" And so they will be, nurse," said her master,
" as Jong as the great folks at court, and all the
fine ladies who imitate them, buy French goods
as fast as they can be smuggled. â€” Charlotte, see
if dinner is coming. I am in a hurry. I have to
go out again directly."
" O, papa!*' said Lucy, " I thought you had
something very particular to tell us ; and now
vou sav you are going out directly."
" It must do when I come back to-night, or
in the morning. It is nothing very entertaining ;
but almost anything is better worth telling than
all the faults you have to find with what the
Bremes say and do. How can it possibly sig-
nify to you and me whether their footboy has a
snub nose or a sharp one V
*' No, but, papa, it is such a very wicked
thing of Mr. Breme to smuggle half the things
in his shop, when the poor weavers close by are
starving, and he knows it. Nurse says O,
here is the boiled beef! but I can go on telling
you while you are helping the others. Nurse
11 Nurse,'' said Mr. Culver, " it is a pity you
6 TAKING AN ORDER.
should stay to cut the child's food. Charlotte
will attend to her."
Nurse unwillingly withdrew. Perhaps she
would have attempted to stand her ground, if
she had known what her master was planning
against her. He .was at this moment thinking
that he must, by some means, put a stop to all
this gossip about their neighbours ; gossip which,
in the case of the Bremes, was strongly tinctured
with the malice which it was once thought nurse
Nicholas could not bear towards any human being.
It would be difficult, he feared, to separate nurse
in any degree from those whom she would always
consider her charge, even if she should live to
see them all grown up; but her influence must
be lessened, if he did not mean the girls to grow
up the greatest gossips in the neighbourhood.
He thought that the return of their brothers from
school in the approaching holydays (brothers both
older than Charlotte, the eldest girl) would afford
a good opportunity for breaking the habit of
nurse being in the parlour all day long during
his absence. He now began the change by send-
ing her away before dinner, instead of imme-
" Old Short has been telling nurse," continued
Lucy, â€” ** you know old Short, papa ?"
14 My dear, he used to weave for me before
you were born."
44 Well ; old Short tells nurse that there is not
a loom at work in all Crispin-street, nor has been
all this month, while silk pelisses are more the
fashion than ever they were. The Bremes had
TAKING AN ORDER. 7
such beautiful pelisses last Sunday at church !
You saw them, papa ?"
" Not I, my dear. I do not go to church to
look at people's pelisses."
" O, well! they are made Paris fashion ; and
of French silk too. Your silks are not good
enough for such high and mighty young ladies,
" There will soon be an end of that," observed
Charlotte, who attributed her father's gravity to
the fact of his manufacture being slighted. " There
will soon be an end of all that ; and nurse's son
is going to help to put an end to it."
11 Yes, papa," cried Lucy. " Only think !
He is going into the Pretence Service."
11 La, Lucy! you mean the Preventive Ser-
vice," cried Charlotte.
" To prevent prohibited goods being brought
on shore; to prevent smugglers' boats from land-
ing. Now vou will understand, Lucy, what the
Preventive Service means. So Nicholas is to be
one of the Coast Guard ! I suppose nurse is
" I hardly know," replied Charlotte. M He
says it is very hard service in these times; and
I believe she thinks her son fit to be an admiral.
He has to guard the Sussex coast ; and nurse
says there are more smugglers there than any
Lucy was of opinion that he should have some-
body to help him. He could hardly manage, she
thought, to prevent boats landing, if several chose
to come together. He must be a very brave
8 TAKING AN ORDER.
man indeed, she thought, to judge by what had
been given him to do. No wonder nurse was
proud of him! Nicholas sank much in her esti-
mation when she heard that he was not alone to
guard the whole Sussex coast, but had com-
panions within sight by day, and within hail by
" But do they all earn wages, like Nicholas ?"
inquired Lucy. " They pay him wages, besides
letting him have his pension still, that was given
him for being wounded in a battle. I wish old
Short, and some of the other poor people he was
telling nurse about, could be made guards too.
But who pays them?''
" Who do you think pays them ? Try and
Charlotte thought that her father and the other
manufacturers were the most likely people to pay
for the prevention of smuggling, especially as
some shopkeepers and the public had no objection
to smuggling. But when she remembered how
many guards there must be, if they were in sight
of one another all along the coast where smug-
gling went on, she began to think that it must be
an expense which would be hardly worth the ma-
nufacturers' while. Lucy supposed that if each
manufacturer kept one, it might be easily ma-
naged. She asked which would cost most, â€” a
Preventive servant or a footboy ?
