Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to have improved on the other, even mischievous application of co-operative though owning to a somewhat larger principles. The directors of the Com. sum-total of convicted drunkards. pany know that cheap drink spells Whereas the fact is that the police drunkenness, and that high prices, in records show 1,581 cases of drunken- . this as in other trades, check consumpness in 1872, as against 2,070 in tion. So where they are absolute masters 1865. But to come to the special and of the situation, in the public-houses, positive causes of increased drinking they deliberately put a high price on in Gothenburg. There, as here, there the spirits served ; their tariff-price for has lately been a general rise in the a glass of bränvin (corn-whisky, the price of labour; there have been strikes staple alcoholic drink of the country, and rumours of strikes. The working and particularly of the lower classes) man has had more money in his pocket, being 6 öre, which is at the rate of and more time on his hands—both con- 3 rix-dollars per kan? (equivalent to ditions notoriously favourable to the 5s. 10d. per gallon); whereas they have publican. It is, however, in a quarter to pay the distiller only 28. 5d. per which we in this country should hardly, gallon. Now the “retailers” or spiritperhaps, have suspected, that those grocers (to borrow a term from the best competent to judge find the chief Irish clauses of our new Licensing Act) seat and origin of the evil. Not the may not sell less than a half-kan=about public-houses, but the “retail ” shops 25 ordinary dram-glasses, at a time; are the offenders — places where the but then, as they buy from the distillers holders of what we should term grocer- as cheaply as the Company, they can licences sell spirits in quantities of a afford to sell this half-kan for very conhalf-kan (about a quart) and upwards, siderably less than twenty-five times for consumption off the premises. This 6 öre. Low as their charge is though, branch of the trade the Company has it is beyond the pocket of the spiritnever hitherto been able to control. grocer's average customer, who, besides, There have been stumbling-blocks in however strong his thirst for brünvin, the way of their supplanting the private would find a quart of it rather much to grocer-licencees; and there still exist in manage at one standing. So he gets a the town no less than five-and-thirty few kindred souls to practise “ salning" private shops of this class, constant with him, that is, to club their small thorns in the Company's side, con- coins to make up the price of a half-kan ducted, as they naturally are, with a at the spirit-grocer's, carrying the liquor view above all things to profit, and so to the nearest convenient corner (for sedulously counteracting the endeavours consumption on the premises would be of the Company to discourage the con directly illegal), and there drinking it sumption of alcohol.

off. This mischievous practice, once The tippler's ingenuity in finding introduced, appears to have assumed means of gratifying his pet passion is most formidable dimensions. Its effects almost proverbial. In Gothenburg he has upon those who indulge in it force theminvented “salning," and it is “salning” selves on the notice of everyone who that has, more than anything else, been goes about the streets with his eyes working mischief there lately. Do you open. And yet it brings so much grist ask what “salning”? is? Well, it is a to the retailers' mills, that they all 1 The per-centages of cases of drunkenness

wink at “salning," and the more unamongst the population have been :-In 1864,

scrupulous among them openly encou6-10; in 1865 (the Company established at rage it, knowing that so long as they the beginning of October), 5.57 ; in 1866, 3.75; in 1867, 3.58; in 1868, 3:50; in 1869, as the inventors of the practice described in 2.56 ; in 1870, 2.52; in 1871, 2:67; in 1872, the text. 2:72

1 100 öre = 1 rix-dollar = ls. 1 d. 2 The original meaning of the word, cross ? A kan is rather less than three-fifths of a trees,' seems to point to the sailors of the port gallon; 100 kans = 571% Imp. gall.

keep within the letter of their licences, pany, a satisfactory attainment of its neither the Company nor the police nor aims and objects cannot be arrived at." anyone else has power to interfere.

The Bishop of Gothenburg says :The Company's last report, published “ The Company has, in my opinion, in the spring of the present year, con- been one of the best institutions of its tains some facts which may fairly be time for advancing the moral and ecosaid to acquit them of any complicity in nomical welfare of the lower classes. the increase of drinking, which they The benefits which this Company have admit and deplore. In the face of a conferred on the community would cerrapid increase of the town population tainly have been greater than what has during the year, they shut up one of as yet been arrived at, had the retail their (previously 26, now 25) public- trade of spirituous liquors been also houses. Though the wholesale price of entrusted to this same Company." bränvin was exceptionally low, they The Dean of the Diocese certifies kept their public-house tariff at the same that—" The Company has undeniably high scale as before, and indeed raised been the means of raising the moral and prices at their own (seven) “ retail" economical condition of the people, by shops ; and their accounts-audited, be diminishing the immoderate drinking it remembered, by persons appointed by of spirits; and without doubt even the municipality-show a decrease in better results would have been shown the aggregate amount of their bränvin had the retailers' licensed trade in spirits sales of no less than 44,050 kans been also entrusted to the hands of this (= 25,430 gallons) as compared with same Company." 1871.

