페이지 이미지

at nightfall, Matt, and see to the fastenings and the guns, or we'll come to grief !”

“Has he gone?” asked Jim from the background.

“Of course! Do you think I'd air my sentiments if he were prowling round? What a fool you must be, Jim !”

The youth subsided, and retreated into the shade. But Bess spoke up boldly.

“Don't be frightened! That man won't harm us! Shouldn't wonder if he gives up that bit of business, and takes to something more natural !”

“What did you think of him, Matt ?” asked the master crossly. “ You have opinions, I presume, like everyone else; and you saw something of him. Out with it !”

My mouth was full of nails, for Bess had been lavish in her way of handing them up to me, and my mouth was the only convenient receptacle for them, so I made no reply beyond an indistinct murmur which passed unnoticed.

“Matt can't speak, and supper is ready. Stop work, Matt, and let us go in; it is very chilly.”

We despatched our suppers slowly, as men who were reluctant to rise in a hurry after a hard day's toil. But the master was an autocrat, and to-morrow was before us.

I slept on my own bed once more, but on the morrow I would be far enough away. I was to take charge of the herd of cattle which the master was sending to Los Angelos, and might outspan on the bare sward, with a blanket and the stars for covering.

My last night at the ranche was a comfort, and I slept the sleep of the just.

When I returned from Los Angelos the ranche was in mid-winter, cold and bare ; the master met me gloomily, and the look of the place was all awry. Vinegar was in the far pasture, the little roan mare was down by the river, and Black Dan worked his own sweet will amongst the other horses.

“ Summat's up !” said Tim Maloney gravely. “Thim bastes has no bisnis on the rant ; thim's Miss Bessie's cattle!”

I dared not question the master, and Jim was invisible.

“ Read that !” said the master, holding out a letter, and greeting me as if we had parted yesterday. It was a letter with an English post-mark and an English stamp. My heart beat quickly for a moment, and then I knew it was none of mine. The writing was strange. “Who is it from ?" I asked, looking up quickly.

“ Read it !” he repeated.

I drew the letter forth-it was on thin overland paper—it was very short :

“Dear Miss Blandförd,--I owe you an apology. I never wrote to thank you for all you did for me. I write to-day, and all I can say is, God bless you! God ever, always bless you!

“Before me hang the Praying Hands!' I myself am in my father's home. Need I say more? Some day we shall meet. Where, when, I know not. God grant it may be soon.

“ Yours ever gratefully,

“RICHARD BENTINCK." “There's a coronet somewhere, I think,” he remarked, as I returned the letter.

I never looked for it.

“Where is Bessie ? ” I asked quickly. “Why did she not come to meet us? She always did—she was the life and heart of the ranche !"

“ Bessie !” said the master slowly; and his eyes roved over the distant plains.

Come and see !” And I went.

Into her little chamber we passed silently. The air was heavy with flowers. Soft perfumes stole round. A dim light from unseen lamps shone over the room. The window was darkened.

On the bed lay something—all white, all flowers, all radiance. What was it?

By the bed sat Jim, crying and blubbering like an infant. Not at all ashamed was he of his tears.

I clutched at an object—it proved to be the master's arm.

“What ails you ?” he asked kindly. It is only Bessie !” and his voice quivered with the pain he bravely suppressed. “Fever did itup at the cottages beyond our ranche. Hold up, old man! It is our noblest duty to endure !' She said those words. She whispered them when she was going. I hung the ‘Hands' there, before her bed, that she might see them-and Him-the 'Ecce Homo,' last of all."

Nobody thought of me, and I lost sight of myself in the stupendous sorrow that had come to me. Yes, to me. For I loved Bessie Blandford as a man loves once, and only once, in a lifetime. I have only told you a little bit of a Texan girl's life. But we live by little and little ; and now that she has gone I should like Richard Bentinck to know-if ever he should see these lines—that our Bessie sleeps in peace-dead in the wilderness-on the borders of the great lone land.

On the rough wood cross is one word, rudely cut by her desolate and unknown lover--the one word of hope-Resurgam.


THAT Josiah Wedgwood was “the father of English pottery” is

one of the primary articles in the ceramic creed upon which it would be certainly ungracious, probably impossible, to seek to cast a doubt. It is true, indeed, that the obligations which the great potter laid upon the world of his generation can never be over-estimated. No man's life-work ever exercised a more powerful, beneficent, and enduring influence upon the industry which he adorned than did Josiah Wedgwood's. No man better than he obeyed the mandate to leave the world better than he found it, in the sense of leaving it enriched with a wealth of things of art and beauty that will endure for the delight of ages, even after the civilisation that produced them may have crumbled in the dust.

But in the lustre of one great achievement other men and their labours are apt to be forgotten. If Wedgwood were the father of the modern potter's art, it had some remoter ancestors from whom it has derived an inheritance that, even beside his, is not to be despised.

