Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

And henceforth very well may wait
The unbarring of the golden gate
Wherethrough, already, faith can see
That apter to each wish than we
Is God, and curious to bless
Better than we devise or guess;
Not without condescending craft
To disappoint with joy, and waft
Our vessels frail, when worst He mocks
The sight with breakers and with rocks,
To happiest havens. You have heard
Your bond death-sentenced by His Word.
What if, in heaven, the name be o'er,
Because the thing is so much more ?
All are, 'tis writ, as angels there;
Nor male nor female. Each a stair
In the hierarchical ascent
Of active and recipient
Affections ; what if all are both
By turn, as they themselves betroth
To adoring what is next above,
Or serving what's below their love ?

Of this we are certified, that we
Are shaped here for eternity,
So that a careless word will make
Its dint upon the form we take
For ever. If, then, years have wrought
Two strangers to become, in thought,
Will, and affection, but one man
For likeness, as none others can
Without like process, shall this tree,
The king of all the forest, be,
Alas, the only one of all
That shall not lie where it doth fall ?
Shall this most quenchless flame, here nurst
By everything, yea, when revers’d,
Blazing, like torch, the brighter, wink,
Flicker, and into nothing shrink,
When all else burns baleful or brave
In the keen air beyond the grave,
The air love gasps for, sickening here
Out of its native atmosphere ?

It cannot be! The Scriptures tell
Only what's inexpressible,
And, 'gainst each word, to make it right,
Themselves propound the opposite
Beware ; for fiends in triumph laugh
O'er him who learns the truth by half!.
Beware ; for God will not endure
For men to make their hope more pure
Than His good promise, or require
Another than the five-string'd lyre
Which He has vow'd again to the hands

To tune it justly here! Beware
The Powers and Princedoms of the Air,
Which make of none effect man's hope,
Bepraising heaven's etherial cope,
But covering with their cloudy cant
Its counterpoising adamant,
Which strengthens ether for the flight
Of angels, makes and measures height,
And in materiality
Exceeds our Earth's in like degree ,
As all else Earth exceeds. Do I
Here utter aught that's dark or high?
Have you not seen a bird's beak slay
Proud Psyche, on a summer's day?
Down fluttering drop the frail wings four,
Wanting the weight that made them soar !
Spirit is heavy Nature's wing,
And is not rightly anything
Without its burthen, whereas this,
Wingless, at least a maggot is,
And, wing'd, is honour and delight
Increasing endlessly with height.

PARIS REVISITED.

BY ONE WHO KNEW IT WELL.

SECOND ARTICLE.

I HAVE said that there were hopeful elements in Imperial France. Far more, no doubt, than any that I had a chance of seeing at work. But of the reality of three I had the means of convincing myself, the Associations Ouvrières, or manufacturing and trading associations of working men — young French Protestantism-Liberal Roman Catholicism.

Whilst with us the cooperative principle among the working classes has been mainly applied to consumption, or has used consumption as the leverage for production, it has, on the contrary, started in France from production itself. I had visited Paris in 1849, when the “Working Associations” were numbered by the hundred. I had seen several of them, some of which are defunct, whilst others still subsist. The total number of them is now reduced to

ing among the foremost establishments in their respective trades. There are the patriarchs of French associative labour, the "jewellers in gilt,” doing their quiet business of about 8,0001, a year, who date already since 1834. There is the great association of masons, numbering its hundred members, with a number of smaller associations in the building trades following in its wake; it has suffered during the past year through some ill-judged undertakings, but is seeking now how best to avail itself of the lessons of the past. There are the arm-chair makers and the joiners of the Cour St. Joseph, who have weathered all the tricks of their managers, and have never lost their reputation for good work. There are the chair-turners of the Rue Popincourt, with their vast workshops, abundant

are the file-makers, busy at work as ever on the patent which they have secured for themselves. There are the saddletree-makers of the Rue Pétrelle, one of the bodies in which employers and workers amicably coalesced. There are the jewellers—a different set from those above mentioned-brush-makers, lantern-makers, lamp-makers, a truly heroic band ; umbrella and cane-makers, spectacle-makers, who unfortunately are said to be invaded by the mammonite spirit, and to be fast verging into a mere partnership. There are the tailors of the Rue Coq-Héron, a body, the existence of which was new to me, though dating, I believe, more than ten years back; at first such determined Proudhonists, that they endeavoured to do without capital or profit, charging cost-price to their customers, till a few failures to pay among the latter compelled them to be less absolute in their commercial principles ; a somewhat singular set, who have kept studiously aloof from their associated brethren, but have, nevertheless, clung tenaciously together during the many years of imperial rule.

