Imatges de pàgina

lity of censorious remark. The Legislature, it is true, has been silent with respect to the attendance of magistrates who are thus connected with brewers and builders ; but their presence on such occasions tends to lower the magistracy in the estimation of the people ; and that feeling of delicacy which every one is bound to cherish who is called to rank with gentlemen, ought to have rendered unnecessary those hints on the subject, which are evidently implied in the examinations of the Police Committee. Magistrates so connected, may no doubt discharge this very

important and frequently very unpleasant duty with fidelity; but they must, in so doing, incur the hazard of disobliging their best customers, and the public will scarcely give them credit for such superfluous martyrdom, when it is evident that others are ready to execute that duty without their interference. It is no secret, that a very active private canvass sometimes takes place in the metropolitan Divisions to obtain licenses for new houses; and the public, reasoning on general principles, and knowing nothing of the peculiar uprightness of individuals, will infer that a brewer's back-maker or a timber merchant may increase his business, by making himself conspicuous as a licensing magistrate in a division like this, in which it appears that no less than twenty-five new houses have been licensed in the short period of the last three years, while the speculating builders of a much larger number are looking forward in trembling hope. It is not enough that such magistrates, wrapping themselves up in their own conscious integrity, disregard the sneers of a jealous public; it should never be forgotten, that much of the usefulness of the magistracy depends on the public respect, and that it is, or at least ought to be, our only recompense, for services which occasion to ourselves infinite trouble and anxiety. On these observations, which I think it expedient to make, it is not my wish to dwell unnecessarily ; but I am anxious, according to the mediocrity of my ability, to uphold the dignity of the commission in which I have the honour to be enrolled, and I regret that any thing should take place which may cause it to fall into disesteem. Where such instances occur, the common interest of the magistracy requires that they should be taken notice of. For this reason it was that I alluded to the turtle sent by a brewer to our licensing dinners ; but in so doing, it was not my object to fix Mr Drummond's attention on the donor, with whose conduct I have nothing to do, but on the state of degradation to which the spirit and proceedings of a majority had reduced the Division. Viewed in their proper light, such presents, under such circumstances, constitute a practical sarcasm ; they savour of an intimacy which has dwindled into contempt; and the circumstance was adverted to by me, for the purpose of showing the very low estimate of our delicacy and sense of propriety, which is taken by those who may be supposed to know us best. The singularity of accepting presents for our licensing dinners from precisely the persons who should have nothing to do with us on those occasions, was not wholly irrelevant as an exposition of the extent to which the dignity of the magistracy has been committed in this Division ; yet it has been said, that I ought not to have mentioned to Mr Drummond so trivial a circumstance. Such an obser,

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vation may pass current with gentlemen, who have not possessed many opportunities of becoming acquainted with the details of the police reports; but the public take a very different view of the subject. If we have forgotten, it is not forgotten elsewhere, that the donor of the turtle, and the son of another magistrate, are said by a publican, named Hayward, to have promised, after he had bound himself to take his beer of them, that “ they would DO ALL THEY COULD to get him a license;”. and it appears that he did get a license for his house as soon as it was finished! The promise is denied by the donor of the turtle in his examination ; but he adds, that “ if any man had an impression that we could procure him a license, I should not take the trouble to tell him we could not. "-Letter, pp. 17–20.

The real truth is, that the power of granting monopolies, or, in other words, of conferring wealth, is so desirable a power, that it is impossible, in populous districts, to prevent improper persons from obtruding themselves into the Magistracy, to obtain their share of bad power. There is but one cure; and that is, to throw the trade open, and to make the trade in hospitality as open as the trade in sugar, requiring certificates of character, and visiting abuse with penalty and disqualification. Till this is done, the scandalous abuses pointed out by Dr Edwards can never be cured.

