Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - Some Habits and Customs of the Working Classes, by Thomas Wright, 1867 - Part 3 - Social and Domestic Life - Working Men's Saturdays

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PART III.

SOCIAL AND DOMESTIC LIFE.

WORKING MEN'S SATURDAYS.

WHEN "from six to six was the order of the day for six days a week, working men regarded the seventh with the sentiment expressed by the lover of "Sally in our Alley," when he sings- 
    Of all the days that's in the week
    I dearly love but one day,
    And that's the day that always comes
    Twixt Saturday and Monday.
But among those who enjoy the benefits of the Saturday half-holiday, this tone of feeling has been considerably modified; and, indeed, it is now a stock saving with many working men, that Saturday is the best day of the week, as it is a short working day, and Sunday has to come; and this latter is a much more important consideration to the working man than to the uninitiated it would appear to be.
    The working man has necessarily to defer the transacting of many little pieces of business to the end of the week; and when he had to work till six o'clock on Saturdays, by the time he had washed himself and changed his clothes, taken his tea, and got through the deferred pieces of business, he was generally [-185-] thoroughly tired, and it was near bed-time, and Sunday was upon him before he knew where he was. And though, in point of fact, this did not lessen the material comforts of the day of rest, yet every one knows that the previous contemplation and mind- picturing of pleasures to come is in itself a pleasure of no mean order, in some cases (and the working man's long "lie in" on a Sunday morning is one of these) anticipation not only lends enchantment to the view, but really gives an added charm to the realization of the looked-for joy. On "week days" the working man wakes or is roused from his toil-worn sleep, or from delightful dreams of a new and blissful state of society, in which it is permitted to all working men to lose a quarter every day in the week, about five or half-past five o'clock in the morning, in order that he may be at his work by six. And when awake he must get up, however much he may feel disposed to have another turn round, for workshop bells are among the things that wait for no man, and the habitual losing of quarters is a practice that leads to that unpleasant thing-to working men- the sack, and so, to slightly alter a line from the "Three Fishers," "Men must work, while women may sleep." Early rising may make a man healthy, wealthy, and wise; but there can be no doubt that it is a great bore when it is compulsory, and when the heavy-sleeping working man, or the one who acts upon time plan of gaining length of days by stealing a few hours from the night, reluctantly "tumbles out," he thinks to himself, "I shall be in there again pretty soon tonight." But when night comes, and he has had a good wash and a good tea, he feels like a giant refreshed; and having settled himself comfortably by the fireside, or gone out for his evening stroll, he feels almost as [-186-] unwilling to go to bed early as he does to leave it, and thus morning after morning he has to fight his battles o'er again. Sometimes lie does not wake until a little after his usual hour; he will then hastily consider whether he can get to his work in time, decide to try it, spring out of bed, huddle on his clothes, and, without waiting to light his pipe, rush off, and just come in sight of the workshop gate in time to see it shut, and to join with two or three equally unfortunate mates in heaping curses loud and deep upon the gatekeeper. But on Sunday morning there is none of this. On that morning, when from force of habit the working man wakens at his usual time - I know several enthusiastic individuals who have themselves "called" on that morning the same as any other, in order that they may make sure of thoroughly enjoying the situation-and for a confused moment or two thinks about getting up, he suddenly remembers him that it is Sunday, and joyously drawing the clothes tighter around him, he consumes time generally, and morning quarters in particular, and resolves to have a long "lie in," and in many instances to have breakfast in bed. And on all these things the working man who benefits by the half-holiday movement can, when taking it easy on a Saturday afternoon, pleasingly ponder.
    For only working men can thoroughly appreciate or understand all that is embodied in that chiefest pleasure of the working man's Sunday, "a quarter in bed." To any late-rising, blasé gentlemen who may be in search of a new pleasure, I would strongly recommend the adoption of some plan-(if nothing better occurred to them, they might commit some offence against the law, that would lead to a term of imprisonment "without the option of a fine")-that would for a time make rising at a fixed and early hour compulsory, and [-187-] when the morning arrives upon which they can once more indulge in a "lie in," they may exclaim, Eureka! for they will have found a new and great pleasure.
