but very meritorious writer was born in one of the two cottages, in the
Court known as "Dickinson's Entry," off King Street, Blackburn, an the 8th
of September, 1848. His parents came from Ramsgrave, and settled in
Blackburn about 1836. Though poor, they were industrious; for besides
following the occupation of power-loom weavers, they managed to do a
little farming in the Court mentioned above. The shippon and stable have
only quite recently been pulled down.
Referring to those early days, the poet himself writes that
his parents "seem to have been doing fairly well then. 'But other days and
other fortunes came,—an evil power. They bore against it cheerfully, and
hoped for better days, but ruin came at last'; and my father, having
resolved on trying to retrieve his lost fortunes in another country, set
sail for America in the stormy month of March, 1852; leaving my mother
with six children to provide for as best she could; I being the youngest
but one. Probably he was shipwrecked; as we never heard from him
afterwards. Richard Walsh, of the firm of Walsh and Barnes, drapers,
Blackburn, was named after him; and I took the name of Richard's father;
our fathers being brothers."
As a boy, John Walsh's schooling was of the most meagre description, his
mother's poverty forbidding the payment of more than the usual penny or
twopence a week as school-money. But what was lacking in that respect was,
he thinks, amply made up by the tireless teaching of a kind and devoted
sister. But of this more anon.
At the age of ten he was employed as errand boy and "printer's devil " at
the old "Blackburn Standard" office in Church Street, Mr. James Walkden
being the proprietor, and Mr. William Gourley the editor. There he first
came into contact with James Walkden, the compositor-poet (nephew of the
proprietor); John Critchley Prince; Richard Dugdale; Charles Swain;
Charles Haworth, the artist; Roscoe, the unrivalled painter of flowers and
fruit; Peter Ellingthorpe, Thomas Clough, and many other notable
"I was young then," he writes, "but ever quick to learn from kind words
spoken—the smile of pleasure—the merry jest; and especially when the
conversation turned upon music, poetry, or painting."
His wages, however, were very small. So his mother resolved on taking him
into the weaving-shed, where he could earn more money. But that did not
prevent him following the bent of his mind—self-improvement and the
weaving of verses. His spare time was devoted to the making of models of
old machines and new mechanical contrivances, as well as to drawing,
painting, music and poetry. He delighted in those days, as he does even
yet, in the application of steam, gases, and electricity.
He entered the married state at the age of twenty-one,
and has remained in it ever since. For the past twenty-eight years
he has been employed at the Blackburn Gas Works; having served the old
Blackburn Gas Light Company as well as the Corporation. He is now
Meter Inspector to the latter body; and is thus a "man of metres" in a
double sense. That he is as skilful in his poetic as in his material
capacity is evident from the examples of his lyrical work which follow.
We will take first the homely, but none the less beautiful dialect poem,
MI GRANDMOTHER'S CAP.
Yo' fooak 'at are fond ov a yead-dress
'At's fit for a Queen to put on,
Just peep at that Cap o' mi Granny's,
An' foind me a better 'at con.
There's nowt varra grand abeawt it,
No fithers or fleawrs con yo' see,
But then it's as tidy an' handsome
As ever a bonnet con be.
Examine id' nicely starched border,
An' look at that creawn put i' th' rear;
Neaw, are no' they pratty as can be?
There's nooan so mich gaudy work theer.
Yo'r new-fashioned bonnets are bonny,
'At dunno yo'r faces conceal;
But gi'e mi a cap loike mi Granny's
For makin' a woman look weel.
Eh! bless her! Aw think aw con see her
Just teein' th' string under her chin,
An' mi grandfayther lookin' up at her,
Wi' a gradely affectionate grin;
An' then, as if age he'd forgetten,
He'd rise fro' his owd-fashioned cheer,
An', kuttlin' her ever so fondly,
He'll tell her to sit her deawn theer.
Then, turnin' to me, he'd say preawdly,
"Hello! little mon, is that thee?
Theaw'rt welcome to come when theaw loikes, lad,
An' peeark o' thi Grandfayther's knee;
Owd Age is a regular stunner
Far knockin' us fooak eawt o' trim,
Sooa tune up, mi brid, an' sing for us
A verse o' th' owd 'Evenin' Hymn.'"
Aw felt some an' preawd, aw'll assure yo',
To think 'at aw med 'em so glad
Whenever aw went theer to camp 'em.
Though aw're nobbut a bit ov a lad;
Aw'd sing loike a lerk when he axed mi;
Then deawn upo' th' floor wi' mi shoon
Aw'd caper abeawt loike a dancer,
While he whistled or "diddled" a tune.
Mi Grandmother's yead would be noddin',—
As iv beatin' time for us; while
Her face wur as pleasant as could be,
An' her cap seemed to shake eawt a smile;
Nor did they forget to go wi' me
Reawnd th' garden, at one side o' th' fowd,
Wheer they'd gether me appos an' berries,
An' pooasies o' silver an' gowd.
"Neaw, off wi' thee hooam," they'd say kindly,
"Dorn'd meddle wi' owt as is bad;
Say thi prayers, an' grow up to be monly;
Good neet, love, an' be a good lad."—
Th' last time aw went theer, a looked lonesome;
Deeath hed no' left owt wo'th a rap;
Th' Owd Fooak hed booath gone to be Angels,
Wi' robes white as Grandmother's Cap.
In "Mi Grandmother's Cap" every stanza contains a picture,—and a bonny
picture too,—of the sweet, simple, and wholesome life of the tenderly
remembered past. Here is another Lancashire lyric, to which almost
the same remark would apply:—
Aw're thinkin' to misel' one neet, while sittin' i' mi cheer,
Abeawt th' owd skoo-heawse up i' th' broo, an' th' lads aw went wi'
E'en neaw aw see 't as when we sat wi' pencils, slates an' books;
There's pictures up o' th' whiteweshed wo's, an' gradely weel id
Th' oak desk i' th' corner, throne-like, stands wheer t' maister
used to keawr,
He'd smile an' jooak o' th' Monda'; but through t' rest o' th' week
Eh! Iv some truant chanced to come witheawt his weekly wage,
Yo' should ha' seen him use his rod; he'd dance an' grin wi' rage.
But, aw remember heaw one day, when th' lessons o were o'er,
Wi' droopin' yead he walked away, to birch his brats no more.
We parted then; an' whod a change coom o'er thad skoo-heawse! soon
'Twer like a little nest i' Spring, when t' birds are flushed an'
Mi scattered skoomates! Wheer are they? It's years sin' last we met:
Though some's gone eawt a' th' gate o' Time, a tooathri's livin'
Aw met a parson t' other day, a gradely seawnd divine;
His pleasant features seemed to say, he're once a mate o' mine.
Aw'd known him weel when we were lads; so aw could-no' let him pass
Witheawt remindin' him o' th' time when he wer t' foo' for t' class.
He smiled an' said, "Men change, you see! Time changes all things
Except the Truth.—The Word of God can never alter—never!"
We said "Good-bye"; an' still his words keep ringin' i' mi ears;
But what abeawt them t' other lads, aw hev no' seen for years?
Ned Gunton leads a soldier's life, Joe Shipley's gone to sea;
They olus said, i' th' playgreawnd, whod i' after years they'd be.
Poor lads! Aw hope they're farin' weel; they booath were strong an'
They'd shinin' e'en, an' rooasy cheeks, an' yure like creawns o'
Some fooak say they've bin th' wo'st o' th' skoo, that korn'd be '
sooa, aw think;
For Towler soon get polished off,—he killed his-sel' wi' drink.
Mi t' other mates were rayther wild, but they could mend, yo' know;
An' yet aw'm feared, i' dooin' good yon parson beeats us o.
The fact that our local "minstrels of the lathe and loom" should excel in
dialect is not one to be wandered at. Having the poetic gift to begin
with, it is quite natural that they should sing smoothly and sweetly in
the folk-speech they have learnt in childhood. What is more remarkable is
the fact that so many of them,—in fact nearly every one of
them,—should,—often in spite of the scantiest early training,—have done
such excellent work in modern English. That our present author is no
exception to this very satisfactory rule, will be proved by a perusal of
TO THE MEMORY OF GEORGE ELLIS.
Take down the harp, and swell the solemn theme;
For he who lived and sung with us is dead;
His dove-like soul, athwart the narrow stream,
With the green olive to its God hath fled.
Take up the silver cornet, and awake
Its slumbering music o'er his honoured clay;
Then sing a sweet psalm for his widow's sake,
Whose loving eyes have wept full many a day.
Raise high the stone, and carve the letters deep,
That as the toiler passes he may e'er
Refresh remembrance of the dead, and reap
Some comfort from the good text printed there.
And while the mingling notes with rapture rise,
Shower on his tomb fresh flowers. Who can tell?
His spirit may be listening in the skies,
And smile to hear the music sung so well.
Blow, gentle breeze, and waft the strains along,—
The grand old anthems raised for Ellis dear;
For Oh! he cheered the County with his song,
And beautified it with a soul sincere.
True, we have lost an ever-valued friend,
A leader from the blessed school of Art;
Who swerved not from his duty to the end,
But daily strove to play the good man's part.
Oh, cruel Death, that mock'st the mother's grief—
Thou'lt laugh at Kings; nor spare the goad and brave.
"Is there no balm in Gilead?"—no relief
For anguished hearts, save in the silent grave?
Yes! there are scenes no human eye e'er scanned,
Where Man, the immortal, 's freed from pain and strife;
The eye of Faith surveys that promised land,
And finds our loved, lost in the joys of Life.
In the four lines which follow this paragraph we have
the impromptu answer of our present author to the all-important question,
put to him, at a time of great spiritual stress and trouble, by a
well-known local minister who has since passed away. The subjects of
man's free will and immortality; of God's eternal goodness; and of the
existence in the world of so much wickedness, injustice and human
suffering, had been exercising, and to a great extent distressing, the
poet's mind; as they have engaged and troubled the minds of myriads of men
from the earliest ages to our own. And when his reverend friend
asked, "But, John, what is Life?" the answer was swift and passionate—
Life! What is Life? Much like a bud just sprung from
earth's vast womb,
On which Time's breezes gently blow and fan into a bloom;
But, as its petals open out their beauties to the sun,
Some hand or other nips the stem; and then that flower's gone.
