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ually forced to refrain from the cruel itively forbade any member of their and ruinous oppression they had so corporations to engage in this work. . long practised. But the oppressed Through their clamor and influence readily become oppressors, and these they at length induced the government corporations did not escape the general to issue decrees strictly probibiting the law. They became jealous, tyrannical, printing of calicoes in France. and exclusive. Improvement, progress, Notwithstanding the prohibitions and or innovation of any nature, was re- the heavy duties exacted at the frontiers, jected by them with indignation and printed calicoes became fashionable ; alarm; and time-honored customs and but the demand was almost wholly supvexatious regulations met the mechanic plied by smugglers, who, in the very in every direction. All that his father high prices obtained, found ample rehad done the son might do, but no more. muneration for the risks incurred. His pay, his hours of work, the num- The constant increase of smuggling, ber of his apprentices, indeed, every and the consequent decline of the revdetail, was strictly regulated by his cor- enue, together with the great number of poration. From these trammels there persons continually condemned for this was no escape, for an independent work- offence to the galleys, and even to death, man could not find employment. He at length alarmed the Council of Trade, was even forbidden to exercise his call- and induced them to propose more libing, and frequently was banished from eral measures. But such measures, town or village for insubordination. In then as now, met with violent opposia word, he was excluded from the right tion. Committees and deputies were of earning his bread. It is, however, despatched from Tours, Rouen, Rheims, but fair to add, that, during illness or Beauvais, and many other manufacturaccidental incapacity, the workman and ing towns, to remonstrate with the minhis family received from the corpora- isters. They did not hesitate to affirm tion of which he was a member all the that foreign competition would utterly necessaries, and many of the comforts, annihilate commerce and manufactures, of life. We cannot, therefore, be sur- and they conjured their sovereign not prised that the domineering influence to take the bread of life from the poor of these corporations or trade-unions weavers and their wives and children! continued long after the causes that led The evil was, however, serious and into their formation had disappeared. creasing ; for partial combats and loss
The arbitrary laws and customs of of life were continually occurring near trade corporations we can readily as- the frontiers. After a laborious examcribe to jealous and unenlightened self- ination and long hesitation, the couneil ishness; but how can we explain, or decided in favor of liberty; and Louis even conceive, that patriotic and en- XV., in the year 1759, issued a royal lightened statesmen have clung with so decree, permitting the printing of calmuch tenacity, through so many ages, icoes in his kingdom of France. These to restrictive and prohibitory enact- decrees at once called individual enterments and to sumptuary laws ? the prise into action; but it was principally first forbidding industry, the other for- to a German and a Protestant - to bidding consumption ! and yet every Christopher Philippe Oberkampf - that page of history tells us that such laws France is indebted for one of its most were enforced even to our own times. productive manufactures, which has
Calico - printing in France suffered given profitable employment to vast from all these causes ; for, when these numbers of its inhabitants, and has goods were first introduced, the exten- markedly advanced the prosperity of sive and powerful corporation of the the nation. weavers, and the corporation of the dy- The history of this intelligent and ers, were greatly alarmed. They made indefatigable mechanic is, indeed, the every effort to suppress them, and pos- history of the first successful establishment of calico-printing in France; and boy, ever ready to be useful, and anxwe are greatly indebted to the family ious to learn, amused the workmen with and descendants of this extraordinary his ready wit and cheerfulness, and soon man for having confided the archives of made so favorable an impression that their family to Mr. Urbain Pages, and all were willing to explain to him the to this distinguished author for his val- mysteries of their profession and to uable and interesting history.
initiate him into the secrets of their art. Christopher Philippe Oberkampf was These mysteries consisted principally born on the 11th of June, 1738, at Wis- of valuable receipts for making or mixsembach, a small town of Würtemburg: ing of colors, and were universally held His father was a dyer, - an expert and as profound secrets. During the three laborious workman, and withal a strict years of his father's engagement at Lutheran. In his youth he had made Bale young Christopher made rapid prolong peregrinations from town to town, gress in designing and engraving, supporting himself, as was then the cus- studies to which he devoted himself tom, by working at his trade in every with unusual constancy. place he visited ; employment being The engagement ended, his father obtained for him by the dyer's corpora- removed to Larrach, near Bale, and tion of each locality.
