xt7jws8hf89n https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7jws8hf89n/data/mets.xml Allison, Young Ewing, 1853-1932. 1897  books b92-169-30117067 English Courier-Journal Job Printing Co., : Louisville, Ky. : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Fiction in libraries. Books and reading. On the vice of novel-reading  : being a brief in appeal, pointing out errors of the lower tribunal ... / by Young E. Allison. text On the vice of novel-reading  : being a brief in appeal, pointing out errors of the lower tribunal ... / by Young E. Allison. 1897 2002 true xt7jws8hf89n section xt7jws8hf89n  

        Author's Private Copy.

O)n the Vice of Novel-Reading.

                    ERRORS OF THE LOWER TRIBUNAL.

            Paper Read Before the Western Association of Writers at Winona
                        Park, Indiana, June 29, 1897.

                        By YOUNG E. ALLISON.

                             LOUISVILLE. KY..

 This page in the original text is blank.


                                  Photograph hv Carsick, Louisville, 1914


 This page in the original text is blank.


   Ever since the Novel reached the stage of de'velopimllnt
wviere it was dcinonstrat ad to be the most ilgeliious v 'hi le
yet designed for conveyi g the prote an thought and faicy
of ana n, there has stood in the judgnient book of Puhlic
Opinion the decree that novel-reading was a vice. Of course,
that jutdguent did not apply exclusively to the read(lilg of
novels. It wvas a sort of suppleientitary decree in wvlici1 the
iame of this new invention was speeiticallt a ided to the list
of rnoral beguilements agaillst wiiicl that judgment had
anciently stood. Poetry, the 1)ranma, eve n the virtuous his-
tory, hadl had their noses disjointe d by this tribunal. But
their great age an(l the familiarity of their presence had soft-
ened the decree iii its enfore 'meiit. The Novel was a young
offet der in aspect (though hie had the iiature and inheritance
of the other three), and was, besides, strong in masculinity
and virility. A certain sympathy tius .spruig up for the
three quaint old ladies, as for old offenders whose persistence
had won the wink of toleration. They actually- athieved a cer-
taiti factitious respectalbility in comparison with the fresber
and more active dangers afforded by the Novel. But the
Novel was simply a combination of all three, more flexible
a ndI adaiptable). It, therefore, merely slhares in tIne old judg-
men t directed against everything in literatuire-and in all the
arts-thalt displays the seductiveies's of f; iiey or taste. The
judgmenits of public opinion hav.e becit consistently in the
liie of distrusting anid discrediting everything tlhat appeared
to be purely spiritual and intellectual, and tbat could not at
once le organized into a political or religious institution or
into . mechanical industry witih thue prosj ect of large sales
and quick profits.
  Novel-reading is a vice, then, under this judgment, just as
the reading of all fictions, fancies, inventions, and romances
ii all their forms, poetic, dramatic, and narrative. And if
the reading is a vice the writing of them, in all common
sense, cat be no less than murder or arson. If it is a vice
to (levote time to the readiing of novels it must be a crime to
professionally pander to and profit by the vice. And if all this
is true, what a wonderfully attractive corner that must be-in
Hades where are old Hiomer and the ever youn g Aristoph-



