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North country poets : poems and biographies of natives or residents of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmoreland, Durham, Lancashire and Yorkshire ... : (modern section) (Volume 1) online

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within the protection of his chamber. There his high spirits and genial

78 HP-ixJ North Country Poets.

temperament enabled him to prolong life beyond the allotted span. With
calm and unclouded mind he surveyed his lot ; with undimmed eye and
unfailing memory he awaited the end. His bedside for many months was
the Mecca of literary pilgrimage in the North of England, and he was able
to sustain the burden and enjoy the visits of his friends until the last fort-
night of his life. On the morning of the 25th February, 1888, he passed
away, and a few days later, with mayors and magistrates, editors and
professors, clergymen and councillors, standing around, he was buried
among his kindred in Jesmond Cemetery, Newcastle.



Annette with her sister Tib,

By the cottage fireside sits ;
Eobin smokes his evening pipe ;

Susan, near him, knits and knits.
" Hist " " Tis nothing ! " why then flash

Nan's dark eyes with brighter glow ?
Why that blush upon her cheek ?

Tib is at no loss to know.

Ha ! Nanette !

" Knit, knit, knit," the needles go

" Tick, tack, tick," the clock replies;
Through his smoke- wreaths, " Where's Nanette?

Robin to his good dame cries ;
Mother knows not, nor will Tib,

Cunning little damsel, own,
Though she heard the tap, before

Sister Nan was softly flown.

Where's Nanette ?

Annette, in the garden-walk,

Shaded by the woodbine, stands :
Not alone ! a whispered tale,

Old as Eve, her ear commands ;
Hal is gazing in her face

Never was there face so fair

James Clephan. 79

Glistening in the starbeam pale,
Veil'd in woven twilight there.

Sweet Annette !

" Good night ! " " Good night ! " and gently Nan

Lifts up the latch, and to her seat
Demurely glides, her little heart

Almost too full of bliss to beat !
Ah ! young romance 1 that shall in Nan

And Harry, as in Kob and Sue,
Be sober'd down till calmly they

Shall smoke and knit together, too.
Yes, Nanette !


Cocken Woods are green and fair,

Year to year the wild flowers blow
Spring succeeds to Winter's snow,

Summer follows Christmas bare.

Song-birds from their slumber wake,
Fill with sound the ravish'd ear,
Swell the music of the Wear,

Build their nests in bush and brake.

Where the waters gush and glide,
Leaf and flower of every tinge
Shady footpaths sweetly fringe,

Winding by the river side.

From the cliffs and from the grass,
Nosegays wild the children glean,
Ked and blue, and white and green,

Jocund as they gleesome pass.

Finchale Abbey old and grey,

Euin'd, roofless, wintry, hoar,

8o North Country Poets.

Knows its summer pride no more,
Moulders, moulders, to decay.

Prior Uhtred's shade may haunt

Cloisters once his cherish'd home,
Gliding soft by Godric's tomb,

Listening for the choral chant.

Looking for his letter'd lore
Jerome, Bede, Busebius, all
Eeady at his beck and call

Beady once, but now no more.

Never more the dying hours

Finchale's horologe shall knell,
Echoing the mother-bell,

Sounding from fair Durham's towers.

But these ruins linger still,

Mutely murmuring " Never more,"
And, where planted down of yore,

Blooms the yellow daffodil.

Blooms, and marks the garden site,

Where the monks grew fruit and flower,
Boot and herb of healing power

Cool retreat for calm delight.

Faithful flower ! to moth and rust

Finchale's monks thou wilt not give :
Thou wilt have their memory live,

Fair and fragrant in the dust.

Thus may we, who fain would fill
Some small space in human eye
When entomb'd in earth we lie,

Plant on earth some Daffodil.

James Clephan. 81


Downward sinks the setting sun,
Soft the evening shadows fall :
Light is flying,
Day is dying,
Darkness stealeth over all.
Good night !

Autumn garners in her stores,
Foison of the fading year :
Leaves are dying,
Winds are sighing,
Whispering of the winter near.
Good night !

Youth is vanish'd manhood wanes-
Age its forward shadows throws :
Day is dying,
Years are flying,
Life runs onward to its close.
Good night !


North Country Poets.

Ben Brierley.

EN Brierley is best known as a prose writer, but although
his fame depends chiefly upon his skill as a story-teller,
and as a delineator of Lancashire life and character,
he has written verse of excellent quality. Probably his
reputation as poet would be greater if his reputation as
novelist and humourist were less.