    The working half of Saturday is up at one o'clock, and that wished-for hour seems to come round quicker on that day than any other. In a well-ordered workshop every man is allowed a certain time each Saturday for "tidying up," sweeping of the floor and benches, cleaning and laying out in order of the tools. This is completed a minute or two before one o'clock; and when the workmen, with newly-washed hands and their shop jackets or slops rolled up under their arms, stand in groups waiting for the ringing of the bell, it is a sight well worth seeing, and one in which the working man is, all things considered, perhaps seen at his best. He is in good humour with himself and fellow-workman; is in his working clothes, in which he feels and moves at ease, and not unfrequently looks a nobler fellow than when "cleaned;" and is surrounded by the machinery with which he is quite at home. When the bell rings the men leave the works in a leisurely way that contrasts rather strongly with the eagerness with which they leave at other times; but once outside the workshop gates, the younger apprentices and other boys immediately devote themselves to the business of pleasure. They will he seen gathering together in a manner that plainly indicates that there is "something in the wind." The something in the wind may be a fight that is to come off between Tommy Jones, alias "Bubbly," ,and Billy Smith, otherwise "The Jockey," owing to the latter sportingly- inclined young gentleman having openly boasted that he could take Mary Ann Stubbins for a walk any time he liked; Miss S. being a young lady of fourteen, the [-188-] daughter of a retail greengrocer, and generally regarded as the lady-love of Bubbly, it being notorious that she gives him much larger ha'p'orths of apples than any other boy, and - when her father is not looking - supplies him with roasting potatoes free of charge. Or the something in the wind may be a hunt after a monstrous rat that is believed to haunt a neighbouring pond; or perhaps the something is the carrying out of a hostile demonstration against the butcher who rents the field adjoining the workshop, and who has been so unreasonable as to object to their catching his pony and riding it by three at a time.
    The first proceeding of the workmen upon reaching home is to get their dinner, which they eat upon Saturday and Sunday only iii a leisurely manner; and after dinner the smokers charge, light, and smoke their pipes, still in a leisurely and contemplative manner unknown to them at other times. By the time they have finished their pipes it is probably two o'clock, and they then proceed to clean themselves up-that phrase being equivalent among "the great unwashed" to the society one of performing your toilet. The first part of the cleaning-up process consists in "a good wash," and it is completed by an entire change of dress. A favourite plan of cleaning-up on Saturday afternoons is - among those who live within easy reach of public baths - to take their clean suits to the bath, and put them on after they have bathed, bringing away their working suits tied up in a bundle. Some of the higher-paid mechanics present a very different appearance when cleaned up from that which they presented an hour or two before, when we saw them sauntering out of the shop gates. Working-class swelldom breaks out for time short time in which it is permitted to do so in all the butterfly [-189-] brilliance of "fashionably" made clothes, with splendid accessories in collars, scarves, and cheap jewellery. But neither the will nor the means to "come the swell" are given to all men, and a favourite Saturday evening costume with the mass of working men consists of the clean moleskin or cord trousers that are to be worn at work during the ensuing week, black coat and waistcoat, a cap of a somewhat sporting character, and a muffler more or less gaudy. Of course, the manner in which working men spend their Saturday afternoon is dependent upon their temperaments, tastes, and domestic circumstances. The man who goes home from his work on a Saturday only to find his house in disorder, with every article of furniture out of its place, the floor unwashed or sloppy from uncompleted washing, his wife slovenly, his children untidy, his dinner not yet ready or spoilt in the cooking, is much more likely to go "on the spree" than the man who finds his house in order, the furniture glistening from the recent polishing, the burnished steel fire-irons looking doubly resplendent from the bright glow of the cheerful fire, his well-cooked dinner ready laid on a snowy cloth, and his wife and children tidy and cheerful. If the man whose household work is neglected or mismanaged is, as sometimes happens, of a meek character, and has been unfortunate enough to get for a wife a woman who is a termagant as well as a sloven, or one of those lazy, lackadaisical, London-Journal-reading ladies with whom working men are more and more curst, he will have to devote his Saturday afternoon to