« VorigeDoorgaan »
had learned mine gently, and that I had cause subduing her, but yielding while she fought ; to be thankful for the mildness of the teaching and in a short time the child had taken his propFrom a boy, I became a man, judging more ac- er place in her affections, which he kept to the curately of humanity than a year's ordinary ex- end of her life. And she, that desolate mother, perience would have enabled me to do. And the even she, with her seared soul and petrified moral which I drew was this : that under our heart, was brought to the knowledge of peace most terrible afflictions, we may always gain by the glorious power of love. some spiritual good, if we suffer them to be soft- Prosperous, famous, happy, blessed in home ening and purifying, rather than hardening in- and hearth, this has become my fundamental fluences over us. And also, that while we are creed of life, the basis on which all good, whether suffering the most acutely, we may be sure that of art or of morality, is rested: of art especially; others are suffering still more acutely; and if for only by a tender, reverent spirit can the true we would but sympathize with them more than meaning of his vocation be made known to the with ourselves—live out of our own selves, and artist. All the rest is mere imitation of form, not in the wide world around us—we would soon insight into essence. And while I feel that I can be healed while striving to heal others. Of this live out of myself, and love others—the whole I am convinced: the secret of life, and of all its world of man-more than myself, I know that I good, is in love; and while we preserve this, we possess the secret of happiness ; ay, though my can never fail of comfort. The sweet waters will powers were suddenly blasted as by lightning. always gush out over the sandiest desert of our my wife and children laid in the cold grave, and lives while we can love; but without it-nay, not my happy home desolated forever. For I would the merest weed of comfort or of virtue would go out into the thronged streets, and gather up grow under the feet of angels. In this was the the sorrows of others, to relieve them ; and I distinction between Mrs. Arden and Julia Reay. would go out under the quiet sky, and look up The one had hardened her heart under her trials, to the Father's throne; and I would pluck peace, and shut it up in itself; the other had opened as green herbs from active benevolence and conhers to the purest love of man and love of God ; templative adoration. Yes; love can save from and the result was to be seen in the despair of the sterility of selfishness, and from the death the one, and in the holy peace of the other of despair; but love alone. No other talisman
Full of these thoughts, I sought out my poor has the power ; pride, self-sustainment, coldlady, determined to do her real benefit if I couldness, pleasure, nothing—nothing—but that diShe received me very kindly, for I had taken vine word of Life which is life's soul! care to provide myself with a sufficient introduction, so as to set all doubts of my social position
THE LITTLE SISTERS. at rest : and I knew how far this would go with ALMSGIVING takes the place of the workher. We soon became fast friends. She seem- A house system, in the economy of a large ed to rest on me much for sympathy and com- part of Europe. The giving of alms to the helpfort, and soon grew to regard me with a sort of less is, moreover, in Catholic countries, a religmotherly fondness that of itself brightened her ious office. The voluntary surrender of gifts, life. I paid her all the attention which a de- each according to his ability, as a means of grace, voted son might pay-humored her whims, is more prominently insisted upon than among soothed her pains; but insensibly I led her mind | Protestants; consequently systematic taxation out from itself—first in kindness to me, and then for the poor is not resorted to. Nor is there so in love to her grandson.
