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SAINT MONDAY-ITS WORSHIP AND WORSHIPPERS.
SOON after the Prorogation of Parliament every year, those
highly fashionable and exceedingly knowing individuals, the loungers at the
clubs, London correspondents, and other chroniclers of small beer, assure us
that London is more thoroughly empty, and "everybody" more completely
out of town, than they have been in any previous holiday season; and
"nobody," who is condemned through want of means or pressure of
business to linger out a hot and unfashionable existence in town, is
consequently more than ever inclined to regard himself as a last inhabitant, and
to consider it hard lines that he should be "bound to the wheel,"
while everybody is away from the city's busy hum. Then we have long descriptions
of holiday resorts abroad and at home. Perhaps, if put to the test, this annual
break out of holiday literature would be found to be simply a substitute for
long letters on specially reserved grievances, and the "strange freak of
nature," "extraordinary fulfilment of a dream," and
"remarkable case of longevity" paragraphs with which newspapers were
formerly wont to be exclusively padded in the silly season; but whatever may be
the cause of the yearly abundance of articles upon holiday subjects, we have
them. That this should be so, that holidays as well as the more serious phases
of life should have a literature of their own, is no doubt right and proper; but
[-109-] that that literature should be exclusively confined to one branch of the
subject is, I think, neither right, proper, nor desirable. The holiday
proceedings of the fashionable section of society, whose annual migration from
London is supposed to leave "the big city" empty, are doubtless of a
sufficiently sublime and interesting character to merit the modern prose epics
in which they are sung by those comparatively inglorious Miltons' "Own
Correspondents;" but then there is an inevitable sameness about these
proceedings which, after the first year or two, causes any description of them
to become stale, flat, and unprofitable in the hands of even the most versatile
of own correspondents. Were it for this reason alone, it is a matter for
surprise that these indefatigable writers do not occasionally strike out a new
path for themselves, by describing some of the holiday proceedings of the
unfashionable nobody section of society; which proceedings, though they might
not be considered so generally interesting as those of the fashionable world,
would have at any rate the interest of novelty. Taking society to be roughly
divided into fashionable and unfashionable, the unfashionable part is by far the
largest, and its holidays by far the most numerous and varied; and of the many
grades that go to make up the unfashionable part of society, there are perhaps
none whose holiday doings are more worthy of a passing notice than those of
"The Great Unwashed" - the body which comprises all who, in the
literal sense, earn their bread by the sweat of their brow, and, to use their
own phrase, "have black hands to earn white money."
What in fashionable society would be considered a holiday, the general body of the great unwashed, as at present constituted, cannot have. In the first place, the [-110-] unwashed ones have not, as a rule, the means for a few weeks' residence at a fashionable watering-place, or a trip to some gay or picturesque part of the Continent; and even if they had the means and had learned the manner of "doing the Rhine for five pounds," they could not avail themselves of holidays of that kind. The man who wilfully left his work for such a length of time as would be necessary for doing the Rhine, would certainly be "sacked;" and in addition to that calamity, would in all probability from that time forward be regarded by his brethren as a sort of natural curiosity, and a traitor to his class. But though the unwashed have no holidays in the fashionable sense of the term, they are according to their own ideas on the subject much greater holiday-makers than any other section of society. That "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," is an adage in the truth of which most people believe. There are still a few individuals engaged in the race for wealth who regard the Factory Act, which prevents children from being systematically overworked, as an obnoxious and unwarrantable interference with business, and who look upon the half- holidays, short-time, and other similar movements, as indications of the end of all things. But the people of this persuasion are now, happily, very rare; and the almost universal belief is that Jack should have a share of play as well as work. Of all, who hold this belief the great unwashed themselves are naturally the most fervent. They have not yet been able to realize that golden system of Eight, which is looked forward to as a working man's millennium, and under which the constituents of every man's day will be eight hours' work, eight