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Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 134.djvu/380

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374
THE PEAK IN DARIEN:

with two pairs of spectacles on. He was celebrated for his child-figures, and was painting groups in the centres of a set of dessert-plates, ordered by one of the Imperial family of Prussia. Children guiltless of clothes were swimming, bathing, making flower-wreaths, riding goats, catching butterflies, etc. Each group was different, and the grace and beauty of the figures were perfectly wonderful. He had painted there for years, but had never learned German; he had never tried, he said, with a little shrug. He also told us he seldom painted flowers. "Any one can do that," he said, with a fine sense of his own unrivalled talent; but looking at the flowers, we could not agree with him. It is not given to "anyone" to paint such flowers.

The blue and white china, called par excellence "Meissen china," is of course also made here. The difference between it and Dresden china consists in its being painted in cobalt before it is glazed, and it is not baked so often.

Besides the reproduction of beautiful old shapes in the finest clay, this Meissen china is made more coarsely and strongly in commoner shapes, when it is much cheaper and very strong. It is also hand-painted, but is very quickly done, by means of a perforated paper laid over plate or cup, when powdered cobalt is shaken over it, out of a thing exactly like a small pepper-box. This leaves the pattern marked, and lads, with a fine brush and a little water, stipple in the color. It is then baked and glazed. Some of the old shapes with perforated edges were quite beautiful.

When the china is examined by the superintendent, and he considers it perfect, he affixes on every piece the well-known crossed swords before the last baking. Every bit with the slightest imperfection in pattern, shape, or transparency, is marked imperfect, and sold for less than half-price either at the manufactory, or, more frequently, at a small shop, in Dresden near the Frauen Kirche, which goes by the name of "the rejected shop."

This mark of imperfection is simply a small white line drawn through the crossed swords.

The perfect china is finally put on the list, and passes on to the packing-case or to the show-rooms.

There was something, apart from the prettiness of the manufacture, that was very taking. The quantity of light, the great space and cleanliness, the ventilation of all the rooms, and the well-to-do look of the "hands," gave one a very cheerful impression. The wages were good, half-a-crown a day being the lowest to ordinary hands (young lads and girls), and £3 a week and upwards to those with any particular skill. As in the buildings in Saxony many Italians are employed, so in this factory many Italians sat. The three best flower-makers were Italians; and their long dark hair, flashing eves, and peculiar slender fingers, formed a strong contrast to the type of their Saxon neighbors.

When at length we drove away, we had the unusual and comfortable feeling of having seen a beautiful art produced under the happiest conditions, instead of having, as is sometimes the case, to pity the work-people, and to regret that hard necessity compels one portion of humanity to injure their constitutions in order to supply the other portion with articles either of use or ornament.




From The New Quarterly Review.

THE PEAK IN DARIEN:

THE RIDDLE OF DEATH.

BY FRANCES POWER COBBE.

It is somewhat singular that the natural longing to penetrate the great secret of mortality should not have suggested to some of the inquirers into so-called "Spiritual" manifestations, that, before attempting to obtain communication with the dead, through such poor methods as raps and alphabets, they might more properly, and with better hope of gaining a glimpse through the "gates ajar," watch closely the dying, and study the psychological phenomena which accompany the act of dissolution. Thus, it might be possible to ascertain by comparison of numerous instances, whether among those phenomena are any which seem to indicate that the Mind, Soul, or Self, of the expiring person is not undergoing a process of extinction, but exhibiting such tokens as might be anticipated were it entering upon a new phase of existence, and coming into possession of fresh faculties. It is at least conceivable that some such indications might be observed, were we to look for them with care and caution, under the rare conditions wherein they could at any time be afforded; and if this should prove to be the fact, it is needless to, dilate on the intense interest of even such semblance of confirmation of our hopes. Of