height, and they in their turn reared sixty-five children, the next generation being in hundreds,
and a descendant of the other man had twenty-three children with one wife, their respective
families became very numerous. The father of the twenty-three children I have seen ; he then
weighed three hundred and sixty pounds, and the drinking of half a dozen quarts of ale, as
mentioned in the preceding chapter, would have been a pleasant evening's entertainment for
him. He was once asked to have his weight taken by the owner of a weighing mncliine at a fair,
but the machine could only weigh up to three hundredweight, and that not being sufficient, the
machine was in jeopardy, and the owner of it glad to be without such a customer.
46 THE WAKES.
always held that unclaimed dead bodies should be taken to the nearest
inn to await an inquest, and many a body has been taken to the
Cock Inn for that purpose, but it was wakes time, and there was no
room in the inn.
" Put it in th' stable," says one.
" It's full, and so's th' shippon."
" Well, then, put it in the pigsty."
" Oh, by th' mass, th' pigs would eat it."
" Well, we shall aw live till we dee, unless th' pigs eat us."
" Rear him up i' th' coal hole ; he'll fear th' boggarts, an th' rats
wunner get him theer."
" Oh, cover it up any weer ; it '11 have to do till th' crowner comes
and has th' quest; happen he'll be coming to the wakes, and then we
may have some more wakes on his account."
Then the women set about covering the body, meanwhile making
many and various remarks.
" I hear tell they are going to build another inn on th' moor where
th' cross roads is, and ca it The Nimrod ; it will be nigh to the poor-
house and handy like for burying th' bodies of them as does away wi
theirselves, for they have to be buryt at cross roads, and it's a lonesome
cross, that is, where Treacle Lane and th' moor lane crosses th' High
Street; an we get a sight o' bodies to bury here as gets washed down
from Stopput i' flood time."
"There were a man did away with hissel a bit sin, for he'd bin
crossed i' love, and a valentine from his svveetut were found on him,
THE WAKES. 47
Thy head's like a whim whum,
Thy heart's like a drum ;
I've got another sweetheart
An thee mun stay a whum.
After that he felt so lonesome like that he made away with hissel, and
there er were singing
The blacksmith's won my heart
By striking grimly ;
He made the sparks to fly
All up the chimbley.
Well, well, a little mirt's worth a jel o' sorrow. When our Sam got
taken, we just told the bees he'd gone hence, and they'd gotten a new
master, and we gave em summut to drink, and put crape on the hives,
and then got on with us work as usual. It's ill crying o'er spilt milk.
There's no use fretting."
The country folk who crowded together in the old parishes at wakes
times were bent on having a spree, and neither dead bodies nor anything
else could stop them for long. Besides the cockfighting, bull-baiting,
and other '' merry disports," there was a pig to be run for, which was to
be the property of anyone who could catch and hold it by its greasy
tail. There was also a leg of mutton on the top of the Maypole, which
was greased for the occasion, anyone swarming the pole and reaching
the mutton being at liberty to keep it.
These latter were innocent amusements, but the chief fun of the fair
was in the ale and the fighting. There is no doubt whatever that our
forefathers (whether Saxon or Norman, or whatever we be), who saw
little of the world and who had little or no education, and few of the
advantages now enjoyed by their descendants, derived their pleasures
4 8 THE WAKES.
mainly from the animal pleasures of love and war, with the addition of a
pleasure the " inferior " animals do not share or appreciate the pleasure
of intoxicating drink. If they were merry and sang songs, they must
have ale. If they were "coortin" or keeping company, they wanted ale.
If the drink begat jealousy or quarrelling, there would be more ale "to
make it up again," more quarrelling and wrangling again, and again
more ale. Something to make drunk come, not too quickly but to be
getting forrader aw neet, until at last the heavy sleep of dead drunk
gradually stole over them and in oblivion there was rest.
Give them great meals of beef and beer,
They will eat like wolves and fight like devils.
Many of the men loved fighting for fighting's sake, just as the
cocks did; the crowd and the sports made the longing for a fight
contagious, and the drink excited them more. Theirs was not the wish
for a row such as an Irishman likes, who says, wherever you see a head
hit at it; but the wish for a fair stand-up fight with fists, between man
and man and fair does. The fights were not often very exhaustive, the
chief injuries being received from the ground, and some men being
sooner satisfied than others. We have heard of the man's excuse to his
wife that it was too early to go home for he hadnor foughten yet.
