[From Lancashire Worthies, 1874]
THE canal-system of Great Britain acknowledges a duke as its parent, and its cradle was Worsley, in the vicinity of Manchester. Without Francis, third Duke of Bridgewater, our vast network of artificial water-ways would not have been produced just when it was wanted, as a prime element in the sudden growth of British industry during the second half of the eighteenth century, Without Worsley, the Duke of Bridgewater might never have been led to undertake the great enterprises which make his career conspicuous in the annals of the British noblesse. It is as owner and occupier of Worsley that he claims a place in our Gallery of Lancashire Worthies. Had not Worsley been among his possessions, he would not, probably, have given occasion for the proud boast of his " collateral descendant," the first Earl of Ellesmere, that "the history of Francis Duke of Bridgewater is engraved in intaglio on the face of the country he helped to civilise and enrich."
For more than two centuries and a half the manor and estate of Worsley have belonged to people of the Egerton blood, and the present Earl of Ellesmere, though properly a Gower, is Lord of Worsley through his descent from a sister of our Duke of Bridgewater, whose first canal was that from Worsley to Manchester. Worsley's earliest owner of whom there is any record belongs to legend almost as much as to history. This was a certain " Elias de Workeslegh, or Workedlegh," as the name was originally spelt, who possessed it "as early as the Conquest ;" and who is said to have been a crusading baron "of such strength and valour that he was reputed a giant, and in old scripts is often called Ellas Gigas. He fought many duels, combats, &c."-his quaint old historiographer adding without any presentiment of the Peace Society, "for the love of our Saviour, Jesus Christ; and obtained many victories."1 Worsley remained with the descendants of this half-legendary Elias until the end of the third Edward's reign, when the line of heirs male expired, and, by the marriage of its inheritress, it was added to the possessions of Sir John Massey of Tatton, in Cheshire. After some three generations more had passed away, the male line of the Masseys, too, was extinguished, and Tatton in Cheshire, with Worsley in Lancashire, went by marriage to William Stanley, Esq., of Tatton and Worsley, in right of his wife, and son and heir of Sir William Stanley of Holt, in the county of Denbigh, beheaded in the reign of Henry VII."-the first Stanley Earl of Derby's younger brother, whose story has been already told. Again, by a similar vicissitude, both estates were transferred to the Breretons of Malpas, in Cheshire. The last of the Breretons owners of Worsley and Tatton, was Richard, who died without issue in 1598. " This Richard settled all his estates on Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Chancellor of England."2 From Sir Thomas Egerton descend the present owner of Worsley, the Earl of Ellesmere, and the present owner of Tatton, Lord Egerton of the same.
Why did Richard Brereton " settle all his estate on Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Chancellor of England?" Presumably because, to begin with, he much liked and esteemed Sir Thomas, but, at the same time, between him and Queen Elizabeth's Lord Keeper, James l.'s Lord Chancellor, there was a sort of connection by marriage. Richard Brereton had taken unto himself for wife Dorothy, daughter of Sir Richard Egerton, of Ridley in Cheshire, and the famous Chancellor-progenitor of the Earls and Dukes of Bridgewater that were, and of the Earls of Ellesmere and Lords Egerton of Tatton that are-being the illegitimate son of this Sir Richard Egerton, was thus a quasi brother-in-law of that Richard Brereton. His mother was one " Alice Spark, or Sparke, or Sparks, of Bickerton," whom plain-spoken Pennant reports to have been neither more nor less than a maidservant, at Dodleston, near Chester, where Sir Thomas appears to have been born. In a sly note to his biography of Sir Thomas Egerton, Lord Campbell 3 avers that "the place where his parents met is still pointed out to travellers under the name of 'Gallantry Bank."' From his mother he is said, in the same memoir, " to have inherited great beauty of countenance." " The tradition of the country," his Lordship adds, " is, that he was nursed by a farmer's wife at Lower Kinnerton, in the neighbourhood, and that being carried, while a child, to Dodleston Hall, which he afterwards purchased when Chancellor, he expressed an eager desire to rise in the world and become the owner of it." Another and less agreeable tradition is recorded by Pennant :4-" The mother had been so much neglected by Sir Richard Egerton, of Ridley, the father of the boy, that she was reduced to beg for support. A neighbouring gentleman, a friend of Sir Richard, saw her asking alms, followed by her child. He admired its beauty, and saw in it the evident features of the Knight. He immediately went to Sir Richard, and laid before him the disgrace of suffering his own offspring, illegitimate as it was, to wander from door to door. He was affected with the reproof, adopted the child, and by a proper education, laid the foundation of his future fortune."5
Whatever the truth of this story, a "proper education was bestowed on the offspring. of the fair and frail handmaiden of Dodleston. " Well grounded in Latin and Greek," young Thomas Egerton was sent in his sixteenth year to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he distinguished himself greatly. Leaving the University, he was admitted at Lincoln's Inn; and when called to the bar, made steady progress to an excellent practice. To his early forensic career belongs the story, that after a vigorous conduct of a case against the Crown, in the Court of Exchequer, Queen Elizabeth, who watched all such causes vigilantly, exclaimed, " On my troth, he shall never plead against me again," and immediately made him one of her counsel, a Q.C. in days when the distinction would have had more significance than now.6 A good deal of business flowed in to him from Cheshire, and some from Lancashire. For its technical interest, and apparently ignorant of Egerton's subsequent relation of heirship to his Worsley client, Lord Campbell quotes " from Lord Francis Egerton's MSS." a letter of his, addressed to " the right worshipp. Richard Brereton, esqr., thes be delivered at Worsley," and relating to a cause of that gentleman's " touchinge Pendleton Heye," in which Egerton was engaged. The epistle concludes : "Thus in hast, I take my leave, with my hartye commendations to you and your wyffe, and Mr Wyll. Leicester, and all other my frendes. Lyncolne's Inne, this Saterdaye, 150 Octobris, 1580. Your's assured, in all I can, Tho. Egerton." It was worth while to attend carefully to the interests of such a client as Mr Richard Brereton, one's half-sister's husband and the childless owner of Tatton and Worsley! The year after this letter was despatched to Worsley, Egerton became Solicitor- General ; ii years later, Attorney-General, with Coke (upon Littleton) for Solicitor. In 1594, having been previously knighted, a distinction more esteemed and more estimable then than now, he was made Lord Keeper, his handsome person doing him no harm with Queen Elizabeth. Four years afterwards Richard Brereton died without issue. He had "settled all his estate " on his wife's half-brother, who had done his law business for him with fidelity and skill, and who had raised himself to the highest office, save one, that could be filled by a subject. Thus it was that Worsley became the possession of an Egerton, to whose descendants it belongs at this day.
An able, learned, and experienced lawyer, of dignified bearing and spotless life, Sir Thomas Egerton made an excellent judge, swift in the despatch of business, equitable and incorruptible in all his dealings, and impartial in the distribution of his patronage, civil and ecclesiastical. In his public and political subserviency to Elizabeth and her successor, he was no worse than most of his neighbours, and his behaviour to Essex after the fall, and at the trial of that rash and ill-fated nobleman, contrasts very favourably with Bacon's. On the death of Elizabeth, James I. confirmed Sir Thomas Egerton in the Lord Keepership, and very soon afterwards raised him to the still higher office of Lord Chancellor, and to the peerage as Baron Ellesmere ; hence the Ellesmere Earldom conferred on his descendants in recent times. He was full of years and honours when, bowed down by infirmities, he resigned the great seal in 1617, just after he had been raised a step in the peerage, and created Viscount Brackley, the courtesy-title now borne by the eldest sons of our Earls of Ellesmere. In the short interval between his death and his resignation, King James promised him the Earldom of Bridgewater, a promise of which his son and heir reaped the benefit. When he died he was in his seventy-seventh year, " having held the Great Seal," Lord Campbell remarks with curious inaccuracy of language, " for a longer period than any of his predecessors or successors." Besides being a great lawyer and judge, he was an eminent orator, after the fashion of his time. The personal beauty which he is said to have inherited from his mother, he retained in old age, so that many went to the Court of Chancery to look at him, and " happy they," says quaint old Fuller, reflecting on the place, not on the upright judge, " who had no other business" there. As a man, and in relation to the age in which he lived, his character stands high. He was kind to the poet, Spenser; Ben Jonson, Daniel, and Sir John Davies united to praise him with evident sincerity, and Bacon's letter to him with The Advancement of Learning could not have been addressed to an ordinary man. One of the now most generally interesting facts in his biography, though to his contemporaries it may have seemed the merest nothing, is that on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth's state-visit to his seat at Harefield, near Uxbridge, Othello was played for the first time before the Queen, by Burbidge's company, and possibly with Shakespere himself there in person superintending the performance.7 In the lists of presents which poured in upon the Lord Keeper at the time of these festivities, it is curious to note the item of " a buck," sent by the Sir Thomas Lucy, whose father, according to tradition, prosecuted Shakespere for deer stealing.
