« VorigeDoorgaan »
safely say there would be no excesses. As a beginning, soldiers were quartered on Fontaine to an extent beyond endurance, and the poor man could see nothing but a determination to bring him to ruin. Taunton was a place in which he could no longer do any good as a retail dealer, and so far he was resolved to wind up his affairs. Being occupied during the day teaching French and Latin, he was obliged to steal many hours of the night to find time to make an exact inventory of all he possessed. To discharge his debts, he sold off his stuffs to wholesale merchants, and the residue of his effects was disposed of to a purchaser for four hundred pounds, which he retained as a little leaven, to begin business in some new line when opportunity offered.
For several months his only employment was keeping a school, by which, however, he did not make quite enough to maintain his family, now consisting of several children. Thoughtful and ingenious, he pondered on the probability of success as a manufacturer of a new kind of worsted stuff, called calimanco, for which Norwich had become celebrated. In a spirit of enterprise, he determined to make an attempt to imitate the article, even though ignorant of the requsite mechanical knowledge. How distressing to have to record that the authorities of an English country town should have had the despicable meanness to oppress a man with so noble a spirit of self-reliance and industry! Meanly tyrannized over, Fontaine was not to be baffled. "I engaged," says he, "a weaver for my experimental attempt, who was out of employment, and was apparently very docile. I made all the machinery, I put it up with my own hands, and spent a couple of hours every day trying to instruct him. This went on for three months, altering the threads and machinery for new trials about once a fortnight, and still not an inch of the desired fabric was produced: and I was paying the weaver his full wages all the time."
The attempt to manufacture calimanco was like to be abortive, when by good luck a young man with some skill in the art was lighted upon, and employed. After no little trouble with the imperfect mechanism, this young craftsman succeeded in making several yards of stuff in the day. There yet remained a serious drawback. The stuff produced was like calimanco in substance, but not in finish; it was rough on the surface, with great
hairs sticking out in all directions. In the present day, a smooth surface is given to tissues by a process of singeing over fiery hot rollers. Fontaine did not know anything of this process, but he conjectured that singeing would effect the required smoothness. "I recollected," he says, "that when I was at school, I had often gone to warm myself in a hatter's shop, and I used to watch the process of burning off the long hairs from the hats with a blazing wisp of straw, so I thought that a similar plan might be adopted for remedying the defect in my calimanco." He thus fell upon the very process which has now attained so much perfection. How Fontaine laughed with joy when bv means of a burning wisp of straw, followed by a proper degree of pressure, the calimanco came out beautiful, about as good as that of Norwich! He sold lots of it at Exeter at half-a-crown a yard, realizing a hundred per cent, of profit after all expenses were paid. We do not know that there is anything finer than this as an instance of ingenuity and persever- . ance in the history of British manufactures.
Soon Fontaine had fifteen looms at work on his calimanco, and to all appearance he was on the road to fortune. He got discouraged, however, bv attempts to withdraw his workmen, and to rival his manufacture. In fact, he was too susceptible on this score, for the world is wide enough for everybody, and he ought to have held on in his course. With characteristic unsettledness, he became weary of the business, and contemplated emigration to Ireland. We let him tell what ensued in his own words. "Seeing that I had now made one thousand pounds in the course of three years, I thought I would leave the place, and try whether 1 could not find a French church in want of a minister. I knew that there were many French Protestant refugees in Ireland, so I went to Dublin to make inquiries. I was there recommended to go to Cork, and I accordingly proceeded thither, and found there were several French families settled there who were very desirous to have a minister." As a result of this expedition, Fontaine removed in 1694 with his family to Cork, where he set up as a French Protestant preacher; but the emoluments being nil, he continued to dabble in yarns, dye-stuffs, and manufacturing industry. Preaching, indeed, was his favourite pursuit, for no man had a more earnest desire to be useful in expounding the gospel message. His of livelihood. There is some historical interest in his proceedings, for they afford a glimpse of the social changes arising from the introduction of French refugees into these islands.
manufacture was taken up only as a means glory of England, the kindly home of op
At Cork, M. Fontaine was at the height of his ambition. He was an admired preacher, and he gained from his small manufactory ample support for his family. This state of things was too good to last. Dissensions broke out in the congregation, and considering himself ill-treated, the hitherto too confiding pastor resigned his office. Some mercantile adventures were now tried, but they only brought loss and vexation. As a finishing calamity, the British parliament, in its then mistaken policy, passed an act forbidding the export of woollen manufactures from Ireland, by which the luckless Fontaine was adroitly ruined. What hand could he turn to now? Fishing, and exporting the produce to Spain, occurred to him as a grand idea. With this project in view, Fontaine removed with his family and the wreck of his worldly possessions to Bear Haven, where he rented the farms for his fishery.
