« PredošláPokračovať »
sons and house-builders to nearly the whole of Switzerland and the neighbouring provinces of France. They leave early in spring, and live very sparingly during the summer; cooking for themselves a kind of pudding or soup of four and Indian corn, which, with bread, and now and then a glass of wine, suffice for their nourishment. They return home in autumn, where they have little to do during winter ; excepting to fell wood, &c. in the forests, and other chance work. The children leave the country at the same time in thousands, to herd cattle in Suabia and Bavaria : they get perhaps one pound, besides board and lodgings, for their services, a suit of home-spun linen clothes, and two pair of shoes, and perhaps a bag of flour, which they manage to cook for themselves on the way, and return with nearly the whole of their earnings. The women who remain, and the elder men, cultivate the land, and the girls and many of the young men weave, and are employed in the manufactures."
Here are other points of contrast:
“ It may be safely assumed that a town weaver nets on the average thirty sous per day, and the country weaver twenty-five for fourteen hours' work. They appear to me to work as hard as the Scottish weavers, though scarcely in the same manner; the latter will work desperately for three or four hours, in order that he may loiter and stand at his door an hour; the Tarare weaver, (and the remark holds good elsewhere in France) keeps continually shuffling along, if I may so express it, and completes as much in fourteen hours' sluggish work, as the Scottish weaver by broken portions of quicker work extended over the same period.”
On the subject of diet, we find that the consumption of that which is vegetable bears, through the countries examined by Mr. Symons, a vast superiority of amount over the use and command of butcher's meat. On the Continent the food of the working classes may be said to be entirely of the former description, meat being only the relish taken with food. The Italian eats maccaroni, the French and Germans bread and cabbage ; and potatoes are rapidly spreading, being now by no means confined to Ireland or the United Kingdom. In Prussia, we believe, this vegetable is held in the very highest estimation ; and it is there manufactured and cooked in a much greater variety of ways than we are acquainted with at home. Indeed vegetable diet of one kind or another is the food of the English workman also, our author characterising beef-eating, as identified with John Bull, as little better than a beautiful fiction. Two-thirds of the population of this country, he says, live on vegetable diet. We quote some of his details of the mode of living and the diet of the labourers in Belgium.
“ The workmen employed in the iron-works of the Hainault, Liege, and the machine-making factories both of Seraing, Bruxelles, Ghent, &c. live on potatoes and vegetables, with a piece of meat among them, for dinner regularly; coffee of chicory; and on the Sundays, spirits in morate quantity. These are the best paid. The workmen who come under the second class are the masons, blacksmiths, carpenters. &c. of the towns, the woollen factory and domestic weavers, who live nearly in the same manner, but consume either a less portion of meat, or take it only three or four times a week. The cotton weavers and factory workmen live less well. Potatoes and vegetable soup form their chief food, with bread half rye and half wheat; coffee, and occassionally a glass of spirits, and commonly brown beer, are their beverage. This beer is particularly nasty; but, I believe, wholly free from coculus indicus, &c. &c.-pure malt, hops, water, and salt, ill proportioned, and execrably boiled. The linen weavers and the common labourers are identified, and consume potatoes and rye bread, which is a common article of consumption in Belgium, and indeed generally on the Continent among the poorest classes, vegetable soup, rarely flavoured with meat, coffee of chicory, beer, &c. However coarse the food may be on which the Belgian artisan subsists, the abundance of their meals is most striking. I was constantly in the habit of entering their dwellings at meal times, and I uniformly found the contents of the table even greater than the capacity of their appetites. Agricultural labourers are well fed : they have bread and coffee in the morning, vegetable soup for dinner, with meat three times a week, with beer. The poorest of all eat rye bread and potatoes with coffee. With regard to the prices of food, an ablebodied man will support himself comfortably on sevenpence per day in Belgium, in the country. Bread, such as labourers eat, is about a penny farthing per pound in the country; other food in proportion."