The great estates in the. purchase of which Lord Chancellor Ellesmere invested most of his wealth, with those bequeathed to him by Richard Brereton, descended to his only surviving son by his first wife, the daughter of a Flintshire squire. He had been married thrice : his second wife was a Surrey lady ; his third, the most illustrious of them all, and who survived him, was the widow of Ferdinando, fifth Earl of Derby, and the daughter of Sir John Spencer of Althorpe, progenitor of the Earls Spencer and of the Dukes of Marlborough that are. John, the second Viscount Brackley, quickly received a fulfilment of the promise which had been made to his father, and in the year of the latter's death he was created Earl of Bridgewater. Father and son had married mother and daughter : the Earl of Bridgewater's wife was the Lady Frances Stanley, daughter of Lord Chancellor Ellesmere's third wife, the Countess Dowager of Derby (widow of Ferdinando fifth Earl), as already mentioned. Thus it happened that after the Chancellor's death there was a very special intimacy between his widow and the family of the Earl of Bridgewater; she was not only the Earl's step-mother, but the mother of his wife, and the grandmother of his children. The Chancellor's widow resided on his estate of Harefield, where Queen Elizabeth had paid him a visit and Olhello had been performed. The favourite seat of the Earl of Bridgewater, who had a rather numerous family, was Ashridge, in Hertfordshire, some sixteen miles from Harefield ; so that there was a certain propinquity of domicile as well as affinity of blood to knit the two families together. Hence, partly, it befell that the name of Egerton came to be connected with that of Milton, as it had been with Spenser's, Bacon's, Ben Jonson's, Shakespeare's, and be it noted that the Countess Dowager of Derby was a cousin of the author of the Faery Queen, that the two had met at Althorpe when both were young, that her he had celebrated as Amaryllis, and to her had dedicated The Tears of the Muses. A still greater honour was to be conferred on her. Two of her young granddaughters at Ashridge, the Ladies Alice and Mary Egerton, had for their music-master a distinguished composer of the time, Mr Henry Lawes; the friend, too, of a certain Mr John Milton, who on leaving Cambridge University, went, in 1632, to live in his father's country house at pleasant Horton, in Bucks, ten miles from Harefield, and there among the first fruits of his then young and all but unknown muse, were two little pieces called L'Allegro and Il Penseroso. There is a sonnet of Milton's "To Mr H. Lawes on his airs," and who knows how much anonymous verse the poet in his youth may not have written to be set to music by the composer apostrophised thus ?-
Harry, whose tuneful and well-measured song
First taught our English music how to span
Words with just note and accent, not to scan
With Midas' ears, committing short and long;
Thy worth and skill exempts thee from the throng,
With praise enough for envy to look wan;
To after-age thou shalt be writ the man,
That with smooth air could humour best our tongue.
Thou honourest verse, and verse must lend her wing
To honour thee, the priest of Phoebus' quire,
That tunest their happiest lines in hymn or story
Dante shall give Fame leave to set thee higher
Than his Casella, whom he wooed to sing
Met in the milder shades of purgatory."
That Milton had a personal acquaintance with any of his great neighbours at Harefield or at Ashridge is possible, but has not been proved. The Countess Dowager of Derby he must have known by repute, and honoured as the Amaryllis of Spenser, even more than as the venerable widow of Lord Chancellor Ellesmere. Let us suppose, moreover, that the aged lady had talked one day to her grandchildren of Queen Elizabeth's visit to Harefield, and of the Masque which on that occasion was undoubtedly among the entertainments presented to Her Majesty. Let us further suppose that the young people, thus stimulated, coaxed grandmamma into allowing them to give her a little family Masque at Harefield, and thus mildly recall the glories of the former pageant. In that case, whom would they first consult but their accomplished and distinguished music-master, Mr Henry Lawes, well known to have played a foremost part in getting up and arranging many an entertainment of the same kind? When he had promised his aid, co-operation, and music for the occasion, what more natural than that he should apply for the words of the Masque to his young friend Mr John Milton, at Horton, of whose poetic powers he at least must have known something ? Such may have been the origin of Milton's exquisite little Arcades, the brief prose preface to which describes it as " part of an entertainment presented to the Dowager Countess of Derby, at Harefield, by some noble persons of her family, who appear on the scene in pastoral habit, moving toward the seat of state with this song"-perhaps sounding sweetly in the cars once saluted by the music of Spencer's pastoral lute. Milton's latest biographer assigns the date of the performance of the Arcades to the year 1634. The piece is pervaded by a poetic grace and beauty unequalled in the verse of the time, but was itself soon eclipsed by another and far finer poem, written two years after for the family at Ashridge, the noble and lovely Coyizus.
In 1631, the Earl of Bridgewater was appointed Lord President of the Council of Wales, an office of almost viceregal dignity; but he did not arrive at Ludlow, the seat of his government, until late in 1633. In and during 1634, there were frequent festivities at Ludlow Castle, the official residence of the Lord President, and it was resolved that the composer and the poet whose joint handiwork, the Arcades, had been so successful, should be invited to produce a Masque fit to be represented on a more public stage and before a more numerous company. Lawes and Milton consented. There is a tradition that, on their way to Ludlow from Herefordshire, Lord Brackley, Mr Thomas Egerton, and their sister, the Lady Alice, were benighted in Haywood Forest, and that this little adventure gave Milton a hint for his plot. However that may have been, on the Michaelmas night of 1634, the great hall of Ludlow Castle was filled by the nobility and gentry of the district, and never before had they listened to such poetic melody as then stole upon their cars. "The chief persons who presented were," says the poem itself, "The Lord Brackley ; Mr Thomas Egerton his brother; the Lady Alice Egerton." It was printed three years afterwards, with a dedication to Viscount Brackley, by Lawes, beginning, " My Lord, this poem which received its first occasion of birth from yourself and other of your noble family," &c, and commemorating the fact that the musician had performed the part of the Attendant Spirit. England received the assurance that a new poet had arisen within her bounds, second to Shakespere alone. To the Egertons we owe not only canals but Comuis.8
The first Earl of Bridgewater died in 1649, in the last month of the year which saw Charles I. beheaded at Whitehall. An epitaph (of considerably later date) on a monument to him at Ashridge, the family-seat in Hertfordshire, enumerates among his merits that "he was a dutiful son to his mother, the Church of England, in her persecution as well as in her great splendour; a loyal subject to his Sovereign in those worst of times, when it was accounted treason not to be a traitor." The Earl's "loyalty," however, must have been of an undemonstrative kind, since it seems to have cost him nothing, and his estates descended unimpaired to his son, John the second Earl of Bridgewater, the same who had played the Elder Brother in Comus. Like his father, the second Earl combined prudence with loyalty, suffering little or nothing under the Commonwealth, a rid dying in 1686 Lord-Lieutenant of four counties-Lancashire among them. The author of Comus and the personator of the Elder Brother diverged in their politics, and any connection-probably there was none-that may have existed between Milton and the Egertons was dissolved by the poet's fervid espousal of the popular cause. The late Earl of Ellesmere (the literary and art-loving Earl) possessed a copy of Milton's Defensio pro populo Anglicano which had belonged to this second Earl of Bridgewater, and on the title-page of which the loyal nobleman had written : Liber z,,ne, auclorfured dt,,,nissi.vii:-"A book richly deserving to be burned, and its author to be hanged."9 He was "a learned man," was this original personator of the Elder Brother in Comus,-"delighted much in his library," in which, as has been seen, was a copy of Milton's Defensio, and among the honours conferred upon him was the High Stewardship of the University of Oxford. One composition of his, though not of a literary kind, survives, and is printed in the History of Ashridge by Todd, who was also the editor and biographer of Alilton. It consists of a series of detailed instructions for the management of his household, and testifies to the careful and orderly, nay, almost prince-like, organization of a great English nobleman's establishment in the seventeenth century, as well as to the precise and rigorous character of this particular Lord of Ashridge who had played the part of the Elder Brother in Conius, and who thought its author worthy of the gallows. At Ashridge there are domestic functionaries of every kind and degree, and each of them is copiously instructed by my Lord how to conduct himself, from " the steward," " the gentleman of my horse," " my gentleman usher," down to " the porter " and the clerk of the kitchen," who is admonished to curb the wasteful expense of butter." On the other hand, among the " orders for the huisher "usher-" of my hall " is one conceived in a liberal spirit, and smacking pleasantly of the olden time. He is bidden " Gather together the broken meate that remaynes after meales, and carry it to the gate, that there it may be, by himselfe and the porter, distributed among the poore. " "June 24, 1652. These are the orders which I require and command to be observed by all the servants in my family in their several and respective degrees.-J. BRIDGWATER."10
