20000 Free eBooks
Library for Free Download eBooks and Read Online

Your last book:

You dont read books at this site.

Total books at library:
about 20000

You can read online and download ebooks for free!

Ebooks by authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 
Chambers, William / Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 429 Volume 17, New Series, March 20, 1852
Produced by Malcolm Farmer, Richard J. Shiffer and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team.









CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL

CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, EDITORS OF 'CHAMBERS'S
INFORMATION FOR THE PEOPLE,' 'CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE,' &c.


NO. 429. NEW SERIES. SATURDAY, MARCH 20, 1852. PRICE 1-1/2_d._




THINGS IN EXPECTATION.


The passing age is acknowledged to be remarkable in various respects.
Great advances in matters of practical science; a vast development of
individual enterprise, and general prosperity;--at the same time,
strange retardations in things of social concern; a singular want of
earnestness in carrying out objects of undeniable utility. Much
grandeur, but also much meanness of conception; much wealth, but also
much poverty. A struggle between greatness and littleness;
intelligence and ignorance; light and darkness. Sometimes we feel as
if going forward, sometimes as if backward. One day, we seem as if
about to start a hundred years in advance; on the next, all is wrong
somewhere, and we feel as if hurriedly retreating to the eighteenth
century!

Upon the whole, however, we are ourselves inclined to look at the
bright side of affairs; and in doing so, we are not without hope of
being able to make some proselytes. Let us just see what are the
prospects of the next twenty years--a long enough space for a man to
look forward to in anything else than a dream. War, it is true, may
intervene, or some other terrible catastrophe; but we shall not admit
this into our hypothesis, which proceeds on the assumption, that
although people may wrangle here and there, and here and there fly at
each other's throats, still the bulk of civilised mankind will go on
tranquilly enough to present no direct barrier to the advancing tide.
Here is a list of a few trifles in expectation.

A line of communication by railway from England to the principal
cities in India, interrupted only by narrow sea-channels, and these
bridged by steamboats. It will then be possible to travel from London
to Calcutta in a week.

At the same time, there will be railways to other parts of
Asia--Ispahan, Bagdad, Damascus, and Jerusalem. From the
last-mentioned city, a line will probably proceed through the land of
Edom, to Suez and Cairo; thence to Alexandria. This last portion is
already in hand. Think of a railway station in the Valley of
Jehoshaphat! As the course of the Jordan presents few 'engineering
difficulties,' there might be a single line all the way from Nazareth
to the Dead Sea, on which a steamer might take passengers to the
neighbourhood of Petra. At a point near the shore of that mysterious
sheet of water, a late traveller indicates the spot where Lot's wife
was transformed into a pillar of salt. How interesting it would be to
make this a stopping-place for tourists to view the adjacent
scenery--rocky, wild, and scorched, as if fresh from the wondrous work
of devastation!

It cannot be doubted that in a period much short of twenty years,
railways will have penetrated from Berlin northwards to Russia; and
therefore a communication of this kind through the whole of Europe,
even to the shores of the Indian Ocean, will be among the ordinary
things of the day.

As for communication by electric telegraph, where will it not be?
Every town of any importance, from Moscow to Madras, will be connected
by the marvellous wires. These wires will cross seas; they will reach
from London to New York, and from New York to far-western
cities--possibly to California. The sending of messages thousands of
miles, in the twinkling of an eye, will be an everyday affair. 'Send
Dr So-and-so on by the next train,' will be the order despatched by a
family in Calcutta, when requiring medical assistance from London; and
accordingly the doctor will set off in his travels per express, from
the Thames to the banks of the Ganges. Spanning the globe by thought
will then be no longer a figure of speech--it will be a reality.
Science will do it all.

