Picture of George Head

George Head

places mentioned

The West Riding

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THE features of the country in the immediate neighbourhood of Halifax are magnificent. The town is seated in a deep valley, surrounded by hills, which, especially on the road towards Manchester, are of a character equal to many of those so much admired about Matlock in Derbyshire. Enter which way one will, it is by a long-continued descent—that from Huddersfield rather steeper than the approach from Leeds; indeed it might be called formidable even in Devonshire: while the scenery altogether is the more unusual and remarkable on the entrance to a manufacturing town. As the mail trundled along with a skidded hind wheel for more than a mile and a half, I was gratified by a splendid bird's-eye view of the houses beneath, and wreaths of blue smoke hovering in transparent clouds over the slated roofs. The pure breezes from the hills dispel the noxious vapours from the numerous steam engines, and maintain through the streets a free circulation of the atmosphere, the effects of which are visible on the happy, healthy countenances of the children.

A great deal of good taste is apparent in the buildings and grounds among the environs, where substantial comfort has been universally consulted; the mountain's side is checkered by clusters of small detached edifices, disposed here and there in pleasing vignettes, along the banks of the deep ravine, which longitudinally, though rising far above the town, forms its site. A viaduct, two hundred yards in length, stretches across this ravine: it is supported on six arches, the middle ones of which are about sixty feet high, although the rivulet below is so narrow that a man might easily leap over it.

On observing the altitude of the ground on every point of the horizon, it seems a matter of wonder by what route the waters find their way to the sea—for Halifax, within a few years, has effected a junction, by a cut of a mile and a half, with the Rochdale Canal, forming a point with the rest of the vast inland navigation, that spreads like a network over the whole face of the country, and connects the rivers of the Mersey and the Humber.

It is a matter of observation rather singular, besides being a proof of the perseverance of commercial enterprise, that owing to the abrupt declivity of the hills which overhang the line of the new cut, it has not been found practicable to form reservoirs, so as to retain and economize the torrents that rush in rainy seasons along the valley; so that very extraordinary means have been resorted to for securing a constant depth of channel. These means are the erection of a steam engine on an eminence a little more than halfway between the two extreme points. A shaft is here sunk one hundred and nine feet deep, to the bottom of which a tunnel brings the water from the Rochdale Canal; it is then raised by the engine to the upper level, whence another aqueduct carries it to the canal basin in the town; so that the said canal basin is actually fed by water raised one hundred and nine feet, and conveyed by artificial means one mile and a half under ground.

The manufactures of Halifax are various—comprising articles of cotton and woollen cloths, but chiefly merinos and the finer sorts of worsted. The Cloth Hall, or Piece Hall, as it is termed, is a plain, spacious building, enclosing an oblong area. A paved walk extends the whole way along the sides; on pacing this, I found the longer side one hundred and ten yards, and the shorter eighty-eight yards. One of the former is elevated to three stories, the one opposite contains only two, owing to the inequality of the ground. Within the building there are three hundred and twenty-five rooms, appropriated to the venders of stuffs, who attend on the market days. There are, also, below, ground apartments, which complete the number of the chambers, as it is said, to that of the days in the year.

I visited the interior of a considerable establishment for spinning worsted; where, as the material is drawn to extreme fineness, the machinery is proportionably exquisite. In addition to the delicate workmanship of the various wheels of the carding machines, the cylinders appear more numerous than those of a cloth mill. The wool is here weighed in at one end, weight for space, as in the latter; but it comes out, not in long rolls, but, as in a cotton mill, in a flowing stream, as it were, of thin wadding. Thence it passes through various spinning machines, some of whose spindles revolve three thousand times in a minute; last of all it is reeled off by hand. The reel, about five feet in diameter, is fed by twenty-five spindles. After four or five hours' work, it delivers a hank of delicately fine worsted, the size of a beehive.

Happening to pass by a warehouse, wherein labourers were employed in packing bales of coarse blue cloth by the hydraulic press, I observed their mode of operation. It was performed by no means so daintily as the packing of cotton skeins at Manchester, described in another place; the latter being intended for exportation to Russia, and secured by iron plate; whereas these were merely bound with rope, to be sent to London. In the present instance each bale contained twenty-four pieces of cloth, and was squeezed to about two thirds the original size. The machine differed from that at Manchester, inasmuch as a well was sunk in the floor in order to allow the plate to descend, so as to admit greater bulk within the press. The pieces of cloth were laid one upon another, encompassed by coarse sacking; the bale was then subjected to compression, and afterward the rope adjusted and strained without other aid than the ordinary lever.

The manner of fastening is particularly simple: the rope, being in one piece, with a loop at one end, is laid upon the ground, doubled unequally, that is to say, in the form of the letter V, having one side longer than the other—the loop end is the short end. The bale is placed upon the rope, the long and short end of the latter being on one side, and the apex of the V on the other. The long end of the rope is now passed over the top of the bale, through the apex of the V, brought back again at an angle in a contrary direction, and made fast in the loop.

I visited a wiredrawer's establishment; where the wire, which comes from the foundry a quarter of an inch in diameter, is reduced to various sizes, and finally drawn out as fine as a hair: thus prepared, it is capable of being woven by ordinary weavers, as if it were flax or cotton. The perfection to which this wire cloth has already arrived is sufficiently testified in its general adoption for window blinds; besides which, a great deal is sent to the West Indies, for moscheto curtains, &c. It is certainly a beautiful fabric, combining delicacy of texture with strength in an especial degree, and capable, no doubt, of being applied to many uses not yet thought of.

Nothing can be more simple than the process of drawing wire; in fact, too simple to be consistent with true perfection; though were the process of thinking to be confined to the mere practical object in question, it would be hardly worth while to notice the slight deviation in a hank of wire some miles long, from a perfect cylinder; a difference so little as to be probably imperceptible, in any of the purposes to which wire is applied, whether in the production of musical sounds or otherwise. The only mode adopted, I believe, up to the present day, of making wire, is to drag it by force through a small hole in an iron block, and afterward through a similar but smaller hole in another block, and so on, through one hole after another, until it is brought to the size required. In the mean time, each hole is subject, by continual attrition, to gradual enlargement, and this defect is submitted to for a long time, when it is closed by a few smart blows of a hammer, and rebored of the original size. Consequently, the size of the wire changes as the diameter of the hole enlarges between the operations of boring and reboring; and this change must be constant and gradual throughout the whole operation. Insignificant as the variation may be, diffused through a long hank, were the same divided in the middle, the difference of weight would be no doubt perceptible; whence it perhaps follows, that, to attune an instrument to perfect harmony, the nearer similar strings are cut from the same end the better.


On the morning on which I saw the wiredrawing process, whereby the malleable and tenacious properties of iron are exerted in producing a minute thread, I visited the stupendous foundry on Wibsey Low Moor. Wibsey Low Moor is situated about five miles from Halifax, on the south of the road leading to Bradford; between the latter town and Leeds are the Bowling foundries: those of Wibsey Low Moor, however, are the larger of the two.

I descended from the coach, at a public house on the turnpike road, and walked about a mile to the works.