To my great disappointment, I had leisure to see but a few of those even which I háve named, though I might have had access to all of them had time allowed. Let me say at once, that for those who have no clue to them, they are not easy to find out. Few have been able to retain the outward name of “association;' most of them only bear towards the public the style of ordinary or commandite partnerships. Only those who are aware of the facts will know to look for the associated masons under the firm of “ Bouyer, Cohadon et Cie.." or for the jewellers in gilt, under that of “Dreville, Thibout et Cie.” Whilst if any visitor, unprovided with a trustworthy introduction, should attempt to make inquiry into these bodies, he has but himself and the Imperial régime to thank, if he finds himself received with coldness and distrust. For the very existence of these associations is, so to speak, a standing miracle. In the days

reaction, there was scarcely one but had its manager thrown into prison, or obliged to take to flight for fear of arrest. Thanks, it is believed, to the interference of the supreme ruler himself, the period of active persecution has indeed passed away—but under what conditions ! So long as the several associations keep to themselves as towards the public, hold little or no intercourse with others, make no show of their existence, make no effort to propagate their principles, or to educate their members, they are left unmolested, at least by the supreme government itself. But it is only within the last few months, that one of them which had, for a wonder, retained outside its premises the title of “Association fraternelle des...," was compelled by a new commissary of police, with much ill-language, to erase the obnoxious profession of brotherhood. All must be prepared, at any time, to receive the prying visits of this personage, on some such pretext as that of asking whether they have lately sent away any workmen. (This happened to one of them within a fortnight of my seeing it.) Although the emperor, personally, may not be unfriendly to them, they know well that, under the arbitrary Imperial régime, they are at the mercy of any hasty, spiteful, or over-zealous official; that their managers may be arrested and placed au secret, i. e., cut off from all communications, their books of business seized and carried off, long before any complaint could reach the fountain-head of power. And although, by the peculiar strength of their constitution and principles, they have, in many instances, been able to weather such a blow when it has fallen upon them, the dread of seeing the like recur acts with a paralysing force.

The check placed upon the intellectual development of the people is not less cruel. Complaints are rife on all sides of the ignorance of the working men ; they themselves acknowledge it, bewail it. The workshops of the associations would seem to afford the very instruction. In entering one of these, I was singularly struck by its aptness for the purpose. I spoke on the subject to the manager-a right noble fellow. “Ah !” he replied, “ I have seen those “ workshops used as class-rooms night * after night, and it was quite pleasing 6 to hear our workmen of a morning, “ instead of talking of ... des bêtises, “ discussing at their work some point of “ grammar or of literature. But some “ of our teachers were thrown into “ prison, and others became afraid, and “ others know that they would not be " allowed to teach, and so nothing is “ done in that way. .. at present.”

Let this clearly be understood—and we Englishmen can scarcely understand it—that no one in France can hold any educational class without official permission. Nor is this indeed a fruit of the new empire. Quite the contrary. Freedom of teaching has never existed, except under the Republic of 1848. It was for the crime of opening a free school in the first years of Louis Philippe's reign, that M. de Montalembert had to undergo that famous trial before the Chamber of Peers which so brilliantly inaugurated his public life. To revert, however, to the present; it would seem the simplest thing in the world to an Englishman that, when twenty or thirty men work together all day, and are anxious to learn in the evening, one of themselves should teach the others in a room on their own premises. Yet even this would be an illegal act; still more the teaching of a stranger, though invited by the associated body. But would the permission to teach be granted ? Yes, to a person well approved of by the local authorities, warranted to teach sound Bonapartist doctrine. Do you wonder that, under such circumstances, the educational question is mostly postponed by the associated workmen? or rather, that they put up for the present with the stern practical education of labour, business, adversity, leaving letters to shift for themselves ? Even social gatherings are forbidden to them.

five persons cannot so much as legally dine together in France without official permission, and that the commissary of police has the right to be present whenever such a portentous event takes place.

