« PreviousContinue »
the edges of the vapours; then a broader gleam would come; then again it would be pale and receding ; but the clouds were so connected that the fair traveller had seldom a place for showing her unveiled born. I saw how it was; my conflagration had dwindled to a moon beam; and as I stood with the frost tingling at my toes, 'an unlucky thought' came into my head, to have a small joke at the doctor's expense; and as it was a mode of amusement to which I must confess I was rather prone, I immediately began to carry it into effect. I gave a loud cough or two; the doctor thereupon grunted and turned over in bed; when, in the very break of his sleep, I said aloud, as I crept beneath the bed-clothes, "There's a fine leet i' th' welkin, as th' witch o' Brandwood sed when th’ devil wur ridin' o'er Rossenda.' Leet,' said the doctor, a fine leet? weer ? weer?' Wby, go to th' windo' an' look. That instant my sanguine friend was out of bed, and at the window, his head stuck bebind the curtain.' • There's a great leet,' he said, “to'rd Manchester. There is, indeed,' I replied, “it's mitch but weary wark is gooin' on omung yon foke.' It's awful,' said the doctor; 'thei'r agate as sure as we're heer.' 'I think there's summut up, I said. I was now snugly rolled in the clothes, and perceived at the same time that the doctor was getting into a kind of dancing shiver; and my object being to keep him in his shirt till he was cooled and undeceived, and consequently a little sprung in temper, I asked, Dun yo really think then ot th' teawn's o' foyer?' • Foyer!'he replied, “there's no deawt on't.' 'Con you see th' flames, doctor?' Nowe, I conno' see th' flames, but I can see th' leet ut comes fro’em.' "That's awful,' I ejaculated. “Aye, it's awful,' he said; 'come an' see for yoursel.' Nowe, I'd reyther not,'I answered ; 'I dunno' like sich seets; it's lucky ut we're heer; they conno' say ut we'n had owt to do wi' it, at ony rate, con they, doctor?' 'Nowe,' he said, they conno.' It keeps changin',' he said. "Con yo’yer owt?' I asked. Nowe, I conno' yer nowt,' he said. I, however, heard his teeth backing in his head, and stuffed the sheet into my mouth, to prevent my laughter from being noticed. Ar yo' sure, doctor?' I asked. No reply. • Is it blazin' up ?' I said. Blazin' be banged !' was the answer. • Wot dun yo'myen, doctor? is it gwon eawt then?' Gullook !' he said, “it's nobbut th' moon, an' yo' knewn it oth' wbile.' A loud burst of laughter followed, which I enjoyed till the bed shook; my companion muttering imprecations and sundry devil's prayers against all ‘moon doggs an' welkin lookers;' by which terms I knew he meant myself for one.'-vol. i. pp. 39–41.
While Bamford and Healey were travelling about in order to escape arrest, they met with a curious adventure at an inn. Comic at the first, this occurrence at one time threatened to end tragically; till the interference of a constable and an overseer, joined afterwards by two persons, apparently farmers, brought the disturbance to a friendly close. What follows tells its own tale loud enough. Neither facts nor style require a word from us.
