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Memoir and Letters of Francis W. Newman by Giberne Sieveking

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domestic manufacture. For certain new and peculiar industries undoubtedly
combine, and large capital is essential; even in them the effort ought to
be towards uniting, _as far as possible_, the interests of each workman,
and of the company, the opposite of which is in general the Union policy.
But for every old trade independent work is physically possible, under the
condition that the workman have a fixed homestead. To effect this ought to
be the main effort of the Unions.

In the thirty-two years between the battle of Waterloo and the Irish
famine, the farmers and manufacturers were like two buckets of a well;
when one was up, the other was down. But now, both at once are down. The
causes are clearly separate.

Our manufacturers when allowed to accept payments from abroad In wheat and
sugar and foods and all raw produce, Immensely increased their foreign
sales; and during the Cotton Famine, capital was largely invested in
building new cotton mills, as if we were to supply all the world.

But the European Continent more and more chooses to compete with us, and
from more causes than one deprive our merchants of their customers.
Between us and our rivals more of the _same sort_ is produced than the
existing markets can take: this is again Overproduction. Hence stagnation
in our manufacturing districts. Meanwhile, in near thirty years of
manufacturing prosperity after 1847, the increased riches of these towns
enriched the farmers and enabled the landlords to raise rents in England,
and in consequence, by dint of landlord power, rent rose in the whole
United Kingdom. At the same time, Englishmen found too little
encouragement to invest their savings on English soil, and preferred to
invest many millions on foreign railways and on foreign loans; and the
payment of their dividends is made largely by imported foreign food. Their
investments at first were an advantage to our manufacturers, while they
sent out railway plant and carriages and locomotives. Now foreigners
compete with us even as to these, and the imported food competes with the
farmers. Thus a double failure convulses us.

How much better, if instead of quarrelling for distant markets (and _it is
said_ conquering Burmah in the hope of advantage to our merchants) we had
_a native population of small cultivators_, prosperous enough to be
valuable as well as steady customers to our manufacturing towns, and
gradually (in the course of several generations) another population of
country folk, substituting domestic manufactures for those of factories
with wage earners!



No human community can be so small as not to involve duties from each
member to the rest; duties to which a sound human mind is requisite.
Neither an idiot nor a madman can be a normal citizen. The former ranks as
in permanent childhood; the latter, being generally dangerous, must be
classed with criminals. A dehumanized brain impairs a citizen's rights
because it unmans him,--disabling him from duty, even making him
dangerous. In India, such a one now and then runs amuck, stabbing every
one whom he meets: in England, he beats and tramples down those nearest to
him,--those whom he is most bound to protect. A human community cannot be
constituted out of men and brutes, nor ought civilized men to be forced to
carry arms or armour for self-defence. For all these reasons, to be drunk
is in itself an offence against the community, prior to any statute
forbidding it, prior to any misdemeanour superinduced by it. In the State
it is both a right and a duty to enforce (as far as its means reach)
sobriety on every citizen, rich or poor, in private or in public; and with
a view to this, to use such methods as will best prevent, discourage, or
deter from intoxication.

When a national religion totally forbids the use of intoxicating drugs,
vigilance in the State is less needful: public opinion, or even public
show of disgust and violence, effectively stifles the evil. But if the
national religion does not forbid the use, but solely enjoins moderation
(a word which everyone interprets for himself), a far heavier task falls
on the State, whose right and duty nevertheless in this matter several
causes have concurred to obscure, not least in England and Scotland. Out
of the teachings of Rome, our forefathers very ill learned the rights of
the State or the distinction of Morals from Religion. Although even men
not highly educated must have known that Moral truth is far older than any
special system of Religious beliefs, yet in the popular idea morals have
no other basis than religion. Hence, the demand for freedom of conscience
against any oppressive State policy (besides the vices of Courts and
Courtiers) led to a vehement jealousy of State power even in moral
concerns. Many generous minds feared, that to concede to the State a right
of enforcing morality, covertly allowed religious persecution. _Who_ first
uttered the formula--"The only duty of the State is, to protect persons
and property"--is unknown to the present writer; but certainly fifty,
forty, even thirty years ago, this principle was widely accepted by
radical politicians and active-minded dissenters. The late Dr. Arnold of
Rugby regarded this denial of the State's moral character as a widespread,
untractable and mischievous delusion.

