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THE WEEKLY HALF-HOLIDAY QUESTION.

» A publio meeting was held at the Oddfellows' Hall last evening to consider the movement that is being instituted for the observance of a weekly half-holiday in Ashburton. The chair was occupied by tho Mayor, and having seats on the platform were the Rev. E.A.Scott, Meeara W. 0 Walker, M.E.R., 0. W.^Purnell and M jor Steward. The Mayor, in introducing the business { of the evening, expressed the great pleasure it afforded him in presiding at a meeting of that nature. Some years ago a movement of a similar nature was instituted and for about twelve months a half-holiday was observed, but for some unexplained reasons it fell through. He hoped that the present endeavor woo Id be attended with more success because the object was a good one. There was an old saying th it '* All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," and the wonder was that; the inhabitants of Ashbarton were so smart, cecause they seemed to be always working, allowing themselves no time whatever for relaxation. Me W. 0. Walker said his sympathies were most entirely with the promoters of the movement. They mast not forget that sb a people they bad other things to look to than money-grubblng. They had got to create a nation. No nation was worth preserving that was unable to fight for its own, and no ground was so favorable a nursery for a fighting nation as the playground. As a comparatively old man It was a matter of regret to him bow little time tha youth of the present day spent In 1 the crloket ground and the football i ground, whera the young men of a few | years ago were aoouatomed to seek reoreation and wholesome diaolp'lne. If the present meeting resulted In seoarlng to them and to their oblldren a weekly halfholiday he hoped they would see that It was devoted to the sports of their nation. He knew that cricket and football were run olose nowa-days by oyollng and other j amusements whloh had their own attraction, but he would like to see the oyollstß gmllfy themselves also In the football and otiokot fields. He did not like to iee tha old games given up, beoaose he felt sore th»t no other could Impart so well sound and wholesome discipline, and no others could so well teaob young fellows that It was no use attempting to play a lone band* If the objeut of the meeting were attained he hoped It would bear good fruits in bringing Into the playground many more of their young men than went there now. He knew there were objections and difficulties In the way of the movement, but these oould all be surmounted. The whole question rested with the good tense of the community. If the community determined to have the halfholiday ;It would get it. A question had arisen as to the customers from the country. No doubt till the half-holiday became an established Institution there would be a certain amount of disappointment by people coming into town on the afternoons on whloh the Bhops were dosed, but this difficulty oould easily be got over, and he felt sore the oountry people would lend their assistance to the movement by timing their visits to town on a different day to that chosen foi the holiday. Mr Walker oonoladed by aseurlog the promoters of his support and sympathy. Mr 0. W. Paroell said that In order to give tha meeting some practical result it would be necessary for a resolution to be proposed. The promoters hid not oommunioatad with him, nor did he know if aoy motion had been drafted, but he would take the responsibility ot moving one himself : " That this meeting 1b of opinion that a weekly half-holiday should be established In Ashbuiton," He had always been in favor of a half .holiday, and when a movement was started some years ago be supported it, and from that day to this had dosed his office on Wednesday afternoons* In consequence of one or two tradespeople opposing it the halfholiday fell through in all lines of business with the exception of the solicitors, who had stuck to their colors, and he ooald safely say that they had nover lost a penny by It. Ashburton waa peculiarly well situated for the suooess of a movement of this sort. In seaport towns there were always people passing through, and storekeepers depended a good deal on what •night be called chance business, but here, prßOtloally, all the business was done with the permanent residents,, who had a certain amount of money to spend, and would spend it whether the shops dosed for half a day or not. An obj action bad been advanced to the movement that the promoters were trying to get six days' pay for five and a half days' work. There was nothing in this objection* A tradesman looked at how muoh he turned over during the week, and If he did as muoh business in five and a half days as ha now does in six, he would suffer no loss, while the persons In his employ, who would be freed for half a day, would be so much the gainers. An employer of labor should consider the well being of bis employees, both from motives of common humanity and of self-interest, beoausa be would be the gainer if he