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though he strove to conceal any further emotion, the old horse-leech
had noticed him, but continued his tale:

" There's a namesake of mine with him, young George ffletcher, his
brother-in-law, and Mester Dawson, a friend of the Broome's, and a
young Moss, from Manchester, and two of Dr. Deacon's lads. But I'm
gettin dry, and I notice, mester, although yo letten me talk, thou tell'st
me nowt thysel. Who may you be ?"

" Oh, I'm nothing. Nobody knows me. I like to hear you tell

* July 25, 1745, married by license,. the Rev. William Twyford and Miss Molly Broome,
both of Didsbury.


about these honest country folk, and if you are getting tired perhaps
you'll let me call for some more ale."

" Well, I don't mind if I have another quart, thank ye. I mak no
count of a man as cannot take his hafe dozen quarts without stirring
from his stool, not that I hold wi teeming it down your throat wi'out
swallowing, as some folk do. I always swallows mine fairly; and then
at wakes times we reckon to get a good skinfull of home brewed. It
makes us happy like happy down to the tips of our toes, my old aunt
used to caw it; and then a bit o' tripe or cowheel an some of their
cakes goes down well wi it too. Did yo ever taste any of em? They
baken above two thousand manchets agen th' wakes ; they are rayther
toothsome. Aye, missus, bring us some o' your manchets, only don't
bring too many, for I could go on eating them till th' cows come up.*
Aye, but good cooking's a great blessing," and the old man shook his
head slowly and thoughtfully.

" Bring too many, indeed," growled out a labouring man named
Prod, one of the numerous families of Blomeleys. " I'd fain see any un
bring too mony for me. If they was welly clemmed on black barley
bread aw the year round, they'd ate till they were welly brossen when
they'd gotten th' chance. I'll wager I'd eat a cawf at a sittin, and not
be stawed then, danged if a would."f

"Some folk are never right, neither full nor fastin; they'd eat as
much as would stuff a sofa," said the hostess, as she brought the cakes.

* The cows coming up, or milking time, is the most important part of the day in a dairy

t In country places a man is considered to have a very big capacity who can eat a calf at
one meal ; it has been done sometimes.


" Well, well, let thi meat stop thi mouth, or thou'lt be as full as a
blown tick."

So Prod smole at the cakes as a donkey smiles at a cabbage.

"Do you find all these good things agree with you, my friend?"
said the stranger to old Dick.

" Oh aye, nought much ails me but being a bit short o' cash. Yo
see, I dunna believe much in doctors, cos I'm one mysel ; leastways I'm
a cow doctor, and that's about the same thing. When folk reckons
they's ill they sends for the doctor or barber nowadays, and he bleeds
em and happen physics em as well wi' some strong drugs, an if that
doesn't do they bleeds em again. Just same as I do to the horses and
cattle, poor things. I know it's all wrong and nearly allus kills them,
but then folk are n'r satisfied unless you does it, and gives em a bottle
and charges em well. Besides, they are fond of the blood in winter
time when meat's scarce; it makes rare black puddings mixed with
meal.* Now, you notice anyone who ne'er fashes theirsels with a
doctor, they are allus a deal healthier and more dosome."

"That's true," said another; "and there wouldna be so much o'
these rheumatics about if folk wouldna wash so much. Why I anna
washed, ceptin my hands and face on a Sunday, not for nigh on sixty
years,-}- and I'm as healthy as any on you."

"No, I don't hold wi too much washin," said old Peter Pass, the

* It was the usual custom to bleed the cattle periodically, not only to cure diseases, but
to keep them well, and the blood was used for black puddings. Human beings were also bled
by the doctors whenever they got the chance.

+ There are men in Didsbury to-day who admit they have not washed all over for
sixty years.


blacksmith. " Some folk talken about th' dirt being grued in, but a bit
o' goose grease well rubbed in th' skin, specially about th' feet an joints,
is a deal better than aw that washin ; it makes the skin supple like."

