The New Zealand Evangelist
England.—Prize Essays on the Sabbath by Working Men
England.—Prize Essays on the Sabbath by Working Men.
Some time ago an announcement was made in the leading papers offering three prizes of £25, £15, and £10, for the best three essays on the “Temporal Advantages of the Sabbath to the Labouring Classes, and the consequent importance of preserving its rest from all the encroachments of unnecessary labour.” The following are a few extracts of a letter from the adjudicators to the competitors, in May last.
Dear Friends,—At the time of issuing the advertisement, we expected to be able to announce our decision within two months from the 30th of March, the last day of receiving Essays. But this has been rendered impossible from the immense number of competing Essays—upwards of Nine Hundred and Fifty having been received. Now, supposing we were able to examine thirty Essays per week, we have upwards of thirty weeks’ labour in reading alone; so that it will be the end of October or the beginning of November before we can publish our decision.
But if we were to remain silent until then, we should do violence to our own feelings, commit an act of injustice towards you, and page 187 deprive the Sabbath cause of the powerful influence which we believe your invaluable testimony is calculated to exert.
Our task is a delightful one. We have read upwards of two hundred of your essays; and judging from these, the entire mass—the thousand—is one of the most remarkable collections of manuscripts ever accumulated. In the meanest, there is often great originality and force; in all, there is a wonderful unanimity of sentiment on several important leading points; and argumentative power, logical acuteness, sparkling brilliancy, touching pathos, and artless simplicity, are profusely scattered through the whole. Indeed, while our pleasure is enhanced, our labour is increased by the general excellence of your essays.
Dear Friends; remain faithful to your principles, and your Sabbath-right is safe!
But we must bid you farewell, until the three prizes are awarded. Would that it were possible to award prizes to you all! Would that we could retain and print all your essays! It has been suggested by the editor of the Universe, that after the three prizes are awarded, further selections should be made; that a “Working Man's Series of Essays upon the Sabbath “should be published, and that ultimately the entire manuscript should be bound and presented to the British Museum as a monument to the moral and intellectual character of our industrial population.