Page images
PDF
EPUB

TOUCHING FOR THE EVIL.

To illustrate the state of the public mind in the early part of the eighteenth century, it may be mentioned that on the accession of Queen Anne, the farce of the "Royal Touch" so often acted before the Revolution, but then dropped, was revived. Queen Anne, by the desire of her ministers, began to touch for the evil soon after her accession, and continued the farce during the whole of her reign. In most of the Prayer-books published at this period, there is a proper ritual appointed for the occasion. One of the last persons she performed upon was the celebrated Dr. | Johnson, then an infant, and labouring under the malady. His mother, in compliance with the prejudices of the times, took him to the queen, "who, with her accustomed grace and benignity, administered to the child as much of that healing quality as it was in her power to dispense, and hung about his neck the usual amulet, of an angel of gold, with the impress of St. Michael the archangel on the one side, and a ship under full sail on the other." In this case, the charm failed of success; for the doctor was afflicted with the disease through a long life. The queen is said to have touched two hundred persons on the same day, which was the 30th of March, 1714.

That the spell succeeded in some particular instances may be inferred from the number of cures that are placed upon record. At the same time, but little reliance is to be placed upon the pompous narratives of certain credulous divines and court-surgeons, who, seasoning their writings with large doses of flattery, are to be strongly suspected of knavery.

As to the mode by which it may have occasionally succeeded, there is but one rational solution, which is thus pointed out by De Foe: "The power of imagination, fancy, conceit, or faith, call it which you will, have all of them their particular influences in cases of disease, and some very strong natural reasons are given for it. There can remain, therefore, no doubt but that their contrary influences are also very strong; and he who firmly believes he shall not be cured, shall as certainly not be cured, as he that fancies he shall be cured shall have the cure." De Foe continues, "If some of our kings have omitted it wholly, such as the late King William, it is plain to me his majesty had not equal faith in the power of curing it, and did not think fit to attempt it without the most material qualification." Whiston tells us in his "Memoirs," he had been lately informed, that King William was prevailed upon to touch for the king's evil, "praying to God to heal the patient, and to grant him more wisdom at the same time;" which, he adds, "implied that he had no great faith in the operation: yet was the patient cured notwithstanding."

[ocr errors]

MUNGO PARK.

We are indebted for the following facts to the biographer of Sir Walter Scott.

On one occasion, the traveller communicated to Sir Walter some very remarkable adventures which had befallen him in Africa, but which he had not recorded in his book. On Scott's asking the cause of this silence, Mungo answered, “that in all cases where he had information to communicate which he thought of importance to the public, he had stated the facts boldly, leaving it to his readers to give such credit to his statements as they might appear justly to deserve; but that he would not shock their faith, or render his travels more marvellous, by introducing circumstances, which, however true, were of little or no moment, as they related solely to his own personal adventures and escapes." This reply struck Scott as highly characteristic of the man; and though strongly tempted to set down some of these marvels for Mr. Wishaw's use, he on reflection abstained from doing so, holding it unfair to record what the adventurer had deliberately chosen to suppress in his own narrative. This confirms the account given by Park's biographer of his cold and reserved manners to strangers; and in particular of his disgust with the indirect questions which curious visitors would have put to him upon the subject of his travels. "This practice," says Mungo, "exposed me to two risks-either that I may not understand the questions meant to be put, or that my answers to them may be misconstrued;" and he contrasted such conduct with the frankness of Scott's reverend friend, Dr. Adam Fergusson, who, the very first day the traveller dined with him at Hallyards, spread a large map of Africa on the table, and made him trace out his progress thereupon, inch by inch, questioning him very minutely on every step he had taken. "Here, however," says Scott, "Dr. F. was using a privilege to which he was well entitled by his venerable age and high literary character, but which could not have been exercised with propriety by any common stranger."

A MAN WITHOUT DECISION.