great a necessity for it as in England; for few I asked for him just before the midsummer nations have so many paupers to provide for holidays, and with great difficulty obtained an as the English are accustomed to regard as a invitation for him to spend them with her. She natural element in society; and thus it hapresisted my entreaties stoutly, but at last was pens, that when, about ten years ago, there was obliged to yield ; not to me, nor to my powers in France no asylum but the hospital, for aged of persuasion, but to the holy truth of which I and ailing poor, the want of institutions for the was then the advocate. The child came, and I infirm but healthy was not so severe as to attract was there also to receive him, and to enforce by the public eye. ny presence—which I saw, without vanity, had | But there was at that time a poor servantgreat influence-a fitting reception. He was a woman, a native of the village of La Croix, in pensive, clever, interesting little fellow; sensi- Brittany-Jeanne Sugon was her name—who cive and affectionate, timid, gifted with wonder- was moved by the gentleness of her heart, and ful powers, and of great beauty. There was a the fervor of her religion, to pity a certain infirm shy look in his eyes, which made me sure that and destitute neighbor, to take her to her side as he inherited much of his loveliness from his a companion, and to devote herself to her supmother; and when we were great friends, he port. Other infirm people earned, by their helpshowed me a small portrait of “ Poor mamma ;" lessness, a claim on her attention. She went and I saw at once the most striking likeness about begging, when she could not work, that between the two. No human heart could with she might preserve life as long as Nature would stand that boy, certainly not my poor friend's. grant it to her infirm charges. Her example She yielded, fighting desperately against me spread a desire for the performance of similar and him, and all the powers of love, which were good offices. Two pious women, her neighbors, united with Jeanne in her pious office. These ment remain together in his memory ; but he is women cherished, as they were able, aged and very comfortable now—very comfortable. An infirm paupers ; nursed them in a little house, other decrepit man, with white hair and bowed and begged for them in the vicinity. The three back-who may have been proud, in his youth. women, who had so devoted themselves, attract- of a rich voice for love-song, talks of music to ed notice, and were presently received into the the Sister; and, on being asked to sing, blazes order of Sisters of Charity, in which they took out with joyous gestures, and strikes up a song for themselves the name of “Little Sisters of the of Béranger's in a cracked, shaggy voice, which Poor”—Petites SEURS DES PAUVRES.
sometimes-like a river given to flow under The first house of the Little Sisters of the ground-is lost entirely, and then bubbles up Poor was opened at St. Servan, in Brittany. A again, quite thick with mud. healthy flower scatters seed around. We saw We go into a little oratory, where all pray tothat forcibly illustrated, in the progress, from an gether nightly before they retire to rest. Thence origin equally humble, of the Rauhe Haus, near we descend into a garden for the men ; and pass Hamburgh: we see it now again, in the efforts of thence by a door into the women's court. The the Little Sisters, which flourished and fructified chapel-bell invites us to witness the assembly of with prompt usefulness. On the tenth anniver- the Sisters for the repetition of their psalms and sary of the establishment at St. Servan, ten sim- litanies. From the chapel we return into the ilar houses had been founded in ten different court, and enter a large room, where the women French towns.
are all busy with their spinning-wheels. One The Petites Sæurs live with their charges in old soul immediately totters to the Sister (not the most frugal way, upon the scraps and waste the same Sister with whom we set out), and meat which they can collect from the surrounding insists on welcoming her daughter with a kiss. houses. The voluntary contributions by which We are inforined that it is a delusion of her they support their institution, are truly the age to recognize in this Sister really her own crumbs falling from the rich man's table. The child, who is certainly far away, and may possinurse fares no better than the objects of her care.bly be dead. The Sister embraces her affectionShe lives upon equal terms with Lazarus, and acts ately, and does nothing to disturb the pleasant toward him in the spirit of a younger sister. thought.
The establishment at Dinan, over which Jeanne And now we go into the kitchen. Preparation Sugon herself presides, being under repair, and for coffee is in progress. The dregs of coffee not quite fit for the reception of visitors, we will that have been collected from the houses of the go over the Sisters' house at Paris, which is con- affluent in the neighborhood, are stewed for a ducted on exactly the same plan.
long time with great care. The Sisters say they We are ushered into a small parlor, scantily produce a very tolerable result; and, at any rate, furnished, with some Scripture prints upon the every inmate is thus enabled to have a cup of walls. A Sister enters to us with such a bright coffee every morning, to which love is able to look of cheerfulness as faces wear when hearts administer the finest Mocha flavor. A Sister beneath them feel that they are beating to some enters from her rounds out of doors with two purpose in the world. She accedes gladly to our cans full of broken victuals. She is a healthy, desire, and at once leads us into another room of and, I think, a handsome woman. Her daily larger size, in which twenty or thirty old women work is to go out with the cans directly after are at this moment finishing their dinner; it being she has had her morning coffee, and to collect Friday, rice stands on the table in the place of food for the ninety old people that are in the meat. The Sister moves and speaks with the house. As fast as she fills her cans, she brings gentleness of a mother among creatures who are them to the kitchen, and goes out again ; conin, or are near to the state of second childhood. tinuing in this work daily till four o'clock. You see an old dame fumbling eagerly over her You do not like this begging? What are the snuff-box lid. The poor creatures are not denied advertisements on behalf of our own hospitals ? luxuries ; for, whatever they can earn by their what are the collectors ? what are the dinners, spinning is their own money, and they buy with the speeches, the charity sermons? A few weak it any indulgences they please ; among which women, strong in heart, without advertisement, nothing is so higbly prized or eagerly coveted as or dinners, or charity sermons; without urgent a pinch of snuff.
