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LICENSED VICTUALLERS' BANQUET.

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LICENSED VICTUALLERS' BANQUET. The annual banquet of the Merthyr and Dowlais Licensed Victuallers' and Beerhouse Keepers Associa- tion, was held at the Bush Hotel on Thursday evening last, when close upon two hundred members and visitors sat down to a most recherche banquet which was served out in a manner that reflected great credit upon Mr. and Mrs. B. Michael, the genial host and hostess. The dining hall had been decorated in a beautiful manner, which proved that Mr. Meredith, to whom this duty was entrusted to, is possessed of very considerable artistic talent. The walls had been draped with coloured hangings, relieved here and there by mirrors and fans, and in in prominent posi- tions were such mottoes as Success to our Associa- tion," Defence not defiance," and Unity is strength." The whole arrangements were in the hands of Councillor Dan Thomas, who carried out his duties in a most assiduous manner, and utilised that rare ability of which he is possessed to make the event the most successful of its kind ever held in Merthyr. The chair was occupied by Mr. E. D. Evans, Heol- gerrig, the outgoine president of the Association, and he was supported on the cross table by Mr. Reginald Mortimer (barrister-at-law), Alderman Hislop, J.P., Newcastle-under-Lyne, president of the National Defence League, Mr. Alfred A very (general secretary of the League). Mr. Herbert C. Lewis (The Mardy, Aberdare), Colonel Lewis, Messrs. Christmas Evans, W. Griffiths (Taflt Vale Brewery), J. T. Harrap, Thos. Jenkins, J.P. (High Constable), Councillor Dan Thomas, Dr. Cromwell Jones, Mr. Thomas Moiris, C.C. (Taff Brae, Cefn), Mr. F. T. James (solicitor), and the Rev. Canon Wade. Whilst the inner man was in the course of being satisfied, sweet strains of music enlivened the pro- ceedings, Mr. Morgan manipulating the harp, and Mr. Scott the concertina. A most exhaustive toast list had been prepared, and the first two toasts, namely those of "The Queen" and The Prince and Princess of Wales, were loyally drunk with musical honours. The ministers of all denominations" had been entrusted to Mr. J. W. Lewis, who, in the course of a felicitous speech, said that the drinking of that toast was an acknowledgment of the conscientiousness with which ministers discharged their duties. He observed that at a temperance meeting in Cardiff a minister of religion had admitted the utter failure of the Sunday Closing Act in Wales, and when ministers admitted that they might depend upon it that it would not be long before that Act would be repealed. The gentle- man who was to respond to that toast was noted for his devotion to duty, and his solicitude for the welfare of the poor, and he asked them to heartily drink the toast, coupled with the name of Canon Wade (applause). The Rev. Canon Wade, in responding, declared that) they should not blame the licensed victualler, who conducted his business in an honourable manner. What they should blame was the abuse of the trade (applause). It was as wrong to blame the publican for the evils of drink, as it was to blame the gun- powder manufacturer for causing hecatombs of slaughter on the battlefield (applause). It was a matter of regret that their learned stipendiary and the magistrates' clerk had been forced to confess that the Sunday Closing Act was a failure, and it was also a matter of regret that he, as a minister, was bound to join in that confession (applause). He knew that it had created fresh crimes, and it was a proof of the failure of the experiments of faddists. Mr. Vazie Simons proposed the toast of The Army, Navy, and Auxiliary Forces," coupling with it the names of Colonel D. R. Lewis and Major L. P. Jones. Colonel Lewis, in responding, expressed the pride he felt that he was the commanding officer of the largest regiment of Volunteers in Great Britain, and in Fact that the Merthyr detachment was so efficient. Arrangements had been made for a march of a Welsh regiment through South Wales, and he felt certain that they would be able to prove to the inhabitants that they were not the drunken lot that they were usually thought to be, but that they were men who could properly behave themselves. He hoped that when they did come to Merthyr the licensed vic- tuallers of Merthyr would treat them as they should be treated (cries of We will"). When a battalion of engineers passed through some years ago they were billeted upon the licensed victuallers, and a corporal had told him that instead of being treated to boiled stuffs they had had the choicest poultry (laughter). He concluded an able speech by complimenting the men on their behaviour at camp, and by hoping that Government would deal generously with the force in future. Mr. Reginald Mortimer proposed the toast of Our Magistrates and the Governing bodies," and in the course of a lengthy speech observed that they had few opportunities of showing the magistrates how they appreciated their voluntary yet arduous dutiesâ (hear, hear)âand he would not be presuming too much when he said that the presence of magistrates at gatherings