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Arm-in-arm with M. le Tisanier on our way back to the billet, I commenced operations. "Under your kind and judicious treatment, my sick men are making most satisfactory progress. But your two Spanish patients-how are they getting on?" He. "Oh, as well as can be expected. Among the English wounded, however," (M. le Tisanier evidently wished to change the subject), "there is one who eminently demands the utmost resources of my skill and enlarged experience."
I." Many thanks for your invaluable services. By the by, with regard to these two Spaniards, as I draw rations for them in common with the other inmates of my hospital, I think I ought to see them."
He. "Don't for the world think of adding to your daily fatigues on their account. You yourself are by no means in full health. I only wish you would place yourself under my treatment. That bullet which now lies flattened behind the tibia of your left leg, bah! in three days I would make you a present of it-actually put it in your hand. In a week I would have you better in health than you ever were in your life. Better? Ten, fifteen, twenty centigrades above perfectly well! How do you feel today"
Not a bad device that," thought I," with a view to changing the conversation." For men feel ever grateful to the ear that will listen to their ailments, and readily abandon any subject besides, to converse about their own morbid symptoms.
I. "Thank you, thank you; never felt better than I feel at this moment. Were my case worthy of your skill— that is, what is commonly called a hopeless one-allow me, on such a supposition, to consider your professional services as engaged. Now I think of it, in a day or two I must report to Vittoria, and of course must return your Spanish patients among the wounded. Was it a smart affair? You have never told me the particulars. When were they wounded? where ?"
He. "Ha! You know how my countrymen can fight. But headed by me' (whistles, and kisses his hand), "oh! it was elegant! They outdid themselves! Mars? Bellona? Bagatelle! Hold; I will in the first place describe the locality."
I. "Better sketch it on paper, when we get in-doors. So it was in this affair, then, that your two Spaniards received their wounds. Serious ?"
He (speaking as if conjecturally). "I calculate that about the time when I shall have the pleasure of quitting this place in your agreeable company, they also will be in a condition to leave the hospital."
Scarcely smothering a laugh, I halted, and, half turning, looked M. le Tisanier in the face.
"Tell me,” said I, "were you never wounded?"
In the course of the next few seconds, as he marked the expression of my conntenance, his own features underwent a series of remarkable and comical transitions. At length, suddenly calm, but with deep feeling, he said in a serious voice, "Ah, M. le Capitaine, you have, I perceive, discovered my secret." Then, with a burst of ardour, one hand grasping mine, the other on his heart, Oui, Monsieur! j'ai le cœur, comme une pelote, tout épinglé de dards!"
"You perceive," said I, "that we phlegmatic Englishmen, who do nothing, as you facetiously remarked the other day, but walk with our eyes fixed on the tips of our own noses, can see as far into a millstone as other people."
Ah," cried he in a sudden panic, "but does the Padre know? In that case we are lost! undone!"
"The Padre," I replied, "at present knows nothing; nor do I think him, sharp as he is in his way, a likely person to make the discovery. For myself, you may rely on my secresy, and, so far as a British officer can help you, on my co-operation. But come," said I, anticipating a gush of gratitude, "you have now no longer a motive for reserve; tell me your
adventures. Are they really wounded?"
"Monsieur," he answered, "since they and I together made our escape from Madrid, not Seville, both my companions have been wounded at least a dozen times, and by that incident have saved my life as often." He continued :
"I was quartered at Madrid with my regiment, the- -Voltigeurs, and was the accepted suitor of that young lady who now, with her nurse, is an inmate of your hospital, Doña Isidora, of noble family.
"After your little affair at Vittoria, when it was evident that nothing remained for our troops but to clear out of Spain by the shortest route, but before I actually started from Madrid, I was exposed on one occasion to imminent risks on duty beyond the city's walls, from the fury of the fierce population; and after a daring attack, in which many of their number fell, and most of ours, I escaped in reality by that expedient of which you only witnessed the fiction; in short, I did actually tend some wounded Spaniards; and thus purchasing immunity, bringing them with me into the city, and using them as a pass, I contrived to get back, though not without difficulty, to the headquarters of my regiment.
