: Didactic Stories
: Types Of Children's Literature

Dr. John Aiken and Mrs. Anna Letitia Barbauld

It was Sunday morning. All the bells were ringing for church,

and the streets were filled with people moving in all directions.

Here, numbers of well-dressed persons and a long train of charity

children were thronging in at the wide doors of a large, handsome

church. There, a smaller number, almost equally gay in dress, were

an elegant meeting-house. Up one alley, a Roman Catholic

congregation was turning into their retired chapel, every one crossing

himself with a finger dipped in holy water, as he went in. The

opposite side of the street was covered with a train of Quakers,

distinguished by their plain and neat attire and sedate aspect, who

walked without ceremony into a room as plain as themselves, and

took their seats, the men on one side, and the women on the other,

in silence. A spacious building was filled with an overflowing

crowd of Methodists, most of them meanly habited, but decent and

serious in demeanor; while a small society of Baptists in the

neighborhood quietly occupied their humble place of assembly.

Presently the different services began. The churches resounded

with the solemn organ, and with the indistinct murmurs of a large

body of people following the minister in responsive prayers. From

the meeting were heard the slow psalm, and the single voice of

the leader of their devotions. The Roman Catholic chapel was enlivened

by strains of music, the tinkling of a small bell, and a perpetual

change of service and ceremonial. A profound silence and

unvarying look and posture announced the self-recollection and mental

devotion of the Quakers.

Mr. Ambrose led his son Edwin round all these different assemblies

as a spectator. Edwin viewed everything with great attention,

and was often impatient to inquire of his father the meaning of

what he saw; but Mr. Ambrose would not suffer him to disturb

any of the congregations even by a whisper. When they had gone

through the whole, Edwin found a great number of questions to put

to his father, who explained everything to him in the best manner

he could. At length says Edwin:

"But why cannot all these people agree to go to the same place,

and worship God the same way?"

"And why should they agree?" replied his father. "Do not you

see that people differ in a hundred other things? Do they all dress

alike, and eat and drink alike, and keep the same hours, and use the

same diversions?"

"Ay--but those are things in which they have a right to do as

they please."

"And they have a right, too, to worship God as they please. It

is their own business, and concerns none but themselves."

"But has not God ordered particular ways of worshiping him?"

"He has directed the mind and spirit with which he is to be worshiped,

but not the particular form and manner. That is left for

every one to choose, according as suits his temper and opinions. All

these people like their own way best, and why should they leave it

for the choice of another? Religion is one of the things in which

_mankind were made to differ_."

The several congregations now began to be dismissed, and the street was

again overspread with persons of all the different sects, going

promiscuously to their respective homes. It chanced that a poor man

fell down in the street in a fit of apoplexy, and lay for dead. His

wife and children stood round him crying and lamenting in the bitterest

distress. The beholders immediately flocked round, and, with looks and

expressions of the warmest compassion, gave their help. A Churchman

raised the man from the ground by lifting him under the arms, while a

Dissenter held his head and wiped his face with his handkerchief. A

Roman Catholic lady took out her smelling-bottle, and assiduously

applied it to his nose. A Methodist ran for a doctor. A Quaker

supported and comforted the woman; and a Baptist took care of the


Edwin and his father were among the spectators. "Here," said

Mr. Ambrose, "is a thing in which _mankind were made to agree_."