Imágenes de páginas
PDF

that breathe and words that burn.” His conceptions of beauty and grandeur, are at all times simple and vast. His works are pervaded by the results of profound it. His sentences have the power of elevating things that are deemed little remarkable, and of lowering those which successive submissions to over praise, have preposterously magnified. . Many of the remarks on works of art, in his “ Notes of a Journey through France and Italy,” will be wholly new to persons who never reflected on the subjects of his criticism, and will not be openly assented to by others thinking as he does, who, for the first time, has ventured to publicly dissent from received notions. If any of his opinions be deemed incorrect, the difference can easily be arbitrated. Taking the originals, whether corporeal or imaginary existences, as the standard, our pure sight and feeling may be relied on as unerring judges of the imitations.

NATURALISTs' cALENDAR Mean Temperature . . . . 54 - 27.

#eptember 26. St. CYPRIAN. Old Holy Rood.

For these remembrances in the church of England calendar and almanacs, see vol. i. p. 1324.

Communications of local customs are always received and inserted with satisfaction. It is with peculiar pleasure that the editor submits the following, from a gentleman with respect to whom he has nothing to regret, but that he is not permitted to honour the work, by annexing the name of the respectable writer to the letter.

PA1sley HALLow-Eve FIREs. Sheffield Scotland FEAST. Paisley, September 21, 1826. To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.

Sir, Having been a subscriber to your Every-Day Book from its first appearance in this town, up to the present time, I reproach myself with neglect, in not having sent you before now, an account of a rather singular custom P. here, and, as it should seem, of ancient date.

The river White Cart, on which Paisley

stands, although affected by the tide, and navigable to §. town for vessels not exceeding fifty tons' burden, is often remarkably shallow at low water. This is especially the case between the highest and the lowest of three stone bridges, by which the old town or burgh is connected with the new town. In this shallow part of the stream, parties of boys construct, on Hallow-eve, the night when varied superstitions engross most of old Scotia's peasantry, circular raised hearths, if I may so term them, of earth or clay; bordered by a low round wall composed of loose stones, sods, &c. Within these enclosures, the boys kindle on their hearths, bonfires, often of considerable size. From the bridges, the appearance of these bonfires, after nightfall, is singular; and attracts, as spectators, many of the grownup inhabitants of the place. The number and glare of the fires, their tremulous reflection in the surrounding water, the dark moving figures of the boys that group around them, and the shouts and screams set up by the youthful urchins in testimony of enjoyment, might almost make one fancy that the rites and incantations of magic, or of wizardry, were taking place before one's very eyes. What is the origin of this custom, or how long it has prevailed, I do not know. Ere I relinquish my pen, allow me to describe to you another singular custom, which obtains in the largest town of England, north of the Trent.” No one is better acquainted than, Mr. Hone, are you, with the existence of the wake or feast, still held annually in some of the towns, and nearly all the parochial villages of the midland and nortnern counties. In many of the larger towns, the traces of the ancient wake are, indeed, nearly worn out, and this is pretty much the case with that particular town, to which reference has just been made, namely, Sheffield; our great national emo for cutlery, files, edge-tools, and the better kinds of plated goods. Only in a few ancient and primitive families, do roast beef, ji. and an extra allowance of Yorkshire stingo, gracing, on Trinity Sunday, a large table, begirt with some dozen of happy, and happy-faced

• I speak advisedly. As a town, Sheffield, the place here referred to, is larger and more populous than Leeds. In 1821 it contained with its suburbs, but without including either out-hamlets, or the art of the parish, at * £8,000 inhabi

country
s no more than

tants;

town and country cousins, show, that the venerable head of the family, and his antique dame, have not forgotten Sheffield feast-day. But if the observance of Sheffield feast itself be thus partial, and verging towards disuse, amends is made for the circumstance, in the establishment, and pretty vigorous keeping up of sundry local feasts, held on different days, within the town, or in its suburbs. Besides those of the Wicker and little Sheffield, which are suburban, Broad-lane and Scotland-street, in the town itself, have their respective feasts too. At Little Sheffield and in Broad-lane, the zest of the annual festivity is often heightened by ass-races; foot-races, masculine, for a hat; foot-races, feminine, for a chemise; grinning-matches; and, though less frequently, the humours and rattle of a mountebank and his merry andrew. Occasionally too changes, in imitation of those on the church bells, are rung, by striking with a hammer, or a short piece of steel, on six, eight, or ten long bars each suspended by twine from the roof of a workshop, and the entire set chosen so as to resemble pretty nearly, a ring of bells, both in diversity and in sequence of tone.” Scotland feast, however, in point of interest, bears away the bell from all the other district revels of Sheffield. It is so called from Scotland-street, already mentioned; a long, hilly, and very populous one, situated in the northern part of the town. On the eve of the feast, which is yearly held on the 29th of May, the anniversary of the restoration of our second Charles, parties of the inhabitants repair into the neighbouring country; whence, chiefly however from Walkley-bank, celebrated as Sheffield schoolboys too well know for birch trees, they bring home, at dead of night, or morning's earliest dawn, from sixteen to twenty well-sized trees, besides a profusion of branches. The trees they instantly plant in two rows; one on each side of the street, just without the kirbstone of the flagged pavement. With the branches, they decorate the doors and windows of houses, the sign-boards of drinking-shops,

