pence per pound to three shillings, there had
been a failure of consumption at the same time
HEAR THE NEWS ! 121
with an increase of contraband trade ; so that the
revenue had suffered doubly, and to an extent far
beyond its gains from the heightening of the
" What have we got here?" cried Pim, as a
gay-coloured article was drawn out from among
" Flags ! Aye ; these were clever fellows, and
knew their business, you see. Here are pretty
imitations of navy flags, and a fine variety.
British, Dutch, French ! They knew what they
were about, — those fellows."
" So do you, it seems, Mr. Pim," observed the
Collector. " You are as wonderfully learned in
flags as if vou had taken a few trips to sea your-
" I have lived on this coast for many a year,
and seen most of the flags that wave on these
seas," replied Pim. " But since these flags are
but poor booty, it is a pity your men cannot catch
those that hoisted them, and so get a share of
" Suppose you put them on the right scent,
Mr. Pim. I fancy you could, if you chose."
Mr. Pim disclaimed, with all the gravity which
his son's presence could impose. A parcel of
bandanas next appeared, and as the familiar red
spotted with white appeared, a smile went round
the circle of those who anticipated a share of the
" Ho, ho ! I suspect I know who these belong
to," observed the Collector. " There is a gentle-
man now not far off on this coast who could tell
122 HEAR THE NEWS !
us all about them, I rather think. He has been
sent for from London, under suspicion of certain
tricks about the drawback on the exportation of
silks. His shop is supplied very prettily by our
smugglers, and his connexion with them is sup-
posed to be the inducement to him to make large
purchases at the India sales. I have no doubt
he is one of those who buy bandanas at four
shillings a piece, and sell them at eight shillings,
when they have had a trip to Ostend or Guernsey.
I have a good mind to send for him."
" This is the last sort of commodities I should
think it can be pleasant to you Custom-house
folks to declare forfeited,'' observed Pirn. " Your
consciences must twinge you a little here, I
should think. I don't doubt your tobacco and
your brandy being duty-paid, and all proper ; but
when paying duty will not do, you will offend,
just like those who are not government servants,
rather than go without what you have a mind to.
I'll lay any wager now "
" Hold your impertinent tongue, sir," cried the
Mr. Pirn obeyed, taking leave to use his hands
instead. He stepped behind the Collector, and
quietly picked his pocket of a bandana : he did
the same to the Comptroller; and afterwards to
all the rest, though the land-waiter whisked away
his coat-tail, and the tide-waiter got into a corner
The only one who escaped was the clerk (Pirn'
own son), and he only because his having one
round his neck made the process unnecessary.
A goodly display of bandanas, — real Indian, —
HEAR THE NEWS ! 123
now graced the counter, and everybody joined in
Pirn's hearty laugh.
" Now," said he, " if you summon Breme on
the suspicion of this property being his "
" So you know who the gentleman was that I
was speaking of," cried the Collector. " Very
well. Perhaps you can tell us a little news of
this next package."
And forthwith was opened to view a beautiful
assortment of figured silks, of various colours,
but all of one pattern. Mr. Pirn gravely shook
his head over them.
" If you know nothing of those, I do," said
Brady, taking out his tobacco-box, and producing
therefrom the snip of silk which had been ex-
tracted from Elizabeth's glove. " Tis the same
article, you see ; and the Lieutenant here declares
" And so it is, and so are these," declared the
Collector. " The French would be ashamed of
such a fabric as this, at the price marked, though
they might own the figure ; which must be imi-
tated from theirs, I fancy. We had better send
for Mr. Breme, and let the other Custom-house
know of this seizure. I suspect it will throw
some more light on the tricks about the draw-
Mr, Breme was found to be nearer at hand
than had been supposed. Having failed in his
speculation, through two unfortunate seizures of
contraband cargoes, he had cut but a poor figure
at the larger Custom-house, where he had just
been examined, and found it necessary to consult
124 HEAR THE NEW9 !
with his Brighton brother as to the means of
getting the threatened fine mitigated, or of pay-
ing it, if no mercy could be obtained. He was
proceeding along the coast to Brighton, when
Pirn, who was aware of his movements, met him,
and told him of the adventures which had taken
place at Beachy Head.
