Having feasted his eyes on the magnificence thus discovered to him, he walked home, more depressed at the prospect of his new employment than he could have believed possible.
On his way he turned aside into the Regent’s Park, where the sight of the people enjoying themselves — for it was a fine day for the season — partially dispelled the sense of living corruption and premature burial which he had experienced all day long. He kept as far off from the rank of open-air preachers as possible, and really was able to thank God that all the world did not keep Scotch Sabbath — a day neither Mosaic, nor Jewish, nor Christian: not Mosaic, inasmuch as it kills the very essence of the fourth commandment, which is Rest, transmuting it into what the chemists would call a mechanical mixture of service and inertia; not Jewish, inasmuch as it is ten times more severe, and formal, and full of negations, than that of the Sabbatarian Jews reproved by the Saviour for their idolatry of the day; and unchristian, inasmuch as it insists, beyond appeal, on the observance of times and seasons, abolished, as far as law is concerned, by the word of the chief of the apostles; and elevates into an especial test of piety a custom not even mentioned by the founders of christianity at all — that, namely, of accounting this day more holy than all the rest.
These last are but outside reasons for calling it unchristian. There are far deeper and more important ones, which cannot well be produced here.
It is not Hugh, however, who is to be considered accountable for all this, but the historian of his fortunes, between whom and the vision of a Lord’s Day indeed, there arises too often the nightmare-memory of a Scotch Saabbath — between which and its cousin, the English Sunday, there is too much of a family likeness. The grand men and women whom I have known in Scotland, seem to me, as I look back, to move about in the mists of a Scotch Sabbath, like a company of way-worn angels in the Limbo of Vanity, in which there is no air whereupon to smite their sounding wings, that they may rise into the sunlight of God’s presence.
Now resteth in my memory but this point, which indeed is the chief to you of all others; which is the choice of what men you are to direct yourself to; for it is certain no vessel can leave a worse taste in the liquor it contains, than a wrong teacher infects an unskilful hearer with that which hardly will ever out... But you may say, “How shall I get excellent men to take pains to speak with me?” Truly, in few words, either by much expense or much humbleness.
Letter of Sir Philip Sidney to his brother Robert.
How many things which, at the first moment, strike us as curious coincidences, afterwards become so operative on our lives, and so interwoven with the whole web of their histories, that instead of appearing any more as strange accidents, they assume the shape of unavoidable necessities, of homely, ordinary, lawful occurrences, as much in their own place as any shaft or pinion of a great machine!