Page images

covered with tarpaulines, borrowed from Messrs. Mason, Humphery, Barnes, &c., would have given shelter to 500 persons dancing at one time. Mr. Lushington of ParkHouse had also obliged the committee with the loan of his rick cloth, which would have afforded temporary shelter to two or three hundred more. Fortunately, however, these preparations for bad weather might have been dispensed with, as not a drop of rain fell during the whole time of the festival. The principal amusements enjoyed, were those of dancing, cricket, trap-ball, electrical experiments, bias-ball, jetsd'eau, drop-handkerchief, telescopes, kaleidoscopes, experiments with a working model of a high pressure steam-engine, and a working model of a steam-boat, two gas balloons, a camera obscura, a small panorama, microscopes, and other optical and philosophical instruments, leaping (standing and runộing), promenading round the delightful fish-pond and shrubberies, and other recreations. The number of persons who attended amounted to at least two thousand, a greater number than had attended on any former occasion. Amongst those present, we observed Colonel Middleton and Lady, Lady Riddell, J. Whatman, Jun. Esq., E. Lushington, Esq.,

Lushington, Esq., Rev. George Harris of Glasgow, R. Cooper, Esq., C. Ellis, Esq. (President of the Institution), Rev. W. Stevens, &c. &c.

66 The excellent brass band of the cavalry depôt, the use of which had been kindly granted by Colonel Middleton, played at intervals during the day, some highly popular selections, which contributed much to the hilarity of the scene.

“ A clever quadrille band had been provided for the dancers, under the direction of Mr. Webb and Mr. C. Dear, which was kept in active requisition from about half-past two o'clock till eight. The dancing seemed, indeed, the grand object of attraction, country dances being the prevailing recreation, varied occasionally by a set of quadrilles. The covered portion of the ground, provided spaces, separated by stakes and ropes, for four sets of country dances, and was completely filled; each of the four sets comprised at least 50 couples; and a set, of at least equal number, was also formed in the open air. These 500 dancers, and the four or five hundred spectators who had congregated around them, formed a group of a most interesting character; and, taking into consideration the general respectability of appearance of the young men, the beauty and joyousness of the genteelly-dressed women, the perfect decorum which prevailed, the general goodhumoured determination to please and be pleased evinced by all, the picturesque character of the scenery around, the sunny fineness of the sky above, and the elastic freshness of the turf beneath, the whole exhibited as innocent and enlivening a scene as could gladden the heart of man. Notwithstanding the general uncertainty of our climate, the avidity with which this delightful recreation has been sought after at the festivals of the Mechanics’ Institution, convinces us, that it must always form a prominent feature in all out-door and temperate amusements of the British people, as it has long done already in many parts of the Continental states. Its greatest recommendation is that of admitting both sexes to a participation in its enjoyments; and when practised under the public eye, and properly regulated, it would seem to be as little objectionable in its tendencies as the enjoyment of a public promenade. It has been a favourite amusement in every quarter of the earth, with all nations, and from the earliest ages. There seems to be no good reason why that self-command and polish, which its frequent public exercise undoubtedly cultivates, should be denied to the English, whose gaucherie in such matters is matter of ridicule amongst less powerful, but, in this respect, certainly more civilised nations.

“ The noble and truly English game of cricket was not lost sight of. The level portion of the ground was occupied by two sets of adults, and sets of juveniles, ad infinitum, presenting a picture of activity, and skill, and love of the game, highly gratifying to the admirers of this manly sport.

Το avenge themselves on the devotees of this exclusive game, the female part of the company, who formed certainly a majority of the party, established exclusive games also, such as strikebias, drop-handkerchief, &c. &c. The sets of cricket gradually, however, melted down, and became amalgamated with the dancers and the votaries of drop-handkerchief, one immense ring of which latter sport comprised probably from 150 to 200 persons.

“ The electrical experiments, under the management of Messrs. J. Laker, Jun., W. Edmett, and J. Stanger, were, after the dancing, probably the most attractive amusement of the day. A cannon was several times discharged by the electric fluid. Slight shocks were repeatedly sent through parties of from 30 to 40 persons, when they joined hands, and were isolated from the ground by standing on a circle of dry forms, the experiment never failing to excite much “ fun” amongst those who were the subject of it, and no less merriment amongst the very large circle of spectators who constantly surrounded them. Mr. Laker had intended to repeat some of the experiments with his electric kite which were exhibited at the first festival; but in consequence of recent showers and moist weather, the derangement of the electric equilibrium between the earth and the atmosphere was too slight to be available.

“Mr. Bow exhibited some very beautiful modifications of the jet-d'eau, which excited much amusement. The wind, however, was too high to admit of the display of some of the most interesting

“ Messrs. Vaughan and Higgins presided over a table of philosophical instruments, on which the model of a steamengine (lent by Mr. Deall), and some experiments with a magnetic swan, excited much attention. A row of kaleidoscopes and telescopes were suspended between stakes driven into the ground in a row, so as to be used by persons of any height, without fear of their being injured by being knocked against each other or being permitted to fall to the ground. These offered entertainment to a constant succession of visitors throughout the day. Mr. Bartlett, Jun. also exhibited, in the fish-pond a model of a steam - boat with working paddles. The gas-balloons, one of which was of considerable size, and bore an artificial car and aëronauts, which Mr. Steinmitz had kindly permitted to be inflated at the oil-mills, ascended very successfully, and took a northerly direction till out of sight. They were provided by Mr. Stonestreet, the clever pyrotechnist.

