Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]


brother-mid of mine, and I would have backed him L'Espiègle. I observed, moreover, that the men had with an equal force against all the Decaturs in pistols in their waist-belts, that arms of other kinds creation. I might as well,' added Webbe with unusual had been brought upon deck, and ranged conveniently heat—'I might as well snatch up a belaying-pin, floor at hand, and the two starboard guns cast loose and yonder little mousse, and then trumpet like a great loaded. elephant of my glorious victory! But enough of this. The fog, messieurs,' exclaimed the captain, when I Had you not better, Mr Linwood, go below? The air is had been on deck some half-hour, perhaps, the fog, chilly now, and will be many degrees colder before we messieurs, is, as you perceive, lightening fast; in a few again behold the sun.'

minutes, it will have entirely cleared away, and ifDo you remain on deck ?'

Thunder of heaven! yonder they come! Alerte!, he Ay, young man, till L'Espiègle is safely moored in shouted, jumping upon the deck; be ready with the French waters, or sunk five fathoms deep_which is boarding-nets, and see that your arms are in workingconsiderably under the average, by the by, at any order. The wind, Bourdon," he added, addressing an distance seaward off this coast- in those of the officer, will probably be here as soon, or sooner, than Channel. The rocks of Choisy, certainly, and the they; you had better, therefore, place at once two Pelican, possibly, lie in wait for us amidst the dark- men in the bows with sharp axes, to cut away the ness ahead-two considerations that would “murder cable at a sign from me.' sleep” as effectually as ever Macbeth did. the Capi The fog was indeed fast passing away; the sun, taine Jules Renaudin's sleep, that is. Mr William which in aspect like a red-hot cannon-ball, had been Linwood, of Boston, United States, may slumber as dimly glaring through it, swiftly assumed his ordinary serenely as at Oak Villa – Nay, never shake your splendour, and with well-nigh the rapidity of a coup raven locks at me! We shall weather Cape Danger, de théâtre, the dull, murky scene in which only our

do not fear, threateningly as it may seem just now to selves and L'Espiègle had been visible, changed to a loom upon us through the mirk night. Baptiste,' he bright sky overhead, a clear blue sea around, with added in French, "conduct monsieur below, and see four large boats filled with seamen and marines-the him properly accommodated.'

red jackets and bayonets of the latter glancing brightly Capitaine Jules Renaudin was right: the cold was in the sunshine-pulling lustily towards us ; but still, I becoming intense; and along the French shore a thick judged, a good mile off; and in the yet much further fog was rising, which would extinguish, so far as distance, the British sloop-of-war, Pelican! L'Espiègle was concerned, the dull lights that in those There being no further necessity for caution or days doubtfully beaconed the vessel's sinuous course concealment, the boats' crews gave a defiant cheer, along a rock-strewn coast, which the fear of hostile and pulled with renewed vigour, in the hope of reaching cruisers compelled her to hug with perilous proximity. us before the also rapidly approaching line of ruffled It was the rising fog, far more than the Pelican, that water, marking the progress of the breeze which they excited the fears of the commander of the French were, so to speak, bringing with them. privateer; and with good reason, I was

Captain Renaudin,' said I, speaking of course in enough to understand, without the help of Baptiste's English, which, fortunately, no one on board but us prolix verbal chart of the sands, shoals, rocks through understood a word of — Captain Renaudin, you will which, in avoidance of that maudit corsair Anglais, please to understand that I shall not fight against L'Espiègle would have to feel her dubious way. my own countrymen.

