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let them encourage the growth of all the kindly and generous sentiments, by their steady and consistent exercise of them; and whatever ends they may seek to gain, let them be such as Christian benevolence approves, and let their ends be sought only by those means which will conduce to the softening and enrichment of their own hearts. The power of love was the power of Christ, is still the power of his gospel, and is the only influence which is irresistible.
But our great hope is in a Christian Providence. The existence of indigence with the prevalence of the spirit of the gospel we account an impossibility. The principles, the spirit and the aims of Christianity, are all remedial of the ills of poverty. If God is really the Father of humankind, he regards the destitute with peculiar love, and will not cease to seek and secure his good. If Jesus stands at the head of a great spiritual brotherhood, in which service is the highest honour, and sacrifice true happiness, his rule is proceeding so as to bring about the subversion of caste, of clan, of exclusiveness of every kind, is uprooting the low passions of which these evils are born and on which they flourish; nor will this humanizing influence cease till it has broken down every middle wall of partition, and made all men one in the sublime commonwealth of a truly Catholic church. If under Christ love is the fulfilling of the law, and the life of the son of man is the exposition and the enforcement of that law, then so far as a real Christianity prevails in society, must indigence disappear. The spirit of him who died for man is his religion embodied. Equally is it the great recreative power of modern society. Who needs be told that it is incompatible with destitution? It is at the present day coming forth from the hard husks of tradition and dogma, appearing in its own pure form, instinct with life, and will, we believe, prove the seminal principle of a new and lofty reformation. But the aims of Christianity? Are they not all moral? Do they not all look to man's spiritual, that is, his real and lasting happiness? Some men seem to have an unaccountable aversion to religion, even to the religion of Jesus. Why! religion is the poor man's best friend, in its very nature and essence his best friend, because it seeks his moral and everlasting good. And it is so for this reason among others, that man's moral good cannot be attained apart from his physical well-being. While we are in the body, the soul cannot be saved if the body is wasted away and destroyed by want. It is a delusion, and sometimes a wicked deceit, which directs the destitute to look to the future state for the adjustment of their wrongs. To heaven they may indeed appeal, nor will the ap
peal be vain. But earth also they are bound to care for, if for no other reason than this, that a preponderance of happiness on earth is essential to enable man to prepare for the pursuits and the enjoyments of heaven, so that if Christianity is pledged to the attainment of our spiritual perfection, it is pledged also to the eventual removal of indigence. If God has willed the one, he has also willed the other, since in willing the end he must have willed the means. The cure cannot be effected while the source of the disorder remains, nor apart from the employment of the indispensable instrumentality. Providence administered by Christ, will find resources in the infinitude of its power, for destroying want, the greatest of all hindrances to the progress of the gospel. Christianity cannot prevail till it has slain the monster odious to God, and baleful to man, the monster poverty. If poverty is for ever to afflict the earth, it is also ordained that Christianity shall not bless it. But just in the degree in which the kingdom of Christ shall come, will indigence retire, and individual excellence, domestic comfort, and social security and peace abound.
J. R. B.
ART. V.-RETRENCHMENT OF THE
We are the children of a stirring age. The principles of good and evil are in active and close opposition. Turn wherever we may, we find that Benevolence is waging a searching war of extermination with wretchedness. The great struggle that is going on is everywhere resolvable into numbers of lesser struggles, which carry the spirit of the whole into each specific part.We take peculiar pleasure in the thought, that we have endeavoured, as far as the resources at our disposal would permit, to evince our deep and earnest interest on such portions of this contest as have come successively before us. We are well aware that we have passed many such subjects in silence, but we are conscious of having done so, only from a regretted necessity. But, with respect to some of these subjects, our notices though unavoidably tardy, may not even now be too late. We may yet make or attach a few more friends to their cause. At all events, it is in this hope that we take pen in hand, when the opportunity presents itself; and, should that hope ever fail us, our occupation will be gone, and we shall drop the pen which will then have become useless, as the soldier drops his broken sword.
The subject, on which we now propose to offer a few remarks, is one that has, for some time past, been attracting to it a growing share of attention. It respects the evils of what is called the Late-Hour System of Business. The object is to procure the closing of shops engaged in the retail trade, at such an hour in the evening, as may give the assistants employed in them some leisure for the indulgence of the domestic and social affections, for needful and healthy recreation, and for the cultivation of their minds. It is contended, that this is a duty which society owes to the numerous individuals thus engaged in its service; and it is also contended, that this act of social justice involves no change that will be eventually detrimental to the employer or to the public.
