Huddersfield Chronicle (08/Sep/1894) - Kite Flying

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.

KITE FLYING.

The faintest tremor falls upon the ear,
Then trembling chords come streaming from the blue,
A dulcet sweetness quickly these embalms.
As the clear flute resounds with note so true.
Then grand sopranos from the clouds abound.
Mellowed by rich contraltos’ blissful tones;
The tenor joins just when the clarion rings
An entrance for the deeper basses’ moans.
Crescendo now, diminuendo then,
The ground tones seem to fill the mighty sky.
Pure harmony pervades the dazzling vault,
As the great chorus thunders far and nigh.
Now melting melody, then bursting joy,
Distinct the softest as the loudest note.
Until mellifluous unison surrounds
The earth, and all have heaven’s beat blessing caught.
Then man entranced, inspired by music’s gifts,
Enrapt, transfixed by boundless ecstasy,
His trembling chords on nascent tune breathes forth.
Until he in a glorious rhapsody
Draws the whole world to him in welling song,
While instruments with voices blend and rise
In gentle, thunderous, living euphony,
And earth gives voice to myriad replies.
The gift has come no more to be withdraws,
The spirit of sweet harmony now flows
From earth to sky, from heaven supernally,
To win, to charm, to heal men of their woes.

Did you ever fly a kite? If not you have missed one of the pleasures of life. Kite-making and kite-flying is an art, and if you but master it you will be an M.A., singular number, masculine or feminine gender. Like many other arts it looks simple, but if you have had no experience in the line try to make a kite and you will discover that you are simple and not the art. Still by perseverance, and much instruction, you will, perhaps, succeed, and then you will be sure to enjoy the healthy pastime. In the first place there must be a stiff breeze and that will be in your favour. Then your geometrically — accurate, properly — balanced, proportionately-tailed, and truly belly-banded kite will take wings and be amongst the clouds directly, swaying hither and thither like a spirit anxious to break its thread and vanish in the blue. As you become more proficient you may give one band until it seems but a speck, with scarcely an appreciable movement, as it floats between an upper and a lower current of air. A passing cloud might envelope it, and you will at once think of the discovery of electricity by Franklin during a thunderstorm. Just when you feel proud of your success, and master of the situation, your band might break and then your skill will have to again be put to the test in making a new kite. Kite-flying is interesting at all times, when there is no other object in the vault visible, when the zenith is flecked with cloudlets, when the mighty, rolling, misty mountain argosies are illumined by the sun, or when the woolpacks coalesce and darken heaven and earth and you can only see your tugging angel intermittently as the lightnings flash around it. What, however, always took my fancy most was to fly one in the night when the scintillating eyes of the broad expanse winked at my delight. To send my kite up among them with a turnip lantern, in which was a lighted candle, attached to its tail, was the acme of achievement. To note it flash to right or left like a meteor or falling star, to see it rival Mars and Jupiter with its steady light, to watch it gambol or bend like Haley’s comet, and then whisk higher and higher like an heavenly visitant, made me feel proud, and did more towards taming my attention to the awe-inspiring study of Astronomy than anything else. There was something mysteriously interesting about it as I sent paper messages, or telegrams, whirling up and up to the sky along the band-line, till they jumped, as it were, into the bosom of the winged one, and when, in imagination, I fancied the kite throbbed its greeting from the stars I felt buoyed with a sensation of hope which the connecting of earth with heaven only can induce. These thoughts are suggested as I make my way to Farnley Tyas. On the hill I come across some boys engaged in kite-flying. One cannot get his to rise; another, with calm assurance, keeps paying out his line as his shapely and properly made kite sways to right and left, or stands still in half a gale of wind over Newsome. The successful one criticises his less skilful companion’s proceedings with emphasis, pointing out the faults of the kite that refused to fly, shouting that its belly-band is not straight, that it is side-heavy, its tail too short, and its backbone too thick. Like a giddy tumbler pigeon it flapps about, turns head over heels, or rather tail over head, and when one thought it had decided to fly and behave itself, it would whirl round like a fireworks wheel, flash to one side, and then drop head first against a wall or stick in the grass. On one occasion it goes dangerously near the cool customer’s line, and the owner of that line and kite says something he was not taught to say at Sunday school. When disaster is averted the clever one sends off a message to cloudland to tell his tugging friend it need not be alarmed. I pass on fully assured that the coolness of this youth will stand him in good stead before he dies of old age.

