"The Novel-Reading Plague" 


The Daily Mail of September 8 contained an article by A. T. Story, entitled, "Some Evils of Free Libraries," which shows that Mr. Carnegie, with his millions which he is lavishly expanding for free libraries, may not be wholly the benefactor of the human race that he is supposed to be. The writer calls attention to "The Plague of Novel-reading," which is becoming almost universal, and which is spread by the free libraries. Mr. Carnegie is acquitted of any intentional complicity in the matter, for it is stated that his philanthropy was turned in the direction of libraries, "because, as a youth, he was given the freedom of a gentleman's library, and he derived so much profit from the books thence obtained and read. But we may be sure they were not novels he pored over." Mr. Story says:-   

"One of the most noteworthy sights of the present day, and, to my mind one of the most ominous is to be seen daily as we travel to and from town by train or car. Whether in the morning, travelling by the business train, or returning home in the evening, the same thing strikes one, the number of girls and young fellows reading. On the first view one would think, what a studious generation! But on a closer examination, how the scales drop from our eyes, for in nine cases out of ten, nay, in nineteen cases out of twenty, the books read are, what? Novels,-nothing but novels."  

"If we go into any public library we shall find that the novels are out of all proportion to any other class of literature, and each volume of fiction is read on an average twenty times where a work on a general subject is read or taken out once."  

This is indeed a most striking sign of the times, showing how the world is fast degenerating into that condition, which will make the coming of the Lord, a necessity; for, as the author says, the majority of the novels of the day are calculated "to wither and emasculate a growing man's powers. For it cannot be too often repeated that the ordinary novel does little or nothing to cultivate the intellectual powers, but a great deal to stir up the passions and emotions."   

One of the most common and deplorable sights is the boy with a cigarette in his mouth, and his eyes glued to a "Penny Dreadful"-thus doubly addling his brains and weakening his physical, mental, and moral nature. The future of such a boy, unless he is reclaimed, is absolutely hopeless, and there are tens of thousands of them in the land. This curse may well be called a plague, for it is just such things that are hastening on the seven last plagues, and which is "filled up the wrath of God." Never before was there such desperate need for "the sincere milk of the Word," which alone can give health and strength to all the powers of mind and body. 

September 18, 1902 EJW, PTUK 608