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To tune it justly here! Beware
I HAVE said that there were hopeful ing among the foremost establishments in elements in Imperial France. Far more, their respective trades. There are the no doubt, than any that I had a chance of patriarchs of French associative labour, seeing at work. But of the reality of three the "jewellers in gilt," doing their quiet I had the means of convincing myself, business of about 8,0001. a year, who the Associations Ouvrières, or
date already since 1834. There is the facturing and trading associations of great association of masons, numbering working men — young French Protes its hundred members, with a number tantism-Liberal Roman Catholicism. of smaller associations in the building
Whilst with us the cooperative prin- trades following in its wake; it has ciple among the working classes has suffered during the past year through been mainly applied to consumption, or some ill-judged undertakings, but is has used consumption as the leverage seeking now how best to avail itself for production, it has, on the contrary, of the lessons of the past. There are started in France from production itself. the arm-chair makers and the joiners I had visited Paris in 1849, when the of the Cour St. Joseph, who have “Working Associations" were weathered all the tricks of their manabered by the hundred. I had seen gers, and have never lost their reputaseveral of them, some of which are tion for good work. There are the defunct, whilst others still subsist. The chair-turners of the Rue Popincourt, total number of them is now reduced to with their vast workshops, abundant twenty-seven-almost all, indeed, rank stock, and admirably solid wares. There
are the file-makers, busy at work as ever reaction, there was scarcely one but had on the patent which they have secured its manager thrown into prison, or for themselves. There are the saddle- obliged to take to flight for fear of tree-makers of the Rue Pétrelle, one of arrest. Thanks, it is believed, to the the bodies in which employers and interference of the supreme ruler himworkers amicably coalesced. There are self, the period of active persecution has the jewellers—a different set from those indeed passed away--but under what above mentioned—brush-makers, lan conditions ! So long as the several astern-makers, lamp-makers, a truly heroic sociations keep to themselves as towards band ; umbrella and cane-makers, spec the public, hold little or ng intercourse tacle-makers, who unfortunately are with others, make no show of their said to be invaded by the mammonite existence, make no effort to propagate spirit, and to be fast verging into a their principles, or to educate their mere partnership. There are the tailors members, they are left unmolested, at of the Rue Coq-Héron, a body, the least by the supreme government itself. existence of which was new to me, But it is only within the last few though dating, I believe, more than ten months, that one of them which had, years back; at first such determined for a wonder, retained outside its preProudhonists, that they endeavoured to mises the title of "Association fraternelle do without capital or profit, charging des ...," was compelled by a new comcost-price to their customers, till a few missary of police, with much ill-lanfailures to pay among the latter com guage, to erase the obnoxious profession pelled them to be less absolute in their of brotherhood. All must be prepared, commercial principles; a somewhat sin at any time, to receive the prying visits gular set, who have kept studiously of this personage, on some such pretext aloof from their associateu brethren, but as that of asking whether they have have, nevertheless, clung tenaciously lately sent away any workmen. (This together during the many years of in- happened to one of them within a fortperial rule.
night of my seeing it.) Although To my great disappointment, I had the emperor, personally, may not be leisure to see but a few of those even unfriendly to them, they know well which I have named, though I might that, under the arbitrary Imperial réhave had access to all of them had time gime, they are at the mercy of any allowed. Let me say at once, that for hasty, spiteful, or over-zealous official ; those who have no clue to them, they that their managers may be arrested and are not easy to find out. Few have been placed au secret, i. e., cut off from all able to retain the outward name of communications, their books of business “association;" most of them only bear seized and carried off, long before any towards the public the style of ordinary complaint could reach the fountain-head or commandite partnerships. Only those of power. And although, by the pecuwho are aware of the facts will know to liar strength of their constitution and look for the associated masons under the principles, they have, in many instances, firm of “Bouyer, Cohadon et C'e.,” or for been able to weather such a blow when the jewellers in gilt, under that of “Dre it has fallen upon them, the dread of ville, Thibout et Cie." Whilst if any seeing the like recur acts with a paravisitor, unprovided with a trustworthy lysing force. introduction, should attempt to make The check placed upon the intellecinquiry into these bodies, he has but tual development of the people is not himself and the Imperial régime to less cruel. Complaints are rife on all thank, if he finds himself received with sides of the ignorance of the working coldness and distrust.
