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THOSE who are most active in promoting the Early Closing Movement, are content to look upon their success as valuable only so far as it conduces to something higher. They view their own mission as a means to an end. Like the pioneers of an army, they do but open the way that others may enter in and gain the actual victory. They desire that society may advance,-advance in all that is truly valuable to man, as an intelligent and immortal being. Thus, viewing their own work as preliminary, closing the door of the shop only that the door of the lectureroom, the family parlour, the study, or the sanctuary, may be opened wider, and that the metropolitan park or the country meadow may receive the pale-faced denizen of the city, they are willing to take a subordinate though not an unimportant place in the great movements of the day ; and, while looking upon the moral and intellectual progress of the toiling multitude, they are satisfied with claiming for their own work just that distinction, and no more, which belongs to every man who places an opportunity for good within
the reach of his fellow-man. Thus the Early Closing Movement, if not Progress itself, is unquestionably the Pioneer of Progress.
It will be observed, however, that this Essay, although advancing those general principles which apply to the Early Closing Movement in all its developments, yet engages itself more especially with the Saturday Half-holiday, to which, in fact, the Early
Payment of Wages is an adjunct. But there are some reasons for looking upon this latest development of the Early Closing principle as being a kind of short road to the success of the entire movement. Saturday night is the especial season of late shopping. If the late-hour system can be beaten on the Saturday night, it cannot be expected to afford a very vigorous resistance on the other evenings of the working week. Saturday night is the very citadel of late trading, and, when that yields, the remainder must follow. Thus the Saturday Half-holiday-which may be considered as including what is called the Saturday Early Closing Movement—really aims at the root of that great evil which we designate the Late Hour system. Therefore it appears perfectly reasonable for the present Essay to bear a title which belougs in its full application to all departments of the great social movement to which we have referred.
It would be a strange omission, if the present volume were allowed to go forth to the world without any explanation as to the occasion of its appearance. It is an interesting fact, that this Essay owes its existence to the liberality and, we may say, the practical zeal of an employer. In the autumn of 1859, Mr. James Spence, of 78, St. Paul's Churchyard, (who had previously shown his appreciation of the subject by closing his own establishment at five o'clock on Saturdays,) offered, through the Early Closing Association, a Prize of Fifty Guineas for the best Essay “ On the Saturday Half-holiday and the Early Payment of Wages.” Since the date of that offer, the Saturday Early Closing Movement has made extraordinary progress in the metropolis. In reference to the Prize Essay, the task of adjudication was kindly undertaken by the Very Rev. the Dean of Canterbury, the Rev. James Hamilton, D.D., and Benjamin Shaw, Esq., M.A., late Fellow of Trinity College. That the decision was confided to able hands, no one will be found to dispute ; and the cordial thanks of the Association are unquestionably due to the adjudicators, not only for so generously undertaking a somewhat formidable task, but also for having discharged their functions most carefully and conscientiously. The competing Essays were fifty-six in number, and the
result will, perhaps, be best shown, by giving the actual report of the adjudicators, as follows :To the Committee of the EARLY CLOSING ASSOCIATION.
GENTLEMEN, We, the undersigned Examiners appointed to award the prize of fifty guineas offered by Mr. James Spence, of St. Paul's Churchyard, for the best Essay on the “Saturday Half-holiday and Early Payment of Wages” questions, beg to report to the Committee of the Early Closing Association as follows :
Your Secretary laid before us fifty-six Essays, distinguished by mottoes, according to the rules prescribed in that behalf.
After due cons ion these, we have thought it right to award the prize to the Essay with the motto “Per Ardua,” the author of which we find, on opening the sealed envelope, to be Mr. John Dennis, of 45, Guildford Street, Russell Square. We are of opinion that this Essay is the best of those submitted to us, and that it is one which in itself is worthy of the prize.
It appears to us to combine the several qualifications which we regard as of the greatest importance.
It complies with the conditions laid down in the printed paper issued for the guidance of candidates.
It is written in an easy, readable, and generally correct style.
It displays sufficient acquaintance with the practical details of the subject, and cites a well-chosen list of testimonies and authorities as evidence in support of its allegations.
It not merely presents a prima facie argument, but deals with the objections and difficulties commonly raised against the views which it advocates.
It is written in a conciliatory spirit, and is not likely to provoke opposition, even where it fails to induce conviction.
It takes (and this we think a very material point) a judicious and sensible, but at the same time an earnest and useful, view of the religious aspect of the questions under consideration.
For these and other like reasons we give it the first place; but we desire to add that, while some very slender and imperfect