You have led me into a There, however, being an equally dismal certainty terrible'that I could do nothing to help myself or the cutter, * Bah! bah!'he interrupted, we shall manage to by remaining hungry and awake, I resigned myself to do without your valiancy's help, I dare say. To tell the excellent viands, wines, and liqueurs set before me you the truth,' he added, in a calmer tone, whilst still by Baptiste, and with such tranquillising success, that intently watching the race, so to speak, between the when I turned in for the night, the fog, shoals, rocks, boats and the breeze-to tell you the truth, I would and Britannic majesty's cruiser had lost, for me, nearly rather not myself; but self-preservation is the first all their terrors.

law of nature. Have the men ready in the bows, he I had risen and dressed myself the next morning at shouted, 'to cut away when I lift my hand. Bourdon,' a little after eight o'clock, as marked by my watch, he added, place the best men by the sails, so that albeit it seemed to be pretty nearly as dark as when they draw without the waste of one precious moment; I lay down in the hammock. We were, I found, and take the wheel yourself. The guns I take charge becalmed in a dense fog, and had anchored to avoid of.' being drifted upon a shoal or rock by the strong and I leaned against the capstan in a state of indescribseemingly capricious currents which prevail upon that able agitation. The full magnitude, to myself and those rugged coast.

dear to me, of stake involved the struggle about There was no danger, that I could imagine, to be to take place, seemed for the first time to flash upon apprehended, and yet å feeling of great uneasiness my startled senses. Should the boats-should the seemed to pervade the crew of L'Espiègle; the officers Pelican's launch, which greatly headed the others, were conversing in low tones with each other, peering reach us before L'Espiègle had got well under-way, into the murky air seaward with their glasses, and there could be no hope, however brave the resistance from time to time anxiously consulting the counte- offered, that the French privateer would get away nance of Captain Renaudin, as if there would be read before the remaining boats came up and rendered the earliest confirmation of their hopes or fears, what- further resistance hopeless-useless. In case of capever those hopes or fears related to. The captain ture, my own position would, to say the least, be a himself was standing upon the starboard bulwarks, very unpleasant, if not dangerous one; whilst as to supporting himself by the rattlings, and looking forth Webbe, supposing him to be identified—and if sent to seaward in one particular direction with unswerving Portsmouth, he was sure to be identified-his doom earnestness.

would unquestionably be an hour's dangle at the yard. He was, I saw, in no mood for answering idle arm; and with his life would pass away, I feared, all questions, and I forbore to ask any; but I was after- hope of accomplishing the purpose, to attain which, I wards informed that the Pelican had, it was known, had, tempted these desperate hazards. sighted the Espiègle just before the fog reached and And those fearful issues would be substantially shrouded her. The wind immediately afterwards died decided in ten minutes—in less, much less; the launch completely away, so that there was no doubt the was now not two hundred yards distant, and the stout British cruiser was aware of the exact whereabout of oars bent with the force of the rowers' efforts to reach

us in time. Meanwhile, Webbe-fiercely pale, as it Webbe determining, for reasons of his own, to accept were-resolved, yet regretful; for although he made the proffered honour, I had of course no choice but to no scruple of plundering his countrymen, he had a acquiesce. deep repugnance to firing upon, slaying them-had In sooth, I was rather pleased-young-man-like-I trailed one of the double-shotted guns-no grape or remember, with the idea of the entertainment, and cannister had been used; Webbe's aim being to smash especially of the ball which was to follow. the boat, if possible, not kill or wound the men-to The preparations for the simple fête amused, inbear upon the launch, but hesitated to discharge it till terested me. It was to be held in a large granary, there was no other chance left him but to do so. contiguous to L'Hôtel Impérial, which was cleared Another motive might be, that it was, above all, out for the occasion, decorated with evergreens and necessary to make sure that the shot would tell. gay flags; and to be illumined, for that night only,

Well, the launch was, I say, within two hundred yards by an enormous central chandelier, composed of three of us when the first puff of the coming breeze fluttered immense wooden hoops, slung one above another, and the dangling sails, and L'Espiègle heeled slightly over stuck full of tin candle-sconces--the shabbiness of to leeward.

material being concealed by pink calico roses, varie"Cut away the cable!' shouted the captain, without gated wreaths, rosettes, and so on. Four layers of for an instant taking his eye off the advancing boat. loose boards, forming distinct tables, each the length of 'Bourdon, be prompt, and, above all, calm!'

