صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

as it is paid in all other cases, out of the rates of the district; then take the licence-rent, and use it as a sinking fund to buy up existing interests. As proposed in the bill, it was to vary between 11. and 61. As there are more than 120,000 public and beer-houses in England alone, a licence-rent of 21. would produce nearly 250,0001. a year. If this were applied in the purchase of licences, as those first offered would, of course, be in general the least valuable, it is probable that at least 5000 might be extinguished in the very first year; so that by the end of ten years, when Mr. Bruce's plan was to begin, some 30,000 licences would have been in this way put an end to. Be it also remembered that many licences lapse from various causes, and that owners of public-houses would in many cases close superfluous premises when once they were satisfied that there was no chance of fresh licences being granted in the neighbourhood. Arrangements also might easily be made for the transfer of licences to new neighbourhoods. When we consider that London increases by the size of a town not much smaller than Brighton, and larger than Southampton, every year of its existence, and has within the last ten years added 60,000 to its houses and 600,000 to its population, we may easily see that in London alone, to say nothing of other towns where the same process is going on, there would be great room for the immediate transfer of licences. At the rate, for instance, of one public-house to 500 of the population—which is only double Mr. Bruce's evidently inadequate calculation-120 licences would have to be transferred to new London districts in every year, or one every three days; so that by the end of Mr. Bruce's ten years the existing 10,000 publichouses of London would be spread over an area considerably larger and applied to a population about one-fifth more numerous. And if we assume, which we may well do, that a considerable number of licences lapse or are forfeited every year, taking these at only 5 per cent., in ten years' time we should have 6000 licences left for London with a population of some 4,000,000.

It must, however, be remembered that, short of absolute prohibition of all dealing in fermented liquors, it by no means follows that paucity of public-houses implies sobriety. Cases will be quoted, like that of Liverpool, where unlimited licensing is said to have been followed by drunkenness and disorder unequalled even in that sink of marine debauchery, and it will be argued, that when there were fewer public-houses there was less intoxication. Still, if statistics prove anything, they prove that drunkenness is partially, at all events, attributable to other causes than this. Liverpool, by a return of 1869, had one public-house or beer-house to every 166 of the population; 32:55 per

thousand

[graphic]

thousand were proceeded against for drunkenness. Sunderland had 1 to 149, and only 7.32 per thousand were so proceeded against. Salford had 1 to 156, with 6.21 per thousand proceeded against, and Sheffield 1 to 132, with only 5.51 per thousand proceeded against. These startling differences may be ascribed in part to differences of police activity; but when we find Manchester and Sheffield with an equal proportion of publichouses to population, and more than five times as many police cases for drunkenness in Manchester as in Sheffield (28:19 against 5.51 per thousand), it is hardly possible to believe that this is the sole reason. A story is told of an anxious wife, who wished for fewer public-houses because, as she said, there were five which her husband had to pass, and after piloting him safely by four of them he was always sure to go into the fifth. If there had been only one, it is by no means evident that he would have been coaxed past that one, for the desire of indulgence varies but to a small extent with the means of satisfying it. Craving for drink, moreover, goes hand-in-hand with misery. It is not altogether because there are so many gin-shops in St. Giles's or the New Cut that there is so much drunkenness there. Give the inhabitants fresh air, water in constant supply, less crowded lodgings, a healthier life, and much of the craving for drink will disappear. This, alas! is only partially possible. But to shut up even a large proportion of the gin-shops, while the other conditions of life remained the same, would mainly result in additional prosperity for the gin-shops which were left.

It is not, however, by any means clear that any such arrangements as we have indicated above will be necessary, in order to correct with considerable rapidity the existing superfluity of public-houses. There is a constant struggle for life' going on in all trades. If no new grocer's shops, no new haberdashers were allowed, and the old ones left to die out, how rapid would be the diminution, no police regulations here coming into play. By the Bank Charter Act of 1844, new Banks of Issue were for the future prohibited, leaving to all such existing banks their permission to issue notes. Since 1844 how many Banks of Issue have disappeared or become absorbed in Joint-Stock Banks? Here was a valuable privilege—that of issuing notesconfined to certain establishments, just as a valuable privilege, that of selling exciseable liquors by retail, is confined to certain other establishments. There is every inducement to keep these establishments open ; but time and chance work unexpected changes, and the same causes which have decimated the old County Banks will act, with other very important special causes,

2 E 2

in diminishing, and that very rapidly, the number of publichouses and beer-houses.

Our limits will not allow us to discuss a question which is yearly assuming greater prominence, the question which is known by the black-white name of Permissive Prohibition—the English form of the Maine Liquor Law. Whether such an enactment would ever stand a year's trial, or whether, if standing such trial, it would not create more evils than it abolished, is matter for argument. It is said, we know not how truly, that as soon as the necessities of the United States Exchequer compelled an excise of fermented liquors, the Maine Liquor Law ceased to act. At all events, from some cause or other, it appears at present to be to a great extent inoperative. Be this as it may, it is hardly possible to suppose that any English market-town, for example, would submit to the enormous inconvenience of being unable to supply its inhabitants and its visitors with exciseable commodities, because a small proportion of the ratepayers happened to club together at a vestry meeting and prohibit the traffic. Nothing, however, would so much discredit this somewhat grotesque crusade against liquors as a prudent and wellconsidered measure for the regulation of public-houses. Such a measure we cannot expect from the Home Office as at present constituted. There are, however, private members on both sides of the House (we may specify Sir Selwin Ibbetson on the one side and Mr. Whitbread on the other), who are perfectly well able to devise such a measure, and we trust that the promise already held out to us by the former may be fulfilled either by himself or by some one in his place, and that next Session may not pass without a determined and a successful effort to grapple with the evils of the present Licensing Laws.

