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known; and the preachers saw that there was no chance of doing such men good, unless they could get them wholly to abstain."'*
I have stated before, that there seems to exist, somewhat extensively, a third series of usages, which has been established, not by use and wont, but in the regulation of trades clubs, and unions. I have not had sufficient opportunity of examining the regulations of those societies; and have already said, that it is not my intention here to enter into any discussion of their merits, unless in so far as they impose drink usage. In the printed regulations of one trade club, revised in 1825, the following amercements occur: “ If any man leave a shop on a lawful occasion, and leave work unfinished, no man to finish said work under a fine of 11., to be spent in drink in the shop.” The same fine occurs for deceiving his shopmates, or denying his wages. There is an allowance of drink to delegates each night of meeting. There are ten other occasions, when men shall be fined in sums varying from 1l. to ls. 4d., to be spent in drink in their own shop; and these besides the fines that go to the stock of the society.
I need not inform my readers, that it was with sentiments of considerable pain and apprehension I first discovered this new department of convivial usage added to the two former series ; evincing in the great mass of the inhabitants a spirit of determined resolution to continue the pernicious use of strong stimulants, and a settled conclusion arrived at, to wind the chains of drinking custom in the most impregnable manner throughout the whole conduct and economy of society.
I trust the time is not far distant, when the learned, the wise, the benevolent, the influential in the nation, amid all classes, ranks, and stations, will awaken to a just and deep consideration of the terrible importance of the whole of this subject of drinking usage; and that it shall not be left for one individual to travel the length and breadth of the land, to fight the battle single-handed; having little help hitherto from the agency of man, and trusting only in that Providence, who, it may be, grieved with the enormous load of national sin, which in this respect we have piled up, leaves us to the perilous guidance of our own devices.
* Speech of the Rev. G. Cubitt.
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON IRELAND.
Although Ireland was dishonoured by possessing the character of a nation remarkable for intemperance, yet it does not appear from the revenue returns that nearly the same proportionate quantity of ardent spirits was consumed there as in Scotland. It is probable that the smaller wages of the working classes in Ireland prevented the continuous clockwork system of daily inebriation so prevalent in North Britain. It seems likely, that it is more on what may be called important occasions the Irish drank, with considerable intervals of sheer sobriety between. And, from their naturally excitable and buoyant disposition, they manifested the outward guise of inebriation, and its external results, more vividly than their less combustible neighbours; for drunkenness smoulders often in silent ardour among the “ perfervidum genus Scotorum,” whereas in Ireland it inclines perpetually to break forth into action and revelry.
It is not easy for a stranger to make any satisfactory estimate of the state of human life in Ireland; the points to which attention ought to be directed in such an investigation are so various, the testimonies so conflicting, and the evils so complicated. And, on the other hand, the natives seem in general to have their judgments so dislocated, and their passions so maddened towards each other, in the strife of politics, religion, faction of families and clans, and other indescribable sources of discord, that they seem nearly as capable of settling their own quarrels, as would be the inhabitants of a well-filled asylum of lunatics; all of whom are equally unreasonable, and all equidistant from truth, though in a perplexing variety of directions.
Nor are reflections of this nature merely discursive and inadmissible in the consideration of our present subject, as I hope to make
appear. The temporal evils that afflict Ireland have been stated in part to arise from the following causes : -Want of capital among
the poorer classes; want of favourable opportunity for the employment of the capital of the richer sorts, arising from the turbulent nature of the people, and the danger to life and property of those who would otherwise be likely to apply their means to the improvement of land, and furtherance of manufacturing and commercial enterprise; the deep and savage ignorance that prevails among the mass of the people; the lawless nature of the populace, their proneness to resist legal
restraint, their indifference to the expenditure of human life, their recklessness and want of care and consideration for consequences; the many vast and uncontrollable sources of strife and debate that exist in Ireland; the frightful redundancy of the working population ; and the consequent fatal intensity of competition for land and wages.
To what human source must Ireland turn for a remedy for this congeries of evils ? Every voice in the three kingdoms exclaims,—to Parliament, the influential source of cure, the highest constitutional authority of the empire. But after all
, and admitting the solemn call there is on parliament to make every possible attempt to allay these fearful and acknowledged inischiefs, can parliament create capital among the poorer classes? Can it afford protection to the servants of any English Joint Stock Company who might propose to drain the bogs of Ireland? Can it force education on the inhabitants, or can it ever be induced to try? Can it infuse a love of order among the people, and subdue their unwillingness of spirit to submit to the yoke even of equitable laws ? Can it prevent the rabid, unintelligible strife among clans and factions? Can it introduce a wise, virtuous foresight among the people, which will prevent premature marriages, and the growth of a nation always trembling on the yerge of famine, and entangled in the inconceivable horrors of a redundant population ? Queen, lords and commons, the universities, the church, the professions, all the agricultural, all the trading interests, the whole wealth, learning, and political power of the empire, seem, after vast endeavours, to be able to effect very little benefit indeed in this most difficult, but still deeply interesting case.
