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that single exception is fatal. One after and elsewhere, in fact, all round London, as another the rest gradually open again, the well as in the provinces, at which the same whole thing breaks down, and thus a small resolution was enthusiastically adopted. It minority tyrannise over the rest. It seems sent a ray of light and hope into thousands clear that nothing but legislation can remedy of homes. At Liverpool a circular has been the evil
. Voluntary action has been tried sent round to the shops asking whether they and failed over and over again ; and the were in favour of compulsory closing or not. almost unanimous opinion of the witnesses Two thousand answers were received, of which examined before the House of Commons 1,770 were favourable, a few neutral, and less Committee was that it was hopeless to ex- than 200 against. The evidence given before pect any shortening of the hours in that way. the House of Commons Committee showed
Such then is the present position of affairs, that the feeling in London was equally strong. and, as I have said, the general feeling of the Mr. Jones told us that in the Holloway district shopkeeping community is in favour of legis- they had canvassed 400 tradesmen, of whom lation. Even as long ago as 1873 the shop- 95 per cent. were in favour. Mr. Noel, who had keepers who came to me, with reference to inquired among his neighbours in Shoreditch, the Bill I then proposed, expressed them- found them even more unanimous. Mr. Parselves in favour of a general compulsory ker and Mr. Pomeroy gave similar evidence closing I then thought this was impos- as regards Bermondsey. Witnesses from the sible. Only by degrees have I become con- provinces stated that the same view prevailed vinced how deep and general this feeling is. in Edinburgh, Dublin, Manchester, Newcastle, This was strikingly demonstrated last and elsewhere. I may say then that this is
When there seemed some proba- the shopkeepers' own Bill. I have introduced bility that our Bill might become law, our it at their request, and by their help I hope to opponents believing that the shopkeepers carry it. I dwell on this point because it generally would pronounce against it, induced is so important to realise that this is no the Lord Mayor to summon a great repre- question of class against class; of shop assissentative meeting of traders at the Mansion tants against shopkeepers. On the contrary, House. We had nothing to do with the the shopkeers themselves, to their honour be invitations. They were issued by opponents it said, are themselves foremost in wishing of our Bill, who, however, courteously invited to benefit their assistants by shortening the me to attend. Some 700 or 800 traders were hours, and they ask Parliament to enable present. I believe there was not a single them to do so. assistant present; they were all shopkeepers. The Bill which, at their request, I introduced
a thoroughly representative meeting. in the autumn session, and which I shall bring The gentlemen who called the meeting pro forward as soon as Parliament meets in posed a resolution condemning our Bill; but February, proposes to enact that every shop the meeting, to their great surprise, was should shut at eight o'clock for five nights in overwhelmingly in its favour. Eventually the the week and ten on the sixth, excepting hostile resolution in deference to the strong public-houses and places of refreshment, tofeeling of the meeting was withdrawn, and bacconists and newsvendors
. The hour is one proposed by Mr. Štapley, and seconded also to be extended to ten P.M. on any day by Mr. Crisp, was adopted by more than ten preceding'a public or bank holiday. It is to one, as follows: "That, while heartily also provided that if in any particular disaccepting Sir John Lubbock’s Bill” (which trict any particular trade desires to obtain has now become law), “which would un- an extension of the time they are allowed doubtedly confer a great benefit on young to keep open under the ordinary application persons engaged in shops, this meeting ear of the Act, two-thirds can make application nestly prays Parliament to go further, and to the local authority to obtain permission to add a clause enacting a compulsory general to remain open. The same clause provides closing at eight o'clock on five days of the that if in any district a particular trade week, and at ten on Saturdays; a measure wishes to grant a half-holiday two-thirds which would confer an inestinable benefit on may make application to the local authority, the whole shopkeeping community, and re- who can give an order which would make lieve them from the intolerably long hours the half-holiday compulsory for the whole from which they now suffer."
This resolu- trade. The thirteenth clause raises the tion ran like wildfire round London. Meet- penalty for Sunday trading to £1. ings were held at once in Holloway, Padding- It will be observed that on one important ton, Shoreditch, Kensington, Camden Town, point we have departed from the recommen
dation of the Committee. They suggested shopwomen to go on slaving for fourteen that the Act should leave to local authorities hours a day. the power of fixing an hour, and for this One objection which was urged against there is, at first sight, much to be said. The the old Factory Acts cannot be brought Shop Hours League, however, and, indeed, against the Bill. It has no bearing on foreign the shopkeepers generally, as far as I have competition. Under it all would be treated been able to ascertain their opinion, entirely alike. The shops would do just as much oppose this suggestion; they insist that the business. There would not be a pound of closing must be general. For instance, if the tea or a yard of stuff sold less than now. shops were shut at eight in Manchester, but Some few shopkeepers have objected benot elsewhere, the result would be that the cause they say they do their best business late business would be transferred to the after eight. Yes, and they would under the shops immediately beyond the borough Bill do it before eight. That is the only limits, and thus a great injustice might be difference and the great advantage. What done.
