The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 19, No. 550, June 2, 1832 online

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heat without fusion, well knowing that the hardness of the ware depended
on the high firing to which it has been subjected. For this purpose,
rejecting the common clays of his neighbourhood, he sent as far as
Dorsetshire and Devonshire for the whiter and purer pipe-clays of those
counties. For the siliceous ingredient of his composition he made choice
of chalk-flints, calcined and ground to powder.

It might be supposed that white sand would have answered his purpose
equally well, and have been cheaper; but, being determined to give the
body of his ware as great a degree of compactness as possible, it was
necessary that the materials should be reduced to the state almost of an
impalpable powder; and calcined flints are much more easily brought to
this state by grinding than sand would be. The perfect and equable
mixture of these two ingredients being a point of great importance, he
did not choose to trust to the ordinary mode of treading them together
when moist, but having ground them between stones separately with water
to the consistence of cream, he mixed them together in this state by
measure, and then, evaporating the superfluous water by boiling in large
cisterns, he obtained a composition of the most perfect uniformity in
every part. By the combination of these ingredients, in different
proportions, and exposed to different degrees of heat, he obtained all
the variety of texture required, from the bibulous ware employed for
glazed articles, such as common plates and dishes, to the compact ware
not requiring glazing, of which he made mortars and other similar
articles. The almost infusible nature of the body allowed him also to
employ a thinner and less fusible glaze, that is, one in which no more
lead entered than in common flint glass, and therefore incapable of
being affected by any articles of food contained or prepared in such
vessels. With these materials, either in their natural white or
variously coloured - black by manganese, blue by cobalt, brown and buff
by iron - he produced imitations of the Etruscan vases, and of various
other works of ancient art, such as the world had never before
seen - such as no subsequent artist has ever attempted to rival. His
copies of the Portland vase are miracles of skill; and the other
specimens of similar works may give some idea of the many beautiful
works that were produced in his manufactory. In table ware, for many
years he led the way almost without a rival; but the immense demand
occasioned by the successive improvements of this article, which first
put down the use of delft, and then of pewter, gave ample room and
encouragement to men of capital and skill to enter the field of profit
and competition. Much good has hence resulted; many subordinate
improvements have been effected and are almost daily making; and a new
variety of ware, called ironstone, has been invented, and so rapidly and
judiciously improved, that, in appearance and in many of its intrinsic
properties, it bears a close resemblance to the older and coarser
porcelains of China itself.

I shall conclude by a summary account of the manufacture of the best
table ware; for a considerable part of which I am indebted to notes
taken by Captain Bagnold, when visiting a pottery, inferior, perhaps, to
none in the country.

The materials of the Staffordshire ware are calcined flints and clay.
The flints are burnt in kilns, and then, while hot, quenched in water,
by which they are cracked through their whole substance. After being
quenched they are ground in mills with water. The mill is a hollow
cylinder of wood bound with hoops, and having a bottom of blocks of
chert, a hard, tough, siliceous stone: the mill-shaft is perpendicular,
and has two horizontal arms passing through it cross-wise. Between these
arms are laid loose blocks of chert, which are moved round on the
bed-stone as the arms revolve, and thus grind the flint with water to
the consistence of cream.

The clay, from Dorsetshire and Devonshire, is mixed with water, and in
this state is passed through fine sieves to separate the grosser
particles. The flint and clay are now mixed by measure, and the mud or
cream is passed through a sieve in order to render the mixture more