In this new enterprise, with all his diligence, he was unsuccessful, and, to add to his misfortunes, he was pillaged and cheated by neighbours in a thousand indirect ways. As a climax, his house was attacked by privateers, against whom he for a time carried on a war for bare existence. On one occasion he did the state some service by his courageous defence, for which he had the good fortune to be rewarded with a pension of five shillings a day. There is something melancholy in what follows.
Broken down in health, though not so in spirit, and relying on his pension, Fontaine removed to Dublin, rented a house in Stephen's Green, and there for several years carried on a school for teaching French, Latin, and Greek. In 1721, he lost his wife, and the shock so greatly distressed him that he gave up his school. At this point, his personal narrative draws to a close, and all that follows is an account of his sons, several of whom emigrated to Virginia, and founded families which rose to distinction in the colony. We cannot speak of the work embracing an account of the family as artistic in construction; but it is valuable as shewing us the struggles of one of those honest and ingenious foreigners who, driven by short-sighted persecution from their own country, contributed to the
From The Spectator. THE LATE EMPEROR'S SUPERSTITION.
Everyone knew, by general rumour at least, that the late Emperor of the French, with all his longheadedness and power of slow, tenacious reflection, was a superstitious man, who profoundly believed that his uncle watched over his destinies and protected his career. But the publication this week of his will, made in 1865, is much the most authentic evidence accessible to us of the depth of this superstition. In it he declares positively, "One must think that from the height of Heaven those whom you have loved look down upon you and protect you. It is the soul of my mighty uncle that has always inspired and sustained me." And again, " As to my son, let him keep as a talisman the seal which I wore attached to my watch, and which I got from my mother; let him preserve with care all that I have inherited from the Emperor my uncle, and let him be assured that my heart and my soul remain with him." In a will so short, which would not occupy forty lines of this journal, and in which only the wishes to which the Emperor attached the most significance are enumerated at all, the solemn mention of this belief in the angelic guardianship exercised on his behalf by his uncle, and the injunction to his son to keep as a talisman the seal which he himself had had from his mother, prove that these impressions were not in the Emperor's view transient fancies to which now and then he was able to attach a certain half-playful importance, but that they were deeply cherished superstitions,— superstitions of which he was so far from being ashamed, that he wished to give them all the emphasis of deliberate registration in an imperial testament, — a testament certain to be made public, and, had he died on the throne, to be made public at a moment full of gravity for the career of his son. Nor can it well be that the Emperor wished to pose before the people of France as entertaining a superstition of this kind, if he did not really entertain it. It is certainly not one of the kind of beliefs which it would be the proper imperial rdle to counterfeit; it suggests too completely the conscious subordination of the Emperor to his un
cle, as well as a belief neither sufficiently consistent in tone with the dutiful Catholicism officially expressed in the last sentence of his will, nor with the "enlightened" views of his more radical adherents, to admit of the hypothesis that he wrote these clauses of his will for the sake of any effect they might be supposed to have on the people of France. We are disposed to think that even in his last exile, when his sainted uncle's protection had so entirely failed him, he would not have hesitated to reaffirm these same superstitions. Indeed, a man who trusted so much to the angelic guardianship of an Emperor who had completely broken down in his own career, would hardly withdraw his confidence because the tutelary power had also failed to save the prestige of his prote'ge' from a catastrophe of a similar, though more humiliating nature. It would be hardly reasonable to expect a man even from the other world to show more sagacity in overruling the destiny of another than he had shown in ruling his own. Indeed Bishop Butler would have constructed a very ingenious argument to show that the same moral and intellectual defects which showed themselves in Napoleon I.'s career as Emperor and General, might have been expected a priori to show themselves again in his career as guardian angel.