" You think, I suppose," said her father, " that
as the Preventive men do not prevent smuggling,
after all, we might as well have a footboy, and
be as grand as the Bremes, But, do you know,
TAKING AN ORDER, 9
Lucv, I think the Bremes would have much
more reason to laugh at us then, than you have
now for ridiculing them. I believe Mr. Breme
is growing rich ; and he must know very well
that I am growing poor."
Charlotte asked again about the Coast Guard.
She would have been pleased just now to learn
that her father had any kind of man-servant in
his pay, besides those in the warehouse of whom
she knew already. When, however, she was told
the annual expense of keeping a guard against
smugglers on the coast and at sea, she believed
that the cost was beyond the means of all the
manufacturers together that she had ever heard of.
It was above four hundred thousand pounds a-
year, â€” a sum of which she could as little realize
the idea as of so many millions.
11 Yes, my dear," said her father, " four hun-
dred thousand pounds are paid every year for not
preventing smuggling ; for we see that smug-
gling still goes on."
" How can it be ?" asked Lucy. " Do the men
go to sleep, so that they do not see the boats
coming ? Or are they lazy ? or are they cow-
ardly ? I do not think there will be any more
smuggling in Sussex, now that Nicholas is
Her father laughed, and told her it would re-
quire a much greater man than Nicholas to put a
stop to smuggling in Sussex ; and that if the
Coast Guard could keep their eyes wide open all
the twenty-four hours round, and were as active
as race- horses, and as brave as lions, they could
10 TA-KINa AN ORDER.
not prevent smuggling, as long as people liked
French goods better than English ; and that such
would be people's taste as long as French goods
were to be had better for the same money than
anv that were made in England.
Whv the English should be so foolish as to
make their fabrics less good and less cheap than
the French, Mr. Culver could not now stay to
explain. He despatched his cheese, tossed off
his port, recommended the girls to learn as much
as they pleased from nurse about the Preventive
Service, and as little as they could about the
Bremes' misdeeds, and was off, to see the very
man against whom nurse's eloquent tongue had
Mr. Breme appeared to have something of
consequence to display to Mr. Culver, as he
turned on the gas in his back-room to an unusual
brightness when his friend entered. (They still
called themselves friends, though provocations
were daily arising in matters of business which
impaired their good will, and threatened to sub-
stitute downright enmity for it in time.)
M Here, my dear sir," said Breme ; " just look
but I wish you had come by daylight : you
can't conceive the lustre by daylight; â€” just look
at this piece of goods, and tell me if you ever
manufactured anything like it.''
Mr. Culver unrolled one end of the piece of
silk, ran his finger-tips over the surface, furled
and unfurled its breadth, contemplated its pat-
tern, and acknowledged that it was a very supe-
rior fabric indeed. He had hardly ever seen
TAKING AN ORDER. 11
such an one from the Lyons looms, and he was
sure neither Macclesfield nor Spitalfields had
11 Can Spitalfields produce such an one, or one
nearly resembling it .'" asked Breme. " That is
the question I wanted to ask you, my dear sir.
Bring me a specimen which shall pass for
French, and you shall have a larger order than
has left this house for a twelvemonth past ; â€”
provided always that you can furnish it without
There need be no delav, Culver answered ;
for there were more looms unemployed in Spi-
talfields than could be set to work by any order
that a single house could give. But the inferiority
of the British manufacture was the impediment ;
â€” an inferiority which seemed almost hopeless.
There was not a child of ten vears old, dressing
her doll in her mamma's odds and ends of silk,
that could not tell French from English at a
glance. Ay ; put her into a dark room, and
she would know the difference by the feel.