In this state it is called slip, and is now evaporated to a proper
consistence in long brick troughs. It is then tempered in the pug-mill,
which is an iron cylinder placed perpendicularly, in which an arbor or
shaft revolves, having several knives projecting from it, the edges of
which are somewhat depressed. By the revolution of these the clay is cut
or kneaded, and finally is forced by their action through a hole in the
bottom of the cylinder, and is now ready for use. Cups, pots, basins,
and other round articles, are turned rough on the horizontal potter's
wheel; and, when half dried, are again turned in a lathe. They are then
fully dried in a stove, and the remaining roughnesses are afterwards
removed by friction with coarse paper. Articles that are not round, and
the round ones that have embossed designs on their surface, are made of
thin sheets of clay rolled out like dough, and then pressed into moulds
of plaster of Paris; the moulds being previously dried, absorb the
superficial moisture of the clay, and thus allow it to part from them
without injury. The two or three separate pieces composing the article
are then united by means of fluid slip. Spouts and handles of jugs and
tea-pots are made and united with the body of the vessel in the same
way. Small handles, beadings, mouldings, &c. are formed by means of an
iron cylinder, having its bottom perforated so as to mould the clay, as
it passes through, into the required figure. A piston is inserted into
the top of the cylinder, and caused to descend slowly by means of a
screw, in consequence of which the clay is continually passing out
through the perforation, and is cut off in lengths.

Plates are beaten or rolled out of a lump of clay, and are then laid on
a mould turned to the shape of the upper surface of the plate. A
rotatory motion is given to the mould, and an earthenware tool
representing a section of the plate is pressed upon it; thus the plate
is made smooth, has a uniform thickness given to it, and it takes a
perfect cast of the mould. Cups, saucers, and basins, when rough-turned,
are dried on the block to prevent them from warping.

The ware being thoroughly dried, is packed into saggars and burnt in the
furnace to biscuit. Patterns for flat, or nearly flat surfaces, are put
on by printing the pattern from a copper-plate with an ink composed of
oxide of cobalt, oxide of iron, or other colouring matter, mixed with
oil. The impression is taken on soft paper, and is applied to the
surface of the biscuit, and slightly rubbed to make the print adhere:
the biscuit is then soaked in water till the paper may be stripped off,
leaving the print or pattern behind[12]. The ware is then dipped in the
glaze, which is a mixture of flint slip and white lead, and the bibulous
quality of the biscuit causes a sufficient quantity to adhere: the piece
is then dried and again passed into the furnace, which brings out the
colours of the pattern, and at the same time vitrifies the glaze.

[12] This very ingenious method of tranferring printed patterns
to biscuit ware was invented at the Porcelain works at

The finest patterns are applied after the glazing has been completed, by
taking the impressions from the copperplate on a flexible strap covered
with a strong gelatinous mixture of glue and treacle. This strap is then
pressed on the ware, and gives the impression in glue, the colouring
powder is then dusted over it, and a sufficient portion adheres to the
damp parts to give the pattern, after having been again in the furnace.
The more elaborate patterns on earthenware, and all those on porcelain,
are finished by penciling in.

* * * * *


* * * * *



The female characters in the Waverley Novels are touched with much grace
and spirit, though they are not, upon the whole, brought so vividly to
our minds as the men, - probably because they are more ideal. Such they
must necessarily be. The course of woman's existence glides
comparatively unobserved in the under-current of domestic life; and the
records of past days furnish little note of their condition. Few
materials are available from which the historical novelist can deduce an
accurate notion of the relative situation of women in early times. We
know very little either of the general extent of their cultivation and
acquirements, or of the treatment which they received from men. On the
latter point, we must not allow ourselves to be deceived by the poetical
effusions of gallantry, and the false varnish of chivalrous devotion. It
is to be feared that the practice of the days of chivalry was much at
variance with its professions; and that women were degraded, as we
always find them wherever civilization has made little progress. It was
by command of Edward I. of England, the Mirror of Chivalry, one of the
bravest knights in the host of the Crusaders, that two of the noblest
ladies in Scotland were hung up in iron cages, exposed like wild beasts
to the view of the populace. Facts like this mark the standard of public
feeling, and may teach us that there was little real consideration for
women in those times; - and where that is not found, there can be little
refinement. Scantiness of information, and the necessity of assimilating
to modern tastes a picture which, if it could have been obtained, would
probably have been disagreeable, has obliged the Author of Waverley to
draw much from the resources of his poetical mind in the depicting of
female character. And wisely has he so done; for we regard many of the
females in his tales only as beautiful and poetical creations; and we
are gratified without being deceived. We find no fault with him for
having made his Minna and Brenda beings such as the daughters of a
Shetland Udaller, nearly a century and a half ago, were not likely to
have been; - we blame him not because in his Rebecca, that most charming
production of an imagination rich with images of nobleness and beauty,
he has exhibited qualities incompatible with the real situation of the
daughter of that most oppressed and abject being, a Jew of the twelfth
century. It is plain that if Minna or Rebecca had been drawn with a
strict regard to probability, and made just such as they were most
likely to have been, one of the great objects of fiction would have been
reversed: the reader would have been repelled instead of being
attracted. This poetical tone pervades, more or less, the delineations
of all his heroines; and the charm which it imparts, perhaps more than
counterbalances the detrimental tendency of sameness. At the same time,
we may add, that it is least exhibited when circumstances seem least to
require it. His heroines are, on the whole, better treated, as such,
than his heroes, who are, for the most part, thrown into the ring to be
bandied about, the sport of circumstances; - owing almost all their
interest to the events which thicken around them. Many of them exhibit
no definite character, or, when they rise above nonentities, are not so
much individuals as abstractions. A strong fraternal likeness to the
vacillating Waverley does not raise them in our esteem. They seem too
nearly imitations of the most faulty portion of that otherwise admirable