hours' play, eight hours' sleep, and eight shillings pay ;" but during the last generation they have made such progress towards it as to make [-111-] its ultimate realization appear by no means chimerical. Artisans still young enough to enjoy a holiday are guilty of little exaggeration when they tell their younger brethren that when they (the old hands) were boys, they had to work-with the exception of a few hours for sleep - "all the hours that God sent ;" but all that sort of thing-the number of hours that constitutes a day's work being settled by the arbitrary will of a master, men having to hang about public-houses for hours before getting their wages, or having to take their wages in the shape of dear and unwholesome provisions - has been altered. But while improvements in such matters as these have been the most effective agents in producing that substantial improvement in the condition of working men which has taken place during the last thirty years, it is chiefly by the holidays that he has managed to secure that the Jack of the present day shows the earnestness of his conviction in the truth of the proverbial philosophy that awards him a time to play as a means of saving him from becoming dull. The Saturday half-holiday is already enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of working men, and its benefits are slowly but surely spreading. On each of the three great occasions, Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide, the bulk of the working classes secure from three days to a week's holiday, holding revel in parks and other public places during the day, and filling the theatres and other places of amusement at night. Then there are local fairs, wakes, and races, over which the unwashed of the districts in which they are held have another two or three days' holiday, and in most establishments in which any considerable number of workmen are employed, the annual "shop excursion" - the benefits of which are frequently extended to the wives and families of the men - is now an established institution, and two [-112-] or three days a year may be safely put down for holidays arising out of special occurrences. But the most noticeable holiday, the most thoroughly self-made and characteristic of them all, is that greatest of small holidays - Saint Monday.
Which portion of the great unwashed first instituted the worship of this Saint is a disputed point; but to the tailors, who are amongst its most ardent devotees, the honour is usually ascribed. The institution is a comparatively recent one, and its origin is not very difficult to trace. The general introduction of steam as a motive power, and the rapid invention of machinery applicable to all kinds of manufacturing work, gave rise to a numerous body of highly skilled and highly paid workmen, who soon found themselves in a position to successfully oppose the employers of labour on some of the debatable grounds between capital, and labour, their most notable victories being the definite establishment of ten hours as the standard of a day's work, and the securing of an extra rate of payment for all hours worked above that number; and also the laying the foundation of the Saturday half-holiday movement, by obtaining the privilege - never afterwards abrogated - of leaving work at four o'clock on Saturdays. These workmen would at the end of the week put off their working clothes with a sense of relief, and, thinking far more of how they should enjoy themselves to the most advantage during the Saturday evening and Sunday, than of what would become of the working clothes in the meantime, the consequence was that on the Monday morning, when they had once more to appear "with harness on their back," and awoke at the usual time for donning it, the harness was not always forthcoming, especially in the case of those men who were only lodgers. The clean [-113-] jacket and trousers or overalls that were supposed to be on the chair at the bedside would, after an exasperating search, be discovered at the bottom of the clothes-basket, unaired, and minus some important button, in consequence of which latter circumstance, the unfortunate wearer would have to run to work holding himself together as it were. The coat, which is substituted for the shop jacket in going to and from the workshop, and which is an indispensable appendage of the mechanical dignity, would not be found on its usual nail, for the reason that the landlady had stuffed it under the sofa with other objectionable articles that were considered too vulgar or too suggestive of work, to be allowed to meet the sight of the guests who on the previous day had attended her genteel Sunday tea-party; and when the coat was disinterred from its hiding-place, the cap, which was supposed to be in the pocket of it, would be missing. Having, however, by this time not a moment to spare, the unhappy victim to mislaid clothing would dash off, keeping a sharp look-out to avoid tripping himself with the flying laces of his unlaced shoes. By running, the half-dressed and breathless martyr to Monday morning circumstances would just manage to rush through the workshop gates as they were closing, but only, alas! to find that he had forgotten - had left in the pockets of the clothes turned off on the Saturday - the ticket, the giving in of which would alone enable him to start work.