Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

0

toxication the man is nothing less than demon, capable of perpetrating any crime, and were it not for the temporary physical weakness entailed by drunkenness, we should shudder at even the idea of a drunken man. What an example to a wife, is a man in such a state, and particularly to a young family, who learn less from precept than example! Rev. Mr. Joseph, enumerating the chief causes of crime, in his Memoirs of Convicted Prisoners, writes :

“ The next, and one of the greatest causes of crime, which I shall notice, is drunkenness. This is a monstrous cause, this is the besetting sin of our labouring population. It has brought thousands to infamy and shame. Were it not for the gin shop and public house thousands of our fellow creatures might be saved from prison and transportation. Strange, indeed, that man, the highest and noblest of beings, should so forget himself as to sink to a level with the vilest.

There is a Rabbinical tradition, that when Noah planted the vine, Satan attended and sacrificed a skeep, a lion, an ape, and a sow. These animals were to symbolize the gradations of ebriety. When & man begins to drink intoxicating liquors he is meek and ignorant as the lamb, then becomes bold like the lion; his courage is soon transformed into the foolishness of the ape, and at last wallows in the mire like a sow. Surely there is some truth in these symbols ; as to the tradition we make no observation. When men are determined 'to have these intoxicating drinks, even at the sacrifice of all principles and at the expense of imprisonment and transportation, it is high time that something should be done by the legislature, some law en. acted to put a stop to this besetting evil.".

The sight of a drunken man is doubtless disgusting, but when a woman is in a state of intoxication, the spectacle is hideous and revolting in the extreme. What an example for our virtuous mothers, wives, and daughters! How many prostitutes, who walk our streets after night-fall, have been brought to misery and shame by men, worse than demons, whose efforts to seduce them would have been fruitless had the infortunate females not previously tasted the worse than poisoned cup. In a state of intoxication, woman becomes an easy prey to her wily seducer. The Editor of The Refuge Magazine writes—“Disciples of the Redeemer ! friends of your species ! do all you can to banish from your country that most powerful instrument of evil, ardent spirits. Let the rising generation be taught to shun it, and associate with it the miseries it entails and the pangs it inflicts. Reflect that but for these liquid fires, nine out of ten perhaps of the cases of seduction could not be effected.”

Mr. Beggs in his admirable work on juvenile depravity writes:-"Mothers of England, the outcast of the street is your sister. The babe you nurse with so much tenderness muy become a blighted wreck like her. While the drinking systein lasts, it will furnish suares for the young, and no bearth will be safe. This is a chivalry worthy a woman's prowess. Daslı down the cup, and declare that its contents, which turns men into fiends, and beguiles women iuto wantons, shall never be sanctioned in your presence.

We read in an excellent paper on “ Drinking,” in Eliza Cook's Journal;

“From the year 1801 to the year 1846, the people of the United Kingdom spent nearly fifteen hundred millions of pounds sterling ( £1,500,000,000) in intoxicating drinks, about £800,000,000, on Spirits, £176,445,000 on wines, and £595,904,000 on malt ; or equal to about double the amount of the present National Debt.*

"Our army costs us about ten millions a year, which we think a great deal too much; but then we voluntarily spend about fifteen millions a year on whiskey, gin, brandy, and their villainous enm. pounds. Our navy costs about eight millions, but our beer, ale, and porter cost from thirteen to fourteen millions. We pay less than a million for our admirable post-office, and more than four millions for our wines. The taxes we pay for our courts of law and justice amount to a little above a million; the taxes we pay on tobacco and snuff are above four millions. Financial reform is surely needed, both at home, and in the public house, as much as any where else. Under two millions a year are spent on life and health assurance, and about forty millions on drink of all kinds. Are not these facts most discreditable to us as a nation ?"

“ It is not, however, merely because of the money which is worse tban wasted on all this drink that these faets are to be lamented, but because of the many broken hearts, ruined characters, blasted homes, diseased frames, crowded prisons, vice, infamy, and moral ruin, which have everywhere followed in the track of drink. The money consideration is the very least, though that is not to be overlooked ; for the money saved from drink might have made hundreds of thousands of families happy and independent; but it is the moral wrecka age, the brutish degradation, the frightful social suffering that bave been produced by our drinking practices, that form the most prominent considerations in our minds."

We shall first consider how far the means, hitberto employed

* For further authentic details see Statistics on the consumption, f'e., of ardent spirits, wines, and malt, in England, Scotland and Ireland, from 1301 to 1846, inclusive. By Dawson Burns, one of the late secretaries of the National Temperance Society. Houlston and Stoneman,"

for the diminution of drunkenness, have been attended with success or failure. Some few years ago the system of the total abstinence pledge taking was introduced by a few well meaning persons, and carried to a great extent in the British Islands and America, through the exertions of that truly excellent man, the Rev. Theobald Mathew. Every person was of opinion, that it was a grand discovery, and doubtless it did a great deal of good for the time. But the change was too sudden to be lasting. A drunkard like a child must be weaned—the change must steal on him gradually, till by degrees he forgets the bottle :-We thought we were original, in the idea of “ weaning,” but we find in another part of the paper on “Drinking," in "Eliza Cook's Journal” which we have already quoted, that “ Those who would take part in this great movement must aim at the habit and begin at the beginning." How many, we would ask our readers, of those who became teetotalers, are still “ abstaining from every species of intoxicating drinks?” It is our belief, and we kuow the working people well, that not one per cent. has remained a total abstainer. And those who broke the pledge, from a reaction, of course, setting in, have given themselves up to intoxication more than ever.

