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Brief Historical and Descriptive Notes
Author: Leo H. (Leo Hartley) Grindon
Release Date: August 26, 2012 [eBook #40584]
Character set encoding: UTF-8
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK LANCASHIRE***
|Note:||Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See http://archive.org/details/cu31924028040032|
BRIEF HISTORICAL AND
WITH MANY ILLUSTRATIONS
SEELEY AND CO., LIMITED
Essex Street, Strand
The following Chapters were written for the Portfolio of 1881, in which they appeared month by month. Only a limited space being allowed for them, though liberally enlarged whenever practicable, not one of the many subjects demanding notice could be dealt with at length. While reprinting, a few additional particulars have been introduced; but even with these, in many cases where there should be pages there is only a paragraph. Lancashire is not a county to be disposed of so briefly. The present work makes no pretension to be more than an index to the principal facts of interest which pertain to it, the details, in almost every instance, still awaiting the treatment they so well deserve. If I have succeeded in marking out the foundations for a superstructure to be raised some day by an abler hand, I shall be content. It is for every man to begin something, to the best of his power, that may be useful to his fellow-creatures, though it may not be permitted to him to enjoy the greater pleasure of completing it.
Some of the commendations passed upon Lancashire may seem to come of the partiality of a man for his own county. It may be well for me to say that, although a resident in Manchester for forty years, my native place is Bristol.
|I.||Leading Characteristics of the County||1|
|III.||The Cotton District and the Manufacture Of Cotton||66|
|V.||Miscellaneous Industrial Occupations||134|
|VI.||Peculiarities of Character, Dialect, and Pastimes||170|
|VII.||The Inland Scenery south of Lancaster||194|
|VIII.||The Seashore and the Lake District||227|
|IX.||The Ancient Castles and Monastic Buildings||252|
|X.||The Old Churches and the Old Halls||282|
|XI.||The Old Halls (continued)||303|
|XII.||The Natural History and the Fossils||334|
|Emigrants at Liverpool||By G. P. Jacomb Hood||Frontispiece|
|Shipping on the Mersey||By A. Brunet-Debaines||27|
|American Wheat at Liverpool||31|
|Ran away to Sea||35|
|St. Nicholas Church, Liverpool||By H. Toussaint||43|
|The Custom-house, Liverpool||51|
|St. George's Hall, Liverpool||57|
|The Exchange, Liverpool||By R. Kent Thomas||61|
|The Dinner Hour||85|
|Pay-Day in a Cotton Mill||By G. P. Jacomb Hood||89|
|In a Cotton Factory||95|
|St. Anne's Square, Manchester||112|
|Town Hall, Manchester||By T. Riley||117|
|In the Wire Works||148|
|Glass-Blowing||By G. P. Jacomb Hood||157|
|On the Bridgewater Canal||By G. P. Jacomb Hood||161|
|On the Bridgewater Canal||165|
|The Lake at Littleborough||199|
|Waterfall in Cliviger||203|
|In the Burnley Valley||211|
|The Ribble at Clitheroe||219|
|Coniston||By David Law||241|
|Near the Copper Mines, Coniston||247|
|Lancaster||By David Law||259|
|Furness Abbey||By R. Kent Thomas||275|
|Darcy Lever, near Bolton||305|
|Speke Hall||By T. Riley||309|
|Hall in the Wood||By R. Kent Thomas||315|
|Stonyhurst||By R. Kent Thomas||329|
Directly connected with the whole world, through the medium of its shipping and manufactures, Lancashire is commercially to Great Britain what the Forum was to ancient Rome—the centre from which roads led towards every principal province of the empire. Being nearer to the Atlantic, Liverpool commands a larger portion of our commerce with North America even than London: it is from the Mersey that the great westward steamers chiefly sail. The biographies of the distinguished men who had their birthplace in Lancashire, and lived there always, many of them living still, would fill a volume. A second would hardly suffice to tell of those who, though not natives, have identified themselves at various periods with Lancashire[Pg 2] movements and occupations. No county has drawn into its population a larger number of individuals of the powerful classes, some taking up their permanent abode in it, others coming for temporary purposes. In cultivated circles in the large towns the veritable Lancashire men are always fewer in number than those born elsewhere, or whose fathers did not belong to Lancashire. No trifling item is it in the county annals that the immortal author of the Advancement of Learning represented, as member of Parliament, for four years (1588-1592) the town which in 1809 gave birth to William Ewart Gladstone, and which, during the boyhood of the latter, sent Canning to the House of Commons. In days to come England will point to Lancashire as the cradle also of the Stanleys, one generation after another, of Sir Robert Peel, John Bright, and Richard Cobden. The value to the country of the several men, the soundness of their legislative policy, the consistency of their lines of reasoning, is at this moment not the question. They are types of the vigorous constructive genius which has made England great and free, and so far they are types of the [Pg 3]aboriginal Lancashire temper. Lancashire has been the birthplace also of a larger number of mechanical inventions, invaluable to the human race; and the scene of a larger number of the applications of science to great purposes, than any other fragment of the earth's surface of equal dimensions. It is in Lancashire that we find the principal portion of the early history of steam and steam-engines, the first railway of pretension to magnitude forming a part of it. The same county had already led the way in regard to the English Canal system—that mighty network of inland navigation of which the Manchester Ship Canal, now in process of construction, will, when complete, be the member wonderful above all others. No trivial undertaking can that be considered; no distrust can there be of one in regard to its promise for the future, which has the support of no fewer than 38,000 shareholders. Here, too, in Lancashire, we have the most interesting part of the early history of the use of gas for lighting purposes. In Lancashire, again, were laid the foundations of the whole of the stupendous industry represented in the cotton-manufacture, with calico-printing, and the allied arts of pattern design. The literary work of Lancashire has been abreast of the county industry and scientific life. Mr. Sutton's List [Pg 4] of Lancashire Authors, published in 1876, since which time many others have come to the front, contains the names of nearly 1250, three-fourths of whom, he tells us, were born within the frontiers—men widely various, of necessity, in wit and aim, more various still in fertility, some never going beyond a pamphlet or an "article,"—useful, nevertheless, in their generation, and deserving a place in the honourable catalogue. Historians, antiquaries, poets, novelists, biographers, financiers, find a place in it, with scholars, critics, naturalists, divines. Every one acquainted with books knows that William Roscoe wrote in Liverpool. Bailey's Festus, one of the most remarkable poems of the age, was originally published in Manchester. The standard work upon British Bryology was produced in Warrington, and, like the life of Lorenzo de Medici, by a solicitor—the late William Wilson. Nowhere in the provinces have there been more conspicuous examples of exact and delicate philosophical and mathematical experiment and observation than such as in Manchester enabled Dalton to determine the profoundest law in chemistry; and Horrox, the young curate of Hoole, long before, to be the first of mankind to watch a transit of Venus, providing thereby for astronomers the means[Pg 5] towards new departures of the highest moment. During the Franco-Prussian war, when communication with the interior of Paris was manageable only by the employment of carrier-pigeons and the use of micro-photography, it was again a Lancashire man who had to be thanked for the art of concentrating a page of newspaper to the size of a postage-stamp. Possibly there were two or three contemporaneous inventors, but the first to make micro-photography—after the spectroscope, the most exquisite combination of chemical and optical science yet introduced to the world—public and practical, was the late Mr. J. B. Dancer, of Manchester.
Generous and substantial designs for promoting the education of the people, and their enjoyment,—habits also of thrift and of self-culture, are characteristic of Lancashire. Some have had their origin upon the middle social platform; others have sprung from the civilised among the rich. The Co-operative system, with its varied capacities for rendering good service to the provident and careful, had its beginning in Rochdale. The first place to copy Dr. Birkbeck's Mechanics' Institution was Manchester, in which town the first provincial [Pg 6]School of Medicine was founded, and which to-day holds the headquarters of the Victoria University. Manchester, again, was the first town in England to take advantage of the Free Libraries Act of 1850, opening on September 2d, 1852, with Liverpool in its immediate wake. The Chetham Free Library (Manchester) had already existed for 200 years, conferring benefits upon the community which it would be difficult to over-estimate. Other Lancashire towns—Darwen, Oldham, Southport, and Preston, for example, have latterly possessed themselves of capital libraries, so that, including the fine old collection at Warrington, the number of books now within reach of Lancashire readers, pro rata for the population, certainly has no parallel out of London. An excellent feature in the management of several of these libraries consists in the effort made to attain completeness in special departments. Rochdale aims at a complete collection of books relating to wool; Wigan desires to possess all that has been written about engineering; the Manchester library contains nearly eight hundred volumes having reference to cotton. In the last-named will also be found the nucleus of a collection which promises to be the finest in the country, of books illustrative of English dialects. The Manchester libraries[Pg 7] collectively, or Free and Subscription taken together, are specially rich in botanical and horticultural works—many of them magnificently illustrated and running to several volumes—the sum of the titles amounting to considerably over a thousand. Liverpool, too, is well provided with books of this description, counting among them that splendid Lancashire work, Roscoe's Monandrian Plants, the drawings for which were chiefly made in the Liverpool Botanic Garden—the fourth founded in England, or first after Chelsea, Oxford, and Cambridge, and specially interesting in having been set on foot, in 1800, by Roscoe himself.
The legitimate and healthful recreation of the multitude is in Lancashire, with the thoughtful, as constant an object as their intellectual succour. The public parks in the suburbs of many of the principal Lancashire towns, with their playgrounds and gymnasia, are unexcelled. Manchester has no fewer than five, including the recent noble gift of the "Whitworth." Salford has good reason to be proud of its "Peel Park." Blackburn, Preston, Oldham, Lancaster, Wigan, Southport, and Heywood have also done their best.
In Lancashire have always been witnessed the most vigorous and persistent struggles made in this country for civil and political liberty[Pg 8] and the amendment of unjust laws. Sometimes, unhappily, they have seemed to indicate disaffection; and enthusiasts, well-meaning but extremely unwise—so commonly the case with their class—have never failed to obtain plenty of support, often prejudicial to the very cause they sought to uphold. But the ways of the people, considered as a community, deducting the intemperate and the zealots, have always been patriotic, and there has never been lack of determination to uphold the throne. The modern Volunteer movement, as the late Sir James Picton once reminded us, may be fairly said to have originated in Liverpool; the First Lancashire Rifles, which claims to be the oldest Volunteer company, having been organised there in 1859. In any case the promptitude of the act showed the vitality of that fine old Lancashire disposition to defend the right, which at the commencement of the Civil Wars rendered the county so conspicuous for its loyalty. It was in Lancashire that the first blood was shed on behalf of Charles the First, and that the last effort, before Worcester, was made in favour of his son—this in the celebrated battle of Wigan Lane. It was the same loyalty which, in 1644, sustained Charlotte de la Tremouille, Countess of Derby, in the famous three months' defence of Lathom House, when besieged by[Pg 9] Fairfax. Charlotte, a lady of French extraction, might quite excusably be supposed to have had less care for the king than an Englishwoman. But she was now the wife of a Lancashire man, and that was enough for her heart; she attuned herself to the Earl's own devotedness, became practically a Lancashire woman, and took equal shares with him in his unflinching fervour. The faithfulness to great trusts which always marks the noble wife, however humble her social position, however exalted her rank and title, with concurrent temptations to wrongdoing, doubtless lay at the foundation of Charlotte's personal heroism. But it was her pasturing, so to speak, in Lancashire, which brought it up to fruition. Of course, she owed much to the fidelity of her Lancashire garrison. Without it, her own brave spirit would not have sufficed. Lancashire men have always made good soldiers. Several were knighted "when the fight was done" at Poitiers and Agincourt. The Middleton archers distinguished themselves at Flodden. The gallant 47th—the "Lancashire Lads"—were at the Alma, and at Inkerman formed part of the "thin red line." There is equally good promise for the future, should occasion arise. At the great Windsor Review of the Volunteers in July 1881, when 50,000 were[Pg 10] brought together, it was unanimously allowed by the military critics that, without the slightest disrespect to the many other fine regiments upon the ground, the most distinguished for steadiness, physique, and discipline, as well as the numerically strongest, was the 1st Manchester. So striking was the spectacle that the Queen inquired specially for the name of the corps which reflected so much honour upon its county. In the return published in the General Orders of the Army, February 1882, it is stated that the 2d Battalion of the South Lancashire had then attained the proud distinction of being its "best signalling corps." The efforts made in Lancashire to obtain changes for the better in the statute-book had remarkable illustration in the establishment of the Anti-Corn-Law League, the original idea of which was of much earlier date than is commonly supposed, having occupied men's minds, both in Manchester and Liverpool, as far back as the year 1825. The celebrated cry six years later for Reform in the representation was not heard more loudly even in Birmingham than in the metropolis of the cotton trade.
The pioneers of every kind of religious movement have, like the leaders in civil and political reform, always found Lancashire responsive; and, as with practical scientific[Pg 11] inventions, it is to this county that the most interesting part of the early history of non-conforming bodies very generally pertains. George Fox, the founder of the "Society of Friends," commenced his earnest work in the neighbourhood of Ulverston. "Denominations" of every kind have also in this county maintained themselves vigorously, and there are none which do not here still exist in their strength. The "Established Church," as elsewhere, holds the foremost place, and pursues, as always, the even tenour of its way. During the forty-three years that Manchester has been the centre of a diocese, there have been built within the bishopric (including certain rebuildings on a larger scale) not fewer than 300 new churches. The late tireless Bishop Fraser "confirmed" young people at the rate of 11,000 every year. The strength of the Wesleyans is declared by their contributions to the great Thanksgiving Fund, which amounted, on 15th November 1880, to nearly a quarter of the entire sum then subscribed, viz. to about £65,000 out of the £293,000. They possess a college at Didsbury; not far from which, at Withington, the Congregationalists likewise have one of their own. The long standing and the power of the Presbyterians is illustrated in their owning the oldest place of worship in[Pg 12] Manchester next to the "Cathedral,"—the "chapel" in Cross Street,—a building which dates from the early part of the sixteenth century. The sympathy of Lancashire with the Church of Rome has been noted from time immemorial;—perhaps it would be more accurately said that there has been a stauncher allegiance here than in many other places to hereditary creed. The Catholic diocese of Salford (in which Manchester and several of the neighbouring towns are included) claimed in 1879 a seventh of the entire population. Stonyhurst, near Clitheroe, is the seat of the chief provincial Jesuit college. Lastly, it is an interesting concurrent fact, that of the seventy Societies or congregations in England which profess the faith called the "New Jerusalem," Lancashire contains no fewer than twenty-four.
The historical associations offered in many parts of Lancashire are by no means inferior to those of other counties. One of the most interesting of the old Roman roads crosses Blackstone Edge. Names of places near the south-west coast tell of the Scandinavian Vikings. In 1323 Robert Bruce and his army of Scots ravaged the northern districts and nearly destroyed Preston. The neighbourhood of that town witnessed the Stuart enter[Pg 13]prise of 1715, and of Prince Charles Edward's march through the county in 1745 many memorials still exist.
The ruins of two of the most renowned of the old English abbeys are also here—Whalley, with its long record of benevolence, and Furness, scarcely surpassed in manifold interest even by Fountains. One of the very few remaining examples of an ancient castle belongs to the famous old town from which John o' Gaunt received his title. Parish churches of remote foundation, with sculptures and lettered monuments, supply the antiquary with pleasing variety. Old halls are numerous; and connected with these, with the abbeys, and other relics of the past, we find innumerable entertaining legends and traditions, often rendered so much the more attractive through preserving, in part, the county speech of the olden time, to be dealt with by and by.
In the sports, manners, and customs which still linger where not superseded by modern ones, there is yet further curious material for observation, and the same may be said of the recreations of the staid and reflecting among the operative classes. It is in Lancashire that [Pg 14]"science in humble life" has always had its most numerous and remarkable illustrations. Natural history, in particular, forms one of the established pastimes in the cotton districts and among the men who are connected with the daylight work of the collieries. Many of the working-men botanists are banded into societies or clubs, which often possess libraries, and were founded before any living can remember. Music, especially choral and part-singing, has been cultivated in Lancashire with a devotion equalled only perhaps in Yorkshire, and certainly nowhere excelled. Both the air and the words of the most popular Christmas hymn in use among Protestants, "Christians, awake!" were composed within the sound, or nearly so, of the Manchester old church bells. The verses were written by Dr. Byrom, of stenographic fame; the music, which compares well with the "Adeste Fideles" itself,—the song of Christmas with other communions,—was the production of John Wainwright. On a lower level we find the far-famed Lancashire Hand-bell Ringers. The facilities provided in Lancashire for self-culture have already been spoken of. That private education and school discipline are effective may be assumed, perhaps, from the circumstance that in October 1880 [Pg 15]the girl who at the Oxford Local Examinations stood highest in all England belonged to Liverpool.
Not without significance either is it that the coveted distinction of "Senior Wrangler" was won by a Lancashire man on five occasions within the twenty years ending February 1881. Three of the victors went up from Liverpool, one from Manchester, and one from the Wigan grammar-school. Lancashire may well be proud of such a list as this; feeling added pleasure in knowing that the gold medal, with prize of ten guineas, offered by the Council of Trinity College, London, for the best essay on "Middle-class Education, its Influence on Commercial Pursuits," was won in 1880 by a Lancashire lady—Miss Agnes Amy Bulley, of the Manchester College for Women.
The list of artists, chiefly painters, identified with the county appears from Mr. Nodal's researches to be not far short of a hundred, the earliest having been Hamlet Winstanley, of Warrington, where he died in 1756. Many of his productions, family portraits and views in the neighbourhood, are contained in the Knowsley collection. Two of these Lancashire artists—Joseph Farrington, R.A., and William Green—were among the first to disclose the beauties of the Lake District, by means of[Pg 16] lithography or engraved views prepared from their drawings. Farrington's twenty views appeared in 1789. Green's series of sixty was issued from Ambleside in 1814. A very curious circumstance connected with art in its way, is that Focardi's well-known droll statuette, "The Dirty Boy," was produced in Lancashire! Focardi happened to be in Preston looking for employment. Waiting one morning for breakfast, and going downstairs to ascertain the cause of the delay, through a half-open door he descried the identical old woman and the identical dirty boy! Here at last was a subject for his chisel. He got £500 for the marble, and the purchasers acknowledge that it was the most profitable investment they ever made.
The scenery presented in many portions of the county vies with the choicest to be found anywhere south of the Tweed. The artist turns with reluctance from the banks of the Lune and the Duddon. The largest and loveliest of the English lakes, supreme Windermere, belongs essentially to Lancashire: peaceful Coniston and lucid Esthwaite are entirely within the borders, and close by rise some of the loftiest of the English mountains. The top of "Coniston Old Man"—alt maen, or "the high rock"—is 2577 feet[Pg 17] above the sea. The part which contains the lakes and mountains is detached, and properly belongs to the Lake District, emphatically so called, being reached from the south only by passing over the lowermost portion of Westmoreland, though accessible by a perilous way, when the tide is out, across the Morecambe sands. Still it is Lancashire, a circumstance often surprising to those who, very naturally, associate the idea of the "Lakes" with the homes of Southey and Wordsworth, with Ambleside, and Helvellyn, and Lodore.
The geological character of this outlying piece being altogether different from that of the county in general, Lancashire presents a variety of surface entirely its own. At one extremity we have the cold, soft clay so useful to brickmakers; on reaching the Lakes we find the slate rocks of the very earliest ages. Much of the eastern edge of the county is skirted by the broad bare hills which constitute the central vertebræ of the "backbone of England," the imposing "Pennine range," which extends from Derbyshire to the Cheviots, and conceals the three longest of the English railway tunnels, one of which both begins and ends in Lancashire. The rock composing them is millstone-grit, with its customary gray and weather-beaten crags and ferny ravines. Plenty of tell-tale[Pg 18] gullies declare the vehemence of the winter storms that beat above, and in many of these the rush of water never ceases. Those who seek solitude, the romantic, and the picturesque, know these hills well; in parts, where there is moorland, the sportsman resorts to them for grouse.
In various places the rise of the ground is very considerable, far greater than would be anticipated when first sallying forth from Manchester, though on clear days, looking northwards, when a view can be obtained, there is pleasant intimation of distant hills. Rivington Pike, not far from Bolton, is 1545 feet above the sea-level. Pendle, near Clitheroe, where the rock changes to limestone, is 1803. The millstone-grit reappears intermittently as far as Lancaster, but afterwards limestone becomes predominant, continuing nearly to the slate rocks. It is to the limestone that Grange, one of the prettiest places in this part of the country, owes much of its scenic charm as well as salubrity. Not only does it give the bold and ivied tors which usually indicate calcareous rock. Suiting many kinds of ornamental trees, especially those which retain their foliage throughout the year, we owe to it in no slight measure the innumerable shining evergreens which at Grange, even[Pg 19] in mid-winter, constantly tempt one to exclaim with Virgil, when caressing his beloved Italy, "Hic ver assiduum!"
The southernmost part of the county has for its surface-rock chiefly the upper new red sandstone, a formation not favourable to fine hill-scenery, though the long ridges for which it is distinguished, at all events in Lancashire and Cheshire, often give a decided character to the landscape. The highest point in the extreme south-west, or near Liverpool, occupied by Everton church, has an elevation of no more than 250 feet, or less than a tenth of that of "Coniston Old Man." Ashurst, between Wigan and Ormskirk, and Billinge, between Wigan and St. Helens, make amends, the beacon upon the latter being 633 feet above the sea. The prospects from the two last named are very fine. They are interesting to the topographer as having been first resorted to as fit spots for beacons and signal-fires when the Spanish Armada was expected, watchers upon the airy heights of Rivington, Pendle, and Brown Wardle, standing ready to transmit the news farther inland. It is interesting to recall to mind that the news of the sailing of the Armada in the memorable July of 1588 was brought to England by one of the old Liverpool mariners, the captain of a little[Pg 20] vessel that traded with the Mediterranean and the coast of Africa.
Very different is the western margin of this changeful county, the whole extent from the Mersey to Duddon Bridge being washed by the Irish Sea. But, although maritime, it has none of the prime factors of seaside scenery,—broken rocks and cliffs,—not, at least, until after passing Morecambe Bay. From Liverpool onwards there is only level sand, and, to the casual visitor, apparently never anything besides; for the tide, which is swift to go out, recedes very far, and seldom seems anxious to come in. Blackpool is exceptional. Here the roll of the water is often glorious, and the dimples in calm weather are such as would have satisfied old Æschylus. On the whole, however, the coast must be pronounced monotonous, and the country that borders on it uninteresting. But whatever may be wanting in the way of rocks and cliffs, the need is fully compensated by the exceeding beauty in parts of the sandhills, especially near Birkdale and St. Anne's, where for miles they have the semblance of a miniature mountain range. Intervening there are broad, green, peaty plateaux, which, becoming saturated after rain, allow of the growth of countless wild-flowers. Orchises of several sorts, the pearly grass of[Pg 21] Parnassus, the pyrola that imitates the lily of the valley—all come to these wild sandhills to rejoice in the breath of the ocean, which, like that of the heavens, here "smells wooingly." Looking seawards, though it is seldom that we have tossing surge, there is further compensation very generally in the beauty of sunset—the old-fashioned but inestimable privilege of the western coast of our island—part of the "daily bread" of those who thank God consistently for His infinite bounty to man's soul as well as body, and which no people in the world command more perfectly than the inhabitants of the coast of Lancashire. Seated on those quiet sandhills, on a calm September evening, one may often contemplate on the trembling water a path of crimson light more beautiful than one of velvet laid down for the feet of a queen.
At the northern extremity of the county, as near Ulverstone, there are rocky and turf-clad promontories; but even at Humphrey Head, owing to the flatness of the adjacent sands, there is seldom any considerable amount of surf.
The most remarkable feature of the sea-margin of Lancashire consists in the number of its estuaries. The largest of these form the outlets of the Ribble and the Wyre, at the mouth of the last of which is the comparatively[Pg 22] new port of Fleetwood. The estuary of the Mersey (the southern shore of which belongs to Cheshire) is peculiarly interesting, on account of the seemingly recent origin of most of the lower portion. Ptolemy, the Roman geographer, writing about a.d. 130, though he speaks of the Dee and the Ribble, makes no mention of the Mersey, which, had the river existed in its present form and width, he could hardly have overlooked. No mention is made of it either in the Antonine Itinerary; and as stumps of old oaks of considerable magnitude, which had evidently grown in situ, were not very long ago distinguishable on the northern margin when the tide was out, near where the Liverpool people used to bathe, the conclusion is quite legitimate that the level of the bed of the estuary must in the Celtic times, at the part where the ferry steamers go, have been much higher, and the stream proportionately narrow, perhaps a mere brook, with salt-marshes right and left. "Liverpool" was originally the name, simply and purely, of the estuary, indicating, in its derivation, not a town, or a village, but simply water. How far [Pg 23]upwards the brook, with its swamp or morass, extended, it is not possible to tell, though probably there was always a sheet of water near the present Runcorn. Depression of the shore, with plenty of old tree-stumps, certifying an extinct forest, is plainly observable a few miles distant on the Cheshire coast, just below New Brighton.
In several parts of Lancashire, especially in the extreme south-east, the surface is occupied by wet and dreary wastes, composed of peat, and locally called "mosses." That they have been formed since the commencement of the Christian era there can be little doubt, abundance of remains of the branches of trees being found near the clay floor upon which the peat has gradually arisen. The most noted of these desolate flats is that one called Chat, or St. Chad's Moss, the scene of the special difficulty in the construction of the original Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Nothing can exceed the dismalness of the mosses during nine or ten months of the year. Absolutely level, stretching for several miles, treeless, and with a covering only of brown and wiry scrub, Nature seems expiring in them. June kindly brings a change. Everything has its festival some time. For a short period they are strewed with the summer snow of the cotton-sedge,—the[Pg 24] "cana" of Ossian, "Her bosom was whiter than the down of cana"; and again, in September, they are amethyst-tinted for two or three weeks with the bloom of the heather. During the last quarter of a century the extent of these mosses has been much reduced, by draining and cultivation at the margins, and in course of time they will probably disappear.
Forests were once a feature of a good part of Lancashire. Long subsequently to the time of the Conquest, much of the county was still covered with trees. The celebrated "Carta de Foresta," or "Forest Charter," under which the clearing of the ground of England for farming purposes first became general and continuous, was granted only in the reign of Henry III., a.d. 1224, or contemporaneously with the uprise of Salisbury Cathedral, a date thus rendered easy of remembrance.
Here and there the trees were allowed to remain; and among these reserved portions of the original Lancashire "wild wood" it is interesting to find West Derby, the "western home of wild animals," thus named because so valuable as a hunting-ground. No forest, in the current sense of the word, has survived in [Pg 25]Lancashire to the present day. Even single trees of patriarchal age are almost unknown. Agriculture, when commenced, proceeded vigorously, chiefly, however, in regard to meadow and pasture; cornfields have never been either numerous or extensive, except in the district beyond Preston called the Fylde—an immense breadth of alluvial drift, grateful in almost all parts for good farming.
The situation of this great city is in some respects one of the most enviable in the country. Stretching along the upper bank of an unrivalled estuary, 1200 yards across where narrowest, and the river current of which flows westwards, it is near enough to the sea to be called a maritime town, yet sufficiently far inland never to suffer any of the discomforts of the open coast. Upon the opposite side of the water the ground rises gently. Birkenhead, the energetic new Liverpool of the last fifty years, covers the nearer slopes; in the distance there are towers and spires, with glimpses of trees, and even of windmills that tell of wheat not far away.
Liverpool itself is pleasantly undulated. Walking through the busy
streets there is constant sense of rise and fall. An ascent that can
be called toilsome is never met with; [Pg 27]
[Pg 29]nor, except concurrently with the docks, and in some of the remoter parts of the town, is there any long continuity of flatness.
Compared with the other two principal English seaports, London and Bristol, the superiority of position is incontestable. A town situated upon the edge of an estuary must needs have quite exceptional advantages. London is indebted for its wealth and grandeur more to its having been the metropolis for a thousand years than to the service directly rendered by the Thames; and as for Bristol, the wonder is that with a stream like the Avon it should still count with the trio, and retain its ancient title of Queen of the West. Away from the water-side, Liverpool loses. There are no green downs and "shadowy woods" reached in half-an-hour from the inmost of the city, such as give character to Clifton; nor, upon the whole, can the scenery of the neighbourhood be said to present any but the very mildest and simplest features. Only in the district which includes Mossley, Allerton, Toxteth, and Otterspool, is there any approach to the picturesque. Hereabouts we find meadows and rural lanes; and a few miles up the stream, the Cheshire hills begin to show plainly. Yet not far from the Prince's Park there is a little ravine that aforetime, when[Pg 30] farther away from the borough boundaries, and when the name was given, would seem to have been another Kelvin Grove,—
Fairyland, tram-cars, and the hard facts of a great city, present few points of contact—Liverpool contrives to unite them in "Exchange to Dingle, 3d. inside." Among the dainty little poems left us by Roscoe, who was quick to recognise natural beauty, there is one upon the disappearance of the brooklet which, descending from springs now dried up, once babbled down this pretty dell with its tribute to the river.
To the stranger approaching Liverpool by railway, these inviting bits
of the adjacent country are, unfortunately, not visible. But let him
not murmur. When, after passing through the town, he steps upon the
Landing-stage and looks out upon the heaving water, with its countless
craft, endless in variety, and representing every nation that
possesses ships, he is compensated. The whole world does not present
anything in its way more abounding with life. A third of a mile in
length, broad enough for [Pg 31]
[Pg 33]the parade of troops, imperceptibly adjusting itself to every condition of the tide, the Liverpool Landing-stage, regarded simply as a work of constructive art, is a wonderful sight. It is the scene of the daily movement of many thousands of human beings, some departing, others just arrived; and, above all there is the many-hued outlook right and left.
Thoroughly to appreciate the nobleness, the capacities, and the use made of this magnificent river, a couple of little voyages should be undertaken: one towards the entrance, where the tall white shaft of the lighthouse comes in view; the other, ascending the stream as far as Rock Ferry. By this means the extent of the docks and the magnitude of the neighbouring warehouses may in some degree be estimated. Up the river and down, from the middle portion of the Landing-stage, without reckoning Birkenhead, the line of sea-wall measures more than six miles. The water area of the docks approaches 270 acres; the length of surrounding quay-margin is nearly twenty miles. The double voyage gives opportunity also for observation of the many majestic vessels which are either moving or at anchor in mid-channel. Merchantmen predominate, but in addition there are almost invariably two or three of the superb steamers[Pg 34] which have their proper home upon the Atlantic, and in a few hours will be away. The great Companies whose names are so familiar—the Cunard, the Allan, the White Star, the Inman, and five or six others—despatch between them no fewer than ten of these splendid vessels every week, and fortnightly two extra, the same number arriving at similar intervals. Columbus's largest ship was about ninety tons; the steamers spoken of are mostly from 2000 to 5000 tons; a few are of 8000 or 9000 tons. Besides these, there are the South Americans, the steamers to the East and West Indies, China, Japan, and the West Coast of Africa, the weight varying from 1500 to 4000 tons, more than fifty of these mighty vessels going out every month, and as many coming in. The total number of ships and steamers actually in the docks, Birkenhead included, on the 6th of December 1880 was 438.
A fairly fine day, a sunshiny one if possible, should be selected for these little voyages, not merely because of its pleasantness, but in order to observe the astonishing distance to which the river-life extends. Like every other town in our island, Liverpool knows full well what is meant by fog and rain. "Some days must be dark and dreary." At times it is scarcely[Pg 35] possible for the ferry-boats to find their way across, and not a sound is to be heard except to convey warning or alarm. But the gloomy hours, fortunately, do not come often. The local meteorologists acknowledge an excellent average of cheerful weather,—the prevailing kind along the whole extent of the lower Lancashire coast, the hills being too distant to arrest the passage of the clouds,—and the man who misses his boat two or three times running must indeed be unlucky. Happily,[Pg 36] these uncertainties and vexations of the bygones, actual and possible, have now been neutralised, say since 20th January 1886, by the construction of the Cheshire Lines tunnel under the river.
Nothing, on a fine day, can be more exhilarating than three or four hours upon the Mersey. Liverpool, go where we may, is, in the better parts, a place emphatically of exhilarations. The activity of the river-life is prefigured in the jauntiness of the movement in the streets; the display in the shop-windows, at all events where one has to make way for the current of well-dressed ladies which at noon adds in no slight measure to the various gaiety of the scene, is a constant stimulus to the fancy—felt so much the more if one's railway ticket for the day has been purchased in homely Stockport, or dull Bury, or unadorned Middleton, or even in thronged Manchester. Still it is upon the water that the impression is most animating. High up the river, generally near the Rock Ferry pier, a guardship is stationed—usually an ironclad. Beyond this we come upon four old men-of-war used as training-ships. The Conway, a naval school for young officers, accommodates 150, including many of good birth, who pay £50 a-year apiece. The Indefatigable gives gratuitous teaching to the[Pg 37] sons of sailors, orphans, and other homeless boys. The Akbar and the Clarence are Reformatory schools, the first for misbehaving Protestant lads, the other for Catholics. The good work done by these Reformatories is immense. During the three years 1876 to 1878, the number passed out of the two vessels was 1890, and of these no fewer than 1420 had been converted into capital young seamen.
Who will write us a book upon the immeasurable minor privileges of life, the things we are apt to pass by and take no note of, because "common"? Sailing upon this glorious river, how beautiful overhead the gleam, against the azure, of the sea-gulls! Liverpool is just near enough to the saltwater for them to come as daily visitants, just far enough for them to be never so many as to spoil the sweet charm of the unexpected: for the moment they make one forget even the ships. Man's most precious and enduring possessions are the loveliness and the significance of nature. Were all things valued as they deserve, perhaps these cheery sea-birds would have their due.
The Liverpool docks are more remarkable than those even of London. Some of the [Pg 38]famed receptacles fed from the Thames are more capacious, and the number of vessels they contain when full is proportionately greater than is possible in the largest of the Liverpool. But in London there are not so many, nor is there so great a variety of cargo seen upon the quays, nor is the quantity of certain imports so vast. In the single month of October 1880 Liverpool imported from North America of apples alone no fewer than 167,400 barrels. Most of the docks are devoted to particular classes of ships or steamers, or to special branches of trade. The King's Dock is the chief scene of the reception of tobacco, the quantity of which brought into Liverpool is second only to the London import; while the Brunswick is chiefly devoted to the ships bringing timber. The magnificent Langton and Alexandra Docks, opened in September 1881, are reserved for the ocean steamers, which previously had to lie at anchor in the channel, considerably to the disadvantage of all concerned, but which now enjoy all the privileges of the smallest craft. At intervals along the quays there are huge cranes for lifting; and very interesting is it to note the care taken that their strength, though herculean, shall not be overtaxed, every crane being marked according to its power,[Pg 39] "Not to lift more than two tons," or whatever other weight it is adapted to. Like old Bristol, Liverpool holds her docks in her arms. In London, as an entertaining German traveller told his countrymen some fifty years ago, a merchant, when he wants to despatch an order to his ship in the docks, "must often send his clerk down by the railroad; in Liverpool he may almost make himself heard in the docks out of his counting-house." This comes mainly of the town and the docks having grown up together.
