Does a Sunday well spent bring a week of content? The answer is: It all depends. The good and religious cannot believe this possible unless in service at church or chapel, and in this direction much may be said and more conceded, for it would be a bad day if the good old English Sunday were turned into a French one of pleasure, a sort of unbelief and anti-Christianity. Good men and women do not desire this unhappy state of things, and workmen need have a care that if they generally lost the Sunday rest it would be their disaster without a corresponding benefit of any kind.
It seems to the writer that there is a middle course, and that is to go to church and chapel by all means, but he does not think it past forgiveness to make most of a sunny day in addition. We have had very few this year, but last Sunday was glorious — a drop from the cold and prolonged winter of our misery and discontent. Besides, everything was so young and fair, kindling fresh hopes, new joys, and pleasant possibilities. It was really grand after dinner to take tram to Outlane, where you find every kind of trap to finish the journey to “Nont Sarah’s,” where the traveller will be pleased to see the handsome rebuilt inn, with all the new stables, etc. True, he will not meet the dear old face of Mrs. Sykes, who during her long life gave the place a habitation and a name, but he will find a ready welcome and substantial hospitality at a reasonable cost. After this, if he will start over the moor, down by Goat Hill to Merry Dale, and the journey so far will have given him some of the best scenery in the county of high hills, lovely valleys, and sweet moorland, and all the while be breathing the most fragrant air. Scout Wood is at its best just now. On Sunday the cuckoo’s welcome voice was heard, and it was here that the bullfinch was to be found in the good old days, when birds had a chance to live and reproduce their young. At Merridale Cottage, Sidney Horsfall used to have them trained to whistle most beautiful airs, a great attraction for the young and a great pleasure to the old. Here was the old carding mill, from which the country people took the cardings to spin and make into pieces. The present generation will have some comprehension of the vast strides that have been made since then by the tremendous improvements effected by the machinery in our workshops of to-day. Here also was old Richard Horsfall, who did much good in his day by the skilful manner in which he brought about safe cures for most of the wounds that afflicted humanity.
Sunday was a great day. Hundreds wandered this way. It was a busy time. But now it is as silent as the tomb under which the old herbalist lies, save and except the rippling brook which accompanies you down to Clough House Mills, and afterwards down the reservoir bank to Slaithwaite — as pleasant a journey as can be found on a fine day, and quite within the reach and power of any ordinary healthy person.
Slaithwaite Notes: Past and Present (1905) by John Sugden