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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 49

The State knows Holidays, not Holy Days

The State knows Holidays, not Holy Days.

I know by the very strength of my own preference how hard it is to wholly discharge our minds of these religious predilections. But just that we should do, if we would view the Sunday question with perfect fairness. Even the most evangelical of the descendants would hardly claim to-day that the old homestead Sabbath of the fathers can be justly forced upon the vast and complex populations of strange blood and foreign customs that have been invited to the family-adoption. For ourselves it may still be holy-day; when judging for others we must remember that we judge a holiday. The State knows no holy days,—I speak of what ought to be, not is. To the State Sunday should be simply the people's rest, with equal right to each person of the people to use that rest as he may choose. In the eye of the law church-going should be but one among the recreations chosen. The church-goers have no more right to say to the riders and the ball-players and the show-seekers, "Stop!" than these latter have to say to the church-goers, "Don't you do it!" "On Saturday," pleads the horse-car company, "we carry you a pleasure or a rest ride at our profit, and at our risk if we damage you; on Sunday, by Massachusetts statutes, we carry you the pleasure or the rest ride at our profit still, but at your risk if we damage you." What right has Parson A. or Deacon B. to ordain meanness like that by deliberately refusing to order up this statute from the book?

To speak truly, it is not a question of practical interference; for the two kinds of Sunday usage do not inter page 81 fere. There is room in the city or the town for both usages, under the same forbearance that is practised and enforced on week-days without a thought of calling it forbearance, then, but simple justice. What makes week-day injustice become just on Sundays? Or why should Saturday "justice" become even "toleration" on the next day? The street is made for all the wagons: for the torchlight procession of both the parties. The town hall first echoes to Tilden's name, and then to Hayes'. So should it be with Sunday. All ears have to bear the bells; all ears should bear the band,—or bells and band should agree on separate times and places. Let the morning park have the silence of its trees, or hold the preacher's tent, if the preacher will; let the park in the afternoon have the stir of music, and hold the family throngs that the music will draw there. Church-doors stand open, and those who will may enter; the concert-doors, the theatre-doors, the bath-house-doors, the gymnasium, and the garden-gates have a right to stand open that those who will may enter there. As to the employes, the employ—s in the one place correspond to the employ—s in the other; and the loss of their rest-day—that of the few for the sake of the many—may be similarly justified and similarly made good.