« AnteriorContinuar »
Like patriotie Britons, we have our partialities, and as the fullers of ancient Rome appear to have some claim upon our attention as amongst the improvers of a very precious manufacture, one of the boasted products of British industry, we shall not hesitate to enable the reader to ascertain what it was they effected towards the perfection of cloth. We find that the first process was, in the old Roman time, for the fullers' children to clean the wool from all the grosser and more palpable impurities which were mixed with its fibres. To cleanse it from the natural grease, they next boiled it in pure water; but, as this was insufficient, they used afterwards lye, prepared from wood-ashes and urine, because it contained various salts, which, in combination with the fat of the wool, formed a kind of soap. Pliny says, that fullers were not subject to gout, because they had their feet habitually plunged in the excremental fluid. After passing through the urine bath, it was cleared from that by lotion in a large pool of water,-"the fuller's pool of water." The finishing process was to immerse it in a bath, containing a decoction of the herb struthium, a plant which had the property of bleaching, and presumed to be the borith of the prophets Jeremiah and Malachi. Soap, which was at first only a pomatum for the hair, invented by the Gauls, was unknown in these periods, although, as a German article, the use of it, applied to the person and cloth, is clearly described bý a writer of the third century of our era. The soap-boilers' shop at Pompeii is, therefore, an anachronical appropriation. To the lixiviates before mentioned, the fullers added, for further bleaching, the bolar earths, of which the chief was the cymolian before mentioned, from the isle of Cymolis, now called Argentière. This was mixed with the cloth, which they then fulled, i. e. trod, or rather jumped upon, with their feet, and worked with their hands,-an operation now performed by the stocks. They also used rollers (pila fullonicæ) to press and beat the stuffs. What was next done was the process now (and anciently, also, according to Pollux), performed by the teasel, a substitute for which was a bundle of prickly plants, drawn over the cloth, and the skin of a hedgehog. The next process was the shearing. The workman, with common shears, cut or detached the little tufts projecting from the stuff; and these, with the wool further extracted by the instrument, formed the flocks of cushions and mattresses. To complete the whiteness necessary, the cloth was fumigated by sulphur. To confer lustre, the cloth was pressed by a machine, presumed to consist of two planks, between which the cloth was placed, and pressed down by weights or a vice.
We have the happiness, and we think we can say that our readers will sympathize with us after what they have now read, to announce that this volume with which we have amused, if not instructed them, is only a presage to what we believe will prove a much more entertaining successor.
The second volume is to con
tain an account of the laws, literature, philosophy, religion, manners, and customs of the same people, and, if the author will only adhere to the plan which he has adopted in the specimen before us, iwe think we can pledge ourselves to maintain a strictly consistent line of partiality towards him, for the proofs of which we confidently refer him to our review of his future volumes.
T Art. VII.-1. The Headsman; or, the Abbaye des Vignerons.
A Tale. By the Author of "The Bravo," &c. &c. In three
vols. 12mo. London: Bentley. 1833. 2. Peter Simple. By the Author of "Newton Foster,” “The
King's Own," &c. In three vols. 12mo. London: Saunders
and Otley. 1834. 3. Trevelyan. By the Author of " A Marriage in High Life,
In three vols. 12mo. London: Bentley. 1833. 4. The Prediction. In three vols. London: Saunders and Otley.
1833. WHATEVER may be said as to the multiplicity of novels in the present era, no one assuredly can deny that they form the vehicles for exhibiting to the public a very considerable amount of intellectual power. There were periods in our literary history, and those periods are not long gone by, when we were favoured with works of imagination of far more transcendant merit than it is now our fortune to enjoy; but we are not aware of the existence of any epoch in our literary annals, when the talents and faculties capable of producing a good novel were more widely diffused than we find them at this moment. We see engaged in this busy occupation, a host of the most diversified labourers; countesses and jack tars; veteran captains and misses in their teens--each fulfilling the chosen task with a success which gives an unprecedented prominence to this department of our literature. The fact is at once an index to the exalted degree to which mental cul. tivation has attained in this country; and it is no important token of the good sense which prevails in our time, to see combinations ; from different ranks of society coming together on terms of equality to compete for the recompense which the public is ready to ben stow on intellectual merit.
