[Reynoldsʼs Newspaper, 6. September 1868]

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Reynoldsʼs Newspaper. Nr. 943, 6. September 1868. S. 2.
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The Times says:—A return has just been printed, by order of the House of Commons, of the number of persons within the metropolitan parishes who, within the latter half of last year, were convicted of using false weights and measures. The return is lamentably extensive, occupying no less than sixteen folio pages. The whole number of convictions which it records within six months are no less than 659. If we put out of question the more rural parishes, we have considerably more than 500 convictions. In other words, there are known to have been between five and six hundred shops in the metropolis at which the quantities of goods sold were systematically falsified. The offenders are retail dealers in the commonest necessaries of life, and the loss chiefly falls on the poor. It is sad to think how grievous this loss must be. The number of little transactions which passed through these five or six hundred shops before the false measure was discovered must have been incalculable and the aggregate loss immense. There is nothing, perhaps, in which the poor are so unfortunate as in the conditions under which most of their current purchases are made. Their food is adulterated, it is excessively dear for its quality, and we now see that in numerous cases they have also to suffer from scant measure. A half pint of beer, for instance, in a public-house will cost two pence, though it will not be so wholesome as what a private gentleman drinks for less than a penny, and will, besides, be stinted in quantity. This is probably no unfair example of the waste generally inflicted on the small resources of the poor. They would, indeed, have abundant occasion to betake themselves to cooperative stores. The classes who have lately been forwarding that system are endeavouring to escape from comparatively moderate overcharge compared with that which oppresses the classes beneath them. It is true, a little more forethought and energy would be sufficient to deliver a great number of the poor from this thraldom. There is no reason why they should not pay a few shillings now and then for a cask of good and cheap beer, instead of buying it in pots every day from the public-house. There is no reason why their wives should not buy a great portion of their portion of their greengrocery at market, and purchase grocery and chandlery in rather larger quantities at better shops. But there will always be a large class who will never practice, or be in a position to practice, this kind of economy; and it is really a great hardship that they should be exposed to such grievous injustice as is indicated by the present [return.]


  • Social cases. 1869