A MAN without decision can never be said to belong to himself; since, if dared to assent that he did, the puny force of some cause, about as powerful, you would have supposed, as a spider, may make a capture of the hapless boaster the very next moment, and triumphantly exhibit the futility of the determinations by which he was to have proved the independence of his understanding and his will.-Foster.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][subsumed][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

ALTHOUGH Paris is called the most civilized capital in the world, it is perhaps, always excepting Grand Cairo, the filthiest ; a paradoxical reputation it seems to have enjoyed for ages. Petrarch, the poet, philosopher, and statesman, writing in the middle of the fourteenth century, says, "Paris, though always inferior to its fame, and much indebted to the lies of its people, is undoubtedly a great city. To be sure I never saw a dirtier place, except Avignon." This remark is exactly applicable at the present day; in proof of which we refer to the figure at the head of this article; portraying a character that could only exist in a city unprovided with proper outlets or depositories for the refuse of animal subsistence, where every description of garbage is allowed to rot in the streets, and to corrupt the air, after the Chiffonnier has ex* Campbell's Life of Petrarch recently published. PART II-NO. V.

tracted the smallest particle that he considers of the least value.

In Cairo, which rivals Paris in filth, the streets are cleared by the tame vulture; the appearance of which, remarks a recent writer on Egypt, "from the nature of its occupation, is disgusting in the extreme; though naturally it is a noble object." How much more disgusting is the aspect of that far nobler being, man, when covered with rags, picking out a wretched subsistence from the offal of the streets; and who, more degraded than the unenlightened barbarian, instead of living on the spontaneous productions of nature, subsists upon the refuse of other men, which, instead of being speedily removed, is left by the inhabitants of Paris to decompose, to putrify before their very doors! Thus the Chiffonnier is the offspring of uncleanness -a creature nurtured by filth upon the trunk of civilization, to stop its growth and impede the spread of its branches; of which national clean

F

|

Their tenants can either hire a room for the week or a bed for the night, just as may be most convenient; for many of them are ambulatory and have no fixed residences, choosing the fields around Paris for their summer-beds, but patronising the brokers' temporary accommodation in the winter. When they have a fixed habitation, it is of the most filthy description. "There they deposit the dirty produce of their researches, and there they sort them in the midst, and with the help of their children. The floor is scattered with rags, fragments of broken meat, glass, paper, &c. These are crowded in every corner of the room, and under the bed-so that it is impossible to enter without being almost stifled by a stench which habit alone makes endurable. To increase the miasma exhaling from this impure booty, most of the Chiffonniers keep a great dog, and sometimes two, in their chambers, which accompany them in their nightly rounds."

liness is one of the strongest and most important | manufacturer—keep lodging-houses for the accomfibres. But to the Chiffonnier himself. He has been modation of their friends, reserving the groundpainted in every lineament by M. Frégier in his floor as the warehouse for Chiffonnerie. valuable work" Des Classes Dangereuses." It seems that men, women, and children are employed in "rag-grubbing," which requires no apprenticeship and but a limited stock-in-trade. A conical basket, slung to the back, and reaching from the top of the head to the waist, a stick tipped with an iron hook, and a lantern for the night-time, constitute the whole of their tools. The Chiffonnier generally sallies forth thus provided at about five o'clock in the morning. In the poorer neighbourhoods he will find in every street several heaps composed of ashes, rags, meat, bones, vegetables, &c. ; in the more respectable quartiers such a heap is to be found close beside every porte-cochère. This he turns carefully over with his stick, and when any desirable piece of rag or other matter presents itself, it is caught up most adroitly by the hook, flung over his head, and deposited in the basket. Thus the Chiffonnier goes on picking up unconsidered trifles from street to street, from heap to heap, generally till nine o'clock; when he returns home (most likely in the quarter St. Jaques or St. Marceau). He makes a second perambulation in the day-time, between the hours of eleven and three, and a third in the evening, from five till midnight. The hours not thus employed are occupied in sorting the contents of his pannier ;-a nice operation, requir-united; ing much skill and judgment. The basket contains two classes of "valuables," one destined for sale to the general dealer, or Chiffonnier-broker (answering to our "Dealer in Marine Stores"), and the other to be reserved for the owner's especial use. Every particle of edible matter is reserved to be compounded into a comprehensive soup, whose materials defy enumeration.

