Billeder på siden

withdrew his hand, somewhat surprised, and not quite pleased, that so respectable a person, as he knew the mother to be, would ever encourage such a method of her son's spending money. In a fortnight afterwards the parties returned again, and reiterated their request; but for five months they were repulsed from time to time. At the end of that period, however, the foreman called and explained all the necessity of the case; and that the money must be paid, or that the maltreatment of the boy, already excessive, would make it unsafe for him to remain longer in the establishment. Here this gentleman's eyes, as he acknowledged himself, were first opened to the tyranny of the drinking usages.

It would be desirable for British workmen to remember that when an apprentice comes among them, and commences the work of life, it is their duty to guard the comparatively untainted innocency of the modest aspirant, who is now venturing into a new scene; his youthful heart trembling with a thousand anticipations; and his mind, in some respects, a sheet of blank paper, on which they may impress good will tomen and glory to Heaven's King; or else stamp the fiery hieroglyphics of another dynasty. The cruelty of massacre it is, and no less, to force the revolting mind of the child to flagitious evil; and with a storm of ridicule and violence; and with a systematic onslaught of pernicious usage, to entrammel their victim in artificial fetters, whose certain tendency is to . eommunicate discomfort, disease, sin, death, and everlasting

Gun-Makers. — The apprentice footing is from 2s. 6d. to 5s. with a backing of 6d. or ls. Drink at loosing is optionalsometimes 5s. is given. Journeyman's footing 5s., with backing of 1s. Marriage the same. Births 2s. 6d., backed with 6d. Men are clubbed with large notes on the pay night; and much drinking at the public-house. Shifting vice, 5s. 6d. Fines as usual towards personal cleanliness; and for quarrelling, bad language, and using the tools of others. Birth days. 2s. 6d., with backing of 6d. Way-goose 41. to 5l., with a backing from each man, of 1s. or 2s.6d. Christmas-boxes are claimed from the barrel maker, furniture or mounting maker, and stock maker. These range from 10s. to 51. It is a usual expression of the claimants, when begging for this money, " the steel works dry, when not fee'd." in the trade club, each drinks “his own cup.”

Heavy Steel Toy Makers, (manufacturers of scaleb ms, &c.)—The ordinary journeyman's footing is 2s. 6d., with a


backing of 6d. each from the others. The forger's footing is 58., with 1s. of backing. Shifting vice, 18. There are the usual fines regarding personal cleanliness. For fighting, there is a drink fine of 2s. 6d., with a backing of 6d. each from the rest. There seems little reason in exacting the backing from those who had no hand in the fault; and as drinking is a chief source of strife and blows, the principal fine is also unreasonably imposed, and more likely to add to contention, than to prevent it. But these drink fines, under the mask of care for good morals, are mere excuses and inventions to “start a drink.”

Christmas-boxes are exacted from the iron merchant, file cutter, steel merchant, currier, and coal merchant. The usual penalties are employed for non-conformity. My informant had never seen a man actually beaten on this account, in this trade; but he had seen such an outrage among pearl button makers.

Brass Founders. The apprentice footing is 2s. 6d., with a backing of 6d. each. At "loosing,” the parents, if in tolerable circumstances, give a feast. For every new piece of work which the apprentice performs, he is expected to give the inen drink. When a particular species of work is performed by any one for the first time, a drink fine is established. Journeymen's footing 58., with a backing of 6d. each. Marriage 28. 6d., and 6d. backing. Birth of a child Is., and 3d. of backing. The men are often clubbed together with large notes on the pay-night. The usual fines with regard to personal cleanliness obtain; and the same at taking, without leave, the tools of others. New clothes are occasionally "wetted." Birthday 1s., with 3d. of backing. Christmas-boxes are claimed from tool makers, coke merchants, metal furnishers, manufacturers of casting-pots, and wire drawers.

The usual severe penalties are imposed for non-compliance. An informant has seen a man on this account suspended across a beam till he was black in the face. Plane Makers.—The apprentice footing is 11.

, and the same at “ loosing." The journeymen's footing is 128., with backing of 1s. At marriage a drink is required. The usual objectionable method of paying wages occurs here, and drink is allowed by the employer at Christmas.

Cabmen.— The following extract is from a letter to the author from an American friend of temperance, whose exer

* E. C. Delavan, Esq.


tions in this cause partly redeem human nature from the disgrace due to the apathy of the greater part of mankind :

“ To illustrate the power of the compulsory usages as connected with one class in this great city, London, I will state a fact which occurred to me a day or two since in conversing with a cabman that was driving me to Islington, where I was going to visit a friend. I found that he was fully convinced that it was absolutely necessary to use strong drink habitually. I exhausted every argument I could think of to induce him to change his opinion and practice. Pray, sir,' said he, do you not drink wine ?'. 'No (was my reply); for many years I have refrained entirely, and I find myself much better for it. He looked at me with doubt and astonishment. I saw that he began to yield, and I began to hope that I had made a convert; but the compulsory drinking came in, and defeated me. Why,' said the poor fellow, should I stop drinking intoxicating liquor, my brother cabmen would black my face. The man interested me, and at parting I thought I would make another appeal. I therefore offered him a sovereign, and told him it was his if he would promise to abstain for three months. He looked at the gold, then at me; the fear of ridicule from his brother cabmen got the better of his love of gold, and after some hesitation he said, 'Sir, I thank you, but I cannot promise.' I could not but admire his honesty, at the same time regret the tyranny of custom, which many, even in the more elevated walks in life, would rather face the cannon's mouth than break through.”

