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THE SUPPRESSION OF THE SUNDAY TAVERNS.
We devoutly thank Almighty God, for his blessing upon the means employed by the London City Mission, to abate the flagrant evils originating in the Sunday taverns of the metropolis. Persons not residing in London, as well as many who do reside in it, have been ignorant of the extent of Sabbath profanation and of public and private immorality, through the attractions of such places. For several years past the evil has been increasing. Large fortunes have been expended on houses, on gardens, on concertrooms, and theatres, in order to collect, accommodate, and gratify thousands and tens of thousands of the population. The summer months have witnessed places of worship thinly attended, and Sunday taverns crowded to inconvenience. While the few have been honouring the Sabbath, the many have been breaking it. No church nor chapel in London has had on the Sabbath evening so large a congregation has been assembled at the Eagle Tavern. Four, five, six, and even seven thousand persons, have been accommodated at the same time when the weather has been favourable; and so large is the accommodation at this one place, that there is “covering " for 7,000 persons in the event of rain.
But this is only one out of many. East and west, north and south, have they offered their attractions, and hundreds, and even thousands, especially of young persons, have been beguiled and ruined.
It was feared by many that the evil had grown beyond correction, and that no means could be successfully employed to destroy it. Year after year has rolled away, and has witnessed not only no diminution, but an increase of such places, and an increase of the taste of certain classes of society to attend them.
No less than thirteen new applications according to the notice paper signed by the Clerk of the Peace were to be made, on Thursday, October 21, for licenses, and they were made, but, we are happy to say, were refused.
We shall not repeat the description of these places which we gave in our Magazine for September, but refer our readers to that account, and to the “ Cases illustrative of the Evils of Sunday Taverns," which we published in the Magazine for October. Many have been surprised and grieved that such scenes of wickedness had so long been permitted to exist and to spread, but they will now rejoice with us that they are at an end.
The Committee of the London City Mission, in order that they might be accurately informed of what occurred on the Sabbath evening at these places, sent ten Missionaries on the first Sabbath evening in August to five of the principal Sunday taverns: intending to avail themselves of the information thus obtained in the way most likely to accomplish their object. The report of the Missionaries was embodied in the article of September 1, already alluded to: and it attracted the attention of a worthy and most indefatigable magistrate, who supplied us with the cases of nine youths, varying from thirteen to seventeen years of age, now in Newgate, * under sentence of transportation, who had first been ruined by attending such places, and of nineteen boys and girls in two other metropolitan gaols, whose ages vary from twelve to nineteen years, and who had been first corrupted and then ruined by being decoyed to concerts and theatres. These two papers
* These cases were not published in our last Magazine, but were added to the paper printed for the magistrates. They are as follows:
CASES:-"R- S- -, aged fifteen; committed February 2, 1841; constantly attended the S-Tavern in the Shepherd and Shepherdess Fields, with young girls and young thieves; has been three or four times in custody. Sentenced to transportation for seven years.".
"R G-, aged sixteen ; committed February 10, 1841; a constant attendant at the beer-shops and licensed houses in Westminster ; repeatedly in custody. Transported for seven years."
“P Y- , aged seventeen; committed February 11, 1841; this lad frequently visits the licensed bouses in St. Giles's neighbourhood with young girls. Several times in custody, and once convicted.”
G-, aged fourteen; committed February 19, 1841; and H. C С. -, aged fifteen ; committed February 20, 1841; both these boys attended almost every night at the S- Tavern with young prostitutes and thieves. Each transported for seven years.”
“P-R- -, aged fourteen ; committed February 24, 1841; attended the licensed houses in the neighbourhood of Kent-street and the Kent-road with reputed thieves. Has been several times in custody. Transported for seven years."
C-, aged thirteen ; committed March 3, 1841 ; attended nearly every night at the E
Tavern, City-road. Twice in custody. Transported for seven years.”
O'B-, aged fifteen ; committed March 18, 1841; and JP-, aged fifteen; coinmitted March 29, 1841; both frequenters of the STavern with very bad company; repeatedly in custody. Both transported for seven years.”
were afterwards printed and sent with a letter to every magistrate, amounting in all to about 580. In this way the subject was brought calmly and fully before their attention, and prepared them for considering the applications as they presented themselves on the 21st of October. In addition, the Committee addressed to the magistrates a memorial, with the view of bringing the subject publicly under their consideration.
“The Court for hearing applications under the Act of the 25th Geo. II. cap. 36, for Licenses for public Dancing, Music, or other public Entertainment of the like kind,” met on Thursday, October 21, at the Sessions-house, Clerkenwell, and immediately after the Court was opened, the Chairman, Mr. Sergeant Adams, said that he had received, in common with his brother Magistrates, certain documents from the London City Mission, and which he had read attentively. He then alluded to the memorial presented by the same Society last year, (praying that licenses would not be granted to places to be used as penny theatres for the corruption of children, and which was so kindly attended to by the magistrates;) and further stated, that he held in his hand another memorial, addressed to them by the Committee of the London City Mission, on the subject of the Sunday taverns.
Mr. M William then moved that it be read by the Clerk of the Court, which was accordingly done.