and so on. By five or six in the morning, Scotland-street, which is not very wide, has the appearance of a grove. And soon, from ropes stretched across it, three, four, or five, superb garlands delight the eyes, and dance over the heads of the feast-folk. These garlands are composed of hoops, wreathed round with foliage and flowers, fluttering with variously coloured ribands, rustling with asidew.” and , gay with silver tankards, pints, watches, &c. Before the door of the principal alehouse, the largest tree is always planted. The sign of this house is, if memory do not deceive me, the royal oak.t But be this as it may, certain it is, that duly ensconced among the branches of the said tree, may always be seen the ef. figy, in small, of king Charles the Second : to commemorate indeed the happy concealment and remarkable escape of the merry monarch, at Boscobel, should seem to be the object of creating a sylvan scene at “Scotland feast;" while that of holding the feast itself on the anniversary of his restoration is, there can be little doubt, to celebrate with honour the principal event in the life of him, after whose ancient and peculiar kingdom the street itself is named. To the particulars already given, it needs scarcely be added, that dancing, drinking, and other merry-making are, as a Scotsman would say, rife,t at the annual commemoration thus briefly described. Thanking you for much instruction, as well as entertainment, already derived from your book, and wishing you success from its publication, I remain, Sir, Your obedient servant, GULIELMUs.

[blocks in formation]

• When the period for which an apprentice is bound (seven years) expires, his “loosing” is held by himself, and shopmates. Then, are these steel bells made to jangle all day. At night, the loosing is farther celebrated by a supper and booze. The parochial ringers frequently attend festivities with a set of hand-bells, which, in the estimation of their anditors, they make “discourse most eloquent music.”

* Asidew. The orthography of this word may be wrong. I never, to my knowledge, saw it written. lt is used in Sheffield to express a thin, very thin brass leaf, of a high gold colour.

+ In my boyish days, one Ludlam kept it. Was it he to whom belonged the dog which gave occasion to this proverbial saying? “As idle as Ludlam's dog, that lay down to bark "

: Abundant.

obtained from minerals and metals.” Since then, a note in Mr. Sharp's remarkably interesting “Dissertation on the Country Mysteries,” seems to favour the notion.

Mr.Sharp says, “At the end of Gent's “History of York, 1730, is an advertisement of numerous articles, sold by Hammond, a bookseller of that city, and amongst the rest occurs ‘Assidue or horsegold,’ the very next article to which, is ‘hobby-horse-bells.’—A dealer in Dutch metal, Michael Oppenheim, 27, Mansellstreet, Goodman's-fields, thus described himself in 1816—“Importer of bronze powder, Dutch metal, and OR-sedew,’ and upon inquiry respecting the last article, it proved to be that thin yellow metal, generally known by the name of timsel, much used for ornamenting children's dolls, hobby-horses, and some toys, as well as manufactured into various showy articles of dress. The word orsedew is evidently a corruption of oripeau 1. e. leaf (or skin) gold, afterwards brass. The Spaniards call it oropoel, gold-skin, and the Germans flitter-gold.”

Through Mr. Sharp we have, at length, attained to a knowledge of this substance as the true arsedine of onr forefathers, and the asidew of the Sheffield merry-makers at present.

NATURALISTS' cALENDAR. Mean Temperature ... 55 - 57.

[ocr errors]

Chronology.

On the 27th of September, 1772, died at Turnhurst, in Staffordshire, James Brindley, a man celebrated for extraordinary mechanical genius and skilful labours in inland navigation. He was born at Tunsted, in the parish of Wormhill, Derbyshire, in 1716, where he contributed to support his parents' family till he was nearly seventeen years of age, when he bound himself apprentice to a wheelwright named Bennet, near Macclesfield, in Cheshire. In the early period of his or.". he performed several parts of the business without instruction, and so satisfied the millers, that he was always consulted in preference to his master, and before the expiration of his servitude, when Mr. Bennet, by his age and infirmi

* Mr. Sharp's Dissertation, p. 29.