men ; they themselves acknowledge it, existence of these associations is, so to bewail it. The workshops of the assospeak, a standing miracle. In the days ciations would seem to aiford the very of the first brutalities of the Imperialist areas on which to supply the required
For the very
instruction. In entering one of these, five persons cannot so much as legally I was singularly struck by its aptness dine together in France without official for the purpose. I spoke on the subject permission, and that the commissary to the manager-a right noble fellow. of police has the right to be present “Ah !” he replied, “ I have seen those whenever such a portentous event takes
workshops used as class-rooms night place. " after night, and it was quite pleasing Nor have the associations wanted for - to hear our workmen of a morning, trials, even apart from actual persecu“ instead of talking of ... des bêtises, tion. The principle of association is “ discussing at their work some point of essentially expansive ; pen it up within grammar or of literature.
four walls, it languishes, and too often “ of our teachers were thrown into withers. Many is the tale of internal “ prison, and others became afraid, and trial which these worthy fellows have to “others know that they would not be tell, even apart from the struggles of " allowed to teach, and so nothing is the first launching of the association, s done in that way . . . at present.” generally quite a romance in themselves.
Let this clearly be understood—and Mostly speaking, it is the managers who we Englishmen can scarcely understand have either involved the association in it—that no one in France can hold any ruinous speculations, or have played educational class without official per false to it, establishing a connexion and mission. Nor is this indeed a fruit of feathering their nest for themselves. A the new empire. Quite the contrary. singularly able and energetic man, whom Freedom of teaching has never existed, I had known formerly as manager of except under the Republic of 1848. It the arm-chair makers, was ejected for was for the crime of opening a free conduct of the latter description. He school in the first years of Louis sued the body which he had just left in Philippe's reign, that M. de Montalem- damages, alleging that he used to earn bert had to undergo that famous trial as a workman six francs per day, that before the Chamber of Peers which by becoming manager of the association so brilliantly inaugurated his public he lost not only the chance of employlife. To revert, however, to the pre ment, but the skill of hand necessary to sent; it would seem the simplest thing do his work, and was therefore entitled in the world to an Englishman that, to compensation. The Court admitted when twenty or thirty men work this reasoning, and adjudged the associtogether all day, and are anxious to ation to pay him 1,800f a year. He is learn in the evening, one of themselves as good a workman as ever, and is doing should teach the others in a room on business for himself, whilst receiving their own premises. Yet even this always the 1,800f. a-year from his old would be an illegal act ; still more the fellow-workmen. In other cases, not the teaching of a stranger, though invited by managers, but the men play false. The the associated body. But would the chair-turners numbered at one time permission to teach be granted? Yes, (1855) a hundred men, about one-fourth to a person well approved of by the of the trade, and seemed likely to absorb local authorities, warranted to teach it all. Some of their men thought they sound Bonapartist doctrine. Do you could make more money, and went wonder that, under such circumstances, off to set up a rival establishment. the educational question is mostly post- They are now but twenty-six, though poned by the associated workmen? or still quite at the head of the trade in rather, that they put up for the present Paris for solidity of work, and possessing with the stern practical education of almost the monopoly of the French labour, business, adversity, leaving provincial trade. I trust the Great letters to shift for themselves ? Even Exhibition of next year may show us social gatherings are forbidden to them. some of their wares. As to the storms Let it not be forgotten that twenty which the jewellers in gilt have had to
weather, they almost defy computation. employed by them, forming an equal or To mention only the last: although their greater number, and reckon the families deed of settlement was most carefully at three heads a piece, and you will have prepared under legal advice, with clauses a minimum of 2,400 persons forming, for the due preservation of the “ inalien in scattered groups, the little world able fund," which is the mainstay of of associated labour. Nor should it French associations, a retiring member be forgotten, that the effects of the lately contested the validity of these new system in Paris spread in some clauses ; judgment was twice given
two generations already. against the association; and it was only Thus, the second
manager of the by carrying the case to the final court of jewellers in gilt was originally an appeal, the Court of Cassation, that it apprentice in the association. And it obtained, not success, but a respite; the was remarkable to observe how every tribunal ruling that the plaintiff had one, without exception, who knew proved no actual damage, till when it this little world—all who do not know would be useless to decide on the it invariably deny its existence—saw here validity of the impugned clauses. Let the main hope for their country in days it be observed that these jewellers to come. Nor does any working man eight in number, and who employ about doubt that, were the pressure from above twelve men in their shop, besides work once removed, the working associations given out-admit, and have always would spring up again by the hundred, admitted, new members on moral grounds rich with the experience of the past ? alone, without requiring a fraction of Meanwhile, it should not be overcapital beforehand.
looked that, apart from the mere number It is the universal experience of these of their members, or the amount of their bodies, that the trustworthy associate is business, there is an indirect influence exhe who joins for the sake of the prin erted by these bodies, even in their preciple, and not from the greed of gain. sent isolated condition, throughout the It would seem then, I said to them, that whole of their trade. The associated your form of association is not satisfac- jewellers set the example to their trade tory, since it will not suit the mediocre of allowing an hour for dinner to the man, let alone the bad. They fully workman instead of half an hour, and admitted this, but declared that, under it has been very largely, though not the present régime, debarred from free universally followed. The associated development, free instruction, free dis chair-turners have managed to keep cussion, free social intercourse, it was their wages uniform, and, by means of impossible to do more. The true way of various privileges which they afford to looking at them is, therefore, as normal the workman, are able to command quite schools of a new industrial system; whose the pick of the trade. The same is the members, winnowed by every gale, repre- position, to a great extent, of all the sent the very élite of the working popu- associations. When prudently managed, lation.
