Bradford Observer (03/Aug/1843) - Huddersfield: Brewers and Publicans v. Father Mathew

The following is a transcription of a historic newspaper article and may contain occasional errors. If the article was published prior to 1 June 1957, then the text is likely in the Public Domain.



[ In reference to the following strange narrative we have to state that it is substantiated by a communication upon the same subject, which we have received from another correspondent. We suspect that both our correspondents have mistaken the end and aim of the publicans and brewers at Huddersfield. Their intention was — no doubt of it — to confirm those whom Father Mathew had but lately initiated into the doctrines of temperance ; and to effect this purpose they copied from the ancient Spartans, who were accustomed to make their slaves drunk, that thus their children might see, indirectly, the beauty of temperance. We are surprised that the half hidden, symbolical morality, and classical taste of the publicans and brewers of Huddersfield, have not been better appreciated by our correspondents. But to the tale. ]

The brewers and publicans of the town and neighbourhood of Huddersfield, have been sadly unhinged and chagrined at the visit of Father Mathew. Their uneasiness manifested itself prior to his appearance amongst us, by the fact of their tearing down from the walls, where opportunity served, the large placards announcing his coming. But the astonishing success that attended his mission operated on them like an electric shock, and the consternation spread through all their ranks like wild-fire, paralyzing all, from the wholesale dealer down to the meanest Jerry Lord. No sooner, however, had they recovered from the effects of the paralytic influence thus generated, than they summoned a council to take the matter into consideration, and devise what they conceived to be, the most effectual plan to counteract the onward march of teetotalism, and thus bring back again to their allegiance those who had been emanicipated from their galling yoke, as well as retain those who still remain their voluntary serfs. The stirring appeals urged at this convention would, no doubt, be in some such stile as this—"Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our, wealth. Moreover, ye see and hear that not alone in Ireland, but almost throughout Great Britain, for in York, and Leeds' and Bradford, and Wakefield, and Halifax, and Manchester, and Liverpool, and London, and even in Huddersfield, this Father Mathew hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying -that intoxicating drinks are extremely injurious, and that we, who are engaged in the manufacture and sale of these articles, are carrying on an unholy and immoral calling ; and that all wise and suitable men will do well to shun our bar and taprooms, and abandon for ever the use of these pernicious things from which we derive our princely fortunes, and are enabled to live in luxury and ease, out of the hard earnings of the labouring man, and at the expense of starving wives and ragged and uneducated children." After such an exciting harangue, it might be that the whole assembly would spontaneously cry out, — "Great is Bacchus, the god of strong drink." Be this as it might, however, before they separated they hit upon a scheme, a most admirable one surely, by which they thought to entice those who had taken the pledge, to break it ; as well as to throw discredit upon the cause of total abstinence, and thus take away its popularity. A great demonstration must be got up in favour of the Bacchanalian cause — such an one as might be expected in a half-civilized and sensual community. Certain parties were appointed to canvass the brewers and publican, in order to ascertain what each would contribute towards the affair, and two of the most worthless and shameless "led on the embattled host," one of whom was to be denominated, for the occasion, Father Mitchell, and the other, Father Gawthorp. The following is the result of their canvass.

Altogether 10 barrels were collected. Mr. Bentley Shaw and some others decliuing to have anything to do with the matter.

They then procured the Circus Royal, a wooden building erected for temporary amusements and theatrical exhibitions, from Messrs. Armytage and Kaye, in which the orgies were to be held. Monday last being the day fixed for the demonstration, about three o'clock in the afternoon, the thirsty part of Lindley band commenced parading the streets, accompanied by a number of wretched boys, and preceded by a banner with this inscription, "Good Ale and Roast Beef for Old England ; God save the Queen — and Peace with all the World." About 300 or 400 disorderly persons were by this time assembled opposite the Circus Royal

The doors being thrown open, over which was reared the banner, the company was admitted (a man being stationed at the entrance to present a "tot" of ale to be drunk by every one who entered, in order to keep out the teetotallers). Stephen Dickinson, a beer-shop keeper, occupied the ticket box as treasurer, and received the sum of 3d. from each customer. Mother Gawthorpe, of the Plumbers' Arms, and Balderson, of the Neptune, were also placed as sentinels, to prevent any from passing into the room who did not drink his glass.

Inside, the beer was handed round in cans, but not a vesture of "Roast Beef of Old England," or any other eatable, was provided for the deluded customers. The drinking and disorder proceeded until 7 o'clock, when affairs had assumed such a serious aspect, the noise and violence greatly increasing, that the constables and deputies of the town entered the place, and, after a full hour's exertion, managed to clear the place. While this was going on, Mitchell and his companions rolled a barrel out of doors, from the back way, and knocked out the bung, when the crowd rushed upon it with their heads downwards in order to catch a mouthful of the beer as it ran out. Some made use of their breakfast cans, which they filled as well as they could, and took it away where they could drink it more quietly. Fighting soon commenced, which found plenty of work for the constables, but they seemed to care little for the blows they had received. The barrel-fight lasted half-an-hour, making its way from Manchester Street, over two or three pig-styes, into Westgate, and ultimately terminated near the White Hart, in Cloth Hall Street. The efforts of the police were fruitless, save that six of the unfortunates were lodged in the lock-up for the night. Many parts of the town continued in a state of disorder until two o'clock in the morning.

On Thursday, the parties who had been imprisoned, with the addition of some others, were brought before the magistrates on various charges. One was committed to the House of Correction for one month, and the others fined in various sums, and bound over, with their friends, to keep the peace, receiving severe reprimands and remonstrances from the magistrates, who at the same time took the opportunity of expressing their indignation at the conduct of the promoters and managers of the demon-stration !

To crown all, the originators of this affair must needs pretend charity ; they had the coolness to offer the money raised on this occasion to the officers of the Huddersfield and Upper Agbrigg infirmary, but they, to their honour, indignantly refused it.

The following is a scan of an original article and is made available under the terms of fair use for research purposes.

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