* (*The system formerly adopted of workmen giving in their tickets on going into the works, and taking them out when they came out, is now reversed in many large establishments, the workmen taking their tickets off a board on passing into the shops and placing them on the board again as they pass out. This plan is obviously more convenient for the workmen than the old, and in some instances still practised plan.) In consequence of this he would [-114-] be compelled to return home, cursing his fate at having had his early rising and hard run for nothing, and oppressed with the distressing consciousness of having lost a quarter (of a day) without having the compensatory pleasure of spending it in bed. Driven by their sufferings in this respect to take some bold measure for their own relief, a large number of the operative engineers adopted the practice of regularly losing the morning quarter on Mondays, a proceeding which no other body of workmen would have dared at that time, when steam power and machine work were making engineering the trade of the day, to have carried out! and which there can be no reasonable doubt originated the holiday of Saint Monday. The sufferers from mislaid clothing and forgotten tickets having established this custom for their own benefit, others soon began to avail themselves of its advantages. Did a man feel more than usually inclined for a "lie-in" after his Sunday-evening ramble, he would remember him that it was Monday morning, and indulge himself in the luxury of "a little more sleep and a little more slumber;" or did a "lushington" get a drop too much at the suburban inn to which his Sunday-evening ramble had led him, he would remember, when he came to "think of his head in the morning," that it was Monday, and have another turn round in the sheets, instead of turning out, as he would had to have done on any other working morning. Then if a man had any business to transact, he would ask for Monday as being a broken day at any rate; and sometimes, when going to work after breakfast, two or three thirsty souls who had been losing the first quarter, would turn into a public-house for a morning dram, and perhaps end in making a day of it. And so the thing went on, extending in course of time to other trades, until it cul-[-115-]minated in the canonization and setting apart of Monday as the avowed and self-constituted holiday of the pleasure-loving portion of "the million." As frequently happens in more serious things, some of those who were converted to the doctrines and observances of Saint Monday, after they were established, became their most enthusiastic devotees; and it is the strict and steadfast devotion of these "latter-day saints" to all its observances that has led to the honour of the institution of the day being ascribed to some of them. But who first instituted this day is not, after all, a very material question; it may have been the engineers, or it may have been the tailors - each have their partisans; and though the weight of evidence is undoubtedly with the former, the merit of enthusiastic observance is as decidedly with the latter.
On Monday everything is in favour of the great unwashed holding holiday. They are refreshed by the rest of the previous day; the money received on the Saturday is not all spent; and those among them who consign their best suits to the custody of the pawn-broker during the greater part of each week are still in the possession of the suits which they have redeemed from limbo on Saturday night. Masters make less objection to a workman not "turning in" on a Monday than after he had settled down to his work. Besides, the remains of the Sunday dinner being on hand, either to serve as an early make-shift meal at home, or an economic provision for a day out, and the household work being at this early period of the week well under hand, our wives and families are afforded an opportunity of sharing the forms of holiday. And since Saint Monday has become a recognised institution, each individual worshipper has additional inducements for keeping his saint's day in the knowledge that he is [-116-] sure to meet with numerous other devotees; and that "enterprising lessees" of pleasure-grounds, and other caterers to the pleasures of the unwashed, provide entertainments for his special delectation. And the holiday spirit engendered by the partial holidays of Saturday and Sunday, the sight of the Sunday clothes not yet returned to the seclusion of the clothes-box, produce an irresistible desire to avail themselves of their opportunities in the minds of the pleasure-loving; and so the worship of Saint Monday goes on.