appeals to a sympathizing public ; who have no In the dormitories on the first floor, some lie occasion to exercitate charity, by enticing it to bed-ridden. Gentler still, if possible, is now the balls and to theatrical benefits; patiently collect Sister's voice. The rooms throughout the house waste food from house to house, and feed the are airy, with large windows, and those inhabit-poor with it, humbly and tenderly. cd by the Sisters are distinguished from the rest | The cans are now to be emptied; the contents by no mark of indulgence or superiority.
being divided into four compartments, according We descend now into the old men's depart to their nature-broken meat, vegetables, slices ment; and enter a warm room, with a stove in of pudding, fish, &c. Each is afterward subthe centre. One old fellow has his feet upon a mitted to the best cookery that can be contrived. little foot-warmer, and thinly pipes out, that he The choicest things are set aside-these, said a is very comfortable now, for he is always warm. Sister, with a look of satisfaction, will be for our The chills of age, and the chills of the cold pave-poor dear sick.
The number of Sisters altogether in this house barn-like houses. You ascend a slope, by a path engaged in attendance on the ninety infirm pau of mud and slush, and arriving at another larger pers, is fourteen. They divide the duties of the open space, you find yourself in front of a sheet house among themselves. Two serve in the of water, and in the distance you observe one kitchen, two in the laundry; one begs, one de enormous wheel—the diabolical queen of all the votes herself to constant personal attendance on rest-standing, black and immovable, like an anthe wants of the old men, and so on with the tediluvian skeleton, against the dull, gray sky, others, each having her special department. The with a torrent of water running in a long narrow whole sentiment of the household is that of a gully from beneath its lower spokes, as if disvery large and very amiable family. To feel gorged before its death. This open space is hat they console the last days of the infirm and surrounded by trees, above which, high over all, aged poor, is all the Little Sisters get for their there rises a huge chimney, or rather tower; and hard work.
again, over all this there float clouds of black
smoke, derived from charred wood, if we may HOW GUNPOWDER IS MADE.-VISIT
judge of the effect upon our noses and eyes. TO HOUNSLOW MILLS.
At distances from each other, varying from UTOUNSLOW Gunpowder Mills are not so thirty or forty to a hundred and fifty yards, over Il much like a special “town," as so many this settlement are distributed, by systematic arother large manufactories appear, but rather rangement of the intervals, and the obstructive have the appearance of an infant colony-a very character of the intervening ground and plantainfant one, inasmuch as it has very few inhabit- tions, no less than ninety-seven different buildants. We never met a single man in all our ings. By these means, not only is the danger rambles through the plantations, nor heard the divided, but the loss, by an explosion, reduced sound of a human voice. It is like a strange to the one “house" in which the accident occurs. new settlement, where there is ample space, Such, at least, is the intention, though certainly plenty of wood and water, but with scarcely any not always affording the desired protection. The colonists, and only here and there a log-hut or a houses are also, for the most part, constructed dark shed among the trees.