Subsequently, as our troops began to leave for the frontiers, it became palpable that not even in the city itself was there safety for a Frenchman. Yet how could I escape? My life was daily threatened by the populace; but how tear myself from her to whom I had already plighted my faith, and who was dearer to me, infinitely dearer, than life itself? She saw my perplexity. But not only that; her penetrating and anxious mind took a correct and prescient view of all the difficulties of my position. Nay, more; she devised a plan for my preservation. She knew of my former escape, and the mode of it. In an instant, her resolution was fixed-she announced her project. She, Monsieur, she herself would go with me. She, disguised as a guerilla, would be my wounded charge; and I, aided by that double personation, would escape with her into France.
"What could I say? If I remained longer in Madrid, my life was the forfeit. If I escaped alone, I lost her for ever. Doubtful how to act, tormented with hesitation and anxiety, I deferred my departure to the last moment, and was more than once maltreated in the streets. What in a few days decided me was the discovery that Doña Isidora herself, known as the affianced of a hated Frenchman, was exposed to no small risk, we will not say of death, but, at any rate, of severity, perhaps imprisonment. Finally, all was settled. Doña Isidora communicated the plot to her faithful nurse, who the more readily became a party, because, from her office in the family, she herself had already found herself exposed to obloquy and threats.
"We set out, my two companions in the dress of Spanish peasants, I habited as you saw me when we met; the nurse with her arm in a sling, Doña Isidora with a bandage round her head; which latter disguise I myself suggested, as partially serving the purposes of concealment. You saw in her, exhausted as she was with travel and privation, a pallid boy. You shall see her again, in her proper habiliments, radiant with all the lustre of Spanish beauty; the nobility of her nature, as well as of her lineage, impressed on her visage, and beaming in her eyes.
"On the journey from Madrid to this village, our sufferings were incredible; so were my escapes. Disguised though I was, occasionally I was recognised as a Frenchman, and owed my safety to the ever-ready plea, devised and supplied by her whom I must ever account my guar dian angel, that I had tended the hurts of Spaniards wounded in mortal combat, that I still had them medically in charge, and that therefore I must perforce be regarded and dealt with as a friend and not as a foe.
"Sometimes the plea barely proved available. In my own estimation, I was a dead man more than once. However, after all our risks and all our sufferings, here we are. Not long before we reached this place, I fell in with a distressed countryman of yours, the soldier I brought with me.
Of him also I took charge, mounting him on my own mule, and walking by his side. Do not thank me for this; I deserve no thanks; for, from the more friendly feeling with which the natives view the English, it all told in my favour. We discovered that there was a British officer in this village. I am thankful that we succeeded in reaching it, and shall never forget your kindness, both on our arrival and subsequently.
"And now, M. le Capitaine, you have heard my tale. But, oh! what can I say of that young, that tender, that lovely partner of my perils, who, with heroic and unflinching endurance, with admirable tact, with generous devotion, has so far piloted me in safety on my homeward route, and who has risked, nay, is still risking, all to preserve my life?"
I could only answer, "Generous indeed!" To say the truth, I was so deeply affected, not only with the narrative itself, but with the perfectly simple, manly, straightforward, but,
at the same time, feeling and earnest style of the narrator, that "Generous indeed!" were the only words I could trust myself to utter, without risking a greater display of emotion than Englishmen usually consider in good taste.
Suddenly falling back into his ordinary mode of speech, "There is but one return that I can make," he added, "there is but one acknowledgment. That will be a tribute indeed! That will be a sublime sacrifice, worthy at once of her merit, and of my gratitude! That will eternally and adequately record my debt, and its discharge! That will set her on the pedestal which her merit claims! That will secure to her an eternal niche in the temple of renown! Ah! that which thousands of women have vainly wished me to do, will I do for her! I will confer on her that elevation to which she is entitled by her virtues! I will make her-yes, I will make her-Madame le Tisanier."
