Poetry Notes
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NOTE 1, PAGE 22.

    This was the first of my printed productions, and appeared in Harrop's Manchester Volunteer, with the signature of "JEFFREY."

NOTE 2, PAGE 26.

    I have been informed, since the verses referred to were written, that I was mistaken as to this point, and that there is, amongst the ruins of Leicester Abbey, an inscription commemorative of the death and burial of the great Cardinal.

NOTE 3, PAGE 42.

    Oaphin, as pronounced by the inhabitants of the district, or Alphian, as spelled by some authors, is a high, and when clear from snow, dark-looking hill, in the parish of Saddleworth, and the West Riding of the county of York.  It is a prominent object in nearly all the elevated views of the Eastern and Southern parts of the county of Lancaster; and is distant from the borders of the county about four miles.  There are many reasons for supposing that this mountainous district was an occasional retreat, if not a permanent residence, of the Britons, ere they disappeared before their Saxon and Danish invaders.  At the foot of the Northern and most elevated part of Oaphin, runs the small river Tame, watering a fertile valley, beautiful when smiling in the calm sunshine; and further again to the North, opposite to Oaphin, rises the crag of Oaderman—"The giant snouted crags, ho ho!"

    Here is, or recently was, a remarkable upright stone called "Th' Owd Mon," said to have been an object of worship with the Britons, probably also with the Pagan Saxons; as its name, as well as that of the hill on which it stands, is derived from their language. At a short distance, on the same ridge of hills, is a rock called "the Pancake;" supposed to have been a Druidical altar. In the third volume of "The Memoirs of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester," it is described as "of an irregular square form, with obtuse angles," having "on its surface four basins hollowed in the stone; the largest, being nearly in the centre, is capable of holding eight or ten gallons." There is also a hollow, or trough near it, called "Robin Hood's bed," probably used for the reception of sacrificial victims ; whilst the four hollows were calculated to contain either fire or liquids.  Possibly on this altar, sacrifices were offered by the Druids.  In the vicinity are vestiges of British and Roman roads, and their fortifications at Melandra, Buckton, and Castle Shaw may still be traced.

NOTE 4, PAGE 49.

    In idea and expression, there is considerable similarity betwixt this poem and the "King Death" of Barry Cornwall.  The Pass of Death was published in the Morning Herald very soon after Mr. Canning's decease, probably before his funeral took place.  "King Death," if the author mistake not, made its appearance long afterwards.

NOTE 5, PAGE 59.

    It was about the year 1827 that being employed as a correspondent to the Morning Herald, the worthy and amiable proprietor of that paper expressed a wish to see me in London, when the verses to which this note refers were transmitted as containing some of my reasons for preferring to remain at home at that time.

    The Poem has been set to music by Mr. W. C. Ridings, of Middleton. Music composed by a working man! to words written by a fellow labourer!  This indicates what may be expected from "the labouring classes" in times to come.

NOTE 6, PAGE 70.

This story, as intimated, is mainly founded on traditionary reminiscences, many of which are current amongst the old people of the district.  Sir Ashton Lever, of Alkrington, is still represented in these old stories as the accepted lover (accepted by the lady) of Miss Assheton, eldest daughter, and with her sister Eleanor, co-heiress of Sir Raphe Assheton, lord of all the lands of Middleton, Thornham, Pilsworth, Unsworth, Radcliffe, Great and Little Lever, and Ainsworth.  Sir Ashton Lever was the first Knight of his name, and the last.  He was of a line not as anciently titled as the Asshetons, and consequently, as is supposed, his attentions were not quite agreeable to the proud old baronet.  Some stories impute his rejection to a personal difference betwixt the two families.  However it was, the breaking off of the match has always been considered by the residents of the district as unfortunate to both the properties; that of Middleton might certainly as well have been annexed to Hanover as to Gunton.  Sir Ashton Lever in after years expended vast sums in establishing the Leverian Museum.  He was an excellent bowman, and a fearless rider, and tradition has handed down stories of feats of horsemanship analogous to those recited in the ballad, accompanied with sage insinuations that no horse could have carried him, save one of more than earthly breed, or human training. That he performed the daring feat of riding at full gallop down the long and precipitous flight of steps leading from Rochdale Church Yard into Packer-street, and up again, is still considered as doubtless as is the existence of the steps which remain there.  He latterly sold many farms and plots of land, for sums to be paid yearly during his life, and soon after died suddenly at the Bull's Head Inn, at Manchester.  Rumour said at the time, that he died by his own hand.