Long before twenty years--most likely in two or three--a journey round
the world by steam may be achieved with comparative ease and at no
great expense. Here is the way we shall go: London to Liverpool by
rail; Liverpool to Chagres by steamer; Chagres to Panama by rail;
Panama to Hong-Kong, touching at St Francisco; Hong-Kong to Sincapore,
whence, if you have a fancy, you can diverge to Borneo, Australia, and
New Zealand; Sincapore to Madras, Bombay, Aden, and Suez--the whole of
the run to this point from Panama being done by steamer; Suez to
Cairo, and Cairo to Alexandria (rail in preparation); lastly, by
steamer from Alexandria to England. It is deeply interesting to watch
the progress of intrusion on the Pacific. Already, within these few
years, its placid surface has been tracked with steam-navigation; of
which almost every day brings us accounts of the extension over that
beautiful ocean. Long secluded, by difficulty of access from Europe,
it is now in the course of being effectually opened up by the railway
across the Isthmus of Panama. And the grandeur of this invasion by
steam is beyond the reach of imagination. Thousands of islands,
clothed in gorgeous yet delicate vegetation, and enjoying the finest
climate, lie scattered like diamonds in a sea on which storms never
rage--each in itself an earthly paradise. When these islands can be
reached at a moderate outlay of time, money, and trouble, may we not
expect to see them visited by the curious, and flourishing as seats of
civilised existence? There is reason to believe, that the equable
climate of many of them would prove suitable for persons affected with
the complaints of northern regions; and therefore they may become the
Sanatoria of Europe. 'Gone to winter-quarters in the Pacific!'--a
pleasant notice this of a health-seeking trip twenty years hence.

It may be reasonably conjectured, that this great and varied extension
of journeying round the earth, and in all climates, will not be
unaided by new discoveries in motive power. At present, we speak of
steam; but there is every probability of new agents being brought into
operation, less bulky and less costly, before twenty years elapse.
Even while we write, men of science are painfully poring over the
subject, and giving indications that in chemistry or electricity
reside powers which may be advantageously pressed into the service of
the traveller. Admitting, however, that steam will be retained as the
prevailing agent of locomotion, we have grounds for anticipating
improvements in its application, which will materially cheapen its
use. As regards safety to life and limb, much will be done by better
arrangements. In steam-voyaging, we may expect that means will be
adopted to avert, or at least assuage, the terrible calamities of
conflagration and shipwreck--better acquaintance with the principles
of spontaneous combustion, and with the natural law of storms, being
of itself a great step towards this important result.

One of the latest wonders in practical science, is a plan for cooling
the air in dwellings in hot climates; by which persons residing in
India, and other oppressively warm countries, may live habitually in
an atmosphere cooled down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or the ordinary
heat of a pleasant day in England. The very ingenious yet simple means
by which this is to be effected, will form the subject of notice in
our next number. Meanwhile, we may observe that the discovery is due
to Mr C. Piazzi Smyth, astronomer-royal for Scotland; and if perfectly
successful in practice, of which there can be no reasonable doubt, it
will have a most important effect in extending European influence over
the globe.

The extension of the English language over the civilised world is a
curiosity of the age. French, German, Italian, and other continental
tongues, seem to have attained their limits as vernaculars. Each is
spoken in its own country, and by a few fashionables and scholars
beyond. But the language which pushes abroad is the English; and it
may be said to be rooting out colonised French and Spanish, and
becoming almost everywhere, beyond continental Europe, the spoken and
written tongue. Long the Spanish enjoyed the supremacy in Central
America; but it has followed the fate of the idle, proud, combative,
and good-for-nothing people who carried it across the Atlantic, and is
disappearing like snow before the sun of a genial spring. The sooner
it is extinct the better. Already the English is the vernacular from
the shores of the Atlantic to the Pacific, wherever civilised
settlements are formed. As large a population now speaks this nervous
language in America as in Great Britain; and this is only an
indication of its progress. By means of a rapidly-increasing
population, the English language will in twenty years be spoken by
upwards of fifty million Americans; and if to these we add all within
the home and colonial dominion, the number speaking it at that period
will not be short of a hundred millions. What an amount of
letter-writing and printing will this produce! And, after all, how
small that amount in comparison with what will be seen a hundred years
hence, when many hundred millions of men are on the earth, English in
speech and feeling, whatever may be their local and political
distinctions! The gratification which one experiences in contemplating
facts of this kind, transcends the power of language. To all
appearance, our English tongue is the expression of civil and
religious freedom--in fact, of common sense; and its spread over the
globe surely indicates the progress of civilised habits and
institutions.