of light materials, where the nature of the operaThese works are distributed over some hun- tion will admit of it ; sometimes extremely strong dred and fifty acres of land, without reckoning below, but very light above, like a man in armor the surface of the Colne, which, sometimes broad, with a straw hat; so that if a "puff comes, sometimes narrow, sometimes in a line, and some there will be a free way upward, and they hope times coiling, and escaping by a curve out of to get rid of the fury with no greater loss than a sight, intersects the whole place. It is, in fact, light roof. In some cases the roofs are of cona great straggling plantation of firs, over swells crete, and bomb-proof; in others, the roofs are and declivities of land, with a branch or neck of floated with water in shallow tanks. There are a river meeting you unexpectedly at almost every five steam-engines employed, one being a locoturn. The more we have seen of this dismal motive ; and the extraordinary number of twensettlement “in the bush," the more do we revert ty-six water-mills, as motive powers for machinto our first impression on entering it. The place ery-obviously much safer than any other that is like the strange and squalid plantation of some could be obtained from the most guarded and necromancer in Spenser's “Fairy Queen.” Many covered-in engines requiring furnaces. trees are black and shattered, as if by lightning ; In this silent region, amidst whose ninety-seven. others distorted, writhing, and partially stripped work-places no human voice ever breaks upon the of their bark; and all of them have a sort of con- ear, and where, indeed, no human form is seen scious look that this is a very precarious spot for except in the isolated house in which his allotted the regular progress of vegetation. You wander task is performed, there are secreted upward of up narrow winding paths, and you descend nar. two hundred and fifty work-people. They are a row winding paths; you see the broad arm of a peculiar race; not, of course, by nature, in most river, with little swampy osier islands upon it, cases, but by the habit of years. The circumand then you enter another plantation, and come stances of momentary destruction in which they upon a narrow winding neck of river, leading up live, added to the most stringent and necessary to a great black slanting structure, which you are regulations, have subdued their minds and feeltold is a “blast-wall;" and behind this is the ings to the conditions of their hire. There is green embankment of a fortification, and further seldom any need to enforce these regulations. back you come upon one of the black, ominous. Some terrific explosion here, or in works of a looking powder “houses.” You advance along similar kind elsewhere, leaves a fixed mark in other tortuous paths, you cross small bridges, their memories, and acts as a constant warning and again you enter a plantation, more or less | Here no shadow of a practical joke, or caper of sombre, and presently emerge upon an open animal spirits ever transpires; no witticisms, no space, where you see a semicircular road of red oaths, no chaffing, or slang. A laugh is never gravel, with cart-ruts deeply trenched in it; and heard ; a smile seldom seen. Even the work is then another narrower road down to a branch of carried on by the men with as few words as pos. the river, where there is another little bridge ; sible, and these uttered in a low tone. Not that and beyond this, on the other side, you see a any body fancies that mere sound will awaken the huge water-wheel revolving between two black spirit of combustion, or cause an explosion 10 take place, but that their feelings are always deep; so that the explosive material is absc, ste kept subdued. If one man wishes to communi- ly the only protection. So long as the powder cate any thing to another, or to ask for any thing lies in this bed with no part of the iron left bare, from somebody at a short distance, he must go all is considered to be safe. To keep it within there; he is never permitted to shout or call out. the bed, therefore-while the rolling twist of the The:e is a particular reason for this last regula- stones is continually displacing it, and rubbing tion Amidst all this silence, whenever a shout it outward and inward-several mechanical condoes occur, every body knows that some immi- trivances are adopted, which act like guides, and nent danger is expected the next moment, and scoops, and scrapers; and thus restore, with all rush away headlong from the direction of the regularity, the powder to its proper place, be shout. As to running toward it to offer any neath the stones. A water-wheel keeps this null assistance, as common in all other cases, it is in action. No workmen remain here, but the thoroughly understood that none can be afforded. time required for the incorporating process being An accident here is immediate and beyond rem- known, the bed of powder is laid down, the mill edy. If the shouting be continued for some time set in motion, and then shut up and left to itself (for a man might be drowning in the river), that -as it ought to be, in case of any little overmight cause one or two of the boldest to return; sight or “hitch" on the part of the guides, scoops, but this would be a very rare occurrence. It is or scrapers. The machinery of these mills, as by no means to be inferred that the men are may be readily credited, is always kept in the selfish and insensible to the perils of each other; finest order.." And yet," says Mr. Ashbee, in on the contrary, they have the greatest consider- a whisper; "and yet, five of them—just such ation for each other, as well as for their employ- mills as these-went off at Faversham, the other ers, and think of the danger to the lives of others, day, one after the other. Nobody knew how." and of the property at stake at all times, and more This seasonable piece of information naturally especially in all the more dangerous "houses." | increases the peculiar interest we feel in the obThe proprietors of the various gunpowder mills jects we are now examining, as they proceed all display the same consideration for each other, with their work. and whenever any improvement tending to lessen The next house we visit, Mr. Ashbee assures danger is discovered by one, it is immediately us, is a very interesting process. To be sure, it communicated to all the others. The wages of is one of the most dangerous; and what makes the men are good, and the hours very short ; no this worse, is the fact that the process is of that artificial lights are ever used in the works. They kind which requires the constant presence of the all wash themselves—black, white, yellow, and men. They can not set the machinery to work, bronze-and leave the mills at half-past three in and leave it for a given time; they must always the afternoon, winter and summer.
