Read CHAPTER XXVI of Adventures and Recollections , free online book, by Bill o'th' Hoylus End, on ReadCentral.com.

OLD MUSICIANS

I now purpose briefly to refer to a few old singers whose friendship or acquaintance I enjoyed. Mr Edwin Ogden was well known in the neighbourhood as being about one of the best local singers of his day. Many townsfolk will remember Edwin, together with William Haggas, another old musician, teaching a singing-class. Ogden was a shoemaker by trade but he dabbled more in music than in wax and leather. For many years he held the position of leading chorister at St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church. He also “gave of his talents” on frequent occasions at local concerts, and was in great favour with the public. He made as many young singers, I suppose, as Joe Turner made musicians in the instrumental sense of the word. Turner was for many years the conductor of Marriner’s Brass Band. Not a few of our present-day musicians will be able to date the commencement of their musical career from the time they took up instruction with either Ogden or Turner. The former has been removed by death, but the latter is still with us. James Greenwood was also one of the school to which Ogden and Turner belonged; and the three took great interest in the musical training of the late Mademoiselle Matilda Florella Illingworth previous to her visiting the conservatoires of music on the Continent. Mr James Wright, my father, also interested himself in Miss Illingworth, in whom at an early period of her life he detected material for the making of an accomplished vocalist. She was a frequent visitor at our house, and often have I heard her sing “Robin Adair” my father’s favourite song. After she had been on the Continent, I heard Miss Illingworth tell how often while there she was swindled by the proprietors and managers of theatres and music-halls. In some instances she was subjected to the most cruel impositions. More than once she was robbed of all her stage properties, and in Florence she was duped out of every half-penny of the proceeds of a concert which she promoted. Other musicians of the time, I may mention, were John Dunderdale, Daniel Ackroyd, and Joe Constantine. It was in memory of these old musicians that I wrote the following verses:

“COME, GIE US A WAG O’ THI PAW.”

Come, gie us a wag o’ thi paw, Jim Wreet,
Come, gie us a wag o’ thi paw;
Ah knew thee when thi heead wor black,
But nah it’s as white as snow;
Yet a merry Christmas to thee, Jim,
An’ all thi kith an’ kin:
An’ hopin’ tha’ll hev monny more
For t’ sake o’ owd long sin,
Jim Wreet,
For t’ sake o’ owd long sin.

It’s soa monny year ta-day, Jim Wreet,
Sin owd Joe Constantine
An’ Daniel Ackroyd, thee and me,
An’ other friends o’ thine
Went up ta sing at t’ Squire’s house
Net hawf-a-mile fra’ here;
An’ t’ Squire made us welcome
To his brown October beer,
Jim Wreet,
To his brown October beer.
An’ owd Joe Booth tha knew, Jim Wreet,
’At kept the Old King’s Arms.
Wheear all t’ church singers used ta meet,
When they hed sung their Psalms;
An’ thee an’ me amang ’em, Jim,
Sometimes hev chang’d the string,
An’ wi’ a merry chorus join’d,
We’ve made yon’ tavern ring,
Jim Wreet,
We’ve made yon’ tavern ring.

But nearly three score year, Jim Wreet,
Hev passed away sin then;
When Keighley in Apollo’s art
Could boast her music men.
But music, nah, means money, Jim,
An’ that tha’s sense ta knaw;
But just for owd acquaintance sake,
Come gie us a wag o’ thi paw, Jim Wreet;
Jim Wreet,
Come gie us a wag o’ thi paw.

A DISAPPOINTED MAN

I think an apology will be scarcely needed for introducing a few remarks regarding Mr James Wallbank, a well-known and eccentric character in the town. I have heard that James is dead. Whether this is so or not I cannot say; certainly I have not seen the old gentleman about for some time. James was for many years billiard-marker at the Devonshire Hotel. He cherished the idea that he was related to royalty. He often told me that he was a relative of one of the old kings of France, and insisted that his name instead of being Wallbank should be Wal de Brooke, or something like that. When Burridge, the celebrated American painter, was in Keighley, he stayed at the Devonshire Hotel and painted Mr Walbank’s portrait, and the picture is now in the possession of Mr Martin Reynolds.

“GOOISE AN’ GIBLET PIE.”

