Skip to Content
Indiana University

Search Options

View Options

In a Walled Garden. Belloc, Bessie Rayner, 1829–1925.
page: 265


WHEN the division of profits has been carried as far as it will go, the business world will be confronted with a quite new set of problems, some of which are constantly being thrust forward by the capitalist party, and not without reason. There will no longer be the same inducement to save; the great prizes will be things of the past, the whole machinery of the wealthy world will need re‐adjustment. The first‐class railway carriages, the state berths in the steamers, the opera boxes on the first tier—these will be the things of the past. Away with the dresses of Worth, and the gorgeous banquets at the Hotel Continental. Carriage horses will no longer look down upon cab horses; there will be no splendid emblazoned carriages and, let us hope, no “growlers”—and be it noted, that this change has already begun. The costly dress of the page: 266 nobleman in the reign of Elizabeth, where is it now? Who sprinkles precious stones among the crowd, or wears a rapier with a jewelled hilt? The aristocrat is still made to pay for the handle to his name, but his habits are not really more luxurious than those of the rich middle class. The heaping up of wealth on to the person of man is a thing of the past; and if an example of female dress is required, look at the effigy of Queen Elizabeth in the armoury of the Tower—the long robe in which she sits her horse is literally embroidered with pearls, while our present Queen wears no jewels, save such as are affairs of State, and would no more powder her petticoats with jewels than any other lady of her dominions. Neither does the greatest gourmand in Christendom now spend upon meat and drink as did the pagan emperors of Rome.

But, on the other hand, what an immense accession of average comfort from the effects of combination, and all secured within the last century. What more wonderful than the post, when one can rescue the idea from columns of statistics. I don’t want to know what it brings in to Government, or how far it helps the free page: 267 breakfast table; but I do think it extraordinary that when I walk up to a slit in an old grey wall just where four roads meet—a lonely country road where the phantoms of fourteen mail coaches drive by in the light of the moon, but where swift bicycles and wandering pedlars now constitute the principal traffic—and when I have dropped into that slit a folded paper with one, or three, or perchance five small pennies mystically attached thereto, the paper flies to Teheran or Yokohama, to the limits of Southern Tasmania, or to Vancouver, the furthest northern boundary attained by Captain Cook. It is an astounding thing, to which we have become only used by daily repetition, and within the memory of living man. The feat has been so changed in conditions that for ease and rapidity it partakes of legerdemain.

From the somewhat trite example of the penny post, let us look at a much less familiar one—of the victualling of Paris. Such a combination as that of the Bouillons Duval has never been seen since the world began. Duval was the largest butcher in Paris; probably one of the largest butchers in the world. And in 1867, page: 268 at the time of the Great Exhibition, which was the last occasion on which France shone forth in all the glory of the Second Empire, Duval imagined and carried out the giving of dinners to the hungry public, not, indeed, for a penny, but for about a shilling of English money; a dinner of several courses, with some of the delicacies of each season. A little plate of meat, a little plate of vegetables, carefully cooked, a tiny bottle of wine, a custard, or cream, and fruit. All this can be got out of the shilling. If you are fiercely hungry you might make away with two shillings at the Bouillon Duval, The waitresses are neat, respectable women, and these restaurants are in all parts of Paris. Whole vineyards are employed for the supply of their wine. In the matter of little cream cheeses alone, wagon‐loads must be brought up by rail. I once went into a fisherman’s cottage at St. Valery‐sur‐Somme, and saw a room where the fresh shrimps of the morning’s catch lay two feet thick all over the floor. Such a reservoir would be needed for shrimp day at the Bouillon Duval. And it goes without saying that the habit of these dinners has so completely taken page: 269 possession of the busy business world of Paris that it is very difficult to get a seat at certain hours, and that imitation establishments are starting up all over the city.

And what is to hinder other men from doing what was done by Duval? He was undoubtedly a genius in his way. The simplicity of his conception has only been equalled by its success. The food has always been in the meadow, the garden, and the sea; the hungry mouths have always been there to eat it. Duval contrived to bring the two together in delicately balanced, ever varying proportions, and there can be no reason why, in the near future, every town in Europe, nay, every village in Europe, should not possess adaptations of the Bouillon which bears his name.

Then will come a day when young children will no longer be fed on Dutch cheeses, and when cow’s milk will no longer be a luxury difficult of attainment by the infants of the poor.