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these new experiments; and M. Poitou refers, in illustration of the same cheering tendency, to the frequent recourse now had to foreign literature, richer in this class of fiction than is the French-to that of England, Germany, and the United States, all of which supply good store of "excellent works, wherein a refined portrayal of manners, and delicate analysis of the feelings, are joined to a high and healthful morality and genuine warmth of soul." In a foot-note he names, par exemple, as known and read of all men, the writings of Mrs. Beecher Stowe, of Currer Bell, of Miss Cumming, and Miss Bremer; to which enumerations ought to be added, he says, those of Henri Conscience, and several of those by Dickens and others less celebrated in France.

As so large and prominent a feature of M. Poitou's treatise consists of quotations, culled from an extensive series of obnoxious fictions, it is proper to mention, in conclusion, the avowal he makes of the care and good faith with which he selects his evidence. It has been his endeavour, he assures us, to guard against any the least distortion of his author's meaning. If the reproach should be raised against him of having judged certain works by isolated phrases, and of having presented as philosophical theories what in reality were but cries of passion or developments of character, his answer is: that he does not believe himself to have fallen into any such mistake, or to have committed any such injustice-it having been his particular care to abstain from quoting whatever seemed provoked by the situation or required by the demands of art; whatever, as such, should be charged to the account, not of the author, but of the character his delineation bodies forth.

THE ALIMENTARY CRISIS IN PARIS.†

THE Parisians are complaining grievously of the dearness of provisions. We have a fellow feeling with them, for notwithstanding the vaunted new tariff, improved means of transport from rural districts, and greatly increased facilities of communication with other countries, almost all the articles of ordinary consumption are dearer at the present time in London than they were a few years back. They have a means of remedying such a state of things in Paris, at least in as far as bread-the staff of life is concerned, which we should be sorry to see adopted in this country-they make the bakers sell it at a fixed price, and when its value in money is greater than the said fixed price, the difference is made up by the municipal authorities, who are refunded by a general tax. Thus the whole of France is occasionally made to contribute to the tranquillity and comfort of the Parisians. But this system has not yet been applied to

Sic. We presume that M. Poitou means the authoress of "The Lamplighter" and" Mabel Vaughan"-works in high repute with a large class which years ago confined themselves to Mrs. Sherwood and Hannah More.

† Les Mystères de la Boucherie et de la Viande à bon Marché. Par E. Blanc, ancien rédacteur en chef de la Gazette des Communes.

meat next to bread, the great necessity of life-yet by its price now placed beyond the daily reach of the poor. M. Blanc comes forward, then, to expose the mysteries of these high prices, to denounce usury and monopoly, and to propose a remedy.

One would have imagined that the latter had been done often enough before to meet with some success. The number of butchers has been limited. A syndicate, or mastership, has been established. Markets instituted. The so-called Caisse de Poissy founded. It has been rendered illegal to purchase cattle within a certain distance of Paris. The mode of sale has been regulated, and latterly the tax for admission (droit d'octroi) has been supplanted by a tax on beasts-a change which was violently opposed by butchers, and therefore expected by the public to be of infinite advantage to them; but which has not been so, for meat is now dearer in Paris than, it was during the Crimean war, or in the time of the Exposition, when there were 300,000 stranger mouths to feed. All this luxury of interference and regulation, which the Parisians prefer so much to fair and open competition, has only had the effect of raising the price of meat from 55 to 60 cent. (54d. to 6d.) the pound, which it was in 1820, to 70 cent. (7d.) in 1841, and finally to 1 fr. 04 cent. (a fraction more than 10d.) in the present day-an augmentation of 90 per cent. in the space of thirty-six years. That M. Blanc's proposal is adapted in any way to alleviate this state of things, we must venture to doubt." He seriously believes that the butcher can sell meat at a lower price than he himself pays for the beast, by a proper utilisation of the hides and offal! This is mere hypothesis a state of things which, if it had any real foundation, would long ago have been detected, and would as surely have been equalised. The butcher must charge according to what he pays for the beast or for wholesale meat, and in this country the only and the best control which the public enjoy is competition. It is in the power of any butcher to undersell another, till he goes down to a minimum profit; the average price will hence always be the medium between a minimum and an excessive profit, but where you limit the number of butchers, you create a monopoly; and where you establish fixed prices and a fixed tax, you put an end to all the benefits which the public can possibly derive from free and unrestricted trade.

The value of a six-year-old ox, fattened for the shambles, is estimated at 314 fr. A four-year animal, purchased for fattening, is estimated at from 225 fr. The expenses are estimated at 20 fr.; for the two years' taxes 36 fr.; accidental expenses 6 fr. ; interest of purchase-money at 6 per cent. 27 fr.; making a total of 314 fr. Such an ox would, if weighing 350 kilog. (2 lbs. 3 oz. 4 dr. each kilogramme), be worth 89.71 cent. per kilog. This is the price per kilog. adopted by M. Blanc for the beast. M. Bourdon, another authority, estimates it, however, at 1 fr. 07 cent.-a difference of 17 cent.; that is, in our money, from 9d. to 10d. the two pounds three ounces.

