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Chambers, William / Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 445 Volume 18, New Series, July 10, 1852
CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL

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


No. 445. NEW SERIES. SATURDAY, JULY 10, 1852. PRICE 1-1/2_d._




ECONOMY IN DISTRIBUTION.


We had lately occasion to proceed by an omnibus from a country town to
a station on a railway, by which we were to return to the city where
we have our customary abode. On arriving at the station, we learned
that we should have to wait an hour for an _up_ train, the omnibus
being timed in relation to a _down_ one, which was about to pass. Had
this arrangement been the only one readily practicable, in the case,
we should have felt it necessary to submit uncomplainingly to the loss
of our hour; but it really was not so. We had come in one of three
omnibuses, none of which had more than two or three passengers. Why
should not one have come at this hour with _down_ passengers, and
another come an hour later with _up_ ones, thus by the same trouble
giving more accommodation? We found that the three omnibuses are run
by so many hotels, and that an arrangement for general convenience was
impossible, as it might have interfered with the hotel business. On
the continent, the government would have ordered matters otherwise:
with us, the genius of _laissez faire_ permits them to be as we
describe.

It is in the same part of the country that a system exists amongst
bakers, which we described many years ago in these pages. There are
three towns, triangularly arranged, about ten miles from each other.
One or more bakers in each has a van, in which he sends bread every
day to the other two. As there is no witchcraft in the making of
bread, it might be as well for the inhabitants of each town to be
supplied by the bakers of their own place exclusively, and then the
expense of the carriage would be saved. Such, however, is the keenness
of competition in the case, that each baker strives to get supporters
in the neighbouring towns, and willingly pays for van, horse, and
driver in order to retain their custom. We presume each van goes
thirty miles a day, and that there is not much less than 2000 miles of
this unprofitable travelling weekly in connection with the three
towns.

Any one who has a sincere respect for the principle of untrammelled
industry, must lament to see these its abuses or drawbacks. But our
commercial world is full of such anomalies. The cause is readily
traced in the excessive number of persons engaged in the various
trades. Not many years ago, the number of bakers in a town known to
us, of the same size as one of those above referred to, was fourteen,
while everybody acknowledged that four might have sufficed. In such
circumstances, it is not wonderful that expedients like that of the
van are resorted to, notwithstanding that it can only diminish the
aggregate of profit derived by an already starving trade.

Few persons who walk along a street of nicely-decorated and apparently
well-stocked shops, have the slightest conception of the hollowness of
many of the appearances. The reality has been tested in part by the
income-tax inquisition, which shews a surprising number of
respectable-looking shops not reaching that degree of profit which
brings the owner within the scope of the exaction. It may be that some
men who are liable, contrive to make themselves appear as not so; but
this cannot be to such an extent as greatly to affect the general
fact. In the assessing of the tax, no result comes out oftener than
one of this kind: Receipts for the year, L.2200; estimated profit at
15 per cent., L.330; deductions for rent of shop, taxes, shopmen's
wages, and bad debts, L.193; leaving, as net profit, L.137. The
commissioners are left to wonder how the trader can support his family
in a decent manner upon so small a return, till they reflect that
possibly a son brings in a little as a shopman, or a daughter as a
day-governess; or that possibly an old female relative lives with the
family, and throws her little income into the general stock. It is,
after all, a fact capable of the clearest demonstration, that a vast
number of shopkeepers' families maintain decent appearances upon an
income below that enjoyed by many artisans--what goes, in the one
case, for the decent appearances, being enjoyed in substantial
comforts in the other, or else misapplied, to the degradation of body
and mind.

The evil primarily lies in an erroneous distribution of industry.
Where twenty men offer themselves to do a duty to society for which
three are sufficient, it cannot be good for any party; whereas, were
the extra seventeen to apply themselves to other departments of the
labour required for all, it would be better times for the whole
twenty. The light, easy, and pleasant occupations are those most apt
to be beset by superfluous hands. Shopkeeping is generally easy, and
often pleasant; hence the excessive number of individuals applying
themselves to it. In the difficulties of the case, conspicuousness of
situation, extravagant decoration, and abundant advertising, are
resorted to, as means of obtaining a preference. Many, to help out
profits, resort to tricks and cheating. The expense thus incurred,
above what is necessary, in distributing certain goods, must be
enormous. To bring most articles to the hands of the consumer should
be a simple business. Every member of the public must feel that his
clothes will be as good, coming from a wareroom on a third floor at
L.30 a year, as from a flashy corner shop which costs L.300. He will
feel that to make him buy a new hat when he needs one, it is not
necessary that an advertising van should be continually rumbling along
the streets. His tea and sugar from the nearest grocer cannot be any
better because of there being fifty other grocers within two miles of
his residence, and forty of these not required. Yet, by reason of the
great competition in nearly all trades, these vast expenses, which do
nothing for the public, are continually incurred. Means misapplied are
means lost. The community is just so much the poorer. And we must
pronounce the superfluous shopkeepers, those who live by the rents of
fine shops, and those who are concerned in the business of advertising
beyond what is strictly necessary for the information of the public,
as incumbrances on the industry of the country.

One unfortunate concomitant of competition is, that it prompts in the
individual trader an idea which places him in a false position towards
the general interest. It is the general interest that all things fit
for use should be abundant; but when a man is concerned in producing
any of those things, he sees it to be for his immediate interest that
they should be scarce, because what he has to sell will then bring a
greater price. It is the general interest that all useful things
should be produced and distributed as cheaply as possible; but each
individual producer and distributer feels that the dearer they are, it
is the better for him. It is thus that a trade comes to regard itself
as something detached from the community; that a man also views his
peculiar trading interest as a first principle, to which everything
else must give way. It might, indeed, be easily shewn, that whatever
is good for the whole community, must be in the long-run beneficial to
each member. He either cannot look far enough for that, or he feels
himself unable to dispense with the immediate benefit from that which
is bad for the public. In short, each trade considers the world as
living for it, not it as living for the world--a mistake so monstrous,
that there is little reason to wonder at the enormous misexpenditure
to which it gives rise.

The idea essentially connected with these false positions, that
_because_ there are certain persons in a trade in a particular place,
they _ought_ to be there, and that the primary consideration regarding
them is how to enable them to continue living by that trade--as if
they were fixed there by some decree of Providence--is one of the most
perverse and difficult to deal with in political economy. The
assertion of any principle ruling to the contrary purpose, seems to
the multitude of superficial thinkers as a kind of cruelty to the
persons, the severity of the natural law being, by an easy slide of
thought, laid to the charge of the mere philosopher who detects and
announces its operation. In reality, those are the cruel people who
would contentedly see a great number of their fellow-creatures going
on from year to year in a misery, which, being brought upon themselves
by ignorance, and the want of a right spirit of enterprise, can only
be banished or lessened by their being rightly informed, and induced
to enter upon a proper course.

If there were a right knowledge and just views of these subjects
diffused through the community, a man would be ashamed to enter upon a
business in which a sufficient number of persons was already engaged,
knowing that he was thereby trifling with his time and fortunes, and
perhaps encouraging in himself a love of ease, or some other desire
which he was not entitled to gratify. He would rather go to some new
country, where he might eat in rough independence the rewards of an
actual toil. What is really required, however, is not that men should
leave their own country, but enter upon such pursuits there as may
preserve an equal instead of an unequal distribution of industry
throughout the various fields in which there is something to be done
for the general advantage. Distribution should be less a favourite
department, and production more so. With more producers and fewer
distributers, the waste we have endeavoured to describe would be so
far saved, and there would be fewer miserable people on the earth.

Even amidst all the delusions which prevail upon the subject, it is
curious to observe that there is a strong current towards a
rectification of what is amiss. The interests of the individual, which
produce so much fallacy, after all bring a correction. The active,
original-minded tradesman, seeing that, with an ordinary share of the
entire business of his department, he can scarcely make bread and
butter, bethinks him of setting up a leviathan shop, in which he may
serve the whole town with mercery at a comparatively small profit to
himself, looking to large and frequent returns for his remuneration.
The public, with all its sentimentalisms, never fails to take the
article, quality being equal, at the lowest price, and accordingly the
leviathan dealer thrives, while nearly all the small dealers are
extirpated. Now this is a course of things which produces partial
inconveniences; but its general effect is good. It lessens the cost of
distribution for the consumer, and it decides many to take to new and
more hopeful courses, who otherwise might cling to a branch of
business that had become nearly sapless. Underselling generally has
the same results. When in a trade in which distribution usually costs
43 per cent., one man announces himself as willing to lessen this by
15 or 20 per cent., his conduct is apt to appear unbrotherly and
selfish to the rest; but the fact is, that for goods of any kind to
cost 43 per cent., in mere distribution, is a monstrosity; and he who
can in any measure lessen that cost, will be regarded by the community
as acting in the spirit of a just economy, and as deserving of their
gratitude. These may be considered as the rude struggles of
competition towards a righting of its own evils. The public sees two
selfishnesses working in the case, and it naturally patronises that
which subserves its own interest.