Soon, however, a different light was thrown upon this momentous question. The poet stood by the bedside of a dearly beloved sister; of her who, as
we have already mentioned, had supplied by her toil and devotion so much
of what was lacking in his early schooling and training. And pandering
over the great question there—in the presence of the loved but lifeless
form; of the cold but peace-crowned features—he shaped these touching and
ON THE DEATH OF A SISTER.
The muffled peal rings in the old church tower,
And the cold night winds waft it far away,
As I stand weeping o'er a Sister-flower
Whom Death has blighted in the early day.
The yellow moon climbs slowly up the sky,
Which gleams anon with many a brilliant star;
And, hark! the music of celestial joy
Proclaims a greeting where the angels are.
Triumphant spirit! Glorious be thy prize;
Thy pilgrimage deserves reward of bliss;
Oft hast thou held the Cross before mine eyes,
And painted to a brighter world than this.
The path of life which thou hast daily trod—
Though many a thorn of suffering wounds therein—
Leads ever upward to the throne of God,
Where there are crowns for pilgrims void of sin.
But wherefore weep, since thou hast died in Christ;
Death must have been far greater gain to thee!
Dry up thy tears, my soul, and be sufficed;
Death has no sting; the grave no victory.
This sister, in addition to her educational labours on her brother's
behalf, taught the late Mr. William Henry Lister, whom she afterwards
married, to read and write. She always contended that no person ought to
get married who had not received some training in the elementary subjects
of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Mr. Lister, as some readers will be
aware, became a very successful business man, and served for several years
as representative of St. Mark's Ward in the Blackburn Town Council.
Amongst the poems which possess pleasing local interest in addition to
their literary merit, we may take the following lines, which were
suggested and written in the graveyard of Long Barn Chapel, Hoghton:—
DON'T DISTURB THEM.
(CHILDREN GATHERING FLOWERS IN A GRAVEYARD).
Don't disturb them, let 'em play;
Nothing here the soul defiles;
Grass blade, flower and leafy spray
Greet their sinless hands with smiles.
Children from the city yonder,
What has brought you here, I wonder?
Don't disturb them; p'rhaps some mother
Joins them in their glee to-day—
Some sweet mother—angel-mother;
Don't disturb them, let 'em play.
Wreathe your brows with king-cup flowers,
Wave with songs the daisied rod;
Mirth like yours makes holier hours;
Childhood's joy's the love of God;
Truth and beauty—music-led—
Wake fond memories o'er the dead.
Don't disturb them; p'rhaps some angel,
Mindful of the Tempter's snare—
Some bright angel, sent from heaven—
Guards them with a mother's care.
All too soon the glad morn passes:
Garish noon brings toil and strife;
Drooping age, like evening's grasses,
Bends toward the roots of life;
Little children, have your way
One brief hour, at least, to-day.
Don't disturb them; let them gather
Emblems of the pure and free;
Wisdom guide them; Mercy shield them,
In the days that are to be!
Here is another Hoghton picture:—
A VILLAGE TEACHER.
Not half a league from yon old tow'r,
Where Richard found himself a knight
While feasting (one delightful hour)
The King and many a courtier bright;
And near the little roadside spring,
Where youthful lovers went in May
To dip for luck the wedding-ring,
And woo, the Evening hours away;
Well decked with rose trees, moss and weed,
There stood the house of Reuben Reed.
An honest man he was, and kind,
A man of will and fruitful mind,
A scholar rare, a Christian true,
A good old politician, too.
And though he earned his daily bread
By hand-loom weaving, so 'tis said,
When he'd a moment's time to spare,
You might have seen him reading there
Some story-book, or poring o'er
The Sacred page's golden lore,
Or some rare book that treated on
The Sciences and Arts alone.
And then his friends, from neighb'ring parts,
At evening came with cheerful hearts
To listen to his wondrous stories
Of soldiers' fates and soldiers' glories;
For Reu had served his country long
In battles when his years were young.
The sounding drums, the banners streaming;
The roaring guns, the sabres gleaming;
The valiant men—no danger heeding—
To death or triumph onward speeding;
The charge, the shout,—"They run, they run!"
The soldier's joy when victory's won,—
All he described with animation,
Till spell-bound seemed his congregation,
Then, opening the Sacred Book,
From which a fitting text he took,
He scattered beams of Gospel light,
And ended with a soft, "Good-night
Not half a league from yon old tow'r,
In modest graveyard's laid to rest
The man who taught with so much power
The love that blesses and is blest.
But perhaps the most popular of these local pieces will
be the old favourite, entitled:—
EAWR GARDEN, OR
A PEEP AT THE
If ever yo' go up to Pinchem,
To look reawnd abeawt yo' awhile
At th' hills an' valleys an' woodlands,
An' th' sea for many a mile,
Just hev a short walk reawnd bi Wagtail,
An' co at eawr heawse o' yo'r way;
An' aw'll tek yo' to th' loveliest garden
Owd England con boast on to-day.
Trees grow theer as big nee as Churches,
Hofe covered wi' blossoms or fleawrs
While some on 'em form into arches
'At we used to keawr under for heawrs;
Aw often went theer wi' mi sweetheart,
When th' day's work at th' fact'ry wur o'er,
To read her some nice bits o' poetry
Fro' Byron, or Shelley, or Moore.
There's two boony lakes i' eawr garden,
'At looks nice i' o sooarts o' weather;
They're for t' fairies to peep at theirsels in,
Whenever they're sportin' together;
Fleaw'rs bloom bi their green slopin' edges;
Fleaw'rs bloom bi o th' walks yd con see;
They seem to look up i' one's face
An' say, "Stranger, we're smilin' for thee."
Eh! when aw wur young, aw remember
Heaw th' lads went at breet sunny noon
To drink at yon streeam, an' wade in't
Witheawt ayther stockin's or shoon.
But see neaw, there's heigh spewin' laddies,
An' feawntains to drink at an' o;
Yo' can sup, an' they'll charge you nowt for id,
As oft as yo' give 'em a co.
Just look at yon hill they co Revidge;
There's plenty o' summat to see;
Aw know near id stand some fine heawses,
But nooan o' their finery for me;
Aw dorn'd want to talk abeawt sich things,
Nor picture wheer Yellow-poss dwells;
It's beauty an' music aw want yo'
To come an' enjoy for yo'rsel's.
It's grand, man, to sit i' eawr garden,
Or hev a nice stroll at yo'r ease,
While th' birds are o tryin' to pleease yo'
Bi singin' their songs up i' th' trees.
Id matters nooan whether yo're wealthy,
Or whether yo're nod wo'th a strow;
Whenever yo' come, yo'll be welcome,
Becose id belongs to us o.
Another local piece, which Billington, John Baron and Laycock often spoke
of in terms of the highest praise, is entitled "On Revidge Mount: A Poet's
Reverie." It is, however, too long for inclusion in this notice; and, even
were it not so, it would probably have to be re-written from memory;
since Mr. Walsh, like more than one other local author, is now
experiencing the disadvantages caused by the reckless negligence of the
Book-Borrower: his manuscript book, like that of Richard Dugdale, having
been lent but never returned.
I conclude with a little song, on that month, rightly
beloved of poets, called:—
She comes! She comes—the young May Queen,
Bedight in richest living green,
She comes—with gay, voluptuous hours—
The Queen of sunshine, fruits, and flowers,
Like blessèd Hope on Time's swift wing,
Hail! Happy bride of youthful spring.
Ye stars! that nightly blink on me,
And navigate a stormless sea;
And thou, Astartè—Queen of Night!
Appear in all thy splendour bright—
Together lend a brilliant ray,
To sparkle in the crown of May.
The night is past; the red sun glows
And dew-drops kiss the opening rose,
As near his cot the farmer stands,
And smiles to see his fertile lands;
While many a song-bird pipes a lay
To welcome in the month of May.
Clap, clap your hands at every breeze,
And laugh aloud, majestic trees!
Ye streams! that through the valleys glide.
Or glitter down the mountain's side:
Run, joyous as each living thing,
To greet the blooming bride of Spring.
William Hall Burnett.
The undue brevity of this notice of a most industrious writer is due to
the fact that, until the present work was far advanced, I was entirely
unaware that Mr. Burnett had published any poems, through the Blackburn
press, during his long residence in the town. It appears, however,
that during the time of his connection with the "Blackburn Standard and
Express," he wrote and published several pieces which have hitherto
escaped my attention. One of the most pleasing of these is the
following, which first appeared in the "Standard," and was afterwards
reprinted in Mr. Burnett's "Holiday Rambles," in the chapter on Mytton:—
ON THE UNVEILING OF A WINDOW DEDICATED
TO ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS.
How oft in painted windows we admire
Saints' effigies, for our example set;
And gazing, wonder, if in later days,
Such lovely natures gild our old world yet.
How oft in a fair history we read
Of guileless ones, who earth's rough ways have trod;
Then like a glory have passed up to heaven.
To the abode of Angels and of GOD.
And as we wonder, how the electric throb
Of heartfelt pride through all our nerves will thrill,
That by our kin such mighty deeds were done
To exalt the good and to put down the ill.
The great Evangelist, the holy Christ,
The virgin-martyr of the early days,
All stream in splendour in the beams of heaven,
To laud and magnify the Almighty's ways.
Sacred humanity! In thee! In thee!
Deep-seated lay these solemn high resolves!
And they shall cleave to thee what time the earth,
Through dark and light, around yon sun revolves.
But why should storied picture claim thine eye,
Or a fair history in volumes set?
Around thee, in the daily walks of life,
Prophets, apostles-they are working yet!
The vein of good that God enclosed in man
Still yields to heaven's light its richer ore,
And to the "sacred choir invisible,"
In travail march the saints for evermore.
Not in fair vestures of the dyer's art,
Or featured as the painter's angels are,
But in their several lineaments distinct,
And as the gods in Paradise most fair.
This is the vision that we need to see,
The spiritual presence, holy, pure;
The meek and merciful, who in our homes
Do plant their footsteps ever firm and sure.
How often when we little think of it,
We entertain good angels unawares?
Who soothe our sorrows, bind our self-made wounds,
Uplift our burdens, and assuage our cares.
Unfortunately, Mr. Burnett has not kept copies of many of his
Poems, and this circumstance prevents me giving an adequate or
representative selection. Here, however, are two little pieces from
the "Standard"; both of which have been set to music by Mr. George
MARY'S IN THE SHIPPON.