    The lady was married to Harbord Harbord, Esq., nephew and heir of Sir William Morden, of Gunton, in Norfolk, and afterwards the first Lord Suffield, who took with her the estates of Middleton and Thornham.  After the connection the lady seldom visited the Hall of her fathers, and the ancient portion of it was levelled with the ground.  It was one of the finest old relics of the sort in the county; built of plaster and framework, with pannels, carvings, and massy black beams, strong enough for a mill floor.  The yard was entered through a low wicket at a ponderous gate, the interior was laid with small diamond-shaped flags, a door on the left led into a large and lofty hall, hung round with match-locks, steel caps, swords, targets, and hunting weapons, intermixed with trophies of the battle field and the chase.  But all disappeared before the spirit of vandalism which commanded the annihilation of that most interesting relic of an ancient line.

    With respect to the other personages and accessories to the story, it may be mentioned that "the wither'd crone" was in being in the author's days.  "Owd Mal o'Cambeshur" was a name of terror to the children, and of questionable import to their elders.  The "ruinous cottage" at Cambeshire has fared better than the bride's chamber at the lordly hall; it has been improved, and is now inhabited by the family of a weaver.  The place is at Cambeshire, on the top of Bowlee, in the township of Heaton.  Sometimes it is called Katty Green.

    "The old woodlands of Bowlee" have long since disappeared before the axe; and all the best timber of the two townships of Middleton and Thornham has shared the same fate; the country has, in fact, been pretty well swept out.

    It maybe supposed that the idea of the "black horse" was derived from the horse "Darkness" in the poem of "FESTUS."  But though there never was an author who wrote in the English language from whom I should feel less humbled by borrowing a stray gem,—he having plenty to spare, thickly strewn, and brilliant as stars also,—yet, as such was not the case, I should be wrong in letting it be so supposed.  I have never, to my knowledge, had the poem "FESTUS" in my hand, and I certainly never heard the passage referred to read, nor had any idea of its existence, until the evening of the 4th of January, 1843, which I had the pleasure of spending, with other friends, in company with the author of "FESTUS."

NOTE 7, PAGE 80.

A singular instance of the extent to which ignorance will sometimes carry impudence was, a year or two ago, exhibited in connexion with this poem.  A young fellow named Milne, a bookkeeper, residing at Rochdale, laid claim, with the most grave assurance, to the authorship of the lines.  The circumstance was made known to me, and when I met him shortly after, he seriously repeated what he had previously asserted.  Amused at his easy manner, but nearly out of patience with his unconscionable falsehood, I asked him "Did he ever write a line of poetry before he produced 'Tim Bobbin' Grave?'"  The answer was "No."  "Had he ever written one line since?"  "No."  "Could he tell me in what publication it first appeared ?"  "No."  "Could he tell me the month or the year when it was written?"  "No."  I then told him in unmistakable terms what he was; and left him the laughing-stock of the company.

NOTE 8, PAGE 94.

    Jeremiah Brandreth, William Turner, and Ludlam, were executed at Derby, in November, 1817, after having been tried, with fifteen others, and found guilty of High Treason.  The whole were victims of a plot proposed and matured by the villain Oliver, the paid and protected agent of the Sidmouth and Castlereagh administration.  The conduct of Brandreth, both in prison and on the scaffold, was represented in the public prints as being such as would have done honour to any sufferer, and it required not any great exercise of the imagination to picture such a man, so circumstanced; as expressing all the sentiments of the soliloquy.  The Turners were most unfortunate; William was executed, and his brother and nephew, a youth of nineteen years of age, were transported for life.

    There are some harrowing details connected with the event.  Their mother died shortly after, it is said, of a broken heart.  The fifteen others were transported for life; five have since died, and it has been said the remaining ten have, through the interference of humane friends, each received a free pardon.

NOTE 9, PAGE 99.