The second Earl of Bridgewater was succeeded by his son and namesake John, third Earl, who died (in 1701) First Lord-Commissioner of the Admiralty. It is noticeable that during the lifetime of this third Earl the great estates of the Egertons were partly broken up. His third son Thomas " was seated," we are told, " at Tatton Park in Cheshire," and there he founded the family of which the present Lord Egerton of Tatton is the representative. Again, William, the second son, ,was seated at Worsley, in com. Pal. Lanc. ;"11 but, though married twice, he did not leave male issue, so that he founded no family of Egerton of Worsley; and that manor became once more an appanage of the Bridgewater peerage, which peerage became a dukedom in the time of Scroop, fourth Earl of Bridgewater (1681-1745), elder brother of the Thomas of Tatton and the William of Worsley aforesaid. This Scroop held various high offices at Court in successive reigns; and "in consideration of his great merits," was created in 1720 Duke of Bridgewater. He and his "great merits" are well nigh forgotten, but the memory of his first Duchess still faintly survives, embalmed in the verse of Pope. She was one of the four beautiful daughters and co-heiresses of the great Duke of Marlborough, who left no son to inherit Blenheim and his honours. Jervas, Pope's friend and teacher in the pictorial art, had painted portraits of this once-famous beauty; and the little bard himself had made various sketches of her, all of which he threw into the fire.13 Hence several allusions to her in " the Epistle to Mr Jervas," in whose pictures, according to Pope,- Beauty, waking all her forms, supplies An angel's sweetness, or Bridgewater's eyes." And- " Churchill's race shall other hearts surprise."
His Grace, Scroop, first Duke of Bridgewater, took to himself, after the death of this beautiful Duchess, a second wife in the person of Lady Rachel Russell, daughter of Wriothesley Duke of Bedford. He was succeeded by his son, John, second Duke of Bridgewater (17 2 7 - 48), who enjoyed the title only a few years, dying unmarried and unremembered in the February of 1748. This unremembered Duke was succeeded in his turn by his younger brother, Francis, the third, the last, the famous Duke of Bridgewater, founder of British canal-navigation.
The " great" Duke of Bridgewater, as he is sometimes called, was born on the 21St Of May 1736, and thus, when his father died in 1745, he was a boy of nine. A year after, his widowed mother married Sir Richard Lyttelton of Hagley, and, happy in her new union, she seems to have neglected the child, who was not only sickly, but of such unpromising intellect that it is said to have been in contemplation to exclude him, on this ground, from the ducal succession. He was twelve when the death of hi~ consumptive brother made him Duke of Bridgewater, and it was perhaps too late for his mother and his stepfather to repair, even if they had been willing, the deficiencies of an education so neglected as his had been. When it became evident that the sickly boy was not likely to follow his brother prematurely to the grave, his guardians, the Duke of Bedford and Lord Trentham (afterwards Earl Gower and Marquis of Stafford, who had married the young duke's sister) took him in hand, and sent him abroad, ignorant and awkward, to make what in those days was called "the grand tour." A scholar and a man of the world, famous in his day and generation, was appointed his tutor. This was Wood, the Eastern traveller and Homeric scholar, whom Lord Chatham afterwards transformed into an Under-Secretary of State. He had returned from exploring the ruins of Palmyra, and had just published his well-known record of exploration, when he was started on a continental tour with his unlicked cub of a duke, a youth of seventeen The pair, as may be supposed, did not much relish each other's society, and " evidence exists," says Lord Ellesmere neatly, " that Wood often wished himself back in the desert he had so lately left." The Duke refused to be taught dancing in Paris, and if his tutor induced him to purchase at Rome some marbles and other art products or commodities of the Eternal City, his unlettered and uncultivated Grace was content with paying for them, and it stands recorded that "they remained in their original packing cases till after his death." The first notice of him after his return from the continent is a newspaper paragraph belonging to the October of 1755 :-"A marriage will soon be consummated between his Grace the Duke of Bridgewater and Miss Revel, his Grace being just arrived from foreign parts." The lady was a considerable heiress, but the match came to nothing, and a Warren of Cheshire proved the lucky man. Whether it was a serious disappointment or a disappointment at all, is unknown; but four years afterwards a love-suit of his Grace's came to nothing, and he felt the catastrophe with a keenness which determined his subsequent career.
In 1751, two young Irish sisters, Maria and Elizabeth Gunning, had taken the town by storm with a beauty which, reproduced on the canvas of Reynolds, still fascinates the beholder. They were of good birth, but so poor that they thought at one time of going on the stage,14 and when they were first presented to the Lord Lieutenant, at Dublin Castle, kind Peg Woffington had to lend them the clothes in which to appear. High and low, rich and poor, worshipped at the shrines of these Venuses, as soon as they made their appearance in London. They were mobbed at their doors by the multitude eager to catch a sight of them, and theatres were crammed when it was known that they were to be present.15 The year after their arrival in London both of them were married, within a month of each other, Elizabeth to the Duke of Hamilton, Maria to the Earl of Coventry; and the fame of these matches was such that in Ireland, according to Horace Walpole, a common blessing of the beggarwomen was:-" May the luck of the Gunnings attend you !" The Duchess of Hamilton was a widow when, soon after attaining his majority, the young Duke of Bridgewater, smitten by her charms, proposed and was accepted. Lady Coventry's Duke, with a scrupulosity rare in those days, announced to his betrothed that her intimacy with her sister must cease on her marriage to him. Of course, the Duchess of Hamilton hesitated, but the Duke was firm, and, finding her resist, he broke off the match. Had things gone otherwise, the Duke of Bridgewater might have led the life of an ordinary nobleman of his day, gone deeper into the horse-racing which he already affected, gambled and betted at White's, produced a large family of children, and never have figured in this gallery of Lancashire Worthies. Even had he protracted his negotiations a little, a very little longer, the obstacle to his union would have been removed, since Lady Coventry died of consumption in 1759. But before then the Duchess of Hamilton had married a Colonel Campbell,' who, becoming Duke of Argyle, placed a second ducal coronet on the brow of the lovely Irish adventuress. just after the marriage, the Duke of Bridgewater gave what Horace Walpole calls "a great ball;"' perhaps to veil his chagrin; perhaps as a farewell to the world of fashion. In any case, very soon afterwards, and in his twenty-third year, the Duke withdrew from London and its gaieties for the rest of his life, as it were, and buried himself, not even among the " myrtles of Ashridge," but in the old-fashioned manor-house of what must then have been the wilds of Worsley. From this ducal Hegira dates the rise of British canal navigation.