then to Schaffsheim, when, having by In this excellent school of experience industry and economy laid by a small he learned many new processes and new sum, but, above all, by strict religious combination of colors, and acquired the honesty having acquired the confidence art of dyeing in reserve, - that is to say, of all about him, he established (in 1755) dyeing cloths in any color, but reserving small print-works at Aarau, Switzerland. the design in the ground-color of the He was then principally occupied in material, which was generamy white. printing calicoes. He was moderately He also learned to print on woollen successful, and the magistrates of the goods.
canton, anxious to encourage this new After his return home, he discovered industry, which gave occupation to its a method of producing a new color. citizens, and thus retained them at home, This discovery.gave him the well-mer- bestowed upon him the distinction and ited reputation of being an expert and advantages of citizenship. This was intelligent dyer and printer, and induced no slight favor, for it was then more a large manufacturer of Bale, in Swit- difficult to obtain than the more aristozerland, to make him an advantageous cratic titles bestowed by kings and offer of employment. These offers he princes. accepted, with the express stipulation Young Oberkampf was now an exthat his son, then eleven years old, pert workman, for he had learned pracshould be received as an apprentice, tically every operation, whether imporand be instructed in drawing and en- tant, or secondary, and theoretically, all graving. The family made their journey that Switzerland could teach him. The to Bale on foot, and young Christopher field his father had chosen soon became marched quite proudly beside his father, too narrow and limited for him, and he with his bundle tied to a stick over his longed ardently to see the world. This shoulder, thinking himself already quite desire grew stronger with his strength, a man, and soon to become a smart and, after long hesitation, he informed workman. He was a bright, courageous his father of his wishes. The father boy, full of good-humor and of all the would not listen to the proposition, for happy confidence of youth.
young Christopher was now a valuable At Bale his father at once began aid to him, and he had destined him to work, and his son commenced his ap- be his successor. A century ago paprenticeship with the humble occupa- rental authority was quite absolute, and tion of spreading colors upon the blocks it was not only sustained by public his father used. The bright, inquisitive sentiment, but also was amply enforced VOL. XXII. - NO. 133
by legal enactments. There seemed, men, and to him Oberkampf now aptherefore, for young Oberkampf no plied for employment to help him on other course but to resign himself to his way. A designer, engraver, colorist, his hard fate. His imagination, how- and printer, all united in one person, ever, still dwelt upon the attractions of was a godsend to Cotin, and he at once the outer world, and at length obtained secured the prize by a long engagethe mastery; for, having secured the ment. The print-works soon felt the implied consent of his mother, he fur- impulse given to it by the laborious tively quitted his father's house, and and ardent young workman. It was launched himself into the great world. while thus occupied that rumors of a He first went to Mulhouse, already change of policy on the part of the celebrated for its beautiful productions. government, of its intention to repeal Mulhouse was then a free city, and a the prohibitory laws, were circulated, firm ally of the Swiss Cantons. There and naturally attracted the attention he obtained employment as an engraver and excited the hopes of Oberkampf ; in the celebrated print-works of Sam- and when at length the Decrees were uel Koechlin and Henri Dolfus. Forty published, he was exceedingly anxious years later, in 1798, Mulhouse was to profit by them. He was intelligent, incorporated into France.
laborious, and a complete master of his The elder Oberkampf was naturally trade; but the one thing needful, capindignant at his conduct; but time ital, he did not possess, and could not wore away the sharp edge of his fa- command. He had indeed amassed by ther's anger, and the influence of his strict economy, almost privation, the mother finally obtained his pardon. sum of one hundred and twenty-five After an absence of six months, he dollars ; but this was not capital, and returned home, but with the express yet it was the grain of mustard-seed understanding that he might leave which developed itself into wide-spread again at his pleasure.