A hundred years before Josiah Wedgwood lived and worked, the introduction of Oriental porcelain, of German and Dutch stoneware and delft, had given a great stimulus to the potter's art in England. Curiosity was excited, analyses were made of materials, and experiments carried out in manufacture, the results of most of which are lost in oblivion. Naturally, this foreign influence was most felt at the centres where the foreign manufactures were most seen ; so the Staffordshire Potteries of the early seventeenth century being a wild and remote district little in touch with outside influences, it happened that the real centre of the more intelligent and advanced application of the potter's art was to be found in the river-side environs of the metropoiis itself.

From the natural advantages which have made it to-day the great home of the potting industry of Great Britain, North Staffordshire had been from time immemorial the seat of a local trade. “Till far on in the seventeenth century the number of persons employed in the Staffordshire pot-works was not more than a thousand ;” the

potteries were scattered over a wide area, two or three perhaps in every rural village, where they stood picturesquely amidst the thatched dwellings, small orchards, and crofts, and clumps of ancient woodland, or else they stood, as more commonly they did, solitary on the green waste of the moor, an unenclosed highway passing hard by, their vicinity marked by shallow excavations for clay and coal, by the universal 'shord-rucks,' or heaps of broken pottery, and by the dammed-up spring or runnel that supplied water for the potters' use.” 1

They were a rough and rude class, those early Staffordshire potters. The largest works were run with a staff of eight men : sometimes a man and his son alone worked a moorland kiln, and its produce was carried in donkey's panniers to the country town markets by the women of the family, half unsexed beings who plodded over the miles of moor in attire little to be distinguished from that of their fathers and brothers. Only the coarsest description of ware was turned out of these kilns, such as crocks, pitchers, slab-like baking-dishes, porringers, &c. There was little more probability of ideas from outside penetrating to the dwellers in these remote wilds than of their giving birth to original ones of their own.

The cradle—the birthplace, indeed—of English ceramics is to be found in the modest little pottery which still carries on a busy existence in Church Street, Fulham. It is set nowadays in modern and uncongenial surroundings ; it has a new face of the newest brick; there is a railway viaduct-an anachronism-in front of it, and the County Council have ruthlessly chipped off a corner of it to widen a road withal ; new villas that ape an antiquity which would be modern as compared with its own pretensions are springing up hard by; but it is the Mecca of the china maniac, who should go pil. grimages and bow himself reverently before the oldest pot-works in Great Britain, which has kept its doors open and its fires alight for two hundred and twenty years, ever since the date of its foundation in the year 1671, in the reign of his sacred Majesty King Charles II., by John Dwight, the inventor of the art of making porcelain in England.

There are many legends hanging about this old Fulham Pottery. There was one in particular, which found favour for many years, which set forth with much circumstance how that John Dwight was in reality John De Witt, a younger brother of De Witt the unfortunate Dutch minister, who, escaping the massacre of his family, fled to England with his mother, a grim old lady who lived in a sort of

1 Meteyard's life of Josiah Wedgwood.

inaccessible state at Fulham, and received no visitors but the king himself, who came at times to pay his respects to her—rather uncongenial society for Charles, one would imagine.

I do not know who it was who first exploded this traditionpossibly Mr. Chaffers. There is a similarity between the names of Dwight and De Witt which points plausibly to a common origin, and it may very well be that the Dwights, of Oxfordshire, claimed cousinship with the De Witts, of Holland. Miss Meteyard says that it was so, and that John Dwight's name was really De Witt; but she supports this assertion with no authority beyond her own.

However that may be, it is certain that John Dwight was himself an Englishman by birth. He was a Master of Arts, of Christ Church, Oxford, and was secretary to Brian Walton, who died in 1660, and subsequently to Henry Ferne and George Hall, successive bishops of Chester. His establishment of the Fulham Pottery dates from the year 1671, in which his first patent was taken out, although it is by no means certain that the site had not been previously occupied by one of the Dutch potters, who about this time began to come over and set up manufactories of delft and stoneware on the banks of the Thames.

The patent referred to bears date April 23, 1671, and sets forth that "John Dwight, gentleman, hath represented to us that by his own industry, and at his own proper costs and charges, he hath invented and sett up at Fulham, in our county of Middlesex, several new manufactories.” The inventions for which patent rights are claimed are in respect to "the mistery of transparent earthenware, commonly knowne by the name of porcelaine or China and Persian ware, as also the mistery of the stone ware vulgarly called Cologne ware”; and it is furthermore set forth that he "designed to introduce a manufacture of the said wares into England, where they have not hitherto been wrought or made.”

The priority of Dwight's invention is established by this patent upon no uncertain ground. He was, as Mr. Chaffers points out, even in advance of the French china manufacturers. The earliest patent for porcelain-making in France was taken out by Louis Poterat, Sieur de St. Etienne, Rouen, in 1673, at which time Dwight had been making his porcelain for two years. St. Etienne, moreover, although he approached the secret, never perfected it, and his invention came to nothing. The next letters patent in France were granted to the heirs of Chicanneau, St. Cloud, in 1702, thirty-one years later than Dwight's English patent.

i See Chaffers' Marks and Monograms.

« 이전계속 »