When his young Grace of Bridgewater migrated from the clubs of St James's Street to the coalfields of Worsley, on the skirts of Chat-Moss, British Industrialism was on the verge of that enormous expansion which became the wonder of the world, and which would scarcely have been possible without a revolution in the then existing means of communication, transit, and transport, throughout the island. In 1759, James Watt, & father, had settled down in his little shop within the precincts of Glasgow University, and in that year it was that his friend Robinson first called his attention to the steam-engine, in Newcomen's form of it. In the same year, Watt's future friend and patron, Matthew Boulton, succeeded to his father's business, and, determining to enlarge it, was beginning the quest which ended in his establishment at the famous Soho. In 1759, Josiah Wedgwood began business on his own account, in a humble cottage near the Market-house in Burslem while the English iron trade was being developed by the large and regular use of pit-coal in the blasting furnaces of Coalbrookdale ; and on the 1st of January 1760, the first furnace was blown in the Carron Ironworks, founded by Dr Roebuck, the grandfather of John Arthur. In 1760, too, an illiterate Lancashire weaver, named James Hargreaves, working at a new carding-engine, for the founder of the Peel family, was on his road to the invention of the famous spinning-jenny ; and in the same year there settled at Bolton, in his old trade of barber, one Richard Arkwright, who was destined to found our modern factory system. The trade of Manchester was largely increasing, though its population was little more than 20,000, and a year or two before the Leeds clothiers, finding " the old Norman Bridge at the foot of Briggate " no longer sufficient for their weekly market, had opened as a new mart "a commodious building now known as the Mixed Cloth Hall." The commerce of Liverpool, as of other English ports, was growing fast, though it was a time of war, for under the sway of the Great Commoner, then in the plenitude of his power and at the zenith of his fame, commerce- as the grateful inscription on his monument in Guildhal. declares-was "united with, and made to flourish by, war." The British merchant, moreover, trading with West and East, had the ocean-highway, from which Pitt's admirals were sweeping the enemy's flag; but at home road-making was in its infancy, and the absence of good roads obstructed the development of every branch of domestic industry. The cottons of Manchester and the woollens of Leeds had to be conveyed from place to place by pack-horses, jogging along in single file, on what were tracks rather than roads. "It was cheaper to bring foreign wares to London by sea than to bring them by tedious journeys on horses' backs from the interior of the country." The rate of carriage between Leeds and London was £13 a ton. When Josiah Wedgwood's trade began to extend, and a general demand for his earthenware to spring up, we are told that the roads in his neighbourhood were so bad that he was prevented from obtaining a sufficient supply of the best kinds of clay. The transport of the very necessaries of life was rendered difficult., and their price enhanced in populous centres, since there was no means of supplying the scarcity of one district by the plenty of another. For some years before 1758, there were annual riots in Manchester, caused by the dearness of provisions, a dearness heightened, no doubt, by a local monopoly of flour-making,. Since that time," says Dr Aikin,' writing in 1795, the demand for corn and flour has been increasing to a vast amount, and new sources of supply have been opened from distant parts by the navigations, so that monopoly or scarcity cannot be apprehended, though the price of these articles must always be high in a district which produces so little and consumes so much."
By " navigations " the Doctor meant canals, of the kind which in England the Duke of Bridgewater originated Though the great canal-systems of the continent-those 0 France, Italy, and Holland-must have long been familiar to many travelled Englishmen, the notion of copying fro 1 them seems never to have been entertained until just before the Duke of Bridgewater's arrival at Worsley. The improvement of internal water-communication had, until then, been almost exclusively limited to existing streams and rivers. Some useful work of this kind had been done before; it was at the hest of the Duke of Bridgewater that the canal proper, made independently of the bed of river or of stream, came into existence in these realms. So early as 172o, an Act was obtained by enterprising persons in Liverpool and Manchester, in virtue of which a sort of water-communication was established between the two towns, by applying to the Irwell the contrivances of locks, weirs, and so forth, and even by cuttings across the necks of the principal bends of the winding stream. From the Irwell to Liverpool, by the Mersey, there was already(- a " navigation," and thus a water communication between Liverpool and Manchester. " But," adds Dr Aikin,' " the want of water in droughts, and its too great abundance in floods, are circumstances under which this, as well as most other river-navigations, has laboured. It has been an expensive concern, and has at times been more burthensome to its proprietors than useful to the public." Then, again, about the same time, the gentlemen of Cheshire obtained an Act for making navigable the river Weaver for twenty miles, whereby the rock-salt from Northwich was conveyed more cheaply to Liverpool, and furnished a profitable article for loading or ballast to ships outward bound from that port. More noteworthy, however, than these enterprises, or any other of the same sort, was the Sankey Brook navigation, one section of which undoubtedly( was to be a canal independent of the brook itself. But the Sankey Brook was the basis of the whole scheme, which, without it, would not have been undertaken. The Act authorising it was passed in 1755. The time was at hand when a system of inland navigation, new in Britain, was to be founded by the courage, energy, and perseverance of one man, and through his success the whole island was to be intersected by artificial waterways, affording cheap and easy transport for the heaviest goods, and bringing all parts of the kingdom into connection. The refusal of the Duchess of Hamilton to ignore her sister gave the country facilities of intercommunication for traffic as superior to any then existing, as the railways of today are to all other modes of transport and of transit.
It was in 1759, the penultimate year of the life and reign of His Majesty George II., that Francis, Duke of Bridgewater, a young nobleman of three and twenty, bade farewell to I,London, and took up his abode in the Old Hall at Worsley. The great city was ringing with the glorious news of victories by land and sea - Wolfe's on the plains of Abraham., in Bengal fresh successes of Clive following up the battle of Plassey ; and, much nearer home, Hawke's triumph over the French fleet near Brest; while, at the same time, the world of metropolitan fashion was prostrate at the feet of Kitty Fisher, the beautiful courtezan, and Samuel Johnson, sad and solitary, wrote and published Rasselas, to pay the expenses of his mother's funeral. The " Young Duke " (not a novel-hero this one), gave his last ball, never more had womankind about him, in any capacity whatever, whether social or menial, and, having revolved his plans beforehand, set to work on a canal to connect the coalfields of Worsley with the homes and hearths of Manchester. So far back as 1737, an Act had been passed by Parliament, at the instance of the first Duke of Bridgewater, to make the Worsley Brook navigable to its junction with the Irwell, and this project is thought by some to have been the germ of the great works executed by his son, the third Duke, Others fancy that during the course of his continental tour, in the company of Palmyra-Wood, our Duke of Bridgewater was struck by the spectacle of the great canal systems of France and Italy, and that to this impression is to be assigned the origin of his Lancashire enterprises. More probably the notion of undertaking them was suggested to him by various plans for new canal-navigations, which were being mooted about the time of his settlement at Worsley, and with at least one of which he could scarcely have failed to be familiar.
In 17 5 7, only two years before the Duke of Bridgewater's migration to Worsley, and the year in which application was made to Parliament for the construction of the Sankey Canal, the Corporation of Liverpool projected a much greater enterprise. This was no less than to unite the Trent and the Mersey-and thus the great ports of Liver. pool and Hull-by a canal which was to pass by Chester, Stafford, Derby and Nottingham. At the time the project came to nothing, but one of the persons who took a strong interest in its success, and who promoted the survey made with a view to its execution, was Earl Gower, afterwards Marquis of Stafford. 'Now Earl Gower was the brother-in-law of the Duke of Bridgewater, whose only sister, Lady Louisa Egerton, he had married, and who was frequently a guest at Trentham. Further, the Duke of Bridgewater's land-agent and factotum, John Gilbert, was a brother of Lord Gower's steward, Thomas Gilbert, a practical man, and in his day and generation a useful one ; his name still survives in the Gilbert Unions, of which he was the founder. Thus speculations in which Lord Gower interested himself had a double chance of being brought to the ear and knowledge of his brother-in-law. Nothing is more likely than that in this way the Duke of Bridgewater was first led to think of canal-making, and at the very time when he wished for some occupation other than that of a nobleman about town. At all events, early in 1759 the Duke made his first application to Parliament for a Canal Act. It authorised him, among other things, to construct a canal from Worsley to Salford, and, if successful, the project promised to be of much direct advantage to himself, as well as to the population of Manchester. In the neighbourhood of Manchester there was abundance of coal, which its inhabitants were ready to buy. But the roads to and from Manchester were as bad as those of Lancashire generally then and afterwards, as when, for instance, years later, Arthur Young, journeying on that between Wigan and " Proud " Preston itself, declared that he knew not " in the whole range of language terms sufficiently expressive to describe this infernal road. To look over a map," Arthur continues, "and perceive that it is a principal one, not only to some towns, but even to whole counties, one would naturally conclude it to be at least decent; but let me most seriously caution all travellers who may accidentally purpose to travel this terrible country, to avoid it as they would the devil; for a thousand to one but they break their necks or their limbs by overthrows or breakings-down. They will here meet with ruts, which I actually measured, four feet deep and floating with mud, only from a wet summer. What, therefore, must it be after a winter? The only mending it in places receives is the tumbling-in some loose stones, which serve no other purpose but jolting a carriage in the most intolerable manner. These are not merely opinions, but facts, for I actually passed three carts, broken down, in these eighteen miles of execrable memory." 1
Well might Arthur ask, " What must it be after a winter? -and in winter the demand for coal was of course greater than in summer. This state of things made the produce of most of the collieries near Manchester unavailable for its inhabitants, and, while the price of coal at the pit-mouth was s 10d. the horse-load Of 280 lbs., it was usually more than doubled before the fireplaces and workshops of Manchester were reached. The Duke's own coal-seams, it is true, were not far from the Irwell, but what with the cost of carrying the coal on horses' backs to the stream, what with the high charges levied by the Mersey and Irwell Navigation Company for transporting it in their boats, slowly tugged by men, and the subsequent cost of unloading and carriage to Manchester on horses' backs again, the river was a most expensive highway. It was primarily to extend the Manchester market for his coals, that the Duke applied for his first Canal Act. As soon as it had passed he started for Worsley, to superintend the execution of his scheme, in person and on the spot.
