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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 49

III. Education

III. Education.

And yet I grant that the heart sickens to see the abuse of the day, not as Sunday, but as a day, when the population of a large city gives itself up to its pleasures,—so much of the pleasure seems so low in kind. The wish yearns in one to do something to raise the grade of pleasure for at least some of these thousands. To do that would in itself be education. It still remains to hint what might be done with Sunday in this third aspect, as the people's education-day. I speak of intellectual education. Rest, recreation,—both are familiar thoughts of the day. This other view is comparatively a modern view, not yet systematically adopted by any of our States.

Summer and winter must be here distinguished. In our Northern cities for six months of the year the day can hardly be an outdoor day. And the broad fact to be always remembered is, that the day must be occupied in order to be saved. An idle Sunday is not a rest-Sunday, and it is the kind of Sunday that makes the recreation dangerous. A fact almost as broad is, that the day is not, page 84 and will not be, occupied to any large extent by working-men in church-going. Fill the churches full, and outside there are multitudes who cannot get in, and would not if they could. And yet the day must be occupied in order to be saved. Where recreation is debarred, and nothing outside of these churches is done for education, is it not a hard case? Where recreation is allowed, and nothing outside of churches is done besides for education, then, as I said, the heart grows sick. In either case, taking things as they are, and remembering how much the week-day's work ministers in various ways to the good of body, mind, and character, it may be seriously doubted whether the Sunday, in spite of all the churches do, is not the least inspiring day for true manhood of all the seven. If the cities could be polled of a rainy Sunday, inaction, idleness, listlessness, would be found, I fear, the actually prevailing characteristic. Not one-half the population can handle a leisure-day so as not to be bored or harmed by it! And, below a certain grade of mental resource and of home-attractiveness, it is that idleness, inaction, listlessness, which leads to the low companionship, the drunkenness, the profligacy, of the Sunday waste.

Here, then, is an empty winter Sunday, and an average city clerk or mechanic. He is not going to church; or, if he goes, that takes but a long hour. Can nothing be done to help him save his day?