assisting in the woman's work of his own house. But when the husband is not of the requisite meekness of spirit, he hastens from the disorderly scene, and roams about in a frame of mind that predisposes him to seek the questionable comforts of the public-house, [-190-] or to enter upon some other form of dissipation. On time other hand, the man who has a clever and industrious wife, whose home is so managed that it is always cosy and cheerful when he is in it, finds there a charm, which, if he is endowed with an ordinary share of manliness and self-respect, will render him insensible to the allurements of meretricious amusements. In no rank of society have home influences so great a power for good or evil, as among the working classes. Drunkenness is in many cases, doubtless, the result of innate depravity, and a confirmed drunkard is rarely to be reclaimed by home comforts, which to his degraded mind offer no charm; but at the same time there can be no doubt in the mind of any person who is acquainted with the manners and habits of the working classes, that thousands of working men are driven by lazy, slovenly, mismanaging wives, to courses which ultimately result in their becoming drunkards amid disreputable members of society.
    There has been a great deal written and said about what is called modern servantgalism; and while there could, no doubt, be a good deal said respecting ill-tempered, ignorant, selfish, and "genteel" mistresses, there is equally little room for doubt that the complaints against modern female servants are "founded on facts." To those whose lot it is to employ servant girls, the combination of vanity, affectation, ignorance, and impudence, which go to make up servantgalism, may afford amusement as well as cause annoyance. But it is no joke when we consider that these servant girls, and their compeers the shop and dressmaker girls, are the class who become the wives of working men and the mothers of their children. Servantgalish ideas and sentiments are, in a general way, the result of the universal fastness of the age, of [-191-] the all-pervading desire for the possession of wealth, and the love of display, which developes Robsons and Redpaths, causes Jones, ex~greengrocer, to publicly intimate that it is his intention to be known for the future by the name of Fitzherbert, and brings so many "fashionably" attired young men before the magistrates. But while the general character of the age we live in may in a great measure be held responsible for the vanity, love of dress and high notions which characterize the female domestic mind, and in a still more remarkable degree the minds of the "young ladies" of millinery and other establishments, there is a special element which contributes directly to the generation and fostering of the worst spirit of servantgalism. That special element is the devotion of those females to the perusal of the tales published in the cheap serials, of which they (the class of females in question) are the chief supporters. The miscellaneous parts of these serials, the "household receipts," sayings witty and humorous, and the "ladies' page," may, though dull, be harmless and even instructive nor is there anything immoral in the tales, which are the chief and most injurious features of these publications. On the contrary, it is the tremendous triumph and excessive reward - of which a rich, titled and handsome husband is invariably a part - awarded in them, to virtue, as embodied in the person of a "poor but virtuous maiden," which is the most objectionable part of these tales; and which, taken in conjunction with the distorted views of life which they contain, and the exaggerated splendour and luxury of their accessories, make them time most pernicious of all works, not of a directly immoral character, that can be placed in the hands of poor, half-educated, and not particularly strong-minded girls. That poor but vir-[-192-]tuous maidens occasionally find rich and titled husbands is doubtless true, but still constantly harping on this string, and mingling the sensational adventures of the stock virtuous maiden, and the poor clerk or travelling artist, who ultimately turns out to be a rich nobleman, with splendid carriages, gorgeous dresses, dazzling jewellery, and luxurious boudoirs, is scarcely the way to make the general run of poor but virtuous maidens contented with their position in life. For neither their type of mind, nor the nature of their education is of a kind that fits them for making fine distinctions, and they are wont to argue in this wise, "Are not we, too, poor and virtuous? and should not we therefore also get rich husbands, be dressed in gorgeous garments, and wear costly jewellery, and lounge in magnificently furnished boudoirs?" The discontented and hankering spirit which these stories create in the silly girls who read them, render them particularly liable to become a prey to any "fashionably attired" scamp who can use the high-flown language of the stories themselves. To