“Come ye yourselves
apart unto a desert place and rest
awhile.”—Mark vi: 31.
Here Christ advises His apostles to take a vacation. They have been living an excited as well as a useful life, and He advises that they get out into the country. When, six weeks ago, standing in this place, I advocated, with all the energy I could command, the Saturday afternoon holiday, I did not think the people would so soon get that release. By divine fiat it has come, and I rejoice that more people will have opportunity of recreation this summer than in any previous summer. Others will have whole weeks and months of rest. The railway trains are being laden with passengers and baggage on their way to the mountains and the lakes and the sea-shore. Multitudes of our citizens are packing their trunks for a restorative absence.
The city heats are pursuing the people with torch and fear of sunstroke. The long silent halls of sumptuous hotels are all abuzz with excited arrivals. The crystalline surface of Winnipiseogee is shattered with the stroke of steamer, laden with excursionists. The antlers of Adirondack deer rattle under the shot of city sportsmen. The trout make fatal snaps at the hook of adroit sportsmen and toss their spotted brilliance into the game-basket. Already the baton of the orchestral leader taps the music-stand on the hotel green, and American life puts on festal array, and the rumbling of the tenpin alley, and the crack of the ivory balls on the green-baized billiard tables, and the jolting of the bar-room goblets, and the explosive uncorking of champagne bottles, and the whirl and the rustle of the ball-room dance, and the clattering hoofs of the race-courses, attest that the season for the great American watering-places is fairly inaugurated. Music—flute and drum and cornet-a-piston and clapping cymbals—will wake the echoes of the mountains.
Glad I am that fagged-out American life for the most part will have an opportunity to rest, and that nerves racked and destroyed will find a Bethesda. I believe in watering-places. Let not the commercial firm begrudge the clerk, or the employer the journeyman, or the patient the physician, or the church its pastor, a season of inoccupation. Luther used to sport with his children; Edmund Burke used to caress his favorite horse; Thomas Chalmers, in the dark hours of the church’s disruption, played kite for recreation—as I was told by his own daughter—and the busy Christ said to the busy apostles: “Come ye apart awhile into the desert and rest yourselves.” And I have observed that they who do not know how to rest do not know how to work.
But I have to declare this truth to-day, that some of our fashionable watering-places are the temporal and eternal destruction of “a multitude that no man can number,” and amid the congratulations of this season and the prospect of the departure of many of you for the country I must utter a note of warning—plain, earnest, and unmistakable.