Gateway to the Classics: Ruth of Boston by James Otis
Ruth of Boston by  James Otis

Lecture Day

My mother believes it would be better if Training Day were done away with entirely, for she says we spend far too much time in the pursuit of frivolity, when we have no less than one lecture-day in each week. It must be that she is in the right, for father has much the same opinion, and declares a stop must be put to so many lectures, which but gives a convenient excuse for indolent people, who should be at work on the plantations or in the houses, to go gadding about the town.

You must know that Thursday is the day when we listen to lectures by some of the preachers, or those among the magistrates who have the gift of speech, and this has been the custom since the first year we came here.

In the early days the lecture hour was in the forenoon; but at the end of three years, after Boston was become a town, those in authority over us passed a law that the lecture should not begin until one of the clock in the afternoon, and this was done in order that the people might not have an excuse to spend the entire day in idleness.

I cannot see, however, that any more work is done on Thursdays now than before the law was made, for as soon as breakfast is finished and the houses have been set in order, nearly every one walks on the streets, this pleasure being forbidden on Sabbath days, until it is time to gather at the church.

Our magistrates also tried to make the rule that no minister, or other person, should lecture more often than once in every two weeks, in order that we might have less of such diversion; but no heed is given to this law, for I myself have heard Master Cotton speak to the people no less than twice on every Thursday, and this in addition to lectures by other preachers.

If father were one of the magistrates, mother would do all she might to have the hour of the meetings set back to the morning, for she believes it is wrong to make of the forenoon a time for the punishing of evil-doers, as has come to be the custom.

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