We believe we may assume, then, that these superstitious beliefs of the late Emperor were not only a real part of his mind, but were very deeply ingrained in it, were of the very warp of his character. There would seem to be something strange in the admission of what may be called such an intellectual taint in the character of one who was able to gain the position which Napoleon III. did gain in Europe, and it will seem not perhaps the less strange if we hold that it was in great measure by virtue of this taint and in consequence of it, that he was able to reach the height he did. For no one can really doubt that but for Napoleon Ill's firm belief in superhuman influences aiding his plans, he hardly would have ventured either on the successful or on the silly enterprises by which he endeavoured to gain the French Throne. That a great part of the moving force of Napoleon Ill's career was in his superstition, the Emperor's will seems to us to place almost beyond doubt. And yet it will seem, as we have said, remarkable that a man of the Emperor's great power should have been the victim of this strange kind of illusion, till we observe that it was not
apparently so much a general tendency to superstition which was at the basis of Louis Napoleon's particular illusion, but that it was the heat and intensity of imagination with which he dwelt upon the fact of his relationship to his uncle, and on the political consequences which this relationship might involve, that led to the superstition. In short, the illusion was the over-growth of a particular vein of intense thought in which any politician of the same birth and origin would necessarily have more or less indulged, and not a mere individual instance of a generally superstitious temper. Louis Napoleon's superstition was due to the enormous exaggeration of a shrewd and sagacious conviction, — that his relationship to the First Emperor was a mine of unworked power which he could work if he pleased. It was not the wild exaggeration of a germ of religious feeling, but the wild exaggeration of a perfectly correct worldly appreciation of the power that lay for him in the connection with the great Emperor. There are superstitions which come of religious feeling, superstitions in which the impression exaggerated is a more or less religious impression, like religious melancholy generally, and the religious visions of such a dreamer as Swedenborg; and again, there are superstitions which come of mere overconcentration of thought on some half-felt and half-perceived chance of worldly advancement. Thus, Macbeth's superstition was evidently little more than the dreamy exaggeration of the murderous ambition in his own mind. And Louis Napoleon's was, we suspect, nothing more than the exaltation of his own profound belief that the heir of the great Emperor ought to find in that Emperor an immense store of political power and the occasion for a brilliant destiny. This notion, long entertained and cherished and dreamt upon, led no doubt to a perfectly sincere conviction that the late Emperor was the actual author of all his nephew's highest dreams, most ambitious plans, and most successful political ventures. Nor apparently would his mere belief in the power of his birth have been adequate to qualify him for his actual career, without the superstitious extension which it continually took in his mind as the working of a potent will external to himself, and wielding powers which he could not wield. This unsafe and indeed in its essence insane exaggeration of his sense of the political value of his birth, had this advantage for him, that it gave him the sense of an unlimited power to fall back upon, whereas the sane conviction would have given him no such assurance, but would have told him that there were very well marked limits to the strength it lent him, that it was a mere opportunity for his use, not an independent force on which he could lean. Of course it is never safe for men to believe they have a force behind them which they have not got; but it does seem that some slow natures like the late Emperor's need this sort of false stimulus to give them s/aying-power, if they are to be anything great at all as men of action. Louis Napoleon in our view was not naturally at all constituted for a man of action. He was a slow, hesitating dreamer, of considerable power and lucidity, who had no gifts for action; but just as nature sometimes seems to go out of her way to provide a compensation even by a sort of monstrosity for a great deficiency, just as she sometimes gives a dwarf arms of preternatural strength and length, so Louis Napoleon was in great measure made into a man of action from a mere dreamer by the growth of the morbid superstition which led him to find in his uncle's departed soul a sort of fetish that impelled him into the thick of the contest. Commoner men have a milder degree of the same kind of superstition. When the Mr. Whitbread who gave rise to Canning's celebrated couplet, recalled solemnly to the House of Commons the fact that the day was sacred to him because it was at once the day of the foundation of the Brewery and of his father's death,
— whereupon Canning wrote down,—
This day I still hail with a smile and a sigh, For his Deer with an e, and his bier with an i,
— Mr. Whitbread had evidently been unconsciously engaged in making a mild sort of fetish of the founder of his own fortunes, precisely similar in kind to that which Louis Napoleon, with a more grandiose imagination, made of his mighty uncle. The Emperor's egotistic exaggeration of the importance of a relationship which had transmitted hardly any hereditary quality for empire to him, was nevertheless a superstition the constant brooding on which made him into an emperor, as a queen-bee is made by being fed on a particular kind of food into a queen. But the superstition was essentially vulgar in origin, though taken up into a grandiose nature capable of a certain loftiness of manner and phrase.
In fact, there is no real connection be
tween a superstition of this kind,—vulgar in origin, whatever it be in manner,— and that grander and deeper kind of superstition which comes of religious awe and wonder. The Emperor seems to have had exceedingly little of this. He regarded himself not as the servant of Heaven, but as the proti^ of the first Buonaparte. What he was to do in the world was not God's will, but the will of the "Exile of St. Helena." He worshipped; at second-hand; was the instrument of an instrument; and felt not that he was serving Man as a Divine tool, but that he was working out the uncompleted thought of the coarse genius with whom he claimed relationship. Never was there less of that humility, awe, and wonder which are at the basis both of true worship, and often also of that extra-belief or Aberglaube, which, according to Mr. Arnold, constitutes superstition, than in the late Emperor's heated illusions about the protection of his demi-god uncle. It was the worship of the Roman world for the divus Augustus over again in a cruder and somewhat baser form. The late Emperor's mind could not reach, and did not care to reach, the throne of the supreme Omnipotence at all. He stopped at the best idol he could form for himself of the Divine Ruler, — namely, the caricature contained in that coarse, vigorous, fertileminded, supremely self-willed incarnation of selfish ambition who had founded the Democratic Empire of France and his own house. It was a poor, pinchbeck kind of worship, and led, as such kinds of worship do, into superstitions that are at least as ruinous in the end, as they are sometimes, by accident and for,a time, mines of political force.