After long torpor the prohibition of Lotteries showed that Parliament was
waking to its moral duties. Little by little, the mass of the middle-
classes and the gentry imbibed nobler views of human life, and have
discovered, that of all the powers which make a nation immoral the State
is the most influential. One day of licensed debauch undoes the work of
the Clergy on fifty-two Sundays. No wonder that in the past the State
collectively has been our worst corrupter: but to open this whole question
space does not here allow. A long struggle has gone on, to implore public
men not to connive at drunkenness--a national pest which for more than a
century was greeted with merriment though politically avowed to be
criminal. None dare now to laugh at it, except the depraved men who laugh
at bribery, and use drunkenness as a trump-card at elections, and, if in
office, rejoice on the vast revenue sucked by the Exchequer out of the
vice and misery of the people. Earnest religionists of every creed have
happily rallied to a common conviction, that the State has grievously
failed of its duty and must now turn over a new leaf. Our worst opponents
are men who cannot be reckoned in any religious body, men who find nothing
so sacred as Liberty to buy and sell and indulge appetite; generally
eccentric "Liberals," who are in many respects too good not to esteem, and
too intellectual to despise.

One of these some years ago opened attack on me in a private letter, which
summed up the arguments decisive with this class of "advanced Liberals";
in whose hatred of _Over Legislation_ I heartily share. He taunted me for
thinking that the State ought to concern itself about the drinks of
citizens more than about their dress; saying that I could not hold the
State to have a control of public morals without, in logical consistency,
admitting the right of Parliament to forbid dancing and card-playing; or
to command my attendance at any Church worship, or to fine and imprison me
for heresy. The double confusion here involved is wonderful from an
educated man, and lowers his reputation for good sense. Religion is a
topic on which eminent persons and foremost nations widely differ:
concerning Moral Duty there is more agreement in mankind than perhaps on
anything that is beyond the five senses. To argue that in claiming of the
State an enforcement of duties cardinal to citizenship, we admit its right
to dictate in religion, is a pestilent anachronism; it confounds Morals
with Religion just as did the ancient world, Pagan and Hebrew. Again, the
test of soundness in Morals is found in the agreement of the human race.
There is no nation, no elementary tribe of men, so ignorant or so
besotted, as not to condemn drunkenness as immoral and utterly evil. In
justifying penalties against a vice condemned by all mankind, we justify
(forsooth!) the punishing of amusements thought harmless by a great
majority everywhere. Such an assertion is not the less silly, even in the
mouth of a disciple of John Stuart Mill. Of course we all know that Law
cannot be made against every misuse of time, or of energy, or of money.
There is certainly no danger whatever that a modern Parliament, elected
from very different circles and representing widely different elements,
will ever adopt as its measure of sound morals the special opinions of any
historical sect, however virtuous and wise.

Neither of an individual nor of a community does _the highest interest_
consist in Liberty, but in soundness of morals; without which Liberty only
means licence to be vicious; licence to ruin oneself, and diffuse misery
to others. To a man not proof against the omnipresent drinkshop, high
wages are a curse; days called holy and short hours of work do but more
quickly engulf him in ruin. But he pulls others too down in his fall. That
nearly every Vice tends to waste, and preeminently intoxication by liquors
or drugs, certain Economists are strangely slow to learn. Moreover, nearly
every widespread vice makes wealth and life less enjoyable to the whole
community. Confining remark to the vice of drunkards, it suffices to point
in brief to the enormous extension which it gives to Violent Crime, to
Orphanhood, to Pauperism, to Prostitution, to disease in Children, and to
Insanity. Hence comes an enormous expense for Police and Criminal Courts,
for Jails and Jail-officers, for Magistrates and Judges, for Insane
Asylums, and Poor Rates. Hence also endless suffering to the victims of
crime and to the families of criminals, and a grave lessening of happiness
to innocent persons by the ribaldry of drunkards planted at their side,
with fear lest their children be corrupted; fear also of personal outrage.
Our daily comfort largely depends on homely virtue in our neighbours. In
every great organization of industry the drunkenness of workmen is a
first-rate mischief to others, crippling enterprise by increased expense
and risk. From sailors fond of grog and tobacco, proceed fire in ships out
at sea; and on foreign coasts, broils that disgrace England and
Christendom, and lay a train which sometimes explodes in war. The
drunkenness of a captain has before now stranded a noble ship. On a
railroad, access of the engine driver to drink is a prime danger; and
shall we say that there is no danger in Parliament legislating when half
asleep with wine, and hereby open to the intrigue of any scheming clique,
who may wish to fasten suddenly on the nation fraudulent or wicked law?
Wisely does the American Congress forbid to its members wine in its own
dining-room, because those who have to make sacred law are bound to
deliberate and vote with clear heads. Evil law is of all tyrannies the
most hateful, and makes a State contemptible to its own citizens--thus
preparing Revolution.