In this region of iron and coal, for the whole surface of the moor is rich in both, the approach to these magnificent foundries bears the type of universal combustion, as in the vicinity of the crater of a volcano: to behold a more awful picture, produced by the combined features of fire, smoke, and ashes, an individual must bend his steps at least towards AEtna or Vesuvius. For a long way the surface of the moor is covered with heaps of calcined shale and cinders, the collection of many years, upon which, here and there, plants of furze have spontaneously taken root: from these, the eye, attracted onward, rests on a cluster of low blackened buildings, containing numerous fires, for the purpose of charking the coal used in smelting the metal; and among the more massive piles of brickwork, broad flaring flames crawling upward from the main furnaces exhibit an awful appearance; for the mouth of each of these furnaces is near ten feet diameter, its form that of an ordinary limekiln, and on the summit, in the midst of the eager flames, strange-looking wheels recall to the memory a whole host of mythological images—such as the instrument of torment whereon the ill-fated Ixion expiated the vengeance, not undeservedly, of ancient Jupiter. These wheels are appendages of the machinery by means of which the ore is dragged up an inclined plane, on iron wagons, to the mouths of the furnaces; which wagons, self-acting, where no living power could perform the office, turn topsyturvy, and there unload their contents. It is a noble sight to stand here and see the devastating element in such radiant glory, yet at the same time under perfect subjection; but awful to reflect, that human science will never, probably, wholly avert those catastrophes which, either by combustion or explosion, in the melancholy reverse of fortune, serve to remind man of the finitude of his wisdom, by occasionally obtruding the fortunes of the victim on the victor.

The seams of coal on the moor are shallow, generally not more than twenty-six inches deep. It seems incredible that men are capable of working in such narrow compass; yet such is the case; neither are those employed particularly under sized.

Previous to the iron ore being emptied into the furnace, it is roasted in a kiln: it is then put into the iron carriage, and, as before alluded to, dragged up the inclined plane and capsized into the furnace. The machinery for this service is worked by water, and the carriage is flung over at the top by a curved plate of iron, which inclines downward: under this plate the fore wheel of the carriage proceeds, till the latter, losing its equilibrium, turns fairly over.

The most various operations are conducted within the interior of this large establishment; and the most ponderous articles manufactured, from an iron bridge to an attenuated plate or rod, amid a scene wherein the four ancient elements are subjugated by physical power and intelligence. Here, the ore dug from the bowels of the earth; there, the steam blast rushing through the furnaces; together with various contrivances for the economy of water, and application of its power to the machinery—all these sights and sounds are sufficient to raise, even in the apathetic mind, the sentiment of veneration.

Within a vast shed, or workshop, so extensive, that being under one part of the building it is not possible clearly to perceive what is going forward in the other, among the furniture, not the least remarkable were the huge cranes, the mighty agents for the casting pits in the centre of the floor, capable of raising fourteen tons and upward, and equipped with iron blocks and quadruple sets of chains. From an orifice, at the bottom of the door in the furnace, the scoria, or blue dross, was sluggishly trickling in a steady creeping stream into an iron vessel, in shape like the body of a wheelbarrow, placed to receive it: when cool, the vitrified mass is turned out from this vessel in a cubic block, and broken for mending the roads; though it is extraordinary that, excellent as this material is for that purpose, it never was so applied till within the last eight or ten years; at present, more is so expended than is furnished at the foundry; the quantity disposed of last year being twenty-one thousand six hundred tons. The size of these heaps of shale and dross, the refuse of forty years, is quite extraordinary; those of the former, having been set fire to, are reduced to a substance like red tile: at this moment, supposing the whole were to form a cone in the centre of Grosvenor Square, I really believe its base would include all the houses. The premises, notwithstanding these indications, are now being enlarged, both as to new buildings, engines, and furnaces, in a proportion not less than as two to three.

To pass over the first two operations, whereby the iron, after being separated from the ore in the first furnace, and cast into pigs, is again liquefied by heat and recast in a shallow trough into slabs, which slabs, being remarkably brittle, are broken up and thrown into a third furnace; the next process is that whereby it is first beaten into a malleable form. Athletic men, bathed in perspiration, naked from the waist upward, exposed to severe alternations of temperature, some, with long bars, stirring the fused metal through the door of the furnace, whose flaming concavity presented to the view a glowing lake of fire, were working like Cyclops. By continued and violent applications of strength, visible in writhing changes of attitude and contortions of the body, raking backward and forward, and stirring round and about the yielding metal, they contrived to weld together a shapeless mass, gradually increasing in size till it became about a hundred pounds weight: this, by a simultaneous effort of two men with massive tongs, was dragged out of the furnace, radiant with white heat, a snowball in figure and appearance, along the paved floor. Now subjected to the blows of a ponderous hammer, it was wonderful to mark the vigour and dexterity with which the men contrived to heave the mass round and round at every rise of the hammer, whose every fall sounded like a mallet on a cotton bag, while the fiery ball was now turned one side, again the other side uppermost, with the same facility apparently to the operators as if it had been a horseshoe. The glowing substance yielded like clay to the thumps of the hammer, and as it was pounded into form by the tremendous concussion, at each stroke the more liquid matter was forced from the centre and bubbled on the surface: thus what was spherical was soon brought to the shape of a slab or brick, which figure is the one preparatory to its being rolled into plates.

The weight of the hammer was at least four tons, and it was moved by an eccentric wheel, which revolved above the extremity of its shaft. The simplicity and usefulness of the eccentric wheel in mechanics, to produce such a motion as is here required, are particularly interesting and pleasing: in the present instance, were the wheel in question perfectly circular, the shaft of the hammer could receive no motion, but the former being in one part protuberant, the latter was depressed by coming in contact with the protuberant point in the circumference once in every revolution; a motion which may be easily elucidated by nailing a piece of wood on the outer rim of the wheel of a wheelbarrow.

The mode by which the two men who attended the hammer jointly threw their powers into co-operation was as follows: One held a hook and the other a lever; he of the lever stood always ready to aid, by a seasonable and well-directed effort, him of the hook, adding his whole force, in one collected impulse, the moment the latter had taken his grip, to produce a force to fling over the mass.

The iron being by the above process manufactured into a slab, the next operation is to form a plate, by passing the slab several times in succession between a pair of weighty cylinders, whose position is continually adjusted closer and closer, as the plate diminishes in thickness, by a powerful press screw. The slab, again red hot, was placed between the revolving cylinders, the upper one of which fell with a jarring clanking sound upon the lower, as the slab was speedily snatched through, and disgorged on the other side. The transit was momentary, and the impression at first trifling, the alteration in shape in fact scarcely perceptible, great as was the shock produced on the machine as the massive bulk was forced through; but the oftener it passed the greater the change, and every time, by a turn of the screw, the cylinders were adjusted closer accordingly; till what was at first the size of a folio volume was brought to the dimensions of a Pembroke table. The manner in which the slab was handled on the present occasion, and passed over and between the cylinders, was as simple and dexterous as the former process; as it fell from the cylinders it was received by a man on a flat shovel, which shovel was suspended by a chain, from the ceiling, at a point in the handle about a foot from the plate of the shovel. The handle was long and so was the chain, so that the man was enabled by the above purchase to give way to the slab as it approached towards him, and when free from the cylinders, easily to push it over the top of both. It was then handed back by two men on the opposite side, by means of levers applied somewhat in a similar way.