anes, Sophocles and Asebylus, Dante, Virgil and Boccaccio,
Shakespeare and Moliere, Goethe and Hugo, Balzac and
Tha 'kerav, Scott and Dumas, Dickens and that wonderful
child of Bohemia, who lately lay down to rest on Vailima
mountain. Think of all these marvelous sois of genius gatb-
ered together for their meet punishment! In one especially
warm corner, perhaps, Lope Felix de Vega, the most ineor-
rigible of all, slowly expiating upon sonie most ingeniously
uncomfortable gridiron the 1,160 volunies of crime andI vice
that are to be set down against him in the indictment, if it
be a true bill. We may wonder whetber the unknown
authors of "4Esther" and ";The Song of Songs" and the
psychological novel of "Job" are there, too, where they
properly belong. It must be a great congress with these
chief criminals as the senators and a lower house made up
of the most agrec.ibly vicious souls of earth, who, in their
sojourn here, yielded for a moment to siren voices. If every-
thing in fiction-from  the astonishing conspiracies over-
thrown by " Old Sleuth" to the magnificent visions that old
John Milton saw, of incarnate ambition like a branded
criminal driven out before the radiant hosts of heaven-if
all the fiction that makes up the spirit of the novel is in-
cluded in this index expuryalorius of eternity, then we may
well have a doubt, my friends, whether hell can hold us all.
   It is a curious exercise for persons immersed in writing
and study as an occupation, and l)ossessing a catholic toler-
ance for all occupations, to bark back to the time whetn they
were still within the jurisdiction of the world that acts but
does not study. In all the average towns, hamlets and
country-sides of the world human nature beats with exactly
the same pulse. If a change come, it comes slowly and it
changes all together, so that all are still alike. In the small
towns novel-reading has been considered about as contemptu-
ously as playing the fiddle, though admitted to be less dan-
gerous than family card-playing. It was estimated that a
novel-reader was confirming his indolence, and in danger of
coming to the poor-house; a fiddler was prophesied to get
into jail for vagrancy or larceny; while a card-player had
entered a path that might lead as far as the gallows and comn-
prehend all the crimes. This opinion still largely exists in
towns and country-sides.  We find it maintaining itself
even in large cities, among all sorts of very good peo-
ple, even among the most exceptional men of business,


of the professions an(l of the pulpits.  Novel-reading,
as a mental vice, accor(lilng to tbis opinion, may  be
Conipare(l with opium-eating  as a moral vice.   It is
thought to enervate and( corrupt lby nieans of a luxurious
excitement, purely fictitious and temporary.
   At an anuiial meeting of members of the public library
of a large city, the librarian rea(l the aggregate number of calls
for books of each class during the year. Let us assume that
there were calls for 65,000 works of fiction, 5,000 of history
antid biography, 2,000 of science and philosophy, an d, say, 75
of theology. One of the trustees, who had pretentions as
to responsibility for the public coliscience that would have
(iwarfed the pyramid of Cheops, arose and appealed to the
members to suggest a plan for counteracting the dleplorable
tendency of the times to the reading of fiction. It did not
occur to anybody to reconimend the abolition of time printing
press, and 80 a discussion began. One of the most distiti-
guished and scholarly ministers an(l educators of the world,
who was a member, came to the rescue of the Novel. He
sai(l, in substance, that the large majority of the men and
won-en in the world were laborers for the bread they ate,
and it was his opinion that when such persons were resting
after the day's toil, indulging their leisure, it was impossible
to expect them to read works oil theology and the abstruse
sciences, while it was natural for them to seek amusement in
novels and romances. He thought reading novels was much
l)etter than idle gossijl, or loitering in saloons or in thestreets.
His renmarks were received with great applause, and this
declaration of his liberality of opinion was widely com-
mented upon.
   But is there any real liberality in conisiderino the reading
of novels as only just a better use of one's leisure than gossip-
ing, guzzl ing in saloons or wandering idly about the streets 
   The idea that novel-reading hbas no value except as a
relaxation and amusement is born of the same dense and
narrow ignorance which concludes that alcoholic (drinks and
wine serve no real purpose but to promote drunkenness and
wife-beatin1g; that opium promotes only luxurious debauch-
ery, and that all the elegant, graceful and beautiful ceremo-
nies amid customs of society are invented merely to amuse
and gratify the vain selfishness of the rich.
   The most curious aspect of novel-reading, considered as a
vice, is that the great majority of those indulging in it, like