English Statesmen have yet to learn Yankee wisdom; but no one who is, or
hopes to be, in high office dares to speak lightly of drunkenness. The
celebrated Committee of 1834 advised Parliament to reverse its course,
with a view to the ultimate _extinction_ of the trade in ardent spirits.
The advice was disgracefully spurned; yet neither the legislature nor the
executive has ever dared to deny that drunkenness is a civil offence. Our
opponents plead only for the _use_, not for the _abuse_ of intoxicating

No doubt, teetotallers maintain that all use of such liquors for drink is
an abuse. The avowals of Dr. William Gull, who calls our view extreme,
beside those of Sir Henry Thompson and Dr. Benjamin Richardson, seem to
justify the extreme view: so do the Parisian experiments of 1860-1. Yet it
is not necessary to go so far _in a political argument_. I desire to
obtain common ground with such men as my friend Mr. P. A. Taylor, M.P. for
Leicester, and waive our difference with him as to _moderate use_. Let us
admit (that is, temporarily) that as Prussic Acid is fatal in ever so
small a draught, yet is safe as well as delicious in extract of almonds
and in custard flavoured by bay-leaf, so alcohol is harmless, not only in
Plum Pudding and Tipsy Cake, but also in one tumbler of Table Beer and one
wineglass of pure Claret. Let us further concede that the propensity of
very many to excess makes out no case for State-interference against the
man whose use of the dangerous drink is so sparing, that no one can
discover any ill effect of it on _him_. Nevertheless, irrefutable reasons
remain, why we should claim new legislation, and a transference of control
over the trade from the magistrates who do not suffer from it to the local
public who do.

First of all, let me speak of undeniable excess. At one time perhaps it
was punished by exposure in the pillory or stocks; but for a long time
past, the penalty (when not aggravated by other offences) has been at most
a pecuniary fine: five shillings used often to be inflicted. A "gentleman"
who could pay, was let off: a more destitute man might fare worse.
Inevitably, the vices of the eighteenth century affected national opinion.
The wealthier classes were so addicted to wine, that to be "as drunk as a
lord" became a current phrase. From highest to lowest the drunkard was an
object more of merriment than of pity, and scarcely at all of censure,
unless he were a soldier or sailor on duty. When a host intoxicated his
guests, it was called hospitality; to refuse the proffered glass was in
many a club an offence to good company. Peers and Members of Parliament,
officers of Army and Navy, Clergymen and Fellows of Colleges--nay, some
Royal Princes--loved wine, often too much. Who then could be earnest and
eager to punish poorer men for love of strong beer? The preaching of
Whitefield and Wesley began the awakening of the nation. A very able
Spaniard despondingly said of his country: "A profligate individual may be
converted, but a debased nation never"; and the recovery no doubt is
arduous, when the national taste has been depraved and vicious customs
have fixed themselves in society. Even now, few indeed are able to rejoice
in the punishment of mere drunkenness; for, the only penalty imagined is a
pecuniary fine, which never can prevent repetition nor deter others; when
most severe, it does but aggravate suffering to an innocent wife and
children. To be "drunk _and disorderly_" is now the general imputation
before a magistrate. Unless molestation of others can be charged, the
drunkard is very seldom made to feel the hand of the law. Hereby many
persons seem to believe (as apparently does one bishop) that, as a part of
English _liberty_, every one has a _right_ to be drunk. While we complain
that authorities are negligent and connive at vice, after accepting and
assuming the duty to prevent it; the _sellers_ of the drink are open to a
severer charge. A man too poor to keep a servant is glad to get a wife to
serve him. She is to him housemaid and cook and nurse of his children. For
all these functions she has a clear right to full wages, besides careful
nurture during motherly weakness. The husband manifestly is bound to
supply to his wife _more_ than all she might have earned in serving
others, before he spends a sixpence on his own needless indulgences: and
the publican knows it; knows, sometimes in definite certainty, always in
broad suspicion, that he is receiving money which does not in right belong
to his customer. Of course he cannot be convicted by law; but in a moral
estimate he is comparable to a lottery-keeper who accepts from shopmen
money which he suspects is taken from their master's till, or to a
receiver of goods which he ought to suspect to be stolen. Such is the
immoral aspect of traders, who now claim "compensation," if the twelve-
month licences granted to them as privilege, for no merit of their own,
be, _in the interest of public morality_, terminated at the end of the
twelve months. _In the interest and at the will of landlord magistrates_
such traders have borne extinction meekly, over a very wide rural area.
What made them _then_ so meek and unpretending? Apparently because against
powerful Peers and Squires impudence was not elicited in them by the
encouragement of a John Bright and a Gladstone.

