« PreviousContinue »
this churn, where it is whirled; round and round with great rapidity, it oozes out the consistency of thick treacle, and is received next from the mouth of a machine resembling a turning-lathe, by a man whose practised hand grasps a lump half a pound or a pound in weight, a handle determines the amount of the issue, but he always tests his accuracy by flinging the brown lump on a scale, from which it is instantly removed to a baking tin, stamped with four, six, or eight divisions, and the name of the maker. When a certain number of these tins have been filled, they are placed on a table, which is shaken by machinery first in one direction and then in another, and with an occasional pat from the man the chocolate sinks into its proper shape. When the divisions into which it will afterwards be broken are sufficiently defined, the table is stopped, and the tins disappear into a baking oven, whence they reappear on the other side of the enclosure, ready for your purchase. There are sugar-plum manufactories going on, ice-making, vegetable shaping, a very clever cork-cutter, another for making wooden wedges and dove-tailing, a huge machine for utilizing small coal by pressing it into bricks, water fans, ventilators, envelope-cutters, steel pens--and hook and eye makers, and hundreds of other things besides, too numerous to mention.
In the gardens a goffre-maker drives a thriving trade, but the material goffred is not muslin, but batter. He has a little gas-stove complete, the batter is poured into a double goffering iron, which he turns first one side and then the other over the gas jets, and there appears a hot crisp cake, which is duly sugаred by his wife and devoured in hundreds by the crowd who always surround his little pagoda.
The American iced drinks are in great request; you can see them prepared, unless indeed you are satisfied with simply swallowing a delicious compound that is effervescent, iced, and creamy, flavoured with anything you may desire from coffee to pine-apple, and served in a silver and glass tankard.
One room is devoted exclusively to sewing machines, and you are distracted as you walk between rows of needle-women by their advocacy of the rival merits of Wheeler and Wilson, Wilcox and Gibbs, and a dozen other English and American makers. Some of the French machines have been made as low as twenty-five francs, clumsy of course in the stitching, but it is surprising that anything capable of doing needlework can be brought out at that price. The same manufacturer has superior machines at forty and fifty francs. The centre of the room is occupied by a tailor who professes in the course of two hours and twenty minutes to measure any gentleman and provide him with coat, waistcoat, and trousers, of a pepper and salt mixture, complete for twenty-one francs! It is amusing to see all who have invested in this cheap and expeditious suit walking about looking ludicrously like the lay figure standing in the centre of the compartment. Ten women and two men, all dressed in blouses of black glazed calico, are stitching away, some by hand and some by machine, to get the suits finished by the appointed time, and looking, poor things, so hot, so tired, and dusty! Sundays and week-days the labour goes on all the same, and though no doubt they must have periods of rest, and regular meals, all the refreshment that I ever saw them partake of was claret and iced water; the latter is brought in bottles that have been refrigerated; the water with which the caraffes have been filled is reduced to a large lump of ice, and on this water is poured, the ice generally remaining unmelted for ten or twelve hours, and allowing of the water being renewed many times. Some of the braiding and fine tucking is exquisitely turned out, and you are shewn specimens in glass cases, that are as highly finished as the best hand work.
The dolls in the Exposition really surpass any to be met with in London ; they are of composition, with jointed leather bodies, and hands and feet accurately modelled. The heads turn on the shoulders, and can be raised or lowered; the bair is real, and most elaborately dressed. Baby dolls seem wholly to have disappeared, they are supplanted by young ladies' in every imaginable costume, from an elegant baigneuse with white serge veste, short skirt, and dainty little trousers trimmed with pleated scarlet braid, and hempen shoes and oil-skin cap ornamented to match, up to a young bride in white satin, pearls, and Brussels lace. Then again there is the jeune
fille attired for her premier communion in white muslin dress and veil, with rosary, crucifix, and ivory missal in hand, a complete copy of the hundreds of young creatures that we saw thronging the streets on their way to or from their respective churches on the Fête Dieu. Present fashions are illustrated by seeing some of the dolls seated en peignoir at their toilettes, with the dressing-table covered with chignons, elaborate bows and plaits of hair about to be affixed by a bonne in white cap and short full skirt standing behind their chairs. Eye-glasses and watches are worn by all, and the gored trains and tunics in every variety might serve as patterns to first class milliners! Undressed, the dolls cost from seven or eight francs upwards, but with their wardrobes they sum up to nearly as many sovereigns.
