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THE FACTORY ACTS.
witnessing a great improvement in the general conduct of the young men in our establishment.”
A communication from Messrs. Guest and Chrimes, the owners of works at Rotherham, is to the same effect, viz., that since the adoption of the half-holiday, “ the workmen are more orderly, sober, and attentive to their work.”
Then, again, as the Earl of Shaftesbury pertinently remarks, the effect of the Ten Hours Act “completely substantiates everything we can now urge in favour of the Half-holiday. The Act operated upon no less than 500,000 individuals engaged in the great mill factories of the counties of Lancashire, Cheshire, and Yorkshire, and I believe you will hardly find, upon the most minute inquiry, that in any instance the hours so conceded to the labouring men were misused.”
So, also, Mr. Leonard Horner, the late Inspector of Factories, stated in his Report, dated December, 1858 :
“It has been repeatedly said to me by millowners and other persons living in the manufacturing districts, that the Factory Acts have immensely improved the character, manners, and general condition of the operatives."
In a speech delivered in Exeter Hall (April 1856), Sir S. Morton Peto stated that he had known the industrial classes intimately for thirty years, that a great change has taken place in their character; and
A SCRUPLE SIFTED.
then he goes on to say, in allusion to the Half-holiday
“I am happy to bear my testimony that I believe the whole of the industrial classes of this country, so far as I know them, would not only well use the opportunity we are anxious to give them, but would, in the greatest possible degree, benefit by it. * * * * I have, in the employment of the firm with which I am connected, given in all the departments, where I can, a Saturday Half-holiday, and I am bound to say that the greatest advantage has been taken of this for moral improvement and for healthful recreation.”
In the face of testimonies like these, can any man
“ trundle back his soul” as to entertain what may well be termed the antiquated notion, that the hours won from daily toil are likely to be abused? And what though in some instances they are? Who will dare to say that the fear of this abuse will justify him in debarring those whom he employs from all healthful recreation, from every possibility of mental improvement, and from the social amenities of life? Christianity gives no countenance to such an opinion; common sense rejects it. To the employer, if any such there be, who on this ground still clings to the qystem of long hours and no holidays, we would say,– If a scrupulous conscience makes you dread the contamination of leisure, how is it that the contamination of over-work does not awaken still stronger fears in your mind? If the men you employ are not
holder, who works his negroes all day and locks them 16
AN UNSOUND THEORY. fit to be trusted with freedom, whose fault is it that they are reduced to such a state of childishness? Are they never to escape from this condition, to become true men, and not mere machines ? Have they no minds to be cultivated, no bodies fearfully and wonderfully made, demanding exercise and air, no claims to fulfil as citizens, above all, no souls to be saved ? Do you not know, what every employer might and ought to know, that unceasing toil is the parent of intemperance, the prolific cause of insanity, the surest stimulant to vice, the most certain nourisher of disease ?
But this theory concerning the abuse of leisure is so utterly flimsy, so exceedingly untenable, even as a theory, and so completely refuted when brought into the daylight of facts, that it may be left to expire of inanition. “If it means anything,” says Lord Stanley, “it means this, that freedom is a mistake, and serfdom would be an advantage. It is the language -I can liken it to nothing else-of a Cuban slave
up all night ;” and the Rev. Samuel Martin sums up the argument by an aphorism, with which we also may safely close it :
“To withhold our neighbour's due because we fear he will abuse it, is not a principle upon which man can safely and justly act.”
Having thus replied to one of the objections which has been urged against the Saturday Half-holiday, it
PROGRESS OF THE ARGUMENT.
will be necessary that we should consider the other, and apparently more weighty reason, which has been advanced by the antagonists of the movement. And in so doing we shall not content ourselves with showing that the Half-holiday will prove injurious to employers; we shall take a still higher ground, and demonstrate that, on the contrary, it will be of direct service to them. But this point of our argument is so important, that we shall defer the consideration of it to the next chapter.
“ To thine own self be true,
THERE are some great social blessings which must be promoted by an appeal to the most unselfish part of a man's nature, since they cannot be yielded without considerable self-denial, and that openhanded and open-hearted generosity which, though it blesses him that gives, as well as him that takes, is very far from doing so by a direct monetary return. But the promoters of the Half-holiday, while they appeal in favour of their object to the highest motives by which men can be actuated, may appeal also to the inferior, though too often more cogent motives, by which self-interest is stimulated, and commercial life in no small measure sustained. The time, we trust, is not far distant when we may regard the Saturday Half-holiday, and also Early Closing, as the common perquisites of British workmen, when employers and employed shall alike rejoice in the luxury of these kindred boons, when man shall indeed earn his bread by the sweat