those who indulge in drinking, gambling and other vices, are
themselves willing to admit that it is indefensible if less
perilous than other vices. They excuse it, just as the dis-
tinguished minister did, as an amusement so harmless, as
compared with other vices, that you may indulge it and yet
skirt hell-fire by a. margin of a million miles. Some hypo-
crites conceal and deny the indulgence like your secret toper;
others apologize for not indulging when they are in the com-
pany of notorious but pleasing offentders, as the hypocrite feigns
benevolence. Every one of you doubtless has in mind the
amiable man of business-maybe youirtailor, your broker, your
banker, your lawyer, your grocer-who cultivates your good
opinion, and for the sake of the customer in you tolerates
lightly the doubtfulness of your employment. He will even
introduce the subject of books as a respectful and diplomatic
concession to your heresies-muchl as atll of us humor
lunaties amiably and curiously, by broaching the subject of
their delusions. He is tolerant because of fat success; his
income is large, he spends it in a fine house, full of costly
adornments, of which he has no knowledge except in the
measure of cost and the correctness of their usage; he has
equipages, and gives dinners and sits securely in Abraham's
bosom of society. He pays you the deferential compliment
of asking what books you are reading. It maybe you are
just out of the profound philosophical complexities and
pathetic problems of " Les Miserables." Perhaps you have
immersed yourself again in the paradoxes of " Vanity Fair,"
or have been pumping up the flabby tires of your better na-
ture with the fresh air of" David Co0lerfiel(d." It is possible
that "1 Tess of the Durbervilles," or "A Window in Thrums "
has been newly received, and has been enliglitening your mind
and conscience as to your relations to the world about you.
Whatever it has been, you suggest the fact.
   "It is a novel"  He replies doubtfully:
   "Certainly," you respond with enthusiasm. "A master-
   "Well," protests the amiable Philistine, "I have -so
little time-for amusing myself, you know. My daughter,
now, sle is a great novel-reader. She buys a great many
novels. Last year I read a book called " The Greatnesq of
Our Country." It is a wonderful book. It said in that book
that the United States could support a population of 400,000,-
000. I had no idea of that before. I asked Prof. So and So



about it and lie said why not: that China had 400,000,000
people. It is surprising what we learn from books," etc.,
etc., etc.
    This man has got one bald statistical suggestion in his
 head out of a book that is made to sell on trainis. le recog-
 nizes it. It recalls dimly mathematics whichl he was taught
 at school. It is a concrete suggestion; it requires no effort to
 understand or remember. It is so wonderful to him that he
 his no time to amuse himself with the heart allegories and
 the practical questions of the condition of those possible
 400,000,000 as revealed ill "Les Miserables." His daughter
 will do that and he buys for her novels, bicycles, gloves and
 chocolates with equal fond readiness to humor what he con-
 siders w hims pardonable in children.
    The idea that novel-reading is a harmless and mere amuse-
ment expresses fully the judgment that it is a vice, an
encourager of indolence. There may be two reasons for the
judgment, one existing in the novel itself, the other in the
tribunal. Let us first consider the nature af the tribunal.
   The supreme constituted authority - not. only of affairs in
this life blut in the ordering of all the future existences that man
has conceived-is Public Opinion. Public opinion is the
decree of humaii nature determined in impenetrable secrecy,
enforced wvith cerenmonious and bewilderinng circumlocution.
It is thius double-natured. The organized public opinion that
we see, hear, feel and obey is the costumed officialism of
human nature, through ages of custom charged with enforcing
upon individuals the demands of the many. The other is
that tacit and nearly always unconscious understanding
among men and women, which binds them in mysterious
cohesion through a belief in or a dread of something that
they can not understand, because they can not feel it with
their hands, control it with their strength or disturb it with
their threats. The myriads of mankind in this secret tribunal
are silent because they are ignorant of speech. They are
(lull of brain and low in nervous organization, so that percep-
tion with them is a cerebral agony and even feeling responds
only to the shock of actual physical suffering. Organized public
opinion, when compared with this unnamable and resistless
silent force of human instinct is like a small body of the police
in the presence of a vast sullen mob. If the mob is deter-
mined and throws capable leaders forward, the police either