the granary, with deal forms on each side, would afford The cable, severed by a few sharp strokes of the axe, ample eating-room for the two hundred expected flew through the hawse-hole; the cutter's bows fell off; convives; and our preparations were complete, in time, a second and more powerful puff of wind filled the and barely so. Our entertainers were not rich-by sails; in another minute they would draw; in four, or 110 means the élite of the place; but their good-will five, no boat could overhaul us. Would those precious was of the heartiest; and the respectability, as well as minutes be vouchsafed ?

legality of the banquet, was assured by the consent of I could hardly hope so. Excited, as it seemed, by M. le Maire to preside. the possible escape of the anticipated prize, the marines The days of omens, portents, had passed away, in the stern of the launch jumped up to fire; a move or I was too insignificant an individual to excite ment that disturbed the equilibrium of the boat, and the intervention of the personages who are supposed which I could hear the naval officer in command to manage such things, for I certainly do not remember rebuke with a curse. Down dropped the jollies with to have felt the slightest presentiment of what was out firing, and in response to the sea-officer's stimulat- impending over me. On the contrary, I was in unusual ing appeal, the launch was made to fairly leap out of spirits, helped the men to tack on the candle-sconces, the water-so to speak—towards L'Espiègle.

to rig the rope-machinery which lield the enormous A successful cannon-shot alone could save us. chandelier in trembling suspense over our heads, and Webbe, seeing it to be so, fired. Almost simultaneous the maidens to cut the roses, and twist the wreaths. with the flash and roar of the gun, was his triumphant In short, I made myself generally useful, and, I was shout. The bow of the boat had been completely even assured, agreeable, to the modest degree, of course, smashed, and many of her crew were splashing and only which any one having the misfortune not to be sputtering about in the water; only one, as we after- born a Frenchman could hope to attain. wards knew, being wounded, and that not dangerously. It seems now natural enough to think and write of

A yell of delight arose from L'Espiègle, which drew the events of those days in a cheerful spirit. I liveforth a volley from the marines in the other boats—too have therefore survived the dangers which beset, distant to be effective. By that time, the French | encompassed me, and the darkest passages of my privateer was well under-way, and running with a experience are illumined by remembrance of the signal fine breeze for Avranches. The depth of water, and mercies which preserved me through them. At the intricacy of the navigation, forbade pursuit by the time, they were, Heaven knows, no subject for jest or British cruiser; and in less than two hours

, L'Espiègle mirth; and it, moreover, may be as well in this place, dropped anchor abreast of Mont St Michel, of iron- ; and once for all, to state, in order to keep well with cage celebrity. Quits, once more, for the fright! the reader, that although I did not affect the solemın,

Captain Jules Renaudin seemed to have a numerous grandissimo airs of our hero' of romantic fables, nor acquaintance in Avranches; and this last exploit, which stalk gloomily about amongst everyday people as if I was nothing less, it soon appeared, than beating off a was constantly before the lights in the principal part heavy British frigate with L'Espiègle of four guns, of a five-act tragedy, I nevertheless had ever before rendered him quite the lion of the ancient town. my eyes—ay, and there was ever beating at my heart Avranches is built upon a hill at the mouth of the and throbbing in my brain, a deep sense of the high river See, and was formerly, I dare say, a place of filial trust confided to me, and an unswerving resoluimportance. There was a curious old cathedral there, tion to do or die in its fulfilment. and other relics of bygone glories; but in 1814, the The banquet is prepared—served; the table is full. aspect of the town was drear and desolate in the M. le Maire presides, supported on one side by extreme. The pulse of the national life of France did Captain Jules Renaudin; on the other, by a gray. not beat high at that time, and in Avranches, as else- headed French officer en retraite, upon whose breast where, the emperor's reverses—the invasion by the glitters the cross of the Legion of Honour. I am allies of the sacred soil'-—were the sad themes of every seated amongst the common file at about the centre of conversation. Ay, and people were whispering with the room, and all for a time goes merry as a marriage. white lips and flashing eyes, that the insolent invaders bell--for a long time, to every one but myself, and it were actually marching upon Paris !