The stupendous power of the shears here used for the cutting of iron is very wonderful. I saw a square iron bar, one inch and three quarters the side of the square, cut asunder in an instant, with as much ease as a ploughman would bite off the end of a carrot. The mechanical appliance was the same as that adopted with the aforesaid hammer—that of the eccentric wheel, and equal in power to the weight of the cutting limb, as well as that of the resistance to be overcome; that is to say, the lever was here one of the second order, the action of the instrument being that of a pair of nutcrackers. On another occasion I observed a machine of this description, at a foundry in Leeds, worked also by an eccentric wheel, but a lever of the first order, the action that of a pair of scissors. This instrument, though not so powerful as the former, produced an extraordinary effect in appearance: for as the eccentric wheel continually revolved, the blades opened and shut as it were spontaneously, after the manner of the jaws of a huge animal, munching as if in expectation of food; and the illusion seemed the more perfect when on a piece of iron being presented it was bitten through without an effort, and the motion, with unappeased voracity, still continued.

But the sight, or rather sound, of all others which created upon my mind the strongest impression was that of the air blast driven by two powerful steam engines through the main furnaces; the two furnaces about twenty feet distant from each other—the engines in the rear of these. A cylindrical trunk, of a couple of feet diameter, extends from the engines, sending forth at right angles two smaller branches, decreasing gradually in size to about four or five inches at the extremities, which enter one at the bottom of each furnace, like the nozzles of bellows. No verbal description can do justice to the awful effect produced by the air rushing through these iron tubes; and I was involuntarily led to the reflection to what extraordinary extent such a power might be applied in the production of musical sounds; for, combining the volume of air at command with the thrilling softness of tone already attained in the key bugle, the effect with which these two elements—quality and quantity—may, by-and-by, be blended together, is almost indefinite. Not a word, though delivered with the utmost effort, was heard, spoken at the same time close to the ear. I have listened to a storm on the Atlantic, I have stood on the Table Rock at Niagara, yet never did I hear a sound in nature equal to this—so terrific, or of so stunning a din.

There was an aperture in the main trunk between the diverging tubes, in which a large wooden peg was firmly driven by a mallet, and removed occasionally for the purpose of allowing the air to escape when the blast was too strong. This being removed, I placed my hand at the draft, when it required all my strength to retain it in its position. It was said that its force was sufficient to drive a man's hat to the ceiling, or to cause a wooden ball transfixed by a peg to dance in the air like a pea on a tobacco pipe. Though I did not see either of these feats performed, I believe them to be both practicable.

The stupendous force of these continuous air blasts is supplied in an equable never-failing stream from an air chamber below, of ample dimensions; compared with an ordinary blow pipe, its multiplied effects in engendering heat must be truly astonishing.

The heated air blast has not yet been introduced into these foundries. I had an opportunity, during the present summer, of seeing the operation of the latter at the Gartsherrie ironworks on the Clyde. There the object seems to answer as well as in the various other establishments wherein it has been introduced, namely, effecting a considerable saving of fuel by introducing a hot blast instead of a cold one. I was informed the saving was equal to one half. I saw the apparatus at work, but heard no sound whatever. The air passed first through a heated retort, and afterward through a series of pipes into an air vessel of a cylindrical form, and ten feet diameter by forty feet in length, consequently containing upward of 3141 cubic feet of hot air." From this an equable continuous blast was sent into the furnace.

I have now related the principal objects I observed within the Low Moor foundry; besides which, preparations were going forward for casting huge caldrons, and various parts of the machinery of the West India sugar mills. The models of the caldrons were first built in brick, and then plastered over with cement.

I saw a cylinder, forty inches diameter, belonging to a steam engine, fixed in a lathe ready for boring. The cutting instrument consisted of an inner cylinder with mortices, into which the blades were placed as required; the latter were merely plates of iron with a bevilled edge.

I saw the beam of an engine, weighing three tons, also fixed in a lathe; and, notwithstanding its vast weight, revolving on a point which entered only three quarters of an inch, with as much ease as if it had been a peg top: the point was, however, an extremely obtuse cone.

Out of doors the clanging din of hammers was incessant, as red-hot bolts were being riveted in the boilers, whose plates had been previously cast within the building.

I observed that all the sand used for the casting beds was prepared by grinding sandstone. This is performed by a large cast-iron roller, moved round on a circumference, plated with iron, by a couple of horses pulling at a lever fixed at the centre of the roller.

I regret I had not an opportunity of taking more than an extremely cursory view of the excellent arrangements for the economy of water by means of various reservoirs, to which, after being expended, it is pumped back again for the use of the engines. As the drainage of the moor is not considerable, without the greatest care, the supply would be very precarious; as it is, there is sufficient. In one of the small reservoirs out of doors, containing water from the engines very warm, what might be called hot, were a parcel of ducks revelling in smoke, and apparently highly delighted.

Besides the water for the steam engines, a supply is obtained to turn various water wheels; one moves the large lathe for heavy bodies,. another propels the wagon loads of ore up the inclined plane and pitches them into the furnaces; sundry others are also required for minor contrivances.


A STRANGE-LOOKING pair, a father and, as folks said, his daughter, were my companions on the top of the coach from Leeds to Wakefield; they were members of the Southcote persuasion, and dressed, though probably according to regulations, as I considered, in a very extraordinary way. The father was in age about forty, of a light dapper figure, carefully set off to the best advantage, and most remarkable as to the Vandyke cut of his unshorn beard; in order to trim which to the present style of exquisite perfection, the scissors had evidently been put in requisition. His broad low-crowned beaver hat was of a reddish brown, and his gaberdine and Wellington boots fitted him so neatly, that without changing his costume he might have danced a quadrille without inconvenience. In short, he brought to my recollection Anstey's famous portrait of

" The man without sin, the Moravian Rabbi,
Who perfectly cured the chlorosis of Tabby."

The daughter, a florid, healthy girl of eighteen, sported, though in the middle of the day, a Parisian straw bonnet, decked with a huge, curling, full-dress bunch of white ostrich feathers. The back seams of her blue cloth habit were ornamented with a wide military border, the latter made of parallel stripes of orange-coloured silk twist. The petticoat was plaited with broad plaits, disposed about the hips with great care, and laid one over the other with such regularity—nay, as it were, with geometrical precision—that they exactly resembled the meridian lines of a terrestrial globe.

The town of Wakefield is the emporium of grain for the manufacturing districts, by means of a canal communication to the north, the east, the west, and the south, all over the country. The western line, towards Manchester, diverges in two forks; the one proceeding through the Huddersfield tunnel, an under-ground channel of three miles and a quarter in length, and the other by a more circuitous track through Rochdale. Large shipments of corn are brought hither from the counties of Norfolk and Lincoln by the Trent and Humber.