    This passage refers to the fate of an early playmate, who went to sea and was lost.  For years he was before the author, both in his sleeping dreams and waking reveries.  He could not believe that his friend had ceased to exist, but consoled himself by the persuasion that he had only disappeared for a time in captivity, and would certainly return.  Alas! he has never returned.

NOTE 10, PAGE 99.

    Two brothers, James and Samuel Bamford, young men, distant relatives of the author, and both sergeants in the 6th regiment of foot, fell at the battle of Orthes, in France.  The following copy of a letter from Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell to their aged and afflicted mother, does himself nearly as much honour as the two brothers.

" Kingston, Upper Canada, 10th August, 1814.

I regret that the circumstance of the lst battalion 6th regiment being eternally in motion, has prevented my communicating with you on the subject of your worthy and, by me, lamented sons, since they fell in their country's service at the battle of Orthes, on the 27th of last February. The eldest died, on the field of action, the death of a gallant soldier; the younger, in consequence of a severe wound received on that day, died in the hospital on the 12th of March following. They were both sergeants; both bore excellent characters, and their loss has been severely mourned by every one that knew them. The only consolation you can have, or I can convey to you for their loss, is the conviction that they lost their lives, bravely maintaining their country's rights and national character.

(Signed)         "A. CAMPBELL, 
"Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding 6th Regiment.

"Mrs. Ann Bamford, Middleton."

    Major J. Thomas Robertson, of the same battalion, bore stilt higher testimony to the merits of these two heroes "unknown to fame."  In a letter to the managers of the patriotic fund, dated Chippawa, 10th December, 1814, he begged, in the strongest manner, to "recommend the case of the Widow Bamford, of Middleton, in the county of Lancaster, the mother of the two sergeants Bamford, who were killed in the battle of Orthes, on the 27th February," and added, "as the Commanding Officer of the Corps they so honourably served in, he has to repeat that the conduct of these two individuals was unexceptionable in their respective situations.  Their zealous attention to their various duties had long marked them for promotion; and their gallantry and bravery on the day on which they unfortunately fell, was the admiration of every man in the, regiment who witnessed it."  And to his own honour he goes on:— "Under these circumstance, it is but the duty of the officer in command of their regiment to request attention to their unfortunate mother; and if any relief can be afforded her from the patriotic fund, he conceives no person can have so strong a claim to it."   The widowed and heart-broken mother never received a single farthing from the fund.

NOTE 11, PAGE 101.

    Cymru, Wales, is pronounced Kumry, and is probably either the root of, or a derivation from, Gomery, the country of Gomer. 

NOTE 12, PAGE 101.

    The cognizance of the ancient kings of England was—Three Leopards en passant on a Field Or.

NOTE 13, PAGE 161.

    The "Watch and Ward" was introduced into Middleton in the year 1812, shortly after the so-called Luddite attempt to destroy the steam power looms and other machinery of Messrs. Daniel Burton and Sons, at Middleton.  They assembled at night, and perambulated the town and neighbourhood, paying special attention to certain streets and alleys in which "hush-shops" and disorderly private houses were suspected of harbouring desperate and incorrigible "Sons of Old Ludd," foes of machinery.  The gentlemen conservators of the peace thus stood apart from the working-classes, and became the objects of ridicule, and of many a homely but severe piece of satire. The poem "Watch and Ward" was the offspring of many a hearty joke at the time.  The characters mentioned, though chiefly industrious residents of the town, had incurred especial notice by their overzealous hunting out of "Luddites."

NOTE 14, PAGE 169.