On his arrival at Worsley, the Duke made a new acquaintance, who came to be of the utmost value in promoting, executing, and improving his plans. This was James Brindley, the Derbyshire craftsman's son, a "heaven-born" engineer, if ever such there was. Born in 17 16, three miles north-cast of Buxton, the son of a poor cotter, Brindley was some twenty years older than the great and wealthy Duke when their memorable connection began. His father was not only poor, but worthless and reckless, and Brindley's upbringing was of the meagrest and harshest. " His mechanical bias, however," says his latest biographer, "early displayed itself, and he was especially clever with his knife, making models of mills, which he set to work in little mill~ streams of his contrivance. It is said that one of the things in which he took most delight when a boy was to visit a neighbouring grist-mill and examine its waterwheels, cogwheels, drum-wheels, and other attached machinery, until he could carry away the details in his head; afterwards imitating the arrangements by means of his knife, and such little bits of wood as he could obtain for the purpose." 1 This was all the " technical education " ever received by the young Brindley-bestowed on himself by himself, probably in the intervals of the meanest rustic drudgery. At thirteen he was apprenticed to a millwright near Macclesfield. When he had served his time, he started at Leek on his own account, and began to show, in the humble sphere in which his lot was cast, the most extraordinary mechanical skill. Two things were noted of him at his start in life. One was, that his work being more strongly done, and his charges consequently higher, than his neighbours' he obtained at first but a moderate share of business. The other was, that not only did he do most thoroughly whatever he undertook, but that he was always on the alert to suggest mechanical improvements, plans for the abridgement of labour or the diminution of the power employed in it. In mill-work, and the construction of machinery for working and pumping mines, he was perpetually suggesting, so that he was known in his own county as " the schemer," while at the same time he executed the humblest details of handicraft, having at first to fell his own timber and cut it where it grew. By degrees his fame spread, and in 1758, the year before the Duke's arrival at Worsley, Brindley was employed in the survey, made under Lord Gower's auspices, for the canal between the Mersey and the Trent, formerly mentioned. What more natural than that Lord Gower or his steward should direct the attention, the one of his brother-in-law, the other of his brother, John Gilbert~, to the inventive and skilful mechanic ? The canal between the Trent and the Mersey did not seem likely to become more than a project, and here was Brindley, with his head full of " novocion," as, in his memoranda, he calls " navigation." Brindley could just read and write, and spelling was always beyond him. He had lacked not only "technical " but the most ordinary education, a fact which, in these days above all, is worth reflecting on.
The Duke of Bridgewater saw that Brindley was the very man for him. In the July Of 1759, Brindley was on one of what proved to be many visits at the Old Hall of Worsley, taking counsel with the Duke and Gilbert--taking counsel we say, though, as the event proved, Brindley gave more of it than he received. He had made what figures in his own peculiar orthography as an " ochilor servey "-ocular survey-" or a riconnitoring " of and on the ground over which the proposed canal from Worsley to Manchester was to run, and he decided on recommending a plan differing essentially from that which had been fixed on by the Duke., The canal was no longer to go down to the Irwell and up the other side again, with the aid of locks in both cases. It was to be carried right over the river on an aqueduct of stone, after passing across a huge embankment on the north side of the Irwell; thus the locks on either side would be done without, and their delays and cost be saved. Simple and easy as the execution of such a project may seem now, it was regarded as one of stupendous magnitude then. The outside-world laughed at the notion of an aqueduct carried over a stream : it was an idle dream, and the engineer called in to give an impartial opinion on the scheme talked contemptuously of " castles in the air." But Brindley remained unshaken, and so, to his credit, was the Duke, though his purse alone had to bear the certain expense and the possible loss, since there were no shareholders to divide either of them with him, no "calls " to fall back upon at a pinch. The works once begun, Brindley's inexhaustible ingenuity was shown at every turn. From his tunnelling the hill near Worsley in order to connect the canal with the Duke's various coal-workings, from his application of claypuddle to prevent the water from soaking through its earthen embankments, to his invention of a new lime for the extensive masonry required, and his construction of a crane and its ingenious machinery to lift the coal through a shaft in the high ground at Manchester, at the terminus of the canal, thus saving the buyers from having to drag their coals up the hill-his inventive power was triumphant in great things as in small. On the '7t11 Of July 1761, the first boat-load of coals was borne smoothly along the Barton aqueduct. The " castle in the air" was realised, and visitors from all parts flocked to see what at once became one of the wonders of England. Nor was this, like the Thames Tunnel, a mere spectacle for the curious. The average price of coal at Manchester, not to speak of other commodities, was reduced one half The construction of the canal is estimated to have cost a thousand or so pounds a mile, and it was not very long before the Duke began to reap a profitable harvest from his courage, his enterprise, and his faith in the uncouth and unlettered Brindley.