should seem a young man in the dress of a French Anything, therefore, however insignificant in itself, naval enseigne, seated at the furthest side of the which tended to revive the preposterous prestige of furthest table from, but directly opposite to me. His French invincibility, and especially a success upon the dark expressive countenance bears traces of recent sea, was hailed with an almost childish delight. So, suffering; but why on earth does he suddenly stop Captain Jules Renaudin, and a judicious selection from eating and gaze so fixedly at me! I have never seen the équipage of L'Espiègle, were invited to a banquet- him before, and shall not greatly care if I never do

Monsieur le jeune Americain’ having the honour to again. Bah! I will attend to my poulet, regardless of be included in the list of guests.

the fellow's persistent rudeness. I cannot, however, We were to have set out by diligence for St Malo on help glancing round just to Confound him; he is the same day this patriotic festival was improvised, but still sternly, fiercely glaring at me, Banquo-like, from

amidst the busy, unnoticing guests! It is extremely messieurs, I will give you a new example-furnish you annoying. Were it a young lady that appeared to be so with a modern illustration. Listen! suddenly taken with my handsome phiz, it would be Many of you are aware that but a few days ago another thing. Bah! I repeat to myself again; it is I was a prisoner of war to the English that I have nothing to me; let him stare as much as he likes—I escaped from the island of Jersey by an almost miracushall eat my dinner.

lous chance. The fight, messieurs, wherein I was But I cannot eat my dinner; the fellow has filched wounded and made captive, was that in which my away my appetite; and I am well pleased when the uncle, Captain Le Moine, lost his life. With the tables are cleared, the chandelier lit up, and the chivalrous feeling that ever distinguished him, the speeches begin-I shall the sooner be able to get commander of Le Renard disdained to avail himself away.

of the means of facile victory which the superiority M. le Maire proposes Sa Majesté l'Empereur: of luis armament afforded, and risked all upon the received with enthusiasm of course. I sit down, after chances of a hand-to-hand combat upon the deck-of a assisting to swell the applause, and almost leap again night-combat wherein skill is of slight avail against to my feet with uncontrollable surprise--panic rather! brute-strength. He has paid for that grave error with The naval enseigne has shifted his place-come near his life. Peace to his ashes; honour to his memory!' to me by one table, for a closer view, no doubt, and Peace to his ashes ; lionour to his memory!' echo continues to stare fixediy at me with those dark numerous voices as the young enseigne pauses, overgleaming eyes of his !

come by emotion. I am recalled to myself by M. le Maire, wlio, having I lave but a few words more to say, messieurs. proposed the United States, and may the alliance One of the most active of our foes during that terrible of the French and American eagles be perpetual,' contest was a young man, the son, I have been told, requests their youthful and distinguished American of the captain of the English ship. My uncle attacked guest to respond.

him, but his arm no longer possessed the vigour of his I rise for that purpose, amidst the acclamations of younger days, and after a few passes, the sword of the the company, and as I do so, a smile of exultant scorn, young Englishman terminated that precious life-a of deadly hate, kindles the pale face of my persecutor. life devoted to the honour and glory of France! The Under such circumstances, and considering, moreover, night was dark,' continues Auguste Le Moine, with that I do not care one straw for the two eagles, it is no gathering vehemence, but at the moment my uncle wonder I blunder between them, make a very ridiculous fell, a gleam of moonlight shone upon the scene, and I figure of myself, and then drop down in my seat as clearly marked the features of his slayer. Shall I hot, nervous, and uncomfortable as I have ever felt point him out to you? in my life.

