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OF THE

THIRD ANNUAL PUBLIC MEETING

OF THE

METROPOLITAN DRAPERS' ASSOCIATION,

HELD AT EXETER HALL,

On Wednesday Evening, March 12th, 1845,

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE LORD JOHN RUSSELL, M.P., IN THE CHAIR,

The Third Annual Public Meeting of the Association took place on Wednesday, the 12th instant, in Exeter Hall, the Right Hon. Lord John Russell, M.P. in the chair; and so great was the interest manifested by the public upon the occasion, that long before the hour appointed for the proceedings to commence, the whole of the spacious Hall was crowded to excess. The platform was thronged with a number of clergymen, and gentlemen of eminent station, and upwards of five hundred of the most influential employers of various trades. To lessen the tedium of waiting, and allay any little impatience which might arise among the vast assembly, a novel and very pleasing expedient was adopted. The Sacred Harmonic Society had been applied to, for the use of the magnificent organ which adorns the Hall. This was very kindly granted for the occasion; and, as soon as the Hall was full, the audience were regaled with various popular pieces of music. At a few minutes past 8 o'clock, Lord John Russell entered the Hall, amidst the most enthusiastic greetings, the organ at the time playing “God save the Queen." His Lordship having taken the chair, then opened the business of the evening, by calling upon Mr. RENNIE to read the

REPORT. "At the commencement of this, their Third Annual Report, the Central Committee deem it necessary again to direct attention to the object of the Association, and to the obstacles which impede its attainment.

Fearing that an impression prevails in the minds of many persons that an abridgment of the hours of business is the principal, if not the sole aim, of the Metropolitan Drapers' Association, the Committee are desirous to state, most distinctly, that its grand object is the Moral, Intellectual, and Physical Improvement of those engaged as assistants therein. But, being convinced that such improvement is wholly impossible while they are employed daily for so long a period, the Committee consider that the first thing to be done is to release them from business at a reasonably early hour ; and to the accomplishment of this their operations have hitherto been principally directed.

So far from having altered, the experience of the Committee has tended to confirm them in the opinion with which they first set out; namely, that the custom of “ Evening Shopping" is the sole cause of the late hours of business, and that, while a discontinuance on the part of the public of that custom will not, nay, cannot fail to result in a reduction of the hours of business, it is the only practicable means by which that object can

generally and permanently effected. So that, although your Committee have ever been, and are still, exceedingly solicitous to secure the countenance and approbation of Employers in all their proceedings, their main efforts have been, and will continue to be directed towards the enlistment of public opinion and sympathy in favour of the cause, by making known those numerous and mighty evils which necessarily result from the “ Late-Hour System," the benefits which might reasonably be expected to proceed from its abolition, and to the calling attention pointedly to the fact that as the custom of making purchases in the evening constitutes the only inducement for Shops being kept open until so late a period, if that custom were abrogated by public consent, they, as a natural consequence, would be closed at an early hour. In pursuance of this plan, the Comittee have, during the past year, adopted the following measures.

Four large Public Meetings have been held, the first in the Parochial School-Rooms, Islington; at which the Vicar, the Rev. Daniel Wilson, presided, when the meeting was addressed by the following Reverend Gentlemen, Messrs. Venn, Rogers, Hugh Hughes, Auriol, &c.; also, by Mr. Thomas Davies, author of the Prize-Essay.

The Second was held in the Hanover Square Rooms, when B. Bond Cabbell, Esq, took the chair, and speeches were delivered by the Hon. and Rev. Montague Villiers, the Rev. Daniel Moore, the Rev. Thomas Archer, Dr. Southwood Smith, C. Hindley, Esq. M.P., George Thompson, Esq., Mr. Redmayne, Mr. W. D. Owen, and Mr. Tarener.

The Third at Exeter Hall, on the 9th of October, on which occasion Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Sidney presided, in the absence of the Right Hon. the Lord Mayor, who was unavoidably prevented attending. Addresses were delivered by the Reverend Henry Hughes, Dr. James Copeland, Messrs. D. W. Wire, G. Thompson, Shoolbred, Owen, Hall, Moore, and other gentlemen.

The Fourth was holden at the Mechanics’ Institution, Southampton Buildings, Holborn, when Mr. Ambrose Moore was called to the chair ; and speeches were delivered by the Rev. A. S. Thelwall, the Rev. Dr. Cumming, Joseph Payne, Esq., and Messrs. Keeling and Symons.

In addition to these, many minor Meetings have been held, principally amongst assistants in the various districts into which the Metropolis stands divided by the Association.

Upwards of 300,000 tracts, addresses, circulars, &c., have been gratuitously distributed, and verbatim Reports of the last Annual Meeting, and of the October Meeting, held in Exeter Hall, have been printed and widely circulated.

