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the broochesas well as other articles which
we may designate toys, or trinkets, or sham-
jewellerywere thrown upon the market
most unsparingly. Such is not now the case;
and many causes have led to the change.
Fashion has, in many instances, refused to
sanction that which she formerly applauded;
the gold became thinner and thinner upon the
toys, until people began to be ashamed to call
it gold at all; the French showed that they
could make gilt-toys presenting more graceful
designs than our own; while the designation
of "Brummagem goods" became rather
humbling to those who decked themselves therewith.
Thus the gilt-toy trade has declined
in that town; but others have arisen which
place the golden labours of the townsmen on a
better footing. The manufacture of good
jewellery has increased; while the rise and
spread of the remarkable electro-plating process
have given an immense impetus to the
employment of the precious metals at
Birmingham. How the Birmingham men use
their gold and silver, it is not our province
here to describe: our fourth volume (at pages
113 and 456) has already done this. Suffice
it here to speak of the official inspection of the
gold and silver work produced.

The diets or small parcels of scrapings, as
mentioned in a former page, are sent up to
London from Birmingham in the diet-box,
and placed in the hands of the Queen's Assay-
master. Here they are examined and assayed,
and tested with certain gold and silver trial
plates made expressly for this purpose. If
the quality be below standard, the Birmingham
Assay-master is fined; but if it be equal
or superior to standard, a certificate is
returned, which is an acquittal for a whole
year's labours. A certificate for the Birmingham
gold assays takes somewhat the following
form: "These are to certify that, having this
day duly assayed and tried the gold Diet
from Birmingham, of twenty-two carats of fine
gold, and two carats of alloy, and also the
gold Diet of eighteen carats of fine gold, and
six carats of alloy, pursuant to Act of Parliament
5 Geo. 4, sess. 1824, and having made
such trials in presence of——, especially
appointed by the Lords Commissioners of
Her Majesty's Treasury to attend the same;
I find, in comparison with the respective gold
trial plates made for that purpose, that the
Diet of twenty-two carats fine is——, and the
Diet of eighteen carats fine is—— the said
trial plates, and do therefore report that the
said Diets are sufficiently fine, and fully
conformable to the true intent and meaning of
the Act aforesaid." The Queen's Assay-
master signs this certificate, in which there
are blanks left for indicating whether the
gold is "equal to" or "superior to" the standards
respectively referred to.

Query: If the Government duty were
abandoned on the one hand, and the
Companies' privileges on the otherif manufacturers
and purchasers were allowed to make
their own bargains uninfluenced by all this
official paradewould it not be better and
cheaper in the end that these diets should die
away? Are they not relics of the same
antiquated system which at one time gave curfew
laws, and at another sumptuary laws? When
trades are too young to run alone they are
protected; but they are all getting out of leading-
strings now-a-days, one by one. Gold and
silver working is certainly an old trade; but (we
wish to leave room for correction) it may just
possibly not be old enough to be left to itself.


           MONSIEUR LE CURÉ.

MONSIEUR LE CURÉ is a good man, and I am
glad to make his acquaintance. He is about
forty, with a dark open countenance and a
pleasant smile; by the way, I never saw a
fair Curé. He is rather inclined to be fat, but
has nothing sensual about him, and is so full
of amusing harmless stories that he might
have been the companion of ladies and
children all his lifeperhaps he was once
for the story of M. le Curé's life is rather a
strange one, that is, strange to us; but common
enough in France. M. le Curé began life in
a regiment of dragoons, and served with great
distinction in Africa. Suddenly, however, he
took a disgust to the world; a woman he had
loved long and well, married his friend; his
trusted, intimate friend. He was no common
man who could either give or take back his
affection lightly; and he did one of those
touchingly generous things that seem more to
belong to romance than to real life. To punish
the woman who had jilted him (and let us
hope it did punish her) he gave her every franc
he possessed in the world; and then, taking
her faithlessness and his friend's treason to
heart, he retired from society, became a village
pastor, and never let them hear of him again.
That young man's grief is long healed now,
and M. le Curé is a happy man; as indeed he
ought to be. Having suffered, he can cheer;
and he knows the world and how to deal
with those who are not yet weaned from it.
M. le Curé likes sometimes to speak of his
early life, and he is fond of saying, "I entered
life by the great gate: I was wealthy and
high born, and I had ten years of every
pleasure that the world has to give, but to
have those ten years over again, I would not
give a single day of my present life."

M. le Cure makes no pretence of needless
austerity, and eats and drinks as honestly
as, I dare say, he does everything else. He
has asked me to pay him a visit before I go,
and I shall do so.

It is not long before I redeem my promise
to M. le Curé and pay him a visit. I am
admitted by a decent-looking body, with her grey
hair modestly arranged under one of those
charming snowy caps, for the making of which
French countrywomen have quite a mission.
I take the liberty to mention that M. le Curé's