The "dockmen" are well worth notice. None of the loading and unloading of the ships is done by the sailors. As soon as the vessel is safely "berthed," the consignees contract with an intermediate operator called a stevedore, who engages as many men as he requires, paying them 4s. 6d. per day, and for half-days and quarter-days in proportion. Nowhere do we see a better illustration than is supplied in Liverpool of the primitive Judean market-places, "Why stand ye here all the day idle?" "Because no man hath hired us." Work enough for all there never is: a circumstance not surprising when we consider that [Pg 40]the total number of day-labourers in Liverpool is estimated at 30,000. The non-employed, who are believed to be always about one-half, or 15,000, congregate near the water; a favourite place of assembly appears to be the pavement adjoining the Baths. The dockmen correspond to the male adults among the operatives in the cotton-mill districts, with the great distinction that they are employed and paid by time, and that they are not helped by the girls and women of their families, who in the factories are quite as useful and important as the rougher sex. They correspond also to the "pitmen" of collieries, and to journeymen labourers in general. Most of them are Irish—as many, it is said, as nine-tenths of the 30,000—and as usual with that race of people, they have their homes near together. These are chiefly in the district including Scotland Road, where a very different scene awaits the tourist. Faction-fights are the established recreation; the men engage in the streets, the women hurl missiles from the roofs of the houses. Liverpool has a profoundly mournful as well as a brilliant side: Canon Kingsley once said that the handsomest set of men he had ever beheld at one view was the group assembled within the quadrangle of the Liverpool Exchange: the Income-tax assessment[Pg 41] of Liverpool amounts to nearly sixteen millions sterling: the people claim to be "Evangelical" beyond compare; and that they have intellectual power none will dispute:—behind the scenes the fact remains that nowhere in our island is there deeper destitution and profounder spiritual darkness. When the famished and ignorant have to be dealt with, it is better to begin with supply of good food than with aëriform benedictions. Lady Hope (née Miss Elizabeth R. Cotton) has shown that among the genuine levers of civilisation there are none more substantial than good warm coffee and cocoa. Liverpool, fully understanding this, is giving to the philanthropic all over England a lesson which, if discreetly taken up, cannot fail to tell immensely on the morals, as well as the physical needs, of the poor and destitute. All along the line of the docks there are "cocoa-shops," some of them upon wheels, metallic tickets, called "cocoa-pennies," giving access.
Liverpool is a town of comparatively modern date, being far younger
than Warrington, Preston, Lancaster, and many another which
commercially it has superseded. The name does not occur in Domesday
Book, com[Pg 42]piled a.d. 1086, nor till the time of King John does even
the river seem to have been much used. English commerce during the era
of the Crusades did not extend beyond continental Europe, the
communications with which were confined to London, Bristol, and a few
inconsiderable places on the southern coasts. Passengers to Ireland
went chiefly by way of the Dee, and upon the Mersey there were only a
few fishing-boats. At the commencement of the thirteenth century came
a change. The advantages of the Mersey as a harbour were perceived,
and the fishing village upon the northern shore asked for a charter,
which in 1207 was granted. Liverpool, as a borough, is thus now in its
685th year. That this great and opulent city should virtually have
begun life just at the period indicated is a circumstance of no mean
interest, since the reign of John, up till the time of the barons'
gathering at Runnymede, was utterly bare of historical incident, and
the condition of the country in general was poor and depressed.
Cœur de Lion, the popular idol, though scarcely ever seen at home,
was dead. John, the basest monarch who ever sat upon the throne of
England, had himself extinguished every spark of loyal sentiment by
his cruel murder of Prince Arthur. Art was nearly [Pg 43]
[Pg 45]passive, and literature, except in the person of Layamon, had no existence. Such was the age, overcast and silent, in which the foundations of Liverpool were laid: contemplating the times, and all that has come of the event, one cannot but think of acorn-planting in winter, and recall the image in Faust,—
The growth of the new borough was for a long period very slow. In 1272, the year of the accession of Edward I., Liverpool consisted of only 168 houses, occupied (computing on the usual basis) by about 840 people; and even a century later, when Edward III. appealed to the nation to support him in his attack upon France, though Bristol supplied twenty-four vessels and 800 men, Liverpool could furnish no more than one solitary barque with a crew of six. It was shortly after this date that the original church of "Our Lady and St. Nicholas" was erected. Were the building, as it existed for upwards of 400 years, still intact, or nearly so, Liverpool would possess no memorial of the past more attractive. But in the first place, in 1774, the body was taken down and rebuilt. Then, in 1815, the same was done with the tower, the architect[Pg 46] wisely superseding the primitive spire with the beautiful lantern by which St. Nicholas's is now recognised even from the opposite side of the water. Of the original ecclesiastical establishment all that remains is the graveyard, once embellished with trees, and in particular with a "great Thorne," in summer white and fragrant, which the tasteless and ruthless old rector of the time was formally and most justly impeached for destroying "without leave or license." Wilful and needless slaying of ornamental trees, such as no money can buy or replace, and which have taken perhaps a century or more to grow, is always an act of ingratitude, if not of the nature of a crime, and never less excusable than when committed on consecrated ground. The dedication to St. Nicholas shows that the old Liverpool townsfolk were superstitious, if not pious. It is St. Nicholas who on the strength of the legend is found in Dibdin as "the sweet little cherub"—
Up to 1699 the building in question was only the "chappell of Leverpoole," the parish in which the town lay being Walton.
In 1533, or shortly afterwards, temp. Henry VIII., John Leland visited Liverpool, which[Pg 47] he describes as being "a pavid Towne," with a castle, and a "Stone Howse," the residence of the "Erle of Derbe." He adds, that there was a small custom-house, at which the dues were paid upon linen-yarn brought from Dublin and Belfast for transmission to Manchester. A fortunate circumstance it has always been for Ireland that she possesses so near and ready a customer for her various produce as wealthy Liverpool. Fifty years later, Camden describes the town as "neat and populous"—the former epithet needing translation; and by the time of Cromwell the amount of shipping had nearly doubled: the Mersey, it hardly needs saying, is the natural westward channel for the commerce of the whole of the active district which has Manchester for its centre, and the value of this was now fast becoming apparent. By the end of the sixteenth century south-east Lancashire was becoming distinguished for its productive power. A large and constantly increasing supply of manufactures adapted for export implied imports. The interests of Manchester and Liverpool soon declared themselves alike. Of no two places in the world can it be said with more truth, that they have "lived and loved together, through many changing years"; though it [Pg 48]may be a question whether they have always "wept each other's tears." In addition to the impulse given to shippers by extended manufacturing, the captains who sailed upon the Irish Sea found in the Mersey their securest haven, the more so since the Dee was now silting up—a misfortune for once so favoured Chester which at last threw it commercially quite into the shade. The Lune was also destined to lose in favour: an event not without a certain kind of pathos, since cotton was imported into Lancaster long before it was brought to Liverpool. Conditions of all kinds being so happy, prosperity was assured. Liverpool had now only to be thankful, industrious, honest, and prudent.
Singular to say, in the year 1635 Liverpool was not thought worthy of a place in the map of England. In Selden's Mare Clausum, seu de Dominio Maris there is a map in which Preston, Wigan, Manchester, and Chester, are all set down, but, although the Mersey lies in readiness, there is no Liverpool!
The period of the Restoration was particularly eventful. The Great Plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666 led to a large migration of Londoners into Lancashire, and especially to Liverpool, trade with the North American "Plantations," and with the sugar-producing[Pg 49] islands of the Caribbean Sea, being now rapidly progressive. Contemporaneously there was a flocking thither of younger sons of country squires, who, anticipating the Duke of Argyll of to-day, saw that commerce is the best of tutors. From these descended some of the most eminent of the old Liverpool families. The increasing demand for sugar in England led, unfortunately, to sad self-contamination. Following the example of Bristol, Liverpool gave itself to the slave-trade, and for ninety-seven years, 1709 to 1806, the whole tone and tendency of the local sentiment were debased by it. The Roscoes, the Rathbones, and others among the high-minded, did their best to arouse their brother merchants to the iniquity of the traffic, and to counteract the moral damage to the community; but mischief of such a character sinks deep, and the lapse of generations is required to efface it entirely. Mr. W. W. Briggs considers that the shadow is still perceptible. Politely called the "West India trade," no doubt legitimate commerce was bound up with the shocking misdeed, but the kernel was the same. It began with barter of the manufactures of Manchester, Sheffield, and Birmingham, for the negroes demanded, first, by the sugar-planters, and afterwards, in Vir[Pg 50]ginia, for the tobacco-farms. Infamous fraud could not but follow; and a certain callousness, attributable in part to ignorance of the methods employed, was engendered even in those who had no interest in the results. When George III. was but newly crowned, slaves of both sexes were at times openly sold by advertisement in Liverpool! Money was made fast by the trade in human beings, and many men accumulated great fortunes, memorials of which it would not be hard to find. All this, we may be thankful, is now done with for ever. To recall the story is painful but unavoidable, since no sketch of the history of Liverpool can be complete without reference to it. There is no need, however, to dwell further upon it. Escape always from the thought of crime as soon as possible. Every one, at all events, must acknowledge that, notwithstanding the outcry by the interested that the total ruin of Liverpool, with downfall of Church and State, would ensue upon abolition, the town has done better without the slave-trade.
The period of most astonishing expansion has been that which, as in
Manchester, may be termed the strictly modern one. The best of the
public buildings have been erected within the memory of living men.
Most of the docks [Pg 51]
[Pg 53]have been constructed since 1812. The first steamboat upon the Mersey turned its paddles in 1815. The first steam voyage to New York commemorates 1838. In Liverpool, it should not be forgotten, originated directly afterwards the great scheme which gave rise to the "Peninsular and Oriental," upon which followed in turn the Suez Railway, and then the Suez Canal. The current era has also witnessed an immense influx into Liverpool of well-informed American, Canadian, and continental merchants, Germans particularly. These have brought (and every year sees new arrivals) the habits of thought, the special views, and the fruits of the widely diverse social and political training peculiar to the respective nationalities.
A very considerable number of the native English Liverpool merchants have resided, sometimes for a lengthened period, in foreign countries. Maintaining correspondence with those countries, having connections one with another all over the world, they are kept alive to everything that has relation to commerce. They can tell us about the harvests in all parts of the world, the value of gold and silver, and the operation of legal enactments. Residence abroad supplies new and more liberal ideas, and enables men to judge more accurately.[Pg 54] The result is that, although Liverpool, like other places, contains its full quota of the incurably ignorant and prejudiced, the spirit and the method of the mercantile community are in the aggregate thoughtful, inviting, and enjoyable. The occupations of the better class of merchants, and their constant consociation with one another, require and develop not only business powers, but the courtesies which distinguish gentlemen. A stamp is given quite different from that which comes of life spent habitually among "hands"; the impression upon the mind of the visitor is that, whatever may be the case elsewhere, in Liverpool ability and good manners are in partnership. And this not only in commercial transactions: the characteristics observable in office hours reappear in the privacy of home.
The description of business transacted in Liverpool is almost peculiar to the place. After the shipbuilders and the manufacturers of shipping adjuncts, chain-cables, etc., there are few men in the superior mercantile class who produce anything. Liverpool is a city of agents. Its function is not to make, but to transfer. Nearly every bale or box of mer[Pg 55]chandise that enters the town is purely en route. Hence it comes that Liverpool gathers up coin even when times are "bad." Whether the owner of the merchandise eventually loses or gains, Liverpool has to be paid the expenses of the passing through. Much of the raw material that comes from abroad changes hands several times before the final despatch, though not by any means through the ordinary old-fashioned processes of mere buying and selling. In the daily reports of the cotton-market a certain quantity is always distinguished as bought "upon speculation." The adventurous do not wait for the actual arrival of the particular article they devote their attention to. Like the Covent Garden wholesale fruitmen, who risk purchase of the produce of the Kentish cherry-orchards while the trees are only in bloom, the Liverpool cotton brokers deal in what they call "futures."
Another curious feature is the problematical character of every man's
day. The owner of a cotton-mill or an iron-foundry proceeds, like a
train upon the rails, according to a definite and preconcerted plan. A
Liverpool foreign merchant, when leaving home in the morning, is
seldom able to forecast what will happen before night. Telegrams from
distant countries are prone to bring news that changes the whole[Pg 56]
complexion of affairs. The limitless foreign connections tend also to
render his sympathies cosmopolitan rather than such as pertain to
old-fashioned citizens pure and simple. Once a day at least his
thoughts and desires are in some far-away part of the globe. Broadly
speaking, the merchants, like their ships in the river, are only at
anchor in Liverpool. The owner of a "works" must remain with his
bricks and mortar; the Liverpool merchant, if he pleases, can weigh
and depart. Though the day is marked by conjecture, it is natural to
hope for good. Hence much of the sprightliness of the Liverpool
character—the perennial uncertainty underlying the equally
well-marked disposition to "eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we
die," or, at all events, may die. This in turn seems to account for
the high percentage of shops of the glittering class and that deal in
luxuries. Making their money in the way they do, the Liverpool people
care less to hoard it than to indulge in the spending. How open-handed
they can be when called upon is declared by the sums raised for the
Bishopric and the University College. In proportion, they have more
money than other people, the inhabitants of London alone excepted. The
income-tax assessment has already been mentioned as nearly sixteen
[Pg 59]millions. The actual sum for the year ending 5th April 1876 was £15,943,000, against Manchester, £13,907,000, Birmingham, £6,473,884, London, £50,808,000. The superiority in comparison with Manchester may come partly, perhaps, of certain firms in the last-named place returning from the country towns or villages where their "works" are situated. Liverpool is self-contained, Manchester is diffused.
Liverpool may well be proud of her public buildings. Opinions differ
in regard to the large block which includes the Custom-house, commonly
called "Revenue Buildings"; but none dispute the claim of the
sumptuous edifice known as St. George's Hall to represent the
architecture of ancient Greece in the most successful degree yet
attained in England. The eastern façade is more than 400 feet in
length; at the southern extremity there is an octostyle Corinthian
portico, the tympanum filled with ornament. Strange, considering the
local wealth and the local claim of a character for thoroughness and
taste, that this magnificent structure should be allowed to remain
unfinished, still wanting, as it does, the sculptures which formed an
integral part of Mr. Elmes' carefully considered whole. Closely
adjacent are the Free Library and the new[Pg 60] Art Gallery, and, in Dale
Street, the Public Offices, the Townhall, and the Exchange, which is
arcaded. Among other meritorious buildings, either classical or in the
Italian palazzo style, we find the Philharmonic Hall and the Adelphi
Hotel. The Free Library is one of the best-frequented places in
Liverpool. The number of readers exceeded in 1880, in proportion to
the population, that of every other large town in England where a Free
Library exists. In Leeds, during the year ending at Michaelmas, the
number was 648,589; in Birmingham, 658,000; in Manchester, 958,000; in
Liverpool, 1,163,795. In the Reference Department the excess was
similar, the issues therefrom having been in Liverpool one-half; in
Leeds and Birmingham, two-fifths; in Manchester, one-fifth. The
Liverpool people seem apt to take advantage of their opportunities of
every kind. When the Naturalists' Field Club starts for the country,
the number is three or four times greater in proportion to the whole
number of members than in other places where, with similar objects,
clubs have been founded. Many, of course, join in the trips for the
sake of the social enjoyment; whether as much work is accomplished
when out is undecided. They are warm supporters also of literary and
scientific institutions, [Pg 61]
[Pg 63]the number of which, as well as of societies devoted to music and the fine arts, is in Liverpool exceptionally high. At the last "Associated Soirée," the Presidents of no fewer than fifteen were present. Educational, charitable, and curative institutions exist in equal plenty. It was Liverpool that in 1791 led the way in the foundation of Asylums for the Blind. The finest ecclesiastical establishment belongs to the Catholics, who in Liverpool, as in Lancashire generally, have stood firm to the faith of their fathers ever since 1558, and were never so powerful a body as at present. The new Art Gallery seems to introduce an agreeable prophecy. Liverpool has for more than 140 years striven unsuccessfully to give effect to the honourable project of 1769, when it sought to tread in the steps of the Royal Academy, founded a few months previously. There are now fair indications of rejuvenescence, and, if we mistake not, there is a quickening appreciation of the intrinsically pure and worthy, coupled with indifference to the qualities which catch and content the vulgar—mere bigness and showiness. Slender as the appreciation may be, still how much more precious than the bestowal of patronage, in ostentation of pocket, beginning there and ending there, which all true and noble art disdains.
Liverpool must not be quitted without a parting word upon a feature certainly by no means peculiar to the town, but which to the observant is profoundly interesting and suggestive. This consists in the through movement of the emigrants, and the arrangements made for their departure. Our views and vignettes give some idea of what may be seen upon the river and on board the ships. But it is impossible to render in full the interesting spectacle presented by the strangers who come in the first instance from northern Europe. These arrive, by way of Hull, chiefly from Sweden and Denmark, and, to a small extent, from Russia and Germany—German emigrants to America usually going from their own ports, and by way of the English Channel. Truly astonishing are the piles of luggage on view at the railway stations during the few hours or days which elapse before they go on board. While waiting, they saunter about the streets in parties of six or eight, full of wonder and curiosity, but still impressing every one with their honest countenances and inoffensive manners and behaviour. There are very few children among these foreigners, most of whom appear to be in the prime of life, an aged parent now and then accompanying[Pg 65] son or daughter. In 1880 there left Liverpool as emigrants the prodigious number of 183,502. Analysis gave—English, 74,969; Scotch, 1811; Irish, 27,986; foreigners, 74,115.
First in the long list of Lancashire manufacturing towns, by reason of its magnitude and wealth, comes Manchester. By and by we shall speak of this great city in particular. For the present the name must be taken in the broader sense, equally its own, which carries with it the idea of an immense district. Lancashire, eastwards from Warrington, upwards as far as Preston, is dotted over with little Manchesters, and these in turn often possess satellites. The idea of Manchester as a place of cotton factories covers also a portion of Cheshire, and extends even into Derbyshire and Yorkshire—Stockport, Hyde, Stalybridge, Dukinfield, Saddleworth, Glossop, essentially belong to it. To all these towns and villages Manchester stands in the relation of a Royal Exchange. It is the reservoir, at the same[Pg 67] time, into which they pour their various produce. Manchester acquired this distinguished position partly by accident, mainly through its very easy access to Liverpool. At one time it had powerful rivals in Blackburn and Bolton. Blackburn lost its chance through the frantic hostility of the lower orders towards machinery, inconsiderate men of property giving them countenance—excusably only under the law that mental delusions, like bodily ailments, are impartial in choice of victims. Bolton, on the other hand, though sensible, was too near to compete permanently, neither had it similar access to Liverpool. The old salerooms in Bolton, with their galleries and piazzas, now all gone, were ninety years ago a striking and singular feature of that busy hive of spinning and weaving bees.
Most of these little Manchesters are places of comparatively new growth. A century ago nearly all were insignificant villages or hamlets. Even the names of the greater portion were scarcely known beyond the boundaries of their respective parishes. How unimportant they were in earlier times is declared by the vast area of many of the latter, the parishes in Lancashire, as everywhere else, having been marked out according to the ability of the population to maintain a church and pastor.[Pg 68] It is not in manufacturing Lancashire as in the old-fashioned rural counties,—Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, and appled Somerset,—where on every side one is allured by some beautiful memorial of the lang syne. "Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain" is not here. Everything, where Cotton reigns, presents the newness of aspect of an Australian colony. The archæological scraps—such few as there may be—are usually submerged, even in the older towns, in the "full sea" of recent building. Even in the graveyards, the places of all others which in their tombstones and inscriptions unite past and present so tenderly, the imagination has usually to turn away unfed. In place of yew-trees old as York Minster, if there be anything in the way of green monument, it is a soiled and disconsolate shrub from the nearest nursery garden.
The situation of these towns is often pleasing enough: sometimes it is picturesque, and even romantic. Having begun in simple homesteads, pitched where comfort and safety seemed best assured, they are often found upon gentle eminences, the crests of which, as at Oldham, they now overlap; others, like Stalybridge, lie in deep hollows, or, like Blackburn, have gradually spread from the margin of a stream. Not a few of these primitive sites[Pg 69] have the ancient character pleasingly commemorated in their names, as Haslingden, the "place of hazel-nuts." The eastern border of the county being characterised by lofty and rocky hills, the localities of the towns and villages are there often really favoured in regard to scenery. This also gives great interest to the approaches, as when, after leaving Todmorden, we move through the sinuous gorge that, bordered by Cliviger, "mother of rocks," leads on to Burnley. The higher grounds are bleak and sterile, but the warmth and fertility of the valleys make amends. In any case, there is never any lack of the beauty which comes of the impregnation of wild nature with the outcome of human intelligence. Manchester itself occupies part of a broad level, usually clay-floored, and with peat-mosses touching the frontiers. In the bygones nothing was sooner found than standing water: the world probably never contained a town that only thirty to a hundred years ago possessed so many ponds, many of them still in easy recollection, to say nothing of as many more within the compass of an afternoon's walk.
Rising under the influence of a builder so unambitious as the genius
of factories and operatives' cottages, no wonder that a very[Pg 70] few
years ago the Lancashire cotton towns seemed to vie with one another
which should best deserve the character of cold, hard, dreary, and
utterly unprepossessing. The streets, excepting the principal artery
(originally the road through the primitive village, as in the case of
Newton Lane, Manchester), not being susceptible of material change,
mostly remain as they were—narrow, irregular, and close-built.
Happily, of late there has been improvement. Praiseworthy aspirations
in regard to public buildings are not uncommon, and even in the
meanest towns are at times undeniably successful. In the principal
centres—Manchester, Bolton, Rochdale, and another or two—the old
meagreness and unsightliness are daily becoming less marked, and a
good deal that is really magnificent is in progress as well as
completed. Unfortunately, the efforts of the architect fall only too
soon under the relentless influence of the factory and the foundry.
Manchester is in this respect an illustration of the whole group; the
noblest and most elegant buildings sooner or later get smoke-begrimed.
Sombre as the Lancashire towns become under that influence, if there
be collieries in the neighbourhood, as in the case of well-named
"coaly Wigan," the dismal hue is intensified, and in dull and rainy
weather grows [Pg 71]
[Pg 73]still worse. On sunshiny days one is reminded of a sullen countenance constrained to smile against the will.
A "Lancashire scene" has been said to resolve into "bare hills and chimneys"; and as regards the cotton districts the description is, upon the whole, not inaccurate. Chimneys predominate innumerably in the landscape, a dark pennon usually undulating from every summit—perhaps not pretty pictorially, but in any case a gladsome sight, since it means work, wages, food, for those below, and a fire upon the hearth at home. Though the sculptor may look with dismay upon his ornaments in marble once white as a lily, now under its visitation gray as November, never mind—the smoke denotes human happiness and content for thousands: when her chimneys are smokeless, operative Lancashire is hungry and sad.
In the towns most of the chimneys belong to the factories—buildings of remarkable appearance. The very large ones are many storeys high, their broad and lofty fronts presenting tier upon tier of monotonous square windows. Decoration seems to be studiously avoided, though there is often plenty of scope for inexpensive architectural effects that, to say the least, would be welcome. Seen by day, they seem deserted; after dark, when the innumerable[Pg 74] windows are lighted up, the spectacle changes and becomes unique. Were it desired to illuminate in honour of a prince, to render a factory more brilliant from the interior would be scarcely possible. Like all other great masses of masonry, the very large ones, though somewhat suggestive of prisons, if not grand, are impressive. In semi-rural localities, where less tarnished by smoke, especially when tolerably new, and not obscured by the contact of inferior buildings, they are certainly very fine objects. The material, it is scarcely needful to say, is red brick.
All the towns belonging to the Manchester family-circle present more or less decidedly the features mentioned. They differ from one another not in style, or habits, or physiognomy; the difference is simply that one makes calico, another muslins, and that they cover a less or greater extent of ground. The social, moral, and intellectual qualities of the various places form quite another subject of consideration. For the present it must wait; except with the remark that a Lancashire manufacturing town, however humble, is seldom without a lyceum, or some similar institution; and if wealthy, is prone to emulate cities. Witness the beautiful Art Exhibition held not long ago at Darwen!
The industrial history of the important Lancashire cotton towns, although their modern development covers less than ninety years, dates from the beginning of the fourteenth century. As early as a.d. 1311, temp. Edward II., friezes were manufactured at Colne, but, as elsewhere in the country, they would seem to have been coarse and of little value. "The English at that time," says quaint old Fuller, "knew no more what to do with their wool than the sheep that weare it, as to any artificial curious drapery." The great bulk of the native produce of wool was transmitted to Flanders and the Rhenish provinces, where it was woven, England repurchasing the cloth. Edward III., allowing himself to be guided by the far-reaching sagacity of his wise queen, Philippa, resolved that the manufacture should be kept at home. Parties of the Flemish Æs were easily induced to come over, the more so because wretchedly treated in their own country. Manchester, Bolton, Rochdale, and Warrington, were tenanted almost immediately, and a new character was at once given to the textile productions both of the district and the island in general. Furness Abbey was then in its glory; its fertile pastures supplied the wants of these industrious people: they seem, however, not to have cared to push[Pg 78] their establishments so far, keeping in the south and east of the county, over which they gradually spread, carrying, wherever they went, the "merry music of the loom." The same period witnessed the original use of coal—again, it is believed, through the advice of Philippa; the two great sources of Lancashire prosperity being thus in their rise contemporaneous. The numerous little rivers and waterfalls of East Lancashire contributed to the success of the new adventurers. Fulling-mills and dye-works were erected upon the margins: the particular spots are now only conjectural; mementoes of these ancient works are nevertheless preserved in the springing up occasionally, to the present day, on the lower Lancashire river-banks, of plants botanically alien to the neighbourhood. These are specially the fullers' teasel, Dipsacus fullonum, and the dyers' weed, Reseda luteola, both of which were regularly used, the refuse, with seeds, cast into the stream being carried many miles down and deposited where the plants now renew themselves. The retention of their vitality by seeds properly ripened, when buried too deep for the operation of the atmosphere, sunshine, and moisture, all at once, is well known to naturalists, as well as their germination when brought near enough to the surface of the[Pg 79] ground. This ancient woollen manufacture endured for quite 300 years. Cotton then became a competitor, and gradually superseded it; Rochdale and a few other places alone vindicating the old traditions.
The Flemings also introduced the national sabots, from which have descended the wooden clogs heard in operative Lancashire wherever pavement allows of the clatter, only that while the sabots were wholly wooden, with a lining of lambskin, the Lancashire clogs have leathern tops.
In the writings of the period before us, and in others long afterwards, the Flemings' woollens are called "cottonnes," a circumstance which has led to much misapprehension as to the date of the original use in England of cotton ipsissima. In 1551-52, temp. Edward VI., an "Acte" passed for the making of "woollen clothe" prescribes the length and breadth of "all and everie cottonnes called Manchester, Lancashire, and Cheshire cottonnes." Leland, in the following reign, mentions in similar phrase, that "divers villagers in the moores about Bolton do make cottons." Genuine cotton fabrics manufactured abroad were known in England, no doubt, though the raw material had not been seen. Chaucer habits his Knight in "fustian," a word which[Pg 80] points to Spain as the probable source. The truth as regards the "cottonnes" would seem to be that certain woollens were made so as to resemble cotton, and called by the same name, just as to-day certain calicoes have the look of linen given to them, and are sold as "imitation Irish," and as gloves made of the skins of uncertain animals are passed off as "French kid"; unless, indeed, as conjectured by some, the word "cottonnes" was a corruption of "coatings."
The employment of cotton for manufacturing in England is mentioned first in 1641, when it was brought to London from Cyprus and Smyrna. The word "cotton" itself, we need hardly say, is of oriental origin, taking one back to India, the old-world birthplace of the plant. Used there as the clothing material from time immemorial, it is singular that the movement westward should have been so slow. The people who introduced it, practically, to Europe, were the Moors, who in the tenth century cultivated cotton in old Granada, simultaneously with rice, the sugar-cane, and the orange-tree, all brought by themselves from Asia. In those days Moslems and Christians declined to be friendly, and thus, although the looms were never still, the superabundance of the manufacture went exclusively to Africa and[Pg 81] the Levant. The cotton-plant being indigenous also to Mexico and the West Indies, when commerce arose with the latter, Cyprus and Smyrna no longer had the monopoly. Precise dates, however, are wanting till the first years of the eighteenth century, when the United States and the Mersey of to-day had their prototype in Barbadoes and the Lune, already mentioned as having been a cotton port long anterior to Liverpool. Lancaster city itself is not accessible by ships. The cotton was usually landed on the curious lingula which juts into the Irish Sea where the estuary disappears, and hither the country people used to come to wonder at it. The first advertisement of a sale of cotton in Liverpool appeared in November 1758, but thirty years after that Lancaster was still the principal Lancashire seat of import. One of the most distinguished of the "Lancashire worthies," old Mr. John Blackburne, of Orford Mount, near Warrington, an enthusiastic gardener, cultivated the cotton-plant so successfully that he was able to provide his wife with a muslin dress, worn by her on some state occasion in or about 1790, the material derived wholly from the green[Pg 82]house he loved so fondly. Strange that, except occasionally in an engine-room, we scarcely ever see the cotton-plant in the county it has filled with riches—the very place where one would expect to find it cherished. How well would it occupy a few inches of the space so generally devoted to the pomps and vanities of mere colour-worship! Apart from the associations, it is beautiful; the leaves resemble those of the grape-vine; the flowers are like single yellow roses. There never was a flood without its ark. One man a few years ago did his part with becoming zeal—the late Mr. R. H. Alcock, of Bury. Lancashire, it may be allowed here to remind the reader, is the only manufacturing district in England which depends entirely upon foreign countries for the supply of its raw material. One great distinction between England and other countries is that the latter send away the whole, or very much, of their natural produce, usually as gathered together, England importing it and working it up. How terribly the dependence in question was proved at the time of the Federal and Confederate war, all who were cognisant of the great Cotton-famine will remember. Next in order would come sugar and timber, a dearth of either of which would unquestionably be disastrous; but not like want of cotton in[Pg 83] Lancashire—the stranding of a whole community.
The Lancashire cotton towns owe their existence essentially to the magic touch of modern mechanical art. During all the long procession of centuries that had elapsed since the time of the "white-armed" daughter of Alcinous, her maidens, and their spinning-wheels, and of the swarthy Æs of ancient Egypt, the primeval modes of manufacture had been followed almost implicitly. The work of the Flemings themselves was little in advance of that of the Hebrews under Solomon. In comparison with that long period, the time covered by the change induced by machinery was but a moment, and the growth of the weaving communities, compared with that of previous times, like a lightning-flash. The movement commenced about 1760. Up till long after the time of Elizabeth, the staple manufacture of Lancashire, as we have seen, was woollen. Flax, in the sixteenth century, began to be imported largely, both from Ireland and the Continent, and when cotton at last arrived the two materials were combined. Flax was used for the "warp" or longitudinal threads, which in weaving require to be stronger than the "woof," while cotton was employed only for the latter—technically the "weft."
Fabrics composed wholly of cotton do not appear to have been made in
Lancashire before the time of George II., Bolton leading the way with
cotton velvets about 1756. The cotton weft was spun by the people in
their own cottages, chiefly by the women, literally the "spinsters" of
the family, representative eighteen centuries afterwards, of the good
housewife of the Æneid and of the still older one in the Book of
Proverbs, though as the years rolled on so greatly did the demand
increase that every child had work of one kind or another. Thus began
"infant labour," afterwards so much abused. The employment of children
over thirteen in the modern factory is quite a different thing. Placed
under legal restrictions, it is a blessing alike to themselves and to
their parents, since if not there, the children now earning their
bread would be idling, and probably in mischief. Those, it has been
well said, who have to live by labour should early be trained to
labour. Diligent as they were, the spinsters could not produce weft
fast enough for the Æs. Sitting at their looms, which were also
in the cottages, thoughtful men pondered the possibilities of quicker
methods. Presently the dream took shape, and from the successive
inventions of Whyatt, Kay, Highs, and Hargreaves, emerged the
[Pg 87]famous "spinning-jenny," a machine which did as much work in the same time as a dozen pair of hands. Abreast of it came the warping-mill, the carding-engine, and the roving-frame: the latter particularly opportune, since the difficulty had always been to disentangle the fibres of the cotton prior to twisting, and to lay them exactly parallel. Arkwright now came on the scene. He himself never invented anything; but he had marvellous powers of combination, such as enabled him to assimilate all that was good in the ideas of other men, and to give them unity and new vitality. The result was machinery that gave exquisite evenness and attenuation to the "rovings," and a patent having been granted 15th July 1769, Arkwright is properly regarded as the founder of the modern modes of manufacture. Arkwright possessed, in addition, a thoroughly feminine capacity for good management and perseverance, with that most excellent adjunct, the art of obtaining ascendancy over capitalists. Among the immediate results were the disuse of linen warp, the new frames enabling cotton warp to be made strong enough; and the con[Pg 88]centration of all the early processes, spinning included, in special buildings, with employment of horse or water-power. The weaving, however, long remained with the cottagers, and survives to a slight extent even to the present day. The Lancashire cotton manufacture, strictly so called, is thus very little more than a century old. No further back than in 1774, fabrics made wholly of cotton were declared by statute to have been "lately introduced," and a "lawful and laudable manufacture."
The following year, 1775, saw the perfecting of Crompton's celebrated
"mule," which produced, at less expense, a much finer and softer yarn
than Arkwright's machine. It was specially suitable for muslins; and
from this date most assuredly should be reckoned the elevation of the
manufacture to its highest platform. Like the jenny, it was used at
first in private houses, but a nobler application was close at hand—a
new revolution—the superseding of hand, and horse, and water power,
all at one moment, by steam. Had the former remained the only
artificial sources of help—even supposing rivers and brooks not
subject to negation by drought, the cotton manufacture must needs have
been confined within narrow limits, and the greatest conceivable
supply of [Pg 89]
[Pg 91]the raw material would not have altered the case. Steam, which, like Lord Chatham, "tramples upon impossibilities," at once gave absolute freedom; and manufacturing, in the space of thirty years, eclipsed its history during 3000. The "mule" was now transferred to the mill, and the factory system became complete. Power-looms were first employed in Manchester in 1806. Stockport followed, and by degrees they became general, improvements going on up till as late as 1830, when the crowning triumph of cotton machinery was patented as the "self-acting mule." The pride of Lancashire, it must be remembered, consists, after all, not in the delicacy and the beauty of its cottons, for in these respects India has not yet been out-run; but in the rapidity, the cheapness, and the boundless potentialities of the manufacture, which enable it to meet, if called upon, the requirements of every nation in the world. While any human creature remains imperfectly clad, Lancashire still has its work to do. To be entrusted with this great business is a privilege, and in the honourable execution consists its true and essential glory. "Over-production," while any are naked, is a phrase without meaning. That which wants correcting is deficient absorption.
Reviewing the whole matter, the specially[Pg 92] interesting point—rendered so through inciting to profoundest reflection—is that those poor and unlettered men—Hargreaves, Arkwright, Crompton, and the others—were the instruments, under Providence (for such things do not happen fortuitously), by which the world became possessed of an entirely new industrial power, fraught with infinite capacities for promoting human welfare; and which, in its application, introduced quite new styles of thinking and reasoning, and gave new bias to the policy of a great nation. Hargreaves, Arkwright, Crompton, had no prescience of what would come of their efforts. In no part of the transformation was there any precedent or example; it had neither lineage nor inheritance; it was anticipated in momentousness only by the inventions of Caxton and Gioia; and if in our own day the electric telegraph and the telephone reveal natural laws scarcely distinguishable from those of miracle, it may still be questioned if these latter discoveries surpass in intrinsic value the three or four that gave life to the modern cotton manufacture.