A MELLOR FIELDS'
Mary's in the shippon, milking the cows,
Jack he would be with her if he could but choose.
But t' miss'es thinks with two the milking's slowly done,
So she's sent Jack away to the pasture down the lone.
But young love is artful, and Jack is very sly,
He knows all the bye-paths; is fain to do or die.
There's a nice little causey in a dell behind the house,
And Jack has a footstep that's softer than a mouse.
And Mary she stops singing to listen with intent;
She hears someone coughing, she knows what is meant.
She shoos at the cattle, and all in a sweat,
She lifts up the back latch and Jack and she have met.
"Oh, Mary! Oh, Mary! Where's your mother now?
And surely you're forgetting your duty to the cow."
"Oh, Jacky! Oh, Jacky! with foot so soft and fleet,
How can ye so deceive folk who think ye so discreet?"
FAR OUT AT SEA.
Far out at sea,
A silvery-sailèd ship
Gleams, and then dies to sight;
A light in purer light
Lost 'mid the pearly sea,
Lost 'mid the pearly sea.
So e'er should be
My love, sweetheart, to thee;
Gleam far awhile alone,
Then lose itself in one
Who is the pearly sea
In which I'd drownèd be.
Upon the shore
Fair gems and pearls do lie,
Rolls over them the sea
His wavelets amorously,
We seek them by and by,
But find them find nevermore.
So e'er to me
Thy love, sweetheart, should be;
Toy with me for to-day,
But win my soul away.
I long, I long to be
Lost, lost, my love, in thee.
Though connected for many years with Blackburn, Mr. Burnett
is not a native of this county, but of Yorkshire. He was born at
Stokesley in Cleveland, on November 10th, 1840. His parents were
poor, and consequently were unable to afford him much schooling. He
thus resembles many of our native Blackburn poets in being largely
self-educated. Before he was ten years of age he had become such a
proficient elocutionist as to have attained great local popularity as a
reciter. At thirteen, having taught himself shorthand, he was acting
as correspondent at Stokesley for the "York Herald"; and when only
nineteen he was appointed Editor of the "Middlesbrough News." He was
afterwards connected with several other Yorkshire newspapers; but finally
left Middlesbrough for Blackburn, at the end of 1887, to edit the
"Blackburn Standard." His connection with this Journal survived the
changes which took place when it was purchased by the proprietors of the
"Blackburn Express"; and that connection has only lately been severed by
his retirement from regular journalistic work. His pen, however, is
still busy; for since he left the "Standard" and "Express" he has written
for the "Pilot," the "Saturday Review," the "Westminster Gazette," the
"Liverpool Post," the "Leeds Mercury," the "Antiquary," the "Manchester
Guardian," and many other kindred publications and serials.
A list of his publications in book and pamphlet form would
take up a great amount of space; but I may especially mention "The
Polytechnic," a long poem in Spenserian verse, published when he was only
seventeen years of age; "Handbook of Middlesbrough," for the British
Association; "Guide to Redcar and Saltburn-by-the-Sea"; "Old Cleveland," a
work of great biographical interest; "Broad Yorkshire"; "Holiday Rambles"
(near the Ribble); "History of the Blackburn and East Lancashire
Infirmary;" "Sunlight in the Slums"; and an "Open Letter on Coercive
Teetotalism." Some of these works have gone through several
editions; and all of them have been a success from a pecuniary point of
Among the dialect poems contained in "Broad Yorkshire," there
is one which has been described as being a classic in the Cleveland
district. This is entitled "Ah's Yorkshire"; and it may be
found,—along with "An Awd Man's Confession," another bit of "Broad
Yorkshire,"—in "North Country Poets," an excellent Anthology, edited
by Mr. William Andrews, of Hull, in 1888. From the same volume, with
Mr. Burnett's permission, I have copied this concluding example; which, in
addition to its poetic merits, possesses both biographical and
I've read in story books full oft
Of pleasant cities o'er the wave,
With dome, and spire, and minaret,
And ruins marking Art's fair grave.
I've read of valleys of the South,
And happy islands far away,
Blooming beneath eternal sun,
In all the wealth of nature gay.
But oh! within my constant heart
A red-roof'd village greenly dwells:
No traveller from the sunny South
Knows half the rapture in me swells
When muse I on the time that's past,
The old, old home of early youth,
Blooming with halcyon memories
Of early love, and troth, and truth.
Even whilst I muse upon its joys,
My fancy doth in vagrance stray;
My heart is like an empty room,
And all my thoughts are far away:
By Leven's stream, on Caldmoor's hill,
I wander, as in days gone by;
The glorious meadows shine again,
Refreshing oft my woe-worn eye.
The woods their queenliest foliage wear,
The streams chaunt to the summer sun,
The village bells across the vale
Chime in the evening shadows dun;
The rooks in immemorial trees
Awake their chorus of delight,
And all sweet sights and sounds of earth
Possess the day and fill the night.
The memory of early friends,
Long since like me in exile driven,
Comes like a soothing breeze of eve
To weary traveller often given.
Refreshing love! may I full oft
E'en now thy early portion share,
And friendship be the bond of truth,
The cordial in life's draught of care.
In the fair cities of the South
No loving hearts appeal to me;
In carven stone and monument
Naught but a frigid Art I see.
I love to note the pride of mind,
Aspiring to perfection's goal,
But what is sweet society
But heaven to the human soul?
Oh, there was one who taught me well,
E'en in the blush of life's young day,
How olden Eden is regained
By being true and pure alway.
I know since then full many a fall
Has led me on a lower road,—
But still my heart aspires the same
To truth, humanity, and God.
Oh, queenly valley of the North,
I love thee with a lasting love!
True as the needle to the pole,
I turn to thee where'er I rove.
Fair oasis of the wilderness,
Bright Eden left to me on earth!
I love thee with a lasting love!
I love thee! Valley of the North.
In 1888 this author published at Blackburn "Beggar Manuscripts, an
Original Miscellany in Verse and Prose." He obtained a good list of
local subscribers; and he prefixed to the work the following concise
"Thomas Ince, the author of this book,
was born at Bingley, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, on the 11th
November, 1850. His father having taken the Queen's shilling and
enlisted, whilst he was yet a child, he was taken, along with a younger
brother and sister, to the Wigan Union Workhouse, where he was educated.
Having been placed twice by the authorities in service—first with a
collier, and afterwards with a yeoman on Sir R. Gerard's estate—through
circumstances over which he had no control, at the age of fifteen, he
found himself back in the neighbourhood of his birthplace, from whence he
made occasional ramblings through the country, until his 25th year.
He has been twice married: first, in 1875, to a Miss Wild, of Bingley, who
was accidentally drowned within six weeks after the event; and secondly,
to his present wife, who was born at Haworth, but settled at Bingley also.
She was the youngest daughter of Mr. Joseph Leach, who hailed from
Woolwich, and whose brother Abraham (a sailor) was lost with Franklin in
his North Pole Exploration. His (the author's) brother died in his
twentieth year, amongst the strangers who had adopted him at Farnworth,
near Bolton; whilst his sister is married and resides at Keighley.
As he has never been blessed with a strong constitution, nor been taught
any trade, it needs only to be mentioned that his experience of life has
been anything but the rosiest. He has been honoured of late with a
place in the list of "Yorkshire Poets: Past and Present," a serial work
which is now publishing at Bradford, under the editorship of Dr. Forshaw,
of that town; and in addition to being a frequent contributor to the
Blackburn Press, he has also been favoured with a letter of thanks from
Their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales, for a poem
written by him, entitled "Blackburn's Greeting," in honour of their visit
to the town, on May 9th, 1888. He is at present resident in
Blackburn, and has been there for some years; living with his wife and
son, and following the profession of a herbalist."
With the prose portion of these "Beggar Manuscripts" we have
no concern here; and it must be confessed that a great deal of the verse
is decidedly not poetry. Measuring, however, the man by his
opportunities, or rather by his lack of them,—the diligent and
sympathetic reader will feel thankful to find, scattered up and down this
strange miscellany, a fair number of simple but genuine poems.
Amongst these, in addition to the pieces given in this chapter, may be
mentioned "The Death of Moses"—too long for quotation
here—"Resignation," "Kindly Deeds," "An Open Heart," "A Good Old Song,"
and "Looking Back."
Here we have a couple of typical pieces: the first doubtless
suggested by the writer's own hard lot:—
BY THE WAY.
When you sit at home in comfort, round your hearthstone snug and
With your dear ones all around you, safely guarded from all harm;
Do you ever give one moment's thought unto our homeless poor.
Who pass you daily on the street, and starve beside your door?
When Dame Fortune smiles upon you, and doth favours freely lend,
So that you have not a trouble what to eat, or drink, or spend,
Are you mindful of the message that the Master left for you,
"To do towards one another as ye would be done unto?"
When your children play around you, never wanting for a friend,
And health, and strength, and comfort, fairy-like on each attend,
Are you never once reminded of the wretched waifs and strays
Who never had a parent's love to sanctify their days?
When you feel quite happy-hearted, and a stranger unto woe,
When all things seem to prosper you wherever you may go,
Do you think about the saddened ones, the trodden, and downcast,
To whom the game of life but seems a harvest that is past?
Oh! could we only view ourselves whilst blessings are in store,
Perchance we should appreciate and utilise them more,
But duty bids us look around, or whether high or low,
For each according to his lights some sympathy may show.
A WORKMAN'S HOME.
Let lordlings sing, and ladies cling to wealth, and fame, and place,
Let Handicraft and Science vie, to deck them out in grace;
Amidst a round of gaities though daily they may roam,
They lack the blessedness within an honest labourer's home.
Besieged with State—betokened great—possessed of wealthy board
Surrounded by the flunkeys who attend their bed and board;
Yet, though they shine and look so fine, and pleasant seems their
There's a greater charm, and hearts as warm, within a humble cot.
Around the workman's hearth, at night, when daily tail is o'er,
The loved ones sit with spirits light—dull care without the door—
The children's glee is good to see, whilst the elders' happy mien
Excels the studied graces that with affluence are seen.
The schoolboy's task; the baby's care; the dangling father's knee;
The mother's work; the granny's chair (where granny loves to be);
The pleasant chat; the cheerful play; the free and homely joys;
The evening meal; the prayerful kneel of youngest girls and boys.