Sometimes the process of sorting takes place in the open air. "If you pass through the Rue de l'Oursine, or other streets of the faubourgs especially inhabited by the Chiffonniers, at the hours they return from their circuits, you may judge of the nature of the elements which make up their merchandise. Squatted by the side of his basket, the rag-gatherer will exhibit to you with a grin a huge beef-bone, which has its value no less than other apparently worthless articles, and while he piles up his store upon the pavement, will tell you that his trade is ruined by competition—that the kitchen-maids, lost to all sense of humanity, turn everything to their own account, particularly bones and broken glass-the Chiffonnier's most coveted

articles."

This open-air selection and assortment of rubbish, however, only takes place in fine weather; and, during wet and cold seasons, is performed within-doors. A Chiffonnier's" interior" presents a revolting spectacle. Many of the brokers-who are to the Chiffonnier what salesmen are to the

It has been calculated that by scraping and collecting in the streets, and sorting and selling at home, the Chiffonnier gains according to the season of the year from 25 to 40 sous a day; his wife, if he have one, from 15 to 20 sous, and children about 10 sous. No tie seems to exist to keep the family not even the ties of nature; children of the most tender age frequently forsake their parents, and set up in the rag-gathering business for themselves. A more shocking state of barbarism than that of such infants cannot be conceived. Completely relieved from every sort of control, they lead a wholly wandering, almost savage life, and are remarkable for their daring and the brutality of their manners. After a few years, so en│tirely have they relieved themselves from the trammels of parental guardianship, that they often forget their fathers' names and abodes, remembering only their own Christian names.

In other respects the whole body seem to possess characteristics in common with the rest of the lower orders of Paris; except that they are more debauched and drunken in their habits. Like all their compatriots, they are fond of treats and holidays; when a stray silver spoon, fork, or other valuable gets into their basket-a piece of good fortune which the carelessness of servants renders by no means unfrequent-the proceeds are usually spent upon a copious repast in some favourite resort in the outskirts; whither they repair with joyous friends, not by the conveyance which nature provides, and poverty so often enforces, for they have quite enough walking in the pursuit of their daily avocations, so they do no less than hire a hackneycoach; proceeding merrily to the barrière in full state.

The number of Chiffonniers in Paris is estimated

THE CHIFFONNIER (RAG-GRUBBER) OF PARIS.

67

at 4000, including women and children. They have | lifted too far above the river's bed to be effectuamong themselves a regular organization, and ex- ally drained. Even their sea-port towns-where ercise their vigilance and iron hooks in allotted drainage is so easily effected—are infinitely more districts, that one may not too seriously interfere offensive than their capital. Parts of Marseilles, with the livelihood of another. Indeed this bond for example, are perfectly uninhabitable by an of union is strong enough to resist any invasion | Englishman, on account of the stench which arises apon their rights to "the soil" which the govern- from the streets. ment may threaten them with. M. Gisquet (a late prefect of police) supplies an example of such resistance. In the year 1832, the cholera raged dreadfully in Paris, for a more congenial locality for that destructive infection could hardly be found, and alarmed at its ravages, the municipal council made new and long-called-for regulations for cleans- | ing the streets. The Chiffonniers revolted to a man! They burnt the tumbrils of the contractors employed to clear the public thoroughfares, ransacked their contents for the hidden wealth they looked upon as their own, and created an émeute, which the unsettled state of the lower orders of Paris threatened to swell to the consequence of a new revolution. A compromise must have taken place between the government and these formidable operatives, for when we were in Paris the year before last, the dust-heaps were neither decreased in number, size, nor offensiveness.