It is not easy to form an idea of the very enormous extent of the storehouses at this place without the actual use of the eyes: they really seem calculated to hold under their roofs, not only all the corn in England, but that of the Baltic into the bargain. For the extent of a mile, the banks of the Calder are studded on both sides with buildings of magnificent dimensions; two thirds of which have been raised within the last twenty years, and yet individuals are building new ones. I must confess I had previously entertained no sort of notion of the extraordinary quantities of grain deposited in these Egyptian magazines. The river, besides, was crowded with sturdy sloops, laden, in bulk, to the water's edge; and the corn factors, among whom, especially, the business by large transfers seemed to be conducted, were holding their court on the market day. In whatever way this extensive warehousing of grain may operate upon the interests of the landlords, the farmers, or the consumers, I could not help thinking that the corn factors, of all parties, were making the best livelihood.


GREAT pains have been taken with the road between Wakefield and Huddersfield; as well by a cut, of unusual depth, made for the purpose of lowering a hill, as by a peculiar process by which the stone is prepared for the roads. This being of a soft, crumbling nature, is placed in heaps, and with an addition of coal, actually subjected to fire and calcined, in order to harden it. For the last few miles, the blue vitrified dross from Wibsey Low Moor iron works forms the very best of all materials—the most level and durable surface.

On entering the town a painted board is exhibited, proscribing, on the part of the magistrates, "all beggars, vagrants, and ballad singers;" a classification, I could not help thinking, extremely judicious, and worthy of general imitation. Idleness is, at all events, an anti-English vice—not tolerated at Huddersfield.

The Huddersfield pig market has attained much celebrity, and is furnished almost exclusively from Ireland, via Liverpool, whence these animals pass in droves, not only through the manufacturing districts, but even to more remote parts of the country. The breed of Irish pigs is improved ten fold within the last few years; besides, as they live on more equal terms with their masters than the English hog, as regards the privileges of air and exercise during the period of fattening, they are considerably less oppressed by their weight while on the march. Thus they are greedily bought up, and are really worthy, in every sense of the word to a spectator, of the encomium passed on them by a farmer, upon whose recommendation I made it a point to attend on a Huddersfield market day—" Lord, sir," said he, "they are such beauties!"

On arriving at the market place half an hour before the time of commencing business, not a pig was to be seen; but on learning that the different droves were at that time undergoing ablution at the river, I walked thither in order to see the performance. Few, indeed, are the services a pig receives at the hands of his master without remonstrance; and reasonably—for never, as a Greek author has somewhere observed, are human hands laid upon him but either to curtail by cunning devices his animal enjoyment, or execute upon his person one vile purpose or another: however, on the present occasion, to my great surprise, for I should have thought washing second only to shearing, every pig submitted to the ceremony with most perfect complacency; in fact, being heated and feverish after their journey, they seemed delighted by the cooling process. The herd being driven up to their bellies in the river, one man was entirely occupied in sluicing them with water from a pail, which he continually dipped in the stream and emptied over their backs. Another fellow anointed them one after another with yellow soap, and as soon as he had raised a copious lather, rubbed the hide, first soundly with his hands, and then with the teeth of a horse comb. Now and then, in particular cases, it became necessary to have recourse to an instrument of still greater power—his broad thumb nail. After rubbing and lathering for some time, they were sluiced again, and as pailful after pailful descended on their hides, no sound was heard among them —not even a wince or snort; on the contrary, every now and then a soft happy grunt (and a grunt is an expression of happiness among the whole animal kingdom, rational or irrational) seemed unequivocally to describe their perfect content and satisfaction.

Their bristles shining like silver wire, each lot was now driven to the market place, where, provided with an ample bed of clean straw, they disposed themselves according to their separate parcels, with such economy of space, that a spectator would have been inclined considerably to underrate their numbers; for there were not fewer than six hundred present.

The Huddersfield Tunnel is a most extraordinary work. Between Huddersfield and the village of Marsden, where it commences, there are on the canal forty-two locks—the turnpike road leading by the side, along higher ground, through a very romantic glen, which assumes gradually a more and more mountainous character. The mouth of the tunnel is about seven miles distant from Huddersfield, a little to the north of the canal. Here the Manchester road commences a stupendous ascent, of a mile and a half in continuation, so that, were it not that the tunnel proclaims its own wonder, being in length three miles and a quarter, cut through the middle of a solid mountain—the face of the country altogether would seem to bid defiance to such a work of art. The cost is said to have been 300,000l. , which brings the expense to 1l. 5s. 31 /3 d. per inch; but, notwithstanding the line is regularly worked, the undertaking has failed to reimburse the original proprietors. As the dimensions are too small to admit of two boats passing each other during their passage through, strict regulations are enforced as to the times when they are permitted to enter at either end. Accordingly they adopt intervals of four hours, continually, during day and night; when the towing horses are sent over the hill in charge of a man, who receives sixpence for conducting each horse. The span of the circular aperture is about ten feet; the height not sufficient to allow a man to stand upright in the boat —those used in this navigation being of a narrow, compact build, suited to the service, and capable of carrying from twelve to twenty tons.

The operation of working the boats through is a singular one; and performed by a description of labourers adventitiously hired for the purpose. As there is generally work to be had, a sufficient number of these continually present themselves, who having remained a few days or a week, or as long as it suits them, receive their payment, pursue their march, and choose another occupation. These men, from the nature of their service, are called "leggers," for they literally work the boat with their legs, or kick it from one end of the tunnel to the other; two "leggers" in each boat, lying on their sides, back to back, derive a purchase from shoulder to shoulder, and use their feet against the opposite walls. It is a hard service, performed in total darkness, and not altogether void of danger, as the roof is composed of loose material, in some parts, continually breaking in. Two hours is the time occupied in legging a boat through, and a legger earns a shilling for a light boat; after twelve tons he receives one shilling and sixpence; and so on. Adjacent to the tunnel are considerable reservoirs of water on the higher ground; I saw one containing about twelve acres; another, considerably more elevated, is a great deal larger. This latter I did not see, but a miller, whose works receive the stream as it passes towards the lower reservoir, told me it enabled him, on its transit, to set on three pair of stones of four feet ten inches diameter, for three weeks, day and night; he said it measured forty acres.


THE town of Dewsbury is not only celebrated for its manufacture of blankets, but also for a novel business or trade which has sprung up in England, in addition to the arts and sciences, of late years—namely, that of grinding old garments new; literally tearing in pieces fusty old rags, collected from Scotland, Ireland, and the Continent, by a machine called a "devil," till a substance very like the original wool is produced: this, by the help of a small addition of new wool, is respun and manufactured into sundry useful coarse articles: such as the wadding which Messrs. Stultze and Co. introduce within the collars of their very fashionable coats, and various descriptions of druggets, horse sheeting, &c.