Mr. Benjamin Brierley was born at the Rocks, a
cottage on the Rochdale Canal at Failsworth, 26th June,
1825. His father, who had been a gunner in the Artillery, was a handloom
weaver. Mr. Brierley has in his " Home Memories " given a graphic and
interesting account of the struggles and hardships of his early days. He
received the rudiments of education chiefly in the night school and Sunday
school, and after a brief experience of the factory, became a velvet-weaver.
He was present at the " plug drawings " in the Great Strike of 1842.
Afterwards he was employed in a Manchester silk-warehouse, and having
utilised his opportunities for self -improvement, was encouraged by Elijah
Ridings to send some of his verses to the Oddfellows' 1 Magazine, which was
then edited by another Manchester author, John Bolton Rogerson. His
increasing interest in literature led him to write "A Day Out," in which
he describes a walk from Manchester to Daisy Nook, and sketches the quaint
characters to be found gathered in the rooms of " Red Bill's " village hostelry.
This little book was an instantaneous success. How well does the present
writer remember the delight with which he read it in the first week of its
appearance ! It was evident that a new writer had arisen capable of
interpreting the homely joys and sorrows, the stoical endurance, and the
love of fun of the Lancashire lads and lasses. The promise of this early
performance was fully maintained by "The Cljronicles of Waverlow,"
" Marlocks of Merriton," " The Cotters of Mossburn " and " Irkdale.''
If these do not all show the freshness of his first work, they evidence the
ripening and mellowness that come from wider contact with the world.

Ben Brierlcifs Journal has been issued since 1809, and has helped to
make the editor's name the household word it now is in Lancashire and
the North of England.

Of his poems, the " Epistle to Ned Waugh," " Monody on the Death of
Charles Swain," and the brief " In Memoriam " of his own daughter, are
excellent ; " The Wayver of Welbrook " is a bit of characteristic Lancashire
philosophy ; and the " Waverlow Bells " has a homely pathos that goes
direct to the heart.


Ben Brierley.



Only child of Ben and Esther Brierley ; Born November 7th, 1866 ;
Died June 13th, 1875.

We thought she was our own for yet awhile ;
That we had earned her, by our love of Heav'n,
To be a life's comfort, not a season's smile,
Then tears for ever. " 'Tis to be forgiven,"
We deemed her mortal not an angel sent
From out a mission host, on mercy bent.

We were beguiled by her sweet ways of love

The growth of her affections round two stems

As if they were of her, and from above.

We did not note that from her heart the gems

Of her devotion were bestrewn in showers

Where'er she went, and gathered like spring flowers.

And her last words (coherent) " I have lived,
And have not lived," were full of earthly tone
And utterance. They, too, our hearts deceived ;
Nor were we mindful till, when left alone,
We heard the flutter of a dove-like wing,
And a sweet strain, such as the seraphs sing.

Then knew we she had come in mortal guise,
To teach us love, and charity, and grace ;
With sungold in her hair, heaven in her eyes,
And all that's holy in her preaching face.
The scales had fallen, and our vision then
Saw that an angel graced the homes of men.

84 North Country Poets.


Yo gentlemen o wi' yor heawnds and yor parks,

Yo may gamble an' sport till yo dee ;
But a quiet heause-nook, a good wife an' a book,

Are more to the likins o' mee-ee,

Wi' mi pickers and pins,
An' my wellers to th' shins,
My linderins, shuttle, an' yealdhook ;
My treddles an' sticks,
My weight-ropes an' bricks,
What a life ! said the wayver o' Welbrook.

I care no' for titles, nor heauses, nor lond,

" Owd Jone's " a name fittin' for me :
An' gi' me a thatch, wi' a wooden dur latch,

An' six feet o' greaund when I dee-ee,

Wi' my pickers, &c.

Some folks liken t' stuff ther owd wallets wi' mayte
Till they're as reaund an' as brawsen as frogs ;

But for me I'm content, when I've paid deawn my rent,
Wi' enoogh t' keep me up i' my clogs-ogs,
Wi' my pickers, &c.

An' some are too idle to use their own feet,

But mun keawer an' gallop i'th' lone ;
But when I'm wheelt or carried, it'll be to get buried,

An* then Dicky-up wi' owd Jone-one,
Wi' my pickers, &c.

Yo may turn up yor noses at me an' th' owd dame,

An" thrutch us like dogs again th' wo' ;
But as lung's I con nagur, I'll ne'er be a beggar,

So I care no' a rap for yo' o-o,

Wi' my pickers, &c.

Ben Brier ley. 85

Neaw, Margit, turn reawn that o\vd hum-a-drum wheel,

An' my shuttle shall fly like a brid ;
An' when I no lenger con use hont or finger,

They'll say when I could do I did-id,

Wi' my pickers, &c.


