Edward Everett Hale.

We, the people : a series of papers on topics of to-day online

. (page 11 of 15)
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gentleman's face lighted up with great pleasure,
and he went back to forty years ago, to the time
when Cooper Institute was built. He said he
was younger then and that somebody asked him
to preach there of a Sunday evening. He said that
large Cooper Institute was crowded with people,
mostly men. They had never heard of him,
they had never heard of North New Padua, but
they had heard of the Lord God and of Jesus
Christ, and they knew how to sing. Nobody
asked them to sign any book when they went in,
nobody asked them for any money when they
went out. It was clear enough that Dr. Prim-
rose thought they were better men and the com-
munity a better community because that hap-
ened. When I told the old gentleman that just
the same thing happened in the Cooper Institute
now, he was very much pleased, but he asked
me why instead of one such place or ten such
places in a city like New York or a city like Bos-
[ 200 ]


ton, there were not five hundred every Sunday
evening. I did not know.


IT is no longer with the desire to compel peo-
ple to go to meeting or to church that our
present statutes are devised. All that
effort has been weeded out from them. It
is rather with the intention to leave everybody
free to go to public worship, and free to rest if
he wants to rest. It is an effort to relax all
chains on that day. I am old enough to remem-
ber when poor debtors, who had to reside in the
jail limits on week-days, availed themselves of
this statute on Sunday and went where they chose
on visits to their friends. That liberation is a
type of the whole plan.

The apprentice could not be compelled to
work, nor the journeyman. Stage drivers, fer-
rymen, hostlers, and grooms even, were at large.
People who lived in and near taverns were not to
be annoyed by the racket of revellers. Churches
were not to be annoyed by the passage of

I am fond of telling my children the story of
the arrest by one of their ancestors of the Rus-
sian Ambassador and his party, who had landed
[201 ]


in some seaboard town and were crossing the
country. Ignorant or indifferent to our laws,
they pressed their way to the seat of the Gov-
ernment on the Lord's Day. But they found
that a Connecticut tithing-man stopped them.
He held that the journey was not one of charity
or of necessity.

Of which the latent desire was not that the
Ambassador should go to meeting, but simply
that those that did should not be annoyed by
the rattle of his wheels; that the people of the
inns should have only the minimum of care, and
in general that everybody should be as free to
rest himself as he chose on Sunday, as was pos-
sible under every condition short of a return to
barbarous life.

I think that every conscientious man, every
leader of society, must make up his mind whether
he thinks public worship one day in seven a good
thing or a bad thing, and whether he considers
this Sunday rest, as protected by statute, a good
thing or a bad thing. As matter of feeling or
theory, most men agree here.

Most young lawyers would say they are glad
there is one day when they need not go to their
offices ; most young clerks that they are glad that
on that day they need not go to their stores, and
so on. As a matter of feeling and theory, yes.
[ 202 ]


Nay, as a matter of feeling and theory, almost
all these persons would be sorry to have public
worship abandoned; most, not all.

Some people would not care. Addressing
those who did care, I should say: You must
make this a matter of action also. You have
no right to take the comfort of Sunday, and then
to leave to the ministers, to your father and
mother, and to the women of the community, the
maintaining of Sunday.

When a club of high-minded, moral, and
intelligent young men mount their bicycles on
Sunday morning, by public appointment, for a
race of fifty miles before night they say far more
distinctly than any words or votes could say, that
so far as they are concerned they mean that the
next century shall have no Sunday.

Courts are not to be closed, stores shut up,
sheriffs kept back from executing writs, in order
that young gentlemen may ride all day on
bicycles. The institution of Sunday, if it is to be
maintained at all, will be maintained for the
nobler purposes of higher life. And, while it is
quite legitimate to urge that the art museum,
the public library, the concert, may tend to this
higher life, nobody will accept the plea which
says that a feat of laborious athletics is a bit of
the higher life. Every such effort to get over
[203 ]


the line helps the way to the secularization of all
days, when there will be no time at all.