The mechanical toys are very ingenious; in the garden there is a pavilion, where for half a franc you may hear dozens of artificial birds singing, see them hop about, ruffle their plumage, sip water, and peck their food; a wonderful baby is included, that sits up, opens and shuts its eyes, speaks and cries, (the two last, however, I suspect, by the aid of a ventriloquist,) and a conjuror, about a span high, who presents you with a book and answers your questions automatically at the striking of a bell. There is a man in the Exposition who shows off the pretty butterfly trick introduced by the Japanese troupe, and who spins crowns of blue or pink paper, making them ascend and descend, repelling and attracting them, simply by the action of a fan. This seems so easy that everyone is anxious to attempt it, signally failing after the most strenuous efforts. The same man has paper bats, which return to you when thrown off a fan-on the same principle as the boomerang, I remarked to him smilingly one day. •Pardon, Madame,' he answered quite gravely, 'pas un boomerang un chauve souris,' evidently looking upon the former as the name of another animal ! Talking of fans reminds me how exquisite some of those exhibited are, with medallions, miniatures of royal personages, charming little Watteau groups all in delicate painting either on ivory or vellum, gold and silver inlaying, ebony, and ivory, mixed with the cut steel now so much in vogue. Very high prices are asked for these elaborate nick-nacks, one hundred francs being considered a very moderate sum. The pale yellow tortoise-shell used for handles is costly; some, of Brussels lace, white over coloured crèpe, are very light and elegant, with mother o' pearl mounts. The lace shown is quite equal to any at the London or Paris Exhibitions, the patterns are works of art; one dress of water lilies and ferns in black Brussels was a perfect picture, the different thickness of stitch giving the lights and shades.
There is one section much frequented by the ladies, in which, silks, satins, velvets and furs, &c., are displayed in large glass cases. I do not think, however, that, on the whole, our best London shops would not have surpassed them both in colour and texture. In lace and shawls the French have certainly the palm, but they have such wonderful art in arranging and displaying even ordinary goods, that they can make a trophy of ropes or of iron look graceful. Neither the glass nor china were, as a whole, remarkable, though there were many very beautiful articles taken separately. The wood inlaying and furniture were very good, and considering the materials and labour, not expensive. Some of the mock jewelry and machine-made trinkets were wonderful pieces of deception; they require to be tested before even an experienced eye can distinguish between them and the genuine precious stones displayed a little further on. Pink coral seems to fetch fabulous sums, 1000 francs for a brooch ; and yet only fashion could make it more admired than the deep bright red of one's childhood.
I have said nothing about the music-room, which is, however, a favourite lounge of an afternoon, and is the only part inside the building provided with seats. The playing generally begins about three o'clock, and lasts till five or six o'clock; the performers are sometimes very good, and the pianos selected by the best makers. There are one or two very fine harmoniums, which I have heard occasionally of a morning, remarkably sweet and yet powerful. This apartment is devoted entirely to musical instruments of different kinds; a band plays sometimes, and it is then filled to overflowing with eager listeners, who applaud vehemently. I am bound to confess that a French crowd appears to me louder, more pushing, seltish, and disagreeable, than an English one under similar circumstances. The way in which second class Frenchmen stare and pass their remarks on English ladies, is also very offensive to our insular pride!
I have lingered so long in the Exhibition that I have left myself little space to speak of the town itself. In the principal square stands the Hotel de Ville, à large handsome building in the same style as the Tuilleries; opposite is a public garden supplied with chairs and seats, tastefully laid out with fountains and flower-beds filled with roses, geraniums, and some remarkably fine yuccas. This is a much frequented thoroughfare, people going to and from their work, nurses with numberless children, old people and invalids resting under the shade of the trees; and yet you never see a flower plucked, a branch broken, or the turf trampled on; why cannot our English work-people exercise an equal self-restraint in our parks ? On either side of the square are rows of many-storied houses, let as apartments above and for shops below. All having been built in the same style, they have a handsome appearance, in good keeping with the Hotel de Ville, exactly opposite to which opens the Rue de Paris, where the principal shops and hotels are to be met with, and which runs past the theatre, the market, and the old parish church, terminating at the docks. The quay is a busy place; crowds of foreign looking sailors, whose ships have come from nearly every port of importance in the old and new world. This reminds me that I did not allude to that annexe at the Exposition devoted to the exports and imports of Havre. You may see there samples of almost every article of trade, from the hempen ropes and nets for the manufacture of which this part of Normandy is famous, up to huge mountains of sponges from the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, rare woods and spices, drugs, berries, dried leaves of tea, tobacco, and cocoa ; elephants' tusks, undressed whale bones, and various skins, furs, and feathers. Cotton is of course the staple, for Havre may be called the Liverpool of the north of France. Bales of cotton are always unlading, and you will have half a dozen samples thrust upon you before you reach the end of the quay. When one hears of the mere refuse pickings of onc English warehouse realizing £500 a year, an idea may be formed of the business passing through the hands of some of the principal cotton merchants. There is a continual chatter of monkeys and parrots along the quay, batches of fifty or sixty cages and hutches piled one upon the other; the creatures exposed without shelter in a broiling sun, and seemingly enjoying the intense heat, the parrots screeching and stretching themselves as far as their narrow limits allow of, and the monkeys extending their lean bands through the bars, and grinning, after their usual hideous fashion, at the passers by. Parrots and other foreign birds are often to be seen at the windows of small poor houses-presents, doubtless, from some sea-faring son or brother, and rivaling with their bright plumage the equally brilliant blossoms with which doors, windows, and the tiny gardens, are sure to be filled. In the dirtiest alleys the eye fastens gratefully on a patch of bright colour from a box of nasturtiums or carnations, and very dirty some of the old parts of the town are. It is a matter of surprise how those old gabled houses, built of wood and plaster, can hold together, they are bent and shaking under the accumulated weight of centuries; and still more astonishing is it that the inhabitants are ever free from cholera or typhus, when black open sewers run right under the latticed windows, and no drainage is attended to in those close lanes and courts, which have remained untouched since the days when Havre was a fishing village and Harfleur a populous town.
One Sunday morning we noticed a dense column of black smoke ascending from that side of the quays furthest from the town. Directly after service we hastened, notwithstanding the intense heat, in the direction of the docks, and working our way through the crowd gathered round the Bassin Imperiale, we were astonished to see the face of the water in a blaze. It appears that through some carelessness in dropping a spark, a barrel of petroleum on board a ship laden with it, had caught fire; we had heard no explosion, but by the time we reached the spot the vessel was burnt to the water's edge. A dark line showed where her hull was, and a few splintered shriveled pieces of wood was all that remained of her masts and spars. The water for many yards round was a sheet of liquid flame, the oil boiling and seething on the crests of the waves that broke against the stone sides of the pier. Happily the wind was blowing from the land, else the damage done would have been much greater; as it was, the buttresses of the pier and all the boats moored in the neighbourhood suffered severely from the blistering heat, notwithstanding the fire engines and jets of water continually playing upon them. The streams pouring from the hose in different directions looked like child's play with a syringe, against the devouring force of the
fire. A huge column of dense black smoke kept blowing across the mouth of the river to Honfleur, looking solid in its intense darkness ; flames, leaping up every now and then as the wind caught them, mingled with it, making the profoundly black mass appear as if shot with living fire. Then the wind would catch the smoke and flame together, whirling them round and round, till they reared up, a spiral pillar from thirty to forty feet in height; again, the breeze falling, you saw only the lake of fire, the heat and glare almost scorching your face and making you forget the power of the noon-day sun blazing above you. We remained a long time, thinking at one moment that the violence of the flame must be abating, as it paled from crimson to amber, when again it would burst out with redoubled fury as if it had discovered fresh supplies of oil to feed its insatiable appetite. It was not tilí past nine o'clock in the evening, more than twelve hours after the accident occurred, that the sooty cloud ceased to be visible, covering the usually bright sunny stretch of water between Havre and Honfleur.
HINTS ON READING.
The Dean of Norwich has done good service to our Church by his little book of Sermons on the Prayer Book, dealing in a popular manner with many of the shallow carelessly made objections to the selection of Sunday and Daily Lessons, and other ordinances of our Church. It is a book very fit to give to surface arguers.
The Voice of the Good Shepherd, by the Rev. R. Swayne, (Rivington,) is a course of really cloquent and exceedingly interesting sermons on the Prodigal Son.
Marion's The Wonders of Optics, (Sampson Low,) an extremely amusing book, translated from the French by C. Quin, and full of marvels—which, to use a hackneyed expression, are like a fairy tale.