desert to the mob or disappear. If the mob does not under-
stand itself and produces no leaders the police rule it. It is
fair to speak of this tacit common instinct as ignorant, lecause
the world always has been shared betwvveen Ignorance and his
twin brother, Indolence. Knowledge is the rarest coin that
circulates among men. No one can accumulate knowledge
unless lie possesses the broad catliolicity of purpose to labor
ceaselessly for truth, to accept it from  whliatsoever source
it comes, in whatsoever guise, witlh whatsoever message it
brings hiin, and to abide whatsoever results may follow. If
he expects an angel and a devil comes, it is still the trutlh
he is seeing, it is still knowledge he is gaining. The genius
of knowledge-seeking was glorified ill that obscure German
chemist who, experimenting up1)onI himself with a new solu-
tion into which a fatal wrong ingredient had entered, cried in
the agony of death to his assistant: "Note my symptoms
carefully and make an autopsy - I am sure it is a new poison
we have liberated! "  If the vast majority of men shrink from.
and evade irksome labor with their mutscles- even though
life and comfort depend upon it - a still vaster majority shirk
the disciplined toil and tension of the mind, which, if it have
real purpose, makes little of the only rewards that spur men
to muscular labor.
   The men who have really thought and labored and strug-
gled for the abstract jewel of truth, and to beautify and make
happy the world we live in, are, to the masses of indolent,
ignorant, selfish human beings that have swarmed through
the ages, as parasites upon some huge animal. The mass of
humanity, considered as a whole, separated from these rest-
less and stinging parasites, observed through the perspective
of history, tradition and science, resembles nothing so much
as some monstrous dull-brained and gloomy animal, alter-
nately dozing and raging through the centuries, now as if
stupefied in its own bulk or then as if furious with the mad-
ness of brute power. In fact, though mankind have
achieved the dignity of a history that, fills the thoughtful
with wonder, yet as a mass they are filled with as much
violence, injustice, ruthlessness and selfishness as if it were
but yesterday they had emerged from the primitive struggles
with wild beasts, the tangled forests, the trackless mountains,
and the pitiless elements, and yet stood flushed with savage
exultation but dull with physical weariness. In that vast
human bulk that sprawls over every continent, the primitive



ferocity still exists, veiled perhaps under familiar livery and
uniform, but untanmed by centuries of training. It is this
gloomii inass, saturated with superstitious cowardice, savage
with, the selfish instinct of grlce(], or dull with the lan guor of
gorged1 and exhausted passion, that deliberates not in words
or tlhouglht, liut in sonic impenetrable free-masonry of in-
stinct like thlat whieh) beggars illustrate when they silently
display their deformities and lmutilations as the most elo-
qIuent appeals. This gloomy mass is at once the instigator
and the instrument of mortal destiny. Individuals may es-
cape for a timie, but they uIlust eventually fall or lift the mass
to rmeet them.
   The most profound philosophers an(l most latient students
know as little of tlis silent, gloomy hunman force as geogra-
phers know of the archipelagoes of the Antarctic. The
philosopher begins with pure reason and expands it; the
student delves into the records of other students; in unfath-
omal)le depths below both are the myriads who eat, drink,
sleep ald(1 seek their prey as their primitive parents once did
wheu they disputedl carcasses with the beasts of the forests.
   It is this gloomy, savage force that has made the contem-
plative soul of spiritual inquiry writhe under the startling
contradictions of history. When this force has been aroused
with fear it has snarled and roared defiance; when it has been
enraged by opposition or the lash of mastership it has cooled
its ferocity ini the 1)10o0( of countless wvars, pillages and sacri-
fices; when satiated or pleased it has grunted with pleasure
or relaxe(d itself in orgies so gross anld unspeakable that mod-
erl history, with instinctive (lecency, has kept the story of
them veiled behind (lead languages. This gloomy, savage
force has always been the same whether mastered or master-
ing. When some daring and cunning genius of its oWIn nature
has cowed it, as the Alexanders, Ctesars and Napoleons have
done, it has niarche(l out to slaughter and be slaughtered
with a sullen pride in the daring that this mightier ferocity
has put upon it. When it has mastered its Drusus, its Domi-
tian, its Nero, its Vespasian and its Louis XVI, it has indulged
in wantoti excesses of rage and destruction until, spent with
exhaustion, a new master has arisen to tie it up like a whipped
dog. It was this gloomy and savage force that crowded into
the greatest tribunal of all history, and yelled with discordant
and frenzied rage into the very face of the noblest and gen-
tlest incarnation of spiritual light that ever spent its brief