uninterested observers the ideas of those whose minds are inflamed by these absurd tales may appear simply ludicrous; but to those upon whom they have a direct bearing they have a sad as well as a grotesque aspect. Household duties are neglected in order to find time to read time tales, or discuss with some sympathetic soul the probable means whereby some "lowly heroine" will ultimately defeat the schemes of the intriguing and demoniac Duchess of Bloomington, and marry that mysterious young gentleman with the raven locks and marble brow, at present employed in the shawl department of the West-end emporium at which the duchess deals, and whom she and the reader know to be the true heir to the richest earldom in England. [-193-] And when the tale-tainted wife begins to contrast the manners and language of her commonplace husband with those of Lord Cecil Harborough, or time Honourable Algernon Mount Harcourt, the result may be imagined. In short, these publications pander to a very dangerous kind of vanity. I am fully aware that the labouring classes have benefited largely by cheap literature, but at the same time I am bound to say, speaking from an extensive experience among those classes, that the particular class of cheap literature of which I have been speaking exercises a most injurious influence upon them, and is frequently the insidious cause of bitter shame and misery, as well as a potent cause of the squalor and mismanagement so often found in the homes of even the higher-paid portion of the working classes.
    Taking it for granted that time representative working men have tolerably comfortable homes, their methods of spending their Saturday afternoons will then depend upon their respective tastes amid habits. The steady family man who is "thoroughly domesticated" will probably settle himself by the fireside, and having lit his pipe, devote himself to the perusal of his weekly newspaper. He will go through the police intelligence with a patience and perseverance worthy of a better cause, then through the murders of the week, proceed from them to the reviews of books, and "varieties original and select," take a passing glance at the sporting intelligence, and finally learns from time leading articles that he is a cruelly "ground-down" and virtually enslaved individual, who has no friend or well-wisher in this unfairly constituted world save only the "we" of the articles. This is generally about the range of a first reading. The foreign intelligence, news [-194-] from the provinces, answers to correspondents, and enormous gooseberry paragraphs, being left for a future occasion. By the time such first reading has been got through tea-time is near - for an early tea, a tea to which all the members of time family sit down together, and at which the relishes of the season abound to an extent known only to a Saturday and a pay-day, is a stock part of a working man's Saturday. The family man, whom the wives of other working men describe to their husbands as "something like a husband," but who is probably regarded by his own wife as a bore, and by his shopmates as a mollicot - will go marketing with or for his wife, and will consider his afternoon well spent if he succeeds in "beating-down" a butterman to the extent of three-halfpence. The unmarried man who "finds himself," and who is of a scraping disposition, or cannot trust his landlady, will also spend his afternoon in marketing. Many of the unmarried, and some of the younger of time married men of the working classes, are now members of volunteer corps, workshop bands, or boat clubs, and devote many of their Saturday afternoons to drill, band practice, or rowing. When not engaged in any of the above pursuits, the men of this class go for an afternoon stroll-sometimes to some suburban semi-country inn, at others "round town." In the latter case, they are much given to gazing in at shop windows - particularly of newsagents, where illustrated papers and periodicals are displayed, and outfitters, in which the young mechanic who is "keeping company" with a "young lady," and upon whom it is therefore incumbent to "cut a dash," can see those great bargains in gorgeous and fashionable scarfs marked up at the sacrificial price of 1s. 11¾d. Those men who are bent upon improving their general [-195-] education, or mastering those branches of learning - generally mathematics and mechanical drawing - which will be most useful to them, spend their Saturday afternoons in reading. Other men again, who are naturally of a mechanical or artistic turn of mind, and industriously inclined, employ their Saturday afternoon in constructing articles of time class of which so much has been seen during time last two years at industrial exhibitions; or in making, altering, or improving some article of furniture. But whatever may be the nature of their Saturday afternoon proceedings, working men contrive to bring them to a conclusion in time for an early (about five o'clock) tea, so as to leave themselves a long evening.