This cause has been taken up in several of our leading communities with a considerable degree of energy and success. In London, Liverpool, Manchester, Wolverhampton, &c., it has been advocated and supported in a spirit most honourable to those who evinced it. No abuse, no violence, no strike against the existing system, has been attempted or contemplated. It has been taken up as a cause, which required circumspection no less than enthusiasm, and in which the interests of the one party were only to be consulted in the full recognition and remembrance of the claims and feelings of the other. What has been rare in attempts of this kind has here, it appears to us, been remembered and acted upon from the beginning. The reformers have avoided, with great tact and delicacy, raising any wanton hostility against the meditated reform. They seem to have learned wisdom from the painful experience of many, who, with the best intentions, have often only shown a benign truth to the world, to wrap it at once in clouds, through which none but privileged eyes could form a judgment of its brightness, and none but elect hearts bear witness to its power. This at least has been the impression produced upon us, by what we have seen and heard of the conduct of this undertaking. The first steps have cost nothing to the cause. They have been taken with a rare and beautiful circumspection. The process of making friends has not been confounded with that of making enemies. It has afforded a fine illustration of the text, that “wisdom dwells with prudence;" and we should have no fear of the final issue of the controversy, could we be perfectly sure that the same spirit of moderation and discretion would preside over the zeal of all its future friends.
The attempt appears to be one fully justified by the circumstances of those for whom it is made. Of the thousands and tens of thousands of assistants now engaged, throughout these kingdoms, in the various departments of retail business, few will think that the condition is enviable-many will feel that it is truly deplorable. From an early hour in the morning, to a very late one at night (with the exception only of the time necessary for taking food), they are occupied in a kind of labour, of which, as it is indispensable, we should not wish to say anything more, than that, thus unbrokenly prolonged, it must be very wearisome and exhausting. Labour of this kind admits of so little variety, that its monotony must contribute not a little to its oppressiveness. And the Assistant, it must be remembered, has not the Master's prospects and feelings, to buoy him up, and inspirit his exertions. He has no interest of property in that which he displays, or disposes of. His salary indeed 'demands a certain degree of success in the concern which employs him; but, beyond that point, its success or comparative failure involves no hopes that can brighten or diversify his lot. His duties have less to do with hope than with fear; but, with the healthy mixture and freshening interchange of both, he has no more to do than the lamp, the desk, or the counter.
The duties of the assistant are duties that must be done. Shops must have counters, tradesmen must have help, and goods must be exhibited to the customers who are to buy them. Nothing of this is objectionable; and nothing is objected to. The point in debate is not the nature of the duty, but the length of the time. It is this that carries labour into exhaustion, and drains from overwrought obedience the life-blood of cheerfulness and health. Many, on trying the experiment, would find that the confinement of a single day, from morning to night, in one of these retail occupations, would send them back jaded and spirit-worn to their homes. Few of them would be desirous of repeating the trial, yet if any were resolute to do so, they would find that no continuance of the practice could extract from it any latent principle of refreshment or improvement. What must it be then to those, in whose case it spreads over the years of youth, adolescence and manhood, who know nothing of the morning, but that it summons them to their shops, or of evening, but that its latest hours will dismiss them outworn to their rest! Surely, this is an unnatural history of any human life. Industry is one thing, Slavery is another; and we own that we see, in the shopman thus over-worked, a very near approach to a well-dressed and unbadged slave.
We will suppose, that no injury were occasioned to health from the prevalence of this practice. We will suppose, that the life of the counter, such as it now is, had no prejudicial effect upon the constitution. This concession, if we could make it, would not at all reconcile us to the system. We should still see, and still affirm, that a life, which allowed no respite from such occupations, could not be a life suitable to a rational and responsible creature,—could neither minister to the needs of his being, nor draw forth its capabilities, nor discipline for its is
We are contending for much more than the timely dismission of a wearied animal to its rest. We demand for a being, who has, or may hope for, a home, the time which may enable him to partake of its blessings and to reciprocate its affections. We demand for a being, who belongs not to himself alone, the opportunity to mix, on fairer terms, with society
-to be a living unit, and not a cypher among his kind. We demand for a being, who has a mind to appreciate literature, or to rejoice in the light of science, the opportunity to avail himself of the splendid advantages of his day. More solemnly still, we demand for a being, formed and fitted for scenes to which the present are only preparatory, the leisure to listen to the still small voice within him, which tells him that man was not made only to buy and to sell, but to work out amid the lowly