is now done between eight and ten would be What, then, are the objections ? Our done between six and eight. The last two opponents raise two difficulties—firstly, that hours, moreover, are the most trying. After it would be an undue interference with trade; the gas is lit the air becomes hottest, driest, and, secondly, that it would not give artisans foulest, and most impure. and their wives sufficient time for shopping. This then is the state of the question.
As regards the first point, I have shown The witnesses examined before the House of that the Bill is introduced at the instance of Commons Committee were all but unanithe traders themselves. That it only gives mously of opinion that voluntary action can effect to the wishes of the majority. The not remedy the evil—which, indeed, some question is, whether a selfish minority shall thought was growing worse. Without legisrule the majority, or whether the majority lation there is little hope of shorter hoursshall rule the minority. Moreover, we already the lives of shopmen and shopwomen will regulate the hours of shops for the sale of still be the same weary monotony of shop beer and spirits, so that the Bill introduces and bed, a life of drudgery and an early no new principle.
grave. If this Bill passes, on the contrary, As regards the second objection, I may they have a hope of brighter and happier observe that Mr. Thomas Burt, than whom days, of stronger health and longer lives; in no one knows better the views of the work- winter of leisure hours for study and amuseing classes, has most kindly assisted me in ment, happy evenings at home before their this matter, and his name is on the back of own fire with their family and friends; and our Bill
. Mr. Broadhurst was a member of in the longer days of pleasant walks in the the House of Commons Committee, and gave sweet summer evenings. When this Bill is the most cordial support. I have consulted once passed every one will wonder it was other leaders of the working classes, and not enacted before. No one can say that it they none of them see any difficulty. In- would in any way injure trade, while it deed it would be extraordinary if working would brighten and prolong the lives of men, who have secured much shorter hours thousands of our countrymen and countryfor themselves, really wished shopmen and women.
ITH a face look- shall nestle in the chilly days that are coming either way, ing; or, conversely like our own brave English
the holly, that holds out scarlet signals of a passmiddle month ing winter, and yet, remembering what nest of winter, holds it holds, keeps its leaves green and close for Autumn with the nightingale of coming summer. one hand and Ay, the month that looks two ways !—one Spring with the face of it sad with Regret, the other glad with other; a queer, Resolve. A resting time, the “ breathing hill” empty sort of of the year of pilgrims. month, when I have called it an empty month, but it is
Nature seems only so in the seeming. Underground all the to let things alone, and, between the roots are resting; even the grass, which one balanced attractions of either season, to would think might be glad of something to stand, in cold neutrality, aloof. The im- do, does not grow; it does not oven take patient Spring may hazard a week of care of itself, is untidy and browned ; under untimely warmth, and the sparrow, ever the hedges and in odd corners it revels in a ready to be tempted, turns him, uxorious, to mediæval, Merovingian raggedness of growth. domestic joys. But Winter jealously super- The trees and bushes stand about in a brown venes, and the sun hangs crimson in a frozen study, and the nests in them—“What more sky, and the sparrows, too cold to care for dreary cold, than a forsaken bird's nest filled appearances, sit ruftled up on contradicting with snow?”are all to let, and dilapidated. water-pipes, scandalously apart, and drearily Under the hedges the field-mouse and hedgerecriminate in chirps. One week the crocus, sparrow go nervous and uncomfortable, for generous bulb! with a heart all too large for the thawing twigs drip upon them, and the waiting, pierces the soft earth with its green leaves rustle under their feet. needle-point of leaf. With the next comes sky the rooks are blown about, uncertain of Jack Frost, and alas ! for the crocus. their objects, for the grubs are so deep under But January looks on and watches, and the soil that it seems hardly worth the birds' does not interfere. It is the month that while to settle on the bare fields ; the larks, waits upon the others, the narrow isthmus gathered into companies, drift in aimless of two seasons. Like the rhododendron of the fashion from farm to farm ; but the robin, Himalayas, it clings on its bough-tips to the with his sun-ripened breast, sits above you ruddy meinories of a summer of flowers on the medlar-tree, cheerily whistling the that is past, but about its roots gather, in New Year in, and, if you care to listen, there rustling heaps, the leaves where the pheasants seems a blither list in his voice than when, a
In the grey