Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

sence of high moral feeling in society at ty. These are the voluntary members of the large which renders it possible for beings driven to do so by the neglect

or the cruelty of who have so degraded themselves ever to their masters: many are orphans. The efforts recover the station they have lost. The made by the police to reclaim these juvenile oflax and depraved tone of society, which fenders are unceasing; but severity and kindleads them to hope that such an event is ness are alike ineffectual. Again and again are possible, leads also to their economy and they arrested, and punished or pardoned as the Their savings. Instances of similar re-ad- case requires; and again and again do they remission into the ranks of honesty are com

sume the same lawless course of life. A singuparatively rare in England. It is not with lar case is on record of one of these children,

who was arrested no less than forty times: he sorrow that we assert this to be so.

was always alone; and, strange to say, in no the purer morality of the social system with one instance had he committed any punishable us that renders the exclusion final and ir. crime; his only proveable offence was that of remediable; and we hold that, where the being day and night a houseless wanderer.' loss to the unhappy class is as one, the gain The points of resemblance between the to society is as a thousand.

pickpockets, the sharpers, and the robbers The vagabonds are the next class des- of Paris and London are so numerous and cribed. They hold an intermediate place so strong as to render it unnecessary for us between the beggar and the robber. to follow our author through the whole of

his details. Many of his statements might · Ragged and idle, vegetating in a state of be mistaken for extracts from our own potorpid carelessness, and solely occupied by the lice reports. We shall therefore touch only present moment, these degraded beings abound

on those forms of crime which are least in all the great centres of population.

A numerous division of the tribe hang about the known in England. market-places, to pick up a few pence, by exe • The octroi duty, which is levied on all articuting commissions, and eke out their daily cles of consumption brought into Paris, forms gains by petty thefts and begging. The young- by far the most considerable portion of the city er division of the class is recruited from among revenue. In 1840 it amounted to no less a sum the boys expelled from the schools or the manu- than 40,606,535 francs, (£1,624,261). To evade factories for inveterate idleness and misconduct, this tax innumerable modes of smuggling are and who pass their entire days loitering in the resorted to, and not only by professed thieves, streeis, in defiance of the remonstrances and and by women and children, who devote themcorrections of their parents. These young rep- selves to it as a legitimate branch of inrobates, whose ages vary from seven to sixteen, dustry, but also by a large number of the opare soon enticed by other boys, more advanced erative classes when out of employment. in vice, to band themselves together into gangs, These latter, however, when their own sometimes to the number of eighteen ; one es- accustomed occupation is again offered them, pecial article of their compact being mutually to willingly quit their illicit trade. Many of these assist one another in escaping from the search bands of smugglers are armed, have their capof their parents, or of the masters to whom they tains (chefs d'équipes,) and carry on their trade have been apprenticed. The most timid and avowedly, and in defiance of the agents of the the least depraved frequent the markets, and octroi, with whom they sometimes come into beg or execute commissions; the bolder and open collision. But by far the greater quantity of more accomplished rob. With all of them, smuggled goods are introduced secreily...... La without exception, gambling is the ruling pas- fraude sous vêtement is effected by bladders arsion; next to this the theatre; and, in order to ranged around the corsets of women, or by a collect money to pay for their admission, they hollow cuirass of rin neatly fitted to the shape. will frequently fast for a couple of days. Wher- La fraude par escalade takes place only during ever there is noise, tumult, or sedition, there the night: a ladder, with a strong cord at the these gangs are sure to be seen. Those who end of it, is placed against the city wall ; up this rob, lord it over the rest, as it is from their the smuggler ascends, charged with a leathern gains that the more timid and the new recruits sack filled with wine or spirit, and the cord enare supported. They are ambitious to form the ables him to descend with his burden on the acquaintance and receive the instructions of other side. La fraude par jet de vessie is pracgrown-up robbers; but indeed the fathers of tised in open day. The point of communication many of them are robbers. An instance is being fixed upon, the exterior smuggler throws known of one of these boys who, when not bladder after bladder over the wall, and they are quite three years old, was able to pick a lock; caught by his accomplice. Unwholesome meat and when soon afterwards he commenced busi- is introduced into the city in the same manner. ness in the streets, the childish naïveté with But of all the modes of smuggling, the one which he recited his little felonies is said to have which most largely detracts from the city reve"filled his father's mind with delight and pride." nues is that effected by means of subterranean These thievish imps swarm on the Boulevards, excavations. A gang hire a house outside the and'insinuate themselves more especially into the walls, having attached to it a court or garden groups which surround the ambulatory exhi- suitable to their purpose : opposite to this, inbitions and the print-shops. In short, every side the walls, they occupy another building, and crowded place is the theatre of their activi- 'from the one to the other they open a subterra

ren.