From The Spectator. THE PROGRESS OF THE SPANISH REVOLUTION.
Spain is evidently in for much more than a series of changes of goverment. She is undergoing, nearly a century later, something very like the same process that France underwent in her great throes of 1789 and the following years, but undergoing it in a milder form, — milder partly on account of the familiarity of the mind of Europe with the character of the social movements which created so much wonder, enthusiasm, and tenor then, partly on account of the more phlegmatic nature of the Spaniard, which does not seem to take the malady of suspicion nearly so violently as the nature of the Frenchman. There was — as De Tocqueville very well brought out in those latest chapters of his book on the French Revolution which Mr. Henry Reeve has just added to the second edition of his excellent translation — a universal expectation of completely new social forces and new possibilities of government, pervading Europe for years before the French Revolution, an expectation which, added enormously to the exciting character of that great event. Throughout Europe men believed that they were on the eve of changes in which society would be quite transfigured, and this belief, which, curiously enough, pervaded most completely not those classes which were most miserable, but those which were far above want and living in luxury, stimulated every wave of emotion and passion which spread over France, and intoxicated the actors in those great scenes. Spain has at least the advantage that the changes which her political and social life seem destined to undergo are no longer waited for with awe, as if they were the results of the inspiration of a sort of divine Muse. The excitement of the drama has been in great degree discounted by the history of the revolutions of 1780, 1830, and 1848. Spain knows that no golden era of society is to be expected from any changes, however fundamental; that the alternative between anarchy, and strict taxation under some form of government, is the only alternative to be hoped for; that the most enthusiastic republics have once and again been much severer sufferers than even despotic States; that if a Federal Republic is to succeed, the Federal Republic must not hope to restore a social Paradise, but must drill its troops, impose discipline, resist riot, adjust taxation, and enforce justice. There is now, thanks to France, no vast illusion, no rainbow of imagirtary hope, to dazzle the eyes even of ignorant Spain. There may be great changes for the better, or great changes for the worse,— and for a time, at least, we fear the latter are the more likely,— but there will be no such wild intoxication as alone rendered the great French agony of hope and fear possible. And fortunately, too, Spain takes differences of political opinion easier than France. Carlists, Alfonsists, Radicals, and Republicans, get on very fairly together, except during the crisis of a physical struggle. That "fear" which M. Gambetta justly tells us is the great
curse of France does not seem to take root easily in Spain. The danger rather is an apathy too great to admit o£ the people taking any side definitely, so as to render organization possible. As the French have always had a genius for centralization,— which it is a pity, by the way, they did not manage to impart more effectually to the Spaniards during their occupation of Spain,— the Spaniards appear to have always had and still to have, a taste for decentralization, and the fear is that this will so favour disorganization as to render the process of new political crystallization difficult, tardy, and inadequate. The example of Madrid has none of the fascination for the other great cities of Spain, for Barcelona, and Seville, and Malaga, that the example of Paris has for Lyons, and Marseilles, and Bourdeaux. This indeed, is the argument for that "Federal" Republic which is now apparently in the ascendant. But this fact makes the political future of Spain even more uncertain than the political future of France ever was. Spain is like a ship built in cellular compartments, less easy to wreck as a whole, more easy to break up into distinct parts. Now that the Army is in active decomposition, and that the voice of the only actual authority left, is favourable to Federalism rather than unification, it becomes a very difficult matter indeed to anticipate the course of political change.
It seems, however, from the accounts, that the actual Government is not only not in fault for suppressing the Permanent Committee appointed by the National Assembly before its separation,but that it was almost compelled to take that course. A rebellion had been apparently organized by the friends of the Permanent Committee against the Government The Government was called upon by the Permanent Committee to revise the course decided on by the National Assembly, to recall that body and put off the election of a Constituent Cortes. An armed demonstration, it is said by " Monarchical" Volunteers, was made in favour of this policy, so that it became a question of life and death between the Permanent Committee and the Government. If the Permanent Committee had won, there would have been a coup ililat and a reaction. But the victory of the Government only means the dissolution of the Permanent Committee. The unitary party, some of them Reactionists — including apparently Marshal Serrano — some of them Radicals, clearly demanded