" Well, I don't hold wi rheumatics," said old ffletcher, " but if men
getten wet and lie i' their wet clothes, and ne'er take em off from week
end to week end, and happen be wet aw that time, what mun they
expect ? Good plain food and plenty o' work will make anyone healthy
that's got reet. A bowl of porridge for breakfast, or a peil full of
buttermilk well stodged wi potatoes, an after that a rasher of fat bacon
wi a quart o' good ale on th' top, that'll beat any o' you new-fangled foreign
drinks for beginning th' day's work on.* Look at the childer they rear
nowadays on tea and slop ; there's some o'er yon, their mother reckons
hers a lady and drinks tea aw day, an best tea cosses a pound a pound,
an aw slop when done; there's no guts in it. Where are th' childer's
boanes or teeth ? They'n gotten none worth having ; an they wanten
glasses to see wi, an they go bald in no time ; they're hafe rotten." -f-

*A good old-fashioned breakfast was fat bacon and new milk, that is, milk with the
cream on it. The author has had it for over thirty years, during which time he has never had
a doctor. The reader is welcome to the recipe.

+ An uncle and aunt of mine, when aged about seventy-five, were cracking nuts with
their teeth ; their children could with difficulty do the same, and their grandchildren were no
better. If the teeth of every generation deteriorate, the great-grandchildren who are now
babies will soon be without teeth. The deterioration has probably been caused by the increased
consumption of tea, for the well-to-do generally lived as follows :

Instead of our slops,
They had cutlets and chops,

And sack possets, and ale in stoups, tankards, and pots,
And they wound up the meal with rump steaks and schalots.

Cheese and ale, with cucumber and raw onions, the above old couple, now in their eightieth
year, were lately having for supper.


"Ou's a mezzled face scrannel, an her childer welly clemmed,
though her reckons hers a lady," growled another native. " Her feyther
may ha been a gentleman, happen he was, but theyse like bargains it
ta'es two to ma em. Now oursens are little throggles, as wick as
scopprells, fatter till those uns though theyse fed on nobbut buttermilk
an taters, an thinks well o' gettin a bit o' bacon or maybe a fish on a

" Why there was a man deed here not many weeks sin," said old
Peter, " and the crowner sat on him at this very inn, an th' crowner had
him cut open to see what he deed on, an he were chock full o' black
coffee suds right up to th' throoat. He'd usened to drink a deal o'
coffee, same as some folk do nowadays, an th' coffee suds had stuck in
him, an filled him up, an he deed ; he did for sure, for I seed it mysel."

"An sarve him reet, too, why couldna him stick to ale. I've no
patience wi them foreign devils an their new ways, they wanten to know
more than it's fittin anyone should know. What sayst thu, mon, thou
oughtst to know a thing or two, for thou'rt out i' aw weathers, an up aw
neet too at times."

The latter part of this speech was addressed to two more of the
natives who now entered, one of them having been already introduced
to us under the euphonious name of Tippetymew. He was clad in a
red and white waistcoat made from the skin of a calf, with the hairy
side out and the skinny side in, and with haybands wrapped round his
legs, skin or leather breeches, and an otter skin for cap. He was
accompanied by a bristle-haired terrier that was very like its master
in the face, though it had a stumpy tail. The other man, Jimmy


Hardy, alias Blue Jimmy, was a gatherer and retailer of water-
cress, wild hops, chamomile, pennyroyal, dandelion, tansy, rue, and
various herbs with more or less mysterious uses ; he was also a
fisherman, with "an ancient and a fish-like smell;" his walking stick
was a piece of a bull, and his dress was mainly composed of the skins of
animals, which are an excellent protection against wet or cold weather,
and very serviceable to primitive man.*

" Aye, th' times is very bad," said old Tippetymew ; " what wi
enclosing pieces o' the moor an fillin up ditches there'll be no wild
beasses soon ; an then th' churchwardens dunna want to pay as much
for what is cotcht, so ween less to cotch and less for cotchin em. I
never seed the like, never."

" Do the heretics that now rule your church use money from the
house of God for the destruction of his creatures?" asked our friend
the stranger.

" By th' mass, your reverence, dunna get vexed. Poor folk have
to be o' what religion they're orthert, an do as they're tolt We an to
catch moudywarps, an rotten, an urchen, an stots, an them stinkin
foumartSjf an otters, or onythin else. God ne'er made them things as
creeps about on four legs. Th' devil made them an witches an such
like, an we allus kills everythin as we can."

The dog had risen with pricked ears and head on one side at the
sound of rotten and urchen, and, after sniffing at some of the company,

* There are at the present time females who come to Didsbury church partly clothed in
the skins of wild beasts, sometimes with a row of tails hanging round them as worn by a
medicine man of the Indians, and with the skins or mangled limbs of dead birds on their heads.
fMoles, rats, hedgehogs, stoats, polecats, &c.


he gave signs of being a freemason, scratched once or twice with his
hind feet in a backward direction, and then went under the bench to
try if there was a soft place in the floor before he lay down with one
eye open and the other eye shut.