"Then get on wi yer feghtin," said his better half; "some folk talken and
talken but they wunner worken." An old man told me " his fayther had
once foughten nine fayts i' one day upon Duke's Hillock, at wakes
time of coorse; he had brokken a small booan i' his leg at last wi tumblin,
but still he thresht his man. Yu see he wur a big little un ; he stript
well, he wur nobbut five foot eight barfoot, but then he weighed thirteen
THE WAKES. 49
stone an wur hard. He didner live long though, for he used hissel so
badly ; yu see he were allus faytin, or drinkin, or fishin he got his livin
by fishin. There were some salmon i' th' Mersey i' them days ; I mind him
gettin one eighteen pound weight at Parker's weir. Well, he used to get
wet, an he wur wet for days together, an he neer changed his clothes
happen he'd none to change an he slept out i' th' ditch backin, so he
usened hissel badly as I say, and he didner last long. He wur nobbut
seventy-seven when he deed, an I'm a wicker chap at eighty -seven than
he wur at seventy-seven, for I've been workin aw neet keepin the fires
aleet where they're mendin th' road on th' Moor Lane. It isner every
one as earns their living when they're turn't eighty-seven, but then I
ne'er goes from home or bothers wi doctors or such like."
When two noted performers like The Magpie and The Crow were
going to have a bout, the interest of the neighbours was very great,
and the farmers who were sworn in as constables, showed their partiality
even more openly than it is shown by their successors, the constables of
to-day. Farmer and constable Cookson, being brought to stop a fight,
is reported to Jiave exclaimed, " Why, it's our Phil on th' top ; lay on
him, Phil, hide him well now thou'st gotten him down," &c., &c. If
the difference in size between two men was an obstacle to a fair fight,
the result would be a war of words at a safe distance from one another,
the little one keeping out of the way while the big one shouted at him :
"You wizzen-faced, seven-month cawf, if I get you by th' scuft o'
th' neck I'll not leave a whole boan i' th' hide. Thou'lt be like a lump
of dough that wunner rise; thou are nobbut a young magpie, aw jabber
50 THE WAKES.
"Shut up, you big lout; I might a bin as big as you if I'd had as
mony faythers," replies the little one, as he dodges off amid the crowd,
though for the rest of the day he keeps his eye on the big lout, as he goes
Perhaps the reader is tired of the fighting, and would like to hear
what the singing is like. Inside the inn the singing is mixed and
various, political and sentimental :
Wha wad na fecht for Charlie,
For Charlie is my darling, the gay Chevalier.
Ower the water to Charlie,
Come weal, come woe, we'll gather and go,
And live or die wi Charlie.
The political songs of the day, like the toasts, caused more strife,
not of words only, but of blows. Here a man would hold his mug of
drink aloft, saying, " Here's to the Devil, the Pope, and the Pretender,
and may they all rot in ," when his mug would be knocked from his
hand and he sent reeling by someone who expressed his preference for
going to hell with the Pope and the Pretender, rather than to the other
place with Dutch William and German George.
" None of your politics," says one ; " let's have a song wi some fun
(Sings) He wore a pig tail, oh see how it cocks.
" Will that do, or ' Gaby Glum'?"
My name is Gaby Glum,
I'm just turned one and twenty;
My face, I think, by gum,
Will get me sweethearts plenty.
THE WAKES. 51
" Oh, that's too slow, and too long ; give us one wi some weft in it,
with a good rousing chorus."
" Here goes," says another
Cock up your beaver.
Hay, Johnnie, lad, cock up your beaver.
" No, no, let's have 'Jolly good ale.'"
Back and belly go bare, go bare,
Let hand and foot grow cold ;
In ale we'll drown our every care,
In jolly good ale and old.
Chorus, lads Jolly good ale, let's have it.
Here's a sentimental one, sung slowly, with a high-pitched quaver-
ing voice, by a love-sick damsel
Mark yonder turtle dove,
He sits on yonder tree;
He sits, and he sings
To his favourite she.
The "tree" and the "she" are long drawn tremulous notes, the former
high, the latter low. The effect is rather melancholy, and though some
of the weaker vessels like to weep, the wakes is scarcely a time for
weeping, and the song does not meet with general approval.
