or three minutes, an' I should like yo to see 'em knock off."  We hurried over to the other side, and, before we had been a minute there, the bell rung.  At the first toll, down dropt the barrows, the half-flung shovelfuls fell to the ground, and all labour stopt as suddenly as if the men had been moved by the pull of one string.  In two minutes Preston Moor was nearly deserted, and, like the rest, we were on our way to dinner.

――――♦――――

 
Wails of the Workless poor.


For whom the heart of man shuts out,
        Straightway the heart of God takes in,
And fences them all round about
        With silence, 'mid the world's loud din.
And one of his great charities
        Is music; and it doth not scorn
To close the lids upon the eyes
        Of the weary and forlorn.

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.


THERE is one feature of the distress in Lancashire which was seen strikingly upon the streets of our large towns during some months of 1862.  I allude to the wandering minstrelsy of the unemployed.  Swarms of strange, shy, sad-looking singers and instrumental performers, in the work-worn clothing of factory operatives, went about the busy city, pleading for help in touching wails of simple song,—like so many wild birds driven by hard weather to the haunts of man.  There is something instructive, as well as affecting, in this feature of the troubled time.  These wanderers are only a kind of representative overflow of a vast number whom our streets will never see.  Any one well acquainted with Lancashire will know how widespread the study of music is among its working population.  Even the inhabitants of our large towns know more about this now than they knew a few months ago.  I believe there is no part of England in which the practice of sacred music is so widely and lovingly pursued amongst the working people as in the counties of Lancashire and Yorkshire.  There is no part of England where, until lately, there have been so many poor men's pianos, which have been purchased by a long course of careful savings from the workman's wages.  These, of course, have mostly been sold during the hard times, to keep life in the owner and in his family.  The great works of Handel, Haydn, Beethoven, and Mozart, have solaced the toil of thousands of the poorest working people of Lancashire.  Anybody accustomed to wander among the moorlands of the county will remember how common it is to hear the people practising sacred music in their lonely cottages.  It is not uncommon to meet working men wandering over the wild hills,


Where whin and heather grow.


with their musical instruments, to take part in some village oratorio many miles away.  "That reminds me," as taletellers say, of an incident among the hills which was interesting, though far from singular in my experience.  Up in the Forest of Rossendale, between Derply Moor and the wild hill called Swinshaw, there is a little lone valley, a green cup in the mountains, called "Dean."  The inhabitants of this valley are so notable for their love of music that they are known all through the vales of Rossendale as "Th' Deighn Layrocks," or "The Larks of Dean."  In the twilight of a glorious Sunday evening, in the height of summer, I was roaming over the heathery waste of Swinshaw, towards Dean, in company with a musical friend of mine, who lived in the neighbouring clough, when we saw a little crowd of people coming down a moorland slope far away in front of us.  As they drew nearer we found that many of them had musical instruments, and when we met, my friend recognised them as working people living in the district, and mostly well known to him.  He inquired where they had been, and they told him they had "bin to a bit of a Sing deawn i'th Deighn."  "Well," said he, "can't we have a tune here?"  "Sure yo con, wi' o'th plezzur i'th world," replied he who acted as spokesman; and a low buzz of delighted consent ran through the rest of the company.  They then ranged themselves in a circle around their conductor, and they played and sang several fine pieces of psalmody upon the heather-scented mountain top.  As those solemn strains floated over the wild landscape, startling the moorfowl untimely in his nest, I could not help thinking of the hunted Covenanters of Scotland.  The all-together of that scene upon the mountains,


Between the gloaming and the mirk.


made an impression upon me which I shall not easily forget.  Long after we parted from them we could hear their voices, softening in sound as the distance grew, chanting on their way down the echoing glen, and the effect was wonderfully fine.  This little incident upon the top of Swinshaw is representative of things which often occur in the country parts of Lancashire, showing how widespread the love of music is among the working classes there.  Even in great manufacturing towns it is very common, when passing cotton mills at work, to hear some fine psalm tune streaming in chorus from female voices, and mingling with the spoom of thousands of spindles.  The Larks of Dean, like the rest of Lancashire operatives, must have suffered in this melancholy time; but I hope that the humble musicians of our county will never have occasion to hang their harps upon the willows.