Opinions may be divided as to the proper remedy, but it is evident that some change is indispensable. In the evidence of an intelligent magistrate who is examined, the system is well described, “ as impotence itself for the object of keeping public houses in the metropolitan divisions in order ; while the Police Committee, in their very able Report, declare on the other hand, in reference to the patronage, that they i cannot help contrasting the facility with which some new houses have been licensed against the wishes of their respective neighbourhoods, as detailed in the evidence of the magistrates, Messrs Bowles, Gifford, and Beaumont, with the refusal of others, which were unanimously petitioned for in their vicinity ; and which cases evidently prove (says the Report) that the rule of public convenience in these instances has not guided the decision of the magistrates. In this passage, and in others, the misconduct of magistrates in the Brixton East half hundred is referred to in direct terms by this high authority. There is certainly great reason to suppose, that if, by any expedient, the patronage could be destroyed, we should see both fewer and more respectable public houses in the vicinity of London. It appears from the returns to the Police Committee, that the trade of the publican, like all other trades, has a tendency to find its own level, and that wherever the public houses are too numerous, they would, if left to themselves, rapidly fall into disuse, and become extinct.'-Letter, pp. 75, 76.

Of this same opinion is Mr Beaumont, a Magistrate, in his evidence before the Police Committee; and let it be remembered, in quoting the opinion of Dr Edwards, that it is the opinion of a Magistrate in whose division there are 830 public-houses.

• State to the Committee '-(the question is made to a Justice) — in how many public-houses in that quarter you are interested, either as proprietor, or as agent for other persons ?--I should suppose

I have ten or twelve public-houses of my own, and, I should think, much about the same number as trustee and agent for some families. I cannot speak with precision at the moment.-- Can you state to the Committee the names of the different signs, beginning with those belonging to yourself, and those that belong to others for whom you act ?-I cannot at present.

-(The witness was directed to furnish the Committee with this information.) '— Police Report, p. 276.–And again, · Is there any other public-house on your land at the east end of the town, besides the one which in your former evidence was described ?— Yes, there is one on my Limehouse estate. I have between forty and fifty new houses on that property. I applied in vain to get it licensed ; and as the Justices licensed a house very near to it, in the interest of Messrs H., I gave up all expectations of seeing mine licensed, and had it let in tenements. It however happened, that the owner of the other house crept out of his agreement with H., and sold the lease of the house to another interest. Mr A., the manager of Messrs H.'s brewhouse, then wrote to me, to know on what terms I would grant them a lease of my house. I agreed to grant them a lease for sixty-one years ; and the house was licensed. I beg to add, that I have never expressed a wish for the licensing any other house in the Tower Hamlet division, and that I never had any interest in any public-house, excepting the two I have stated, and one on my land at Shepherd's Bush, which is at the opposite extremity of the metropolis. I have upwards of fifty houses on my land there. On each estate, my own tenants were sufficient to maintain the public-house which I provided for them, but I could not get one licensed. A brewer taking one of those houses, succeeded differently. They cost me between five and six thousand pounds, and the greater part of that sum I have in a manner lost, in the attempt to have a respectable and free public-house on each of my estates.'— Police Report, p. 363.

Another consequence of the present foolish policy is, not only that houses are not opened when they ought to be opened, but that they are not shut when they ought to be shut. So strongly is the notion of property annexed to the existence of a public house, that it often appears to the Magistrates too severe an exercise of their power, to deny a license to an established house, whatever be the conduct of its master; the good will of which may be worth perhaps some hundred pounds; so that the monopoly not only gives the publican a power of dispensing bad beer, but of encouraging bad morals. Nobody must rival him in the sale of liquors, whatever be the nauseous draught that trickles down the throats of the people; and he is gaining so much money by this privilege, that I cannot think of taking it away, whatever injury he may be doing to the public morals! I first encourage him to be fraudulent, and for

fear of lessening the profits of his fraud, I will not punish his vice.