And the late Chairman of the Gothen“We have done our best," says the burg Board of Health is of opinion Company's Report ; “but all our efforts that, “If the entire sale of bränvin in are crippled while salning' continues, our community were entrusted to one and • salning' will continue so long as retailing company, whose aim and spirit the grocer-licences remain in private were the same which the present Comhands, and are worked with a view to pany have in view, the system would private profit. We are convinced that in a high degree contribute to decrease there is one remedy, and only one, for drunkenness." the present evil; and that is, for the But the matter has not been allowed municipality to undertake, or allow us to rest in mere expressions of opinion. on its behalf and in the interest of our With a promptness hardly to have been fellow-townsmen to undertake, the sole foreseen, the Company have been placed and entire management of the local in a position to apply the remedy indiretail spirit trade, on the same terms as cated in their report ; and the credit of we already work the public-houses." originating the movement that has

Precisely the same conclusion is ex placed them there belongs to certain pressed in several authoritative indepen- members of the very class which has dent statements written a few months furnished “salning” with most of its ago, from which (with the permission supporters and victims. of the gentleman to whom they were Last February a series of remarkable furnished) we will venture to read a meetings was held in Gothenburg. The few extracts. The chief of the Gothen- Working Men's Union spontaneously burg police writes :

took this matter into consideration. For “My conviction, as a final judgment several successive evenings they earnestly on the operations of the Retailing Com discussed the question, What can be pany, is, that these have been in a high done to diminish drinking? And they degree beneficial, and have shed bless- ended by appointing a committee of ings on the community ; but that until their own members to confer with the the retailers' licences for the sale of directors of the Company on the subspirits are entrusted to this same Com ject. The outcome of this conference soon appeared in the form of two clear and expressed opinions. They will keep suggestive resolutions, which were for- open only so many “grocer” spirit warded to the representatives of Gothen- shops as may be competent to supply burg in the Diet, recommending (1) the natural (if one may so use the word) that the Company should be entrusted unstimulated demand of the population. with all spirit licences, grocer as well as They will deliberately handicap these public-house; and (2) an increased excise shops by so raising their prices, that for duty on spirits, with the sure concomi- the quart of five-and-twenty drams of tant of higher retail prices. Promptiy bränvin there will be charged something the town members acted on this electoral like the price of five-and-twenty separate mandate, and with such success, that in drams at the public-house, thus removing April, after thorough examination in the fundamental reason and attraction Committee and full parliamentary dis- of the “salning" trick: and they will cussion, an Act was passed, by large do their best to check and diminish majorities in both Houses of the Diet, drunkenness by nowhere within the in effect enabling such companies as the limits of their rule allowing any forcing Gothenburg Retailing Company to ac- or encouraging of the consumption of quire all the grocer licences still sold by spirits, and everywhere suggesting and auction to private individuals, and so to facilitating moderation and good order. get command of the entire spirit traffic And that they will sooner or later win of their localities.

success in the battle with King Alcohol, Here, then, at last the system is about the advances already made, in spite of to have, for the first time, a complete hindering and counteracting forces mani. and decisive trial.

fold, are surely substantial enough to

enable even us outsiders to feel san"Nothing extenuate,

guine. Nor set down aught in malice,"

Yes, as to them we may feel sanguine; has been its cry from the very first; and

but here, as we write the words, the innow, as soon as the new law comes into

evitable question rises up and fronts us, operation—which is to happen in Octo

“ Will the system do for us? Can we

sack thereout any even small advantage ber 1874-it must be prepared to accept the responsibility as well as the advan

for our own needs ?” “No-a thousand

times no !" scream the uncompromising tages of the new position of affairs, and

enthusiasts of the United Kingdom Alfinally stand or fall on its own merits.

liance. “Let him that traffics at all in Meanwhile,-a noteworthy sign of the

alcohol be Anathema Maranatha. All local feeling,—the authorities of Gothenburg, having every July to determine

plans for regulating that traffic, and

making it respectable, are just so many the number of grocer-licences to be sold

treaties with the devil. We will none by auction for the coming year, have this year announced their intention

of them !" However, not everybody in of putting up five-and-twenty only, as

this island thinks with the Alliance yet.