    Now, when Fortune has laid such a load of sorrow upon the working people of Lancashire, it is a sad thing to see so many workless minstrels of humble life,


Chanting their artless notes in simple guise,


upon the streets of great towns, amongst a kind of life they are little used to.  There is something very touching, too, in their manner and appearance.  They may be ill-shod and footsore,—they may be hungry and sick at heart, and forlorn in countenance,—but they are almost always clean and wholesome-looking in person.  They come singing in twos and threes, and sometimes in more numerous bands, as if to keep one another in countenance.  Sometimes they come in a large family altogether,—the females with their hymnbooks and the men with their different musical instruments,—bits of pet salvage from the wrecks of cottage homes.  The women have sometimes children in their arms, or led by the hand; and they sometimes carry music-books for the men.  I have seen them, too, with little handkerchiefs of rude provender for the day.  As I said before, they are almost invariably clean in person, and their clothing is almost always sound and seemly in appearance, however poor and scanty.  Amongst these poor wanderers there is none of the reckless personal negligence and filth of hopeless reprobacy; neither is there a shadow of the professional ostentation of poverty amongst them.  Their faces are sad, and their manners very often singularly shamefaced and awkward; and any careful observer would see at a glance that these people were altogether unused to the craft of the trained minstrel of the streets.  Their clear, healthy complexion, though often touched with pallor, their simple, unimportunate demeanour, and the general rusticity of their appearance, show them to be


                         Suppliants who would blush
To wear a tatter'd garb, however coarse;
Whom famine cannot reconcile to filth;
Who ask with painful shyness, and refused,
Because deserving, silently retire.


    The females, especially the younger ones, generally walk behind, blushing and hiding themselves as much as possible.  I have seen the men sometimes walk backwards, with their faces towards those who were advancing, as if ashamed of what they were doing.  And thus they went wailing through the busy streets, whilst the listening crowd looked on them pityingly and wonderingly, as if they were so many hungry shepherds from the mountains of Calabria.  This flood of strange minstrelsy partly drowned the slang melodies and the monotonous strains of ordinary street musicians for a while.  The professional gleeman "paled his ineffectual fire" before these mournful songsters. [p.284]  I think there never was so much sacred music heard upon the streets of Manchester before.  With the exception of a favourite glee now and then, their music consisted chiefly of fine psalm tunes,—often plaintive old strains, known and welcome to all,—because they awaken tender and elevating remembrances of life.  "Burton," "French," "Kilmarnock," "Luther's Hymn," the grand "Old Hundred," and many other fine tunes of a similar character, have floated daily in the air of our city, for months together.  I am sure that this choice does not arise from the minstrels themselves having craft enough to select


A mournful muse, soft pity to infuse.


It is the kind of music which has been the practice and pleasure of their lives, and it is a fortuitous thing that now, in addition to its natural plaintiveness, the sad necessity of the times lends a tender accompaniment to their simplest melody.  I doubt very much whether Leech's minor tunes were ever heard upon our streets till lately.  Leech was a working man, born near the hills, in South Lancashire; and his anthems and psalm tunes are great favourites among the musical population, especially in the country districts.  Leech's heart was tuned by the genius of sorrow.  Several times lately I have heard the tender complaining notes of his psalmody upon the streets of the city.  About three months ago I heard one of his most pathetic tunes sung in the Manchester Market Place by an old man and two young women.  The old man's dress had the peculiar hue and fray of factory work upon it, and he had a pair of clogs upon his stockingless feet.  They were singing one of Leech's finest minor tunes to Wesley's hymn:—


And am I born to die,
        To lay this body down?
And must my trembling spirit fly
        Into a world unknown?
A land of deepest shade,
        Unpierced by human thought,—
The dreary country of the dead,
        Where all things are forgot?


It is a tune often sung by country people in Lancashire at funerals; and, if I remember right, the same melody is cut upon Leech's gravestone in the old Wesleyan Chapelyard, at Rochdale.  I saw a company of minstrels of the same class going through Brown Street, in Manchester, the other day, playing and singing,


In darkest shades, if Thou appear,
        My dawning is begun.


