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ness to which the great landholders of England have attained. Yet, while drunkenness and immorality increase among the working classes, not only these desiderati cannot be realized, but also their present distresses are barely sufficient to keep them from still greater anarchy and licentiousness than they now exhibit, which seem likely continually to increase, until the legislature adopt better laws, or the people seek for and obtain better principles.
Perhaps a zealous friend of the minister might ask, how the government is involved in these pitiable scenes ? It may not be, except slightly and remotely; but the writer is inclined to advert to two circumstances, which will tend to illustrate his meaning.
When the price of gin was at its highest, he did not meet much more than one-third as large a proportion of drunken persons in the streets and Commercial Road as he does now; therefore, concludes, that protecting duties against drunkenness would be extensively efficient.
The other circumstance is this : But a few years ago, scarcely a coalwhipper* would be met returning from his work without a large lump of coal on his shoulder (this was plunder from the ships' cargoes). A zealous, clever magistrate of the Thames Police ordered the officers to bring all such to the office; they represented that it would be impossible, and that no house in the parish would hold a tenth part of them : the magistrate, however, like a wise man, was firm; and the writer has not, that he recollects, seen a lump of coal on a coal-whipper's shoulder for some years, though frequently walking through those streets in which he so commonly met them before; by which he gathers, that if the Secretary of State for the Home Department, being previously armed with a law for that
purpose, would deal by the magistrates as the magistrate did by the police officers, and insist upon all drunkards in the street being brought up and fined, as well as the landlord of the
The men who discharge the cargoes of coal are called coalwhippers; the crews are not allowed to unload the vessels, and this work is the only employment of a large number of men who formerly supplied not only themselves but others with fuel in this
last public-house they had drank in, there would not be one-fourth, perhaps scarcely one-fortieth of the drunkenness seen in the streets that there now is : and is it not obvious that drunken and idle habits produce a very large portion, perhaps more than threefourths, of the distress of poor families, their profligacy, and their crimes ?
And how easily successful might be the endeavours to court the poor to innocent, mental, and corporeal pleasures, if aided by the removal of temptations and the punishment of irregularities, without the connexion being seen between the invitation and the coercion. Among the working classes, until a man becomes an habitual drunkard, his chief excitement to turn in and linger at the publichouse is to get rid of that ennui so common to the mind of man when it is not employed in some near approach towards its natural strength and capacity for work; it is not so much to get drunk; they very generally would much rather not be drunk, abstractedly considered; but they want a little amusement for their minds, and at the public-house they meet with jovial companions, and they know that if they linger there and don't call for drink, the publican will look sour on them, and unhappily the sum expended in gin that would formerly not be undesirable if diluted, will now be sufficient to intoxicate ; but if, in each parish, were one commodious room, in which from five to eight o'clock were good reading of good moral, instructive, and amusing articles, it would thin the gin-shops exceedingly; and if the character of the drunken husband were alternately rallied and exhorted, he would be ashamed of his likeness, and resolved to reform. We are now too thick upon the land for manly games, or such as cricket would be very useful; but any amusements, of whatever character, sought in the public-house or its premises, end in drunkenness, and too frequently in gambling also. But if all worked steadily, there would soon be a great increase in the number and goodness of the houses, furniture, apparel, books, means of education, or whatever else in the way of property (except land) might be most desired; yet in this contemplation some will
instantly recur to the original difficulty,–We have already a superabundance of goods, we want custom; and the bulk of the country, the working classes, much want what we much desire to sell, but they cannot afford to pay for them; indeed, if they could, we should find that our present excessive stock would be unequal to half the demand; we should then become as anxious for the means of increasing our stock as we now are for ready-money customers to buy it of us.
But were it not for habits of drunkenness, the working man would have some resources to maintain his family for short periods when out of work; he would thus continue to be a profitable customer to the farmer, manufacturer, merchant, and tradesman, which, cooperating throughout society as cause and effect, would soon yield so regular a demand, that his producing powers would be as much in requisition as his custom : thus those periods of distress so frequently recurring among the working classes would be annihilated. But in the present degraded state of the English poor, how does the overwrought, half-starved,