A tabular view of the wages at home and abroad gives us a favourable idea of England. Mr. Symons says, that as a general proportion, but subject to large variations, a shilling in Switzerland will go as far as a shilling and three-pence here ; that in France, Belgium, and Rhenish provinces, as far as a shilling and fourpence ; in Wurtemberg, parts of Austria, some of the Duchies, and Bohemia, as far as a shilling and eight-pence or ten-pence ; always comparing towns with towns, country with country, agricultural with agricultural districts, and manufacturing with manufacturing. As to the first class of mechanics, they are three-shillings weekly more favourably situated in England than in France and Belgium ; that is, after allowing one-third for greater cost of food in this country. The second class of mechanics at home, have the advantage of two shillings per week ; farm labourers a shilling and four-pence; and spinning-factory labourers, men, women, and children, two shillings and two-pence per week.
Such are some of the valuable and striking details contained in the present volume. The light which its author has thrown upon the state, progress, and prospects of manufactures throughout Europe, is not more important than clear and admonitory. His work is a model of patience, candour, and fullness in statistical research.
ART. XIV. 1. The Gentleman of the Old School; a Tale. By G. P. R. JAMES,
Esq. Author of the “ Huguenot,” &c. 3 Vols. Lundon : Longman. 2 Fair Rosamond; or, the Days of King Henry II.: a Historical
Romance. By T.. MILLER, Author of “Royston Gower," &c.
3 Vols. London: Colburn. 1839. MR. JAMES is one of the most prolific authors of the age. His novels are concocted and published with the rapidity and regularity of a Scott. He turns himself to the historical, the romantic, and the purely fictitious with the utmost ease. We think indeed that his habits of authorship and facility, with the pen arising from constant usage, have in the present and some of his latter productions been indulged at the expense of weight, depth, and novelty. Still there are always sterling passages, clothing original conceptions of character, interweaving with inexhaustible profusion happily contrived incidents, or volunteering shrewd and striking observations, in Mr. James's fictions.
Some of the characters in the work before us are rather generalities than individuals ; some of the actors too are introduced, left off, or dismissed without any sufficient reason, and at the mere arbitrary will of the novelist. We suspect that Lady Mallory combines incompatible feelings and principles. Her efforts to thwart the interests and happiness of the lovers, Edith Forrest and Ralph Strafford, are too tortuous and malignant to exist along with her asserted goodness and loftiness of principle and sentiment. The heroine, however, is a sweet and natural creation, and the “ Gentleman of the Old School” carries us back to a by.gone age, although he be not the hero of the story, nor the most interesting or permanent figure in it. There is a sufficient variety of other personages, good, bad, whimsical and entertaining brought upon the
But it is not compatible with our plan to say anything more particular about the share which each has in the furtherance of the plot which is entangled and impressive enough to keep anxiety and curiosity upon the stretch, and dramatically enough in its issue to please the majority of novel readers. We could have dispensed indeed with some clap-trap incidents, though unfortunately some of them be too true to the manners of the period pictured. Lady Mallory should not have got so easily off, while the opportune discovery of the contents of a small box is a stale invention. But these and other artificial methods of carrying on and developing the events, are in a great measure lost sight of in consequence of the earnestness of the narrative, the apparent good faith and conviction of the author, and his mastery over the resources of language. We quote a life-like sketch,—the portrait of a man that has often been met with :
" There is in all ages and at all times a class of young men, of whom John Forrest was but a type; and perhaps there is not a class so deservedly to be detested upon the face of the earth. He had considerable taleuts of various kinds, and the possession of those talents made him idly fancy that he possessed genius-that most rare of all jewels. The belief that he possessed genius, based upon natural self-conceit, and stimulated into activity by egregious vanity, induced him to have recourse to every means for the purpose of forcing the same opinion of his merits down the throats of other people. As self-conceit, from the impossibility of its being always gratified, is generally a pugnacious quality, he, like many others, soon learned to believe that the strongest proof of genius was to assail the opinions which the good and the wise have received and promulgated; and, with a natural turn for speculation, which he callcd philosophy, considerable powers of sophistry, which he called logic, a supercilious smile and a sarcastic expression of countenance, he bad convinced a great mauy soft persons that he was what he pretended to be-a man of real and sterling genius, who was to be courted, feared, and admired. Thougb he was thus far successful, and had gathered round him in the capital a circle of small idolaters, who adopted his philosophy, spread his fame, and talked him into notoriety, Johu Forrest was nevertheless a disappointed man. The credit he obtained, though far more than he deserved, did not satisfy the greediness of his self-conceit. In the first place, he found that, although ilattered and caressed, he was by no means generally loved or liked ; and he was shrewd enough to perceive, that even amongst women his success and favour was [were] principally, if not altogether, with those who had neither minds, nor principles, nor hearts ; that they gratified his vanity to gratify their own; and that there were very many, who, though they might not be able to combat his argument even if they had tried, viewed him with coldness, reprobation, and contempt. All this spread a bitterness through his mind; and that weakest of small ambitions, the love of saying a smart thing, was mingled with a sneering virulence from the disappointment of egregi. ous vanity."
