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The “warming” of public-houses is, of course, often a perfect revel of wickedness.
I have obtained a note of the compulsory drinking usages of the following trades: viz., glass makers, brass lamp makers, jewellers, brass nail stampers, casters and turners of metal, wood turners, spoon polishers, nineteen branches of the gun trade, bellows-pipe makers, copper-plate printers, clock-dial makers, rule makers, and pewter trade; but they are all of them so similar to those already described, that I shall not tire my readers' patience any further, sufficiently fatigued already by these details.
In general, members on the tramp (i.e., going about in search of work,) are expected to call at the club-house in any town at which they may arrive, for tramp's allowance; here they must sleep, and spend much of the allowance in drink. This is an element of great danger to the national working classes, and a source of serious oppression and hardship.
In consequence of the severity used towards non-conforming workmen, it might perhaps be proper, that a fund should be raised in those places where it is practicable, for the purpose of relieving those men who are turned out of work for refusing to pay the drink fines and footings: and also for the purpose of obtaining legal redress on this behalf.
ENGLISH USAGES - continued. Agricultural Classes-Friendly Clubs—Ministers-Woollen Trade--Military Drinking Usages Christmas Usages-Payment of Wages-Saving Clause-General Observations-Distinction of English and Scotch Modes of Inebri
ation. Agricultural Classes.-In some of the central counties in the south of England, and in the corn trade, on the farmer receiving the money for his grain, the corn-dealer deducts a shilling from the sum due, and presents a glass of spirits and water in its stead; sometimes several glasses are added to the first. This practice has been represented to me as mischievous in a high degree, for a farmer will in one day do business with several dealers. And on the whole, the drinking at bargains and sales has a most pernicious effect, so far as I can learn, on the habits, morals, families and dependents of the
agricultural class. At auctions in the district above-mentioned, and I presume very generally throughout the country, the auctioneer is supplied with beer, strong ale, cider, and spirits ; in many cases, the spirits and beer are mixed together, and bidders are most liberally plied with the liquor. An informant seeing two drunken men attempting to lead a horse, was told that they had been at a sale of stock in the neighbourhood, where they had got beer and spirits.
In Wales, servant men and women are permitted after milking-time to go to fairs, often remaining in the publichouse till the next morning; and it is a common practice for farm servants to be hired at a fair or market, amid scenes of drinking and inebriation. I have found, also, in the central counties of England, that farm servants are hired in towns; on which occasions it is usual to give them money to drink.
Farriers are expected to come round at Christmas to their employers, whose horses they shoe, and receive money to drink.
Liquor is often given at sheep washing and shearing; and at reaping, and other rural occasions; but as this is intended as diet, and not as a piece of courtesy, we shall it over.
In some places, farmers usually sell their produce within a public-house, instead of making the bargain in the marketplace. I have heard it complained of, also, that in some districts markets are held too late in the day; so as greatly to promote intemperance, and the practice of selling in publichouses.
Friendly Clubs. It constitutes a great national calamity that, in the large majority of instances, the meetings of these are held in public-houses; where, of necessity, liquor is ordered according to rule, which those present alone consume, and become drunk often on the share of others. I have noticed this frequently already, in treating of trade clubs and unions. They would deserve well of this country, who should be privileged to make a clean end of this most vicious system. The facility with which a room is thus obtained for the transaction of business, and the difficulty of procuring any convenient place for that purpose, unconnected with the retail of liquor, are the immediate obstacles in the way of a general reformation on this subject. It is trusted, that, as the necessity and importance of a change is further understood, these barriers shall be speedily surmounted.
Publicans, with a view to the increase and steady attendance of their customers, procure the establishment, in their own
houses, of money, shoe, clothes, hat, lottery, raffle, furniture, clock and watch clubs. These consist of numerous members, who meet regularly once a week, at the public-house in question ; each member paying 1s. to the general stock, and 3d. or 4d. for the “good of the house." The absent members in general contribute their quota to the drink money; which, however, is always shared by the members present.
All sorts of schemes are invented here, to make men drunkards; and fines are imposed on all possible occasions. Ex uno disce omnes. A member of a particular clothes club, in a large manufacturing town, paid, in three months, 12s. ; contribution being ls: a week; out of which 98. 8d. was deducted for fines he incurred, arising from the following causes: being half an hour too late, drinking only half his glass, putting down the glass empty and not filling it,* &c. &c.
The following quotations will confirm our position on this most important subject :
“Q. Can you inform the committee what you think are the general imperfections of the present friendly societies? A. Being held at ale-houses, they lead to habits of idleness and intoxication. Their annual feast is usually a scene of drunkenness and disorder.”—Evidence before select committee on Friendly Societies; Rev. J. T. Becher ; Report, p. 30.
“Q. To what do you attribute, not only the continuance, but the increase of these delusive societies ? A. I conceive it to arise from the influence which publicans have, in assembling large bodies of men among the lower classes, at their respective houses,” &c.—Ibid. p. 35.
