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SIR, No subject of internal economy is so meddled with by the government, so fettered by legal restrictions, so subjected to the arm of power, as the dealing out of beer and other liquors. With such unusual restraints upon the accustomed course of trade, it might be expected, that the avowed end of repressing drunkenness would be at any rate arrived at; but, on the contrary, if we are to credit the report of the Southwark magistrates, drunkenness and its attendant crimes are on the increase in an alarming degree. A respectable and intelligent member of that body, Mr. Wissett, repels this opinion, in a recent publication; but there is no doubt that the evil exists to a considerable extent, and that it would be very desirable to curtail its limits.

In this all will agree : but while one party runs full tilt at the question, and after teazing the victualler with ever-changing regulations, which it were impracticable to follow, hits on the radical cure of not licensing any house, which has either “communication with the street” or “back door.” Another party, witnessing the folly of these ordinances, is for doing nothing. Both courses are erroneous. It is chimerical to attempt the extermination of


drunkenness, but it is improper not to use our best endeavours to check it. In the pursuit of this object, however, as in all others where trade is concerned, the less there be of legislative restriction the better, so that profligacy be guarded against. The public are entitled to convenient stations from which they may procure their drink, and the benefit of a free competition in the supply of it. Much of the declamation occasionally held forth against a new public-house being opened, may be placed to the account of a desire to uphold the profits of a favored monopoly. In many parts of the metropolis, without doubt, public-houses are far more numerous than necessary ; but their excess in one place yields no good reason for denying a required supply in another. One neighbourhood ought not to suffer because the magistrates may have done wrong, in surcharging another with public-houses ; but where a new neighbourhood arises, and a public-house is necessary for its reasonable wants, it ought not to be withheld:

Now, in the selection of a house and its occupants, when a public-house becomes necessary, the wisdom of the legislature may interfere with advantage; for if the house, its owner, and tenant, be all respectable, so will be the conducting of the house and the company that resort to it. If, on the contrary, the house be of a low description, none but low characters will use it; it will be their abode exclusively, and all the resolutions of the magistrates will be insufficient to make such a house respectable. As a first step, then, to prevent public-houses from becoming public nuisances, (depositaries for profligacy and crime,) it should be seen, that they are of a respectable class of building ; that they are adapted for the accommodation of respectable persons in the parlour, and the lodging of travellers or other inmates, as well as a drinking-place for the populace in the tap-room and at the bar. This is giving comprehensiveness to the utility of the establishment, and with it a consideration of great practical importance, viz. that the two former parties are checks on the conduct of the two latter, and of the landlord; furthermore, the victualler must be a man of some substanice to enter into a house of such character; and both himself and the owner, in proportion to the value of their stake, are likely to be vigilant not to incur its forfeiture through mis-doings in their house.


Another point of importance is the ownership of a public-house. If it be the property of the person who is also the owner of the surrounding houses, which give occasion for the public-house, and support it, it is not likely to change hands; he will consider the public-house to be a natural and necessary appendage to his estate, over which he ought to retain an especial control ; and being much more interested

more interested in upholding and improving the character of the neighbourhood, than in procuring for the house an extra draught of beer and gin, he is the likeliest person to desire the house to be in every sense well ordered, and to have the means of giving effect to such desire.

Now, what is the converse of these principles ? - The setting up of low public houses and gin shops ; and the doing this for brewers and distillers, to the exclusion of persons disinterested in those trades. Low public-houses are the brewers' choice; they will oftentimes give more for a small house with a large tap-room than for a large and expensively built house. The reason is evi

. dent. The interest of the brewer and his adjunct spirit-dealer is simply to get rid of the largest possible quantity of their beer and gin. This is not so well promoted in a reputable dwelling, where the drunkard and the obscene reveller might be under restraint from the presence of their masters and substantial neighbours in an adjoining parlour, or from inmates in the house ; but it is effected most successfully in a place adapted for low company, and no other. There the sot may swill in liquors from morning to night, without other witnesses than his fellows; and noise and rioting provoke excessive drinking, and administer to the brewers' gains without impediment.'

Here then are the essential bases of good order on the one hand, and licentiousness on the other. Self-interest characterizes each. The estate owner is interested in preventing the publichouse from becoming a nuisance on his property; and in discouraging drunkenness among his tenants. The brewer is interested in promoting drunkenness, and is unconcerned in the nui

· The sense of the legislature against the setting up of low public-houses or tippling-houses is expressed in various acts of parliament. An act passed in 1751 prohibits any person from being licensed, who does not rent a house of ten pounds per annum at the least, and pay the rates on such rent.

sance and injury that may arise in the neighbourhood. The public-house respectably built, owned, and tenanted, like a respectable family, needs not magisterial interference to preserve order. The low one will find means to pursue the course for which it is planned and adapted, in spite of authority. These are distinctions worthy the scan of those who are empowered to set up publichouses, or forbid them; and upon a just election between them, more may be done to prevent disorders, than by multiplied and vexatious regulations prohibiting the natural free agency of the subject.

Passing now from what might be, and what ought to be, to what is--we cannot wonder, that complaints wide and deep are in circulation against certain individuals, who lead in licensing public-houses, or, that in many of the houses set up by them, we should meet with new abodes for licentiousness and schools for crime. In traversing the new parts of the metropolis, particularly eastward, the inquirer is struck with the vast number of the low brewers' houses in full trade, which consist of no more than a tap-room, bar, a very small parlour, and a few rooms for the landlord's family; while superior built public-houses, erected by the owners of the neighbouring estates, are here and there seen, but usually shut up, being denied licenses.

The excuse offered for licensing the brewers' low houses, instead of the estate owner's respectable ones, is the trite plea of humanity. The poor publicans, forsooth, cannot afford to pay the rent of good houses. But they can, and do, afford to pay large premiums to the brewers, in addition to rent, for leases on their bad houses, which premiums sometimes amount to as much as those houses cost building, and in annual value far exceed the additional rent, which would be required for good houses. This veil is too thin to disguise the true reason. The licenser's duty is to act for the public. A house cannot be too good and respectable for the public interest, although it may for the brewers and distillers ; perchance, it may also for the owners and tenants ; nor does it belong to the magisterial office to prevent a house being used, lest the tenant should give more rent for it than it is worth. I do not mean, however, to dilate on this part of the case, or to add in this place to the tales and complaints which are in circulation. But

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