success as ever.

nean communication, through which articles of, situation; the transaction is an important one ; every description are conveyed in immense he will not part with his own silver, nor will hé quantities. Once within the walls, they are allow the young woman to part with hers, until speedily forwarded to the retailers, between he has ascertained the purity of some of the whom and the smuggler there is an established gold pieces. He takes two or three of them to league. The seizures made by the police are the nearest money-changer, and returns with innumerable; and formerly it was the custom crown-pieces; all doubts on their side are now at in many of the stations to collect and hang up an end. Not so with the American: he, in his the various arms, instruments, and curious appa- turn, says that he must ascertain that her silver ratus which had been captured ; but these be is good. His ignorance excites a laugh, and the came so numerous, that the offices were gra- nature of the coinage of the country is fully exdually converted into museums and arsenals, plained to him. Still he persists; and at length and it was deemed expedient to destroy the the friendly adviser consents, but on the express whole.'

condition that he himself shall go with him to

the shop with the girl's packet of silver. She The great abundance and variety of sil- feels deeply this kind attention, and pours out ver coin give the sharpers of Paris an im- | her thanks. They depart and leave her alone, portant advantage over their London breth- gazing intently on the beautiful little padlocked

Le vol à l'Américaine would be little purse, which is left in her care. Half an hour productive with us ; in France, although it passes, but of course no one returns ; she be

comes alarmed, the master of the wine-shop is has been perpetually exposed in the news- summoned; he is, or affects to be astonished; papers, it is still practised with as much the purse is cut open, and, to the unspeakable

horror of the poor girl, the rouleaux are of cop

per.' “ Those who devote themselves to this branch of industry loiter near the Bank of France, the

A man of unexceptionable appearance Treasury, or the coach offices, on the watch for enters a shop, makes some purchases, propersons carrying a sack of crown pieces ; and duces gold, and requests that the change when they espy a rustic looking man or woman may be given him in some particular coin, thus burdened, and whose appearance pleases that of the Republic, for instance, or of the them, they immediately commence operations. A young girl, for instance, is scen to come out of Kingdom of Italy. The obliging shopthe Treasury with a budget well filled, and care-keeper pours out his sack of silver on the fully tied round; two sharpers follow her, and counter, and the customer draws out with the one who plays the part of the American great care from the heap the peculiar coinsteps forward some hundred paces; the other age which he seeks. During this public accosts her in so civil and good-humoured a tone process of selection he carries on a private as not to alarm her; she answers him as civilly; one; and, with a skill which many a prothe conversation goes on; he talks economy, fessed juggler might envy, abstracts as praises saving-banks, and wishes there were more young work-women of her age who had many crown-pieces as he can venture to as prudent and saving habits as he is sure she take, without too much diminishing the has. In the midst of these flattering words the heap. Then follow thanks and apologies American retraces his steps, and, on approach- for giving trouble ; and complimentary ing the girl, asks her in broken French if she speeches having been made on both sides

, will change the crowns she is carrying for gold; the unsuspicious tradesman restores the diif so, he will give her a bonus of 100 sous on minished silver into its bag; and it is only every 20 francs. She is startled, and somewhat when at the end of the day he counts its shocked at this offer. Not so the complimentary gentleman by her side; he is less scrupulous, contents that he discovers his loss, which and says at once that he himself will accept the sometimes amounts to 600 or 1000 francs. terms. The American forth with produces a hand The ladies are proficients in this art : ful of gold pieces : the poor girl's surprise aug-| their powers of conversation and their perments, but it becomes extreme when the care-sonal attraction aid greatly; but the mys: less foreigner declares that he has brought tons tery lies in their fingers, of which, says M. of gold with him to France on board his vessel, and that current coin he must have at once, let it Frégier