As I rarely go by road if a footpath presents itself in the direction I am going, I am soon enjoying myself in the fields, with oats to the left and softly tinted fog-grass to the right, while the breeze is so sweet and fresh that I linger in order that I might try to surfeit myself with its purity and exhale from my lungs what may be left in them of the town’s miasma. I never pass this point without paying my respects to the only tree that can be prominently seen from Buxton Road and New Street. It seems to grow on purpose to remind the frequenters of those busy thoroughfares that the country is not far away, and that if they wish to renew their jaded strength it beckons them to its surroundings night or day. There is a horse in the midst of plenty wanting more. It is straining its neck that it might steal oats from the next held. It seldom succeeds in securing a single ear, but still it struggles on, evidently acting on the principle that stolen corn, like stolen waters, is sweet. It seems to get very little of the sweets, but many of the bitters, by rubbing its knees and breast against the wall, shaking its head in anger, and generally behaving as some human beings do when they want that which is not theirs, forgetting in their envious covetousness that they have enough and to spare if they would but let the spirit of contentment bless them. As I pass on I have the greatest possible pleasure in seeing the green oats just being tipped with silver, playing in the stiff breeze, and as I let the ears run through my fingers their fruitful coolness gives me the fullest satisfaction. The contrast between the oats and the bright green turnips is great, the latter piercing the eyes with their exquisite brightness. Just now, in every coppice and wood, may be heard the recurring tweit, tweit, of a small bird, which sounds very much like thee-if, thee-if. I was always told that this little creature’s duty was to warn bird-nesting boys that they were “thee-ives,” “thee-ives.” I never forgot this, and on the present occasion a descendant of its kind of long ago is perched on the topmost leaf of the topmost bough of a young sycamore, persistently giving forth the same uncomfortably plaintive cry as its fathers, and I suppose its mothers, did of yore. I never knew whether this bird’s notes signified pleasure or grief. This one is not more than four or five yards from me, and though I watch it turn and turn as I walk round it, and try to frighten it away, it tantalisingly keeps its perch. Whether it knows that I have not seen one of its kind for many years I know not, but it seems determined that I shall see sufficient of it to make up for the past, and also to prove that as man increases or decreases after his kind, so do the smaller and less noticed creatures propagate their species through the changing vicissitudes of life. I now cross a stream, and though it is but small I never saw it dry, or other than clear and sparkling. It, like myself, is not particular about going the nearest way to anywhere. It is now facing the glorious eye of the dazzling west, and is in a great hurry to empty itself into the Holme, and thus loose its identity with hundreds more in that inky indescribable river, then to run north-east to join its unwashed sister, the Colne, and as the pair have unwholesome embrace they widen at every turn and lay bare their fulsome pollution until they corruptly mix with another, but more repellent, of their sex, when on and down they roll, languidly catching hold of the skirts of the Calder and Aire, all flowing due east until they empty themselves in the purifying sea. I cross Lady House Lane, and am soon in a dear old country lane, from which one of the finest scenes in the district may be looked upon. This lane is at all times worth walking twice over; it is so lovely, and I do not wonder that two lovers, who are all in all to each other, have taken possession of the ideal seat where I, when I find it empty, rest whether I am tired or not. Rather than grieved I am flattered that young love and I have similar tastes for the beautiful, and make such a delightful choice of the spot where they can easily see without being so readily seen. I leave them in possession, but dare not look back for fear of seeing them kiss each other, and am soon at Cold Hill, where a group of children are running wild in the hollow, standing on their heads, and rolling down the valley as innocent and as regardless of appearances as young life is and should be. When Stirley Hill is reached I begin to fancy I am on the top of the world, always giving due credit to dear old Castle Hill on the left, which I shall for a thousand and one times be climbing some of these fine or wet days. I am soon in the midst of a group of children on pleasure bent. Each toddler has an object in view, and with their guardians, who skip along as gaily as the rest, are hastening to a picnic. I am tempted to follow on, but they soon outpace me, so I turn into the fields again, pass a dilapidated laithe, and soon feel inclined to imitate a horse which is scratching its back by rolling over and over in the meadow. There is Mollicar, lovely, charming Mollicar, in the happy valley on my left, and I have some difficulty in tearing myself away from it. I, however, succeed, pass on to the road, inhale the ever welcome breath of hay, and am soon in the churchyard of Farnley Tyas. I was once successful in getting a peep into this church of the peak, during a funeral, but as I always try to draw a veil over scenes of sorrow as quickly as possible, I did not remain long. Of course it is now bolted, and while I pass round the place several men and women try its doors and are disappointed at being unable to get in. The belfry door is, however, open, so I climb the steeple and toll the bell, without being tolled by the parson to toll it. The boy sexton is my guide, and a sturdy, intelligent little fellow he is. He would have taken me into the church but his father had the key, and as the place had been cleaned and dusted ready for the morrow the sexton was, I suppose, afraid of the farmers dirtying their Sunday clothes if anyone was permitted to enter on the Saturday. The boy seemed to know everything about the place and the people, so I had a most interesting time with him. I was pleased at the respectful manner in which he referred to the old vicar. When he told me that the vicar had lost a son at sea, had another son a sailor, another a soldier, my heart warmed towards the old gentleman. Charity covers a multitude of sins, but patriotism with me blots them all out. I raise my hat to Mr. Wardroper, and feel that the nation is indebted to him for giving his sons as hostages to his Queen and country. Noting the boy’s clear eye and musical voice I ask him if he is a member of the church choir, and am disappointed when he tells me they have no music in that church. What! A church without music! Can it be possible? Without music! God can certainly be worshipped without instrumental music, but with it He can be glorified.

(A musicless Church and the Cock o’ Farnley to follow.)