What was to be done ? Should he slip past to
Brighton quietly, at the risk of being brought
back in a rather disagreeable way, or should he
make his appearance at once, and brave the cir-
cumstances, before more evidence should be ga-
thered against him from distant quarters ? The
latter measure was decided upon ; and Breme,
after changing his directions to the post-boy,
leaned back in his chaise to ruminate, in any-
thing but a merry mood, on the losses which he
had sustained, was sustaining, and must expect
still further to sustain.
Breme had lately become a merchant in a
small way, as well as a shopkeeper. He had
followed the example of many of his brethren in
trade, in venturing upon a proceeding of some
risk, in hopes that large profits would cover the
loss of the occasional failures which he had to
expect. He had employed his Spitalfields neigh-
bour to manufacture a fabric in imitation of
French silk, and had exported the produce as
English, receiving at the Custom-house the
drawback granted to such exportation. This
drawback was the remission, or paying back, of
the duties on the article to be exported ; such
remission being necessary to enable the exporter
HEAR THE NEWS ! 125
to sell his commodity in the foreign market on
equal terms with the foreign manufacturers, who
were less burdened with taxes. Breme claimed
and received this drawback, he and his agents
swearing, in due form, according to the statute,
that the goods were really for sale abroad, and
should not be relanded. The oath was consi-
dered merely as a necessary form ; and Breme
had no notion of selling his goods in a foreign
market at a lower price than would be given tor
them in England, under the supposition that they
were French. Back they came, therefore ; and
the government, which had paid the drawback,
besides having thereby made a very pretty pre-
sent to Mr. Breme, saw an addition made to the
stock of the already overstocked market at home,
while the weavers of silk were starving, and it
was charitably contributing to frequent subscrip-
tions for their relief. Mr. Breme was now, how-
ever, a loser in his turn, his beautiful goods
being clutched by the strong hand of the law.
In addition to this trouble, he was suffering
under the prospect of a speedy end being put to
this kind of speculation.
He could not decide what line of defence to
take till he reached the Custom-house, and heard
the nature and amount of the evidence that there
might be against him. "When he was told that
the case was to be followed up very diligently,
and exposed as a warning ; that the silks were
known to be of the same kind as those for which
he had had to answer in another place ; and that
the manufacturer and weavers would be produced
126 HEAR THE NEWS !
to swear to the origin of the whole,— he offered
to make oath that he had sold the goods abroad,
and that their being afterwards smuggled back
again was the act of his customers, and not his
own. The Collector congratulated him that, this
being the case, he was not subjected to the loss
which some of his friends had regretted on his
account. It was, indeed, a much pleasanter thing
to have sold the goods and pocketed the money
than to see such a beautiful lot of goods, prepared
at so much cost, and with so much labour and
ingenuity, now lying a forfeit to the offended
British law. With a bitter sweet smile, Mr.
Breme bowed in answer to this congratulation,
and changed the subject. He observed that days
of comparative leisure were apparently at hand
for all the gentlemen he saw around him. If
government should carry into other departments
the changes it was about to make in the silk
trade, there would be an end of many of the little
affairs with which the time of the Custom-house
officers was now so fully and disagreeably occu-
What did he mean ? Did he bring any new
Merely that government was about to remove
the prohibition on the importation of foreign
silks, and to substitute an ad valorem duty of 30
" Bless my soul, sir ! what an extraordinary
thing I " cried the Collector. " You do not mean
that you are sure of the fact, sir ?"
Mr. Breme had it from the best authority.
HEAR THE NEWS ! 127
" Why ' extraordinary ? ' " asked the Lieu-
tenant. " The nature of our business this morn-
ing is proof enough that some change is neces-
sary, is it not ?"
