« PreviousContinue »
ought to be put down by the law; / great part of the disorganization and although in a free country an of the people was occasioned by effervescence of that nature could the immoderate use of spirits. At not be so speedily subdued as in a least one fifth of the country was despotic country, it would be more excited to tumult and disorder effectually so in the end.
from this cause; and he would
then ask the house, whether they LORD CASTLEREAGĦ. would consent to surrender up the He was fully persuaded that the other four-fifths to drunkenness; by people of Ireland might be made reducing the price of spirits. The a well-informed and moral people. petitioners complained of illicit Even at present their minds were distillation, but not in the district much better cultivated than those of Dublin. In those parts of the who did not know them appeared country where the use of beer predisposed to admit; for it was most vailed instead of spirits, the mo• untrue that the Irish were in such rals, habits, and health of the peoa state of utter ignorance as that ple had been most materially imin which they had been frequently proved. It had been shown to the represented to be. He concurred house, by several medical reports with the right honourable gentle from the most eminent practitionman opposite in thinking those ers, that since the use of beer had were wrong who considered the become more general, the morpeople of Ireland to be generally tality in those great districts had uneducated. It was not true that decreased in a degree that was althey were remarkably deficient in most incredible. The remedy for intellectual knowledge. He could illicit distillation was not to be take upon himself to say, this was sought by these means, but by by no means a correct character calling on the nobility and gentry of them. So far as his experience to aid the legislature in giving efwent, they were rather the re- fect to the established laws. At verse of this. He spoke principally present they found that they could of the north of Ireland, where the not collect of their tenants the population, far from being such as large rents which they imposed on had been supposed, was such, that them, unless they assisted those he knew no country in which the persons in evading the laws: this, inhabitants were more intelligent. and this only, was the character of The knowledge which he spoke of their opposition to the existing was not confined to the higher laws of the country. He must acor midding ranks of society, but knowledge, however, that the absolutely pervaded all classes; house had in a great degree to extending even to the lowest. thank themselves for the progress
of illicit distillation in Ireland.
Some counties had transgressed to IRISH AND SCOTCH DISTILLERIES.
an enormous extent; because they
made that a plea for remitting the Sir John NEWPORT. penalties, the house had yielded to The right honourable gentleman their petitions, and hereby enopposite, (Mr. Peel) had formerly couraged hopes that, by transdrawn a very faithful picture of gressing again, they would prothe state of Ireland; but there cure a remission of the penalties. could be no doubt whatever that a It was impossible to expect good order, sobriety, or obedience to the | The evil was supported even by laws, so long as the people were the governmeni. Lords-Lieutenant
, kept in a state of intoxication. particularly one nobleman, whom
it was not necessary for him to GENERAL Mathew. name, preferred this putteen, as General Mathew said, as he every other man of honour did, to knew very little about the north of the common whiskey During the Ireland, he could not assert that last summer, the Lord Chancellor the gentlemen in that quarter en- of Ireland, Lord Manners, would couraged illicit distillation: but he drink nothing but putteen; and the was very sure, that those in the Marquis of Abercorn pursued the south, with which he was well ac- same course. He did not blame quainted, gave that system every them for making use of good spiassistance. There was not a gen- rits, instead of bad. The Irish tleman residing on the banks the chancellor, he understood, refused Shannon who did not encourage every other spirit, except putteen, it, by purchasing what was called, for these reasons he found it ex. in that country, putteen. That was tremely useful to his constitution, whiskey made in a litile iron pot, and the finest diuretic in the world. the Irish for which was putteen, (1 laugh.) Neither the lord chan• and thence the liquor derived its cellor of Ireland, nor the secretary name. The gentlemen purchased for Ireland, could deny that this this spirit--they placed it regular. illicit spirit was thus generally ly in their cellars—and there was used. He believed that almost not one of them who did not re- every man in the county of Ligularly ask his guests, “ Will you merick supported illicit distillahave the putteen, or the legal spi. tion. There was but one way to rit?” As he (General Mathew) destroy this evil; and that was preferred good claret to bad port, by revising the magistracy of Irehe always answered, on such occa- land, which was at present intoler. sions, "give me the putteen in able. The magistrates of the south stead of the inferior whiskey.” (A were intolerable. They connived laugh.) It was almost impossible at this infraction of the law; they for them to discover these who took money as a bribe to suffer it were engaged in this trade. They to go on. (No, no!) He could prove could easily conceal the iron pot it. The guager took a guinea from which was used in distillation. And this person, and guinea from that what was the consequence? Why, person, that he might overlook the persons who were sent to de- those town-lands which had in. stroy this trade, assisted in supporto curred penalties, and place them ing it: for they could get nothing on those on which no offence had but putteen to drink. Besides, been committed. The gallant ge. those who infringed the law, were neral then contended, that the 00protected by their landlords. Hely effectual remedy for this mondid not mean to say that it was so strous evil, was a purification of in the north; but such was the the magistracy of Ireland, which case in the south, and such was the government did not seem the case in the west. The chancel anxious to commence. The Irish lor of the exchequer for Ireland chancellor was not singular in his knew full well that the practice taste. Other noble lords had shown existed in the county of Clare. an equal love for putteen. No man
ever liked it better than the Duke been in force only twelve or thir. of Rutland. The gallant general teen years, and yet not less than concluded by again pointing out 6000 persons had been prosecuted, the necessity of revising the ma- so that the prisons were absolutegistracy of Ireland.