•Where? Who? Tell us!' shouted, screamed a 'Captain Renaudin et l'équipage de L'Espiègle,' is hundred voices. received with vociferous applause, and is replied "Why, who but he who, in the guise of a friendly to by Webbe in, I have no doubt, a most audacious guest, has taken his seat at this banquet !—who but speech, that I do not hear; at least it does not touch this pretended American, and really the English slayer my mind, which is now fully pre-occupied by the naval of Captain Le Moine!' enseigne, in whom I can no longer conceal from myself A burst of incoherent rage echoed those words. I I confront a vengeful foe, whose spring at my throat was seized by vengeful, merciless hands, and should, I will not be long delayed !

doubt not, have been torn asunder, or trampled to I am right! Directly Renaudin sits down, the death, when, just as all chance, all hope was gone, Foung enseigne rises, and calmly claims M. le Maire's down came the enormous chandelier upon the heads of attention for a few words. It is granted instantly. the raging crowd-knocking me and a score of others “Silence pour Monsieur Auguste Le Moine !' exclaims off our legs, and plunging the entire assembly in this functionary, echoed by two hundred respectful darkness and confusion. voices— Silence pour Monsieur Auguste Le Moine.' I was lifted to my feet by the strong grasp of

Silence for Monsieur Auguste Le Moine! The name Captain Webbe, and with the help of one of his sailors, strikes my ear like a knell; and I divine what is hoisted out of the granary window. coming. Í glance towards Captain Webbe, who, I see, Off, and swiftly,' he whispered, to the Lion has already left his place, and is pushing towards the d'Or; I will soon be with you.' centre of the apartment.

He had cut, in the very nick of time, the rope by Monsieur le Maire et Messieurs,' begins the young which the chandelier was suspended, and with the help enseigne, the reverses that for a time have dimmed of his sailors, trampled out, as if by accident, the the glory of the French arms, have to-night been candles that remained alight after its fall. spoken of with mournful freedom. You have heard of the coalition that has been formed for the humiliation of France; of the possible triumph of the multi

VULCANISED INDIA-RUBBER SHOES. tudinous hosts whose presence already profanes our The manufacturing spirit of the present age seems to glorious, sacred soil. But, messieurs, permit me to have formed an extraordinary alliance with chemistry. remind you that it is not in the open field-the field of A plain man who tries to keep abreast of this branch honour-our enemies gain their most fatal victories. I of the national progress, must find amazing difficulty (Bravo.) England, especially, perfidious England with the mere technology of the subject. For example, employs against us with more effect than she does her our genuine old Windsor soap is now changed into a soldiers, or even her seamen-of whom I always wish substance called glycerine ; wax-candles are utterly to speak with the respect due to gallant men–England, extinguished in the market by another substance called I say, employs against us the more effective agencies paraffine; and soda is fast being superseded by the of her gold—lier manifold corruptions-her purchased crystals of hydrochlorate of lime. In fact, there is no traitors! (Bravos prolongés.) Yes, and to carry out limit to the singular catalogue of compounds which the her pitiless policy of corruption, she does not shrink manufacturer and the chemist between them bave

from suborning to it, the courage, the audacity of her contrived to form out of the constituents of this own bravest sons, whom she sends into our very midst unliappy world. in the character of friends-of Americans—to spy out The ancient Romans, we are told, who aspired to the where we are strong, and where we are weak; where great dignities of the republic, kept a slave or two in her blows may be struck with least danger, with most their families, whose sole business it was to learn the advantage to herself! Of this world-known truth, name and know the person of every citizen, in order

that their masters might salute their constituents on a cold winter evening, his clothes to all appearance with the proper degree of familiarity, and shake hands quite soft and pliable. Next morning, he was found with them as particular acquaintances. Something among the snow on the high road frozen to death, of this kind, we think, might be done with advantage with the fatal garments around him as stiff as buckram, in modern society. Our great merchants and manu- and as hard as iron. facturers might reta a person in their employment Fr these causes, among others we need not stay versed in the mysteries of chemistry applied to the to mention, the original India-rubber manufacture arts, whose duties should consist in watching the patent- gradually sunk in importance, and indeed soon became roll and the scientific journals, and who should be able extinct. But in a few years it was destined to rise to distinguish from the mass of unpronounceable names from its ashes. An ingenious shipwright of Rhode those inventions which are the most suitable to the Island, Charles Goodyear, who had a strong turn for public taste, and the most likely to turn out a invention, bethought him of using India-rubber sheets profitable speculation.