" To be sure," replied Breme ; " but the change
should be all the other way. Do you know, sir,
the market is deluged already with silk goods
from the late slight mourning, and from a change
of fashion since I AY hat are we to do, sir, when
the French pour in a flood of their manufactures
upon us ? "
" Our market is glutted because we can find
no vent for our produce ; and I do not see how
the matter could be mended by increasing the
inducements of smugglers to supply us, while
our weavers are starving in the next street. If
the French silks are, on the average, 25 percent,
cheaper than ours, a duty of 30 per cent, will
leave our manufacturers a fair chance in the
competition with foreigners, and will throw the
trade of the smugglers into their hands. My
only doubt is, whether the duty is not too high, —
whether there is not still some scope left to
11 Your countrymen are much obliged to you,
I am sure, sir," said Breme, tartly. " I think
government should know that some of its ser-
vants are ill-disposed to their duty."
The Lieutenant dared the shopkeeper to say
this again, in the midst of the witnesses of what
his conduct had been on the preceding night.
Breme meant only, and so forth.
Anxious and perplexed were all the faces now,
128 HEAR THE NEWS !
except the Lieutenant's own. His men had only
a vague idea that something was to happen to
take away their occupation, and to do a great
mischief. Their officer bade them cheer up, and
told them that it was only to the article of silk
that the reported regulations would relate.
M There is no knowing that," sagely observed
the Collector. " When they begin with such
innovations, there is no telling where they will
leave off. With such a fancy once in their heads,
Ministers (though God forbid I should say any
evil of them !) will not stop till they have ruined
the revenue, and laid waste the country under
the curse of an entirely free trade."
" I dare say they will be wise enough to retain
duties which all classes allow to be just; and the
levying of them will afford you quite sufficient
occupation, Mr. Collector, if our trade increases,
as it is likely to do under such a system," replied
the Lieutenant. " This little custom-house may
no longer be wanted as a store-place for contra-
band goods ; but there will be all the more to do
in the large ports ; and there, sir, you may find
an honourable and appropriate place. "
Neither the Collector nor any of his coadjutors,
however, could be consoled under the dire pro-
spect of the total ruin of the revenue, which was
the result they chose to anticipate from the mea-
sures understood to be now in contemplation.
Their only ground of hope was, that the British
manufacturers would rise in a body to remon-
strate against the sacrifice of their interests.
This, however, considering that the most emi-
HEAR THE NEWS ! 129
nent of the body had already petitioned for the
opening of the trade, offered a very slender pro-
mise of consolation.
Pirn had early slipped away to spread the news
of the contemplated " ruin of the coast." The
tidings spread from mouth to mouth, till they
filled every cottage, and reached even the recesses
where the gipsies made a home. Draper and
Faa came forth over the down to hear what the
schoolmaster had to tell, and returned thoughtful
to the tent where Mrs. Draper was looking out
" Then the winters will pass over us in a ceiled
house," said she, when she had heard the news.
" We must join our tribe in London from the
first autumn fog till the last spring frost."
" You and yours," said one of the men, who
was weaving the rush bottom of an old chair.
" We men may work in the free air, though there
will be stones instead of turf under our feet.
Many chairs to mend in London."
" But no night-play to fill the pocket and
sharpen the spirits," old Faa observed. There
was nothing in cities that he liked so well as his
task of the last night, — to stand on the ridge as
a watch upon the sentinel, and stoop, or hold
himself erect, according as the sentinel turned
his back or his face, that the lads in the furze
might know when to creep forward on all -fours,
and when to lie still. It was far pleasanter to
see them all collected safe in the shadow of
Shooter's Bottom, readv for work or fighting - ,
whichever might befal, than to mix in the medley
of bustling people in London streets, who were
130 HEAR THE NEWS !
too busy in the lamplight to heed the stars over-
head, which, indeed, it took some time to make
out through such an air.
Mrs. Draper would forgive the air for the sake
of the warmth and shelter ; and the children
would excuse everything for the sake of being
seventy miles distant from Mr. Pirn's school-room.
The younger of the men hoped that the " ruin
of the coast" might be delayed beyond another
winter ; that if they might no more have the
pleasure of handing bales of silk ashore during
unlawful hours, tubs of spirits might yet cross
the surf between sunset and sunrise.
" The ' ruin of the coast ! ' " cried Elizabeth,
as the words struck her ear in passing some of
the cottages. " Dear me ! has anything hap-
pened to the fish, I wonder." She soon found, —
what she ought to have known before, — that fish
are not always the chief concern of fishermen
on the coasts of a land where trades are severally
" protected." Let the fish swarm in the waters
as the motes in the sunbeam, and the coast may
be not the less ruined in the opinion of fishermen
who grow sophisticated under a bad law.
