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his repose, if he could set his workmen free at the same time, and feel that while all are alike exulting in the immunity from labour, business was not in any wise injured by the suspension ! It is this advantage which the Saturday Half-holiday promises to the employer.
As Christian men, and in a country professing Christianity, we are entitled to take far higher ground than that which we have assumed in this chapter, and to affirm that if there must be a loss somewhere, it should be from the pocket of the employer, and not in the physical deterioration, the mental apathy, and the dull animal-like indifference, of the men whom he employs. Justly might we assert, with Mr. Roundell Palmer, that,
“ Those who do not give to the classes or persons dependent upon them legitimate opportunities for the natural enjoyment of innocent and laudable recreation, and for the pursuit of intellectual improvement, during the week,—that all who throw impediments in the way of the working-classes, or refuse to consider how they may afford them leisure for the indulgence of what is not only a natural but a reasonable desire and yearning,—may be said to lie under the imputation of tempting them to seek the same or less worthy pleasures, and the same or less intellectual pursuits, upon the only day which they can call their own." * * Speech delivered at the Exeter Hall Meeting, April 24th, 1856.
But we shall content ourselves in this chapter with having proved, as we trust we have done, that the interest of employers will not suffer by a Saturday Half-holiday; and now, having overturned the two ricketty objections which have been urged against the benefit, we pass on to consider its advantages to the employed in a physical and social point of view.
“By encouraging athletic exercises, and every amusement of the
people which tends to promote bodily vigour, we shall, in the present tendency of things, be exerting an influence for good which will prove beneficial both to body and soul,—to the one by direct application, to the other by the indirect but all-powerful discouragement of vitiated tastes."
"THE PRESS," Jan. 7th, 1860.
WHEN the body is in a perfectly normal condition, there is a luxury in mere existence. Like Coleridge's “ Ancient Mariner,” we “move, but do not feel our limbs.” The most lively activity becomes a necessity; we are compelled to give vent to some of the animal life which bounds in our veins. How we long at such times for a mountain scramble, for a gallop on horseback, for cricket in summer-tide, for skating, or curling, when the sharp frosts have braced and knit together the waters !
“O who can speak the vigorous joys of health ?
Unclogg’d the body, unobscured the mind;
The temperate evening falls serene and kind :
THE JOY OF HEALTH.
See! how the younglings frisk along the meads,
As May comes on, and wakes the balmy wind;
No, not “all joy,” O Bard of Ednam ! there are loftier and nobler joys than any which flow from mere animal felicity, whether of man or brute, over which sickness has no power, and which pain cannot molest; but, nevertheless, Thomson's main assertion is a true one: health and gladness may claim a close affinity, but how often we, in our worldly wisdom, do not scruple to destroy both! Now, we do not wish to indulge in fancies which, though plausible in print, would very speedily be destroyed when brought into actual contact with this working-day world. We do not claim for all our countrymen the athletic vigour of the mountaineer, or the firm, wiry frame of the man who spends his life in the saddle. There is no physical advantage which may not be purchased at too high a price. Make the pursuit of health an employment, and you will become effeminate, probably dyspeptic; value it as the handmaid to duty, and as the blessed sweetener of daily toil, and you will give it that amount of attention which it imperatively demands.
When the body is in perfect health, every function is performed without thought or labour. The man who is thus favoured has few of the difficulties to
DREAMERS AND WORKERS.
encounter which beset the path of the valetudinarian; he does not brood over the past with idle regret, and if the mysteries of the future perplex him, the thought of them does not incapacitate him for action. There are some men who are always thinking, and thinking in circles; again and again they return to the same subject, are baffled by the same difficulties, and reach the same result; they brood over life, instead of living, until
" The native hue of resolution Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought.” In such cases time is frittered away, just as certainly as with men who do not think at all. One longs sometimes, by gentle compulsion, to force such thinkers out of their dreamy inertness, to make them fell a tree, or take an oar upon a river, certain that good hard exercise would clear away the mists from their minds more effectually than arguments. For them exercise would be the truest corrective of mental obfuscation. We need not stay now to condole with these
Let us reserve our pity for the weary sons of toil, who have little leisure for thought, and still less for recreation. Not many years ago, sleep and work seemed the sole occupations of a large majority of the working classes ; eating and drinking their only recreation. With stealthy steps the hours of labour were rapidly augmenting—were almost indefinitely prolonged. Little children were suffered to exhaust their young life in toil, the continuous monotony of