    Burns' " Cotter's Saturday Night," though one of the best of his many fine poems, and an enchanting picture of natural and possible "rural felicity," and probably a truthful description of the best pastoral life of the period, would be in no respect applicable as a description of the Saturday nights of the present generation of working men and their families. How cotters of the agricultural labourer class spend their Saturday nights I am not in a position to say, but it is quite certain that if compared with the model cotter of the poem, the artisan class of the present day would show a decided falling off in moral picturesqueness. The " intelligent artisan"  (I merely state the fact) does not spend his Saturday night by his am fireside, or devote it to family worship, and however "halesome parritch"- "thick dick" he would call it - may be, he would emphatically object to it as a Saturday night's supper. The lover of the modern Jenny, when going courting on Saturday night, will not rap gently at the door, but will give an authoritative ran tan upon the knocker; and on being admitted [-196-] will not be "sae bashfu' and sae grave." On the contrary, lie will have a free-and-easy, almost patronizing manner, will greet Jenny in an off-handed style, and tell her to look sharp and get her things on; and while she is dressing, he will enter into familiar conversation with her father, incidentally telling him to what place of amusement he is going to take Jenny, and perhaps informing him that he has put a crown on the Cheshire Nobbler for that pugilistic celebrity's forthcoming encounter with the Whitechapel Crusher. When Jenny is ready he will take his departure with her, merely observing that he will see her home all right, and feeling proudly conscious that he has fully impressed his parents-in-law that are to be with the fact that he is a young man who "knows his way about." In other words, he is not a Scotch cotter, but an English mechanic. 
    After tea those men who have been out during the afternoon generally stay in for an hour's rest before setting forth on their evening ramble in search of amusement, while those who have been at home, go out in order to get through any business they may have on hand before the amusement begins. Saturday being the only time at which working men can safely indulge in any amusement that involves staying out late at night, and being moreover a time when they are flush of money, and when they can get to the entrance of any place of entertainment in time to take part in the fist rush, and so secure a good seat, they avail themselves of this combination of fortuitous circumstances, and hence the crowded state of theatre galleries on that night, and the notice on music-hall orders that they are not available on Saturdays. The theatre is the most popular resort of pleasure-seeking workmen, and the gallery their [-197-] favourite part of the house. Two or three mates generally go together, taking with them a joint-stock bottle of drink and a suitable supply of eatables. Or sometimes two or three married couples, who have "no encumbrance," or who have got some neighbours to look after their children, make up a party, the women carrying a plentiful supply of provisions. To the habituées of the stalls and boxes the eating and drinking that goes on in the gallery may appear to be mere gluttony, though the fact really is that it is a simple necessity. There is scarcely a theatre gallery in England from the back seats of which it is possible to see and hear with any degree of comfort, or in a manner that will enable you to comprehend the action of the piece without standing during the whole of the performance, and standing up in a gallery crowd is a thing to be contemplated with horror. In order to get a place in the gallery of a well attended theatre on a Saturday night from which you can witness the performance while seated, it is necessary to be at the entrance at least half an hour before the doors open, and when they do open you have to take part in a rush and struggle the fierceness of which can only be credited by those who have taken part in such encounters. And when you have at length fought your way up the narrow, inconvenient, vault-like staircase, and into a seat, and have recovered sufficiently to reconnoitre your position, you find yourself one of a perspiring crowd, closely packed in an ill-lighted, ill- ventilated, black hole of Calcutta like pen, to which the fumes of gas in the lower parts of the house ascend. It is not unlikely, too, that you find yourself seated next to some individual who has been rendered ferociously quarrelsome by having been half strangled in the struggle at the doors, and who, upon your being [-198-] unavoidably pressed against him, tells you in a significant manner, not to "scrouge" him whoever else you scrouge. To endure this martyrdom some substantial nourishment is absolutely necessary, and the refreshments of the gods provided by the theatrical purveyors of them, being of a sickly and poisonous, rather than an ambrosial character, consisting