Abbildungen der Seite

he is capable of performing: but there is this difference, that the improvements made since the conquest are not a hundredth part of what may be expected in the next hundred years, provided human industry and ingenuity are permitted to have their full play. At any rate my speculations have this useful end in view: they will tend to encourage us to look more into our affairs; to consider the bright side of the nation as well as the reverse; to place some, and that not an irrational degree of confidence in future exertions. They will make us regard dishonesty in its proper colours; and, if we must sustain losses, let it be any loss but that of national honor.

Justice between man and man,


Justice between nation and nation ins
This is the law of the Most High,

The decree of the Eternal.

The scorner may revile,

The wicked exalt themselves :

Their prosperity is but for a moment,

They sink into confusion

















Parcere subjectis, et debellare superbos.






[blocks in formation]


DERING the very unsatisfactory state of the Police, particularly about the metropolis, the alarming and increasing frequency of frauds and thefts-of juvenile demoralization and delinquency-and of the alienation of men's minds from the government, both in church and state considering also that I have had the honor to be appointed a magistrate, I have thought it my duty to endeavour to understand the causes of these aberrations, and to devise (if I were able) means of amendment. I have done this, and believing your Lordship to be the proper officer of government to whom I ought to offer my suggestions, I proceed to submit them, without presuming to intrude upon your Lordship's time with any graces of introduction.

That it is better to prevent crimes than to punish them, all will admit. The most powerful means of prevention, no doubt, are the inculcation of industrious, orderly, and good habits among the people, and particularly among the rising generation; the directly reverse habits are drunkenness and bad associations. These, among the lower classes, are the never-failing forerunners of crime, by causing distress, perverting the just perception of right and wrong, and inflaming to acts of desperation. To the suppression, or at least lessening of drunkenness and bad company, my views are therefore principally directed, and as a necessary consequence turn to the scenes and practices which are encouraged at public-houses.

I do not mean to repeat the hacknied abuse of public-houses-that they are at best nuisances, and so forth; on the contrary, 1

consider public-houses to be indispensable to the wants of civilised society, the most so of any commercial establishments: they have been found in all times and at all places where civilisation extends. Man in his improved condition could not subsist without such houses. Where else would the traveller and wayfaring man on their journies, or the laborer or artizan, drawn by temporary employment from their homes, fiud food, refreshment, or a pillow whereon to lay their heads, if there were not houses open to the accommodation of the public at large? Where else would the single man procure his means or a shelter from the inclemency of the weather, between the hours of labor and sleep? And where so conveniently can men of the middling and inferior classes meet for mutual communication, and for that enjoyment of each other's society, for which nature has adapted them, and to which, in moderation, they are justly entitled ?-This usefulness, however, like all other good things, may be turned to a bad account. Where wholesome food and drink ought to be provided, inflaming liquors alone may be pressed into consumption; shelter as well as refreshment may be abused, and a public-house become the lurking-place of idlers and of thieves; and the instrument of drunkenness. Oppor tunities of meeting for cheerfulness and improvement also may be mis-directed to hurtful purposes, to acts of sedition, or combinations of workmen against the public interest, or to immoral excitements. Still it ought not to be said, on these accounts, that public-houses are at best nuisances. Their usefulness arises out of the natural and reasonable wants of society-their pernicious misdirection, in England, out of the partial, corrupt, and unconstitutional influence to which they are committed.

If a foreigner were to be asked how it happened that in Great Britain, where the people are among the most industrious and intelligent in the world, the public-houses are in many instances the worst, being open receptacles for thieves and whores, encouraging men, women, and children in drunkenness, obscenity, and uncontrolled rioting-he would probably attribute all to the excess of liberty which Englishmen boast of, and thank his stars that the limited portion of that desideratum allowed on the continent, at least defended his country from such disorders: but when he found that public-houses in England were subjected to a despotic power, the most complete in the known world, insomuch that certain individuals were enabled to shut up such houses at pleasure, and were accustomed to do so, even where no fault was imputable or pretended-he would most likely be lost in conjectures, until he learnt that the uncontrolled power of setting up and putting down public-houses was grasped at and frequently obtained by persous indirectly, if not directly, interested in promoting hard drinking: --he might then begin to understand how it happens that the most

profligately conducted houses are upheld, and also how unoffending ones are put down, where the interest of a favored rival is thereby promoted.

I am quite convinced, from observations which I have made on public-house management in different countries on the continent, as well as in England, that the system pursued here is the very worst which man's evil genius could have devised. It com. mits the property of the subject to an interested judgment, and an unconstitutional disposal, without yielding any good to the state in return the system is all-powerful for the purposes of gratifying individual avarice and malice; but singularly inefficient for any one good public object. The delegation of an uncontrollable and inscrutable power to local justices over victuallers, even to the extinction of their means of existence, has cast that useful class of tradesmen out of the pale and protection of the laws generally speaking, they are the slaves of partiality, or the victims of oppression. Unlike other men, they cannot reckon upon good conduct as the means of success, or even of safety from proscription-whence it is that they throw themselves into the arms of great brewers and distillers for security, and become dependent on tradesmen, of whom, for the public good, they ought to be free.

That it may not be thought that I advance these opinions on light grounds, I beg leave to refer to a few cases from among an immense number which may be adduced and proved. E. 2 Geo. III. King v. Williams and Davies, justices of the peace for Penryn, the defendants were found guilty on a criminal information. They threatened to ruin such victuallers as voted agamst those candidates, at an election for the borough, whose interest those justices espoused, and actually refused them licenses on that account only. A similar case occurs E. 5 Geo. III. King v. Hann and Price, justices for the borough of Corfecastle, where the justices were also found guilty.

In 1813, King v. Bingham, a justice for Gosport, the defendant was found guilty of receiving a sum of money for the procuring of a license. I understand that there are a great many similar cases in the Law Reports, and that the number is not swelled to an immense amount, is owing to the caution which licensing justices have learnt of concealing their reasons in silence, in which case they are unassailable; and of concealing the chain of interest between their licensing acts and their own persons.

The recent evidence in the Police Committee's Report proves, however, that neither caution nor ingenuity can always effectually conceal the truth. The Magistrates Gifford, Rhodes, and Beaumont, and a cloud of witnesses prove the partiality shown in granting licenses in the Tower Hamlets division in favor of Messrs. Hanbury, Buxton, and Co. to the exclusion of others, and the in

« ZurückWeiter »