The canal from Worsley to Manchester had scarcely been completed, and its pecuniary results had not been ascertained, when the Duke and Brindley took the field again, for a second campaign much more protracted and difficult than the first. This time it was a canal from Longford Bridge to Runcorn, to connect Liverpool with I\Manchester. On the execrable roads between the two towns, the transport of goods, when it could be effected at all, cost forty shillings a ton, and about twelve shillings per ton was charged when they were conveyed by the " improved " navigation of the Mersey and the Irwell, which, however, required spring-tides here, and freshes there, while in winter the floods sometimes stopped it altogether. The Duke's projected canal to Runcorn not only provoked a repetition of the ridicule which had greeted the announcement of his first enterprise, but the powerful and obstructive hostility of those personally interested in opposing it. After his prior success, it was comparatively easy for him to confront the idle clamour that Brindley's new scheme for carrying a canal across bogs and through tunnels over rivers and valleys, was impracticable. But strenuous effort and action were required to overcome the other opposition to the project. After an unsuccessful attempt to bribe him into abandoning his scheme, the proprietors of the Mersey and Irwell Navigation resolved on a parliamentary contest. Some of the landowners of Lancashire joined them, and the opposition to the bill was led in the Commons by the son of the Lord Derby of the day. The Duke's new canal was represented as unnecessary, dangerous to the districts through which it ran, and which it was sure to flood, and, last, not least, as an interference with the vested rights~ of the Mersey and the Irwell Company. Among the inhabitants of the districts to be benefited by the canal were many, however, who saw its advantages, and there were numerous petitions for the bill, as well as some against it. In the February of 1762, Brindley was examined before the Committee of the House of Commons, and stories are rife of the practical illustrations of canal-details given by him on the occasion,-how, after going out and buying a large cheese, he cut it in two to represent the semi-circular arches of his bridge ; and how he worked some clay up with water to demonstrate to honourable members the wonderful results of puddling.1
The bill passed through Parliament, and then came the difficulties of execution, difficulties even more financial than mechanical. The mechanical were great enough, in the then state of engineering, for Brindley determined on having one continuous level of water until he approached Runcorn, when the whole descent was to be effected by a long series of locks. This necessitated embankments much greater than those at Barton; then, to quote one instance out of many, to carry the canal over Sale Moor Moss presented most formidable difficulties, and so lively was the appreciation of these by the public, that the nickname of " the Duke's Folly " was bestowed on a tall poplar at Dunham Banks, on which a board had been nailed showing the height of the canal-level. But Brindley surmounted all engineering difficulties; the greatest of them he met by remaining for two or three days in bed, and in silence and solitude wrestling with them until, as the angel was vanquished by Jacob, they succumbed to his earnest effort. His inventiveness and sleepless care economised as much as he could-his own wages while he was in the Duke's service being only a guinea a week!-still money was needed continually to pay the workmen and for the works, as well as the compensation to owners for the land compulsorily sold by them under the Act-and money it became exceedingly difficult to procure. The Duke wasted none upon himself, cutting (down his personal expenses until his whole establishment cost only -£400 a year! But the local and general disbelief in the possibility of his success told against his credit, and at last he could scarcely get a bill for -£500 cashed in Liverpool.' Many a Committee of Ways and Means was held by the Duke, Gilbert, and Brindley, over their pipes and ale, in a small public house (standing within the memory of living men, perhaps still standing) on the Moss, a mile and a half from Worsley, and often had Gilbert to ride round among the tenantry of the neighbouring districts, raising five pounds here and ten pounds there, until he had collected enough to pay the wee~'s wages.2 One thing the Duke would not do, and that was mortgage his hereditary estates. Every other resource seemed exhausted, when at last, his canal from Worsley to Manchester beginning to bring in a large annual income, he rode to London, and was successful in arranging with the banking house of Child and Co., on that security, for advances which enabled him to complete his great undertaking. The whole sum thus advanced, from first to last, was only £25,000, and that expended on all his canal operations was £220,000, less than a single year's income of more than one of the English noblemen of the present day, whom the Duke of Bridgewater's enterprise has helped to enrich. The annual revenue yielded by the Duke's canals reached ultimately £8o,000.
In 1767, some five years after the passing of the Act, the new canal to Runcorn, about twenty-eight miles in length, was finished, with the exception of the series of locks which lead down to the Mersey. A lucrative traffic on the rest of the waterway had been increasing the Duke's resources when, six years or so later, the Runcorn locks, too, were completed, and Liverpool and Manchester fairly brought to,ether. On the last. day of 1772, the locks were opened, and while some hundreds of the Duke's workmen feasted at his expense on the bank, the Heart of Oak, a vessel of 80 tons burden, passed through on its way to Liverpool, amid the acclamations of a multitude of spectators gathered together from far and near. The Duke's canal-making, at least on a great scale, was at an end, and he was only 36. In developing the resources which he had created, there was, however, still much for him to do, and he did it. He bought any land with coal-seams adjoining Worsley, and expended nearly -£170,000 in forming subterranean tunnels for the egress of the coals, the underground-canals which connected the various workings extending to forty miles in length. From the first he had been in the habit of actively superintending the works along the line, and to the last his canals were uppermost in his thoughts. A few years before his death he tried on them the experiment of steam-navigation, and long before this he had introduced passenger-boats. Meanwhile, Brindley and others were,with the aid of the share system and the associated capital of joint-stock companies, extending to the rest of the kingdom the benefits of the inland navigation, which the Duke of Bridgewater had executed, single-handed. The Grand Trunk Canal connected the Mersey with the Trent, and by-and-by other extensions united the ports of Liverpool, Hull, and Bristol As it became evident that wherever they went canals enriched and expanded old industry, created centres of new, benefited alike manufactures and agriculture, the mill-owner and the ship-owner, and, above all, were immensely profitable to the constructors, there arose a canal-mania, resembling in kind, if not in degree, the railway-mania of later days. It began about the time of the first French Revolution, and was attended with the usual mixture of good and evil, general gain and individual loss. More than two thousand six hundred miles of canal-navigation in England alone opened up the country, and brought together producer and consumer, raw material and the machinery and industry by which it is worked up, the manufactory and the seaport. Nor has the canal been superseded by the railway. According to the late Lord Ellesmere, at a time when the Duke of Bridgewater was beginning to reap the profit of his perseverance and sacrifices, Lord Kenyon congratulated him on the result. "Yes," he replied, " we shall do well enough if we can keep clear of' these d-d tramroads," a saying which, if mistaken in one sense, contained a prophesy of the greatness of railways. "Notwithstanding the great additional facilities for conveyance of merchandise, which have been provided of late years by the construction of railways, a very large proportion of the heavy carrying trade of the country still continues to be conducted upon canals. It was, indeed, at one time proposed, during the railway mania, and that by a somewhat shrewd engineer, to fill up the canals and make railways of them 1 It was even predicted, during the construction of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, that within twelve months of its opening the Bridgewater Canal would be closed, and the place of its waters be covered over with rushes. But canals have stood their around even against railways, and the Duke's canal instead of being closed, continues to carry as much traffic as ever. It has lost the conveyance of passengers by the fly-boats, it is true, but it has retained, and in many instances increased, its traffic in minerals and merchandise. The canals have stood the competition of railways far more successfully than the old turnpike-roads, though these, too, are still in their way as indispensable as canals and railways themselves. Not less than twenty millions of traffic are estimated to be carried annually upon the canals of England alone, and this quantity is steadily increasing. In 1835, before the opening of the London and Birmingham Railway, the through-tonnage carried on the Grand junction Canal was 310,475 tons ; and in 1845, after the railway had been open for ten years, the tonnage carried on the canal had increased to 480,626 tons. At a meeting of proprietors of the Birmingham Canal Navigations, held in October 1860, the chairman said the receipts for the last six months were, with one exception, the largest they had ever had."'
From a slim youth, the Duke of Bridgewater became, in middle and later age, a large and corpulent man. His features are said to have borne a strong resemblance to those of George III. He was careless in his dress, and usually wore a suit of brown-" something of the cut of Dr Johnson's,"- which included dark drab breeches, fastened at the knee with silver buckles. His chief " luxury was tobacco, which he used both ways, being a great smoker, but "out of doors, he snuffed, and he would pull huge pinches out of his right waist coat-pocket, and thrust the powder up his nose, accompanying the operation with strong, short snorts." " While resident in London," according to Lord Ellesmere, from whose narrative chiefly such traits of the Duke are derived, "his social intercourse was limited within the circle of a few intimate friends, and for many years he avoided the trouble of a main part of an establishment suited to his station, by an agreement with one of these, who, for a stipulated sum, undertook to provide a daily dinner for his Grace and a certain number of guests. This engagement lasted till a late period of the Duke's life, when the death of the friend ended the contract." As he loved the useful, so he despised the ornamental, and would allow no conservatories or flower gardens at Worsley. And on his return from a visit to London, "finding some flowers which had been planted in his absence, he whipped their heads off and ordered them to be rooted up." Yet he collected, probably thinking it a good investment, one of the finest and most valuable picture galleries in Europe, " of which," says Lord Ellesmere, " an accident laid the foundation." " Dining one day with his nephew, Lord Gower, afterwards Duke of Sutherland, the Duke saw and admired a picture which the latter had picked up a bargain, for some £10, at a broker's in the vicinity. 'You must take me,' he said, 'to that d--d fellow to-morrow.' Whether this impetuosity produced any immediate result, we art not informed, but plenty of' d-d fellows' were doubtless not wanting to cater for the taste thus suddenly developed. Such advisers as Lord Farnborough and his nephew lent him the aid of their judgment. His purchases from Italy and Holland were judicious and important, and finally the distractions of France, pouring the treasures of the Orleans Gallery into this country, he became a principal in the fortunate speculation of its purchase."
Thus arose the Bridgewater Collection.