6. The refreshments consisted of tea, coffee, plum-cake, tea-cakes, &c. for those holders of shilling tickets, who took their tickets in time to allow for preparation; and a large plum-cake, half a pint of milk, and an unlimited supply of water, for each of the juveniles who were admitted at sixpence. The booth accommodated four tea-parties in succession, and as the twenty waitresses were all numbered, and each had to attend to a numbered apartment of the booth, everything was managed (under the superintendence of Messrs. Dye and Dawson) with as little confusion as was possible under the circumstances. Stalls, under the control of the committee, were in the field for the sale of fruit, pastry, ginger-beer, soda-water, &c. but the most remarkable feature of this entertainment of 2,000 people, was, that not a drop of any exciseable liquor was admitted into the field.

“ It is impossible to convey an idea, to those who were not present, of the general good humour, hilarity, and good conduct which prevailed throughout. Not an indecorous expression was heard during the whole festival; and the general urbanity and respectful demeanour exhibited towards each other, by persons of both sexes in the working classes, evinced a capacity for cultivating the courtesies of refined intercourse, which could not fail to gratify, and which would have fully convinced of their error, those persons who contend that an English mechanic is a gross, brutal animal, with capacity for no other enjoyments than those of boxing, eating beef, drinking porter, and demolishing every refinement of art.

In the grounds of Mr. Hepburn, no trace of the slightest injury is discoverable, beyond the wear of turf consequent on the movement of such a multitude, which, instead of beinz actuated by a love of mischief, evinced every possible desire to prevent unnecessary damage.

“At eight o'clock the grounds were cleared. The large crowd of visitors assembled, with the brass band, in front of the mansion; the band played several Scotch airs, in compliment to its liberal owner, and concluded with “ God save the Queen!" Three times three hearty cheers were then given by the assembled multitude for Mr. Hepburn, who bowed his acknowledgments from his hall-door; and the visitors departed for their homes, in the same quiet and orderly manner which had marked their deportment throughout. Everybody appeared to have been well pleased, and to have passed a cheerful holiday, of a character to bear after - reflection. So ended the third successful experiment for providing temperate and rational recreation for the people, without the morbid excitements of brutal sports, or the maddening use of intoxicating liquors."

THE CHESHIRE PRESBYTERIAN ASSOCIATION.—The Eleventh Half-yearly Meeting of this Society was held in the Presbyterian Chapel, Hyde, on Wednesday, September 1, 1841. The religious services were introduced by the Rev. C. Wallace of Altringham; and an able and argumentative discourse on the uses and proper conduct of controversy, preached by the Rev. R. Aspland of Hackney, near London. The business of the Association was then transacted, in the course of which, the Rev. W. Smith of Stockport called the attention of the meeting to the present state and custody of non-parochial registers of deaths and births. These, by a late act of the legislature, have been constituted legal documents, and are admissible as evidences for all purposes, as if they were parochial records. They have been deposited in the custody of the registrar-general, who has a discretionary power in the appointment of regulations respecting searches and extracts; against one of these, which requires a personal application at the office in London, Mr. Smith earnestly protested, and a memorial to the registrar-general, requesting its removal, and the admission of written, as well as personal applications, was agreed to by the Association, and the committee instructed to give the matter its immediate attention, and endeavour to procure the co-operation of other denominations in obtaining the recall of the obnoxious regulation. A petition for the repeal of the Corn-laws, from the members of the Association, was afterwards agreed to; and a statement from Mr. Aspland, as deputy from the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, recommending the interests of that society to the attention of the friends of civil and religious liberty, listened to with much interest and enthusiasm. The meeting then adjourned to the large and commodious schoolroom of Thomas Ashton, Esq., Flowery-Field, where a substantial repast was provided for the ministers and friends. About 80 persons were present at the dinner; Samuel Ashton of Pole Bank, Esq. in the chair. The number present was, in the course of the evening, pleasingly increased by the presence of the ladies of the neighbouring congregations, and other friends. Addresses, on various subjects of general and individual interest, were delivered by the ministers and others. The Rev. R. Aspland vindicated the claims of English Presbyterianism to the respectful consideration and gratitude of the friends of British liberty and the English constitution. The Rev. J. R. Beard, D.D., in proposing the health of the magistrates of the division, five of whom honoured the meeting by their presence, made some interesting remarks on prison discipline, especially as regards juvenile offenders, which he thought imperatively called for improvement. The Rev. W. Smith spoke at some length on the important sentiment, “ The speedy downfall of all monopolies, civil, commercial, and religious.” Addresses, on the subjects of denominational interest, were delivered by the Revds. C. Wallace, R. B. Aspland, James Brooks of Hyde, M. Maurice of Chester, and R. Smethurst of Monton, and by D. Cheetham, D. Harrison, H. Coppock, T. Ashton, and Samuel Ashton, Esqrs. The meeting separated at 9 o'clock, highly gratified with the proceedings of the day, and strengthened in their resolution to maintain, with unflinching integrity, the great principles of civil liberty and religious freedom, which have ever characterised the denomination of English Presbyterians.

Social TEA-MEETING AT PLYMOUTH-FAREWELL TO THE REV. JAMES FORREST.-On Tuesday, August 31, a Social Meeting was held at the Royal Hotel, Plymouth, to take leave of the Rev. James Forrest, previous to his return to Scotland. At six o'clock, the spacious ball- room was thrown open, where the friends assembled to the number of 150 (many of whom were from Devonport), and there enjoyed friendly intercourse till seven o'clock, when they retired to another room, in which tea was prepared. After tea, John Norman, Esq. was unanimously requested to preside. The chairman stated his regret at the approaching departure of Mr. Forrest; and concluded his address by calling on the Rev. W. J. Odgers, who, after expressing his deep sorrow at losing from this neighbourhood such a valued friend and

« PreviousContinue »