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law, to merriment, interposing this as a necessary temperament to their labours *
Thus the Greek and Latin philosophers, though they derive the institution differently, the one alleging a divine and the other a human original, both agree that a necessary relaxation froin labour was the only end for which diversion was invented and allowed to the people. This institution, as the former of these great writers tells us, was grossly perverted even in his time; but surely neither then, nor in any age or nation, until now, was this perversion carried to so scandalous an excess as it is at present in this kingdon, and especially in and near the metropolis, where the places of pleasure are almost become numberless ; for, besides those great scenes of rendezvous, where the nobleman and his tailor, the lady of quality and her tirewoman, meet together and form one common assembly, what an immense variety of places have this town and its neighbourhood set apart for the amuseinent of the lowest order of the people ; and where the master of the house, or wells, or garden, may be said to angle only in the kennels, where, baiting with the vilest materials, he catches only the thoughtless and tasteless rabble ; these are carried on, not on a single day, or in a single week; but all of them during half, and some during the whole year.
If the computation was made of the money expended in these temples of idleness by the artificer, the handicraft, the apprentice, and even the common labourer, the sum would appear excessive; but without putting myself to that trouble, I believe the reader will permit me to conclude that it is much greater than such persons can or ought to afford ; especially as idleness, its necessary attendant, adds greatly to the debtor's side in the account; and that the necessary consequence must be ruin to niany, who, from being useful members of the society, will * Sen. De Tranquill, Animi, p. 267. edit. Lips.
become a heavy burden or absolute nuisance to the publick. It being indeed a certain method to fill the streets with beggars, and the gaols with debtors and thieves.
That this branch of luxury hath grown to its present height, is 'owing partly to a defect in the laws; and this defect may, with great decency and respect to the legislature, be very truly imputed to the recency of the evil; for as our ancestors knew it not, they may be well excused for not having foreseen and guarded against it. If therefore it should seem now necessary to be retrenched, a new law will, I apprehend, be necessary for that purpose; the powers of the magistrate being scarce extensive enough, under any provision extant, to destroy a hydra now become so pregnant and dangerous. And it would be too dangerous as well as too invidious a task to oppose the mad humours of the populace, by the force of any doubtful obsolete law; which, as I have hinted before, could not have been directly levelled at a vice, which did not exist at the time when the law was made.
But while I am recommending some restraint of this branch of luxury, which surely appears to be necessary, I would be understood to aim at the retrenchment only, not at the extirpation of diversion ; nay, and in this restraint, I confine myself entirely to the lower order of people. Pleasure always hath been, and always will be, the principal business of persons of fashion and fortune, and more especially of the ladies, for whom I have infinitely too great an honour and respect to 'rob them of any their least amusement. Let them have their plays, operas, and oratorios, their masquerades and ridottos; their assemblies, drums, routs, riots, and hurricanes ; their Ranelagh and Vauxhall; their Bath, Tunbridge, Bristol, Scarborough, and Cheltenham; and let them have their beaus and danglers to attend them at all these ; it is the only use for which such beaus are fit; and I have seen, in the course of my life, that it is the only one to which, by sensible women, they are applied
In diversion, as in many other particulars, the upper part of life is distinguished from the lower. Let the great therefore answer for the employinent of their time to themselves, or to their spiritual governors. The society will receive some temporal advantage from their luxury. The more toys which children of all ages consume, the brisker will be the circulation of money, and the greater the increase of trade.
The business of the politician is only to prevent the contagion from spreading to the useful part of mankind, the EΠΙΠΟΝΟΝ ΠΕΦΥΚΟΣ ΓΕΝΟΣ *; and this is the business of persons of fashion and fortune too, in order that the labour and industry of the rest may administer to their pleasures, and furnish them with the means of luxury. To the upper part of mankind time is an enemy, and (as they themselves often confess) their chief labour is to kill it; whereas, with the others, time and money are almost synonymous; and as they have very little of each to spare, it becomes the legislature, as much as possible, to suppress all temptations whereby they may be induced too profusely to squander either the one or the other ; since all such profusion must be repaired at the cost of the publick.
Such places of pleasure, therefore, as are totally set apart for the use of the great world, I meddle not with. And though Ranelagh and Vauxhall, by reason of their price, are not entirely appropriated to the people of fashion, yet they are seldom frequented
below the middle rank; and a strict regard to decency is preserved in them both. But surely two such places are sufficient to contain all those who have any title to spend their time in this idle, though otherwise innocent way. Nor should such a fashion
be allowed to spread into every village round London, and by degrees all over the kingdom ; by which means, not only idleness, but all kinds of immorality, will be encouraged.
I cannot dismiss this head, without mentioning a notorious nuisance which hath lately arisen in this town; I mean, those balls where men and women of loose reputation meet in disguised habits. As to the masquerade in the Hay-market, I have nothing to say; I really think it a silly rather than a vicious entertainment, but the case is very different with these inferior masquerades ; for these are indeed no other than the temples of drunkenness, lewdness, and all kind of debauchery.
SECT. II. Of Drunkenness, a second Consequence of Luxury among
the Vulgar. BUT the expence of money, and loss of time, with their certain consequences, are not the only evils which attend the luxury of the vulgar ; drunkenness is almost inseparably annexed to the pleasureș of such people. A vice by no means to be construed as a spiritual offence alone, since so many temporal mischiefs arise from it ; amongst which are very frequently robbery and murder itself.
I do not know a more excellent institution than that of Pittacus, mentioned by Aristotle in his Politics* ; by which a blow given by a drunken man, was more severely punished than if it had been given by one that was sober; for Pittacus, says Aristotle, considered the utility of the Publick (as drunken men are more apt to strike) and not the excuse, which might otherwise be allowed to their drunkenness. And so far both the civil law and our own have followed this insti
* L. ii. c. x.
tution that neither have admitted drunkenness to be an excuse for
crime. This, odious vice (indeed the parent of all others), as history informs us, was first introduced into this kingdom by the Danes, and with very mischievous effects. Wherefore that excellent prince Edgar the. Peaceable, when he set about reforming the manners of his people, applied himself very particularly to the remedy of this great evil, and ordered silver or gold pins to be fixed to the sides of their pots and cups, beyond which it was not lawful for any person to drink.
What penalty was affixed to the breach of this institution, I know not; nor do I find any punishment in our books for the crime of drunkenness, till the time of Jac. I. in the fourth year of whose reign it was enacted, “That every person lawfully
convicted of drunkenness, shall, for every such of• fence, forfeit the sum of five shillings, to be paid
within a week next after his, her, or their conviction, to the hands of the churchwardens of the
parish where, &c. to the use of the poor. In de. fault of payment, the sum to be levied by distress,
and, in default of distress, the offender is to be committed to the stocks, there to remain for the space of six hours !
For the second offence they are to be bound to their good behaviour, with two sureties, in a recognizance of ten pounds 1
Nor is only that degree of drunkenness forbidden, which Mr. Dalton describes, so as to stagger and
reel to and fro, and where the same legs which carry him into a house, cannot carry him out again $;' for, by the same act of parliament, all persons who continue drinking or tippling in any inn, victualling-house, or alehouse, in their own city, town or parish (unless such as being invited by * Eachard, p. 88.
+ Jac. I., chap. v.