A later hour—with freer power—of devotion fond and true;
Domestic schemes, and loving dreams what Father Time may do;
Perchance some news, a while amuse in passing night away;
Then off to bed, with reverent head, to rest till coming day.
'Tis little I know, but who can show a happier lot than this?
Or who could wish for better fare, when such imparts a bliss?
The rich may boast possessions, but contentment beats them all;
So ye who would enjoy the boon, respond to duty's call.
The calm domestic happiness pictured above would seem to have
been little known by experience to Ince in his boyhood and youth; and,
when found in early manhood, it proved of brief duration, as witness this
ALONE WITH THE DEAD.
(Occasioned by a calamity which befel the author's wife, who was
drowned accidentally within six weeks after their marriage, and in
her 24th year.)
'Twas a cold winter's night, and my friends had departed,
I sat quite alone in the darkness and gloom;
I thought of my loss, and I felt heavy-hearted
To know that my loved one had met such a doom.
The joy of a lifetime had left me for ever,
The hope from my heart had remorselessly fled;
The dream of my youth I thought nothing would sever,
But I sat there awakened—alone with the dead.
'Twas only a year since first I had met her,
And but a few days since I made her my bride;
Yet she was devoted, and I'll not forget her,
For life was worth living with her by my side.
She lay cold and still, in her robes calmly sleeping—
I wished as I gazed that I lay in her stead;
But useless my wishing, or thinking, or weeping,
I sat broken-hearted—alone with the dead.
Young though I was, yet it brought me a sorrow
More lasting than all I have met with in life;
And the joy of to-day is a burden to-morrow
Perchance I remember my lost little wife.
She brought me no wealth, but her love was a treasure,
A stake for which I would undaunted have bled;
And though she is gone, yet in moments of leisure
My fancy will paint me—alone with the dead.
December 17th, 1875.
Extreme simplicity characterises all Ince's verses, and in
some of them it becomes a weakness: but, in the poem just quoted,
simplicity is a source, not of weakness, but of strength; for the subject
is one of those on which mere "eloquence " would be wasted; whereas our
author's simple wards go straight to the reader's heart.
I only met Ince two or three times; but he strongly impressed
me as a man whose cheerful nature could not be embittered by poverty and
misfortune, however severe; and this impression is confirmed by the
perusal of his volume, which contains many a song breathing similar
sentiments to this last example:—
WHAT DOES IT MATTER?
What does it matter although you be poor,
If still of good health and your strength you are sure,
You toil and you live as an honest man should,
When some of your betters are not half so good.
Beware, and take care, that no evil thoughts mar
Your comfort and prospects if lowly they are;
There are many who pass you in superfine clothes,
Would gladly exchange with your humble repose.
What does it matter, because and betimes—
Grim poverty seems just the blackest of crimes;
Though the sun reigns aloft and illumines the earth,
Yet a duty well done gives true happiness birth.
Contentment's a flower no money can buy,
The fruit of well doing which none can deny;
So sing while ye may, and be true to your kind,
Then quickly you leave discontentment behind.
What does it matter to you or to me
Because there are others much richer than we,
Each one has a duty on earth to fulfil,
With wealth or without, or for good or for ill:
Do the best that you can, whether wealthy or poor.
For none can do better than that, we are sure,
And though we may never with Fortune succeed,
The highest good fortune is ours indeed.
If I remember rightly, Thomas Ince died in Blackburn, not
very long after the publication of his book, a copy of which is among the
volumes bequeathed by
the late Mr. Thomas Ainsworth to the Free Library.
who is an old contributor to the "Blackburn Times," was born on December
27th, 1848, at Waterbarn, in Rossendale. His parents were working
people, and he was the eldest of eight children. He had to begin
work very early; leaving school, to become a "full-timer," at twelve years
of age. He afterwards joined a Young Men's Mutual Improvement
Society in connection with the Waterbarn Baptist Sunday School. He
was always a lover of poetry, and was a constant reciter at the Band of
Hope and other gatherings in connection with the above named school.
Some of his early poems were published in the "Bacup Times" about 1866.
After his marriage he came to Blackburn; starting in the
drapery business at No. 10 Northgate, in April, 1872. Twelve months
later he removed to Great Harwood, where he has ever since resided;
continuing, however, his occasional contributions to the "Blackburn
Times." He has also contributed to the "Accrington Observer," the
"Manchester Examiner," the "Rochdale Observer," the "Bacup Times," "Great
Thoughts," and other journals.
Many of his poems evince a lofty purpose, and others show
real humour; yet it would not be easy to give a really representative
selection from them, suitable for a work of this kind; because a
considerable number of them treat of political and other passing events.
Happily, however, there are a number of pieces, more than sufficient for
our present purpose, which possess lasting interest and value. Among
these are "A Call to Patriotism," "No Winter Time at All" (a particularly
pleasing lyric), "A Welcome to Spring," "Excelsior," "Christmas Time,"
"True Peace of Mind," and the four which follow:—
A SIGH FOR PEACEFUL TIMES.
With saddened heart I think of all the past,
And mourn that men so slowly wisdom learn;
That hatred and mistrust for aye should last,
And fires of malice and revenge still burn.
O when will Christian nations all unite,
In wise and peaceful council, to redress
The real grievance, or the fancied slight.
By rules of equity and righteousness?
O when shall He whose Gospel seeks to blend,
In true fraternity, the human race;
To horrid warfare bring a speedy end,
And peace and amity enlarge their place?
O haste, benignant day! when Giant skill
And Spartan courage shall their farce unite,
With heaven-born zeal and hearty, kind goodwill.
To mould an era happier and more bright.
We sigh to see the long-predicted morn,
When scythe and sickle, sword and spear replace,
The fields of blood transform to fields of corn,
And wealth and learning run their peaceful race.
Then right shall rule, and states more stable grow,
The poor and needy ever find redress;
While drooping commerce with new life shall glow,
And in her train bring health and happiness.
This orb of earth would then an Eden be,
Where right and amity their sway increase
Where every grade and colour would be free—
A universal Commonwealth of peace.
An aged couple sit alone; their locks are scant and grey;
Around the evening shadows fall, and thought is far away.
Anew they view the distant past, when in their youthful prime;
Then future days were big with hope, and bright as summer time.
They deck again the mighty main with goodly ships and fair.
Or proudly build their castles grand, high in the balmy air.
The scenes of early wedded life in quick succession pass;
Its joys and sorrows, hopes and fears; its failures, too, alas!
The tokens of conjugal love, and childhood's winsome ways.
Revivify their drooping hearts as in the far-off days.
A score or more of years appear, with noiseless, fleeting feet;
Young men and maidens, flushed with hope, the circle now complete.
And now a momentary pause, as though the mind would rest;
But potent souvenirs around soon give a quickened zest.
The sound of wedding bells is heard, as sweet as morning air;
Anon, the laving, long adieu, and then the vacant chair.
The dream, the retrospect is past! the old man raised his head;
"Goodness and mercy, thro' it all!" were all the words he said.
"'Tis even so," the wife replied, "and evermore shall be;
And they who trust in Gad shall find experience such as we."
A NEW YEAR'S SONG FOR BOYS.
Boldly start afresh, boys, with the glad new year;
Higher raise your standard; never yield to fear.
Take this for your motto: "We will bravely try,
And, God helping ever, with the bravest vie."
Never say you can't, boys; 'tis the coward's plea:
All along the hillsides footprints you may see.
Let such past achievements brave resolves inspire;
Write athwart your banners, "Higher, ever higher!"
Pander well the past, bays; England's name and fame
Urge you an to duty, true devotion claim.
Show to coming ages you could ever be
Just as true and worthy as your ancestry.
Never do a mean act, scorn a lie as well;
Honesty and truth, bays, soon or late must tell.
Choose the pure and true, boys; Goodness make your
Life will then be noble, Peace your steps attend.
All replete with choicest blessings, health and beauty in thy train,
Springtime! we would hail thy coming; who could joyful song refrain?
O'er the vast expanse of nature, far and near, where'er thy reign,
Myriad farms of pristine beauty wake to life and love again.
Crocus, violet, primrose, daisy, rippling brook, meand'ring stream,
Singing birds, and skipping lambkin, all join in the wond'rous
How we wait to give thee welcome, *herald of a brighter day:
Sweeter than the grandest music, thy enchanting roundelay.
Who, amid such scenes of beauty, feels not inspiration's spring,
Prompting every noble impulse, drowning every- meaner thing?
Who would dwell on days of darkness—times of grief live o'er again—
Change the bright and hopeful present far the past of gloom and
Rather would we look before us, though our tears bedim the view,
Strive to make each day more useful, big with hope and blessing too.
Let us then take heart of courage! live to love the Gad who sends
Winter's storms and Spring's glad sunshine, all to serve the wisest
* The Cuckoo.
esteemed local writer was born on October 10th, 1849, at 16, Union-street,
Blackburn, of Scots parents; through whom he is descended on both sides
from the Johnstones and the Jardines of Annandale, and on his mother's
side in an unbroken line from the Carruthers' of Holmains, an ancient and
honourable race, who, along with the Johnstones and Jardines, figure
freely in Border history.
While much attached to his native town, Mr. Jardine is
rightly proud of the fact that he is a full-blooded Scotsman; though, as
he jocularly remarks, "I had the misfortune, like the Irishman, to be born
out of my native country." As a child he was nursed by another poet
in whom Blackburn as well as Scotland has an interest, namely
Robert William Thom, who forms the subject
of the ninth chapter of the present work.
The first school Mr. Jardine remembers attending was a
private one, kept by Miss Wisdome, a dignified and aristocratic looking
lady, in Richmond Terrace; the entrance to the schoolroom being by means
of an entry off Tacketts Street. He afterwards attended school at
Brierfield, Patricroft, and Lower Bank Academy, Blackburn: the last named
being then kept by Mr. John Thompson, assisted by an excellent staff of
teachers; amongst whom Mr. Wield was pre-eminent. From Lower Bank
Mr. Jardine passed to Douglas Academy, Newton-Stewart, Scotland.
Finally, about his thirteenth year, he was sent to Clare Hall Academy,
Newington, Edinburgh, kept by Mr. Archibald Munro, A.M. This school
he regards as his Alma Mater, and he retains exceedingly pleasant
and grateful memories of it and its kindly and accomplished principal.