The Old Deccan, by Miss Frere, (Chapman and Hall,) a most curious collection of legends—the Hindoo echo of our nursery tales. The history of the Christian Ayah who narrated them is one of the most inieresting parts of the
volume. As light history, good for reading aloud, Burton's English Seamen under the Tudors, is to be mentioned as full of interest, though disfigured here and there by sneers at the piety of the old captains.
After Life, by E. M. Sewell, (Longmans,) is, as no doubt our readers are already aware, the conclusion of A Journal of a Home Life. It is a more interesting book, for the Spanish journey gives it variety; and there is soinething very deeply thought out in the study of both Ina and Agnes.
Among pretty little slight books that have a good tone and do no harm, and so are just fit to lend to the ailing or those incapable of anything but the lightest literature, may be mentioned Reading for Ilonours, and The Story of Hermione—the first clever; the second harmless, if wonderfully silly and impossible. How did either the reformed convict or the Roman Catholic priest get to Norfolk Island ? We must confess it is strange to us that any English Church writer should of all places in the world select Norfolk Island as the working ground of a Roman Catholic Missionary !
We must not pass by without a mention, a tiny book of exquisite poetry on St. Mary's Home, Manchester, sold by Mr. Masters; nor Mr. Warne's charming little packet of Victoria Stories.
Many of our readers will be glad to see the Sketches of the Rites and Customs of the Greco-Russian Church, which have from time to time appeared in our pages, collected together in a considerable volume in Russian yellow and black, full of real pictures of domestic life, and of the manner in which the Church is ever invoked to bless either in joy or sorrow, or in any undertaking of life.
Aunt Judy's versions of nursery tales are delicious; Mrs. Overtheway, as usual, full of character. We hope that the mince-meat of the Vendéen wars will lead the readers to the real book-Madame de la Rochejaquelein's Memoirs-one which every person ought to have read.
The Stories for all the Sundays in the Year, now being put forth by Messrs. Hodge, are perhaps the more likely to impress the lesson for the slight exaggeration in them. In their short limits it may be impossible to avoid these; but the magnitude of the crimes, and the suddenness of the conversions, is curious, and gives the whole an oddly sensational tone. But perhaps the taste of the age must be followed even in penny religious books.
NOTICES TO CORRESPONDENTS.
No MS. can be returned unless the Author's name and address be written on it, and stamps be sent with it.
Contributions must often be delayed for want of space, but their writers may be assured that when room can be found they shall appear.
Lina would be glad to know why it is considered unlucky to spill salt. Also, if any of the Readers of The Monthly Packet can tell her the author of the Processional Hymn, While the Cross is gleaming; and if there is any tune published that is set to it. The Editor believes that the notion of the unluckiness of spilling salt is connected with the Eastern sense of obligation to keep the peace between men who had eaten salt together. He who spilt the salt would intend to prepare for an act of violence.
M. J. begs for information on the arrangement and working of Communicants' classes, especially on the means of interesting and encouraging the recently confirmed, who have passed beyond their clergyman's immediate influence.
The Editor would be much obliged if the Author of Spare Fuel, or any friend of hers, would send her present address. A post-office order sent to that from which she wrote originally has been returned from the Dead-letter Office, and will lapse if not claimed before the end of September.
A. H., Pimlico, asks where she can get flax, already spun into thread, woven into linen at a cheap rate.
Mr. Allnutt acknowledges with thanks the receipt of 2s. 9d. from Alphega, for The Nursery of the Good Shepherd, Portsea.
Two Shillings and Sixpence from M. H., for The Keble Memorial College Fund, is thankfully acknowledged. . M. C. L. and many others inform Adelaide that she will find the lines
“'Tis better to have lov'd and lost,
Than never to have lov'd at all.' in Tennyson's In Memoriam, xxvii.
L. K. answers her own query, that Angels' visits few and far between is to be found in Campbell's Pleasures of Hope. E. A. B. asks the author of the lines
* And such is mine inconstancy,
That you too shall adore:
Loved I not honour more.' We believe (but cannot at present refer) they are part of the Marquis of Montrose's poem to his love. : D. H. asks the author of these lines :
• Oft by the bed where want and woc were laid,
And speechless glances blest the good man's voice.'
A. wishes to know if any reader of The Monthly Packet will state the expense of taking it jointly with her. & communication addressed to the Editor will be forwarded to her.
Declined with thanks :-Hints to Village Choirs.
John and Charles Mozlcy, Printers, Derby,