Sermons and Lectures also have been occasionally delivered, two of which may be more particularly mentioned,--one, a Sermon by the Rev. Tennison Cuffe, at the Episcopal Chapel, Kennington Lane, the other, a Lecture, recently delivered at Islington, by Dr. Lankester, and published in The Student of the present month.

A Letter was addressed to the Wesleyan Ministers when assembled in Conference, which resulted in the subject being taken up by that influential body; an Exhortation to promote the “ Early-Hour System" by all possible means, especially by abstaining from and discountenancing the custom of EVENING SHOPPING, has been addressed by them to their various Ministers and Congregations through the medium of their published Minutes.

In addition to the different Sub-Committees which were already in existence, another has been formed for the purpose of aiding and promoting the formation of Associations amongst the Assistants engaged in the various branches of Trade in the Metropolis, as well as in the different Provincial Towns; and to co-operate with those already established.

An Address to Assistants generally, for the purpose of arousing them to a just sense of their unhappy condition, and to the necessity that they should unite and exert themselves for its improvement, has been prepared by the Sub-Committee, and extensively and gratuitously circulated. Associations have been formed with most gratifying results both as regards the obtainment of “ Early Hours," and the adoption of means for securing the proper employment of the additional time thereby placed at young men's disposal, in Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle, Hull, Bath, Reading, Hereford, Colchester, Cheltenham, Winchester, Whitehaven, Norwich, Cork, Dublin, Glasgow, &c. &c.

As one of the truly gratifying consequences of the “ Early-Hour Systein" in the Metropolis, as far as that system has been carried out, your Committee proudly point to the Association known by the appellation of the “ Young Men's Christian Association," formed originally by, and now composed almost exclusively of, Assistant Drapers, and which, under the auspices of some of the most distinguished clergy of the English and Scotch Establishments, and the most eminent ministers of all denominations, is daily increasing in strength and usefulness.

Your Committee, believing that the Association required a medium through which its operations might be periodically made known to its members and the public, have become joint proprietors of a Monthly Magazine; a new series of which, entitled The Sturlent, and Young Men's Adrocate, was commenced in January of the present year under their superintendence. Besides being the authorized organ of the Association, and the mild and conciliatory, but uncompromising advocate of a reduction in the hours of business, it is designed that this publication shall be the channel of useful and general information, and of moral and intellectual instruction adapted to the young generally, but more especially to assistant tradesmen. Having made these arrangements, your Committee gladly take advantage of the present favourable occasion to solicit at the hands of young men themselves, and of all who are desirous to promote their best interests, the favour that they would support and patronize this work, both by contributing to its pages, and extending its circulation.

In consequence of the greatly increased and rapidly increasing business of the Association, it was found that to pay attention to its various claims which their importance demanded, without some additional aid, would be wholly impossible ; your Committee, therefore, deemed it expedient to engage an Assistant Secretary, and they have recently appointed to that situation a gentleman with whom they received the highest testimonials.

Offices have also recently been taken at No. 355, Strand, in order to afford increased facility for the meetings of the Central and the various Sub-Committees, and for the more convenient transaction of the general business of the Association.

The Committee would now briefly allude to the progress of the Association during the past year. They, with much pleasure, direct attention to the firm hold which the question has taken upon the public mind; and it affords the most satisfactory proof of the interest which is felt upon the subject, that it has become a topic of general and constant conversation, and that a marked falling off has already taken place in the Evening Trade. They would also refer to the more general and spirited advocacy which has been afforded by the Press,—to the manifest disposition of a large portion of employers to adopt the * Early-Hour System" immediately circumstances shall permit--and to the more favourable entertainment of the question on the part of the whole body.

In acknowledging the eminent service which has in numerous ways been extended to the cause, however desirous the Committee might be to enter into detail, prudence dictates that they should be as brief as possible. To those employers, therefore, who have already adopted early hours, or in any other way accelerated the movement,--to those who have raised their voice, or used that more silent but not less powerful instrument, the Pen, against the “ Late-Hour System,” and to those who, by themselves abstaining from evening shopping,—or by affording those in their employ opportunity to do so, or by inducing any others with whom they have influence to pursue the same course, have done any thing towards the removal of the only prop of that pernicious system,- to each and all of these parties the Committee beg to tender their most sincere and heartfelt thanks, and to express a hope that they shall be favoured with a continuance of their co-operation.