I have refrained from any argument of the
divine appointment of Sunday. I have been dis-
cussing the worth not of the Hebrew Sabbath,
but of the Massachusetts Sunday, which is a very
different thing. I do not urge that men should
rest from labor one day in seven because God
rested after six acts of creation. But I ought
to say that so far as history avouches law as
divine, all the history of Sunday pleads for the
sort of rest which I am urging.

More suggestive than any thunder of Sinai,
and more convincing than any argument of
Moses, is the steadiness with which the seventh
day of rest worked itself into the civilization of
Europe. Men despised the Jews; they ridi-
culed and caricatured them; they spurned them
in the street; they degraded them in society, but
they took from them this institution. Before
Christianity got its hold on Rome, the one day
in seven captured Rome.

A nation which gave masters power to crucify
their slaves was not strong enough to keep slaves
from the enjoyment of this rest one day in the

No movement of our times for a ten-hour sys-
tem, for an early closing system, for the relief


of children in factories, ever approached this
great determination of a working world that it
would rest from its labors when a seventh day
came around. Observe, no statesman directed
that movement. No philosopher suggested it.
Only a few dirty and despised Jews, on the
wrong side of the Tiber, if they were in Rome,
rested on the seventh day.

The good sense of the thing, the good effect
of the thing, captured even the scoffers and the
tyrants; and they accepted the boon, which
proved to be the new life of their social order.

I only ask men to look around and see if that
lesson is not re-enforced on every side. By their
fruits shall ye know institutions as well as men.

Is not the town or village where workman
and prince, boy and man, rest heartily on Sun-
day, and make Sunday a day for the refreshing
of man's best nature is it not a place palpably
and certainly in advance of the other community,
wherever you find it, which struggles against the
stream of a world's experience, and tries to re-
duce Sunday to the common level?

"To labor is to pray," the monkish proverb
says. Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. The
motive makes it prayer or devil service. Of
course, I may say the same of rest and labor. It
may be the nastiness of Circe's stye. But every



one of us knows it may bring the closest vision,
it may bring the noblest resolution, it may bring
the highest life.

To leave the clatter of my own anvil ; nay, to
turn from the echoes of my own thoughts, to
go away from friends or disciples, it may be, as
the Prince of Men retired in his need this is
to seek God. And they who seek Him, surely
they shall find Him, if thus they seek for Him
with all their hearts.


IN the last article I blocked out a plan
which I would make for any American
city of more than two hundred thousand
people, as to its Sunday services.
Naturally enough, from the history of most of
our towns, we have, say, one church for every
two thousand people ; and, so far as I have ever
seen, these churches are well administered up to
a certain point. That is to say, the democratic
principle had asserted itself; people have got
what they wanted. All the same, however, in
a city of two hundred thousand people with its
twenty churches there are twenty clubs of per-
sons who already have established a residence in
the town. They are persons who know each


other, and who to a certain extent bear each
other's burdens. Their children dance in the
same quadrilles or meet in the same parties, or
go out of town on the same picnics. The
church association is one tie which unites people
who are united in other ties.

Bishop Hamilton, who is one of the wisest
men I know, said once in a public meeting where
he and I both spoke, that the Protestant Church
of New England is well organized for the pur-
poses of religious worship, it is well organized
for the purposes of religious education, it is well
organized for the purposes of missions, but it is
not organized at all for the purposes of hospital-
ity to strangers and of charity to the poor. I
think this is true, speaking in general.

Here in Boston I think that our Baptist
friends have had the most success in the business
of making strangers in Boston feel at home. I
think that the great assemblages in Tremont
Temple and In Ruggles Street Church are good
illustrations of what the Church of Christ ought
to do in welcoming people who are not to the
manner bred. Now, at this moment, as the
Associated Charities report of last Thursday
shows, we have fifty nationalities in Boston.

