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reduce it to the allowed to any personth, of 'n object of te good
of licensing; froin which must be deducted certainly the good will, which, under any system, would be a fair object of barter. But what would the good will be worth,-or how much would it be reduced in worth, if any person of unexceptionable character might be allowed to open a public house? How common is it to hear publicans stating that their premises will be reduced one half in value, if a rival public house is allowed to be opened. Who pays them for the increased value, the consequence of monopoly, but the public ? All persons pay an highly increased price for refreshments, by the licensing power given to Magistrates, as they would for cakes and tarts, if confectioners were licensed,-and for carpentry, if no man could knock a nail without leave of a Justice. • Public houses are not only the inns of the travelling poor, but they are the cellars and parlours of the stationary poor. A gentleman has his own public house, locked up in square brick bins. London Particular-Chalier 1802–Carbonell 1803
—Sir John's present of Hock at my marriage : bought at the Duke's sale-East India Madeira-Lafitte - Noyau~Mareschino. Such are the domestic resources of him who is to regulate the potations of the labourer. And away goes this subterraneous bacchanalian, greedy of the grape, with his feet wrapped up in flannel, to increase, on the licensing day, the difficulties of ob. taining a pot of beer to the lower orders of mankind !--and believes, as all men do when they are deciding upon other person's pleasures, that he is actuated by the highest sense of duty, and the deepest consideration for the welfare of the lower orders.
The truth is, if it is intended by the Legislature that the wants and humble luxuries of the poor should be supplied in the fairest manner, and in the requisite abundance, no principle can be trusted to but the principle of competition. Nothing else can secure fair prices or civility on the part of the dispensers of these luxuries. Every landlord is sure to gratify his insolence and ill humour, and to neglect his customers, who is protected by monopoly, and knows that he can indulge in his faults with impunity. Not only is the article bad, and badly dispensed, when Justices are allowed to decide who shall and who shall not dispense it, but the public do not obtain the article in the quantity they want. For instance, there are roads where the commerce has quadrupled within the last half century, and where the Justices refuse, we have no doubt meaning to do right, to increase the number of public houses. What an enormous and abusable power is this to confide to any body of men ! Who can take upon themselves to decide when the VOL. XLIV. NO. 88,
public are sufficiently accommodated, and when they are not, except by suffering the experiment to be tried, the houses to be opened, and the publican himself to be convinced, and, by his cessation or continuance, to convince others whether he was wanted or not? All other means of deciding, except by experiment, are perfectly ridiculous. How can any Magistrate determine how much traffic has increased-how much population has, increased-how far habits have altered ? Do they ever make any calculation of this kind ?-ever call for any documents ? Is there any disposition to do it? Does any thing pass at such licensing meetings but the eternally repeated phrase, that public houses must not be increased? If any public house remains after license, is it not a proof it was wanted ? If it is not wanted, how can it remain ?- how can any mistake be committed in suffering the experiment to be made ? There is a great deal of nonsense in Dr Edwards' book about the supply of public houses exceeding the demand. That it should do so for any length of time, is absolutely impossible. By what means is any town supplied with the precise number it wants of men who sell brown sugar, or make leather breeches? What strange havoc their Worships would make, if they were to settle the precise number of tinkers and tailors required in particular districts. Tinkers and tailors are as free as air, though not so fragrant; and, like air, they rush in to fill up a vacuum. There can be no redundance of tinkers and tailors; for no man stops holes in vessels or garments from mere benevolence, but for gain ; and when he loses by his trade, he gives it up. If the trade in public houses were free, there would be precisely the number wanted; for no man would sell liquor to his ruin ;-and not only that, but they would be carried on by the people best qualified for the business. The lazy and the rude man would be supplanted by the active and the civil man, -as he is in all other trades which are left to the wholesome principle of competition.
But this necessity of being civil and obliging is considered by the publicans as a diminution of their respectability. As if that which is so useful and important in the grocer and cheesemonger were to produce such opposite effects in a dispenser of beer. The publican and his wife are, in fact, very often my butler and my wife's maid-in second hand clothes and second hand behaviour-who want the corrective of competition to prevent them from treating humble and ill dressed people with the most sovereign contumely and contempt. It is by no means a mathematical certainty that all ill-dressed people walking along the turnpike road are villains. The lowest of mankind have
children and relations settled at some distance from them prosperous, and willing to receive their parents, or sick and dying, and wearying to see them. What protection has a sick and tired peasant from the intolerable insolence of one of these goddesses of rum and water, but another alehouse a quarter of a mile farther off ? Pull off your superfine, Mr Justice-puton a fustian jacket and corduroy-come in covered with mud, and ask for a night's lodging, -and then see what inconvenience you are entailing upon the lower orders, by refusing to extend the number of public houses ! But, as the proverb says, one half of mankind know not how the other half lives how it dies, or what it suffers.
