Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

until he pays. If a member objects to pay his footing, he is despised, loses his membership, and is reported through the country. It often happens, when a tramp comes into a shop, that one of the men who may know him will propose to have a fetching of ale, or a quart for each man working in the shop; and if from any cause one man objects to join in drinking, he is looked shy on, or abused, and may be viewed by the tramp as unworthy of the trade. The whole of these drinking customs are perpetuated by one certain rule—namely, when a tramp obtains work, he gives his travelling card into the keeping of a steward, and cannot obtain it again until all drinking claims on him are settled to the satisfaction of the society."

In addition to the above usages of the skinners, we may mention the following occasions, when fines averaging 1s. are levied the first time the work is done by the young artizanviz. fellmongering, or taking the wool off the skin, fleshing, paring rind, pressing out grease, purifying by manure, and tanning. The morocco-leather finisher has various occasional fines of a like description. There are said to be between twenty and thirty drink fines in various portions of the trade in various places. National saints' days and birth-days are generally kept in the manner which has been already described. Christmas-boxes are demanded from the butchers, and this is bestowed either in money or in meat sent to the garrison-house, which is accounted for in drink to the men.

Watchmakers. The apprentice footing varies according to the means of the party; if a premium has been exacted it is about 1., with a backing from the others. A journeyman generally pays 11. 6s. in going to another shop. If an apprentice, at the expiration of his time, continue in the same establishment, he pays only 5s. of footing; but if he engages in another it is 15s., with a backing from the other artificers of 1s. each. Drink money is sometimes given at marriages and births, but this is optional. An informant has known a very large sum given for drink at a master's marriage. Christmas-boxes are demanded from case and dial makers; these range from 5s. to 10s. each. Commercial travellers also are expected occasionally to give 17. or 21. for drink money to the men. The way-goose may run from 51. to 81. in large shops. I have hitherto heard of no severer penalty for non-conformity in this trade, than being sent to Coventry.

N

CHAPTER XIII.

ENGLISH USAGES-continued.

Usages of Seamen-Riggers - Painters-Anecdote-Carvers and GildersBell-Ringers Saddlers - Harvest - Gun-Tool Makers - Gun Makers― Apprentices-Anecdote of Apprentice Footing-Heavy Steel Toy MakersBrass Founders-Plane Makers-Cabmen-Spoon Makers-Commercial Travellers Shoe Makers - Putters Out-Inkle Weavers-Hatters Carders-Bricklayers-Calico Glazers-Picken Makers - Upholsterers

Anecdote.-Fines.

Seamen.-I HAVE found but few cases of an apprentice footing being in use in this business. On passing the Line, from 10s. to 17. is demanded as drink money; and the punishment for default is being blinded, and the chin lathered with hen's ordure and tar, and shaved with a piece of an old iron hoop. One informant has known a man's face torn into scars by this operation. Defaulters are sometimes hoisted up, and then dropped into a tub of water, or sluiced with water thrown from the ship's tops. The same informant has seen the long boat filled with water, and a man held down in it, for non-compliance with this usage, till he was nearly drowned. Passengers have to pay 20s. to 25s. But my informant has known a passenger who had been maltreated on this account, on coming ashore, sue the shipmaster, and obtain a considerable sum as damages. I do not enter here upon the wanton folly of Government in encouraging seamen and boys to drink, by permitting owners to ship as much spirits, duty free, as will be a large and pernicious daily supply to men and boys; as this does not seem to come precisely within the definition I have chosen of artificial drinking usage.

Riggers (of vessels.)-These have various drinking usages: they exact Christmas-boxes from block-makers, blacksmiths, ropemakers, chandlers, sailmakers, who generally pay from 2s. 6d. to 5s. each. Master riggers are many of them publicans, and exert a most mournful and dangerous drinking tyranny over the men.

Painters. The apprentice footing varies according to the means of the parents, from 10s. to 20s., with a backing of 1s. from each journeyman in the shop, and of 6d. from each other apprentice. At doing various parts of work for the first time, a certain amount is exacted. Thus, at laying the ground for graining, a pint must be given to each man. At graining (i. e. imitation of wood or marble) the same amount. At priming (i. e. laying the first coat of paint), and at prising the

same.

When the apprentice first works in flatting the walls of a house, he pays a certain sum for drink. This operation being executed with shut windows, is accounted very unhealthy and as it is supposed that the stimulation of ardent spirits removes the bad consequences, this remedy is, of course, often resorted to. On one occasion, I was told that a party of workmen having prevailed on the feelings of a lady who had her dining-room flatted, induced her to put a bucket of rum in the middle of the floor, during the work, that the smell and bad air might be thus carried away; it is needless to say, that in the operation somehow or other, the liquor in a short time all evaporated! In the glazing department, the first cutting with the diamond incurs a gallon of ale to the men. At "loosing" the apprentice, there is considerable variety in what is given. One informant mentions a week's wages; another 5s., to which the master adds 20s. In some cases it has gone as high as 57.