The waste arising from an over-costly system of distribution, will
probably lead to other correctives of even a more sweeping kind than
that of underselling, or the setting up of leviathan shops. For the
greater number of the articles required for daily use, men begin to
find that a simple co-operative arrangement is sufficient. A certain
number agree to combine in order to obtain articles at wholesale
prices; after which a clerk, shopman, and porter suffice to distribute
them. They thus save, in many trades, as much as 15 per cent. So far
from their being under any peculiar disadvantage as to the quality of
the articles, they are rather safer than usual in that respect; and
indeed a freedom from the danger of getting adulterated or inferior
goods is one of the recommendations of the system. It would probably
extend more rapidly, were it not for the difficulties attending the
law of partnership, which, however, will in all likelihood be speedily
removed.

We make these remarks on distribution mainly in the hope of saving
individuals from entering upon a career in which, not being truly
useful to their fellow-creatures, they have little to expect of good
for themselves. At present, shopkeeping is limited by what an able
writer of the day calls the _bankruptcy check_;[1] that is, men go
into it, and remain in it, while they can just barely sustain
themselves, not regarding that they do not and cannot thrive, and that
they are only adding to a mass of idleness already burdensome to the
community. What we desire is, to see men so far enlightened in the
principles of economy, that they will be at least less apt to rush
into fields where their help is not wanted. We wish to assist in
creating a public opinion on this subject, which, fixing on
shopkeeping in such circumstances the odium of a masked idleness, will
tend to send the undecided into courses of real activity and
serviceableness; thus securing their own good by the only plan which
can be safely depended upon--that of first securing the good of the
entire community.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] Mr F. O. Ward.




THE VENDETTA.


In the morning, we were off the coast of Sardinia, steaming rapidly
along for the Straits of Bonifacio. The night had been tranquil, and
the morning was more tranquil still; but no one who knew the
capricious Mediterranean felt confident of continued fair weather.
However, at sea the mind takes little thought for the morrow, or even
for the afternoon; and as we sat in the warm shade of the awning,
looking out to the purple horizon in the east, or to the rocky and
varied coast to the west, I felt, and if the countenance be not
treacherous, all felt that it was good even for landsmen to be moving
over waters uncrisped except by the active paddles, beneath a sky all
radiant with light. My companions were chiefly Levant merchants, or
sallow East Indians; for I was on board the French packet _Le Caire_,
on its way from Alexandria, of Egypt, to Marseille.

I had several times passed the Straits, each time with renewed
pleasure and admiration. It would be difficult to imagine a
scene more wild and peculiar. After rounding the huge rock of
Tavolara--apparently a promontory running boldly out into the sea, but
in reality an island, we are at once at the mouth of the Straits. The
mountains of Corsica, generally enveloped in clouds, rise above the
horizon ahead, and near at hand a thousand rocks and islands of
various dimensions appear to choke up the passage. The narrow southern
channel, always selected by day, is intricate, and would be dangerous
to strangers; and indeed the whole of the Straits are considered so
difficult, that the fact of Nelson, without previous experience,
having taken his fleet through, is cited even by French sailors as a
prodigy.

On one of the rocky points of the Sardinian coast, I observed the
ruins of a building, but so deceptive is distance, I could not at
first determine whether it had been a fortress or a cottage. I asked
one of the officers for his telescope; and being still in doubt,
questioned him as I returned it. He smiled and said: 'For the last
five or six years, I have never passed through the Straits by day
without having had to relate the story connected with that ruin. It
has become a habit with me to do so; and if you had not spoken, I
should have been compelled, under penalty of passing a restless night,
to have let out my narrative at dinner. You will go down to your berth
presently; for see how the smoke is weighed down by the heavy
atmosphere upon the deck, and how it rolls like a snake along the
waters! What you fancy to be merely a local head-wind blowing through
the Straits, is a mistral tormenting the whole Gulf of Lions. We shall
be tossing about presently in a manner unpleasant to landsmen; and
when you are safely housed, I will come and beguile a little time by
relating a true story of a Corsican Vendetta.'