See the statistics of the nationality of the girls
who attend the Hancock-Cushman School at the


North End. In the last year of which I have
returns, three-quarters of these girls were Russian
Jews, half the remainder were German Jews,
and the rest were Arabs, Italians, Bulgarians,
Roumanians, and Armenians. There was not
one girl who could speak English in all the three
hundred and six who entered the school at one
time. That is an illustration of the "all sorts
and conditions of men and women" whom we
have here in Boston.

There are lying in this harbor at the present
moment five-and-twenty coal-ships waiting for
wharfage. Only to-day I have a memorandum
given me which tells me who the officers on some
of these coal-ships are God-fearing, intelligent
young men, who are kicking their heels in Boston
while we find a chance for them to land their
coal. I think that there ought to be some-
body whose business it is to meet these men,
to meet their seamen, to see that the sea-
men do not go to the dogs, and that
the officers themselves are cordially welcomed.
I do not believe that the board of charities of
the South Congregational Church, or of the Old
South meeting-house, or of the Catholic cathe-
dral, or of the German Mission of the Reformed
Church in the United States, or of the Union
Rescue Mission, or of the Advent Christian


Mission, or of the Christadelphians, or the Jesse
Lee Church, or of the Seventh Day Advent
Church, or of the Society for the Expression of
the Christ Ideal, have paid the slightest atten-
tion to the presence of the twenty-five masters,
the fifty mates, of the seventy-five engineers and
engineers' assistants, or of the five or ten thou-
sand emigrants who arrived in Boston at the
same time on the ships which these men conduct-
ed. I do know one Christian man and his wife
who put themselves in attendance on one steam-
ship of these people because they love God and
love men.

Now, I think that the organized churches of
Boston ought to begin with a Sunday service
somewhere down-town which should attract
these people, if it attracted nobody else. As I
said at the Unitarian Club a week ago, I would
have this in the Old South meeting-house, but
that some dear old gentlemen who have now all
gone to heaven put some absurd conditions on
the use of that meeting-house twenty-six years
ago, so that for four years more there will be
that spot on that one acre of ground on the
American continent from which prayer and praise
cannot go up to God on the Lord's Day. There
is a certain humor in this restriction which would
have amused Saint Paul.


I want also to have a central office where the
Christian Church shall do its business, exactly as
the United States has a central office of Boston
in Post-Office Square, where it attends to the car-
riage of mails. When I have a letter for Tyngs-
boro, I do not have to hunt up a Tyngsboro
agent who will carry my letter there. I go
to the post-office, and put it into the post-
office, and they attend to it there. If I am
a shipmaster bringing over a family, of which
the father dies on the passage, I do not want,
when I arrive in Boston, to hunt up a "society
for the provision of the widow whose husband
has died on the November passage from Eng-
land." I want to go to the office of the Chris-
tian Church. What I propose is that the twen-
ty-five Unitarian churches of Greater Boston
shall establish such an office.

The Lord Jesus, when He was in Palestine,
proposed some such arrangement; but He says
that one of the people whom He invited to join
in the entertainment said he had married a wife,
and he could not come. Another of them had
bought a yoke of oxen; and, therefore, he could
not come. What I observe is this, that, when
this particular widow, of whom I have spoken,
sends up to St. George Society, the St. George
Society says that she was born in Norway, and


that they cannot attend to her. When she sends
to the Scandinavian Society, it probably proves
that their hours are between quarter past eleven
on Wednesday and quarter before twelve. When
she sends to me, as she has a right to, at 39
Highland Street, she finds that I have gone to
Buffalo. When she sends to the head of the
city charities, he asks her whether her husband
has paid taxes for five years out of ten years in
the city of Boston. If she sends to my excellent
friend, Archbishop Williams, he says that she
was not baptized in the Roman Catholic Church
and has not been to confession for twenty-one
years, or, as it simply said in an old book a
good deal used when I was a boy, "They all with
one accord began to make excuses." What I
am trying to establish is an office where they shall
not make excuses, where I shall not be told
that any child of God ought to have been born
in some place where she was not born, or ought
to be sixty-three years old when she is only forty-