"We were talking on various matters when the door was opened, and a personally fine looking woman, with an infant at the breast, advanced timidly, and said she wished to speak to the overseer. Her outer garments were of very homely material, being, seemingly, cotton fents dyed blue; but neatly fitting her person, and very clean. She had a pair of light clogs on her feet; and her stockings were, I could perceive, well darned above the buckles. Her petticoat and bed-gown were of the same blue cotton; and the latter was open at the bosom, where a fine boy lay smiling at his pap. Her apron was striped calico; and her head gear consisted of a striped napkin, apparently also a fent, over a mob cap, very white; from beneath which a lock of black hair bad escaped, and hung as if in contrast with a bosom of as pure white as ever appertained to human nature. Her features, also, were handsome ; her cheeks were faintly tinged on a very pale ground. Her mouth was somewhat wan; she seemed rather exhausted ; and as she stood, the tears came into her dark and modest eyes. Weer dusto com fro?' asked the overseer ; 'an' wot dusto want? theawrt a new un at ony rate,' he continued. She said she came from Musbury, and wanted relief for her husband, herself, and two children, besides the infant. 'An wot dun yo doo for a livin ?' interrogated the overseer. They wove calico, she said, when they could get work and were able; but the children at home were ill of the measles ; the shopkeeper had refused them any more credit ; and her husban' has wurched for us till he fell off his looms, and wur beginnin' o' th' feyver, the docthur said so.' • Hang those docthurs,' said the overseer, 'why conno they let foke dee when thur time comes?' 'I hope he'll no dee yet,' said the poor woman, tears streaming in plenty; I think he'd come reawnd iv yod nobbut let us have a trifle o'summut to carry on wi’; an' iv yo win (intreatingly) I'll hie me whom, an' I'll put th' chylt i'th' keyther, an’ set at yon wark and finish it mysel; an’ we'n not trouble yo agen unless we'en sum new misfortin'.' The overseer asked the farmers, who, it appeared, were rate payers, what they thought of the case; and the result was, that he gave her two shillings and promised to call and see the family. But she must tell her husband he must not begin of the fever. •Its o' idlety, idlety; an' iv th' paupers o'th' teawn yerd at he geet ovt wi' bein' ill o’th' feyver, they'd o' begin. Nowe, nowe, they'd’n ha' no feyvers i' their teawnship.' She took the money, curtseyed, and thanked the over. seer and rate-payers. One of them said she had been a decent wencb;' he knew her father in better days; and he offered her a glass of the warm ale, which she put to her lips, and swallowed a small quantity. Her cheeks turned deathly pale; she put out her hand, as if her sight was gone ; her grasp relaxed; the child dropped on Healey's knee ; and I caught the fainting woman in my arms • Hoos clem'd to dyeth,' said one of the rate-payers. Hoos as dyed as a dur nail,' said the other. I didno deny her relief,' said the overseer. The doctor handed the child to the landlady and called for some brandy, wbich was brought, together with a sharp smelling-bottle, which was applied; but there was not any perceptible breathing, and she shrank down seated upon the floor, I kneeling, and still keeping her in a leaning posture. And shall I be ashamed to say, that whilst I thus held her, tears escaped, and chased down a furrow already made by care on that cold and pale brow? Oh, no! could I have withheld my deepest sympathy from that beauteous mother, my sister in humanity, perishing thus for want of food, my heart must have turned to stone. Healy chafed her temples with the liquor, sprinkled her face with water, opened her hands, and tried to get a drop of liquid into her mouth, but her teeth were set. · Poor thing,' said the doctor, 'she must have been very ill.’ ‘Hoos dun for i’ this ward,' said one of the men. 'I reliest hur,' said the overseer, for I seed hoo'r none o' eawr reggilur paupers.'
"We shan ha to have an inquest,' said the constable. Moor expense, and moor,' said the overseer; “but they conno say 'at I neglected 'em, con they? Whilst these observations, and many others, were passing, the features of the sufferer became less rigid; the jaw relaxed; a drop of brandy and water was administered; a slight tinge of pink appeared on her cheeks; the chafings and smellings were continued; a sigh after some time escaped, and in a minute or two those dark fringed eyes unclosed; she looked inquiringly around, and soon appeared to comprehend her situation. time she was restored; her child was again pressed to her bosom; the two shillings were made up to five; she took a cup of warm tea with the family; and in another hour she was slowly wending up the hill towards Musbury.'-vol. i. pp. 60—62.
We close our extracts with the account of his return to his own house, after the excursion in which the last mentioned incident occurred.