On the contrary, a considerable and against the five-and-thirty which have for some time past been current. What

increasing party of our countrymen are the Company will do with their monopoly

of opinion that, in the present stage when they have got it may be pretty

of the liquor question in this country, well predicted from their past conduct

it is quite on the cards that a good thing

may come out of Sweden. Earl Grey 1 Since the above was written, the auction

thought so, when, in the House of Lords' has taken place. After an unprecedentedly

Committee on the Licensing Bill of keen competition, twenty-five licences were last year, he proposed the addition of a disposed of for (in the aggregate) 20001. more dozen clauses embodying the leading than thirty-five fetched last year ;-a fact principles of the Gothenburg system. which points plainly enough to the largeness of the profits realized lately by the private

Our countrymen in Scotland think so, licencees. (August 14.)

for on the impetus given by a paper

on the subject, read in Glasgow last They may be relied upon to perform December by Mr. Carnegie of. Stronvar, the salutary function of discovering Edinburgh has appointed a committee every hole that can be picked in the expressly to inquire into the Gothenburg system of the Gothenburgers. Only a scheme ; leaders and letters, numerous few weeks ago a trio of lynx-eyed and earnest, have discussed it in news- gentlemen paid a visit to Gothenburg, papers from Inverness to Berwick; the with the special object of surveying the General Assemblies (in May) of the state of things there from the teetotal three principal Church budies of Scot- standpoint. They meant to be fair, no land, the Presbyterian Synod, the doubt; but when a man starts with a Established, and the Free Church, have foregone conclusion, it is not unfre. dwelt upon it with marked emphasis quently the case that his eyes see only and approval ; there have been lectur- what seems to help towards it. On a ings and debatings; and before this market-day, the one day of the week last session of Parliament closed, a when country folk from all parts of the Bill was actually brought into the province congregate in Gothenburg, Lower House, backed by four promi- thirsty, eager for their favourite bränvin nent members, two from either side, with the eagerness of people who have styled " A Bill for placing the sale by no chance of getting it elsewhere,—for retail of Spirituous Liquors in Scotland in the whole province, numbering under local control," the effect of which, 170,000 inhabitants, there are (exif passed, would be to empower the cluding those of Gothenburg itself) ratepayers of any Scotch district to but ten spirit shops,—on a market-day hand over to a local board the entire the trio visited the Company's houses, control and management of the intoxi- particularly those in and near the cating liquors' traffic of the district, on market-place, and found—melancholy principles analogous to those of the to relate !-a great deal of spirit-drinkGothenburg Company. The Bill willing going on there. That market-day be re-introduced, and vigorously pushed was a Saturday. On the following next session, and bids fair to raise a Monday they attended at the policepretty storm in the Permissive teapot; court, and found again just what one for, confined as it is to Scotland, where might have predicted — an unusual the prevailing drink-habits are emi. number of cases of drunkenness. Here nently more similar to those of Sweden was matter for indictment of the system, than is the case south of the Tweed, its truly ; but they sought something more provisions have a thoroughly practicable than this. So they held a meetingand effective look, and at the same time not exactly a public or representative involve the (to an Alliance man) un- or promiscuous meeting. Methodism pardonable sin of recognizing, while has not many or important adherents in regulating, the sale and consumption of Gothenburg, and none but total abalcohol. At any rate this Scotch move- stainers are admitted into the Methodist ment means business, and the fast body there ; and this was a meeting of growing party originated and cham- Methodists in the Methodists' room. pioned by Mr. Carnegie is only stimu- Here, however, the convening three lated and helped by the now avowed presented themselves ; asked through hostility of the total abstainers. The interpreters sundry questions about the latter, indeed, appear clearly enough to working of the Company; and ended by have no fancy to sit still and let the inviting the opinion of the meeting wind be taken out of their sails by upon the question, “Do you wish the a rival counterblast to drunkenness. same system introduced into our

1 “The Licensing Law of Sweden, and 1 One of the houses in which the most some Account of the great Reduction of drinking is alleged to have been found stands Drunkenness in Gothenburg." Glasgow: Alex. close to some works upon which about 400 Macdougall, 1873.

navyies are employed.

country?" To which (says the news. paper report) the greater number answered "No." Against a conclusion so gallantly won, so emphatic, and pronounced by persons so competent to give an opinion on the subject, what hope to struggle ? Best, perhaps, to let it stand without note or comment.

The fact is—and this is the point to which we would especially call attention

—that the very feature in the Gothenburg system which repels the Alliance is that which to others, not less earnest, not less acquainted with the matter at issue, constitutes its chief attraction. It is not a theory, it is not an idea, realizable, if ever, in some considerably distant future. It does not profess to be a radical cure, but only a practical step towards one. “Alas !” said Mr. Carnegie, at Edinburgh, a few

weeks ago, "we despair of any system or any management stamping out' drunkenness. Our aim is to diminish it by one-half or more, and we can show by an actual experiment that our hopes of success are reasonable. Is not that worth striving for? Two men are drowning; we can only save one. Shall we refuse to save him, in the hope of being perhaps able at some indefinite future time to save two other men? I am certain, if you could see the tens of thousands who would be saved from sin and misery if this system is adopted, you would forget your principle of "all or none,” and rush with us to the rescue of all we can. Let those who refuse to do so weigh well the heavy responsibility they will incur !"

W. D. R.

1 « The Gothenburg Licensing System.” A Lecture, &c., by D. Carnegie, Esq. Edinburgh : R. Grant and Son. London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., 1873.

« AnteriorContinuar »