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BRIBERY IN THE CLOTHING TRADES.

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of like goodness at the same prices, or many buyers be. tween whose commodities and whose terms there is little room for choice, there exists no motive to purchase of one rather than another; and then, the temptation to take some immediate bonus turns the scale. Whatever be the cause, however, the fact is testified to us alike in London and the provinces. By manufacturers, buyers are sumptuously entertained for days together, and are plied throughout the year with hampers of game, turkeys, dozens of wine, etc.; nay, they receive actual moneybribes : sometimes, as we hear from a manufacturer, in the shape of bank-notes; but more commonly in the shape of discounts on the amounts of their purchases.

The extreme prevalence-universality we might say, of this system, is proved by the evidence of one who, disgusted as he is, finds himself inextricably entangled in it. He confessed to us that all his transactions were thus tainted. “Each of the buyers with whom I deal,” he said, “ expects an occasional bonus in one form or other. Some require the bribe to be wrapped up; and some take it without disguise. To an offer of money, such an one replies—Oh, I don't like that sort of thing;' but nevertheless, he does not object to money’s-worth. While my friend So-and-so, who promises to bring me a large trade this season, will, I very well know, look for one per cent. discount in cash. The thing is not to be avoided. I could name sundry buyers who look askance at me, and never will inspect my goods; and I have no doubt about the cause—I have not bought their patronage.” And then our informant appealed to another of the trade, who agreed in the assertion that in London, their business could not be done on any other terms. To such an extent is the system carried, and so greedy of perquisites do some of these buyers become, as to absorb a great part of the profits; and to make it a question whether it is worth while to

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continue the connection. And then, as above hinted, there comes a like history of transactions between buyers and retailers—the bribed being now the briber. One of those above referred to as habitually expecting douceurs, said to the giver of them, whose testimony we have just repeated—“I've spent pounds and pounds over — (naming a large tailor), and now I think I have gained him over.To which confession this buyer added the complaint, that his house did not make him any allowance for sums thus disbursed.

Under the buyer, who has absolute control of his own department in a wholesale house, come a number of assistants, who transact the business with retail traders: much as retail traders' assistants transact the business with the general public. These higher-class assistants, working under the same pressure as the lower, are similarly unscrupulous. Liable to prompt dismissal as they are for non-success in selling; gaining higher positions as they do in proportion to the quantities of goods they dispose of at profitable rates; and finding that no objections are made to any dishonest artifices they use, but rather that they are applauded for them; these young men display a scarcely credible demoralization. As we learn from those who have been of them, their duplicity is unceasing—they speak almost continuous falsehood; and their tricks range from the simplest to the most Machiavellian.

Take a few samples. When dealing with a retailer, it is an habitual practice to bear in mind the character of his business; and to delude him respecting articles of which he has the least experience. If his shop is in a neighbourhood where the sales are chiefly of inferior goods (a fact ascertained from the traveller), it is inferred that, having a comparatively small demand for superior goods, he is a bad judge of them; and advantage is taken of his ignorance. Again, it is usual purposely to present sam

CHEATS IN SELLING CLOTH.

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ples of cloths, silks, etc., in such order as to disqualify the perceptions. As when tasting different foods or wines, the palate is disabled by something strongly flavoured, from appreciating the more delicate flavour of another thing afterwards taken; so with the other organs of sense, a temporary disability follows an excessive stimulation. This holds not only with the eyes in judging of colours, but also, as we are told by one who has been in the trade, it holds with the fingers in judging of textures; and cunning salesmen are in the habit of thus partially paralyzing the customers' perceptions, and then selling second-rate articles as first-rate ones.

Another common manæuvre is that of raising a false belief of cheapness. Suppose a tailor is laying in a stock of broad cloths. He is offered a bargain. Three pieces are put before him—two of good quality, at, perhaps, 14s. per yard; and one of much inferior quality, at 8s. per yard. These pieces have been purposely a little tumbled and creased, to give an apparent reason for a pretended sacrifice upon them. And the tailor is then told that he may have these nominallydamaged cloths as “a job lot,” at 128. per yard. Misled by the appearances into a belief of the professed sacrifice; impressed, moreover, by the fact that two of the pieces are really worth considerably more than the price asked; and not sufficiently bearing in mind that the great inferiority of the third just balances this; the tailor probably buys: and he goes away with the comfortable conviction that he has made a specially-advantageous purchase, when he has really paid the full price for every yard. A still more subtle trick has been described to us by one who himself made use of it, when engaged in one of ese wholesale-house-a trick so successful that he was often sent for to sell to customers who could be induced to buy by none other of the assistants, and who ever afterwards would buy only of him. His policy was to seem extremely simple and honest, and during the first few purchases to exhibit his honesty by pointing out defects in the things he was selling; and then, having gained the customer's confidence, he proceeded to pass off upon him inferior goods at superior prices.

These are a few out of the various manœuvres in constant practice. Of course there is a running accompaniment of falsehoods, uttered as well as acted.

It is expected of the assistant that he will say whatever is needed to effect a sale. “Any fool can sell what is wanted,” said a master in reproaching a shopman for not having persuaded a customer to buy something quite unlike that which he asked for. And the unscrupulous mendacity thus required by employers, and encouraged by example, grows to a height of depravity that has been described to us in words too strong to be repeated. Our informant was obliged to relinquish his position in one of these establishments, because he could not lower himself to the required depth of degradation. “You don't lie as though you believe what you say," observed one of his fellowassistants. And this was uttered as a reproach !

As those subordinates who have fewest qualms of conscience are those who succeed the best, are soonest promoted to more remunerative posts, and have therefore the greatest chances of establishing businesses of their own; it may be inferred that the morality of the heads of these establishments, is much on a par with that of their employés. The habitual mal-practices of wholesale-houses, confirm this inference. Not only, as we have just seen, are assistants under a pressure impelling them to deceive purchasers respecting the qualities of the goods they buy, but purchasers are also deceived in respect to the quantities; and that, not by an occasional unauthorized trick, but by an organized system, for which the firm itself is responsible. The general, and indeed almost universal

CHEATING IN MEASUREMENT.

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practice, is, to make up goods, or to have them made up, in lengths that are shorter than they profess to be. A piece of calico nominally thirty-six yards long, never measures more than thirty-one yards—is understood throughout the trade to measure only this. And the long-accumulating delinquencies which this custom indicates—the successive diminutions of length, each introduced by some adept in dishonesty, and then imitated by his competitors -are now being daily carried to a still greater extent, wherever they are not likely to be immediately detected. Articles that are sold in small bundles, knots, packets, or such forms as negative measurement at the time of sale, are habitually deficient in quantity. Silk-laces called six quarters, or fifty-four inches, really measure four quarters, or thirty-six inches. Tapes were originally sold in grosses containing twelve knots of twelve yards each; but these twelve-yard knots are now cut of all lengths, from eight yards down to five yards, and even less—the usual length being six yards. That is to say, the 144 yards which the gross once contained, has now in some cases dwindled down to 60 yards. In widths, as well as in lengths, this deception is practised. French cotton-braid, for instance (French only in name), is made of different widths; which are respectively marked 5, 7, 9, 11, etc. : each figure indicating the number of threads of cotton which the width includes, or rather should include, but does not. For those which should be marked 5 are marked 7; and those which should be marked 7 are marked 9: out of three samples from different houses shown to us by our informant, only one contained the alleged number of threads. Fringe, again, which is sold wrapped on card, will often be found two inches wide at the end exposed to view, but will diminish to one inch at the end next the card; or perhaps the first twenty yards will be good, and all the rest, hidden under it, will be bad. These frauds are committed

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