, “la souplesse et la force a quelcost him what it will. She now, in a timid que chose de merveilleux.' The fair sex whisper, tells her new acquaintance that she are indeed great shoplifters. Their pelisses thinks she should like to participate in the traffic. and mantles are furnished with huge pockHe confirms her in the prudent resolution, and ets, artfully constructed in the foldings: an proposes that they should go into a wine-shop | immense shawl is very favourable to the with the rich foreigner. Having established operation ; and those who assume the garb themselves in a private room, the American

not of Paysannes have their coarse thick pet: only displays numerous pieces of gold, but also a beautiful little sack made of some rich skin, | ticoat formed into a perfect series of secret fastened with a padlock, and crammed full of compartments. One of the modes adopted the rouleaux which he wants to change. The is new to us, and there is a shade of materother man now feels the responsibility of his/ nal tenderness thrown over the transaction,

which gives it a peculiar interest. A well-, ous occasions. Falling on his knees, he dressed lady enters a shop, followed by a implores, with an eloquence almost irresistnursery-maid with a baby in long and flow- ible, the pardon, the compassion, of the ing robes : the lady requires all manner of benevolent man whom he frankly admits he smart things to be shown her, lays them has so deeply injured-it is his first, his aside with the usual fastidiousness of fe- only offence—the fatal love of play has led male taste, and demands others. In the him to it-to decide upon his fate will be to midst of her purchases she is seized with decide also upon the fate of as respectable a sudden paroxysm of tenderness for her a father as ever breathed—a father who baby; the good-humoured smiling bonne would die were he to know of his son's sets the darling on the counter, that its lit- dishonour! This frequently succeeds: the tle face may be close to mamma's; and, proprietor contents himself with kicking when the caresses are concluded, takes it the penitent down stairs; who, well aware again upon her arm, and with it, under that his honour is of that description that cover of its long robe, two or three selected knows no stain, considers this mode of repieces of silk.

treat equivalent to a victory. The system of several distinct families Every crowded street, every theatre, has living in one house, with a common stair- its contingent of pickpockets, between case, affords the Parisian robber facilities whom and the police there is one unceasing unknown in London. Bonjouriers, Vo- conflict. As a specimen of our author's leurs au bonjour, Chevaliers grimpans, are style, we will give his lively sketch of this the happily significant names given to the warfare :numerous class of whom we are now speaking. They disdain the use of false keys, les groupes par les motifs même qui y conduisent

· Les inspecteurs de police sont attirés dans break open no doors, scale no walls; their

les filous. Ils ont, les uns comme les autres, only preparation is ascertaining the name les yeux fixés sur les poches des curieux, mais of two of the residents, and this the printed les premiers veillent à leur défense quand les Directories enable them to do. Well seconds songent à les dépouiller. De là, cette dressed, shod with noiseless pumps, and animosité mutuelle, et pour ainsi dire instinctive, relying on his self-possession and ease of qui existe entre eux. Quel est celui d'entre manner, one of these thieves boldly de nous qui appréhende les entreprises des filous à mands of the porter whether M. B- is

la promenade ou ailleurs ? combien peu qui at home, M. A-being the person he in- savent gré à la police de sa sollicitude, qui se

doutent même de cette sollicitude ? Il est pourtends to rob. No sooner is he

upon tant vrai que dans un grand nombre de circonstairs than he is all eyes to detect an un stances les agens de police et les filous luttent fastened door. He sees one with a key in entre eux sur le terrain d'observations, de préit; he knocks again and again; if no one cautions, et d'addresse, précisément à l'occasion appears he steps in as far as the dining- du sujet qui nous occupe le moins. Ce sont les room, makes straight for the buffet, fills his seuls qui ne soient pas attentifs aux spectacles

ou aux divertissemens qui fixent les regards de pockets and hat with silver, and glides out

Cette inattention doit être pour chacun again. Should the owner of the apart. d'eux une cause de défiance et de crainte, un ment, M. A-, make his appearance, the signe d'hostilité, excepté quand l'inspecteur et robber with a courteous and smiling air de- le filou se connaissent, ce qui arrive assez mands whether he has not the honour to souvent. Alors les rôles deviennent plus simaddress M. B- ? he is told that M. ples, l'évènement de la lutie ne tient plus qu'à B- lives on the next floor, and the un

une question de fait, au flagrant délit. "Le pubsuspected villain, uttering a thousand apo- que la rumeur porte à sa connaissance, tandis