The interior of a great cotton factory, when at work, presents a spectacle altogether unimaginable. The vast area of the rooms, or "flats," filled in every part with machinery, admits of [Pg 93]no comparison with anything else in England, being found in the factory alone. A thousand great iron frames, exquisitely composite, and kept fastidiously clean, some by self-acting dusters, are in simultaneous movement, the arms of some rising and falling, while parts of others march in and out, and to and fro, giving perfect illustrations of order, reciprocal adaptation, and interdependence, and seeming not only alive, but conscious. Nothing is more striking, perhaps, than to watch the shuttles as they dart alternately right and left, every movement meaning an added thread to the beautiful offspring. The poets are supposed by some to concern themselves only with fiction. Men and women who write verses are poets only when they deal with truth, though presented in the garb of fable; and assuredly, for a poet's theme, there is nothing to excel a skilfully conducted human manufacture. Erasmus Darwin, it will be remembered, describes the whole series of processes in connection with cotton as observed by him in Arkwright's original factory upon the Derwent.
A common practice is to have the looms in a "shed" upon the surface of
the ground. To be as near the earth as possible is a desire no less
with the spinner, who, like the Æ,[Pg 94] finds the lower atmospheric
conditions much more favourable to his work than the upper. In any
case, where the power-looms are, long lines of slender pillars support
the roof, presenting an unbroken and almost endless perspective; and
between the machinery and the ceiling, connected with the horizontal
shafts which revolve just below it, are innumerable strong brown
leather straps that quiver as they run their courses. According to the
department we may be in, either threads or coils of cotton whiter than
pearl, and of infinite number, give occupation to those thousand
obedient and tireless slaves—not of the ring or the lamp, but of the
mighty engine that invisibly is governing the whole; and in attendance
are men and women, boys and girls, again beyond the counting. Their
occupations are in no degree laborious: all the heavy work is done by
the steam-engine; muscular power is not wanted so much as delicacy and
readiness of hand and finger. Hence in the factory and the cotton-mill
there is opportunity for those who are too weak for other vocations.
Machinery in all cases has the merit of at once increasing the
workman's wages and lessening his fatigue. The precision in the
working of the machinery enforces upon those who attend to it a
corresponding regularity of [Pg 95]
[Pg 97]action. There is no re-twisting or re-weaving; everything, if done at all, must be done properly and at the proper moment. Apart from its being a place wherein to earn creditably the daily bread, if there be anything in the world which conduces pre-eminently to the acquisition of habits such as lie at the foundation of good morals,—order, care, cleanliness, punctuality, industry, early rising,—assuredly it is the wholesome discipline of the well-ordered cotton factory. Whatever may befall outside, there is nothing deleterious inside; the personal intercourse of the people employed is itself reduced to a minimum; if they corrupt one another, it is as people not in factories do. In the rooms and "sheds" devoted to weaving, the rattle of the machinery forbids even conversation, except when the voice is adjusted to it. In the quieter parts the girls show their contentedness not infrequently by singing—
"How often," says the type of the true Lancashire poet, most genial of his race,—the late Edwin Waugh,—"how often have I heard some fine psalm-tune streaming in chorus from female voices when passing cotton-mills at work, and mingling with the spoom of thousands of spindles." That the girls in particular[Pg 98] are not unhappy is shown by their preference of the cotton-mill to domestic service. Their health is as good as that of any other class of operatives; and though they have to keep upon their feet, it is not for so long a time as young women in city shops. Of course there is a shadowy side to life identified with the factory. The hands do not live in Elysium, any more than the agricultural labourer does in Arcadia. The masters, as everywhere else, are both good and bad: in the aggregate they are no worse than their fellows in other places, and to expect them to be better would be premature. In case of grievance or abuse there is an "inspector" to apply to for remedy. The wages are as good as those earned by any other large class of English work-people; and if the towns in which so many abide are unlovely, the Lancashire cotton-operatives at all events know little or nothing of the vice and filth of metropolitan St. Giles'.
The writer of the entertaining article in the Cornhill for February 1880 upon "The Origin of London" shows that had the choice of the best site for a capital to be made now, and for the first time, the selection would naturally fall upon south-east Lancashire, and on the particular spot covered by modern Manchester. Geographically, as the author points out, it is the centre of the three kingdoms; and its advantageousness in regard to commerce, all things considered, is paramount. These facts alone suffice to give interest to the locality; and that the town itself should have acquired the importance now possessed, in some respects almost metropolitan, looks not so much like accident or good fortune as the fulfilment of a law of Nature. The locality in question is by no means picturesque. The ground, as said before, is, on the Cheshire side, and westwards,[Pg 100] nearly level, the country being here bordered by the Mersey, a river, as Pennant long ago remarked, utterly devoid along its course of the charms usually identified with fairly broad and winding streams. At Northen there are some pleasant shaded pathways, with willows and poplars like those upon which Œnone was carved; but the bank, if much above the level, is artificial, the original having been raised with a view to protecting the adjacent fields from inundation in time of floods, such as occur not infrequently—the Mersey being formed in the beginning by the confluence of several minor streams, which gather their waters from the moors and the Derbyshire hills, and are apt to be well filled and of rapid movement.
At a few miles' distance in other directions, or receding from the Mersey, the ground becomes slightly elevated, and in parts agreeably broken, as at Prestwich, and near Heywood, where there are numberless little dells and ravines, ferny and full of trees. These are a pleasant change after the flatness on the Cheshire side, but are too far away to be called Manchester. To the Mersey Manchester makes no claim: three other rivers are distinctly its own—the Irwell, which divides the town from Salford, with its tributaries, the Medlock, and the Irk; and of these, though[Pg 101] the colour is inexpressible, unless we go to mythology for a term, it is proud, since no three rivers in the world do harder work. All three pass their earlier life in valleys which in the bygones must have been delightful, and in some parts romantic. Traditions exist to this day of the times when in their upper reaches they were "silver-eddied." For a long distance before entering, and all the way while passing through, they have now for many years been converted into scavengers; the trout, once so plentiful, are extinct; there are water-rats instead. This, perhaps, is inevitable in a district which, though once green and tranquil, has been transformed into an empire of workshops.
The Manchester rivers do not stand alone in their illustration of what can be accomplished by the defiling energy of "works." In the strictly manufacturing parts of South Lancashire it would be difficult to find a single watercourse of steady volume that any longer "makes music with the enamelled stones." The heroine of Verona would to-day be impelled less to poetical similes than to epitaphs; no sylvan glade, however hidden, if there be water in it, has escaped the visitation of the tormentors. Are we then to murmur?—to [Pg 102]feel as if robbed? By no means. Nothing can be regretful that is inseparable from the conditions of the industry and the prosperity of a great nation. The holidays will be here by and by. A couple of hours' railway journey enables any one to listen to the "liquid lapse" of streams clear and bright as Cherith. Everything lovely has its place of safety somewhere. However doleful the destiny of the South Lancashire streams, a thousand others that can never be sullied await us at a little distance.
Little can be said in praise of the Manchester climate, and that little, it must be confessed, however reluctantly, is only negative. The physicians are not more prosperous than elsewhere, and the work of the Registrar-general is no heavier. On the other hand, the peach and the apricot cannot ripen, and there is an almost total absence of the Christmas evergreens one is accustomed to see in the southern counties—the ilex to wit, the bay, the arbutus, and the laurustinus. In the flourishing of these consists the true test of geniality of climate; rhododendrons and gay flower-gardens, both of which Manchester possesses in plenty, certify nothing. Not that the climate is positively cold, though as a rule damp and rainy. Snow is often seen in the Midlands when in Manchester[Pg 103] there is none. The special feature, again negative, is deficiency of bright, warm, encouraging sunshine. Brilliant days come at times, and sultry ones; but often for weeks together, even in summer, so misty is the atmosphere that where the sun should be in view, except for an hour or two, there is only a luminous patch.
The history of Manchester dates, the authorities tell us, from the time of the "ancient Britons." There is no need to go so far back. The genuine beginnings of our English cities and large towns coincide with the establishment of the Roman power. They may have been preceded in many instances by entrenched and perhaps rudely ramparted clusters of huts, but it is only upon civilisation that a "town" arises. Laying claim, quite legitimately, to be one of the eight primitive Lancashire towns founded by Agricola, a.d. 79, its veritable age, to be exact, is 1812 years, or nearly the same as that of Warrington, where the invaders, who came from Chester, found the river fordable, as declared in the existing name of the Cheshire suburb, and where they fixed their original Lancashire stronghold. What is thought to have happened in Manchester during their stay may be read in Whitaker. The only traces remaining of their[Pg 104] ancient presence are some fragments of the "road" which led northwards over the present Kersal Moor, and which are commemorated in the names of certain houses at Higher Broughton. The fact in the local history which connects the living present with the past is that the De Traffords of Trafford Hall possess lands held by their ancestor in the time of Canute. How it came to pass that the family was not displaced by some Norman baron, an ingenious novelist may be able perhaps to tell. Private policy, secret betrothals, doubtless lay in the heart of as many adjustments of the eleventh century as behind many enigmas of the nineteenth. The Traffords reside close to "Throstlenest," a name occurring frequently in Lancashire, where the spirit of poetry has always been vigorous, and never more marked than in appellations having reference to the simple beauty of unmolested nature. At Moston there is also Throstle-glen, one of the haunts, half a century ago, of Samuel Bamford. At the time spoken of the county was divided into "tithe-shires." The "Hundred of Salford" was called "Salford-shire," and in this last was included Manchester; so that whatever dignity may accrue therefrom belongs properly to the town across the river, which was the first, moreover, to be constituted a free[Pg 105] borough, receiving its charter in the time of Henry III., who died in 1272, whereas the original Manchester charter was not granted till 1301. To all practical intents and purposes, the two places now constitute a social and commercial unity. Similar occupations are pursued in both, and the intercourse is as constant as that of the people who dwell on the opposite sides of the Thames.
The really important date in the history of Manchester is that of the arrival of the Flemish Æs in the reign of Edward III. Though referable in the first instance, as above mentioned, to the action of the king and the far-seeing Philippa, their coming to Manchester seems to have been specially promoted by the feudal ruler of the time—De la Warre, heir of the De Grelleys, and predecessor of De Lacy—men all of great distinction in old Manchester records. Leading his retainers to the field of battle, De la Warre literally, when all was over, turned the spear into the pruning-hook, bringing home with him some of these industrious people, and with their help converting soldiers into useful artisans. A wooden church had been erected at a very early period upon the sandstone cliff by the river, where the outlook was pleasant over the meadows and the arriving Irk. By 1422, so much had the town increased,[Pg 106] it sufficed no longer, and then was built the noble and beautiful "old church," the "cathedral" of to-day, the body of which is thus now nearly 470 years old.
Up till 1656 the windows of this fine church, in conformity with the first principles of all high-class Plantagenet and Tudor ecclesiastical architecture, were coloured and pictorial; the design being that they should represent to the congregation assembled inside some grand or touching Scripture incident, making palpable to the eye what the ear might be slow to apprehend. In the year mentioned they were broken to pieces by the Republicans, one of the reasons, perhaps, why the statue of Cromwell—the gloomy figure in the street close by—has been so placed as for the ill-used building to be behind it. While the church was in its full beauty the town was visited by Leland, who on his way through Cheshire passed Rostherne Mere, evidently, from his language, as lovely then as it is to-day:
"Manchestre," he tells us, was at that period (temp. Henry VIII.) "the
fairest, best-builded, quikkest, and most populous Tounne of
[Pg 109]castreshire" (v. 78). Whatever the precise comparative meaning of "fairest and best-builded," there can be no doubt that in Leland's time, and for a long subsequent period, Manchester was rich in houses of the Elizabethan type, including many occupied by families of note. The greater number of these would be "magpie," or wood and plaster fronted, in black and white, the patterns, though simple, often very ingenious, as indicated in relics which have only lately disappeared, and in the old country halls of the same period still perfect, which we shall come to by and by. The style of the inferior kind is shown in an old tavern, the "Seven Stars," in Withy-grove.
At the commencement of the Civil Wars Manchester was important enough to be a scene of heavy contest. The sympathies of the town, as a whole, were with the Parliament; not in antagonism to royalty, but because of the suspicion that Charles secretly befriended Popery. It was the same belief which estranged Bolton—a place never in heart disloyal, so long as the ruler does his own part in faithfulness and honour. Standing in the Cathedral graveyard, it is hard to imagine that the original of the bridge now called the "Victoria" was once the scene of a deadly struggle, troops filling the graveyard itself.[Pg 110] Here, however, it was that the severest assault was made by the Royalists, unsuccessfully, as were all the other attacks, though Manchester never possessed a castle, nor even regularly constructed fortifications.
The town was then "a mile in length," and the streets were "open and clean." Words change their meaning with lapse of time, and the visitor who in 1650 thus describes them may have been given a little to overpraise; but if Manchester deserved such epithets, alas for the condition of the streets elsewhere! As the town increased in size, the complexion may also very possibly have deteriorated. The fact remains, that after the lapse of another 150 years, say in 1800, it was inexpressibly mean and common, continuing so in a very considerable degree up to a period quite recent. People who know Manchester only as it looks to-day can form no conception of the beggarly appearance of most of the central part no further back than during the reign of George IV. Several years after he came to the throne, where Market Street now is, there was only a miserable one-horse lane, with a footpath of less than twenty-four inches. Narrow "entries" led to adjacent "courts." Railed steps led down to cellars, which were used for front parlours. The shops were dark and lowbrowed;[Pg 111] of ornament there was not a scrap. Mosley Street, King Street, and one or two others comparatively modern, presented, no doubt a very decided contrast. Still it was without the slightest injustice that so late as in or about 1845 Mr. Cobden described Manchester as the shabbiest city in Europe for its wealth. That the town needed some improvement is indicated rather suggestively by the fact, that between 1832 and 1861 the authorities paved, drained, and flagged the footways of no fewer than 1578 streets, measuring upwards of sixty miles in length. Many of them, certainly, were new, but the great mass of the gracious work was retrospective. These matters are worth recalling, since it is only by comparison with the past that modern Manchester can be appreciated.
Shortly after the Restoration there was a considerable influx, as into Liverpool, from the surrounding country; and by 1710 again had the population so much increased that a second church became necessary, and St. Anne's was erected, cornfields giving place to the "Square." St. Anne's being the "new" church, the existing one was thenceforwards distinguished as the "old." Commerce shortly afterwards [Pg 112]received important stimulus by the Irwell being made navigable to its point of confluence with the Mersey, and by the erection of the[Pg 113] original Manchester Exchange. In 1757 Warrington, the first town in Lancashire to publish a newspaper, was imitated in the famous old Manchester Mercury. Then came the grand inventions above described, upon which quickly arose the modern cotton manufacture. In 1771 a Bank and Insurance Office were found necessary, and in less than a year afterwards the renowned "Jones Loyds" had its beginning. Social and intellectual movements were accelerated by the now fast developing Manchester trade. Liverpool had founded a Subscription Library in 1758: Manchester followed suit in 1765. In 1781 a Literary and Philosophical Society was set on foot, and in 1792 Assembly Rooms were built.
New streets were now laid out,—to-day, so vast has been the subsequent growth, embedded in the heart of the town,—the names often taken from those of the metropolis, as Cannon Street, Pall Mall, Cheapside, and Spring Gardens, and at a little later period Bond Street and Piccadilly. Factories sprang up in not a few of the principal thoroughfares: perhaps it would be more correct to say that the building of factories often led to the formation of new streets. The kind of variety they conferred on the frontages is declared to the present day in Oxford Road. Similar[Pg 114] buildings, though not so large, existed till very lately where now not a vestige of them remains. The "Manchester and Salford Bank" occupies the site of a once important silk-mill. Gathering round them the inferior class of the population,—the class unable to move into more select neighbourhoods when the town is relished no longer,—it is easy to understand how, in most parts of Manchester that are fifty years old, splendour and poverty are never far asunder. In London, Bath, Leicester, it is possible to escape from the sight of rags and squalor: in Manchester they are within a bow-shot of everything upon which the town most prides itself. The circumstance referred to may be accounted for perhaps in part by the extreme density of the population, which exceeds that of all other English manufacturing towns, and is surpassed only in Liverpool. Manchester, it may be added, has no "court-end." When the rich took flight they dispersed themselves in all directions. They might well depart. The reputation of Manchester in respect of "smuts," that, like [Pg 115]the rain in Shelley, are "falling for ever," is only too well deserved; and, despite of legal enactments, it is to be feared is inalienable.
Architecturally, modern Manchester takes quite a foremost place among
the cities by reason of its two great achievements in Gothic—the
Assize Courts and the new Town-hall. Classical models were followed up
till about 1860, as in the original Town-hall (1822-25)—now the City
Free Library; the Royal Institution, the Concert Hall (1825-30), and
the Corn Exchange—one of the happiest efforts of a man of real
ability, the late Mr. Lane. The new Exchange also presents a fine
example of the Corinthian portico. After Mr. Lane, the town was
fortunate in possessing Mr. Walters, since it was he who introduced
artistic details into warehouse fronts, previously to his time bald
and vacant as the face of a cotton-mill. Very interesting examples of
the primitive Manchester warehouse style are extant in Peel Street
and thereabouts. Manchester is now employed in rebuilding itself, to a
considerable extent, under the inspiration received originally from
Mr. Walters, and here and there very chastely. Would that his impress
could have been seen upon the whole of the newly-contrived. We should
then have been spared the not uncommon spectacle of[Pg 116] the grotesque, to
say nothing of the grimaces of the last few years. It is not to be
overlooked that the whole of the improvement in Manchester street
architecture has been effected since 1840. Four-fifths of all the
meritorious public buildings, the modern banks also, and nearly all
the ecclesiastical architecture that deserves the name, may be
referred to the same period. The Assize Courts and the new Town-hall
are both from designs by Mr. Waterhouse completed. The former were in
1866, but not used till July 1868, three months after which time the
first stone was laid of the superb pile in Albert Square. The gilt
ball at the apex of the tower, 286 feet high, was fixed 4th January
1876. The dimensions may be imagined from the number of separate
apartments (314), mostly spacious, and approached, as far as possible,
by corridors, which are as well proportioned as elaborate in finish.
The cost up to 15th September 1877, when much remained to be done,
including nearly the whole of the internal decoration, was £751,532.
In designing the coloured windows, Mr. Waterhouse is said to have had
the assistance of a lady. Without pressing for the secret, it is
undeniable that the tints are blended with a sense of delicate harmony
purely feminine. Some people prefer the Assize [Pg 117]
[Pg 119]Courts—a glorious building, peculiarly distinguished for its calmness. Structures of such character cannot possibly correspond. Perhaps it may be allowed to say that the Assize Courts seem to present in greater perfection the unity of feeling indispensable to all great works of art, however varied and fanciful the details. Due regard being paid to the intrinsic fitness of things and their moral significance, which in Art, when aspiring to the perfect, should always be a prime consideration, it may be inquired, after all, whether Gothic is the legitimate style for municipal offices. We cannot here discuss the point. Liverpool would have to be heard upon the other side. Better, in any case, to have a Gothic town hall than to see churches and chapels copy the temples devoted a couple of thousand years ago to the deities of pagan Greece and Rome. It is not pleasant on a Sunday forenoon to be reminded of Venus, Apollo, and Diana. The new Owens College buildings, Oxford Road, are early fourteenth century Gothic, and when complete will present one of the finest groups of the kind in England. The architect (Mr. Waterhouse), it has been well said, has here, as elsewhere, "not fettered himself with ancient traditions, but endeavoured to make his learning a basis rather than a limit of thought."[Pg 120] A great treat awaits the stranger also in the Catholic "Church of the Holy Name," a few steps beyond the Owens College. For a passer-by to help noting the beautiful western front and the maze of lofty buttresses and pinnacles is impossible. Ornament has been expended with a lavish but not indiscriminate profusion, the general effect being one of perfect symmetry—a character possessed equally by the interior. The style is geometric Gothic of the thirteenth century, to the capacities of which, all will acknowledge, Mr. Hanson has done full justice. The very gracefully designed Tudor buildings at Old Trafford, well known as the Asylums for the Blind and the Deaf and Dumb, were erected in 1838.
Manchester is much less of a manufacturing town at present, in proportion to its extent and the entire breadth of its business life, than when the cotton trade was young. Now, as described in the preceding chapter, the towns and villages outside are all devoted to spinning and weaving. While Liverpool is one great wharf, the middle of Manchester is one great warehouse—a reservoir for the production of the whole district. The trade falls under two principal heads—the Home and the Export. In either case, the produce of the looms, wherever situate, is bought just as it flows from them[Pg 121]—rough, or, technically, "in the grey." It is then put into the hands of bleachers, dyers, or printers, according to requirement, and afterwards handed to auxiliaries called "makers-up." Very interesting is it to observe, in going through a great warehouse, not only how huge is the quantity waiting transfer, but how differently the various fabrics have to be folded and ornamented so as to meet the taste of the nations and foreign countries they are intended for. Some prefer the absolutely plain; others like little pictures; some want bright colours, and embellishment with gold and silver. The uniformity of the general business of Manchester allowed of agreement, in November 1843, to shut all doors upon Saturdays at one o'clock. The warehouse half-holiday movement soon became universal, and now, by four or five p.m. on Saturdays large portions of the middle of the town are as quiet as upon Sundays.
The composition of the Manchester community is extremely
miscellaneous. A steady influx of newcomers from all parts of Great
Britain—Scotland very particularly—has been in progress for eighty
or ninety years, and seems likely to continue. Not very long ago the
suburb called Greenheys was regarded as a German colony. Many
Levantine Greeks[Pg 122] have also settled in Manchester, and of Jews the
estimated number is ten thousand. Notwithstanding the influence which
these newcomers have almost necessarily, though undesignedly, brought
to bear upon the general spirit of the town, the original Lancashire
character is still prominent, though greatly modified, both for the
better and the worse. Primitive Lancashire is now confined perhaps to
Rossendale, where, after all, it would be felt that Manchester is the
better place to live in. The people were distinguished of old by
industry and intense frugality, the women in particular being noted
for their thrift. They were enterprising, vigilant, shrewd, and
possessed of marvellous aptitude for business; they had judgment, and
the capacity for minute and sleepless care which is quite as needful
as courage to success in life, and which to many a man has been better
capital to start with than a well-filled purse. Hence the countless
instances in South Lancashire of men who, additionally fortunate in
being born at the favourable moment, though at first earning wages of
perhaps fifteen shillings a-week as porters or mill-hands, rose by
degrees to opulence, and in many cases laid the foundation of families
now in the front rank of local importance. Considering the general
history, it is [Pg 123]
[Pg 125]easy to understand why carriage-heraldry, except of the worthless purchaseable kind, is scanty; and not difficult either to account for the pervading local shyness as to pedigrees and genealogies. Curiously in contrast, one of the very rare instances of an untitled family having supporters to the heraldic shield is found in Ashton-under-Lyne, Mr. Coulthart the banker being entitled to them by virtue of descent from one of the ancient Scottish kings. To a Lancashire magnate of the old school it was sufficient that he was himself. The disposition is still locally vigorous, and truly many of the living prove that to be so is a man's recommendation. None of the excellent attributes possessed by, for instance, the original Peels and Ainsworths, have disappeared, though it cannot be denied that in other cases there has been inheritance of the selfish habits, contracted ideas, and coarsely-moulded character, so often met with in men who have risen from the ranks. Given to saying and doing the things natural to them, no people were ever more devoid than the genuine Lancashire men, as they are still, of frigid affectations, or less given to assumption of qualities they did not possess. If sometimes startled by their impetuosities, we can generally trust to their candour and whole-heartedness, especially when disposed to be friendly, the[Pg 126] more so since they are little inclined to pay compliments, and not at all to flatter.
That men of small beginnings, and who have had little or no education, are apt, on becoming rich, to be irritable, jealous, and overbearing, is true perhaps everywhere; in Lancashire it has been observed with satisfaction that the exceptions are more numerous than the rule. Whatever the stint and privations in the morning of life, these, it has been again observed, have seldom led to miserly habits when old. Most of the modern Lancashire wealthy (or their fathers, at all events, before them) began with a trifle. Hence the legitimate pride they take in their commercial belongings—a genuine Lancashire man would rather you praised his mill or warehouse than his mansion. So far from becoming miserly, no one in the world deteriorates less. Most Lancashire capitalists are well aware that it is no credit to a man of wealth to be in arrears with the public, and when money is wanted for some noble purpose are quick in response. This, however, represents them but imperfectly. Of a thousand it might be said with as much truth as of the late Sir Benjamin Heywood, the eminent Manchester banker, "He dared to trust God with his charities, and without a witness, and risk the consequences."[Pg 127] So much for the Lancashire heart; though on many of its excellent attributes, wanting space, we have not touched. The prime characteristic of the head seems to consist, not in the preponderance of any particular faculty, but in the good working order of the faculties in general; so that the whole can be brought to bear at once upon whatever is taken in hand.
The Lancashire man has plenty of faults and weaknesses. His energy is by no means of that admirable kind which is distinguished by never degenerating into restlessness; neither in disputes is he prone to courtly forbearance. Sincerity, whether in friend or foe, he admires nevertheless; whence the exceptional toleration in Lancashire of all sorts of individual opinions. Possessed of good, old-fashioned common-sense, when educated and reflective he is seldom astray in his estimate of the essentially worthy and true; so that, however novel occasionally his action, we may be pretty sure that underneath it there is some definite principle of equity. Manchester put forth the original [Pg 128]programme of the "free and open church" system; and from one of the suburbs came the first cry for the enfranchisement of women. Lancashire, if nothing else, is frank, cordial, sagacious, and given to the sterling humanities of life. These always revolve upon Freedom, whence, yet again in illustration of the Lancashire heart, the establishment of the Society (original in idea, if not unique) for the Preservation of Ancient Footpaths. The large infusion of the German element has been immensely beneficial, not only in relation to commerce, but to the general culture of the town. It is owing in no slight degree to the presence of educated Germans that the Manchester "shippers," in their better portion, now resemble the corresponding class in Liverpool. The change for the better, since the time when Coleridge met with his odd reception, is quite as marked, no doubt, among the leaders of the Home commerce, in whose ranks are plenty of peers of the Liverpool "gentlemen." Records of the past are never without their interest. During the siege, the command of the defence was in the hands of Colonel Rosworm, a celebrated German engineer, who, when all was over, considered himself [Pg 129]ill-used, and published a pamphlet complaining of the town's injustice, enumerating the opportunities he had had of betraying it to the Royalists, and of dividing the inhabitants against themselves. "But then," he adds, "I should have been a Manchester man, for never let an unthankful one, or a promise-breaker, bear another name!" On the titlepage of "The Pole Booke for Manchester, 22d May 1690," an old list of the inhabitants, printed by the Chetham Society, the aforetime owner has written, "Generation of vipers!"
Manchester is now, like Liverpool, if not a school of refinement, one of the principal seats of English culture. It possesses not fewer than ten or twelve fine libraries, including the branches of the City Free Library, established under Mr. Ewart's Act, which last are available on Sundays, and are freely used by the class of people the opening was designed to benefit. The staff of assistants at the City Library and its branches consists very largely of young women. There is another first-class Free Library in Salford, with, in the same building, a Free Gallery of Paintings, and a well-arranged and thoroughly useful museum. The "Athenæum" provides its members with 60,000 newspapers per annum, and, in addition, 9500 weekly, and 500 monthly and quarterly magazines.[Pg 130] Societies devoted to science, literature, and the fine arts exist, as in Liverpool, in plenty. The exhibitions of paintings at the Royal Institution have always been attractive, and never more so than during the last few years, when on Sunday afternoons they have been thrown open to the public gratis. The "School of Design," founded in October 1838, now called the "School of Art," recently provided itself with a proper home in Grosvenor Square. There is also a society expressly of "Women Painters," the works of many of whom have earned honourable places. In addition to its learned societies, Manchester stands alone, perhaps, among English cities in having quite seven or eight set on foot purely with a view to rational enjoyment in the fields, the observation of Nature in its most pleasing and suggestive forms, and the obtaining accurate knowledge of its details—the birds, the trees, and the wild-flowers. The oldest of these is the "Field-Naturalists and Archæologists," founded in 1860. The members of the youngest go by the name of the "Grasshoppers." Flower-shows, again, are a great feature in Manchester: some held in the Townhall, others in the Botanical Gardens. In August 1881 the greatest and richest Horticultural Exhibition of which there is record was[Pg 131] held at Old Trafford, in the gardens, lasting five days, and with award in prizes of upwards of £2000. Laid out within a few yards of the ground occupied in 1857 by the celebrated Fine Art Treasures Exhibition, the only one of the kind ever attempted in England, it was no less brilliant to the visitor than creditable to the promoters. No single spot of earth has ever been devoted to illustrations so exquisite of the most beautiful forms of living nature, and of the artistic talent of man than were then brought together.
Music is cultivated in Manchester with a zest quite proportionate to its value. The original "Gentlemen's Concert Club" was founded as far back as the year of alarm 1745. The local love of glees and madrigals preserves the best traditions of the Saxon "glee-men." On 10th March 1881 the veteran Charles Hallé, who quite recently had been earning new and glorious laurels at Prague, Vienna, and Pesth, led the five hundredth of his great concerts in the Free-trade Hall. "Our town," remarked the Guardian in its next day's report of the proceedings, "is at present the city of music par excellence in England.... The outside world knows three things of Manchester—that it is a city of cotton, a city of economic ideas,[Pg 132] and a city of music. Since then the old character has been more than well sustained. Cobden was perhaps the first who made all the world see that Manchester had a turn for the things of the mind as well as for the production of calico and the amassing of money. Similarly, Mr. Hallé has made it evident to all the world that there is in Manchester a public which can appreciate the best music conveyed in the best way." It is but fair to the sister city to add that the first musical festival in the north of England was held in Liverpool in 1784, and that the erection of St. George's Hall had its germ in the local musical tastes and desire for their full expression.
A good deal might be said in regard to the religious and ecclesiastical history of Manchester, a curious fact in connection with which is, that between 1798 and 1820, though the population had augmented by 80,000, nothing was done on their behalf by the Episcopate. The Wesleyan body dates from 7th May 1747, when its founder preached at Salford Cross—a little apartment in a house on the banks of the Irwell, where there were hand-looms, being insufficient to accommodate the congregation assembled to hear him. The literary history of Manchester is also well worthy of extended treatment; and, above all, that of the local[Pg 133] thought and private spirit, the underlying current which has rendered the last sixty or seventy years a period of steady and exemplary advance. To some it may seem a mere coincidence, a part only of the general progress of the country; but advance, whether local or national, implies impetus received; and assuredly far more than simple coincidence is involved in the great reality that the growth of the town in all goodly respects, subsequently to the uprise of the cotton trade, has been exactly contemporaneous with the life and influence of the newspaper just quoted—the Manchester Guardian—the first number of which was published 5th May 1821.
Lancashire is not only the principal seat of the English cotton manufacture. Over and above the processes which are auxiliary to it and complete it, many are carried on of a nature altogether independent, and upon a scale so vast as again to give this busy county the preeminence. The mind is arrested not more by the variety than by the magnitude of Lancashire work. Contemplating the inexpressible activity, all directed to a common end, one cannot but recall the famous description of the building of Carthage, with the simile which makes it vivid for all ages. Like all other manifold work, it presents also its amusing phases. In Manchester there are professional "knockers-up"—men whose business it is to tap at up-stair windows with a long wand, when the time comes to arouse the sleeper from his pillow.
The industrial occupations specially identified with the cotton trade are bleaching, dyeing, and calico-printing. Bleaching, the plainest and simplest, was effected originally by exposure of the cloth to the open air and solar light. Spread over the meadows and pastures, as long as summer lasted, the country, wherever a "whiter" or "whitster" pursued his calling, was more wintry-looking in July than often at Christmas. The process itself was tedious, requiring incessant attention, as well as being liable to serious hindrance, and involving much loss to the merchant through the usually long delay. Above all, it conduced to the moral damage of the community, since the bleaching crofts were of necessity accessible, and furnished to the ill-disposed an incentive to the crime which figures so lamentably in their history. That changes and events, both good and evil, are prone to come in clusters is a very ancient matter of observation. At the precise moment when the ingenious machinery produced by Hargreaves, Arkwright, and Crompton, was developing its powers, a complete revolution took place in regard to bleaching. Scheele discovered that vegetable colours gave way to chlorine. Berthollet and Dr. Henry (the latter residing in Manchester) extended and perfected the application. By 1774 the bleaching[Pg 136] process had been shortened one-half; the meadows and pastures were released; the summer sunshine fell once more upon verdure,
and by about 1790 the art became what we have it to-day, one purely for indoors. The new method was first practised successfully in the neighbourhood of Bolton, which place has preserved its original reputation, though long since rivalled in every part of the cotton-manufacturing district, and often in more distant spots, a copious supply of clean water being indispensable, and outweighing in its value the advantages of proximity to town. Many successive steps have to be taken before perfect whiteness can be secured, these demanding the utmost care and the strictest order of procedure. Finally, unless destined for the dye-house or the print-works, the cloth is stiffened with starch made from wheaten flour, the consumption of which article is very large also in the factories, where it is employed to give tenacity to the yarn, reacting beneficially upon the agricultural interest; then, in order to give it the beautiful smoothness and gloss which remind one of the petals of the snowdrop, it is pressed between huge rollers which play against one another under the influence of[Pg 137] powerful engines. On emerging from them it is said to have been "cylindered," or, corruptly, "calendered." Bleaching, it will appear from this, is a process which but slightly taxes human strength. Very interesting is it to note how, in the presence of chemistry and steam, the old word "manufacture" has in modern times changed its meaning. To-day the office of human fingers is less to "make" than to guide the forces of nature, all the harder work being delegated to inanimate wood and iron. The time ordinarily allowed for bleaching is one or two days, though, if needful, the entire process can be accelerated. The cost is about a halfpenny per yard.
Dyeing is carried on in Lancashire quite as extensively as bleaching. Here, again, the exactest chemical knowledge is wanted. The managers are usually men well versed in science. A visit to an important dye-works always awakens the liveliest sentiments of admiration, and were it not for the relentless fouling of the streams which receive the refuse, few scenes of industry would live longer in pleasant memory. For although dye-works exist in towns and their suburbs, they are more frequently established out in the country, where there are babbling brooks and "shallow falls," with a view to obtaining a plentiful and[Pg 138] steady supply of clean water. Factories also are sometimes found amid the fields, occupying quite isolated positions, the object being similar—the command of some definite local advantage. When at the foot of a hill it is interesting to observe that the chimney is placed half-way up the slope, a preliminary underground passage inducing a more powerful draught.
It is in the neighbourhood of these rural establishments that the hurt done by manufacturing to the pristine beauty of the country becomes conspicuous. Near the towns the results are simply dirt, withered hedges, and a general withdrawal of meadow adornment. In the country we perceive how the picturesque becomes affected. Railways are not more cruel. Cotton, with all its kindliness, reverses the celestial process which makes the wilderness blossom as the rose. There are differences in degree—the upper portion of the Irwell valley, near Summerseat, is in a measure exceptional; but we must never expect to find a spot wholly devoid of illustrations of blight and mischief. Against the destruction of natural beauty, when works and factories assume the sway, of course must be set not only the employment of the industrious, but the enormous rise in the value of the land; since rise of such character is a sign of advancing[Pg 139] civilisation, which in due time will more than compensate the damage. In the manufacturing parts of Lancashire land available for farming purposes commands ten times the rental of a century ago. Mr. Henry Ashworth's paper on the increase in the value of Lancashire property, published in 1841, showed that since 1692 the rise in Bolton had been six hundredfold.
