Underground Reading: Branded Woman by Wade Miller
Everywhere but here...

Nerveless, inane and a nuisance

598px-Ignition_of_a_match"Well, my friends, one of the wants of the cities is a great bonfire of bad books and newspapers. We have enough fuel to make a blaze 200 feet high. Many of the publishing houses would do well to throw into the blaze their entire stock of goods. Bring forth the insufferable trash and put it into the fire and let it be known in the presence of God and angels and men that you are going  to rid your homes of the overtopping and underlying curse of profligate literature.

"The printing press is the mightiest agency on earth for good and for evil. The minister of the gospel standing in a pulpit has a responsible position, but I do not think it is as responsible as the position of an editor or publisher... 

"I have to tell you that the greatest blessing that ever came to the nations is that of an elevated literature, and the greatest scourge has been that of unclean literature. This last has its victims in all occupations and departments. It has helped to fill insane asylums and penitentiaries and alms-houses and dens of shame. The bodies of this infection lie in the hospitals and in the graves, while their souls are being tossed over into a lost eternity, an avalanche of horror and despair. The London plague was nothing to it. That counted its victims by thousands, but this modern pest has already shoveled its millions into the charnel house of the morally dead. The longest rail train that ever ran over the tracks was not long enough or large enough to carry the beastliness and the putrefaction which have been gathered up in bad books and newspapers in the last 20 years.

"I charge you, in the first place,to stand aloof from all books that give false pictures of life. Life is neither a tragedy nor a farce. Men are not all either knaves or heroes. Women are neither angels nor furies. and yet, if you depended upon much of the literature of the day, you would get the idea that life, instead of being something earnest, something practical, is a fitful and fantastic and extravagant thing. How poorly prepared are that young man and woman for the duties of today who spent last night wading through brilliant passages descriptive of magnificent knavery and wickedness. The man will be looking all day long for his heroine, in the office, by the forge, in the factory, in the counting room, and he will not find her, and he will be dissatisfied.

"A man who gives himself up to the indiscriminate reading of novels will be nerveless, inane and a nuisance. He will be fit neither for the store, nor the shop, nor the field. A woman who gives herself up to the indiscriminate reading of novels will be unfitted for the duties of wife, mother, sister, daughter. There she is, hair disheveled, countenance vacant, cheeks pale, hands trembling, bursting into tears at midnight over the fate of some unfortunate lover; in the daytime, when she ought to be busy, staring by the half hour into nothing, biting her finger nails into the quick. The carpet that was plain before will be plainer after having wandered through a romance all night long in tessellated halls of castles. And your industrious companion will be more unattractive than ever, now that you have walked through parks with plumed princesses or lounged in the arbor with polished desperado.

"If there is anything in your home that cannot stand the test, do not give it away, for it might spoil an immortal soul. Do not sell it, for the money you get would be the price of blood, but rather kindle a fire on your kitchen hearth or in your back yard and then drop the poison in it."

- Rev. Dr. Talmage, Kentucky New Era, July 30, 1900


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