The Committee are desirous, in conclusion, to address themselves particularly to young men. Although your present position in many instances is one of much positive hardship and serious deprivation, yet there are brightening around you on every side prospects of the most cheering and encouraging description. Time was, and that at a period by no means distant, when none but yourselves knew of the unfavourable circumstances in which You were placed. Through the exertions which have of late been made on your behalf, your grievances are now made known,--they are cared for; and there is, on the part of the Public, an almost universal desire to redress them. If, therefore, those who do not immedutely participate in your misfortune thus care for you, thus sympathize with you, are thus desirous to be of service to you, it is surely inconceivable that you, who are the immediate sufferers, after mature consideration, can refuse your aid, can withhold your cooperation. Your Committee, being fully convinced that the cause they advocate is based upon the indestructible foundation of Justice and Truth, are most sanguine as to its ultimate triumph ; but they feel equally certain that the question, as to whether that shall take place speedily or at some distant time, rests mainly, if not wholly, with yourselves. You are entreated calmly and dispassionately to consider the subject. Do this, and your Committee are confident as to the result."

The Noble CHAIRMAN then rose, and was again greeted by the whole of the vast assembly with repeated rounds of applause. When the cheering had subsided, he said,

Ladies and Gentlemen,-The gentlemen who will shortly address you will be more able to explain than I am the objects of this Association, and the benefits to result from it. But before they proceed to do so, I shall ask your attention for a few remarks as to the general purpose of this meeting. It is, I think, one of the greatest evils of this country, that toil has become so excessive, that all consideration of health-all attention to intellectual improvement-and eren all that time which ought to be devoted to spiritual generally and permanently effected. So that, although your Committee have ever beeni, and are still, exceedingly solicitous to secure the countenance and approbation of Employers in all their proceedings, their main efforts have been, and will continue to be directed towards the enlistment of public opinion and sympathy in favour of the cause, by making known those numerous and mighty evils which necessarily result from the “ Late-Hour System,” the benefits which might reasonably be expected to proceed from its abolition, and to the calling attention pointedly to the fact,—that as the custom of making purchases in the evening constitutes the only inducement for Shops being kept open until so late a period, if that custom were abrogated by public consent, they, as a natural consequence, would be closed at an early hour. In pursuance of this plan, the Committee have, during the past year, adopted the following measures.

Four large Public Meetings have been held, the first in the Parochial School-Rooms, Islington; at which the Vicar, the Rev. Daniel Wilson, presided, when the meeting was addressed by the following Reverend Gentlemen, Messrs. Venn, Rogers, Hugh Hughes, Auriol, &c.; also, by Mr. Thomas Davies, author of the Prize-Essay.

The Second was held in the Hanover Square Rooms, when B. Bond Cabbell, Esq., took the chair, and speeches were delivered by the Hon. and Rev. Montague Villiers, the Rev. Daniel Moore, the Rev. Thomas Archer, Dr. Southwood Smith, C. Hindley, Esq. M.P., George Thompson, Esq., Mr. Redmayne, Mr. W. D. Owen, and Mr. Tavener.

The Third at Exeter Hall, on the 9th of October, on which occasion Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Sidney presided, in the absence of the Right Hon, the Lord Mayor, who was unavoidably prevented attending. Addresses were delivered by the Reverend Henry Hughes, Dr. James Copeland, Messrs. D. W. Wire, G. Thompson, Shoolbred, Owen, Hall, Moore, and other gentlemen.

The Fourth was holden at the Mechanics’ Institution, Southampton Bnildings, Holbom, when Mr. Ambrose Moore was called to the chair ; and speeches were delivered by the Rev. A. S. Thelwall, the Rev. Dr. Cumming, Joseph Payne, Esq., and Messrs. Keeling and Symons,

In addition to these, many minor Meetings have been held, principally amongst assistants in the various districts into which the Metropolis stands divided by the Association,

Upwards of 300,000 tracts, addresses, circulars, &c., have been gratuitously distribated, and verbatim Reports of the last Annual Meeting, and of the October Meeting, held in Exeter Hall, have been printed and widely circulated.

Sermons and Lectures also have been occasionally delivered, two of which may be more particularly mentioned,--one, a Sermon by the Rev. Tennison Cuffe, at the Episcopal Chapel, Kennington Lane, the other, a Lecture, recently delivered at Islington, by Dr. Lankester, and published in The Student of the present month.

A Letter was addressed to the Wesleyan Ministers when assembled in Conference, which resulted in the subject being taken up by that influential body; an Exhortation to promote the “ Early-Hour System” by all possible means, especially by abstaining from and discountenancing the custom of EVENING SHOPPING, has been addressed by them to their various Ministers and Congregations through the medium of their published Minutes.

In addition to the different Sub-Committees which were already in existence, another has been formed for the purpose of aiding and promoting the formation of Associations amongst the Assistants engaged in the various branches of Trade in the Metropolis, as well as in the different Provincial Towns; and to co-operate with those already established.