The trade or occupation of the late owner, his life and habits, or the filthiness and antiquity of the garment itself, oppose no bar to this wonderful process of regeneration; whether from the scarecrow or the gibbet, it makes no difference; so that, according to the transmutation of human affairs, it no doubt frequently does happen, without figure of speech or metaphor, that the identical garment to-day exposed to the sun and rain in a Kentish cherry orchard, or saturated with tobacco smoke on the back of a beggar in a pothouse, is doomed, in its turn, "perfusus liquidis odoribus," to grace the swelling collar, or add dignified proportion to the chest of the dandy. Old flannel petticoats, serge, and bunting, are not only unravelled and brought to their original thread by the claws of the devil, but this machine, by-the-way, simply a series of cylinders armed with iron hooks, effectually, it is said, pulls to pieces and separates the pitchmark of the sheep's back—which latter operation really is a job worth of the very devil himself. Those who delight in matters of speculation have here an ample field, provided they feel inclined to extend their researches on this doctrine of the transmigration of coats; for their imagination would have room to range in unfettered flight, even from the blazing galaxy of a regal drawing room down to the night cellars and lowest haunts of London, Germany, Poland, Portugal, &c., as well as probably even to other countries visited by the plague. But as such considerations would only tend to put a man out of conceit with his own coat, or afflict some of my fair friends with an antipathy to flannel altogether, they are much better let alone: nevertheless, the subject may serve as a hint to those whom a spirit of economy may urge to drive an over-hard bargain with their tailor, or good housewives, who inconsiderately chuckle at having been clever enough, as they imagine, to perform an impossibility—that is to say, in times while the labourer is worthy of his hire, to buy a pair of blankets for less than the value of the wool. These economists my treasure up much useful information, by considering well the means by which materials may be combined to suit their purpose: for the "shoddy," as it is called, may be, as occasion requires, mixed with new wool in any proportion; so as to afford, by the help of various artists, in this free country, equal satisfaction to all parties, whether the latter be tidy or dirty by nature.

As I was anxious to see somewhat of the above process, I walked from Dewsbury to the village of Battley Carr, on the river Calder, about a mile distant, where there are several rag mills, and paid a visit to one of them. The rags were ground, as they term it, in the uppermost apartment of the building, by machines, in outward appearance like Cook's agricultural winnowing machine, and each attended by three or four boys and girls. The operation of the machinery was so thoroughly incased in wood, that nothing was to be seen, though it consisted, as has been before observed, of cylinders armed with hooks, which, being of different sizes, perform their office one set after another, till the rags put in at the top come out at the bottom, to all appearance like coarse short wool. A single glance at the ceremony going forward was quite sufficient to convey a tolerable idea of the business—a single whiff of air from the interior of the apartment almost more than could be endured.

I will not undertake to render intelligible to the other senses what is an affair of the nose alone—in other words, I will not attempt to describe an ill smell: first, because the subject is not agreeable, and next, because it is particularly difficult; indeed, I know not even whether it be a physical or a metaphysical question, whether or not a smell be, de jure, a noun and the name of a thing, having substance and dimensions, or whether it be an eihereal essence void of material particles—as it were the benediction of animal matter departing from the physical to the metaphysical world, and at that very critical moment of its existence, or non-existence, when it belongs to neither. But if the smell of the rag-grinding process can be estimated in any degree, and an inference drawn, by the quantity of dust produced, the quality of the latter at the same time not being forgotten, then some little notion may probably be given by stating, that the boys and girls who attend the mill are not only involved all the time it works in a thick cloud, so as to be hardly visible, but whenever they emerge, appear covered from head to foot with downy particles that entirely obscure their features, and render them in appearance like so many brown moths.

It is really extraordinary to observe, on taking a portion of shoddy in the hand as it comes from the mill, the full extent of its transmutation—how perfectly the disentanglement of the filament has been effected; although, notwithstanding its freshened appearance, time and temperature must have inevitably brought it nearer to the period of ultimate decay.

The shoddy thus prepared in the mill is afterward subjected to the usual process of manufacture, and together with an admixture of new wool, and the help of large quantities of oil, it is passed through the discipline of the carding machine, mules, &c., till a thread is formed, which latter is handed to the weavers. But, alas! there is no such thing as perfection in human nature, or the works of man!—notwithstanding all possible exertions, there are certain parts and particles appertaining to these fusty old rags that cannot be worked up into new coats, do what men will; and of which the shoddy, to do it justice, may be said to be wholly liberated and purified: such things, for instance, as the hides of ancient fleas that have lingered through a rainy season and died of rheumatism—and so forth. Yet, in the present day, such is the enlightenment of man's understanding, that even all these, be they what they may, are scrupulously turned to account, being mixed up together with all the refuse, and that part of the shoddy too short to spin, packed in bales, covered with coarse matting, and thus shipped off to Kent as manure for hops. In this state, called "tillage muck," it fetches about forty-seven shillings a ton. In a yard adjoining Raven's wharf, which, though a mile from the town of Dewsbury, and the road to it extremely hilly, is the usual place of shipment, I saw a large heap of this compost which very much resembled—" horresco referens"—" I have a crawling sensation as I write"—the stuffing I have occasionally seen, nay, slept upon, in inferior mattresses. Workmen were at the time employed in lading a cargo of these bales; as well as the compost that lay in bulk in the yard, they were then heating most violently. Impressed, on account of the vessel, with an apprehension of fire, for never did I see goods put on board in such a state, I asked the man at the crane whether he did not think there was danger. After looking at me for some seconds with attention, his reply was at least emphatic—" I like, sir," said he, "to see 'em sweat."


HAVING heard, when at an inn at Wakefield, that strangers were freely admitted to inspect the collection of birds, beasts, and reptiles at Walton Hall, three miles distant, the residence of Mr. Waterton; and that, while full permission was granted to those who applied, arrangements were at the same time made to protect the family from interruption—I hired a horse and rode thither.

Although not partial to what is usually termed "a show place," the proposed bill of fare was suited to my fancy. The objects of natural history in the collection not only being, it was said, arranged in a very peculiar style, but the disposition of the house and grounds altogether in accordance with the eccentric taste of the owner.

The Watertons are an ancient family in Yorkshire. Whatever may have been their early amphibious tastes or habits, at the present day the otter is identified with the armorial bearings; and not only the crest is an otter, and the name Waterton, but the mansion is situated on an island surrounded by a moat. Adherents to the Catholic faith, heavy sequestrations at the time of the Reformation were levied against them: a part of Methley Park estate, particularly, was once among their lost possessions. They claim relationship with the renowned Sir Thomas More, whose last female descendant married a Waterton. The family mansion still occupies its original site, but the ancient building was replaced by the present more modern edifice, by the grandfather of the present owner.

I soon found that Mr. Waterton was known by all the neighbourhood; every one seemed to take satisfaction in pointing out the road; even the little children no sooner heard the inquiry, than they held out their arms with a smile in the line of direction. I was desired first to turn out of the main road on the left, and then go through the village of Walton, on the other side of which, not far removed, stood the park gate. On passing through the gate in question, (a lofty meadow gate of ordinary construction,) I rode along a bridle path, across some large pastures, to the park wall, the fields in excellent order, well stocked with fat horned cattle, and ornamented with a row of young and thriving elm trees. At the outside of the park wall the Barnsley canal stretches for a considerable distance in a parallel direction: this canal I crossed by a small bridge, and knocked at the gate of the lodge, which was immediately opened by an aged porter. It is not many years since Mr. Waterton built this wall, which now encloses the whole of his park: the former varying in height in different parts from nine to nineteen feet. Although the park is not more than two hundred and sixty acres, yet, as the ground rises from the middle on every side in natural undulations, is well stocked with timber, and encompassed within by a broad belt of plantation, the effect is precisely the same as if it were of ten times the area; whichever way the eye ranges, the prospect is limited on the horizon by the waving tops of trees. The house, with stables and farmyard separate, is a good specimen of an English gentleman's mansion: the island on which the former stands is in extent one acre; and a fine lake, nearly contiguous to the island, contains twenty four acres of water.