The prophecy was correct. In less than a quarter of an hour, _Le
Caire_ was pitching through the last narrows against as violent a gale
as I ever felt. It was like a wall of moving air. The shores, rocks,
and islands were now concealed by driving mist; and as the sea widened
before us, it was covered with white-crested waves. Before I went
below, a cluster of sails ahead was pointed out as the English fleet;
and it was surmised that it would be compelled to repeat Nelson's
manoeuvre, as Sardinia and Corsica form a dangerous lee-shore.
However, the atmosphere thickened rapidly; and we soon lost sight of
all objects but the waves amidst which we rolled, and the phantom-like
shores of Corsica.

The officer joined me, and kept his promise. By constant practice, he
had acquired some skill in the art of telling at least this one story;
and I regret that I do not remember his exact words. However, the
following is the substance of his narrative:--Giustiniani and
Bartuccio were inhabitants of the little town of Santa Maddalena,
situated on the Corsican side of the Straits. They were both sons of
respectable parents, and were united from an early age in the bonds of
friendship. When they grew up, Giustiniani became clerk in a very
humble mercantile establishment; whilst Bartuccio, more fortunate,
obtained a good place in the custom-house. They continued on excellent
terms till the age of about twenty-one years, when an incident
occurred, that by making rivals of them, made them enemies.

Giustiniani had occasion to visit the city of Ajaccio, and set out in
company with a small party mounted upon mules. Bartuccio went with him
to the crest of the hill, where they parted after an affectionate
embrace. The journey was fortunately performed; in about a month
Giustiniani was on his way back, and reached without incident, just as
night set in, a desolate ravine within a few leagues of Santa
Maddalena. Here a terrific storm of wind and rain broke upon the
party, which missed the track, and finally dispersed; some seeking
shelter in the lee of the rocks, others pushing right and left in
search of the path, or of some hospitable habitation. Giustiniani
wandered for more than an hour, until he descended towards the plain,
and, attracted by a light, succeeded at length in reaching a little
cottage having a garden planted with trees. The lightning had now
begun to play, and shewed him the white walls of the cottage streaming
with rain, and the drenched foliage that surrounded it. Guided by the
rapidly succeeding gleams, he was enabled to find the garden gate,
where, there being no bell, he remained for some time shouting in
vain. The light still beamed gently through one of the upper windows,
and seemed to tell of a comfortable interior and cosy inmates.
Giustiniani exerted his utmost strength of voice, and presently there
was a movement in the lighted chamber--a form came to the window; and,
after some delay, the door of the house was opened, and a voice asked
who demanded admittance at that hour, and in such weather. Our
traveller explained, and was soon let in by a quiet-looking old
gentleman, who took him up stairs into a little library, where a good
wood-fire was blazing. A young girl of remarkable beauty rose as he
entered, and received him with cordial hospitality. Acquaintance was
soon made. Giustiniani told his little story, and learned that his
host was M. Albert Brivard, a retired medical officer, who, with his
daughter Marie, had selected this out-of-the-way place for economy's
sake.

According to my informant, Giustiniani at once fell in love with the
beautiful Marie, to such an extent that he could scarcely partake of
the supper offered him. Perhaps his abstinence arose from other
reasons--love being in reality a hungry passion in its early
stage--for next day the young man was ill of a fever, and incapable of
continuing his journey. M. Brivard and his daughter attended him
kindly; and as he seemed to become worse towards evening, sent a
messenger to Maddalena. The consequence was, that on the following
morning Bartuccio arrived in a great state of alarm and anxiety; but
fate did not permit him again to meet his friend with that whole and
undivided passion of friendship in his breast with which he had
quitted him a month before. Giustiniani was asleep when he entered the
house, and he was received by Marie. In his excited state of mind, he
was apt for new impressions, and half an hour's conversation seems not
only to have filled him with love, but to have excited the same
feeling in the breast of the gentle girl. It would have been more
romantic, perhaps, had Marie been tenderly impressed by poor
Giustiniani when he arrived at night, travel-stained and drenched with
rain, in the first fit of a fever; 'but woman,' said the sagacious
narrator, as he received a tumbler of grog from the steward, 'is a
mystery'--an opinion I am not inclined to confute.