"I'd liefer have old Sally Garner's song than yon," says one; "if we
mun have a love song, let's have old Sally"
When my appronstring was low,
My love followt me through frost and snow ;
But when my appronstring was high,
My love look'd in but passed by.
52 THE WAKES.
"Oh, be hanged to your sentiment, let's have a gradely un wi
Here's a curse on rich folk all,
Who rob and grind the poor,
And may they get what they desarve
In hell for evermoor.
"Now then art thu goin to be noising theer aw neet thoult sing an sup
an sing and sup until thou'rt singing on th' flure an Ise ave to tay thee
whome i' a wheelbarrow then thoult be feart o' boggarts an faytin wi thi
own shadow or aw of a crill wi a bonny belly wartch i' th morn an I'll
have th' childer to tend an bakin to do an washin to do an smoothin to
do an nobbut one pair o' ands to do it wi an thoult be assin about aw
day sayin thi yed's badly or thi belly wartches an thou'lt be wantin a
drop o' summut hot or some lumber but I'll have thi whome sooner
or I'll sweat. Now then get up thi great idle tooad, whatever would
happen you men if you hadner us poor women to mind ye and tend ye
th' Lord Awmeety only knows. Heh ! Men is stoopid."
UNDER WHICH KING?
Under which king, Bezonian ? speak, or die. Pistol.
HE autumn of 1745 came and went with nothing of
importance to chronicle. Harvests come and go and
farmers grumble, just as they always did and always
will do. The harvests come and go, but there is no
harvest for us, says the man who does not farm.
The harvests come and go, but we can make nowt
out on em, says the farmer. "If th' crop's a good
one, we get nowt for it ; if it's a bad one, we have nowt of it." Still the
fruits of the earth were gathered in due season, for the autumn was fine
and warm. The Lammas plums, the slobber- chop, toad -back, and
brown-beurre pears, the golden pippin, Keswick, and Smith apples, with
damsons, Oxnoble and bloody-Roger potatoes, were safely stowed away.
The natives went on increasing and multiplying, toiling, rejoicing, sor-
rowing, then as now. There were no railways, no coaches, no news-
54 UNDER WHICH KING?
papers, no cabs, no police, no telegraphs, no matches, no drains, no gas.
Did anyone want a light for the long winter's night, they must get a
rush and use it as a rushlight or candle, after prodigious labour with a
flint and steel to strike a spark, or get some mutton fat and a wick and
make their own candle. To have " three lights burning while never a
plow was going " was a sure sign of extravagance, and thought to be a
probable precursor of ruin. The only post-chaise in Manchester was at the
Jacobite house, the Swan. News of the outside world came very slowly,
for the roads were very bad, and a deal of the country was impassable
in winter. The tax-gatherer came ; death and taxes are always with
us; among the changes and chances of life they are ever present, and
there is no escape from them.
Mutterings of the coming storm with wild rumours about Prince
Charlie reached Didisburye at times. One week there would be certain
information that the Prince was taken prisoner or killed and his followers
dispersed. The next week would bring the news that he was every-
where received with the wildest enthusiasm, and it was even whispered
with bated breath that George's army had retreated. In a few more
days these reports would be contradicted, and conflicting accounts were
received more frequently. As time went on there could be no doubt
the Prince was advancing with a large body of Highlanders ; and
English Jacobites were now looking with eagerness to his coming as to
the coming of the Messiah. The majority of the English were not
surprised at his success in Scotland (among the savages, as some of
them termed it), but would he ever dare to enter England and engage
all the armies of a strongly seated king and government. If he did,
UNDER WHICH KING? 55
well and good, they would abide the issue of events. There were
politicians on each side, and there were a many neutrals who simply
wished to farm their fields and mind their business without bothering
with politics. A short summary of the history of the Stewart kings
will help many readers to a better understanding of the dispute about
the rights of succession to the throne of England.
The Stewarts, or Stuarts, for the name is spelt either way (I have
adopted the older fashion as used by Sir Walter Scott), were descended
from the Lord High Stewards of Scotland. According to the custom
of those days they took for surname the name of Steward or Stewart
(as the word steward is pronounced even now by country people). The
sixth of the line, Walter, had married Marjory, the daughter of Robert
Bruce, the king, and their offspring succeeded to the throne on the
extinction of the male line of Bruce. The two first were named Robert,
then came those named James. James I. was murdered. James II.
was killed by a cannon bursting. James III. was murdered. James IV.
fell on Flodden's fatal field. James V. died of a broken heart. His
daughter, the celebrated Mary Queen of Scots, as is well known, was
beheaded. She, when very young, had married for her second husband
her kinsman Henry Stewart Lord Darnley, who was still younger, and
she literally blew up her husband and then married the man who did
the murder for her. The child of Darnley and Mary succeeded to the
throne of Scotland as James VI., and on the death of Elizabeth he
succeeded to the English throne as James I.
