Daily Chronicle, January 9, 1905

1 [Mr. Andrew Lang points out in “Longman’s Magazine” that “the Decalogue says nothing about not playing on the Sabbath Day. The command not to play is a Protestant injunction, ‘a thing of human invention,’ and therefore, logically, ‘idolatrous.’ ”]

There’s a feeling, which at present
 Is particularly strong,
That to do the thing that’s pleasant
 On a Sunday’s very wrong.
If you do, and are detected,
 You incur a social ban,
And can never be respected
 As a true religious man.

We shall change all that to-day, though—
 If you’d be an earthly saint,
On the Sabbath you must play, though
 Miss Corelli 2 says you mayn’t;
Disregarding Mrs Grundy, 3
 You must frolic all you can,
For the man who motes on Sunday
 Is the true religious man.

Oh, I love to see a party
 Spending Sunday as they should,
With their bridge, or else ecarté,
 Which is sometimes found as good.
As I note the rapt devotion
 On each countenance I scan,
I observe, with some emotion,
 “There’s a true religious man.”

So let’s fling aside the fetters
 Which have bound the day of rest.
For a famous man of letters
 Has pronounced that not the best.
Bring the cards, and let us shuffle,
 Deep finesses let us plan,
He who works a double ruff ’ll
 Be the true religious man.

P. G. W. 




“Mr. Andrew Lang, describing the decay of church going in “Longman’s Magazine,” points out that “The Israelites from whom we inherit the Sabbath did not got to temple every Sabbath – Jerusalem was too far away – and in their palmy days they had no synagogues whither they could repair once a week or oftener. They merely did not work on the Sabbath – at least, they were forbidden to do so. The Decalogue says nothing about not playing on the Sabbath, nothing about going to Tabernacle on that day. The command not to play is a Protestant injunction, a thing of human invention, and therefore, “idolatrous.” (Shields Daily Gazette, Wednesday, 21 December 1904)


“Miss Corelli” is the author Marie Corelli, whose Free Opinions, Freely Expressed, published in 1905, included a chapter entitled “Society and Sunday,” in which she bemoaned the declining observance of Sunday as a day of piety: “Society . . . prefers a pack of cards. Its ears are more attuned to the hissing rush of the motor than to the solemn sound of sacred psalmody . . .” In God’s Good Man, published a year earlier, she editorialised that “A due observance of Sunday . . . is one of the saving graces of our national constitution. In the large towns, a growing laxity concerning the ‘keeping of the seventh day holy,’ is plainly noticeable, the pernicious example of London ‘smart’ society doing much to lessen the old feeling of respect for the day and its sacredness.”


Mrs. Grundy is a character mentioned (though she never makes an appearance) in the play Speed the Plough (1798) by Thomas Morton. As a figure of speech, her name became the personification of conventional propriety and was so well established in the popular imagination that Samuel Butler, in his novel Erewhon (1872), was able to name one of his characters Ydgrun, an anagram of Grundy, in the expectation that the allusion would be recognised.

John Dawson