The “ Basket-maker” bids fair to rival men who have had the advantage of more schooling, and who have enjoyed more favourable opportunities in the way of leisure and pecuniary independence, in the craft of authorship. He has indeed in the course of a brief period made most signal progress, “ Fair Rosamond” being, in the structure of the romance, the cast of its vivid and fresh descriptions of nature, its embodiment of character at a remote period, and the flow and felicity of the diction a decided improvement, even after his “ Royston Gower.” We are convinced that Mr. Miller is not only a ready but a pains-taking writer ; and that he will not fall into the error of being too refined, his excellent taste is to be relied upon, or of becoming finical and affected, his really poetic temperament and steady eye towards the beautiful and the true, ought to stand as vouchers.
Mr. Miller throws himself heart and soul upon the olden times;
and though in a different style, he makes them like Scott his own, taking his readers with him back to the period represented with a willing and cordial sympathy. There is something eminently humanizing in his pictures, touching and graceful. We love the subject not merely on its own account, but for the sake of the artist who paints himself as well as it. The manners of the age here selected for illustration afford scope for the pecaliar display of his favourite fancies and abundant education ; for educated he deeply is, as his Rustic Sketches evidently establish, on all that pertains to the ancient customs of his country, its scenery, and attractions. But what use is there for indulging in generalities, when a specimen can communicate a better idea of his style and matter than pages of criticism ? That we may not be called upon to offer any summary of the story, or embarrass our readers with a fragment that by itself would be unintelligible, we shall confine ourselves to one long extract that can readily be separated and by itself appreciated, viz., where a fighting scene is succeeded by feasting, which at the period described oft followed one another in quick succession :
“Numerous are the instances on record of those who were opposed hand to hand in the morning, sitting down by the same festal board at night. Nor did King Henry ever push his revenge to the extent of his power on those who had so stoutly held out their castles against him; but having once conquered them, he endeavoured, by courtesy and fair promises, to retain them as friends. It was his policy also to extend the greatest favours to those who had shewn the most resistance in defending their possessions, rightly judging that such brave warriors were dangerous enemies, and, in that restless age, the friends to be most valued. Acting upon this politic principle, he had prepared a large feast at the palace at Woodstock, and invited the chief knights among the prisoners, to share it, together with the different nobles who were leaders of his armed forces, taking care, however, that the numbers of the latter should at least double those of the conqured. Great preparations were of course made for the occasion; the Thames was dragged with nets to furnish its share to the feast; steers and sheep were slaughtered ; and many a buck, that had carried his antlers stately enough the day before, fell beneath the shafts of the foresters. The huge hall of the palace was strewn afresh with green rushes; the ponderous oaken tables were removed from almost every other apartment, and brought thither to accommodate the guests. Seats also, each formed of a solid oaken plank, and supported by tressels of the same material, were ranged on each side the tables, and covered with haubergettain, a kind of coarse cloth of mixed colours, for the tables were not so much as smoothed by the plane. The walls of the immense hall were decorated with arms and armour, and sylvan trophies mingled with banners, and lances placed crosswise over hauberks and helin, and many a shield that bore the dint of former frays. On the doors, and by the upper table, which was set apart for the chosen guests, stood a rich canopy, emblazoned with the arms of England, two lions blazing in gold;