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that which is usually exhibited to strangers.
In this case, a man holds a bent copper wire,
from which is suspended the bunch of spoons,
plate, scissors, watch-keys, or vinaigrettes to
be gilt; he holds, at the same time, the loose
wire in connexion with the other, and washes
his charge for a few seconds to and fro, and,
lo! it comes out golden. Having heard something
of a cobweb having been gilded at this
trough, in the service of Prince Albert, we
made inquiry, and found that it was really so
that a cobweb had been giltbut it was by
accident. A rosebud was gilded in the Prince's
presence, and when it came out of the trough,
it was found to have been crossed by a delicate
thread of cobweb.

We asked, what could be done in the case
of articles parcel-gilt? where, for instance,
bunches of silver flowers or fruit appear on a
gold ground, or a gold net-work covers a
silver ground,—and we found that the matter
was very simple. The parts which are not to
be gilt are varnished over, and the varnish is
easily removed afterwards. The minutest
atoms of the gold and silver are saved, by the
goods being dipped in four or five troughs in
succession, till every loose particle is washed
off. The superintendence of these troughs is
a situation of great trust. The value of a
pint of the solution may be about fifteen
shillings, and, of course, it would not be
difficult to carry off small quantities of it.
The whole work of the establishment, however,
requires a somewhat superior order of
menmen who might be supposed superior
to the temptation of theft.

But here, alas! comes in the regret which
cannot but be felt by the observer of the working-classes
in Birminghamregret for their
extreme and unaccountable improvidence.
Without doubting that there may be exceptions,
we are obliged to see that, as a general
rule, the best wages, and the most constant
work, are no security against poverty and
dependence. It is too common a thing to find
that a man who has, for years together,
earned from thirty shillings to sixty shillings
a-week (twice or three times the income of a
multitude of clergymen, retired military and
naval officers, poor gentlemen, and widow
ladies), has not a shilling beforehand when he
falls sick, and must be sustained by a subscription
by private charityas the only
alternative from public relief. It is too
common a case that women, employed in the
manufactures of the town, buy expensive
shawls or gowns, paying for them by weekly
instalments (extending over years for a single
shawl), and pawning them every Monday
morning, to redeem them on Saturday night
for the Sunday's wear. It is too common to
hear employers speak coolly, if not with
satisfaction, of this state of things, because it
keeps the workmen dependent and humble,
and lessens the danger of those strifes about
wages, which are the plague of the manufacturer's
life. "Well; never mind!" says the
employer, significantly. "Let things be. It
may be all very well."

To us, however, it seems not well that men,
with incomes exceeding one hundred pounds
a-year should fail to secure their own independence;
should fail to educate their
children; should fail to provide a soft pillow
for a time of sickness; while indulging in
pleasure and luxury during their best days.
To us, it seems not well that, just at present,
when the necessaries of life are one-third
cheaper than they were when the men were
receiving the same wages as now, no attempt
at saving should be made by so many as, in
Birmingham, exhibit their improvidence to
all the world. Here and there, however,
something better is seen. In the manufactory
we have been describing, every workman
above twenty one years of age, is a member
of a relief-club, paying three-pence a-week to
secure support under sickness or accident.
Many of the people on the premises, also, are
members of the Freehold Land Association,
and are acquiring property in that excellent
manner. One pleasant change in their mode
of life appears in their love of reading. At
the tea hour, those who do not go home, and
who used to gossip over a pot of beer, have
turned readers; and under their counters
several popular periodicals may be seen stowed
away. We must hope that the improvement
will proceed, and that, while dismissing
from under their hands, to the houses of the
great, the articles of luxury and beauty which
Birmingham supplies, the men of Birmingham
will aspire to have their own humble homes
furnished with every needful comfort, and
brightened by that intellectual enlightenment,
and that peace of mind about their families
and their future, without which neither
luxuries nor comforts can yield any true and
lasting pleasure.


WHEN King Henry the Second heard how
Thomas à Becket had lost his life in Canterbury
Cathedral, through the ferocity of the
four Knights, he was filled with dismay. Some
have supposed that when the King spoke
those hasty words, "Have I no one here who
will deliver me from this man!" he wished,
and meant him to be slain. But few things
are more unlikely; for, besides that the King
was not naturally cruel (though very passionate),
he was wise, and must have known
full well what any stupid man in his dominions
must have known, namely, that such a
murder would rouse the Pope and the whole
Church against him.

He sent respectful messengers to the Pope,
to represent his innocence (except in having
uttered the hasty words), and he swore
solemnly and publicly to his innocence, and
contrived in time to make his peace. As to the
four guilty Knights who fled into Yorkshire,