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become a perfect science to know its multiplied modifications in every department of civil and of domestic life.
It may be accounted a strange and presumptuous thing for the author to persist in asseverating, as he has done for more than fifteen years, that the people of this country are under a servile despotism to conventional and artificial rules, in the matter of drinking, nearly unknown to other nations; and that no man or woman has, in this country, a free option to drink inebriating liquor, or let it alone. If the reader will bear with him, he will make it appear in the sequel that such an eccentric system absolutely does exist in this country, that boasts of its general freedom.
Most people give, as their reason for refusing to join a temperance society, that they do not choose, in the matter of drinking, to introduce themselves into a state of bondage, by signing a temperance pledge; as if they were, in that respect, already free. But, in fact, no man is free in this nation, in the point of being permitted to drink strong liquor, or not, at his own choice.
And this is one grand reason for wellwishers to their country joining at present in temperance combination, namely, that the framework of British society, at this moment, exhibits to the eye of him who will investigate the subject, the spectacle of one huge association for the purpose of promoting inebriation and intemperance, with rules formally and admirably adapted for the purpose : regulations artificially contrived, and having a most universal and energetic power, to introduce and rivet general habits of intoxication, apart from the natural cravings of a vitiated appetite. If it is objected, since there is such an anti-temperance machinery in British society, which constitutes it what you describe, where are its peculiar rules and regulations ? the author answers, that in the following treatise, more than three hundred of these factitious, unnatural, and conventional rules shall be submitted to the attention of the reader.
Although there is a great similarity in the drinking usages of the three kingdoms, yet there is so much of variety and discrimination among them, as will justify us in considering the subject under the threefold division of those of Scotland, Ireland, and England. In this arrangement, I take up the discussion of the customs of the three kingdoms in the order in which they were first examined and investigated, beginning with North Britain.
THE ARTIFICIAL AND COMPULSORY DRINKING USAGES OF
Of Cabinet-makers and Joiners-Hatters-Ironfounders-Shipwrights-Sail
makers-Coopers-Sawyers-Reflections on the Apprentice Entry-Usages of the Cotton Spinners-Stocking Makers-Calico Printers' Usage-money commuted, and given to a Mechanics' Library-Scheme of Girls to lodge Drink in Women's Apartments.
The felicity with which Sir Walter Scott occasionally touches the interesting topic of Scotch national manners, has excited a multitude of essayists and pseudo-philanthropists to venture a stake on such inviting play; and the public has been nauseated and overwhelmed by sketches of what is said to be Scottish life, without, in fact, having ever yet arrived at the foundation of those modes and institutions that may be stated philosophically to have formed the superior traits of the character of the North British; or at those unhappy sources of national deterioration which the Scotch possess in such ruinous abundance. It is to the consideration of some facts connected with the latter order that we shall, at present, solicit attention : viz. to the rites, customs, ceremonies, etiquettes, and courtesies, that here accompany inebriation. In no other country does spirituous liquor seem to have assumed so much the attitude of the authorized instrument of compliment and kindness, as in North Britain: and that drunkenness bas been reduced into the regularity and prevalence of a general system, will be evident from the following detail; which, however, only professes to give a hasty glance at the outskirts of a subject of fearful interest, whose final desolations may, if the mercy of God prevent not, yet only be in their approach.
Scarcely has the stripling commenced his apprenticeship, in some towns, to the business of the joiner or cabinet-maker, than he is informed that the custom of the shop is to pay a sum as an entry, or footing, to be disposed of in drink by the work
He receives charge of the fire in the premises; and at every failure of kindling, mending, or extinguishing at night,
he is fined in a small sum, to be expended in whisky: failure in putting out candles at the proper time, or in watching the work at meal-hours, and a number of other petty offences, are met by small amercements for the same purpose. At the ceremony of brothering, ten or twelve shillings are sacrificed in this way; the first wages of a journeyman are also consecrated to the same unhallowed purpose, being in many cases the commencement of a course of inebriation that ends only with poverty and death. If one leaves the shop, his station at a particular bench is rouped, i. e. auctioned by the men who remain, and the price spent in drink: sometimes six shillings are thus obtained. When furniture is carried to a customer's house, at moving, packing, &c. the employer generally bestows a glass or two. When winter commences, and candles begin to be used, masters give their operatives a treat of spirits; and when the smallest sum is raised by a fine, the men greedily add to it, and thus a nucleus is easily formed, and drinking perpetuated. The penalties for nonconformity to the usages are so various, ingenious, and severe, that it is nearly impossible, as we shall find in the sequel, for an operative to stand out against them, and be able to continue in his business. On refusal to comply, men are sent to Coventry; refused assistance and cooperation, which is sometimes essential to carry on work ; ridiculed, affronted, maltreated in a variety of ways. A journeyman carpenter, in a town north of the "Forth, having declined to pay the customary drink-money, found one morning his tools removed. He received no satisfaction, but in about three months they were found in the side of a dunghill, which was being taken away for agricultural purposes.