ART. IV.-Opere Inedite di Francesco Guicciardini Illustrate da

Giuseppe Canestrini, e Publicate per cura dei Conti Piero e Luigi Guicciardini. Volume Primo, Ricordi Politici e Civili. -Volume Decimo, Ricordi di Famiglia, Ricordi Autobiografici. Firenze, 1857-1867.

HE family and autobiographical · Ricordi’ of Guicciardini L vividly reproduce in some of the last living examples that singular type of merchant statesmanship which formed so important and predominant an element in medieval Italian republican politics. They afford us the same sort of vivid con

ception

[graphic]

ception of that type as the Lives of the Norths' do of the race of political lawyers and men of business who rose into eminence in the perturbed politics of the last Stuart reigns in England. The alternately conflicting and mingling aristocratical and commercial elements in Italian public life had produced between them something of the like sort of mixed character as they afterwards did in England. Even in the iron age of the Sforzas and Borgias, eminently respectable private and public characters were often the growth of the mingled influences which affected public life, so long as public life was not yet stamped out in Italy. What was much more rare was anything approaching the heroic type in Italian public men. That type is rare indeed in all ages, but in the age and country of Machiavelli and Guicciardini, as in the succeeding age of Lord Keeper Guilford and Sir Dudley North in England, all aspirations after it, as well as all approach to it, seemed to have in a manner ceased.

Mediæval Italy, to borrow a well-abused phrase of the late Prince Metternich, had been little more than “a geographical expression,' inferring no universal Italian rights or duties. Its several states had stood towards each other pretty much in Hobbes' state of nature, with fear, force, and fraud for sole effective regulators. The ordinary habitual relations of the mediæval Italian States to each other had been those of wavering alliance, or of covert or overt hostility. All the unbridled excesses of outrageous violence and of shameless perfidy which larger and more powerful realms permitted themselves, whenever interest prompted, against each other, were multiplied on the narrow area of the city commonwealths and petty principalities of mediæval Italy. Consequently the aggregate of revolting outrages against all laws of peace and war appear to affix a deeper stigma on Italian than on any other politics in those ages. It may be doubted how far that deeper stigma is relatively merited; it is at all events certain that Italian individual and social life and morals cannot fairly be judged of from the public or private crimes of the Visconti, Sforzas, or Borgias.

The sixteenth century in Italy was an age of transition from spirited if ill-organised autonomy to a dull level of spiritual and secular despotism. It presents the spectacle of a country foremost in the opening of the march of modern civilisation suddenly finding itself the helpless object of rival rapacity to ruder but stronger states—its leading men, whose minds and characters had been formed in the liberal school of world-wide commerce and uncontrolled self-government—suddenly compelled to transfer their political activity, if they were still bent on exerting it, from the

councils

councils of their country to the courts and cabinets of overbearing native or foreign princes.

The habit of writing Ricordi'—for which the English word 'Records' is not an exact equivalent—of noting down, not for immediate nor even ultimate publication, whatever, from day to day, seemed noteworthy in private or public, domestic or foreign transactions, was practised more methodically and systematically by the Italian public men of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and the first half of the sixteenth century than perhaps it has been by those of any other age or country. It was a habit which came, as it were, naturally to those merchant-statesmen. These so-called "Ricordi' had no more literary design or pretension about them than any of the other business entries in their daybooks or ledgers, amongst which, indeed, they were very commonly interspersed and intercalated, being made, like the rest, for use and not for show, and forming, in fact, as observed by the editor of the volumes before us, a civil and domestic autobiographic chronicle, often begemmed with moral maxims and sentences, and Scripture texts. Some of these Ricordi,' including those of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and including, in their integrity, those before us, have first seen the light in these or in recent times. We are well disposed to believe the averment of the present editor that none of them approach those of Guicciardini for depth of intellectual insight not only into public affairs, but equally into the inmost recesses of the human heart, which is, after all, the prime mover of every earthly event and issue.

• The Italian historians,' says Disraeli the Elder, in his Curiosities of Literature,' have proved themselves to be an extraordinary race, for they have devoted their days to the composition of historical works, which they were certain could not see the light during their lives.'

If that indefatigable literary chiffonier had had before him these ten volumes of remains of the most eminent of Italian historians, he might have found additional reason for ascribing an extraordinary character to that race of men which had in Guicciardini its most memorable representative. No part of the biographical or autobiographical matter contained in these volumes was designed, in the ordinary sense of this publishing age, to see the light at all, but simply to be preserved in the family archives of the Casa Guicciardini for the private instruction of the descendants of that house, 'As I shall in these family memorials,' says their author, tell the truth, pray our descendants, into whose hands they will come, not to show them to any one out of the family, but keep them for their own use, since I have written them solely for that end, as one

[graphic]

who

« السابقةمتابعة »