Ir is little more than two years since the last great struggle between labour and capital took place in Lancashire, and already we are threatened with another suicidal contest of the same kind. The Preston Strike of 1853 began a few months after Russia had crossed the Pruth; and although it lasted about half a year, the public mind was too much occupied with Vienna negotiations and the impending war to pay much attention to a mere quarrel between a few thousands of work-people and their employers. The consequence was, that one of the most disastrous strikes ever witnessed in this country was brought to a close without having excited much more interest throughout the country than a serious railway accident, or a fatal coal-pit explosion.
The period chosen by the Preston operatives for their trial of strength with the masters was very unfortunate. Throughout the summer of 1853 trade had been brisk, employment plentiful and provisions mode
rate in price. But the harvest of that year was deficient, and at the very time when the power-loom weavers of Preston were demanding an advance of 10 per cent on their wages, the price of wheat had suddenly risen 50 per cent above the average of the summer quarter. Simultaneously with the rise at Mark Lane, the money market began to show symptoms of stringency, as is generally the case when a food panic prevails; and, as if that were not embarrassment enough, the Eastern question, which had hitherto seemed likely to end in a peaceful solution, assumed all at once a more complicated and unsatisfactory aspect. If the ill-advised working-men of Preston had taken all these circumstances into account, they could hardly have failed to see that a worse time for a contest with their employers could hardly have been chosen than the winter of 1853.
But they had made up their minds, and were resolved to gain their point at whatever cost. Had they been left
to themselves they might possibly have listened to dictates of common sense, and to the seasonable warning of those grey-headed men among them who had witnessed the hardships and suffering of a similar strike, under similar circumstances, in 1836. Few of them, however, could remember that great failure of the Preston spinners to dictate terms to their employers, and it was easy for smooth-tongued demagogues to persuade the angry operatives, as they assembled in thousands every evening, that they had only to stand firm by each other for a week or two, and they would bring the masters down on their knees begging them to go back to work on their own terms. Besides, it was natural for them to ask, why the power-loom weavers of Preston should not obtain an advance of wages as well as the workmen engaged in other trades. Throughout all the summer they had been continually hearing of a general improvement in the condition of the operative classes. Surely they had as good a right to share in that improvement as any other class of the community. In nearly all the large towns of the United Kingdom, the wages of joiners, masons, plasterers, and others engaged in out-door employment, had been raised, on an average, from 1s. 6d. to 3s. a-week above what they had had formerly. In Manchester, and several other large towns in the north of England, the men employed in the building trades were receiving 30s. a-week, where they had only earned 26s. at the beginning of the year. With
these facts before them, and knowing that in many instances the employers had granted the demand for an advance of wages without a moment's discussion, the Preston operatives naturally fancied that they also could not fail to succeed.
Several attempts were made to effect an amicable arrangement between the masters and the men before coming to an open quarrel, but neither party was inclined to give way. The masters were firm, and the operatives were equally determined. Of course the men endeavoured to show that the employers
were in the wrong, while the latter complained that their attempts to conciliate were not received in a proper spirit. In a manifesto, published by the latter at the beginning of the strike, they gave the following explanations of the case between them and the misguided hands :
"A month has now elapsed since the associated masters of Preston and the
neighbourhood, yielding to the request of the operatives employed in their respective mills, and after a full consideration of the circumstances of each particular case, agreed to give an advance upon the then rate of wages. Notwithstanding this concession, and the wish thereby shown on their part to settle the question in a liberal manner, the masters regret to find that the operatives have put themselves under the guidance of a designing and irresponsible body, who, having no connection with this town, nor settled position anywhere, but living upon the earnings of the industrious operative, interfere for their own purpose and interest in the relation between master and servant, create, where it does not exist, and foster and perpetuate where unhappily it does, a ment-and, in a spirit of assumption, feeling of dissatisfaction and estrangemine, and dictate to the operatives the arrogate to themselves the right to determeans of enforcing the conditions, upon which they shall be permitted to labour.