" You should get rid of this inferiority, my
dear sir," said Breme, with an encouraging smile,
" and then we shall be most happy to deal exclu-
sively with you. We prefer dealing with neigh-
bours, cceteris paribus, I assure you. You
should get rid of this inferiority, and then "
" Get rid of it ! I should like to know how,
while our weavers insist on the wages which they
fancy can be spared from a protected trade, and
will not believe that their prosperity has anything
to do with the quality of their work. As long as
12 TAKING AN ORDER.
they fancy their manufacture by law established,
they will take no pains to improve it. There is
no stimulus to improvement like fair competi-
" Well ! your men's wages will soon be no
longer by law established ; that will be one step
gained. You will then compete with Maccles-
field and Paisley, which you could not do while
your Spitalfields Act was in force. Bestir your-
selves, I advise you, or the foreigners will cut you
out in every way."
" I shall bestir myself to get our protection
removed," observed Culver. " This is our
only hope : but in this endeavour you will not
join me, Breme. Contraband goods have too
many charms for your customers, and bring too
much profit to you, to allow you to wish that the
trade should be open. Beware, however, that
you are not caught some day."
Breme begged to be trusted to take care of
himself. As to his fondness for a stock of con-
traband goods, he would just mention, in con-
fidence, a circumstance which would prove his
disposition to encourage the home manufacture.
" When I was last in Paris," said he, " a ma-
nufacturer there offered to supply me with any
quantity of silk goods, to be deposited in any part
of London that I might point out, upon the pay-
ment of an insurance of ten per cent. This
tempting offer I declined, sir."
" Because you knew you could as easily get
the goods without paying the insurance. Very
meritorious, indeed, Mr. Breme ! However, I
TAKING AN ORDER. 13
am not one to talk about the patriotism, and the
loyalty, and all that, involved in the case : for I
hold the frequent and unpunished breach of a law
to be a sufficient proof that the law is a bad one ;
and that the true social duty in such transactions
is to buy where things are cheapest, and sell
where they are dearest ; thus relieving those
who want to sell, and accommodating those who
wish to buy. 1 am not going to quarrel with
you, sir, for buying your silks abroad, if you will
only join hands in getting your neighbours freed
for a fair competition with France.''
" Very liberal, indeed, my dear sir ! Very
handsome, indeed! It will give me great plea-
sure if you can accept the order which I have just
given you a hint of. By the way, were you at
the last India sale V*
" Of course."
" How did the bandanas go ?"
" You probably know as well as I. I am no
exporter of bandanas."
" Do you mean to insinuate that I am .' Re-
tail dealers have something else to do, I assure
11 O yes ; â€” to sell them when they come back
again. But you must know how they are dis-
posed of at the India House, and howmuchit costs
to carry them over to Guernsey, and bring them
in again, in spite of the Pretence Service (as my
little girl calls it), before you can tell whether to
sell them at seven or eight shillings apiece in
your back shop."
" Upon my word, sir, you are very wise," said
Breme, laughing. c
14 TAKING AN ORDER.
" One learns such wisdom at a clear cost," re-
plied Culver. " Let me see. About 1,000,000
bandanas have been sold at the India House this
year, at four shillings apiece. Of these, full
800,000 come back to be sold at seven or eight
shillings each ; so that the users of bandanas pay
a bounty of 800,000 times three shillings a-year
to speculators and smugglers, besides their share
of the expense of the Blockade and Coast Guard
which is employed to prevent their getting their
handkerchiefs. It is a beautiful system, truly !"
" Let it work quietly, till those concerned
begin to see into it," replied Breme. " You
ought not to complain, you know. It is all done
to protect your craft."
" If government would please to protect the
consumers' money," observed Culver, " they
would have more to spend on the produce of my
looms. All I ask is that the people's purses may
be protected, and we manufacturers left to take
care of ourselves. Government has been so long
killing us with kindness that I doubt whether we
shall ever get over it. However, cut me a pat-
tern of your silk, and I will consult with my cle-
verest workman, and let you know what we can
" Certainly : â€” that is, â€” I am sure I may trust
" My interest, if not my honour. You must
know very well that our books are not so full of
orders just now as to make us willing to throw a
chance one into other hands."
" True, true ! But a rival house "
TAKING AN ORDER. 15
" Will not interfere with you while you agree
to fair terms. I will be off to my factotum, as
I call him, in my business matters. I hope Mrs.
Breme is well, and the young ladies ?"
M The children are well enough ; but my wife
has not got over the autumn fogs vet. She
would not be persuaded to leave Brighton till the
royal party had removed ; and the consequence is
just what I expected. Her chest is so delicate
that I doubt whether she will get across the doors
this winter. It is really a very animated, an ex-
tremely fascinating scene, you know, when the
royal household are at hand. Your young folks
are flourishing, I hope V*
" Quite so. Good evening. My best re-
spects to your lady."