In the course of apprenticeship to other occupations, a sum, varying from one to five shillings, is at intervals levied : among plumbers, for instance, when the apprentice casts his first sheet of lead.' In manufacturing districts, when a block-cutter cuts bis first printing-block, he is bound to pay twenty shillings for the purpose of treating his fellow-workmen with drink. Among cloth-lappers, and some other trades, the apprentice not only gives his entry drink, but at successive stages of learning the business, he has to pay drinking usage-money; to all which payments the other workmen contribute a smaller sum, and often a debauch follows. Entries, either at adınission of apprentices, or new workmen coming to a shop, are general among founders, coopers, tin-smiths, and others; and drinking never stops with the occasion of its commencement, but
always proceeds in an augmented ratio. A respectable man, having a family, going lately to work at a blacksmith's shop, refused to pay entry; he was maltreated, and finally knocked down and wounded: on the aggressors being summoned, they actually pleaded, in bar of judgment, before a magistrate, the custom of the shop having been infringed.
It is the rule of the hatter trade to pay, at the end of the apprenticeship, what is called a garnish ; a stranger journeyman, who remains after trial, pays so much ; each journeyman pays something on the anniversary of his becoming such; and it is believed this rule of the trade is general throughout the kingdom. A plank pint is also payable: this, I understand to take place the first time the young man works the felt upon the plank with hot water, tinctured with sulphuric acid. These sums are small
, varying from one to several shillings; but, as before noticed, the commencement being slender, is unfortunately no impediment to a debauch. When a journeyman enters a hat manufactory, there are certain rules and regulations as to sundry matters laid down, which if he transgress, he is tried by the other operatives, and fined in sums varying from two to ten shillings and sixpence; and to all these deposits the rest add a sum which, our informant states, is wholly consumed in excessive drinking of ardent spirits.
Journeymen, at the iron foundries, pay an entry of three shillings, to which the other men contribute sixpence each; all which is expended in the usual beverage.
Apprentices in the ship-building yards pay two pounds for entry-money. When this amounts to a considerable sum,
from the accession of new apprentices, it is spent in a dance, which generally ends in severe drinking, the results being most mischievous : as the number of workmen is great, it takes several days to bring back the people to their ordinary state of sobriety. In some places a considerable payment for drink takes place at the end of the apprenticeship. An improvement in this branch of intemperance has lately taken place on the frith of Clyde, and the apprentice entry-money is, in some building yards, laid out tools. An apprentice there, when his time is out, occasionally gives the wages of his first week as a journeyman to his companions to drink. The most favourable view that can be taken of the intention of these “drink-entries,” is, that they form the mark of welcome of an individual into the trade, and are meant to produce friendship and harmony. Yet what has proved a more virulent canker to concord and peace than wine and whisky? Intemperance, however, deals largely
in sophism. Thus a popular Scots poet says in praise of liquor :
“ When neighbours angry at a plea,
And just as wud as wud can be,
Cement the quarrel !
To taste the barrel."
Here is a complicated case of sophistry, in which courtesy, and a ceremonial of courtesy, seem an ingredient. The parties have already forgiven one another, and now meet as friends and resume the ordinary courteous intercourse of human life, their differences having ceased and come to an end. The circumstance of both tasting what they like, and opening their minds over whisky, is part of the process, no doubt, but not the whole, or chief, or foremost part. But the bard, advocating the cause of whisky, assumes that the whole agreeable and beneficial results are the work of whisky; and thus, that which has been the spring of immeasurable strife and debate, quarrel and bloodshed, gets the credit of being a healer of differences. Few cases of greater perversion, and of calling evil good, and good evil, can be pointed out in ordinary occurrences.
A respectable correspondent thus writes :-"A workman served his apprenticeship in a small burgh, where were seven corporate trades. At the annual dinner at election of officebearers, it was usual for the apprentices to visit the company after dinner, and partake of drink along with them: a collection of money was also made for the apprentices to drink with next day. His master always paid wages in a public house, where spirits were continually given. At each fair of the town (of which there were four in the year), the apprentices received some shillings to drink. On finishing or measuring any job, a treat of drink was bestowed. There were four apprentices; and all of them, by the time they had finished their term of four years and a half, were regular drunkards. The master and his brother, who were partners, both died of intemperance, under the age of forty; and there are many of the same craft, in the same town, wbo have become drunkards through means of the same usages.”
An apprentice and journeyman's entry at the sail-making business is, severally, a bottle of whisky, and another when they sit down to work. At helping to unbend the sails of a vessel, a bonus of drink is given by the ship er, but in some lofts, entries have been lately abolished.