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town of Halifax (England), seventy miles from Liverpool, and there study one of the most striking manifestations of individual munificence in the world for the benefit of the laboring classes. Sir Francis Crossley, lately deceased, lived at Halifax. He died leaving an immense sum for the use of his worthy operatives. He had no higher ambition than to promote the comfort of those whose toil had made him opulent. More than a thousand of them had taken advantage of his proffer and became interested in his business, which is that of a manufacturer of magnificent carpets. His establishment is the largest in the world, comprising eighteen and a half acres, using two thousand horse-power in its steam machinery, giving employment to over four thousand men, women, and children. His patent looms for the weaving of tapestry, velvet, and Brussels carpets, tablecovers, and hearth-rugs; his hand-looms for weaving Scotch carpets; his facilities for preparing and weaving linen, cotton, and woolen carpets, and for spinning, dyeing, and printing, are all on the same premises. These are not simply curious and wonderful in themselves, but impressive evidences of human ingenuity and skill. I saw the thousands dismissed for and returning from their noon-day meal, and can never forget the sight, especially as I turned to the beautiful town itself, a miniature metropolis, with long rows of elegant stores, comfortable dwellings, a lordly town-hall, fine hotel, churches, and other public buildings. Every where you remarked evidences of the wise generosity of Sir Francis Crossley and his family; every where you saw how the enormous profits resulting from their astonishing enterprises are shared with the industrious and the deserving. The beautiful park was the gift of the Crossleys to the people. The massive town-hall was built out of their money, and an Orphanage for the education of the fatherless children of their more emulous workmen. The whole air of the place, with its clean, stone-laid streets, the broad, level roads in the environs, the well-dressed population, and the love
ly valley in which it was set like a picture, comes back to me an instructive and pleasing memory. And when we reflect upon the incomes of many of our American manufacturers and capitalists, especially as we visit the busy centres in which they and their workmen live, we can not repress the prayer that the time may come, and come soon, when the contrast between the luxury of the employer and the poverty of the employed, in this country, may not be as startling as it is to-day. In other words, that while the riches of the one are almost incalculably increased, the comforts of the other should be as carefully considered and cultivated. The example of the great English manufacturer, Crossley, whose name, like that of Girard, the greatest of the benefactors of Philadelphia, will be remembered and revered as long as the town of Halifax stands, ought to be copied largely in the United States.
[January 5, 1873.]
Ah! if men of note could only realize how much their true fame depended on their biographies, written by themselves. Two late instances will suffice to prove the point. Had Charles Dickens and Edwin Forrest kept fair records of their experiences, what treasures they would have left to posterity! The French translator of Dickens's works once asked him for a few particulars of his life. He replied that he kept them for himself. I never met Forrest that I did not implore him to invite my faithful short-hand writer to report the story of his life, as he could only tell it himself; but the answer always was: “Not now; some time when we both have more leisure we will undertake it together.” Alas! his light, like that of Dickens, was quenched in a second. Both these men were unrivaled talk
ers, and they liked to talk among their friends. How full and affluent their memories ! how varied their trials! how unusual their triumphs! One hour with Forrest, in private, when he was in the vein, was better than an evening with him on the stage. He was full of wit. Conversation brought him out; and it was wonderful how easily he unfolded his stores of information. Foreign manners ; domestic customs; the vicissitudes of his early life; his sketches of the public men he knew at home and abroad; his adventures in the old stage-coach, on steam-boats, and cars ; his favorite books; his pictures; his statuary; his amazing repertoire of quotations and imitations; even his prejudices--as these fell from his lips-would have made a volume almost as interesting as "Boswell's Johnson.” And this may be said with even greater truth of Charles Dickens. Both died suddenly, “in the twinkling of an eye,” and the loss to the world is beyond reparation. When we think how easy the art of autobiography has been made by modern invention, it is painful to think how men, whose lives are crowded with knowledge that should survive, postpone the pleasing task of recording their recollections. What better materials for history than these personal details! Object as we may to the fashion of interviewing public characters, there is no reading like the reports of their habits and ideas, and none more enduringly preserved. Louis Napoleon is dead, and nothing that we have of him will be more profitably recalled than Chevalier Wikoff's admirable conversations with him after the fall of Sedan, in the New York Herald. What a fine talker says in his social hours to a friend is very different from what he writes. There is a sparkle in his words, a flow in his sentiments, a freedom in his manner, that can be photographed only by the quick skill of the short-hand writer; and once down, they last like the paintings of a great master. A fair copy of Senator Nye's quaint sayings and odd stories at one dinner-party would be a classic. The bright bon mots of William M. Evarts, if they could be recovered, would
shine like gems in the choicest magazine. A night with Oliver Wendell Holmes would supply gossip more delightful to literature than any thing he has achieved in “The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table." Henry C. Carey, of Philadelphia, much as he has written, is never so happy as when he relates the incidents of other days at his “vespers.” My cherished and lamented friend, William Prescott Smith, used to set the cars in a roar with his matchless skill in satire and in story. Nothing is more eagerly read and re-read than a pleasant autobiography or diary, whether it be Pepy's, Benjamin Franklin's, Boswell's Johnson, Coleridge's Conversations, Crabbe Robinson's, the recollections of the actor Young, by his son, or the works of the elder Mathews. And if John Forster could have added a volume of Charles Dickens's own experiences, as these fell from his lips, to the two he has already published, his book would be without a rival in modern biography. The difference between autobiography and biography is thus quaintly drawn by the French author, H. A. Taine, in his late work on “The History of English Literature :"
"On the day after the burial of a celebrated man his friends and enemies apply themselves to the work : his school-fellows relate in the newspapers his boyish pranks; another recalls exactly, and word for word, the conversations he had with him a score of years ago. The lawyer who manages the affairs of the deceased draws up a list of the different offices he has filled, his titles, dates, and figures, and reveals to the matter-of-fact readers how the money left has been invested, and how the fortune has been made ; the grandnephews and second cousins publish an account of his acts of humanity, and the catalogue of his domestic virtues. If there is no literary genius in the family, they select an Oxford man, conscientious, learned, who treats the dead like a Greek author, amasses endless documents, involves them in endless comments, crowns the whole with endless discussion, and comes ten years later, some Christmas morning, with his white tie and placid smile, to present to the assembled family three quartos of 800 pages, the easy style of which would send a German from Berlin to sleep. He is embraced by them with tears in their eyes; they make him sit down; he is the chief ornament of the festivities; and his work is sent to the Edinburgh Review. The latter groans at the sight of the enormous present, and tells off a young and intrepid member of the staff to concoct some kind of a biography from the table of contents. Another advantage of posthumous biography is that the dead man is no longer there to refute either biographer or man of learning."
[January 12, 1873.]
William Hazlitt, in his delightful “Table Talk,"describes an “Indian juggler," and makes his theme the occasion of some humorous and sensible reflections. Meeting Signor Antonio Blitz at a last New-year's reception, in his sixty-third year, I was reminded of that curious essay, and of the Signor's claims to favorable recollection. His face is fresh, though not unwrinkled ; his hair and beard are white; his eyes bright; his step quick; his vivacity fairly contagious. Here is a character who has grown rich as a proficient in legerdemain, yet has outlived criticism, and by the practice of a genuine philanthropy, and the observance of his duties as a citizen, made himself an honorable name.
For fifty years he has contributed to the innocent enjoyment of old and young. His peculiar talents, early shown, induced his father to send him out upon the world when he was a little over thirteen, making his first appearance at Hamburg, playing in succession at Lubeck, Potsdam, and the principal cities of Northern Europe, every where exciting wonder