Old Jammie and Ailse went adown the brook side
Arm-in-arm, as when young, before Ailse was a bride ;
And what made them pause near the Hollybank Wells ?
'Twas to list to the chimes of the Waverlow bells.

" How sweet," said old Jammie, " how sweet on the ear,
Comes the ding-donging sound of yon curfew, my dear ! "
But old Ailse ne'er replies, for her bosom now swells
Oh, she'd loved in her childhood those Waverlow bells.

" Thou remember'st," said Jammie, " the night we first met,
Near the Abbey field gate the old gate is there yet
When we roamed in the moonlight o'er fields and through dells,
And our hearts beat along with those Waverlow bells.

" And then that wakes morning so early at church,
When I led thee a bride through the old ivy porch,
And our new home we made where the curate now dwells,
And we danced to the music of Waverlow bells.

And when that wakes morning came round the next year,
How we bore a sweet child to the christ'ning font there ;
But our joy peals soon changed to the saddest of knells,
And we mourned at the sound of the Waverlow bells."

Then in silence a moment the old couple stood,

Their hearts in the churchyard, their eyes on the flood ;

And the tear as it starts a sad memory tells

Oh ! they heard a loved voice in those Waverlow bells.

86 North Country Poets.

" Our Ann," said old Ailse, " was the fairest of girls ;
She had heaven in her face, and the sun in her curls ;
Now she sleeps in a bed where the worm makes its cells,
And her lullaby's sung by the Waverlow bells."

" But her soul," Janimie said, " she'd a soul in her eyes,
And their brightness is gone to its home in the skies ;
We may meet her there yet where the good spirit dwells,
When we'll hear them no more those old Waverlow bells.

Once again only once the old couple were seen
Stepping out in the gloaming across the old green,
And to wander adown by the Hollybank Wells,
Just to list to the chimes of the Waverlow bells.

Now the good folks are sleeping beneath the cold sod,
But their souls are in bliss with their daughter and God ;
And each maid in the village now mournfully tells
How old Jamrnie and Ailse loved the Waverlow bells.

James Ashcroft Noble.

James Ashcroft Noble.

NE of our most genial men of letters, a writer whose pen is
equally graceful in prose and verse, and who has enriched
with many choice contributions the periodical literature
of the day, is Mr. James Ashcroft Noble, now of South-
port, author of "The Pelican Papers," "Morality in
Fiction," " Verses of a Prose Writer," and literary
editor of the Manchester Examiner. Mr. Noble was born
in Liverpool in the year 1844. His father was the son
of a Westmoreland yeoman, or "statesman," and for forty years held
a responsible .position under the Pilotage Committee of the port of
Liverpool ; his mother was the daughter of a Liverpool merchant.
James Ashcroft, the eldest of five children, received part of his education at
the Liverpool College, and part at a private school conducted by Mr. Alfred
Parkin, some time a master at the College. To this preceptor young Noble
was warmly attached, and he seems to have fired the lad's love of literature
and led him to aspire to the literary life. It was intended that after leaving
school Ashcroft Noble should enter Trinity College, Dublin, but being in
delicate health the design had to be abandoned. He was placed in a solici-
tor's office with a view to being articled, but in a few months time this also
had to be relinquished owing to ill-health. Thereafter for some years
young Noble was obliged to forego the earning of his own livelihood, and to
pass much time at various health-resorts, his parents' means fortunately
enabling this to be done. But he was not idle during this period ; he not
only read voraciously, but contributed prose and verse to various periodicals.
Taking a lively interest in the theological controversies of the day, then con-
cerned with the memorable " Essays and Reviews," the first productions of
his pen which were honoured with print were a series of brief articles on "The
Present Crisis in the Church," which appeared in the Liverpool Mercury,
From that beginning as a writer he contributed various articles and poems
to All the Year Round, Chambers' s Journal, The Victoria Magazine, and other
periodicals. When The Liverpool Albion was turned into a daily paper he
was offered his first regular literary work on its staff, in the capacity of
principal reviewer. While he filled that position Mr. Noble also published
his first work, " The Pelican Papers," now out of print. This volume,
which appeared at the end of 1872, was a series of sketches, verse, philoso-
phical, and literary essays, purporting to be " the reminiscences and remains
of a dweller in the Wilderness." One of its sketches gives Mr. Noble's
experiences of hydropathic establishments, and bore the title " Society
under Water." The Albion was short-lived as a morning daily. Mr.
Noble's next literary appointment was the editorship of the Liverpool Argus,
a weekly critical, political, and social journal, which was started about 1875.
It was as a contributor to this journal that the writer of this sketch first