An Address to Assistants generally, for the purpose of arousing them to a just sense of their unhappy condition, and to the necessity that they should unite and exert themselves for its improvement, has been prepared by the Sub-Committee, and extensively and gratuitously circulated. Associations have been formed with most gratifying results both as regards the obtainment of “ Early Hours," and the adoption of means for securing the proper employment of the additional time thereby placed at young men's disposal, in Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle, Hull, Bath, Reading, Hereford, Colchester, Cheltenham, Winchester, Whitehaven, Norwich, Cork, Dublin, Glasgow, &c. &c.

As one of the truly gratifying consequences of the “ Early-Hour System " in the Metropolis, as far as that system has been carried out, your Committee proudly point to the Association known by the appellation of the “ Young Men's Christian Association," formed originally by, and now composed almost exclusively of, Assistant Drapers, and which, under the auspices of some of the most distinguished clergy of the English and Scotch Establishments, and the most eminent ministers of all denominations, is daily increasing in strength and usefulness.

Your Committee, believing that the Association required a medium through which its operations might be periodically made known to its members and the public, have become joint proprietors of a Monthly Magazine ; a new series of which, entitled The Student, and Young Men's Adrocate, was commenced in January of the present year under their superintendence. Besides being the authorized organ of the Association, and the mild and conciliatory, but uncompromising advocate of a reduction in the hours of business, it is designed that this publication shall be the channel of useful and general information, and of moral and intellectual instruction adapted to the young generally, but more especially to assistant tradesmen. Having made these arrangements, your Committee gladly take advantage of the present favourable occasion to solicit at the hands of young men themselves, and of all who are desirous to promote their best interests, the favour that they would support and patronize this work, both by contributing to its pages, and extending its circulation.

In consequence of the greatly increased and rapidly increasing business of the Association, it was found that to pay attention to its various claims which their importance demanded, without some additional aid, would be wholly impossible ; your Committee, therefore, deemed it expedient to engage an Assistant Secretary, and they have recently appointed to that situation a gentleman with whom they received the highest testimonials.

Offices have also recently been taken at No. 355, Strand, in order to afford increased facility for the meetings of the Central and the various Sub-Committees, and for the more convenient transaction of the general business of the Association.

The Committee would now briefly allude to the progress of the Association during the past year. They, with much pleasure, direct attention to the firm hold which the question has taken upon the public mind; and it affords the most satisfactory proof of the interest which is felt upon the subject, that it has become a topic of general and constant conversation, and that a marked falling off has already taken place in the Evening Trade. They would also refer to the more general and spirited advocacy which has been afforded by the Press,-to the manifest disposition of a large portion of employers to adopt the " Farly-Hour System” immediately circumstances shall permit,--and to the more favourable entertainment of the question on the part of the whole body.

In acknowledging the eminent service which has in numerous ways been extended to the cause, however desirous the Committee might be to enter into detail, prudence dictates that they should be as brief as possible. To those employers, therefore, who have already adopted early hours, or in any other way accelerated the movement,--to those who have raised their voice, or used that more silent but not less powerful instrument, the Pen, against the “ Late-Hour System,” and to those who, by themselves abstaining from evening shopping,—or by affording those in their employ opportunity to do so, or by inducing any others with whom they have influence to pursue the same course, have done any thing towards the removal of the only prop of that pernicious system,- to each and all of these parties the Committee beg to tender their most sincere and heartfelt thanks, and to express a hope that they shall be favoured with a continuance of their co-operation.

The Committee are desirous, in conclusion, to address themselves particularly to young men. Although your present position in many instances is one of much positive hardship and serious deprivation, yet there are brightening around you on every side prospects of the most cheering and encouraging description. Time was, and that at a period by no means distant, when none but yourselves knew of the unfavourable circumstances in which you were placed. Through the exertions which have of late been made on your behalf, your grievances are now made known,—they are cared for; and there is, on the part of the Public, an almost universal desire to redress them. If, therefore, those who do not immediately participate in your misfortune thus care for you, thus sympathize with you, are thus desirous to be of service to you, it is surely inconceivable that you, who are the immediato sufferers, after mature consideration, can refuse your aid, can withhold your cooperation. Your Committee, being fully convinced that the cause they advocate is based upon the indestructible foundation of Justice and Truth, are most sanguine as to its ultimate triumph; but they feel equally certain that the question, as to whether that shall take place speedily or at some distant time, rests mainly, if not wholly, with yourselves. You are en treated calmly and dispassionately to consider the subject. Do this, and your Committee are confident as to the result.”

The Noble Chairman then rose, and was again greeted by the whole of the vast assembly with repeated rounds of applause. When the cheering had subsided, he said,

Ladies and Gentlemen,-The gentlemen who will shortly address you will be more able to explain than I am the objects of this Association, and the benefits to result from it. But before they proceed to do so, I shall ask your attention for a few remarks as to the general purpose of this meeting. It is, I think, one of the greatest evils of this country, that toil has become so excessive, that all consideration of health-all attention to intellectual improvement and eren all that time which ought to be devoted to spiritual

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