Considering I was a stranger to the owner, impelled to enter his domain by mere curiosity, I could not help feeling as if intruding on his privacy, when, having tied up my horse, I entered the lawn by an invisible wire fence, and made my way to the drawbridge, from which a straight paved walk led to the drawing room windows. However, it was now too late to stand upon ceremonies, so, as the windows, which were cut down to the ground, were wide open, and an excellent fire appeared blazing in the grate, I walked straight forward and entered a room elegantly furnished; besides handsome pictures, with which the walls were ornamented, articles of bijouterie were tastily arranged on the tables; the general decorations well chosen, everything in its proper place, and the whole in first rate aristocratic order.

A servant, in a well-appointed undress livery, at this moment entered the room, and conducted me, apparently as a matter of course, to a roomy, old fashioned hall, from which the staircase, of ample dimensions, leads to the upper part of the house. The staircase was one of those ancient models where each flight of steps is divided from the next by a large square landing place; so that, in fact, it might fairly be termed a gallery, with pictures arranged upon the wall all the way to the top, and the birds and animals disposed in order, in glass cases, on the right hand and on the left, in attitudes and positions calculated to exhibit them to the very best advantage. The servant, having ascended to the first landing place, prepared to leave me to examine the collection alone, and at my leisure, and put into my hand a printed catalogue of the exhibition, as well as a copy of the "Wanderings." During the short conversation I had with this person, I learned that he had lived a long time with his present master, and had accompanied him in his excursions abroad: he however remained with me only a few moments, when, taking his leave in a well-bred, quiet manner, he actually withdrew.

Thus far I could not but consider that, as a stranger, I was certainly treated with most unusual hospitality; and as for the servant, whether or not he had learned to be polite during his sylvan peregrinations it was of no moment; but for his part, had he spent all his days in the metropolis, he could not have done the honours better. The admission of strangers is a matter of everyday practice at Walton Hall; the mansion is, in fact, open to the public at large—no one is denied, although people of all ranks and conditions make continual application. Many days in the week, gaudy equipages are seen waiting at the gate, while individuals of humble grade are ushered up stairs in a manner more congenial to their habits, though with equal consideration, by way of the kitchen. To grant such privileges, it must be allowed, is kind and neighbourly; and, moreover, leave is given to fish in the lake adjoining the house, to those who think it worth while to make application.

I found much satisfaction in referring to the catalogue which the servant had presented to me, for it not only contained the name of the bird or animal according toils particular number, but the reader was also referred, for further particulars, to the precise page in the "Wanderings," wherein some anecdote relating to the same was recorded—a species of well-timed information, by which the interest was greatly enhanced. With regard to an exhibition such as the present, wherein the owner's adventures are part and parcel with the creatures exhibited, to refresh the memory by a recurrence to the narrative is doubly useful; but the same plan, nevertheless, might be adopted in museums and general collections of objects of natural history, with advantage; a trifling appendage to a catalogue, referring to works of authority, or containing short extracts from the same, would afford the visiter the ready means of identifying with the object present its habits in its native wilds.

In a commanding position, with a lowering countenance, and an eye as horridly frowning as I ever beheld, stands extended at full length the renowned crocodile, sufficient in his own person to recall to the mind of the spectator that gallant equestrian feat which brought before the notice of the world the latter part of his history; and among the collection of pictures, one, immediately above the animal, an oil painting, represents the beast, his rider, together with his attendants, the two former correct likenesses, all performing their respective parts in the representation alluded to. This is the original of a caricature, which may be seen in many shop windows, representing the author of the "Wanderings" seated on the back of the crocodile, and some half dozen of black fellows tugging at the jaws of the latter by a rope.

Everybody is acquainted with the story of the crocodile, and some have been inclined to wonder at it; but the narration, although evidently that of an individual of eager temperament, contains, nevertheless, nothing that can be called improbable from beginning to end, or inconsistent with the feelings of an athletic lover of sport and a traveller. It must be recollected that the wisdom of one man is raised by heavy machinery; that the spirits of another are elevated by a more mercurial process; and that such is the difference between both, that one may be totally at a loss to reconcile the tastes and habits of the other to plain reason: neither can he imagine a rational creature submitting to voluntary exile and hardships, suffering hunger and thirst, and even braving peril and death in pursuit of objects for which he himself entertains not a grain of interest. The mere matter of fact in question is so extremely simple, so obvious in its relation to cause and effect, and akin to the moral and physical qualifications of the individual concerned, that the shortest possible acquaintance, even a passing glance at his person and manners, is sufficient, even if doubt on the subject did exist, immediately to dispel it. That he did ride the crocodile, precisely in the manner he says he did, I have no manner of doubt whatever; for, in fact, what was to hinder him ? The beast had gorged his bait, and six or seven men were hauling at a long rope and iron hook made fast in his entrails; in such a predicament on he was forced to go, no thanks to him: kick he could not, nor was it altogether convenient to turn round to bite. The plain tale goes no further than to say, that the animal, being in this helpless state, and so perfectly secured by trammels as to be deprived of all manner of power—the individual whose hopes and anxieties had been tantalized for three whole days and nights in the endeavour to catch him, now, in the moment of exultation, at the heel of the hunt, he a Leicester foxhunter, put an end to the chase by leaping on his back, and bestriding the scaly monster. So far from being an incredible event, it really seems to me just the very thing it was natural a person "feras consumere natus" was likely to do: a farmer's boy risks more danger when he rides a pig; and had Mr. Elmore, the horsedealer, then been present, nothing is more certain than that, had the author of the "Wanderings" hesitated to throw a leg over the "cayman," the former would off-hand have exclaimed, non insolitis verbis—" Get on, sir, he's perfectly quiet: a child might ride him."

A reference to the catalogue brought to recollection the incident of the little black bird, with a white spot on his crown; in the pursuit of which the traveller, allured by a sound, incautiously mistaken for the monotonous chirrup of a grasshopper, was luckily convinced of his mistake by the vibratory motion of the tail of a rattlesnake among the grass. The little black bird now occupies a glass case in a conspicuous part of the staircase; in another case, immediately below him, is the jawbone extended so as to display the fangs in high perfection— such is the will of Providence—of the identical rattlesnake.

Hard by was an antbear; his toes turned in and his flourishing stern high in the air like that of a war horse.

Also a sloth, which animal reverses the laws of nature and gravity, its entire weight while sleeping being suspended by its claws from an overhanging bough.

A more brilliant Indian cap and plume, composed entirely of feathers, I have never seen, than one in this collection: besides which, a further memorial of the travelling companionship and habits of the owner was exhibited, in a quantity of the Wourali poison. The latter, a black pitchy substance, hard and dry, having three or four wooden skewers fast sticking in it, was preserved in a cocoanut shell. It produces instant death, by paralyzing the circulation, when introduced by the point of an arrow into the system, yet does not render the flesh of the wounded animal unfit to be eaten. It seems extraordinary, that although scientific experiments on the effect and nature of this poison were made when first brought to England, farther speculation on the subject has ceased: for surely its powerful agency on animal life, and particularly on the circulation, might, applied in diminished proportion, be efficacious in medicine. I saw the identical ass, upon which the experiment was made in London, upward of twenty years ago; and which, after being to all appearance quite dead, was restored to life by inflating its lungs: the animal was in good health and spirits, having remained, at Walton Hall, a pensioner for life, ever since the aforesaid operation.

