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A similar result follows with equal certainty if we neglect to use the faculties of the mind. It was chiefly the exercise of these faculties that made the wide difference which we see between Sir Isaac Newton, or Milton, and their barbarian ancestors of the age of Julius Cæsar. We are filled with horror at the system which leads the superstitious Hindoo to hold his arm in one position until it becomes withered and powerless; ought we to be indifferent to a system which, in our own country, produces a similar effect upon men's minds ?
3. A third result is that the mind becomes contracted and prejudiced.
The more numerous the subjects which come under our attention, the more does the mind become enlarged, and the more likely is it to form a correct estimate of each. On the other hand, exclusive attention to any one branch of art or science is found to have a cramping effect. mere musician, or mere mathematician, would be regarded as an ill-educated man, and, in respect to his mental faculties, might be compared to a person who has acquired great power in one of his limbs, but is unable to use the others. If this be the case with regard to art or science, how much more must it be so when the attention is confined to trade ? To a man in such a condition the world is nothing but a vast warehouse or bazaar, and all its inhabitants nothing but buyers and sellers. How different is such a being from that of whom the poet said, “What a piece of work is man ! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculties !” and yet this late-hour system takes the latter being, and converts him into the former.
We hope none will be offended, if we say that these results are not only what might be expected, but that they are actually produced, by the present mode of conducting business. We appeal for confirmation of the statement to the candour of those who have thus suffered from their unfortunate situation, and to the conclusions of those who have had the best opportunities for observation. We believe it will be found that, excepting as they have benefited by improved modes of education in schools, this class of persons have shared least of all in that advancement of knowledge which distinguishes the present age; and it is impossible for them to occupy the position which they ought to occupy in this respect, until the alteration which we are now seeking is effected.
That these results are not always produced (which we freely admit) is no proof that such is not the natural consequence and direct tendency of the system. We have heard, indeed, of such ardent students as Kirke White and Gifford not scrupling to rob the body of its nightly rest in order to satisfy the passion for knowledge; and some such spirits may be found among assistant-drapers ; but they only serve to shew more strongly the evils of the system against which they so heroically strive.
Before leaving this subject, let us guard against being misunderstood. We do not seek or desire that these young men should all become literary men or natural philosophers. Such a notion would be absurd, and its realisation is utterly impossible. Nor do we mean in any degree to depreciate a proper attention to business. Business must be carried on, and it ought to be carried on vigorously and well. All we desire is, that some regard should be had to the intellect, as a part of our nature which demands exercise and cultivation; in short, that business should come to a close at a reasonable hour, so that the young men may have some time left for complying with these requirements.
III. We come now to consider that part of the subject which is still more important than the last; viz., the influence which this system exerts upon THE MORAL CHARACTER.
We use the term moral not in its restricted sense as distinct from religious, but as comprehending both what is strictly called moral, and what is otherwise termed religious; and we do this with the less hesitation because it seems now to be generally acknowledged that true morality is inseparable from some modification of religion.
Hitherto we have viewed this question as it affects man as a mere animal, and as a thinking being. In both cases we have had to do only with this present life. We come now to look at its effects upon man as a moral, spiritual, immortal being; as one whose conduct affects not only his welfare here, but also his destiny hereafter. We are not now confined to this life, but may glance at the vast futurity which lies beyond. Viewed from this point, the question assumes an importance immeasurably great. And if it is found injurious in this respect, its condemnation should be expressed in far louder and deeper tones.
That it is so, we proceed to shew.
There is an intimate connexion between the moral character and the intellectual. In proportion as we become capable of thinking clearly, reasoning correctly, and judging rightly - in other words, of discerning between good and evil, right and wrong-do we become fitted for right conduct. The end of thought is action, right action, and right feeling. On the other hand, it is equally true that the moral character influences the intellectual. Hence we rarely meet with a really moral and religious man who is not also, in proportion to his natural capacity and external advantages, thoughful and intelligent. Thus these two parts of our nature act and react upon each other. From this consideration, then, it follows that, inasmuch as this system is injurious to the intellectual nature, it is so to the moral. In proving the former, the latter has also been proved to a proportionate extent.
