Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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The Puritan Sunday.
    There seems to be an agitation in the public
mind regarding the proper use of Sunday as
a day of rest and refreshment to body and mind.
    The old Puritan idea of that day no longer satisfies
the people of the present.
    Many of the atheists, agnostics, materialists and
religious scoffers of to-day are the result of that old
"blue-law Sunday" of two generations ago.
    Children who were repressed in every natural
impulse and who were made to dread Sunday as a
day of torture, almost invariably rebelled against the
orthodox rules of life so soon as they escaped from
parental jurisdiction.  And like the pendulum,
they swung to the opposite extreme.
    The influx of foreigners into our American life
has created another idea of Sunday for a large class.
To the German and the French and the Irish it is a
day of social pleasure, and each occupies himself
according to his own idea of sociability and recre-
    America is a medley of nationalities, and our
Puritan churches can no longer lay down set rules
for the multitude to follow, declaring that whoso-
ever wanders from the regulated path is hellward
    But the foreign element, however much in evi-
dence it may be, has no right to force upon native
Americans the other extreme of a "wide-open"
Sunday.  The good taste and the peaceful procliv-
ities of our citizens forbid it.
    Terrible as the old Puritan Sunday was, the
"wide-open" Sunday is bad, and its badness is
more offensive.
    Sunday should be a day of healthful recreations,
but of quiet ones; of agreeable pleasures, but
inoffensive ones.
    Noisy sports and boisterous games are no more
"wicked" than quiet ones, but many people find
Sunday the only day of repose in the week, and
they should not be disturbed by the noise of brass
bands, the cheers and screams of base-ball games,
or the excitement of foot-ball contests.
    Disgusting as a drunken man always is, he is
doubly so when reeling through the streets on the
Sabbath day.
    The working people who can attend the theaters
but one night in the week must find Saturday even-
ing, with its opportunity for sleep Sunday morning,
far better than Sunday night.  Aside from this con-
sideration is that due the actors, who have a right
to one evening in the week for relaxation and free-
dom from work.
    With the bicycle and the far-reaching trolley,
poor people and working people have better oppor-
tunities for outdoor recreation at little cost on Sun-
day than ever before in the history of the world.
    Anything which conduces to good health, good
spirits and pleasure in life, without being offensive
to other people, is a perfectly proper means of pass-
ing the Sabbath day.
    Of course, there are fanatics and cranks who will
be offended at anything which they themselves do
not consider right to do.  They are the people who
would forbid the wheelman to ride or the birds to
fly on Sunday.  Yet they will walk--and why is one
movement of locomotion more sinful than another?
    Sunday should be a day of happy, healthful, rest-
ful experiences.  The scholar and teacher whose
brains are taxed the whole week should put away
books and live out of doors.  The laboring classes
who have no other time for social life should meet
and interchange civilities.  Cheer, brightness and
wholesome pleasures belong to "God's day."  Long
faces, loud voices, despondency and gloom, brass
bands and rough hilarity are all out of place upon
that day.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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