over a skeleton of timber planks for a life-boat. These reflections have arisen from a visit we paid The idea was excellent; but the same physical quality the other day to a new manufactory in the neigh- we have just mentioned operated much against its bourhood of Edinburgh, the staple article of which success in a practical point of view. The India-rubber is vulcanised India-rubber. A company of American life-boats were all very well in the water; but they did capitalists, from the regions of New York, have not answer to be pulled up high and dry on shore, as actually invaded the classical metropolis of the north, in that case the sheets gradually melted into a volatile and in less than a year have raised up a concern of essential oil, and disappeared. This circumstance was great magnitude—the largest of its kind, indeed, in very discouraging, and might have induced any one of Europe - upon the strength of the growing demand a less enthusiastic turn of mind to abandon the Indiafor this vegetable substance, particularly when fabri- rubber sheets altogether, and substitute tarred canvas, cated into waterproof goloshes. The thing strikes or something of that kind. But Goodyear, it should us as being so curious, and so important in a social seem, was no common-place inventor. With astonishpoint of view, that we have taken some trouble to ing perseverance, he set about acquiring the chemistry inquire into the whole subject; and we propose in this of the subject; and it is pleasing to relate that in this article to give our readers an account of the intro- direction his efforts were at length crowned with duction of the India-rubber manufacture into Scotland, success. He discovered that if India-rubber were together with a short description of the process of combined at a high temperature with certain propormaking India-rubber shoes.

tions of sulphur and the oxide of lead, its whole With regard to the material itself, we shall just physical nature was changed, that it was now proof state that it was first seen in Europe about the middle against the process of vegetable decay, and that it of last century; that it was soon afterwards discovered remained uniformly elastic under the most considerto be the gum, or, more properly, the coagulated juice able variations of temperature. This singular compound of certain tropical trees, the chief of which is the he ushered into the world in due time under the celebrated Siphonia elastica of the Brazilian forests; high-sounding title of Vulcanised India-rubber.* that by the natives it was called caoutchouc; by the The importance of this invention was very great, if chemists, from its singular elasticity, gum-elastic; and we may judge by its results. Vulcanised India-rubber by the common people, from its valuable property of at once became the rage; all sorts of things were made cleaning paper, India-rubber. Its physical properties, from it-railway springs and buffers, machinery belts, indeed, as a whole are perfectly unique. By far the elastic bands and air-cushions, waterproof garments of most elastic substance in nature, it is insoluble in water, every description, all kinds of bandages, and a numin alcohol, or in any of the mineral acids; but it dissolves ber of surgical instruments. These things all created readily in ether or naphtha; and, above all, it possesses a large demand for the material; but it was soon the power of agglomerating, or, in plain language, of found that the article which consumed most and sold adhering again when cut, if the separate pieces are best was the waterproof goloshes; and in a few years brought together. No other substance, we may add, is after the invention was made public, there sprang so valuable to the analytical chemist. We have the up, and still continue to flourish, several large estabhigh authority of the Baron Justus von Liebig for lishments in Connecticut, in Rhode Island, in New stating, that to the increased facilities which the Jersey, and in Massachusetts, which manufacture about flexible tubes and sheets of India-rubber have given five million pair every year, and give employment to in the laboratory, we owe many of the brightest upwards of five thousand people. discoveries in organic chemistry.