But there is much more than this. We venture to assert that this system tends directly to promote vice. It does so in the following manner.
Among the characteristics of our nature there is one with which all have some acquaintance; it is a craving for some kind of recreation or amusement to relieve the tedium of our daily occupation, be that of whatever kind it may. This desire exists and manifests itself in some way in persons of all ranks and conditions. Men of the greatest mind, and who are engaged in the most important matters, have yet seasons in which they are glad to share in the sports of children ; as we see in the lives of Agesilaus of Sparta and Frederick the Great of Prussia. Even the poor slave, oppressed by an iron bondage, has his occasional and transitory enjoyments, in spite of the shackle and the whip. Now, it is of the highest importance that this desire should be gratified in a manner which is at least harmless, if not beneficial; otherwise, it is sure to find a vent in what is vicious and hurtful. Prudent parents and instructors of youth well know this, and act accordingly. Those governments, too, which assume the paternal character, shew, by the popular amusements which they provide, that they are aware there is nothing else within their power so well calculated to prevent the engendering of unruly passions in the multitude.
Of course the young men engaged in shops do not differ in this respect from their fellow-men. Their age, and the restrictions under which they generally lie, which prevent them from indulging in that free intercourse with one another—the joke and the laugh-which beguile the labour of the mechanic, give increased strength to the desire for some kind of recreation or enjoyment at the close of the day. We have seen that, in consequence of their late hours of business, it is impossible for them to have recourse to any of the rational and wholesome enjoyments, to which under other circumstances we should at once point; such as reading, walking, or attending some literary institution. What, then, is the alternative? Either this desire must go unsatisfied and be subdued, or it must find gratification in mere sensual enjoyments, with all their polluting and debasing effects. Some-we hope many, - - would that they were more! in whom moral or religious principle is strong, resist the temptation and come off victorious; but many, alas ! too many, are led by it to frequent the tavern and far worse places. They want a stimulant,* and in default of any other, they turn to “strong drink,” and go into the haunts of licentiousness. They walk in “ the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death." They cannot shift from themselves the guilt which they incur; but surely the ruin of their souls is chargeable, in no slight degree, upon that system which furnishes at once the temptation and the excuse.
In thus speaking, we would be far from conveying the idea that these young men are remarkable above all others for vice and licentiousness; though we are constrained sorrowfully to admit that a large number of them are stained with these things to a mournful degree. And it is a fact which strikingly shews the connexion between this state of things and the cause to which, in part, we ascribe it, that these evils always prevail to the greatest extent in connexion with those shops in which business is carried on to the latest hour.
* See the Appendix, at the End, No. 10683.
Further, this system tends to injure those who possess any thing of moral or religious character.
We know that the moral and spiritual nature of a man as much need exercise and cultivation as do the body and the intellect. The sentiments of justice, and benevolence, and love, require to be watched over and cherished, at least as carefully as do the powers of thought and imagination; and they stand in need of such aids to their developement as can be found only in the pages of good books, or in the company of better and holier minds; while Christianity, with its Divine precepts, its grand scheme of redemption, its views of God and eternity, and of man's relation to Him and it, surely demands some portion of our attention and some time for its study. But to all this, the system which we are considering is, in the highest degree, unfavourable. We have seen that it allows no time for reflection or reading, and thus takes away one important means of moral and religious improvement. Not less effectually does it prevent those who are under it from benefiting by social intercourse, for it is manifest that no well-regulated family can be visited at ten o'clock at night. And thus they who have friends within a moderate distance are yet excluded from the social circle, are deprived of all the elevating and refining influence of virtuous female society, and are left to seek recreation in the streets, at a time when all the good are retiring to their homes, and all the vicious are emerging like beasts of prey from their dens.
We might go further and speak of those private acts of devotion, by which the soul enters into the immediate presence of the Most High, and shew how this system takes