But M. Blanc argues that the ox has an industrial as well as an alimentary value, or what he calls a fifth part, including hide, fat, and offal. The hide weighs generally from 45 to 50 kilog. The weight of fat generally averages 50 kilog.; some estimate double this amount. Blanc estimates the hide 47 kilog. (at 50 fr. the 50 kilog.), 47 fr. 50

M.

cent.; the fat or tallow (50 kilog. at 60 fr.), 60 fr.; and the offal at 12 fr. The price for the offal is fixed annually, that of the hides every month, and that of the tallow weekly. This gives a total value for the fifth quarter of 119 fr. 50 cent. The benefit derived by the butchers from this fifth quarter is, therefore, according to M. Blanc, in presence of existing public distress, a scandalous thing.

This so-called fifth quarter is not paid for by the butcher to the grazier, who sells his beast according to the presumed weight of the other four quarters. Hence it has been considered as so much loss to the producer. But M. Blanc argues against this view of the subject that the grazier bought his four-year animal on the same conditions, and if the value of the fifth quarter has increased, still the increase of value has been mainly in the other four quarters. The producers are not likely, he insists, to give up anything having an intrinsic value for nothing, more than any other class of tradesmen or merchants. If they do not actually charge for the fifth quarter, they paid nothing for it originally; and if the fattening of the beast has been an expense, they take care that they are paid for it, by the price of the other four quarters. It certainly does appear to be a solecism to suppose that if the fifth quarter is not included in the contract for sale, that it is given away. The butcher pays so much per kilogramme for a fat beast, knowing that he will make so much by the fifth quarter; but it is questionable if the conclusions that M. Blanc would draw from this state of things, which is a merely nominal one, are logical. The butcher, he argues, should be made to deduct the value of the fifth quarter from that of the other four quarters for the benefit of the public. If the legislative powers were to add this to the already numerous interferences with the butcher's business, the only result would be that the butchers would be obliged to purchase their beasts according to an evaluation of the price of the five quarters; for if, according to M. Blanc's own showing, the producer takes care not to lose the value of the fifth quarter, so must likewise the butcher. It would only alter the terms of the sale, but its conditions would not be affected in the least. Both buyer and seller-that is, butcher and grazier-effect their transactions presuming on the value of the fifth quarter; but if, because it is not named in the transaction, the public think they can establish a claim to the benefit of the same, why it merely requires that it should be duly noticed in the sale, and any theory founded upon the absurd omission of the name of the thing in the transaction falls to the ground.

But M. Blanc, having assumed that the fifth quarter is so much pure profit to the butcher, goes on to discuss what he designates as other secret profits. There are in Paris three kinds of butchers: regular butchers, about 150 in number only, who kill just as much as they want for sale; wholesale butchers, who kill for themselves, and also supply some 300 butchers' stalls; and retail butchers (about 300), who sell meat at second hand. The two first class of butchers, according to M. Blanc, gain 34 cent. per kilog. by the fifth quarter. Then there are the secret profits, the advantages from which belong to all classes of butchers, and which are derived from the substitution of inferior meat, by what they call réjouissances in Paris, or bits of bone or inferior portions of the animal added to the purchase-notwithstanding la défense de la Pré

fecture-by offal, by bones, by the sale of untaxed kidneys, by false weights, and by "occult manipulations."

The idea of "occult manipulations" in the matter of meat will read strange in a country where butcher's meat is cut up as it is in ours into honest quarters and joints, leaving only a very moderate margin for imposition; but it is otherwise in France, where meat is cut up into trifling bits, thus affording many opportunities for the substitution of inferior for choice parts. M. Blanc assures us, indeed, that there are very few Parisians who can distinguish one part from another by the cut, and those few are cooks in leading houses; but even they are often deceived. The same authority estimates the profits thus surreptitiously obtained at from 50 to 60 cent. the kilog., making the total receipts per kilog. 2 fr. 62 cent. This against an expense of 1 fr. 40 cent. per kilog., at the mean average price; of 12.34 cent. per kilog., municipal taxes; and of 08.50 cent. per kilog. for expenses of sale; making a total of 1 fr. 60.84 cent. for expenses, which, deducted from 2 fr. 62 cent. profit, leaves 1 fr. 01.16 cent. actual gain of 200 butchers upon every kilog. of meat. The other butchers, who do not profit by the fifth part, only realise by the same calculations 67 cent. per kilog. This calculation is founded upon a presumed consumption of 60 millions of kilogs. of meat sold by the 501 butchers of Paris. The calculation is a curious one, even supposing that it should be erroneous on the point of the profit derived from the fifth quarter. The consideration of that quarter seems to be sunk in the transactions between the slaughtering and the retail butchers; or is it not rather the existence of such a source of profit that enables the slaughtering butcher to supply the retail butcher with meat that shall bring in a profitable remuneration, whilst the legal interferences and monopolies, so much to be deprecated; keep up identity of price between wholesale and retail dealers?

