The Massacre of Peterloo, Manchester, 16th August 1819

The Peterloo Massacre - Manchester 16th August 1819

'The Wild Floweret' - A book of poems by Samuel Collins
Bard of Hale Moss
1802 - 1878

Handloom silk weaver;
Veteran of Peterloo;
and Chartist

MAY 2nd, 1856.

I HAD been watching for an opportunity twenty-five years, circumstances kept governing me, I could never govern them, till at length a circumstance arose which started me off. Dinner at Oldham, travelled on to Greenfield Station, went off in a three o'clock third class train, fare thirteen pence. Names of stations: Greenfield, Saddleworth, Diggle (saw Joe-o'-my-Lord's there, employed as a porter), then through Stanedge dark tunnel (six or seven minutes going through), Slaithwaite, Golcar, Longwood stations. A Landed at Huddersfield four o'clock, rambled about, found Michael Wilson's Royal Oak, Beast Market, had been directed, there as a good place to lodge, had a glass of ale, walked out to see the town, some very splendid stone buildings; two glasses of ale at an October house, back again to Michael Wilson's, asked for lodgings, granted, charge fourpence stayed up with the family and some company in the kitchen, challenged to sing one of them for two glasses, no go, went to bed at ten, did not sleep much, expected feeling some company in bed, but did not, clean bed. Got up at seven, fire out, wanted tea, weary waiting, walked out, began to inquire the way to Kirklees Park, got righted,and away I went, cold wind again, bought some pig head and bread, went to a public-house, had a pint warmed, posted off to my destination, noticed telegraph wires on the Leeds highway, first I had seen on the highway. The object I had in view is about four miles beyond Huddersfield, towards Leeds, near Cooper Bridge station, in Kirklees Park. I inquired of an old man working on the road where the resting-place of Robin Hood was. He gave me directions, and some encouragement by saying nobody would molest me. Well, looking right and left, doubts and fears haunted me - a fine state of mind for an admirer of the Bold Outlaw.

I had to open a gate, go up a meadow, follow a track about a hundred yards, which apparently horses and carts had made, no road for passengers, till I came to another gate, which was fast, I could not get through, then a high stone wall, the park wall I suppose. I could just reach the top, broken glass on in some places, climbed over into a plantation, could not see anything like a tomb, saw two or three rabbits jumping about, birds, much likepigeons, and crows in the trees, some mighty trees, began to look on the boles for letters and figures carved by pilgrims like myself, found some, no tomb yet, began to despair; ventured onward another hundred yards, when lo! it stood full in view. I was awe struck with the sight! It had a gloomy appearance, surrounded and o'ershaded by dark yew trees (a very suitable token of respect to the departed forester), and other trees of larger growth overtopping those, formed altogether an imposing scene. Still I was not beside it, another fence of wooden paling five feet high. Determined to risk life and limb, with difficulty I got over, approached by a broad path on the south side, laid out with some taste to the very iron palisades; felt gratified to see some care was bestowed on the renowned archer's grave. Some lettered men say Robin Hood is only a myth.* Where is there such another myth? Here is a grave held sacred, I may say, for six centuries, guarded by a wall of polished stone, may be three feet high, on which are placed iron palisades, I think above another three feet, forming a square fence, at every corner stone spires, ornamented with the chisel. Inside there is a an area oftwo yards across, or perhaps more; a few wallflowers and other shrubs growing therein. In the middle lies an old gravestone, an ugly thick lump, not a yard square, on which I could discern something like letters, but on the north side is fixed in the wall, a modern-looking stone about the size of the old one, on which is cut the epitaph. I took it down on the spot; it is as follows, very
uncouthly spelt.

Hear Underneath dis laitl Stean
Las Robert earl of Huntingtun
Ne'er arcir ver az hie sa geud
An pipl kauld im Robin heud,
Sich utlawz as hi and iz men
Vill england nivr si agen, -
Obiit 24 kal Dekembris 1247.

Having finished my task, I walked around stealthily, pulling a sprig or two of yew as trophies (I suppose I should not have done) and being afraid some Jack in office would interfere with my devotions, I began to retreat, pondering on the fate of the famous archer and his stalwart companions, Little John, Will Scarlet, the Pinder of Wakefield, Will Stukely, Arthur o' Bland, Allen o' Dale, and others. I regained the highway, after giving the old man a penny for gill of fourpenny, I began to look towards Lancashire, highly pleased with the pleasant country, the stone 'haases,' green 'cloises,' and bonny lasses of Yorkshire; and at nightfall, with a glow of health on my cheek, which a few puffs of mountain breeze always gives me, I found myself adjusting the trophy of the day - the yew sprig - in the most conspicuous place in Windy Harbour, Hale Moss, Chadderton, and enjoying the comforts of home.

*The probability is that Robin Hood was a descendant of a family deprived of their estates by the Conqueror. Hence his turbulent mode of life.

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