_Scenic Description_.

Good as are the descriptions of quiescent objects, it is in his
treatment of events, - of the visible operations of man, or of the
elements, - that the author displays most power. What have we finer of
its kind, than the storm in the Antiquary? The sullen sunset - the
advancing tide - the rocks half hidden by the rising foam - the marks of
promised safety fading from sight, and with them the hope they
nourished - the ledge which the sufferers gained with difficulty - on the
one side, a raging sea, and on the other, a barrier that forbade
retreat! Guy Mannering contains another masterpiece - the night attack of
Portanferry, witnessed by Bertram. We feel as though we were that
person - we see and hear all of which his eyes and ears had cognizance;
and the impression is the more strong, because the writer has told only
_that_, and left the rest to our imagination. This illustrates one
feature of the author's skill. He knows the effect producible by leaving
circumstances in the incompleteness and obscurity in which they often
present themselves to the senses of a single person; he tells just what
that person could have perceived, and leaves the sketch to be finished
by his reader. Thus, when Porteous is hurried away to execution, we
attend his ruthless conductors, but we wait not to witness the last
details, but flee with Butler from the scene of death, and looking back
from afar, see through the lurid glare of torches a human figure
dangling in the air - and the whole scene is more present to our minds,
than if every successive incident had been regularly unfolded. Thus,
when Ravenswood and his horse vanish from the sight of Colonel Ashton,
we feel how the impressiveness and beauty of the description are
heightened by placing us where the latter stood, - showing us no more
than he could have witnessed, and bidding our imaginations to fill up
the awful doubtful chasm.

That the Author of Waverley is a master of the pathetic, is evinced by
several well-known passages. Such are the funeral of the fisherman's son
in the Antiquary - the imprisonment and trial of Effie Deans, and the
demeanour of the sister and the broken-hearted father - the short
narrative of the smuggler in Redgauntlet - many parts of Kenilworth - and
of that finest of tragic tales, the Bride of Lammermoor.


The plots in the Waverley Novels generally display much ingenuity, and
are interestingly involved; but there is not one in the conduct of which
it would not be easy to point out a blemish. None have that completeness
which constitutes one of the chief merits of Fielding's Tom Jones. There
is always either an improbability, or a forced expedient, or an
incongruous incident, or an unpleasant break, or too much intricacy, or
a hurried conclusion. They are usually languid in the commencement, and
abrupt in the close; too slowly opened, and too hastily summed up. Guy
Mannering is one of those in which these two faults are least apparent.
The plot of Peveril of the Peak might perhaps, on the whole, have been
considered the best, if it had not been spoiled by the finale.

