THE President of the American Sabbath Union, Mr. Elliott F. Shepard, is down on Sunday newspapers. More, to read a Sunday newspaper is desperately wicked, yet in the issue of his own paper, the Mail and Express, for April 12, he says:—
The advertising world will please take notice that Saturday’s Mail and Express has the largest circulation of the week. Those who do not like to buy a newspaper on Sunday, buy our Saturday issue, knowing that in it will be found some reading appropriate for Sunday.
Indeed! Then it seems that it is not the fact that the paper is read on Sunday that constitutes the evil, but that it is bought on Sunday; because to buy the Mail and Express on Saturday, and read it on Sunday is commendable! Well, for that matter, there are very few of the Sunday papers that are actually bought on Sunday. Doubtless nine out of every ten of them are paid for by the week, or by the month, and are never paid for on Sunday; and it is certain that they are not printed on Sunday.
And even the plea that the Sunday paper keeps people away from church is annihilated by Mr. Shepard’s statement; because the reading of a Saturday paper can keep people away from church just as well as the reading of a Sunday paper. It is true that the Mail and Express is not as large as the Sunday papers, yet the Saturday issue in which this statement is found, has eight large pages with much closely printed matter upon them and in small type, which makes about as much reading as a person could well get through with Sunday forenoon between breakfast and dinner time.
Then, as to the quality of the Sunday reading. It is claimed that when people do read the Sunday paper and go to church, their minds are so illy prepared for the worship that it is almost imposssible for the preacher, with all his efforts, and all the services put together, to overcome the evil influence. Now is the Saturday’s Mail and Express of so altogether pious a character as to be a help to Sunday worship when read on Sunday? Let us see.
On the first page, besides the general foreign and domestic political news, we find a report of the principal English horse race; a report of a suit for divorce; a report of a malicious prosecution; and two liquor advertisements.
On the second page a letter from Rome occupies nearly a column; a half column of matter is given to the Grant Monument; then comes real estate gossip, “Social Chitchat,” quotations of bonds, railroad and bank stocks, etc.
The third page has four columns of reading matter, three columns of which are devoted to horse races, base ball and such like; and the rest of these four columns is filled up with a story under the head of “A Crime at Sea.” The rest is advertisements.
Then comes the editorial page, beginning with this scripture:—
“Forbearing one another and other, if any man have a quarrel a
as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Then come the editorials, headed “Foolish Surrender to Chicago;” Bill;” “Let Them Join a Democratic Club;” “The Dummy Rapid Transit Commission;” “Another Important Saxton Bill;” “To Advertisers;” “Great Cry, Little Wool;” “The Jersey City Investigation;” “The Kara Flogging Case;” and “The Republic of Brazil.” In the editorial to advertisers is the recommendation that the people read the Mail and Express on Sunday. Then comes a letter from Senator Blair on the absurdity of the outcry about Religious Liberty, and kindred stuff. Then miscellaneous matter, poetry, and line items, closing up the page with seven advertisements, one of which is of whiskey, and another is of that brand of champagne which seems to be the favorite of the Mail and Express.
The fifth page is devoted to miscellaneous matter about “Life in New York,” “Spring Fashions,” “Reminiscences,” “Ghosts,” etc., with nearly two columns of advertisements, amongst which is one of liquor.
The sixth page has a column and a half interview with Patti upon “How to Train the Voice;” a two column interview with Dr. Depew on “The New South;” and something over two columns of miscellaneous matter about a certain humorist, tornadoes, hotels, etc. The rest of the page, a little over two columns, is devoted to advertisements, amongst which is another one of a certain brand of “good whiskey.”
The seventh page reading matter is devoted to “The Religious World.” Three columns are filled with a sermon; “A Typical Papist Prayer;” “News and Opinion;” then nearly two columns of church notices. The rest of the page, three and a half columns, is filled with advertisements, without any of liquor.
The eighth and last page has the first column filled with an account of a strike, Moody’s Work, Base Ball Games, a Grand Ball, a Fair, and other items. The second column is filled with gossip about the  theatres and opera. The third column is devoted to temperance, a boxing match, and a pugilistic challenge. The fourth column is devoted to the Social World, Dinners, Weddings, etc. The fifth column has an interview with a humorist, followed by three minor items of local matters. Then comes about a column and a half of general advertisements; and nearly a whole column of advertisements of theatres and shows.
And that is the kind of a paper that is to take the place of the Sunday paper! That is the kind of a paper that is appropriate for Sunday reading. But anybody who has ever read any of the great Sunday dailies, knows that in point of real worth, they are as far ahead of the Mail and Express as needs to be imagined. It is true that Mr. Shepard only says that in his paper there will be found some reading appropriate for Sunday; but that is just as true of any Sunday paper that was ever issued. And it is certain that in the average Sunday paper there is more reading that is appropriate for Sunday, and is easier found, than there is in Mr. Shepard’s paper. But whether there is or not, or whatever the reading is, our readers can now form an estimate of what kind of a paper it is that, according to the view of the President of the American Sabbath Union, can appropriately be read on Sunday. And by this they can form their own estimate of the cry that is made by the American Sabbath Union against the Sunday newspaper.
A. T. J.