" Do these men still cling to the old faith, the faith of their fore-
fathers?" the stranger quietly asked old Dicky; "or what is their

" It's mostly Church and guts, same as the rest on us. Church and
State, or Church and King, it's aw one."

" But which king?" said the stranger.

" Which king? why, how many are there? If they fillen their bellies
it's aw one."

" But are they Tories ?"

" In course they're Tories. Church and King, or Church and guts,
or Tories, it's aw one. But I'm gettin dry, as dry as a kecks, and Tories
shouldna be dry; it's worse thing I have agen em is their fastins. I
canna hold wi living on fish an cabbage on Fridays, or hasty pudding*
on Ash Wednesdays or fast days; but they dunna do it now as much
as they did. A deal o' folk nowadays as calls theirsels Tories is only
milk and water devils. But who may yo be? Art thou that preachin
chap they ca' Wesley ,-f- that's goin about preachin an upsettin things ?"

* Hasty pudding was made of flour and milk only ; it caused Ash Wednesday to be
indeed a day of fasting and sorrow in the author's childhood.

f The parents of Wesley, who had lately begun his preachings, were strong Jacobites; he
himself gradually 'verted to the other side from his opposition to Popery. The Catholics and
High Church party generally supported the Stewarts, or in other words were Jacobites or


" No, my friend ; I have not even heard of him. Who is he ? a
setter forth of some strange doctrine ?"

" I dunna know. Doctrine troubles me no more than doctorin.
There's so many sorts o' religions nowadays, honest folk have a job to
know which is reet. Priests used to be reckoned very much count of,
but th' sight o' one now has summut th' same effect on me as th' sight
of a tom-cat has on a tarrier dog. I mean no offence, mester, though
you looken a bit that way yoursen. But talkin's rayther moythersome,
an one's wizzen gets dry. We shall aw wanten another quart apiece
when th' rush cart comes and the sound of the music gets nigher and

The medley of sounds outside the inn had gradually become deeper
and louder, and now broke into a hoarse roar of "Here she comes;" "Th'
rush cart's in sect;" " Th' rush cart's here;" " Look out," &c., &c. When
the rush cart was sighted from the green, the signal was given. The
new bells in the church tower clashed their loudest and merriest peal.
The din was deafening. The roar of hundreds of voices, the band, and
the bells all seemed to outvie with one another. The rush cart, or wagon
piled with rushes and ornamented with garlands, was drawn by the best
horses that could be obtained ; the horses themselves and the escort of
dancers and musicianers being covered with ribbons, streamers, flowers,
flags, &c. The last part of the journey was done at a gallop by the
horses and dancers, and the rush cart pulled up at the church gates.
Here all the people danced round it in a storm of sounds loud enough
to make "the rude forefathers of the hamlet" turn in their narrow


We may read in the Scriptures that David and the singers of Israel
escorted the Ark of the Lord with music and dancing, and if there had
been any description of that music and dancing it might have been
found similar to that practised at Didisburye. The latter was certainly
primitive; it mainly consisted of the dancer, with long ribbons in his
hands, taking a step forward, a step backward, and one forward again,
as he waved his streamers, this was to the tune of rum-ti-um. The
next movement was a complete turn round, with the streamers waved
over the head, ti-riddy-iddy-um. Then several quicksteps forward, with
another complete turn, ti-rum-tummy-tum-tummy-tum-tum-tum.
Da capo. This was practised by the village children for weeks. The
rush cart day, August 5th, was the happiest day of the year for many
poor folk ; it was the one great feast or carnival. They grew up from
childhood knowing only the rush cart tune and the rush cart dance.
One generation passed them on to the next, and associated them with
happy memories of the days when they were young and their mothers
fondly watched over their childhood's steps ; or when in the bloom of
their youth their limbs were supple and they gloried in their strength.
As age crept on and activity lessened, the regrets for the days that were
past would increase, and many a time an old man or woman whose
heart was made merry would suddenly break out into the rush cart
dance and sing the rush cart tune.