showed that he was concerned In their welfare, fie alluded to the late Mr (afterwards Lord) Brassey, who started life with nothing and died worth four millions sterling, and who imputed his great suootsa to the extreme confederation he hud nlways shown the men in his employ. He did not treat them as mere machines to gain him money, but interested himself In their welfare, the result being that all h s men exerted themselves to the utmost to help him. He agreed with the previous speaker that we should not allow ourselves to degenerate Into mere money grubbers, and that we should refrain from making the mistake of our American oousins. Visitors to America remarked that everyone seemed engrossed with money-making, that the men had lost all the oapaolty for pleasure, and that the sap of life was drying up within them. If our young men did not have reasonable opportunity for pleasure they would grow up into very Inferior men, Mr Purnell oonduded by expressleg his warmest sympathy with the move* m«nr, and said that if any one had any objections against It they should state fairly and openly what those objections were. " The motion was seconded by Mr Meara who addressed 'the meeting at some length. Major Steward said that the supporters of the movement might congratulate themselves on. the large attendance that evening. It ishowed that public Interest had been awakened and should encourage them to go ou till they had attained the obieot of their wishes. He supposed that all who, came to New Zealand did so In the hopa of battering themselves — either |n pqrie ( health, or pQs'tlon, bqt It was a question if they bettered themselves If they brought with them all their old habits and associations tome of those habits and associations ihould be cherished as stored, but others should be got rid of. It was the boast of Britain that they never shall be slaves, and undoubtedly they never woqld be slaves to a foreigner as 'long as therp was a drop of British blood in their veins, but otlllit was well to enquire whether they weren't slaves in other ways. Was not the business man who gave up the whole of bis time from morning to night to money getting as moC^ * "lava to this guiding principle of his Hfo, as an habitual 3»u.qka,rd was a alave to drink ? Then It would be a gdO* thing If tho business men of the town would call a halt once in a week and- not let the whole of Jihelr »ime be absorbed by money-getting. There was no reason why business should not ba thrown aside for one afternoon In the week. No one would say there was so muoh business to be transaoted here that It could not ba done in five and a half days as well as blx. Sojae people naldthit 16 wMoaly right thftt tho bls

shops flhonld close and allow their em* I ployees a half holiday, bat that the little shops, where no hands were kept, and to whloh every stray penny wat a oonstderatlon oonld not be expected to dose. Now if the little shops kept open it wonld mean that the big shops In self defence wonld be compelled also to keep open, and thus tho little shops would reoeive no benefit, while if they closed wich the others no Id jury would be sustained by any. On tbe same principle as these people argued it might be said that the little shops should be kept open on Sunday. To this doubtless it would be replied that it was their duty to oloae on Sunday, but was It not equally their duty to maintain a sound body and sound mind and was It right to keep working from morning till night without a ohanoe of recreation for the body or improvement for tbe mind. Did they want their boys and girls to grow up pnoy, and develop Into alokly men and women. They took oara that their children should have proper bourn for recreation at sohool, ana why did they when they stnt them Into bastness allow them no recreation at all? They were all ohildren of a larger growth, and the man wanted recreation as muoh as the child. He suggested that a Commlttee should be formed and wait upon the business people, He thought nineteen oat of twenty would agree to the half -holiday, and If the odd man stopped out, let him. Let the effeot of example j be tried a little while and he thought the objeotora would fiud that it did not pay to staad oat. There was also a religious consideration In tbe matter; It bad been stated that very few young men went to ohuroh and the answer was, that Sunday was the only day on whloh they could get out and eDjoy a breath of fresh air. He I was not going to argue whether this was ft anffiolent Bnawer, bnt. he would say to religious employer » >( take away thai excuse by giving your employees the halfholiday." The Rev A, M, Beattle laid that many of the eraployeen were now working six and a half days a week, and if they got the half-holiday they would still be doing six days labor. If tbe half-holiday would tend to prevent Sabbath desecration by shoot* Ing, fishing, etc, It would be a goodfc hing, This Sabbath breaking wai one of the most reprehensible things going on in our midst ; it was as bad as breaking any of the other ten commandments, though perhaps a Magistrate would