remain on the spot. It is the "Corning House" After several unsuccessful attempts to effect sometimes called “Graining," as it is the proan entrance into one of the mysterious manufac-cess which reduces the cakes and hard knolis, tories-attributable solely to the dangers of utter into which the gunpowder has been forced by destruction that momentarily hover over all works hydraulic pressure, into grains-a very nice, and, of this kind, and not in the least from any want it would appear, a sufficiently alarming operation. of courtesy in the proprietors—we eventually Ascending by a rising pathway, we pass over obtained permission to inspect these mills owned a mound covered with a plantation of firs, and by the Messrs. Curtis, which are among the descending to a path by the river side, we arrive largest works of the kind in Europe. It was a at a structure of black timber, some fire-andvery wet day, but that circumstance was rather twenty feet high, set up in the shape of an acute favorable than otherwise, as our obliging com- angle. This is a “blast-wall," intended to offer panion, Mr. Ashbee, the manager of the works, some resistance to a rush of air in case of an erconsiderately informed us. After visiting suc- plosion near at hand. There is also a similar cessively the mills where the charcoal, saltpetre, blast-wall on the opposite side of the river. and brimstone, are separately prepared, we plash Passing this structure, we arrive at a green emour way over the wet path to the “incorporation bankment thrown up as in fortified places, and mill”—a sufficiently dangerous place. Having behind and beneath this stands the “ Corning exchanged our boots for India rubber over-shoes, House." we enter and find the machinery-consisting of It is a low-roofed, black edifice, like the rest, two ponderous, upright millstones, rolling round although, if possible, with a still more dismal jike wagon-wheels, in a small circle. In the bed appearance. We know not what causes the imbencath these huge rolling stones lies, not one, pression, but we could fancy it some place of but the three terrible ingredients of powdered torture, devoted to the service of the darkest pacharcoal, saltpetre, and sulphur, which are thus gan superstitions, or those of the Holy Inquisiincorporated. The bed upon which the stones tion. A little black vestibule, or out-house, stands roll is of iron ; from it the stones would inevita- on the side nearest us. The whole structure is bly strike sparks—and “there an end of all”- planted on the river's edge, to which the platform if they came in contact in any part. But be- in front extends. We enter the little vestibule, tween the stones and the iron bed lies the incor- and here we go through the ceremony of the porating powder-forty pounds of it giving a bed over-shoes. We are then permitted to advance of intermediate powder, of two or three inches / upon the sacred platform, and we then approach the entrance. If we have received a strange cease? We hear, also, an extraordinary noise and unaccountable impression of a place of tor- behind us. Turning hastily round, we see the ture, from the external appearance and surround-previously immovable black frame-work for the ing circumstances, this is considerably borne out dead whirling round and round in the air with by the interior. The first thing that seems to frightful rapidity, while two men with wooden justify this is a dry, strangulated, shrieking cry shovels are shoveling up showers of gunpowder, which continues at intervals. We discover that as if to smother and suffocate its madness. Noit is the cry of a wooden screw in torment, which thing but shame-nothing but shame and an anIl some sort reconciles us. But the sound lin- guish of self-command, prevents our instantly gers, and the impression too. The flooring is darting out of the house-across the platformall covered with leather and hides, all perfectly and headlong into the river. black with the dust of gunpowder, and on this What a house-what a workshop! It is quiet occasion all perfectly dry. We do not much like again. We have not sprung into the river. But that: the wet sliding about was more amusing ; had we becn alone here, under such circumperhaps, also, a trifle safer.