of that kind was due insomepaitto the sympathy they felt for those who were doing their beat in a difficult and sometimes despised trade. In proposing that toast he could not but allude to the fact that, since their last annual gathering, one of the most respected magistrates in the county of Glamor- gan had been taken away. There was no man whose opinion was more appreciated by his fellow-townsmen and all who knew him than the late Mr. Smyth (applause). That gentleman was appreciated for his extreme integrity, uprightness, and impartiality, and everyone present that night deeply lamented his loss. He asked if it would be possible for some of them to show a little more true sympathy with those who had to carry on a very difficult and a very arduous trade (apolause). Those engaged in the trade had a difficult task to perform in trying to perform their duty to the laws of the country, their duty to the people, and their duty to themselves. If this sympathy was shown, he did not think the Bench would lose one whit of its dignity, and he was sure the people of the country and the members of the trade would deeply appreciate it (applause). There were other governing bodies besides the magistrates, and there was one authority which was higher than the magistrates, and that was Parliament. The Houses of Parliament- the House of Commons in particular-had not been very busy with the trade during the last year, for they had been otherwise engaged. No Local Veto Bill had been re-introduced this year, but it was true they bad the promise of one in the future. He could assure them that when this Bill was re-introduced it would have a warmer reception than its wretched predecessor (applause). They had heard no more about the Welsh Local Veto Bill, and he supposed that measure was crumbling in the mausoleum where all the ill-gotten progenies of teetotal reform would keep it warm company (laughter and applause). Sir William Harcourt could not raise any money on the Nonconformist conscience, of which they had heard so much, and he was obliged to turn his attention to the licensed victuallers, the brewers, and the distillers. Overburdened with taxation as the licensed victuallers were, yet they were ever ready to come forward and put their hands deep into their pockets on behalf of any good objectâ(applause)âand they had proved themselves always ready to help the fatherless and the widow in a time of need. During the past year they had heen entertained a? onlookers at several schemes which had lieen placed before the country. The Bishop of Loudon had come forward with his little licensing scheme, and the Bishop of Chester (Dr. Jayne) had bis scheme, whilst there were several suggestions from various teetotal organisations. The result of it all had been that amid the smashing of mitres and the clashing of teetotal tongues, the licen- sed trade still went on, and the people who required reasonable refreshments treated those in the trade as respectable and responsible citizens (applause). Despite all these tilings, they must not be surprised if he said that they were not quite contented, for they did not want to see sri much credence given to the thumping lie of the United Kingdom Alliance agita- tor, nor so much countenance given to the evidence of paid spies, as the system of espionage was altogether un-English (applause). England's greatness had been made by maintaining her old institutions, and by the liberties which were allowed equally to all Her Majesty's subjects (applause). The High Constable responded in a witty speech, and was followed by Mr. V. A. Wills who said that one of the great apostles of teetotalism in Merthyr « said that the beer was at the bottom of the recent yocal election. He (Mr. Wills) differed entirely from that gentleman, because he believed that the elections were fought on the water questionâ(loud laughter)â and if they would only refer to the columns of the local papers during the last three weeks they would see very interesting debates on the water question. Soma members of the old Local Board were unable to retain their seats owing to the fact that a large CUJtb.r of them were members of the great secret committee (applause). But m common parlance he iniflit tell them that at the very first meeting of the new Council they busted the show "â(applause)â and from henceforth each and every member of the Council would have the right to know the ins and outs of everything that was being carried on. Last year he told them that at the Local Board there was an inner circle, but by the spirit and energy of men like Mr. Dan Thomasâ(applause)âwith his trenchant remarks in the press, they had been the means in a great measure of bringing the electorate of the parish to a right sense of their duty. He flattered himself that the electors had sent to the Urban District Council a finer body of men than had ever sat there before (applause). He did not mean to say that they were going to bring down the rates straight away, because under the new Act they would probably have to entail considerable expenditure, but they might stake their bottom dollar that the majority of the Council would do their liest to economise. A