The first of the novels before us is the production of an expe. rienced artist in such materials, and the scene of it is laid partly in Switzerland, and partly in France. When the curtain is raised, we are introduced to a party formed of a considerable number on board a bark called the Winkelried, which was then about to sail from Geneva to Vevay, for the purpose of conveying the passengers to the latter place, where a splendid fête was about to be celebrated. Just as the ship was preparing to sail, a noise, which soon became a tumult, was heard amongst the passengers, who
heard with indignation that Balthazar, the headsman, or executioner of Berne, was amongst them in disguise. It became necessary ultimately for the captain of the vessel to receive the passengers on board under an examination, the officers of the place standing by to recognize such persons as were of bad character. Amongst the individuals who went on board, was the Baron de Willading with his daughter Adelheid, and a young soldier whom he frequently addressed by the name of Monsieur Sigismund. They also take on board a friend of the baron's, who went under the title of a Genoese gentleman, but whose real designation was that of Doge. The motley group on board feeling now that Balthazar was no longer amongst them, but that he had slunk back with the crowd on shore, expressed their satisfaction, and the bark proceeded without further delay towards her destination. But by ill fortune, the ship which was too heavily laden, having come almost in sight of shore, was met by a storm. It was in the night; and as soon as the fatal crisis into which the Winkelried had been suddenly plunged was made known below, the greatest consternation succeeded. Adelheid and the other women were now lashed to the masts, and death seemed every instant to threaten them. A powerful description of the effects of the storm is given by the author, but it is much too technical for the general reader. It will be sufficient for us to state that Sigismund, the young military person who had accompanied the baron, at the hazard of his life and by the most heroic valour, had the satisfaction of saving not only the life of the baron, but that of his daughter. The passengers safely landed at a small village near Vevay, and were received with great joy, for the distress of the vessel had been witnessed from shore: Sigismund obtained universal applause for his heroism.
The conduct of the latter, on this trying occasion, would have been sufficient under ordinary circumstances to have given Sigismund an interest in Adelheid's heart; but, in point of fact, she had more than a year before surrendered her heart to him, though he must have been perfectly unconscious of the fact. She was placed in a dilemma of such complexity as, by meditating upon it, her health began to decline; she saw that, from Sigismund's circumstances, it was hopeless to suppose that her father would ever sanction her marriage with him, and she resolved, accordingly, to abide firmly by the dictates of conscience and virtue. But, as the author truly puts it, of all ungrateful and reluctant tasks, that of striving to forget is the least likely to succeed. Adelheid was sustained only by her sense of duty and the desire not to disappoint her father's wishes, to which habit and custom had given nearly the force of law with maidens of her condition, though her reason and judgment no less than her affections were both strongly enlisted on the other side. Indeed, with the single exception of the general unfitness of a union between two of unequal stations, there was nothing to discredit her choice, if that may be termed choice which, after all, was more the result of spontaneous feeling and secret sympathy than of any other cause, unless it were a certain equivocal reserve, and a manifest uneasiness, whenever allusion was made to the early history and to the family of the soldier. This sensitiveness on the part of Sigismund had been observed and commented on by others as well as by herself, and it had been openly ascribed to the mortification of one who had been thrown, by chance, into an intimate association that was much superior to what he was entitled to maintain by birth; a weakness but too common, and which few have strength of mind to resist or sufficient pride to overcome. The intuitive watchfulness of affection, however, led Adelheid to a different conclusion ; she saw that he never affected to conceal, while with equal good taste he abstained from obtrusive allusions to the humble nature of his origin, but she also perceived that there were points of his previous history on which he was acutely sensitive, and which at first she feared must be attributed to the consciousness of acts that his clear perception of moral truth condemned, and which he could wish forgotten. For some time Adelheid clung to this discovery ‘as to a healthful and proper antidote to her own truant inclinations, but native rectitude banished a suspicion which had no sufficient ground, as equally unworthy of them both.