88 North Country Poets.

made Mr. Noble's acquaintance, and he can bear testimony to the kindness
and consideration Mr. Noble always showed to the members of his literary
staff. The Argus had some noted contributors while it remained under Mr.
Noble's editorship. Among them were Miss Frances Power Cobbe, Pro-
fessor Dowden, the late Professor Graham, Mr. T. H. Hall Caine, the
popular novelist (author of "The Deemster," "A Son of Hagar," &c.),
some of whose earliest literary efforts saw light in its columns, Mr. Wm.
Watson, a poet of considerable power, Mr. W. S. Caine, now M.P. for Barrow,
and others who have become public men. The Argus was too high class a
publication for Philistine Liverpool, and was not a success pecuniarily.
Mr. Noble resigned the editorship after carrying it on for about eighteen
months, though its publication was continued in a rather different form
for two or three years longer. In 1878 Mr. Noble became a regular writer
for the Spectator. In the same year an article of his on " The Sonnet
in England," which appeared in the Contemporary Review, gained him a
name as an authority on that particular form of poetic composition, in
which much of his own verse is cast. In 1880 he removed to London,
and became contributor to several important weekly and leading monthly
magazines. In 1884 Mr. Noble was prostrated by a severe attack of para-
lysis. Professor Ferrier, considered the first authority of the day on brain
affections, was called in and at once pronounced the case to be a hopeless
one, and recovery impossible. Kemembering how, during previous illnesses,
Mr. Noble had benefitted by the air of Southport, however, his friends,
notwithstanding this grave verdict, had him removed thither, with the
gratifying result that Mr. Noble slowly began to recover. Though
he did not entirely regain his former vigour, he was able by degrees
to resume his literary labours. He was appointed reviewer or literary
editor to the Manchester Examiner, and with that work, and writing for the
Spectator and Academy, has chiefly occupied himself since his recovery. Mr.
Noble occasionally lectures on literary topics. One series of his lectures
on " The Current of Morality in English Fiction," was published in 1886 in
book form. In 1887 he collected from various quarters where they had
appeared a number of his poems, and issued them, with additional unpub-
lished pieces, in a volume entitled " Verses of a Prose Writer " (Edinburgh :
David Douglas, publisher). The author's intention in selecting this title,
was to indicate that he made no pretensions to be considered a poet. Never-
theless many of his verses show true poetic feeling. They are graceful and
musical, and although many of them are pitched in the minor key, probably
owing to the severe afflictions the writer has suffered, they breathe high
hopes and present elevated views of life, as well as idealising the joys of the
domestic circle. Mr. Noble married in 1873 the lady to whom he had previ-
ously dedicated his " Pelican Papers." One of the greatest sorrows of his
life was the loss of his first-born son, Philip, to whom he was passionately
attached. A section of his volume of poetry " In Memoriam Philip "
is devoted to the memory of this beloved child. One of our specimens of
verse is from this section, and it also makes a touching reference to his
own affliction.


James As her oft Noble. 89



Among the hills of India

Dwelt warriors fierce and bold,
The sons of robber chieftains

Who, in the days of old
Fought for their mountain freedom,

And, if by Fate laid low,
Fell ever crowned with honour

Their faces to the foe.

Now 'twas an ancient custom

Among those hillsmen brave,
When thus they found their kinsman,

To dig for him no grave ;
But the torn blood-stained garments

They stripped from off the dead,
And then his wrist they circled

With green or crimson thread.

Many the green-decked warriors,

But only for a few
Was kept that highest honour,

The thread of sanguine hue ;
For 'twas alone the bravest

Of those who nobly shed
Their life-blood in the battle

Whose wrists were bound with red.

And when they thus had graced them

Who fell before the foe,
They hurled their lifeless bodies

Into the plain below.
The earth did ne'er imprison

Those hillsmen brave and free,
The sky alone should cover

The warriors of Trukkee.

90 North Country Poets.

There came a time of conflict,

And a great armed throng
Of England's bravest soldiers,

Avengers of the wrong,
Marched through the gloomy gorges,

Forded the mountain rills,
Vowing that they would vanquish

Those robbers of the hills.

The road was strange and dubious ;

Easy it was to stray ;
And of those English soldiers

Eleven lost their way.
Led by a trusty leader,

They reached a fearful glen,
And saw a mountain stronghold

Guarded by forty men.