_Scott and Shakspeare._

It may be said of the novels of Sir Walter Scott, as of the plays of
Shakspeare, that though they never exhibit an attempt to enforce any
distinct moral, they are, on the whole, favourable to morality. They
tend (to use a common expression) to keep the heart in its right place.
They inspire generous emotions, and a warm-hearted and benevolent
feeling towards our fellow-creatures; and for the most part afford a
just and unperverted view of human character and conduct. In them a very
sparing use is made of satire - that weapon of questionable
utility - which perhaps has never yet done much good in any hands, not
even in those of Pope or Young. Satire is thought useful, too much
because it gratifies the uncharitableness of our nature. But to hold up
wisdom and virtue to our admiration, is better than to apply the lash,
however dexterously, to vice and folly. There are, perhaps, no fictions
exciting the imagination so strongly as the Waverley Novels, which have
a less tendency to corrupt the heart; and it is, chiefly, because they
do not exhibit flattering and delusive pictures of crime. In this again
they resemble the plays of Shakspeare. Forcibly as that great dramatist
has depicted vice, and ably as he has sometimes shown its coexistence
with physical energy and intellectual superiority, - much as he may teach
us to admire the villain for some of his attributes, he never confounds
the limits of right and wrong. He produces no obliquity in our moral
sense, nor seduces us to lend our sympathy against the dictates of our
better reason. Neither in his graver, nor in his gayer scenes, is there
aught which can corrupt. He invests profligacy with no attractive
colours, nor lends a false and imposing greatness to atrocious villany.
We admire the courage of Macbeth, the ability of Richard, the craft and
dexterity of Iago, and the stubborn energy of Shylock, - but we never
applaud, nor wish to emulate. We see them too truly as they are. The
Author of Waverley, though he approaches nearer to the fault in question
than Shakspeare, can never be fairly said to have committed it.
Cleveland, Robertson, Rashleigh, Christian, might, by a few touches
added, and a few expunged, become very captivating villains, and produce
a brisk fermentation of mischief in many young and weak heads. But of
such false touches and suppressions of truth, the author has not been
guilty. He has not disguised their vices and their weaknesses, - he has
not endowed them with incompatible virtues; but, just favouring them
charitably, so as to take off the edge of our dislike, has exhibited
them nearly as they must necessarily have been. The same discretion is
observable in his impersonation of those equivocal characters in humble
life which he has invested with an interest hitherto unknown. Meg
Merrilies, Madge Wildfire, Ratclifte, and the Smuggler in Redgauntlet,
are characters in whom are found redeeming traits of the best feeling,
and which, therefore, interest us deeply. Yet all of them are more or
less at war with order and the institutions of society, and must fall
under its heavy ban. And, interested as we are, we are never led to deem
the censures of society unjust, or to take part with them in their war
against it.


Beauty of style is not one of Sir Walter Scott's chief merits. His
choice of expressions is, however, better than his disposition of them.
His sentences are too full of expletives, - too long, and loosely
arranged; exuberant, like his fancy, and untrimmed, as if never
subjected to a process of compression, - a _limæ labor_, perhaps
incompatible with the wonderful expedition with which work after work
has issued from the press. This facility of production is too remarkable
to be overlooked. It is almost unexampled. Voltaire and Lord Byron have
written some of their best works in an inconceivably short time. Dryden
produced five act plays at the rate of three a-year. Shakspeare is
supposed in one year to have written five, among which is that whereon
he must have expended most thought - Hamlet. This, considering the value
of the productions, would perhaps be the greatest feat on record, if we
could be sure that the plays had been wholly invented and written within
the twelve-month - but this cannot be ascertained. Nevertheless, for long
continued fertility of pen, perhaps Sir Walter Scott may be safely said
to have never been exceeded.