Another well-known character was Harry Smith, manufacturer. Harry was a man intensely fond of fun, and one Christmas Eve, I remember, when I was coming from the station after returning from Scotland, he tapped me on the shoulder, and, after ascertaining where I had been of late, quoted a motto of the Freemasons’ “In my Father’s house are many mansions, but such as I have I give unto thee. Follow me.” I went with Smith to his house, and spent Christmas Eve there. The subject of my poem, “Gooise and Giblet Pie,” arose out of that night’s proceedings:

A Kersmas song I’ll sing mi lads,
If you’ll but hearken me,
An incident i’ Kersmas time
I’ eighteen sixty three:
Withaht a cypher i’ the world
I’d scorn to tell a lie
I dined wi’ a gentleman
O’ gooise an’ giblet pie.

I’ve been i’ lots o’ feeds, milads,
An’ hed some rare tuck-ahts;
Blood-pudding days wi’ killing pigs,
Minch pies an’ thumping tarts.
But I wired in, an’ reight an’ all,
An’ supped when I wor dry;
For I wor dining wi’ a gentleman
O’ gooise an’ giblet pie.
I hardly knew what ailed me, lads,
I felt so fearful prahd;
Mi ears prick’d up, mi collar rose,
Towards a hawf-a-yard;
Mi chest stood aht, mi charley in,
Like horns stuck aht mi tie;
For I dined wi’ a gentleman
O’ gooise an’ giblet pie.

I offen think o’ t’ feed, mi lads,
When t’ gentleman I meet;
But nauther of us speyke a word
Abaht that glorious neet;
In fact, I hardly can mysel
I feel so fearful shy;
For I ate a deal o’ t’ roasted gooise,
An’ warmed his giblet pie.

THE CONCLUDING CHAPTER

It must be a long lane that has no turning. I am afraid the Herald readers who have followed my Recollections will have thought Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End’s memory an inexhaustible one. The truth is, when I commenced to “resurrect” my past career I had no idea that the stories and reminiscences would extend to anything like the length they have gone to; and even now I find that the source of supply is far from being exhausted. But, in the circumstances, I have decided to conclude with this week’s chapter “the last scene that ends this strange and eventful history.” In the first place, I must crave an apology from my readers for not having been able to give events in my career in their chronological order. As I stated at the outset, I had no diary or data whatever to go by, and have simply reeled the stories and anecdotes off my memory. It will thus be readily seen that I cannot have given every little transaction or happening in my life. In my Recollections I have now and again introduced descriptions and narratives of various characters with whom I was brought closely in contact. I may say that in doing this I have made it my aim to omit, or, failing that, to treat with proper respect, all incidents concerning individuals who were living themselves or had relatives living; and I think that nothing I have said in regard to friends or foes gone over to the Great Majority will have given the slightest offence to their living representatives. I commenced by recapitulating some of the tricks of my boyhood when I was said, by the old house-wives, to be the “village harum-skarum” and have traced my career down to within a few years of the present time. Some of my stories have been favourable, others unfavourable to my character. My critics will have said that Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End has many faults; but I must ask them to forgive my many shortcomings, and look upon my few virtues. Above all things, I think I can say that with all reasonableness I have held to the truth. Most of the people of Keighley and the surrounding towns and villages are familiar with the name, at least, of Bill o’ th’ Hoylus End. Without appearing vain or egotistical, I think I may say that I have been recognised by high and low, rich and poor, and by people not altogether unknown to fame. Of all my friends, I entertain the greatest respect for the late Sir Titus Salt, whose assurance I had that if, while he was alive, I wanted a helping hand I need not go far or wait long for it. The baronet honoured me with an interview, at which he told me how highly he thought of the poem which I had written just previously on the occasion of the unveiling of the monument of Sir Titus in Bradford. Perhaps a couple of verses of my “Ode to Sir Titus Salt” will not be misplaced here:

Heedless of others, some there are
Who all their days employ
To raise themselves, no matter how,
And better men destroy.
How different is the mind of him
Whose deeds themselves are told,
Who values worth more nobler far
Than all the heaps of gold.

No empty titles ever could
His principles subdue;
His queen and country, too, he loved,
Was loyal and was true:
He craved no boon from royalty,
Nor wished their pomp to share;
For nobler is the soul of him,
The Founder of Saltaire.

I may venture to say that I have had a valued friend in Mr Butterfield, of Bonnie Cliffe Castle and fair Marianna, Nice; also in Sir Isaac Holden, Bart, M.P., Dr Dobie, Keighley, and other gentlemen. I have had a letter, commending my rhyme, from Sir Albert K. Rollit; and other communications with respect to the outpouring of my muse from Mr Archie Laidlaw, of Edinburgh; Councillor Burgess, of Congleton, Cheshire, &c. I was privileged to claim the late Rev J. Room, M.A., as an especial friend, and may say that of all the times I shook hands with him I scarcely ever withdrew my hand without finding “something” in it. Mr Room’s last request to me was that I would write seven verses and only seven, he said on the death of his dear, beloved wife. I promised to do so, but (partly through my dilatoriness, I must admit) the rev gentleman did not live to receive the verses. During the past few days, however, I have written the following verses on

THE LATE REV. J. ROOM, M.A.