moment on earth: "Crucify Him! Release unto us Barabbas,
the Thief." It was this savage force, serving all masters with
equal ferocious zeal, that Theodosius turned against the
Serapion at Alexandria, in the name of Christianity, to blot
out of existence the inestimable treasures of knowledge and
literature that had been accumulated by centuries of labor.
    At all times this gloomy force has been more wantonly
cruel than wild beasts. Man has been epigrammatically
described as a reasoning animal, a laughing animal, a con-
structive animal and even as "aln animal that gets drunk ;"
l)ut the truest description is that lie is the cruel and rapacious
animal. The greatest student of the jungle, who has written
of the beasts of the forest with the intuition of genius, has
given us this formula:
"Now this is the Law of the Jungle-as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it
     must die:
                              X     a
 "Ye may kill for yourselves and your mates and your cubs, as they need and ye
But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill man."
   You may spend the remainder of your life attacking that
formula of animal nature if you please, but you will find it at
last still truth. Man kills not only the beasts, but his own
species for pleasure, or in sheer wantonness of cruelty. He
loves killing as an exercise; he loves it as a spectacle; he loves
it as the origin of his greatest emotion. When that there is
merely a brutish criminal to be hanged, human beings crowd
the converging roads to the spectacle as centuries ago they
crowded to the Colosseum. And it is to be recorded to the
credit of wild beasts that no traveler ever yet came upon a
battlefield that they had strewn with the dead bodies of their
own kind.
   Lest it be contended that this is a psychological portrait
of the mass of mankind caricatured by bitter cynicism, let us
examine the aspect of its physiology. The whole brain of
an average Caucasian makes up fifty ounces of the 140
pounds weight of his body. There are thus 137 pounds of
fleshly necessity to three pounds of intellectual possibility
-forty-six parts of heavy dough to one part of leaven. The
difference in the brain weight of races, and which decides the
question of intellectual superiority, is about two ounces.
The difference in the brain weight of individuals of the same
race, indicating mental superiority is about two ounces.



Now aIs the brains of individuals of all races inust in propor-
tiorn be equally occupie(l with tile execution of those func-
tiorns which we call instinet ajid those acts thait may be
called merely automol)ile (since they are the results of traiji-
ing and constant imitation, an(l have utterly no relation to
intellectuality or mental initiative), it nialyv be fairly assuimed
that the spiritual essence of races anld indlividuals exists in a
little grayish pulp-like lump of brain weighing two ounces
out of an average bodily weiglt of 140 pounds. In the mass
of hniiianity, thjen, there is one par-t possible to flower into the
noble perceptions of spiritual anl( intellectual life, to 1,120
parts of (lull, uniform, automatic aninmalism.
  What chiance lhas thlis solitary microbe of spiritual and
ntellectual ligiht agai nst the swarntinig lbactcria of aninuldismn 
That single microbe is nierely a possibility. It may be mnuti-
lated, it may be dwarfed, it may fail froml weakness, it may
be corrupted. It is discouraging to tbiiik how few lhave
gr'own into strong life throulgh all the peerils of existence.
   Under these circumstances it is but natural that even the
small proportion of mankind eiidowed with the divine possi-
bilities conferre(1 by two ounces of brain, should be contam-
inated with many of the corruptions froin below. Of those
who seem to l)e coicernseol with spiritual perceptions there is
a vast iiumber mere elharlatans and pretenders wlho, like the
ingenious Japanese, are content to miake cunning imitations
of the real things adapted to sell to the best advantagte.
They patter the formulas of religio i, of sciaclee, of art and
morals, and ostentatiously display thenmselv es in the costume
of intellectuality to flatter, cajole and niystitfv the gloomy
ignorance of their fellows.
   This is the select officialism of the secret human nature,
its recognized and authorized police-the constituted authior-
ities of Public Opinion. It is among these thiat we should find
the possibilities of development mnulch increased. What do
we find That the solitary microbe merely begins its strug-
gle here. It dare not destroy its swarining eneies since
upon their continued existence its own lifie depends. It must
regulate, control and direct them  if it would live and
develop, or with cowar(lly cunliing compromise the struggle
at the outset and become a servant where it seems to com-
mand. This is the first terrace-step of superiority peopled by
those who can understand others above thlem and interpret to
the mass below.