The North British Rubber Company' is an offspring Now, it happened about twenty-five years ago, that of this family. Since the manufacture had proved sucthe method of producing thin sheets of India-rubber cessful in America, it was thought, shrewdly enough, was applied to the invention of waterproof cloth that it might pay in Europe also. Accordingly, a garments; and large manufactories for this purpose company having been formed on the limited liability were established both in England and in the United principle, the present managers, Mr H. L. Norris and States. The celebrated Macintosh fabrics, so popular Mr S. T. Parmelee, who are also large proprietors, in the days of stage-coach travelling, belong to this were instructed to cross the Atlantic, and fix on a era of the trade. But, unfortunately, one or two awk- location for the projected colony. To shew their capaward circumstances connected with the material, which city for this important mission, we may relate, that had hitherto almost escaped notice, began to appear the commercial man, Mr Norris, had been, during in the most unmistakable manner. India-rubber, it thirty years, engaged in the India-rubber trade; that was found, like all other vegetable substances, had he had resided fourteen years in South America, where a tendency to unite with the oxygen of the atmosphere, he had experimented upon the juice of the great Indiaand decompose; and while perfectly elastic at all rubber trees in the boundless forests of the Amazon. ordinary temperatures, it had the fatal peculiarity of The other was a practical man, skilled in chemistry and becoming soft with heat and hard with cold. It was mechanics, acquainted with the law of patents, and related in South Carolina, that a stout gentleman, accustomed to manage working-men. It is not often, travelling one day under a hot sun with a waterproof we think, that the great elements of success in comcoat on, became glued up into an outer integument, mercial enterprise are so fairly blended. We do not from which no skill could extricate him. Another unfortunate man in Michigan, who wore a full suit of the treacherous fabric, was seen to leave a hot room fully into Goodyear's invention.

* We propose taking an opportunity, by and by, of going moro

know for what reason, but they selected Scotland as the we were informed, is derived, in the order of its field of their industry, and they first thought of making importance and intrinsic value, from the Brazils, Glasgow their head-quarters. They were seen, like the from Central America, from the East Indies, and, two mysterious travellers in Washington Irving, explor- lastly, from Africa. The South American rubber ing the smoky regions of the Gorbals and Port Dundas, imported from Para, the great entrepôt of our Braziltalking vaguely of purchasing land, and of building ian commerce, is worth about Is. 6ā. per pound; the property, of burgage tenures and feudal superiorities; East Indian, from Singapore, about 18. per pound; but, either from the difficulty of procuring a suitable while the African, which is very inferior in point of place, or from the prospect of delay, they left the seat quality, is only worth about 3d. per pound. As to the of our manufactures and commerce, and finally cast consumption, it has been computed that, for a period anchor in the seat of our literature and philosophıy. of twenty years previous to 1856, there were exported One circumstance, indeed, guided their choice: they from South America to England about twelve million discovered in Edinburgh one of the finest models pounds; but the exports from the same quarter to of a manufactory which can be found in this or any the United States during the same period amounted other country, unoccupied, and ready to receive to twenty-two million pounds. The United States, them.

