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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Temperance in the Victorian Era

A Compilation of short articles

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Transcripts from original newspaper articles: -

Page Contents

A Few Years Ago

A Good Reason

A Village Near Bristol

Beer First Introduced Into England In 1490

Ben Jonson

Cost Of Paint

Don’t Drink To Drive Away Care

How A Distillery Was Stopped

Paste This Up In Your Mind

Pungent Retort



PUNGENT RETORT. – A purse-proud man, just getting into his carriage with his wife and daughter flaunting in velvet and furs, said to a poor labourer who was shovelling coal into his vault, “Joe, if you had not drunk gin, you now might have been riding in a carriage, for nothing else could have prevented a man of you talents and education from making money.” - “True enough,” was the reply of the poor man; “and if you had not sold gin, and induced me and others to become drunkards, you might now have been my driver – for gin-spinning was the only way by which you ever made a shilling in your life.”


Click here to read the Original Newspaper Articles for the following three newspaper items published in a Victorian newspaper:-

Beer was first introduced into England in 1490. By the statue of James I. One quart of the best (!) quality was retailed for one penny.


At a village near Bristol, a young woman lately died, and at her funeral according to usage the glass was well plied, and amongst the rest the mother of her who was dead partook, and became so intoxicated as to unable to follow her child to the grave. Teetotallers! Down with the usages.


PASTE THIS UP IN YOUR MIND. – Let you be ever so pure, you cannot equate with bad companions without falling into bad odour. Evil company is like tobacco-smoke – You cannot be long in its presence without giving away a taint of it.



Ben Jonson (original newspaper article)

BEN JONSON – A vintner, to whom Ben Jonson was once in debt, invited to dine at the Falcon Tavern, and told him that if he would give an immediate answer to the following questions, he would forgive him his debt. The vintner asked him what God is best pleased with, and what he (the vintner) was best please with? Ben, without the least hesitation, gave the following reply, which, as is impromptu, deserves no small share of praise: -

“God is best pleased when men forsake their sin;
The devil is best pleased when they persist therein;
The world’s best pleased when thou dost sell good wine;
And thou’rt best pleased when I do pay for mine.



COST OF PAINT. – A few years ago two physicians of considerable eminence practiced in the same county. One drank no spirituous liquors – the other drank freely. The first grew rich – the other remained poor. Meeting each other one-day, when the former was riding in an elegant carriage, the latter accosted him: - “Doctor, how do you manage to keep a carriage painted in so costly a manner? I have been in practice as long and extensively as you, and charge as much; but I can hardly live and drive the old one.” “The paint on my carriage.” he replied, “didn’t cost half as much as the paint on your face.”*

*Reference to red face due to excessive drinking



DON’T DRINK TO DRIVE AWAY CARE. – No man and no woman is safe who has once formed the fatal habit of looking to drink for solace, or cheerfulness, or comfort. While the world goes well they will likely be temperate but the habit is built, the railroad to destruction is cut ready for use, the rails are laid down, and the station-houses erected; and the train in on the line waiting only for the locomotive. Well, the first great trouble or hopeless grief is the locomotive; it comes to us, it grapples us, and away we go in a moment, down the line we have been years constructing, like a flash of lightning. – Charles Reade.


HOW A DISTILLERY WAS STOPPED. – Mr. Anderson, agent to the Scottish Temperance League, states in the Abstainer’s Journal for March – “The distillery at Ratho has been standing for the last four years, and the cause of its suspension was the following remarkable circumstance: - The poisonous stuff which ran out of the distillery ran into a little streamlet, which in its turn ran through a gentleman’s estate. The death of half-a-dozen ducks was the result. The gentleman was not, of course, bound to lose his property. A law plea followed in some inferior court. The gentleman was the winner. The distiller carried it on from one court to another, till it landed in the Court of Session, where he came off second best, losing £10,000 or £12,000. So the beggar-making establishment was closed; and as the gentleman would not allow the course of the steam to be altered, it stands still. Now, if distillers should be punished for poisoning ducks, should there not be a greater punishment awarded them, when they poison men and women every day they open their gates and expose their merchandise for sale?”


“A FEW years ago a tippler was put into an alms-house in a populous town in this state. Within a few days, he had devised various expedients to procure rum, but failed. At length, however, he hit upon one which was successful. He went into the wood-yard of the establishment, placed one hand upon a block, and with an axe in the other, struck it off at a single blow! With the stump raised and streaming, he ran into the house and cried, “Get some rum! Get some rum! – my hand is off!” In the confusion and bustle of the occasion, a bowl of rum was brought, into which he plunged the bleeding member of his body! Then, raising the bowl to his mouth, drank freely, and exultingly exclaimed, `Now I am satisfied!’” – Professor Mussey’s Address.


A GOOD REASON. – “Why don’t you come after cold victuals as usual?” said a lady to a boy who had for a long time been a daily visitor for that species of charity. “Father has joined the Temperance Society, and we have got warm victuals now,” was the reply.