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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 49

Only One Sunday, and that Withheld by the Law

Only One Sunday, and that Withheld by the Law.

All this has been urged because, before the present Sunday-waste can be freely utilized for recreation by working-men, the Sunday must be given to them. At present it is withheld front them by the law. Well is it named for them the Sun-day! The rich man's leisure comes all along the pleasant weather; the working-man takes sunshine for his leisure—unless he be still poorer by being out of work—only on the Sunday. The rich man's home-time is almost when he wants it,—an hour page 82 later at the office in the morning, an hour earlier back to dinner, now and then, of an afternoon. The working-man's home-time is his Sunday; when else are the children really his to have? The rich man's "sport or game or play," his "public show or entertainment," his "hunting or his fishing," falls naturally enough upon some weekday. The working-man's play or show or fishing would naturally fall upon the one day that brings him ample time and freshness for it, the one day they are forbidden,—Sunday. The rich man travels almost what day he wills; the working-man's rare excursion must come on the Sunday. The rich man's vacation is a summer month or two or three; the working-man's vacation is, for the most part, the city-Sundays of those months. The rich man's country is the mountains or the sea-shore; the working man's country is the city-park or some neighboring hill-top, and his carriage to it is the car,—in which he rides at his own risk on Sunday! The inequality being all it is by social laws that lie beyond the statute-book, the statute adds its vetoes to make it greater yet! Does not the law "withhold the Sunday" from the working-men ?

The State, I said at the beginning, should encourage recreation without directly aiding it. Let that stand. The Sunday use, then, that is made of a great park, within easy reach of the population, may be no just argument by itself for creating such a park. But in pleasant summer weather no indoor show whatever can vie with grass and trees and outdoor sunniness for working-folk on their one leisure-day. The city park is the great people's-nursery, the great free hospital, the great family pleasure-ground, for the city workman*. Since, apart page 83 from the special Sunday-question, a large park is thus needed by a city, let us hope that when our working men's children now in Boston schools shall themselves have children to spend their hot vacation on the pavement and the doorstep, and to wonder in their turn what "the country" is like,—let us hope that by that time Sunday shall see them, fathers, mothers, and little ones, streaming out from the close rooms towards their grass and trees—their own because it is the city's—to take part in any "sport or game or play" they like, with the blessing, not the curse, of the State laws upon them, and in cars that shall pay damages for every careless accident inflicted on them by the way 1

* On a single Sunday last summer, it is said, a single line of street-cars took eleven thousand people yonder to a single spot,—the Point in South Boston, where a greensward and the sea-beach still touch one another.