Two remarks have been repeated, till many receive them as undeniable
axioms; and we notice them only for that reason. One is, that the Author
of Waverley's earliest productions are decidedly his best - the other,
that he is never so great as when he treads on Scottish ground. In
neither assertion is there much truth. Are Ivanhoe, Peveril of the Peak,
Quentin Durward, Nigel, and Kenilworth, inferior to St. Ronan's Well,
the Monastery, and the Abbot? May not the first mentioned five be ranked
among the best of his novels? and must they unquestionably yield to Rob
Roy or the Antiquary? or does one of our latest favourites, the Maid of
Perth, betray much deficiency of that vigour which characterized the
first-born Waverley! Few will answer in the affirmative. - _Edinburgh

* * * * *


_Eccentric Preaching_[13]. - Mr. Tavernour, of Water Eaton, in
Oxfordshire, high sheriff of the county, came, it is said, in pure
charity, not out of ostentation, and gave the scholars at Oxford a
sermon, in St. Mary's Church, with his gold chain about his neck, and
his sword by his side, and accosted them thus: "Arriving at the Mount of
St. Mary's, in the Stony stage, where I now stand, I have brought you
some fine biscuits, baked in the oven of charity, and carefully
conserved for the chickens of the church, the sparrows of the spirit,
and the sweet swallows of salvation."

[13] In the fifteenth century.


_An Unlucky Plank_. - Sometime since a very large tree was cut down near
Goulson, in the parish of Hartland, into which it was reported and
believed by the peasantry of the neighbourhood, that "Major Docton" was
conjured. The tree was purchased by a builder in Bideford, and cut into
planks, one of which was washed away by the tide, and drifted to
Appledore, where it was picked up by some boatmen, and sold to the
proprietor of the new market, then erecting. The right owner, however,
having heard where the plank was, sent to demand it, but in vain. The
bearer of the message strongly urged the giving of it up, declaring that
as the old major had been conjured into it, it would certainly throw the
market down. The words were prophetic, for, while they were yet
disputing on the subject, that part of the market-house containing the
plank, fell with a sudden crash to the ground. The giving way of the
wall is easily accounted for, by less abtruse rules than those of magic;
but it so astonished the builder, that he was as anxious to restore the
conjured plank, as he was just before to retain it.


_Manufacture of Leather in Canada_. - It is stated in a recent number of
the _Montreal Current_, that this important branch of manufacture has
wonderfully increased of late. A few years back, the colony was almost
entirely dependent on New York, for supplies of leather. It is now
certain that it can be manufactured in Canada, and brought to market at
as low a price as it can be imported. Canada possesses immense
quantities of hemlock in her woods, and the tanning business having been
introduced so generally, these hemlock forests will probably prove to be
mines of gold. Some opinion of the extent to which tanning is carried on
in Montreal and its vicinity, may be found in the following statement of
twelve tanneries connected with one house in that city: - Cost of
tannery, 15,600_l_.; number of hides manufactured yearly, 40,500;
average weight 30 lbs.; weight of sole-leather produced, 1,215,000 lbs.;
average cost of manufacturing, 4_d_. per lb.; average value per lb.,
1_s_. 3_d_.; total value, 103,437_l_ 10_s_. Besides the twelve tanneries
above mentioned, there are many others in the city and other places, at
which the cost of manufacturing is about the same as those enumerated.
It is added, "This gives a sum of about 70,000_l_. distributed among the
working classes of the district of Montreal, which a few years ago was
expended in the United States."


_Family Slaughter_. - In Westmoreland it is usual at Christmas for the
farmers to kill each a sheep for their own use, on which occasion, when
the butcher inquires if they want any meat against Christmas, the usual
reply is, "Nay, I think not, I think o' killing mysell." A butcher
called on a farmer of his acquaintance in the usual manner, saying,
"Will ye want a bit o' meat, or ye'll kill yersell, this Christmas?" "I
kna not," replied the farmer, "whether I'se kill mysell, or tak' a side
o' me feyther."

* * * * *


With the present Number. A SUPPLEMENT of UNIQUE EXTRACTS from NEW BOOKS
of the last Six Weeks: with TWO ENGRAVINGS Illustrating Washington

* * * * *

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Online LibraryVariousThe Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 19, No. 550, June 2, 1832 → online text (page 3 of 3)