Guarded by forty veterans

Of that fierce robber band ;
In every face defiance,

Weapons in every hand.
" Back ! " cried the trusty leader ;

The soldiers would not hear,
But up the foe-crowned mountain

Charged with their English cheer.

With loud huzzas they stormed it,

Nor thought to turn from death,
But for old England's honour

Yielded their latest breath.
Short was the fight but deadly,

For when our last man fell,
But sixteen of the forty

Were left the tale to tell.

James Ashcroft Noble. 91

But those sixteen were noble

They loved a brave deed done ;
They knew a worthy foeman,

And treated him as one.
And when the English soldiers

Sought for their comrades slain,
They found their stiff stark corpses

Prostrate upon the plain ;
They lay with blood-stained faces,

Fixed eyes, and firm-clenched fists,
But the Bed Thread of Honour,

Was twined around their wrists.


The wife of Peter Wright, one of the men who perished in the South-
port life-boat, 10th December, 1886, was prematurely confined on the day
following the disaster ; and the baby, which was still-born, was placed on
its father's arm as he lay in his coffin, and buried with him.

Father and child together lie at rest,

The storm-worn man, the babe all undefiled ;
God's voice has blessed them and they shall be blest
Father and Child.

When by fierce wind black wave on wave was piled,
And Death came hurrying on the billow's crest,

One passed to peace amid the tempest wild ;
Storm-spared, the other finds a tranquil nest :

And now to both Death's face seems sweet and mild ;
Calmly they sleep, man's breast to baby's breast
Father and Child.

g 2 North Country Poets.

AUTUMN, 1885.

[From " In Memoriam Philip."]

Yes, Autumn comes again and finds me here ;
Last year I thought I should be otherwhere,
Than 'mid these fading falling leaves ; for there,
Beneath life's tree whose leaves are never sere
But green throughout the great eternal year,
I thought to lie, and breathe the tranquil air,
And see my boy who, being for earth too fair,
Is fairer still in that celestial sphere.
Perchance for me his little heart did yearn ;
Haply to meet me at the golden gate
He oft would wander, stand awhile, and turn
Away to cry, " My father lingers late."
Content thee, little one ; my heart doth burn
For thee as thine for me, but God says " Wait ! "


Christmas Eve, 1880.

Thy prayer is granted ; thou hast joined the Choir

Invisible ; the Choir whose music makes

Life's discords grow to harmonies, and takes

Us unawares with sounds that are as fire

And light and melody in one. We tire

Of weary noon and night, of dawn that breaks

Only to bring again the cares, the aches,

The meannesses that drag us to the mire :

When lo ! amid life's din we catch thy clear

Large utterance from the lucid upper air,

Bidding us wipe away the miry stain,

And scale the stainless stars, and have no fear

Save the one dread of forfeiting our share

In the deep joy that follows noble pain.

Samuel Waddington.


Samuel Waddington .

AMUEL Waddington was born at Boston Spa, Yorkshire,
in the year 1844. His ancestors, at the time of the
Commonwealth, lived at East Rigton, a little hamlet
adjoining Bardsey where the poet Congreve is said to
have been born, and from this village they removed to a
house known as Oglethorpe Hall, and afterwards to
Boston Spa. He was educated at St. John's School,
Huntingdon, and at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he
took his B.A. degree i.i 1865. While at Oxford, Mr. Waddington sat for a
while at the feet of Dr. Pusey, attending the lectures on divinity which
that illustrious founder of the High Church school delivered in his own
private room at Christ Church. He does not, however, appear to have
been greatly influenced by Pusey's teaching, for when, after leaving the
University, he began to prepare for ordination, he found that his views
would not permit him to subscribe to the Articles of the Church of
England, and he consequently relinquished his original intention of being
ordained, and having obtained a nomination from the Duke of Richmond
for a vacancy at the Board of Trade, he entered that department, in which
he has now worked for many years.

During his leisure hours he has adopted literature as his laborum dulce
lenimen, and more especially the literature connected with the history and
composition of the " Sonnet." A few years ago, at the suggestion of a friend
(Mr. Austin Dobson), he determined on publishing a selection of " English
Sonnets by Living Writers " (Geo. Bell & Sons, London, 1881) ; and to this
selection he appended an essay on the " Sonnet " and its history. Of this
volume a second edition, enlarged, was published in 1884, in which year Mr.
Waddington also published a volume of his own poems entitled, " Sonnets
and Other Verse," and respecting these the best equipped of our sonnet
critics observed in the Academy that they prove that tho author is
" not merely a tasteful collector of these cameos of verse, but a cunning and
delicate carver, whose carefully cut gems future collectors will not despise."

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