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to his guidance, and he plays jocosely upon his dulcimer as he beguiles the old man into the open grave, takes the pack off the pedlar's back, and the fool prepares to have a merry bout with him, it will be his last. But there is one plate more touching than all, perhaps because there is less of satire in it. It shows us an old shed, bare and desolate, and a woman bowed down with poverty, is boiling some broth for her two children, when Death steps in and leads off the younger. In vain he stretches out his little hand to his mother, she can only utter exclamations of sorrow, for there is no one to help her. Why should that little one wish to remain amid all that wretchedness? Why should she wish to retain him? Oh, spare the innocent yet a little while! no; Death has him by the hand, and he cannot stay there longer. No wonder the fiction was popular. There was joy, sorrow, mirth, madness, misery-a stereotyped epitome of the world. Every one anxious, every one busy, and death sporting unexpectedly with all. It was a printed homily and satire combined, which all who read could understand, and there was a truth in it of tremendous significance, which all felt it their duty to apply though they did not always care to apply it.
The set of plates here alluded to as "Holbein's Dance of Death” has been published by Mr. H. G. Bohn, of Covent Garden, and, with the illustrative text, forms an interesting and important addition to that valuable series known as the "Antiquarian Library.” G. F. P.
A WINTER'S DAY.
BY VINCENT DOUN.
I LOVE to see a winter's day,
When earth assumes her garb of white:
Can look so pure and bright:
The spotless dress which nature wears
Is that in which she best appears.
I love to see adorned the hills,
Ground decked, and trees enrobed with snow,
Far greater pleasure it instils,
Than autumn's fervid glow:
For then is nature better seen,
Than when she wears her robe of green.
I love to see a winter's day
Though herald of the year's decline;
And happier, man, than thine:
"THE TIMES," AND MR. TIDD PRATT'S ANNUAL REPORT ON FRIENDLY SOCIETIES.
BY CHARLES HARDWICK, P.G.M.
MR. PRATT'S Annual Report was ordered by parliament to be printed on the 5th of August last. It contains important statistical information, much sound advice, together with the usual sprinkling of official horror at what the Registrar, the Times newspaper, and some other distinguished parties seem to regard as the reckless, improvident, nay, drunken habits of men who are not only ostensibly but really banded together for provident purposes. A careful perusal of this report will, however, be of advantage to the members of the Manchester Unity, as well as of other societies less advanced in statistical knowledge. From their practical experience they will be enabled to place the true value upon some of the theories propounded by the worthy Registrar, and profit by the remainder. We must accept the tares along with the wheat, in official as well as agricultural routine. Our chief concern is, that we should not confound the one with the other, and pronounce the whole worthless, because some of the accessories are distasteful.
Our old enemy, the Times newspaper, is as fierce and rampant as heretofore on this subject, but much reduced in power. He has evidently had a little of the wind taken out of him by our previous encounters. In his ungovernable rage against self-governed friendly societies, and their pretensions to a respectable social status, he not only assaults with an ignorant virulence, unusual in the discussion of such questions, the most provident section of the operative population, but what is even more unusual in the Times' leaders, he considerably disfigures, and renders shockingly unintelligible, the Queen's English also. Yes, the recent article in the leading journal betrays a want of knowledge only equalled by its want of temper. Under such circumstances it could scarcely be expected but that the usual flippant, dashing declamation of the "thunderer" would become somewhat unsteady and ponderous in its roll. Indeed the redoubtable scribe seems to confess himself unequal to his task in the very first sentence of his magniloquent tirade. His first typographical bullet is fashioned as follows:-"There is no greater puzzle in this country than its friendly societies." Certainly not to men who are only in possession of a tithe of the truth respecting them, and that tithe handicapped with twice its own weight of falsehood. Really it is very funny to witness the ugly contortions which accompany this writer's spasmodic attempt to expound the nature of the "puzzle" which so pertinaciously defies all his knowledge and all his rhetorical power. Before referring to the special vituperation in the Times' leader and review of the 7th of October, I will ply the more genial task of selecting from Mr. Pratt's report some matters for congratulation and some for instruction.