But, above all curiosities, the one I viewed with the most interest was the stuffed nondescript, whose portrait is given to the world in the frontispiece of the "Wanderings." The features in the print, as may be recollected, rather than of a monkey, appear those of some placid, respectable old gentleman; nevertheless, they are as accurately represented as one pea is by its fellow, the thick, bushy head of hair of the original being of a reddish brown.

The history of this wonderful animal, whether ourang outang, wild man of the woods, chimpanze, or what not, is, according to the account of him given in the book, involved in some obscurity; it probably being purposely intended that the scientific reader should draw his own conclusions. At the end of the work, and in reference to the appended treatise on the art of stuffing and preserving birds and animals, it may be remembered that the possibility of changing or retaining, at the will of the artist, the expression of the eye and features of the animal under preparation is strongly insisted on: therefore, probably, this specimen is meant for a display of skill of the artist, whereby these monkey features, moulded into human form, are allowed to tell their own tale, and remain, among the other numerous preparations, all the work of his own hand, a specific challenge as a preparation to adepts in the art, or to naturalists as an animal, to declare its pedigree. From Mr. Waterton, with whom I had afterward some conversation on the subject, I could elicit no information; to every interrogatory relating to this strangely human-looking being, he smiled and was silent. "Surely," said I, at length, "it could hardly have been in cold blood that you put to death such a reverend personage ?" "Suppose," he replied, at last, being hard pressed, and pointing with his thumb to a glass case adjoining," the other fellow were his brother !" This "other fellow" was a pure dog-faced baboon, but of which the black, leathery skin, eyes, and profuse quantity of red hair on the head, exactly resembled those of the former. I had remained a long time alone on the staircase, a stranger to the owner of the mansion, yet permitted, with a liberal confidence, to remain unattended amid objects collected at great pains and cost, and in no small degree liable to damage from heedlessness or accident; not a soul had I seen within the walls but the servant who had conducted me hither; and although it was easy, at a single glance, to perceive that the interior of the house was in excellent order, I saw no visible token of the superintending authorities, any more than had I been in a fairy castle.

At last, the summer's evening drawing to a close, I determined to take my departure, and on my way to my horse was passing through the drawing room, when, just as I entered the door, the host, attended by two ladies, his sisters-in-law, and a little boy, his son, six or seven years old, all stepped in at the window. The party were making their way by a side door into another apartment; when seeing a tall, straight-limbed, athletic person, his hair sprinkled with gray, and cut short, dressed in easy, loose-fitting costume, viz., a drugget pea jacket, and wide trousers; and knowing him intuitively to be the governor, although by no means certain of my reception, I could not reconcile to my conscience to bow and walk away; so I stepped up to him, and briefly expressed my thanks for the great indulgence that I felt had been shown me, as well as for the entertainment afforded by the collection. Nothing could be more cordial and frank than the invitation that, after only a few minutes' acquaintance, I received to breakfast at Walton Hall at eight o'clock the next morning; the which, for the sake of the place itself, would have been a sufficient inducement, even had I not felt a greater interest as to the owner. I therefore availed myself of the present advantageous opportunity of forwarding my objects both in one way and the other. And, having returned and passed the night at my inn. at Wakefield, at eight o'clock the next morning, or rather a few minutes before, I walked into the breakfast parlour at Walton Hall.

When I arrived, the family had already assembled; that is to say, Mr. Waterton, the two ladies, and the little boy.

I really may say, with great truth, that I never sat down to a better-appointed breakfast table; whether determinate by the decorations, the quality of the coffee, or the interior of the pigeon pie; at all events, the whole together led instinctively to the aforesaid verdict. After a substantial refreshment, Mr. Waterton made that proposal, which of all others I was most anxious to hear, namely, a walk round the park and grounds; and it was moreover no sooner hinted than carried into execution.

There is no service usually more tedious and tantalizing, to one whose thoughts and cares, for the time being, are of a light description, than the heavy operation of dragging a country gentleman the first two miles from his home in a morning; whether to walk, to shoot, or what not. So many matters are to be previously attended to, all of lesser importance to the guest than to the owner—so many orders to the agricultural servants —so many people respectfully waiting in the distance with hats off, to claim a magisterial audience—that really one cannot help doubly appreciating one's own liberty, when the rich man thus seems chained, as it were, to the rock of his wealth, with vulture after vulture plucking at his liver.

But there was nothing like this at Walton Hall. Away we walked, straight from the doors, without a soul to interrupt us; for the habits of the owner are active and early: to think and to act being with him synonymous terms, nothing once thought of remains to be done—besides, we were, above all things, in a park surrounded by a high stone wall.

We left the island by the drawbridge before mentioned; there is no other access to the house; and this being but slightly built, is not sufficiently strong for the transport of heavy articles of home consumption, such as coal, &c. All such, therefore, are ferried across the moat in a small vessel for the purpose.

Within the moat, close to the bridge, stands an ivy-clad battlement, all that remains of the ancient wall that in former times surrounded the island. The original gate is still preserved, of massive oak; and here a bullet is to be seen, deeply imbedded in the wood, said to have been shot from a pistol by the hand of Cromwell himself, on being refused admittance, when, at the head of a squadron of cavalry, he called upon the ancestor of Waterton to surrender.

In the midst of the ivy, and partially hidden by its leaves, is a plain wooden cross; in such a situation, this sacred symbol has a striking effect; for while it testifies the firm adherance of the owner to his ancient faith, it is not less calculated to excite in the bosom of a stranger a confidence in his hospitality.

After examining the aforesaid gate, many centuries old, as appears by its model, as well as the massive fragment of the original wall, sufficient in its state of preservation, and in its dimensions, to serve as a sample of what the whole had been in former days, I was proceeding to walk on, when "Stop," said my host, and, at the same time taking a small stick out of my hand, he inflicted a few gentle taps on the ivy above. "Not at home," said he, returning me the stick. A pet owl, as I afterward learned, had here established his residence: his usual habits being to mouse by night and slumber by day, the above signal was intended to request him to make his appearance; on the present occasion, whether he happened to be sound asleep, absent on business, or troubled with indigestion, I never discovered; at all events, he disregarded the invitation.

Near this spot was a circular pillar of stone, perforated all round with small apertures, after the fashion of those in a pigeon house, the object being to afford a habitation for starlings: in the same pillar, other holes of still smaller dimensions were likewise bored in order, the latter for tomtits. In neither case did justice appear to be rendered by the birds to the intentions of the architect, their capricious fancy not being always determinable by human sagacity and observation.

On the lawn, before crossing the moat, stood an extraordinary sun dial, or, more properly speaking, a cluster of sun dials, for it consisted of an icosahedron, on each of whose twenty sides was a separate dial; all the twenty gnomons being parallel with its poles.