The mean business of a butcher's stall in Paris amounts to four oxen per week, to which are to be added one cow, two calves, and twentythree sheep, constituting a weekly consumption of 2214 kilog. If there is one point in which Paris has hitherto sought and obtained credit for superiority in the world, it is for the luxuries of the table. But how is it possible that cookery can excel where the material is bad? The Parisian restaurants must, in the present day, be living upon the fame acquired in olden times, and the easy-going good faith of the traveller and badaud alike. Since the establishment of the tax on meat, beasts of first quality, we are told, are scarcely ever seen within the precincts of the capital. As to beasts of a second quality, which used to supply the mean consumption, they are likewise no longer to be seen. The meat of Paris is now solely obtained from animals of third, fourth, and even ninth quality! "It is sufficient," says M. Blanc, "to satisfy oneself of this fact by stopping before the butchers' stalls in any populous quarter, and even before the stalls in wealthy quarters, to see nameless meats, that are not less repulsive to the sight than they are to the organs of smell, and which constitute one of the most afflicting spectacles (un des plus navrants spectacles) of the capital, and one of the most painful contrasts with the various descriptions of magnificence of which it is so justly proud." It is lucky we are merely quoting, for otherwise it might be thought that we were scandalising.

The Parisian butchers derive a double advantage from the meat of cows. They sell it as ox meat and at the same price, by which they gain the additional advantage of the difference of tax, which is 48 cent. per kilog. on the one, and 50 cent. on the other. M. Blanc estimates the profits made by butchers on ox and cow meat, upon the basis before detailed, as equal to 70.63 cent. per kilog., or about 1s. 2d. upon the 2 lbs. 3 ozs., and the profits on all kinds of meat as equal to 47.84 cent. per kilog., or 94d. upon every 2 lbs. 3 ozs. Summing up and rising to a climax with the magnitude of the results at which he has arrived, M. Blanc exclaims:

"Forty-five millions profit upon an annual sale of sixty millions of kilogs., which have cost, not at the fictitious prices of the daily quotations, but at real market prices, sixty-five to sixty-eight millions of francs!! That is a profit of more than seventy per cent.

"Such are the mean receipts of Parisian butchers: for the first-class butchers a revenue equal to that of so many first-class ambassadors. "For those of the second-class, an income of so many ministers !! "And for the lowest class of butchers, incomes equal to those of so many marshals of France!!!"

It is, then, according to this view of the matter, in order to enrich 500 butchers, by the annual division among them of forty to forty-five millions of franes, that the good city of Paris has to resign itself to paying for one of the first necessities of life a price greater than was ever paid for it before, and, in many instances, to go without it altogether! "It is," adds M. Blanc, "one of the greatest scandals of the times we live in." M. Lescuyot, syndic or master of the butchers, said to the commission of inquiry, in 1851: "If there was an insurrection in Paris, all the butchers would be massacred." M. Blanc's revelations, if correct, would certainly not tend to add to their safety. Every one, he says, is aware of instances within his own sphere of acquaintance, where members of this usurious corporation were "workmen yesterday, millionnaires on the

morrow."

But M. Blanc not only visits the fortunate butchers with his sweeping condemnation. All the substances, he says, which constitute the principal basis of the alimentation of Paris (butcher's meat, charcuterie, grocery, wines, wood, and charcoal) are monopolised by three or four thousand individuals, who all aim at the same object-the acquirement of a fortune à grande vitesse. The consequence is, that the 800,000 consumers are reduced to a diet the price of which rises in direct proportion to its worthlessness, such as bad meat, eoarse, irritating charcuterie, and drugged wines, which "affect the public health, fill the hospitals, and throw families into mourning." Whilst the public is thus suffering, the retail dealers are to be seen retiring from business, after a few years, with fortunes of 200,000, 300,000, 400,000 fr., the merchants and wholesale dealers having acquired, upon the very same produce by which these fortunes were obtained, profits which are reckoned by millions rather than by hundreds of thousands of francs. Trade would, at all events, appear from this to be in a very flourishing condition in Paris. There are numerous intermediaries in business, whose profits, M. Blanc assures us, are just as enormous. Butter, which is sold wholesale at 60, 65, and 75 cent. the pound, is sold retail at 1 fr. 40 cent., 1 fr. 50 cent., and 2 fr.

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