not take so maah oognlztnee of it. He thought Saturday would ba a better day for the half-holiday than Wednesday m suggested. MrJ W.Sawle fully sympathised with tbe movement. As an employer of labor for many years he felt sure that employers would lose nothing by giving the half* holiday but would be gtlners. Things of this sort often fell through because of some shopkeepern not falling In with the arrangement. He would not say boycott these people, but he felt that he could not allow a farthing of his money to go to those who kept open after hours. Mr A. Harrison spoke briefly supporting the movement. i Mr R. Aloorn who was almost Inaudible at the reporters' table, addressed tbe meeting. From that portion of bis speech that oould bo heard it appeared he was in favor of the movement provided there whs unanimity among the storekeepers. There was one reform, however, which he thought should precede it and that was a half-holiday for servant girls. It was mainly on account of this olass that shops kept open after hours, and if they got a half-holiday, one for the shop hands oould be easily managed. The Rev E. A. Scott felt strongly (n thli matter. He spoke of the working of the half-holiday system in London, Its result being that tbe young men there having an opportunity for athletics were a strong boned and hearty race. He would like to remind them that great revolutions were not carried through in a day, and they wonld have to work with courage or they would not gain their end They might be nmuocessful for a few months, but if they worked hard and kept It Btfla-ifaßtly in view they would attain the deßired objeot. He wonld like to make a suggeution that perhaps the movement oonld be oarried by trades. There was no reason why all the different branches of business should not have the holiday simply beoause there might be a disagreement in one particular trade which did not compete with any o£ the others. Mr 8. W. Aloora said that it was wellknown to moat that he was in favor of early closing and a weekly half-holiday. There was no objection that oould not be got over. It bad been said the oountry settleis would be put to inoonvenlence, but this difficulty oould be got over by placing posters at the different oross roads stating the afternoon on which the shops would be dosed, and it would not be a fortnight before the whole country knew it. Of oonrao the main question was whether the shopkeepers would lose or not. He maintained that they would not lose a halfpenny but would on tht contrary be gainers because the ladles would wear more olothes. the gentlemen more boots and everybody would eat more The only classes that would suffer would be the doo'ors and the ohemiats. He certainly thought that those who did not agree to oloaa should be boy oo ted. The only wonder wan that their windows had not been broken oe their places burned down long ago. He was sorry to see that the people who should support those who closed early — the meobanlcsaqd laboring men and their wives did not do so. , The meeting then, called on several of the prominent business men present to express their views. Mr A. Orr said that he bad always favored tbe movement. There would be no loss to the shopkeepers, and the health of both employers, and employees woqld ba benefited. Mr A. Roberts was agreeable to the half-holiday provided it was on Saturday. The Mayor said Saturday wat tbe market day and it was Impossible for the holiday to be that day. McD. H Brown said there were arguments on both aides but if the people were unanimous there would be no difficulty in the way. A dlaoaaaion atone as to whether the half-holiday ahonld be on Wednesday or Saturday. .•<••• - Mr A. Harrison moved that It be on Wedneaday. The Rev Mr Soott thought the day should be settled afterwards. Me R. Friediaader thought it would be folly to pass the resolution without fixing a day. He was In favor of Saturday being the day. The market day ooqlft be easily altered. At present there/ .were two and these oould be amalgamated, and ■11 tbe farmers' business transaoted on Tuesday. Another thing was that employees who wished to go on a trip would have from Saturday afternoon till Monday morning. Me Harrison's motion, that the holiday be on Wednesday, was oarried by a very large majority, and Mr Purnell's motion as amended, was then put and oarried wlthaat dissent. ThaßevE A. Scott moved " r j£hat the promoters of this meeting ! be reooml mended to arrange if possible with tin business people to bring the balf -holiday into operation on the first Wednesday in Jane." f Me B. Elaton seoonded the motion, which after a deaultory conversation as to whether the holiday should apply in harvest time to those shops whloh/ kept machine extra?, was oarried, - r jt A vote of thanks to tha ohair, brought the meeting, which had been of a very enthusiastic nature throughout, 1 3 a oloMji

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THE WEEKLY HALF-HOLIDAY QUESTION. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2123, 1 May 1889

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