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THERE are records of dancers who attained
considerable celebrity, although they did not
display more grace, agility, nor inventive
power than their competitors. Whence,
then, arose the merit of their performance?
One young lady had her eyes bandaged,
and threaded a blindfold fandango, through
the midst of a dozen eggs placed on the
floor, without endangering the prospects of a
single chicken. Another hero did Vestris's
gavotte, wearing, instead of the usual pumps,
a pair of the heaviest French wooden shoes.
Gentlemen have also executed sailors'
hornpipes with their legs incumbered by iron
fetters. No doubt, they would have danced
better without those impediments. But, dance
they did: hence their glory.

There is a nation, not far distant, which is
now performing the same feat, commercially.
She is trading in fetters; and the
wonder is that she trades so well as she does,
or that she trades at all. By trade is not
meant mere buying and selling amongst
themselves; which a people must do to keep
life going, and which is nothing but a
mercantile pas-seul or solo step. A country
really trades when it takes part in the grand
ballet of nations; performing its share in
the complicated figures and evolutions which
are danced to the tunes of supply and
demand, scarcity and plenty.

But our neighbours, having decorated
themselves with chains, originally put on to serve
the purpose of a coat of mail, hug them still,
in the belief that their fetters bring profit as
well as adornment. Instead of dancing on a
free, clear stage, our friends have overspread
and carpeted their boards with a complicated
piece of network which greatly detracts from
the ease, grace, and vigour of their
movements. While England can step out boldly
and show her paces, France must pause,
consider, and hesitate, at every new mercantile
attitude she desires to assume.

That these different results are caused by the
respective customs' systems of the two
countries, will have appeared from a previous article,
and the subject is so rich and suggestive
that it merits a few additional illustrations.*
* See page 481 of the last volume.

The French Tarif, with its elaborate notes,
is an amusing document to read; only, you
accompany it with a mental commentary of
commiseration for the unhappy men whose
business it is to make its daily application.
So learned is it, that, in some things, it knows
as much as is actually known by anybody:
perhaps a little more; as, when it refers the
gums of Africa to the trees and plants from
which they ooze. The evil of this customhouse
pedantry is, that it is not easy for
officials to identify many of the articles
enumerated. A customs inspector sometimes
has to run about a sea-port town for half-a-
day, showing to the chemists, doctors, dyers,
museum-keepers, and other erudites of the
place, samples of unknown wood or rare dried
medicinal herbs, without being able to make
out what it is, and to what duty it is liable.
The loss of time and the waste of patience
and temper, so incurred, are considerable.

Surely black-lead might have been disposed
of and suffered to find its way into commerce
at the moderate duty of five francs the
hundred kilos, without a lecture on that graphitic

Graphite (carbure de fer, called mine de plomb
noire, or plombagine), a product which has long
been considered a carburet of iron, is nothing but
carbon of a particular nature, mixed with a very
small quantity of iron. People are now of accord to
recognise that it does not contain any portion of
lead; accordingly, mineralogists range it amongst
the combustible minerals. Graphite is shining and
of a blue, drawing near to black; it is very soft to
the touch, it soils the fingers and leaves a blackish
trace on paper. Its principal employment is to
serve for the fabrication of the pencils called black-
lead. It is also one of the matters which enter into
the composition of refractory crucibles. By means of
graphite reduced to powder, and kneaded up with
grease, is made a sort of cambouis, or cart-grease,
proper to soften the friction of the wheels and cogs
of machines, and to which, at its entrance, the duty
on tallow is applicable.

The English tariff dismisses iron-wares with
a light duty, and easy distinctions; but iron
alone causes France to incur as much thought,
trouble, and expense, as would almost suffice,
if properly directed, to administer an important
department of the state. Iron ore is
admitted exempt from duty; its export, with
a few exceptions for particular ports named,
is prohibited. All higher forms of iron, as