So much for the class. The individual exhibited in our engraving is exactly such a man as a demi-barbarous existence, passed amidst all the miseries of savage and all the vices of civilized life, would after a series of years produce. Prematurely old, diseased, almost starved, he has scarcely strength to carry his load of garbage to its destination, and rests it on a wall, unable for a time to proceed. We have chosen him and his fellows as the subject of this article, because he is a striking representative of the fatal effects of national uncleanliness upon social order, and, consequently, upon civilization.

A love of home is the very first element of a love of country-it is the strongest link in the bond of family and kindred union-it constitutes, in short, domestic happiness. But a home can never be a happy one, if the ordinary conveniences of life are denied to it; and this is the case in most Continental towns. Drains and sewers are almost unknown in them; but Paris is peculiarly unfortunate in this respect Built in what geologists call a basin, some parts-particularly those beyond the left bank of the Seine-are in a more depressed level than the bed of the river, always the most convenient discharge for the contents of sewers. This geological disadvantage would, in some measure, relieve the French people from the stigma their offensive public ways cast upon them, if they took advantage of more favourable localities for the construction of drains; but they do not. Even to go no further than Paris -its most densely populated quarters-those of the cité, on the right bank of the Seine-are hilly, and

[ocr errors]

To this deficiency in sanatory and social comfort may be traced the restless and erratic character of the French nation; they have no homes to be called comfortable-a word essentially Englishhence, they are unable to meet in families around the hearth, so that they congregate in masses to exchange sentiments amongst each other, which are mistaken for true patriotism, but which, in reality, is too often the patriotism of discontent; for they know but little the feeling of individual, because they have no domestic contentedness—and of national vanity, for France having employed her funds in triumphal arches, columns, statues, &c., has had little to spare for increasing the social comfort of her people. Hence, she has plenty of national monuments and Chiffonniers, but few common sewers, or settled, contented patriots.

Our patriotism must not, however, go the length of uncharitableness. Our own great city, and many of the largest English towns, are exceedingly deficient in facilities for cleanliness; so that we are not quite without Chiffonniers, whom we call bonegrubbers. But the race is gradually crumbling away from the face-not of the earth-but of the ashheap; yet in the outskirts of large towns one may be occasionally seen grubbing for an existence, if not so skilfully as his Parisian fellow-labourer, with equal perseverance. Even the few of his tribe still remaining have at length received their deathwarrant Lord Normanby's Act for the more effectual drainage and sewerage of towns will sweep away his stock-in-trade, and he must either turn his attention to some of the other industrious arts, or emigrate to Paris and become a Chiffonnier.

PLEASURES OF INTELLECT.

W.

THE labour of intellectual search resembles and exceeds the tumultuous pleasures of the chase; and the consciousness of overcoming a formidable obstacle or of lighting on some happy discovery, gives all the enjoyment of a conquest, without those corroding reflections by which the latter must be impaired.—Robert Hall.

* See Lord Normanby's speech on introducing his excellent Drainage Bill, in the House of Lords' debates, Feb. 12, 1841. To

show the effect of a deficient sewerage upon the public health, his Lordship quoted a statement of Dr. Southwood Smith, to the effect, that by taking a map of the sewers in London, and tracing the course of fever through the metropolis, it would bo found to run in a directly inverse ratio to the course of the sewers. The same fact was observed when the cholera raged here; which, however, was never so extensively fatal as in Paris. At Marseilles its ravages were frightful in the extreme.

THE CIRCASSIANS.-No. I. We are indebted for the following particulars of an interesting people, to "A Residence in Circassia," by J. S. Bell, Esq. The present condition and manners of the females of Circassia appear to be the consequence of the blending of Turkish and Circassian usages, the former of which preponderate with regard to the married women, and the latter as respects the unmarried-making them altogether the very antipodes of the females of Europe, especially of those of the higher classes. The house and society of the married female is inaccessible, as in Turkey, to all males, except those of her own family, the ataliks of her children, and the members of her husband's fraternity, who have free admission at all times. When she goes out to visit her female friends, her head and face are closely veiled, and her whole figure enveloped in a cloak; she must avoid meeting males, or, unless they be serfs, stand respectfully aside | till they pass. But the maid-whose tight corslei covered in front with clasping plates of silver, and scull-cap ornamented with knobs and lace of silver, give her somewhat of a martial appearance, while her pendent tresses, flowing skirts, and gentle gait, preserve the feminine character of her figure, and, if she be tall, give it much of dignity and grace-sallies forth unveiled, and upon occasions she fearlessly, but never with effrontery, enters amid groups of men. The tall, handsome girl I have repeatedly seen entering the guest-house here, when filled with men, to visit the wounded warrior, has made me think more than once of the Maid of Orleans performing this military duty to her companions in arms.