But the Saint Mondayites are by no means of one mind as to what constitutes a holiday, and their modes of spending the day are as various as their opinions upon this point are diversified. Numerous day-trips, at prices suitable to the incomes of the poor, and allowing those who go by them to spend a certain number of hours at the seaside, are run every Monday during a great portion of the year; and these trips, special galas at the holiday resorts of the Crystal Palace class, and "outs" to suburban recreation grounds and public parks, are largely patronized by the more affluent and sedate Saint Mondayites. These, the most rational and healthy of the holidays, are mostly supported by young mechanics, who wish to give their wives, or the "young ladies" with whom they are keeping company, a day out, as well as by some family men. The younger couples, as becomes their youth, their position towards each other, and the spirit of the times, go out "quite genteel." The young ladies, who are probably milliners or dressmakers, or, if in domestic service, call themselves ladies'-maids, will be dressed in the height of cheap fashion; they will put on their most young-ladyish airs; and as they have often pretty faces, good figures and bearing, and some taste in dress, [-117-] they might sometimes pass for "real ladies" if they would only keep their tongues still. But considering it essential to their gentility to discard the language of every-day life in favour of the long words and flowery periods of the tales in their favourite cheap magazine, and persisting in an artfully artless manner to speak these words at other people, by way of impressing them with the fact that they (the young ladies) do not belong to the "commonality," the result is that they generally make a mess of it. When a young work-girl, who is out with her lover enjoying "eight hours at the sea-side for three-and-sixpence, "rapturously exclaims, as she gazes on the sea,- "Oh, Arry, ain't it beautiful !" there is nothing essentially vulgar or ridiculous in the exclamation; which is more than can he said of it when a young lady strikes an attitude, and delivers the sentiment thus- "Is not it picturescue, Enry, de-ah ?" The young men, both on their own account and in order to play up to the ladies in a worthy manner, do all in their power to contribute to the successful doing of the genteel during their day out.
"They dress themselves with studious care,
And in their best apparel dight,
Their Sunday clothes on Monday wear."
They banish the pipe of work-day life, and smoke instead "matchless Havannas" at seven for a shilling; they wear their "unequalled Parisian kids" at 1s. 9d. per pair, and manfully persist in wearing them throughout the day, notwithstanding the uncomfortable cribbed, cabined, and confined sort of feeling which they give to their hands; for they know that their hands, if left uncovered, will betray them, however genteelly they may be got up in other respects. Then they address the waiters who attend upon [-118-] them in eating-houses or tea-gardens in a superb and authoritative manner, intended to impress those persons with the conviction that they and their young ladies are members of the aristocracy, who are merely indulging in a working-class holiday by way of a novelty. While the younger couples behave so grandly, the older couples and family parties do the economic and comfortable with the remains of the Sunday dinner made into sandwiches, and washed down with ale.
These latter are the parties who dine comfortably under a tree in public parks, and exchange jokes with those who come to see them "at feeding-time;" and they are the chief supporters of those establishments in the neighbourhood of holiday resorts, in the windows of which is displayed the announcement- "The kettle boiled at twopence a head." For the matrons, although out for a holiday, are too thoroughly imbued with the housewifely spirit to patronize, or allow their husbands or children to patronize, the teas of the tea-gardens, or of those establishments which supply "tea and shrimps for ninepence" - which teas these matrons declare to be iniquitously dear, and of a quality that would make them dear at any price. So they bring their own packets of tea, and a substantial pile of bread and butter and "bun-cake," and have the kettle boiled for twopence a head. Thus they are enabled to enjoy tea at once cheap and good. It is the females of these parties whose exclamation of "Law !" varied in its manner of delivery according as it is intended to express surprise, admiration, or indignation, resounds through the exhibitions and picture-galleries which the more sensible of the Saint Mondayites visit. And it is these same female holiday-makers who "take notice" of, praise, and give cakes [-119-] to each other's children; and who, when returning home, freely distribute the remains of their stock of provisions among any of their fellow-excursionists in the same conveyance who will accept of them, loudly expatiate upon the pleasures of their day out, wish they could have such a day every day, and then console themselves for the impossibility of gratifying that wish by "dare-saying" that they would in time become tired even of holidays, and that rich folks have their troubles as well as other people; finally branching off into a discourse respecting the heavy washing they will have to start to in the morning, or some other equally interesting household topic.