The company consisted of an old man, two young men, and three young women.  Two of the women had children in their arms.  After I had listened to them a little while, thinking the time and the words a little appropriate to their condition, I beckoned to one of the young men, who came "sidling" slowly up to me.  I asked him where they came from, and he said, "Ashton."  In answer to another question, he said, "We're o' one family.  Me an' yon tother's wed.  That's his wife wi' th' chylt in her arms; an' hur wi' th' plod shawl on's mine."  I asked if the old man was his father.  "Ay," replied he, "we're o' here, nobbut two.  Mi mother's ill i' bed; an' one o' mi sisters is lookin' after her."  "Well, an' heaw han yo getten on?" said I.  "Oh, we'n done weel; but we's come no moor," replied he.  Another day there was an instrumental band of these operatives playing sacred music close to the Exchange lamp.  Amongst the crowd around I met with a friend of mine.  He told me that the players were from Stalybridge.  They played some fine old tunes, by desire; and, among the rest, they played one called "Warrington."  When they had played it several times over, my friend turned to me and said, "That tune was composed by a Rev. Mr. Harrison, who was once minister of Cross Street Unitarian Chapel, in Manchester; and one day an old weaver who had come down from the hills many miles, staff in hand, knocked at the minister's door, and asked if there was 'a gentleman co'de Harrison lived there?'  'Yes.'  'Could aw see him?'  'Yes.'  When the minister came to the door the old weaver looked hard at him for a minute, and said, 'Are yo th' mon 'at composed that tune co'de "Warrington?"'  'Yes,' replied the minister, 'I believe I am.'  'Well,' said the old weaver, 'give me your hond!  It's a grand tune!'  He then shook hands with him heartily again, and saying, 'Well, good day to yo,' he went his way home again, before the old minister could fairly collect his scattered thoughts."

    I do not know how it is that these workless minstrels are gradually becoming rarer upon the streets than they were a few months ago.  Perhaps it is because the unemployed are more liberally relieved now than they were at first.  I know that now many who have concealed their starving condition are ferreted out and relieved as far as possible.  Many of these street wanderers have gone home again disgusted, to pinch out the hard time in proud obscurity and there are some, no doubt, who have wandered away to other parts of England.  Of these last, we may naturally expect that a few may become so reconciled to a life of wandering minstrelsy that they may probably never return to settled labour again.  But


There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will.


Let us trust that the Great Creator may comfort and relieve them, "according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions."


――――♦――――



JOHN HEYWOOD, Excelsior Printing and Bookbinding Works, Manchester.

 

FOOTNOTES

p.1

Feeorin—fearful things.

p.5-1

Thomas Posthumus Holt, Esq., was one of the intended Knights of the Order of the Royal Oak.  According to MS, memorandum he died 26th March, 1669, "after sown-sett a hower, as they report it."--Burke's Commoners.

p.5-2

See "Tyrone's Bed," in Roby's "Traditions of Lancashire."

p.6

The turbulent Earl of Tyrone, who headed the Irish rebellion in the reign of Elizabeth.

p.9-1

Groo-weather—growing weather.

p.9-2

Knowl Hill, between Rochdale and Rossendale.

p.11

The dule steawnd theem 'at cut 'em deawn—the devil astonish those who cut them down.

p.12-1

Yers to mo, meaw?—hearest thou me, now?

p.12-2

Our Jammy lad—our James's son.

p.14-1

Stoop—a stake; a long piece of pointed wood.

p.14-2

Marlock—a freak; a prank.

p.14-3

Delit—daylight.

p.15-1

Wilto—shalto—by force; against the will.

p.15-2

Scarrin—scaring; terrifying.

p.16

One of the Fenton family who owned the land there.

p.17-1

Meyt-whol—meat-whole; able to eat his meals.

p.17-2

 Aw'm so like—it may naturally be expected that I shall.

p.17-3

Folk at's a dur to keep oppen connot do't wi' th' wynt—folk that have a house to maintain cannot do it with the wind.

p.18

Th' War Office—a name applied to the village of Bamford.

p.20-1

Hollingworth's "Mancuniensis," Willis's edition, p.53.

p.20-2

Court Magazine, vol. 8, No. 45.

p.31

The late Mr. John Bolton Rogerson, who was for many years resident at the Harpurhey Cemetery, was an old friend of mine.  In the year 1851, during which I was engaged in writing "Lancashire Sketches," I received the following letter from him in relation to the name of this little glen:—