How then ought the State to deal with a drunkard? Obviously by the most
merciful, kind, and effective of all punishments--by forbidding to him the
fatal liquor. How much better than asylums for drunkards! asylums which
make a job for medical men, take the drunkard away from his family and
business, without anything to guarantee that on his release from prison he
will have a Will strong enough to resist the old temptation. Such asylums
please medical philanthropy; nor is any animosity displayed against them
in Parliament. How can we account for the fact, that M.P.'s who strongly
oppose interference with the existing shops, and avow as much distress and
grief at drunkenness as is possible to any teetotaller, have never
proposed to withhold the baneful drink from a convicted drunkard? Did it
never come into their heads? Had they never heard of it? This would
convict them of ignorance disgraceful in an M.P., still more so in a
Minister. Perhaps someone charitably suggests: "They think the prohibition
never could be enforced." To this pretence General Neal Dow makes reply:
"What we Yankees have done, you English certainly can do, WHENEVER YOU
HAVE THE WILL." Nothing is easier, when anyone has been convicted of
drunkenness, than to send official notice to all licensed shops (say,
within five miles) forbidding them to supply him, under penalty of
forfeiting their licences. At the same time it should be a misdemeanour in
anyone else to supply him gratuitously. (It would be pedantic here to
suggest after how long probation, and under what conditions, this stigma
should be effaceable.)

The misery which husband can inflict on wife, or wife on husband, by
drunkenness, has led many Yankees further, and--to our shame--we have as
yet refused to learn from them. If a wife (with certain legal formalities)
forbid the drinkshops to supply her husband, this should be of the same
avail, as if the husband were convicted of drunkenness before a
magistrate. Of course a husband ought to have the same right against a
wife, and either parent against a son or daughter under age. Such an
enactment, as it seems to me, ought to be _at once_ passed, as a law for
all the Queen's realms, not as matter for local option. Passed over the
heads of existing magistrates, it would remain valid over whatever
authority may succeed them.

This is no place to dwell on any details of horrors inflicted on the
country by the present imbecile control. Of course, it is far better than
the _free trade_ in drink, towards which Liverpool twenty years back took
a long stride, with results most wretched and justly repented of. How
deadly is now the propensity of the country, will sufficiently appear from
an experience of the late Sir Titus Salt in his little kingdom of

For a single year he made trial of granting to four select shops a licence
to supply _table beer_ in bottles, delivered at the houses in quantity
proportioned to the number of inmates;--a more severe limitation than any
previously heard of. Yet in the course of some months evil grew up and
multiplied. Something stronger than table beer (apparently) had been
substituted. The liquor was smuggled into the works. Disobedience and
disorders arose; and at length a deputation of his own men complained to
him that their _women_ at home were getting too much of the drink. At the
year's end he cancelled the licences, and to the general content and
benefit restored absolute prohibition. Nothing short of this extinguishes
the unnatural taste. Female drunkenness is a new vice, at least in any but
the most debased of the sex: yet alas! courtly physicians now tell us that
it has invaded the boudoirs of great ladies. Such has been the mischief of
Confectioners' and Grocers' Licences.