On great occasions, in spite of his private economy and even parsimony, the Duke showed a princely liberality, and when his country was thought to be in danger, he subscribed a hundred thousand pounds to the "Loyalty Loan." He was rough in speech, and, from long contact with his workmen, thee'd and thou'd," after the fashion of the district. Reading and conversation he cared little for; he never wrote a letter when he could help it. His antagonism to the fair sex, after his disappointment, he carried so far that he would not allow a woman-servant to wait upon him. To those whom he employed he was a good and just master, though a precise and stern one. He looked well after the housing of his colliery workers, and the schooling, of their children, establishing shops and markets for them, and taking care that they contributed to a sick-club. Of his feeling for the poor one interesting anecdote survives, and is told 2 in connection with his love of travelling from Worsley in his own passage-boats. " He often went by them to Manchester, to watch how the coal-trade was going on. When the passengers alighted at the coal-wharf, there were usually many poor people about, wheeling away their barrow-loads of coals. One of the Duke's regulations was, that whenever any deficiency in the supply was apprehended, those people who came with their wheel-barrows, baskets, and aprons, for small quantities, should be served first, and waggons, carts, and horses sent away until the supply was again abundant. The number of small customers who thus resorted to the Duke's coal-yard rendered it a somewhat busy scene, and the Duke liked to look on and watch the proceedings. One day a customer of the poorer sort, having got his sack filled, looked about for some one to help it on to his back. He observed a stoutish man standing near, dressed in a spencer, with dark drab small clothes. " Heigh! mester!' said the man, " come, gi'e me a lift wi' this sack o' coal on to my shouder.' Without any hesitation, the person in the spencer gave the man the required 'lift,' and off be trudged with the load. Some one near, who had witnessed the transaction, ran up to the man and asked, 'Dun yo know who's that yo've been speaking tull ? ' " Naw ; who is he ?" Why, it's the Duke his-sen.' 'The Duke exclaimed the man, dropping the bag of coals from his shoulder. ' Hey ! what'll he do at me ? Maun a goo an ax his pardon ?' But the Duke had disappeared." 1
The "great " Duke of Bridgewater died in London on the 8th of March 1803, after a short illness brought on by a cold. His funeral was, in accordance with his own desire, the simplest possible ; and his body was deposited in the family vault near Ashridge, his magnificent seat in Hertfordshire. The sixth earl, he was the third, the last, and the only bachelor Duke of Bridgewater. The earldom went to his cousin, General Edward Egerton, and from him to the eighth earl, the originator, by bequest, of the Bridgewater Treatises, who died " in the odour of eccentricity," at Paris, in 1829 ; with him the earldom, too, became extinct. To his successor in the earldom the Duke of Bridgewater bequeathed Ashridge ; other estates and valuable property he left to his nephew, the second Marquis of Stafford and first Duke of Sutherland; while his canal-property was devolved (under trust) to that nobleman's second son, known successively as Lord Francis Leveson Gower and Lord Francis Egerton, afterwards first Earl of Ellesmere, grandfather of the third Earl of Ellesmere, the present owner of Worsley. This very year of 1873 has witnessed the transfer of the Duke's canals to the hands of stranger-capitalists, and the Bridgewater Trust is now a thing of the past. When the change is fully carried out, no present or future Earl of Ellesmere will be heard saying what the first said of the ducal founder of British Canal-navigation : " Something like his phantom-presence still seems to pervade his Lancashire neighbourhood, before which those on whom his heritage has fallen sink into comparative insignificance. The Duke's horses still draw the Duke's boats. The Duke's coals still issue from the Duke's levels; and when a question of price is under discussion, 'What will the Duke say or do?' is as constant an element of the proposition as if he were forthcoming in the body to answer the question."
Not inappropriately the last Duke of Bridgewater has been called the " first great Manchester man." A benefactor to his country, he was specially a benefactor to Lancashire. " The Duke of Bridgewater, more than any other single man, contributed to lay the foundations of the prosperity of Manchester, Liverpool, and the surrounding districts. The cutting of the canal from Worsley to Manchester conferred upon that town the immediate benefit of a cheap and abundant supply of coal; and when Watt's steam-engine became the great motive-power in manufactures, such supply became absolutely essential to its existence as a manufacturing town. Being the first to secure this great advantage, Manchester thus got the start forward which she has never since lost.
But besides being a water-way for coal, the Duke's canal, when opened out to Liverpool, immediately conferred1 upon Manchester the immense advantage of direct connection with an excellent seaport. New canals, supported by the Duke, and constructed by the Duke's engineer, grew out of the original scheme between Manchester and Runcorn, which had the further effect of placing, the former town in direct water-communication with the rich districts of the north-west of England. Then the Duke's canal-terminus became so important that most of the new navigations were laid out so as to join it-those of Leigh, Bolton, Stockport, Rochdale, and the West Riding of Yorkshire being all connected with the Duke's system, whose centre was at Manchester. And thus the whole industry of these districts was brought, as it were, to the very doors of that town.
" But Liverpool was not less directly benefited by the Duke's enterprise. Before his canal was constructed, the small quantity of Manchester woollens and cottons manufactured for exportation was carried on horses' backs to Bewdley and Bridgenorth, on the Severn, from whence they were floated down that river to Bristol, then the chief seaport on the west coast. No sooner, however, was the new water-road opened out than the Bridgenorth pack-horses were taken off, and the whole export trade of the district concentrated in Liverpool The additional accommodation required for the increased business of the port was promptly provided as occasion required. New harbours and docks were built ; and before many years had passed, Liverpool had shot far ahead of Bristol, and became the chief port on the west coast, if not in all England. Had Bristol been blessed with a Duke of Bridgewater, the result might have been altogether different ; and the valleys of Wilts, the coal and iron fields of Wales, and the estuary of the Severn might have been what South Lancashire and the Mersey are now. Were statues any proof of merit, the Duke would long since have had the highest statue in Manchester, as well as Liverpool, erected to his memory, and that of Brindley would have been found standing by his side." 1
One more quotation and we have done. It is from the graceful tribute to the Duke of Bridgewater by his grandnephew, of which we have so often availed ourselves, and it may form a fitting close to a sketch of his career. " We are far from supposing," says the first Earl of Ellesmere,l "that if he had never lived England could long have remained contented with primitive modes of intercourse inadequate to her growing energies. Brindley himself might have found other patrons, or, if he had pined for want of such, Smeatons, Fultons, and Telfords might have arisen to supply his place. But for the happy conjunction, however, of such an instrument with such a hand to wield it, inland navigation might long have had to struggle with the timidity of capitalists, and for a long time, at least, would perhaps have crept along obsequious to inequalities of surface and the sinuosities of natural water-courses. When we trace on the map the present artificial arterial system of Britain, some 110 lines of canal, amounting in length to 2400 miles when we reflect on the rapidity of the creation, how soon the junction of the Worsley coal-field with its Manchester market was followed by that of Liverpool with Hull, and Lancashire with London-we cannot but think the Duke's matrimonial disappointment ranks with other cardinal passages in the lives of eminent men, with the majority of nine which prevented the projected emigration of Cromwell, and the hurricane which scattered Admiral Christian's fleet,, and drove back to the Downs the vessel freighted with Sir Arthur Wellesley and his fortunes."
* Lord Campbell's Lives of the Lord Chacellors, &.c. (London,
1846), v01. ii.
§ " Line of Lord Ellesmere ; "
Masson's Life of John Milton (London, 1859), vol. i. ;
Thomas Keightley's Account of the Life of John Milton (London, 1856);
J. Todd's History of the College of Bonhommes at Ashridge (London, 1823) ;
Horace Walpole's Letters, edited by Peter Cunningham (London, 1859);
Smiles's Lives of the Engineers (London, 1861), vol. i.
§ " Life of James Brindley; " Earl of Ellesmere's Essays (London, 1858),
§ "Aqueducts and Canals;" Collins's Peerage, vol. iii.
§ "Bridgewater, Earl of;" Ormerod's Cheshire, vol. i.
§ " Tatton ; " Baines's Lancashire;
Aikin's Country round Manchester ;
Pope's Works, &c., &-c.
1 Baines's Lancashire, iii. 140.
2Onnerod, i. 346.
3 i. 179.