stances for the first time, we should have had no The first object that seizes upon our attention subsequent respect for our own instincts and is a black square frame-work, apparently sus-promptitude of action if we had done any thing pended from the ceiling. Its ugly perpendicular else. As it was, the thing is a sensation for life. beams, and equally uncouth horizontal limbs We find that the whirling frame-work also conwould be just the thing to hang the dead bodies tains sieves that the invisible moving power is of tortured victims in. We can not help follow- by a water-wheel under the flooring, which acts ing up our first impression. The men here, who by a crank. But we are very much obliged al stand in silence looking intently at us, all wear ready—we have had enough of “corning." black masks. On the left there is 'reared a We take our departure over the platformstructure of black wood reaching to within two have our over-shoes taken off—and finding that or three feet of the roof. It is built up in several there is something more to see, we rally and restages, descending like broad steps. Each of cover our breath, and are again on the path by these broad steps contains a sieve made of close- the water's edge. A man is coming down the ly woven wire, which becomes finer as the steps river with a small covered barge, carrying powget lower and lower. In this machine we no- der from one house to another. We remark that ticed iron axles for the wheels, but our attention boating must be one of the safest positions, not was directed to the rollers, which were of zinc. only as unconducive to explosion, but even in Thus the friction does not induce sparks, the case of its occurring elsewhere. Mr. Ashbee action being also guarded against external blows. coincides in this opinion, although, he adds, that At present the machine is not in motion; and some time ago, a man coming down the river in a the men at work here observe their usual silence boat-just as that one is now doing—had his and depressing gravity. We conjecture that the right arm blown off. We see that, in truth, no machine, when put in motion, shakes and sifts position is safe. One may be “blown off” any the gunpowder in a slow and most cautious man- where, at any moment. Thus pleasantly conner, corresponding to the seriousness of the hu- versing as we walk, we arrive at the “Glazing. man workers, and with an almost equal sense of House.” the consequences of iron mistaking for once the The process of glazing consists in mixing nature of copper and brass. “Put on the house!" black-lead with gunpowder in large grains, and says Mr. Ashbee, in the calm voice always used glazing, or giving it a fine glossy texture. For here, and nodding at the same time to the head this purpose four barrels containing the grains corning-man. A rumbling sound is heard—the are "ranged on an axle. They are made to rewheels begin to turn—the black sieves bestir volve during four hours, to render them smooth; themselves, moving from side to side; the wheels black-lead is then added, and they revolve four turn faster—the sieves shake and shuffle faster. hours more. There is iron in this machinery ; We trust there is no mistake. They all get but it works upon brass or copper wheels, so that faster still. We do not wish them to put them- friction generates heat, but not fire. The proselves to any inconvenience on our account. The cess continues from eight to twenty-four hours, full speed is laid on! The wheels whirl and according to the fineness of polish required ; and buzz-iron teeth play into brass teeth-copper the revolution of the barrels sometimes causes the winks at iron—the black sieves shake their in- heat of the gunpowder within to rise to one hunfernal sides into fury—the whole machine seems dred and twenty degrees-even to charring the bent upon its own destruction—the destruction wood of the interior of the barrels by the heat of us all! Now-one small spark-and in an and friction. We inquire what degree of heat instant the whole of this house, with all in it, they may be in at the present moment? It is would be instantly swept away! Nobody seems rather high, we learn; and the head-glazer politeto think of this. And see !-how the gunpow.ly informs us that we may put our hand and arm der rushes from side to side of the sieves, and into the barrels and feel the heat. He opens it pours down from one stage to the other. We at the top for the purpose. We take his word feel sure that all this must be much faster than for it. However, as he inserts one hand and usual. We do not wish it. Why should pride arm by way of example, we feel in some sort prevent our requesting that this horror should called upon, for the honor of “ Household Words,"