for the most part of ale and porter, originally bad, and shaken in being carried about until it has become muddy to the sight and abominable to the taste; rotten fruit, and biscuits stale to the degree of semi-putrefaction; those gods who take a supply of refreshments with them when they go to a theatre, display, not gluttony, but a wise regard for their health and comfort. After the theatres, the music-halls are the most popular places of Saturday night resort with working men, as at them they can combine time drinking of the Saturday night glass, and the smoking of the Saturday night pipe, with the seeing and hearing of a variety of entertainments, ranging from magnificent ballets and marvellous scenic illusions to inferior tumbling, and from well- given operatic selections to' the most idiotic of the so-called comic songs of the Jolly Dogs class. Music-halls being practically large public-houses, it is riot, as a matter of course, permitted to take refreshments into them. The refreshments supplied in these halls, however, are generally moderately good, but at the same time more than moderately dear, while the waiters, who, in accordance with the usage of these establishments, have to be pecuniarily "remembered" each time that they refill your glass or bring you the most trifling article, haunt you in an oppressive and vampirish manner if you venture to linger over your drink; and, all things considered, it is not too much to say that, notwithstanding the comparatively low prices of admis-[-199-]sion to them, music-halls are about the dearest places of amusement that a working man can frequent. Next to the theatres and music-halls, the shilling, sixpenny, and threepenny "hops" of the dancing academies and saloons which abound in manufacturing districts, are the amusements most affected by the younger and more spruce of unmarried working men. And it is at these cheap dancing academies (which, not being connected, as the saloons generally are, with public-houses, are looked upon as exclusive and genteel establishments) that unfortunate working men generally make the acquaintance of those young ladies of the millinery and dressmaking persuasion, who entertain secret hopes of one day marrying a gentleman; but who, unhappily for society in general and the working classes in particular, become the slovenly mismanaging wives of working men. Other men spend their Saturday nights at public-house "free-and-easies", from which they will come home happy if the comic or sentimental song - the learning of which has been their sole mental labour during the past week - has been  favourably received by their free-and-easy brethren.
    Of course there are some of my class who prefer above all things to spend a quiet Saturday evening in a reading-room, or at a working man's club, though the members of these clubs are by no means so numerous, nor is the success of the institutions themselves so great as might be supposed from so much having been written and said about them. But, however differently working men may spend the bulk of their Saturday night, it is an almost invariable practice with those of them who are not teetotallers, to "drop in" some time during the night at some house of call, in order to have a pipe and glass in company with the  [-200-] friends or shopmates who frequent the house. For though drunkenness is happily giving way to "manly moderation" among the working classes, they have not yet reached the bigoted stage of anti-alcoholic belief that would decree that because they are virtuous, there should be no more pipes and ale.
    And while the men of the artisan class (the class that has chiefly benefited by the Saturday half-holiday movement) now look upon Saturday as in many respects the best day of the week, their wives and families also regard it as a red-letter day. For on that day Mrs. Jones, the blacksmith's wife, gets the new bonnet or dress without which, she assures her husband, she is not fit to be seen out of doors ; or time new article of parlour furniture, lacking which-since she has seen a similar piece of furniture at her neighbour Mrs. Brown s house - she is, she tells Jones, quite ashamed when any decent body calls to see them. On that day, little Billy Jones gets the new jacket, and his sister Polly the new frock, which will draw upon them time envy or admiration of their companions at Sunday school on the following day, and each of them will on Saturday receive the penny which is their weekly allowance of pocket-money, but which, owing to the promptings of their "sweet tooth," and the advice of not altogether disinterested, though for the time being extraordinarily affectionate playmates, they will spend a few hours after they have got it, and experience in consequence much remorse whenever during the ensuing week they see a great bargain in the way of toffee. On Saturday night too Billy and Polly are indulged in the dissipation of sitting up late, in order that they may have a share of the hot supper, which, like a tea with relishes, is also a characteristic of a working man's Saturday.