The wives looked melancholy, as in duty
bound, at the extraordinary cruelty of which the
government was going to be guilty, — at the very
irksome caprice by which it was endeavouring to
prevent itself from being cheated, as heretofore,
for the advantage of those who mocked, and
occasionally murdered, its agents. The good
wives thought it very strange of the government
to interfere with their husbands. To set spies
was bad enough ; but to take, away their best
HEAR THE NEWS ! 131
occupation was a thing not to be borne patiently.
No wonder Ned kicked away his nets, and Jem
cursed the child, and Dick left his boat, and said
he should go to the parish, as his prime work at
sea was taken from him. As for the children,
they looked as much dismayed under the shadow
of evil tidings as their mothers had done in child-
hood, on being told that Buonaparte and his
French were coming ashore to cut all their
throats. As soon as they dared speak, there was
many a wail of " O mammy, mammy ! are they
going to ' ruin the coast V "
Elizabeth thought she would make hast© to
the down, and tell her sister the dismal story.
Breasting the wind as hardily as Matilda herself
could have done, she arrived at length at the
station-house, unable, for some time, to find
breath for her tale. The signs of consternation
below had attracted Matilda's notice ; and she,
too, had dared the wind, to look for the cause
through the telescope, which was her favourite
companion when the Lieutenant w r as absent.
Her smile at the news surprised Elizabeth,
pleased as she was with her own prospects under
the new arrangements.
" I should not have thought," she observed,
" that you would care so much about the matter.
It will be very pleasant, to be sure, to have as
much French silk, without breaking the law, and
being searched, and all that kind of thing, as we
like to buy ; but really, if you were to see the
distress of those poor people below ; — the chil-
"Ah, the children ! I am sorry for their fright ;
132 HEAR THE NEWS !
but they will soon be comforted. For their pa-
rents my pity is at an end. Yonder are their
boats and tackle, and strong arms to use them ;
and there is the great and wide sea, where they
may innocently get the bread by which they pro-
fess to live. This is better than stealing the bread
from those who have no sea at hand from whence
to fetch their food. I cannot pity those fisher-
men, Elizabeth : I cannot be sorry at this news.
Remember, there are places full of a woe, com-
pared with which the vexation of the people you
pity is mirth ; — chill chambers, where little ones
have no heart to play, but crowd together to keep
warmth in them ; — alleys, where the wife, who is
no longer wanted at her husband's loom, holds
out her hand for the alms which her brave-souled
husband has not the courage to ask ; — hearths,
where the mechanic sits with his arms by his
side, looking into the empty grate, and thinking
of stirring times gone bv. When the wife comes
in with this news, gathered from the street-talk-
ers, he will leap up, look to his loom, and play
with his shuttle as a child with a new toy. Hope
will warm his heart from that moment, — hope
will be in his face when he hurries out to hear if
the news be true, — hope will be in his speech
when he returns. These, multitudes of these
sufferers, are they whom I have pitied ; and for
them, therefore, you must let me now be glad."
END OF THE FIRST PART.
W. Clowes, Stamford-street.
LOOM AND THE LUGGER.
By HARRIET MARTINEAU.
CHARLES FOX, 67, PATERNOSTER-ROW.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES,
LOOM AND THE LUGGER.
CHARLES FOX, 67, PATERNOSTER-ROW.
1 . The Coopers at Home . • • . <
, . 1
2. Matters of Taste
, . in
3. Chance Customers ■
4. Grief and Dancing
5. Hate and Hand-bills
, . 78
7. Prospective Brotherhood . . .
. . 132
Some of my correspondents will not be surprised
at the notice I find myself compelled to give, that
I shall henceforward take in no unpaid letters,
directed in an unknown handwriting, which have
not the name of the writer superscribed. The tax
of postage for anonymous flattery or abuse is one
to which I cannot be expected to submit.