The feathered inhabitants of Walton Park enjoy the peculiar privilege of never being disturbed by the sound of a gun, or annoyed by the smell of gunpowder, let the proportion in which they increase and multiply be what it may. Mr. Waterton never allows a gun to be fired within the walls; he exerts a similar degree of forbearance also with regard to vermin, neither making use of traps, nor taking other means to destroy them: his theory is rather singular, for he contends that more game is lost in a year by disturbing the covers in the pursuit of crows, hawks, magpies, and the like, than these birds of prey, if entirely left to themselves, would kill and eat. At the same time, when I asked how he accounted for the total disappearance of late years of the large fork-tailed kite from many counties in England, he attributed the circumstance entirely to the vigilance of the gamekeepers; the above bird being, as he said, by its nature, more easily taken in a trap than others of the hawk species. The extirpation system, and the preservation system, have the merit, like most other systems, of being directly opposed to each other; as to the question which of the two may be most expedient to put in practice for the destruction of vermin, it is very certain that, as regards the accomplishment of the object, it is much easier said than done: our ancestors certainly succeeded in destroying the wolves in England, but they bequeathed to their posterity by far the more difficult task of the two, namely, to kill the weasels. Not all the accumulated sagacity of ages, with the aid of every description of trap and gun, has yet accomplished this desirable end.

Every living creature within the domain, as may readily be believed, instinctively testifies, by an unusual degree of lameness, that promptitude with which the animal tribe repose on the protection of man the moment he ceases to be their enemy; even herons are seen floating in the air in circles far within their accustomed circumference; and as for wild fowl, the large lake before mentioned teems with numerous flocks of every description. This piece of water is particularly adapted for the habitation of aquatic birds, presenting, in the first place, a wide open area, and converging at the extremity into a narrow gullet, where abundance of rushes, together with a low scrubby jungle, afford them a retreat, than which not even the wildest country in the world can furnish one better suited to their natures.

The wild ducks, of which there are here a sufficient number, even during the summer season, as is usual, pass their existence between activity and repose; but when accidentally disturbed, instead of seeking, scared and terrified, other quarters, they merely take a few turns roundabout on the wing, and then drop again peaceably into the water. Alliances with the domestic birds in the farmyard are to be traced in the plumage of several half-breed ducks among the flocks; these, nevertheless, vie in rapidity of wing with the purely wild ones; both sorts perform their evening flights together, and not unfrequently the half-breeds depart with the rest on their long summer excursions to the colder regions of Lapland or elsewhere; making their appearance again all together at the beginning of the next winter.

Mr. Waterton takes special delight in studying the habits, and attending to the motions and conversations, of his feathered visitants; sometimes regarding them, while engaged in their natural occupation, through a powerful telescope from his drawing room windows; and at other times observing their movements from various points of ambush on the banks of the lake. To aid the latter recreation, a well-grown wood extends for a considerable distance along the water's edge.

We were walking through this wood, when Mr. Waterton, making a sudden turn towards the water, beckoned me to a spot where stood an ancient oak, hollow with age, and covered with ivy. In the hollow part a bench had been introduced, which latter formed a comfortable seat; and as it afforded a view of the lake, partially intercepted by bushes and thick boughs of trees, it was occasionally used as one of the points of ambush before alluded to. Here we sat for some time looking at the birds, during which period I may safely affirm that I never beheld, even in a savage country, wild fowl more at their ease, or more thoroughly in a state of nature; for, in point of fact, they dabbled and sported about quite as independently, and with as little concern, as if the race of man were blotted out of creation. When we came out of the tree, I was asked what I thought of it. I replied, just as I thought, that it was a noble old tree, and a remarkably fine object. I was then made acquainted with its history. This tree had only existed, or rather stood, in its present position, during the last six years; its original situation being one, wherein its massive trunk and bold outline were entirely lost to the surrounding landscape: it was therefore carefully taken down by a horizontal cut close to the ground, placed upon a timbering, and, by the aid of several horses, conveyed to this new spot. Here, placed upright ingeniously upon a solid stone foundation, the ivy, which at the same time was planted around it, has since grown up and flourished, so that it may fairly be expected to maintain the pseudo honours of antiquity for at least another generation.

As we were pursuing our walk through this wood I looked up, and perceived a pheasant sitting on a bough, at the same moment instinctively pointed it out to Mr. Waterton. The branches were thick about the place where he sat, so that the light hardly fell directly on the spot; nevertheless, the outline was so perfect, that an experienced eye could not possibly make a mistake. I was therefore not a little surprised when, to my discovery, a smile was the only reply. Looking again, I persisted; and a pheasant it certainly was—that is to say, an effigy cut in wood for the purpose of deceiving the poachers. No less than two hundred and forty of these wooden pheasants are perched on the trees in different parts of these woods, which ruse de guerre had been successfully resorted to in consequence of former depredations. I afterward saw a great many more, all so perfect in shape and attitude, the tail drooping downward as if the bird were fast asleep, that, as they were all painted black, it would have been quite impossible, by moonlight, when all dark colours become blended into the same hue, to distinguish the wooden birds from live ones. Besides the above contrivance, there are other arrangements in Walton Park for the reception of poachers—namely, several small stone buildings, disposed in various places like circular sentry boxes, which not only form a comfortable guardroom, large enough to accommodate three or four keepers together, but a most excellent point of resistance in case of attack.

In the course of our walk we talked about serpents. I mentioned an instance of a boa constrictor I had once seen exhibited at Dublin. The creature had just swallowed a rabbit when I perceived that he suddenly turned his eye full towards me. I was looking over the edge of his box, so I took the hint and withdrew instantly. The animal, at the same moment, made his spring, and seized a mouthful of his own blanket, on the identical spot where, immediately before, I had rested my face; and he retained the blanket so determinedly within his jaws, that it required the united force of a couple of men for five minutes to remove it. Mr. Waterton observed, that the serpent could not, even had he been inclined, relinquish his hold; and, producing the scull of one of these reptiles, it was plain to see, from the acute angle which the fangs form with the jaw, that their prey has no chance of escape. He added, that they never seize their victim openly, or go out of their way; on the contrary, invariably lie in wait—but that, however, they are prone to resent an act of aggression on themselves.

As an instance of this trait in the character of the boa, Mr. Waterton related an anecdote.

A boa, in South America, having been pursued to the banks of a muddy river, had eluded his sight. At last, walking along, and stepping across, on some fallen logs close to the shore, he suddenly perceived the track of the snake making progress beneath the mud; immediately he aimed a blow with a spear he held in his hand, but missed him; the boa instantly returned the compliment, seizing, quick as thought, a large mouthful of his trousers, and flinging at the same time a couple of coils round his arm, with such violence, as to benumb the limb for some time afterward. Although assistance was at hand, and the serpent a small one, it was with considerable difficulty, and not till the reptile had been deprived of life, that he relinquished his hold.

Thus the morning slipped away at Walton Hall; having returned to the house at one o'clock, and partaken of the family dinner at that hour—during which meal, (neither then or at any nother time,) Mr. Waterton drinks no wine or fermented liquor—I mounted my horse and returned to Wakefield, but not without being pressed, by the most earnest hospitality, to repeat my visit, or carrying away with me a store of agreeable meditations engendered by the interesting excursion.

George Head, A Home Tour through the Manufacturing Districts of England in the Summer of 1835 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1836) Conversion to HTML and placename mark-up by Humphrey Southall, 2009.

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