The highest place in the trio of beautiful arts now before us is held undeniably by calico-printing, since it not only "paints" the woven fabric "with delight," but in its power to multiply and vary the cheerful pictures is practically inexhaustible; thus representing, and in the most charming manner, the outcome of the sweet facility of the seasons. Next to the diversities of living flowers assuredly come the devices of the pattern-designer who discreetly goes to nature for his inspiration. Much of his work must of necessity be conventionalised, and some of it cannot be other than arbitrary and artificial; but there is no reason why, in its steadiest practice, strictly natural forms and colours should not always be regarded as truest and best. The tendency is daily more and more in this direction, so that calico-printing may justly anticipate a future even more distinguished[Pg 140] than its present and its past. The "past," if we press for the birthday, is an ancient one indeed. Not to mention the chintzes of India, in the days of Calidasa, Pliny shows us very plainly that printing by means of mordants was practised in Egypt in the first century of the Christian era. When introduced into Western Europe is not known; for our present sketch it is enough that in England it began about a.d. 1700, coming, like many other excellent things, of the short-sighted efforts of selfishness, which, fortunately for mankind, always invites the retaliations of generosity. In the year mentioned, 1700, with a view to favouring the manufacturers of woollen and silk, the importation of prints from India was forbidden. Experiments were at once made with a view to production of similar work at home. This was soon discovered to be practicable, and preparations were made for printing upon a large scale, and at a moderate cost, when a new hindrance arose—say rather that the old malignant one, jealous opposition, reappeared. For a time this was successful, but at last the privilege to print in England was conceded, burdened, however, with the condition that the metropolis and the immediate vicinity should alone possess the right[Pg 141]—a circumstance which recalls to mind the original law as to joint-stock banks. The monopoly wrought its own destruction, for there was one county at least, a despised but courageous one in the north, which was not likely to remain a passive spectator. Contemporaneously with the new bleaching process above described, contemporaneously also with the employment of the new cotton machinery, calico-printing obtained the provincial footing which from that time forwards has never ceased to strengthen, and which now renders Lancashire the most important district in the world in regard alike to the immensity of production and the inexpressible beauty of the workmanship. It is not too much to say, with an eminent author, that the calico-printing works of Lancashire are entitled to count with the most distinguished English seats of useful science, and the most interesting scenes of the exercise of tasteful invention. The earliest enterprise was in Manchester itself, in 1745, the year of the visit of Prince Charles and his army, the original Lancashire efforts having been made, so history says, by the grandfather of the late distinguished surgeon, Mr. Joseph Jordan. The "works" were situated on the banks of the Irwell, close to St. Mary's Church. Blackburn soon followed, and under the influence[Pg 142] of the supreme abilities of the Peels, remained for many years the uncontested centre. Print-works are now met with in every little recess where there is supply of water, doubtless the first thing looked for when they were founded. The natural current sufficed at first; but it soon became customary to construct home or private reservoirs, and upon these the dependence is now essentially placed. No county in England needs so much water as Lancashire, and certainly there is not one that presents so many little bits of water-surface artificially prepared. It is pleasant to observe that the reservoirs belonging to "works," when belonging to a man of taste, have often been rendered extremely pretty by the introduction of water-lilies: flowers not only of unrivalled queenliness among aquatics, but distinguished among our native vegetation by the pensive languor always associated with the idea of the Oriental—the water-lilies' birthright—for, as a race, they are much more Asiatic than European, and by happy coincidence the most appropriate that could be placed there, the water-lily being the emblem not more of the Nile than of the Ganges.
The multiplicity of the printing processes, and their complexity, call for many distinct buildings. Hence, when large, and isolated[Pg 143] away in the country, as very generally happens, a print-works has quite the look of a rising village. There is a laboratory, with library, for the managing chemist, a suite of apartments for the designers, and a house and fruitful garden for the resident partner, with, in addition, not uncommonly, a schoolroom for the children. When the designers have completed their sketches, the engraver's work begins—a business in itself, and carried on almost exclusively in town, and especially in Manchester. Originally the pattern was cut upon a block of wood, usually sycamore, the success of the transfer to the cloth depending chiefly upon the dexterity of the workman. In 1785 this very primitive mode was superseded by "cylinder-printing," the pattern being engraved upon copper rollers, as many as there are colours; and though "block-printing" shares the unquenchable vitality of hand-loom weaving, the roller may now be considered universal. The employment of copper supplies another very interesting illustration of the resort made to this metal in almost every kind of high decorative art, and prepares us to understand the fitness of the ancient mythological use, and why associated with the goddess of love and beauty.
These great undertakings—the bleaching,[Pg 144] the dyeing, and the printing of the calico—demand steady supplies of the chemicals and other agents by means of which the various objects are attained. Hence in Lancashire the unrivalled number and extent of the manufacturing chemical works; and, especially in Manchester, the business,—never heard of in many English counties, here locally distinguished as the "drysalter's." The drysalter sees to the importation from foreign countries of the indigo, the madder, and other dye-stuffs in daily request; he deals also in the manifold kinds of gum constantly asked for, supplying himself partly from abroad, viâ Liverpool, partly from works close by which prepare it artificially. A well-known sight in Manchester is that of a cartload of logs of some curious tropical dyewood, rudely hewn by the axe, and still retaining in the cavities of the bark little relics of the mosses and lichens of their native forest.
The chemical works are located principally in the extreme south-west, especially near Widnes, a place which at once betrays itself to the passing traveller in the almost suffocating atmosphere, and the total extinction of the beauty of trees and hedges, spectres and gaunt skeletons alone remaining where once was verdure. Here we find in its utmost[Pg 145] vigour the manufacture of "soda-ash" (an impure carbonate), and of chloride of lime, both for the use of bleachers; also, prepared from the first-named, "caustic soda," for the soap-boilers of Liverpool and Warrington; and chlorate of potash, peculiarly for the dyers. Nitric acid also is made in immense quantity, the basis being Chilian saltpetre, though for their materials for the soda-products the manufacturers have no need to go further than Cheshire, the supply of salt being drawn entirely from the Northwich mines. The discharge of stifling vapours was much worse before the passing of the Alkali Act than at present; and, curiously enough, though by no means without a parallel, involved positive loss to the manufacturer, who now manages to detain a considerable amount of good residuum previously wasted. The Act permits a limited quantity of noxious matter to go up the chimney; the stream is tested every day to see that the right is not abused: how terrible is the action even of that little the surrounding fields are themselves not slow to testify; everything, even in summer, looks dirty, lean, and dejected. Sulphuric acid is likewise manufactured on a great scale, especially at Newton-le-Willows, the basis (except when required to be very pure, when sulphur is employed) being[Pg 146] iron pyrites imported from Spain. Hundreds of thousands of tons are prepared every year. There is probably not a single manufacturing process carried on in England in which chemical agency is involved which does not call for it. Hence, in the consumption of sulphuric acid, we have always a capital index to the state of trade, so far as regards appeal to the activity of the producing classes.
In the extent of its manufacture of all the substances above mentioned, Lancashire is far ahead of every competitor in the world; Germany comes next, and then probably France.
Carbolic acid is of peculiarly Lancashire origin, having been originally introduced commercially by the late Dr. Crace Calvert. Supplies are in daily request for the production of colour: the employment for antiseptic purposes is larger yet; the export is also very considerable. Other immensely important chemicals prepared in South Lancashire, and on a scale almost incredible,—Manchester helping the Widnes corner,—are sulphate of soda and sulphate of copper, the last-named being now in unlimited demand, not only by the dyers and calico-printers, but for the batteries used in electric telegraphy. In the presence of all this marvellous work, how quaintly reads the[Pg 147] history of the Lancashire chemistry of 500 years ago. It had then not emerged from alchemy, which, after being forbidden by Henry IV., and again legalised by Henry VI., was warmly encouraged by the credulous Edward III., and had no devouter adherents than the Asshetons and the Traffords, who in their loyalty undertook to supply the king with silver and gold to the extent of his needs—so soon as the "philosopher's stone" should be discovered! Before we laugh at their misdirected zeal, it may be well to inquire whether the world has suffered more from scornful and premature rejection, or from honest and simple enthusiasm, such as in playing with alchemy brought to life the germs of the profoundest and most variously useful of the sciences.
Though Lancashire tries no longer to transmute the baser metals into the precious ones by means of alchemy, it succeeds by the honester and less circuitous route of industry. Lead is obtained, though not in large quantity, at Anglezark, near Rivington Pike; and iron, in the excellent form of hæmatite, plentifully in the Ulverston and Furness district. The smelting is carried on chiefly at Barrow, where the business will no doubt continue to prosper, though hæmatite of late years has somewhat lost its ancient supremacy, methods having[Pg 148] been discovered by which ores hitherto deemed inferior are practically changed to good and useful ones.
In any case the triumphs of Lancashire will continue to be shown, as heretofore, in her foundries and engine-works, the latter innumerable. Whitworth, Fairbairn, Nasmyth, are names too well known to need more than citation. Nasmyth's steam-hammer in itself is unique. Irresistible when it smites with a will, a giant in power and emphasis, it can assume, when it pleases, the lightsome manners of a butterfly. Let a lady place her hand upon[Pg 149] the anvil, the mighty creature just gives it a kiss, gently, courteously, and retires. It is rather a misfortune for the stupendous products of the foundry and engine-works that, except in the case of the locomotive, as soon as completed they are hidden away for evermore, embedded where completely lost to view, and thought of as little as the human heart. Happily in the streets of Manchester there is frequent reminder, in the shape of some leviathan drawn slowly by a team of eight, ten, twelve, or even fourteen superb horses. Bradford, one of the suburbs of Manchester, supplies the world with the visible factor of its nervous system—those mysterious-looking threads which now everywhere show against the sky, and literally allow of intercourse between "Indus and the Pole." In addition to their manufacture of telegraph-wire, the Messrs. Johnson prepare the whole of what is wanted for the wire-rope bridges now common in America. Large quantities of wire are produced also at Warrington; here, however, of kinds adapted more particularly for domestic use. In connection with metal it is worthy also of note that Lancashire is the principal seat of the manufacture of the impregnable safes which, laughing at thieves and fire, challenge even the earthquake. They are made in Liverpool by Milner[Pg 150] and Company, and near Bolton by the Chatwoods.
Lancashire was long distinguished for its manufacture of silk, though it never acquired the importance held by Macclesfield. In Europe this beautiful art came to the front as one of the results of the later Crusades—enterprises which, though productive of untold suffering, awoke the mind of all the civilised parts of the Continent from its slumber of ages, enlarging the sphere of popular thought, reviving the taste for elegant practices forgotten since the fall of the Western Empire, and extending commerce and knowledge in general. To Lancashire men the history is thus one of special interest. Italy led the way in the manufacture; Spain and France soon followed, the latter acquiring distinction, and at the close of the sixteenth century the English Channel was crossed. Tyranny, as in the case of calico-printing, was the prime cause, the original Spitalfields Æs having been part of the crowd of Protestants who at that period were constrained, like the unhappy and forlorn in more modern times, to seek the refuge always afforded in our sea-girt isle. James I. was [Pg 151]so strongly impressed with the importance of the manufacture that, hoping to promote it at home, he procured many thousands of young mulberry-trees, some of which, or their immediate descendants, are still to be found, venerable but not exhausted, in the grounds and gardens of old country houses. The Civil Wars gave a heavy check to further progress. Little more was done till 1718, when a silk-mill, worked by a water-wheel, was built at Derby. This in[Pg 152] time had to close its doors awhile, through the refusal of the King of Sardinia to permit the exportation of the raw material, always so difficult to procure in quantity. At last there was recovery; the manufacture crept into Cheshire, and at the commencement of the present century into Lancashire, taking root especially in the ancient villages of Middleton and Eccles, and gradually spreading to the adjacent hamlets.
The arrival was opportune, and helped to break the fall of the hand-loom cotton Æs, many of whom could not endure the loss of freedom imposed by the rules of the factory, and whose latent love of beauty, as disclosed in their taste for floriculture, was called forth in a new and agreeable manner. Silk-weaving was further congenial to these men in being more cleanly and less laborious than the former work, requiring more care and vigilance, and rather more skill, thus exactly suiting a race of worshippers of the auricula, the polyanthus, and the carnation. The auricula, locally called the "basier," a corruption of "bear's ear," is the subject of a charming little poem by one of the old Swinton Æs, preserved intact, reprinted in Wilkinson's Lancashire Ballads, and peculiarly valuable in respect of the light it throws upon the temperament of a simple and[Pg 153] worthy race, now almost extinct. We may be allowed to quote two of the verses:
The silk-Æs about Middleton were renowned also for their zest in entomology, and truly wonderful were their cabinets of Lepidoptera. Unfortunately, when all was prosperous, there came a change. Ever since 1860, the year of the new, and still current, silk-treaties with France, whereby its original command of the trade was restored, the manufacture of silk in Lancashire, and everywhere else in England, has been steadily and hopelessly declining; and at the present day, compared with half a century ago, the production is less than a tenth of what it was. Power-looms naturally have the preference with employers, since they represent invested capital; whereas the hand-loom Æ, if there is no work for him, has merely to be told so. The latter, as a consequence, is now seldom met with. The trade, such as remains, gathers[Pg 154] chiefly about Leigh. Middleton, once so famous for its "broad silks,"—those adapted for ladies' dresses,—now spends its time chiefly in the preparation of "trimmings"; and wherever carried on the manufacture is almost wholly of the kind called "mixed," or cotton and silk combined, this being more in demand,[Pg 155] because lower in price, though not wearing so well.
From silk that befits empresses to hemp, the material of sackcloth, the way is long. But it must not be overlooked, in regard to the textile manufactures of Lancashire, that each extreme is familiar. Warrington, in the bygones, prepared more than half the entire quantity of sailcloth required for the navy. It was a ship laden with hemp from the Baltic for use in Lancashire which, touching at the Isle of Skye, brought the first news of Prince Charles Edward's landing there.
Lancashire produces one-sixth of all the paper made in England. In other words, there are in this county about fifty of the nearly 300 English paper-mills, including the very largest of them—Messrs. Wrigley and Sons', near Bury. The first to be established was Crompton's, at Farnworth, near Bolton, which dates from 1676, or exactly eighty-eight years after the building of the famous Kentish one referred to by Shakspere, which itself followed, by just a century, the primeval one at Stevenage. Every description of paper, except that required for bank-notes, is made in Lancashire. The mills themselves, like the dyeworks, haunt [Pg 156]the river-sides, though they no longer draw their supplies of water from the stream. Paper-works cannot possibly prosper if there be iron in the water they use, or decomposed vegetable matter. Hence in Lancashire it is now customary to sink wells of considerable depth, and in any case to provide for elaborate filtration. No spectacle in its way is more wonderful than that of a paper-machine at work. There is no limit to the length of the piece it is able to produce continuously, save that which is imposed by its own restricted dimensions. A roll could be made—as it is—of three or four miles in length, the cylinder gradually gathering up the pulp till it can hold no more. Very interesting also is it to observe the variety of material now employed. Esparto, or "Spanish grass," is brought to Liverpool (as to Cardiff and Newcastle) in exchange for coal, and wood-pulp from Norway and Sweden viâ Hull.
At Darwen we find the largest and most important production in England
of the ornamental wall-papers which now take the place of the
distemper painting of ancient Egypt, Herculaneum, and Pompeii. The
manufacture was originally very similar to block calico-printing. In
or about 1839 Messrs. C. & J. G. Potter introduced "rollers," with the
additional [Pg 157]
[Pg 159]novelty of the pattern being cut in relief; and this is now almost universal, the Messrs. Potter having progeny, as it were, all over the country, though they themselves still produce quite one-half of the quantity consumed. They have customers in every part of the civilised world, and adapt their work to the diverse and often fantastic tastes of all in turn, directed not uncommonly, as in the case of the Hindoos and the Japanese, by native designs, which they are required to follow implicitly.
To go further into the story of modern Lancashire manufacturing is not possible, since there is scarcely a British industry which in this county is without example, and to treat of the whole even briefly would require thrice the space already occupied. Among the foremost scenes to be described would be the plate-glass works at St. Helens; and the Manchester india-rubber works, the original, now sixty-seven years old, still carried on under the familiar name of Charles Macintosh & Co. The first were established in Glasgow; London, and then Manchester, were the next following centres, beginning with simple waterproof, but now producing articles of every conceivable variety. Thread, tape, pins, carpenters' tools, nails, screws, terra-cotta, bottles, aniline, soap, brass, and pewter-work, are also[Pg 160] Lancashire staples. Gunpowder is manufactured near the foot of Windermere; and at Prescot and thereabouts the people employ themselves, as they have done now for nearly three centuries, in manufacturing the delicate "works" and "movements" required for watches. Not without significance either, in regard to the general capabilities of the county, is the preparation at Newton by Messrs. M'Corquodale of the whole of the requirements of the Government, both for home use and in India, in the way of stationery and account-books. For the Government alone they manufacture forty millions of envelopes every year. They also execute the enormous amount of printing demanded by the L. & N. W. Railway Company. The great ship-building works at Barrow now need no more than a reference. The magnificent Atlantic Inman steamer, the City of Rome, a ship with a gross tonnage of 8400, and propelled by, upon the lowest estimate, 8500 indicated horse-power, was launched here in June 1881. After the ill-fated Great Eastern, this was the largest vessel then afloat. All has come into existence since about 1860, when the population of this out-of-the-way Lancashire village was under 4000, though now nearly 50,000, a growth without parallel except in the United States.
Omitting a considerable number of minor activities, there is, in
addition to the above, the vast sphere of industry, part of the very
life of working Lancashire, though not a manufacture, indicated by the
little word "coal." In their value and importance the Lancashire
collieries vie with the cotton-mills, declaring once again how close
and constant is the dependence of the prosperity of a great
manufacturing district upon its geology. Coalfields lying below the
surface leave the soil above them free for the purposes of the farmer
and the builder; in other words, for the raising of human food and the
development of useful constructive arts. Where there is plenty of coal
double the number of people can exist; the enormous population of
Lancashire south of the Ribble has unquestionably come as much of its
coalfields as of the invention of the spinning-jenny. The prevailing
rock in this portion of Lancashire is the well-known new red
sandstone, the same as that which overlies all our other best English
coal deposits. Concurrently with it, and with the millstone-grit, the
measures which have brought so much wealth to the county, extend from
Pendleton, two miles from Manchester, to Colne in the north-east, and
to St. Helen's in the west, many vast branches running out in various
directions from the principal mass.[Pg 164] What the exact thickness may be
of course is not known, but, according to Mr. Dickinson, it may be
estimated at 6450 feet. Some of the deepest pits in the country have
been sunk in it, as at the Rosebridge Colliery, near Wigan, where the
depth already reached is nearly 2500 feet, and the Ashton-moss Pit,
near Ashton-under-Lyne, which goes still lower,—it is said to 2700
feet,—in which case this last will be the deepest in England. The
direction of the dip is described by the colliers in a very pretty
way. They say it is towards "the rising sun," or "the setting sun,"
the different points included between these opposites being similarly
expressed by "dipping towards nine-o'clock sun," "twelve-o'clock sun,"
and so on. The sun is thus their compass, though few men see less of
it during their hours of labour. The neighbourhood of a colliery is
generally well declared. Independently of the apparatus over the
opening of the pit, there is no mistaking the significance of the row
of neat cottages, all fashioned on the same architectural model, a few
stray ones here and there, a trim little front garden seldom wanting,
with close by a few shops, a school-house, a chapel, both very plain,
and the proprietor's or agent's residence, somewhat ornate, and
garnished with evergreen shrubs, ready always for the washing of a
[Pg 167]kindly shower. In many places, as at Wigan, Atherton, Tyldesley, and St. Helens, women, both single and married, work at the collieries, but only above ground, or at the bank. They are prohibited by statute from descending the pit, and their names and ages are all exactly registered. Up to the waist they are dressed like men. Above the knees, instead of a coat, they have a peculiarly fashioned tunic, a compromise between gown and jacket, by which they may be distinguished from afar: a limp bonnet tied under the chin protects the head, but never conceals the ear-rings and plaited hair. Many of these women are plainly equal to their masculine colleagues in physical power, yet they earn only two-thirds of the wages given to men. The decorum of their behaviour while at work is unimpeachable; on Sundays they do their best to dress like ladies. The Lancashire quarries are also remarkable, though little resorted to by the architect. Commercial prosperity is always most conspicuous where the buildings are principally not of stone, but of brick.
Nothing does more to sustain and encourage the industry of a working population than a steady system of transit, and a well-timed delivery, alike of the natural products of the ground and of the articles manufactured.[Pg 168] Hence the early development in Lancashire of the idea of the canal, and, sixty years afterwards, of that of the railway. The history of the Bridgewater Canal is one of the most interesting connected with the county enterprise, the more so since all other canals were imitations of it. Many, however, are not aware that the celebrated peer under whose dictation it was constructed—Francis Egerton, the third and last Duke of Bridgewater—was led to devote himself for solace sake to engineering through a disappointment in love. That women, when troubled or bereaved, should take refuge in works of charity, and that when wealthy they should found hospitals and build orphanages, is very natural, and has plenty of exemplification; but for a man to turn when similarly circumstanced to science is phenomenal, and the records of search for consolation after this manner would probably be sifted in vain for a parallel case. Several versions of the story are afloat; whichever way be the true one, it is beyond a doubt that one of the greatest industrial achievements ever witnessed in England had for its prime cause the caprice or the temper of the widowed Duchess of Hamilton,—to whom a second coronet was offered,—she who in her early days was the celebrated belle Elizabeth Gunning. There is a waterway of[Pg 169] this description in Lancashire more remarkable in some respects even than the duke's canal—that one called the Leeds and Liverpool, the Lancashire portion of which curls round from the great seaport by way of Ormskirk, Southport, Wigan, Chorley, Burnley, and Colne, where the Yorkshire boundary is crossed. Near the towns, and especially in the south-west and south-east, these useful highways are dreary and uninteresting; but in rural districts, such as they must needs traverse, often for lengths of many miles, the borders sometimes acquire an unlooked-for picturesqueness, and are gaily dressed with wild-flowers. In any case they never fail in possession of the rude charms of the gliding boat, the slow-paced horse, and artless guide. The Lancashire railway system, it may be remarked, extends to within a trifle of 600 miles.
The primitive Lancashire character—industrious, frugal, sanguine, persevering, inflexible in determination—has already been sketched in brief. Some additional features, observable more particularly among the operatives and away in the country, deserve notice, the more so since it is in a people's average temperament that the key is usually found to their pursuits in playtime—after the songs, the most interesting chapter in a local history. The sum total of the private morals of working Lancashire probably does not differ pro rata from that which would be disclosed by a census of any other county. So with the manners and customs, for although in Lancashire the suavity of the South is soon missed, and though there is little touching of the hat or saying of "Sir," the absence of a courteous[Pg 171] spirit is more apparent than real, and in any case is amply compensated by a thoroughness of kindly sentiment which more polished communities do not always share. The "factory-folk," the colliers, and others, are usually considered turbulent and given to outrages. They are not so by nature. Though often rough, self-willed, and obstinate, the working population as a whole is too thoroughly Saxon for the riotousness one looks for while in the presence of the Celt. Social conflicts, when they arise, are set on foot by mischief-makers and noisy idlers whose personal interest it is to promote antagonisms. Save for these veritable "disturbers of the peace" the probability is that there would be few or none of the "strikes" and "turn-outs" which bring so much misery to the unfortunate women and children who have no say in the matter. The people who "strike" are in the mass more to be pitied than held chargeable with love of disorder, for, as a rule, they have been cruelly misled into the notion that it is the master's interest to pay as little as possible for their labour, the truth being that for his own sake he pays them the utmost the business will justify, so that they shall be strong enough, healthy enough, cheerful and good-tempered enough, to work with a will, thus augmenting his personal profits.[Pg 172] Every master of common-sense understands the principle, and does so pay. It may be useful to remind the reader that the profits made by a Lancashire "cotton-lord" differ totally in their composition from the payment received for his work by an artist, a physician, or a barrister. The cotton-manufacturer's profits consist of an infinite number of particles, an atom per head on the work of 500, and often 1000 assistants. To the outside and afar-off public, who hear of contentions over pennies, the sum seems nothing, and the man who refuses the penny a sordid fellow. But to the employer it very soon means hundreds of pounds, and represents perhaps half a year's income.
In Lancashire, whatever may be the case elsewhere, the people who "strike" are deceived in no slight measure through their own honesty and sincerity of purpose. One of the original characteristics of the county is to be fair and unsuspecting; no people in the world have a stronger dislike of deceit; one of the reasons why a genuine Lancashire man can usually be trusted is, that he is so little inclined to overstate or misrepresent. The very circumstance that wins our esteem thus renders him vulnerable. Disposed to be honest themselves, the operatives fall so much more readily a prey[Pg 173] to unscrupulous agitators. It is amusing, at the same time, to note how soon, when he detects an impostor, a Lancashire man will put him out of countenance; and how quick he is, in excellent balance, to perceive the meritorious, either in person or subject, and, perceiving, to appreciate.
A remarkable instance of the promotion of strikes by mischief-makers occurred at the commencement of the spring of 1881, when the colliers stood out for six weeks, at a loss to themselves of no less than £250,000 in wages, such as otherwise they would have earned. The chairman of the London and North-Western Railway Company explained it at the shareholders' meeting on 24th July, pointing out at the same time the immense collateral harm inflicted:
"They might remember that at the beginning of the year there was a settlement made with the colliers of Lancashire and their employers with regard to a mutual insurance fund against accident; but a Member of Parliament went down and persuaded these poor, unhappy people that they had better not accept it, but take care of themselves. He also persuaded them to make a strike, the result of which was disaster to every one. Prices did not go up, and unless prices went up wages could not; and the men afterwards suffered great distress. From this cause they estimated that the Company had lost traffic to the amount of about £100,000."
Another result was the permanent loss of an important market to the local colliery proprietors.[Pg 174] Many thousands of tons of Lancashire steam-coal were previously being sent weekly to Birkenhead; but during the stoppage of the Wigan collieries the coal masters of North and South Wales obtained possession of the market, and the quantity now sent to Birkenhead is confined to only a few hundreds of tons. The general question as to strikes, and of the kind of grievances that may sometimes be not unreasonably complained of, is no doubt a very large and complex one. But whatever may be the case elsewhere, it is impossible for the "strikers" to deny that in the aggregate, and in the long run, the tendency of the Lancashire masters' doings is to create and diffuse social happiness among the employed. It is the master's interest that his people should be not only strong and healthy and good workmen, but good men. Comfortable homes are prepared for their families. Schools were provided by innumerable Lancashire masters long before they were required to do so by law. Many an employer is noted for the pains he takes, and the money he spends, with a view to the operatives' enjoyments.
During the continuance of these ill-advised "strikes," and when the depression of trade—quite as distasteful to the master as to the man—involves "short time"—four or five days'[Pg 175] work in the week, or even less, instead of six, another capital feature of the Lancashire character comes to the front. No people in the world are capable of profounder fortitude. Patience under suffering never fails. Though pinched by hunger, such is the manly and womanly pride of the Lancashire operatives that they care less about privations than to be constrained to surrender any portion, however trifling, of their independence. That the large-hearted and intelligent among mankind are always the last to complain in the hour of trial no one needs telling. People of this character are probably more numerous everywhere than may be thought, for the simple reason that they are the least likely to be heard of; but it is worth putting on paper that no better illustrations are to be found than exist in plenty in working Lancashire. It is refreshing also to note the hearty kindness of the Lancashire operatives one to another in time of distress. Not upon "Trades' Union" principles, but upon the broad and unselfish basis of strong, natural, human sympathy, familiar to the friendly visitor; and which, when elevated, as it often is, by religion, and warmed and expanded by personal affection, becomes so beautiful that in its presence all short-comings are forgotten. These good qualities are unfolded[Pg 176] very specially on the occurrence of a terrible accident, such as a coal-pit explosion. In the yearning to be foremost in help to rescue; in the gentleness, the deference to authority, the obedience to discipline, the resignation then exhibited,—this last coming not of indifference, but of calmness,—a capacity is plainly shown for the highest conceivable moral development.
The Dialect.—The original county dialect of Lancashire is of twofold interest. Still heard among the rustics, it is peculiarly valuable to the student of the English language. "Our South Lancashire speech," says its most accomplished interpreter, "is second to none in England in the vestiges which it contains of the tongue of other days.... To explain Anglo-Saxon there is no speech so original and important as our own South Lancashire patois." To the ears of strangers who know nothing about it the sound is often uncouth and barbarous. That it is far from being so is proved by the use long made of this dialect for lyric poetry and for tales both racy and pathetic. There is conclusive evidence also of its sweet and meaningful pathos in the resorting to it in times of deep emotion by people [Pg 177]of the highest culture, who then unconsciously throw aside the learning and the vocabulary of school and college for the simplicity that never fails to touch the heart. The titles of the stories hold a conspicuous place in Mr. Axon's list of the no fewer than 279 publications illustrative of the general subject of the Lancashire dialect; the literature of which, he justly remarks in the introduction, is richer than that of the popular speech of any other English county. This is so much the more noteworthy since, with the famous manufacturing epoch of 1785, everything belonging to primitive Lancashire began to experience change and decay. In a certain sense it may be said that the dialect has not only survived unhurt, but has risen, during the last thirty or forty years, to a position worthy of the native talent; and that the latter, in days to come, will have no better commemoration than the metrical literature. Two particulars at once arrest attention. No English dialect more abounds in interesting archaisms; and certainly not one is so little tainted with expressions of the nature of slang.
Rochdale occupies the centre of the most distinctively Lancashire-dialect region. As ordinarily employed, the phrase vaguely denotes the rural speech of the manufacturing districts. But beyond the Ribble, and more particularly beyond the Lune, there is unmistakable variation from the genuine Lancashire of "Tim Bobbin"; and in Furness there is an echo of Cumberland. In genuine Lancashire we have first the old-accustomed permutations of the vowels. Then come elisions of consonants, transpositions, and condensations of entire syllables, whereby words are often oddly transformed. Ancient idioms attract us next; and lastly, there are many of the energetic old words, unknown to current dictionaries, which five centuries ago were an integral part of the English vernacular. The vowel permutations are illustrated in the universal "wayter," "feyther," "reet," "oi," "aw," "neaw," used instead of water, father, right, I, now. "Owt" stands for aught, "nowt" for naught. Elisions and contractions appear in a thousand such forms as "dunnoyo" for "do you not," "welly" for "well-nigh." "You" constantly varies to thee and thou, whence the common "artu" for "art thou," "wiltohameh" for "wilt thou have me." A final g is seldom heard; there is also a characteristic rejection[Pg 179] of the guttural in such words as scratched, pronounced "scrat." The transpositions are as usual, though it is only perhaps in Lancashire that gaily painted butterflies are "brids," and that the little field-flowers elsewhere called birds' eye are "brid een."
The old grammatical forms and the archaic words refer the careful listener, if not to the Anglo-Saxon of King Alfred, at all events to the Canterbury Tales; they take us pleasantly to Chaucer, and Chaucer in turn introduces us agreeably to Lancashire, where "she" is always "hoo," through abiding in the primitive "he, heo, hit;" and where the verbs still end in n: "we, ye, they loven," as in the Prologue—
Very interesting is it also when the ear catches the antiquated his and it where to-day we say it and its. Often supposed to correspond with the poetical use of "his" in personifications (often found in the authorised version of Scripture), the Lancashire employment of his is in truth the common Shaksperean one, his in the county palatine being the simple genitive of the old English hit, as in Hamlet, iv. 7—
So with the obsolete possessive it. When a Lancashire woman says, "Come to it mammy!" how plain the reminder of the lines in King John—
Archaic words are illustrated in many a familiar phrase. A Lancashire girl in quest of something "speers" for it (Anglo-Saxon spirian, to inquire). If alarmed, she "dithers"; if comely and well conducted, she behaves herself "farrantly"; if delicately sensitive, she is "nesh"—
So when the poor "clem" for want of food—"Hard is the choice," says Ben Jonson, "when the valiant must eat their arms or clem." Very many others which, though not obsolete in polite society, are seldom heard, help to give flavour to this inviting old dialect. To embrace is in Lancashire to "clip"; to move house is to "flit"; when the rain descends heavily, "it teems"; rather is expressed by "lief" or "liefer," as in Troilus and Cresseide—
Pastimes and Recreations.—The pastimes[Pg 181] and recreations of the Lancashire people fall, as elsewhere, under two distinct heads; those which arise upon the poetic sentiment, the love of purity, order, and beauty, and those which come of simple desire to be entertained. Where poesy has a stronghold, we have never long to wait for the "touches of sweet harmony"; hence a characteristic of working Lancashire, immemorial as to date, is devotedness to music. In all Europe it would be difficult to find a province where the first and finest of the fine arts is better understood, or more reverently practised. High-class sacred music—German music in particular—fills many a retired cottage in leisure hours with solace and joy; and very generally in villages, as well as in the large towns, there are clubs and societies instituted purely for its promotion. "On the wild hills, where whin and heather grow, it is not uncommon to meet working-men with their musical instruments on their way to take part in some village oratorio many miles distant.... Up in the forest of Rossendale, between Derply Moor and the wild hill called Swinshaw, there is a little lone valley, a green cup in the mountains, called Dean. The inhabitants of this valley are so notable for their love of music that they are known all through the neighbouring country as 'Th' Deign[Pg 182] layrocks.'" In many of the large country manufacturing establishments—the printworks, for instance—the operatives have regularly organised "bands,"—the employers giving encouragement,—the value of which, in regard to moral culture, is shown in the members being usually the trusted men.
The same primitive inclination towards the poetic would seem to underlie the boundless Lancashire love of flowers and gardens. Not that the passion is universal. The chief seat, as of the intrinsically best of the dialect, is the south-eastern part of the county: the portion abutting on Yorkshire is unfavourably cold, and though in the north occur fine examples of individual enthusiasm, there is little illustration of confederated work. Societies strong and skilful enough to hold beautiful exhibitions are dotted all over the congenial parts of the cotton district. They attend as diligently to the economic as to the decorative; one never knows whether most to admire the onions, the beans, and the celery, or the splendid asters, dahlias, and phloxes—in many parts there is ancient renown also for gooseberries. After the manner of the wise in other matters, the operative Lancashire gardeners, if they cannot [Pg 183]grow the things they might prefer, give their whole hearts to liking those they have at command. The rivalry and ambition in regard to gooseberries is unique. While the fruit is ripening upon the bushes it is sacrilege for a stranger to approach within a distance of many yards. On cold and hurtful nights the owner sits up to watch it, like a nurse with an invalid, supplying or removing defence according to the conditions, and on the show day the excitement compares in its innocent measure with that of Epsom. The exhibitors gather round a table: the chairman sits with scales and weights before him, calling in turn for the heaviest red, the heaviest yellow, and so on, every eye watching the balance; the end of all being a bright new kettle for the wife at home.
Many of the operative gardeners are assiduous cultivators of "alpines," the vegetable bijouterie of the mountains; others are enamoured of ferns, and these last are usually possessed of good botanical knowledge. The beginning would seem to date from the time of Elizabeth, thus from the time of Shakspere, when other immigrations of the Flemish Æs took place. Things of home too dear to leave behind them, they brought with them their favourite flowers, the tulip and the polyanthus.[Pg 184] These early growers would doubtless for a time be shyly looked upon as aliens. Nothing is known definitely of the work of the ensuing century, but there is certain proof that by 1725 Lancashire had already become distinguished for its "florists' flowers," the cultivation lying almost entirely in the hands of the artisans, who have never for an instant slackened, though to-day the activity is often expressed in new directions.
