What Day is it?
by Mrs. Follen
It is so still that, although it is midday, one can hear the sound
of the soft spring shower as it falls on the young and tender
The crowing of the cock pierces the ear with his shrill note, as in
the silent watches of the night. The song of the wren is so
undisturbed, it is so full, and is heard so distinctly that it only
reminds one, with its sweet music, how unusual is the silence; it
does indeed seem but the "echo of tranquillity."
There are many people in the streets, but they have a different
appearance from usual; they are all dressed in their holiday
garments; they look happy, but they are very calm and serious. The
gentle shower does not seem to disturb them; it only affords an
opportunity for reciprocal kindness.
I see a venerable-looking old lady who from infirmity is obliged to
walk very slowly. She is supported by a bright, rosy-cheeked girl
who holds up the umbrella, and keeps back her light and joyous step
to the slow time of her aged companion.
An elegant-looking woman is leading, with great care and tenderness,
a little girl through the mud. The lady puts her umbrella so low
that the rain is kept from the child, but it falls upon her own gay
clothes. The little girl must be that lady's daughter. But see! they
stop at the door of yonder miserable-looking house. The lady cannot
live there, surely. She gives the child a little book. The little
girl enters alone. I see her now in the house. She is the daughter
of the poor, sick woman who lives there.
There is a trembling old man tottering along: he looks a little like
Tipsy David, as the boys call him; but he has on a clean and
respectable suit of black, and a weed on his hat; he is quite sober,
but it is David; and one of the very boys that have laughed at and
abused him when intoxicated, now respectfully offers him an
A fashionable young man is gallanting a lady with the greatest care
and most delicate respect; she must be his sister, or the lady he is
engaged to marry, he is so careful to shelter her from every drop of
rain. No, I see her enter her door; it is my good neighbor, Miss—;
she is one of the excellent of the earth, but she is poor, old and
forsaken by all but the few who seek for those whom others forget.
She has no beauty, no celebrity; there is no eclat in noticing her;
there are those who will even laugh at him for his attention to her.
Stranger than all, there are two men, violent opponents in religion
and politics, walking arm in arm with each other. The Calvinist
extends to him whom he considers his erring brother a kindness as if
to a dear friend; for the Universalist is sick, and the Calvinist
tries to protect him from the shower while exposing himself; see, he
takes off his own cloak and puts it on him.
What does all this mean? Whence is this holy stillness? What day is
It is the Lord's day! All these people are returning from the house
of prayer. It is this thought that makes the laughing girl restrain
her gayety, and teach her steps to keep time with her infirm old
The sinful old man abstains from his vicious habit out of reverence
for this holy day; he has lost his son too; and sorrow and the
weight of an evil conscience have driven him to the mercy seat; and
they who despised his drunkenness respect his misery.
The lady who led the little child so tenderly to its poor mother's
door is a teacher in the Sunday school; the book she gave tells of
the wisdom and goodness of God; she has awakened in her little
pupil's soul that princi-pie which shall never die, and taught her
to be a messenger of peace and joy to her poor, sick mother.
It is the influence of this blessed day that makes the usually
frivolous and thoughtless prefer a work of charity to the
gratification of vanity.
It is the Sabbath day, with its calm and elevated duties and holy
repose, that subdues animosity, lays the restless spirit of vanity,
checks habitual vice, and awakens all the charities and sweet
courtesies of life.
This is the true rest of the Sabbath; the rest from vanity, from
contention, from sin. This is the true preaching, the practice of
Christian duties, the performance of works of love, the exercise of
the holiest affections of our nature. This is the true service of
God; doing good to His human family. This is the true knowledge of
Him, "that we love one another."
Doubtless the instructions from the pulpit do, in many instances,
enlighten the ignorant, quicken the languid and the cold-hearted,
and alarm or persuade the sinful and the erring; and, on this
account alone, the day is a great good, and should be welcomed.
However, were any one doubtful of the blessing that attends it, I
would not reason with him, but I would, if it were possible, lead
him, when he knew not what day it was, where he could witness, as I
have, such a scene as I have just described; and when he exclaimed,
"What does it all mean? What day is it?" I would simply answer, "It
is the Sabbath day."