with the United States in the privilege of carrying off our millions, under the pretext of selling us cotton. Never was there a more perfect act of piracy; never was piracy better organized than this, or more kindly received, to our shame be it said.
As now the price of cotton was increased, muslin was rejected, and fabrics of hemp and flax used instead; for the latter textures could be had for the same price as cotton goods, while they were of far better quality. Then it was that certain ingenious swindlers conceived the idea of weaving the threads wider apart, so as to yield an increase of 25 per cent, of cloth, with the same amount of cotton; and, to conceal this base fraud, recourse was had to a paste of starch, soap, and pipe-clay, stopping up thus the interstices, and giving the article the appearance of a first-class fabric.
This abominable invention once introduced, cotton fabrics fell to their former price, and found a market. During the ten years which have passed away since public credulity was first duped in this way, every one has to his cost learned of the trick. Hence I suppose I am addressing an audience already convinced; and I repeat again my advice, Buy only linen.
Textures intended for printing were deteriorated in the same proportion, and hence it became very difficult to print or to wash them, and they had to be heavily starched in order to find purchasers, so flimsy were they. But people soon quit using them, and bought mixed textures of wool and cotton, or wool and linen, which came into fashion, and which gave such satisfaction that they will not again be laid aside.
We now come to speak of the lighter tissues—the finest grades of muslin, jaconets, and organdies.
All these tissues are very costly, because they require cotton of the best quality, and it is upon these that the manufacturer of printed goods displays all his artistic skill—all the magic of design. He stops at nothing, for these brilliant artistic effects give him a reputation, and serve as a letter of introduction for his products. I have seen as many as thirty-five different colors, or shades of color, in the large bouquets printed on certain fabrics. But, like natural flowers, these printed flowers quickly fade.
Only the very costliest of textures are now printed by hand—that process being so tedious and so difficult that but few workmen are qualified to perform it. The printing, therefore, is usually done by means of a roller of copper or brass. This roller has the figures cut into its surface either directly by the burin, or by an acid; or, as is more usual, it gets the required impress from the molette. Engraving with the burin being very costly, it is employed only in the manufacture of the very choicest fabrics. Engraving with acid is done as follows: The roller is first coated with asphaltum, and on this is counter-drawn with the burin the figure required. The burin may be worked