It is owing, without doubt, to the example of the operative Lancashire gardeners of the last century and a half that floriculture at the present moment holds equal place with classical music among the enjoyments also of the wealthy; especially those whose early family ties were favourable to observation of the early methods. More greenhouses, hothouses, and conservatories; more collections of valuable orchids and other plants of special beauty and lustre exist in South Lancashire, and especially in the immediate neighbourhood of Manchester, than in any other district away from the metropolis. Orchid culture was practised here, as in Macclesfield and Birmingham, long before what orchids are was even a question in many parts. The name of one of the noblest species yet discovered, the Cattleya Mossiæ, commemorates an old Liverpool merchant, Mr. John[Pg 185] Moss, one of the first to grow these matchless flowers; while in that of the Anguloa Clowesii we are reminded of the beautiful collection formed at Higher Broughton by the Rev. John Clowes, which, after the decease of the possessor, went to Kew. A very remarkable and encouraging fact is that orchids, the queenliest and most fragrant of indoor flowers, can, like auriculas, with skilful management be brought to the highest possible state of perfection in an atmosphere in which many plants can barely exist—the smoky and soot-laden one of Manchester. The proof was supplied by the late Dr. R. F. Ainsworth of Cliff Point, to whom flower-show honours were as familiar as to Benjamin Simonite of Sheffield, that astonishing old florist whose auriculas are grown where the idea of a garden seems absurd.
These very practical proofs of the life and soundness of the poetic sentiment in working Lancashire prepare us for a county feature in its way quite as interesting and remarkable—the wide-spread and very deep-seated local taste for myth, legend, and superstition, which, in truth, is no other than the poetic sentiment uncultured and gone astray. Faith in "folklore" is by no means to be confounded with inane credulity. The folk-lore of a civilised[Pg 186] nation is the débris of the grand old spirit-worship—vague, but exquisitely picturesque, and figuratively significant, which, in the popular religion of the pre-Christian world, filled every sweet and romantic scene with invisible beings—Dryads, who loved the woodland; Naïads, that sported in the stream and waterfall; Oreads, who sat and sang where now we gather their own fragrant Oreopteris, and which assigned maidens even to the sea—the Nereids, never yet lost. "Nothing," it has been well said, "that has at any time had a meaning for mankind ever absolutely dies." How much of the primeval faith shall survive with any particular race or people—to what extent it shall be transformed—depends upon their own culture, spiritual insight, and ideas of the omnipresence of the Almighty, of which the fancies as to the nymphs, etc., declared a dim recognition: it is affected also very materially by the physical character and complexion of their country. This has been illustrated in the completest manner as regards the eastern borders of Lancashire by the accomplished author of Scarsdale already named: the influence of the daily spectacle of the wild moor, the evening walk homewards through [Pg 187]the shadowy and silent ravine, the sweet mysteries of the green and ferny clough, with its rushing stream, all telling powerfully, he shows us with perennial grace, upon the imagination of a simple-hearted race, constitutionally predisposed towards the marvellous, and to whom it was nourishment. Nobody is really happy without illusions of some kind, and none can be more harmless than belief in the mildly supernatural. The local fairy tales having now been pretty well collected and classified, it remains only to recognise their immense ethnographical value, since there is probably not a single legend or superstition afloat in Lancashire that, like an ancient coin, does not refer the curious student to distant lands and long past ages. Lancashire, we must remember, has been successively inhabited, or occupied, more or less, by a Celtic people,—by Romans, Danes, and Anglo-Saxons,—all of whom have left their footprints. No one can reside a year in Lancashire without hearing of its "boggarts"—familiar in another form in the Devonshire pixies, and in the "merry wanderer of the night," Titania's "sweet Puck." Absurd to the logician, the tales and the terrors connected with the boggarts carry [Pg 188]with them, like all other fables, a profound interior truth—the truth for which, as Carlyle says, "reason will always inquire, while half-reason stands indifferent and mocking." The nucleus of the boggart idea is, that the power of the human mind, exercised with firmness and consistency, triumphs over all obstacles, and reduces even spirits to its will; while, contrariwise, the weak and undetermined are plagued and domineered over by the very same imps whom the resolute can direct and control. So with the superstitions as to omens. When in spring the anglers start for a day's enjoyment, they look anxiously for "pynots," or magpies, one being unlucky, while two portend good fortune. The simple fact, so the ornithologists tell us, is that in cold and ungenial weather prejudicial to sport with the rod, one of every pair of birds always stays in the nest, whereas in fine weather, good for angling, both birds come out. Illustrations of this nature might be multiplied a hundred-fold, and to unabating advantage. Time is never ill-spent upon interpretation of the mythic. The effort, at all events, is a kindly one that seeks—
The dialect itself is full of metaphor,[Pg 189] images of great beauty not infrequently turning up. Some of them seem inherited from the primevals. That light and sound are reciprocally representative needs, for instance, no saying. From the earliest ages the idea of music has always accompanied that of sunrise. Though to-day the heavens declare the glory of God silently, in the beginning "the morning stars sang together":—old Homer's "rosy-fingered morn" is in Lancashire the "skryke" or cry "of day."
Though much that is deplorably brutal occurs among the lowest Lancashire classes, the character of the popular pastimes is in general free from stain; and the amusements themselves are often eminently interesting, since in honest and bona fide rustic sports there is always archæology. The tales they tell of the past now constitute in truth the chief attraction of the older ones. The social influences of the railway system have told no less upon the village-green than on the streets of cities; any picture that may now be drawn must needs owe its best colours to the retrospective. Contemplating what remains of them, it is pleasant, however, to note the intense vitality of customs and ceremonials having their root in feelings of reverence; such, for example, as the annual "rush-bearing" still current in many parts, and[Pg 190] not unknown even in the streets of modern Manchester. That in the olden time, prior to the introduction of carpets, the practice was to strew floors and indoor pavements with green rushes every one knows. Among the charges brought against Cardinal Wolsey was his extravagance in the too frequent and ostentatious spreading of clean ones. Employed also in churches and cathedrals on the anniversary of the feast of the saint to whom the building was dedicated, when renewed it was with special solemnity. In an age when processions full of pomp and splendour were greatly delighted in, no wonder that the renewal became an excuse for a showy pageant; and thus, although to-day we have only the rush-cart, the morris-dancers, the drums and trumpets, and the flags—the past, in association, lives over again. Small events and great ones are seldom far asunder. In the magnificent "rush-bearing" got up for the delectation of James I. when at Hoghton Tower, Sunday, 17th August 1617, lay one of the secret causes of the Stuart downfall. Sports on the Sabbath day had been forbidden by his predecessor. James, admitting as argument that the cause of the reformed religion had suffered by the prohibition, gave his "good people of Lancashire" leave to resume them. The Puritans took offence; the[Pg 191] wound was deepened by Charles; and when the time of trial came it was remembered.
"Pace-egging" (a corruption of Pasche or Pasque-egging) is another immemorial Lancashire custom, observed, as the term indicates, at Easter, the egg taking its place as an emblem of the Resurrection. Perverted and degraded, though in the beginning decorous, if not pious, the original house-to-house visitation has long had engrafted upon it a kind of rude drama supposed to represent the combat of St. George and the Dragon—the victory of good over evil, of life over death. So with "Simnel-Sunday," a term derived from the Anglo-Saxon symblian, to banquet, or symbel, a feast, a "simnel" being literally "banquet-bread." This corresponds with the Midlent-Sunday of other counties, and, particularly in Bury, is a time of special festivity. The annual village "wakes" observed everywhere in Lancashire, and equivalent to the local rush-bearings, partake, it is to be feared, of the general destiny of such things. Happily the railway system has brought with it an inestimable choice of pleasure for the rational. The emphatically staple enjoyment of the working [Pg 192]Lancashire population to-day consists in the Whitsun-week trip to some distant place of wonder or wholesome gratification, the seaside always securing the preference. In Lancashire it is not nearly or so much Whitsun-Monday or Whitsun-Tuesday as the whole of the four following days. In the south-eastern part of the county, Manchester particularly, business almost disappears; and very delightful is it then to observe how many little parties of the toiling thrifty are away to North Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and even to France. The factory system always implies masses. The people work in masses, and suffer in masses, and rejoice in masses. In Whitsun-week, fifty miles, a hundred miles away, we find in a score of places five hundred, perhaps a thousand. There are salutary home-pleasures ready besides. Manchester does wisely in holding its principal flower-show during this great annual holiday, drawing, in fair weather, some 50,000 visitors. The example is a good one, since with the growing disposition of the English people to enjoy their holidays, it behoves all those who have the management of places of healthy recreation to supply the most humanising that may be possible, and thus mitigate the influence of the hurtful ones. The staple game of muscular Lancashire was formerly that of bowls.[Pg 193] A history of Manchester would be incomplete without plenty of lively chat about it; and in regard to the more modern pastime, the cricket match, it is no vaunt to add that while the chief cricketing in England lies in the hands of only nine out of its forty counties, the premiership has once at all events, say in 1879, been claimed as fairly by Lancashire as by its great rival on the banks of the Trent. Nottinghamshire, moreover, had held its position without half the difficulties in the way that Lancashire had to contend with.
Scenery more diversified than that of Lancashire, taking the Duddon as its northern boundary, does not exist in any English county. For the present we shall keep to the portion south of the Lune, deferring the Lake District to the next chapter, to which may also be left the little that has to be said concerning the shore south of that river. The eastern parts have attractions quite as decided as those of the north, though of a character totally different. Every acknowledged element of the picturesque may be discovered there, sometimes in abundance. The only portion of the county entirely devoid of landscape beauty is that which is traversed by the Liverpool and Southport Railway, not unjustly regarded as the dullest in the kingdom. The best that can be said of this dreary district is, that at intervals it is relieved by the cheerful hues of cultivation.
From Liverpool northwards to the banks of the Ribble, excepting at some distance from the sea, and eastwards to Manchester, the ground is nearly level. Nothing must be expected where it borders upon the Mersey above the estuary. To quote the precise terms employed by Pennant, "The Mersey is by no means a pleasing water." The country bordering upon it, he might have added, appeals very slenderly to the imagination; and most assuredly, since the old topographer passed along, Nature has made no change for the better as regards the river, while man has done his best to efface any pretty features it may once have owned. But we have not to go far from the modern Tyre in order to find hills and the picturesque. Newborough and the vicinity present a remarkable contrast to the plains beneath. Here the country begins to grow really beautiful, and thenceforward it constantly improves. Some of the slopes are treeless, and smooth as a lawn; others are broken by deep and wooded glades, with streamlets bound for the Douglas (an affluent of the Ribble), one of the loveliest dells of the kind in South Lancashire occurring near Gathurst. On the summits, at Ashurst particularly, a sweet and pleasant air never fails to "invite our gentle senses." Here too we[Pg 198] get our first lesson in what may be truly said, once for all, of Lancashire—that wherever the ground is sufficiently bold and elevated we are sure not only of fine air and an extensive prospect, but a glorious one. At Ashurst, while Liverpool is not too far for the clear discerning of its towers and spires, in the south are plainly distinguished the innumerable Delamere pines, rising in dark masses like islands out of the sea; and far away, beyond the Dee, the soft swell of the hills of North Wales, Moel Vamma never wanting. This celebrated eminence, almost as well known in South Lancashire as in Denbighshire, may be descried even at Eccles, four or five miles from the Manchester Exchange.
Eastwards of the great arterial line of railway which, running from
Manchester to Lancaster through Bolton and Preston, almost exactly
bisects the county, the scenery is rich in the eloquent features which
come of wild and interminable surges of broad and massive hill, often
rocky, with heights of fantastic form, the irregularities giving
token, in their turn, of deep chasms and clefts, that subdivide into
pretty lateral glens and moist hollows crowded with ferns. The larger
glens constitute the "cloughs" so famous in local legend, and the
names of which recur so frequently in Lanca[Pg 199]
[Pg 201]shire literature. As Yorkshire is approached, the long succession of uplands increases in volume, rising at last in parts to a maximum altitude of nearly 1900 feet. Were a survey possible from overhead, the scene would be that of a tempest-ruffled ocean, the waves suddenly made solid.
Very much of this vast hill-surface consists of desolate, heathery, unsheltered moorland. The amount of unreclaimed land still existing in Lancashire, and which must needs remain for ever as it is, constitutes in truth one of the striking characteristics of the county. Not merely in the portion now specially under notice are there cold and savage wastes such as laugh the plough to scorn. The "fells" of the more northern districts present enormous breadths of similar character, incapable of supporting more than the poorest aboriginal vegetation, affording only the scantiest pasturage for a few scattered mountain-sheep, thus leaving the farmer without a chance. In itself the fact of course is in no degree remarkable, since there are plenty of hopeless acres elsewhere. The singular circumstance is the association of so much barrenness with the stupendous industries of the busiest people in the world. It is but in keeping after all with the general idea of old England,—
the pride of which consists in the constant blending of the most diverse elements. If we have grim and hungry solitudes, rugged and gloomy wildernesses, not very far off, be sure there is counterpoise in placid and fruitful vale and mead. Lancashire may not supply the cornfield: the soil and climate, though good for potatoes, are unfriendly to the cerealia; there is no need either to be too exacting; if the sickle has no work, there is plenty for the scythe and the spade.
A few miles beyond Bolton the hills begin to rise with dignity. Here
we find far-famed and far-seen Rivington Pike, conspicuous, like
Ashurst, through ascending almost immediately out of the plain. "Pike"
is in Lancashire, and in parts of the country closely adjacent, the
equivalent of "peak," the highest point of a hilly neighbourhood,
though by no means implying an exactly conical or pyramidal figure,
and very generally no more than considerable elevation, as in the case
of the "Peak of Derbyshire." Rivington well deserves its name,
presenting from many points of view one of those beautiful, evenly
swelling, and gently rounded eminences which the ancient Greeks were
accustomed to call Ï„Î¹Ï„Î¸Î¿á½· and
Î¼Î±ÏƒÏ„Î¿á½·, as in the
case of the classic mound at Samos which Callimachus connects so
elegantly with the [Pg 203]
[Pg 205]name of the lady Parthenia. There are spots, however, where the mamelon disappears. From all parts of the summit the prospect is delightful. Under our feet, unrolled like a carpet, is a verdant flat which stretches unbrokenly to the sea-margin, twenty miles distant, declared, nevertheless, by a soft, sweet gleam of silver or molten gold, according to the position of the sun in the heavens. The estuary of the Ribble, if the tide be in, renews that lovely shining; and beyond, in the remote distance, if the atmosphere be fairly clear, say fifty or sixty miles away, may be discerned the grand mountains that cast their shadows into Coniston. Working Lancashire, though it has lakes of its own, has made others! From the summit of Rivington we now look down upon half a dozen immense reservoirs, so located that to believe them the work of man is scarcely possible. Fed by the inflow of several little streams, and no pains taken to enforce straight margins, except when necessary, these ample waters exemplify in the best manner how art and science are able at times to recompense Nature—
The eastern slopes of the Rivington range descend into the spacious valley which, beginning just outside Manchester, extends nearly to Agricola's Ribchester, and in the Roman times was a soldiers' thoroughfare. In this valley lie Turton, Darwen, and Blackburn. The hills, both right and left, again supply prospects of great extent, and are especially attractive through containing many fine recesses, sometimes as round as amphitheatres. Features of much the same kind pertain to the nearly parallel valley in which Summerseat nestles, with the pleasurable additions that come of care to preserve and to compensate in case of injury. By this route we may proceed, for variety, to Whalley, the Mecca of the local archæologist; thence on to Clitheroe, and to the foot of famous Pendle. At Whalley we find "Nab's Hill," to ascend which is pastime enough for a summer's evening. Inconsiderable in comparison with some of its neighbours, this favoured eminence gives testimony once again to the advantages conferred by situation and surroundings, when the [Pg 207]rival claims consist in mere bulk and altitude. Lord Byron might have intended it in the immortal lines:
Westwards, from the summit the eye ranges, as at Rivington, over a broad champaign, the fairest in the district, the turrets of princely Stonyhurst rising amid a green throng of oaks and beeches. In the north it rests upon the flanks of airy Longridge, the immediate scene accentuated by the ruined keep of the ancient castle of the De Lacys. On the right towers Pendle itself, most massive of English mountains, its "broad bare back" literally "upheaved into the sky"; and completing the harmonious picture,—since no landscape is perfect without water,—below runs the babbling Calder. Whalley Nab has been planted very liberally with trees. How easy it is for good taste to confer embellishment!
Pendle, the most distinguished and prominent feature in the physical geography of Mid-Lancashire, is not, like mountains in general, broken by vast defiles, but fashioned after the manner of the Dundry range in Somersetshire, presenting itself as a huge[Pg 208] and almost uniform green mound, several miles in length, and with a nearly level sky-line. Dundry, however, is much less steep. The highest point is at the upper or north-east extremity, stated by the Ordnance Survey to be 1850 feet above the sea. The superficial extent is estimated at 15,000 statute acres, or about 25 square miles, including the great gorge upon the southern side called Ogden Clough—a broad, deep, and mysterious-looking hollow, which contributes not a little to the fine effect of this gigantic hill as seen from the Yorkshire side.
The slope which looks upon Yorkshire marks the boundary of the famous "forest of Pendle," a territory of nearly 25,000 acres—not to be understood as now or at any former period covered with great and aged trees, but simply as a tract which, when the property was first apportioned, lay ad foras, or outside the lands deemed valuable for domestic purposes, and which was left undisputed to the wild animals of the country. Immense breadths of land of this description existed in England in early times, and in no part was the proportion larger than in Lancashire, where many of the ancient "forests" still retain their primitive appellation, and are peculiarly interesting in the marked survival among the inhabitants[Pg 209] of the language, manners, and customs of their ancestors. Generally speaking, these ancient "forests" are distinguished also by dearth of primitive architecture and of rude primeval fences, the forest laws having forbidden all artificial hindrances to the chase, which in the refuges thus afforded to "deer," both large and small, had its most ample and enjoyable scope.
From the summit of Pendle, all that is seen from Whalley Nab, now diminutive, is renewed on a scale quite proportionate to its own nobleness. The glistening waters of the Irish Sea in the far west; in the north the mountains of Westmoreland; proximately the smiling valleys of the Ribble, the Hodder, and the Calder; and, turning to the east, the land as far towards the German Ocean as the power of the eye can reach. When the atmosphere is in its highest state of transparency even the towers of York Minster become visible. Well might the old historian of Whalley commend the prospect from mighty Pendle as one upon which "the eye, the memory, and the imagination rest with equal delight." To the same author we owe the showing that the common Lancashire term Pendle-hill is incorrect, seeing that the sense of "hill" is already conveyed, as in Penmanmawr and Penyghent. "Nab's Hill" would[Pg 210] seem to involve a corresponding repetition, "nab" being a form of the Scandinavian nebbé or nibba, a promontory—as in Nab-scar, near Rydal, and Nab-crag, in Patterdale.
All these grand peaks belong essentially to the range reached another
time by going from Manchester to Littleborough, ascending from which
place we find ourselves upon Blackstone Edge, so lofty (1553 feet),
and, when climbed, so impressive in all its circumstances, that we
seem to be pacing the walls of an empire. All the topmost part is
moorland; below, or upon the sides, there is abundance of the
picturesque; precipitous crags and rocky knolls, receding dells and
ravines, occurring frequently. Many of the dells in summer bear
witness to the descent in winter of furious torrents; the broad bed of
the now tiny streamlets that fall from ledge to ledge being strewed
with stones and boulders, evidently washed down from the higher
channel by the vehement water, heedlessly tossed about and then
abandoned. The desolate complexion of these winter-torrent gullies (in
Lancashire phrase "water-gaits") in its way is unique, though often
mitigated by the innumerable green fern-plumes upon the borders. The
naturalist's enjoyment is further quickened by the occurrence, not
infrequently, of fragments of calamites and other fossils. The
[Pg 213]ascent to the crest is by no means arduous. Attaining it, provided the atmosphere is free from mist, the prospect—now an old story—is once again magnificent, and, as at Rivington, made perfect by water. Nowhere perhaps in England has so much landscape beauty been provided artificially and undesignedly by the construction of great reservoirs as in the country of twenty miles radius around Manchester. The waters at Lymm and Taxal belong respectively to Cheshire and Derbyshire. Independently of those at Rivington, Lancashire excels both of them in the romantic lake below Blackstone Edge, well known to every pleasure-seeker as "Hollingworth." The measurement round the margin is quite two miles; hills almost completely encircle it, and, as seen from the edge, near Robin Hood's crags, so utterly is it detached from all that pertains to towns and cities as to recall the remotest wilds beyond the Tweed. Hollingworth Lake was constructed about ninety years ago with a view to steady maintenance of the Rochdale Canal. Among the hills upon the opposite or north-western side of the valley, Brown Wardle, often named in story, is conspicuous; and adorning the lofty general outline may be seen—best, perhaps, from near "Middleton Junction"—another mamelon—this one[Pg 214] believed in local story to be a haunt of the maidens of the Midsummer Night's Dream.
Looking westward from the Robin Hood pinnacles, the prospect includes the valleys of the Roch and the Spodden—the last-named stream in parts wild and wilful. At Healey its walls of rock appear to have been riven at different times. Here, struggling through a lengthened and tortuous cleft, and forming more than one lively cascade before losing itself in the dingle below, so plainly does the water seem to have forced a passage, asserting mastery over all impediments, that in the vernacular this spot is called the "Thrutch." The first phrase heard in a Lancashire crowd is, "Where are you thrutching?" The perennial attrition of the broken and impending rocks causes many of them to terminate in sharp ridges, and in one part has given birth to the "Fairies' Chapel." The streams spoken of have their beginning in the lofty grounds which intervene between Rochdale and Cliviger, and include aspiring Thieveley Pike. Thieveley in the bygones served the important use of a station for beacon-fires, signalling on the one hand to Pendle, on the other to Buckton Castle. The prospect from the top, 1474 feet above the sea, comprehends, to the north, almost the whole of Craven, with Ingleborough,[Pg 215] and the wilds of Trawden Forest. The nearer portions of the Lake District mountains, now familiar, are discernible; and on sunny evenings, when the river is full, once more the bright-faced estuary of the Ribble. The view reaches also to North Wales and Derbyshire, the extremities of this great map being quite sixty miles asunder.
Cliviger, after all, is the locality which most astonishes and delights the visitor to this part of Lancashire. Soon after quitting Rochdale, the railway passes through the great "Summit Tunnel," and so into the Todmorden Valley, there very soon passing the frontier formed by the Calder, and entering Yorkshire. The valley is noted for its scenery, new combinations of the most varied elements, rude but not inhospitable, rising right and left in quick succession. Turning up the Burnley Valley, we enter Cliviger proper: a district having a circuit of nearly twenty miles, and presenting an endless variety of the most romantic features possible to mingled rock and pastured slope, constantly lifted to mountain-height, the charm of the huge gray bluffs of [Pg 216]projecting gritstone augmented in many parts by abundance of trees, the predominant forms the graceful ones of larch, birch, and mountain-ash. The trees are now very nearly a century old, having been planted during the fifteen years ending with 1799, yet, to appearance, still in the prime of their calm existence. A striking characteristic of this admired valley is the frequent apparent closing-in of the passage by protruding crags, which nevertheless soon give way to verdant curves. Cliviger in every part is more or less marked by crags and curves, so that we incessantly come upon vast green bowls or hemispherical cavities, the bases of which change at times into circular plateaux, at midsummer overlaid with carpets of the prettiest botanical offspring of the province,—
For introduction to these choice bits it is needful, of course, to leave the main thoroughfares and take one of the innumerable by-paths which lead away to the lonely and impressive silence of the moors, which, though desolate and sometimes bleak, have a profoundly delightful influence upon the mind. Their interest is heightened by the portions which are vividly[Pg 217] green with bog-moss, being the birthplace of important streams. No slight matter is it to stand at any time where rivers are cradled. Here the flow of water is at once both east and westwards—a phenomenon witnessed several times in the English Apennine, and always bidding the traveller pause awhile. The Ribble and the Wharf begin this way; so do the Lune and the Swale: playmates in childhood, then parting for ever. Similarly, in Cliviger Dean the two Calders issue from the same fragment of watery waste, destined immediately for opposite courses. Hard by, in a stream called Erewell, at the foot of Derply Hill, on the verge of Rossendale, may be seen the birthplace of the Manchester Irwell.
The promise given at Newborough in regard to the scenery of East Lancashire is thus perfectly fulfilled. It does not terminate either with Cliviger, being renewed, after passing Pendle, all the way to the borders of Westmoreland. Ward-stone, eight or nine miles south-east of Lancaster, part of the Littledale Fells, has an altitude exceeding even that of Pendle.
Asking for the best portions of the Lancashire river scenery, they are
soon found, pertaining to streams not really its own—the Lune,
approaching from Westmoreland by way[Pg 218] of Kirby Lonsdale, to which
place it gives name; and the Ribble, descending from the high
moorlands of Craven, first passing Ingleborough, then Settle, and
Bolton Abbey. The only two important streams which actually rise
within the confines of the county are the Wyre and the much-enduring
Irwell. Lancashire is rich in home-born minor streams, a
circumstance said to be recognised in the ancient British name of the
district,—literally, according to Whitaker, the
"well-watered,"—and many of these, the affluents in particular,
do, no doubt, lend themselves freely to the production of the
picturesque, as in the case of the Darwen, which glides almost
without a sound beneath Hoghton Tower, joining the Ribble at Walton;
and the Wenning, which, after bathing the feet of a thousand
water-flags and forget-me-nots, strengthens the well-pleased Lune.
[Pg 221]Tributaries,—the little primitive streamlets which swell the affluents,—since they begin almost always among the mountains, are at all times, all over the world, wherever they run, in their youth pure and companionable. One joyous consideration there is open to us always, namely, that if we go to the beginning of things we are fairly well assured of purity; whatever may be the later history, the fountain is usually a synonym for the undefiled, as very pleasantly certified by the Erewell Springs; the beginnings of the unhappy Irwell itself are clear and limpid. Still, as regards claims to high distinction, the river scenery of Lancashire is that, as we have said, which pertains to its welcome guests, the Ribble and the Lune. When proud and wealthy Ribchester was in existence fifteen centuries ago, there is reason to believe that the Ribble, for many miles above Preston, was considerably broader and deeper than at present, or at all events that the tide came very much farther up than it does to-day. It did so as late as the time of Leland. The change, as regards the bed of the river, would thus be exactly the reverse of the helpful one to which modern Liverpool owes its harbour. England nowhere contains scenery of its kind more suave than that of the Ribble, from Ribchester upwards. In parts[Pg 222] the current is impetuous. Whether rapid or calm, it is the life of a peaceful dale, from which the hills retire in the gentlest way imaginable, presenting as they go, green, smooth faces fit for pasture; then, through the unexpected changefulness which is always so much more congenial to the fancy than repetition, even of the most excellent things, wooded banks and shaded recesses, followed by more green lawns and woods again, the last seeming to lean against the sky. When the outline drops sufficiently, in the distance, according to the point of observation, rises proud old Pendle, or Penyghent, or Wharnside. Near Mitton, where Yorkshire darts so curiously into Lancashire, the channel is somewhat shallow. Here, after a busy and romantic course of its own, the Hodder surrenders its waters, thus in good time to take part in the wonderful whirl, or "wheel," at Salesbury, a little lower down, an eddy of nearly twenty yards in depth, and locally known as "Sale-wheel." If a haven ever existed at the mouth of the Ribble, it has now disappeared. The sands at the bar continually shift with high tides, so that navigation is hazardous, and vessels of light draught can alone attempt the passage.
The very interesting portion of the scenery on the banks of the Lune, so far as concerns[Pg 223] Lancashire, lies just above Lancaster itself. Nearly all the elements of perfect landscape intermingle in this part of the valley. If either side of the stream possesses an advantage, perhaps it will belong to the road along the southern border, or that which proceeds by way of Melon and Caton to Hornby, distant from Lancaster about nine miles. The river winds so waywardly that in many parts it seems a string of lakelets. Masses of woodland creep down to the edge, and whichever way the eye is turned, green hills form pictures that leave nothing to be desired.
The Roman Road.—The portion of Roman Road referred to at the outset as crossing Blackstone Edge presents, like all similar remains in our island, one of the most conclusive as well as interesting memorials we possess of the thorough conquest of the country by the Cæsars. Labour and skill, such as were so plainly devoted to the construction of these wonderful roads, would be expended only by conquerors determined on full and permanent possession, such as the Romans maintained for three hundred and seventy years:—the Blackstone Edge road has in addition the special interest which attaches to features not found anywhere else, at all events nowhere else in England. The roads in question were designed not more to[Pg 224] facilitate the movements of the troops than for the easier transport of merchandise and provisions, a purpose which this one on Blackstone Edge seems to indicate perfectly. In the district we to-day call "Lancashire" there were several roads of the principal class, these serving to connect Warrington, Manchester, Ribchester, and Lancaster, from which last place there was continuation to Carlisle, and furnishing ready access to modern "Yorkshire," thus to Ilkley—the Olicana of Ptolemy—and York, the famous city which saw the death of Severus and the birth of Constantine. Manchester and Ribchester were the two most important strongholds in Western Brigantia, standing on the direct great western line from the south to the north. There were also many branch or vicinal roads leading to minor stations; those, for instance, represented to-day by Wigan, Colne, Burnley, Kirkham, Urswick, Walton-le-Dale, and Overborough. The lines of most of these roads have been accurately determined, the chief of them having been usually straight as an arrow, carried forward with undeviating precision, regardless of all obstacles. They were formed generally in Lancashire of huge boulder stones, probably got from neighbouring watercourses, or of fragments of rock embedded in gravel, and varied in width from four yards[Pg 225] to perhaps fourteen. The stones have in most places disappeared—made use of, no doubt, by after-comers for building purposes; as exemplified on Blackstone Edge itself, where the materials of which the wall near the road has been constructed point only too plainly to their source. Complete remains continuous for any considerable distance are found only upon elevated and unfrequented moorlands; where also the substance of the road appears to have been more rigid. The Blackstone Edge road, one of this kind, ascends the hill at a point about two miles beyond Littleborough—an ancient Roman station, here consisting of a strip of pavement exactly sixteen feet wide. It is composed of square blocks of millstone-grit, obtained upon the spot, laid with consummate care, and presenting, wherever the dense growth of whortleberry and other coarse herbage has been cleared away, a surface so fresh and even, that for seventeen centuries to have elapsed since its construction seems incredible. The unique feature of the road consists in the middle being formed of blocks considerably larger than those used at the sides, harder, and altogether of better quality, laid end to end, and having a continuous longitudinal groove, obviously the work of the chisel. This groove, or "trough," evidently extended[Pg 226] down the entire roadway where steep, beginning at the top of the hill. Nothing like it, as said above, is found anywhere else in England, for the simple reason, it would appear, that no other British Roman road descends by so steep an incline. For it can hardly be doubted that Dr. March is correct in his conjecture, that it was intended to steady the passage of wagons or other vehicles when heavily laden; brakes adjusted to the wheels retarding their progress as indicated by marks still distinguishable. In some parts there are indications also of lateral trenches cut for the downflow of water, the road itself being kept dry by a slight convexity of surface. Over the crest of the hill the descent is easy, and here the paving seems to have been discontinued. The Robin Hood rocks close by present remarkably fine examples of typical millstone-grit. Rising to the height of fifty feet and fantastically "weathered," on the summits there are basin-like cavities, popularly attributed, like so many other things they had no hand in, to the Druids; but palpably referable to a far less mythical agency—the quiet action, during thousands of years, of the rain and the atmosphere.
The coast of Lancashire has already been described as presenting, from the Mersey upwards as far as the estuary of the Kent, an almost unbroken surface of level sand. In several parts, as near Birkdale, the western sea-breeze, pursuing its work for ages, has heaped up the sand atom by atom into hills that have a romantic and attractive beauty all their own. But of overhanging rocks and crags there are no examples, except when at Heysham, in Morecambe Bay, the millstone grit cropping out so as to form a little promontory, gives pleasing change. Almost immediately after entering this celebrated bay—although the vast expanse of sand remains unaltered—the mountains begin to draw nearer, and for the rest of the distance, up to the estuary of the Duddon, where Cumberland begins, the scenery close inshore is picturesque.[Pg 228] The peculiar feature of the coast consists, perhaps, in its estuaries. No seaside county in England has its margin interrupted by so many as there are in Lancashire, every one of the rivers which leave it for the Irish Sea, excepting the insignificant Alt (six or eight miles north of Liverpool), widening immensely as the sands are approached. Embouchures more remarkable than those of the Ribble, the Wyre, the Lune, and the various minor streams which enter Morecambe Bay, are certainly not to be found, and there are none that through association awaken interest more curious.
When, accordingly, the visitor to any one of the Lancashire watering-places south of the Ribble desires scenery, he must be content with the spectacle of the sea itself, and the glimpses obtained in fair weather of the mountains of maritime North Wales. At Blackpool it is possible also, on clear evenings, to descry the lofty peaks of the Isle of Man, and occasionally even Cumberland Black Combe. At Fleetwood these quite compensate the dearth of inland beauty, and with every step northwards more glorious becomes the outlook. Not to mention the noble sea in front—an ocean when the tide is in—all the higher grounds of Cartmel and Furness are plainly in view. Upon these follow the fells of Coniston,[Pg 229] and a little more to the east the dim blue cones which mark the near neighbourhood of the head of Windermere. Everything is renewed at Morecambe, and upon a scale still more commanding: the last reflection, as one turns homeward from that favoured spot, is that the supreme seaside scenery of old England pertains, after all, to the many-sided county of the cotton-mills.
The watering-places themselves are healthful, well-conducted, and ambitious. None of them had substantial existence seventy or eighty years ago. Southport, the most important and the most advanced in all that is honourable, is a daughter of the primitive neighbouring village of Churchtown,—filia pulchrior very emphatically. Blackpool, in 1817, was only a rabbit-warren, the sunward slopes, like those of original Birkdale and Churchtown, a playground for quick-eyed lizards, their descendants, both gray and green, not yet extinct. Fleetwood has grown up within easy recollection; Morecambe is a creation almost of yesterday. Unexcelled, in summer, for the visitor in search of health, in its cool, firm, ample sands, Fleetwood aspires to become important also commercially. Morecambe, though destitute of a deep channel, and unable to offer the security of a natural harbour, is making vigorous efforts in the same[Pg 230] direction. Sir J. E. Smith, in his account of the evening-primrose in English Botany, a.d. 1805, described the Lancashire coast as a sort of ultima Thule:—to-day, at Southport, there is the finest Winter Garden out of London; and at a couple of miles distance, reached by tram-car, a Botanical Garden, including fernery and conservatories, that puts to shame many an ancient and wealthy city. A drawback to these South Lancashire watering-places, as mentioned before, is that the water, at low tide, recedes so far, and ordinarily is so reluctant to return. But is the tide everything? When out, there is the serene pleasure of silent stroll upon the vast expanse, the inspiring solitude beyond which there is only Sea. On these smooth and limitless sands there is plenty alike for repair of body, the imagination, and the solace of the naturalist. Shells may be gathered in plenty, and in different parts, of very various kinds: solens, long and straight; mactras, dentalias, that resemble miniature elephant's tusks; the fragile pholas; tellinas, that seem scattered rose-petals; and towards Fleetwood pearly trochuses, dappled with lilac. A more delicious seaside walk for those who love the sound of the rolling surge, the sense of infinite tranquillity, total seclusion from every circumstance of town and city life, and the sight of old[Pg 231] ocean's playthings, may be sought the world over, and not found more readily than by pursuing the five or six miles between Fleetwood and Blackpool, one's face turned all the while to the poetic west. Wanting rocks, upon these quiet sands there are no native seaweeds, though fragments lie about, torn from beaches far away, and stranded.