In referring to the qualities which are usually found in connection
with the prevalence of English as a vernacular, we are led to
anticipate prodigious strides in the popularising of literature during
the next twenty years. What, also, may we not expect to see done for
the extension of epistolary correspondence? Intercourse by letter has
advanced only one step of its progress, by the system of inland
penny-postage. Another step remains to be effected: the system of
carrying letters oversea on the same easy terms. That this Ocean
Penny-Postage, as it is termed, will be carried out, at least as
regards the larger British colonies, within a period much under twenty
years, is exceedingly probable. When this grand achievement is
accomplished, there will ensue a stream of intercommunication with
distant lands, of which we can at present form no proper conception,
and which will go far towards binding all parts of the earth in a
general bond of brotherhood.

Such are a few of the things which we may be said to be warranted in
looking for within a reasonably short period of time. Other things,
equally if not more contributive to human melioration, are less
distinctly in expectation. The political prospects of the continental
nations are for the present under a cloud. With all the glitter of
artistic and social refinement that surrounds them, the bulk of them
appear to have emerged but little beyond the middle ages; and one
really begins to inquire, with a kind of pity, whether they have
natural capacities for anything better. The near proximity to England
of populations so backward in all ideas of civil polity, and so
changeful and impulsive in their character, cannot but be detrimental
to our hopes of national advancement among ourselves; so true is it
that peace and happiness are not more matter of internal conviction
than of external circumstances.

Unfortunately, if there be something to lament in the condition of our
neighbours, there is also something to humiliate on turning our
attention homeward. In a variety of things which are required to give
symmetry and safety to the social fabric, there appears to be an
almost systematic and hopeless stoppage.

Nearly the whole of the law and equity administration of England seems
to be a contrivance to put justice beyond reach; and whether any
substantial remedy will be applied during the present generation may
be seriously doubted.

It is universally admitted that, for the sake of the public health,
interment in London and other large cities should be legally
prohibited; and that various other sanitary arrangements in relation
to these populous localities should be enforced. Yet, legislation on
this subject seems to be beyond the grasp of statesmen.

The system of poor-laws throughout the United Kingdom is, with the
best intentions, a cause of widely-spread demoralisation. These laws,
in their operation, are, in fact, a scheme for robbing the industrious
to support the idle. But where is the legislator who will attack and
remodel this preposterous system?

The prevention of crime is another of our formidable social
difficulties. Every one sees how young and petty criminals grow up to
be old and great ones. It is admitted that the punishment of crime,
after disorderly habits are confirmed, is no sufficient check; and
that, if the evil is to be cured, we must go at once to its root. But
when or how is this to be done? Again, there is a call for that
scarcest of all things--statesmanship.

The bitterness of sectarian contention is another of the things which
one feels to be derogatory to an age of general progress. No longer
are men permitted to kill each other in vindication of opinion, but
how mournful to witness persecution by inuendo, vituperation, and
even falsehood. Individuals and classes are seen bombarding each other
in vile, abusive, and certainly most unchristian language, all
ostensibly in the name of a religion which has for a fundamental
principle, an utter repudiation of strife! Whether any amendment is to
be looked for in this department of affairs within the next twenty
years is exceedingly uncertain.

In the roll of disheartening circumstances in our social condition, it
would be unpardonable to omit the enormities of intemperance, which,
though groaned over day after day, remain pretty much what they have
been for years; and it is to be feared, that so long as reformers
confine themselves to attacking mere symptoms, instead of going to the
foundation of the evil--a deficiency of self-respect, growing out of a
want of instruction in things proper to be known, and for which the
education of the country makes no provision--all will be in vain. How
far there will prevail a more enlarged view of this painful subject,
is not discoverable from the present temper of parties.

The legislative conservation of ignorance in the humbler classes of
the community, to which reference has just been made, is surely a blot
on our social economy. It is seemingly easier to girdle the globe with
a wire, than to make sure that every child in Her Majesty's dominions
shall receive the simplest elements of education. Within the sphere of
the mechanic or the chemist, flights beyond the bounds of imagination
may be pursued without restraint, and indeed with commendation; but
anything in social economics, however philanthropic in design and
beneficial in tendency, falls into the category of disputation and
obstruction; and, worst of all, education, on which so much depends,
is, through the debates of contending 'interests,' kept at a point
utterly inadequate for the general enlightenment and wellbeing.

Thus, many matters of moment are either at a stand, or advancing by
feeble and hesitating steps, and the distance to be ultimately reached
remains vague and undefinable. At the same time, it is well to be
assured that improvements, moral and social, are really in progress;
and that, on the whole, society is on the move not in a retrograde
direction. Even with a stone tied to its leg, the world, as we have
said, contrives 'to get on some way or other.'