Another section of the Saint Mondayites who make excursions to open-air resorts is that which is composed of the more steady, respectable, and best- paid portion of the "single young fellows" - young unmarried mechanics, who, immediately upon coming "out of their time," make for the London district, or flit about the country to wherever the best standing wages or most profitable piece-work prices current in their trade are to be obtained. Without encumbrance, even that of a "young lady," they adopt a style of holiday-making which is a compromise between the genteel and the comfortable, and which may be described as the jolly. Their dress on the occasion of a Monday holiday is a medium between the "fashionable attire" of the young gentlemen and the old fashioned, well-preserved Sunday suits of the comfortable family men, and consists of their evening suits; not the evening suits of dress-society, be it understood, but the strong, useful, well-fitting, somewhat sporting-looking "mixed cloth" suits, which they don when going on their evening rambles in search of amusement after working hours, and which [-120-] enable them to pass muster in any society they are likely to go into, without causing them to feel that chronic fear of spoiling their clothes which haunts the working man when dressed in his best. These single young fellows worship Saint Monday in parties of from four to six in number, and generally select some place at which dancing is likely to form part of the amusements of the day, for most of them are fond of dancing; and the cheap "hops" which abound in working-class districts being a prominent feature in their ordinary evening amusements, they are generally spirited performers on the light fantastic toe. Should the chosen place be within about ten miles of their homes, they usually drive to it, but if above that distance they avail themselves of the ordinary excursion trains or steamers. When a trip by road is decided upon, they hire a smart trap, and the best driver among them is entrusted with the task of making a dashing start, in order to remove any doubt the livery-stable keeper may entertain as to their being able to manage it properly. The same driver also takes the reins when they are approaching the public-houses at which they stop; but during the intermediate stages of the journey, and until they are within a short distance of their destination, the other members of the party try their 'prentice hands at handling the ribbons, and the journey is considered well done upon the whole if it has been accomplished without a break-down or upset. On coming within sight of the entrance of the pleasure-ground for which they are bound, the reins are once more given up to the "first whip," in order that the approach may be made in a dashing style. Not that doing the genteel is at all in their line. They do not ask in a mincing tone for a glass of bitter [-121-] be-ah, or pale ale, and get short measure, and have to pay a first-class price for an inferior article in consequence, but call boldly for their pot of porter or "six ale;" nor does it ever occur to them that it is a dignified thing to bully the servants who attend upon them at their eighteenpenny dinners and ninepenny teas. Indeed, they rather "cotton to" this class of servitors. They address the females as "my dear," and help them in the very process of waiting. They call the male waiters "mate," and when one of them comes to take orders, say for dinner, generally leave it to him in a friendly way, to order it for them.
When dancing commences the single young fellows begin to come out. They look for the prettiest of the girls, and as, in their own way, they have a good deal of dash both in their conversation and dancing, they sometimes make such a degree of progress in the good graces of flirtingly-inclined young ladies as brings upon them the jealous notice of the lovers. Fights frequently ensue in consequence, but are generally put a stop to before any material damage is done by the interference of friends ; and sometimes when, after the fight, it is discovered that the jealous lover is a working man, and not one of those obnoxious individuals, a "counter-skipper," the combatants and their respective friends become quite fraternal.