At this moment we have on our list here a
widow who is more than the necessary age ; that
is, she is more than sixty-five years old. Her
two husbands have both been Americans. She
was born in Boston. Her father was born in
Boston, and he worked on the frigate Constitu-



tion. Her sixty-four ancestors in Winthrop's
time were all, so far as anybody can show, resi-
dents of Boston. Between them and her are
nine generations, making, as I calculate, two hun-
dred and eighty-eight ancestors of hers who, for
all anybody can say, were all born in Boston.
And she cannot receive her coal from the Ashton
Widows' Coal Fund because her tenement is on
the wrong side of the dividing line in Charles-
town, which separates the sheep from the goats ;
that is, which separates the Charlestown widow,
who can receive Ashton Fund Coal, from the
Somerville widow, who cannot receive Ashton
Fund coal. It is so desirable to have packed
in within the limits of that old Boston peninsula
all the widows and orphans whom we can that
we encourage them by a bounty to move this
side of our somewhat crowded lines 1


THE performance of a miracle play by
an English company in our different
cities suggests a great deal to those
interested in religious education. The
performance is dignified, serious and fits the real
purpose of those leaders of the people who con-
trived such performances in the "dark ages."


Like the recent revivals of Ben Jonson, for in-
stance, the miracle play of "Everyman" might
now be studied to advantage by one who was
only a virtuoso or dilletante, to learn how they
did things five centuries ago. But I doubt if
any person who attends with that poor virtuoso
notion does not come away with the serious ques-
tion whether the play cannot teach us all that
is good for us, and whether it cannot show us
how we can teach those who are in our charge.
The attendants at these performances are better
men and better women for attending.

The programme of "Everyman" gives a good
idea of the plan of the play. But it is hard to
give one who has not seen it an idea of the seri-
ousness, often the delicacy, with which the simple
lessons are unfolded.

Everyman is surprised in the heyday of life
by the discovery that he has a Pilgrim's Progress
before him, and at the end of it he must die
and give some sort of account of his life. He
summons various companions and advisers to
assist him and go with him. Some of them fail,
some of them help him. At last, in the robe
of contrition, under the guidance of Wisdom and
Good Works, he dies. He descends into the
grave; and the chorus, re-enforced by an angel,
tells you that he is welcomed into heaven.



Well, between the year 1400 and the year
1903 this has been said substantially in books
and from the pulpit ten million times by ten mil-
lion teachers. These miracle play people suc-
ceeded in representing it in an hour and a half
to the people who saw their play, so that they saw
it and never forgot it. It was a case of "seeing,
they shall see," as the Saviour said of His para-
bles. In this admirable representation "Every-
man" is admirably and most seriously represent-
ed. Any criticism would be trivial which should
occupy itself in improvement of detail, as if one
should suggest improvement in the literary style
of Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress."

It is interesting to see that, while the very
title of the play shows that "every man" has
one and the same duty, the Catholic Church, so
long as it was Catholic, taught that "every man"
was received on his contrition and penitence into
the joys of heaven. The Catholic Church then,
at least, was Universalist.

It is hardly possible to witness the play, so
well represented by this company, without ob-
serving that any play, outside of mere farce or
burlesque, every play that is good for anything,
is occupied with just the conditions, trials, fail-
ures, and successes of every man as he deals with
kindred or riches or knowledge. The idea


almost ludicrous of a play or a book which
has no object, except to be a play or a book,
wholly disappears.

Whether young people in their passion for
"dramatics" a very natural and worthy passion
cannot be set on some play which shall carry
with it lessons as vividly portrayed as these, that
is a question which suggests itself even to the
most rationalistic of Protestants.

In the "secondly" of a well-contrived dis-
course next Sunday the decorous preacher will
say: "If this were the proper place, I would
illustrate what I say by giving in some detail
the experience of a young sailor whom I met
last week. I must reserve his interesting nar-
rative for some other occasion. But, briefly
stated, I may with propriety say here that in
the wild excitement of shipwreck his personality
fused itself into individuality, and, by the asser-
tion of his subconsciousness, or, possibly, of some
aspiration or newer reflection deeper and larger
than subconsciousness, he entered into a condi-
tion," etc.; the reader knows it all too well.