In a few days, Giustiniani was well enough to return to his home,
which he reached in a gloomy and dissatisfied state of mind. He had
already observed that Bartuccio, who rode over every day professedly
to see him, felt in reality ill at ease in his company, spoke no
longer with copious familiarity, and left him in a few minutes,
professing to be obliged to return to his duty. From his bed, however,
he could hear him for some time after laughing and talking with Marie
in the garden; and he felt, without knowing it, all the pangs of
jealousy: not that he believed his friend would interfere and dispute
with him the possession of the gem which he had discovered, and over
which he internally claimed a right of property, but he was oppressed
with an uneasy sentiment of future ill, and tormented with a
diffidence as to his own powers of pleasing, that made him say adieu
to Marie and her father with cold gratitude--that seemed afterwards to
them, and to him when reflection came, sheer ingratitude.

When he had completely recovered his strength, he recovered also to, a
certain extent his serenity of mind. Bartuccio was often with him, and
never mentioned the subject of Marie. One day, therefore, in a state
of mingled hope and love, he resolved to pay a visit to his kind host;
and set out on foot. The day was sunny; the landscape, though rugged,
beautiful with light; a balmy breeze played gently on his cheek. The
intoxication of returning strength filled him with confidence and joy.
He met the old doctor herborising a little way from his house, and
saluted him so cordially, that a hearty shake of the hand was added to
the cold bow with which he was at first received. Giustiniani
understood a little of botany, and pleased the old man by his
questions and remarks. They walked slowly towards the house together.
When they reached it, M. Brivard quietly remarked: 'You will find my
daughter in the garden,' and went in with the treasures he had
collected. The young man's heart bounded with joy. Now was the time.
He would throw himself at once at Marie's feet, confess the turbulent
passion she had excited, and receive from her lips his sentence of
happiness, or---- No, he would not consider the alternative; and with
bounding step and eager eye, he ran over the garden, beneath the
orange and the myrtle trees, until he reached a little arbour at the
other extremity.

What he saw might well plunge him at once into despair. Marie had just
heard and approved the love of Bartuccio, who had clasped her, not
unwilling, to his breast. Their moment of joy was brief, for in
another instant Bartuccio was on the ground, with Giustiniani's knee
upon his breast, and a bright poniard glittered in the air. 'Spare
him--spare him!' cried the unfortunate girl, sinking on her knees. The
accepted lover struggled in vain in the grasp of his frenzied rival,
who, however, forbore to strike. 'Swear, Marie,' he said, 'by your
mother's memory, that you will not marry him for five years, and I
will give him a respite for so long.' She swore with earnestness; and
the next moment, Giustiniani had broken through the hedge, and was
rushing franticly towards Santa Maddalena.

When he recovered from his confusion, Bartuccio, who, from his
physical inferiority, had been reduced to a passive part in this
scene, endeavoured to persuade Marie that she had taken an absurd
oath, which she was not bound to abide by; but M. Brivard, though he
had approved his daughter's choice, knew well the Corsican character,
and decreed that for the present at least all talk of marriage should
be set aside. In vain Bartuccio pleaded the rights of an accepted
lover. The old man became more obstinate, and not only insisted that
his daughter should abide by her promise, but hinted that if any
attempt were made to oppose his decision, he would at once leave the
country.

As may well be imagined, Bartuccio returned to the city with feelings
of bitter hatred against his former friend; and it is probable that
wounded pride worked upon him as violently as disappointed passion. He
was heard by several persons to utter vows of vengeance--rarely
meaningless in that uncivilised island--and few were surprised when
next day the news spread that Giustiniani had disappeared. Public
opinion at once pointed to Bartuccio as the murderer. He was arrested,
and a careful investigation was instituted; but nothing either to
exculpate or inculpate him transpired, and after some months of
imprisonment, he was liberated.