After the excursionist section of the Saint Mondayites the most numerous is that which is composed of the lovers of sport. This section is chiefly made up of young men of sporting proclivities. They are posted up in the dates of, and latest betting, upon all important sporting matters, and discuss the probable results of "coming events" as learnedly and vaguely as any of the professional sporting prophets. They are great in slang, always speaking of the features of the human [-122-] face in the technical phraseology of the ring - according to which the nose is the beak or conk, the eyes ogles or peepers, the teeth ivories, and the mouth the kisser or tater-trap. They are ready to settle all matters of opinion by offering to lay or take long odds upon the question. They have a great deal of the "make-believe" sort of imagination in their composition, complacently speaking of "lumping it on" or "going a raker" when they have backed their fancy for five shillings, and regarding themselves as daring speculators when they have "put the pot" on to the amount of a sovereign. And while the events on the results of which their speculations depend are in abeyance, they confidentially inform everybody whom they can get to listen to them that if they "land the pot," it is their intention to "jack up work" and go on the turf; which they believe to be their proper sphere. Meantime they have their hair cut short, and, when off work, wear fancy caps and mufflers, and suits of the latest sporting cut ; in which they assume the swaggering walk of the minor sporting celebrities whom they are occasionally permitted to associate with and "treat." As they get older the majority of these young fellows become more sensible. They give up the more dangerous of their sporting practices, abandon the idea of going on the turf, and confining their gambling transactions to a draw in a shilling workshop sweepstake for the Derby, or wagering half-a- crown on the English representative in any international sporting contest; while to younger young fellows they leave the expensive honour of "standing" drink for the East-end Antelope, or purchasing tickets for the benefit of the Whitechapel Slogger. There are some of them, however, to whom neither increasing years nor experience brings wisdom, and who, [-123-] instead of seeing and forsaking the folly of their way, go from bad to worse, and finally go to swell the disreputable mob of hangers-on associated with the body known as "the fancy." Others, who have not been able to exorcise the sporting spirit, have sufficient strength of mind to avoid those weaker points of a sporting taste that almost inevitably lead to the permanent degradation of the amateur sportsman - and settle down among those middle-aged married men who have the reputation of being "knowing cards," and who are constantly dabbling in sporting affairs, occasionally winning a few pounds, but as a rule being considerable losers in the aggregate ; as their unfortunate wives and families could sorrowfully testify.
The shrines at which the sporting section of the Saint Mondayites principally sacrifice are the "running grounds" situated in the suburbs of the metropolis and the larger manufacturing towns, at which pedestrian and other athletic sports take place. At these grounds, the amusements consist for the most part of races ranging in length from eighty yards to five miles, wrestling matches, and pugilistic benefits upon a large scale, in which a number of the more or less brilliant stars of the ring "show up" in conjunction with pedestrians and wrestlers. But the events in which the sporting Saint Mondayites take the greatest interest are those amateur ones of which they themselves are the promoters, and in which eminent members of their own body are the principals; such, for instance, as the hundred and fifty yards' "spin," for 10l. a side, between the Speedy Mason and the Flying Blacksmith, in which the men have been backed by their shopmates. It sometimes happens, both in professional and amateur matches, that one or both parties come on to the ground secretly determined to [-124-] "win, tie, or wrangle;" and as they cannot, of course, make sure of a win or a tie, it is generally a wrangle that the losing side in these cases resort to as a means of trying to save their money. Even in cases in which no predetermined resolve to wrangle exists, wrangles often occur; and these disputes, which are always conducted in language so strong, that the mildest samples of it would be utterly unfit for ears polite, invariably lead to a number of fights between the partisans of the principals in the contests out of which the disputes arise. When fights commence under these circumstances, the friends of the combatants immediately interfere; not, however, as in the case of the excursionists, for the purpose of restoring peace, but with the directly contrary object of promoting the fight, by forming a ring and encouraging the man of their choice to "wire in," or shouting to him to use the left, or upper-cut, or counter. The Saint Mondayites of the black country and other districts inhabited by the less civilized portions of the great unwashed, belong almost to a man, to the sporting section; but their tastes being considerably stronger than those of the sporting worshippers of Saint Monday residing in more refined localities, they add to the milder sports already spoken of a number of those smaller semiprofessional pugilistic affairs which are to be found recorded in the "ring intelligence" of the sporting papers under the heading of "Merry Little Mills," or "Rough Turns-up." The doggy portion of them further diversify their Monday sports by dog-fights and ratting-matches. As might naturally be expected, wrangles and fights frequently take place among this class of sportsmen, and sometimes these fights are, by the mutual consent of the combatants, of the kind known in such districts as up-and-down fights, in which, as the [-125-] name implies, the men fight both up and down; fight, in short, like beasts rather than men, kicking and biting each other, when on the ground, with the utmost ferocity.