4 Tour in Wales (London 1784), i. 107.
5 Dr Ormerod bestirs himself (ubi supra), to discredit Pennant's story. " His mother's family," stys the historian of Cheshire, speaking of Sir Thomas Egerton, " were respectable yeomen, and a near relative of Alice Sparke was at this time wife of Ralph Catheral, a younger brother of the ancient house of Horton. This circumstance is mentioned as.being, in a great degree, a refutation of what local tradition has asserted, and a most respectable writer "-Pennant-" reported with reference to the infantine distresses of the future Chancellor. There is no reason for supposing that Sir Richard Egerton did, at any time, neglect the education of his son, or if he had neglected it, that his mother's family would have been unable to supply the deficiency." Dr Ormerod adds in a note : " Alice Sparke had another son by Sir Richard, George Egerton, who married Margaret, daughter of Robert Fitton, of Carden, and was ancestor of a branch of the Egertons settled at Whitchurch."
The following note on the genealogy of the Sparkes is due to the courtesy of T. Helsby, Esq., the editor of a forthcoming " Chronicle of Frodsham," in which parish the township and manor of Norley are situated :-
" The Sparkes were indeed of very ancient descent, as appears from Randle Holme's MSS., Harl. Coll. They were descended paternally from the Norleys of Norley, in Frodsham parish. Roger Sparke, tentp. Edw. 1. and II., was the son of Adam, the son of Ambrose de Norley, of which family a branch settled in Wettenall, near Northwich, whose descendant, Henry Sparke. was of Nantwich te?np. Hen. Vll., and married Jane, daughter and heiress of Tho. Bulkeley of Westanwood (his collateral ancestor, de Bulkeley, married, temp. Edw. II., Ellen, daughter and heiress of William de Bickerton). The issue of this Henry was Roger Sparke, of Nantwich, 7 Hen. VIII., and most probably he was the direct ancestor of Alice Sparke, of Bickerton, near which place Nantwich, Bulkeley, and Westan, or Westonwood, are situated. Her family connection, moreover, with the Catteralls, of Horton (who also held lands near Norley), favours this supposition. The fact, too, of Sir Thomas Egerton being sent to Brasenose College would seem to favour the hypothesis that he went as 'Founder's kin' to a priest named Williamson, who, in Henry VII.'s time, was of Weaverham (in which parish part of the township of Norley is situated), and founded a scholarship in Brasenose, afterwards held by many distinguished students."
With reference to Pennant's description of Alice Sparke as a " maid. servant," the same obliging correspondent puts-in the reminder that "even so late as her time young ladies continued occasionally to be sent to the houses of their neighbours to learn household work," and that " ' servant' was a word of much wider signification then than now."
Finally, respecting Richard Brereton, Mr Helsby mentions a report that " he bore the cost of Sir Thomas Egerton's education ; " and states that his and his wife's monument (an altar-tomb) is still in the church of Eccles, between Worsley and Manchester.
6 That Elizabeth made this speech is, however, doubted by Mr Fossr (Judges of England, V. 138, London, 1857), and he adds : " There is no authority for Lord Campbell's assertion that the Queen, before he," Egerton, " became Solicitor. General, 'made him one of her counsel, nor any appearance that such an office then existed, 'whereby he was entitled to wear a silk gown, and have precedence."'
7 Lord Campbell, ii. 2 12, and note.
9 See Masson's Millon, vol. i (§ Horton, Buckiinghamshire), p. 567-87.
10 Keightley (who cites Todd, i. 80),1). 122, note.
11 Todd's Ashridge, P. 47.
12 Collins, iii. 197.
13 " jervas fancied himself in love with her. "-Walpole's Letters, i. 6 (note by Peter Cunningham).
14 Walpole's Letters, ix. 358.
xhall, but such mobs follow them that they are generally driven away. "-Letters, ii. 259.
.2 Walpole Mann (27th February 1752) :-" The event that has made most noise since my last is, the extempore wedding of the youngest of the two Gunnings who have made so vehement a noise. Lord Coventry, a grave young Lord, of the remains of the patriot brood, has long dangled after the elder, virtuously with regard to her virtue, not very honourably with regard to his own credit. About six weeks ago, Duke Hamilton, the very reverse of the Earl, hot, debauched, extravagant, and equally damaged in his fortune and person, fell in love with the youngest at the masquerade, and determined to marry her. Some weeks afterwards, his Grace one night be,ng left alone with her, while her mother and sister were at Bedford House, he found himself so impetuous that he sent for a parson. The doctor refused to perform the ceremony without licence or ring. The Duke swore he would send for the archbishop. At last they were married with a ring of the bed-curtain,;, at half-an-hour after twelve at night, at Mayfair Chapel. The Scotch are enraged, the women mad that so much beauty has had its effect; and what is most silly, my Lord Coventry declares that he will marry the other."-Letters, ii. 279. Lord Coventry did marry her; and a few years later, we have Walpole insinuating to George Montague, on the authority of Gilly Williams, such scandal about her as is implied in the following passage of his letter:-" The plump Countess, Lady Guildford, is in terrors lest Lord Coventry should get a divorce from his wife, and Lord Bolingbroke "-nephew and successor of the Bolingbroke-" should marry her. "-Lellrs, iii. 43.
Walpole to Conway (28th January 1759):-" You and M. de Bareil may give yourselves what airs you please of settling cartels with expedition. You do not exchange prisoners with half so much alacrity as jack Campbell and the Duchess of 1-Iarnilton have exchanged hearts. . . . It is the prettiest match in the world since yours, and everybody likes it but the Duke of Bridgewater and Lord Coventry. "-Lettet,~, iii. 203. Lord Ellesmere remarks, when quoting this passage:-" We do not profess to know why Lord Coventry should have objected to his sister-in-law's second marriage." It may also perhaps be asked, why should the Duke of Bridgewater have " objected " if it was he himself who broke off the match? Indeed, Lord Stanhope, in his History of .England (edition of 1851 ii. 6, note), contends that while Lord Ellesmere 99 relies on a family tradition that the Duke was not rejected, and himself broke off the match, this tradition is directly opposed to the con. temporary evidence; a hint by Horace Walpole which Lord Ellesmere has cited, and a statement by Lord Chesterfield which he has overlooked." The " hint of Horace Walpole" has just been quoted; here is the statement of Lord Chesterfield (Letters, iv. 309), writing to his son on the 2dof February 1759 :-" Duchess Hamilton is to be married to-morrow to Colonel Campbell, the son of General Campbell, who will some day or other be Duke of Argyll, and have the estate. She refused the Duke of Bridgewater for him." Lord Ellesmere and the family tradition, however, are more trustworthy than the contemporary gossip which Lord Stanhope dignifies with the designation of " evidence".
Walpole to Mann (4th March 1759) :-" Colonel Campbell and the Duchess of Hamilton are married. My sister, who was at the opera last Wednesday, and went from thence to a great ball at the Duke of Bridgewater's, where she stayed till tlirce in the morning, was brought to bed in less than four hours afterwards," &c. -Letters, iii. 215.
1 p. 203.
1 p. 105
1 Tour through the North of England (London, 1770), iv. 580.
1 Smiles, P. 311.
1 Smiles, P. 374.
1 "There is now to be seen at Worsley, in the hands of a private person, a promissory note given by the Duke, bearing interest, for as low a sum as five pounds. "-Smiles, P. 396.
2 " On one of these occasions he was joined by a horseman, and, after some conversation, the meeting ended with an exchange of their respective horses. On alighting afterwards at a lonely inn, which he had not before frequented, Gilbert was surprised to be greeted with evident and mysterious marks of recognition by the landlord, and still more so when the latter expressed a hope that his journey had been successful, and that his saddle-bags were well filled. He was unable to account for the apparent acquaintance of a total stranger with the business and object of his expedition. The mystery was solved by the discovery that he had exchanged horses with a highwayman who had infested the paved lanes of Cheshire till his horse had become so well known, that its owner had found it convenient to take the first opportunity of procuring one less notorious. "-Lord Ellesmere; Essays, p. 236.
Smiles, P. 405.
1 Smiles, P. 465.
Essays, p. 24.0. Sniiles, p. 4o5.
1 E'ssttvs, 1). 239.
1 Smiles, P, 416
1 Essays, P. 232