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Yet, occasionally, a stranger will be welcomed into the regular company of a school, as the following field notes revealed: lock was a new man to all the members of the school. But he was allowed to join us on the basis of a generous contribution towards five bottles of eider. Moreover, lock was sober. He entertained the school with accounts of past experiences on skid row. Stories were exchanged about begging exploits, 'beating the law', and conning the ageneies. Once the school had pooled their money Eddy asked one of the regulars if anyone was fa miliar with the new face amongst them, a younger man sitting a little aside to the gang.

7 Thus gin and other crude spirits were both cheap and readily available at a time when the soeial conditions of the urban poor were extremely bad with little hope of escape other than intoxication. 2) resulted in a dramatic decline in consumption and for the rest of the century consumption largely reflected impositions of duty. The wild fluctuations of the next 20 years may be partly due to a breakdown in the system by which spirits were taxed. Indeed it was not until 1824 that the figures of the Exeise Department approximate to the real production,9 and all estimates of production before this date must be regarded as conservative because of the amount of illieit distilling which was practised, particularly in Ireland and Scotland.

5 Consumption remained steady until1860 when the Cobden Treaty was signed with France, and the wine duty was reduced. This was followed in 1861 by the duties charged beingbased on the alcoholic strength of the wine; a lower rate was levied on 'light' wines not exceeding 20° proof spirit. Consumption increased during the midVictorian period of prosperity, but declined after 1875 because of an economic depression. Consumption of port increased despite the higher rates of duty on fortified wines, but later declined perhaps because after-dinner smoking became fashionable instead.

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