Another section of the Saint Mondayites consists of those who simply merge the worship of Saint Monday into the worship of Bacchus. The men of this section are, as a rule, confirmed "lushingtons," who, having had a "spree" on the Saturday night, and taken numerous hairs of the dog that bit them on the Sunday without experiencing that benefit which is popularly supposed to result from such a proceeding, avail themselves of the circumstance of Monday being a holiday to have an appropriate and characteristic wind-up of their weekly spree by a day's idling and drinking. Whatever the amount of money they may have received on the Saturday night, these worthies are invariably penniless on the Monday morning. Some of them, however, have credit at the public-houses which they delight to honour, and this credit they pledge for the benefit of themselves, and those of their less fortunate brother lushingtons on whose paying of their share of " the shot upon the following Saturday they can depend. But when a knot of this class of Saint Mondayites are seen outside of a public-house door taking off their waistcoats and neckerchiefs, and handing them to one of their number, with instructions to "get as much as you can on them, Bill," it may be taken for granted that they have neither money nor credit; but still, so long as they have any pawnable clothing, they are never at a loss for raising a shilling. These people commence their Saint Monday proceedings about eleven o'clock in the morning; at that hour they begin to drop in at their favourite houses of call, where they sit smoking and [-126-] drinking and playing dominoes, or discussing the incidents of their Saturday-night sprees, until one or two o'clock, when the more seasoned vessels go out to "have a turn round and get a bit of something to eat," leaving those of their brethren who have already become muddled, or whose drunkenness is of the apathetic kind, to await their return about an hour later, when the consumption of beer and tobacco again goes on with renewed energy until about six or seven o'clock in the evening. By this time money and credit are alike exhausted. Matters being thus brought to a climax, they go, or, if quite helpless, are taken home, and having thus a long night before them in which to sleep off the drink, and being used to it, they manage to appear at work on the following morning.
The last and worst section of the Saint Mondayites is the "loafer" section - a section composed of lazy, dissolute fellows who look upon work as a dire and disagreeable necessity, and avoid it as much as they can. They have never the means of indulging in any of the ordinary holiday amusements of the more respectable portion of the working classes, and stay off their work on Mondays from sheer laziness, and because they know that employers being compelled to tacitly acknowledge Monday as an optional holiday, they can stay from their work on that day without incurring the risk of getting "the sack" or a "blowing up." If they live in the vicinity of any of the places patronized by the excursionist section of the Saint Mondayites, or can find any means of reaching such places cheaply, these gentry hang on to the excursionists as a sort of camp-followers, snapping up unconsidered trifles in the way of eatables, sponging upon the more easy-going for drink, and insulting those who will not be sponged upon, if they think that [-127-] they are not likely to show fight. When they are not able to join any of the regular holiday-makers in the capacity of hangers-on, they loaf about the outside of corner public-houses, smoking, and indulging in horseplay among themselves, and hustling respectable passers-by off the pavement. Or if half-a-dozen of them can raise "the price of a pot," so as to obtain an entrance into a public-house, they will attach themselves to other parties who may be drinking in the house, and bully or beg as much drink from them as they can; while, failing all chance of obtaining drink at other people's expense, many of them attend the police-courts or hang about the outside of them, to bear the results of the Saturday-night charges, in some of which they take a warm interest, owing to members of their own body being concerned in them. For the great unwashed being generally flush of money and bent upon enjoying themselves on Saturday nights, the sponging and bullying propensities of the loafers become so rampant on those nights that they often lead to rows, and the appearance of the loafers being against them, and it occasionally happening that they are "well known to the police," they are usually the parties seized when the police have to be called in to quell a Saturday-night row. And it is with a view of showing their sympathy with, and learning the fate of, their captive brethren, that the loafers, when they cannot get drink, go to the police-courts on Monday mornings, and by attending these courts, hanging on to the skirts of legitimate pleasure-seekers, and loafing about public-houses and street corners, they manage to get through the day in a manner that, to any but a thoroughly lazy man, would be hard work.