prosperity. His restless desires soon returned, The print-works of Cotin had long and in October, 1798, when twenty been in embarrassment, and were now years old, he determined to visit Parissustained by mere expedients. Payand from there go to Spain, where he ments were made with great difficulty, had been told a new field was open to and then only by heavily loading the him. Once more he journeyed on foot, future. Cotin lost credit, and in conand reached the great city with his sequence purchased his white cloths purse nearly empty, but with a strong and dye-stuffs under great disadvanheart full of courage, energy, and con- tages. At length he was unable to fidence.
pay his workmen regularly ; and one Calico-printing in France was still by one they deserted him, until Oberstrictly prohibited, but, from some un- kampf found himself almost alone. explained reason, a small section of Although Oberkampf obtained with Paris, called the “Clos of St. Ger- difficulty and delay the payment of his main,” enjoyed an exclusive privilege wages, a strong sentiment of probity, for printing. This privilege was proba- which in after life never deserted him, bly a remnant of some ancient conces- prevented him from breaking an ensions made to the monastery of St. gagement by which he still felt himself Germains, for in feudal times the bound. Poor Cotin could not replace monks alone gave protection to honest the absent workmen, and at the very industry.
moment when the recently published Under the protection of this privi- Decrees were about to give new life to lege, a person named Cotin had estab- his enterprise he was forced to close lished print-works. He was already his works, and Oberkampf was free to known to Oberkampf, for Cotin had form a new connection. frequently sent to Switzerland for work- One of his countrymen named Ta
vanne, who held a small post under the unoccupied house, having a grass-field Comptroller-General of Finance, had ob- attached to it, he proposed to Tavanne tained early notice of the Decrees, and, to secure it at once. After long barfull of confidence in the brilliant pros- gaining, it was leased for nine years at pect about to be opened, had realized a moderate rent. A few days aftera small capital, and had employed it in wards, in the spring of 1760, Oberestablishing small print-works in the kampf, with his brother Fritz, whom he Rue de Seine St. Marcel.
had called to him, and two workmen, well acquainted with Oberkampf, and transferred to this new scene of labor had made great efforts to induce him the implements of their trade, where a to join him, but Oberkampf refused so house-carpenter put them in place. It long as his engagement with Cotin con- was a narrow field, for the house was so tinued. He had, however, promised small that it was impossible to place in to join him as soon as he was free to it the large kettle used for heating and do so; and in the mean time had given mixing the colors employed. Like the valuable indications and advice to Ta- camp-kettle of a regiment, it was bravevanne, who thought it indispensable ly placed in the open air in the yard. to be the first in the field. As soon as The remainder of the implements filled the Decrees were published, he com- the house, leaving no place for furnimenced work. Oberkampf now joined ture of any kind. In consequence, the Tavanne, who had impatiently waited printing-table was required to do triple for him. A short experience convinced duty; for, after a laborious day, a matOberkampf that the works were badly tress placed upon it served for a bed; located. Why remain in the city, to and upon it was spread their frugal be continually overshadowed by dust meals brought from the village, at the and smoke, where land was dear, and moderate price of eight cents each. water at a distance ? and, above all, This was the humble origin of one where the bustle, excitement, and temp- of the most extensive and prosperous tations of city, life were continually dis- manufactures of France. tracting the attention of the workmen ? Work commenced with great ardor, Oberkampf insisted upon removing to and, on the ist of May, 1760, Oberthe country, and at length prevailed kampf printed the first piece of calico. upon Tavanne to seek for a favorable There could be no division of labor position. This was soon discovered, among the four workmen ; each became and, after several visits, a new location designer, colorist, or printer, as occawas selected.
sion required; and at the end of two About three miles from Versailles, months a sufficient quantity of calicoes and fifteen miles from Paris, lies the had been printed to be sent to market. peaceful village of Jouy-en-Josas. It Unfortunately, the commercial partner was a small hamlet, composed of a few was not in any way equal to the manucottages grouped around the church, facturer. Tavanne, having furnished and placed in a deep valley, — the hills the funds, had reserved for himself the on each side being covered with woods. sale of the goods; but unluckily he Near it flowed the river Bièvre, which was quite incompetent. He could not watered the green prairies at the effect sales nor provide funds to pay bottom of the valley. The position the notes he had given for the white seemed to unite every advantage. The cloths purchased, and which were fast water was excellent and abundant, the falling due. Perplexed and alarmed, green field could be had at a moderate he informed Oberkampf of his unfortuprice, and the seclusion of the valley nate dilemma. By his letters of cosecured it from the interruptions and partnership Oberkampf was not rethe attractions of city life.
sponsible for any losses incurred; but Oberkampf at once decided his part- he at once gave his one hundred and ner in its favor, and noticing a small twenty-five dollars to Tavanne, and
then, with his usual energy, sought for The new partner was Mr. Sarasin aid to meet the difficulties of the situa- Demaraise, an advocate of Grenoble, tion.
who had, however, long resided in. An acquaintance of Tavanne, a Mr. Paris. He was a learned and successParent, first clerk of the Comptroller of ful advocate, but had always felt a finance at Versailles, had often visited strong inclination for commerce, which the print-works, and had remarked the he preferred, indeed, to his own occuintelligence and industry of Oberkampf. pation. He was an excellent man; To him Oberkampf applied for counsel. and Oberkampf and himself naturally Mr. Parent received him in a friendly drew together, and soon became warm manner, and, as his position placed him friends. With the consent of the partin frequent communications with the ners, the books and countability of the merchants of Paris, he offered to apply print-works were confided to Mr. Demato one of them for aid. He explained raise, and the manufactory of Jouy now the affairs of Jouy to a silk-merchant of boasted of an office in Paris. The sale Paris (whose name is not mentioned), of the merchandise still remained in and induced him to make the necessary the hands of the merchant. advances to meet the engagements of Erelong, Mr. Demaraise discovered Tavanne, upon the condition that all that the merchant had secured to himthe printed goods should be consigned self undue advantages; and the legal to him for sale, and, in addition, that acumen of the advocate soon detected he should have a share in the profits. flaws and omissions in the original conThe merchant soon discovered that the tract with Tavanne, and in the transprint-works were profitable, and that fer to the merchant. This Demaraise Oberkampf was the cause of its suc- communicated to Oberkampf, showing cess. Being a keen, shrewd man, he him conclusively that he was working maneuvred in such a manner as to for another. He proposed to him to disgust Tavanne with the whole affair, unite, and drive the drone from the and finally bought of him all his interest hive. With some reluctance and hesiin the business for the small sum of tation, Oberkampf consented. The twelve hundred dollars. Not content merchant positively refused to sell to with this, he further induced the candid them his share of the business, even and confiding Oberkampf to convey to after the irregularities in his contract him a part of his share of the profits. had been explained to him, and a suit A drone had entered the hive, and was at law was commenced. taking to himself the honey collected To the advocate, Mr. Demaraise, a by the working bees.
lawsuit was a pleasant matter ; but to The friendly interest of Mr. Parent Oberkampf it seemed full of care, unhad been excited, and he soon per- certainty, and alarm. Other cause of ceived, with regret, that the interests anxiety had arisen. He and his workof Oberkampf were being sacrified by men were Protestants, and the inhabithe grasping shrewdness of the mer- tants of the village were ill disposed chant. He now cast about for a rem- towards this little colony of strangers edy. He proposed another partner, and heretics. who was ready to embark the large These causes of preoccupation and sum of ten thousand dollars in the anxiety weighed heavily upon Oberbusiness, for one third of the profits. kampf, when, unluckily, a freshet of the This capital would place the print- river laid his drying-field under water works upon a solid basis, and Ober- at the moment when his cloths were kampf accepted the proposition with exposed. Oberkampf and his workgreat joy. The silk - merchant was men plunged into the water to rescue greatly annoyed, but, fearing he might the cloths. The next morning sharp lose Oberkampf, he was forced to con- pains and fever confined him to his sent.
bed; and there he remained several