Five years elapsed. During the first half of the period, Bartuccio was
coldly received by both M. Brivard and his daughter, although he
strenuously protested his innocence. Time, however, worked in his
favour, and he at length assumed the position of a betrothed lover, so
that no one was surprised when, at the expiration of the appointed
time, the marriage took place. Many wondered indeed why, since
Giustiniani had disappeared, and was probably dead, any regard was
paid to the extorted promise; whilst all augured well of the union
which was preceded by so signal an instance of good faith. The
observant, indeed, noticed that throughout the ceremony Bartuccio was
absent and uneasy--looking round anxiously over the crowd assembled
from time to time. 'He is afraid to see the ghost of Giustiniani,'
whispered an imprudent bystander. The bridegroom caught the last word,
and starting as if he had received a stab, cried: 'Where, where?' No
one answered; and the ceremony proceeded in ominous gloom.

Next day, Bartuccio and his young wife, accompanied by M. Brivard,
left Santa Maddalena without saying whither they were going; and the
good people of the town made many strange surmises on the subject. In
a week or so, however, a vessel being wrecked in the Straits,
furnished fresh matter of conversation; and all these circumstances
became utterly forgotten, except by a few. 'But this drama was as yet
crowned by no catastrophe,' said the officer, 'and all laws of harmony
would be violated if it ended here.' 'Are you, then, inventing?'
inquired I. 'Not at all,' he replied; 'but destiny is a greater
tragedian than Shakspeare, and prepares _dénouements_ with superior
skill.' I listened with increased interest.

The day after the departure of the married couple, a small boat with a
shoulder-of-mutton sail left the little harbour of Santa Maddalena a
couple of hours before sunset, and with a smart breeze on its quarter,
went bravely out across the Straits. Some folks who were accustomed to
see this manoeuvre had, it is true, shouted out to the only man on
board, warning him that rough weather was promised; but he paid no
heed, and continued on his way. If I were writing a romance, if,
indeed, I had any reasonable space, I would keep up the excitement of
curiosity for some time, describe a variety of terrific adventures
unknown to seamen, and wonderful escapes comprehensible only by
landsmen, and thus make a subordinate hero of the bold navigator. But
I must be content to inform the reader, that he was Paolo, a servant
of Giustiniani's mother, who had lived in perfect retirement since her
son's disappearance, professing to have no news of him. In reality,
however, she knew perfectly well that he had retired to Sardinia, and
after remaining in the interior some time, had established himself in
the little cottage, the ruins of which had attracted my attention. The
reason for his retirement, which he afterwards gave, was that he might
be enabled to resist the temptation to avenge himself on Bartuccio,
and, if possible, conquer his love for Marie. He no longer entertained
any hope of possessing her himself; but he thought that at least she
would grow weary of waiting for the passage of five years, and would
marry a stranger--a consummation sufficiently satisfactory, he
thought, to restore to him his peace of mind. Once a month at least he
received, through the medium of the faithful Paolo, assistance and
news from his mother; and to his infinite discomfiture learned, as
time proceeded, that his enemy, whilom his friend, was to be made
happy at last. His rage knew no bounds at this; and several times he
was on the point of returning to Santa Maddalena, to do the deed of
vengeance from which he had hitherto refrained. However, he resolved
to await the expiration of the five years.

Paolo arrived in safety at the cottage some time after dark, and
communicated the intelligence both of the marriage and the departure
of the family. To a certain extent, both he and the mother of
Giustiniani approved the projects of vengeance entertained by the
latter, but thought that the honour of the family was sufficiently
cleared by what was evidently a flight. Paolo was disappointed and
puzzled by the manner of the unfortunate recluse. Instead of bursting
out into furious denunciations, he became as pale as ashes, and then
hiding his face in his hands, wept aloud. His agony continued for more
than an hour; after which he raised his head, and exhibited a serene
brow to the astonished servitor. 'Let us return to Santa Maddalena,'
he said; and they accordingly departed, leaving the cottage a prey to
the storms, which soon reduced it to ruins, and will probably erelong
sweep away every trace.