    That the Saturday half-holiday movement is one of [-201-] the most practically beneficial that has ever been inaugurated with a view to the social improvement of "the masses," no one who is acquainted with its workings will for a moment doubt. It has made Saturday a day to be looked forward to by the working man with feelings of pleasurable anticipation, to he regarded as the day on which he can enjoy many timings, which but for it he would not have the opportunity of enjoying; and do many things tending to his own improvement, or the comfort of his family, to the doing of which he had formerly to devote that portion of his Saturday night which he can now spend in some recreation. It enables them to view their relative position in a rosier light than that in which they were wont to regard it, and to see that though they may often have to work whilst others play, they can also sometimes play when many others have to work and disposes them to think that, notwithstanding that there are many hardships incidental to their station in life, they are not quite so "ground down," robbed and oppressed, as sundry spouters and writers who live on and by them would have them to believe.
    But there is one aspect of the Saturday half-holiday movement in which those sections of the working classes who have benefited by it have been weighed and found wanting. They have not as a body given the practical aid which, without any inconvenience to them selves or their families, they might have done, and which as working men they ought to have done, to the extension of the movement among the less fortunate sections of their own class. In the manufacturing trades time Saturday half-holiday is an almost general thing, and many of the largest employers of labour in those trades - both companies and private firms - now pay their workmen on Friday night, with an ex-[-202-]press view to facilitating early shopping and marketing on Saturdays. And yet it is notorious that the late shopping of the artisan class is the sole means of keeping thousands of shops open till eleven and twelve o'clock on Saturday nights, and consequently of keeping tens of thousands of shopmen and assistants at work till those late hours; thus making Saturday the worst day of the week for them, and compelling them and their families in many instances to do their shopping on Sundays. Workmen of the artisan class are disposed to entertain a rather contemptuous opinion of "counter- skippers," but they should bear in mind that even counter-skippers are men and brethren, who feel all the irksomeness of confinement, and are doubtless endowed with bumps that cause them to long for, and would enable them to enjoy, a half-holiday.
    It would be simply absurd to suppose that the sections of the working classes who already enjoy the Saturday half-holiday could by any act of theirs at once extend the movement to other sections, but still it is in their power to do much towards it. If the men in those trades in which the holiday is established would follow an understood law, to have all Saturday marketing and shopping incidental to the requirements of themselves and families finished, as a general rule, by four o'clock, the result would be that thousands of young men would be released from the bondage of the counter some hours earlier on Saturday night than they are at present. It is in the power of the working classes to do much in this way, and the thoughtlessness and indifference of many working men on such points as these must often give additional pain to those of their own class who suffer by it. And I am sure it must have brought something of shame as well as sorrow to the minds of many thoughtful [-203-] working men when, in the early part of 1866, the clothiers' assistants in the large clothing establishments at the East-end of London brought their grievance (that of having to work seven days a week, and ninety-four hours for a week's work) before the public, and appealed to "the workmen of London to give them one day's rest out of seven, by not shopping at clothing establishments that continue to keep open on Sundays." Occasions frequently arise in which large sections of the working classes, and sometimes even the general body of them, stand in need of the good opinion or friendly assistance of other sections of society, and it behoves them to show themselves deserving of assistance when their hour of need comes, by showing such brotherly kindness and consideration for each other as may be in their power, even if they should have to make a little alteration in their habits to do so. And of the matters in which it is in the power of some sections of the working classes to render material assistance to others, the extension of the Saturday half-holiday movement is one of the most prominent, and one in which aid may be given - with little or no self-sacrifice upon the part of the givers. 

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