And shall we part here, friend reader? On my very threshold shall we part? Nay, come in from the frozen rain, and from the night wind which is blowing the clouds into sheets like torn sails before a gale. Now down a step or two. 'Tis better to keep low in the world than to climb only to fall. It is dark, save when the clouds break into white scud above; and silent, except the snort of the wind, and the rattling of hail, and the eaves of dropping rain. Come in. A glimmer shows that the place is inhabited, that the nest has not been rifled whilst the old bird was away. Now shalt thou see what a miser a poor man can be in his heart's treasury. second door opens, and a flash of light shows we are in a weaving-room, clean and flagged, and in which are two looms with silken work of green and gold. A young woman, of short stature, fair, round, and fresh as Hebe; with
light brown hair escaping in ringlets from the sides of her clean cap, and with a thoughtful and meditative look, sits darning beside a good fire, which sheds warmth upon the clean swept hearth, and gives light throughout the room, or rather cell. A fine little girl, seven years of age, with a sensible and affectionate expression of countenance, is reading in a low tone to her mother. • And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Observe the room and its furniture. A humble but cleanly bed, screened by a dark, old-fashioned curtain, stands on our left. At the foot of the bed is a window closed from the looks of all street passers. Next are some chairs, and a round table of mahogany; then another chair, and next it a long table scoured very white. Above that is a looking-glass, with a picture on each side of the resurrection and ascension on glass, copied from Reubens. A well-stocked shelf of crockery.ware is the next object; and in a nook near it are a black oak carved chair or two, with a curious desk, or box, to match; and lastly, above the fireplace, are hung a rusty basket-hilted sword, an old fusee, and a leathern cap. Such are the appearance and furniture of that humble abode. But my wife !
• She looked; she redden'd like the rose;
Syne, pale as ony lily.' Ah! did they hear the throb of my heart when they sprang to embrace me? my little love child to my knees, and my wife to my bosom? Such were the treasures I had hoarded in that lowly cell: treasures that, with contentment, would have made into a palace
• the lowest shed That ever rose on England's plain.' They had been at prayers, and were reading the Testament before retiring to rest. And now, as they a hundred times caressed me, they found that, indeed, • Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.''- vol. i. p. 74, 75.
Of 'my wife,' too, who seems to have been a wonder of a woman, we cannot but record the following:
• The order was then given to move. My wife burst into tears, I tried to console her; said I should soon be with her again; and bestowing a kiss for my dear child when she came in the morning, I ascended into the street and shouted · Hunt and liberty !' Hunt and liberty,' responded my brave little helpmate, whose spirit was now roused. One of the policemen, with a pistol in his hand, swearing a deep oath, said be would blow out her brains if she shouted again. • Blow away,' was her reply; 'Hunt and liberty ! Hunt for ever!''- vol. i. pp. 229, 230.
The man and his work may be pretty fairly judged of from these quotations. They are not the fittest to serve for a text to the remarks we have presently to offer: but as we could not find room for all we wished, we were obliged to select such as would best bring Bamford's powers into view. It is clear that our author possesses all the elements of a fine literary character; and there are parts of his work, which, without the least correction, no man need blush to have composed. Yet the scanty instruction afforded in a village Methodist Sunday-school, seems the only assistance that he ever had. He says little, however, of his early life; though, from a hint or two, we gather that before his marriage, and while yet a lad, a voyage in a merchant's vessel served somewhat to enlarge his views and whet his powers of observation. Otherwise, a handloom weaver's tame, unvarying life was all he knew; till his own honesty, cleverness, and general ability, raising him to the respect and confidence of his immediate neighbours, brought him, as their representative, into circumstances of extraordinary though temporary publicity. Here, still trusted by the good among his friends, he became respected by the good among his foes. Samuel Bamford, as the follower of a man like Hunt, could not, it is true, redeem his 'order' from the frightened hatred, and his cause from the ignorant contempt, of the unmitigated Toryism of the day. Nor do we deem him worthy of the honour of a place in the first rank of our political martyrs; neither do we award to him the consideration due to such as are most signally victimized by scoundrels with whom, in their fervour and simplicity, they have credulously associated. Bamford was too knowing to be much injured by his friends; and his principles of action were scarcely pure and deep enough to render him a hero. His was not a thoroughly or an intelligently religious character. He had too much humane feeling and poetic genius not to breathe a religious atmosphere with considerable pleasure.
His book gives proof enough of this, and more, it may be, than enough. For Bamford's religion, while of sincerity that we respect too much to question, is any thing but a religion commended by our judgment. The vulgarest country Methodism is all he seems to have observed. We know it well, the Methodism of his own locality, of Middleton, Heywood, and all