THE WRECKER.


On a certain part of the coast of Brittany, some years back, a gang of
wreckers existed, who were the terror of all sailors. Ever on the
look-out for the unfortunate vessels, which were continually dashed
upon their inhospitable shores, their delight was in the storm and the
blast; they revelled in the howling of fierce wind, and the
lightning's glare was to them more delightful than the brightest show
of fireworks to the dweller in large towns. Then they came out in
droves, hung about the cliffs and rocks, hid in caverns and holes, and
waited with intense anxiety for the welcome sight of some gallant ship
in distress. So dreadful were the passions lit up in these men by the
love of lucre, that they even resorted to infamous stratagems to lure
vessels on shore. They would light false beacons; and strive in every
way to delude the devoted bark to its destruction.

The village of Montreaux was almost wholly inhabited by men, who made
wrecking their profession. It was a collection of miserable huts,
built principally out of the broken materials of the various vessels
driven on shore; and ostensibly inhabited by fishermen, who, however,
rarely resorted to the deep, except when a long continuance of fine
weather rendered their usual avocation less prosperous than usual.
They consisted in all of about thirty families, wreckers, for the most
part, from father to son, and even from mother to daughter--for women
joined freely in the atrocious trade. Atrocious indeed! for murder
necessarily accompanied pillage, and it rarely happened that many of
the crew and passengers of the unfortunate vessels escaped alive.
Bodies were indeed found along the shore; but even if they exhibited
the marks of blows, the sea and the rocks got the credit of the deed.

The interior of the huts of the hamlet presented a motley appearance.
Their denizens were usually clothed in all kinds of costume--from the
peculiar garments of Englishmen, to the turbans, shawls, and
petticoats of Lascars, Malays, and others. Cases of spirits, chests of
tools, barrels of flour, piles of hams, cheeses, curious arms,
spy-glasses, compasses, &c. were thrust into coffers and corners;
while all the villagers were in the habit of spending money that
certainly was not coined in France. The state of the good people of
Montreaux was one of splendid misery; for, with all their ill-gotten
wealth, their improvidence and carelessness was such, that they often
wanted necessaries--so true is it that ill-got money is never
well-spent money. A month of fine weather would almost reduce them to
starvation, forcing them to sell to disadvantage whatever they still
possessed.

This was not, however, the case with every one of them. A man dwelt
among them, and had done so for many years, who seemed a little wiser
and more careful than the rest of the community. His name was Pierre
Sandeau. He was not a native of the place; but had long been
established among them, and had at once shewn himself a worthy
brother. He was pitiless, selfish, and cold. Less fiery than his
fellows, he had an amount of caution, which made them feel his value;
and a ready wit, which often helped them out of difficulties. His
influence was soon felt, and he became a kind of chief. He was at last
recognised as the head of the village, and the leader in all marauding
expeditions. But the great source of his power was his foresight. He
had always either money or provisions at hand, and was always ready to
help one of his companions--for a consideration. In times of distress,
he bought up all the stock on hand, and even sold on credit. In course
of time, he had become rich, had a better house than the rest, and
could, if he liked, have retired from business. But he seemed chained
to his trade, and never gave any sign of abandoning his disgraceful
occupation.

One day, however, he left Montreaux, and stayed away nearly a
fortnight. When he came back, he was not alone: he was accompanied by
a young and lovely girl--one of those energetic but sweet creatures,
whose influence would be supreme with a good man. Madeleine Sandeau
was eighteen--tall, well-proportioned, and exceedingly handsome; she
was, moreover, educated. Her father had taken her from school, to
bring her to his house, which, though so different from what she was
used to, she presided over at once with ease and nature. Great was the
horror of the young girl when she found out the character of the
people around her. She remonstrated freely with her father as to the
dreadful nature of his life; but the old man was cold and inexorable.
'He had brought her there to preside over his solitary house,' he
said, 'and not to lecture him:' and Madeleine was forced to be silent.

She saw at once the utter futility of any attempt to civilise or
humanise the degraded beings she associated with; and so she took to
the children. With great difficulty, she formed a school, and made it
her daily labour to instil not only words, but ideas and principles,
into the minds of the young, unfledged wreckers. She gained the
goodwill of the elders, by nursing both young and old during their
hours of sickness, as well as by a slight knowledge of medicine, which
she had picked up in a way she never explained, but which always made
her silent and sad when she thought of it.