No mind susceptible of any sympathy whatever with the human race, can view this situation of affairs with indifference; and no one can spend a few months in the charming Emerald Isle, without a more than ordinary concern in her most attractive inhabitants; and perhaps without some vagrancy of thought among all the points of difficulty connected with her extraordinary condition; and without some undefined mental proposals and visions in the way of cure. I do not deny my own share of such, perhaps in many cases, profitless speculations; nevertheless in the multitude of thoughts within, I leave the reader to judge whether it was not natural that I should occasionally indulge in trains of thought and meditations such as the following.
Since want of capital among the poorer classes is one of the
evils of this country, is there any source of production, or rather of reproduction, misapplied, but that might otherwise go to the purchase of implements of husbandry and manufacture, to the fencing and draining of patches of land, and to domestic furniture, and housing? How many millions are spent needlessly in ardent spirits by the poorest ranks; to how much would ten years of this lost capital amount; and what would be its reproductions during that time? For at present, as far as that goes, it might as well be thrown into the depths of the sea.
Then, what is the principal source of the turbulence of the people? what is in this country a grand spring of contention itself, as well as the support and fuel of that hostile and fiery spirit, which spurns at innovation, sometimes mistakes the best meant attempts at public benefit, and presents so formidable a barrier to the introduction of work, wages, plenty, and peace? Certainly whisky is this source of evil in a great degree.
Is not the same cause the occasion of the people continuing in ignorance? The school fee for the children is spent in spirits; and so are all the funds that would go to the mechanics' library and institution ; the young people are brought up to seek their chief joy in riotous revelry, in habits and thoughts quite alien to those that incline to mental improvement and study. What produces lawlessness, recklessness, and aversion to the order and restraint of justice? or at least, what aggravates and enlarges these propensities? is it not excessive drinking ?
What is that which swells all the sources of strife, which lets loose the feuds bound up for months or years in the hearts of the factions ? What the proximate evil that exalts and augments all the other causes of discord, and continually promotes new objects of litigation, riot, and contention ; which makes Ireland, almost from one end to the other, to be sometimes like a yelling cavern of wild beasts, rather than a portion of the pacific and intelligent kingdom of Britain ?
What sorcerous spell is it, which when murder of the most heartless and extensive nature is to be committed, is used for the express purpose of bringing men up to such a sufficiency of recklessness as will fit them to perpetrate that pleasantly, which is soon to fill a district with unutterable woe? Whisky is the word which is legitimately the answer to all these queries.
If there is any truth therefore in these views, I cannot but
congratulate my excellent friends in the Temperance Reformation in Ireland. I bid them thank God, and take courage : let them look with confidence and delight at the honourable prospect that extends far and wide before them; and while others talk, let them act; and the blessing and approving smile of Providence be upon them !*
ENGLISH ARTIFICIAL AND COMPULSORY DRINKING USAGES.
Difficulty of introducing the Doctrine of Anti-Usage-Usages of Shipwrights
Iron Founders - Mugging - Foremen-Allowances of Drink-TreatingSalt Works—Whitesmiths - Blacksmiths-Apron-stamping-Chain Cable Manufacturers-Curriers—Joiners and Carpenters-Sail-makers.
The principal difference that once existed between the potations of England and Scotland was, that the former indulged in comparatively moderate quantities of mild ales, while the latter despised anything short of the bite of ardent spirits. This mark of distinction has, however, of late years, begun to wear away; and England has commenced a decided partiality for the more desperate beverage of the sister country. I do not find, however, that a perfect assimilation has yet taken place in all parts of the southern empire. It is chiefly in
* The above observations, I have said, were written in the year 1837, before Theobald Mathew's operations had made progress. The reader may, at this date, ponder the almost unparelleled moral and social movement that has since then taken place in Ireland, and say whether the author has been correct in the foregoing anticipations, or the contrary. Those hackneyed politicians and economists who take a partial view of human nature, and forget, or do not know, that moral elements must mix with all economic good, may take a lesson from these circumstances, and perhaps find that temperance enthusiasts also know a little of what stands for the intellectual, social, and economical welfare of the empire.
Being under equal apprehension as the most determined Malthusian at the view of a redundant population; having spent many years in endeavours for the scientific education of the working classes; for the religious instruction of the young; for improvement in the domestic economy of the poor; the author thinks it due to the promoters of the cause of temperance to say, that there are temperance advocates, who, with God's blessing, will not yield in zeal and activity for these good objects to any individual or class whatever. And he would just take leave to ask, what benefit have all the statesmen of the empire done for any district in Ireland, for a hundred and fifty years, in comparison of what has been effected by one week of the grand temperance movement?