After the meeting with Uncle Digby, Mother takes Dolly and Minerva to the home of her parents. Poor baby Maggie! No wonder Mother is so aware of the huge inequalities of society!
In the first half of the 18th century, the distribution of cheap, flavored alcohol, called jenever, Geneva, or "gin", caused a situation called "The Gin Craze". The strong and extremely inexpensive liquor caused an epidemic of drunkenness among the very poor. The government tried various measures to curtail the production and sale of gin, with little effect. Gin was easy to produce and easy to sell. Gin dulled the miseries of life among the desperately poor, and as people would choose gin over food, it became obvious that their plight was becoming much worse. Drunken mothers gave birth to babies with fetal alcohol syndrome, and quieted their babies and hungry children with gin.
The Gin Act of 1751 saw the end of the Craze, as liquor vendors were required to have licenses to sell. Unlicensed distillers and vendors were shunned, as deadly versions of home-brew gin appeared. So much like the dangers of American Prohibition (1920-1933). Another similarity is that food prices rose, causing people to choose food over drink.