+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

Dutch-tiled sides, the lumbering mantle
tumbling forward into the room; the great
boiling-pot of state suspended over the hearth,
by a chain and hook; the armoury of bright
polished culinary weapons; the store of hams
and bacon-sides, and dried salmon hanging
up; the cratch above my headwhich said
cratch, I beg to state, for the benefit of my
southern readers, consists of a frame of thin
iron bars, something like a monster gridiron
without a handle, which hangs about a foot
from the ceiling, and supports the last baking
of oat-bread, or girdle-cakes, such as are
called bannocks by the Scotch; the heavy
beams; the staring ballads on the walls; the
quaint clock; the tiled sanded floor; the
bunches of sweet-herbs perched on shelves and
hooks; the dazzlingly clean deal tables and
clumsy settles; the iron dish of tobacco in
lieu of screws; the long pipes, smock-frocks,
leggings, weather-beaten faces, and tall
brown drinking jugs of the company who
are mostly of the earth (as connected with
farming) earthy, and who have dropped in
to " tak' a mouggo' yill." Said "mougg" or
mug, being understood to mean one of the full
brown jugs replenished with home-brewed
browner ale, any number of times.

When I have partaken of the clean simple
fare which the Travis Arms can afford me,
and which is set before me by a very
neat-handed Phillisso neat-handed, so smart,
so attired after the latest Gazettes of
fashion, that I am almost disappointed and
wish she were older, and older-fashioned, I
fill my pipe from the iron-dish, and fall to
listening; an accomplishment which I flatter
myself I am rather a proficient in, and on
which I have received some pretty
compliments in my time. I hear all about the
crops, the latest markets, fights and fairs, and
the very latest bulletins of the health of all
the horses, dogs, and horned cattle in the
neighbourhood. More than this, I hear some
old country anecdotes, and old country
stories of the North-country celebrities,
contemporary and departed; and among these I
become acquainted, for the first time, with the
memorabilia bearing on Lile Jack.

Who, Lile Jack, shall be my theme for a few
lines. You must not expect much from him,
ladies and gentlemen. Lile Jack killed no
giants, rescued no distressed damsels, fought
no battles. He was never even once in
London in his life. He was a plain man, who
spoke the North-country dialect, and very
broadly too, but, he was an honest man was
Lile Jack, a true Northern worthy. And when
I remember that pleasant Master Thomas
Fuller, the great biographer of worthies,
did not disdain oft-times to sit in ingle-neuks.
and gossip with rustic crones, endeavouring
to elicit information relative to the brave good
men gone to their reward; you will bear with
me, I hope, if I make Lile Jack my hero.

Lile Jack was simply an auctioneer,
upholsterer, broker, and appraiser in Dodderham
town. He had a great rambling house and
shop crammed with the most heterogeneous
miscellany of furniture imaginable. There
was a four-post bedstead in the parlour, and
carved oak sideboards in the kitchen, which
were used as dressers; and in the best
bed-room there was a huge billiard-table, taken
to pieces and stowed away, as if a miniature
slate quarry had lost its way, and accommodating
itself to indoor life, had assumed a
decent suit of green baize. There were chests
of books which Lile Jack never read, for
reading was not his forte, and a scarlet
leather-covered Bible was his chief study; there
were chairs without number, and busts cheek
by jowl with agricultural implements, for Lile
Jack bought all sorts of things and sold most.

It is upon the face of the case to state that
he was called Jack because he had been
christened John; but the origin of the prefix
of Lile is not quite so clear. In Dodderham
parlance Lile might mean a variety of things.
Dodderham talked of a lile dog, a lile day,
a lile book, a lile bairn. Lile was generally
understood, however, to mean anything that
everybody was attached to; and as John
Scotforth, the auctioneer, was beloved by the
whole of Dodderham town, it may be
deduced therefrom that he was in consequence
called Lile Jack.

The title, moreover, may have originally
been attached to his name, as there were
a great many more Jacks in Dodderham
town. There was Slape Jack, the excise-man;
Wiggy Jack, the postmaster; Pug
Jack, the draper; and Brandy Jack, who
had been a schoolmaster, and a sailor, and a
"methody parson," and was now nothing
particular; so as Lile Jack, John Scotforth was
easily distinguished, and was so known to the
end of his days.

My principal informant as to this worthy's
history, gave me his general character in a
very few and simple words. " He was a Lile
man," he said, ''and niver spak ane wurd
looder than anither, and trod his shoes as
streight as an arrow." Evenness of declamation,
and regularity of pedal movement may
have had something to do with Jack's lileness.

In the great rambling house up-street, and
its dependencies, Jack kept, besides the furniture,
quite an aviary of singing-birds; a
spacious court of fowls, turkeys, magpies,
ravens, and starlings; several tame rabbits,
and numerous dogs. As they were all well
fed, and had all tempers of their own,
and all adored Lile Jack, the noise they made
at dinner, on the return of their master, or
on any odd occasion that turned up, was rather
confusing, not to say deafening. I need scarcely
add, I think, that Lile Jack was a bachelor.

But Lile Jack kept other things besides
fowls, hens, rabbits, and dogs. He kept a
prodigiously old grandmother, who
surrounded herself every morning with a perfect
spider's web of worsted and knitting needles,
and passed the major part of the day in