As for the other tax, — on time, — thus imposed
on myself and others, it may supersede some of it
to declare, once for all, that no appeals to me,
whether made in print or by letter, anonymous or
avowed, have or shall have any effect upon me,
unless they are addressed to my reason. If my
arguments are open to refutation, I shall be thank-
ful to have them refuted. If my views are founded
on a false or narrow induction, the most acceptable
as well as the truest kindness will be to show me
where lies the error or deficiency. As an illus-
trator of truth, it behoves me to listen, with the
utmost respect, to applications like these ; but, as
a vowed servant of the people, I am not at liberty
to attend to appeals to my individual interests,
whether presented in the form of evil prognostica-
tions, of friendly cautions, or of flattery, gross or
What I have just said is applicable to only a few
individuals, to some of whom I owe gratitude for
kind intentions, and towards others of whom I feel
more concern than resentment. To those to whom
my work has been, in my own heart, dedicated
from the beginning, — the people, — I have only to
say that their generous appreciation of my object
is so effective a support and stimulus, that nothing
troubles me but a sense of the imperfection of my
service ; and that the most precious of my hopes
is, that I may become capable of serving them with
an ability which may bear some proportion to the
respect with which I regard their interests.
LOOM AND THE LUGGER
THE COOPERS AT HOME.
A fine spring shower was falling one May morn-
ing, in 1826, when Mrs. Cooper, the weaver's
wife, was busily engaged in dusting her husband's
loom, taking advantage of the interval between
the finishing of the piece with which he was now
gone to his employer, and the beginning of the
new one which he expected to bring home.
Many weavers are as averse to dusting and clean-
ing taking place in their peculiar department as
the most slovenly bookworm. They appear to
believe that a canopy of cobwebs sheds as im-
portant an influence on their work as the student
expects from the midnight lamp. Old Short was
one of these, and Mrs. Cooper, therefore,
thought herself fortunate in his absence at the
same time, and on the same errand with her
husband. She might not only clean her hus-
band's loom in peace, but have a touch at the
old man's, in the hope that the removal of some
2 THE COOPERS AT HOME.
ells of cobweb, and an ample measure of dust,
might escape his notice. Having opened the
windows wide to admit the air freshened by the
pattering shower, she sang to her baby, — still
so called, though now nearly three years old, —
encouraging, from time to time, the imperfect
imitations of the child as he stood pulling but-
tercups to pieces at a chair, and cramming the
remains through holes in its rush bottom. There
were hopes that the child would, at some future
day, be perfect in this song, for Short sang it
from morning till night ; and, when he was ab-
sent, Mrs. Cooper unconsciously took it up as
often as she looked towards his end of the room.
She was very tired of hearing it, too ; but it was
such a good exchange for the grumblings of for-
mer years, that she never found fault with the
melody, and made up her mind to hear it hourly
for the few years old Short might have to live.
But why had he left off grumbling ? For a rea-
son which does not prevail with all grumblers, —
that he had nothing to complain of. For two
years Mr. Culver had given him constant em-
ployment, and paid him well ; and he heard so
much on all sides of the great relief to the manu-
facturers from the reduction of the duties on raw
silk, — a reduction permitted in order to prepare
the manufacturers for a fair competition with the
French when the prohibition of foreign silks
should cease, — that he became less confident in
his predictions that the trade would be found to
be ruined ; that the French would carry all be-
fore them ; and that the last days of Spitalfields'
THE COOPERS AT HOME 6
industry were approaching. He had so often
emphatically taken his neighbours to witness that
he was weaving his last piece, and been presently
found weaving another, that he had now let the
subject drop, and adopted the more cheerful say-
ing, " Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
This served his purpose very well, though he
would have found it difficult, if questioned, to
point out what evil he proposed thus philosophi-
cally to endure. In summer, to be sure, it was
sometimes hot ; and the days went on to grow
dark early in winter; but the Coopers were kind
to him, and able, through their own prosperity,
to take good care of him. The child was readily
admitted to be any thing but a plague ; and with
fifteen shillings a-week wherewith to answer his
own small wants, the old man was not only
abundantly supplied for the present, but had been
able to accomplish one or two objects which he
had long had at heart. His burial money wr.s
safely laid by ; and he had bought a venerable
Bible, which had been discovered by a neighbour
lying on a book-stall, with his grandmother's