    When, in 1814, on the first fall of Napoleon I., the whole country was in a state of rejoicing, and the inhabitants of Oldham, Chadderton, Rochdale, Bury, and other places were holding feasts and loyal revels, the middle and upper classes of Middleton, perhaps blamably apathetic towards the great events which were occurring around them, held back, probably aware that some expense would be incurred if they moved as their neighbours were doing, and during a long pause, nothing was heard of any patriotic celebration in Middleton.  The working hand-loom weavers, therefore, began to moot the thing amongst themselves ; and, finding they were in danger of losing a share of the good things which their neighbouring working-men were enjoying, they determined to have a jubilant festival of their own, in which, whilst they enjoyed the revel, they might ridicule the niggardly apathy of the "gentlemen o'th' teawn."  A poor lame weaver, known as "Jammy Guider," offered his old hen for a public roasting.  The idea caused much amusement, and met with spontaneous acceptance.  The old hen was to be spitted, paraded in mock solemnity, and roasted at a public bon-fire, and thus offered as a sacrifice to the prevailing spirit of the day.  This aroused the dormant loyalty of the middle and upper classes, who then began to act, and a day's plentiful feasting for all comers, with drink in abundance, processions, with music, banners, and other gauds and amusements, restored the good folks of Middleton to their accustomed quiet and contentment.  The old hen was of course spared, and the idea was embodied in verse.

NOTE 15, PAGE 216.

    The song of "The Gonner" was suggested by an occurrence which took place shortly after the Luddite raid upon Middleton, in 1812. The "Watch and Ward" were speedily in operation, and one of their leaders, with his doughty men-at-arms, coming upon a joyous company, who were chiefly strangers in the town, chose to suspect them of being from the neighbourhood of Oldham, Hollinwood, or Royton, the working men of which places were at that time under the shade of a dubious character, in consequence of the part some of them had taken in the "Burton factory affair."  The company certainly were from Oldham or its neighbourhood, but were quite unconscious of any trespass against the peace of Middleton, or the rules recently adopted for regulating public-houses.  The mandate of the chief peace-preserver (the "Gonner") was that they should instantly depart.  They wished to remain until they had drunk the ale then before them; "but Master Goose did that refuse," and the sequel is told in the rhyme.  The "Gonner" makes a charge before a magistrate (a " ray-gull"), and the "drake," the chief spokesman of the social party, quits the country to avoid the consequences of a warrant.  The "cormorant at up at Lunnon keawrs" needs not further allusion.

NOTE 16, PAGE 221

(This note, though scarcely applicable to the present condition and temperament of the working classes, was strictly so when the poem was first printed.)

To the Hand-loom Weavers of Lancashire, and to the persons styled Chartists.

    This Poem, which is a translation of one of the songs of Béranger, the French Poet, is presented to you in the hope that a picture so truthful of your own condition and fate, should you tempt the latter, may excite in your minds a train of sober reflection, and induce you to pause in the career you have undertaken.  The last sad catastrophe of the Poem has not yet been enacted upon you; and it remains to be seen whether some English Béranger, if such may be found, shall have to record your appeal to arms, and the terrible retaliations of war and laws.

    The story of the Poem in prose may be necessary to some of you.

    The Weavers of Lyons, in 1834, I believe it was, turned out against some trade regulations supposed to bear heavily on their domestic comforts and political rights.  Terms were mutually proposed and rejected; the workmen took arms, and the laws were broken by individuals of their body.  The police, and gens d'armes (military constables), were repulsed; troops of the line were called in; the workmen barricaded streets and fortified houses; and after a series of contests during five days—"five horrid days,"— the workmen were overpowered, and seven thousand of them being slain, the insurrection was put down.  The labourers of Paris rose to avenge their brethren of Lyons; troops of the line were marched against them; the labourers were beaten in every direction; they fled; they were hunted to their retreats; and, with their wives, children, and parents clinging around them, all were slaughtered; the inhabitants of nearly whole streets were massacred; the innocent, the guilty, the young, the aged, the, women with the men; and the result of this horrible sacrifice was, as described in the last verse,—

The oppression is beyond our bearing;
Our tyrants more and more unsparing.

    Unfortunately for the too brave French, their common appeal against all grievances has been, "To Arms!"  And their indomitable Poet naturally falls in with the sentiment of the nation.  By arms, in three days (the glorious ones), they obtained freedom! and they lost it in one!!—a lesson to make the heart bleed, were it not perhaps sternly necessary to admonish mankind, that, without high wisdom and entire self-devotion, mere valour is helpless, as a blind man without his guide.

    When the Greeks sent out Diomedes, their bravest, they sent with him Ulysses, their wisest: our neighbours, the French, have too often depended on bravery alone, and we have seen their misfortunes in consequence.  Warned by their sufferings, Englishmen should take care that wisdom accompanies their valour.