John Room! he is dead and is buried;
There is mourning the whole village through,
And all the people who knew him
Are loth to bid him adieu.

’Tis true he was filled with compassion;
God’s nature in him over-flowed;
He knew all the people with burdens,
And strove hard to lighten their load.

His dress it were plain and quite common,
No pride in him could you trace;
Yet you knew that he was a good parson
Whenever you looked in his face.

The worst things his foes knew about him
He was fond of satire or joke,
Writing some verses of rhythm,
Which always amused the folk.
Whene’er he walked into the pulpit,
He bowed for a moment in prayer,
Every soul in the temple grew thirsty;
The true Christian spirit was there.

His likes there are few in the nation,
(I wish in my heart there were more;
For it wants something else besides learning,
To grapple the hearts of the poor.)

’Tis true he was high up in learning
The secrets of nations long dead;
But he cared more for those who were yearning
Sad tears round the sufferer’s bed.

Then farewell! my worthy old preacher,
For thou shall have no end of praise
Good father and true-hearted shepherd,
Who knew both the poor and their ways.

SOME LAUGHABLE STORIES

In this, the last chapter, I should like to give a few anecdotes concerning an eccentric character who was pretty well known in the Keighley district, although he was a native of Flintergill, a village near Kendal. This individual was known as “Kendal,” “Flintergill Billy,” “Three bease an’ a Cow” &c. He was a warpdresser by trade, and for a time worked along with me at Messrs Butterfield Bros.’ Prospect Mill. He often used to tell us that his father had “two bease an’ a cow” on his farm at “Flintergill.” Yes; “Billy” was as queer a chap as one could well imagine such a specimen as one often reads about in comic almanacs, but seldom sees. At one period of his stay in Keighley, “Billy” lived at Paradise a row of cottages just below the Prospect Mill. His wife was a weaver in the mill, and one baking day, I remember, she gave her husband strict orders “ta hev t’ fire under t’ oven when she com’ fra her wark.” “Kendal” was working alongside me at warp-dressing, and just before stopping time the thought chanced to strike him that he had to have the fire going. Away home he darted, and on his return he stated, in reply to my question, that he thought all was right. Soon afterwards I happened to ask if he had put the fire under the pan or the oven, and he had to acknowledge that he did not know where he had put it. He set off home again to see how things stood, and lo and behold! he had put the fire under the pan. Now, “Billy” was not blessed with a superabundance of sense, and (perhaps flurried by the thought that if the oven was not ready in time he would “get his ear-hoil weel combed” by his wife) he scaled the fire out of the range, and re-kindled it under the oven with the clothes-pegs. The idea of pushing the fire across under the oven did not seem to occur to poor “Billy’s” brain. The fact remains that he had just got the clothes-pegs nicely alight when in popped his wife . . . For various reasons I draw the curtain over the closing scenes in the little farce. “Billy” never would allow it to be said that his wife ever bossed him. Indeed it used to be a standing boast with “Kendal” in public-house company that he “could mak’ their Martha dew just as he wanted her; he hed nobbut ta stamp his fooit, an’ shoo did it in a minit.” He was boasting, as usual, one day, when in came “Martha,” and, without any words of explanation, seized her “lord and master” by the hair of the head, and dragged him out of the door. The company fully appreciated the situation, and with one voice shouted, “Stamp, Flintergill, stamp!” But there was no stamping. “Martha” pre-eminently proved her authority as “boss,” whether poor, hen-pecked “Flintergill” came in as “foreman” or “deputy,” or merely “apprentice” or what. Another remarkable feature about “Flintergill” was that he never came back to his work in the afternoon except that he had had ham, veal, beef, or some other “scrumptious viand” to his dinner. But on one occasion one of his shop-mates detected some flour porridge on his waistcoat. During the afternoon this shop-mate asked “Flintergill” what he had had for dinner. “Duck and green peas,” promptly replied “Kendal.” “Aye,” said the workman, “an’ ther’s a feather o’ thi waistcoit.” Another side-light on “Kendal’s” character will perhaps be afforded by the following. He went to a certain shoemaker’s in Haworth, and got measured for a pair of boots, which it was arranged should be ready by a stated time. Then he went to another shoemaker’s shop in the village, and was measured for a pair there. The anecdote runs that on the day fixed for the boots to be ready “Flintergill” sent his father-in-law’s daughter to each of the shoemakers, telling her to get “t’reight un fra one, an’ t’left un fra t’other.” In this way, it was “Flintergill’s” frequent boast, he got a pair of boots for nothing. Another story relates his visit to Bradford. “Flintergill” intended to spend the evening in Pullan’s Music Hall, but he got into the Bowling Green, where there happened to be a waxwork show. “This must be Pullan’s,” said “Flintergill” to his companion; and up they both went on the platform. “Billy” offered his money to the door-keeper, who, however, neither spoke nor held out his hand. “Flintergill” said he “wor a funny door-keeper” and threatened that “if he didn’t tak’ t’ brass they wor bahn in abaht.” And inside “Flintergill” and his friend bounced, to find that the door-keeper was “Tim Bobbin,” a wax figure. Still another anecdote says that “Flintergill” was one day seen up a tree sawing off one of the branches. A passer-by asked, “What is ta dewin up theear, Flintergill?” “Oh,” was the reply, “we call this weyvin i’ ahr country.” No sooner were the words spoken than “Flintergill” tumbled to the ground. “Ah see,” said his questioner, very aptly, “an’ tha’s come dahn fer some more bobbins.” It appeared that “Flintergill” had been sawing off the bough on which he was standing. I will close this series of anecdotes with a reference to the frequency of “Flintergill’s” flittings. He used to say that he had no sooner got into a house than it was wanted for a beer-house or by a railway company. “Flintergill” kept a few hens, and it was said that these hens became so accustomed to the “flittings” that at the first sign of preparations for removing they would roll over on their backs with their legs together ready to be tied.

