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Mystic realm of magic story,
Never-changing clime and stream,
Home of fable and of dream !
From thy temples marched the ages
of our earth's unwritten prime ;-
Are the mouldering gates of time.
Of dead kingdoms thou hast lain;
Thou shalt rise to youth again.
Once the Son of God in thee
Underneath thy sheltering tree.
This great debt shall be repaid.
Israel's God shall lift thy head.
Words of glorious light and rest;
And thou shalt,—thou shalt be blest.
Sir Titus Salt of Saltaire.
some seventy years ago, the answer would have
Manor House, Morley, near Leeds. The name sounds fine, and imagination might easily run beyond the fact in respect to it, for if it had ever been the House of the Manor, it certainly was not so in the times of which we tell. It had two or three meadows attached to it, but nothing more, and the house itself looked in those days but little better than a good-sized cottage. But here dwelt Daniel Salt, "white cloth merchant and dry-salter," and here Titus was born, the first of a large family, and here he lived till he was ten or twelve years old.
He was a bright little fellow, full of fun, but shy of strangers, who could not get a word out of him. Every day he trudged off to school, at Batley, with a group of boys like himself, six miles there and back Daniel Salt was a wise father, and he taught his son much of practical mechanics. But the best of all the instruction he received was from his mother, for it was religious instruction, and from her he learned to reverence the Scriptures, to keep the Sabbath, and to honour God's house and His ministers, and the lessons were never left unpractised to the end of his days. From his mother his youthful lips were taught to pray, to read the Bible both morning and evening, and to make it “ the man of his counsel, and the guide of his life.” To the last he kept the little pocket Bible, well worn and thumbed, which his mother gave to her little son, with this inscription :
TO TITUS SALT.
“May this blest volume ever lie,
Close to thy heart and near thine eye ;
When Titus Salt became a man, and had children of his own, he presented them each in turn with such a pocket Bible, in which he wrote, with his own hand, those lines.
A few years passed away, and the father and mother of Titus Salt removed, with their family, near to Wakefield, where he went to school for several years more, and where his old master says that, though never a bright pupil, he was very steady and attentive, especially in any particular study into which he had put his heart, drawing being, however, his chief delight. He was a fine, prime boy, stout and tall, with a fine quick eye.
Such was Titus Salt at fifteen years of age; and we may picture him as he jogs along the Doncaster Road on his way to school, on his donkey, with his sister behind on her pillion. At seventeen the question arose, what is he to be ? Titus himself wished to be a doctor, but his father hesitated. An accident decided the question so far as concerned what he was not to be. One day, as he was cutting a piece of wood with a sharp knife, it slipped, and cutting deeply into his hand, caused blood to flow profusely, the sight of which made him faint. His father, coming in at the time, said to him, “ Titus, my lad, thou wilt never be a doctor !” And Titus agreed. But what should he be? Wakefield was the region for the wool trade. There was a celebrated wool market, and though power-loom machinery had not been introduced, there was a considerable business of wool-stapling, and to this trade Titus was put.
Two years more passed away, and, when he was about nineteen, his parents removed to Bradford, largely for the purpose of improving their own business and making an opening for their son. How little did either of them dream of the great future that was before the lad in connection with that town, and that before many years had passed away everybody there would know who Titus Salt was, and that when a few more years had passed almost everybody, everywhere, would know more or less of him !
Bradford was at that time beginning to rise to the importance it has since attained in connection with worsted manufacture. While other towns adhered to the antiquated system of home-spinning, Bradford began to erect mills for machine-working. Young Titus Salt was to be one of the powers, and indeed the chief one, in developing the worsted manufacture. Daniel Salt commenced, in a small warehouse, the business of wool-stapling, with the intention ultimately of associating his son with him in the business; meanwhile he was sent to a firm in the town to perfect himself in the knowledge of the trade. Beginning at the lowest department, he worked his way through the successive branches, and became master of all. Look at him at the sorting board ! He is a tall young man, with
brat" onsuch as Dickens afterwards called “a man in a pinafore
and which was worn to keep the clothes clean. The young man picks out the clean wool, and arranges it according to length and fineness and softness of fibre. Eye and hand alike had to be educated to this delicate process, and, in the case of Titus Salt, it was done to perfection. Next he might be seen washing the wool with alkali or soap, and then combing it, a process then done by hand, but since performed more efficiently by machine. Then came the spining, effected by passing the combed wool between a series of rollers, which produce “rovings,” from which the yarn is produced by spinning, which is then ready to be woven into the fabric. Two years spent in this kind of preparation, and Titus Salt joined his father in the wool-stapling trade, henceforth carried on under the name of “ Daniel Salt and Son.” He threw his whole soul into it, and he was ready for anything. To him was entrusted the duty of attending the wool sales in London and Liverpool, and it was while pursuing this branch of his business that he met with the wool, the working up of which, as done under his direction, made not only his own fortune, but it may
almost be said to have made the fortune of the town of Bradford. Young Salt had before made a large purchase of what was called Donskoi wool, which comes from the banks of the Don, but which he could find nobody to buy. Certain that it could be worked up into good material for wear, he determined to try it himself. Here his knowledge of the minute branches of the manufacture served him in good stead; he produced a fabric which surprised the most sceptical. Henceforth Titus Salt was ready to achieve yet greater things.
But let us pause for a moment to inquire what young Salt was doing besides buying and working up wool. How about his religion? It was not ished out of his life. He was a regular attendant, with his parents, at Horton Lane Chapel, and his services were engaged for the Sunday School, in which he served successively as teacher, librarian, and superintendent. He did not, however, make a decided
profession of discipleship to Christ, as a Church member, and here, no doubt, he failed. Once a week, however, his mind was taken from his worldly pursuits, and he gave himself, doubtless with conscientious devotion, to good works. During one of his journeys, too, he fell in love, and in due time married the object of his affections, and set up housekeeping for himself.
But now came the great era of his business life. in Liverpool, looking for wools, when, in passing through one of the dock warehouses, his eye fell upon a huge pile of dirty-looking bales of alpaca, with here and there a rent in them disclosing the contents. The wool of the alpaca, which has its home upon the highest mountains of Peru and Chili, had never been worked up into a British fabric; but several hundred bales of it had been consigned to a dealer in Liverpool, with the hope that some English manufacturer might be inclined to buy it. There it had lain long unnoticed, and had become a nuisance. When Titus Salt's eye caught it, he pulled out a handful from one of the bales and examined it, as a wool-stapler would; but he said nothing, and quietly went his way. At another visit to Liverpool, he took the opportunity of carrying away a small quantity of the alpaca wool in his handkerchief. An idea had struck him. He shut himself up quietly in a room, and made his experiment. The result was a surprise to himself. He saw before him a long glossy wool, which he thought to be admirably adapted for those light fancy fabrics in the Bradford trade, which were then in great demand. And so it proved, for, as the result, employment was created for thousands of workpeople, who were attracted from all parts of the land by the high remuneration offered. Mills arose, warehouses were erected, rows of dwellings sprang up for the workers, villas for the masters, and, in some cases, mansions. Thousands of Germans came over to learn the Bradford trade, and indeed, “ The indirect results of Mr. Titus Salt's achievements are so interwoven with the growth of Bradford in population, in building, in trade and com