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INTEMPERANCE AND WASTE.
WE have already seen that crime, disease, and death are, to a most awful extent, the effects of drinking; in this chapter it will be shown, that the waste and expenditure that can be legitimately traced to this baneful practice, are truly appalling. Probably there are but few sins which are not expensive. It generally costs a man a great deal more to be wicked and sensual than to be godly and liberal; and drunkenness, and even what some call moderate drinking, may be very easily shown to be one of the most expensive of vices. We have every reason to believe, that upwards of one hundred millions sterling are squandered annually by this destructive passion. I have in my possession several calculations which would confirm this opinion, but I have copied the following from the late publication of T. Beaumont, Esq., Surgeon, in his essay on alcoholic drinks.
"32,823,034 bushels of malt, brewed by public brewers and licensed victuallers, taken at 12 gallons to the bushel, and at 2s. per gallon Deduct for malt liquor exported
6,223,592 bushels of malt brewed by private families, cost of malt at 7s. 6d. per bushel
Hops one pound per bushel, at 1s. per pound Interest upon capital, wear and tear of private brewing utensils, &c.
Total for malt liquor 42,857,243
6,420,342 imperial gallons of wine, at 22s. 6d. per
Loss of labor, (taken by Mr. Buckingham at 50 millions), say
Allowed for medicinal purposes, &c.
Annual cost 100,000,000
"In these fermented liquors, there will be 63,780,095 gallons of spirits, and in the distilled spirits, 29,528,889 gallons of alcohol, making a total of 93,308,984 gallons intoxicating spirit, and showing an excess of alcohol in fermented, above distilled liquors to the amount of 34,251,206 gallons," and therefore the inconsistency of medical men and others who disclaim against ardent spirits and yet encourage the people to drink those fermented drinks, in which they often take double the quantity that they would if they drank only gin or brandy and water.
I could give the reader several other calculations, but it is a query whether as yet, it is possible for us to arrive at the exact truth on this subject; but the following observations will show the reader that "one hundred millions" sterling is rather below than above the sum which is annually spent and wasted on these detestable poisons.
We ought to consider the number of persons who drink malt liquors, and the number of gallons drunk by each person in the course of a year, before we shall be able to arrive at the truth respecting the consumption of fermented drinks, and when we reflect that these beverages are now in almost every family, and that beer-shops to retail them have multiplied beyond any former precedent, we shall be warranted in concluding, that the quantity drunk, very far exceeds our present calculation. There is the following number of brewers in the country.
Brewers of strong beer not exceeding 20 barrels
Retail brewers under Act 5. Geo. IV., c. 54
Total brewers, 48,211
When it is considered that nearly half of these brew to the amount of 1,000 gallons and upwards, the quantity of beer which they prepare for public consumption must be immense. The following is the latest parliamentary returns of the retailers of beer.
Sellers of strong beer only, not being brewers.
Beer retailers, whose premises are rated under £20 per
At £20, or upwards
Retailers of beer, cider, and perry to be drunk on the premises, or not to be drunk on the premises Retailers of cider and perry only
These calculations were taken from Parliamentary papers for 1836; the same documents for 1839, give an increase of brewers 279, and an increase of sellers of these drinks, 7,470.
Here then we have upwards of 48,000 brewers of beer, and nearly 100,000 retailers of these demoralizing drinks; and if we could add to these, the number of persons that brew at home for their own use, it would be evident to all, that the malt liquor which is at present consumed in the country, must amount in quantity and value to an enormous sum.
A great deal also of the gin which is sold in London and other places, is sold at a considerable rate below the prime cost of that article, showing that dilution and adulteration are carried on to a very large extent; it is not very easy for us to calculate the quantity of water made hot by drugs and sold to the people in the name of spirits. We believe also, that illicit distillation
and smuggling, bring a large portion of ardent spirit into the market, which of course is not accounted for in Parliamentary returns. A receipt for making gin was presented to the Committee of the House of Commons on drunkenness, this receipt had been produced in a court of justice, the parties having disputed about the price. In adorning the gin-palaces of London, vast sums are spent; it is a well attested fact, that on one of these buildings not less than £6000 was expended, in preparing it for this infamous traffic.
The Parliamentary returns for the year ending January 5th, 1839, furnish the following table of manufacturers, dealers, and retailers of spirit.
Retailers of spirits whose premises are under £10 15,761 at £10 & under 20 19,518
It is probable that the rent and taxes of the premises of these manufacturers, dealers and retailers, amount to at least £2,000,000 annually, and the rent and taxes of the premises of the brewers and beer sellers, would amount to an equal sum.
It is generally allowed that an immense manufacture, and adulteration of wine takes place, the quantity of wine imported, the still greater quantity vended, and the price at which a great deal is sold, fully demonstrate this fact. There are 21,590 persons licensed to sell wine. I once saw in London, a paper containing the death-bed agonies of a wine merchant, whose departing spirit was horrified to the utmost, at the thought of meeting in another world, the souls of the persons whom he knew that he had murdered, by the poisonous adulteration of wine.
A full exposure of the poisons thus employed my be found in the prize essay, Bacchus.
There is reason to believe, that cider and home made wines are consumed to a much greater extent, than is generally supposed; and also, that adulteration increases the quantity of beer and porter, very greatly beyond the amount of parliamentary returns. It is not at all improbable, that full one third more of these different drinks is consumed, than is accounted for to the gov
It should be remarked, that the manufacturers and retailers of these drinks, pay enormous rents, and generally live at a most extravagant rate, showing that they have a vast trade, and vast profits; all of which is paid for by the foolish purchasers of these beverages. We may therefore justly conclude, that the calculation given above, falls very far below what is really wasted on these poisons. Bakers, butchers, &c., would soon be bankrupts if they imitated the extravagance of publicans.
Our hospitals, lunatic asylums, infirmaries, and various other dispensaries for the sick, cost us upwards of two millions a year; and these are chiefly used and occupied by those whom moderate or excessive drinking have doomed to accidents, diseases or insanity. We ought, considering our means of physical and moral health, to be the strongest, and most religious people upon earth; and should be so, but for these alcoholic poisons. In reporting the number of persons mad or diseased through drinking, medical men generally refer exclusively to those who were notoriously addicted to drinking; but such a reference cannot include a tithe of the truth, disease and disorganization, in many instances originating in moderate drinking, and by this practice rendered hereditary, ought to be taken into account, and were this done, we should see that the doors of these hospitals and asylums are kept open chiefly by the drinkers of alcoholic drinks.
County and town prisons, hulks, transports, courts of justice, criminal prosecutions, houses of correction, magistrates, police establishments, sessions, litigations and actions connected with drinking, fees to lawyers and barristers, constables, &c., together with the fines paid, and time lost in prisons, and houses of correction, cause an expenditure and waste to the amount of six or seven millions. The justice department of government costs