Individual or occasional worshippers of Saint Monday may sacrifice to the saint in some personal or [-128-] peculiar manner, but the proceedings of the four sections of Saint Mondayites enumerated embrace all the essential and general features of the day, and its worshippers and observances, and afford ample data for forming a judgment as to whether such an institution is or is not a desirable one, or one that is likely to have a beneficial influence upon the working classes. Fully admitting the truth of the principle involved in the proverb that "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," I think that when considered in all its bearings, it is fairly questionable whether the holiday of Saint Monday, as it at present exists, is beneficial to the Jacks as a body, or tends to make them bright. The excursion form of Monday holiday is in itself commendable, and of a beneficial character; it affords those who are during a great part of each working day engaged in the necessarily more or less foul atmosphere of a workshop, an opportunity of enjoying a purer air; the amusements connected with it are, as a rule, of a perfectly innocent character; and the holiday usually comes to a conclusion in time to allow those who take part in it to reach home and get to bed at a moderately early hour, so that they can go to their work on the following morning refreshed and invigorated. But desirable as is the day-excursion form of working-class holiday, it cannot be ultimately beneficial to the working-classes as a body, so long as it is indulged in-as is the case at present-by large numbers who cannot really afford it, and by whose self-indulgence in such matters they and their families are greatly impoverished. Many of the better-paid and more provident portion of the working classes are in a position which perfectly justifies them, so far as the question of the expense involved is concerned, in occasionally giving themselves and their families the pleasure of a holiday; [-129-] but while they can thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the value of such holidays, it is only occasionally that people of this kind, with whom prudential considerations have weight, indulge in them; while, on the other hand, many of the habitual and more enthusiastic observers of Saint Monday are people who, in the more literal and least desirable sense, "take no heed for the morrow;" people who will feast on pay-day, though they run the risk of starving during the rest of the week in consequence; who will and can make holiday on Monday, though they know that their clothes must go to the pawn-shop the next day, and that their imaginations will have to be racked to devise plausible excuses for obtaining credit for a loaf of bread before the end of the week; people who sacrifice all higher and general considerations to the gratification of the hour, and who, living from hand to mouth at the best of times, are, when overtaken by sickness or temporary loss of employment, immediately plunged into the most abject misery. And an institution which affords these people an excuse and opportunity for regularly and systematically indulging their extravagant a ad injurious propensities, and encourages and developes such propensities in those in whom they may be latent, has, it must be obvious, a tendency to act injuriously upon the working classes generally. These improvident Saint Mondayites, whose philosophy is summed up in the chorus of one of their favourite songs, in which they assert that-
"Let the world jog along as it will,
We'll be free and easy still,"
though professing to be, and by many believed to be simply thoughtless, good-humoured individuals, are in reality, as a rule, thoroughly selfish beings. The wives and children of many of the most ardent Saint Monday-[-130-]ites have to go short of food and clothes, and endure other miseries, while the means that should go to make them and their homes comfortable are squandered. Besides, as in most workshops of any considerable size some of the labourers employed in the establishment can only work when the mechanics, whose assistants they are, are at their work, it frequently happens that poor labouring men, who are struggling to bring up families on an income of sixteen or eighteen shillings a week, and who have neither the means nor spirit for keeping holiday, go to their work on Monday mornings only to be sent back in consequence of the absence of "mates," who, without any previous notice, either to masters or fellow-workmen, are stopping off work in order to keep up Saint Monday.
[-nb. grey numbers in brackets indicate page number, (ie. where new page begins), ed.-]