" Good evening. O, Mr. Culver, just one
thing more ! You said something about your
stock. Have you a good assortment that one
might selectafew pieces from, â€” of grave colours,
â€” at moderate prices .'"
" O yes. Will you come and see?"
" I think I will," replied Breme, looking round
for his hat. " And a good many blacks ?"
11 Of course ; but you had better view them
by daylight. You are not thinking of choosing
colours to-night V*
" Certainly; but I can examine your prices,
and bring home a piece or two of blacks. Here,
Smith ! Send Johnson after me directly to Mr.
Culver's warehouse with his bag. As to these
bandanas, Mr. Culver : '
Culver turned quick round upon him with the
question, c 2
16 TAKING AN ORDER.
" Is the King dead ?"
'.' Lord bless my soul, what an idea ! His
Majesty dead ! No, not that I have heard ; nor
even ill, for anything I know."
Mr. Culver was not quite satisfied ; so remark-
able was Breme's method of inquiring after his
stock of blacks â€” at the tail of their conversation,
and yet with an evident design of immediately
possessing himself of some pieces. He was not
altogether mistaken. Breme had received pri-
vate intelligence of the inevitable occurrence of a
slight general mourning, and was anxious to
have his assortment of black silks ready at once,
and the fabric in imitation of his French pattern
prepared against the expiration of the short
Culver was enough on his guard to avoid sell-
ing any of his stock quite so low as he might
have done if no suspicion had crossed him. When
the transaction was concluded, he stepped into
Crispin-street, to consult the best skilled of his
workmen on the matter of the new order.
GIVING AN ORDER.
Mr, Culver was not unaccustomed to visit his
work-people in their abodes, and knew very well
what sights to expect on opening the door ; but
he had never chanced to look in upon any one
GIVING AN ORDER. 17
of them on an evening of January, â€” a dull
month for trade, and almost the dreariest as to
weather. He did not anticipate much that was
comfortless in the aspect of Cooper's abode ; for
Cooper was so good a workman as to be always
employed while any business at all was doing.
His wife was a more tidy body than many
weavers are blessed with ; and her baby was far
from resembling the miserable little creatures
who may be seen in any street in London,
with peaked chins, blue lips, and red noses, their
ribs bent in with uncouth nursing, and leas bowed
from having been made untimely to bear the
weight of the swollen body, Mrs. Cooper's baby
smiled a smile that was not ghastly, and danced
in its father's arms when he had time to play
with it, instead of wearing his heart with its cries
when he should be sleeping the sleep which fol-
lows a day of hard labour.
Knowing all this, Mr. Culver was rather sur-
prised by the first view of Cooper's apartment
this night. Its atmosphere was apparently made
up of the remains of the orange fog of the morn-
imj, the smoke from the chimnev which could
not make its way into the upper air, that which
proceeded from the pipe of the old man who
cowered over the dull fire, and that which curled
magnificently from the dipped candles on either
side the loom : â€” which candles seemed to yield
one-tenth part light, and the rest to be made up
of yellow tallow, wick growing into perpetual
cauliflowers, and smoke. The loom was going,
with its eternal smack and tick, serving, in co-
18 GIVING AN ORDER.
operation with the gap under the door, for as
admirable a ventilator as could have been wished
for on the hottest day in August. Mrs. Cooper
was discharging many offices in her own person ;
being engaged now in snuffing the rapidly-
wasting candles, now in giving a fresh impulse to
the rocking cradle, but chiefly in tying the threads
of her husband's work, while he was intent, with
foot, hands, and eye, on the complicated opera-
tions of his craft.
It seemed a somewhat unequal division of la-
bour that these two should have so many tasks
upon their hands, while a third was sitting lazily
smoking by the fire, who might as well have
been tending the baby. But old Short had an-
other occupation, which was vastly important in
his own eyes, although it would sometimes have
been gladly dispensed with by everybody about
him. Old Short was always grumbling. This
being an avocation that he had ever found time
for in his busiest days, it was not to be supposed
that he would neglect it now that he had nothing
else to do : and accordingly his voice of com-
plaint arose in all the intervals of Cooper's loom
music, and formed a perpetual accompaniment to
its softer sounds.