In the very first paragraph, Mr. Pratt expresses his regret "that the formation of friendly societies where the funds are shared yearly or periodically, still continues." He however adds, "Under these circumstances the Registrar, not being justified in withholding his certificate, has, previously to granting it, pointed out to the members the remarks contained in pages 15 to 17 of his Report for the year 1857, where the subject is fully discussed; and
in some few instances the result has been that sharing has been abandoned, and a permanent society has been established." I have the satisfaction of informing him that large numbers belonging to two others of this class seceded a few weeks ago, in Cheshire, after listening to my lecture on friendly societies. These inen, so far from being offended at my observations, applied to me for instruction how they were to proceed in their effort to establish a society on a sounder footing. Yet, singularly enough, Lord Albemarle, the protégé of the Times, but very recently recommended societies of this class, even when denouncing the imperfections of others. In Norfolk and Suffolk they are called appropriately" goose clubs," in Cheshire and neighbouring counties, "dividend clubs." They have generally an equal contribution, whatever the age on entrance, and the surplus fund is divided at the end of the year. The consequence was, in one of the instances referred to, the young men were actually paying a much higher subscription than their liabilities demanded, which the older portion, who did not pay sufficient for theirs, shared equally with their juvenile friends the surplus capital at the year's end. Of course it is utterly unnecessary to formally condemn such a society to the members of the Manchester Unity. Yet one of these very Cheshire clubs has been in existence much over half a century, and has received the patronage and approval of wealthy landowners and stalwart yeomen during that period. Will this fact help the Times writer to read the "puzzle" of the modern Sphynx?
Mr. Pratt explains the reason why he procured the insertion of the "winding-up" clause in the recent Act of Parliament. It appears that it was more especially intended to meet the case of the "Mutual Benefit Society," formerly held at No. 51, Threadneedle-street, in the city of London. * The history of the society is as follows:-"It was commenced in the year 1820, under the patronage, as appears from the title-page of the published rules, of several noblemen and gentlemen, who allowed their names to be used as a guarantee of the soundness of the society. In addition to the list of patrons, it was stated on the title-page that there was to be a subscribed capital of £20,000. Of this large sum, in figures, it seems that only £180 was ever subscribed, and even this was returned to the subscribers. In fact the guarantee of the subscribed capital never existed, but on paper. Some of the members appear to have been early aware of the instability of the society, for in the year 1824 a considerable number seceded, and formed a new society, called the 'London Friendly Institution,' which is still in existence, and has offices in London Wall, with 2,350 members, and an invested capital of £16,000." When it is remembered that in 1825 neither parliamentary committees nor learned actuaries were able to foresee the disastrous consequences which have resulted from the use of the rates of payment then recommended, perhaps the Times may be induced to show some mercy to the "deluded" noblemen and gentlemen who so patriotically guaranteed the soundness of this society; but of course the poor deluded members, who trusted to their knowledge and judgment, will still furnish sufficient evidence to justify the monstrous assertion that our friendly societies, without any exception, are "at variance with sound principles of morality and prudence; they belie the boasted honour and good sense of Englishmen ; they prove him incapable of self-government; not a word can be said in their defence." Whether the Times can see it not, there is in Mr. Pratt's little history something that may assist in the solution of the riddle referred to. Genteel ignorance, however, may be tolerated, but poverty and ignorance in combination is monstrous! It is to be hoped the Times' writer's purse is well supplied, as his ignorance on the subject of friendly societies would otherwise unquestionably involve himself in his eloquent and patriotic (?) denunciation. If this unscrupulous writer did not know, when he penned
the latter portion of the sentence quoted, "not a word can be said in their defence," that he was giving expression to a ridiculous and contemptible falsehood, he ought to be put under personal restraint by his friends, as a much-to-be-pitied individual, suffering from a friendly society monomania. Scores of individuals, and, amongst them, members of parliament, ministers of religion, learned actuaries, and practical, earnest, self-relying workingmen have done for years, and are now daily doing, the very thing which the Times declares to be an impossibility—a thing which cannot be !