great deal had been said about One man 'one Board," but until he sat on more than one public authority he had no idea of knowing how the affairs of the parish were managed. The very men who cried out One man, one Board," had been sitting on several local bodies for years andfcad things all their own way, but when they found^hat a few men like himself, Mr. Dan Thomas, and Mr. Evan Lewis followed them into their den and liearded them, they began to cry "One man, one Board" (applause). To-day Wales was suffering from a very bad diseaseâthe Welsh Sunday Closing Act-the only remedy for which was to repeal the Actâ(applause)âin such a way as would meet with the approval of the people. He hoped they would make this a test question at every election until they got the Act repealed, so that the poor man would no longer be robbed of his beer on Sunday (applause). The Licensed Victuallers Defence Leigue of England and Wales and the National Trade Defence Fund was proposed by Mr. Tom Edwards, Ponty- pridd. He contended that there was nothing to be found fault with in their trade except the abuses which crept in, and in every good thing which God had bestowed upon mankind abuses of some kind would creep in and there came the mischief. When their Great Master lived upon the earth something like nineteen centuries ago there was amongst the Jews a proud sect known as the Pbarises who thought themselves righteous and despised others. To-day, unfortunately amongst the Gentiles they would find a proud sect who thought themselves righteous and depised everybody connected with the lisensed trade. If these people would come amongst them at gather- ings of thatr kind they would get 110 harm, and the presence of good men like Canon Wade could only assist others to become good (applause). For nearly forty years he (the speaker) had lived in the trade and he had done business amongst public houses from January to December, and those who knew him could judge whether he had been at all demoralised during the whole of that time. His experience was that public houses were a great source from which people obtained an enormous amount of intelligence and recreation. Faddists might try their best to injure the legitimate licensed trade, but that trade could not be dealt with by better hands than the magis- trates, who now rightly insisted upon having every house properly conducted. Alderman Hislop, J.P., responded, and having explained the objpcts of the league went on to say that it was called into existence in 1872 owing to the embarassing legislation which took place at the time under a Bill introduced into Parliament by Mr. Bruce, now Lord Aberdare. This Bill bristled with pains and penalties against members of the trade, and It was therefore considered necessary that some national organisation should be established. The first meeting was held at Salford, where they had a fair representation of those engaged in the trade throughout the kingdom. They formed an executive body called the Council, and with their president and vice-president they had continued to exist until now (applause). The duty of the league was to watch the various measures which were from time to time intro- duced into Parliament, and which could be con- sidered as aggressive against the trade. In that respect they had endeavoured to do their duty as far as they possibly could, and to-day, the league was more powerful than it ever had been before, both numeri- cally and financially. The financial year was just closing, and the finance committee would meet next week, and he was glad that in this respect the year had been a successful one (applause). It was a national movement, and he was proud of the colleagues he had worked with during the last 21 years. He had met those who had known the trade 30 years ago, and from them he had received a good schooling, and gained a great experience which had proved of much use to the league. They had briefly referred to measures which had been passed, and which had proved highly detrimental. Take the last 25 years what had been the cause of these measures being introduced ? Was it because there had lieen any great degradation of the people, or because of any great a cry on the part of the nation of such legislation. With regard to the Welsh Sunday Closing Act, what was the justification for the passing of that Act. At the demand of the Principality, a commission sat some time ago to enquire into the operation of that Act. This commission visited all the most important towns in Wales and collected a vast amount of evidence but lie was sorry to say that there was a great absence of evidence given on behalf of the trade. He regretted this, because, if anyone knew how the trade was being conducted, and how it ought to be conducted, it was those who were engaged in it (applause). It was not the Bishop of Chester, and it was not the gentlemen who preached on Sundays, or the gentlemen in the House of Commons who knew how to conduct the licensed victualler's trade. It was the licensed â¢victualler himself. This commission, then, that sat in Wales-he believed it sat in every important town in the Principalityâcollected a large amount of evidence in