Mr. Munro, too, was a poet; being the author of "The Siren Casket," and
other very pleasing poems. The young author's education, commenced
under one poet, was thus finished under another.
After leaving Edinburgh, Mr. Jardine returned to Blackburn;
and spent about three years at the late Mr. Henry Ward's mill, learning
the cotton spinning and manufacturing business. He next went to
America, where he stayed about three years, and where he married.
Returning home, he became cashier at Peel Mill, Blackburn, for Messrs. J.
and F. Johnstone. It was while engaged at this mill that he wrote
the very melodious lyric:—
TO THE BIRDS
SINGING AT THE MILL
MORNING OF THE 1ST OF
Pour forth, merry warblers, your rapturous notes;
Ever pregnant with rich melody!
For as borne on the breeze the glad anthem floats
It whispers a message to me:
And tells me that 'midst the world's discord and din.
'Midst all its confusion and strife,
There is, if we list to the promptings within,
Sweet music to cheer us through life.
A short month ago, when the fast falling snow
Shrouded each trembling form,
How could I but mourn when I saw ye forlorn,
The prey of the pitiless storm;
But this morning your songs rise so blithesome and fast,
'Tis surely a thanksgiving day;
Are ye glad that the long, gloomy winter is past?
Are ye chanting a welcome to May?
The hedgerows are budding, and Phœbus
The earth with its life-giving rays;
While the blackbird and thrush from tree top and bush
Are chanting their heart-cheering lays.
The flowers are in bloom yielding sweetest perfume,
All Nature's in vernal array,
And hearts that were sad are now buoyant and glad
As they gaze on the glories of May.
Then tell me, I pray: Whate'er tempts you to stay
'Midst the smoke and the dust of the town?
I thought with the Spring on jubilant wing,
To the woods and green fields you'd have flown;
Where zephyrs are blowing, and daisies are growing
Like gems in a carpet of green,
Where the lark is upspringing while the sunshine is flinging
Its blaze o'er the beautiful scene.
But o'er this wide world there's a banner unfurled,
A banner of wisdom and love;
And the song of the bird is not chanted unheard
By the "Wise One who dwelleth Above."
And this gladsome May-day your ecstatic lay
Proclaims to the world you are sent
To teach us poor mortals, while toiling below,
The blessings of golden content.
Pour forth merry warblers, your rapturous notes,
Ever pregnant with rich melody!
For as borne on the breeze the glad anthem floats,
It whispers a message to me;
And tells me that 'midst the world's discord and din,
'Midst all its confusion and strife,
There is, if we list to the promptings within,
Sweet music to cheer us through life.
No one will be surprised to learn that Joseph Jardine, as a
poet and a Scotsman, is a devoted lover of Burns. In fact, the
phrase "devoted lover" scarcely expresses a tithe of his admiration for
the national bard of Scotland, whose praise he has sung in many a strain,
and the merit of whose work he has set forth in many an eloquent
discourse. One of the noblest speeches on Burns that I have ever
read—and I have read many—was that delivered by Mr. Jardine at Annan on
January 24th of this year. Were I dealing with his prose as well as
his verse I should give a lengthy quotation from that speech: it is so
well worthy of reproduction and careful preservation. As it is, I
can only give here the briefer poetic tribute which follows:—
TO ROBERT BURNS.
ON THE ANNIVERSARY
With eager and with gladsome hearts on this auspicious day,
We celebrate thy birth, dear Burns, and willing homage pay;
And as anew we laurel fresh thy noble, honoured brow,
We wish, all vainly though it be, we had thee with us now.
Full deep thou drank of sorrow's cup, harassed by grief and care,
And as we scan thy glowing page we find the record there;
With bitter disappointment; too, we see thy bosom burn;
For thou hast told us all thy woes, that we may read and learn.
Whene'er we sadly ponder on the fate of one so dear,
Our bleeding hearts with sorrow melt, and start the scalding tear;
But though thou'rt gone, thy memory lives enshrined within our
The grass has long waved o'er thy tomb—thy spirit ne'er departs.
Along the banks o' "bonnie Doon" in fancy oft we stray,
And listen as the woodlark chants his plaintive roundelay;
We breathe the incense of the flowers, their fragrant beauties
They cheer our hearts, they tell of love, and point us to the skies.
But as we mark the gowan rear its unassuming crest,
For thine own sake, who sang its praise, we love the daisy best.
Wherever Caledonia's son on this fair earth sojourns,
He is welcome for our Poet's sake: for the loved name of Burns
Knits like a charm the hearts of men of every race and clan.
For thou hast sung in stirring notes the Brotherhood of Man.
The patriot, the soldier, the shepherd on the hill,
The Ploughman at his lonely task, the toiler in the mill,
The Young man and the maiden, the hoary-headed sire—
All thrill with rapture at thy verse, all kindle at thy lyre.
Yes, thou art Scotia's Patriot Bard, her noble, peerless son;
Thy memory will ever live while years their cycles run;
And Scotsmen, proud to honour thee, though scattered o'er the earth,
Will meet to pay, with loyal hearts, their tribute to thy worth.
Among the noblest of Mr. Jardine's poems is the one, entitled
"British Valour: A Protest," which was evoked by the terrible atrocities
of the Turks in Bulgaria. It was written and first published at
Blackburn in May, 1877; but, as it deals with a state of things now
happily passed away, I have decided to omit it from the present selection,
in order to find space for another poem. During his residence in
Blackburn, after his return from America, Mr. Jardine was a member of the
Literary Club. He was also President of the Blackburn Burns Club and
Honorary Secretary to the Caledonian Curling Club. It was in
connection with the last named institution that there took place at the
Southport Glaciarium the notable encounter which is so humorously
described in the following lines:—
CURLING AT MIDSUMMER.
BLACKBURN V. PRESTON.
They say that wonders never cease—and, faith! I think it's
For there's scarce a day that passes but we hear o' something new.
The electric night will banish night—so Edisonians cry;
And now to crown the wondrous list, we've curling in July.
And here I am constrained to tell—methinks no trifling theme—
How at the shore our gallant boys met Preston's chosen team.
Fully equipped wi' broom and stane, they started in full glee,
With buoyant hearts and courage high, intent on victorie.
For skips—there was Ayrshire Willie, a gey auld-farrant chiel,
Than whom nane better lo'es a joke, or a guid roaring spiel;
"Gie me but Connell," and he says, "Whatever may betide,
Be it drug or keen, or rough or smooth, I'll whip the countryside."
The next was Yates, the quiet man—a true man all the same—
And though he taks it quietly, his heart is in the game:
Well known and well respected, and, though he will not boast,
A keen, keen curler, and a skip who's always at his post.
Last, but not least, was brave Buckley—to gi'e him his just dues,
He's a chiel that always likes to win, and always hates to lose;
But he pulls his grim moustache at times at sic a fiery rate;
Spectators in amazement stand; and tremble for its fate.
Arrived—Tam told the Preston men "their skill wad be no use,
As he'd wi' him the finest rink that Blackburn could produce."
But when Preston gained an end or two, poor Tam grew unco still.
All stared at him, and all agreed he looked strange and ill.
"Look ill! look ill! Wha tell't ye sae?" Tam answered wi'
An' then he swallowed lemonade to wash the paleness down,
But 'twas in vain; and stronger stuff, it wasna to be had,
So Tam made shift wi' lemonade, but swore it was too bad.
The Glaciarium, Lourie says, "It is an awfu' spot,"
For though his feet were cauld as ice, his head was hissing hot,
And raised a mist that grew sae thick, Gibson began to hog,
And swore he "couldna thraw his stanes through sic a drenchin' fog."
Then Jamie Yates and wee Kit Wells, they couldna weel agree;
Yates, he declared "that Kit wad stand naewhere but on the tee";
In vain he prayed, in vain he stormed, Kitty just jumped, and roared
That if they had taken his advice Preston wad ne'er hae scared.
I needna gi'e ye mair details: suffice it then to say
They played a weel-contested game, and Blackburn won the day.
The sun had set an hour or mair, the stars shone clear and bricht,
When the Blackburn Caledonians arrived at hame that nicht.
As Connell and Archie arm in arm walked down Ainsworth Street,
Baith were sae glad that they had won, they couldna' help but greet;
Their brooms did them such service then as they'd ne'er done before,
As solemn and slow they marched till they reached the elder's door.
And there they stood. Said Archie then, as he held out his
"Willie, we'll play aught there is in this or any ither land.
Play them! ay, whae'er they be, Scotch, English, a' the same,
On real or artificial ice, for ony sum they name."
And here Gillespie joined them, who led sae weel that day;
They quieted Archie doon a bit, and led him safe away;
Then 'twas agreed they'd a' adjourn to a neighbour's hoose awee,
To talk the day's proceedings ower, and taste the barley bree.
They sat them down in richt good trim—weel oiled, their tongues grew
They joked and laughed, and sang, and quaffed, and soon got unco
But when they rose to dander hame the nicht was weel-nigh thro',
And the bottle it was empty, but the boys were roarin' fou.
Thus ended this eventful day; but ane thing weel I wot,
The stanes will roar o'er ice galore ere this bonspiel's forgot.
Then fill the glass, round let it pass—nae heel-taps, drink it fair;
Here's to the game that bangs them a', and to curlers everywhere!"
In 1881 Mr. Jardine paid a second visit to, America; passing
through Camden, where Walt Whitman lived for some time, and where he died.
"I sailed,"—he writes, in his admirable autobiography,—
"up the famous Hudson river, as far as
Albany in daylight, through scenery by turns sylvan, picturesque, majestic
and sublime, and replete with historic, legendary and biographical
interest. From Albany, I took the train to Niagara, and gazed with
wandering admiration upon the far-famed Falls. On another occasion I
took the night boat from New York, up the Hudson, got off at Catskill,
walked through the ancient village of the same name, and rode in the coach
to the summit of the Catskill mountains, amid almost every variety of
scenery, full of Indian traditions and legends without end."
Between the years 1881 and 1887 he spent much time visiting
the birthplaces, homes, haunts and last resting places of Burns;
Shakespeare; Wordsworth; De Quincey; Sir Walter Scott; Hogg, the Ettrick
shepherd; and many other poets and authors. "These pilgrimages," he
says, "were full of educative as well as of romantic and biographical
interest, and gave me an insight into the works of many authors I could
not otherwise have obtained. Several visits I paid to the Highlands
and Islands of Scotland answered a similar purpose." His journey to
the Continent, and travels through Holland and Belgium, including a
notable visit to the field of Waterloo; can, owing to exigencies of space,
only be barely mentioned here.
