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• Do they not there sell liquor ?-No, not spirituous liquors; but they sell spruce-beer and ginger-beer, and those sort of things,-Police Report,
Dr Edwards quotes, with great blame, the report of a Committee of Magistrates, in which we can discover nothing but humanity and good sense. It runs as follows.
“ It must be remembered of what description of persons the inhabitants of Kent Street and its neighbourhood are composed. A very considerable number of the tenants, both of the public and private houses, are, and have been, time out of mind, supported by letting them out in lodgings to persons of the lowest class of the community; of whom, Dr Colquhoun says, above twenty thousand rise every morning without knowing how they are to be supported during the passing day, or where, in many instances, they are to lodge in the succeeding night. It is a fact easily to be proved, that no small portion of a publican's support in this neighbourhood is derived from persons of this description. An instance has been pointed out to your Committee, by an intelligent officer of the police, of a public house in Kent Street, in which not less than fifty people sleep every night, and few of them are believed to accommodate less than twenty or thirty. Many of the private houses are also occupied in a similar
The miserable accommodations that are met with at these dreary abodes, and the deplorable shifts to which the persons
who resort to them are obliged to submit, are distressing beyond the powers of imagination ; yet, however cheerless, however destitute they may be of comfort, they are nevertheless in request, they are useful ; nor under the existing state of society are they to be dispensed with. Annihilate the swarms of beggars with which the metropolis abounds, and the number of public houses in Kent Street, and in similar situations, may undoubtedly be dispensed with ; but while the one is suffered to exist, the other must be tolerated ; and cold indeed must be the heart which, after taking all due precaution for securing the peace and good order of such a neighbourhood, can cherish the most distant idea of depriving these unhappy beings of any of the scanty enjoyments which fall within the reach of their slender means to obtain. Letter, pp. 27, 28.
These then are the propositions on which we principally insist.
The benefit of that principle of competition which is so useful to the rich, ought not to be withheld from the poor. To withhold competition, is to establish monopoly; monopoly enhances the price of refreshments to the stationary and the travelling poor; deteriorates the quality of those refreshments; and renders those who dispense them indifferent whether their conduct is satisfactory to their guests.
It is quite impossible for any body of men, acting under the most upright intentions, to ascertain when the public are, or are not sufficiently supplied with houses of hospitality, or with any other commodity. The only method of ascertaining what the
market wants, is by leaving the market free. Upon this principle, and upon this principle alone, there can be no more public houses than are wanted, and there will be no less. It is impossible to prevent any body of men from turning to their own advantage an absolute and uncontrollable power, given to them for the public good; and, if Dr Edwards's testimony is true, those public houses are only opened and only put down, whose license or demolition injuries no Justice's property, nor the property of any Justice's relation, nor the property of any brewer who has an interest over him, nor exposes any Justice's game to depredation.
To tax the publican for his license-to make rigid inqui. sition into his character-to deprive him of his license if he sins-to punish drunkenness-to punish the father of a family if he neglects his children-are all fair and just means of preserving decency. and order ; but to meddle with men's actions beyond this, to deter men who keep clear from the law, by the vexations of an odious monopoly, from spending their money as they please, is to keep them in a state of infantine tutelage, and is to rule them upon the principles of a very odious tyranny. We charge Justices with nothing; for we have little means of knowing any thing about them; but Dr Edwards brings charges against them of the most odious nature. It is the duty, as we are sure it will be the wish of Mr Peel, to give these charges his most serious consideration. We sincerely hope they may be fully and fairly answered. Whether they are or not, our objections rest upon other grounds. Let the Magistrates be as upright and pure as they can be, the power of licensing ought not to be trusted to any body of men.
It is an interference with the wants and comforts of society which it is impossible to exercise with judgment and propriety; which entails innumerable inconveniences and privations upon the lower orders of mankind, whether travelling or stationary; and which would have been exploded years ago, if the sufferers had been any other than dumb creatures, unable to tell their own story. The Magistrates will probably be very angry to lose this branch of power.
We are sorry for it; for we have no wish to offend those, whom we consider upon the whole as an useful body of men. But it is absolutely necessary to do it, or to be
When a measure is wise, there is no objection to its being popular. The gratitude of the common people would know no bounds for an emancipation from the thraldom in which they are held by the licensing power of Justices. Mr Sturgess Bourne has wisely prevented Magistrates from being generous with other's people's money-we hope Mr Peel will prevent them from being sober and moral with other people's ale.
gin to do it.