Giustiniani reached his mother's house unperceived, and spent many
hours in close conversation with his delighted parent. He did not,
however, shew himself in the town, but departed on the track of the
fugitives the very next day. He traced them to Ajaccio, thence to
Marseille, to Nice, back to Marseille, to Paris, but there he lost the
clue. Several months passed in this way; his money was all spent, and
he was compelled to accept a situation in the counting-house of a
merchant of the Marais, and to give up the chase and the working out
of the catastrophe he had planned for his Vendetta.

A couple of years afterwards, Giustiniani had occasion to go to one of
the towns of the north of France--Lille, I believe. In its
neighbourhood, as my narrator told me--and on him I throw the whole
responsibility, if there seem anything improbable in what is to
come--the young man was once more overtaken by a storm, and compelled
to seek refuge in a cottage, which the gleams of the lightning
revealed to him. This time he was on foot, and after knocking at the
door, was admitted at once by a young woman, who seemed to have been
waiting in the passage for his arrival. She was about to throw herself
into his arms, when suddenly she started back, and exclaimed: 'It is
not he!' Taking up a candle, which she had placed on the floor, she
cast its light on her own face and that of the stranger, who had
remained immovable, as if petrified by the sound of her voice.
'Madam,' said he, brought to himself by this action, 'I am a stranger
in these parts, overtaken by the storm, and I beg an hour's
hospitality.'

'You are welcome, sir,' replied Marie, the wife of Bartuccio, for it
was she; but she did not at the moment recognise the unfortunate man
who stood before her.

They were soon in a comfortable room, where was M. Brivard, now
somewhat broken by age, and a cradle, in which slept a handsome boy
about a year old. Giustiniani, after the interchange of a few
words--perhaps in order to avoid undergoing too close an examination
of his countenance--bent over the cradle to peruse the features of the
child; and the pillow was afterwards found wet with tears. By an
involuntary motion, he clutched at the place where the poniard was
wont to be, and then sat down upon a chair that stood in a dim corner.
A few minutes afterwards, Bartuccio came joyously into the room,
embraced his wife, asked her if she was cold, for she trembled very
much--spoke civilly to the stranger, and began to throw off his wet
cloak and coat. At this moment the tall form of Giustiniani rose like
a phantom in the corner, and passions, which he himself had thought
smothered, worked through his worn countenance. Brivard saw and now
understood, and was nailed to his chair by unspeakable terror, whilst
Bartuccio gaily called for his slippers. Suddenly Marie, who had
watched every motion of the stranger, and, with the vivid intuition of
wife and mother, had understood what part was hers to play, rushed to
the cradle, seized the sleeping child, and without saying a word,
placed it in Giustiniani's arms. The strong-passioned man looked
amazed, yet not displeased, and, after a moment's hesitation, sank on
his knees, and embraced the babe, that, awaking, curled its little
arms round his head----

A tremendous crash aloft interrupted the well-prepared peroration of
the narrator; and, to say the truth, I was not sorry that a sail was
carried away, and one of our boats stove in at this precise moment,
for I had heard quite enough to enable me to guess the conclusion of
the history of this harmless Vendetta.




WRECK-CHART AND LIFE-BOATS.


Many of our readers are probably aware that Prince Albert, in his
capacity of president of the Society of Arts, Manufactures, and
Commerce, suggested that lectures should be delivered on the results
of the different classes of the Great Exhibition, by gentlemen
peculiarly qualified by their several professions and pursuits. This
suggestion has been admirably carried out; but we propose at present
to direct attention only to one of the twenty-four lectures in
question--namely, that on life-boats, by Captain Washington, R. N.;
our individual calling in early life having been such as to enable us
to understand thoroughly the technical details, and judge of the
accuracy of the views and opinions propounded by the gallant and
intelligent lecturer.[2]