One evening leaning over the balcony, which looked on a beautiful scene, she suddenly saw Sigismund in a valley below the window. In a moment of precipitancy she beckoned to him, and he, in an instant, sprang up the acclivity. She resolved to make this a last meeting, and she made an effort to put forth all her fortitude on the trying occasion. The scene which follows is exceedingly well contrived. By degrees the lovers come more clearly to an explanation, and Adelheid does not hesitate to express her preference, and to state a well-founded expectation that her father would consent to their union. But what was her astonishment when she found the young man utterly opposed to her proposal; lie acknowledged that he loved her, that he would give worlds to be her husband, but, from some mysterious cause, he told her they never could be wedded.
"" Were I to listen,” mildly and with anxious dignity said Adelheid,“ to the common feelings of my sex, Sigismund, this reluctance to accept what both my father and myself offer might cause me to feign displeasure. But between thee and me, there shall be nought but holy truth. My father has well weighed all these objections, and he has generously decided to forget them. As for me, placed in the scale against thy merits, they have never weighed at all. If thou canst not become noble in order that we may be equals, I shall find more happiness in descending to thy level, than by living in heartless misery at the vain height where I have been placed by accident."
"" Blessed, ingenuous girl!-But what does it all avail? Our marriage is impossible."
**If thou knowest of any obstacle that would render it improper for a weak, but virtuous, girl"
«« Hold, Adelheid!+do not finish the sentence. I am sufficiently humbled--sufficiently debased--without this cruel suspicion.”
6" Then why is our union impossible, -when my father not only consents, but wisbes it may take place?",
5 Give me time for thought-thou shalt know all, Adelheid, sooner or later. Yes, this is, at the least, due to thy noble frankness. Thou shouldst in justice have known it long before.”
Adelheid regarded him in speechless apprehension, for the evident and violent physical struggles of the young man too fearfully announced the mental agony he endured. The colour had fled from her own face, in which the beauty of expression now reigned undisputed mistress; but it was the expression of the mingled sentiments of wonder, dread, tenderness, and alarm.' He saw that his own sufferings were fast communicating themselves to his companion, and, by a powerful effort, he so far mastered his emotions as to regain a portion of his self-command.' —Vol. ii. 22–24.
Sigismund, in a succeeding explanation, related to Adelheid that his objcction to their union did not arise from the consciousness of the obscurity of his birth, and his want of fortune: these he looked upon as untoward accidents, and not to be set down to the prejudice of one who had earned a good character and an honourable station by his own exertions; “but," said the youth, checking himself, “ perhaps the heavier disgrace which crushes me may have caused this want to appear lighter than it otherwise might.”
"" Disgrace!" repeated Adelheid, in a voice that was nearly choked, " The word is fearful, coming from one of thy regulated mind, and as applied to himself.”
I cannot choose another. Disgrace it is by the common consent of men—by long and enduring opinion-it would almost seem by the just judgment of God. Dost thou not believe, Adelheid, that there are certain races which are deemed accursed, to answer some great and unseen end races on whom the holy blessings of Heaven never descend, as they visit. the meek and well-deserving that come of other lines !".
*"I do not like to hear thee speak thus, Sigismund, and, least of all, with a brow so clouded, and in a voice so hollow !"
** I will tell my tale more cheerfully, dearest. I have no right to make thee the partner of my misery; and yet this is the manner I have reasoned, and thought, and pondered-ay, until my brain has grown heated, and the power to reason itself has nearly tottered. Ever since that accursed hour, in which the truth became known to me, and I was made the master of the fatal secret, have I endeavoured to feel and reason thus.”
"• What truth?—what secret?-If thou lovest me, Sigismund, speak calmly and without reserve.
• The young man gazed at her anxious face in a way to show how deeply he felt the weight of the blow he was about give. Then, after a pause, he continued
"“We have lately passed through a terrible scene together, dearest