· The same reasoning is more strongly applicable to the improper grant of a transfer or a renewal. I have already observed, that whenever this takes place, the pretext is an affected regard for private property, and that magistrates who put forward this doctrine are too frequently influenced by a very different motive. They must be aware, that it ought to satisfy the owner of a public house, that, like any other landlord in losing his tenant, he gets his house back again ; but it is said that this is not enough, because as a public house it either yielded a larger rent, or enabled him to compel his tenant to take his beer from a particular brewer. Now, on what principle, I would ask, is the owner of a house, in which a shop is opened to sell beer, to be upheld in putting an exorbitant rent upon it, by which either his tenant or the public must be injured, because that tenant, for the convenience of the public, and not certainly for the profit of the owner, has obtained a license personal to himself, which costs the owner of the house nothing, and with which he has nothing to do? Whenever a house is sold or let on terms above its intrinsic value, in consequence of a circumstance so perfectly adventitious, it is obvious that those who drink the beer must ultimately bear the burthen ; and for the protection of that public whose interest alone it is the duty of magistrates to consult, there can be no doubt, that, in all such cases of extortion, the license ought to be, and where magistrates are honest, would be, removed to some other house in the same neighbourhood. The coarse fittings up of a public house are not more peculiar or expensive than those of butchers and bakers, who require their slaughter-houses and their bake-houses ; and yet, what owner of a house so occupied ever thinks of claiming an indemnity from the public for the accident of his tenant quitting trade or removing? To put the case more strongly, I will suppose the owner to be a mealman or a grazier, who had determined that the public should only consume bread and meat of such quality, and at such a price, as it might suit his interest to furnish ; it would assuredly afford no very solid title to commiseration on losing his tenant, if he were to urge, that, in the full expectation that the nefarious scheme would prove successful, he had purchased the house at a price above its real value. These, however, are instances which at the worst would be limited in their injurious effects to the public pocket, and possibly to the public health ; but the substitution of private interests for the principle of “public utility,” in the licensing of vịctualling houses, not only involves both those considerations, but goes directly to affect the public morals over which magistrates are appointed to watch. The abuse can only be accounted for by the fact, that whenever the legal principle of “ public utility,” is suffered to prevail, magisterial patronage is worth nothing.'-Letter, pp. 22-24. We hope the last sentence of this quotation will not be lost must be also an advanced state of misery. In the low public houses of great cities, very wretched and very criminal persons are huddled together in great masses. But is a man to die supperless in a ditch, because he is not rich, or even because he is not innocent? A pauper or a felon is not to be driven into despair, and turned into a wild beast. Such men must be; and such men must eat and sleep; and if laws are wise, and police vigilant, we do not conceive it to be any evil that the haunts of such men are known, and in some degree subject to inspection. What is meant by respectable public houses, are houses where all the customers are rich and opulent. But who will take in the refuse of mankind, if monopoly allows him to choose better customers? There is no end to this mischievous meddling with the natural arrangements of society. It would be just as wise to set Magistrates to digest for mankind, as to fix for them in what proportion any particular class of their wants shall be supplied. But there are excellent men who would place the moon under the care of Magistrates, in order to improve travelling, and make things safe and comfortable. An enhancement of the evil is, that no reason is given for the rejection or adoption. The Magistrates have only to preserve the most impenetrable secrecy--to say only No, or Yes, and the affair is at an end. No court can interfere, no superior authority question. Hunger and thirst, or wantonness and riot, are inflicted upon a parish or a district, for a whole year, without the possibility of com- plaint, or the hope of redress. Their Worships were in the gout, and they refused. Their Worships were mellow, and they gave leave. God bless their Worships !--and then, what would happen if small public houses were shut? Would villany cease? Are there no other means by which the bad could congregate? Is there so foolish a person, either in or out of the Commission, as to believe that burglary and larceny would be put an end to, by the want of a place in which the plan for such deeds could be talked over and arranged ?

In an advanced state of civilzation, there

upon our readers.

• Then there is a description of houses which have sprung up of late years, and are more mischievous than the public houses, over which the Magistrates have no summary power : they are called coffee-houses, or coffee-rooms, and open at eleven, twelve, or one at night, and remain open during the whole of the night ; so that, when idle people are driven out of the public-houses, they first find an harbour in those places, and can afterwards go to the early market-houses.

• Are they obliged to take out a license ?- No, there is no license at all. Even some eating-houses, or cook-shops, have got in the way of keeping open all night, in which hot victuals, roast pigs, and joints of meat are provided, and people (men and women of any description) are received. I have seen them open till four o'clock in the morning.

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