Mr. Tidd Pratt is, as usual, very angry at the members of certain clubs meeting at public-houses, and eating anniversary dinners. He contends that a vast amount of drunkenness results from these practices, which would otherwise have no existence. But some of the illustrations introduced in support of his pre-conceived theory are miserably insufficient for the purpose. He says nothing of the fact that large numbers of ordinary clubs and branches of affiliated bodies do not meet in public-houses, or that the will of a majority of the members in nearly all such societies can remove them to any other place which they who compose that majority may prefer. That, in fact, it is the will of the people themselves to meet occasionally together in some place, and enjoy a little social intercourse, according to the taste and habits which have been handed down to them from age to age, during an unknown number of centuries. The friendly society principle did not take them to public-houses. It developed itself there spontaneously, and, so far as it has acted on the drinking portion of the question, its operation has been productive of more practical temperance than thousands of well-meant but utterly fruitless didactic sermons or philanthropic anathemas. I know that the removal to private rooms has often taken the lodge away from a publichouse, but left the members. The club has decayed, and that portion of some of the members' wages previously subscribed in the lodge-room for provident purposes has been spent in liquor in the bar-parlour or tap-room of the very inn the lodge had deserted. Many "respectable" lodges, chiefly composed of tradesmen, meet in private rooms. I have visited some, and have found, as I nearly always have when visiting the private houses of the middle and upper classes, that both beer, wine, and spirits, can be had without troubling a public-house! I know of many good cellars, the proprietors of which never hang out a sign. There is a fearful amount of hollow hypocrisy often exhibited with reference to this question. If a working-man ought never to enter a public-house for business purposes on account of the temptation to drink, neither ought a magistrate, a vicar, an employer of labour, or a scribe of the Times newspaper; and yet they all do: nay, the first-mentioned often issue summonses compelling working-men to attend at such places, under pains and penalties. The holding of a court of justice in a public-house is an infinitely greater anomaly than the holding of a friendly society in such a place, and productive of infinitely more intemperance. In the former case, the witnesses, and others concerned, are generally to be found loitering about rooms and lobbies awaiting their time of hearing, and consequently exposed directly to the full blaze of the temptation so much dreaded. The Odd-fellows' lodgeroom, on the contrary, is private to its members for the night-and temperance in all things is one of the great principles, not only taught, but enforced during the sitting. Employers of labour often pay their "hands" in publichouses, and by so doing subject them to immeasurably greater temptation to drink than a well-regulated friendly society does. I read in a newspaper a few weeks ago an announcement that a case against a certain clergyman would be investigated by clerical inquisitors at a public-house! Would not a little example add considerable force to the practical developement of this antipublic-house theory? It is mere idleness to select the working-man's provident institution from out the great mass of temptations daily spread abroad
for especial animadversion on this subject. If he is incapable of resisting its influence in the direction referred to, he is utterly unfit for the wearand-tear of this life. He may leave the friendly society, but he won't preserve his temperance. There are thousands of other temptations around him infinitely more powerful for evil, and without the corrective for good. I know scores of persons who pay their money and retire from the lodge without drinking a glass of anything. The chief error lies in the ignoring of the great truth that the friendly society principle has nothing whatever to do with the drinking question except as it acts in favour of temperance by the introduction of provident habits amongst frequenters of public-houses. The customs of the people compel it to adapt itself to some extent to their caprice. If it defies this all-potent condition, it simply ceases its practical action, and degenerates into a mere elegantly rounded apothegm on the lips of professional philanthropy.
Mr. Pratt is so weak in facts to support his theory that he actually publishes the following paltry effusion from some secretary of some friendly society :
"Our club is held at a public-house, which brings upon each member, annually, the following unnecessary expenses :—
s. d. 2 0
This is a low average
"So each member pays annually 15s. into the fund of his club, and it costs him 8s. to do so."
Indeed! Then the working-man who, in twelve months, has had a day's holiday, a feast dinner, and three-and-sixpence-worth of beer during the twelvemonth for 8s., has had nothing for his money but the privilege of paying his subscription. I should like to look at the individual who would assert that such an expenditure by any self-relying industrious man, providing the owner of the money himself is content with his bargain, is either degrading, immoral, or improper in any public sense. The answer he would receive from many such men would be neither gratifying to his organ of self-esteem, nor complimentary to his manners. Really it is a pity government officials have not other and more important business to attend to. The morals of the public have not often been vastly improved by Government action. In this case, if the clergy, the temperance society, and the schoolmaster cannot drag friendly societies into school-rooms and offices, I scarcely think the Registrar will succeed.
But, stay in his dearth of important facts, the Registrar has published an extract from a friendly society report held at Soberton, in the county of Southampton, "from which it appears that no less than 258 gallons of beer were consumed during three years by about 120 members." This is certainly horrible! That 120 men should, with their own money-it would have been all right, perhaps, if the squire had treated his work-people to an anniversary dinner, or a glass of beer occasionally-that 120 men should deliberately drink rather more than two large gallons of beer each in three short years because they had joined a society which held its meetings at a house of public entertainment, built by a "gentleman" (no doubt), and licensed by the magistrates, is an enormity so great, that nothing short of the annihilation of the name of the village, or town, or hamlet where the deed was done can, or ought to satisfy outraged Public Virtue. No! Let Soberton, therefore, be henceforth erased from the map of England, and