ly crowded. It often happened
that the person guilty could not MR. WINDHAM Quin. pay above ten shillings, and the Under the present system of collector went to those in the high duties, this evil of illicit dis- townships who could best bear the tillation had greatly increased. He fine. He would ask whether any would give one instance: in Li. man, conscious of his innocence, merick, not more than two years could bear to be thus unjustly ago, there were one still of 1500 stripped of his property? It was gallons, and two of 500; there was utterly in vain ihat government now but one of 500, the others made grants for the encouragehad ceased. The increase of fines ment of religion in Ireland, when for illicit distillation had gone to the people were brought up to such an extent, that in the town. systematic perjury, in order 10 lands they were so great, that it save the stills and their produce. was impossible to levy them. No Thus the expense of prosecutions persons would take land in those was enormous: in 1802 it had been districts, lest they should be liable 4021. 128. 5d.; in 1807, 300l.; but to those imposts, and the houses in 1814 there was disbursed for most notorious for the sale of this boards of council, 14,0501., while liquor were those in which disor- the expenses of the local solicitorders of every kind had grown to a general were 53,8001., and those of great extent.
The second solicitor 30,5051. The
bill of costs for the prosecution of MR. W. SMITH.
the 6000 individuals he had menIn England the great distilleries tioned was 30,8071., and the exhad decreased from ten to four. In penses of one province in fines Scotland a similar reduction was amounted to 105,0571. How could found. The fact was, that be the people be patient who had these liquor wholesome or
enormous sums drawn from them cheaper it was, the greater was its for crimes of which they were not consumption, and the more in- guilty? subordination generally followed the facility of getting it in society.
SCOTCH DISTILLERIES. Any body who had seen Hogarth's picture of Gin Alley, had seen The Chancellor of the Exchethis growth of vice admirably de- quer said, that illicit distillation picted.
had, of late years, been carried to
a most mischievous extent, and that MR. FRENCH.
this was very much to be attriHe complained that, under the buted to the bad quality of the present system, the innocent as spirit produced from the regular well as the guilty were punished distilleries. The plan which he inby the levying of fines: 93,0001.tended to submit to the committee. had been levied in one year of consisted of regulation and reducwhich half went to the guager, Lion of duty. For this purpose he and half to the crown. The act had intended to encourage the use of Vol. II.
small stills of 40 gallons. By this consent to a similar measure in means, especially in the High- Ireland. The duty was reduced to lands, where illicit distillation 28. 6d. a gallon for the purpose of chiefly prevailed, a palatable spirit suppressing illicit distillation;, yet might be produced in the legal it was proved that the practice way, and illicit distillation effectue never prevailed so extensively as ally prevented. The duty on spirit at the very time the duty was so was at present 88. 4d. per gallon, lowered. and this he should propose to reduce to 68. 4d. per gallon, namely
MR. P. GRANT. 8d. per gallon on the wasii, and 9d. Mr. P. Grant said, that spirits on the spirit.
were selling for 68. per gallon in
Scotland, being somewhat less than MR. C. GRANT.
the duty proposed to be levied. Mr. C. Grant, sen. stated the How then was it possible to deuniversal prevalence of illicit dis- crease the consumption of illicit tillation, and its lamentable effects spirits, when it was now sold at a on the morals of the people, who, price less than the duty which the by living in opposition to law, right honourable gentleman prolearned to despise it. The legal posed? The morals of the people distiller ought to be encouraged of Scotland were ruined by the in order to check this evil, and that iniemperate use of spirits. At one could aply be done by lowering meeting of magistrates no less the duty. The gentlemen of Scot. | than 1300 persons were brought land wished to put down this sys- up to be fined for carrying on tem, but were persuaded the only illicit distillation. means was to lower the duty.