Neither are we advocates for a Maine liquor law, at the present, for the same simple reason—the cup is not to be snatched abruptly from the unfortunate drunkard--such a measure not being calculated to permanently reform him. We would have our reader bear in mind that the principle of weaning is the one we hold. Mr. Kingsmill, the excellent Chaplain of Pentonville Prison, in his work entitled Chapters on Prisons and Prisoners, writes :

“Of the 28,752 prisoners, tried at the assizes and sessions in England, in the year referred to, 10,000 may be put down, without fear of exaggeration, as having been brought to their deplorable condition, directly or indirectly, by the public-house ; whilst of the 90,963 summary convictions, 50,000, I fear not to state, were the result of the drinking habits of the individuals themselves or their parents. Yet, as I am led to think, the evil results of drunkenness are to be looked for elsewhere, even more abundantly than in prison, especially among women. Drunkenness is in truth a monster evil in the land--a drain upon the national resources—a stain upon the character of England a plague in the midst of us, more fatal than any malady which ever visited our shores. Not one single vice contributes more towards filling, with wretched inhabitants, the poorhouse, the hospital, the asylum, and the gaol."

How the principle of weaning the drunkard may be reduced to practice, we shall next enquire. Mr. Thoinpson, whom we have already quoted, makes the following remarks on the immediate results consequent on the diminution of the duty on whiskey in Scotland—“In 1825, the duty on whiskey was greatly reduced ; intemperance began to increase, and, in the 27 years, which have since elapsed, the consumption has become nearly five-fold greater ; crime, disease and death have increased in similar proportion, and the sober, religious Scotland of other days is now proved, by its consumption of spirits, to be without exception the most druuken nation in Europe."". Another fact along with this, and then we shall draw a conclusion. Only a few months ago, the duty on whiskey was increased 2s. 6d. a gallon, which left the "glass" a halfpenny dearer. The consumption of whiskey in Dublin, since the increase of duty, has decreased nearly one-half, while the cousumption of ale and porter has increased almost in the same proportion. Now it appears to us, that a gradual increase in the consumption of ale and porter, and a proportionate decrease, in the consumption of whiskey, would inevitably result from increasing, from time to time, the duty on the latter, and allowing the prices of the former to remain as they are at present. Our drunkards, we mean whiskey drinkers, would, in a short time, become ale and porter drinkers- let us leave them indulging for one or two years, and then commence the increase of duty on ale and porter. But it is our opinion, that the latter step would be quite unnecessary, as we have no doubt, that drankenness would then be a dead letter. We fully agree with Mr. Kingsmill, “ that just in proportion as you increase the facilities for the sale of spirituous liquors, so do you increase crime and the necessity for more police to repress it.” The following is part of the evidence given before the Parliamentary Committee on Public Houses by Mr. Dawson :

“ Mr. Barrow : Are you aware at all, of the comparative amount of drunkenness between Liverpool and Manchester : _ We have got the number of population where cases of drunkenness are reported for Dublin, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Birmingham, and Manchester, and in those cases we find that in Dublin there is 1 out of 21 of the population.

Chairman: Convicted of drunkendess ?-_Yes ; in Glasgow, I in 22; in Edinburgh, 1 in 59 ; in Liverpool, 1 in 91 ; in London, 1 in 106 ; in Birmingham, 1 in 113; and in Manchester, 1 in 600. In the three first places, Dublin, Glasgow, and Edinburgh, there is the

[ocr errors]

largest amount of drunkenness, and in those places there is the free licensing system, where it is sold from grocers' shops or any other place. Manchester is the largest population of the kingdom, with the smallest number of licenses, and consequently the smallest num. ber of drunken persons; and I believe, for the amount of population, the smallest amount of police are employed. In Liverpool there are 1470 public-houses, as you will see by this return, and in Man. chester there are 578. In Liverpool, with a population of 25,000 less than Manchester, we have 900 police. In Manchester there are only 443 police.

Chairman: Is the return, which you have made of the proportion of convictions for drunkenness in different towns, for the purpose of showing, that the greater the facility afforded for selling spirits the more is the drunkenness?_Yes."

For the removal of ignorance in this country the Commissioners of Education are doing their share. We shall confine our remarks to the quality of education which prevents crime. Many people fancy that education consists in the ability to read and write. We do not deny, that mere reading and writing is a part of education, but we do not admit, that this part of education has anything to do with the prevention of crime, no more than a knowledge of any other arts, such as tailoring, shoemaking, or carpentry. Mr. Netterville, Governor of the Mountjoy Government Prison, writes :

“ I regard the notion that a knowledge of mechanical arts will eradicate criminal tendency as a very apparent fallacy, no amount of industrial acquirements necessarily involving improved powers of self-government. It is to the mainspring of criminal actions, it ap. pears to me, that prison discipline should, in the first place, be di. rected; to the curbing of unrestrained passions, and the acquirement of those first inoral principles, on which the knowledge of crafts, and habits of industry, may afterwards be ingrafted."*

• Probably some of our readers are not aware that Mountjoy prison is the only prison in Ireland established on the Separate System. It is capable of accommodating 530 prisoners. It was built at an expense of about £56,000.

This prison has one great fault-its defective ventilation. The air is offensively close in cells in which the doors are closed for any length of time. There are contrivances, to be sure, as helps to ventilation, but they are like other very admirable designs that have been condemned, which were indeed very ingenious in theory, but not quite 50 useful in practice, not being able to stand the test of experiment. The medical attendant is not dissatisfied with the ventilation of the cells, as he has not seen any case of ill health traceable to the want of ventilation. But he does not deny, that the cdour which issues from a cell, when the door opens, is so offensive as to be intolerable. Would the medical attendant have any objection to remain half an hour or an hour in a cell, where a prisoner had been locked up for 16 or 18

« PreviousContinue »