Very distinct interest attaches to the physical history of this part of the coast, the elevation of which was at some not very remotely distant period, almost without doubt, much higher. Mr. Joseph Dickinson, the well-known geologist, and Government Inspector of Mines, believes that in certain portions it has subsided through the solution of rock-salt in the strata below—the circumstance to which the formation of most, if not all, of the natural Cheshire meres is attributed. The existence of the rock-salt has been clearly proved by the sinking of a shaft and subsequent borings, near Preesal, a village about a mile and a half south-east of Fleetwood. The thickness of the deposit is similar to that met with in the salt districts of Cheshire, at Port Clarence, near the mouth of the Tees, and at Stoke Prior, Worcestershire. The subsidence of the shore at Blackpool is, on the northern side, very palpable. Here the path to Rossall is pursued for some[Pg 232] distance along the brow of an earthy, crumbling cliff, not very far from which, exposed at the lowest of low tides, there is a little insulated mound, upon which, according to well-sustained tradition, there once stood a cottage long since overwhelmed by envious Neptune.
The great rampart of sand-hills which stretches for so many leagues, and which has been calculated to have an area of twenty-two square miles, is thought by another distinguished geologist—Mr. T. Melland Reade—to have taken certainly not less than 2500 years to form, probably a much longer time. Some of the mounds, however, are manifestly quite recent, interstratifications of cinders and matter thrown up from wrecks, being found near the base. A strong westerly wind brings up the sand vehemently, and very curious then becomes the spectacle of its travel, which resembles the flow of thin waves of translucent smoke. The wind alternately heaps up the sand and disperses it, except where a firm hold has been obtained by the maram, or star-grass, the roots of which bind and hold all together. Decoration of the smooth surface of the sloping sand-hills is supplied by the wind-whirling of the slender stalks half way round, and some[Pg 233]times quite so, when there is room for free play: circles and semicircles are then grooved, smaller ones often inside, as perfect as if drawn with compasses. Another curious result of the steady blowing of the sea-breeze is that on the shore there are innumerable little cones of sand, originating in shells, or fragments of shells, which arrest the drifting particles, and are, in truth, rudiments of sand-hills, such as form the barrier a little further in.
Further north the shore has little to offer in the way of curiosities, nor is there any agreeable bathing-ground; not even at Grange. Never mind. The further we advance towards the county frontier, the more wonderful become the sands, these spreading, at low water, like a Sahara, with the difference, that the breath of ocean, nowhere in the world sweeter, blows across them for ever and ever. On a moonlight night, when the tide is at the full, Morecambe Bay, surveyed from Kent's Bank, presents an aspect of inexpressible fascination, the rippled lustre being such as a shallow sea, gently moving, alone can yield.
Moving onwards, or towards Cumberland, we find that Lancashire is not without its island. This is Walney, off the estuary of the Duddon,[Pg 234] closely abutting on the mainland of Furness—a very singular bank or strip of mingled sand, pebbles, and shingle, nearly ten miles in length, and half a mile broad where widest. Barren as it may seem from the description, the soil is in parts so fertile that capital crops of grain are reaped. There are people on it, likewise, though the inhabitants are chiefly sea-gulls. Walney Island is the only known locality for that beautiful wild-flower the Geranium Lancastriense, a variety of the sanguineum, the petals, instead of blood-colour, as at Fleetwood, on St. Vincent's Rocks, and elsewhere, cream-white netted with rose. The seaward or western side of Walney is defended by a prodigious heap of pebbles, the mass of which is constantly augmenting, though left dry at low water. At the lower extremity of the island there is a light-house, sixty-eight feet high, and adjacent to it there are one or two islets.
The portion of Lancashire to which Walney belongs, or that which, as it is locally said, lies "north of the sands" (the sands specially intended being those of Morecambe Bay), agrees, in natural composition, with Westmoreland and Cumberland. It is distinguished by mountain-summits, greatly exceeding in elevation those found upon the confines of Yorkshire, and the[Pg 235] lower slopes of which are, as a rule, no longer naked, but dressed with shrubs and various trees. Concealed among these noble mountains are many deep and romantic glens, while at their feet are lakes of matchless purity. No feature is more striking than the exchange of the broad and bulky masses of such hills as Pendle for the rugged and jutting outlines characteristic of the older rocks, and particularly, as here, of the unstratified. Before commencing the exploration, it is well to contemplate the general structure of the country from some near vantage-ground, such as the newly-opened public park at Lancaster; or better still, that unspeakably grand terrace upon the Westmoreland side of the Kent, called Stack-head, where the "Fairy steps" give access to the plain and valley below, and which is reached so pleasantly by way of Milnthorpe, proceeding thence through Dallam Park, the village of Beetham, and the pine-wood—in itself worth all the journey. The view from the Stack-head terrace (profoundly interesting also, geologically) comprises all that is majestic and beautiful as regards the elements of the picturesque, and to the Lancashire man is peculiarly delightful, since, although he stands actually in Westmoreland, all the best part of it, Arnside Knot alone excepted, is within the borders of[Pg 236] his own county. Whether the most pleasing first impressions of the scenery of the Lake District are obtained in the way indicated; or by taking the alternative, very different route, by way of Fleetwood and Piel, is nevertheless an open question. The advantage of the Lancaster route consists in the early introduction it gives to the mountains themselves—to go viâ Fleetwood and Piel involves one of those inspiring little initiative voyages which harmonise so well with hopes and visions of new enjoyment, alluring the imagination no less agreeably than they gratify the senses.
The Lancaster route implies, in the first instance, quiet and unpretending Silverdale; then, after crossing the estuary of the Kent, leafy Grange—unrivalled upon the north-west coast, not only for salubrity, but for the exhaustless charms of the neighbouring country. Whatever the final intentions in visiting this part of England, a few days' delay at Grange will never be regretted: it is one of those happy places which are distinguished by wild nature cordially shaking hands with civilisation. Sallying forth from the village in an easterly direction, or up the winding and shady road [Pg 237]which leads primarily to Lindal, we may, if we please, proceed almost direct to Windermere, distant about ten miles. Turn, before this, up the green slope just beyond Ellerhow, the village on the left, perched conspicuously on the highest hill in front, thus reaching Hampsfell. Many beautiful views will have been enjoyed upon the way, land and sea contributing equally; all, at the top of Hampsfell, are renewed threefold, innumerable trees remembering that no witchery is perfect in the absence of graceful apparel; while in the valley below, gray and secluded Cartmel talks of a remote historic past. Fully to realise the absorbing beauty of the scene, there must be no hesitation in ascending to the Hospice, where the "herald voice" of "good tidings" heard at Lindal is proved not to have uttered a single syllable in excess. Hampsfell may be reached also by a path through the Eggerslack woods, noted for the abundance of their hazel-nuts, and entered almost immediately after emerging from Grange; and again by a third, somewhat circuitous, near the towering limestone crags called Yewbarrow.
Kent's Bank, a couple of miles beyond Grange, supplies hill scenery little inferior. The heights above Allithwaite cover almost the whole of the fine outlook characteristic of[Pg 238] the northern shore of Morecambe Bay. Kirkhead and Humphrey Head also give unlimited prospects, especially when the tide is in. The man who loves solitude will find them lonely enough for hermitages:—blackberries beyond measure grow on the slopes. Humphrey Head presents features rarely met with, consisting of a limestone promontory, the sides, in part, nearly vertical, thus closely resembling the rock at the south-western extremity of Clevedon, with which many associate Tennyson and the mournful verses which have for their burden, "Break, break, break, on thy cold gray stones, O Sea!" Grange, Kent's Bank, Kirkhead, and Humphrey Head, constantly awaken recollections of the beautiful village on the eastern edge of the Bristol Channel. The scenery corresponds, and in productions there is again a very interesting similarity, though Clevedon has a decided advantage in regard to diversity of species. Hampsfell and Allithwaite recur at intervals all the way to the borders of the Leven; thence, constantly varying, westward to the banks of the Duddon, and southward to the Furness Valley: not, indeed, until we reach Piel—the little cape where the boats arrive from Fleetwood—is there surrender.
Piel, as said above, is preferable as a route[Pg 239] to the Lake District, because of the preliminary half hour upon the water, which is generally smooth and exhilarating. It offers the most interesting way of approach, also, to Duddon Bridge, where the coast of Lancashire ends—a place itself of many attractions. The river, it is scarcely necessary to say, is the Duddon immortalised by Wordsworth, one of whose sonnets describes the "liquid lapse serene" of this too-seldom visited stream as it moves through Dunnerdale, after entering, near Newfield, through a rent in the rocky screen which adds so much to the romantic features of its early existence. The bridge gives ready approach to Black Combe, most gloomy and austere of the Cumberland mountains, but affording full compensation in the magnificence of the prospects, the height being little short of 2000 feet. Close by, in Lancashire, we find the ancient village of Broughton, the lords of which, four or five centuries ago, gave their name to a well-known suburb of Manchester—so curious is the history of estates.
The railway, after touching at Broughton, leads right away to Coniston, then to the foot of the "Old Man," the summit, 2649 feet above the level of the sea, so remarkable in its lines and curves that, once exactly distinguished[Pg 240] from the crowd of lower heights, like the head of Ingleborough, it is impossible to be mistaken. Towards the village it throws out a ridge, upon which the houses are chiefly placed. A deep valley intervenes, and then the mountain rises abruptly, the walls in some places nearly perpendicular, but in others disappearing, so that, if well selected, the path upwards is by no means toilsome, or even difficult, though impeded here and there by rocks and stones. The climbing is well repaid. From the brows of the old giant are seen mountains innumerable, lakes, rivers, woods, deep valleys, velvety meads, with, in addition, the accessories of every perfect landscape,—those which come of its being impregnated with the outcome of human intelligence and human feeling, the love of gardens, and of refined and comfortable homes. Looking south, south-west, and south-east, there are changing views of Morecambe Bay, flooded with brightness; the estuaries of the Kent, the Leven, and the Duddon; the capes and promontories that break the sea margin; Walney Island, the shining Irish Sea, with the Isle of Man beyond, and the whole of the long line of coast which runs on to the portals of the Wyre and more distant Ribble.
Over the mouth of the Leven, Lancaster [Pg 241]
[Pg 243]Castle is distinguishable. Far away, in the same line, the lofty ranges of the Craven district come in view; and when the atmosphere is very clear a dim blue mountain wave on the side where sunset will be indicates Snowdon. In other directions the views are somewhat circumscribed, Coniston being situated upon the frontiers rather than within the actual area of the hill country it so greatly enriches. The figure in general, of all that is seen, so far as the nature of the barriers will allow, is nevertheless majestic, and in itself worth all the labour of the ascent. The Old Man, it must be admitted, is prone to hide his ancient brows in mist and vapour; the time for climbing must therefore be chosen carefully and deliberately.
The lake, called Coniston Water, extends to a length of about six miles. It is in no part quite a mile in breadth, but although so narrow never gives the slightest idea of restriction; thus agreeing with Windermere, to which, however, Coniston bears not the least resemblance in detail, differing rather in every particular, and decidedly surpassing it in respect of the wildness and purple sublimity of the surroundings. The immediate borders, by reason of the frequently recurring showers of rain, are refreshingly green all the year[Pg 244] round; they allure, also, at every season, by the daintiness and the generosity with which the greater portion has been planted. Beyond the line to which the handiwork of man has been continued, or where the ground becomes steep and rocky, there are brown and heathy slopes, fissures and winding ravines, redolent of light and shade, the sunward parts often laced with little white streamlet waterfalls, that in the distance seem not cascades, but veins of unmelted winter snow. The slopes, in turn, like the arches in a Gothic cathedral, lead the eye upwards to outlines that please so much the more because imperfectly translatable; since when the clouds hover round the summits of these soaring peaks, they change to mystery and fable, wooing the mind with the incomparable charm that always waits upon the margin of the undiscovered.
From what particular point the best views, either of the lake or of the adjacent mountains, are readily obtainable, must of necessity be very much a matter of taste. Perhaps it is discreetest to take, in the first instance, the view up the lake, or from Nibthwaite, where the waters contract, and become the little river Crake—the stream which, in conjunction with the Leven from Windermere, forms the estuary named after the latter.
Contemplated from Nibthwaite, the mountains in which the lake is bosomed are certainly less impressive than when viewed from some distance farther up; but the mind is touched with a more agreeable idea of symmetry, and the water itself seems to acquire amplitude. None of the mountains are out of sight; the merit of this particular view consists jointly in their presence, and in the dignified composure with which they seem to stand somewhat aloof. The view down the lake,—that which is obtained by approaching Coniston viâ Hawkshead and Waterhead, is indescribably grand, the imposing forms of the adjacent mountains, those in particular of the Furness Fells (the altitude of which is nearly or quite 2600 feet), being here realised perfectly, the more distant summits fading delicately, the nearer ones dark and solemn. To our own fancy, the most impressive idea alike of the water and its framework is obtained, after all, not from either extremity, but from the surface, resting upon one's oars, as nearly as possible in the middle. Coniston Water contains a couple of islets, the upper one named, after its abundant Highland pines, "Fir Island." Many streamlets contribute to its maintenance, the principal being Coniston Beck and Black Beck. No celebrated waterfall occurs very near. All the[Pg 246] famous lake waterfalls bearing names belong either to Cumberland or Westmoreland.
Windermere, or more correctly, as in the well-known line:
is nearly twice the length of Coniston Water, but of little more than the same average width. Superficially it belongs to Westmoreland; the greater portion of the margin is, nevertheless, in Lancashire, without leaving which county the beauty of the English Zurich may be gathered perfectly.
The finest view of the lake, as a whole, is obtained near Ambleside,
on the road through the valley of Troutbeck, where it is visible for
nearly the whole extent, the islands seeming clustered in the middle.
Yet nothing can be lovelier, as regards detail, than the views
obtained by ascending from Newby Bridge, the point at which the Leven
issues. The scenery commences long before the lake is actually
reached, the river having a fall, in the short space of four miles, of
no less than 105 feet, consequently flowing with great rapidity, and
supplying a suitable introduction to the charms above its source.
Newby Bridge deserves every word of the praise so often bestowed upon
it. Lofty and wood-mantled hills enclose [Pg 247]
[Pg 249]the valley on every side, and whichever way we turn the impression is one of Eden-like retirement. The pine-crowned summit of Finsthwaite, reached by a woodland path having its base near the river-side, commands a prospect of admirable variety, the lake extending in one direction, while on the other the eye ranges over Morecambe Bay. The water of Windermere is clear as crystal—so limpid that the bottom in the shallower parts shows quite plainly, the little fishes darting hither and thither over the pebbles. Taken in its entirety, Windermere is the deepest of the English lakes, excepting only Wastwater, the level of the surface being, in parts, upwards of 240 feet above the bed. The maximum depth of Wastwater is 270 feet. Whether, on quitting Newby Bridge, the onward course be made by boat, or, more wisely, on foot or by carriage, along the road upon the eastern margin of the lake, the prevailing character of the scenery, for a considerable distance, will be found to consist in consummate softness and a delicacy of finish that it may be permitted to call artistic.
Not until we reach the neighbourhood of Storrs Hall (half way to Ambleside), where Lancashire ends and Westmoreland begins, is there much for the artist. The scenery so[Pg 250] far has been captivating, but never grand. Here, however, and of rarest hues, especially towards sunset, come in view the majestic Langdale Pikes, with mountains of every form, and Windermere proves itself the veritable "Gate Beautiful." Everywhere, upon the borders, oak and ash fling out their green boughs, seeking amiably others that spring from neighbours as earnest. Woodbine loves to mingle its fragrant coronals of pink, white, and amber with the foliage amid which the spirals "gently entwist;" and at all seasons there is the rich lustre of the peerless "ivy green." The largest of the Windermere islands (in the Lake District, as in the Bristol Channel, called "holms") has an area of thirty acres.
Esthwaite, the third and last of the trio of lakes claimed by Lancashire, is a quiet, unassuming water, so cheerful, withal, and so different in character from both Coniston and Windermere, that a day is well devoted to it. The length is not quite three miles; the width, at the broadest part, is about three furlongs; the best approach is by the ferry across Windermere, then ascending the mountain-path among trees, the lake presently appearing upon the left, silvery and unexpected, so suddenly does it come in view. Esthwaite, like the Duddon,[Pg 251] has been immortalised by Wordsworth, who received his education at Hawkshead, the little town at the northern extremity. The outlet is by a stream called the Cunsey, which carries the overflow into Windermere.
At the period so memorable in history when Wiclif was giving his countrymen the first complete English Bible—this under the kindly wing of John o' Gaunt, who shielded the daring reformer in many a perilous hour—Lancashire possessed six or seven baronial castles; and no fewer than ten, or rather more, of the religious houses distinguished by the general name of abbeys and priories. Every one of the castles, except John o' Gaunt's own, has disappeared; or if relics exist, they are the merest fragments. Liverpool Castle, which held out for twenty-four days against Prince Rupert, was demolished more than 200 years ago. Rochdale, Bury, Standish, Penwortham, are not sure even of the exact spots their citadels occupied. A fate in some respects heavier has overtaken the monastic buildings, these having gone in every[Pg 253] instance; though the ruins of one or two are so beautiful architecturally, that in their silent pathos there is compensation for the ruthless overthrow: one is reconciled to the havoc by the exquisite ornaments they confer, as our English ruins do universally, on parts of the country already picturesque.
Lancaster Castle, the only survivor of the fortresses, stands upon the site of an extremely ancient stronghold; though very little, somewhat singularly, is known about it, or indeed of the early history of the town. The latter would seem to have been the Bremetonacis of the Romans, traces of the fosse constructed by whom around the castle hill are still observable upon the northern side. On the establishment of the Saxon dynasty the Roman name was superseded by the current one; the Saxon practice being to apply the term caster, in different shapes, to important former seats of the departed Roman power, in the front rank of which was unquestionably the aged city touched by the waters of the winding Lune. Omitting fractions, the name of Lancaster is thus just a thousand years old. The Saxons seem to have allowed the castle to fall into decay. The[Pg 254] powerful Norman baron, Roger de Poictou (leader of the centre at the battle of Hastings)—who received from the Conqueror, as his reward, immense portions of Lancashire territory from the Mersey northwards—gave it new life. He, it is believed, was the builder of the massive Lungess Tower, though some assign this part of the work to the time of William Rufus. In any case, the ancient glory of the place was restored not later than a.d. 1100.
After the disgrace of Roger de Poictou, who had stirred up sundry small insurrections, the possession was transferred to Stephen, Earl of Boulogne, inheritor of the crown, and from that time forwards, for at least two centuries, the history of Lancaster Castle becomes identified with that of the sovereigns of our island to a degree seldom equalled in the annals of any other away from London. King John, in 1206, held his court here for a time, receiving within the stately walls an embassy from France. Subsequent monarchs followed in his wake. During the reign, in particular, of Henry IV., festivities, in which a brilliant chivalry had no slight share, filled the courtyard with indescribable animation. The gateway tower was not built till a later period, or the castle would probably not have suffered so severely[Pg 255] as it did when the Scots, after defeating Edward II. at Bannockburn, pushed into Lancashire, slaying and marauding. The erection of this splendid tower, perhaps the finest of its kind in the country, is generally ascribed to John o' Gaunt (fourth son of Edward III.), who, as above mentioned, was created second Duke of Lancaster (13th June 1362) by virtue of his marriage to Blanche, daughter of the first duke, previously Earl of Derby, and thus acquired a direct personal interest in the place. But certain portions of the interior—the inner flat-pointed archway, for instance, the passage with the vaulted roof, and a portion of the north-west corner—are apparently thirteenth-century work; and although it is quite possible that the two superb semi-angular towers and the front wall as high as the niche containing the statue may have been built by this famous personage, the probabilities point rather toward Henry, Prince of Wales, eventually Henry V. Ten years after the death of John o' Gaunt, or in 1409, this prince was himself created Duke of Lancaster, and may reasonably be supposed to have commemorated the event in a manner at once substantial and agreeable to the citizens. The presumption is strongly supported by the heraldic shield, which could not possibly have been John o' Gaunt's, since the quartering for[Pg 256] France consists of only three fleurs de lys. The original bearing of the French monarchy, as historians are well aware, was azure, semée de fleur de lys, or. Edward III. assumed these arms, with the title of King of France, in 1340. In 1364 the French reduced the number of fleurs de lys to the three we are so familiar with, and in due time England followed suit. But this was not until 1403, when John o' Gaunt had been in his grave nearly four years. The shield in question is thus plainly of a period too late for the husband of the Lady Blanche.
But whoever the builder, how glorious the features! how palatial the proportions! Placed at the south-east corner of the castle, and overlooking the town, this superb gateway tower is not more admirably placed than exalted in design. The height, sixty-six feet, prepares us for the graceful termination of the lofty wings in octagonal turrets, and for the thickness of the walls, which is nearly, or quite, three yards: it is scarcely possible to imagine a more skilfully proportioned blending of strength, regal authority, and the air of peacefulness. The statue of John o' Gaunt above the archway is modern, having been placed there only in 1822. But the past is soon recalled by the opening for the descent of[Pg 257] the portcullis, though the ancient oaken doors have disappeared.
The entire area of Lancaster Castle measures 380 feet by 350 without reckoning the terrace outside the walls. The oldest portion—probably, as said above, Roger de Poictou's—is the lower part of the massive Lungess Tower, an impressive monument of the impregnable masonry of the time, 80 feet square, with walls 10 feet in thickness, and the original Norman windows intact. The upper portion was rebuilt temp. Queen Elizabeth, who specially commended Lancaster Castle to the faithful defenders of her kingdom against the Spaniards. The height is 70 feet; a turret at the south-west corner, popularly called John o' Gaunt's Chair, adding another ten to the elevation. Delightful views are obtained from the summit as, indeed, from the terrace. The chapel, situated in the basement, 55 feet by 26, here, as elsewhere in the ancient English castles, tells of the piety as well as the dignity of their founders and owners. In this, at suitable times, the sacraments would be administered, not alone to the inmates, but to the foresters, the shepherds, and other retainers of the baron or noble lady of the place; the chapel was no less an integral part of the establishment than the well of spring water; the old[Pg 258] English castle was not only a stronghold but a sanctuary. Unhappily in contrast but in equal harmony with the times, there are dungeons in two storeys below the level of the ground.
The Lancaster Castle of 1881 is, after all, by no means the Lancaster Castle of the Plantagenets. As seen from Morecambe and many another spot a few miles distant, the old fortress presents an appearance that, if not romantic, is strikingly picturesque:
and the church alongside adds graciously to the effect, seeming to
unite with the antique outlines. But so much of the building has been
altered and remodelled in order to adapt it to its modern uses—those
of law-courts and prison; the sharpness of the new architecture so
sadly interferes with enjoyment of the blurred and wasted old; the
fitness of things has been so violated that the sentiment of the
associations is with difficulty sustained even in the ample inner
space once so gay with knights and pageantry. The castle was employed
for the trial of criminals as early as 1324, but 1745 seems to be the
date of its final surrender of royal pride. No sumptuous halls or
storied corridors now exist in it. Contrariwise, every[Pg 259]
[Pg 261]thing is there that renders the building convenient for assizes; and it is pleasing to observe that with all the medley of modern adaptations there has been preserved, as far as practicable, a uniformity of style—the ecclesiastical of temp. Henry VII.
Clitheroe Castle, so called, consists to-day of no more than the Keep and a portion of the outermost surrounding wall. The situation and general character of this remarkable ruin are perhaps without a match. Half a mile south of the Ribble, on the great green plain which stretches westwards from the foot of Pendle, there suddenly rises a rugged limestone crag, like an island out of the sea. Whether it betokens an upheaval of the underlying strata more or fewer millions of years ago, or whether it is a mass of harder material which withstood the powerful descending currents known to have swept in primæval times across the country from east to west, the geologists must decide. Our present concern is with the fine old feudal relic perched on the summit, and which, like Lancaster Castle, belongs to the days of Roger de Poictou and his immediate successors, though a stronghold of some kind no doubt existed there long previously—a lofty and insulated rock in a country not abounding in strong military positions, being too valuable[Pg 262] to be neglected even by barbarians. The probability is, that although founded by Roger de Poictou, the chief builders were the De Lacys, those renowned Norman lords whose headquarters were at Pontefract, and who could travel hither, fifty miles, without calling at any hostelrie not virtually their own. They came here periodically to receive tribute and to dispense justice. There was never any important residence upon the rock. The space is not sufficient for more than might be needed for urgent and temporary purposes; and although a gentleman's house now stands upon the slope, it occupies very little of the old foundation.
The inside measurement of the keep is twenty feet square; the walls
are ten feet thick, and so slight has been the touch, so far, of the
"effacing fingers," that they seem assured of another long seven
centuries. The chapel was under the protection of the monks of Whalley
Abbey. Not a vestige of it now remains; every stone, after the
dismantling of the castle in 1649, having been carried away, as in so
many other instances, and used in the building of cottages and walls.
After four generations, or in little more than a hundred years, the
line of the De Lacys became extinct. Do we think often enough, and
with commensurate thankfulness, of the immense service [Pg 263]
[Pg 265]they and the other old Norman lords rendered our country during their lifetimes? The Normans, like the Romans, were scribes, architects, reclaimers of the waste, instruments of civilisation—all the most artistic and interesting relics of the Norman age Old England possesses bear Norman impress. How voiceful, to go no further, their cathedrals—Hereford, Peterborough, Durham, Gloucester! Contemplating their castles, few things more touch the imagination than the presence, abreast of the aged stones, of the shrubs and flowers of countries they never heard of. Here, for instance, sheltering at the knee of old Clitheroe Castle Keep, perchance in the identical spot where a plumed De Lacy once leaned, rejoicing in the sunshine, there is a vigorous young Nepalese cotoneaster. Surely it is the gardener, perpetuator of the earliest of ennobling professions, who, by transfer of plants and fruits from one country to another, shows that art and taste co-operating, as at Clitheroe, do most literally "make the whole world kin." How welcome will be the volume which some day will be devoted to thorough survey of the benevolent work! From whatever point approached, the ancient keep salutes the eye long before we can possibly reach it: no one who may seek it will pronounce the visit unrewarded.
Nor will the tourist exploring Lancashire think the time lost that he may spend among the sea-beaten remains of the Peel of Fouldrey,—the cluster of historic towers which forms so conspicuous an object when proceeding by water to Piel Pier, en route for Furness Abbey and the Lakes. The castle owes its existence to the Furness abbots, who, alarmed by the terrible raid of the Scots in 1316, repeated in 1322, temp. Edward II., discreetly constructed a place for personal safety, and for deposit of their principal treasures. No site could have been found more trustworthy than the little island off the southern extreme of Walney. While artillery was unknown Fouldrey must have been impregnable, for it was not only wave-girt but defended by artificial moats, and of substance so well knit that although masses of tumbled wall are now strewn upon the beach, they refuse to disintegrate. These huge lumps are composed partly of pebbles, and of cement now hard as rock. The keep is still standing, with portions of the inner and outer defences. Traces of the chapel are also discoverable, indicating the period of the erection; but there is nothing anywhere in the shape of ornament. The charm of Fouldrey is now purely for the imagination. Hither came the little skiffs that brought such supplies to the abbey as its own[Pg 267] broad lands could not contribute. Here was given the welcome to all distinguished visitors arriving by sea, and from Fouldrey sailed all those who went afar. To-day all is still. No voices are heard save those of the unmusical seafowl, and of the waves that toss up their foam—
"Peel," a term unknown in the south of England, was anciently, in the north, a common appellation for castellets built as refuges in times of peril. They were often no more than single towers, square, with turrets at the angles, and having the door at a considerable height above the ground. The word is variously spelt. Pele, pile, pylle, and two or three other forms, occur in old writers, the whole resolving, apparently, into a mediæval pelum, which would seem to be in turn the Latin pila, a mole or jetty, as in the fine simile in Virgil, where the Trojan falls smitten by a dart:
Fouldrey itself is not assured of immortality, for there can be no doubt that much of the present sea in this part of Morecambe Bay[Pg 268] covers, as at Norbreck, surface that aforetime was dry, and where fir-trees grew and hazel-nuts. Stagnant water had converted the ground into moss, even before the invasion of the sea; for peat is found by digging deep enough into the sands, with roots of trees and trunks that lie with their heads eastwards. Walney, Fouldrey, and the adjacent islets, were themselves probably formed by ancient inrush of the water. The beach hereabouts, as said by Camden, certainly "once lay out a great way westward into the ocean, which the sea ceased not to slash and mangle ... until it swallowed up the shore at some boisterous tide, and thereby made three huge bays." Sand and pebbles still perseveringly accumulate in various parts. Relentless in its rejection of the soft and perishable, these are the things which old ocean loves to amass.
The castle was dismantled by its own builders at the commencement of the fifteenth century, probably because too expensive to maintain. From that time forwards it has been slowly breaking up, though gaining perhaps in pictorial interest; and seen, as it is, many miles across the water, never fails to excite the liveliest sentiments of curiosity. One of the abbots of Furness was probably the builder also of the curious old square tower[Pg 269] still standing in the market-place of Dalton, and locally called the "Castle." The architecture is of the fourteenth century.
Furness Abbey, seven miles south-west of Ulverston, once the most extensive and beautiful of the English Cistercian houses,—which held charters from twelve successive kings, and whose abbots had jurisdiction, not only ecclesiastical but civil, over the whole of the great peninsula formed by the Duddon, the Leven, Windermere, and the sea,—still attests in the variety and the stateliness of the remains that the "pomp and circumstance" of monastic authority must here have been played forth to the utmost limit. In its day the building must have been perfect alike in design and commodiousness. The outermost walls enclosed no less than sixty-five acres of ground, including the portion used as a garden. This great area was traversed by a clear and swiftly flowing stream, which still runs on its ancient way; and the slopes of the sequestered glen chosen with so much sagacity as the site, were covered with trees. To-day their descendants mingle also with the broken arches; these last receiving comfort again from the faithful campanula, which in its season decks every ledge and crumbling corbel, flowering, after its manner, luxuriantly—a reflex of the "heavens'[Pg 270] own tinct," smiling, as Nature always does, upon the devastation she so loves to adorn. The contrast of the lively hues of the vegetation with the gray-red tint of the native sandstone employed by the builders, now softened and subdued by the touch of centuries, the painter alone can portray. When sunbeams glance through, falling on the shattered arcades with the subtle tenderness which makes sunshine, when it creeps into such places, seem, like our own footsteps, conscious and reverent, the effects are chaste and animating beyond expression. Even when the skies are clouded, the long perspectives, the boldness with which the venerable walls rise out of the sod, the infinite diversity of the parts,—to say nothing of the associations,—render this glorious ruin one of the most fascinating in our country.
Furness Abbey was founded in the year 1127, the twenty-sixth of Henry
I., and sixty-first after the Norman Conquest. The original patron was
the above-named Stephen, Earl of Boulogne, afterwards King of England,
a crowned likeness of whom, with a corresponding one of his queen,
Matilda, still exists upon the outer mouldings of the east window. The
carving is very slightly abraded, probably through the sculptor's
selection of a harder material than that of the edifice, which
[Pg 273]sents, in its worn condition, a strong contrast to the solid, though simple, masonry. The Furness monks were seated, in the first instance, on the Ribble, near Preston, coming from Normandy as early as 1124, then as Benedictines. On removal to the retired and fertile "Valley of Nightshade," a choice consonant with their custom, they assumed the dress of the Cistercian Order, changing their gray habiliments for white ones, and from that day forwards (7th July 1127) they never ceased to grow steadily in wealth and power. The dedication of the abbey, as usual with the Cistercians, was to Our Lady, the Virgin Mary. The building, however, was not completed for many years, transition work being abundant, and the lofty belfry tower at the extreme west plainly not older than the early part of the fifteenth century, by which time the primitive objection with the Cistercians to aspiring towers had become lax, if not surrendered altogether. The oldest portions in all likelihood are the nave and transepts of the conventual church, the whole of which was completed perhaps by the year 1200. Eight pillars upon each side, alternately clustered and circular, their bases still conspicuous above the turf, divided the nave from the aisles, the wall of the southern one still standing. Beneath the window of the[Pg 274] north transept the original Early Norman doorway (the principal entrance) is intact, a rich and delectable arch retiring circle within circle. Upon the eastern side of the grand cloister quadrangle (338 feet by 102) there are five other deeply-recessed round arches, the middle one leading into the vestibule of the Chapterhouse—the fretted roof of which, supported by six pillars, fell in only about a hundred years ago. The great east window, 47 feet in height, 23-1/2 in width, and rising nearly from the ground, retains little of its original detail, but is imposing in general effect.
Scrutinising the various parts, the visitor will find very many other
beautiful elements. With the space at our command it is impossible
here even to mention them, or to do more than concentrate material for
a volume into the simple remark that Furness Abbey remains one of the
most striking mementoes England possesses, alike of the tasteful
constructive art of the men who reared it and of the havoc wrought,
when for four centuries it had been a centre of public usefulness, by
the royal thirst, not for reformation, but for spoil. The overthrow of
the abbeys no doubt prepared the way for the advent of a better order
of things; but it is not to be forgotten that the destruction of
Furness Abbey brought quite [Pg 275]
[Pg 277]a hundred years of decay and misery to its own domain.
Of Whalley Abbey, within a pleasant walk from Clitheroe, there is little new to be said; few, however, of the old monasteries have a more interesting history. The original establishment, as with Furness, was at a distance, the primitive seat of the monks to whose energy it owed its existence having been at Stanlaw, a place at the confluence of the Gowy with the Mersey. In Greenland itself there is not a spot more desolate, bleak, and lonely. It was selected, it would seem, in imitation of the ascetic fathers of the Order, who chose Citeaux—whence their name—because of the utter sterility. After a time the rule was prudently set aside, and in 1296, after 118 years of dismal endurance, the whole party migrated to the green spot under the shadow of Whalley Nab where now we find the ruins of their famous home. The abbey grounds, exceeding thirty-six acres in extent, were encircled, where not protected by the river, by a deep trench, crossed by two bridges, each with a strong and ornamental gatehouse tower, happily still in existence. The principal buildings appear to have been disposed in three quadrangles, but the merest scraps now remain, though amply sufficient to instruct the student[Pg 278] of monastic architecture as to the position and uses of the various parts. Portions of massive walls, dilapidated archways, little courts and avenues, tell their own tale; and in addition there are piles of sculptured stones, some with curiously wrought bosses bearing the sacred monogram "M," referring to the Virgin, to whom, as said above, all Cistercian monasteries were dedicated. The abbot's house did not share in the general demolition, but it has undergone so much modernising that little can now be distinguished of the original structure. The abbot's oratory has been more fortunate, and is now dressed with ivy.
The severest damage to this once glorious building was not done, as commonly supposed, temp. Henry VIII., nor yet during the reign of his eldest daughter, when so great a panic seized the Protestant possessors of the abolished abbeys, and the mischief in general was so cruel. "For now," says quaint old Fuller (meaning temp. Mary), "the edifices of abbeys which were still entire looked lovingly again on their ancient owners; in prevention whereof, such as for the present possessed them, plucked out their eyes by levelling them to the ground, and shaving from them as much as they could of abbey characters." Whatever the time of the chief destruction wrought at Furness, that[Pg 279] of Whalley did not take place till the beginning of the reign of Charles II.
Third in order of rank and territorial possessions among the old Lancashire religious houses came Cokersand Abbey, founded in 1190 on a bit of seaside sandy wilderness about five miles south of Lancaster, near the estuary of the streamlet called the Coker. There is no reason to believe that the edifice was in any degree remarkable, in point either of extent or of architectural merit. Nothing now remains of it but the Chapter-house, an octagonal building thirty feet in diameter, the roof supported upon a solitary Anglo-Norman shaft, which leads up to the pointed arches of a groined ceiling. The oaken canopies of the stalls, when the building was dismantled, were removed, very properly, to the parish church of Lancaster.
Burscough Priory, two miles and a half north-east of Ormskirk, founded temp. Richard I., and for a long time the burial-place of the Earls of Derby, has suffered even more heavily than Cokersand Abbey. Nothing remains but a portion of the centre archway of the church. Burscough has interest, nevertheless, for the antiquary and the artist; the former of whom, though not the latter, finds pleasure also in the extant morsel of the ancient priory of Cartmel[Pg 280]—a solitary gateway, standing almost due west of the church, close to the little river Ea, and containing some of the original windows, the trefoil mouldings of which appear to indicate the early part of the fourteenth century. The foundation of the edifice, as a whole, is referred to the year 1188, the name then given being "The Priory of the Blessed Mary of Kartmell." The demolition took place very shortly after the fatal 1535, when the church, much older, was also doomed, but spared as being the parochial one. Contemplating old Cartmel, one scarcely thinks of Shakspere, but it was to the "William Mareshall, Earl of Pembroke," in King John, that the Priory owed its birth.
Of Conishead Priory, two miles south of Ulverston, there are but atoms remaining, and these are concealed by the modern mansion which preserves the name. The memory of good deeds has more vitality than the work of the mason:—the monks of Conishead were entrusted with the safe conveyance of travellers across the treacherous sands at the outlet of the Leven; the Priory was also a hospital for the sick and maimed. Upholland Priory, near Wigan, dates from 1319, though a chantry existed there at a period still earlier. One of the lateral walls still exists, with a row of small windows, all covered with ivy. Some fragments[Pg 281] of Penwortham Priory, near Preston, also remain; and lastly, for the curious there is the never-finished building called Lydiate Abbey, four miles south-west of Ormskirk, the date of which appears to be temp. Henry VIII., when the zeal of the Catholic founders received a sudden check. The walls are covered with ivy, "never sere," and the aspect in general is picturesque; so calmly and constantly always arises out of the calamities of the past nutriment for pleasure in the present.
Christianity in Lancashire—so far, at all events, as concerns the outward expression through the medium of places of worship—had a very early beginning, the period being that of Paulinus, one of the missionaries brought into England by Augustine. In 625 the kingdom of Northumbria, which included the northern portions of the modern county of Lancaster, had for its monarch the celebrated Edwin—he who espoused the Christian princess Edilberga, daughter of the king of Kent—the pious woman to whom the royal conversion was no doubt as largely owing as to the exhortations of the priest who found in her court welcome and protection. The story is told at length by Bede. There is no necessity to recapitulate it. The king was baptized, and Christianity became the state religion of the northern Angles. Paulinus[Pg 283] nowhere in his great diocese—that of York—found listeners more willing than the ancestors of the people of East Lancashire; and as nearly as possible twelve and a half centuries ago, the foundations were laid at Whalley of the mother church of the district so legitimately proud to-day of a memorial almost unique. Three stone crosses, much defaced by exposure to the weather, still exist in the graveyard. They are considered by antiquaries to have been erected in the time of Paulinus himself, and possibly by his direction; similar crosses occurring near Burnley Church, and at Dewsbury and Ilkley in Yorkshire. The site is a few yards to the north of that one afterwards chosen for the abbey. The primitive Anglo-Saxon churches, it is scarcely requisite to say, were constructed chiefly, and often entirely, of wood. Hence their extreme perishableness, especially in the humid climate of Lancashire; hence also the long step to the next extant mementoes of ecclesiastical movement in this county; for these, with one solitary exception, pertain, like the old castles, to the early Norman times. The Saxon relic is one of the most interesting in the north of England; and is peculiarly distinguished by the mournful [Pg 284]circumstances of the story which envelops it, though the particular incidents are beyond discovery. At Heysham, as before mentioned, four miles from Lancaster, on the edge of Morecambe Bay, there is a little projecting rock, the only one thereabouts. Upon the summit formerly stood "St. Patrick's Chapel," destroyed ages ago, though the site is still traceable; fragments of stonework used in the building of the diminutive Norman church beneath, and others in the graveyard, adding their testimony. That, however, which attracts the visitor is the existence to this day, upon the bare and exposed surface of the rock, of half a dozen excavations adapted to hold the remains of human beings of various stature—children as well as adults. These "coffins," as the villagers call them, tell their own tale. Upon this perilous and deceitful coast, one dark and tempestuous night a thousand years ago, an entire family would seem to have lost their lives by shipwreck. The bodies were laid side by side in these only too significant cavities; the oratory or "chapel" was built as a monument by their relatives, with, in addition, upon the highest point of the hill, a beacon or sort of rude lighthouse, with the maintenance of which the priest and his household were charged. On this lone little North[Pg 285] Lancashire promontory, where no sound is ever heard but that of the sea, the heart is touched well-nigh as deeply as by the busiest scenes of Liverpool commerce.
The church architecture of the Norman times has plenty of examples in Lancashire. It is well known also that many modern churches occupy old Norman and even Saxon sites, though nothing of the original structure has been preserved. The remains in question usually consist, as elsewhere, of the massive pillars always employed by the Norman architects for the nave, or of the ornamented arch which it was their custom to place at the entrance of the choir. Examples of Norman pillars exist at Colne, Lancaster, Hawkshead, Cartmel, Whalley, and Rochdale; the last-named, with the arches above, bringing to mind the choir of Canterbury Cathedral; at Clitheroe we find a chancel-arch; and at the cheerful and pretty village of Melling, eleven miles north-west of Lancaster, a Norman doorway, equalled perhaps in merit by another at Bispham, near Blackpool. Chorley parish church also declares itself of Norman origin, and at Blackburn are preserved various sculptured stones, plainly from Norman tools, and which belonged to the church now gone, as rebuilt or restored in the De Lacy times. The[Pg 286] most ancient ecclesiastical building in Lancashire is Stede, or Styd, Chapel, a mile and a half north of the site of Ribchester. The period of the erection would appear to be that of Stephen, thus corresponding with the foundation of Furness Abbey. The windows are narrow lancet; the doors, though rather pointed, are enriched with Norman ornaments; the floor is strewed with ancient gravestones. In this quiet little place divine service is still, or was recently, held once a month.
Whalley Church, as we have it to-day—a building commemorative in site of the introduction of the Christian faith into this part of England—dates apparently, in its oldest portion—the pillars in the north aisle—from the twelfth century. The choir is a little later, probably of about 1235, from which time forwards it is evident that building was continued for quite 200 years, so that Whalley, like York Minster, is an epitome of architectural progress. The sedilia and piscina recall times antecedent to the Reformation. Every portion of the church is crowded with antiquities, many of them heraldic; very specially inviting among them are the stalls in the chancel, eighteen in number, transferred hither from the conventual church at the time of the spoliation. The luxuriant carving of the abbot's stall is in itself[Pg 287] enough to repay an artist's journey. At the head of one of the compartments of the east window we have the Lancastrian rose; the flower of course tinctured gules, and almost the only representation of it in the county:
The floral badge of the house of Lancaster, it may be well to say, is the purely heraldic rose, the outline being conventionalised, as is the case also with the white rose of York. When used as the emblem of England, and associated with the thistle and the shamrock, the queen of flowers is represented as an artist would draw it—i.e. truthfully to nature, or with stalk, leaves, and buds, the petals still, as in the Lancastrian, of a soft crimson hue, "rose-colour" emphatically. The titles of the various subjects are all in old black letter.
The history of Cartmel Church reads like a romance. The original building was of earlier date than the Conquest, but changes subsequently made bring it very considerably forwards—up indeed to the time of Edward III. It was then that the windows of the south aisle of the chancel were inserted, and painted as usual in that glorious art-epoch, as shown by the few[Pg 288] portions which remain. Other portions of the coloured glass were probably brought from the priory when broken up by the unhallowed hands of Henry VIII., under whose rule the church was threatened with a similar fate, but spared, in answer to the cry of the parishioners, who were allowed to purchase it at an indulgent price, with the loss of the roof of the chancel. Thus laid open to the rain and snow, these were allowed to beat into it for eighty years, with results still plainly visible upon the woodwork. A partial restoration of the fabric was then effected, and within these last few years every part has been put in perfect order.
The ground-plan of this interesting old church is that of a Greek cross. The nave, sixty-four feet in length (Furness exceeding it by only a few inches), leads us through angular pillars, crowned with the plain abacus, to a choir of unusual proportionate magnitude; and here, in contrast to the pointed nave-arches, the form changes to round, while the faces are carved.
In one of the chapels to which the chancel-arches lead there is some fine perpendicular work. Similar windows occur in the transepts; and elsewhere there are examples of late decorated. The old priory-stalls, twenty-six in number, are preserved here, as at Whalley.
Externally, Cartmel Church presents one of the most curious architectural objects existing in Lancashire, the tower being placed diagonally to the body of the edifice, a square crossways upon a square, as if turned from its first and proper position half-way round. What particular object was in view, or what was the motive for this unprecedented deviation from the customary style of building,—a parallel to which, in point of the singularity, is found, perhaps, only in Wells Cathedral,—does not appear. We owe to it, however, four pillars of great beauty and strength, necessarily placed at the points of the intersection of the transepts.
The interior of the church is encrusted with fine monuments, many of them modern, but including a fair number that give pleasure to the antiquary. The most ancient belong to a tomb upon the north side of the altar, within a plain arch, and inscribed, upon an uninjured slab of gray marble, in Longobardic characters, Hic jacet Frator Willemus de Walton, Prior de Cartmel. Opposite this there will be found record of one of the celebrated old local family of Harrington—probably the Sir John who in 1305, when Edward I. was bound for Scotland, was summoned by that monarch to meet him at Carlisle. An effigy of the knight's lady lies abreast of that of the warrior; the arch above[Pg 290] it is of pleasing open work, covered with the grotesque figures of which the monks were so fond.
Had exact annals been preserved of early church-building in Lancashire in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, they would tell most assuredly of many important foundations. The beginning of Eccles Church, near Manchester, on the west, is referred by the archæologists to about the year 1120, but probably it is one of the two mentioned in "Domesday Book" in connection with Manchester. The first distinct reference to Eccles occurs in the "Coucher Book" of Whalley Abbey, or about thirty years later than 1120. The Whalley monks held large estates both in Eccles and the neighbourhood, with granaries, etc.,—the modern "Monton" is probably a contraction of "Monks' Town," and the very name is thought to indicate a church settlement. Ecclesiastical relics of age quite, or nearly, corresponding are found also near Preston, especially in the tower and chancel near the church of Walton-le-Dale, the former of no great elevation, but very strong, buttressed and embattled. Placed in a skilfully chosen position on the crest of a little hill near the confluence of the Darwen with the Ribble, the aspect of the old place is distinctly picturesque; the site at the same moment explaining[Pg 291] the local appellation of "Low Church,"—the Anglo-Saxon low or law denoting an isolated eminence, as in the case of Cheshire Werneth Low and Shuttlings Low. The date assigned to this ancient tower is 1162; to about thirty years after which time the oldest existing portions of Samlesbury, a few miles distant, appear to belong, the relics of the original here including the baptismal font. Didsbury Church, near Manchester, represents a chapel built about 1235, originally for the private use of the lord of the manor and a few families of local distinction, but a century afterwards made parochial.
There are numerous indications also of ecclesiastical energy, if not of enthusiasm, temp. Edward III., to which period seem to belong the choir of Rochdale Church, with its rich window tracery, the choir, probably, of Burnley Church, and perhaps the older portions of Wigan Church. As happens with many others, the history of the last-named is very broken. A church existed at Wigan in 1246, but the larger portion of the present pile belongs to two centuries later. That it cannot be the original is proved by the monument to the memory of Sir William Bradshaigh and the [Pg 292]unfortunate lady, his wife, the principal figure in the legend of Mab's, or Mabel's cross. The knight is cross-legged, in coat of mail, and in the act of unsheathing his sword; the lady is veiled, with hands uplifted and conjoined as if in prayer. The deaths of these two occurred about the time of the Flemish Æs' settling in Lancashire, and of Philippa's intercession for the burghers of Calais.
Manchester "old church," since 1847 the "Cathedral," was founded, as before stated, in 1422, the last year of Henry V. and first of Henry VI.—that unhappy sovereign whose fate reflects so dismally upon the history of Lancashire faithfulness. The site had previously been occupied by an edifice of timber, portions of which are thought to have been carried away and employed in the building of certain of the old halls for which the neighbourhood was long noted, the arms of the respective families (who, doubtless, were contributors to the cost of the new structure) being displayed in different parts. But there does not appear to be any genuine ground for the belief; and at a period when oak timber was so readily procurable as in the time of Henry VI., it is scarcely probable that men who could afford to build handsome halls for their abode would care to introduce second-hand material, unless in very small quantity, and[Pg 293] then merely as commemorative of the occasion. Choice of a quarry by the builders of the new church was not in their power. They were constrained to use the red-brown friable sandstone of the immediate vicinity, still plainly visible here and there by the river-side. The exterior of the building has thus required no little care and cost to preserve, to say nothing of the injury done by the smoke of a manufacturing town. There was a time when Thoresby's quotation from the Canticles in reference to St. Peter's at Leeds would have been quite as appropriate in regard to the Manchester "Cathedral"—"I am black, but comely." The style of the building, with its square and pinnacled tower, 139 feet high, is the florid Gothic of the time of the west front and south porch of Gloucester. The interior, in its loftiness and elaborate fretwork, its well-schemed proportions and ample windows, excites the liveliest admiration. The chancel-screen is one for an artist to revel in; the tabernacle work is, if possible, more beautiful yet.
The second best of the old Lancashire ecclesiastical interiors belongs to Sefton, near Liverpool, a building of the time of Henry VIII., upon the site of a pre-Conquest church. The screen, which contains sixteen stalls, presents[Pg 294] a choice example of carved work. There is also a fine carved-canopy over the pulpit, though time with the latter has been pitiless. Striking architectural details are also plentiful with, in addition, some remarkable monuments of Knights Templars with triangular shields. Sefton church is further distinguished as one of the few in Lancashire more than a hundred years old which possesses a spire, the favourite style of tower in the bygones having been the square, solid, and rather stunted—never in any degree comparable with the gems found in Somerset, or with the circular towers that give so much character to the churches of Norfolk and Suffolk. A very handsome octangular tower exists at Hornby, on the banks of the Lune, built about the middle of the sixteenth century. Winwick church, an ancient and far-seen edifice near Warrington, supplies another example of a spire; and at Ormskirk we have the odd conjunction of spire and square tower side by side. Leland makes no mention of the circumstance—one which could hardly have escaped his notice. The local tale which proposes to explain it may be dismissed. The probability is that the intention was to provide a place for the bells from Burscough Priory, some of the monuments belonging to which were also removed hither when the priory was dissolved.
Many remains show that in Lancashire, in the time of Henry VIII., the spirit of church extension was again in full flow. Indications of it occur at Warrington, Burnley, Colne, and St. Michael-le-Wyre, near Garstang, also in the aisles of Middleton Church, and in the towers of Rochdale, Haslingden, Padiham, and Warton, near Lancaster. Here, however, we must pause; the history of the old Lancashire churches treated in full would be a theme as broad and various as that of the lives and writings of its men of letters. There is one, nevertheless, which justly claims the special privilege of an added word, the very interesting little edifice called Langho Chapel, four miles from Blackburn, the materials of which it was built consisting of part of the wreck of Whalley Abbey. Sculptured stones, with heraldic shields and other devices, though much battered and disfigured, declare the source from which they were derived; and in the heads of some of the windows, which resemble the relics of others at the Abbey, are fragments of coloured glass in all likelihood of similar origin. The date of the building would seem to have been about 1557, though the first mention of it does not occur until 1575. How curious and suggestive are the reminders one meets with in our own country (comparing the small with the[Pg 296] great), of the quarrying of the Coliseum by the masons of mediæval Rome!
In old halls, mansions, and manor-houses, especially of sixteenth-century style, Lancashire abounds. A few are intact, held, like Widnes House, by a descendant of the original owners; or preserved through transfer to some wealthy merchant or manufacturer from the town, who takes an equal pride in maintaining the integrity of all he found—a circumstance to which we are indebted for some of the most beautiful archæological relics the county possesses. On the contrary, as would be expected, the half-ruined largely predominate, and these in many cases are now devoted to ignoble purposes. A considerable number of stronger substance have been modernised, often being converted into what are sometimes disrespectfully called "farmhouses," as if the home of the agriculturist were not one of the most honourable in the land;—now and then they have been divided into cottages. Still, they are there; attractive very generally to the artist in their quaintness, always dear to the antiquary and historian, and interesting, if no more, to all who appreciate the fond care which clings to memorials of the past, whether personal or outside, as treasures which once lost can never be recovered. They tell of a class of worthy and industrious men[Pg 297] who were neither barons nor vassals, who had good taste, and were fairly well off in purse, and loved field-sports—for a kennel for harriers and otter hounds is not rare,—who were hospitable, and generous, and mindful of the poor.
The history of these old halls is, in truth very often, the history of the aboriginal county families. As wealth increased, and abreast of it a longing for the refinements of a more elevated civilisation, the proprietors usually deserted them for a new abode; the primitive one became the "old," then followed the changes indicated, with departure, alas! only too often, of the ancient dignity.
In the far north a few remains occur which point to a still earlier period, or when the disposition to render the manorial home a fortress was very natural. Moats, or the depressions they once occupied, are common in all parts, even where there was least danger of attack. In the neighbourhood of Morecambe Bay the building was often as strong as a castle, as in the case of the old home of the Harringtons at Gleaston, two miles east of Furness Abbey. These celebrated ruins, which lie in a hollow in one of the valleys running seawards, are apparently of the fourteenth century, the windows in the lower storey being acutely pointed single[Pg 298] lights, very narrow outside, but widely splayed within. Portions of three square towers and part of the curtain-wall connecting them attest, with the extent of the enclosure (288 feet by 170 where widest), that the ancient lords of Aldingham were alike powerful and sagacious. On the way to Gleaston, starting from Grange, a little south of the village of Allithwaite, Wraysholme tells of similar times, though all that now remains is a massive tower, the walls 3-1/2 feet thick as they rise from the sod. It was near Wraysholme, it will be remembered, that according to tradition and the ballad, the last of the English wolves was killed. The fine old tower of Hornby Castle, the only remaining portion of a stronghold commenced soon after the Conquest, is of much later date, having been built in or about 1520. That without being originally designed to withstand the attack of a violent enemy, more than one of these substantial old Lancashire private houses held its own against besiegers in the time of the civil wars is matter of well-known history. Lathom House (the original, long since demolished) has already been mentioned as the scene of the memorable discomfiture of Fairfax by Charlotte, Countess of Derby, the illustrious lady in whom loyalty and conjugal love were interwoven.
The Elizabethan halls so termed, though some of them belong to the time of James I., are of two distinct kinds,—the half-timbered, black-and-white, or "magpie," and the purely stone, the latter occurring in districts where wood was less plentiful or more costly. Nothing in South Lancashire, and in the adjacent parts of Cheshire, sooner catches the eye of the stranger than the beautiful old patterned front of one of the former;—bars vertical and horizontal, angles and curves, mingling curiously but always elegantly, Indian ink upon snow, many gables breaking the sky-line, while the entrance is usually by a porch or ornamental gateway, the windows on either side low but wide, with many mullions, and usually casemented. The features in question rivet the mind so much the more because of the proof given in these old half-timbered houses of the enduring vitality of the idea of the Gothic cathedral, and its new expression when cathedral-building ceased, in the subdued and modified form appropriate to English homes—the things next best, when perfect, to the fanes themselves. The gables repeat the high-pitched roof; the cathedral window, as to the rectangular portion, or as far as the spring of the arch, is rendered absolutely; the filagree in black-and-white, ogee curves appearing not[Pg 300] infrequently, is a varied utterance of the sculpture; the pinnacles and finials, the coloured glass, and the porch complete the likeness. Anything that can be associated with a Gothic cathedral is thereby ennobled;—upon this one simple basis, the architecture we are speaking of becomes artistic, while its lessons are pure and salutary.
Drawing near, at the sides of the porch, are found seats usually of stone. In front, closing the entrance to the house, there is a strong oaken door studded with heads of great iron nails. Inside are chambers and corridors, many and varied, an easy and antique staircase leading to the single upper storey, the walls everywhere hidden by oaken panels grooved and carved, and in the daintier parts divided by fluted pilasters; while across the ceilings, which are usually low, run the ancient beams which support the floor above. So lavish is the employment of oak, that, when this place was built, surely one thinks a forest must have been felled. But those were the days of giant trees, the equals of which in this country will probably never be seen again, though in the landscape they are not missed. Inside, again, how cheery the capacious and friendly hearth, spanned by a vast arch; above it, not uncommonly, a pair of huge antlers that talk of joy in[Pg 301] the chase. Inside, again, one gets glimpses of heraldic imagery, commemorative of ancient family honours, rude perhaps in execution, but redeemed by that greatest of artists, the Sunshine, that streaming through shows the colours and casts the shadows. Halls such as these existed until quite lately even in the immediate suburbs of Manchester, in the original streets of which town there were many black-and-white fronts, as to the present moment in Chester, Ludlow, and Shrewsbury. Some of the finest of those still remaining in the rural parts of Lancashire will be noticed in the next chapter. Our illustrations give for the present an idea of them. When gone to decay and draped with ivy, like Coniston Hall, the ancient home of the le Flemings, whatever may be the architecture, they become keynotes to poems that float over the mind like the sound of the sea. In any case there is the sense, when dismemberment and modernising have not wrought their mischief, that while the structure is always peculiarly well fitted for its situation, the outlines are essentially English. It may be added that in these old Lancashire halls and mansions the occurrence of a secret chamber is not rare. Lancashire was always a stronghold of Catholicism, and although the hiding-places doubtless often gave shelter to[Pg 302] cavaliers and other objects of purely political enmity, the popular appellation of "priest's room," or "priest's hole," points plainly to their more usual service. They were usually embedded in the chimney-stacks, communication with a private cabinet of the owner of the house being provided for by means of sliding shutters. Very curious and interesting refuges of this character exist to this day at Speke, Lydiate, Widnes, and Stonyhurst, and in an old house in Goosenargh, in the centre wall of which, four feet thick, there are two of the kind. In a similar "hole" at Mains Hall, in the parish of Kirkham, tradition says that Cardinal Allen was once concealed.
Although the few perfect remaining examples of the old timbered
Lancashire halls are preserved with the fondest reverence by their
owners, the number of those which have been allowed to fall into a
state of partial decay diminishes every year. They disappear, one by
one, perhaps inevitably, and of many, it is to be feared, not a trace
will soon be left. Repairs and restorations are expensive; to preserve
such buildings needs, moreover, a strong sense of duty, and a
profounder devotedness to "reliquism," as some author terms it, than
perhaps can ever be expected to be general. The duty to preserve is
plain. The wilful neglect, not to say the reckless destruction of
interesting old buildings that can be maintained, at no great cost, in
fair condition and as objects of picturesque beauty, is, to say the
least of it, unpatriotic. The possessors of fine old memorials of the[Pg 304]
past are not more the possessors in their own right than trustees of
property belonging to the nation, and the nation is entitled to insist
upon their safe keeping and protection. The oaks of Sherwood,
festooned with stories of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, are not more a
ducal inheritance, than, as long as they may survive, every
Englishman's by birthright. Architectural remains, in particular, when
charged with historical interest, and that discourse of the manners
and customs of "the lang syne," are sacred. Let opulence and good
taste construct as much more as they please on modern lines. Every
addition to the architectural adornment of the country reflects honour
upon the person introducing it, and the donor deserves, though he may
not always receive, sincere gratitude. Let the builder go further,
pull down, and, if he so fancies, reconstruct his own particular work.
But no man who calls himself master of a romantic or sweet old place,
consecrated by time, has any right, by destroying, to steal it from
the people of England; he is bound not even to mutilate it. There are
occasions, no doubt, when to preserve is no longer practicable, and
when to alter may be legitimate; we refer not to these, but to
needless and wanton overthrow—such as unhappily has had examples only
too many. There was [Pg 305]
[Pg 307]no need to destroy that immemorial mansion, Reddish Old Hall, near the banks of the Tame, now known only through the medium of a faithful picture; nor was there excuse for the merciless pulling to pieces of Radcliffe Old Hall, on the banks of the Irwell, a building so massive in its under-structure that the utmost labour was required to beat it down. We need not talk of Alaric, the Goths, and the Vandals, when Englishmen are not ashamed to behave as badly.
Of the venerated and unmolested, Speke Hall is, perhaps, the oldest in
South Lancashire that remains as an example of the "magpie," or
black-and-white half-timbered style. It stands upon the margin of the
estuary of the Mersey, a few miles above Liverpool, with approach at
the rear by an avenue of trees from the water's edge. As with all the
rest of its class, the foundations are of solid masonry, the house
itself consisting of a framework of immensely strong vertical timbers,
connected by horizontal beams, with diagonal bracings, oak in every
instance, the interstices filled with laths upon which is laid a
peculiar composition of lime and clay. The complexion of the principal
front is represented in our drawing, but no pencil can give a perfect
idea of the [Pg 308]repose, the tender hues, antique but not wasted, the
far-reaching though silent spell with which it catches and holds both
eye and fancy. Over the principal entrance, in quaint letters, "This
worke," it is said, "25 yards long, was wolly built by Edw. N., Esq.,
Anno 1598." The N. stands for Norreys, the surname of one of the
primitive Lancashire families, still represented in the county, though
not at Speke. A baronial mansion belonging to them existed here as
early as 1350, but of this not a stone that can be recognised remains.
A broad moat once surrounded the newer hall, but, as in most other
instances, the water has long since given way to green turf.
Sometimes, in Lancashire, the ancient moats have been converted into
orchards. Inside, Speke is distinguished by the beauty of the
corridors and of the great hall, which latter contains some carved
wainscoting brought from Holyrood by the Sir Wm. Norreys who, serving
his commander, Lord Stanley, well at Flodden, a.d. 1513, got leave to
despoil the palace of the unfortunate monarch there defeated. The
galleries look into a spacious and perfectly square central court of
the kind usually pertaining to these old halls, though now very seldom
found with all four of the enclosing blocks of building. The court at
Speke is remarkable for its pair [Pg 309]
[Pg 311]of aged yew trees; one of each sex, the female decked in autumn with its characteristic scarlet berries—a place for trees so exceptional that it probably has no counterpart. Everywhere and at all times the most imperturbable of trees, yews never fail to give an impression of long inheritance and of a history abreast of dynasties, and at Speke the association is sustained perfectly.
Near Bolton there are several such buildings, all in a state of praiseworthy preservation. In the time of the Stuarts and the Republicans they must have been numerous. Smithills, or[Pg 312] Smethells, a most beautiful structure placed at the head of a little glen, occupies the site of an ancient Saxon royal residence. After the Conquest, the estate and the original hall passed through various successive hands, those of the Ratcliffes included. At present it is possessed, fortunately, by one of the Ainsworth family above mentioned (p. 125), so that, although very extensive changes have been made from time to time, including the erection of a new east front in stone, and the substitution of modern windows for the primitive casements, the permanency of all, as we have it to-day, is guaranteed. The interior is rich in ancient wood-carving. Quaint but charmingly artistic decoration prevails in all the chief apartments; some of the panels are emblazoned in colours; everywhere, too, there is the sense of strength and comfort. In the quadrangle, open on one side, and now a rose-garden, amid the flower-borders, and in the neighbouring shrubberies, it is interesting to observe once again how the botanical aspect of old England is slowly but surely undergoing transformation, through the liberal planting of decorative exotics.
Speke suggests the idea of botanical metamorphosis even more powerfully than Smithills. At each place the ancient occupiers, full of[Pg 313] the native spirit of "never say die," the oak, the hawthorn, and the silver birch,—trees that decked the soil in the days of Caractacus,—wonder who are these new-comers, the rhododendrons and the strange conifers from Japan and the antipodes. They bid them welcome all the same. As at Clitheroe, they stand arm in arm; we are reminded at every step of the good householder "which bringeth forth out of his treasure things both new and old."
Hall i' th' Wood, not far off, so called because once hidden in the heart of a forest containing wild boars, stands on the brow of a precipitous cliff at the base of which flows the Eagley. Possessed of a large bay window, Hall i' th' Wood may justly be pronounced one of the best existing specimens of old English domestic architecture—that of the franklins, or aboriginal country gentlemen, not only of Lancashire, but of the soil in general, though some of the external ornaments are of later date than the house itself. The oldest part seems never to have suffered "improvements" of any kind; in any case, Hall i' th' Wood is to the historian one of the most interesting spots in England, since it was here, in the room with the remarkable twenty-four-light window, that Crompton devised and constructed his cotton-machine. The noble old[Pg 314] trees have long since vanished. When the oaks were put to death, so large were they that no cross-cut saw long enough for the purpose could be procured, and the workmen were obliged to begin with making deep incisions in the trunks, and removing large masses of the ironlike timber. This was only a trifle more than a century ago.
Turton Tower, near Bolton, an old turreted and embattled building, partly stone, partly black-and-white, the latter portion gabled, originally belonged to the Orrells, afterwards to the Chethams, the most distinguished of whom, Humphrey Chetham, founder of the Chetham Free Library, died here in 1653. The upper storeys, there being four in all, successively project or overhang, after the manner of those of many of the primitive Manchester houses. The square form of the building gives it an aspect of great solidity; the ancient door is oak, and passing this, we come once again upon abundance of elaborate wood-carving, with enriched ceilings, as at Speke. Turton has, in part, been restored, but with strict regard to the original style and fashion, both within and without.
The neighbourhood also of Wigan is celebrated for its old halls,
pre-eminent among which is Ince, the ancient seat of the Gerards,
[Pg 317]and the subject of another of our sketches. Ince stands about a mile to the south-east of the comparatively modern building of the same name, and in its many gables surmounting the front, and long ranges of windows, is not more tasteful as a work of art than conspicuous to the traveller who is so fortunate as to pass near enough to enjoy the sight of it. Lostock Old Hall, black-and-white, and dated 1563, possesses a handsome stone gateway, and has most of the rooms wainscoted. Standish Hall, three and a half miles N.N.W., is also well worth a visit; and after these time is well given to Pemberton Old Hall, half timbered (two miles W.S.W.), Birchley Hall, Winstanley Hall, and Haigh Hall. Winstanley, built of stone, though partly modernised, retains the ancient transom windows, opposing a quiet and successful resistance to the ravages of time and fashion. Haigh Hall, for many ages the seat of the Bradshaigh family (from which, through females, Lord Lindsay, the distinguished Lancashire author and art-critic, descended), is a stately mansion of various periods—the chapel as old apparently as the reign of Edward II. Placed upon the brow of the hill above the town, it commands a prospect scarcely surpassed by the view from Billinge.
The old halls of Manchester and the[Pg 318] immediate neighbourhood would a hundred years ago have required many chapters to themselves. It has already been mentioned that a great portion of the original town was "black-and-white," and most of the halls belonging to the local gentry, it would seem, were similar. Those which stood in the way of the fast-striding bricks and mortar of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, if not gone entirely, have been mutilated beyond recognition. In the fields close to Garratt Hall partridges were shot only seventy or eighty years ago: to-day there is scarcely a fragment of it left! Hulme Hall, which stood upon a rise of the red sandstone rock close to the Irwell, overlooking the ancient ford to Ordsall,—once the seat of the loyal and generous Prestwich family,—is remembered by plenty of the living as the point aimed for in summer evenings by those who loved the sight of hedges covered with the white bells of the convolvulus—Galatea's own pretty flower. Workshops now cover the ground; and though Ordsall Hall, its neighbour across the water, not long ago a mile from any public road, is still extant, it is hall only in name. Ordsall, happily, is in the possession of a firm of wealthy manufacturers, who have converted the available portions[Pg 319] into a sort of institute for their workpeople. Crumpsall Old Hall; Hough Hall, near Moston; Ancoats Old Hall, now the Ancoats Art Gallery; Barton Old Hall, near Eccles; Urmston Old Hall, and several others, may be named as examples of ancient beauty and dignity now given over to the spirit of change. Leaving them to their destiny, it is pleasant to note one here and there among the fields still unspoiled, as in the case of "Hough End," a building of modest proportions, but an excellent example of the style in brick which prevailed at the close of the reign of Elizabeth; the windows square-headed, with substantial stone mullions, and transomed. Hough End was originally the home of the Mosleys, having been erected by Sir Nicholas Mosley, Lord Mayor of London in 1600, "whom God," says the old biographer, "from a small and low estate, raysed up to riches and honour." One of the prettiest of the always pretty "magpie" style is Kersall Cell, near the banks of the Irwell, at Agecroft, so named because on the site of an ancient monkish retreat or hermitage, the predecessor of which in turn was a little oratory among the rocks at Ordsall, lower down the stream, founded temp. Henry II. [Pg 320]Worsley Old Hall, another example of "magpie," though less known to the general public than the adjacent modern Worsley Hall, the seat of the Earl of Ellesmere, is one of the most imposing edifices of its character in South Lancashire. With the exception of Worsley Hall, Manchester possesses no princely or really patrician residences. The Earl of Wilton's, Heaton Park, though well placed, claims to be nothing more than of the classical type so common to its class.
When relics only exist, they in many cases become specially interesting through containing some personal memorial. Barlow Hall, for instance, originally black-and-white, with quadrangle, now so changed by modernising and additions that we have only a hint of the primitive aspect, is rich in the possession of an oriel with stained glass devoted to heraldry. One of the shields—parted per pale, apparently to provide a place for the Barlow arms, not inserted—shows on the dexter side those of Edward Stanley, third Earl of Derby, in seventeen quarterings—Stanley, Lathom, the Isle of Man, Harrington, Whalley Abbey, Hooton, and eleven others. The date of this, as of the sundial, is 1574.
The country immediately around Liverpool[Pg 321] is deficient in old halls of the kind so abundant near Bolton and Manchester. This perhaps is in no degree surprising when we consider how thinly that part of Lancashire was inhabited when the manufacturing south-east corner was already populous. Speke is the only perfect example thereabouts of its particular class, the black-and-white; and of a first-class contemporaneous baronial mansion, the remains of the Hutte, near Hale, furnish an almost solitary memorial. The transom of the lower window, the upper smaller windows, the stack of kitchen chimneys, the antique mantelpiece, the moat, still untouched, with its drawbridge, combine to show how important this place must have been in the bygones, while the residence of the Irelands. It was quitted in 1674, when the comparatively new "Hale Hall" was erected, a solid and commodious building of the indefinite style. Liverpool as a district is correspondingly deficient in palatial modern residences, though there are many of considerable magnitude. Knowsley, the seat of the Earl of Derby, is eminently miscellaneous, a mixture of Gothic and classical, and of various periods, beginning with temp. Henry VI. The front was built in 1702, the back in 1805. Croxteth Hall, the Earl of Sefton's, is a stone building of the negative character indicative of the time of[Pg 322] Queen Anne and George I. Childwall Abbey, a mansion belonging to the Marquis of Salisbury, is Gothic of the kind which is recommended neither by taste nor by fidelity to exact principles. Lathom, on the other hand, is consistent, though opinions vary as to the amount of genius displayed in the detail—the very part in which genius is always declared. Would that there existed, were it ever so tiny, a fragment of the original Lathom House, that noble first home of the Stanleys, which had no fewer than eighteen towers, without reckoning the lofty "Eagle" in the centre—its outer walls protected by a fosse of eight yards in width, and its gateway one that in nobleness would satisfy kings. Henry VII. came here in 1495, the occasion when "to the women that songe before the Kinge and the Quene," as appears in the entertaining Privy Purse Expenses of the royal progress that pleasant summer, there was given "in reward, 6s. 8d." So thorough was the demolition of the old place that now there is no certain knowledge even of the site. The present mansion was built during the ten years succeeding 1724. It has a rustic basement, with double flight of steps, above which are rows of Ionic columns. The length of the northern or principal front, including the wings, is 320 feet; the south front overlooks[Pg 323] the garden, and an abundantly wooded park. An Italian architect, Giacomo Leoni, was entrusted with the decoration of the interior, which upon the whole is deservedly admired.