    Happily for you, my countrymen, there is not any necessity for an appeal to arms.  You have better means in hand; if reason and right are on your side, they will prevail.  Turn, then, from the precipice to which you have been led blindfolded, by men worse than blind. Tear off your bandages; look around, and retrace your steps.  Be not ashamed to do so; 'tis creditable to renounce error.  Come back with lightened hearts to your own firesides, as yet undarkened by crime; endearments are still awaiting you; know their value; husband the few comforts yet remaining to yourselves and families buy food, clothing, such as you may; not arms! they will be at hand when nothing else will suffice; and, do not forget that he is the best reformer amongst you who, in proportion to his means, best nurtures his family and instructs his children.

    In such a course you would become superior to all oppression; you would have the sympathy of the good of all mankind on your side; and you would assuredly triumph.  But one day of outrage would cover you with horror; all would be against you; and the freedom which is now brightening in your horizon would be darkened during another twenty years.

    It is true, the middle and upper classes have not dealt justly towards you; they have not cultivated that friendship of which you are susceptible, and more worthy than they; had they done so, you would not have been in the hands you now are.  But you can look above this misdirected pride, and pity it.  The rich have been as unfortunate in their ignorance of your worth, as you have in the absence of their friendship.  All ranks have been in error as it respects their relative obligation; and prejudice has kept them strangers and apart.  But the delusion is passing away like darkness before the sun; and knowledge, against which gold is powerless, comes like the spreading day, raising the children of toil, and making their sweat drops more honourable than pearls.

    Away, then, with the dagger and the pike, ere you become brigands and outlaws!  Turn from those who are hallooing you on to havoc!  Let your dream of rapine be dispelled! and the proud ones of the land shall soon know that you are more nobly proud than themselves.  With respect to the Government it would appear as if

All were foreseen, but nought prevented.

Does it also wait until

A tempest sweeps the discontented;
A tempest horrible and bloody.

    I wish it may not be so; but if the surmise should be prophetic—if the Government, for its own inscrutable reasons, seemingly averts its attention from the public welfare; if it apparently ceases to care for the people; the more should the people care for themselves.  Stand aloof then, ye well disposed of my countrymen, that if peace be outraged until justice retaliates, it may smite those only who have provoked the blow.

I am,
                Yours truly,
                                SAMUEL BAMFORD.

APRIL 20TH, 1839.

P.S.—There is more of romance than of philosophy in the exhortation of the poet, "To Arms!" and it might be taken for a cruel sarcasm did we not feel assured that the ardent and sincere Beranger could mean no such thing.  There is somewhat, however, of a strange feeling in the battle-cry to the dead; to the expiring, and the dungeon-bound people; and not less inconsistent is the invitation for the soldiers to come and join them; join the people they had butchered or taken captive! But this apart; was if ever known that the army of a state joined a class, and that class the poorest, against the order of society?  The French army did not, and it was imbued with liberal opinions.  Neither the English army, or any portion of it, ever made cause with the working classes against the rich; nor would it now, though some persons pretend to believe otherwise; a cruel and atrocious pretence.  But why should it now, more that at another time?  What is there in the position of the working classes now that could offer security to the army?  They could not find it a basis to rest upon; they have no more cohesion of numbers, or concentration of will or action, than had the masses which time has swept away; no more adherence than the dust of the plain scattered by the wind.  They attend meetings certainly, and hear speeches, foolish ones for the most part (saying nothing of the other sort), they pass resolutions; shout when they are asked to shout, and groan when they are bid to groan; they buy portraits of men, whom they follow instead of principles; and are amused with hopes delusive as the base of the rainbow, never to be found.  Front the heart of their chartist convention to their smallest group they are weakened by envy, jealousy, doubt, and personal dislikes; on two points only are they agreed, namely, the chartists, that they will have the charter; and their leaders that they must have the rent!!

    The salvation of a people must come at last from their own heads and hearts; souls must be matured, giving life to healthful minds. Hands maybe learned to use weapons, and the feet to march, but the warriors who take freedom and keep it must be armed from within.

S. B.

[Samuel Bamford: Homely Rhymes and Poems]


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