Unsatisfactory as has been the control of the drink trade by the
magistrates, their neglect has never been resented in higher quarters,
ever since, by gift of the Excise, Parliament made the Exchequer a
sleeping partner in the gains of the Drink Trade. The Queen's Exchequer
has hence a revenue of about thirty-three millions a year, of which
probably two-thirds, say twenty-two millions, is from excess: a formidable
sum as hush-money. No earnest reformer expects the leopard to change his
spots. A transference of power is claimed, chiefly under the title of
Local Option. To give the power to town councils has been proved wholly
insufficient in Scotland; though the Right Hon. John Bright seems
obstinately to shut eyes and ears to the fact.

Again and again in crowded meetings the Resolution has been affirmed: "The
people who suffer by the trade ought to have a veto against it."--Those
who seem resolved to oppose every scheme which seeks to break down and
restrict this horrible vice, tauntingly reply, that this measure would
ensure its continuance in its worst centres. They do but show their own
unwisdom herein. The Publicans know far better, and they avow, there is
nothing they so much dread as local option. In Maine itself, a State
frightfully drunken in the first half of the century, the opponents of
Neal Dow in the State Legislature scornfully allowed him to carry a Bill
which gave to each parish _Permission_ to accept his measure as law. They
expected that the drunkards would outvote it: but to their discomfiture
found that the drunkards were glad of his law, and nailed it firm. Let all
sound-hearted Englishmen trust our suffering population to use their own
remedy. Under Local Option we now embrace two systems which have been
already discussed in Parliament--that of Sir Wilfrid Lawson, and that upon
the outlines of Mr. Joseph Cowen's Bill.

Personally I yield to Sir Wilfrid Lawson the highest honour. Beyond all
other men he is the hero in this long battle. If I account his Bill
defective, he will not blame me: for in its original form, which he would
be glad to carry, it closely resembled the Maine Law, and superseded the
Magistrates. He has simplified it by making it only a half-measure. After
Parliament has been teazed by the drink question for more than twenty-five
years (one might almost say, ever since 1834), after candidates at every
election have been made anxious by it, we must calculate that all public
men will desire to make a _final_ settlement and get rid of the topic in
Parliament. But Sir Wilfrid's Bill, whatever its other merits (and I think
them great), will not set Parliament free. For so soon as any district
adopts his permission to stop the Drink Trade, an outcry must arise from
local medical men and chemists and varnishers, demanding new shops for
their needs: and intense jealousy will follow, lest the new sellers,
though called chemists or grocers or oilmen, presently become purveyors of
drink; hence a fresh struggle must continue in our overworked Legislature
concerning the new and necessary regulations. Sir Wilfrid's half-measure
supersedes neither the Magistrates nor the Parliament, though for two
hundred years the Nation has suffered through the laxity of both. Surely
we chiefly need real Provincial Legislatures, and, until we get _them_,
Local Folk Motes and _Local Elective Boards_ are our best substitutes.

This is the other and the complete measure: yet something remains to be
said on it. The great evil is, that by reason of competition, a trade
cannot live, except by pushing its sales. The Americans have wisely seen
that the necessary _sales_ must be effected by Agents publicly appointed,
with a fixed salary and nothing to gain by an increase of sales. Such
Agents must receive public instructions. This was, in fact, Sir Wilfrid's
original scheme, only that it forbad absolutely the selling wine or beer
for drink, _unless by medical order_; and the last condition would involve
in Parliament endless contention. It is simpler, and I think far better,
to give to an Elective Board a general free discretion. Parliament _might_
indeed dictate that sales should go on through a public officer only.

I, for one, should rejoice in this. But the most eager teetotaller will
not hope that in the present generation any English Parliament will be
_more_ severe against a wine-loving gentry, and more dictatorial to
medical men, than is the law of Maine. If therefore it did command that
sales should be _without gain_, it certainly would not allow an entire
prohibition of selling alcohol as beverage to be imposed on the Agent for
sale. It is not so in Maine; and this fact occasioned Mr. Plimsoll's
stupendous blunder, who declared in Parliament that the Maine Law was a
dead letter in Maine itself. The fact on which he built this outrageously
false assertion was that when Mr. Plimsoll asked for Whiskey, the Agent
instantly sold it to him without a moment's hesitation. But why? "Because
he knew that Mr. Plimsoll was an English M.P. and a teetotaller."

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