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If one hundredth part of the profligacy alluded to by Dr Ed. wards be true, the Government are most imperiously called upon to put an end to the licensing system. With the best possible intentions on the part of the Magistrates, the system would, and must be bad. What must it be if they are as corrupt and proAligate as the Doctor has represented them to be? But theauthor shall speak for himself. We leave it to our readers to be. lieve or disbelieve as they shall think good. Certainly no such circumstances ever happened to fall under our own observation.
• In the Divisions adjoining the metropolis, the owners of public houses are men of powerful influence; persons immediately dependant on them in trade thrust themselves in as licensing magistrates, and the temptations of the patronage are enormous: the number of public houses, for instance, in this Division alone, being upwards of 830, while the number in all the other Divisions of the country taken together, amounts only to 503.'-Letter, pp. 10, 11,
The next day the majority who had gone home, and some of them into the country, in the full belief that the licensing session was at an end, were surprised by a notice from the clerk, informing them that their decision had been rescinded, and that Barton's case was to be reconsidered on the 29th of September. It was afterwards ascertained, that this extraordinary measure had been adopted up stairs in the diningroom, at a dinner to which brewers and other visitors come to celebrate the termination of the licensing session; and that there was actually in the room at the time, persons who ought never to be even heard of when licensing business is under discussion. A brewer, who had sent a turtle to the licensing dinner, and the high sheriff who was a brewer's backmaker, and whose son was, till very lately, in partnership with the same brewer, being understood to be present. These gentlemen must, no doubt, have been somewhat surprised to find themselves present at an adjourned licensing meeting.'--Letter, p. 93.
Brewers, we believe, cannot act in the Commission ; but brewers' druggists, makers of copper and iron boilers, and a thousand tradesmen connected with brewers, are not so disqualified; and of the effect of admitting them into the Commission, Dr Edwards thus speaks : *
It must be admitted, that magistrates whose trades place them in immediate connexion with the owners of old, and the applicants for new public houses, by continually presenting themselves at licensing sessions, evince but little sense of what they owe to their brother magistrates, who, as a body of public men, ought not to be subjected to the possibi
* An eminent brewer, in his evidence before the Police Committee, frankly states, that his house has deemed it expedient to retain one of the clerks to the Licensing Justices, as agent, for the purpose of protecting their views with regard to licenses.
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: 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 as 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 victualling 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 upon our readers. In an adyanced state of civilzation, there