If by good luck this preacher should go and
see the visible presentation of moral truth in
"Everyman," he will omit this metaphysical pas-
sage when he carries the sermon to the church
in New Norumbega, and will tell the story of the



shipwrecked sailor boy. "Therefore, speak I to
them in parables."


T T NDER the suggestion of some of the

U leaders of opinion in Chicago, a com-
mission has been formed to call a con-
vention which will be held next Feb-
ruary or March in that city. The object of this
convention is nothing less than improving the
religious and moral education of the American
people. It seems to be frankly recognized that
the average Sunday-school of the country does
not do as much as it might do in the way of
moral and religious education.

There is also, I think, a feeling that as the
community generally lays aside Sunday with the
express wish that the life of men may be en-
larged and made more spiritual, more religious,
and more moral, methods might be found of
using Sunday to more advantage. Anyway, the
meeting of the convention is now assured, and
it is certain that it will bring together many of
the most thoughtful men and women of the
country and many of its best educators.

The question, then, of the best use of Sunday
is an open question which ought to engage the



attention of conscientious people and of the
newspapers and the magazines. Here are fif-
teen hours of life taken out from the pressure of
daily cares so that the people of this country
may be better men and women, better fitted for
the duties of life and good citizenship. If Sun-
day does not do this, all our Sunday laws in
every State should be modified perhaps should
be swept away altogether. What can we do
about it? That is an open question, an open
question of more importance than ever before.

I should like to start a symposium of my own
in which I could get the real opinions of one
hundred sensible ministers, men who employ
many young people, women who are mothers of
hundreds of children. I should like to ask them
whether in the hour or two now given to work
in Sunday-schools other arrangements could not
be made for more life which one could fairly call
divine life than on the average are made now.
And if I had a hundred such people sitting down
around me and we had passed that time when
people are afraid of each other and are really
willing to talk, I should suggest this thing to
one or two hundred thousand of such persons.

i. The study of natural history on Sunday
is a study which might be pressed much farther
than it is now pressed. I think the most suc-


cessful class for all results of which I have ever
had any experience, was a summer class of street
boys who came to our church at ten o'clock on
Sunday through the summer. They read their
Bible lesson, they sang a hymn, and then their
teacher took them out into the pleasant wooded
country, which we can now reach very near to
Boston. They took their lunch with them. The
teacher was a spirited fellow, now an efficient
preacher of the Gospel. He gained a close inti-
macy with those boys, he was able to show them
how God is at work in the world now, and they
went to their morning work, for they were boys
who had to work through the summer better
boys the next morning because he had taken
them into this communion with God.

I should say that one of the most successful
classes which ever met in our own church was
a class sustained for two or three winters by
Professor Amadeus Grabau. He talked famil-
iarly and easily with the men and women who
met together, on such subjects as these, "How
God Made New England," and the kindred
subjects which relate themselves to this. I know
that he implanted in the minds and hearts of
these people intelligent notions with regard to
the study of nature which guided them in after
life, and to this day I receive the thanks of the


members of that class to be communicated to
their teacher.

2. In the Non-Conformist Sunday-schools of
England, before the more recent enlargement of
public education in England, they did not hesitate
to use Sunday for teaching the children who came
together, or the men and women who came to-
gether, anything which would be of use to them.
They taught them to spell, they taught them to
read, they taught them how many pecks there
were in a bushel, and how many quarts in a gal-
lon; they taught them Latin if they wanted to
learn it, or they taught them Greek. It seems
to me that any church is well engaged which will
make such arrangements for Sunday as shall
guide intelligent boys and girls, or intelligent
young men and women in this way. You need
not mix it up with any pretence. You need not
say that they are learning to read the Testament

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Online LibraryEdward Everett HaleWe, the people : a series of papers on topics of to-day → online text (page 11 of 15)