The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. MONDAY, MAY 20, 1889. THE DAY OF REST.
Independently of its higher sanctions and privileges the institution of the Sabbath as a day of rest from labor is an inestimable boon to humanity, and all attempts to encroaoh upon its hours should be strenuously re sisted upon humanitarian grounds and for reasons of public polity, no less than from regard to the duty of obedience to Divine command. For physically, mentally, socially, and morally all men of all classes are infinitely the better for the relief from the strain of the hurrying, worrying life of this last and busy age, and to abolish Sunday would mean to shorten the average span of life, to snell the already too long lists of insanity and suicide, and to ensure physical degeneration. That there is a tendency so to encroach upon the Sabbath hours, at least m some countries, if not m our own, it is only necessary to point to some of the Continental States to prove. As for example m Germany, where the condition of things is oompelling Governmental intervention, the Imperial authorities have recently instituted an enquiry into the extent to which Sunday labor is practised m that country. The results of that inquiry have been embodied m an able report by Mr Millar, the American Consul at Leipsic, for a synopsis of the salient facts of which we are indebted to an Auckland contemporary, the " Evening Star." That journal referring to Mr Millar's report says : — From this we learn that m the thirty Prussian administrative districts from which the answers were most de tailed, the inquiries extended to 500,156 establishments of all kinds with 1,582,591 hands. Of these 288,989 establishments, or 57*75 per cent., and 668,027 (4225 per cent) hands work on Sunday. That is to say, that to such a degree has Sunday labor encroached upon the time of the poorly-paid German workmen that m more than half of the establish •■ merits employing labor m Prussia Sunday labor is carried on, and nearly half of the working population are deprived of thejr day of rest. It has been frequently asserted that Sunday labor m Germany is confined almost exclusively to shops, transports tion and callings connected with the ministering of pleasure to others. This assertion the oJEcial figures absolutely disprove. It is true that the percentages are higher m the latter class than m workshops, but it is nevertheless also true that 47 2 per cent (nearly half) of too purely industrial establishments and 859 per cent of the work people have Sunday labor. In handicrafts 47*1 per cent of the establishments and 41*8 per cent of the work people toil on throughout the seven days of the week for a bare subsistence. The oondition of the elaye m the worst days was better than the lot of these people. No wonder that Germany is a hot-bed of gj^iaiism, and that the Government feel impend *° move * or *^ c amelioration of the condition °* the masse f in bondage. Consul Millar, remarking upon the state of affairs disolosed m these returns, gays ; 'It should be ob served -that they only refer to tbe usual Sunday work which occurs more or less regularly. In the broader sense, of any kind of work that is ever done on Sunday, it is probable that there are scarcely any houses whera some work is not done from time to time.' The general condition of the German working population and the regard for their welfare su° wn k v those who are making money out of the labor of the mdu s*nal classes is m keeping with , the disregard of their physical conditiCS Bhown m their excessive hours of toil. <jjr. uu * Falkonbacb, of Berlin, reporting on this subject, observes that there is an increase m the number of juvenile workers, and that, too, m callings which are injurious to health. That c the number of benevolent institutions m Berlin is strangely small m proportion to the size of the place/ 'The churches m Berlin are few and far between, and by no means largely or regularly attended.' ' Under these circumstances it is not surprising that the proletariat looks to itself to help itself, and that the majority of the working classes are the supporters of the social democratic party." We cordially concur with the " Star " m the remarks that "these are lessons that ought to bo taken to heart by the workers of every class, that the protection of the day of rest is really m their bands, and that if they are wise they will regard every encroachment upon the rest of another fellow laborer as a menace to their own, and will combino to resist it."