BRITISH HOUSE OF COMMR. W. DUNDAS.
MONS & CONSTITUTION. Mr. W. Dundas argued in favour of a reduction of the duty to Sir James MACKINTOSH. 58. per gallon. He drew a lamenta. It is obvious, on the coolest reble picture of the deteriorated Rection, that the exclusive power state of morals in the Highlands, of the House of Commons over the arising from the use of ardent spi- public purse is the bulwark of this rits, and contrasted it with the constitution, and that nothing can morality, and good order which, be regarded as small or inconsiprior to the introduction of illicit derable which touches it, which in distillation, had prevailed there. the slightest degree or by the
most remote analogy can enMR. V. FitzGERALD. danger, or contract, or bring into Let it not be too sanguinely ex- question the fundamental principected, however, that low duties ple. It is fit that, in the courts of alone would be sufficient. He was law, the most subtile distinctions not paradoxical enough to assert should be respected, and that the that they would increase the evil; authority of precedent should be but this he recollected, that in Ire maintained, because it is thus only Jand they had been tried, and had that the administration of justice is not diminished it. A right ho. subjected to certain rules, and that nourable friend of his, (Mr. the power of judges is prevented Foster), had been persuaded to from becoming arbitrary. But this
house is instituted, not to follow yond the letter, and without which the example, but to watch over the letter cannot be rightly under. the proceedings of inferior courts. stood. Shall not the same be said The House of Commons is com- of that grand body of written and posed chiefly of those who are not unwritten law relating to the powlawyers, in order that they may ers of government, and the rights of act on the plain and broad princi- the subject, called the constitution? ples of reason and the constitution. As that which defcats the purpose It is their duty to inquire whether without infringing the words of an the result of legal subtilties be the act of paliament is justly said to furtherance of the ends of justice; be inconsistent with its spirit and and above all, to determine whe- principles, so acts are with equal ther there be any reasonings or propriety termed unconstitutional precedents received by other tri. which resemble in their mischief bunals which may be dangerous to acts already condemned as conliberty. These are questions of far trary to the constitution, which obmore importance than any discus- struct the attainment of its universions of mere law; and on them sally acknowledged ends, weaken this house may decide with as the authority of its most useful prin*much discernment as lawyers, and ciples, and of which the example, with much less prejudice. There if consistently followed in all like are even occasions in which law cases, would leave no constitution itself, in order to be preserved, remaining. It is by the condemnamust be overruled by the great tion of practices and pretensions principles of justice and liberty, which are unconstitutional without for which and by which it can being, in the strict and narrow alone exist.
sense of the word, illegal, that the Whatever may have been said of House of Coinmons has most often late, I shall always consider that, performed its high function of to prove the tendency of a claim preserving liberty. Illegal practices to be unconstitutional, it is in the may be checked by courts of law House of Commons the strongest -unconstitutional claims can be of all legal arguments against it. resisted only by parliament. This It has been said, that “ unconsti- house may, indeed, animadvert on tutional" can have no meaning, if a breach of law, but only where it be not synonymous with “ille. that breach of law is in effect, or gal.” But the assertion is false and example, dangerous to the consti. pernicious. Every single statule tution. has a general object and intention This constitution has provided which may be defeated by acts various means of check on that which do not offend against the most unmanageable instrument of letter of any of its clauses. Every power-a standing army. Whether class of statutes relating to one the union of all of them be an ade. subject has a more general scope quate security, may be doubted; and spirit against which there may but no man ever thought that all be many offences not prohibited in were niore than enough. One of so many words in any one statute these controls is, the annual muof the class. The inost subordinate tiny bill, which renders the means part of law, besides its literal pro. of maintaining discipline annually visions, has a spirit, an object, ge- dependent on the pleasure of parneral principles, which extend be. | liament. This check is held by the