MY LAST RAMBLE

To a few verses I recently wrote I have given the title “My last ramble.” The lines run as follow:

As I stroll round by Exley Head
Down by the Wheathead Farm,
My thoughts fall back to days bygone
Thoughts which my soul doth charm;
Each hill and clough, each hedge and stile,
To me they are most dear;
And as I pass them one by one
They bring to me a tear.

In old Fell Lane when I was young,
A ruined mansion stood,
With roofless cots filled up with sticks
Brought from the Holme House Wood.
And now I cross the Intake Brig
Where I used to sport and play,
And bathe, and plunge, and water splash
Full many a happy day.

I gaze upon the old farm-gate,
And long to have a swing
Along with all my boyish mates,
As happy as a king;
For the carriage of the noble man,
Or the chariot of the State,
Never carried nobler hearts
Than did the old farm-gate.

I now pass by the Intake Farm,
And I am much amazed;
It has the charm for me to day
As first I on it gazed.
And farther as I wind my way
And climb the old Blackhill,
A scene appears before my sight
To me more charming still.

The silvery Tarn once my delight,
For there I took my skates,
On many a happy winter day,
With my dear little mates.
The old Tarn House I see again,
The seat of Aaron King;
And as I gaze from east to west
Such sights of wonder spring.

As far as e’er my eye can see,
Hills on each other rise,
Towering their heads in majesty
Far in the western skies;
And as I view the landscape round,
No artist here could dream
The beauties of the Vale of Aire,
With its crooked, wimpling stream.

This was my walk one summer morn,
When all was on the wing:
I heard the cuckoo tell his name,
I heard the lark to sing.
I left the Tower upon the hill
Dedicated to the Queen,
And for old Keighley back again,
Charmed with all I’d seen.

I must now wind up my rough-and-ready stories. Let me say that if, by the recital of some of the incidents which happened during my nomadic career, I have caused any pleasure or amusement to my readers, I feel amply repaid. If anything which I have said has given offence or caused displeasure in any quarter, kindly permit me to say that it was done quite unwittingly.

The Christmas season will soon be here, and in preparation for that glad time let us put away envy and malice, and offer peace and good-will unto all. I think the following poem will seasonably conclude my present series of writings:

CHRISTMAS DAY

Sweet lady, ’t is no troubadour
That sings so sweetly at your door,
To tell you of the joys in store
So grand and gay;
But one that sings “Remember t’ poor,
’Tis Christmas Day.”

Within some gloomy walls to-day
Just cheer the looks of hoary gray,
And try to smooth their rugged way
With cheerful glow;
And cheer the widow’s heart, I pray,
Crushed down with woe.

O! make the weary spent-up glad,
And cheer the orphan lass and lad;
Make frailty’s heart, so long, long sad,
Your kindness feel;
And make old crazy-bones stark mad
To dance a reel.

Then, peace and plenty be your lot,
And may your deed ne’er be forgot
That helps the widow in her cot
Out of your store;
Nor creed, nor seed, should matter not
The poor are poor.