The following is a copy of the memorial :
TO THE WORSHIPFUL THE JUSTICES OF THE PEACE FOR THE
COUNTY OF MIDDLESEX. “ The humble Memorial of the Committee of the London City
Mission SHEWETH, “ That your memorialists are the Committee of an Institution formed in London in the year 1835, to advance the moral and religious interests, especially of the humbler classes of society, in the metropolis. That among the obstacles to the progress of social happiness, and of good order in society, your memorialists have specially to complain of the existence, and rapid increase of Sunday and other large taverns, licensed for concerts under the 25th of George II. The proprietors of several of them, under the name of concerts,' have plays performed: they have large theatres, large companies of actors, and all the paraphernalia of the licensed theatres, with this disadvantage, that spirits and water and other liquors, and cigars, are served to the company during the whole time of the performances.
“ That your memorialists sent on Sunday evening, August 1st, ten of their Missionaries to visit five of these Sunday taverns; and at the Royal Eastern Vauxhall, or New Globe Tavern, they found about 3,000 persons, and a large proportion of them under twenty-one years of age. At Copenhagen House they found about 700 persons. At the White Conduit House, about 1,200 persons were present during the evening. There are no less than twelve theatrical and ten musical performers connected with this establishment-a provision certainly never contemplated by the licenses granted to them for the convenience of the public. At the Royal Standard Tavern there were about 1,000 persons, and chiefly under twenty-five years of age. But at the Eagle Tavern, in the City-road, there were present during the evening nearly 5,000 persons, and very many of the females evidently women of loose character. No less than thirty-seven waiters were busily employed during the whole evening in serving spirits and water : and other liquors, cigars, and refreshments, to the company-a desecration of the Lord's-day never contemplated in granting a license to sell beer and spirits, and a preference to the publican to get gain, while other tradesmen are compelled by law to cease from trading, inimical to the equity of the laws under which we live.
“ That your memorialists respectfully call your attention to the evils inflicted on the rising youth of the age by the scenes and excitements of these places, and in proof would refer to the testimonies of many youths at present under sentence of transportation, and others committed for various periods to our metropolitan prisons, confirming the fact that they are schools of vice, and nurseries for our prisons, our hulks, and our penal colonies ; and further, your memorialists would especially impress upon you the great national crime of a legal sanction being given to the open desecration of the Lord's-day by these places being more crowded on the evening of that day than any other. That your memorialists respectfully append to this memorial two papers more fully illustrating and confirming what they have alleged against these taverns.
“ Praying that you will command an inquiry to be instituted, and that you will grant no license by which the Lord's-day will be legally desecrated, and the corruption of the youth of both sexes advanced to the injury of society, “ Your memorialists will never cease to pray. “Signed, by order and in behalf of the Committee,
“R. E. DEAR, Chairman. “ London City Mission Office,
Oct. 12, 1841.” After the memorial had been read, Mr. M«William rose and supported it in a decided and effective manner. Among other statements, he communicated to the Court the following astounding document, and strongly urged upon his brother magistrates the necessity of their interposing, to defend the poor and the ignorant, as well as others, from the wiles of men who were ever ready to ensnare them, provided that by so doing they could enrich themselves :
“ House of Correction, Oct. 21, 1841. “ There were yesterday, after discharging those whose terms had expired, the following number of prisoners :Males
973, EXCLUSIVE OF CHILDREN. Of that number, those who could read, write, and cipher, were: Males
256 Consequently, 717 had no education at all, or so little as not to deserve the name.
(Signed) 66 G. P. CHESTERTON." John Wilks, Esq., then rose and spoke at great length and in an able manner on the whole question, showing that it was not the comfort of the poor, that these Sunday taverns were intended to promote, but to enrich their proprietors. He quoted from the documents of the Mission; and exposed the fallacy of the arguments used by some persons, that in the gardens of these taverns the poor get fresh air. He particularly asked, What fresh air could be got at the Eagle Tavern within half a mile of Finsbury-square, among 5,000 persons of a Sabbath evening, many of them smoking, and all of them, more or less, drinking during the whole evening ? Mr. Pownall and Mr. Stock also addressed the Court, taking similar views of the subject.
The notice paper was then proceeded with, until the name of “ Thomas Rouse, Eagle Tavern, City-road," was called, when Mr. M-William rose and opposed the renewal of the license. Mr. Wilks again addressed the Court at great length, and opposed the renewal of the license. Sir Peter Laurie warmly opposed its renewal, and bore testimony to the evil inflicted upon a valuable servant of a brother magistrate by her visiting the Eagle Tavern. Two magistrates spoke in favour of Mr. Rouse, and especially dwelt upon the hardship that would be suffered by Mr. Rouse in consequence of his having spent so large a sum of money on his premises; to which Mr. Wilks very properly replied, that it was because so large a fortune had been spent to corrupt and injure society, that he thought an example ought to be made of Mr. Rouse, to prevent others following his example; “Still," he said,
we have not to do with Mr. Rouse, we have to do with the Eagle Tavern." Mr. Phillips, who was counsel for Mr. Rouse, rose and asked permission to say a word in explanation, and then called upon Mr. Rouse, publicly before the Court, to promise, that if the Court would renew his license, his premises should never again be open on the Sabbath evening, Mr. Rouse