Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

calculate," says an American, “ I've whipped the world as to the time in which I did Europe;"'. while an Englishman calmly boasts that he has seen more and spent more in a six weeks' holiday than many do in a year. Thus, a respectable dealer in the various necessaries of life, in the west of London, rises one morning, and says to his wife while discussing the matutinal meal, “I have had a good season, September has arrived, we will give Jemima a treat.” He rushes to his banker, draws for a hundred, which he intends to spend, and is off to Boulogne, Paris, probably Switzerland, and home again, without his hundred, or one single advantage, save that Jemima has seen “la belle France ” through a railway window, and purchased a hideous head-piece called a bonnet, and has paid for it double the price for which she could have obtained a far prettier one in London. And so with all else, in these civilized and enlightened days, on the Continent. In good faith they are enlightened in acts and words, which courtesy compels me to omit. True, one travels faster and cheaper, as regards railway fares; in all else the expense of travelling is quadrupled, with a tenth of its pleasures and advantages. Are there not many still living who well recollect, when entering an English roadside hotel, or in any county town of repute, the comfort and cleanliness within, and fair dealing by which they were surrounded ? Have they forgotten the rounds of beef, the pigeonpies, the hams, the cold fowls, which greeted them as they entered the hostelry? Have travellers on the Continent forgotten, even twenty years back, in France particularly, the admirable table d'hôte, at three francs or half a crown a head, a decent light claret included; the excellent matutinal café au lait, the thanks of the garçon, or waiter, on the receipt of a franc? Surely they must do so. when paying to-day half a crown for the wing of a chicken, and the same price for washing hands, which I positively did at a Brussels hotel. What have we now as regards travelling? In old England miserable railway buffets; but, even there, at least at the London stations, you may eat and drink, and be merry, at about one-half what you may on the Continent, and I have had a tolerable

experience. Indeed, throughout Italy and Germany, you are not only pillaged in every possible manner, but half starved. I speak for the most part when en route; as at Vienna, Berlin, and Dresden there is still to be found comfort and comparative economy, if you judge fit to practise it; but once beyond the limits of the necessaries of life, and extras are ruinous. All these evils are naturally much against the bric-à-brac hunter; thousands buy Dresden vases, cups, &c., made yesterday, paying for them the value of real works of art. Cart-loads of bric-à-brac have recently gone to America, for the most part of no great beauty or value, the sum paid for which would set up a bank. And the lighter expense and rapidity of railway travelling, together with speedy communication by telegraph and post, enable the London and Paris dealers to send over their emissaries at a moment's notice, when apprised of a sale, or a chance of picking up anything which remains worth having. Nevertheless, to those who really love art, how much and how beautiful is there still to be seen, if not purchased, in European cities; while the experienced and energetic hunter may still pick up something worthy his labour and research.

I will now conclude with “The New Curiosity Shop." Therein may be found some details as connected with the present passion for ceramic art and crramic trickery, which ofttimes leads to fortune.

CHAPTER XIII.

THE NEW CURIOSITY SHOP. Art, like poetry, is addressed to the world at large.” 'HE title above selected has simply reference

to ceramic and other works of art as offered to the public for sale in this the year of our Lord 1875.

Specimens of ceramic art, in which I have ever taken a great delight, must have brought me in contact with men of all possible shades in the trade bric-à-brac; and if so be I have gained some knowledge and experience throughout the various countries where I have travelled, in the way of selecting the good from the bad, I have also learnt much of that which may be termed, in the most courteous words, the peculiarities of a trade little aided by theory, and which even the practical knowledge of a life, save under peculiar circumstances, will rarely bring to perfection.

It is very far from my intent or desire to write a line, nay, a word, injurious to any person who deals

« AnteriorContinuar »