"To their spirit of tyranny and dicta. tion the masters can no longer submit, in justice either to the operatives or themselves; and hence they are reluctantly compelled to accept the only alternative left to close their mills until those now on strike are prepared to restanding is established between the employer and the employed.
sume their work, and a better under
"In adopting this course, they are fully sensible of the serious evils, moral and social, which must attend it, and which the sad experience of 1836 must painfully recall to the recollection of many. They feel, however, that the responsibility is not theirs; it rests with those who have recklessly created the difficulty, and forced this decision upon
What is here stated by the master spinners and manufacturers of Preston regarding the way in which the operatives allow themselves to be guided by an irresponsible body, composed of men who live by agitation, is well known to all who are acquaint
ed with the state of things in the manufacturing districts. The following instance of the way in which the men place themselves at the mercy of the agitators was related to us in the autumn of 1853, by a gentleman at the head of a large manufacturing establishment in the vicinity of Manchester. One afternoon," said he, our throstle spinners came and said, "We must have an advance of 10 per cent.' I said, 'We are already giving as much as the masters of Stockport, and really cannot afford to give more.' They replied, 'It did not matter what was given at Stockport-they must have an advance of 10 per cent, or they should turn out.' I was struck by their unusual tone and want of courtesy, and said, 'You have not come to this resolution of yourselves, but have some one at the back of you.' 'Yes,' said the deputation, 'we have; two delegates have been over from Stockport, and they say we must ask for the advance, or turn out; and that if we do not strike, they will compel us.' 'Well,' I observed, 'this was a serious matter to us-we could not decide it at once,' and proposed that the decision should be postponed till the following Tuesday. To this they consented. On Tuesday I was detained later than usual at the Manchester market, and did not see them until the following day. On Wednesday, when the deputation came, I reasoned with them at some length, pointing out to them the serious check sustained by the market, and proposing that the settlement of so serious a question should be postponed a few weeks to see if any amendment would take place in business or prices. The answer was that they could not put off the decision any longer; the delegates from Stockport were in the village, and could not wait past noon, by which time the answer must be given. As we were not prepared at once for a strike, we then agreed to give them an advance. In the afternoon of the same day the winders came to me and said they also wanted an advance of 10 per cent.' I said 'it was hard upon us for all the hands to come for an advance, without giving us time for consideration,' and proposed to them a postponement for a month. To this they
agreed, but they were not allowed to have their own way. Next day they came again, and said the throstle spinners had been to them. They now told me they were directed to give us no time for consideration, and that unless they struck for an advance, it was determined that the throstle spinners (who had received their advance) should strike, in order to compel them to do the same. Under these circumstances we agreed to give the additional 10 per cent on the following Monday, and they informed me that, so soon as we had yielded, the operatives in a neighbouring mill had directions from the delegates to demand an advance from their employers in the same way, the object being to attack us not in a body, but one at a time."
Such, then, are the terms upon which the civil war between labour and capital is carried on in Lancashire. The case we have here given is no solitary instance of the tyranny exercised by the irresponsible council of the Trades Union. Mingle among the manufacturers and mill-owners who assemble in thousands every Tuesday in Manchester Exchange, from east, west, north, and south, and they will give you scores of anecdotes of a similar character. They are all aware of the plotting and conspiring which is going on around them at every moment, and, with few exceptions, they fancy that the only way to meet the evil is by resorting to the same weapons. If you talk of a remedy for so lamentable a disruption of the kindly tie which ought to unite the employer and his workmen, most persons will tell you that it is useless to attempt conciliatory measures. The only way to arrest the evil, in their estimation, is to unite in self-defence, and put down the unions. This has long been a favourite idea among the employers, and they have frequently imagined that it would be possible to realise it; but, unless we are greatly misinformed, they are not a whit nearer it than they were ten years ago.
Persons at a distance, who have studied the working of the factory system, or taken into account the fatal tendency which it has to destroy the individuality of the workman and render him a powerless unit in a gre