Absurdities are never unprolific; one generates another ; and they breed very fast. Because the Magistrates erroneously refuse to allow of competition in public houses, the monopolist publican fattens on the error, becomes consequential, talks of the rights of property, and complains of the injustice of allowing a rival to compete with him, if at any time such rivalry is attempted. Can any thing be more clear than that his advantage has all along been grounded in mistake; that he holds it only by an hair ; that it must give way the moment that wiser and sounder views prevail with respect to public accommodation; and that his rent ought to be proportioned, and all his plans accommodated, to the chance of such an event ? But nothing is more common than to see men claiming a fece* simple in an abuse.
The immediate consequence of this monopoly, established by the reluctance of Justices to increase the number of public houses, is, that they are bought up by the brewers, and such trash forced into the throats of the poor, as an hog of the smallest degree of refinement would revolt at-deteriorated waterjust enough of malt to excite indignant recollections—detestable union of treacle and quassia-- nauseous sweet and nauseous bitter - Justices juice, and the natural liquor of licenses-parent of weakness and wind, carrying wild disorder into the viscera, and breaking down human strength more than the labelled phial of the apothecary! No brewer would give any extraordinary price for a public house, if he knew that any man in the village was entitled to be his competitor; or, if he purchased the house, he would of course be aware, that, to retain the preference, he must deserve it, and please the public if he wished that their favour should be continued to him.
Come we now to the great argument used-we are very sure very conscientiously, by many most respectable Magistrates-the Morals of the poor. But why are two portions of beer, good
of its kind, drunk at two public houses, more productive of immorality than the same quantity, and of worse quality, consumed in one public house? But the competitor, it may be urged, would improve the commodity, and so increase the temptation. May be so; and particularly at first it might be so; but you have no right to treat the poor like children, and hold them in such a state of tutelage. First, you lay a tax upon public houses, to prevent their rapid increase ; you prevent fiddling, chuck-farthing, and every collateral temptation ; you require from the publican the strongest recommendation of character; you take away his license if tipling is encouraged; you punish every individual act of drunkenness; you commit a man to prison if he neglects to support his wife and family; and then, as if all this was not enough, you drive a man into sobriety by encouraging unrivalled landlords to sell bad beer! For if the beer were no better under a new system, there would be no increase of temptation; and if the beer would be better under a new system, then is it worse under this system ; and the means taken (in addition to a thousand penalties) to make the poor sober, is by making what they drink filthy-which appears to us the consummation of cruelty and injustice.
• The corrupt contrivance of giving the owner of the house a perpetuity in the license, has enabled the brewers of bad beer to force a trade, to enslave the publicans, and to half-poison the public, by buying up these privileged houses : while the respectable brewers, to prevent themselves from being thus thrust out of the market, are driven in their own defence to adopt the same expedient, and are consequently obliged to lock up vast sums in the purchase of public houses, to keep that footing in the trade, which, under a better system, the good quality of their beer would command, without subjecting them to such enormous and never-ending drafts on their capital,'-Letter, p. 16.
Nor must it be forgotten, that bad beer leads to the gin bottle, and that monopoly makes bad beer. If the people cannot procure good malt liquor, they invariably have recourse to spirituous liquors. It is of the greatest importance to the health and morals of the common people, that they should be kept from the gin bottle; and there is no other method of doing it, than a perfectly free competition in the manufacture and sale of beer. Look at the present state of the trade.
• 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. .
If I want to keep an alehouse, you have a fair right to inquire into my character-a fair right to prevent me turning an house of refreshment into an house of gambling and debauchery-a fair right to prevent me selling at all, if I abuse my privilege. Again, if I am a guest at an alehouse, and expose myself by drunkenness, put me in the stocks. If my wife and children are neglected, put me upon your mill. But if all is quiet, if there is no complaint against me, it is no concern of yours how I dispose of the money earned by my labour. You have no right to make laws which subject me, before I have committed any crime, to all the vexations of an odious monopoly. This is not parental care, but meddling impertinence, and tyrannical interference with freedom of action. These observations are not meant to impeach the conduct of the Justices, but the state of the laws. The laws have given this power of licensing to the Magistrates; and it cannot be expected, however it may be wished, that they should of their own accord surrender the power. The thing required is a complete alteration of the law.
All these remarks have been made, upon the supposition that the licensing system is carried on with the utmost purity, by a set of gentlemen who have nothing but the good of the public at heart, and who, if they err, err from the best intentions. The pamphlet of Dr Edwards is offered as a perfect cure to these Arcadian delusions. If he is to be credited, (and we have no means of impugning his authority), the whole of the licensing system is a scene of the most corrupt and iniquitous jobbing, not only disgraceful to Magistrates, but which would be disgraceful in the lowest criminals they commit. How will the licensing of this house affect my own public house which ! have lately built ? How will it affect my brother's public house! Have the brewers sent us a turtle for our licensing dinner, &c. ?