When a black and gloomy night came round, and the whole village was on
foot, then Madeleine locked herself in her room, knelt down, and
remained in prayer. Now and then she would creep to the window, look
out, and interrogate the gloom. She never came forth to greet her
father on his return from these expeditions. Her heart revolted even
against seeing her parent under such circumstances, and towards
morning she went to bed--rarely, however, to sleep.

On one occasion, after a cold and bitter day, the evening came on
suddenly. Black clouds covered the horizon as with a funeral pall; the
wind began to howl round the hamlet with fearful violence; and
Madeleine shuddered, for she knew what was to be expected that night.
Scarcely had the gale commenced, when Pierre rose, put on a thick
pea-jacket and a sou'-wester, armed himself, and swallowing a glass of
brandy, went out. He was the last to leave the village; all the rest
had preceded him. He found them encamped in a narrow gorge, round a
huge fire, carefully concealed behind some rocks. It was a cold,
windy, wet night; but the wreckers cared not, for the wind blew dead
on shore, and gave rich promise of reward for whatever they might
endure.

A man lay on the look-out at the mouth of the gorge under a tarpaulin.
He had a night-glass in his hand, with which he swept the dark
horizon, for some time in vain. But the wind was too good to fail
them, and the wreckers had patience.

It was really a terrible night. It was pitchy dark: not a star, nor
one glimpse of the pale moon could be distinguished. The wind howled
among the rocks, and cast the spray up with violence against the
cliffs, which, however, in front of the gorge, gave way to a low sandy
beach, forming the usual scene of the wreckers' operations. A current
rushed into this narrow bight, and brought on shore numerous spars,
boxes, and boats--all things welcome to these lawless men.

'A prize!' cried the look-out suddenly. 'A tall Indiaman is not more
than a mile off shore. She is making desperate efforts to clear the
point, but she won't do it. She is ours, lads!'

'Give me the glass!' exclaimed Pierre rising. The other gave him the
telescope. 'Faith, a splendid brig!' said the patriarch with a
sinister smile--'the finest windfall we have had for many a season.
Jean, you must out with the cow, or perhaps it may escape us.'

The cow was an abominable invention which Pierre had taught his
comrades. A cow was tied to a stake, and a huge ship's lantern
fastened to its horns. This the animal tossed about in the hope of
disengaging himself, and in so doing presented the appearance of a
ship riding at anchor--all that could be seen on such nights being the
moving light. By this means had many a ship been lured to destruction,
in the vain hope of finding a safe anchoring-ground. The cow, which
was always ready, was brought out, and the trick resorted to, after
which the wreckers waited patiently for the result.

The Indiaman was evidently coming on shore, and all the efforts of her
gallant crew seemed powerless to save her. Her almost naked masts, and
her dark hull, with a couple of lanterns, could now plainly be
distinguished as she rose and fell on the waters. Suddenly she seemed
to become motionless, though quivering in every fibre, and then a huge
wave washed clean over her decks.

'She has struck on the Mistral Rock,' said Pierre. 'Good! she will be
in pieces in an hour, and every atom will come on shore!'

'They are putting out the boats,' observed Jean.

The wreckers clutched their weapons. If the crew landed in safety,
their hopes were gone. But no crew had for many years landed in safety
on that part of the coast: by some mysterious fatality, they had
always perished.

Presently, three boats were observed pulling for the shore, and coming
towards the sandy beach at the mouth of the gorge. They were evidently
crammed full of people, and pulling all for one point. The boats
approached: they were within fifty yards of the shore, and pulling
still abreast. They had entered the narrow gut of water leading to the
gorge, and were already out of reach of the huge waves, which a minute
before threatened to submerge them. The wreckers extinguished the
lantern on the cow's horn. There was no chance of the boats being able
to put back to sea.

Suddenly a figure pushed through the crowd, and approached the fire
near which Pierre Sandeau stood. It appeared to be one of the
wreckers; but the voice, that almost whispered in the old man's ear,
made him start.

'Father!' said Madeleine, in a low solemn voice, 'what are you about
to do?'

