페이지 이미지

Mr. Morris then referred to Samuel Bamford and his writings. He was still a fine, hearty, hale old man, in his 75th year. He was in his (the lecturer's) office last week, and he was proud to say he walked about like a recruiting sergeant, and was as straight as a ramrod. The next in chronological order were three rhymers, one of them decidedly a poet. He alluded to the brothers Wilson, the one better known as Alec. Wilson being decidedly the chief poet of the family. He was in the habit of visiting Warrington as well as other towns occasionally, painting portraits, and it was not unlikely that in this town portraits were still in existence that had been painted by him. Amongst the songs he wrote was one which would live as long as Manchester literature endured, and there was this peculiarity about it which made it more valuable,—it was historical; just as, in early times, the history of our country as well as others, was handed down from age to age by the poets, rhymers, and troubadours of those days. Those who knew Manchester, would remember an old college in connection with and close to the Cathedral. Till within a recent period it contained a quaint collection of curiosities from all parts of the world. Connected with this museum was a most voluminous library, which at the present time was one of the largest and most valuable in Manchester there being literally, as the poem said, "yards of books at every stride." It was upon this library that the poem was composed, and which the lecturer recited to the audience.

The next poet in chronological order noticed, was Dr. Raffles, of Liverpool, who had composed one of the finest patriotic songs they had; and it was because that fact was so little known, that he had much pleasure in drawing the attention of his audience to the song. It was entitled "Old England, my country for ever," and when sung, could not fail to stir the hearts of every true Englishman and lover of his country. Some of the poems of John Bolton Rogerson, recently deceased, were next glanced at, the lecturer observing that his descriptive pieces were so full of wonderful imagery that they were almost unexampled. He quoted the Dying Boy," as an illustration of the poet's style, and as being one of the most beautifully pathetic poems written in the English language. The lecturer gave one of Benjamin Brierly's humorous sketches of Lancashire life, entitled Jemmy th' Jobber," which created great amusement.

Before passing to the last portion of his lecture, Mr. Morris said he wished to say a few words with reference to the Warrington Mechanics' Institution. He took a deep interest in institutions of that kind, and he never allowed an occasion like that to pass without availing himself of the opportunity of pleading on their behalf. No institution could do the large amount of good it was destined or was capable of accomplishing, unless it received the support of the people generally in the neighbourhood in which it was established. It required both capital and labour. Capital on the part of honorary members of the society, to assist the general working of the institution; and labour on the part of the directors and members, to make it a success. To the working classes he would say Never despise capital. It was a capital thing, and they could not get along without it. But whilst he urged upon the benevolent and wealthy portion of the inhabitants of Warrington the importance of assisting the directors of the Warrington Mechanics' Institution, by becoming subscribers, and by every other means in their power, he would remind the workingclasses that they had also a duty to perform. It was hardly fair to leave all the working of the institution to the directors. The members should feel it was their institution, and that it was their duty to assist the directors by every legitimate means. They might interest their neighbours, fellow-workmen, and friends, in the success of the institution, and they could thus add largely to the number of members, and strengthen the hands of the directors in their labour of love. He hoped the directors would pardon him introducing that subject into his lecture, but he felt it to be a part of his duty to do so.

He would now speak of the greatest poet Lancashire had yet produced; but he had not much time to read many extracts from his numerous works. He was one of the most voluminous ballad writers this country had produced, and one of the sweetest poets and truest teachers: he referred to Mr. Charles Swaine, of Manchester. It was said by musical men, and he believed it was correct, that he had written more songs that had been since set to music than any man that ever lived. His great work was entitled "The Mind,” and it was a poem that any man might feel proud of having written. Time, however, would not permit him to do more than quote one of his pieces, which taught a lesson

that would be useful to all to learn, "Forgive and Forget." John Critchley Prince stood next, in his (the_lecturer's) estimation, to Swaine, as one of their greatest Lancashire poets; but he could not do more than give one specimen of his vigorous and nervous style, which he commended to the notice of his temperance friends, entitled "The Contrast," which the lecturer recited.

Referring to Edwin Waugh, of Manchester, whom he designated as the "true Tim Bobbin of the present day," Mr. Morris said that he had written not only exquisite humorous pieces, but excellent pathetic pieces, both in prose and verse, and his name would as certainly be handed down to posterity, as that of any poet Lancashire had produced.

