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Social Progress (continued) page 3


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"Books were openly sold in the shops of booksellers in leading streets which can only be procured clandestinely now. I have seen the Prayer-book, the racing calendar, and these books, bound alike side by side in very respectable shop-windows in the leading streets. Between Black- friars and Westminster Hall there were fourteen clubs, at which the amusements were smoking, drinking, swearing, and singing obscene songs. I do not believe there has been a club of the sort for many years past within the same space. There are a few of them still in London, but very few; they are held in very obscure places, and frequented by the very worst of the community. The places of public resort, the tea-gardens, were formerly as notorious as they were infamous - the 'Dog and Duck,' for instance. I have been there when almost a mere boy, and there seen the flashy women come out to take leave of the thieves at dusk and wish them success. The 'Apollo Gardens' was another of these infamous places. It was opened under the pretence of musical entertainments, and there was the Temple of Flora; it was a long gallery, fitted up in a superb manner, and when lighted was a very fascinating place. Another oi these places was the 'Bull-in-Pound,' Spa Fields, frequented by thieves and dissolute people. In Gray's Inn Lane was the 'Blue Lion,' commonly called the 'Blue Cat.' I have seen the landlord of this place come into the long room with a lump of silver in his hand, which he had melted for the thieves, and paid them for it. There was no disguise about it, it was done openly: there is no such place now. The amusements of the people were all of a gross nature. We hear much talk of the desecration of the Sabbath. At the time I am speaking of, there were scarcely any houses on the eastern side of Tottenham Court Road; there and in the long fields were several large ponds. The amusements here were duck-hunting and badger-baiting. They would throw a cat into the water and set dogs at her. Great cruelty was constantly practiced, and the most abominable scenes used to take place. It is almost impossible for a person to believe the atrocities of low life at that time, which were not, as now, confined to the worst paid and most ignorant of the populace. I am not aware of any new vice having sprung up among the people; there has been a decrease of vice in every respect, and a great increase of decency and respectability.'

The foregoing passages, which, for the sake of brevity, have been put into the narrative form, are extracted from answers made by Mr. Place, when under examination by the committee. The only liberty that has been taken is the suppression of some of the more revolting circumstances brought forward by Mr. Place, in illustration of his opinion. When asked, " To what do you principally attribute those improvements? " Mr. Place answered " To information! You will find, as the working people get more information, they will get better habits." He added, " Every class above another teaches that below it: the journeyman tradesman is above the common labourer, and manners descend from class to class." The whole of the evidence given by Mr. Place on this occasion is of the deepest interest to ail who wish to study with the aim of remedying the moral evils of society by rational, and therefore by practical means. The sobriety which among educated persons has taken place of a contrary habit has in a great degree been adopted by the labouring classes also. It is true, there is still much of intoxication among us, and much of other vices and crimes to which habitual intoxication surely leads the way. Scenes of depravity do not now court the public gaze quite so shamelessly, but the " Apollo Gardens," the " Dog and Duck," and other places of popular resort in those days, have their successors in the casinos, music-halls, and other hotbeds of immorality, which are still tolerated among us. Our seaports are still liable to the old reproach of drunken habits; and the reform has not as yet made any deep impression upon the working people of Scotland. Mr. (afterwards Sir) A. Alison, sheriff of Lanarkshire, in his evidence given before the committee on combinations of workmen in 1838, speaking of the habit of intemperance in Scotland, said, "I know opium is used to a certain extent, but I think whisky there supersedes everything. In short, I may mention one fact to the committee, which will illustrate the extent to which the use of whisky is carried. In London the proportion of public-houses to other houses is as one to fifty-six; in Glasgow it is as one to: every tenth house in Glasgow is a spirit-shop. I should says as far as my statistical researches have gone, that the proportion of whisky drunk in Glasgow is twice or thrice as much as in any similar population upon the face of the globe." Being asked whether the proportion of spirit- shops mentioned was greater than it was fifteen or twenty years ago, Mr. Alison stated that it was considerably increasing; that in 1824 every fourteenth house was a public- house, and that the proportion since, and at different times ascertained, has been one in twelve, one in eleven, and, as already stated, in 1838, one in ten. Mr. Alison gives a deplorable account of the moral condition of the people of Glasgow. He says, " I think that in Glasgow there are 80,000 people (the whole population is 257,000) who have hardly any moral or religious education at all; they have hardly any education in worldly matters, and though they can most of them read and write, they are, practically speaking, uneducated." It would be indeed surprising if, under these circumstances, the population of Glasgow were to exhibit any but the lowest state of morals; and the various particulars given by Mr. Alison of their coarseness and brutality seem to follow as a necessary consequence from the neglect of which they are thus the victims. It is at once a consequence of the comparative sobriety of the age, and a help to its continuance, that great numbers of houses have been opened for the sale of cups of coffee and tea at low prices. It is said that there are from 1,600 to 1,800 of these coffee-houses in the metropolis alone, and that they are established and rapidly increasing all over the country. About thirty years ago there were not above a dozen of those houses to be found in London, and in these the prices charged for the refreshment they afforded were such as to limit to a very few the number of their customers. Some interesting information concerning these establishments was given before the committee of 1840, which was appointed to inquire concerning the operation of the several duties levied on imports, and popularly known as the "Import Duties Committee."

The charge made at these houses for a cup of excellent coffee, with sugar and milk, varies from one penny up to threepence. One house in Gerrard Street, Hay- market, is mentioned, where the charge is three halfpence, and the daily customers average from 1,500 to 1,600 persons of all classes, from hackney-coachmen and porters to the most respectable classes, including many foreigners. The house opens at half-past five in the morning, and closes at half-past ten at night. The inducement to frequent these houses is not confined to the coffee or tea that is provided; but the frequenters are furnished with a variety of newspapers and periodical publications. In the coffee-house just mentioned there are taken forty- three London daily papers (including several copies of the leading journals), seven country papers, six foreign papers, twenty-four monthly magazines, four quarterly reviews, and eleven weekly periodicals. The proprietor of another house stated to the committee that he had paid 400 a year for newspapers, magazines, and binding. He said, "I have upon the average 400 to 450 persons that frequent my house daily; they are mostly lawyers' clerks, and commercial men; some of them are managing clerks; and there are many solicitors, likewise highly respectable gentlemen, who take coffee in the middle of the day in preference to a more stimulating drink. I have often asked myself the question where all that number of persons could possibly have got their refreshments prior to opening my house. There were taverns in the neighbourhood, but no coffee-house, nor anything that afforded any accommodation of the nature I now give them; and I found that a place of business like mine was so sought for by the public, that shortly after I opened it, I was obliged to increase my premises in every way I could, and at the present moment, besides a great number of newspapers every day, I am compelled to take in the highest class of periodicals. For instance, give have eight or nine quarterly publications, costing from four to six shillings each, and we are constantly asked for every new work that has come out. I find there is an increasing taste for a better class of reading." Another of these parties stated: - " I believe we may trace the teetotal societies, and those societies that advocate temperance for working men, entirely to the establishment of coffee-houses, because a few years ago it used to be almost a matter of ridicule amongst working men to drink coffee; now they are held up to emulate each other. I believe that not one-third of my customers ever go into a public-house at all. I have never heard an indecent expression, and, with two exceptions, have never seen a drunken man in my house."

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Pictures for Social Progress (continued) page 3

Archbishop Sumner
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