    Tue microbe that might have become glorious ounces of
brain has been content to become merely a little wart of pulp
which finds expression in skill aind quickness and more of
coveted leisure. There is the next higher terrace and an-
other and another, until finally it becomes a pyramid, ever
more fragile and symmetrical, the apex of which is a delicate
spire, where the purest intellects are elevated to a-n ever in-
creasing height in ever decreasing lluml)ers, until in the dizzy
altitude above the groveling l)ase l)elow they are wrapped
little lby little in the cold solitude of incarnate genius burn-
ing like suis with their owni essence. It is so far up that
the eyes deceive ta'l( men dispute who it is that stands at the
top, but, whoever he may be, he has carried by the force of
strength, determination and paticllt wvill the whole swarm of
his evil bacteria with him. They swarm through every terrace
below, increasing in force as the pyranaid enlarges downward.
It is the pyrami(lal bulk of human nature with its finest lbrain,
trute to anatomic principles, at the top. That radiance at the
summit is the delighlt and the aspiration of all l)elow. As it
rises as slowly as growth of a coral reef it increases the courage
of those below in proportion as they are near.
   But the whole bulk is alive with the bacteria of aii-
mnalism, nudter iniereasing control as it rises, still with the
ferocity, rapacity and selfisli passionis of the gloomy maiss at
the l)ottom and forever ini revolt. Is this not proved by his-
tory, writtei and( unwritten  Is it not provedl )y the
glhastly secrets of individual introspection that men never
reveal or admit to others; secrets guar(led by a system of
coiivenitions so impenetrable and vast that to attempt to
personalize it in the sneaking figure of Hypocrisy would be
as absurd as to try to enlarge the significance of an ivory
chessman by setting it up on a lady's jewel lbox andi naming
it Moloch. All men feel how nmuch of them is brute and
how muiuclh is reasot ; but it is the uninmpartable secret of
huniami society whose betrayal has beeui rendered impossible
by uniiversal (lellials in advance, enacted into what we call
e'illlillal laws, under w\Thlich admissions are denied by the
brand of proportiouiate iinfianies, to deoniotstrate that the
traitor who hiaas acted or spoken has not put into expression
the secrets of the niass. Great armies and constabularies are
kept to coniuiiit upon a large scale the murders and violence
which, wvhie, committed ulponi a small scale, they punish.
   What is the record of the officialism of public opinion



There has been nothing so abhorrent. and cruel, so sordid,
mean, frivolous, indecent or insanie, that the represntaitive
fashion and respectability of sonie s1leCiIi(id civilization has
not justified, approve(l au(d sustaine(l it. It has licensed every
Wanton passion of the body. It. has even indulged, con-
temiptuously at tiiies, those individuals illspirCd thirouglh the
mysterious selection of iniinortal genius to satf-ginird the
slendler flame of spiritual liglht anid life. Buit those indulged
1have always beeii nlade to feel thlat thee were secure only ;s
long as their performances excited jaltled appetites as at nov-
elty. If dwarf  an(l mdmonstrosities staled ; if dancing girls
palle(d; if gladiators wearie(l; if there were no niew games
inivented-thien bring in a poet or artist -sonic queer fel-
low whio had discovered somethi, thliat lie called truth or
beauty, aind let him amu-se. But if hle does not amuse, or if
lie wear out his welcome, afwvay withi hin. In the history of
our own civilization, as our ideals go, .there was one divine
incarnation of spiritual and intehlletnal ]ite thiat struggled
through the tears, blood and (ldirt of existence l without one
stain upon the purity of h1is natuNr. This essence was a
b)eacon lighlt that has slonme steadily through tcarly two
thousand years. Aiid Him the offihiclisni of human nature,
ini exaltatioii of savage contempt, nailedI upon a cross, aid set
up for an ominious warning to the whiole world. It lhd
already marked the noble Socrates, amil, like Cleopatra to her
slave, handed him a cup of poison. It was afterward to com-
pel Galileo to swallowv in siamae and agolny his testimony to
unalterable truthi. Eveni in this year, under the title of a
great church, it has, with pitiless persistence, forced a great
stu(lemit and educator, not to deny a historical fact that lie
had (hiscovered, but to humbly regret its promulgation. As
if the concealment of a truth for your advantage in moral
controversy were not a greater crime thjaii tht concealnent
of a murderer for pay ! Whenever this oflicialisin has coum-
cluded to amuse itself with spiritual inquiries in the name
of religious controversies, it has coniducteJ them  with fire
and the sword, with thumbscrews anid the boot, and all nan-
ncr of ingenious ferocity.
   The officialism of public opinion has always beeni ready
to serve the demrinds of the base nature below. It was the
great lawgiver, Lycurgus, who tauglit Spartami youths the
commercial economy of theft and the virtue and advantage
of lying. It was not only when Rome w as in decay, but when