lic n'aperçoit qu'un accident imprévu dans ce fait logies, departs with the best grace imagina- qu'il y a eu un drame, un dénoùment, des ble :-or suspicion may be half aroused, acteurs, le tout enveloppé d'un mystère profond.' the party may be a matter-of-fact Englishman, or a slow-witted German, who looks The pickpockets of the highest class are grave and dangerous, and the Frenchman enabled, by the elegance of their dress and perceives that his safety hangs upon a manners, to insinuate themselves into all thread. Nothing daunted, the rogue reite- public assemblies, even the most select. rates his rapid apologies, and performs a Splendidly dressed foreigners are the grand semicircle of active bows until he gets in objects of their attention. • Ils rechera straight line with the door, and then chent avidement les Anglais, et s'attachent à vanishes with the rapidity of lightning leurs pas comme à une proie riche et facile,' Nay, should he be seized, and the stolen the outside and well-filled pockets of our plate actually found upon him, he is not countrymen being greatly to their taste. without his resources. He has a tale of Exploiter les positions sociales is the prowoe, ready cut and dried for all such peril. I fessed occupation of a numerous class of VOL. LXX.

3

the

tous.

ever.

ladies and gen

swindlers. Many an industrious family, that he should also have omitted in his cawho bear a fair reputation in the world, talogue of crime the frequent and murderhave some fatal secret connected with them, ous duels which disgrace the French capiwhich, if divulged, would crush them for tal, as well as those rastly moving and ro

A liberated convict, for example, mantic police-historiettes which perpetually has become a reformed man, has married a adorn the journals, half murder and half respectable woman, and has set up in bu- suicide, and in which young siness, neither his wife nor his neighbours tlemen, to prove the ardour of their love, having the slightest idea of his former blow out each other's brains, or poison habits of life. One of his companions in themselves in pairs. With regard to suiprison finds him out, or the fact becomes cide, in fact, we see reason to suspect that known, by hazard, to some of the wretches our author looks upon it with favourable who are constantly on the look-out for their eyes.* prey. They open a correspondence with Looking at the general mass of crime in the wife; mysterious dangers are hinted to the two cities, we are inclined to doubt her; she becomes suspicious and alarmed; whether in intensity of guilt London may the husband is compelled to divulge his se- not claim a bad pre-eminence over Paris. cret to her; and the dread of exposure in- The gay, good-humoured, and buoyant disduces them to accede to the demands of position of the French, so amiable and the robbers, in whose power they feel pleasing among the good, may, though themselves to be. These demands for faintly, be still traced among the depraved ; money are again and again repeated ; and and renders their pickpockets, their swinthe unhappy couple may consider them- dlers, and their thieves, some shades less reselves fortunate if the scoundrel, after he voltingly wicked than our own. The chief has carried on his exactions for months, difference is in style and manner of procedoes not hand them over to some other of dure, not in the extent of talent and genius

. his tribe, to be subjected to a new series of In elegance of person, and dress, easy selfthreats and extortions. The prevalence in possession, agility of limb, abundance of Paris of an offence of a hideous nature expedient, and cheerful submission to regives scope to a still darker species of con verses of fortune, we believe that a Parisian spiracy, unknown in England. We cannot scoundrel beats a Londoner hollow; but stain our pages by explaining the machina- for steady, calculating villany, for deeptions of these infamous gangs, who, with settled and well-combined plans of fraud an audacity scarcely to be believed, fre- and violence, we doubt whether the suquently assume the garb and functions of periority be not with us : and, despite all the police.

the vapouring of M. Vidocq, and all the In Paris, as elsewhere, each separate miracles of skill which he records, let us class of villains has within itself a certain take an individual from some of our north. number, generally very limited, of ferocious ern counties, let us give him the advantage spirits, who, with a reckless indifference, of a couple of London seasons, and we are are willing, for any cause, or none, to dye afraid that he might brag the world. their hands in blood. The Parisian rob. The preservatives from vice form the bers affect to consider that these sanguinary third division of the work. They are and brutal propensities are to be found only discussed with sense and feeling, and many among the rustics who join their ranks; but important subjects are brought forward this is not the case. Many of the most forcibly and well. There is, however, a merciless ruffians are town-bred, and have good deal of amplification, and needless reached the pinnacle through a long grada-labour of demonstration; and many points tion of crime. Even among their com- of political economy which have long ago panions these men are feared and shunned, been fixed, are analysed and argued as if and they in return affect to despise and do- they were new ground. He well says mineer over all those who are less bloodthirsty than themselves.