* Own account.

ties, became unable to work, he carried on the business, and provided a comfortable subsistence for the old man and his family. About this time Bennet was employed in constructing an engine paper-mill, the first of the kind that had been attempted in these parts; but, as he was likely to fail in the execution of it, Mr. Brindley, without communicating his design, set out on Saturday evening after the business of the day was finished, and having inspected the work, returned home on Monday morning, after a journey of fifty miles, informed his master of its defects, and completed the engine to the entire satisfaction of the proprietors. He afterwards engaged in the mill-wright business on his The fame of his inventions in a little while spread far beyond his own neighbourhood. In 1752, he was employed to erect a curious water-engine at Clifton, in Lancashire, for the purpose of draining coal-mines, which had before been performed at an enormous expense. The water for the use of this engine was conveyed from the river Irwell by a subterraneous channel, nearly six hundred yards long, which passed through a rock; and the wheel was fixed thirty feet below the surface of the ground. In 1755, he constructed a new silkmill at Congleton, in Cheshire, according to the plan proposed by the proprietors, after the execution of it by the original undertaker had failed; and in the completion of it he added many new and useful improvements. He introduced one contrivance for winding the silk upon the bobbins equally, and not in wreaths; and another for stopping, in an instant, not only the whole of this extensive system, in all its various movements, but any indidual part of it at pleasure. He likewise invented machines for cutting the tooth and pinion wheels of the different engines, in a manner that produced a great saving of time, labour, and expense. He also introduced into the mills, used at the potteries in Staffordshire for grinding flintstones, several valuable additions, which greatly facilitated the operation. In 1756, he constructed a steam-engine at Newcastle-under-Line, upon a new plan. The boiler was made with brick and stone, instead of iron plates, and the water was heated by fire-places, so constructed as to save the consumption of fuel. He also introduced cylinders of wood instead of those of iron, and substi

tuted wood for iron in the chains which worked at the end of the beam. But from these and similar contrivances for the improvement of this useful engine, his attention was diverted by the great national object of “inland navigation.” In planning and executing canals his mechanical genius found ample scope for exercise, and formed a sort of distinguishing era in the history of our country. Envy and prejudice raised a variety of obstacles to the accomplishment of his designs and undertakings; and if he had not been liberally and powerfully protected by the duke of Bridgwater, his triumph over the opposition with which he encountered must have been considerably obstructed. The duke possessed an estate at Worsley, about seven miles from Manchester, rich in mines of coal, from which he derived little or no advantage, on account of the expense attending the conveyance by land carriage to a suitable market. A canal from Worsley to Manchester, Mr. Brindley declared to be racticable. His grace obtained an act or that purpose; and Brindley was employed in the conduct and execution of this, the first undertaking of the kind ever attempted in England, with navigable subterraneous tunnels and elevated aqueducts. At the commencement of the business it was determined, that the level of the water should be preserved without the usual obstruction of locks, and to carry the canal over rivers and deep vallies. It was not easy to obtain a sufficient supply of water for completing the navigation, but Brindley, furnished with ample resources, persevered, and conquered all the embarrassments, occasioned by the nature of the undertaking, and by the F. and prejudices of individuals. aving completed the canal as far as Barton, where the river Irwell is navigable for large vessels, he proposed to carry it over that river by an aqueduct thirty-nine feet above the surface of the water. This was considered as a chimerical and extravagant project; and an eminent engineer said, “I have often heard of castles in the air, but never before was shown where any of them were to be erected.” The duke of Bridgwater, confiding in the judgment of Brindley, empowered him to prosecute the work; and in about ten months the aqueduct was completed. This astonishing work commenced in September, 1760, and the first boat sailed over it the 17th of July, 1761. The canal