He was the most fortunate and prosperous of his race, yet he and
his parliament were nearly being all blown up together on one celebrated
56 UNDER WHICH KING 1 ?
fifth of November. He earned the title of "the wisest fool in
Christendom." His son, Charles I., succeeded him, and was beheaded
at Whitehall. His misgovernment and faithlessness had undoubtedly
caused what Carlyle termed the armed appeal of Puritanism to the
Invisible God of Heaven, and the establishment of the Commonwealth,
the most remarkable period in English history. It was then shown to
an astonished world that kings did not rule by divine right, and that if
their rule was anything but right, their heads might be cut off by due
process of law. A salutary lesson for the kings that were to come after.
Charles II. succeeded his father after long years of exile and
privation. He endeavoured to make up for lost time, and with his
mistresses he laid the foundation of several of our ducal houses. This
was the merry monarch, one of the worst of the English kings. His
brother, James II., succeeded him, but he took warning by his father's
fate, and fled from the country as the increasing opposition to the
Catholics led to the revolution of 1688, when William of Orange, the
son-in-law of James, was invited to be King of England. The Stewarts
were all more or less openly supporters of the Roman Catholic faith.
James II. and his son were avowed Catholics, and the opposition to the
religion increased the opposition to them. James's daughter, Mary, had
married a Protestant, William of Orange, or Dutch William, and when
lie got the power he showed small mercy to Catholics. They had to pay
double taxes upon everything, were not allowed in any public office, and
were under all sorts of absurd restrictions, such as they were not allowed
to keep a horse worth more than $, for fear they might be using it for
mischief. After them followed Queen Anne, another daughter of
UNDER WHICH KING? 57
James II., and at her death the Whig Government offered the crown to
George, the Elector of Hanover, who was son of a daughter of the
daughter of James I., who had married the King of Bohemia, and who
was not a Catholic. The best account of the advent of His Most
Gracious Majesty King George I. is by Thackeray. He describes the
King's elderly favourites, Mesdames Kielmansegge and Schulenburg,
created respectively Countess of Darlington and Duchess of Kendal.
The duchess was tall and lean of stature, and hence was irreverently
nicknamed the Maypole. The Countess was a large-sized, noble woman,
and this elevated personage was denominated the Elephant. He then
describes the advent of the party as follows :
" I protest it is a wonderful satirical picture. Here we are,
all on our knees. Here is the Archbishop of Canterbury prostrating
himself to the head of his Church, with Kielmansegge and Schulenburg
with their ruddled cheeks grinning behind the defender of the faith.
Here is my Lord Duke of Marlborough, kneeling, too ; the greatest
warrior of all times ; he who betrayed King William, betrayed King
James, betrayed Queen Anne, betrayed England to the French, the
Elector to the Pretender, the Pretender to the Elector. And here are
my Lords Oxford and Bolingbroke, &c. . . . Yonder keen old
schemer knows the value of their loyalty. Loyalty he must think as
applied to me, it is absurd. There are fifty nearer heirs to the throne
than I am. You fine Whig gentlemen take me for your own sake, not
for mine. You Tories hate me ; you archbishop, smirking on your
knees and prating about heaven, you know I don't care a fig for your
Thirty-nine Articles, and can't understand a word of your stupid
58 UNDER WHICH KING?
sermons. You, my Lord Duke of Marlborough, you would sell me
or anyone else if you found your advantage in it. Come, my good
Melusina ; come, my honest Sophia ; let us go into my private room
and have some oysters and some Rhine wine, and some pipes after-
wards. Let us make the best of our situation ; let us take what we
can get, and leave these bawling, brawling, lying English to shout, and
fight, and cheat in their own way."
The German women plundered, the German secretaries plundered,
the German cooks and intendants plundered. "Take what you can
get," was the old monarch's maxim. He took our loyalty for what it
was worth, and laid hands on what money he could.
