Stevens 1878-05-03

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Joseph Manning told me there would be a meeting of the Club on Tuesday evening next. I therefore by arrangement sent him a letter of which the following is a copy, to be read at the meeting.

The  Vicarage,  Sibford.  Banbury
May  3rd, 1878

To Mr. Joseph Manning, Secretary of the Sibford Benefit Club.

Dear Sir,

I am anxious, before any arrangements are made for the Annual Meeting of the Sibford Benefit Club, to direct the attention of the members to the necessity which exists for some more stringent regulations than were adopted last year in order to prevent a repetition of the bad conduct which then occurred.

I know that all the more respectable members of the Club, young as well as old, are as sorry as I am that they, their club, and their Parish should have been brought into such disgrace by the conduct of a few; and I am sure they are as desirous as I am that if another annual dinner is held, it should be conducted in such a manner as to redeem the Club from reproach.

I hear that some of the older members desire to do away with the annual Club-feast because of the loss of time and expenditure of money incurred; but still more because of the temptation  to intemperance which it presents and to which certain members so readily yield. With this question, however, I have no wish to meddle nor to express any opinion about it. But it is my duty to say that the Trustees of the School, although very much pleased to lend the room for the rational enjoyment of the members of the Club, will certainly not allow it to be abused by drunken or disorderly persons; and therefore, if gross misconduct, such as occurred last year cannot be prevented at the club feast they will be compelled to refuse the use of the room for such occasions.

Last year, some of the younger members were the worse for liquor even when they went to Church, and in consequence, left the Sacred building before the close of service, thus dishonouring God, and thus also disturbing those devout members of the Congregation and of the Club (and I hope and believe there were many such) who went to Church, not as a mere matter of form, but to pray to, and worship God, and to hear something about their duty to Him and to one another.

The parading the village with the band during the afternoon when some members and other persons who had already taken too much liquor, took every opportunity of getting more, even when it was not intended for them, went very far to make matters so bad as they were in the evening of that day, and led to quarrelling, fighting and other bad conduct.

If the majority of the members decide on asking for the use of the School-room for the Club feast as usual, notwithstanding the sorrowful remembrance all good men must have of what occurred last year, the Trustees will lend the room for the purpose; but they must have a distinct understanding that every means possible will be taken to prevent drunkenness and disorder of any and every kind.

With very best wishes for the prosperity of the Sibford Benefit Club and the Spiritual and temporal welfare of each of its members,

Believe me,
    Dear Sir,
        Yours sincerely
            Edward T. Stevens.