The last few sentences merely describe what I have seen, and,
though they are now written in reference to one hundred and forty-six
years ago, they will also apply to a still earlier time, for tradition says
that the village festival had even then been held for more than five


hundred years. Very few, indeed, are the people in Didsbury to-day
who ever heard of St. Oswald. There are many who never heard of
the rush cart or the wakes, and yet the festival lived for more than six
centuries, and only in our own time has become extinct.

Let not ambition mock their homely joys,

Their useful toil, and destiny obscure ;
Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile

The short and simple annals of the poor.

The crowd was soon busy carrying the rushes into the Church.
Everyone helped, young and old, lads and lasses, all carried some
rushes, it was a religious and a happy duty. The Church was newly
swept and garnished, the old rushes having been taken away for a
bonfire, and the new rushes were now spread in the pews and the new
garlands hung over the altar, and the whole place thoroughly cleansed.
The old records specify that cleaning the Church meant cleaning " every
pew in it," the pews being of divers shapes and sizes. As the twilight
deepened the ghostly owls came gliding softly to and fro, and the
falling dew increased the scent of the rushes in the sweet evening air.
The summer sun set over the green meadows below the churchyard,
and the coloured light of the sky was reflected from the broad ditches
and the bends of the river as the sounds of merriment and revelry con-
tributed to the solemn peacefulness of a happy village festival. Our
friend the stranger lingered long, much interested in all he saw, but as
darkness deepened he went back to the inn and boldly asked to be
shown into the room where the Manchester men were met. After
many diplomatic evasions and much prevarication as to there being
such a room or meeting, admittance was at last obtained, and in a low


dark pannelled room, crossed with heavy rough oaken beams and with
a plain oaken table in the centre, on which stood a large bowl of water,
was a goodly assemblage of men among whom the quick eyes of the
stranger recognised those pointed out to him by old ffletcher as coming
from Manchester.

After carefully shutting the door, and taking care that he did not
knock his head against the beams, which were less than two yards from
the floor, he introduced himself as follows : <: I am sent unto you with
tidings of great joy. The name of your village is known in Paris, and
in Rome, and wherever the friends of King James the Third meet
together. As I am a member of a family that has for centuries owned
lands in this parish, I have many friends in the neighbourhood, and I
trust and believe I am now in the midst of friends. My name before I
was received into religion was Alexander Barlowe, and as an humble
emissary of the Church it has been deputed to me to seek you out and
tell you that your Prince of Wales, Prince Charles Edward, sailed from
France in the Doutelle, escorted by the Elizabeth, on the I3th day of
last month, that his most Christian Majesty the King of France is
aiding him with ships and money, and, as several weeks have now
elapsed without tidings of his capture, it is almost certain that he has
safely effected his landing on the coast of Scotland, and has claimed
the kingdom for his father. Even now the fiery cross will be speeding
through the Highlands, and the clans will be gathering in battle array.
Your Prince will march southwards through Manchester, and it behoves
you, as good subjects of the King, to give him what aid and help lies in
your power. He has the blessing of His Holiness the Vicar of Christ


on earth, and with the blessing of God Almighty the Church and King
must prevail over their enemies. No weapon that is forged against Her
shall ever prosper, and the King must reign and his enemies be put in
subjection under his feet."

The interest of the company had gradually been growing in inten-
sity, and now burst forth with the wildest enthusiasm. "The King!"
"The King!" "The King!" echoed and re-echoed till the oaken rafters
of the old inn shook again with the storm of cheers that were raised and
toasts that were drunk to the King over the water, King James III. Even
in that time of revelry of the annual village feast such an outburst of
cheering drew the notice of the people, and the door and windows were
besieged by eager enquirers. The good folk of Didisburye did not care
much which King was on the throne so long as their pots were kept
a-boiling and their children's bellies filled, for was it not their primest
duty to attend to them. The government was something very far
beyond their ken, and they followed their leaders, the gentry, in simple
faith. The gentry were nearly all Church and King men, or, in other
words, High Church and Tory, and therefore in various degrees were
supporters of the Jacobites or adherents of the Stewarts. They usually
met for consultation at an inn in Didisburye, and now more drink
was ordered, free drink for anyone who would hold his glass over
the bowl of water as he drank to the health of the King. The
King over the water signified the King of England who was living
in France, and who was therefore over the water. If they had
openly drunk the health of King James III. the consequences might
have been disastrous. It was altogether more prudent not to name



the King or to name the Pretender, for who knew what might

God bless the King ! I mean our Faith's Defender ;
God bless (no harm in blessing) the Pretender.
But who Pretender is, or who is King,
God bless us all is quite another thing.