It was matter of some surprise to Mr. Culver,
who believed that Cooper and his wife were
justified in living comfortably if they chose, that
they should continue to give a place at their fire-
side to a cross old man, to whom they were bound
neither by relationship nor friendship. On the
present occasion, his first remark, offered in an
GIVING AN ORDER. 19
" So you have the old gentleman with you
still ! He does not grow more pleased with the
times, I suppose?''
Cooper winked, and his wife smiled.
" Have you any expectations from him ? Or
what can induce you to give him house-room ?
He is very well able to take care of himself, as
far as I see."
" Very well, indeed, sir. He is as capable, as
to his work, as ever, when he gets any : and it is
trying sometimes to hear him talk ; but he is not
the only person to feel the hardship of the times,
sir ; and one must put up with a fault or two, for
the sake of having a respectable lodger."
11 He pays us fairly the little we ask for his
share of our fire and our meals," observed the
wife ; " and we are getting used to that tone of
his by degrees ; â€” except, indeed, the baby. One
would think baby knew what Short was talking
about by its fidgeting and crying when he begins
on a fresh complaint."
Short was all this time listening to himself too
intently to be aware what was said on the other
side of the room. He missed Mr. Culver's ex-
pression of concern at Cooper's being obliged to
add to his resources bv having a boarder, but
was roused by the exhibition of the pattern of
French silk. He felt too much contempt for it,
however, to look closely at it, when he heard
what it was. He supposed it was one of the
new-fangled fashions people had taken to since
the Spitalfields weavers had had their just wages
held back from them. He had said what would
20 GIVING AN ORDER.
happen when his brother weavers consented to
take less wages than the Act gave them. The
manufacture deserved to go down
" I am quite of your opinion," observed Mr.
Culver. " We deserve to go down if we do
not mend our methods. Look at the lustre of
this pattern, and only feel its substance. We
deserve not to prosper if we do not improve our
fabrics, with such an example as this before us
of what may be done."
" Leave the French to mind their own mat-
ters," replied the old man, " and let the English
wear what is English, as they should."
" You will find that rather difficult to manage,
friend, if they like the French fabric better."
" Never tell me, sir! It is a fancy, and a
wicked fancy, that of liking French goods.
Why, for wear, there is nothing like our brocades,
that there was such a demand for when I was
young. There was variety enough, too, in all
conscience. There was the double and treble
striped, and the strawberry- spotted, and "
" O yes, I remember, Mr. Short. The first
waistcoat I danced a cotillon in was such a
strawberry-spotted thing as you describe. No-
thing like it for Wear, as you say. Down came
my little Lucy in it, the other day, to make us
laugh ; and, to be sure, the colours are as bright
as ever. But then, there is nothing like those
brocades for price either."
Short hated to hear such grumbling about the
prices of things as was always to be heard now
that the French had got a footing in the coun-
GIVING AN ORDER, 21
try. In old times, those that could afford to
wear silk did not grudge a good price for it.
" Very true ; but many more people wear silk
now ; and they are of a class to whom it is of
consequence to pay no more than is necessary."
" Ay ; and to please them, you have wrought
your web thinner and thinner, till you have made
it too thin for even the cheapeners ; and now
you must learn from the French to give your
fabric more substance."
" I am afraid we cannot do that for the same
money ; hey, Cooper ?'' said Mr. Culver, watch-
ing for the sentence which the weaver should
pronounce when he should remove his magnify-
ing glass from his eye, and give judgment on the
11 I think we may do it, sir," pronounced
Cooper. " I believe I see the principle of the
thing; and I could make a fair imitation, I think.
Not with the same body, of course. We cannot
afford to put in equal material for the money ;
but a slighter fabric of the same pattern might
sell, I have no doubt."
" If I might put in my word," said Mrs.
Cooper, " I should recommend a higher price
instead of a slighter fabric. It is more for the
substance than the pattern that the French silks
are preferred, I have heard say."
11 My dear," said her husband, " I cannot pre-
tend to rival a French weaver, if you give me
leave to use all the silk that ever passed through
a foreigner's loom. That is a point above me.
So we had better content ourselves with a like-
22 GIVING AN ORDER.
ness as to figure and price. â€” I cannot conceive,