'Fool! what want you here?' replied Pierre, amazed and angry at the
same time.

'I come to prevent murder! Father, think what you are about to do?
Here are fifty fellow-creatures coming in search of life and shelter,
and you will give them death!'

'This is no place for you, Madeleine!' cried the other in a husky
voice. 'Go home, girl, and let me never see you out again at night!'

'Away, Madeleine!--away!' said the crowd angrily.

'I will not away!--I will stay here to see you do your foul deed--to
fix it on my mind, that day and night I may shout in your ears that ye
are murderers! Father,' added she solemnly, 'imbrue your hands in the
blood of one man to-night, and I am no child of yours. I will beg, I
will crawl through the world on my hands, but never more will I eat
the bread of crime!'

'Take her away, Pierre,' said one more ruffianly than the rest, 'or
you may repent it.'

'Go, girl, go,' whispered Pierre faintly, while the wreckers moved in
a body to the shore, where the boats were about to strike.

'Never!' shrieked Madeleine, clinging franticly to her father's
clothes.

'Let me go!' cried Pierre, dragging her with him.

At that moment a terrible event interrupted their struggle. A man
stood upright in the foremost boat, guiding their progress. Just as
they were within two yards of the shore, this man saw the wreckers
coming down in a body.

'As I expected!' he cried in a loud ringing voice. 'Fire!--shoot every
one of the villains!'

A volley of small arms, within pistol-shot of the body of wreckers,
was the unexpected greeting which these men received. A loud and
terrible yell shewed the way in which the discharge had told. One-half
of the pillagers fell on the stony beach, the other half fled.

Among those who remained was Madeleine. She was kneeling by her
father, who had received several shots, and lay on the ground in
agony.

'You were right, girl,' he groaned; 'I see it now, when it is too
late, and I feel I have deserved it.'

'Better,' sobbed Madeleine, 'better be here, than have imbrued your
hands in the blood of one of those miraculously-delivered sailors.'

'Say you so, woman?' said a loud voice near her. 'Then you are not one
of the gang. I knew them of old, as well as their infernal cut-throat
gorge, and pulled straight for it, but quite prepared to give them a
warm reception.'

Madeleine looked up. She saw around her more than fifty men, three
women, and some children. She shuddered again at the thought of the
awful massacre which would have occurred but for the sailor's
prudence.

'My good girl,' continued the man, 'we are cold, wet, and hungry; can
you shew us to some shelter?'

'Yes; but do you bid some of your men carry my father, who, I fear, is
dying.'

'It is no more than he merits,' replied the man; 'but for your sake I
will have him taken care of.'

'It is what I merit,' said Pierre, in a strange and loud tone; 'but
not from your hands, Jacques.'

'Merciful God!' cried the sailor, 'whose voice is that?'

'You will soon know; but do as your sister bids you, and then we can
talk more at ease.'

Madeleine cast herself sobbing into her brother's arms, who, gently
disengaging her, had a litter prepared for his father, and then,
guided by Madeleine, the procession advanced on its way. An armed
party marched at the head, and in a quarter of an hour the village of
Montreaux was reached. It was entirely deserted. There were fires in
the houses, and lamps lit, and even suppers prepared, but not a living
thing. Even the children and old women on hearing the discharge of
musketry, had fled to a cave where they sometimes took shelter when
the coast-guard was sent in search of them.

The delighted sailors and passengers spread themselves through the
village, took possession of the houses, ate the suppers, and slept in
the beds, taking care, however, to place four sentries in
well-concealed positions, for fear of a surprise. Madeleine, her
father, her brother, the ship's surgeon, and a young lady passenger,
came to the house of old Sandeau, who was put to bed, and his wounds
dressed. He said nothing, but went to sleep, or feigned to do so.

Supper was then put upon the table, and the four persons above
mentioned sat down, for a few minutes in silence. Jacques, the captain
of the East-Indiaman, looked moody and thoughtful. He said not a word.
Suddenly, however, he was roused by hearing the young surgeon of the
_Jeune Sophie_ speak.

'Madeleine,' said he, in a gentle but still much agitated tone of
voice, 'how is it I find you here--you whom I left at St Omer?'

'Is this, then, the Madeleine you so often speak of?' cried the
astonished sailor.

'It is. But speak, my dear friend.'

'Edouard, I am here because yonder is my father, and it is my duty to
be where he is.'

'But why is your father here?' continued the other.

'I am here,' said the old man, fiercely turning round, 'because I am
at war with the world. For a trifling error, I was dismissed the
command of this very _Jeune Sophie_ twelve years ago. I vowed revenge,
and you see the kind of revenge I have selected.'

'Dear father,' said Madeleine gently, 'see what an escape you have
had!'

'Besides,' interposed Jacques, 'there was no occasion for revenge. M.
Ponceau, who had adopted me, searched for you far and wide, to give
you another ship. They dismissed you in a moment of anger. They proved
this, by giving me the command of the _Jeune Sophie_ as soon as I
could be trusted with it.'

'What is done is done,' said Pierre, 'and I am a wrecker! I have done
wrong, but I am punished. Jacques, my boy, take away Madeleine; I see
this life is not fit for her. If I recover, I shall remain, and become
the trader of the village'----

'No, father, you must come with us,' observed Jacques sadly. 'You and
I and Madeleine will find some quiet spot, where none will know of the
past, and where we ourselves may learn to forget. I have already saved
enough to support us.'

'And your wife, sir?' said the young lady, who had not hitherto
spoken.

'Leonie, you can never marry me now. You are no fit mate for the son
of a wrecker.'

'Jacques,' interposed the young surgeon, 'neither you nor Madeleine
has any right to suffer for the errors of your father. I made the
acquaintance of your sister at my aunt's school in St Omer. I loved
her; and before I started on this journey, I had from her a
half-promise, which I now call upon her to fulfil.'

'What say you, Madeleine?' said Jacques gravely.

'That I can never give my hand to a man whom I love too well to
dishonour.'

'Madeleine, you are right, and you are a noble girl!' replied her
brother.

'Children,' said the old man, with a groan, 'I see my crime now in its
full hideousness; but I can at least repair part of the evil done.
Now, listen to me. Let me see you follow the bent of your hearts, and
be happy, and I will go where you will, for you will have forgiven
your father. Refuse to do so, and I remain here--once a wrecker,
always a wrecker. Come, decide!'

Madeleine held out her hand to Edouard, and Jacques to Leonie, his
friend's sister, returning from the colony where her parents had died.
The old man shut his eyes, and remained silent the rest of the
evening.

Next day, conveyances were obtained from a neighbouring town, and the
crew and passengers departed. The reunited friends remained at
Montreaux, awaiting the recovery of Pierre, Jacques excepted, he being
forced to go to Havre, to explain events to his owners. In ten days he
returned. Old Sandeau was now able to be removed; and the whole party
left Montreaux, which was then stripped by its owners, and deserted.

The family went to Havre. The father's savings as a captain had been
considerable. United with those of Jacques, they proved sufficient to
take a house, furnish it, and start both young couples in life.
Edouard set up as a surgeon in Havre, his brother-in-law was admitted
as junior partner into the house of Ponceau, and from that day all
prospered with them. Old Sandeau did not live long. He was crushed
under the weight of his terrible past; and his deathbed was full of
horror and remorse.[1]

FOOTNOTES:

[1] This legend is still told by the peasants of Brittany, who point
out the site of Montreaux.




LOWELL MECHANICS' FAIR.


There are very few places in the world that bear the mark of progress
so strongly as this town, destined, beyond all doubt, to be the
Manchester of the United States, and to enter--indeed it is now
entering--into active rivalry with the Old Country in her staple
manufactures, cottons and woollens. In the year 1821, few visited the
small, quiet village, of about 200 inhabitants, situated in a
mountain-nook at a bend of the Merrimac, at a point where that stream
fell in a natural cascade, tumbling and gushing over its rocky,
shallow bed, quite unconscious of the part it was to play in the
world's affairs. This village was twenty-five miles north-west of
Boston, not on a high-road leading anywhere; but, nevertheless, it
began to move on, as usual, by the erection of a saw-mill, as at that
point it was found convenient to arrest the downward progress of the
timber, and convert it into plank. And so it went on, and on, step by
step, till it became the splendid town it is, so large as to have two
railway depôts: one in the suburbs, and the principal one in the
centre of the town--for the Yankees think the closer their railways
are to the town the better.