For myself I can only say they act, in short, as indices of the and the same feeling has struck every normal rate of wages, the normal conperson I know who has personally visited ditions of labour, throughout their rethese bodies—that the French associated spective trades. If they are compelled workman offers a quite peculiar type, and to lower wages, to curtail a privilege, the very noblest I am acquainted with the workman knows that so it must be, in France, of self-restrained vigour, and the whole trade submits to the regrave thoughtfulness, and a thorough duction or curtailment, independence of manner, coupled with There is indeed at present some talk, perfect courtesy. There are, perhaps, under the milder régime of later times, of 400 men composing this “salt of the founding a sort of general credit-agency earth" of the Parisian working-classes ; for the associated bodies, which should add to these the non-associated workers undertake the management and securing
of loans to them, should look after their the Baptists or the Plymouth brethren, accounts, and receive or recover the Wesleyanism, revivalism, are doing battle interest of loans from them. The idea within it on all sides. The old staid has been entertained for years, but it is traditional Protestantism, Lutheran or only now that people timidly dream of Calvinist, of thirty years ago, content trying to realize it. Timidly :—“I was to have won at last a recognised and " brought up before a court of justice salaried existence, and an established " for conspiracy with men whom I had form of government, is almost a thing
never seen in my life," said an ex of the past. In addition to the salaried emplary man, who has been one of the churches, unsalaried churches, chapels, truest friends to association in Paris ; schools, are springing up wherever al“ and am in no hurry to spend three most a prefect allows them. Newspaper 6 months in prison again.” Always the is set up against newspaper, review leaden hand.
against review, to say nothing of pamAmong the most stable of the Paris phlets, volumes of sermons, and other associations, it should be observed, are publications. All this, I trust, indicates one or two (such as the jewellers in life, not death. That it is so, is proved gilt) among whom
whom the religious, to a great extent by the ever larger Christian principle is openly professed place which Protestants are making for as the corner-stone of commercial as themselves in the life of France. The sociation. It cannot be said that this time was, when a literary Protestant is yet the case with others, for whom like Guizot was a solitary phenomenon. association itself seems as yet to consti Now, works like the later ones of tute a sufficient faith for them to live Madame de Gasparin, or M. Puaux' by. Yet surely these associated work “History of the Reformation in France," shops are the truest sanctuaries of honest reckon among the literary successes of work, upright fellowship, free speech,
Protestant writers are found and manly independence in Imperial filling the pages or columns of the France; surely the men who have Deux-Mondes, of the Débats, to say toiled in them for years under so nothing of the Temps, which is many disadvantages, who have clung treated by some almost as a Protestant together so perseveringly through trial organ; whilst the monthly Revue after trial, afford the most glorious Chrétienne occupies a really distinhuman material for any high purpose.
guished place among the higher order If a Christian faith has a home any of periodicals. Protestants have won where in France, it must be among
for themselves more than once Monthem; they must be the members of thyon prizes ; Protestants are constantly some Church of the future in their found heading the “Ecole Polytechcountry. But from which side is to nique,” and otherwise distinguishing come the initiation to that Church ? themselves in public competitions ; From the Protestant? From the Roman whilst in number, extent, efficiency, Catholic ?
Protestant charitable institutions almost I reckon French Protestantism as invariably put to the blush those of constituting certainly one of the hope their Roman Catholic neighbours. Nor ful elements of the France of the present is Protestantism compelled, as it used to day. Not that it can be said to be be, to fight its battles unaided. Its imflourishing, or that I feel in anywise portance as an element in French history satisfied with its tendencies. It was is more and more recognised by French never probably more torn asunder than historians. Michelet's “ History of Louis it is at present. Apart from its two XIV" is full of the details of the Revogreat divisions between the Lutheran cation of the Edict of Nantes, and the and the Calvinist bodies, state-churchism persecutions which followed it, whilst and free-churchism, multitudinism, in he absolutely refuses to speak of the dependency, rationalism, the doctrines of Jansenists, complaining that the “very