Ince Blundell is distinguished, not so much for its architecture, as for the collection of works of art contained in the entrance-hall, a model, one-third size, of the Pantheon. The sculptures, of various kinds, above 550 in number, are chiefly illustrative of the later period of Roman art, though including some gems of ancient Greek conception; the paintings include works of high repute in all the principal continental schools, as well as English, the former representing, among others, Paul Veronese, Andrea del Sarto, and Jan Van Eyck. The Ince Blundell collection is certainly without equal in Lancashire, and is pronounced by connoisseurs one of the finest of its kind in the country.
The neighbourhood of Blackburn is enviable in the possession of Hoghton Tower, five and a half miles to the W.S.W., a building surpassed in its various interest only by Lancaster Castle and the abbeys; in beauty of situation little inferior to Stirling Castle, and as a specimen of old baronial architecture well worthy of comparison with Haddon Hall. The estate was in the possession of the Hoghton family[Pg 324] as early as temp. Henry II., when the original manor-house, superseded by the Tower, stood at the foot of the hill, by the river-side. The existing edifice dates from the reign of Elizabeth, having been erected by the Thomas Hoghton whose departure from "Merry England" is the theme of the pathetic old ballad, "The Blessed Conscience." He was one of the "obstinate" people who, having been educated in the Catholic faith, refused to conform to the requirements of the new Protestant powers, and was obliged in consequence to take refuge in a foreign country, dying an exile at Liege, 3d June 1580.
The "Tower," so called, occupies the summit of a lofty ridge, on its eastern side bold and rugged, steep and difficult of access, though to the north and west sloping gently. Below the declivity meanders the Darwen, in parts smooth and noiseless; but in the "Orr," so named from the sound, tumbling over huge heaps of rock loosened from the opposite bank, where the wall of stone is almost vertical. In the time of its pride the hill was almost entirely clothed with trees, but now it is chiefly turf, and the extent of the prospect, which includes the village of Walton-le-Dale, down in the valley of the Ribble, is enjoyed perfectly. The ground-plan of the building presents two capacious courts, the wall with three square towers in front, the middle one protecting the gateway. The outer court is large enough for the easy movement of 600 men; the inner one is approached by a noble flight of steps. The portion designed for the abode of the family contains noble staircases, branching out into long galleries, which lead, in turn, to the many chambers. One of the rooms, called James the First's, is wainscoted. The stay of his Majesty at Hoghton for a few days in August, 1617, has already been referred to. It is this which has been so admirably commemorated in Cattermole's best painting. With a view to[Pg 328] rendering his picture, containing some fifty figures, as historically correct as might be possible, the artist was assisted with all the records and portraits in existence, so that the imagination has little place in it beyond the marshalling. Regarded as a semi-ruin, Hoghton Tower is a national monument, a treasure which belongs not more to the distinguished baronet by whom it has lately been in some degree restored after the neglect of generations, than, as said above, like all others of its kind, to the people of England, who, in course of time, it is to be hoped, will rightly estimate the value of their heirlooms.
Stonyhurst, now the principal English Jesuit College, was originally
the home of the Sherburne family, one of whom attended Queen Philippa
at Calais, while upon another, two centuries later, Elizabeth looked
so graciously that, although a Catholic, she allowed him to retain his
private chapel and domestic priest. It was under the latter that the
existing edifice took the place of one more ancient, though the
builder did not live to complete his work. The completion, in truth,
may be said to be yet barely effected, so many additions, all in
thorough keeping, have been projected. Not that they interfere with
the design of the stately original, its lofty and battlemented
[Pg 331]centre, and noble cupolas. The new is in perfect harmony with the old, and the general effect, we may be sure, is no less imposing to-day than it was three hundred years ago. The interior corresponds; the galleries and apartments leave nothing to be desired: they are stored, moreover, with works of art, and with archæological and historical curiosities; so richly, indeed, that whatever the value of the museums in some of the Lancashire large towns, in the entire county there is no collection of the kind that can take precedence of Stonyhurst. The house was converted to its present purpose in 1794, when the founders of the College, driven from Liege by the terrors of the French Revolution, obtained possession of it. They brought with them all they could that was specially valuable, and hence, in large measure, the varied interest of what it contains. In the philosophical apparatus room there is a Descent from the Cross, by Annibale Caracci. Elsewhere there are some carvings in ivory, and a Crucifixion, by Michel Angelo, with ancient missals, a copy of the Office of the Virgin which belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots, and antiques of miscellaneous character innumerable, those of the Christian ages supplemented by a Roman altar from Ribchester. A curious circumstance connected with Stonyhurst[Pg 332] is, that the house and grounds occupy, as nearly as possible, the same area as that of the famous city which once adorned the banks of the Ribble.
A pilgrimage to the neighbourhood of Stonyhurst is rewarded by the sight of old fashioned manor-houses scarcely inferior in manifold interest to those left behind in the southern part of the county. Little Mitton Hall (so named in order to distinguish it from Great Mitton, on the Yorkshire side of the stream) supplies an example of the architecture of the time of Henry VII. The basement is of stone, the upper storey of wood; the presence-chamber, with its embayed window-screen and gallery above, and the roof ceiled with oak in wrought compartments, are alike curious and interesting. Salesbury Hall, partly stone and partly wood, once possessed of a quadrangular court, now a farmhouse, was originally the seat of the Talbots, one of whom, in 1580, was Keeper of the Records in the Tower of London. Salmesbury, monographed by Mr. James Croston, dates from the close of the fourteenth century. This is a truly fascinating old place, the inner doors all without either panel or lock, and opened, like those of cottages, with a latch and a string. Townley Hall, near Burnley, one of the most ancient seats in the county, is[Pg 333] rich in personal history. The banks of the Lune in turn supply examples of the ancient mansion such as befit a valley picturesque in every winding, Hornby Castle and Borwick Hall counting as chief among them.
The list of Lancashire remains of this character could be considerably enlarged. Scarisbrick and Rufford, near Ormskirk; Yealand Redmayne, nine miles north of Lancaster; Swarthmoor, Extwistle, and many others, present features of various interest, and in the aggregate supply materials for one of the most delightful chapters still to be written for the history not only of Lancashire but of England. But here we must desist.
An extended account of the flora of Lancashire, or of its fauna, or of the organic remains preserved in the rocks and the coal strata, is impossible in the space now at command: it is not demanded either by pages which profess to supply no more than general hints as to where to look for what is worthy or curious. A bird's-eye view of Lancashire, its contents and characteristics, would nevertheless be incomplete without some notice, however brief, of the indigenous trees and plants, the birds ordinarily met with, and the fossils. The zest with which natural history has been followed in Lancashire, for over a century, has resulted in so accurate a discrimination of all the principal forms of life, that the numbers, and the degree of diffusion of the various species, can now be spoken of without fear of error. In those departments alone which require the use of[Pg 335] the microscope is there much remaining to be done, and these, in truth, are practically inexhaustible.
Being so varied in its geology, and possessed of a hundred miles of coast, Lancashire presents a very good average flora, though wanting many of the pretty plants which deck the meadows and waysides of most of the southern counties. The wild clematis which at Clifton festoons every old thorn is sought in vain. In Lancashire no cornfield is ever flooded as in Surrey with scarlet poppies; the sweet-briar and the scented violet are scarcely known, except, of course, in gardens; even the mallow is a curiosity. Many flowers, on the other hand, occur in plenty, which, though not confined to Lancashire, are in the south seldom seen, and which in beauty compare with the best. Mr. Bentham, in his Handbook of the British Flora, describes 1232 native flowering plants, and 53 of the cryptogamia—the ferns and their allies—or a total of 1285. Of these the present writer has personally observed in Lancashire more than 500. In the remoter corners another score or two, without doubt, await the finding. In any case, the proportion borne by the Lancashire flora to that of the entire island is, in reality, much higher than the figures seem to indicate, since quite a sixth[Pg 336] part of the 1285 consists of plants confined to three or four localities, and thus not entitled to count with the general vegetation of the country. It is not, after all, the multitude or the variety of the species found in a given spot that renders it enviable. The excellent things of the world are not the rare and costly ones, but those which give joy to the largest number of intelligent human beings; and assuredly more delight has arisen to mankind from the primrose, the anemone, and the forget-me-not, than from all the botanist's prizes put together. Better, moreover, at any time, than the possession of mere quantity, the ceaseless pleasure that comes of watching manners and customs, or a life-history—such, for example, as that of the Parnassia. Not to mention all that precedes and follows, how beautiful the spectacle of the milk-white cups when newly open, the golden anthers kneeling round the lilac ovary; then, after a while, in succession rising up, bestowing a kiss, and retiring, so that at last they form a five-rayed star, the ovary now impurpled. In connection with the dethronement of the natural beauty of the streams in the cotton manufacturing districts, it is interesting to note that, while the primroses, the anemones, and the forget-me-nots, that once grew in profusion, here and there, along the[Pg 337] margins, have disappeared, the "azured harebell" holds its own. Even when the whitethorn stands dismayed, the harebell still sheets many a slope and shelving bank with its deep-dyed blue.
On the great hills along the eastern side of the county, and especially in the moorland parts, the flora is meagre in the extreme. Acres innumerable produce little besides heather and whortle-berry. When the latter decreases, it is to make room for the empetrum, or the Vitis Idæa, "the grape of Mount Ida"—a name enough in itself to fling poetry over the solitude. Harsh and wiry grasses and obdurate rushes fill the interspaces, except where green with the hard-fern. Occasionally, as upon Foledge, the parsley-fern and the club-moss tell of the altitude, as upon Pendle the pinguicula and the cloud-berry. The hills behind Grange are in part densely covered with juniper, and the characteristic grass is the beautiful blue sesleria, the colour contrasting singularly with that of the hay-field grasses. The choicest of the English green-flowered plants, the trulove, Paris quadrifolia, is plentiful in the woods close by, and extends to those upon the banks of the Duddon. Everywhere north of Morecambe Bay, as these [Pg 338]names go far to indicate, the flora is more diversified than to the south; here, too, particular kinds of flowers occur in far greater plenty. At Grange the meadows teem with cowslips, in many parts of Lancashire almost unknown. Crimson orchises—Ophelia's "long-purples," the tway-blade, the fly-orchis, the Lady's tresses, the butterfly-orchis, that smells only after twilight, add their charms to this beautiful neighbourhood, which, save for Birkdale, would seem the Lancashire orchids' patrimony. The total number of orchideous plants occurring wild in the county is fourteen; and of these Birkdale lays very special claim to two—the marsh epipactis and the Orchis latifolia. In the moist hollows among the sand-hills, called the "slacks," they grow in profusion, occurring also in similar habitats beyond the Ribble. The abundance is easily accounted for; the seeds of the orchids, of every kind, are innumerable as the motes that glisten i' the sunbeam, and when discharged, the wind scatters them in all directions. The orchids' Birkdale home is that also of the parnassia, which springs up less frequently alone than in clusters of from six or eight to twenty or thirty. Here, too, grows that particular form of the pyrola, hitherto unnoticed elsewhere, which counts as the Lancashire botanical[Pg 339] specialty, looking when in bloom like the lily of the valley, though different in leaf, and emulating not only the fashion but the odour. It would much better deserve the epithet of "Lancashire" than the asphodel so called, for the latter is found in bogs wherever they occur. Never mind; it is more than enough that there is whisper in it of the "yellow meads," and that in high summer it shows its bright gold, arriving just when the cotton-grass is beginning to waft away, and the sundews are displaying their diamonds, albeit so treacherously, for in another week or two every leaf will be dotted with corpses. No little creature of tender wing ever touches a sundew except under penalty of death. Only two other English counties—York and Cornwall—lend their name to a wild-flower, so that Lancashire may still be proud of its classic asphodel.
No single kind of wild-flower occurs in Lancashire so abundantly as to give character to the county, nor is it marked by any particular kind of fern. The most general, perhaps, is the broad-leaved sylvan shield-fern (Lastrea dilatata), though in some parts superseded by the amber-spangled polypody. Neither is any one kind of tree more conspicuous than another, unless it be the sycamore.[Pg 340] Fair dimensions are attained by the wych-elm, which in Lancashire holds the place given south of Birmingham to that princely exotic, the campestris—the "ancestral elm" of the poet, and chief home of the sable rook—a tree of comparative rarity, and in Lancashire never majestic. The wild cherry is often remarkable also for its fine development, especially north of the sands. The abele, on the other hand, the maple, and the silver willow, are seldom seen; and of the spindle-tree, the wayfaring-tree, and the dogwood, there is scarcely an example. They do not blend in Lancashire, as in the south, with the crimson pea and the pencilled wood-vetch. When a climber of the summer, after the bindweed, ascends the hedge, it is the Tamus, that charming plant which never seems so much to have risen out of the earth as to be a cataract of foliage tumbling from some hidden fount above. Wood-nuts are plentiful in the northern parts of the county; and in the southern wild raspberries, these equal in flavour and fragrance to those of garden growth, wanting only in size. Bistort makes pink islands amid hay grass that waits the scythe. Foxgloves as tall as a man adorn all dry and shady groves. The golden-rod, the water septfoil, and the Lady's mantle, require no searching for. At[Pg 341] Blackpool the sea-rocket blooms again towards Christmas. On the extremest verge of the county, where a leap across the streamlet would plant the feet in Westmoreland, the banks are dotted for many miles with the bird's-eye primula.
With the Lancashire birds, as with the botany, it is not the exhaustive catalogue that possesses the prime interest. This lies in the habits, the odd and pretty ways, the instincts, the songs, the migrations, that lift birds, in their endless variety, so near to our own personal human nature.
Adding to the list of birds known to be permanent residents in Great Britain, the names of those which visit our islands periodically, either in summer or winter, the total approaches 250. Besides the regular immigrants, about a hundred others come occasionally; some, perchance, by force of accident, as when, after heavy weather at sea, the Stormy Petrel is blown ashore. In Lancashire there appear to be, of the first-class, about seventy: [Pg 342]the summer visitors average about thirty; and of winter visitors there have been noticed about a score, the aggregate being thus, as nearly as possible, one-half of the proper ornithology of the country. The parts of the county richest in species are naturally those which abound in woods and well-cultivated land, as near Windermere, and where there are orchards and plenty of market-gardens, as on the broad plain south-west of Manchester, which is inviting also in the pleasant character of the climate. Here, with the first dawn of spring, when the catkins hang on the hazels, the song-thrush begins to pipe. The missel-thrush in the same district is also very early, and is often, like the chief musician, remarkable for size, plumage, and power of song. Upon the seaside sand-hills it is interesting to observe how ingeniously the throstle deals with the snails. Every here and there in the sand a large pebble is lodged, and against this the bird breaks the shells, so that at last the stone becomes the centre of a heap of fragments that recall the tales of the giants and their bone-strewed caverns. This, too, where the peacefulness is so profound, and where never a thought of slaughter and rapine, save for the deeds of the thrushes, would enter the mind. The snails are persecuted also by the[Pg 343] blackbirds—in gardens more inveterately even than on the sand-hills—in the former to such a degree that none can refuse forgiveness of the havoc wrought among the strawberries and ripening cherries. Both thrush and blackbird have their own cruel enemy—the cunning and inexorable sparrow-hawk. When captured, the unfortunate minstrel is conveyed to an eminence, sometimes an old nest, if one can be near, and there devoured. In almost all parts of Lancashire where there are gardens, that cheerful little creature, the hedge-sparrow or dunnock, lifts up its voice. Birds commence their song at very various hours. The dunnock usually begins towards sunset, first mounting to the loftiest twig it can discover that will bear its weight. The sweet and simple note, if one would hear it to perfection, must be caught just at that moment. The song is one of those that seem to be a varied utterance of the words of men. Listen attentively, and the lay is as nearly as may be—"Home, home, sweet, sweet home; my work's done, so's yours; good night, all's well." Heard in mild seasons as early as January, the little dunnock sings as late as August. It rears a second brood while the summer is in progress, building a nest of moss, lining it with hair, and depositing five immaculate blue eggs. The[Pg 344] robin, plentiful everywhere in the rural districts, and always equal to the production of a delightful song, never hesitates to visit the suburbs even of large and noisy towns, singing throughout the year, though not so much noticed in spring and summer, because of the chorus of other birds. The country lads still call it by the old Shaksperean name:
The great titmouse is almost as generally distributed as the robin, and in gardens never a stranger, being busy most of its time looking for insects. Were coincidences in nature rare and phenomenal, instead of, to the contemplative, matter of everyday delight, we should think more of its note as the token of the time of blooming of the daffodils. Making the oddest of noises, as if trying to imitate other birds, poor innocent, it only too often gets shot for its pains, the sportsman wondering what queer thing can this be now? The blue titmouse, like the great, would seem to be very generally diffused. Exquisite in plumage, it attracts attention still more particularly while building,[Pg 345] both the male and the female working so hard. The meadow pipit, or titling, loves the peat-mosses (those decked with the asphodel), upon which the nests are often plentiful, a circumstance the cuckoos, when they arrive, are swift to take advantage of. No bird that builds on the ground has more work to do for the "herald of summer." From the end of April onwards—the cuckoo arriving in the third week—the titlings, whether they like it or not, get no respite. The young cuckoos are always hungry, and never in the least anxious to go away. How exemplary the fondness of the cuckoo for its mate! Though apparently void of affection for its offspring, no bird, not even the turtle-dove, is more strongly attached to the one it has taken "for better for worse." Where either of the pair is seen, the other is sure never to be far away. Greenfinches and chaffinches are plentiful, the song of the former sweet, though monotonous, the latter rendered liberally, and always welcome. The chaffinch becomes interesting through choice of materials so very curious for its nest. One has been found—where but in Lancashire could it occur?—constructed entirely of raw cotton. The nest-building and the choice of abode constitute, in truth, a chapter in bird-life more charming even than the[Pg 346] various outflow of the melody. The pied wagtail goes to the very localities that most other birds dislike—rough and stony places, near the water and under bridges; the tree-sparrow resorts to aged and hollow oaks, rarely building elsewhere; the long-tailed titmouse constructs a beautiful little nest not unlike a beehive, using moss, lichens, and feathers; while the redpole prefers dead roots of herbaceous plants, tying the fibres together with the bark of last year's withered nettle-stalks, and lining the cavity with the glossy white pappus of the coltsfoot, just ripe to its hand, and softer than silk. The common wren,—a frequent Lancashire bird,—a lovely little creature, sometimes with wings entirely white, and not infrequently with a few scattered feathers of that colour, is one of the birds that prefigure character in man. When the time for building arrives the hen commences a nest on her own private account, goes on with it, and completes it. Her consort meantime begins two or three in succession, but tires, and never finishes anything. Among the Lancashire permanent residents, and birds only partially periodical, may also be named, as birds of singular attractiveness in their ways,—though not perhaps always tuneful, or graceful in form, or gay in plumage,—the skylark[Pg 347] that "at heaven's gate sings"; the common linnet, a bird of the heaths and hedgerows, captured, whenever possible, for the cage; the magpie, the common bunting, the yellow-ammer, the peewit, and the starling or shepster. The starlings travel in companies, and lively parties they always seem. The "close order" flight of the peewit is well known; that of the starling is, if possible, even more wonderful. The sudden move to the right or left of thousands perfectly close together upon the wing; the rise, at a given signal, like a cloud, from the pastures where they have been feeding, is a spectacle almost unique in its singularity. Near the sea the list is augmented by the marsh bunting, the curlew, and gulls of different kinds, including the kittiwake. In very tempestuous seasons gulls are often blown inland, as far as Manchester, falling when exhausted in the fields. They also come of their own accord, and may be seen feeding upon the mosses. Upon the sand-hills a curious and frequent sight is that of the hovering of the kestrel over its intended prey, which here consists very generally of young rabbits. The kestrel has little skill in building. Talents differ as much in birds as in mankind. Seldom its own architect, it selects and repairs an old and deserted[Pg 348] crow's or magpie's nest, or any other it can find sufficiently capacious for its needs.
The history of the Lancashire summer visitants is crowded with interest of equal variety. The nightingale stays away. She has come now and then to the edge of Cheshire, but no farther. Very often, however, she is thought to have ventured at last, the midnight note of the sedge-warbler being in some respects not unlike that of Philomel herself. The earliest to arrive, often preceding the swallows, appear to be the wheatear and the willow-wren. The sand-martin is also a very early comer. It cannot afford, in truth, to be dilatory, the nest being constructed in a gallery first made in some soft cliff, usually sandstone. While building it never alights upon the ground, collecting the green blades of grass used for the outer part, and the feathers for the lining, while still on the wing. The advent of the cuckoo has already been mentioned. In the middle of May comes the spotted fly-catcher, an unobtrusive and confiding little creature; and about the same time the various "warblers" make their appearance. The males usually precede the females by a week or two; the black-cap going, like the hedge-sparrow, to the highest pinnacle it can find, and singing till joined by the hen; while[Pg 349] the garden-warbler keeps to the bushes and gardens, and is silent till she arrives. The whinchat, the yellow wagtail, and the stone-chat, haunter of the open wastes where gorse grows freely, never forget. Neither do the dotterel and the ring-ouzel, the latter in song so mellow, both moving on speedily into the hilly districts. To many the voice of the corncrake, though harsh and tuneless, becomes a genuine pleasure, for she is heard best during those balmy summer evening hours while, though still too light for the stars, the planets peer forth in their beautiful lustre, clear and young as when first noted by the Chaldean shepherds, bryony in bloom in the hedgerows, "listening wheat" on either hand.
The winter visitants comprehend chiefly the fieldfare and the redwing. In October and November these birds, breeding in Norway and Sweden, appear in immense flocks. Winging its way to the vicinity of farms and orchards, the one piercing cry of the redwing may be heard overhead any still night, no matter how dark. Siskins come at uncertain intervals; and in very severe seasons the snow-bunting is sometimes noticed.
Such are the ornithological facts which in Lancashire give new attraction to the quiet and rewarding study of wild nature. The few[Pg 350] that have been mentioned—for they are not the hundredth part of what might be cited were the subject dealt with in extenso—do not pretend to be in the slightest degree novel. They may serve, nevertheless, to indicate that in Lancashire there is lifelong pastime for the lover of birds no less than for the botanist.
Although the new red sandstone, so general in the southern parts, offers scarcely any attractions to the palæontologist, Lancashire is still a rich locality in regard to fossils. The coal-fields and the mountain limestone, the latter so abundant near Clitheroe, make amends. The organic remains found in the mountain limestone almost invariably have their forms preserved perfectly as regards clearness and sharpness of outline. The history of this rock begins in that of primeval sea; the quantity of remains which it entombs is beyond the power of fancy to conceive, large masses owing their existence to the myriads, once alive, of a single species of creature. A third characteristic is that, notwithstanding the general hardness, the [Pg 351]surface wears away under the influence of the carbonic acid brought down by the rain, so that the fossils become liberated, and may often be gathered up as easily as shells from the wet wrinkles of the sands. Access to the mountain limestone is thus peculiarly favourable to the pursuits of the student who makes researches into the history of the life of the globe on which we dwell. How much can be done towards it was shown forty or fifty years ago by the Preston apothecary, William Gilbertson, whose collection—transferred after his death to the British Museum—was pronounced by Professor Phillips in the Geology of Yorkshire at that moment "unrivalled." Gilbertson's specimens were chiefly collected in the small district of Bolland, upon Longridge, where also at considerable heights marine shells of the same species as those which lie upon our existing shores may be found, showing that the elevation of the land has taken place since their first appearance upon the face of the earth.
The quarries near Clitheroe and Chatburn supply specimens quite as abundantly as those of Longridge. Innumerable terebratulæ, the beautiful broad-hinged and deeply-striated spirifers, and the euomphalos, reward a very slight amount of labour. Here, too, are[Pg 352] countless specimens of the petrified relics of the lovely creatures called, from their resemblance to an expanded lily-blossom and its long peduncle, the crinoidea, a race now nearly extinct. A very curious circumstance connected with these at Clitheroe is that of some of the species, as of the Platycrinus triacontadactylos, or the "thirty-rayed," there are myriads of fossilised heads but no bodies. The presumed explanation of this singular fact is, that at the time when the creatures were in the quiet enjoyment of their innocent lives, great floods swept the shores upon which they were seated, breaking off, washing away, and piling up the tender and flowerlike upper portions, just as at the present day the petals of the pear-tree exposed to the tempest are torn down and heaped like a snowdrift by the wayside, the pillar-like stems remaining fast to the ground. There is no need to conjecture where the bodies of the creatures may be. At Castleton, in Derbyshire, where the encrinital limestone is also well exhibited, there are innumerable specimens of these, and few or no examples of heads. The bodies of other species are plentiful at Clitheroe, where the actinocrinus is also extremely abundant, and may be detected, like the generality of these beautiful fossils, in nearly every one of the[Pg 353] great flat stones set up edgeways in place of stiles between the fields that lie adjacent to the quarries.
The organic remains found in the coal strata rival those of the mountain limestone both in abundance and exquisite lineaments. In some parts there are incalculable quantities of relics of fossil fishes, scales of fishes, and shells resembling mussels. The glory of these wonderful subterranean museums consists, however, in the infinite numbers and the inexpressible beauty of the impressions of fern-leaves, and of fragments of the stems—well known under the names of calamites, sigillaria, and lepidodendra—of the great plants which in the pre-Adamite times composed the woods and groves. In some of the mines—the Robin Hood, for instance, at Clifton, five miles from Manchester—the roof declares, in its flattened sculptures, the ancient existence hereabouts of a vast forest of these plants. At Dixonfold, close by, when the railway was in course of construction, there were found the lower portions of the fossilised trunks of half a dozen noble trees, one of the stone pillars eleven feet high, with a circumference at the base of over fifteen feet, and at the top, where the trunk was snapped when the tree was destroyed, of more than seven feet. These marvellous Dixonfold[Pg 354] relics have been carefully preserved by roofing over, and are shown to any one passing that way who cares to inquire for them. Beneath the coal which lies in the plane of the roots, enclosed in nodules of clay, there are countless lepidostrobi, the fossilised fruits, it is supposed, of one or other of the coal-strata trees. Two miles beyond, at Halliwell, they occur in equal profusion; and here, too, unflattened trunks occur, by the miners aptly designated "fossil reeds." Leaves of palms are also met with. The locality which in wealth of this class of fossils excels all others in South Lancashire would appear to be Peel Delph. In it are found calamites varying from the thickness of a straw to a diameter of two or three feet, and as round as when swayed by the wind of untold ages ago. The markings upon the lepidodendra are as clear as the impress of an engraver's seal. In another part there is a stratum of some four feet in depth, consisting apparently of nothing besides the fossil fruits called trigonocarpa and the sandy material in which they are lodged. With these curious triangular nuts, no stems, or leaves, or plant-remains of any description have as yet been found associated. All that can be said of them is that they resemble the fruits of the many-sided Japanese tree called the salisburia.
At Peel Delph again a stratum of argillaceous shale, five or six feet in thickness, contains innumerable impressions of the primeval ferns, the dark tint thrown forward most elegantly by the yellow of the surface upon which they repose. The neighbourhood of Bolton in general is rich in fossil ferns, though Ashton-under-Lyne claims perhaps an equal place, and in diversity of species is possibly superior.
Thus whether considered in regard to its magnificent modern developments in art, science, literature, and useful industries, its scenery and natural productions, or its wealth in the marvellous relics which talk of an immemorial past, Lancashire appeals to every sentiment of curiosity and admiration.
Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh
 Vide Blue Book, 1878, Part I. p. 423. The first return of Bacon for St. Albans was not until 1601. Roger Ascham, whose influence upon education was even profounder than Bacon's, sat for another Lancashire town—Preston—in the Parliament of 1563.
 It is necessary to say the "civilised," because in Lancashire, as in all other industrial communities, especially manufacturing ones, there are plenty of selfish and vulgar rich.
 Namely, 209,480 Catholic, as against 1,437,000 non-Catholic.
The first Duke of Lancaster was Henry, previously Earl of Derby, whose daughter Blanche was married by John of Gaunt, the latter succeeding to the title.
 Originally published in the Manchester Mercury, 19th October 1752.
 Unless, possibly, as contended by Mr. T. G. Rylands in the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society's Proceedings for 1878, vol. xvii. p. 81, following Horsley and Keith Johnston, Pliny intended the Mersey by his "Belisama." But West, Professor William Smith, and authors in general, consider that the "Belisama" was the modern Ribble.
 Retained to this day as the name of one of the principal Lancashire "Hundreds," it is West Derby which gives title to the Earls of the house of Stanley, and not, as often supposed, the city in the midland counties.
 Vide Mr. Inglis's Twenty-third Report to Government on the Certified and Industrial Schools of Great Britain, December 1880.
 J. G. Kohl. England, Scotland, and Ireland, vol. iii. p. 43. 1844.
 For the derivation of this curious word, see Notes and Queries, Sixth Series, vol. ii. pp. 365 and 492. 1880.
 Vide The Dark Side of Liverpool, by the Rev. R. H. Lundie, Weekly Review, 20th November 1880, p. 1113.
 Itinerary, vol. vii. p. 40. Oxford, 1711.
 Vide Liverpool Mercury, 11th December 1880.
 In Liverpool, strictly speaking, there are no "hands," no troops of workpeople, that is to say, young and old, male and female, equivalent as regards relation to employer to the operatives of Oldham and Stalybridge.
 Vide the Autobiography of Wm. Stout, the old Quaker grocer, ironmonger, and general merchant of Lancaster. He mentions receiving cotton from Barbadoes in 1701, and onwards to 1725, when the price advanced "from 10d. to near 2s. 1d. the lb."
 That the spinning-jenny was so named after a wife or daughter of one of the inventors is fable. The original wheel was the "jenny," a term corresponding with others well known in Lancashire,—the "peggy" and the "dolly,"—and the new contrivance became the "spinning-jenny."
 Inventor of the mariners' compass.
 Two Gentlemen, ii. 7.
 The original tower remained till 1864, when, being considered insecure, it was taken down, and the existing facsimile erected in its place.
 St. Anne's was so named in compliment to the queen then on the throne. "St. Ann's," like "Market-street Lane," came of carelessness or something worse. The thoroughfare so called was properly Market-stead Lane—i.e. the lane leading to the Market-place.
 The population per statute acre of the towns referred to, and of one or two others, which may be usefully put in contrast, is as follows:
 For delineations of local and personal character in full we look to the novelists. After supreme Scarsdale, and the well-known tales by Mrs. Gaskell and Mrs. Banks, may be mentioned, as instructive in regard to Lancashire ways and manners, Coultour's Factory, by Miss Emily Rodwell, and the first portion of Mr. Hirst's Hiram Greg. Lord Beaconsfield's admirable portrait of Millbank, the Lancashire manufacturer, given in Coningsby in 1844, had for its original the late Mr. Edmund Ashworth of Turton, whose mills had been visited by the author, then Mr. Disraeli, the previous year.
 Founded in 1826. See the interesting particulars in Mr. Prentice's Historical Sketches and Personal Recollections, pp. 289-295. 1851.
 The late greatly respected Mr. E. R. Le Mare, who came to Manchester in 1829, and was long distinguished among the local silk-merchants, belonged by descent to one of these identical old Huguenot families. Died at Clevedon, 4th February 1881, aged eighty-four.
 Sir John Spielman's, at Dartford.—Vide 2nd Henry VI., Act iv. Scene 7.
 On the South Lancashire Dialect. By Thomas Heywood, F.S.A. Chetham Society. Vol. lvii. pp. 8, 36.
 Vide Mr. George Milner, "On the Lancashire Dialect considered as a Vehicle for Poetry," Manchester Literary Club Papers, vol. i. p. 20. 1875.
 Vide Mr. George Milner, "On the Lancashire Dialect considered as a Vehicle for Poetry," Manchester Literary Club Papers, Appendix to the vol. for 1876.
 The modern slang of great towns is of course quite a different thing from the ancient dialect of a rural population. Affected misspellings, as of "kuntry" for country, are also to be distinguished in toto from the phonetic representation of sounds purely dialectical.
 i.e. the larks, or singing birds, of Dean. Edwin Waugh, Sketches, p. 199.
 Lastrea Oreopteris, "sweet mountain-fern," abundant in South-East Lancashire.
 The late Sir James Philips Kay-Shuttleworth, Bart.
 Lancashire Folk-lore. By John Harland and T. T. Wilkinson. 1867.
 In the Anglo-Saxon version of the Old Testament there are many examples of derivative words. In Exodus xxiii. 15, 16, feasting-time is symbel-tid; xxii. 5, a feast-day is symbel-dæg. In Psalm lxxxi. 3, we have symelnys, a feast-day.
 These vast reservoirs belong to the Liverpool Waterworks, which first used them in January 1857. The surface, when they are full, is 500 acres. Another great sheet of water, a mile in length, for local service, occurs at Entwistle, near Turton.
 This, of course, is not the Calder seen at Whalley, there being three rivers in Lancashire of the name—the West Calder, the East Calder, and a little stream which enters the Wyre near Garstang. The West Calder enters the Ribble half way between Whalley and Stonyhurst; the eastern, after a course of forty miles, joins the Aire in the neighbourhood of Wakefield.
 It may not be amiss here to mention the names, in exact order, of the Lancashire rivers, giving first those which enter the sea, the affluents and their tributaries coming afterwards: (1) The Mersey, formed of the union of the non-Lancashire Tame, Etherowe, and Goyt. Affluents and tributaries—the Irwell, the Roche, the Spodden, the Medlock, the Irk. (2) The Alt. (3) The Ribble. Affluents and tributaries—the Douglas, the Golforden, the Darwen, the West Calder, the Lostock, the Yarrow, the Brun. (4) The Wyre, which receives the third of the Calders, the Brock, and several others. (5) The Lune, or Loyne. Affluents and tributaries—the Wenning, the Conder, the Greta, the Leck, the Hindburn. Then, north of Lancaster, the Keer, the Bela, the Kent, the Winster, the Leven (from Windermere), the Crake (from Coniston Water), and the Duddon.
 The river immortalised by Milton, alluding to the conflict of 17th August 1648:
 Maram, the popular name of the Ammophila arenaria, is probably the Danish marhalm, sea-haulm or straw, a term applied in Norway to the Zostera.
 "Knot," in the Lake District, probably denotes a rocky protuberance upon a hill. But it is often used, as in the present instance, for the hill in its entirety. Hard Knot, in Eskdale, and Farleton Knot, near Kendal, are parallel examples.
 Thus in conformity with their general architectural practice, and as expressed in the Anglo-Saxon word for "to build"—getymbrian.
 The existing church dates only from 1620, and in many of its details only from 1852 and 1855.
 In the Chetham Society's 42nd vol., p. 211.
 Messrs. R. Howarth & Co., whose "weaving-shed," it may be added, is the largest and most astonishing in the world.
 Usually miscalled "blue bell," vide "The Shakspere Flora."
 Condensed in part from the chapter on Lancashire Birds in Manchester Walks and Wild-flowers, 1858, long since out of print.
 One or two paragraphs condensed from the seventh chapter of Summer Rambles, 1866. Long since out of print.
Archaic and inconsistent spelling and punctuation were retained.
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