A song in those days was the accompaniment of a feast, and when
men had well drunk they would give vent to their feelings. Here is
another verse of the period with a double meaning

The illustrious House of Hanover

And Protestant Succession,
To them I have allegiance sworn,

While they can keep possession.

(Sotto -voce) And no longer. Chorus, gentlemen, please,

While they can keep possession.


In England, where, indeed, they are most potent in potting : your Dane, your German,
and your swag-bellied Hollander drink ho! are nothing to your English. lago.

^UNNA be so lungus, yu come moythering round though
ween been as thrunk as dogs i' dough til we fair sweal ;
canna yu let us a be," said a fine upstanding lass of a
good brown colour, dressed in a large flowery pattern
gown and a poke bonnet, to a besotted maudlin youth in a smock
frock with buttons like cheese plates, and a neck-tie of gorgeous hues,
like the famous coat of Jacob.

" Coom along o' me, an I'll gie thee a fairing," said the gorby, and
when he laughed his face disappeared and only an immense mouth
was visible.

" I'd as lief stay a whome. I wudner have yu if every yair o' your
yed wur tagged wi goold. Yu thinken cos yu'n gotten a hundert pound
to your fortun yure o' some account, but yu anner."

" Ne'er heed th' cross-grained hussy, there's as good fish i' the


waiter as there is out ; come an let's see th' bull baiting," said another
damsel, and she gave him a slap on the back with a hand like a
shoulder of mutton, and off they went arm in arm up to the elbow.

" He's a rum lookin chap, yon is ; they must a bin feart when they
got him," was the remark of a bystander. " Ers that fond o' him, er
could welly eat him."

" Aye, an er'll wish er had a hetten him, too, afore er's done wi him,"
grumbled the girl's father. " They caren none so long as their bally's
filled. Here I mun scrat, an fend, an pey for aw, and meenteen aw,
an aw wunna do. Th' chap gets nobbut a shillin a week an his meat;
how can folk keep body an soul together an rear a family on yon.*
Wakeses arener what they usent to was when I wur a lad. Why, I've
heerd tell that when King Charles wur restored, an them sour-faced
Puritans wur shut up, that th' king paid for aw th' drink, an there was
gallons an gallons to be had for th' aksing. Yu met a swum in it if it
hadner a bin a sin to waste God's gifts by swimmin in it."

" Oh, I'd neer a wasted it, tho I'd leefer a drunk it," said another.
"I'd a swum in it first an drunk it arter. I've often heerd tell o'
swimmin in drink, an I'd like to try it for wonst afore I dee."

"An then look at th' trouble there is nowadays wi one's wife, if er
happens to be okkert Th' justices wunner let yu fettle em too much
yursen if they gi yu too much o' their lip. Whoy, we'd usent to have

* A Didsbury man once told me he got "nobbut a shilling a week an his meat, an he got
no meat but on a Sunday." He meant flesh meat on the Sunday. 5 a year (or two shillings a
week), with board, was a common wage at farm houses in recent years. My great grandmother
had for servants three sisters, who were with her for a many years and who saved "a deal of
money." The eldest of them got the highest wages, namely, three guineas a year.


em ducked i' th' vvatter, or a bridle an gag put i' their mouths when they
talkened out o' their turn ; but they'n stopt all that, an now they even wan ten
to stoppen us a hidin of em as well ; but I told mine I'd ta her by th' scruff
o' the neck an jow er ed agen th' bedpost if er wudner owld er clack."

"Some on em will be allus fratchin, but I'd as leef let em keep
emselves to emselves, and not be too hurrysome with em."

"Aye, but some o' them gawming ill-favvert women, they arener fit
to be trusted out by theirsels, they arener for sure."

"Well, thee hode thy noise," broke in a large-boned horse-god-
mother sort of a woman who had heard the last sentence ; " thee hode
thy noise, for I owe thee nowt, as the man said to his bally when it
rumblert. I may have to carry thee whome to-neet afore thou'st done ;
may be thou'lt be gettin feghtin yet, an we shall see thee runnin like a
scawded cock, aw of a dither, and then thou'lt be very glad o' thy
missus to taken care on thee." Then, as the hen-pecked husband

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