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I AM a retired publican, and date from
the days when publicans were publicans. I
kept the Bottle of Hay, in Leather Lane,
when public-houses were worth keeping. I
have a tidy penny in the funds now, a
neat little box at Hoxton, am an elder of
my chapel, one of the committee of my
Literary and Scientific Institution, and a
governor of the Licensed Victuallers'
Association. If I had kept my house as houses
are kept now I might have a villa at Ealing,
and be a Middlesex magistrate, perhaps; or,
just as probably, I should be occupying
apartments in the Licensed Victuallers' Aimshouses.
I prefer my tidy funded penny and my box
to both. Altogether I may claim to be a
respectable man; for I have a very snug
little trap (under tax) and my pony, Barrett,
(he was a butcher's before he was mine, and
a swell's before he was a butcher's) can do
something considerable in the trotting line.

My trap and I and my friend Spyle, who
has a neat superannuation on the Customs,
go about a goodish deal among public-houses
now. You see I have a kind of liking for
the old trade; and there is no amusement I
like so much as tasting the beer at a new
house, or dropping in at stated times, and in
rotation on an old one, or looking about as to
the next probable owner of a shut-up house,
or attending public-house auctions and the
like. Something might turn up some day,
you know, where a party could invest his
little savings profitably; and that is why I
like to keep in with my distillers Porcus and
Grains, and with my old brewers Spiggot,
Buffle and Bung, for business reasons, over
and above the drop of something comfortable
that they are sure to ask me if I will take
this morning. In fact, if you could put me
up to any snug concern drawing a reasonable
number of butts a month, that a party could
drop in to reasonable, I think I might hear
of a bidder.

This doesn't interfere a tittle, however, with
my firm and settled opinion that the public
line is going to ruin. To rack and ruin. The
teetotallers, of course, have done a deal of
harm; but still they take a decent quantity
medicinally, and the very fierce ones they
generally break out very fierce about once a
month and make up for lost time. It's the
publicans themselves that do the injury by
introducing all sorts of innovations and
new-fangled enticements to drink to their
customers. As if a man wanted leading on
to drink ! He never did in my time. The
landlords themselves are their own enemies,
and with their plate glass and gilding and
rosewood fittings and the rest of it, they are
making the line disrespectable. At least, I
think so. A public-house isn't a public-house,
now, but something quite different.

Now there 's my old house in Leather Lane:
the Bottle of Hay. I sold the lease, stock,
goodwill and fixtures to old Berrystack. He
was one of the old school, as I am, and if he
hadn't taken it into his senses to go out of
them, and to be now in a lunatic asylum and
a padded room, he would have carried the
house on in the old, and my manner, to this
day, I have no doubt. Before he went mad,
however, he had sense enough to sell the
house to young Bowley, whose father was a
gauger in the docks. The license and
Berrystack's pretty daughter Louisa were
transferred to Bowley at the same time; and as
man and wife (Louisa was the prettiest hand
at mixing a twopenn'orth, hot, and saying a
civil word to the old gentlemen that used the
house, that ever you saw) they went on for a
year or two as comfortable as may be. But
what did young Bowley but go to cards, and
then to horse-racing and betting, and to
wearing a horseshoe pin in his neckerchief,
and trousers much too tight for him about
the legs? And where did he go afterwards
but into Whitecross Street, and afterwards
to the Insolvent Court; and where did Mrs.
Bowley go but off to Boulogne with the cashbox
and the military chap (I never could
abide him with his moustaches and his airs)
that was always hanging about the bar
parlour. A pretty piece of business this, for
a respectable house! But, bad as Bowley
was, the next tenant was worse. He had
plenty of money and all that; but I
have no hesitation in saying that he was a
fellow. A fellow. He was ashamed of his
apron. Nothing but a full suit of black would
suit my gentleman; and he would stand
behind the bar twiddling his Albert guardchain,
and, if he were asked for change, pull
it out of a thing like a lady's reticule, which