button to main menu  Clarke's Survey of the Lakes, 1787

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Page 35:-
old, and had swam two miles before I set forward. Such was its swiftness and perseverance, that, had it not been partly through compassion to the owner, and partly through fear of the ridicule of the spectators, I had certainly given up the chace.
The chapel of Martindale is a perpetual curacy, under the vicarage of Barton; the donation of it is alternate, between J[ ] Richardson, Esq; of Penrith, and the Vicar of Barton: the former, (who is likewise proprietor of the tythes,) presenting to it twice, and the latter once: the ancient endowment was only 2l. 15s. 4d. per annum, a small house, and about four acres of land. Strange as it may seem, a Mr Richard Birker, who served this curacy sixty-seven years, amassed a considerable sum of money upon it, though, at his first coming, two shirts, and one suit of cloathes were his whole property. His penury and avarice were the sole causes of his wealth; for being the only man except one in the parish who could write, he transacted most of the law affairs of his parishioners, and was by them, on that account, nicknamed Sir Richard, or the Lawyer. Whenever he lent money, he deducted at the time of lending, two shillings in the pound for interest, and the term of the loan never exceeded a year: he charged for writing a receipt two-pence, and for a promissary note four-pence; and used such other acts of extortion as one would scarce believe to have been practised in so contracted a sphere. He likewise taught a school, and served as parish-clerk; and in both these offices he likewise shewed his wonderful turn for economy and gain; for his quarter-dues from his scholars being small, he had from the parents of each scholar a fortnight's board and lodging; and the Easter days, being usually paid in eggs, he, at the time of collecting, carried with him a board, in which was an hole which served him as a gage, and he positively refuse to accept any which would pass through. He married a woman of the name of Brown, with whom he got a fortune of L.60, and to whom, at his decease, he left the sum of L/1200; after which she was married to Theodorus Sisson, Esquire.
Upon the death of Mr Birker no one would undertake the cure, on account of the smallness of the stipend: those therefore of the parishioners who could read, performed the service by turns. We need not doubt that this occasioned some humorous blunders; one in particular was this: An honest farmer, whose yokefellow was not, it seems, the most pacific of her sex, was to hold forth one Sunday; after rummaging the book a long time to no purpose for the concluding clause, he called to one of his neighbours, whose wife was lately dead, to assist him, declaring, at the same time, that he was afraid he should never find the peace of God as long as he lived.
Things remained in this situation for some time; at length a little decrepid man, called Brownrigg, to whom Mr Birket (sic) had taught a little Latin and Greek, was by the parishioners appointed perpetual reader: for this they allowed him, (with the consent of the Donee,) the church perquisites, then worth about L.12 per annum. Brownrigg being a man of good character, and there being no clergyman within several miles to baptize their children, or bury their dead, the parishioners petitioned the Bishop to grant him deacon's orders; this was accordingly done, and he served the cure forty-eight years.
  Ullswater area

As we have now seen most of the beauties of the Lake, I cannot help giving some account of the present manners of the rustic inhabitants of this and the neighbouring mountainous environs. The reader will, however, forgive a pretty long quotation, which I must borrow from an old anthor; his name I could not find, as the title-page of the book was torn out, but I think it was Feltham: his description hath a great deal of truth, and an equal share of humour, but seems rather calculated to raise a laugh, than to convey an adequate idea of the people. These are his own words:
"A plain country fellow is one that manures his ground well, but lets himself lye fallow and untilled. He has reason enough to do his bushiness, and not enough to be idle and melancholy. He seems to have the punishment of Nebuchadnezzar, for his
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