Nor have the associations wanted for trials, even apart from actual persecution. The principle of association is essentially expansive; pen it up within four walls, it languishes, and too often withers. Many is the tale of internal trial which these worthy fellows have to tell, even apart from the struggles of the first launching of the association, generally quite a romance in themselves. Mostly speaking, it is the managers who have either involved the association in ruinous speculations, or have played false to it, establishing a connexion and feathering their nest for themselves. A singularly able and energetic man, whom I had known formerly as manager of the arm-chair makers, was ejected for conduct of the latter description. He sued the body which he had just left in damages, alleging that he used to earn as a workman six francs per day, that by becoming manager of the association he lost not only the chance of employment, but the skill of hand necessary to do his work, and was therefore entitled to compensation. The Court admitted this reasoning, and adjudged the association to pay him 1,800f a year. He is as good a workman as ever, and is doing business for himself, whilst receiving always the 1,800f. a-year from his old fellow-workmen. In other cases, not the managers, but the men play false. The chair-turners numbered at one time (1855) a hundred men, about one-fourth of the trade, and seemed likely to absorb it all. Some of their men thought they could make more money, and went off to set up a rival establishment. They are now but twenty-six, though still quite at the head of the trade in Paris for solidity of work, and possessing almost the monopoly of the French provincial trade. I trust the Great Exhibition of next year may show us some of their wares. As to the storms are the file-makers, busy at work as ever on the patent which they have secured for themselves. There are the saddletree-makers of the Rue Pétrelle, one of the bodies in which employers and workers amicably coalesced. There are the jewellers—a different set from those above mentioned-brush-makers, lantern-makers, lamp-makers, a truly heroic band; umbrella and cane-makers, spectacle-makers, who unfortunately are said to be invaded by the mammonite spirit, and to be fast verging into a mere partnership. There are the tailors of the Rue Coq-Héron, a body, the existence of which was new to me, though dating, I believe, more than ten years back; at first such determined Proudhonists, that they endeavoured to do without capital or profit, charging cost-price to their customers, till a few failures to pay among the latter compelled them to be less absolute in their commercial principles; a somewhat singular set, who have kept studiously aloof from their associated brethren, but have, nevertheless, clung tenaciously together during the many years of imperial rule.

To my great disappointment, I had leisure to see but a few of those even which I háve named, though I might have had access to all of them had time allowed. Let me say at once, that for those who have no clue to them, they are not easy to find out. Few have been able to retain the outward name of “association;" most of them only bear towards the public the style of ordinary or commandite partnerships. Only those who are aware of the facts will know to look for the associated masons under the firm of “ Bouyer, Cohadon et Cle.," or for the jewellers in gilt, under that of “Dreville, Thibout et Cie.” Whilst if any visitor, unprovided with a trustworthy introduction, should attempt to make inquiry into these bodies, he has but himself and the Imperial régime to thank, if he finds himself received with coldness and distrust. For the very existence of these associations is, so to speak, a standing miracle. In the days

reaction, there was scarcely one but had its manager thrown into prison, or obliged to take to flight for fear of arrest. Thanks, it is believed, to the interference of the supreme ruler himself, the period of active persecution has indeed passed away—but under what conditions ! So long as the several associations keep to themselves as towards the public, hold little or no intercourse with others, make no show of their existence, make no effort to propagate their principles, or to educate their members, they are left unmolested, at least by the supreme government itself. But it is only within the last few months, that one of them which had, for a wonder, retained outside its premises the title of “Association fraternelle des ...," was compelled by a new commissary of police, with much ill-language, to erase the obnoxious profession of brotherhood. All must be prepared, at any time, to receive the prying visits of this personage, on some such pretext as that of asking whether they have lately sent away any workmen. (This happened to one of them within a fortnight of my seeing it.) Although the emperor, personally, may not be unfriendly to them, they know well that, under the arbitrary Imperial régime, they are at the mercy of any hasty, spiteful, or over-zealous official; that their managers may be arrested and placed au secret, i. e., cut off from all communications, their books of business seized and carried off, long before any complaint could reach the fountain-head of power. And although, by the peculiar strength of their constitution and principles, they have, in many instances, been able to weather such a blow when it has fallen upon them, the dread of seeing the like recur acts with a paralysing force.

The check placed upon the intellectual development of the people is not less cruel. Complaints are rife on all sides of the ignorance of the working men ; they themselves acknowledge it, bewail it. The workshops of the associations would seem to afford the very

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »