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them in suspended baskets, and shift the bar
at every movement of these hammers of the
Titans. We pass onward to the more quiet
rolling department. The bar that has been
tilted into the most perfect compactness has
now to acquire the utmost possible tenuity.
A large area is occupied by furnaces and
rollers. The bar of steel is dragged out of the
furnace at almost a white heat. There are
two men at each roller. It is passed through
the first pair, and its squareness is instantly
elongated and widened into flatness;—rapidly
through a second pair,—and a third,—and a
fourth,—and a fifth.—The bar is becoming a
sheet of steel. Thinner and thinner it becomes,
until it would seem that the workmen can
scarcely manage the fragile substance. It has
spread out, like a morsel of gold under the
beater's hammer, into an enormous leaf. The
least attenuated sheet is only the hundredth
part of an inch in thickness; some sheets are
made as thin as the two-hundredth part of an
inch. And for what purpose is this result of
the labours of so many workmen, of such vast
and complicated machinery, destined?—what
the final application of a material employing
so much capital in every step, from the
Swedish mine to its transport by railroad to
some other seat of British industry? The
whole is prepared for one Steel-pen Manufactory
at Birmingham.

There is nothing very remarkable in a
steel-pen manufactory, as regards ingenuity of
contrivance or factory organisation. Upon a
large scale of production the extent of labour
engaged in producing so minute an article is
necessarily striking. But the process is just
as curious and interesting, if conducted in a
small shop as in a large. The pure steel, as
it comes from the rolling mill, is cut up into
strips about two inches and a half in width.
These are further cut into the proper size for
the pen. The pieces are then annealed and
cleansed. The maker's name is neatly
impressed on the metal; and a cutting-tool
forms the slit, although imperfectly in this
stage. The pen shape is given by a convex
punch pressing the plate into a concave die.
The pen is formed when the slit is perfected.
It has now to be hardened, and finally cleansed
and polished, by the simple agency of friction
in a cylinder. All the varieties of form of the
steel pen are produced by the punch; all the
contrivances of slits and apertures above the
nib, by the cutting-tool. Every improvement
has had for its object to overcome the rigidity
of the steel,—to imitate the elasticity of the
quill, whilst bestowing upon the pen a superior

The perfection that may reasonably be
demanded in a steel pen has yet to be reached.
But the improvement in the manufacture is
most decided. Twenty years ago, to one who
might choose, regardless of expense, between
the quill pen and the steel, the best Birmingham
and London production was an
abomination. But we can trace the gradual
acquiescence of most men in the writing
implement of the multitude. Few of us, in
an age when the small economies are
carefully observed, and even paraded, desire to
use quill pens at ten or twelve shillings
a hundred, as Treasury Clerks once
luxuriated in their usean hour's work, and
then a new one. To mend a pen, is
troublesome to the old and even the middle-aged
man who once acquired the art; the
young, for the most part, have not learnt it.
The most painstaking and penurious author
would never dream of imitating the wondrous
man who translated Pliny with " one grey
goose quill." Steel pens are so cheap, that if
one scratches or splutters, it may be thrown
away, and another may be tried. But when
a really good one is found, we cling to it, as
worldly men cling to their friends; we use it
till it breaks down, or grows rusty. We can
do no more; we handle it as Isaak Walton
handled the frog upon his hook, "as if we
loved him." We could almost fancy some
analogy between the gradual and decided
improvement of the steel penone of the new
instruments of educationand the effects of
education itself upon the mass of the people.
An instructed nation ought to present the
same gradually perfecting combination of
strength with elasticity. The favourites of
fortune are like the quill, ready made for
social purposes, with a little scraping and
polishing. The bulk of the community have
to be formed out of ruder and tougher
materialsto be converted, welded, and tempered
into pliancy. The manners of the great
British family have decidedly improved under
culture—" emollit mores: " may the sturdy
self-respect of the race never be impaired!

Chapter I.

VIOTTI'S division of violin-playing into two
great clasesgood playing and bad playing
is applicable to Bank note making. The
processes employed in manufacturing good
Bank notes we have already described; we
shall now cover a few pages with a faint
outline of the various arts, stratagems, and
contrivances employed in concocting bad
Bank notes. The picture cannot be drawn
with very distinct or strong markings. The
tableaux from which it is copied are so
intertwisted and complicated with clever,
slippery, ingenious, scoundrelism, that a
finished chart of it would be worse than
morally displeasing:—it would be tedious.

All arts require time and experience for
their development. When anything great is
to be done, first attempts are nearly always
failures. The first Bank note forgery was
no exception to this rule, and its story has a
spice of romance in it. The affair has never
been circumstantially told; but some research
enables us to detail it:—