Here is another example of his work in the Scottish dialect;
penned in honour of a Blackburn gentleman greatly beloved by a very large
circle of friends:—
WILLIE'S GAUN AWA.
Written on the departure of my dear friend,
William H. Aitchison,
for New Zealand, November, 1883.
That I am glad he kens right weel to meet him here to-night,
But as a cloud obscures the sun, a shadow dims the light,
For while we're met, can we forget, that in a day or twa
There'll be a void in a' our hearts, for Willie's gaun awa.
Aye glad to meet him onywhere, and always laith to part;
Sae fond we've grown he's got entwined around our very heart.
And now to find he's leaving us, it winna do ava,
It grieves us aye whene'er we think o' Willie gaun awa.
Sae frank and winning are his ways, sae generous and sae kind;
And liberal Nature has bestow'd on him a cultur'd mind;
Wi' gifts and graces numberless, a form without a flaw;
Ah! few there are can be compar'd to Willie lo'ed by a'.
His smile is winsome, and his laugh has aye the merry ring;
And aye sae social, and sae free, he can sae blithely sing
The auld Scots sangs baith grave and gay, the English anes' and a'.
But who, will sing these sangs for us when Willie's gaen awa?
When gathered round the social board, 'twas a joy to meet him there,
To see his face, to hear his voice, and list his stories rare;
And few can tell a tale sae weel, and crack a joke and a';
Nae wonder then we're wae to think that Willie's gaun awa.
And then he'll leave the auld roof-tree where those he lo'es now
To part from them will wound his heart far mair than tongue can
And oh! I'm sure that ilka heart will nearly brak in twa;
When he leaves, methinks! I hear the wail! Our Willie's
His frien's and brither Curlers they bewail his going, too;
For Willie is nae fickle frien', but steadfast, firm, and true.
True as the needle to the pole, faithfu' to ane and a'—
Indeed he will be sairly miss'd, our Willie when awa.
And then the lasses they will greet, whene'er they hear the news;
To listen to his witching voice, How could they e'er refuse?
Weel I ken frae their pretty e'en the sauted tear will fa',
As they lament the absence of our Willie when awa.
The Bard himsel' is deeply hurt, he canna find anither
To fill his place, and oft he'll mourn for him his absent brither.
In vain he'll look for his kindly smile, and wait his friendly ca',
Oh! wae's his heart when he reflects that Willie's gaun awa.
But tho' we're laith to see him leave his frien's and Town behind,
We trust at times to meet him, and a welcome warm he'll find.
For he'll no forget his auld frien's, and when the south winds blaw
We'll often think of our trusty fier, our Willie that's awa.
May health and strength wait on him as he enters life anew,
And Success crown his efforts in the Land he's going to.
The Star of Hope shines clear and bright, may nae ill luck befa',
But smiling fortune aye attend on Willie when awa.
And now a word you'll no resent; frien' o' my inner heart.
Let Conscience be your Monitor, the guid auld Book your chart.
And then there'll be nae fear a' you; but ilka ane will fa'
If no upheld by Him Aboon, who ruleth over a'.
And as the years speed onward, and the Lamp o' Life burns low,
May all the peace and joy be yours Kind Heaven can bestow.
And when you cross the deep, dark Stream that maun be cross'd by a',
May we meet Willie in the Land where nane will gang awa.
Mr. Jardine numbers many of the poets of Blackburn among his
friends; and of the warmth of his friendship for one of the "Bygone Bards"
we have evidence in the following:—
ON READING THE
ACCOUNT OF THE
OF THE POET,
Call'd away! Oh it cannot be true!
Cried my heart, deeply pain'd to the care.
As I glanced at the sorrowful page.
That informed me my friend was no more.
Ah, little I thought 'mid the whirl
Of excitement so joyous and gay,
That the poet I honour'd and loved.
Like a martyr was passing away,
Far away from the earth with its cares
To the dim and mysterious shore;
That ne'er more should I grasp his warm hand,
That I'd see him and hear him no more.
Strange; we ne'er miss the friends that we love,
Till they leave us in sorrow and gloom;
Strange, we prize not the Song of the Bard.
Till the songster is laid in the tomb.
Thou art gone, now we know it too well;
All thy troubles and trials are past;
The pain'd look has gone out of thine eyes;
And we trust thou art happy at last.
Our last meeting so blithesome and free,
Full oft have I thought of it since;
How our guests were the Lords of the Lyre—
Shakespeare, Byron, Burns, Baron, and Prince.
When, forgetting thy weakness and pain,
Thy spirit ever ardent and strong,
Caught fire as thou warm'd to the theme,
And exultantly burst into song.
We have lost him—the fearless and frank—
Who regardless of favour or pelf
Freely gave to the world of his store,
Though he suffer'd in secret himself.
"I am one of the people," said he,
And his heart-stirring melodies tell
How for them he liv'd, labour'd, and sung,
Till at last in the conflict he fell.
Then ye sons, and ye daughters of toil,
Forget not to give him his due;
For whate'er was his lot throughout life,
He aye pleaded and battled for you.
Tutor'd early by Nature herself,
And full of her mystical fire,
With the hand of a master he swept
The strings of the tremulous lyre.
His note manly, tender, and sweet—
With a music that quickens, and cheers—
One moment is pregnant with mirth,
Then its pathos subdueth to tears.
Round his brow then the garland entwine,
For the laurel he nobly hath won,
And, while Pendle aspires to the skies,
Will Blackburn be proud of her son.
I may appropriately mention here that Mr. Jardine was the
zealous and industrious Honorary Secretary of the Billington Memorial
Committee, which undertook the raising of funds for the deceased poet's
portrait and monument.
A piece of considerable length, but full of true poetic
fervour and of lasting merit, is entitled "The Battle of Isandula, and the
Dash with the Colours," (January. 1879). It is especially suitable
for recitation, and is a noble contribution to that department of poetic
Our next example is, like "Curling at Midsummer," a humorous
piece, and it resembles that delightful ditty in being a true local story.
The "hero" of our present piece was a Blackburn doctor well known in his
PHYSIC VERSUS POKER.
It happened once upon a time, there dwelt in this our town,
A skilful Æsculapius, well known as Dr. Brown;
But as he was a worthy soul, what's called, a right good sort,
His friends oft took the liberty to call him "Tom" for short.
Now Dr. Brown was doing well, as well as need to be;
His practice, like his family, was increasing rapidlie.
To crown his bliss, but one thing more he had in contemplation,
And as he thought, "By gum!" he said, "I'd like to be a Mason."
He mentioned it to Mrs. Brown, she objected, you opine.
"No!" Like a faithful spouse, she said, "Your pleasure, love, is
But with a quivering lip she asked (all thin disguises spurning),
"O Thomas! Thomas! What about the branding and the burning?"
The Doctor, ever brave and calm, replied, "Love do not fear,"
"Your Tom will stand it like a man, don't quail for him, my dear."
But though he showed a noble front, his was a sorry plight;
The poker haunted him by day, the gridiron by night.
The fated day at length arrived, and nothing strange occurred;
The earth revolved as usual, the Town Hall never stirred.
The Doctor left his pleasant home one mild October night,
Changing on the way from brown to grey, and then from grey to white.
His initiation safely o'er, the Doctor tried and true,
Imbibed to soothe his o'erstrung nerves, a glass of mountain dew.
He physic to his patients gave, but whether ill or not, He still preferred at any time a drop of whisky hot.
For even Docs. are dry sometimes, and Tom, good generous soul,
Loved well to spend a genial hour beside the flowing bowl;
But like a model Benedict, he ne'er stayed out
So when refreshed, he homeward hied, quite full, but still not
Poor Mrs. Brown quite overcome, with anxious care opprest,
Despairing of her absent lord, sadly retired to rest.
But not to sleep, for torturing thoughts possessed her soul instead.
She listened long, at length she heard the Doctor's manly tread.
Now, Dr. Brown approached the door as lively as a shrimp;
But strange to tell, when once inside, he then commenced to limp.
"Ah! Ah!" said Mrs. B. relieved, in the excess of her joy.
"You'll play the cripple, will you? But I have you sweet, my boy."
She heard him in the Surgery, as he went fumbling round.
She knew which drawers he opened, she could tell them by the sound;
She heard him shut the plaster drawer, when quiet reigned awhile—
She heard the scissors jingle; then with a meaning smile,
"You bad deceitful thing," she said, "you think you're very
But Tom, oblivious, hopped up stairs; now limping worse than ever;
And with a rueful countenance, he looked at Mrs. B.,
Like a mutilated Mason expecting sympathie.
"Are you badly hurt, my dear? Tell me the worst I beg?"
"Badly hurt! why can't you see this plaster an my leg
She looked upon the plaster, 'twas about six inches square;
She then began to probe the place; "It's sore," said Tom, "take
As Thomas held the injured limb, perspiring like a stoker,
"What caused it?" Mrs. Brown inquired, said Tom: "It was the
"The poker!" Mrs. Brown exclaimed, "Pray tell me what befel?"
Said Thomas: "When 'twas heated hot—but more I dare not tell."
She looked upon her faithful lord, he seemed to wince with pain;
She looked an the diachylum, then stared at Tom again.
As there he hugged the plastered leg; at last she meekly said,
"I think, my dear, it's very clear you'll rest it best in bed."
Said Thomas, as he gained the couch, "O there it goes again,
I think a drop of something hot would ease this dreadful pain."
Much more he doubtless would have said, nay more, he might have
Had not a loud, discordant snore proclaimed the Doctor slept.
Now, Mrs. B. triumphantly surveyed her lord and smil'd,
As he, unconscious, slumbered on, a sweet Masonic child.
Then whisp'ring low, "I think I know, what'll cure your raging
drouth," She tore the plaster off his leg, and stuck it on his mouth.
Drink whisky, and perfume your breath, flirt with the fickle fair;
Attend the Club, and at the "Pub" take your accustomed chair.
But I charge you wheresoe'er you are, to mind what you're about;
You can't deceive your loving wives; they're sure to find you out.
Our concluding poem is also a local one, and on a favourite subject:—
BLACKBURN'S BONNIE LASSES.
