« AnteriorContinuar »
that we crave in our hours of unbending. And no theory of recreation can be satisfactory which leaves out the social element. But it is here that the greatest danger of the working man lies. It is the craving for cheerful society in his hours of relaxation that has occasioned the fall of nine-tenths of those who have become drunkards. As Burns says
“Social mirth and glee sit down,
All joyous and unthinking ;
Debauchery and drinking."
Unquestionably, the greatest snare of the working man lies in the habit of associating intoxicating drink with all methods of social recreation. It is one of the great problems of the day, how to have, for the masses, true social recreation without intoxicating drink. The day may come when, as a general rule, they shall have such self-control as to be able, even in the presence of the tempter, to keep within safe limits. Till that day comes, the only safe rule must be, “Touch not, taste not, handle not.”
Keep away intoxicating fire, and you may with safety enlarge the circle of social relaxations. Let the taste for music be more cultivated, and let there be more music in working men's homes. Let there be more out-door sports, and more in-door games. As for public amusements, discrimination must be
exercised It is too apparent, that many of our public places of amusement are, in practice, only nurseries of irregularity and vice. It is very desirable that social recreations should be of a domestic character. If HOME could but become, to both old and young, another name for a scene of refreshment and happiness, in which from time to time a few friends and their children might be asked to join, the more objectionable places of amusement would come to a discount, or would be forced to change their character. It is interesting to find what good effects on the masses the opening to them on certain nights of the week of the public industrial museums at South Kensington has had. Thousands of the working classes go there with their families, and find both pleasure and profit in examining the objects of interest that are submitted for their inspection. One of the most interesting results of this experiment has been the severance of rational social enjoyment from intoxication. A refreshment-room is on the premises, where the usual beverages are sold; but so little are they patronized, that, by a calculation of averages, each person who visited the museum had only two-and-a-half drops of wine, one-twentysixth drop of brandy, and ten-and-a-half drops of bottled ale.
The tavern, as a working printer remarked, in
giving evidence on this subject to a committee of the House of Commons, is the public institution which is most patronized by the working classes. It is requisite, if the tavern is to sink, that rivals be created to the public-house, not only not of a pernicious, but of a positively elevating tendency. Refreshment rooms, where still higher attractions than those of the tavern shall be found, without its temptations, are imperatively demanded by the present age. It is hardly possible to conceive anything worse than the tavern, and the other institutions that are usually connected with it. Working men's clubs and unions, furnishing wholesome refreshment, healthy recreation, and the opportunity of social intercourse and mental and spiritual improvement to working men, are now established in many places, with encouraging results. Should society improve, the improvement will be attended by a gradual elevation of popular recreations, till at last, the Christian spirit becoming everywhere predominant, no recreation shall be sought where the Divine presence may not be enjoyed, and in their very amusements men shall learn to do all to the glory of God.
“ 'Tis Sabbath morn. -Thy morn, O Toil,
The morn of morns! Time's richest blessing,
With gross debauch the brain oppressing ?
EACH of the three names by which we are accustomed, more or less, to denote the day of holy rest, has a charm and beauty of its own.
“ SABBATH” means just rest,—that name therefore indicates a primary property of the day, the rest-day, as opposed to the work-days; the LORD'S DAY introduces the Christian element, and places us in the Saviour's company, with our thoughts swinging between the remembrance of His great victory, and the prospect of His coming again in glory; and SUNDAY,--the day of sunshine,-may be held as denoting the result when the idea of rest, and that of fellowship with Christ are brought together—the peculiar lustre and radiance of the day—and the pre-eminent happiness and blessing which it brings.
The Divine appointment of the Sabbath is surely a
blessing of peculiar value to working men. If God had not stopped the wheels of labour for them on one day of seven, they would have had very hard work in getting them stopped for themselves. As regards the health and strength of the working classes, it has been proved, we conceive, to demonstration, that a periodical day of rest from labour is as indispensable as the interruption of toil during the night. It is about as inconsistent with experience and physiology to suppose that men could labour every day in the year in succession without impairing their health and hastening their death, as that they could work day and night without sleep. On this subject a few facts and testimonies will be useful and interesting
During the war in the beginning of this century, it was proposed to work all Sunday in one of the royal manufactories for continuance, not for occasional service; and it was found (according to Mr. Wilberforce), that the workmen who obtained Government's consent to abstain from working on Sundays, executed more work than the others. Captain Stansbury, the leader of the United States' surveying expedition in the Salt Lake district, in his official report to the Government, bears this testimony to the value of the Sabbath : “I here beg to record, as the result of my experience, derived not