Th' Barrel Organ by Edwin Waugh


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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Th' Barrel Organ, by Edwin Waugh

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: Th' Barrel Organ

Author: Edwin Waugh

Release Date: June 4, 2005 [eBook #15986]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


E-text prepared by Todd Augsburger <>




John Heywood, 143 Deansgate.
London: Simkin, Marshall & Co.

I came out at Haslingden town-end with my old acquaintance, "Rondle
o'th Nab," better known by the name of "Sceawter," a moor-end farmer and
cattle dealer. He was telling me a story about a cat that squinted, and
grew very fat because--to use his own words--it "catched two mice at one
go." When he had finished the tale, he stopped suddenly in the middle of
the road, and looking round at the hills, he said, "Nea then. I'se be
like to lev yo here. I mun turn off to 'Dick o' Rough-cap's' up Musbury
Road. I want to bargain about yon heifer. He's a very fair chap, is
Dick,--for a cow-jobber. But yo met as weel go up wi' me, an' then go
forrud to our house. We'n some singers comin' to neet."

"Nay," said I, "I think I'll tak up through Horncliffe, an' by th'
moor-gate, to't 'Top o'th Hoof.'"

"Well, then," replied he, "yo mun strike off at th' lift hond, about a
mile fur on; an' then up th' hill side, an' through th' delph. Fro theer
yo mun get upo' th' owd road as weel as yo con; an' when yo'n getten it,
keep it. So good day, an' tak care o' yorsel'. Barfoot folk should never
walk upo' prickles." He then turned, and walked off. Before he had gone
twenty yards he shouted back, "Hey! I say! Dunnot forget th' cat."

It was a fine autumn day; clear and cool. Dead leaves were whirling
about the road-side. I toiled slowly up the hill, to the famous
Horncliffe Quarries, where the sounds of picks, chisels, and gavelocks,
used by the workmen, rose strangely clear amidst the surrounding
stillness. From the quarries I got up by an old pack horse road, to a
commanding elevation at the top of the moors. Here I sat down on a rude
block of mossy stone, upon a bleak point of the hills, overlooking one
of the most picturesque parts of the Irwell valley. The country around
me was part of the wild tract still known by its ancient name of the
Forest of Rossendale. Lodges of water and beautiful reaches of the
winding river gleamed in the evening sun, among green holms and patches
of woodland, far down the vale; and mills, mansions, farmsteads,
churches, and busy hamlets succeeded each other as far as the eye could
see. The moorland tops and slopes were all purpled with fading heather,
save here and there where a well-defined tract of green showed that
cultivation had worked up a little plot of the wilderness into pasture
land. About eight miles south, a gray cloud hung over the town of Bury,
and nearer, a flying trail of white steam marked the rush of a railway
train along the valley. From a lofty perch of the hills, on the
north-west, the sounds of Haslingden church bells came sweetly upon the
ear, swayed to and fro by the unsettled wind, now soft and low, borne
away by the breeze, now full and clear, sweeping by me in a great gush
of melody, and dying out upon the moorland wilds behind. Up from the
valley came drowsy sounds that tell the wane of day, and please the ear
of evening as she draws her curtains over the world. A woman's voice
floated up from the pastures of an old farm-house, below where I sat,
calling the cattle home. The barking of dogs sounded clear in different
parts of the vale, and about scattered hamlets, on the hill sides. I
could hear the far-off prattle of a company of girls, mingled with the
lazy joltings of a cart, the occasional crack of a whip, and the surly
call of a driver to his horses, upon the high road, half a mile below
me. From a wooded slope, on the opposite side of the valley, the crack
of a gun came, waking the echoes for a minute; and then all seemed to
sink into a deeper stillness than before, and the dreamy surge of sound
broke softer and softer upon the shores of evening, as daylight sobered
down. High above the green valley, on both sides, the moorlands
stretched away in billowy wildernesses--dark, bleak, and almost
soundless, save where the wind harped his wild anthem upon the heathery
waste, and where roaring streams filled the lonely cloughs with drowsy
uproar. It was a striking scene, and it was an impressive hour. The
bold, round, flat-topped height of Musbury Tor stood gloomily proud, on
the opposite side, girdled off from the rest of the hills by a green
vale. The lofty outlines of Aviside and Holcombe were glowing with the
gorgeous hues of a cloudless October sunset. Along those wild ridges the
soldiers of ancient Rome marched from Manchester to Preston, when boars
and wolves ranged the woods and thickets of the Irwell valley. The
stream is now lined all the way with busy populations, and evidences of
great wealth and enterprise. But the spot from which I looked down upon
it was still naturally wild. The hand of man had left no mark there,
except the grass-grown pack-horse road. There was no sound nor sign of
life immediately around me.

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