Art. VIII. 1. Parliamentary History and Review ; containing
Reports of the Proceedings of the Two Houses of Parliament during the Session of 1825-6, Geo. IV. ; with Critical Remarks on the principal measures of the Session. 8vo. pp. 808. Long
man and Co. London, 1826. 2. Parliamentary Abstracts; containing the Substance of all im
portant Papers laid before the Two Houses of Parliament during the Session of 1825. 8vo. pp. 722. Longman and Co, London, 1826.
latter being a second volume, or Appendix, to the first; and only printed separately, in order to accommodate purchasers. The publication is intended to be annual ; and we look upon it as extremely important. The plan is excellent; and if the execution bears any proportion to the merits of the design, it is undoubtedly calculated to serve the very best purposes. We feel anxious, therefore, to lose no time in res commending it to the attention of our readers; and, with this view, we shall describe the nature of the work a little more fully than is done in the very meagre notice prefixed to the second volume, the first having no prefatory matter to usher it in. We shall, at the same time, offer some suggestions for the improvement of the plan, and a few hints, which we trust may not be thrown away upon its conductors, touching some faults that have crept into the execution. But, first, we wish to say a few words upon the publication of Parliamentary proceedings generally:
There is certainly no change in the administration of public affairs more striking than the complete opening of the doors of Parliament to the whole inhabitants of the country, which has been effected by the regular and, we may say to every practical purpose, authorized publication of all its debates and all its divisions. When the Annual Register was begun in 1758, and for several years after, we find no mention of what was passing in either House, except incidentally, and in a single sentence. Even in recording the changes of ministry, and describing the state of parties, without reference to the debates, the initials only of the names are given ; it is Mr F- and Mr P- and the D. of Nfor Mr Fox, Mr Pitt, and the Duke of Newcastle. The
questions connected with Mr Wilkes, in 1764, gave rise, for the first time, to a separate chapter on the Parliamentary history; which is given for some years after, in a very general manner, and with no reference to particular speakers. The substance of the
arguments used on either side of the chief questions, is presented, with no more particularity as to the persons using them, than is to be found in the fanciful summaries given by Hume in his History. It was not till the American War that the subject was handled in any detail : And yet during all that time, even during the six years when the existence of Parliament is scarcely referred to, its deliberations were of the highest importance, and excited the most lively interest; for, beside the great questions connected with the conduct of the War, and the making of peace, there were all the personal and party matters of Admiral Byng, Mr Fox's resignation and return to office, Mr Pitt's ministry and resignation, and Lord Bute's succession to, and loss of place. Nor was there any lack of political readers; for, though a much smaller proportion of the people then took an interest in public affairs, the Press was incessantly active in providing food for those who then composed the world of politics. Indeed, there can be no doubt, we think, that the war of pamphlets and newspapers was carried on even with greater effect, -that is to say, --what was then called public opinion, the opinion of those who read on political matters, was much more under the influence of political writers, and those who hired them, than it is in the present times. Because there was nothing else read on the subject of politics; whereas now-a-days, all the other political reading of the country bears but a small proportion to the daily reports of the debates in point of bulk; and in point of effect, a still smaller proportion. We shall look in vain for any effects produced in our times, by the most powerful tracts, circulated the most widely, and recommended too by the highest names, comparable to the sensation excited, and the actual influence exercised, by Swift's pamphlet on the Conduct of the Allies,' published without his name; and it may be questioned whether even Mr Burke's pieces on French affairs, addressed as they were to the passions which the prodigious events of the day were working upon, would have been practically felt in the determination of public opinion, if all that was at the same time spoken and decided in Parliament had inclined to the opposite side, instead of taking almost entirely the same course.
In one sense of the word, indeed, the Press never was so powerful as at the present day;—for the readers are far more numerous than they ever were before; and the writings upon all subjects are multiplied in proportion. Indirectly and remotely, therefore, a very great effect is produced by the discussions thus carried on, in enlightening and fixing the opinion of the country upon public affairs, and the questions connected with them. In so far, the Press
may be said to influence the public opinion upon each particular occasion, and thereby to influence the debates and decisions of Parliament itself. But if we estimate the influence which the Press exerts directly, when brought to bear immediately upon any given subject, we shall find it to be by no means equal to that of the Parliamentary discussions; while there can be no doubt that these have also much more effect and authority in moulding the general opinions of the community. A great sensation may, upon any question, be excited by pamphlets and newspapers; and public meetings may increase this materially. But it is in vain to deny, that the community looks with far greater interest to the debates upon the same subject in Parliament; and we accordingly find, that the meeting of this body deprives all other disquisitions of the attention which was bestowed upon them during the recess.
We are very far from asserting that the preference thus given is merited by the intrinsic superiority of the Parliamentary debates; we are not even sure that there is any preference bestowed upon them. But they have the important advantage of tenfold publicity. While the reasonings of a pamphlet, however successful, make their way to a few hundreds, or, it may be, by dint of extraordinary merit, and by force of an author's name, a few thousand readers, chiefly in London and the great provincial towns,—while the most extensively circulated periodical works are confined each to a particular class of readers, while the newspapers, in like manner, circulate each in one limited direction,—the arguments that are urged in Parliament 'reach every part of the country, and are read by all who ever read any thing. They are therefore brought to the knowledge of the whole body of readers. But this is far from being all the advantage which they enjoy. Every one of the London newspapers, and, after them, every one of the country papers, may publish a discussion, taken from some valuable work, and solicit the attention of their readers to it;-the request will, as far as the majority of them are concerned, assuredly be made in vain ;-they will not read. But the discussion, if propounded to them under the head of a debate in Parliament, and as the speech delivered by Lord Such-a-one or Mr Such-a-one, in their places in either House, will be read and attended to by all who ever read upon such subjects; by many who never · read any thing else respecting them; and will be talked of by many who never read at all upon those or any other subjects. Reports of proceedings at public meetings approach nearest to those of Parliamentary debates; but they are left far behind, even in the extent of their publicity-still further in the in