Spoon Makers. The apprentice footing is 58., with a backing of 1s., and at loosing 5s. The journeymen's footing is 2s. 6d., with 6d. of backing. At marriage, birth of child, and own birth-day, something is expected. Furnishers give Christmas-boxes. The usual penalties occur. My informant was himself

, for non-compliance, hung up by the middle for a time. He cited the perpetrators before a magistrate; the matter was privately made up, by the men paying 178. of damages, and costs.

Commercial Travellers. This is a respectable and important class of the community. Many individuals of wealth and influence in the mercantile world have gone through the discipline of a commercial traveller's life.

The manners, customs, modes of thought, and opinions of this influential body, exert a perpetual power on society; and their constant locomotion ramifies and extends their capabilities, either for good or evil. How desirable, therefore, that the modes of

life of this powerful section should be favourable to their own growth in temperance and virtue; and that, amid the hurry and dispersion of thought incident to the journeying career, as much time and opportunity as possible should be saved, even as with a niggard care, for intellectual attainment and improvement of the mind! Although we have no doubt that there are men of great native talent and cultivated taste in this class, yet we submit that such specimens of worth and excellence must exist, not in consequence of, but in spite of, their drinking usages..

From a useful publication, entitled “ Hints on Commercial Travelling," we learn that there is an apartment in an inn or hotel reserved for the exclusive use of the commercial traveller. “When," says the author, “ fish is leaving the table, the president inquires of the vice and the company, what wine will be agreeable. The wines generally used in the commercial room are port and sherry. Sometimes other wines are introduced, but in such cases the party is a small and select one. The result of the president's inquiry is, usually, his desiring the waiter to bring in a bottle of sherry. This is placed on the right hand of the president, who takes wine with the vice, and afterwards with the other gentlemen at table. Should the party exceed eight in number, two bottles of sherry are ordered to come in both together.

Pastry is paraded, succeeded by cheese, which is the signal for the president's ordering port wine. When the cloth is removed, clean glasses are placed before each person ; and the president, filling his glass, passes the decanters to the gentleman on his left, who, after filling, pushes them to his neighbour, and so on, till they again arrive at the head of the table. When they have completed this tour, the president drinks • The Ladies,' an act of gallantry which each gentleman immediately imitates. The bottles then describe the same circle as before, and then the health of the reigning sovereign is proposed. After these toasts, it depends upon the president whether each succeeding glass shall be consecrated by a toast, or drunk in silence. If the former be the plan adopted, the vice-president is called upon by the president to give a toast, and after him, every gentleman present, in succession. When the bill is called for, any person can rise and leave the table, without any apology for his thus leaving: he has fulfilled his share in the proceedings, and can now quit the table sans reproche. When you dine alone, you are expected to order a pint of wine. It is a usage of the room to order a glass of

wine, or spirits and water, in the evening. The expenditure of one shilling in this way every night, is considered to be one of the claims of the innkeeper upon the frequenters of his commercial room, and is generally ordered, whether used or not.”

It is not unusual, among some parties, to treat with drink those who give mercantile orders; and one informant has known of a traveller, who having been supposed to have lost orders by not sufficient treating, was, in consequence, turned off by the house which employed him. The first time a traveller has been to a particular town or county, he is fined in a bottle of wine to the company; and a certificate is given by the chairman that the fine has been paid. Not only are customers, in some cases, to be treated at or after giving orders, but also at settlement of accounts. In short, this class is as much fettered and enslaved by drinking usage as almost any among the working ranks; and it would evidently require an exertion of moral courage, which few possess, to travel a large part of the year, and to controvert, single-handed, all the drinking usages of all the commercial rooms within the traveller's beat, or journey. What an extraordinary state of society is it, that, in order to leave a dinner table without reproach, a man must swallow a pint of brandied stuff, which the whole continent reprobates, and Pinkerton calls a wine fit for hogs; and must live in a perpetual atmosphere of strong spirituous liquors, at all times, and in all places. That the intelligent and thinking part of this body should consent to live under such a pitiable and pernicious thraldom, even for a week, is a phenomenon which the mental philosopher may consider and analyze, with as much wonder as he does other problems, sometimes of less practical consequence.

I have heard of a lover, of a weak constitution, who made himself sick by eating too much of a currant tart; but it was meant as a compliment to his mistress, who had been getting lessons from the pastry-cook, and whose handiwork it seemed necessary to bepraise in this gallant, though unchary manner. There is some extenuation in such a sacrifice to youth and beauty; but what shall we say of him who makes so servile and sordid a use of his stomach as to gulp a bottle of sherry, execrably brandied, in order to please some plump Boniface of a landlord, * on the ground that it is necessary “ for the good of the house!” That there is an honest intention in all

* It is not intended here to cast reflections on British landlords: it is well known they cannot help the wines imported from being previously brandied.

« ForrigeFortsæt »