Let other Poets tune their lays,
And tell of battles, bouts, and frays—
For me, I'll gladly sing the praise
Of Blackburn's bonnie lasses.
Search England through from east to west,
Both north and south extend the quest;
Then own Blackburn's supremely blest
With bonnie, sonsie lasses.
Let foreign damsels paint and puff,
Use belladonna—pois'nous stuff;
Kind Nature's bloom is paint enough
For Blackburn's bonnie lasses.
They kindle love that never dies:
Methinks they're angels in disguise,
And Blackburn's just a Paradise
For charming, bonnie lasses.
If a stranger haps to come this way,
However short may be his stay;
He soon becomes a willing prey
To Blackburn's bonnie lasses.
When Music cheers departing Day,
Resplendent sight! to see them stray
Within the Park in bright array,
Light-hearted, bonnie lasses.
With graceful mien, each sprightly lass
So lightly treads; the tender grass
Scarce bends beneath them, as they pass
A band of bonnie lasses.
Love sparkles in their beaming eyes;
Their cheeks the Rose itself envies;
While modesty's the comely guise
Of Blackburn's bonnie lasses.
No wonder, then, as is most meet,
Each swain becomes a slave complete;
And proudly worships at the feet
Of Blackburn's bonnie lasses.
Mirthful and kind, with virtues rare;
Their smiles shed sunshine everywhere;
And golden-hearted, are our fair
And winsome Blackburn lasses.
Not their's the lowly to disdain;
Nor hear unmoved the cry of pain;
For misery ne'er appeals in vain
To Blackburn's bonnie lasses.
Where Hunger stalks; 'mid scenes of strife
Where sin, and foul disease are rife;
They go, dispensing light and life:
Brave, gentle, bonnie lasses.
Throughout the Town, go where you will,
To mansion, cottage, shop or mill;
Whate'er their lot, you'll find that still
They're Blackburn's bonnie lasses.
I'll sing their praise whate'er betide,
They're Blackburn's joy, and Blackburn's pride;
They're loveliness personified!
Leal Blackburn's bonnie lasses.
May no cruel throes their bosoms rend;
Them from all ill may Heaven defend;
May all the joys of earth attend
On Blackburn's bonnie lasses.
In 1885 Mr. Jardine contributed several interesting prose articles to the
"Blackburn Times," including "In and Around Ingleton" (July 11th); "Cruise
Peggy" (August 15th); and "On the Banks of the Douglas " (September 26th
and October 3rd).
"On the third of August. 1886," he writes,
"I spent, along with Mr. John
Robertson, of Blackburn (known to his intimate friends as "the Chief"), a
memorable afternoon, right on the brink of the ever-sounding sea at Ledaig,
Invernesshire, with John Campbell, 'the Poet-Laureate of the Highlands;'
unassuming and kindly man and a gifted Poet. I remember that with true
Highland hospitality the Poet placed before us a dish of strawberries and
which were served on a piece of furniture which did duty for a table, and
was used as such by Robert the Bruce and his retinue, when traversing
parts in the long, long ago. Our host a Highland bard, strawberries and
cream our diet, eaten off a royal table, and poetry our theme, surely an
and never-to-be-forgotten repast!"
In 1887 our author was entertained to dinner, and presented with a
valuable time-piece, by the members of the Blackburn Burns Club, and with
illuminated address by the members of the Caledonian Curling Club; and
both presents are still among his most cherished possessions. Leaving
Blackburn in 1887 he removed to Croftheads, near Annan, Dumfriesshire,
where he still resides; paying, however, frequent visits to his kinsfolk
This lowly singer, who, was the son of very worthy parents, was born at
the old farmstead which formerly stood behind the Academy in Preston New
Road, opposite Montague Street. He was from birth a cripple. He was
accustomed to go about in a chair an rockers, which he moved from side to
side in a
kind of zig-zag motion. A very interesting article about him, from the pen
of Mr. Henry Yates, appeared in the "Blackburn Times" of November 30th,
under the title of "A Nearly Forgotten Humble Townsman." In that article
(from which this brief notice is condensed) Mr. Yates stated that he first
Perring's acquaintance, at a certain British school, in 1848. The teachers
hoped only to enable Perring to read; his arms and hands being mis-shapen,
though he had, at that time, a sturdy physique. Perring grew morose
because he could not write; and a few of the elder scholars, by "putting
their heads together," hit upon a scheme by which he became able to write
Though for many years Perring was a familiar figure in the
streets of Blackburn, few persons at that period were aware that he had
contributed poems to the Blackburn and Preston newspapers. He could
converse well on many subjects; could calculate well; and was fond of
historical, biographical, and scientific books. He had a keen sense of
humour. One of Perring's best friends was the late Captain Shaw; and among
others were the late Mr. William Harrison and Mr. R. H. Hutchinson.
I have not noticed any poems, signed by Perring, in the
Blackburn journals; but I found a few in the "Preston Herald " for 1876. From among these few are taken the two examples which follow. They are
signed "Perring"; not "Perrings", as the name has sometimes
been spelt; and are dated from "59, Greaves Street, Blackburn":—
FROM "THE SERVIAN SLAVE'S APPEAL."
Thou goddess of Freedom, give ear to my prayer,
And list to the woes of my birth;
O grant my appeal! it is all that I ask—
To enjoy thy true blessings on earth.
To wander at will 'neath yon heavenly skies
Is a boon which I earnestly crave;
To feel thou hast claimed me as one of thy own
Is the prayer of the Servian slave. . .
The beast of the fields and the brute of the wilds
By instinct their covers can roam—
In oceans and seas, with their fathomless depths,
Doth liberty find it's a home.
The warbling throng, on their fetterless wings,
Through aerial oceans sail free;
Yet here I am bound in my Servian chains,
By man, in his vileness to me.
O what is the world, with its pleasures, to man,—
Its wonders, its beauty and wealth,—
If he is ordained in slavedom to serve,
And be robbed of the sweetness of health?
Then Christians arise! Let the world hear your cry,
Where the banners of Liberty float,
From pole unto pole, through eternity's space,
May the blessings of freedom be taught.
From youth unto age,—unto cottage and hall,—
Your sympathy waft o'er the waves:
And that God, in His mercy, may bless you with peace
Is the prayer of all Servian slaves.
NIGHT AND DEATH.
The light of day has passed away; deep silence reigns around;
A touching sense of blissful peace subdues the faintest sound.
The balmy winds refuse to sigh, yet sweet is their behest,
While each refulgent orb of night with Nature seems to rest.
The queenly moon, with conscious pride, surveys the sleeping scene;
A deep, mysterious stillness claims its majesty serene.
The rippling rill is hush'd and still, with strange prophetic dread;
The wond'ring world, in blank amaze, seems numbered with the dead.
'Tis thus, by contemplation led, I woo sweet solitude,
And tread with awe these hallow'd spots where sin can not intrude.
A holy calm subdues my mind, my wakeful soul seems blest,
While chiding conscience softly says, "Here is thy place of rest.
"Yea, here shalt thou at last be laid in undisturb'd repose,
To sleep that long and dreamless sleep which Death around us
The hour draws nigh; methinks I feel its cold and chilly breath,
And yet, with sweet and pleasing thoughts, I fear thee not, grim
For in thy lone and dark abodes shall endless peace be known.
Thus, when my chequered life shall close,
My trembling mind, well chased with woes,
Within the grave will find repose, unheeded and alone.
Perring died on January 9th, 1877; and he now sleeps, says
Mr. Yates, "at the foot of a beautiful stone which his own father
worked,—he being a decorative mason,—in the Church of England portion of
This being essentially a poetic work, I cannot more fittingly
conclude than by quoting these—
One of the tuneful tribe has gone to rest—
A bard whose verse was of the modest kind.
Tho' fit to rank companion with the best—
To captivate and elevate the mind.
A cripple from his birth, and weak his frame,
His intellect was strong, his life was pure;
And tho' in humble life he moved, his name
Among our sons of song shall aye endure.
Who hath not seen him in our streets around,
Confin'd in a rude chair, and trailing on,
As full of energy as if the ground
Was harass'd with the load that he put on!
And if you hail'd him, he would give his hand—
Tho' such a hand as was no hand, forsooth—
And greet you with a smile, serene and bland,
That made you feel his honesty and truth.
And notes of modest beauty oft he flung,
To multitudes who listen'd to his lay:
Of Grecian and of Servian slave he sung,—
Such songs as cheer'd his simple, lonely way.
No pomp, or idle show attendant there,
When mournfully his corpse was borne away;
But audibly was breath'd full many a pray'r,
When his frail form was lowered in the clay.
A genial, kind, and open-hearted friend
From every care and toil hath found release;
Who fought a hard fight bravely to the end,—
May his departed spirit rest in peace!
The subject of our present chapter was born in a small house in "Brewery
Row," near Furthergate Mill, Blackburn, on June 7th, 1854. His
father was an "old hand" at Furthergate Mill; working there for close upon
Our poet, who was the youngest of eight children, was left
motherless before he attained the age of two years; thus entering, at an
age even earlier than usual, that school of sorrow through which all those
must pass who are destined to wear the crown of Song.
At the age of nine he went to Furthergate Day School, where,
under the kind and painstaking tuition of Mr. W. Riley, he made rapid
progress; and, at the age of twelve, passed, with six other boys, the
seventh standard. He was then sent to Mr. Baguley's shuttle works at
Greenbank, where he worked until the lease of the premises ran out, and
the works were removed to George Street West. He then entered the factory;
working first in the weaving shed and then in the warehouse. Finally, at
the beginning of the great cotton strike in 1878, he commenced a small
printing works, at which he has continued to the present day.
The interesting reasons which induced him to take to
printing shall be given in his own words:—"I always had a desire to be my own master; and,
as I occupied the position of secretary to several of the societies, etc.,
in connection with Furthergate School,—and to one or two clubs
outside,—I had purchased a small printing plant, whilst working at the
mill; so that I could print my own summonses, notices, etc., and when the
great strike occurred I made the resolution that I would not go into the
mill again. Furthergate Church was building at the time, and I was
secretary. On the urgent recommendation of Mr. Wills, of Derby, I was
appointed Clerk of Works; and this enabled me to tide over the first six
or eight months."
His first published poem appeared in the "North-East Lancashire Temperance
Advocate," and was entitled "The Outcast"; but he does not now possess a
copy of it. From his early years he was a lover of literature and more
especially of poetry. He read largely Shakespeare, Byron, Shelley, Keats,
Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Scott; and was in the habit of taking part in
discussion, and reading papers upon their works, at Young Men's
In 1888 he became a member of the Blackburn Bohemian Club; and soon after
that society took premises in Water Street he was selected as secretary. In August, 1889, he commenced printing and publishing, at his own risk and
cost, "The Bohemian"' a monthly journal to which many members of the Club
contributed. When the club was first started it was purely a literary one;
but gradually it assumed a more social, though less literary character;
and ultimately the literary members left, and formed the present Athenian
Club, of which, with a break of a year or two, Mr. Duxbury has been
secretary to the present time.
Mr. Duxbury's poems are unambitious in character, and he makes, on their
behalf, the most modest of claims. Nevertheless, he possesses the
gift,—not always bestowed on even the greater poets,—of writing poems
which really are songs, in the strict literal sense of the word. And in
thus writing it is evident that he has endeavoured,—like that true poet
and fine song-writer, Charles Mackay,—"to make his songs simple and
intelligible," and has "preferred that critics should find fault with them
for not being profound rather than that the people—in the widest and best
sense of the word,—should find in them the still more serious fault of
being difficult of comprehension, either by the head or the heart."
Let us take, as our first example—
THOSE DEAR OLD SONGS.
O sing to me those dear old songs, sung in the long ago,
In sunny bowers and happy hours, the brightest I may know;
They bring again love's golden dream, so free from care and pain;
The past steals o'er me when I hear those dear old songs again.
Yes, sing to me those dear old songs, repeat them o'er and o'er;
They bring sweet thoughts of one I loved; now on the golden shore:
And ever in my inmost heart her memory shall remain;
I feel her presence when I hear those dear old songs again.
Then sing to me those dear old songs, as time rolls slowly by,
'Twill firmer knit the cord of love which binds me to the sky;
And when at last my work is done, and crossed life's troubled main,
I'll hear her sing, on yon bright shore, those dear old songs again.
The above lyric was set to music by Mr. James Southworth, of Blackburn,
and published by Messrs. Ascherberg, of London. It was sung by Miss Alice
Ainsworth, at the Winter Gardens Concerts, Blackpool; and at many school
concerts in Blackburn and district.
Our second song is one that almost "sets itself to music," so well
does the metre suit the theme:—
THE SONG OF THE WIND.
Yo ho! Yo ho! I gently blow,
O'er the face of the summer sea;
And the sailor lad, with heart so glad,
Is singing of love to me;
And his barque shall glide o'er the ocean wide;
Till it reaches his native shore;
For over the foam I waft him home,
To his love for evermore.
I carry the strain
Of his song again
To the ears of a maiden fair;
Her eyes so bright,
Fill with delight.
And her heart is eased of its care.
Yo ho! Ho! Yo ho!
I blow, I gently blow.
Yo ho! Yo ho! I wildly blow,
And sweep o'er the stormy main;
I lash to fury the angry waves.
As they rise and fall again;
The mariner hears, with a shudder, my shriek,
As I whistle by mast and sail;
And his brave heart sighs, as he boldly tries,
But in vain; to weather the gale.
I carry his cries
To the pitiless skies,
For I know there is none to save;
And loud and long
I chant my song
O'er the scene of the mariner's grave.
Yo ho! Ho! Yo ho!
I blow, I wildly blow.
Here is a didactic poem which is well worth committing
ONLY A WORD.
Only a word, a little word,
Uttered perhaps without a thought;
And yet, how far, how deep, how wide,
For joy or sorrow it hath wrought.
For it hath passed beyond recall,
And ever onward speeds its way,
Just like a river in its course,
Broadening, to eternity.
Only a word, yet, kindly said,
Has cheered the weary toiler's heart,
And planted there the firm resolve,
More nobly yet to act his part.
The task that seemed so hard before,
By that one word has been made light,
And in a firmer, closer bond,
Master and man it doth unite.
Only a word, and yet how dark
Life's brightest pathway hath become,
For she who joyous life inspired
By one short word has made a tomb
Where all the plans that love conceives,
And all the hopes from love that bloom,
Are now enshrined for evermore,
Leaving behind but mist and gloom.
Only a word, yet it was heard
By one whose heart was brave and true;
An inspiration fired his soul,
He dared the noble deed to do.
For when the call of Duty rose,
He was the foremost in the fight;
Leading his men to face the foes,
Upholding Honour, Truth, and Right.
Only a word, and yet, perhaps,
By it a destiny is cast;
Lifting a soul above its cares,
Or making keener life's rough blast.
Then weigh thou well each little word,
Ere ever from the lip it flows,
And flowers shall spring around thy path,
And bloom perennial as the Rose.
Our only example of Mr. Duxbury's dialectal poetry is
HOOAM AN' CLUBLAND.
Id wer a winter's evenin',
An' t' daily toil wer o'er;
A cheerful fire id radiance threw
Across the sanded floor:
Yet Sally gave an anxious look
Tor't Jack who sat i' t' cheer i' t' nook.
For mony a year when fost they wed,
Jack stopt at hooam at neet,
To camp his wife an' read his books,
His spirits awlus leet.
An' t' childer used to climb his knee,
An' sing their songs i' reight good glee.
I' meckin' th' heawse look snug an' breet
Jack took a special pride,
An' wi' thad aim his spendin' brass
Wer often put aside.
An' just when t' wife wer wantin' owt
Someheaw thad thing i' th' heawse wer browt.
An' sooa things went, an' time passed o'er,
Jack feelin' weel content;
Until a change his habits took,
An' wi' id comfort went:
He joined a club, went theer at neet,
His chums, astid o' t' wife, to meet.
At fost, i' t' readin' room he'd stop,
Discussin' t' news o' t' day:
But soon he geet to t' billiard room,
An' billiards learned to play:
An' mony a peawnd thad larnin' cost,
For t' mooast a' t' games he played, he lost.
And then he larned to play at cards,
Booath nap an' brag, an' whist;
He'd play at them bi neet or day,
A chance he seldom missed:
An' as he'd to larn,—ov cooarse it's t' way,—
Jack for his larnin' hed to pay.
When t' Smookin'-Concert neets coom on,
Jack felt brimful o' pride:
They'd co on him to sing a song,
An' sometimes to preside;
In fact th' club geet to lookin' queer
If Jack worn'd doin' some'at theer.
As one thing to another leeads,
Just sooa id wor wi' Jack;
When he went eawt, they ne'er could tell
His time a' comin' back:
To ged hooam soon he often tried,
But seldom reyched till mornin' side.
Neaw yo' con reckon for yo'rsels
As gooin's on like thad
Soon med a mess a' th' heawse affairs,—
In fact, things went to t' bad;
An' wod wer once a happy place
Becoom, to Jack, a gret disgrace.
Returnin' hooam quite late one neet.
Jack fun' no supper theer,
An' nod a spark o' fire i' t' grate,—
Id med th' heawse look so dreear:
He seet him deawn to think a bit,
An' this is wod he thowt ov it:—
"Aw'd once a hooam booath snug an' fit
For ony werkin' mon;
An' neaw it's dwindled deawn to this,
An' every comfort gone:
Aw know eawr Sally's nod to blame,
Aw s' hev to stop yon clubheawse game.
"An' t' childer, too, are lookin' wor,
They're nod drest hawf as neat;
An' t' wife—ah, well! aw hardly like
To walk wi' her deawn t' street.
Aw'll start fro' neaw,—at once begin,
Mi owd position back to win."
T' neet after thad, Jack stopt at hooam;
An' seated theer i' t' nook,
He reych'd fro' t' shelf, to read ageean
An' owd but fav'rite book;
Still Sally's heart quite anxious grew,
An' wunder'd wod ther wor to do.
At last hoo sed, as iv i' jooak,
"Hes t' getten t' seck at th' club?
Or hes ta axed off for to-neet,
An' hed to ged a sub?"
"Nowe, lass," Jack sed, "aw've bin a foo';
Aw've fun' id eawt, an' neaw aw rue.
"But tha con reckon fro' this day
A different man aw'll be;
Aw'll mek a change i' th' heawse ageean.
I' t' childer, too, an' thee;
Aw'll spend mi time an' brass on th' hooam,—
To th' club heawse aw'll no longer rooam."
Jack kept his word, things breetened up,
An' t' gloom soon passed away;
An' Jack an' t' wife, an' t' childer, too,
Looked breeter day bi day:
An' t' comforts one bi one coom back,
While t' club lost o id charms for Jack.
"Hooam an' Clubland," in addition to its purely literary merit, will
probably be considered unique, as being heartily acceptable alike to the "teetotaler"
"publican": these "hereditary foes" being agreed in regarding the ordinary
Club as a public house in disguise.
On Billington's principle of "always reserving a good thing for the
finish," we cannot do better than conclude this notice of our printer-poet
with the melodious lyric entitled:—
A SUMMER DAY.
At the break of the morn, when the crest of the hill
Is tipt with a golden glow,
And the rosy sun riseth fresh from his sleep
His soft light on the earth to throw,
Then the notes of the lark are heard from the sky,
From the woodlands the linnet's sweet song,
And the musical murmur of streamlet is heard,
As its waters flow gently along:—
'Tis then that I feel what a mystical charm
The whole of my being doth fill;
For I love to be out, and see Nature awake,
So calm, so serene, and so still.
When the bright Summer day its full splendour attains,
Nor a cloud dims the azure blue sky,
The breezes are laden with perfume of flowers,
The Orchard's sweet bloom meets the eye;
And the farmstead so white, with its newly-thatched roof,
To the scene a new beauty doth lend,
And the bright wavy corn with its mellowy glow
Beneath its rich treasure doth bend;
'Tis then that I wander through meadows so green,
Where the farmer, so blithesome and gay,
Is gathering into the garner his store
Of the full-ripen'd, sweet-scented hay.
At the close of the day, when to its repose
The spirit of nature doth fly,
The nightingale warbles its sweet even-song,
The bright star of eve lights the sky;
While in dingle and dell, where the wild flowers dwell,
And the bird o'er its nestlings doth brood,
Not a sound can be heard, save the murmur of bees,
Returning to home with their food;—
'Tis then that I sit by the bank of some stream,
And gaze on the scene with delight,
Till the bright vision fadeth away from my view,
Shut in by the curtain of night.