                                               Cemetery House, Harpurhey, June 18th, 1851.
My dear Sir,—Understanding that you are about to include in your "Sketches" a notice of that picturesque spot commonly called in the locality "Boggart-Ho' Kloof," I send you a scrap of information on the subject which, I think, may be new to the public.  Bamford, in his "Passages in the Life of a Radical," speaks of an ancient and desolate-looking house once standing in this valley, which was known as "Boggart" or "Fyrin-Ho' Kloof" ("The Glen of the Hall of Spirits").  I am at all times sorry when anything like romance is converted into unpoetic truth (but such things do occasionally happen), but I was dining a short time ago with a legal gentleman, who informed me that he was at a considerable loss, a few years back, how to describe the place in question, having to prepare some notices to be served on trespassers.  On referring to the title-deeds of the property he found that a family of the name of Bowker had formerly occupied a residence situated in the Clough, and that their dwelling was designated Bowker's Hall.  From this the place took its name, and as such he described it.  The interest of the derivation is much weakened by the explanation; but I can put every confidence in the accuracy of my informant, and you may make what use you please of the contents of this note.—With best wishes for your success, believe me, yours faithfully,            J. B. R
OGERSON.
Mr. Edwin Waugh.

p.34

Those somewhat remarkable posts have been removed of late years, and stout pillars of stone occupy their places.

p.35

Those oaks have been felled, and the kloof is now comparatively denuded of timber; the underwood on the left side is nearly swept away.  Sad inroads on the ominous gloom of the place.

p.39

Kuerden MS., folio 274, Chetham Library.

p.41-1

Leland's "Itinerary" (Hearne's edit.), vol. vii., p. 42.

p.41-2

The following note is attached to this passage in Mr. Booker's volume:—

"The annals of Blackley bear ample testimony to the superstition of its inhabitants.  It has had its nine-days' wonder at every period of its history.  Hollingworth, writing of that age of portent and prodigies which succeeded the Reformation, says: 'In Blackley, neere Manchester, in one John Pendleton's ground, as one was reapinge, the corne being cut seemed to bleede; drops fell out of it like to bloud; multitudes of people went to see it; and the straws thereof, though of a kindly colour without, were within reddish, and as it were bloody!'  Boggart-Hole Clough, too, was another favourite haunt of ghostly visitants, the legend of which has been perpetuated by Mr. Roby in his 'Traditions of Lancashire,' vol. 2, pp. 295, 391.  Nor has it ceased in our day: in 1852 one of its inhabitants imperilled the safety of his family and neighbours by undermining the walls of his cottage, in his efforts to discover the hidden cause of some mysterious noise that had disturbed him."

p.47

This was written in 1851.

p.104

"History of the Forest of Rossendale."  By Thomas Newbigging.  London: Simpkin and Marshall.

p.105

This was in 1869.

p.284

In "Sketches of Vagrant Life," which appeared in the supplement of the Manchester Courier, in 1881, the author says:—


    "Perhaps the best street-singer ever I heard was during the Lancashire cotton famine in 1862.  The singer was a young man, with a capital tenor voice, who always appeared in the streets alone, and sang to an air I have never since been able to procure or to recognise, that grand poem of Gerald Massey's, "The Cry of the Unemployed," of which the following verse often brought tears to the eyes of those who heard him sing it:—


Gold! art thou not a blessèd thing?—a charm above all other,
To shut up hearts to Nature's cry, when brother pleads with brother?
Hast thou a music sweeter than the voice of loving kindness?
No! curse thee! thou'rt a mist 'twixt God and man in outer blindness.
"Father! come back!" my children cry.   Their voices, once so sweet,
Now quiver lance-like in my bleeding heart!   I cannot meet
The looks that make the brain go mad, from dear ones asking bread.
God of the wretched, hear my prayer! I would that I were dead!


The man who sang these noble lines in the streets of Lancashire towns in the winter of 1862 was no ordinary street-singer.  His whole appearance, whether studied or natural, accorded so well with the words he sang that crowds used to gather round him, and the money given him,—for he never asked or went round with the hat,—was considerable.  It was generally believed that he had set the words to his own music; whether this was so or not there could not have been a more beautiful finale than the way in which he sang last line of each verse."

 


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