was then extended to Manchester, where Mr. Brindley’s ingenuity in diminishing labour by mechanical contrivances, was exhibited in a machine for landing coals upon the top of a hill. The duke of Bridgwater extended his views to Liverpool; and obtained, in 1762, an act of parliament for branching his canal to the tide-way in the Mersey. This part is carried over the river Mersey and Bollan, and over many wide and deep vallies. Over the vallies it is conducted without a single lock; and across the valley at Stretford, through which the Mersey runs, a mound of earth, raised for preserving the water, extends for nearly a mile. In the execution of every part of the navigation, Mr. Brindley displayed singular skill and ingenuity; and in order to facilitate his purpose, he produced many valuable machines. His economy and forecast are peculiarly discernible in the stops, or flood-gates, fixed in the canal, where it is above the level of the land. They are so constructed, that if any of the banks should give way and occasion a current, the adjoining gates will rise merely by that motion, and prevent any other part of the water from escaping than that which is near the breach between the two gates. Encouraged by the success of the duke of Bridgwater's undertakings, a subscription was entered into by a number of gentlemen and manufacturers in Staffordshire, for constructing a canal through that county. In 1766, this canal, “The Grand Trunk Navigation,” was begun; and it was conducted with spirit and success, under the direction of Brindley, as long as he lived. After this, Brindley constructed a canal from the Grand Trunk, near Haywood, in Staffordshire, to the river Severn near Bewdley, connecting Bristol with Liverpool and Hull. This canal, about fortysix miles in length, was completed in 1772. His next undertaking was a canal from Birmingham, which should unite with the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal near Wolverhampton. It is twentysix miles in length, and was finished in about three years. To avoid the inconvenience of locks, and for the more effectual supply of the canal with water, he advised a tunnel at Smethwick; his advice was disregarded ; and the managers were afterwards under the necessity of erecting two steam engines. He executed the canal fron Droitwich to the Severn, for the conveyance of salt and coals; and planned the Coventry navigation, which was for some time under his direction; but a dispute arising, he resigned his office. Some short time before his death, he began the Oxfordshire canal, which, uniting with the Coventry canal, serves as a continuation of the Grand Trunk navigation to Oxford, and thence by the Thames to London. Mr. Brindley's last undertaking was the canal from Chesterfield to the river Trent at Stockwith. He surveyed and planned the whole, and executed some miles of the navigation, which was finished five years after his death by his brother-inlaw, Mr. Henshall, in 1777. Such was Mr. Brindley's established reputation, that few works of this kind were undertaken without his advice. They are too numerous to be particularized, but it may be added that he gave the corporation of Liverpool a plan for clearing their docks of mud, which has been practised with success; and proposed a method, which has also succeeded, of building walls against the sea without mortar. The last of his inventions was an improved machine for drawing water out of mines, by a losing and gaining bucket, which he *: wards employed with advantage in raising coals. When difficulties occurred in the execution of any of Mr. Brindley's works, he had no recourse to books, or to the labours of other persons. All his resources were in his own inventive mind. He generally retired to bed, and lay there one, two, or three days, till he had devised the expedients which he needed for the accomplishment of his objects; he then got up, and executed his design without any drawing or model, which he never used, except for the satisfaction of his employers. His memory was so tenacious, that he could remember and execute all the parts of the most complex machine, provided he had time, in his previous survey, to settle, in his mind, the several departments, and their relations to each other. In his calculations of the powers of any machine, he performed the requisite operation by a mental process, in a manner which none knew but himself, and which, perhaps, he was not able to communicate to others. After certain intervals of consideration, he noted down the result in figures; and then proceeded to operate upon that result, until at length the complete solution was obtained, which was

generally right. His want of literature, indeed, compelled him to cultivate, in an extraordinary degree, the art of memory; and in order to facilitate the revival, in his mind, of those visible objects and their properties, to which his attention was chiefly directed, he secluded himself from the external impressions of other objects, in the solitude of his bed. Incessant attention to important and interesting objects, precluded Mr. Brindley from any of the ordinary amusements of life, and indeed, prevented his deriving from them any pleasure. He was once prevailed upon by his friends in London to see a play, but he found his ideas so much disturbed, and his mind rendered so unfit for business, as to induce him to declare, that he would not on any account go to another. It is not improbable, however, that by indulging an occasional relaxation, remitting his application, and varying his pursuits, his life might have been prolonged. The multiplicity of his engagements, and the constant attention which he bestowed on them, brought on a hectic fever, which continued, with little or no intermission, for some years, and at last terminated his useful and honourable career, in the 56th year of age. He was buied at New Chapel, in the same county. Such was the enthusiasm with which this extraordinary man engaged in all schemes of inland navigation, that he seemed to regard all rivers with contempt, when compared with canals. It is said, that in an examination before the house of commons, when he was asked for what purpose he apprehended rivers were created, he replied, after some deliberation, “to feed navigable canals.” Those who knew him well, highly respected him “for the uniform and unshaken integrity of his conduct; for his steady attachment to the interest of the community; for the vast compass of his understanding, which seemed to have a natural affinity with all grand objects; and, likewise, for many noble and beneficial designs, constantly generating in his mind, and which the multiplicity of his engagements, and the shortness of his life, prevented him from bringing to maturity.”

[merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »