Questionable Amusements and Worthy Substitutes.
J. M. Judy
Introduction by George H. Trever, Ph.D., D.D. The manuscript of This book was not submitted to any publisher, but was put in its present form by JENNINGS & PYE, for a friend of the author. Address. Chicago: Western Methodist Book Concern, 1904.
BY GEORGE H. TREVER, PH.D., D.D.
Author of Comparative Theology, etc.
A BOOK on “Questionable Amusements and Worthy Substitutes” is timely to-day. Such a grouping of subject matter is in itself a commendation. Possibly we have been saying “Don’t” quite enough without offering the positive substitute. The “expulsive power of a new affection” is, after all, the mightiest agency in reform. “Thou shalt not” is quite easy to say; but though the house be emptied, swept, and garnished, unless pure angels hasten to occupy the vacated chambers, other spirits worse than the first will soon rush in to befoul them again.
The author of these papers, the Rev. J.M. Judy, writes out of a full, warm heart. We know him to be a correct, able preacher of the gospel, and an efficient fisher of men. Having thoroughly prepared himself for his work by courses in Northwestern University and Garrett Biblical Institute, by travel in the South and West of our own country, and by a visitation of the Old World, he has served on the rugged frontier of his Conference, and among foreign populations grappling successfully with some of the most difficult problems in modern Church work.
The following articles aroused much interest when delivered to his own people, and must do good wherever read. In style they are clear and vivid; in logical arrangement excellent; glow with sacred fervor, and pulse with honest, eager conviction. We bespeak for them a wide reading, and would especially commend them to the young people of our Epworth Leagues.
WHITEWATER, WIS., March 2, 1904.
“QUESTIONABLE Amusements and Worthy Substitutes” is a consideration of the “so-called questionable amusements,” and an outlook for those forms of social, domestic, and personal practices which charm the life, secure the present, and build for the future. To take away the bad is good; to give the good is better; but to take away the bad and to give the good in its stead is best of all. This we have tried to do, not in our own strength, but with the conscious presence of the Spirit of God.
The spiritual indifference of Christendom to-day as one meets with it in all forms of Christian work has led us to send out this message. “Questionable Amusements,” form both a cause and a result of this widespread indifference. An underlying cause of this indifference among those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, is lack of conviction for sin, want of positive faith in the fundamental truths of the Scriptures, too little and superficial prayer, and lack of personal, soul-saving work. Is the class-meeting becoming extinct? Is the prayer-meeting lifeless? Is the revival spirit decaying? Is family worship formal, or has it ceased? However some may answer these questions, still we believe that the Church has a warm heart, and that signs of her vigorous life are expressed in her tenacious hold for high moral standards, and in her generous GIVING of money and of men.
Our point of view has been that of the person, old or young, regardless of sect, race, party, occupation, or circumstances, who has a life to live, and who wants to make the most out of it for himself and for his fellow- men, and who believes that he will find this life disclosed in nature, in history, and in the Word of God. J.M.J.
ORFORDVILLE, WIS., March, 1904.
CHAPTER PAGE I. TOBACCO,……………..13
III. GAMBLING, CARDS,……………53 IV. DANCING,……………….70
VI. BOOKS AND READING,………….99 VII. SOCIAL RECREATION,…………118
VIII. FRIENDSHIP,……………..130 IX. TRAVEL,……………….147
X. HOME AND THE HOME-MAKER,………170
“The excesses of our youth are drafts on our old age, payable about one hundred years after date without interest.”–JOHN RUSKIN.
Tobacco wastes the body. It is used for the nicotine that is in it. This peculiar ingredient is a poisonous, oily, colorless liquid, and gives to tobacco its odor. This odor and the flavor of tobacco are developed by fermentation in the process of preparation for use. “Poison” is commonly defined as “any substance that when taken into the system acts in an injurious manner, tending to cause death or serious detriment to health.” And different poisons are defined as those which act differently upon the human organism. For example, one class, such as nicotine in tobacco, is defined as that which acts as a stimulant or an irritant; while another class, such as opium, acts with a quieting, soothing influence. But the fact is that poison does not act at all upon the human system, but the human system acts upon the poison. In one class of poisons, such as opium, the reason why the system does not arouse itself and try to cast off the poison, is that the nerves become paralyzed so that it can not. And in the case of nicotine in tobacco the nerves are not thus paralyzed, so that they try in every way to cast off the poison. Let the human body represent the house, and the sensitive nerves and the delicate blood vessels the sleeping inmates of that house. Let the Foe Opium come to invade that house and to destroy the inmates, for every poison is a deadly Foe. At the first appearance of this subtle Foe terror is struck into the heart of the inmates, so that they fall back helpless, paralyzed with fear. When the Intruder Tobacco comes, he comes boisterously, rattling the windows and jostling the furniture, so that the inmates of the house set up a life-and-death conflict against him.
This is just what happens when tobacco is taken into the human system. Every nerve cries out against it, and every effort is made to resist it. You ask, Will one’s body be healthier and live longer without tobacco than with it? We answer, by asking, Will one’s home be happier and more prosperous without some deadly Foe continually invading it, or with such a Foe? When the membranes and tissues of the body, with their host of nerves and blood vessels, have to be fighting against some deadly poison in connection with their ordinary work, will they not wear out sooner than if they could be left to do their ordinary work quietly? To illustrate: A particle of tobacco dust no sooner comes into contact with the lining membrane of the nose, than violent sneezing is produced. This is the effort of the besieged nerves and blood vessels to protect themselves. A bit of tobacco taken into the mouth causes salivation because the salivary glands recognize the enemy and yield an increased flow of their precious fluid to wash him away. Taken into the stomach unaccustomed to its presence, and it produces violent vomiting. The whole lining membrane of that much- abused organ rebels against such an Intruder, and tries to eject him. Tobacco dust and smoke taken into the lungs at once excretes a mucous- like fluid in the mouth, throat, windpipe, bronchial tubes, and in the lungs themselves. Excretions such as this mean a violent wasting away of vitality and power. Taken in large quantities into the stomach, tobacco not only causes an excretion of mucus from the mouth, throat, and breathing organs, but it produces an overtaxing of the liver; that is, this organ overworks in order to counteract the presence of the poison. But one asks, If tobacco is so injurious, why is it used with such apparent pleasure? A small quantity of tobacco received into the system by smoking, chewing, or snuffing is carried through the circulation to the skin, lungs, liver, kidneys, and to all the organs of the body, by which it is moderately resisted. The result is a gentle excitement of all these organs. They are in a state of morbid activity. And as sensibility depends upon vital action of the bodily organisms, there is necessarily produced a degree of sense gratification or pleasure. The reason why these sensations are pleasurable instead of painful is, in this state of moderate excitement the circulation is materially increased without being materially unbalanced. But as with every sense indulgence, when the craving for increased doses becomes satisfied, when larger doses are taken the circulation becomes unbalanced, vital resistance centers in one point, congestion occurs, then the sensation becomes one of pain instead of one of pleasure. This disturbance or excitement caused by tobacco is nothing more nor less than disease. For it is abnormal action, and abnormal action is fever, and fever is disease. It is state on good authority, “that no one who smokes tobacco before the bodily powers are developed ever makes a strong, vigorous man.” Dr. H. Gibbons says: “Tobacco impairs digestion, poisons the blood, depresses the vital powers, causes the limbs to tremble, and weakens and otherwise disorders the heart.” It is conceded by the medical profession that tobacco causes cancer of the tongue and lips, dimness of vision, deafness, dyspepsia, bronchitis, consumption, heart palpitation, spinal weakness, chronic tonsilitis, paralysis, impotency, apoplexy, and insanity. It is held by some men that tobacco aids digestion. Dr. McAllister, of Utica, New York, says that it “weakens the organs of Digestion and assimilation, and at length plunges one into all the horrors of dyspepsia.”
*Tobacco dulls the mind.* It does this not only by wasting the body, the physical basis of the mind, but it does it through habits of intellectual idleness, which the user of tobacco naturally forms. Whoever heard of a first-class loafer who did not e-a-t the weed or burn it, or both? On the rail train recently we were compelled to ride for an hour in the smoking-car, which Dr. Talmage has called “the nastiest place in Christendom.” In front of me sat a young man, drawing and puffing away at a cigar, polluting the entire region about him. In the short hour enough time was lost by that young man to have carefully read ten pages of the best standard literature. All this we observed by an occasional glance from the delightful volume in our own hands. The ordinary user of tobacco has little taste for reading, little passion for knowledge, and superficial habits of continued reasoning. His leisure moments are absorbed in the sense-gratification of the weed. But if as much attention had been given in acquiring the habit of reading as had been given in learning the use of tobacco, the most valuable of all habits would take the place of one of the most useless of all habits. When we see a person trying to read with a cigar or a pipe in his mouth, Knowing that nine-tenths of his real consciousness is given to his smoking, and one-tenth to what he is reading, we are reminded of the commercial traveler who “wanted to make the show of a library at home, so he wrote to a book merchant in London, saying: “Send me six feet of theology, and about as much metaphysics, and near a yard of civil law in old folio.” Not a sentimentalist, a reformer, nor a crank, but Dr. James Copeland says: “Tobacco weakens the nervous powers, favors a dreamy, imaginative, and imbecile state of mind, produces indolence and incapacity for manly or continuous exertion, and sinks its votary into a state of careless inactivity and selfish enjoyment of vice.” Professor L. H. Gause writes: “The intellect becomes duller and duller, until at last it is painful to make any intellectual effort, and we sink into a sensuous or sensual animal. Any one who would retain a clear mind, sound lungs, undisturbed heart, or healthy stomach, must not smoke or chew the poisonous plant.” It is commonly known that in a number of American and foreign colleges, by actual testing, the non-user of tobacco is superior in mental vigor and scholarship to the user of it. In view of this fact, our Government will not allow the use of tobacco at West Point or at Annapolis. And in the examinations in the naval academy a large percentage of those who fail to pass, fail because of the evil effects of smoking.
Tobacco drains the pocketbook. “Will you please look through my mouth and nose?” asked a young man once of a New York physician. The man of medicine did so, and reported nothing there. “Strange! Look again. Why, sir, I have blown ten thousand dollars–a great tobacco plantation and a score of slaves–through that nose.” The Partido cigar regularly retails at from twenty-five to thirty cents each. An ordinary smoker will smoke four cigars a day. Three hundred and sixty-five dollars a year, besides his treating. A small fortune every ten years! A neighbor of ours on the farm used to go to town in the spring and buy enough chewing tobacco to last him until after harvest, and flour to last the family for two weeks. Among all classes of people this useless drain of the pocketbook is increasing. In our country last year more money was spent for tobacco than was spent for foreign missions, for the Churches, and for public education, all combined. Our tobacco bill in one year costs our Nation more than our furniture and our boots and shoes; more than our flour and our silk goods; one hundred and forty-five million dollars more than all our printing and publishing; one hundred and thirty-five million dollars more than the sawed lumber of the Nation. Each year France buys of us twenty-nine million pounds of tobacco, Great Britain fifty millions, and Germany sixty-nine million pounds, to say nothing of how much these nations import from other countries. Never before has the use of tobacco been so widespread as to-day. “The Turks and Persians are the greatest smokers in the world. In India all classes and both sexes smoke; in China the practice–perhaps there more ancient–is universal, and girls from the age of eight or nine wear as an appendage to their dress a small silken pocket to hold tobacco and a pipe.” Nor can the expense and widespread use of tobacco be defended on the ground that it is a luxury, for the abstainer from tobacco counts it the greater luxury not to use it. The only explanation for its use is, that it is a habit which binds one hand and foot, and from which no person with ordinary will power in his own strength can free himself.
Tobacco blunts the moral nature. It is not certain how long tobacco has been used as a narcotic. Some authorities hold that the smoking of tobacco was an ancient custom among the Chinese. But if this is true, we know that it did not spread among the neighboring nations. When Columbus came to America he found the natives of the West Indies and the American Indian smoking the weed. With the Indian its use has always had a religious and legal significance. Early in the sixteenth century tobacco was introduced into England, later into Spain, and still later, in 1560, into Italy. Used for its medicinal properties at first, soon it came to be used as a luxury. The popes of Italy saw its harm and thundered against it. The priests and sultans of Turkey declared smoking a crime. One sultan made it punishable with death. The pipes of smokers were thrust through their noses in Turkey, and in Russia the noses of smokers were cut off in the earlier part of the seventeenth century. “King James I of England issued a counterblast to tobacco, in which he described its use as a ‘custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black, stinking fumes thereof nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.'” As one contrasts this sentiment with the practice of the present sovereign of England, his breath is almost taken away in his great fall from the sublime to the ridiculous!
While we do not believe a moderate use of tobacco for a mature person is necessarily a sin, yet we do believe that it does blunt the moral sense, and soon leads to spiritual weakness and indifference, which are sins. To love God with all one’s heart, mind, soul, and strength, and one’s neighbor as himself, means not only a denial of that which is questionable in morals, but a practice of that which is positively good. However noble or worthy in character may be some who use tobacco, yet by common consent it is a “tool of the devil.” Every den of gamblers, every low-down grogshop, every smoking-car, every public resort and waiting-room departments for men, every rendezvous of rogues, loafers, villains, and tramps is thoroughly saturated with the vile stench of the cuspidor and the poisonous odors of the pipe and cigar. “Rev. Dr. Cox abandoned tobacco after a drunken loafer asked him for a light.” Not until then had he seen and felt the disreputable fraternity that existed between the users of tobacco.
Owen Meredith gives us a standard of strength and freedom, which is an inspiration to every lover of rounded, perfected manhood and womanhood:
“Strong is that man, he only strong, To whose well-ordered will belong,
For service and delight,
All powers that in the face of wrong Establish right.
And free is he, and only he,
Who, from his tyrant passions free, By fortune undismayed,
Has power within himself to be,
By self obeyed.
If such a man there be, where’er
Beneath the sun and moon he fare, He can not fare amiss;
Great nature hath him in her care. Her cause is his.”
Only let the “will,” the “powers,” the “freedom,” and the “self” of which the writer speaks become the “Christ will,” the “Christ powers,” the “Christ freedom,” and the “Christ self.” Then the strongest chains of bondage must fly into flinters. For “if the Son make you free, ye are free indeed.” (John viii, 36.)
I. A TEMPERANCE PLATFORM.
WE bring to you three words of counsel with respect to this subject. First, Beware of the Social Glass; second, Study the Drink Evil; third, Openly oppose it. This is a Temperance Platform upon which every sober, informed, and conscientious person may stand. Would it be narrow or uncharitable to assert that not to stand upon this platform argues that one is not sober, or not informed, or not conscientious? The crying need of to-day is, that men and women shall be urged into positions of conviction and activity against this most colossal evil of our time. In our country the responsibility for drunkenness rests not with the illiterate, blasphemous, ex-prison convicts who operate the 250,000 saloons of our Nation, nor yet with the 250,000 finished products of the saloon who go down into drunkards’ graves every year, but with the sober, respectable, hard-working, voting citizens of our country. Nor does this exempt women, whose opportunity to shape the moral and political convictions of the home is far greater than that of the men. When the women of America say to the saloon, You go! the saloon will have to go. The moral and political measures of any people are easily traceable to the sisters and wives and mothers of that people. You and I and every ordinary citizen of our country had as well try to escape our own shadow, as to try to escape the responsibility that rests upon us for the drunkenness of our people. To help us to do our whole duty in our day and generation in this matter is the purpose of our message.
II. BEWARE OF THE SOCIAL GLASS.
The first and least thing that one can do to destroy drunkenness, is to be a total abstainer. Beware of the social glass! But quickly one replies, “Why should there be any social glass?” “Why allow sparkling, attractive springs of refreshing poison to issue forth in all of our social centers, and then cry to our sons and daughters, to our brothers and sisters, Beware?” My friend, we must deal with facts as they are. There should not be a social glass; but what has that to do with the fact that the social glass is here? You answer, “Why allow these fountains of death to exist?” while we cry to our loved ones, “Beware!” We do not advocate the presence of these fountains; but while we seek to destroy them beseechingly we cry, “Beware!” The social factor in the liquor traffic is its Gibraltar of defense. Rare is the young man who has the intellectual stamina and moral courage to resist the invitations to take a social drink. And in our frontier and foreign towns many of our bright and respected girls use the social glass. But in its use is the beginning of a fateful end. The subtlest thing in this world is sin. Listen!
“Sin is a monster of so frightful mien; To be hated needs but to be seen;
But seen too oft, familiar with the face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
The subtle thing about it is, that the first embracing of any sin seems to be but a trifling, an occasional affair. For one who lives in an ordinary city of a thousand inhabitants or upwards, unless he is an “out-and-out” Christian and selects only associates like himself, it becomes a real Embarrassment not to indulge in a social drink. It seems polite, clever, the kindly thing to do. And the sad fact is, that the majority of unchristian young people and many older ones do not decline. To prove this we have but to look at the human wrecks along the shore. Two young men lived near our home. Their parents were well-to-do. The family grew tired of the farm and moved to town. The boys fell in with bad company. They did not decline the social glass. Soon they furnished other young men with drink from their own pocket. This was fifteen years ago. To-day one of them is a hardened sinner, violent in his passions and blasphemous against God. The other one, having spent a term in our Illinois State University at Champaign, married a beautiful neighbor girl and moved to Missouri. Here he lived off the money of his father’s estate, practicing his early-learned habits of drinking, gambling, and loafing. He moved from State to State until, finally left in poverty, he tended bar in a saloon. While visiting with relatives in his old neighborhood a few years ago he stole a watch and some money from his own nephew, and was tried in the courts, and sentenced to the penitentiary for one year. His wife, having carried the burden of disgrace and want through all these years, with the seven unfortunate children were released from him to struggle alone. All this we have seen with our own eyes as the years have come and gone. The downfall and ruin of this young man, and the unsaved fate of his brother, easily may be traceable to the “social glass” and the boon companions of the social glass–tobacco and playing-cards. Last year I met a man who had prided himself in the fact that he could drink or let it alone, and thought that it was all right to take a “social glass” occasionally. Election time came around; he fell in with his friends, and, as one always will do sooner or later who tampers with it at all, went too far. Before he knew it he was as low in the gutter as a beast. It was three days before he was a sober man again. He work had ceased, he had disgusted his fellow-workmen, disgraced his Christian family, and had humiliated himself so that he was ashamed to look any man in the face until he had repented of his sins before God, and had promised Him, by His help, that he would never drink another glass. What a pleasure it was to hear that old man, as he is close to sixty years of age, to hear him tell in a spirited religious service of how he had strayed from his path and had got lost in the woods, but thanked God that he was out of the woods, and by His help would remain out. When we become undone in Christ He lifts us up and starts us on our new way rejoicing in His love. If Christ Himself were here in body, do you know what He would advise on this point? He would say: “As it is written;” “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its color in the cup, when it goeth down smoothly: at the last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder.” Beware of the social glass, my friend, for though it promises pleasure, it gives but pain; it promises joy, it gives but sorrow; it promises deliverance, it gives but eternal death!
III. STUDY THE DRINK EVIL.
We hear it said, “No use to picture the horrors of the drink evil; every one knows them already.” In part, this is true. All of us know more than we wish it were possible to be true; and yet no one can ever realize its horrors until caught, and torn, and mangled in its pinching, jagged, griping meshes. It is one thing to know by a distant glance, it is another thing to know by the pangs of a broken heart and of a wrecked life. For those who are not thus caught in its meshes to realize its horrors so as to seek its destruction but one course is possible; namely, To study the evil. Let the teacher tell of its ravages; let the minister proclaim its curses; let the poet sing it; the painter paint it; the editor report it; the novelist portray it; the scientist describe it; the philosopher decry it; the sisters and wives and mothers denounce it–until all shall unite in smiting it to its death!
We should study the drink evil in its relation to disease. That strong drink tends to produce disease is no longer questioned. “During the cholera in New York City in 1832, of two hundred and four cases in the Park Hospital only six were temperate, and all of these recovered; while one hundred and twenty-two of the others died. In Great Britain in the same year five-sixths of all who perished were intemperate. In one or two villages every drunkard died, while not a single member of a temperance society lost his life.” “In Paisley, England, in 1848, there were three hundred and thirty-seven cases of cholera, and every case except one was a dram-drinker. The cases of cholera were one for every one hundred and eighty-one inhabitants; but among the temperate portion there was only one case to each two thousand.” “Of three hundred and eighty-six persons connected with the total abstinence societies only one died, and he was a reformed drunkard” of three months’ standing. “In New Orleans during the last epidemic the order of the Sons of Temperance appointed a committee to ascertain the number of deaths from cholera among their members. It was found that there were twelve hundred and forty-three members in the city and suburbs, and among these only three deaths had occurred, being only one-sixth the average death-rate.” “In New York, in 1832, only two out of five thousand members of temperance societies died.” The Northwestern Life Insurance Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one of the oldest and most successful Companies in the Northwest, has lived for nearly forty years next neighbor to lager beer interests. The shrewd men of this company have studied the influence of the beer industry upon those who engage in it. The result is, that they will no longer grant an insurance policy to a beer-brewer, nor to any one in any way engaged in the business. In their own words their reason is this: “Our statistics show that our business has been injured by the short lives of those men who drink lager beer.”
Then, we need to study the drink evil in its relation to society. “A recent report of the chaplain of the Madalen Society of New York shows that of eight-nine fallen women in the asylum at one time, all but two ascribed their fall to the effect of the drink habit.” “A lady missionary makes the statement that of two thousand sinful women known personally to her, there were only ten cases in which intoxicating liquors were not largely responsible for their fall.” “A leading worker for reform in New York says that the suppression of the curse of strong drink would include the destruction of ninety-nine of every one hundred of the houses of ill-fame.” “A missionary on going at the written request of one of these lost women to rescue her from a den of infamy remonstrated with her for being even then slightly under the influence of drink.” “Why,” was her indignant reply as tears filled her eyes, “do you suppose we girls are so dead that we have lost our memories of mother, home, and everything good? No, indeed; and if it were not for liquor and opium, we would all have to run away from our present life or go mad by pleadings of our own hearts and home memories.”
Only by a study of the drink evil shall we know its ravages in the home. Those of us who have lived in the pure air of free, country home-life can not easily realize the moral plague of drunkenness as it blights the home in the crowded districts of city slum life. Nor is the home of the city alone cursed by the drink evil. Three years ago this last holiday season we were doing some evangelistic work in a neighboring town, a mere village of a couple hundred inhabitants. I shall never forget how the mother of a dejected home cried and pleaded for help from the ravages of her drunken husband. She said that he had spent all of his wages, and had made no provision for the home, in furniture, in books for the children, nor in clothing for them nor for her. She had come almost to despair, and was blaming God for allowing her little ones to suffer because of a worthless man. O, the world is full of this sort of thing to-day, if we only knew the sighs and heartaches and blasted hopes of those who suffer! In a smoking-car one day a commercial traveler refused to drink with his old comrades, by saying: “No, I won’t drink with you to-day, boys. The fact is, boys, I have sworn off.” He was taunted and laughed at, and urged to tell what had happened to him. They said: “If you’ve quit drinking, something’s up; tell us what it is.” “Well, boys,” he said, “I will, though I know you will laugh at me; but I will tell you all the same. I have been a drinking man all my life, and have kept it up since I was married, as you all know. I love whisky; it’s as sweet in my mouth as sugar, and God only knows how I’ll quit it. For seven years not a day has passed over my head that I didn’t have at least one drink. But I am done. Yesterday I was in Chicago. Down on South Clark Street a customer of mine keeps a pawnshop in connection with his business. I called on him, and while I was there a young man of not more than twenty-five, wearing thread-bare clothes, and looking as hard as if he had not seen a sober day for a month, came in with a little package in his hand. Tremblingly he unwrapped it, and handed the articles to the pawnbroker, saying, ‘Give me ten cents.’ And, boys, what do you suppose that package was? A pair of baby’s shoes; little things with the buttons only a trifle soiled, as if they had been worn once or twice. ‘Where did you get them?’ asked the pawnbroker. ‘Got ’em at home,’ replied the man, who had an intelligent face and the manner of a gentleman, despite his sad condition. ‘My wife bought ’em for our baby. Give me ten cents for ’em. I want a drink.’ ‘You had better take those back to your wife; the baby will need them,’ said the pawnbroker. ‘No, she won’t..She’s lying at home now; she died last night.’ As he said this the poor fellow broke down, bowed his head on the showcase, and cried like a child. ‘Boys,’ said the drummer, ‘you can laugh if you want to, but I have a baby of my own at home, and by the help of God I’ll never drink another drop.'” The man went into another car, the bottle had disappeared, and the boys pretended to read some papers that lay scattered about the car. Ah, this is only one out of hundreds of such scenes that are being enacted every day in our saloon-cursed cities.
We should study the drink evil to see how it makes people poor and keeps them poor. A story is told of a drinking man who related to his family a dream that he had had the night before. He dreamed that he saw three cats, a fat one, a lean one, and a blind one; and he was anxious to know what it meant that he should have such a strange dream. Quickly his little boy answered, “I can tell what it means. The fat cat is the saloon-keeper who sells you drink, the lean cat is mother and me, and the blind cat is yourself.” “In one of our large cities,” one day, “a laboring man, leaving a saloon, saw a costly carriage and pair of horses standing in front, occupied by two ladies elegantly dressed, conversing with the proprietor. ‘Whose establishment is that?’ he said to the saloon-keeper, as the carriage rolled away. ‘It is mine,’ replied the dealer, proudly. ‘It cost thirty-five hundred dollars. My wife and daughter couldn’t do without that.’ The mechanic bowed his head a moment in deep thought; then, looking up, said with the energy of a man suddenly aroused by some startling flash, ‘I see it!’ ‘I see it!’ ‘See what?” asked the saloonkeeper. ‘See where for years my wages have gone. I helped to pay for that carriage, for those horses and gold-mounted harnesses, and for the silks and laces for your family. The money I have earned, that should have given my wife and children a home of their own and good clothing, I have spent at your bar. By the help of God I will never spend another dime for drink.'” South Milwaukee has five thousand inhabitants. Three large mills operate there. A reliable business man, foreman in one of the mills, told me that the laboring people of South Milwaukee put $25,000 each month into the tills of the saloons. Dr. J.O. Peck, one of the most successful pastor evangelists of recent years, tells of a man “who crossed Chelsea Ferry to Boston one morning, and turned into Commercial Street for his usual glass. As he poured out the poison, the saloonkeeper’s wife came in, and confidently asked for $500 to purchase an elegant shawl she had seen at the store of Jordan, March & Co.. He drew from his pocket a well-filled pocketbook, and counted out the money. The man outside the counter pushed aside his glass untouched, and laying down ten cents departed in silence. That very morning his devoted Christian wife had asked him for ten dollars to buy a cloak, so that she might look presentable at church. He had crossly told her he had not the money. As he left the saloon he thought, ‘Here I am helping to pay for five-hundred-dollar cashmeres for that man’s wife, but my wife asks in vain for a ten-dollar cloak. I can’t stand this. I have spent my last dime for drink.’ When the next pay-day came that meek, loving wife was surprised with a beautiful cloak from her reformed husband. She could scarcely believe her own eyes as he laid it on the table. ‘There, Emma, is a present for you. I have been a fool long enough; forgive me for the past, and I will never touch liquor again.’ She threw her arms around his neck, and the hot tears told her heartfelt joy as she sobbed out: ‘Charley, I thank you a thousand times. I never expected so nice a cloak. This seems like other days. You are so good, and I am so happy.'” The drink bill of our Nation for last year was over a billion of dollars, more money than was spent for missions–home and foreign–for all of our Churches, for public education, for all the operations of courts of justice and of public officers, and at least for two of the staple products of use in our country, such as furniture and flour. More than for all these was the money that our Nation paid for drink last year. When the people of our country get their eyes open to the cost and degradation of the drink evil, something definite will be done by every one against it.
The drink evil in its relation to lawlessness and crime, and to political corruption, reveal still more ghastly aspects of it than we have yet mentioned. The saloon strikes at the very heart, not only of law and order, but at personal liberty and justice in securing law and order. It was in a police court in Cincinnati on Monday morning. Before the judge stood two stalwart policeman and a woman. She was charged with disorderly conduct on the street and with disturbing the peace. The policemen were sworn, and one of them told this story, to which the other one agreed. He said: “I arrested the woman in front of a saloon on Broadway on Saturday night. She had raised a great disturbance, was fighting and brawling with men in the saloon, and the saloonkeeper put her out. She used the foulest language, and with an awful threat struck at the saloonkeeper with all her force. I then arrested her, took her to the detention house, and locked her up.” The saloonkeeper was called to the witness stand, and said: “I know dis voman’s vas making disturbance by my saloon. She comes and she makes troubles, und she fights mit me, und I put her de door oud. I know her all along. She vas pad vomans.” The judge turned to the trembling woman and said: “This is a pretty clear case, madam; have you anything to say in your defense?” “Yes, Judge,” she answered, in a strangely calm, though trembling, voice: “I am not guilty of the charge, and these men standing before you have perjured their souls to prevent me from telling the truth. It was they, not I, who violated the law. I was in the saloon last Saturday night, and I will tell you how it happened. My husband did not come home from work that evening, and I feared he had gone to the saloon. I knew he must have drawn his week’s wages, and we needed it all so badly. I put the little ones to bed, and then waited all alone through the weary hours until after the city clock struck twelve. Then I thought the saloons will be closed, and he will be put out on to the street. Probably he will not be able to get home, and the police will arrest him and lock him up. I must go and find him, and bring him home. I wrapped a shawl about me and started out, leaving the little ones asleep in bed. And, Judge, I have not seen them since.” She did not give way to tears, for the worst grief can not weep. She continued: “I went to the saloon, where I thought most like he would be. It was about twenty minutes after twelve; but the saloon, that man’s saloon”–pointing to the saloonkeeper, who now wanted to crouch out of sight–“was still open, and my husband and these two policemen were standing at the bar drinking together. I stepped up to my husband and asked him to go home with me; but the men laughed at him, and the saloonkeeper ordered me out. I said, ‘No, I want my husband to go home with me.’ Then I tried to tell him how badly we were needing the money that he was spending; and then the saloon- keeper cursed me, and told me to leave. Then I confess I could stand no more, and said, ‘You ought to be prosecuted for violating the midnight closing law.’ At this the saloonkeeper and policemen rushed upon me and put me into the street; and one of the policemen, grasping my arm like a vice, hissed in my ear, ‘I’ll get you a thirty days’ sentence in the workhouse, and then we’ll see what you think about suing people.’ He called a patrol wagon, pushed me in, and drove to jail; and, Judge, you know the rest. All day yesterday I was locked up, my children at home alone, with no fire, no food, no mother.” The judge dismissed the woman; but the saloonkeeper, the perjured policemen, nor the corrupt judge were ever prosecuted for their unlawfulness. The whole affair was dropped because the saloon power in Cincinnati reigns supreme. “This case is a matter of record in the Cincinnati courts.” It is a disgraceful fact that the liquor-traffic rules in politics to-day. A saloonkeeper in Richmond, Virginia, overheard some one talking of reform in municipal politics, when he scornfully said: “Any bar-room in Richmond is a bigger man in politics than all the Churches in Richmond put together.”
IV. THE PRACTICAL QUESTION FOR US HERE AND NOW IS, How may we openly oppose this drink evil?
The Churches need not expect a widespread revival of religion until professing Christians do their duty with respect to the saloon. Mothers and fathers need not expect their sons to remain sober while the saloon opens to them day and night. Wives need not expect their husbands to remain devoted and loyal until the saloon is abolished. What is our duty? How shall we oppose the evil? How do the American people deal with evils when they deal with them at all? When Great Britain went a little too far in “taxation without representation,” what course did the American Colonies adopt in remedying the evil? Their chief men said, “These Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” The popular voice of the people decided it. When the British Government unduly impressed American seamen, how was the difficulty settled? The representatives of the people, their lawmakers, declared war against the opposing nation, and forced her to cease her oppression. The popular vote decided it. When Negro slavery darkened the entire sky of our country, and caused our leading men to realize that we could not long exist half-slave and half-free, how was the dark cloud dispelled? The representatives of our people, the lawmakers of the land, in letters of blood wrote the immortal Thirteenth Amendment to the American Constitution: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the person shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” When we wanted to increase our territory in 1803, and in 1845, and in 1867, how did we go about it? The representatives of the people, the lawmakers of the land, voted to make the purchases, and they were made. When a Territory is organized, or a State comes into the Union, what is done? The representatives of the people, the lawmakers of the land, vote upon it, and it is done. When treaties are to be made with foreign countries; when immigration of foreigners is to be regulated; when money is to be borrowed or coined; when post-offices and post-roads are to be established; when counterfeiting is to be punished, and public abuses are to be reformed, whose business is it? The Constitution of the United States says the representatives of the people, the lawmakers of the land, have this power. When will the drink evil cease in our country? When our representatives in Congress, or lawmakers, stand for the abolition of the American saloon, and vote it out of existence; then, and not until then, will drunkenness cease. When will we have representatives in Congress, lawmakers who will stand for the abolition of the saloon, and who will vote it out of existence? Not until you and I have select them, and place them there with our vote. To expect Christian temperance in our country from any other source is absolute folly.
The abolition of drunkenness by local option is selfish, unpractical, and unscriptural. You vote the liquor-traffic out of your town; we vote it in ours. Remember every saloon exists only by vote of the people. Your young people come over to our town for drink. We have the curse of God upon us. “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink.” (Hab. Ii, 15.) It is unpractical, for so long as intoxicants are made they will be sold. It is selfish, for to vote against the saloon in your town election, and to vote for it in your State or National election, is to drive the mad-dog on past your door to the door of your neighbor, when you might have killed him.
The abolition of drunkenness by regulating the traffic through license is the most gigantic delusion that Satan ever worked upon an intelligent people. It is a well-known truth that “limitation is the secret of power.” The best way to provoke an early marriage between devoted lovers is bitterly to oppose them. The stream whose water spreads over its low banks is without depth and current and power. But confine the waters between high, narrow banks, the bed of the stream is deepened, and its mighty current supports animal life and turns the wheels of mill and factory. The regulation of the liquor-traffic by license makes it a financial and political power second to none in America to-day. To vote for any party or man who advocates liquor license, is to give a loyal support to the American saloon.
To expect the abolition of drunkenness solely through processes of education is to preach one thing and to practice another. It is to perpetuate an evil that costs two hundred and fifty thousand precious lives every year. It is to leave to the next generation a work that God expects us to do here and now. Dr. Banks relates an incident witnessed by Major Hilton on the coast of Scotland. “Just at the break of day the people of a little hamlet on the coast were awakened by the boom of a cannon over the stormy waves. They knew what it meant, for frequently they had heard before the same signal of distress. Some poor souls were out beyond the breakers perishing on a wrecked vessel, and in their last extremity calling wildly for help. The people hastened from their houses to the shore. Out there in the distance was a dismantled vessel pounding itself to pieces. Perishing fellow-beings were clinging to the rigging, and every now and then some one was swept off into the sea by the furious waves. The life-saving crew was soon gathered. “Man the life-boat!” cried the man. “Where is Hardy?” But the foreman of the crew was not there, and the danger was imminent. Aid must be immediate, or all would be lost. The next in command sprang into the frail boat, followed by the rest, all taking their lives in their hands in the hope of saving others. O, how those on the shore watched their brave loved ones as they dashed on, now over, now almost under the waves! They reached the wreck. Like angels of deliverance they filled their craft with almost dying men–men lost but for them. Back again they toiled, pulling for the shore, bearing their precious freight. The first man to help them land was Hardy, whose words rang above the roar of the breakers: “Are you all here? Did you save them all?” With saddened faces the reply came: “All but one. He couldn’t help himself at all. We had all we could carry. We couldn’t save the last one.” “Man the life-boat again!” shouted Hardy. “I will go. What! leave one there to die alone? A fellow-creature there, and we on shore? Man the life-boat now! We’ll save him yet.” But who is this aged woman with worn garments and disheveled hair, with agonized entreaty falling upon her knees beside this brave, strong man? It is his mother! “O, my son! your father was drowned in a storm like this. Your brother Will left me eight years ago, and I have never seen his face since the day he sailed. No doubt he, too, has found a watery grave. And now you will be lost, and I am old and poor. O, stay with me!” “Mother,” cried the man, “where one is in peril, there is my place. If I am lost, God surely will care for you.” The plea of earnest faith prevailed. With a “God bless you, my boy!” she released him, and speeded him on his way. Once more they watched and prayed and waited–those on the shore– while every muscle was strained toward the fast-sinking ship by those in the life-saving boat. At last it reached the vessel. The clinging figure was lifted and helped to its place. Back came the boat. How eagerly they looked and called in encouragement, and cheered as it came nearer! “Did you get him?” was the cry from the shore. Lifting his hands to his mouth to trumpet the words on in advance of their landing, Hardy called back above the roar of the storm, “Tell mother it is brother Will!”
My friend, simply talking and praying will not save our loved ones from drunkards’ graves. We must man the life-boat of municipal, State, and National reform, and vote for principle and Christian temperance until we save the last man. He may be “brother Will.”
GAMBLING has become a moral plague of modern society. In one form or another it has entered the rank and file of every department of life–in private parlor over cards; in hotel drawing-room over election reports; in college athletic grounds over brains and brawn; in the counting-room over the price of stocks; in the racing tournament over jockeying and speed; in the Board of Trade hall over future prices of the necessaries of life; in the den of iniquity at dice; in the drinking saloon at the slot-machine; in the people’s fair at the wheel of fortune; in the gambling den itself at every conceivable form of swindling trick and game. Gambling has come to be almost an omnipresent evil. In treating this subject, it is our purpose to point out something of the nature of its evil, not only that we may be kept from it but that we may save others whom it threatens to destroy.
Gambling grows out of a misuse of the natural tendency to take risks. A social vice is some social right misused. Men have the social right to congregate to talk over measures of social and economic welfare. But if they discuss measures which oppose the principles of free Government, their meeting together becomes a crime against the State. A personal vice is some personal right misused. As some one has put it, “Vice is virtue gone mad.” It is a personal right and a personal virtue to be charitable, even beneficent. But since justice comes before mercy, if one uses for charity that which should be used in payment of debt, his virtue of beneficence becomes a vice of theft. So it is with gambling. It is giving the natural tendency to chance, to risk an illegitimate play. The person who is afraid to risk anything accomplishes but little in any way, is seldom a speculator, and never a gambler. Usually the gambler is the man who is naturally full of hazard, who loves to run risks, to take chances. Nor will one find a more practical and useful tendency in one’s make- up than this. See the discoverer of America and his brave crew for days and days sailing across an unknown sea toward an unknown land. But that was the price of a New World. Note the hazard and risk of our Pilgrim Fathers. But they gave to the world a new colonization. See the Second greatest American on his knees before Almighty God, promising him that he would free four million of slaves, providing General Lee should be driven back out of Maryland. General Lee was driven back, and that immortal though most hazardous of all documents, from man’s point of view, was read to his Cabinet and signed by Abraham Lincoln. All great men have taken great risks. Not a section of the United States has been settled without some risk. No business enterprise is launched without some risk. To secure an education, to learn a trade, to marry a wife, all involve some risk, much risk. The tendency to risk, to hazard, to chance it is a practical and useful tendency. Only let this tendency be governed always by wisdom and justice. No person ever became a gambler until consciously or unconsciously he forfeited wisdom and justice in his chances and risks.
Gambling takes a variety of forms. First of all is the professional gambler. He has no other business. His investment is a “pack of cards” and a box of “dice. See him with his long, slender fingers; with his shaggy, unkempt hair; with keen eyes, and a sordid countenance. He is prepared to “rake in” a thousand dollars a night, and would not hesitate to strip any man of his fortune. The professional is found at county fairs, on railway trains, in gilded dens, and at public resorts. Being a professional outlaw, and subject at any time to arrest and imprisonment, usually he has an accomplice. Sometimes a gang work together, so that it is with perfect ease they may relieve any unwary novice of his money. They know human nature on its low, mercenary side, and soon can find their man in a crowd. But few persons have started out in life having it for their aim to get something for nothing who, sooner or later, have not been “taken in” by this gang of swindlers. They know their kind. The end of the professional gambler is final loss and ruin. He will make $100, he will make $500, he will make $1,000, he will make $2,000; then he will lose all. Then he will borrow some money and start anew. And again he will make $200, he will make $600, he will make $1,200, and he will lose all. Like the winebibber and the professional murderer, the professional gambler has his den. Not a large city in the world is without these haunts of vice. Who is it that feeds and supports them? The novice at cards and dice, husbands and sons of respectable families, just as the occasional dram-taker supports the saloon. As one has asked:
“Could fools to keep their own contrive, On whom, on what could gamesters thrive?” –GAY.
The penny novice seeks the penny gambling den. The aristocratic speculator seeks the gilded gambling den. The expert trickster of large luck and large fortune makes his way to Monte Carlo, the gambling Mecca of the world. Monte Carlo is a famous resort situated in the northwest part of Italy. It is notorious for its gambling saloon. This city of nearly four thousand inhabitants is located in Monaco, the smallest independent country in the world. Monaco is about eight miles square, and lies on a “barren, rocky ridge between the sea and lofty, almost inaccessible rocks.” The soil is barren, except in small tracts which are used for fruit-gardens. For centuries the inhabitants, the Monagasques, lived by marauding expeditions, both by sea and land, and by slight commerce with Genoa, Marseilles, and Nice. But in the last century the people have converted their country and city into a world-wide resort. In 1860, M. Blanc, a famous gambler and saloon proprietor of two German cities, went to Monaco, and for an immense sum of money received sole privilege to convert their province into a gambler’s paradise. Soon immense marble buildings arose in the midst of such beauty as to make it a modern rival of the gardens of ancient Babylon. Costly statues, gorgeous vases, graceful fountains, elegant basins, and beautiful terraces, all of which are made alluring by blooming plants, by light illuminations, and by free concerts of music day and night,–these are the attractions in this gambler’s paradise. Here fortunes are won and lost in a night. For, as has been sung,
“Dice will run the contrary way,
As well is known to all who play, And cards will conspire as in treason.” –HOOD.
Then we have the speculator in commerce. He is the denizen of the Board of Trade hall. He speculates on the prices of next week’s, of next month’s meat and breadstuffs. And still this sort of gambler may be a book-keeper in a bank, a farm hand, or a clerk in a grocery store. It ha become so simple and so common a practice for persons to speculate on the markets that any person with ten dollars, or twenty-five dollars, or a hundred dollars may take his chances. Tens of thousands of dollars to-day are being swept into this silent whirlpool, the gambler’s commerce.
Also we have the pool gambler. He is actuated by love of excitement. He is found at the race course, at the baseball diamond, and at all sorts of contests, where he may find opportunity to be on the outcome. It is a common thing for young men to steal their employers’ money, for young girls to take their hard-earned wages to stake on games and races. Recently $175,000 were paid for the exclusive gambling right for one year at the Washington Park races in Chicago.
Last of all, we have the society gambler. He is growing numerous to-day. He is the same person, whether clad in full dress in the drawing- room of the worldling, or in common dress around the fireside of the unchristian Church member. Like the professional gambler his instrument is “cards,” and he can shake the “dice.” His games are whist, progressive euchre, and sometimes poker. The stakes now are not money, but the gratification of excitement and the indulgence of passion. One, two, four hours go by almost unnoticed. Prizes are offered for the best player. As a Catholic priest told me after he had won a small sum with cards. Said he: “We just put up a few dollars, you know, to lend devotions to the game.” So prizes are offered in the social gambling “to lend devotions to the game.” It is under such circumstances as these that young men and young women receive their first lessons in card-playing. A passion for card-playing is called forth, developed, and must be satisfied, even though it takes one in low places among vile associates. “A Christian gentleman came from England to this country. He brought with him $70,000 in money. He proposed to invest the money. Part of it was his own; part of it was his mother’s. He went into a Christian Church; was coldly received, and said to himself: ‘Well, if that is the kind of Christian people they have in America, I don’t want to associate with them much.’ So he joined a card-playing party. He went with them from time to time. He went a little further on, and after a while he was in games of chance, and lost all of the $70,000. Worse than that, he lost all of his good morals; and on the night that he blew his brains out he wrote to the lady to whom he was affianced an apology for the crime he was about to commit, and saying in so many words, ‘My first step to ruin was the joining of that card party.'”
In all of its forms gambling is loaded down with evil. In the first place it destroys the incentive to honest work. Let the average young man win a hundred dollars at the races, it will so turn his head against slow and honorable ways of getting money that he will watch for every opportunity to get it easily and abundantly. The young girl who risks fifty cents and gets back fifty dollars will no longer be of service as a quiet, contented worker. The spirit of speculation, the passion to get something for nothing, is calculated to destroy the incentive to honest toil and to honorable methods of gain. As one values his character, as he values his peace of mind, so should he zealously guard himself against overfascinating games of chance. Once we had a family in our Church who played cards, and who taught their children to play cards. Of course these families had no time for prayer-meeting, nor for Christian work. Card-playing for amusement or for money will create a passion that must be satisfied, although one must give up home and business and pleasure. In a town where we once lived a young man and his wife attended our Church. In every way the husband was kind, and attentive to business. But he had fallen a victim to playing cards for money. When that passion would seize him he would leave his business, his hired help, his home and wife and little one, and would lose himself for days at a time seeking to satisfy that passion. An enviable husband, father, citizen, and neighbor but for that evil; but how wretchedly that ruined all! Dr. Holland, of Springfield, Massachusetts, says: “I have all my days had a card-playing community open to my observation, and yet I am unable to believe that that which is the universal resort of starved soul and intellect, which has never in any way linked to itself tender, elevating, or beautiful associations, but, the tendency of which is to unduly absorb the attention from more weighty matters, can recommend itself to the favor of Christ’s disciples. I have this moment,” says he, “ringing in my ears the dying injunction of my father’s early friend: ‘Keep your son from cards. Over them I have murdered time and lost heaven.'”
Gambling is dishonest. It seeks something for nothing. Man possesses no money, that he might risk giving it to some rogue to waste in sin. All the property one possesses, he possesses it by stewardship to be used wisely and honestly for good. Every age has needed a revival of the Golden Rule in business. Much of the business of to-day is attended to on the dishonest principle that characterizes gambling, “Get as much as possible for as little as possible.” This spirit is first cousin to the spirit of gambling. The only difference is, one is called wrong and is wrong; the other is wrong and is called right. Tell the gambler he is a thief; he will acknowledge it, and will beat you, if he can, while he is talking to you. Tell the other man he is a thief, and he will sue you at court and win his case, although it is just as wrong to steal $100 from an unbalanced mind, as it is to steal $100 from an unlocked safe or off of an untrained football team. It will be an easy matter to produce professional gamblers so long as society upholds dishonest dealers by another name. What men need in this matter is moral and spiritual vision, spiritual discernment. Some persons live by taking advantage of those who are down.
In all of its forms gambling leads to a long train of crimes. In addition to his crime of theft the professional gambler, through passion or drink, becomes a murderer. I knew a professional gambler who killed a man, with whom he had been playing cards for money, for fifty cents. After it was all over the man was sorry he had done it, for he had committed the crime in a passion while he was intoxicated. The one who speculates on the markets is not counted dishonest by the world, but how often and how quickly it leads one into crime! In our neighboring town in Illinois a man of a good family and of good standing in the community began to speculate on the Chicago Board of Trade. He was as honest a person, perhaps, as you or I. He thought he was. For years he had been a trusted, Christian worker, and treasurer of the Sunday-school. But he made just one venture too many. He had lost all; could not even replace the Sunday-school fund that he had simply used, no doubt expecting to replace it with usury; but the loss and disgrace were too much for him to face, so he deserted home and friends and honor and all, and secretly ran away. The speculating gambler became a deserting embezzler. The person who has acquired a passion for betting on races and games is on a fair way to professional gambling and to speculating on the markets. And rarely does one ever escape these, if once he gets a start in them.
The evil of society gambling is most dangerous of all, because it is most subtle of all. Ah first no one would suspect an innocent game of cards, played just for fun. You may be the fourth one to make up a game; you may not know how to play, but you are told you can quickly learn. You brave it, and go in for a game. The next time a similar circumstance arises, you can not easily decline, for you must confess you have played, and so you go in as an old player. This may be as far as the matter ever goes with you. But here is one who is more impulsive than you; his surroundings are entirely different. He learns to play, and comes to revel in it. A passion is created for the game. He is shrewd; soon learns the tricks, and one evening–purely by chance, as it seems to him–he wins his first five dollars. Strange possibilities with cards lay hold upon him. He is consumed by that passion. He plays for business, for keeps; he has become a professional gambler. Ah! this is no finespun tale; it is being worked out every year in our country, all over the world. Among many things for which I have to thank my father and mother not the least is, that they would allow no gamblers, nor gambling, nor the instruments of gambling about our home. Better keep a pet rattlesnake for your child than a deck of cards; for if he gets poisoned by the snake he may be cured; but if the passion for card-playing should happen to seize him, there is little chance of a cure. The inmates of our penitentiaries to-day, almost to a man, testify that “card-playing threw them into bad company, led them into sin, and was one of the causes of their downfall.” Dr. Talmage was asked if there could be any harm in a pack of cards. He Said: “Instead of directly answering your question, I will give you as My opinion that there are thousands of men with as strong a brain as you have, who have gone through card-playing into games of chance, and have dropped down into the gambler’s life and into the gambler’s hell.” A prisoner in a jail in Michigan wrote a letter to a temperance paper, in which he gives this advice for young men: “Let cards and liquor alone, and you will never be behind the gates.” Friends, not every one who touches liquor is a drunkard, but every drunkard touches liquor; so not every one who plays cards is a professional gambler, but every professional gambler plays cards. Is there nothing significant about these facts. “A word to the wise is sufficient.” “In a railway train sat four men playing cards. One was a judge, and two of the others were lawyers. Near them sat a poor mother, a widow in black. The sight of the men at their game made her nervous. She kept quiet as long as she could; but finally rising came to them, and addressing the judge, asked: ‘Do you know me?’ ‘No, madam, I do not,’ said he. ‘Well, said the mother, ‘you sentenced my son to State’s prison for life.’ Turning to one of the lawyers, she said: ‘And you, sir, pleaded against him. He was all I had. He worked hard on the farm, was a good boy, and took care of me until he began to play cards, when he took to gambling and was lost.'” Dr. Guthrie writes: “In regard to the lawfulness of certain pursuits, pleasures, and amusements, it is impossible to lay down any fixed and general rule; but we may confidently say that whatever is found to unfit you for religious duties, or to interfere with the performance of them; whatever dissipates your mind or cools the fervor of your devotions; whatever indisposes you to read your Bibles or to engage in prayer, wherever the thought of a bleeding Savior, or of a holy God, or of the day of judgment falls like a cold shadow on your enjoyment, the pleasures you can not thank God for, on which you can not ask His blessing, whose recollections will haunt a dying bed and plant sharp thorns in its uneasy pillow,–these are not for you..Never go where you can not ask God to go with you; never be found where you would not like death to find you. Never indulge in any pleasure that will not bear the morning’s reflection. Keep yourselves unspotted from the world, not from its spots only, but even from its suspicions.”
DANCING is the expression of inward feelings by means of rhythmical movements of the body. Usually these movements are in measured step, and are accompanied by music.
In some form or another dancing is as old as the world, and has been practiced by rude as well as by civilized peoples. The passion for amateur dancing always has been strongest among savage nations, who have made equal use of it in religious rites and in war. With the savages the dancers work themselves into a perfect frenzy, into a kind of mental intoxication. But as civilization has advanced dancing has modified its form, becoming more orderly and rhythmical. The early Greeks made the art of dancing into a system, expressive of all the different passions. For example, the dance of the Furies, so represented, would create complete terror among those who witnessed them. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, ranked dancing with poetry, and said that certain dancers, with rhythm applied to gesture, could express manners, passions, and actions. The most eminent Greek sculptors studied the attitude of the dancers for their art of imitating the passions. In a classical Greek song, Apollo, one of the twelve greater gods, the son of Zeus the chief god, and the god of medicine, music, and poetry, was called The Dancer. In a Greek line Zeus himself is represented as dancing. In Sparta, a province of ancient Greece, the law compelled parents to exercise their children in dancing from the age of five years. They were led by grown men, and sang hymns and songs as they danced. In very early times a Greek chorus, consisting of the whole population of the city, would meet in the market-place to offer up thanksgivings to the god of the country. Their jubilees were always attended with hymn-singing and dancing. The Jewish records make frequent mention of dancing, but always “as a religious ceremony, or as an expression of gratitude and praise.” As a means of entertainment in private society, dancing was practiced in ancient times, but by professional dancers, and not by the company themselves. It is true that the Bible has sanctioned dancing, but let us remember, first, that it was always a religious rite; second, that it was practiced only on joyful occasions, at national feasts, and after great victories; third, that usually it was “performed by maidens in the daytime, in open air, in highways, fields, or groves;” fourth, that “there are no instances of dancing sanctioned in the Bible, in which both sexes united in the exercise, either as an act of worship or as an amusement;” fifth, that any who perverted the dance from a sacred use to purposes of amusement were called infamous. The only records in Scripture of dancing as a social amusement were those of the ungodly families described by Job xxi, 11-13, who spent their time in luxury and gayety, and who came to a sudden destruction; and the dancing of Herodias, Matt. Xiv, 6, which led to the rash vow of King Herod and to the murder of John the Baptist. So much for the history of dancing.
The modern dance in which both sexes freely mingle, irrespective of character, purely for amusement, at late hours, at which intoxicants, in some form, are generally used, is, essentially, an institution of vice. The modern dance is as different from the dancing of ancient times, and from the dancing sanctioned in the Bible, as daylight is from dark, as good is from bad. The modern dance imperils health, it poisons the social nature; it destroys intellectual growth; and it robs men and women of their virtue. Let us understand one another. To attend one dance may not accomplish all of this in any person. One may attend many dances, and he himself not see these results marked in his character, but some one else will see them. For in the nature of the institution the modern dance affects in all these particulars those whom it reaches. The tendencies in a single dance are in these directions. In a way peculiar to itself the modern dance imperils health. Though detestable and out of date, as are the modern kissing games, yet no one ever heard of one of those performances continuing until three and five o’clock in the morning. Young people do not stay up all night, ride five, ten, and twenty miles to play authors, or to snap caroms, or to play charades, as interesting in a social way as these innocent amusements may be. The fact that one will go to this extreme in keeping late hours to attend the dance, and will not keep such late hours for any other form of amusement, proves that the dance, as an institution, is at fault in producing such irregularities. And then who ever heard of one having to dress in a certain way to attend a purely social gathering. But let a young lady attend a fashionable ball or a regular round dance of any note, whatever, and if she wears the civil gown she will be thought tame and snubbed. She must dress for this occasion, and thus, from a health point of view, so expose her body that after the excitement and heat of a prolonged round she takes her place in a slight draught of air, and a severe cold is contracted. And this exposure is further increased by the sudden change from a close, hot room to the damp, chilly air of the early morning, on her journey home. It is possible to guard against all of this, but are those persons who attend such exercises likely to be cautious in such practical matters. At least, this risk of exposure for men and women is peculiar to the dance, and it is certain that many are physically injured in this way. The modern dance poisons the social nature. The chief exercise at the modern dance is dancing. Those who have attended dances, as a social recreation, have complained that they never have an opportunity to get acquainted with one another. Such a luxury as a complete conversation on any theme is out of the question. It is a form of amusement that stultifies the communicative faculties, and fosters social seclusion. Some one might say this may be a good thing, since every grade in moral and social standing are represented. Yes, but this only acknowledges the lack of opportunity for social fellowship. It is not true that the dance, as an institution, is not patronized by the most capable in conversation and companionship? Certainly this is true in the so-called higher society, among those whose sole ambition is to excel in formal manners and in personal appearance at the gay function, and at the social ball. To be communicative one must have something to communicate, and this means a cultivation of the mind and heart. True social fellowship is one of the sweetest pleasures of life and always has its source in the culture of the soul. Whatever may be said for or against the modern dance, it is true that because of the mixed characters of its attendants, and for want of opportunity to communicate, the social nature becomes neglected and abused, and may be fatally poisoned.
The modern dance destroys intellectual growth. The person who has the dance-craze cares no more for mental improvement and growth than a starving man cares for splendid recipes for fine cooking. The thought of a problem to be solved, of a book to be read, of an organ exercise to be practiced, of all things, are most tame to the one who is filled with dreams of the last dance, and with visions of the one that is to come. To grow, the mind must be free from excitement. The fault with the dance in this respect is that it has in it a fascination that does not exist in the ordinary social amusement. Some persons complain that they can not get an evening to go off well without dancing. But this is only an open confession to mental vacuity, to intellectual poverty. For one need know but little to flourish at the dance. And always, where little is required, intellectually, little is given. It is the rule that those who are in the greatest need of mental cultivation and growth are those who make up the dancing crowd. And the fact that the dance, as an institution, in no way stimulates intellectual thought, destines those who dance to remain on the lower intellectual plane.
Last, and worst of all, the dance robs men and women of their virtue, and this often at the first unconsciously. If it is not for health and physical vigor that one follows up dancing; if it is not the peculiar social tie that binds dancers together; if it is not the incentive to intellectual growth and equipment, what is it? A secret lies hid away somewhere in the institution of the modern dance, that makes it the chiefest attraction of worldly-minded and often of base-hearted people. What is that secret? Ah, my friend, it is the appeal to the most sacred instincts and passions of a man and of a woman! This appeal is peculiar to the modern dance by the accident of physical contact that men and women assume in dancing, and also by the circumstances that attend it, namely, mixed society, late hours, and the customary use of strong drink. No honest, normally passionate person, who has made it a practice of attending dances, will deny the truth of this charge. One may never have thought of it in this way, but when he stops to think he knows that it is true. It is through ignorance of these circumstances, and of their bad effects, that many a well-meaning person, presumably to have a good time, or to acquire heel-grace, goes into the dance, secures a passion for dancing, and through its seductive influences are led into sin and shame. The following is an incident out of his own experience related by Professor T. A. Faulkner, an ex-dancing master. Professor Faulkner is the author of the little book entitled “From the Ball Room to Hell.” A book which every person who sees no harm in dancing should read.
“Here is a girl.The one remaining child of wealthy parents, their idol and joy. A dancing-school having opened near their home, the daughter, for accomplishment, was sent to it. She came from her home, modest, and her innate spirit of purity rebelled against the liberties taken by the dancing-master, and the men he introduced to her. She became indignant at the indecent attitudes she was called upon to assume, but noticing a score of young women, many of them from the best homes in the town, all yielding to the vulgar embrace, she cast aside that spirit of modesty which had been the development of years of home-training, and setting her face against nature’s protective warnings, gave herself, as did the others, to this prolonged embrace set to music. Having learned to dance, its fascinations led her an enthusiastic captive. Modesty was crucified, decency outraged, virtue lost its power over her soul, and she spent her days dreaming of the delights of the sensual whirl of the evening. Hardly conscious of the change she had now become as bold as any of the women, and loved the embrace of the charmer. The graduation of the class was, of course, the occasion of a waltzing reception. To that reception she went, attended by her father, who looked with a proud heart on the fulsome greeting his dear one received. After a little the father retired, leaving his daughter to the care of the many handsome gallants who danced attendance upon her. The reception did not close until the small hours of the morning. Each waltz became more voluptuous; intoxicated by sensuality, the dancers became more bold, and lust was aroused in every breast. How many sins that reception occasioned, I do not know; this, at least, is sure, that this girl who entered that dancing-hall three months before, as pure as an angel, was that night.robbed of her honor and returned to her home deprived forever of that most precious jewel of womanhood–virtue. Her first impulse the next morning was self-destruction; then she deluded herself with the thought of marriage with her dancing companion, but he still further insulted her by declaring that he wanted a pure woman for his wife. What was her end? Shunned by the very society which egged her on to ruin, her self-respect was gone with her lost purity, she went to her own kind, and in shame is closing her days.” “Of two hundred brothel inmates to whom Professor Faulkner talked, and who were frank enough to answer his question as to the direct cause of their shame, seven said poverty and abuse; ten, willful choice; twenty, drink given them by their parents; and one hundred and sixty-three, dancing and the ball-room.” “A former chief of police of New York City says that three-fourths of the abandoned girls of this city were ruined by dancing.” Of the dance, one says: “It lays its lecherous hand upon the fair character of innocence, and converts it into a putrid corrupting thing. It enters the domain of virtue, and with silent, steady blows takes the foundation from underneath the pedestal on which it sits enthroned. It lists the gate and lets in a flood of vice and impurity that sweeps away modesty, chastity, and all sense of shame. It keeps company with the low, the degraded, and the vile. It feeds upon the passion it inflames, and fattens on the holiest sentiments, turned by its touch to filth and rottenness. It loves the haunts of vice, and is at home in the company of harlots and debauchees.” George T. Lemon says: “No Church in Christendom commends or even excuses the dance. All unite to condemn it.” The late Episcopal bishop of Vermont, writes: “Dancing is chargeable with waste of time, interruption of useful study, the indulgence of personal vanity and display, and the premature incitement of the passions. At the age of maturity it adds to these no small danger to health by late hours, flimsy dress, heated rooms, and exposed persons.” Episcopal Bishop Meade, of Virginia, declares: “Social dancing is not among the neutral things which, within certain limits, we may do at pleasure, and it is not among the things lawful, but not expedient, but it is in itself wrong, improper, and of bad effect.” Episcopal Bishop McIlvaine, of Ohio, putting the dance and the theater together, writes: “The only line that I would draw in regard to these is that of entire exclusion..The question is not what we can imagine them to be, but what they always have been, will be, and must be, in such a world as this, to render them pleasurable to those who patronize them. Strip them bare until they stand in the simple innocence to which their defenders’ arguments would reduce them and the world would not have them.” A Roman Catholic priest testifies that “the confessional revealed the fact that nineteen out of every twenty women who fall can trace the beginning of their state to the modern dance.”
WITH drunkenness, gambling, and dancing, theater-going dates from the beginning of history, and with these it is not only questionable in morals, but it is positively bad. Every one who knows any thing about the institution of the theater, as such, knows that it always has been corrupting in its influence. Not only those who attend the theater pronounce it bad, as a whole, but it is frowned upon by play-writers, and by actors and actresses themselves. Five hundred years before Christ, Jew, Pagan, and Christian spoke against the theater. It is stated on good authority that the dissipations of the theater were the chief cause of the decadence of ancient Greece. At one time, Augustus, the emperor of Rome, was asked as a means of public safety, to suppress the theater. The early Christians held the theater in such bad repute as to rank it with the heathen temple. And to these two places they would not go, even to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. Nor has the moral tone and character of the theater improved, even in our day. Dr. Theodore Cuyler, for many years an experienced pastor in Brooklyn, Says: “The American theater is a concrete institution, to be judged as a totality. It is responsible for what it tolerates and shelters. We, therefore, hold it responsible for whatever of sensual impurity and whatever of irreligion, as well as for whatever of occasional and sporadic benefit there may be bound up in its organic life. Instead of helping Christ’s kingdom, it hinders; instead of saving souls, it corrupts and destroys.” Dr. Buckley gives this testimony: “Being aware of the fact that the drama, like every thing else which caters to the taste, has its fashions–rising and falling and undergoing various changes–now improving, and then degenerating, I have thought it desirable to institute a careful inquiry into the plays which have been performed in the principal theaters of New York during the past three years. Accordingly, I procured the copies used by the performers in preparing for their parts, and took pains to ascertain wherein, in actual use, the actors diverged from the printed copies. They number over sixty, and, with the exception of a few unprinted plays, include all that have been produced in the prominent theaters of New York during the three years now about closing..It is a singular fact, that, with three or four exceptions, those dramatic compositions, among the sixty or more under discussion, which are morally objectionable, are of a comparatively low order of literary execution. But if language and sentiments, which would not be tolerated among respectable people, and would excite indignation if addressed to the most uncultivated and coarse servant girl, not openly vicious, by an ordinary young man, and profaneness which would brand him who uttered it as irreligious, are improper amusements for the young and for Christians of every age, then at least fifty of these plays are to be condemned.”
In the first place the theater leads one into bad company. As a class, the performers are licentious. How can one be in their company, be moved to laughter and to tears and not be contaminated by them? One who has studied the theater tells us that the “fruits of the Spirit and the fruits of the stage exhibit as pointed a contrast as the human imagination can conceive.” The famous Macready, as he retired from the stage, wrote: “None of my children, with my consent under any pretense, shall ever enter the theater, nor shall they have any visiting connection with play actors or actresses.” Dr. Johnson asks the question: “How can they mingle together as they do, men and women, and make public exhibitions of themselves as they do, in such circumstances, with such surroundings, with such speech as much often be on their lips to play the plays that are written, in such positions as they must sometimes take, affecting such sentiment and passions–how can they do this without moral contamination?” And we would ask, how can persons live enrapt with this sort of thing for hours and hours each week, the year around, and not become equally contaminated, for to the onlooker all this comes as a reality, while to those who are performing, it is hired shamming? Therefore, as the pupil becomes the teacher, so the attendant at the theater becomes like the one who performs. So that to go to the theater is to “sit in the seat of the scornful or to stand in the way of sinners.” “There you find the man,” says one, “who has lost all love for his home, the careless, the profane, the spendthrift, the drunkard, and the lowest prostitute of the street. They are found in all parts of the house; they crowd the gallery, and together should aloud the applause, greeting that which caricatures religion, sneers at virtue, or hints at indecency.” Not only the actors and the onlookers of the average theater are vile, but all of the immediate associations of the playhouse must correspond with it. If not in the same building with the theater, in adjoining ones, at least, are found the wine-parlor and the brothel. It is generally conceded that no theater can be prosperous if it is wholly separated from these adjuncts of evil.
The theater, therefore, kills spiritually and degrades the moral life of the one who attends it. The theater deals with the spectacular. This appeals to the eye, to the ear, and to all of the outer senses. Spirituality depends upon a cultivation of the spiritual senses that Grace has opened up within the soul. Hence, the spectacular is directly opposed to the spiritual. The deep, contemplative, spiritual soul could find little or no food in the false, clap-trap representations of the modern stage. And to find an increased interest here is evidence that one lacks spiritual life, at least deep-seated spiritual life. This is why so many professing Christians are so eager to go to the card-party, to the dancing-party, and to the theater. The inner- sense life of the soul is dead, and one must have something upon which to feed, hence he feeds upon the husks of “imprudent and un-Christian amusements.” And let one who has a measure of spiritual life, instead of increasing it, seek to satisfy his soul- longing by means of the spectacular, of false representations in any form, soon he will lose the spiritual life that he has. And this loss will be marked by an increased demand for the spectacular. The surest proof to-day that the spiritual life of the Church is waning in certain sections, is not so much that her membership-roll is not on the increase, but that professing Christian people are running wild after cards and dancing and the theater. Evangelist Sayles declares: “The people of our so-called best society, and Christian people, many that have been looked upon as active workers, sit now and gaze upon scenes in our theaters, without a blush, that twenty-five years ago would not have been countenanced..The moral and spiritual life of many a Christian has been weakened by the eyes gazing upon the scenes of the theater.” Says he, “The Christian, through attendance upon the playhouse, creates a relish for worldly things, and so spiritual things become distasteful.”
Then, to go to one theater, sanctions all. To have heard and to have seen Joe Jefferson in “Rip Van Winkle,” Richard Mansfield in “The Merchant of Venice,” or Edwin Booth or Sir Henry Irving, or Maude Adams, or Julia Marlowe in their best plays, is to have received a deeper insight into human nature, and a stronger purpose to become sympathetic and true, but who can afford to sanction all that is base and villainous is the institution of the modern theater for the sake of learning sympathy and truth and human nature from a few worthy actors, when he may find all of this as truthfully, if not as artistically, set forth by the orator, by the musician, by the painter, and by the author? It is not cant, it is not pharisaism, it is not a weak claim of Christianity, but it is common honesty, mighty truth, a cardinal and beautiful teaching of Jesus Christ to deny one’s self for the welfare of the weaker brother. Let one go to hear Mansfield in Shakespeare, and his neighbor boy will take his friend and go to the vaudeville, and his only excuse to his parents and to his half-taught mind and heart will be, “Well, Mr. So-and-So goes to the theater, he is a member of the Church and superintendent of the Sunday-school; surely there is no harm for me to go.” To the immature mind what seems right for one person seems lawful for another. This is because such a person has not learned to discriminate between what is bad and what is good. Therefore, if the theater as an institution has more in it that is bad than It has in it that is good, rather if the general tendency of the theater, as an institution, is bad, the safe thing for one’s self and for those who read one’s life as an example, is to discard it entirely.
In view of these facts, no person can attend the theater at all without hurting his influence. The ideal life is that one which gives offense of stumbling to no one. A successful preacher who had an aversion toward speaking on the subject of questionable amusements, when asked what he believed concerning a certain form of amusement, replied: “See what I do, and know what I believe.” It is a glorious life whose actions are an open epistle of righteousness and peace, read and believed and honored by all men.
“Some time ago a gentleman teaching a large class of young men in a Chicago Sunday-school, desired to attend a theater for the purpose of seeing a celebrated actor. He was not a theater-goer, and thought that no harm could come from it. He had no sooner taken his seat, however, than he saw in the opposite gallery some of the members of his class. They also saw him and began commenting on the fact that their teacher was at the theater. They thought it inconsistent in him, lost their interest in the class, and he lost his influence over the young men. That teacher tied his hands by this one act, so that he could not speak out against the gross sins of the theater.”
Those who defend theater-going say that if Christian people would patronize the theater that it would be made more respectable. But over a thousand years of history proves that this principle fails here as it does elsewhere. A Christian woman marries an unchristian man with the hope that he will become a Christian; a steady, sensible woman in all other matters marries a man who drinks, with the thought of reforming him; one associates with worldly and sensual companions, expecting to make them better; but, alas, what blasted hopes, what wretched failures in all of these instances, at least in the most of them! You can not reform vice; you may whitewash a sin, but it will be sin, still. To purify a character or an institution one must not become a part of it by sympathy, nor by association. This is what the psalmist meant when he said, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsels of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” And so it is, that every effort at reforming the theater, thus far has failed. The Rev. C.W. Winchester says concerning the reforming of the theater: “The facts are, (1) that the theater in this city and country never had the support and encouragement of moral and religious people it has now; (2) that the theater here was never so bad. Clearly, if Christian patronage is going to reform the theater, the reform ought to begin. But the grade is downward. The theater is growing worse and worse.” Dr. Wilkinson makes this statement on the question of reforming the theater: “Now the Protestant Christians of New York number, by recent computation, less than seventy-five thousand souls, in a population of a million. Supposing a general agreement among them all that a regular attendance at the theater was at this juncture the most pressing and most promising method of evangelical effort, they would not then constitute even one- tenth of the numerical patronage which the management would study to please.” Dr. Herrick Johnson says: “The ideal stage is out of the question. It is out of the question just as pure, chaste, human nudity is out of the question..The nature of theatrical performances, the essential demands of the stage, the character of the plays, and the constitution of human nature, make it impossible that the theater should exist, save under a law of degeneracy. Its trend is downward; its centuries of history tell just this one story. The actual stage of to- day..is a moral abomination. In Chicago, at least, it is trampling on the Sabbath with defiant scoff. It is defiling our youth. It is making crowds familiar with the play of criminal passions. It is exhibiting women with such approaches to nakedness as can have no other design than to breed lust behind the onlooking eyes. It is furnishing candidates for the brothel. It is getting us used to scenes that rival the voluptuousness and licentious ages of the past.” As never before to- day, has the theater asked for the support of Church members. And the ideal stage, with virtuous performers, and with pure dramas, are held up as a sample of what Christian people are invited to attend. Dr. Cuyler says: “Every person of common sense knows that the actual average theater is no more an ideal playhouse than the average pope is like St. Peter, or the average politician is like Abraham Lincoln. A Puritanic theater would become bankrupt in a twelvemonth. The great mass of those who frequent the playhouse go there for strong, passionate excitements..I do not affirm,” says Dr. Cuyler, “that every popular play is immoral, and every attendant is on a scent for sensualities. But the theater is a concrete institution, it must be judged in the gross and to a tremendous extent it is only a gilded nastiness. It unsexes womanhood by putting her publicly in male attire–too often in no attire at all.”
“So competent an authority as the famous actress, Olga Nethersole, recently declared that the only kind of play which may hope for success with English-speaking audiences at the present day is the play which is sufficiently indicated by calling it immoral. There is no doubt about it that the theater, as at present conducted, is pulling the stones from the foundations of public morality, and weakening, and in many quarters endangering, the whole structure of society. The atmosphere of the modern theater is lustful and irreverent. It is a good place for Christians to keep away from. It is a good opportunity for the strong man to deny himself for the sake of his younger or weaker brother.”
“Get the spindle and thy distaff ready, and God will send thee flax.”
BOOKS AND READING.
MANY BOOKS, MUCH READING.
TO-DAY every one reads. Go where you may, you will find the paper, the magazine, the journal; printed letters, official reports, exhaustive cyclopedias, universal histories; the ingenuous advertise- ment, the voluminous calendar, the decorated symphony; printed ideals, elaborate gaming rules, flaming bulletins; and latest of all, we have begun to publish our communications on the waves of the air. In this hurly-burly of many books and much reading, it is no mean problem to know why one should read; and what, and how, and when. Especially does this problem of general reading confront the student, the lover of books, and those of the professions. Essays are to be read, the historical, the philosophical, and the scientific; novels, the historical and the religious; books of devotion, books of biography, of travel, of criticism, and of art. What principles are to guide one in his choice of reading, that he may select only the wisest, purest, and helpfulest from all these classes of books?
Read to acquire knowledge. Knowledge is the perception of truth. One arrives at knowledge by the assimilation of facts and principles, or by the assimilation of truth itself. Three sources of knowledge are experience, conversation, and reading. Experience leads one slowly to knowledge, is limited entirely to the path over which one has passed, and is a “dear teacher.” To acquire knowledge by conversation is to put one at the mercy of his associates, making him dependent upon their good favor, truthfulness, and learning. But reading places one in direct communication with the wisest and best persons of all time. To acquire knowledge by reading is to defy time and space, persons and circumstances, at least, in our day of many and inexpensive books. Through books facts live, principles operate, justice acts, the light of philosophy gleams, wit flashes, God speaks. Every book-lover agrees with Channing: “No matter how poor I am..if the sacred writers will enter and take up their abode under my roof, if Milton will cross my threshold to sing to me of Paradise, and Shakespeare to open to me the words of imagination and the workings of the human heart, and Franklin to enrich me with his practical wisdom, I shall not pine for want of intellectual companionship, and I may become a cultivated man, though excluded from what is called the best society in the place where I live.” Kingsley says: “Except a living man, there is nothing more wonderful Than a book!–a message to us from the dead,–from human souls whom we never saw, who lived, perhaps, thousands of miles away; and yet these, in those little sheets of paper, speak to us, amuse us, terrify us, teach us, comfort us, open their hearts to us as brothers..If they are good and true, whether they are about religion or politics, farming, trade, or medicine, they are the message of Christ, the Maker of all things, the Teacher of all truth.” The wide range of truth secured through reading acts in two ways upon the reader. It spiritualizes his character, and it makes him mighty in action. Knowledge on almost any subject has a marked tendency to sharpen one’s wits, to refine his tastes, to ennoble his spirit, to improve his judgement, to strengthen his will, to subdue his baser passions, and to fill his soul with the breath of life. It is only upon truth that the soul feeds, and by means of knowledge that the character grows. “It cannot be that people should grow in grace,” writes John Wesley, “unless they give themselves to reading. A reading people will always be a knowing people.” Reading makes one mighty in action when it gives one knowledge, since “knowledge is power,” and since power has but one way of showing itself, and that is, in action. Knowledge takes no note of hardships, ignores fatigue, laughs at disappointment, and frowns upon despair. It delves into the earth, rides upon the air, defies the cold of the north, the heat of the south; it stands upon the brink of the spitting volcano, circumnavigates the globe, examines the heavens, and tries to understand God. With but few exceptions, master-minds and men of affairs have been incessant readers. Cicero, chief of Roman orators, whether at home or abroad, in town or in the country, by day or by night, in youth or in old age, in sorrow or in joy, was not without his books. “Petrarch, when his friend the bishop, thinking that he was overworked, took away the key of his library, was restless and miserable the first day, had a bad headache the second, and was so ill by the third day that the bishop, in alarm, returned the key and let his friend read as much as he liked.” Writes Frederick the Great, “My latest passion will be for literature.” The poet, Milton, while a child, read and studied until midnight. John Ruskin read at four years of age, was a book-worm at five, and wrote numerous poems and dramas before he was ten. Lord Macaulay read at three and began a compendium of universal history at seven. Although not a lover of books, George Washington early read Matthew Hale and became a master in thought. Benjamin Franklin would sit up all night at his books. Thomas Jefferson read fifteen hour a day. Patrick Henry read for employment, and kept store for pastime. Daniel Webster was a devouring reader, and retained all that he read. At the age of fourteen he could repeat from memory all of Watt’s Hymns and Pope’s “Essay on Man.” When but a youth, Henry Clay read books of history and science and practiced giving their contents before the trees, birds, and horses. Says a biographer of Lincoln, “A book was almost always his inseparable companion.”
Then, read for enjoyment. Fortunately, a habit so valuable as reading may grow to become a pleasure. So that as one is gathering useful information and increasing in knowledge, he may have the keenest enjoyment. Such an one sings as he works. He has learned to convert drudgery into joy; duty has become delight. But even for such an one a portion of his reading should be purely for rest and recreation. If one has taught school all day, or set type, or managed a home, or read history, or labored in the field, or been shopping, heavy, solid reading may be out of the question, while under such circumstances one would really enjoy a striking allegory or a well- written novel. Or, if one is limited in knowledge, or deficient in literary taste so that he may find no interest in history, science, philosophy, or religion, still he may enjoy thrilling books of travel, of biography, or of entertaining story. In this way all may enjoy reading. “Of all the amusements which can possibly be imagined for a hard-working man, after his daily toil, or in its intervals, there is nothing,” says Herschel, “like reading an interesting book. It calls for no bodily exercise, of which he has had enough or too much. It relieves his home of its dullness and sameness, which, in nine cases out of ten, is what drives him out to the alehouse, to his own ruin and his family’s. It accompanies him to his next day’s work, and, if the book he has been reading be any thing above the very idlest and lightest, gives him something to think of besides the mere mechanical drudgery of his every-day occupation, something he can enjoy while absent, and look forward with pleasure to return to.”
WHAT TO READ.
First of all read something. “Southey tells us that, in his walk one stormy day, he met an old woman, to whom, by way of greeting, he made the rather obvious remark that it was dreadful weather. She answered, philosophically, that in her opinion, ‘any weather was better than none.'” And so we would say, excluding corrupt literature, any reading is better than none! In this day of multiplicity of books who who never reads may not be an ignoramus nor a fool, but certainly he robs the world of much that is useful in character, and deprives himself of much that enriches his own soul. Then one should select his books, as he does his associates, and not attempt to read everything that comes in his way. No longer may one know even a little about every thing. It might be a mark of credit rather than an embarrassment for one to answer, “No,” to the question, “Have you read the latest book?” when the fact is recalled that 30,000 novels have been published within the past eighty years, and that five new ones are added to the list daily.
One has characterized history as both the background and the key to all knowledge. No other class of reading so much as this helps one to appreciate his own country, his own age, his own surroundings. Extensive reading of history is a sure remedy for pessimism, prejudice, and fanaticism. In so far as history is an accurate account of the past, it is a true prophecy of the future for the nation and for the individual. Who reads history knows that men always have displayed folly, Weakness, and cruelty, and that they always will, even to their own obvious ruin. Also he knows that every time and place have had their few good men and women who have honored God, and whom God has honored. Nothing so teaches a person his own insignificance and the small part that he plays in the world as does the reading of history. Nor is history to be found only in the book called history. If you want to know the life of the ancients, as you know the life of your own community, read Josephus. Do you want a glimpse of early apostolic times, read “The Life and Times of Jesus,” by Edersheim. Do you want to see the battlefield of Waterloo, visit Paris in the beginning of the nineteenth century, stop over night with Louis Philippe, see the English through French spectacles, and the Frenchman through his own; do you want a glimpse of the political despotism, court intrigue, and ecclesiastical tyranny in France a hundred years ago; do you want to hear the crash of the bastile, and see Notre Dame converted into a horse-stable; do you want a picture of the “bread riots” and mob violence that terminated in the French revolution of 1848; in short do you want a tale of French life and character in its brightest, gloomiest, and intensest period, read “Les Miserables,” by Victor Hugo. To-day one must read current history. It is not enough to plan, work, and economize, one must make and seize opportunities. And this he can do only as he is alive to passing events. In a few years one may outgrow his usefulness through losing touch with advancing ideas and methods of work. To keep abreast of the times one must read the newspaper and the magazine. The newspaper is the history of the hour, the magazine is the history of the day. The magazine corrects the newspaper, and “sums up in clear and noble phrase those fundamental facts which are only dimly seen in the newspaper.” A serious and growing tendency is that the newspaper and magazine shall take the place of the best books. A few minutes a day is enough for any newspaper, and a few hours a month is enough for any magazine. The greatest part of one’s reading should be that of books. Who gormandizes on current events will pay the price with a morbid mind and with false conclusions in his reasoning.
The life of a great man is a continual inspiration. No other exercise so fires a soul with noble ambition as the study of a great life. Real life is not only stranger than fiction, but it is more interesting than fiction. No boy should be without the life of Washington, of Lincoln, of Webster, of Franklin. Every girl should know by heart brave Pocahontas, sympathetic Mrs. Stowe, queenly Frances Willard, and kind-hearted Victoria. No private library is complete without Plutarch’s “Lives,” the “Life of Alfred the Great,” of Napoleon, Grant, and Gladstone.
The fourteen-year-old child may master the practical principles of natural philosophy, and yet how many intelligent persons remain ignorant of the most commonplace truths in this branch of learning! With a little attention to the natural and mechanical sciences, a new world of beauty and truth opens up before one. He sees objects that once were hid to him; he hears sounds that once were silent; he enjoys odors that once retained their fragrance. His whole being becomes a part of the living musical world about him, when he has his senses opened to appreciate it and to become attuned to it. One should read some science throughout his life, in order to remain at the source of all true knowledge. Here he learns to appreciate the language of nature. When expressed by man, this is poetry.
THEREFORE, READ POETRY.
Ten minutes a day with Tennyson, Browning, Emerson, or Lowell, will teach one a new language, by which he may converse with the wind, talk with the birds, chat with the brook, speak with the flowers, and hold discourse with the sun, moon, and stars. The deepest and mightiest thoughts of all ages have been expressed in poetry, the language of nature. “Poetry,” says Coleridge, “is the blossom and fragrance of all human knowledge, human thoughts, passions, emotions, languages.”
READ BOOKS OF RELIGION.
“Religion,” says Lyman Abbott, “is the life of God in the soul.” Every truly religious book treats of this life. The only purely religious book is the Bible. It is the source and inspiration of every other religious book. The Bible is a “letter from God to man, handed down from heaven and written by inspired men.” Its message is free salvation for all men through Jesus Christ; its spirit is divine love. No wise person is without this letter, and every thoughtful and devout person reads it daily. One may never find time to follow a course of study, nor to pursue a plan of daily reading; he may never know the wealth of Dante, the grandeur of Milton, nor the genius of Shakespeare, but every one may make the Bible his daily companion and guide.
HOW TO READ.
Enter into what you read. No book can thrill and move one unless he gives himself up to it. Lack of fixed attention is the cause of the half-informed mind, the faulty reason, and the ever-failing memory. The cause of this lack of attention may be an historical allusion of which one is ignorant, or a new word that he fails to look up, or an overtaxed mind, or unfavorable surroundings. Whatever may be this hindrance it must be removed or overcome before one can enter into what he reads. A thought is of no value until it registers itself and takes a room in the mind. This is why we are told on every hand, that a few books well read are worth more than many books poorly read. The secret of Abraham Lincoln’s power as a public speaker lay in his clear reasoning, simple statement, and apt illustration. This secret was secured by Lincoln through his habit of mastering whatever he heard in conversation or reading. “When a mere child,” says Lincoln, “I used to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a way I could not understand. I don’t think I ever got angry at anything else in my life. But that always disturbed my temper, and has ever since. I can remember going to my little bedroom, after hearing the neighbors talk of an evening with my father, and spending no small part of the night walking up and down, trying to make out what was the exact meaning of some of their, to me, dark sayings. I could not sleep, though I often tried to, when I got on such a hunt after an idea, until I had caught it, and when I thought I had got it, I was not satisfied until I had repeated it over and over; until I had put it in language plain enough, as I thought, for any boy I knew to comprehend. This was a kind of passion with me, and it has stuck by me; for I am never easy now when I am handling a thought until I have bounded it north, and bounded it south, and bounded it east, and bounded it west.” And so to enter into what one reads, means that he will master the thought. The most that a university can do for one is to teach him to read. Who has learned how to read has secured a liberal education, however or wherever he may have learned it.
Then, one should learn to scan an author. This means to take a rapid observation of his thoughts. Much of one’s common reading matter should be scanned. All local news, much magazine literature, and many books should be used in this way. It is mental sloth and waste of time to pore over a newspaper or a book of light fiction, as one would a philosophy of history or a work of science. As Bacon aptly puts it, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy, and extracts made of them by others.” One’s mind is like a horse, it soon learns its master. Feed it well, groom it well, treat it gently, you may expect much from it. It is reported of Dr. Newell Dwight Hillis that he has read a book a day for over twenty years. He has learned to squeeze the thought out of a book at a grasp, as one of us would squeeze the juice from an orange. Take a glimpse into his library. Five hundred volumes of sociological literature, four hundred volumes of history, two hundred of cyclopedias, gazetteers, books of reference; four hundred volumes of pure science, one hundred volumes of travels, two hundred and fifty volumes of biography; one hundred volumes of art and art history; a section on psychology, ethics, philosophy, and the relation between science and religion, and a thousand volumes of literature, pure and simple.
WHEN TO READ.
First, read at regular hours. This is for those who follow literary pursuits. No professional person should respect himself in his work who has no special time for reading and study, and who does not conscientiously adhere to it. The pulpit, the law-office, the doctor’s office, the teacher, and the editor’s desk, each clamors for the man, the woman, who can think. To appreciate God and to sympathize with the human heart; to know law and the intricate special case; to understand disease and relief for the suffering patient; to have something to teach and to know how to teach it even to the dullest pupil; to know human character and to be able to enlighten the public mind and the public conscience; all this requires in the one who serves a deep and growing knowledge and experience which may be realized only in the grasp of truth contained in the up-to-date and best authorized books. The use of books with this class of persons is not optional. They must buy and master them, or a few years at longest will relegate them with their old books and ideas to the dusty garret where they belong.
Then, many must read on economized time. The farmer, the mechanic, the merchant, the shopkeeper, each may find a little time for daily reading. Ten minutes saved in the morning, ten minutes in the afternoon, and ten minutes in the evening, this is half hour a day. In a week this gives one three hours and a half, in a month fourteen hours of solid reading, and in a year one will have read seven days of twenty-four hours each. Think of what may be accomplished in an average lifetime in common reading by the busiest person, who really wants to read. “Schliemann,” the noted German scholar and author, “as a boy, standing in line at the post-office waiting his turn for the mail, utilized the time by studying Greek from a little pocket grammar.” “Mary Somerfield, the astronomer, while busy with her children in the nursery, wrote her ‘Mechanism of the Heavens,’ without neglecting her duties as a mother.” “Julius Caesar, while a military officer and politician found time to write his Commentaries known throughout the world.” William Cobbett says: “I learned grammar when I was a private soldier on a six-pence a day. The edge of my guard- bed was my seat to study in, my knapsack was my bookcase, and a board lying on my lap was my desk. I had no moment at that time that I could call my own; and I had to read and write among the talking, singing, whistling, and bawling of at least half a score of the most thoughtless of men.” Among those whom we all know who have risen out of obscurity to eminence through a wise economy of time which they have used in reading and study, are, Patrick Henry, Benjamin West, Eli Whitney, James Watt, Richard Baxter, Roger Sherman, Sir Isaac Newton, and Benjamin Franklin.
The normal young person who does not dissipate is bursting with life. The natural child is activity embodied. The healthful old person craves exercise. Life, activity, exercise, each must have some method of spending itself. Some normal method, some right method, some attractive method must be chosen. By normal method we mean that which calls into use the varied faculties and powers of the entire being, body, mind, and heart. By right method we mean that which does not crush out a part of one’s being, while another part is being developed. By attractive method in the use of life, activity, exercise, we mean that which appeals to one’s peculiar desires, tastes, and circumstances, so long as these are normal and right. Some chosen profession, trade, or work is the rightful heritage of every person. Each man, woman, and child should know when he gets up of a morning, what his work is for that day. Consciously, or unconsciously, he should have some outline of work, some end in view, some goal toward which he is stretching himself. Dr. J. M. Buckley asks: “Have you a purpose and a plan?” And answers, “Life is worth nothing till then.” The child is in the hands of his parent, his teacher, his guardian. These must answer to Destiny for his beginning and growth. “Satan finds something for idle hands to do.” Hence the necessity of vigilance on the part of those who hold the young. But “all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.” This rule is good whether “Jack” be a puny girl, a feeble grandfather, a hustling, responsible father, a busy mother, or even a mischievous lad. Every person who rises each morning, dresses himself and goes about his work as if he knew what he were about; who has some useful work to do, and does it, sooner or later, needs rest. True, night comes and one may rest. And sweet is the rest of sleep; a third of one’s life is passed in this way. Sancho Panza has it right when he says:
“Now blessing light on him that first invented sleep! It covers a man all over, thoughts and all, like a cloak; it is meat for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, heat for the cold, and cold for the hot.” But one craves a recreation, a rest which work nor sleep can give. Man has a social nature, a longing to mingle with his acquaintances and friends. Let one be shut in with work, or sickness, or weather, for whole days at a time, and see how hungry he gets to see some one. A recreation at a social gathering literally makes a new being out of him. He is recreated. It is this form of recreation that we consider here, social recreation.
Social recreation is a necessity in a well-ordered life. As with many other common blessings we forget its benefits. Nor are these benefits so evident until we see the blighting result in the life of the one who, for any reason whatsoever, has become a social recluse. We have known a few persons who have once been in society, but who have allowed themselves to remain away from all sorts of gatherings, for a number of years. In every case, the result has been openly noticeable. They have become boorish in manners, unsympathetic in nature, and suspicious in spirit. Thus they have grown out of harmony with the ideas and ways of those about them, have come to take distorted and erroneous views of affairs and of men. Man is a composite being. Many factors enter into his make-up. He lives not only in the physical and intellectual, in the religious and social, in a local and limited sense, but his life expands until it touches and molds many other characters and communities besides his own. In all of these spheres of his influence and work on needs to be sobered down, corrected, stimulated. In no other way is this better accomplished than through one’s very contact with his fellows in the religious gathering, among his workmen, in the political meeting, at the assembly, in the social gathering whenever and wherever persons may see one another and talk over common interests.
A SPECIFIC SENSE.
In a specific sense, by social recreation, we mean those pastimes and pleasures which all persons, except the social recluse, enjoy as they meet to spend an afternoon or an evening together. Now, how may we get the largest amount of pleasure, of rest, of recreation from such gatherings? How may we best benefit ourselves, inspire one another, and in it all, honor God? It is no small task to accomplish these three ends in all things, in one’s life. We have agreed that some social practices are positively bad. And we have tried to show why the “tobacco club,” the “social glass,” the “card-party,” the “dancing-party,” and the play-house reveries should be avoided. We have left these forms of so-called “questionable amusements” out of our practice and