First, we will speak of the wreck-chart of the British islands
prefixed to the lecture. Round the entire coast is a prodigious number
of _black dots_, of two kinds--one a simple round dot, and the other
having a line drawn through it. They all point out the locality of
shipwrecks during the year 1850, and the latter dot shews the wreck to
have been total. The English coasts are most thickly dotted, but this
is to be expected from the greater proportion of shipping; next in the
scale is Ireland, and then Scotland, which has comparatively few black
dots, the densest portion being on the west coast, from Ayr to Largs,
where we count eleven, nine indicating total wrecks. In the Firth of
Forth there are but three, one total. A sprinkling of dots is seen
among the Eastern Hebrides, but not so many as one would expect.
Turning to England, we count about forty-five wrecks in the Bristol
Channel alone, by far the greater number being total. On the Goodwill
Sands there are fourteen, all total but one. On the Gunfleet Sands
there are nine, four total. They are numerous on the Norfolk and
Lincolnshire coasts, especially off Yarmouth and the Washway. On the
Welsh coast, particularly around Beaumaris, Holyhead, &c., the number
is very great. In the firth leading to Liverpool, we count no less
than twenty-one, of which twelve are total. On the north coast of
England the numbers are appalling. Off Hartlepool are fifteen, eight
being total. Off Sunderland are twelve, all total but three. Off
Newcastle are fifteen, eight total. Ah, that fearful, iron-bound coast
of Northumberland! We have hugged it close in calm weather, with a
fair breeze, and the views we caught of its shores made us shudder to
think of what would befall a vessel on a stormy night and the shore
alee. The following is the awful summary of 1850:--'The wrecks of
British and foreign vessels on the coasts and in the seas of the
United Kingdom were 681. Of these, 277 were total wrecks; sunk by
leaks or collisions, 84; stranded and damaged so as to require to
discharge cargo, 304; abandoned, 16. Total wrecks, &c., 681; total
lives lost, 784.'

Certain peculiar marks on this chart indicate the spots where
life-boats are kept. In the vicinity of Liverpool we count no less
than seven, and not one too many; but in many parts of the coast,
where numerous wrecks occur, there are none. In all England there are
eighty life-boats; in Ireland, eight; in Scotland, eight. A most
portentous note on the chart informs us, that '_about one-half of the
boats are unserviceable!_' Think of Scotland, with its rocky seaboard
of 1500 miles: only eight life-boats, and some of these 'quite
unserviceable!' The boats at St Andrews, Aberdeen, and Montrose, have
saved eighty-three lives; and the rockets at eight stations,
sixty-seven lives. 'Orkney and Shetland are without any provision for
saving life; and with the exception of Port Logan, in Wigtonshire,
where there is a mortar, the whole of the west coast of Scotland, from
Cape Wrath to Solway Firth--an extent of 900 miles, without including
islands--is in the same state.' With regard to the chief distribution
of English life-boats, there is one to every eight miles on the
Northumberland coast; one to every ten miles in Durham and Yorkshire;
one to fifteen miles in Lincolnshire; and one to five miles in Norfolk
and Suffolk--a fact which, the lecturer well observes, is highly
creditable to the county associations of the two last counties. But
'from Falmouth round the Land's End, by Trevose Head to Hartland
Point, an extent of 150 miles of the most exposed sea-coast in
England, there is not one really efficient life-boat.' On the Welsh
coasts are twelve boats, some very defective. At the five Liverpool
stations are nine good boats, 'liberally supported by the dock
trustees, and having permanent boats' crews.' These Liverpool boats
have, during the last eleven years, assisted 269 vessels, and brought
ashore 1128 persons. As to the Isle of Man, situated in the track of
an enormous traffic, with shores frequently studded with wrecks, we
are told that there is not a single life-boat; for the four boats
established there by Sir William Hillary, Baronet, 'have been allowed
to fall into decay, and hardly a vestige of them remains!' The paltry
eight life-boats for the whole Irish coast of 1400 miles are stated to
be likewise inefficient.

On the whole, it appears to us that the present number of efficient
life-boats is not more than one-fourth of what ought to be constantly
kept ready for immediate service. Only think of the amount of wrecks
occurring occasionally in a single gale: On the 13th January 1843, not
less than 103 vessels were lost on the British coasts. In 1846, nearly
forty vessels were driven ashore in Hartlepool Bay alone. In the month
of March 1850, the wrecks on our coasts were 134; in the gale of the
25th and 26th September 1851, the number wrecked, stranded, or damaged
by collision, was 117; and in January of the present year, the number
was 120. The above are the numbers actually ascertained; but it is
well known that _Lloyd's List_ is an imperfect register, although at
present the best existing.

A secondary mode of communicating with a stranded vessel is by firing
rockets with a line attached to them, by which means a hawser may be
drawn from the ship and fastened to the shore.



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Library mainpage -> Chambers, William -> Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 445 Volume 18, New Series, July 10, 1852