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Midsummer Day

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N. Y. Tribune. Thii Sunday happens to fall upon the ¦mniversary of an important religious estival kopt in ancient days in England, and onc which still has a curious attracion for most thoughtful people. The twenty-fourth of June was then called tfidsunimcr Day, sacred to St. John the Baptist, and was full of half pagan, half hristian fancies concerning he meetng of the soul and God in the woods, due probably quite as ranch to old Druid ¦ cal teachings as to the great prophet wlio dwclt in the wilderness. üur En'lish anoestors gathered boughs on St. fohn's eve and dressed their doors witü hem as a sign that,like the Baptist.they would dvaw near to God through the orest and the pure, strong inriuence of 'rowing things. They made solemn marches throngh the streels at niidnight, vaving oak branches and chanting a wild peculiar anthem, all with the same signilicance. The Yorkshire cotter and he crofter of Surrey obserred many such rites which would seem to most Americans the sheerest superstition. A month later, for instance, they began he harvest by kindling twelve fires on the hill-tops to nvoke the aid of the Apostles, one being beaten out with contempt ascontaining the soulof Judas. They could not, in short, look at li e green tields or the yellow wheat, vithout feelingthatGod and Ohristwere mmediateïy behind them. We are wiser in our generation. We. too, resort to the woods and such wildernesees is wc can find on St. John's eve. But t is because we are driven out of town )y malaria or heat or fashion. What ias God got to do with our goings or comings? Or with our harvests? Another strangc belief of these ignorint, leisurcly people, was that on St. John's eve the soul of every sleeper actually left the body for a brief space and visited the place where, some day, deiith would come to it. As erery man ïad a natural terror of thts separation jetween body. and soul, thenightwasusually spent in prayers and vigils. If any ïian was bokt enougli to keep wateh at the church door, he would see the spirits of all such as should die during the coming year pass in in a ghostly Drocession to receive absolution. How ibsurd all these superstitions seem to us nut. J.11C0C vin ycupie ieil inu them, wc think, because they were ignorant and idle. They were too leisure[y - they took time frorn money-making to think of their Maker, His inñuence upon them, their own death, and to build up fantastic beliefs about them. We liave something else to do. We buikl railroads, speculate, not in the soul, but in beef, flour, stocks, land in Dakota, and houses in the city. As for the way and place of our "death we never have to think of them, much less to desert our bodies to go in search of hem. On St. Johns Eve the pious peasant oelieved, of all uights of the year, that a corner of the veil was lifted which hid that other country to whieh he was joing, so he made his prayer and sang Sis hymns. That coming land with its spectural shapes, its externa I terror and rewards, lilled up most of his life. The country is the same to which we are all going; the veil still hangs betwecn it and us; it never has been lifted. But we do not trouble ourselves at all about it. We know when we are going to California or Paris. We are eager about the train orsteamer we shall take and have our time planned out. Yet our going is uncertain. But for that dim land to which we must inexorably depart some day, which filled up the books and thoughts and daily talk of our forefathers, we have no plans or worde. It isscarcely held civil to menáon it to each other. What has caused this great change in the current of human tliou-rht? Is it that those who went before us had too little actual ínowledge and so priedinto the unseen, or that wc are crowded too closely by jiicks and railways and daily worthless gossip tolook through them to the stars?


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News