"The anniversary is a scene of drunkenness and disputes, seldom terminated with a single day.”—Ibid.
“Q. You do not consider the clubs the only persons interested in keeping up the delusion? A. The landlords of publichouses are the great contributors to the system.”—Evidence of Mr. Glenny, actuary, p. 42.
“All the societies are set on foot at an alehouse; and one half of the money is spent at an alehouse.”—Evidence of Mr. Morgan, actuary, p. 52.
“I was examined as to a society where they spent in one year 801. for dinners.”-Ibid. Evidence in 1827, p. 49.
“Q. Is there not a great deal of money.wasted in feasting ? A. A great deal.”—Evidence of Mr. Medhurst, p. 82.
“ The mode of payment to the teacher of this school, is * In Scotland, if a compotor, after filling his glass from the gill stoup, neglect to put down the lid, he is liable to have it replenished at his own expense.
remarkable and characteristic. A kind of club, which does not consist exclusively of the parents of the scholars, meets every Saturday evening at a public-house; when, after some hours spent in drinking and smoking, a subscription is raised and handed over to the schoolmaster, who forms one of the company; and who is expected to spend a part of the money in regaling the subscribers.”—Inquiries of the Central Society of Education.
" It is a never-failing regulation, that a certain sum shall be spent in drink every night at the meeting of the society, for each member; the members present drinking their own portion, and that of the members who are absent."-On Friendly Societies, by James Mitchell, LL.D. and F.A.S.
Disappointed trust placed in ill-managed institutions, that have very improperly borne the name of Friendly Societies; but which might often more appropriately be termed societies for the encouragement of intoxication." —Ansell on Friendly Societies, Lond. 1835.
"A great foe to economy, in conducting the affairs of these societies, is the holding their periodical meetings at publichouses. The positive waste of money, arising from this very frequent, but objectionable, practice, is greater than, without examination, will be believed. It is thought that not fewer than 1,000,000 persons in this kingdom, are members of Friendly Societies; and probably each person does not, on an average, spend less than 5s. per annum, at the monthly meetings and yearly feasts. The annual expenditure, for what is, in many cases, a worse than useless purpose, will therefore not fall short of 250,0001. A sum of 5s. per annum for each member of a Friendly Society, is vastly more than sufficient to defray the Society's ordinary and necessary expenses of management. A man aged twenty-five could, for an annual contribution of 58., secure to himself a superannuation allowance, after the age of seventy, of 10l. or 11l. per annum; or he might, for such an annual payment, provide for an allowance in sickness, until the age of seventy, of about 3s. 6d. per week; or for a payment at death, of at least 101. These are pecuniary advantages which might result from a discontinuance of holding the meetings at public-houses, or inns; but much more moral good would also follow a reform in this matter. There can be little doubt, that the foundation of habits of general intemperance, is frequently laid by men who, with the best original intentions, become members of societies established by interested persons, with the sole motive of benefiting a
favoured public-house; and it is no uncommon occurrence, in seeking to let such a house, to mention, as a special recommendation of it, that two or three benefit clubs meet there.
“Since the above remarks were written, an instance has come to the author's knowledge, which exemplifies, in a very forcible manner, the evil here spoken of. It is that of a society in which each member has to contribute 4d. for spending money, on every monthly night of meeting, whether he is present or absent;
and the aggregate of the spending money is always drunk out by those who may chance to attend. The society alluded to consists of two hundred and fifty members; and the spending money is therefore 41. 3s. 4d. per month. At the meeting in July, 1833, twenty-six members only were present; so that each had to consume drink costing 3s. 24d. After a large quantity of beer had been consumed, ardent spirits were drunk; and, ultimately, beer was thrown out of the windows, because the whole of the money was to be expended for the good of the house. Such a case needs no comment; but it may be stated, that some of the members whose fourpences were taken from the fund and expended, might, in fact, leave the society, and never pay their contributions; in all such cases, the society would, therefore, lose the fourpences spent.
“The cases are rare in which any difficulty could occur, from societies determining not to meet at public-houses. Wherever a national or parochial school is established, there is little doubt but that the trustees or managers of either would readily permit Friendly Societies to meet in their schoolrooms, either without remuneration, or for such a payment only as might be deemed sufficient to cover the actual expense of fire and light when needed. Failing that resource, the use of a markethouse, or other public building, might probably be obtained ; or a room might be hired to hold the meetings in; even should no other place present itself than an inn, the better course then to pursue, would be to pay the landlord a specific rent, for the temporary occupation of a room in his house, with a distinct understanding that no refreshment whatever should be taken into such room, during the evening on which the society might meet. At the same time, every discouragement should be given to members staying at the house for the purpose of drinking at all; since it seems peculiarly desirable to separate so creditable and praise worthy a feeling, as that which usually leads men to join a Friendly Society, from a habit so pernicious to the best interests of individuals, as the too common one of associating in the mind the idea of dram or beer