Let public institutions or private philanthroIn enumerating the different species of py exert themselves as they may, the fate of the crime, M. Frégier abstains entirely from

child and of the future man mainly depends on any mention of those offences which are all

, the most powerful school to teach what is

the example of his parents. Our home is, after connected with political movements : he good or what is evil. In the large majority

, of does so on the ground that, as the causes families of every rank the anxious desire of the which lead to them are transitory and of parents is to lead their children into the paths rare occurrence, they form no part of the general elements of society. His view in this may be correct—but we are surprised

• Vide vol. i., page 207.

of virtue; and it is this holy feeling which keeps deign to look at them whilst one paragraph down and limits crime. Labour is natural to

on the more exciting subjects of politics, man; his moral happiness, however little he police and playhouses, remained unread.* may be disposed to think so, depends upon it as much as his bodily sustenance. This is one of the

In many parts of France, as in Germany most important lessons that can be taught; and and Switzerland, the labouring population it is best taught by the example of industrious change their vocation from the field to the parents. But to render a life of unremitted la- city according to the demand for their serbour endurable, to control and neutralise the vice; and this with a facility, and to anexevil propensities of our nature, to check idle- tent, quite unknown among us. The freness and discontent, demands wisdom and ben- quent periods of inactivity, both in agriculevolence on the part of the masters.'

ture and manufactures-époques de chomage We with sorrow confess our belief that

-are by this means rendered much less inthere is in France more paternal watchful-jurious to the operative class than they ness, more kindly feeling on the part of the

would otherwise be. It is this facility of manufacturer and master-workman towards turning their hands to different occupations, those whom they employ than there is in ters' bench, that brings into Paris atcer

from the plough to the loom or the carpenEngland. M. Frégier gives noble examples of liberality and goodness exhibited by during the rest of the year, live with their

tain seasons a large body of operatives, who, provincial manufacturers; but it is not to families in the country. These form, M. these that we advert : they might be met, Frégier says, the élite of the labouring popwe well know, by instances of equal wisdom and virtue in our own country.

We

ulation of Paris. In London we have no found our opinion upon the numberless cir- periodical movement of this sort : the great cumstances which prove that there is, on don do so for the purpose of making it

mass of country people who flock to Lonthe whole, more unison of feeling, more their fixed residence, and of these a large sympathy, more mutual dependence and support between the different ranks of in proportion are the lowest class of Irish, dustry, between the employers and the em-element of our metropolitan population,

who, if they do not form the most vicious ployed, in France than with us. The na- undoubtedly are the most turbulent and the tional advantages resulting from this are least submissive to the laws. Paris has most important; and it is to this cause, we conceive, in a great degree, that the com

evidently the advantage over us in this binations among workmen to enforce

respect. At the same time we doubt whethincrease of wages, which have at different er the rural population in either kingdom times been carried to such a fearful extent above the inhabitants of towns as our au

possesses so great a superiority of virtue in England, are in France, comparatively thor claims for it. The criminal tables of speaking, unknown. We are well aware both prove, indeed, that the numerical prothat there are other operating causes; but we believe that the one we have adverted portion of crime is much higher in towns

than in the country. A to is the most effective of all.

peasant has fewer M. Frégier is energetic in his appeal to

opportunities to commit crime, fower the newspaper press to devote a portion of temptations, and less chance of escaping the vast power which it wields to the en- fer the same individual to the city, place

detection, than the townsman. But translightening, controlling, and rendering con-bim on the same footing of opportunity and tented and tranquil, the national industry, safety as the townsman, and it will too often taking that term in its most extensive sense, be found that he is to the full as apt and as embracing agriculture, manufactures, and commerce. He asks indignantly, 'Why

* It is a circumstance not unworthy of notice, they have not done this ?' The answer is that the English newspaper supposed to be patronobvious. Disquisitions on political econo- ised most largely, and almost exclusively, by the my, however elementary and familiar-highest classes of our society, is the only one that treatises on agriculture and commerce

ventures to place before its readers in regular or moral

nearly regular succession, a series of Essays treathowever well meant and welling on high and important questions of morality, essays, written, will not make any newspaper in social arrangement, and the merits of established France sell; and were the editors of all works of literature. We can hardly believe that the journals in Paris, moved by a simul- such

a writer as the amiable and pure-hearted Ta

ble-Talker of the Morning Post would find extentaneous fervour of benevolence, to devote sive favour with the mass of those who take in any a portion of their columns to such matters, other morning paper in London. What a vast inwe are quite convinced that little or no

terval between the scope and tone of his elegant esgood would result from it: the classes for says (two volumes of which are now collected) and

the literary feuilletons of the fashionable journals of whom they were intended would never the French capital!

an

« AnteriorContinuar »