regard to the Sunday Closing Act. When they issued their report, he must say that report was most incomplete, it was most inaccurate and halting, and disappointing, meaning neither one thing nor the other. The Commissioners' report meant nothing whatever. The question which that commission was expected to answer was whether the operation of the Sunday Closing Act had decreased or increased drunkenness on Sundays (applause). But upon this question the Commissioners were silent. However, they all knew that drunkenness had greatly increased through the operation of the Act. The Commissioners, it was true, made certain suggestions such as that the bona fide traveller should nave to walk six miles instead of three, and that no one should be allowed to remain in a public-house to consume spirits longer than was necessary, and that the land- lord should keep a book in which the names of every- one who called for a drink should be entered. This was an insult to the licensing trade of Wales (applause). Then there was the Local Veto Bill, which had now mysteriously disappeared, and for which there should be some justification before it was introduced into Parliament. The petitions signed against the Local Veto Bill con- tained the signatures of 2,000,000 people, whereas the petitions presented in favour of the measure only had 600,000 signatures, and this, he ventured to say, showed the feeling of the country upon the matter. I He was pleased to hear of the success of their asso- ciation, which he believed was due to the efforts of their president and Mr. Dan Thomas (applause). He hoped they would all stand together when the time came for them to return members to the House of Commons. He apprehended that they had a candi- date-(" We have")âand he hoped they would leave no stone unturned in their efforts to return him to Parliament (applause). Mr. Taliesin Morgan and Mr. Dan :Thomas also responded. Mr. Herbert C. Lewis, who was received with loud applaube, next proposed "The Town and Trade of Merthyr." Ho spoke of the mineral wealth which was only waiting for capitalists to develop, and said that in the coal trade Merthyr was not only the mother in South Wales but of the whole world (applause). The expansion of Merthyr was still going on, and an instance of this could be found in the employment which Mr. Christmas Evans was finding for Merthyr men who chose to go over with him to Gilfach Goch (applause). Mr. Lewis con- i eluded by paying that those who had made enormous wealth in Merthyr had left behind no public monu- ments. He believed that there were resources from which Merthyr could again renew her strength and continue to prosper (applause). Mr. W. Griffiths, in responding to the toast, said that Merthyr rose to prosperity very rapidly, and 18 or 20 year. ago it seemed likely to go down as rapidly. But now they could see new houses in front of them, houses behind them, and houses on each side, and p!enty of people anxious to fill them. With regard to the proposed new public offices, he thought that the site chosen was an excellent one. as it was situated j H midst the three graces. There waa St. David's Church signifying Faith," and Hope Chapel on the other, whilst at the back they nad the Union Workhouse signifying Charity (loud applause). He saw that from the Board of Trade returns the trade of the country was improving, and he sincerely hoped that Merthyr would get its full share of national prosperity (applause). Mr. Evan Lewis al £ o responded. Mr. W. Meredith, in submitting Success to the Merthyr, Dowlais, and District Licensed Victuallers' Association," said that it must be understood that the object of the Association was not to defend those who wilfully broke the law, but to assist those who were honestly endeavouring to carry on a difficult trade to the best of their ability (applause). The President, in response, said that during the past year the association bad increased by forty members, and as regarded finances, they were in a splendid position. He would endeavour to support those who supported the trade, and turn the tables at the next Parliamentary election (applause). He also hoped that their new president (Mr. Dan Thomas) would receive the same support from the members which he (the speaker) had enjoyed during the two years he had been in office (applause). Mr. Mansfield, the vice-president, proposed the toast of the "Visitors," which was responded to by Mr. Avery. "The Press" was proposed by Councillor Thomas Morris, and responded to by Mr. J. O. Jones (Ap Ffarmwr), editor of the Merthyr Times Mr. E. R. Evans, Merthyr Times; Mr. Alfred Edmonds, assistant editor of the Merthyr Express; Mr. J. G. E. Astle, 80"uth Wales Daily News; Mr. H. V. Coles, Merthyr Express. "The Chairman" having been honoured, the proceedings were brought to a close by the rendering of the Welsh and English National Anthems. During the evening the following gentlemen entertained the guests to musical selections, namely "Gwyn Alaw," Messrs. Sandford Jones, D. C. Fowell, W. Williams, and Matt. Keating.

MERTHYR SCHOOL BOARD.

STEALING A MACHINE AT CWMTAFF

MERTA i. YR GUARDIANS.

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