George I. being dead, the Prime Minister rode in haste and knelt
down in his jack-boots to George the son as he told him the great news.
"Dat is one big lie," roared out his sacred majesty King George II.
He it was who was de facto King of England at the date of this story.
The king de jure, the lineal heir of the king and the rightful sovereign
of England, was James III., the son of James II., sometimes called the
Old Pretender. The Prince of Wales, sometimes called the Young Pre-
tender, being his son Charles Edward, who made the gallant attempt in
1745 to regain the kingdom for his father.
Thackeray's description of George II. is not more flattering than
was his description of George I. ; he writes of him as " a choleric little
sovereign, who shook his fist in his courtiers' faces, kicked his coat and
wig about in his rages, and sometimes kissed the maids of honour.
When he was in England, his portrait was placed in the large armchair
in the assembly room at Hanover, for the nobility to bow to the arm-
UNDER WHICH KING? 59
chair and the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up, and
they spoke under their voices before the august picture. . . . When
the poor queen, one of the best of women, was on her deathbed
she bade him marry again, and the old king blubbered out, ' Non, non,
j'aurai des maitresses.' The grotesque horror of the details surpasses
all satire, the dreadful humour of the scene is more terrible than the
fiercest irony. When poor Queen Caroline was resting in her coffin,
dapper little George, with his red face and his white eyebrows and
goggle eyes, at sixty years of age is dressed up like a Turk and dancing
with Lady Yarmouth, alias Madame Walmoden. This Lady Yarmouth
(the most religious and gracious king's favourite) sold a bishopric to a
clergyman for 5,000 (that is, she bet him .5,000 that he would be
made a bishop, and he lost and paid her). The new-made bishop said
the earth was not good enough for the sacred and religious king, the
only place was heaven."
In the high society of that day cards were everything, and of course
the king must not lose. If he did lose, something must be wrong. How
it reminds us of a great trial about baccarat that has lately interested
England. Books were not then considered fit articles for drawing-rooms.
" Books! Prithee, don't talk to me about books," said old Sarah, Duchess
of Marlborough ; " the only books I care for are men and cards." The
German invasion in high places, as above described by Thackeray, is
reproduced even in our own day ; at least we are tempted to think so
when we read of Princes of Schleswig-Holstein, Teck, Battenberg, Saxe
Weimar, &c., holding high positions in the Court and the Army.
German merchants are pushing aside our merchants in Manchester.
60 UNDER WHICH KING?
German clerks are underselling and overworking our English clerks.
They will do more drudgery for less money and live at less expense.
German waiters swarm in all the hotels. They will come for no wages
and in unlimited quantities. They get better food than sour krout, and
they save money out of perquisites. They also learn the language, and
then say they can speak English and American. There is an office in
London, with branches all over Germany, where hotel proprietors can
be supplied with a hundred or more of these little German waiters at
almost any time. They are probably the refuse of the German army,
seven-months men, who can carry nothing much heavier than a napkin
or a tip, but who are good enough to send to England to work for their
board and perquisites. The next invasion from the East will probably
be of Russian Jews ; then the Celestials may have their turn.
An extraordinary invasion of England that occurred about the time
of which I write was that of the common brown rat. Charles Waterton,
the great naturalist, of Walton Hall, who died a few years since, and
who was an uncompromising and extreme Jacobite even in our day,
always maintained that the common rat (or Hanoverian rat, as he termed
it) came to England for the first time in the identical ship with George
the Elector of Hanover and his mistresses when George came to be
crowned King of England. It is certain the common rat was not known
in England before that time or thereabouts, and since then it has exter-
minated the old-fashioned English black rat.
The dissensions of the times caused another remarkable event in
our history, that is the first publication of our National Anthem. The
original of it was probably an anthem sung in the Catholic Chapel of
UNDER WHICH KING? 61
James II., the music having been composed by a Dr. Bull, organist to
James I., the words being :
O Deus optime !
Salvum nunc facito
Regem nostrum ;
Sit Iseta victoria,
Comes et gloria,
Salvum jam facito,
Exurgat Dominus ;
Dolos confundito ;
Frandes depellito ;
In te sit sita spes;
O salva nos.
On September 28th, 1745, it was sung at Drury Lane, with
harmonies and accompaniments by Dr. Arne, and was made "a loyal
song" of two verses only, the words being :
God save our Lord the King,
Long live our noble King,
God save the King.
Send him victorious,