But although the charms of the matrons be thus concealed from public view, it must not be supposed that they have smothered one of the chief, (and certainly not the least amiable) characteristics of their sex-the desire of admiration; for the veil they wear is in general white as the driven snow, of very ample folds, and often of muslin, or the finest texture they can afford; and the paraja, or cloak, is one of the most costly articles of Circassian dress, being a very large square of European woollen, as fine as they can possibly afford to pay for.

The government of every family is understood to be vested in the father; but I have heard enough here and there to convince me that this supremacy depends in this, as in other countries, upon whether the preponderance of intellect belongs to him or his consort.

How superlatively ridiculous do some of the follies of what is called civilized life become, when one's mind has got a little unsophisticated by living among an artless people; when one contrasts the ceaseless dance of fashion in Europe, and all the monstrosities in turn produced-the hats, Petersham, tally-ho, and clerical-the small and large collared, broad and swallow-tailed coats-the apoplexy-inducing neckcloths and stocks of our menand the bonnets and sleeves of all possible forms

[ocr errors]

and sizes of our women, with the simple, elegant, and unvarying attire of these Asiatics, whom we reckon among barbarians! But while the freaks of that despot, fashion, were they limited only to those sumptuary matters (the bare enumeration of which, however, I feel to draw upon me a portion of the ridicule that belongs to them), might be dismissed with a smile, feelings of a deeper cast are called up when we find that the region of mind is similarly invaded, and that most of the individuals composing that section of society which claims for itself the attributes of superior intellectual cultivation and enlightenment are as much the slaves of mode in thought as they are in dress; that their minds, instead of being engaged in the simple yet exalted investigation of truth, are enthralled by the phantoms of a faction.

Every individual (including serfs) is comprised in some fraternity or other; for at his birth he is held to that of which his father is a member.

Serfs are frequently manumitted, and they can then enter a fraternity, upon taking an oath to abide by its regulations, and pay their portion of its fines. Each fraternity is presided over by its elders, without any election. The hoary beard, with respectability of character, forms the only title to respect and pre-eminence, both in council and elsewhere. In other respects there is entire equality among the members of every fraternity; and however numerous they may be, their families cannot intermarry,such marriage being considered incestuous. On one occasion Mr. Bell remarks

"There has been held here to-day the trial of a case of theft. The assemblage consisted of the judge of the district (with a great book of Turkish law, copiously indexed), our venerable host, and some dozen other seniors, as assessors. The number of the latter varies according to the importance of the case; but six from each of the fraternities concerned is the minimum. The delinquency in question was the theft of an axe; but being the second offence committed by the culprit, the punishment was necessarily more severe. A fine of twenty-four oxen was, therefore, first agreed on; but upon a representation having been made as to the poverty of the thief, the fine, after much debate, was reduced to fifteen oxen.

"To these trials witnesses are cited, who are first examined as to their faith, and (if Mussulmans) are made to take an oath on the Koran to speak truth. But their testimony, nevertheless, has weight only in proportion to their known credibility; and the testimony of a person of bad character is considered inadmissible. The culprit also is examined, and is permitted to speak for himself, and to cross-question the witnesses. The proceedings, as may be supposed, (from the character of the witnesses being occasional matter of debate,) are often very tedious, and occupy several successive days, sometimes weeks; and during this time, if the case be of such importance that people are brought from a distance to it, the plaintiff and de

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »