There are some men in London who have not travelled far, nor seen many workshops, whose ideas of the importance of the Metropolis and the excellence of everything done in it might be corrected by hearing the opinions of master craftsmen in the quiet towns of England and Scotland. There are men in the provinces who have a strong suspicion that furniture made in London has not been well made: it may be fashionable, they admit, but it is likely to be flimsy; it may be cheap, but it is not durable; for they know that good material cannot be procured at the price, and cabinet makers in the country do not work for nothing.
They smile when you tell them that large transactions can pay for the great rents charged for warehouses and workshops in the City, and ask you if living is cheap, and what percentage is given for commission. They put their hands in their pockets and say, We can buy wood in the same markets with your manufacturers, we employ no middle-men, our rents are not so high, our profits are not too great, and we cannot compete with you in cheapness.
They may be too polite to hint that London furniture is dear in the long run. They confess that they have a personal interest in the welfare of their friends; they dislike accidents, and nurse a strong prejudice against chairs that need repairing in twelve months and tables liable to paralysis in the legs. Their customers do not believe that everything excellent comes from the Metropolis; and as they desire solidity and durability, they are prepared to pay a fair price to cabinet makers in their own town. A good reputation is the best advertisement in the country; for friends tell their neighbours where they can have value for their money.