It had been sometimes said there was not much good in writing in the Lancashire dialect; but if it was only to afford pleasure and amusement such as he had been enabled to give them that evening, by reading the pieces written in that dialect, he thought a good purpose had been served. Although they might not subscribe to every line they contained, people could not help laughing in spite of themselves; and there must be real rich humour in a dialect that would so stir the hearts of the people. He believed, however, there was a much higher good in retaining and handing down to posterity the Lancashire dialect. It contained a larger amount of pure old Saxon than was to be found in any other dialect, and that was surely worth their while to preserve. It was a most accommodating dialect, and could either express a great deal in a little space, or a little in a great deal of space. He would illustrate that by an anecdote of a trial at the Liverpool Assizes. A witness was giving evidence in an assault case as follows:-"Um throw'd a stooen at um, and iv um 'ad 'it um, as um 'ad, um wod ha' lam'd um, or um um." The judge not knowing what was meant, an intelligent barrister undertook to explain it as follows:-The prisoner threw a stone at prosecutor, and he then went on to describe his own feelings in the matter, that if the prisoner had thrown a stone at him and hurt him (witness) as he did the prosecutor, he would either have lamed the prisoner, or the prisoner have lamed him. So the word "um" in that case served three different persons.-The lecturer concluded by referring to John Whittaker, the author of the poem and letters which recently appeared in

the "Times," signed "A Lancashire Lad." He was formerly connected with one of the Warrington newspapers, which might well feel proud of having trained one whose celebrated letters had been the means of adding scores, and it might be hundreds of thousands, of pounds to the Lancashire Relief Fund.-The lecturer resumed his seat amidst much applause.

Dr. SMITH moved a vote of thanks to Mr. Morris for his very interesting lecture.

G. ARTINGSTALL, Esq., in seconding the proposition, said he thought their thanks were especially due to the directors of the Mechanics' Institution for getting up those lectures. They really conferred a very great benefit upon the class they were designed to serve. He believed they were especially intended for the use of the working-classes, and he was only sorry to find they did not appreciate them more; but he hoped as time went on, an improvement would be brought about in that respect. He was sorry to learn since he came there that evening, that although the Mechanics' Institution was very efficient for the instruction of the working classes, it had not done all the good the directors expected it would have done, the working classes not having availed themselves of the advantages of the reduced rate of

subscription as they had hoped to see. He had very great pleasure in seconding the vote of thanks.

The LECTURER, in returning thanks, said they would bear with him two or three minutes whilst he told them a simple story, suggested to him by one of their valued directors, a friend of his. It was as follows:-Some three and thirty years ago, in 1830, a poor boy returning from a runaway excursion to sea, landed in Liverpool one broiling hot Sunday. Immediately he had landed, he started off home on the road from Liverpool to Manchester, with only twopence in his pocket-he was going to say pockets, but he was not quite sure whether he had more than one-his only article of costume being a pair of trousers, a shirt, and an old time-battered grey hat. He started off barefooted and barelegged on his way home, having learned by bitter experience the truth and beauty of that exquisite old poem

"Mid pleasures and palaces where'er I may roam,

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home."

To his home he was going, a poor repentant prodigal, hoping

to be received, and yet scarcely knowing whether he would be received or not. In the course of his journey he neces sarily came to Warrington. Foot-sore, weary, thirsty, and hot, he called at a cottage situate on the outskirts of the town, and asked for a drink of water. He knocked at the door, which was open, and he saw a clean respectable old woman taking her tea. He asked her for a drink of water. The old woman rose and came to the door, and after putting two or three questions to him, and charging him with being a runaway from home, and a sailor, wished to know whether he was returning home to his mother? At the mention of his mother, the boy burst into tears. The kind old lady took him into her clean comfortable cottage, and seating him beside her tea-table, gave him a substantial meal of bread and butter and tea, and did what was still more valuableand what was the turning point in that boy's life-instead of threatening him with hard words, and casting him again on the world, she encouraged him with kindly words, hoped that he had sown his wild oats, and that he would no longer eat the husks, but strive to be a better and wiser lad. His bodily frame was refreshed by the excellent food he had partaken of, but what was of still more consequence, his heart was strengthened by the good old soul's advice. He wended his way home, and his mother received him with tears. From that day, he became a better and wiser lad. He joined a class in the Manchester Mechanics' Institution, and worked his way up till he became a director. As time went on, he found his way back to Warrington, and spent a good half-day in trying to find out that dear old woman who had done so much good for him. But as he could not return the kindness to her, his heart told him he should return what little kindness he could to the people of Warrington, for her dear sake; and that poor lad of 33 years since had given them the lecture that night on the Poets and Poetry of his native county.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« 이전계속 »