The journeyman's footing is generally a day's wages, with a backing of 1s. each by the rest. At marriage a certain sum is expected; it is sometimes as high as 17. with a general backing of 1s. each. In default of payment the man is forced to ride the pole, as formerly described. At the birth of first child 2s. 6d., backing 6d. each. The same objectionable mode of paying wages, often formerly deprecated, occurs here, though not universally. In some cases, the wife receives 17. on Saturday morning, leaving 4s. of drink money for the man. The ordinary drinking fines are imposed here: in addition, a workman must "lick out" the paint from a pot with a brush, otherwise he is fined; and he incurs the same penalty if he leave a dirty stone; or forget to put out the fire at night, if that be his duty; or neglect putting his department of the shop to rights; or tell tales; or take another man's tools. If a painter drop his brush, he incurs a drink fine; as he does also, when he makes cross marks, or what are called in the trade, "louse ladders," on his work. The penalties are-sending to Coventry;" taking out the bottom of box; hiding the brushes of the non-conformist (for these he is liable to his master); pawning his clothes; "cobbing" apprentices with a dozen strokes of the flat side of a saw; and general maltreatment. A strike is the last resort.

66

Christmas-boxes are demanded from the colour merchant, glass merchant, and blacksmith: the way-goose given to those in the furniture or ornamental part of the business averages 31.

Carvers and Gilders.-The apprentice footing is 10s.; the loosing is 21.; marriage 5s.; and so on of the rest. One informant stated a singular method of obtaining liquor in his shop-I know not if it prevail elsewhere; the rule is, that whenever a measurement of any kind takes place, there shall be liquor. One man challenges another as to his height, thickness of the calf of the leg, or otherwise; if a measurement take place in consequence, this ensures a pint of ale to each man.

Bell Ringers." In the summer of 1815," writes an individual, "while passing along the street, the bells of the church were ringing a merry peal on account of the memorable vietory gained on the plains of Waterloo. Curiosity led me to the belfry, where I found ten or a dozen men in their shirt sleeves, pulling the ropes that were appended to the bells, nodding significantly at each other, by which they regulated the changes. On looking round, I saw a large sheet of paper attached to the wall, containing a set of rules and regulations, with fines annexed to each. Ignorant of the result, with my hat on, I read them from beginning to end, and, to my surprise, found the last rule ran thus:-'That any one who reads these Rules and Regulations with his hat on shall be fined sixpence.' At that time I was acting on the principles of Total Abstinence; and, knowing the money would be spent in the public-house, I regretted the circumstance, and endeavoured to withdraw without being noticed; but was stopped at the door by one of the ringers, and was obliged to submit to the Strong Beer Act."

Saddlers. In some quarters there is an apprentice footing, in others this is not so rigorously exacted; but there is in the place of and to great amount, the system of making the young artizan pay for drink on every occasion of teaching him new work. There is an occasional journeyman's footing of 5s., backed with 1s. apiece by the rest. Something is expected at marriage, and at the birth of a child, and at changing from one part of the shop to the another. National saints' days, and birth-days are kept, and the usual fines obtain towards personal cleanliness. But as piece-work is much used, and the men work independent of one another, there is the less oppression of drink fines. Christmas-boxes are expected from the leather merchant and currier.

The general trades society meetings are kept in a publichouse.

Harvest.- -"Inquest on the body of John

-, aged

about fifty, who fell a victim to the too commonly encouraged practice of terminating the harvest by a disgusting debauch, under the name of collecting largess. It appeared that on Friday night he was at the horkey' at Mr. -'s, and according to a fellow-workman's evidence, went home quite sober; the next morning they breakfasted at their master's, and set out at noon to collect largess at the different farmers'. In the afternoon they called at Mr.'s, the deceased being then drunk, and all of them 'fresh,' when Mr. gave them two glasses of gin each, promising them some more at another time, as they seemed to have had enough; they went away from Mr. 's about half-past five, and about a quarter after seven the deceased and his son were found lying by the road side, at a short distance, both very drunk. The deceased being unable to stand or speak, was driven in a wheel-barrow to Mr. -'s barn, where he was left to get sober; but about half an hour after was found to be in a dying state, and before medical assistance could be obtained he expired. A surgeon was satisfied, by an examination of the head and stomach, that the cause of death was excessive drinking. Verdict accordingly.'

99

[ocr errors]

Gun-Tool Makers.-This trade is much confined to the central parts of England, and the numbers are few: the usages are not so imperative as in others. There are occasional footings required; and sums expected for drink at marriages and births. The steel merchant, who comes round twice a year, generally gives the men something to drink.

When treating of the apprentice entry or footing in Scotland, we took occasion to remark, that it would be more german to sound prudence and consistency, to have rules instituted among trades, which would operate as barriers and obstacles to intemperance, rather than actually to make the very initiating act of the trade, not an encouragement alone, but a compelling power towards inebriation. A benevolent gentleman, interested in an orphan boy, had him bound apprentice to a respectable trade; he purchased clothes, tools, and other necessaries for him, and the boy commenced the business. In a few days the protegé and his mother called at the counting-house of their friend, and she stated that it was with reluctance they once more trespassed on his goodness, but that an additional payment was necessary. The patron had just ordered his clerk to hand him some money for the purpose, when it occurred to him to ask for what reason it was wanted. On being told that it was for drink, he

« ForrigeFortsæt »