she was at the zenith of glory from the first Brutus to Octa-
vils, wiheii Cwsar, Cicero, Seneca, Horace, and the Plinys
lived at the seat of the knowledge, w ealth, art and power of
the world, that womene crowded the colosseums to feast their
senses upon the ferocity of tigers anid give the (leatih signal to
the gladiator who charmed by his fatal skill. It was while
Shakespeare lived that English gentlemen anid mothers
apprenticed( their sons to the trade of piracy. In our own
century and country we have seen Abraham Lincoln, the
liberator, himself, enlist under the flag of official pulilic opinion
to strike a blow in the extermination of red Indians who had.
committed the unl)ardollable crime of owning their own land
whereon we are assembled to-day.
    The fashions of lust anl cruelty may change with the
 amilusements they permit, lbut offlcialisin promotes all with
 zeal. At present we laugh at Mesiner and study hypnotism;
 at present we sneer at the incarnations of Vishnu and inquire
 into Tlieosophy; at present we condemn the sacrificial "great
 custonm" of King Prempeli and order our killings by twelve
 men anl the sheriff and by elaborate machinery; at present
 we shudder at the sports of Commodus and wait breathlessly
 upon bulletins fronm Carson City. Those who scouted the
 fetieles of D)ahomey have waited on their knees in the
 Cathedral at Naples for the liquefaictioni of the blood of St.
 Januarius, or crawled in agony of hope to the saving pool
 at Lourdes. There have been those melted to tenderest com-
 passion at the sighit of a wounded dog or an overdriveni horse,
 wvho have yet owned human slaves amid contended that it was
 righit, even if harsh, to sell a mother and her child from one
 auction block to diffeirent owners. There have been those
 so wounded by the shortcomings of their neighbors that they
 have orgsanize(l white-capped h.ands of virtue to wipe out im-
 moralitS' il the cleansing blood of murder. A man may
 re.ject the nmiracle of 9Jonali and yet see an airship.
          :c                  -             
   Now this is the tribunal that has handed down the ju(dg-
ment that novel-reading is a vice. Is it not a most icatural,
just aiid honest opinion  Could such a tribunal properly
pronouiice any other Is it not such a judgment in fact as
vindicates the iitegrity of the court, while it crowns the cul-
prit with glory  lIi expressing the idea that the reading of
novels is only an aniusement-to be taken up when there is
nothing else to do-your average grocer, tailor, lawyer, or



what not, has but spoken to you the world's judgnment. In
fact there are countless readers of novels who have grown up
in this atmosphere of conviction that novels are mneant only
to amuse. They are so habituated to the i(lea that novels, to
them, are valueless-mere sentimet tal nt realities or spiced
narratives of heated invention-so that they go through the
treasure houses of genius without ever hearing the soft-voiced
persuasion of knowledge orseeing the niarvelous, vivid parI-
orama of human life, illustrating its aspirations, sorrows,
struggles, triumphs an(l failures. Such rea(lers, convinced
in advance that everything iu a novel is fictitious, lbecanse
the personages discussed are fictitious in namne, never dream
that study of the conduct of these personages may be useful
to influence their own manners, COIduct, mIkOr'alS or sympa-
thies. Indeed, sonic of