Lowell now covers five square miles, with handsome, straight streets;
the principal one, Merrimac Street, being a mile and a half in length,
and about sixty feet wide, with footways twelve feet wide, and rows of
trees between them and the road. The appearance of this street reminds
the spectator of the best in France. The loom-power of a manufacturing
place, I understand, is estimated by the number of spindles, and this
works 350,000; the mills employ 14,000 males, and 10,000 females; the
number of inhabitants reckoned stationary, 12,000. It has lately been
raised to the dignity of a city by a charter of incorporation, which,
in the state of Massachusetts, can be claimed by any town when the
number of its inhabitants amounts to 10,000: thus it appoints its
officers, and manages its own affairs, as a body corporate and
municipal.

The most striking feature of the social system here, is the condition
of the mill-workers, of which, as it is so different from ours, I
shall give you some particulars. The corporation of Lowell has built
streets of convenient houses, for the accommodation of the workmen;
and nine-tenths of these are occupied by the unmarried. These houses
are farmed by the corporation to elderly females, whose characters
must bear the strictest investigation, and at a rent just paying a low
rate of interest for the outlay. They carry on the business under
strict rules, which limit the numbers, and determine the accommodation
of the inmates, two of whom sleep in one room. Females, whose wages
are 12s. per week, pay 6s. 6d. per week for board and lodging; for
males, the wages and cost of board are about 15 per cent. higher.
These females are housed, fed, and dressed as well as the wives and
daughters of any tradesman in Edinburgh or London. The hours of work
at the mills leave them leisure; which some spend in fancy
needle-work, so as to increase their income; and all, by arrangements
among themselves, have access to good libraries. The amusements are
balls, reading-rooms, lectures, and concerts; indeed, all the means of
intellectual cultivation are placed within their reach, and full
advantage is taken of them. There is an ambition to save money, which
they nearly all do; those in superior situations, such as overlookers,
have considerable sums in the savings-banks established by the
companies owning the mills; the workers in each mill thus putting
their weekly savings into the concern, from which they receive
interest in money, and so having an interest in the well-doing of the
mill itself, and a bond of attachment to its proprietors. In this
manner, the capital of all is constantly at work, and provision is
made for a possible slackness, which, however, has not yet befallen
Lowell.

To this place, it is no longer a toilsome journey from Boston.
Three-quarters of an hour, in a very commodious railway-carriage,
brought me into the centre of the town, when a most interesting sight
presented itself. The railway had been pouring in for the occasion
upwards of 20,000 persons; and in the streets, all was bustle and
harmony; thousands of well-dressed persons--some of the females
elegantly so--moving in throngs here and there, all bearing the tokens
of comfort and respectability. The occasion of the gathering is called
the Mechanics' Fair, held for a fortnight, during some days of which
all mill-work is suspended; the attraction consisting of a
horticultural and cattle show, and an exhibition of the products of
art and manufactures of the county, which is Middlesex.

The horticultural show was in the Town-hall, a large, handsome
apartment, with long aisles of tables, covered with piles of fruits
and vegetables; and such fruits! peaches, nectarines, apricots, and
the choicest plums, all of open-air growth, and not surpassed by any I
have seen--fully equal to the best hot-house productions of England.
Vegetables also very fine, all equal to the finest, except the turnip,
which in New England is small. The flowers as beautiful as in the Old
Country, but much smaller; consequently, that part of the show was
much inferior to our shows of the kind. In the evening of each day,
the fruits are put up to auction, and a good deal of merriment is
caused by this part of the entertainment. Those who supply the show
are well paid, as each morning there is a fresh supply; thus proving
that it is not the selected few that are exhibited, but the average
produce of the county.

From thence I walked to the show of products of industry. I found a
building 600 feet in length, 40 feet wide, and two storeys high,
crammed with such a variety of articles that it is extremely difficult
to describe them, or, indeed, to reduce them to order in the mind. I
do not propose to send you a catalogue, but to convey, as far as I
can, the impression made upon me. The ground-floor is devoted to the
exhibition of agricultural implements and machinery. I have no
intention to enter into the question of our own patent laws, but I
cannot refuse to acknowledge the superiority of the arrangements here.
The greatest advantage is, that the right to an invention is so
simply, cheaply, and easily secured, that there is no filching or
ill-feeling.



Pages: | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | Next |

Library mainpage -> Chambers, William -> Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 429 Volume 17, New Series, March 20, 1852