therefore, appear to consume nearly twice as much of In the south-western suburbs of the city, at a place the material as we do in England-we may almost say, called Fountain Bridge, near the deserted basin of the in the whole of Europe. Edinburgh and Glasgow Canal, there stands a large The first process of the manufacture is to convert and stately pile of building, which is known to the this raw India-rubber into sheets. For this purpose, it inhabitants by the name of The Castle Silk-mills.' is first of all crushed through ponderous iron rollers, Those buildings were erected some five-and-twenty which soon make flat enough work of the negroheads. years ago by a company of adventurers, who proposed It is then cut into small pieces. These pieces are to make Edinburgh a seat of the silk-manufacture. thrown into an iron vat of hot water, which has the No expense was spared on their erection. The large effect of softening and cleansing them at the same quadrangle, the excellent masonry, the magnificent time. The India-rubber is now subjected to a curious steam-engine, the symmetrical chimney, as well as the process of grinding through heated iron cylinders, whole plan of the works, still attest the fine taste which convert it into a soft plastic mass, well fitted to and boundless liberality of the projectors. Whether assimilate with the necessary ingredients which produce it arose from misdirected enterprise, or from want of the chemical metamorphosis. After being triturated in capital, we do not know; bu at anyrate, the specu- this way for some time, it is finally rolled into a lation proved unsuccessful, and the silk-mills were smooth sheet through a congeries of double rollers abandoned. For the long period of twenty years, this made of iron, very highly polished and very hot. This splendid building remained as silent, and almost as sheet, which comes forth in the most regular form deserted, as if it had been dug out at Pompeii. It imaginable, is passed on endless bands to the floor was tried for a poor-house; it was tried for a carpet- above, where it is cut into proper lengths, and stored manufactory; but it would not do: nothing could upon layers of calico. This vulcanised sheet Indiarouse the slumbering spirit of that silent mansion. At rubber constitutes the material for the uppers of the length, one morning, our two Americans appeared shoes. in the court-yard, examining the premises with an The next step is to fabricate the inside lining. This acute and practised eye. The result of their visit consists merely of cotton cloth of different degrees of was soon made plain. The property was at once texture, which is coated with the viscid preparation occupied, and in less than three months it was pur- of India-rubber while passing through the hot rollers chased by the North British Rubber Company; and in the same manner as the sheets. This waterproof the Castle-mills were applied to the manufacture of cloth is used, coated on one side only, for insoles and another kind of fabric, not, indeed, so fine or so costly inside lining, but is coated on both sides for the purpose as silk, but apparently of more popular use, and of far of packing or welting, or whatever the narrow stripes greater consumption.

are called which cover the seams. It is proper to state that the managers were also The third process is to stamp out the sole. For this guided in their choice of Edinburgh as a site for their purpose the material goes through a similar arrangemanufacture, by the following considerations. In the ment of rollers; but the surfaces, in this case, in first place, because they conceived it to possess a place of being smooth and polished, have deep indentsuperabundant female population; secondly, because, ations cut into them, corresponding with the height from the comparative absence of other manufactures, of the heel, and the thickness of the sole—a species there was a probability of procuring cheap labour; of circular die, in point of fact. These rollers are lastly, because it possessed an easy access, by way of also reticulated on the outer surface, in order to Leith, to the markets of the continent.

produce the little facets we observe on the sole of With these views well matured, they began operations the shoe; and, in addition to this, they are usually in the month of May last year. Their staff consisted stamped with a matrix of the manufacturer's name. of only four people—two English girls, one Irish Such is the preparation of the materials for the shoe. girl, and one Irishman, whom they had brought from We must now go up stairs and see those materials the United States to teach our people the process. put together. In order to do this, we get into a That process we shall now proceed to explain ; and for lifting machine which traverses the whole height of this purpose, we must ask the reader to accompany us the building, and pass in succession, first the room in a glance through the works. We begin at the north devoted to packing and warehouse business, and side of the quadrangle, a large and spacious side of second, the room where the sheets are cut into the the building, consisting of five floors, which is entirely proper shapes. The soles, uppers, insoles, inside lining, devoted to the manufacture of India-rubber shoes. all pass through the hands of certain artisans, who

The first thing we observe here worthy of notice, is correspond to the cutter or clicquer of the orthodox shoethe enormous piles of raw material scattered in various trade. Our conductor told us, while ascending in the heaps over the basement floor, some of it in flat cakes, lift, that hitherto the manufacture had been conducted some of it in the form of round bullets about the by men whose wages ranged from fifteen to twenty-five size of a man's head-hence, in the language of the shillings per week; but, in all subsequent stages, they trade, called negrohead, to which part of the native made large use of female labour, both from its superior African it bears, we must say, an extraordinary cheapness and its superior taste. Just at this point resemblance. The commercial supply of this materiai, / we reached the fourth floor of the building; the signal

« AnteriorContinuar »