Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Lt 28a, 1897

Those in Responsible Positions in our Publishing Houses

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

January 9, 1897

Portions this letter are published in CW 172; PM 216-217; 8MR 349.

To Those in Responsible Positions in Our Publishing Houses:

I am troubled in regard to the use of pictures in our publications. Some of our papers seem bent in using them in season and out of season. And some of the cuts used are very inferior, and poorly illustrate the subjects represented. I hope our publications will not come to resemble a comic almanac. I would not altogether condemn the use of pictures, but let fewer be used, and only such as are good illustrations of the subject. 12LtMs, Lt 28a, 1897, par. 1

On one point I wish to speak decidedly; that is in regard to using in the papers cuts from my books. Who has given the publishing houses permission to do this? Such use makes the pictures so common that it hurts the books. Is this right? Let it be understood that hereafter the cuts from my books are not to be used in the papers. 12LtMs, Lt 28a, 1897, par. 2


For many months I have been waiting for a copy of Mount of Blessing, that I might see what changes have been made in the illustrations. If the publishers have sent out the book as first printed, I think it a great wrong to the book and to me. I accept no such pictures. The publication of this book has been delayed more than a year in order to get the pictures, which do injustice to the subject. If the book had appeared without cuts, I should have been much better pleased. I asked for this, but it was not thought best. One thing I insist upon: that hereafter there shall be no printing on the back of the cuts. I have been compelled to lose confidence in the taste and judgment of those who could accept such productions. I dare not trust any of them with the illustrating of my books. I should feel conscience-stricken should I have produced such miserable representations. As I have received no copies containing anything better, I fear you are selling the edition with those shameful cuts. 12LtMs, Lt 28a, 1897, par. 3

I think our publishing house has gone about crazy over illustrations. It is a shame for such cuts as those in Mount of Blessing to be put in a book. Keep out of the books illustrations of auto de fe, Catholic pictures of persecution and burning. It is enough to read of these wicked deeds, without trying to bring them in all their terrible details before the eyes. When I was a child Fox’s Book of Martyrs was given me to read. I saw the pictures representing various horrible acts of cruelty. I could scarcely eat or sleep. Day and night I was passing through the horrors, identifying myself with the suffering ones. I almost lost confidence in God because He allowed such things. It was a long time before I could overcome the impression made on my mind. Whenever the Book of Martyrs, or any other book of like illustrations, finds its way into my library, I hide it, that no child may be caused to suffer as I did. Such pictures do not increase faith. Let not one appear in my books. 12LtMs, Lt 28a, 1897, par. 4

The cut in Gospel Reader,—Moses Viewing the Promised Land—does great injustice to the subject, and great discredit to those who accepted it for the book. What sort of an impression will it make on the readers of the book? It is not in any sense a correct representation of Moses. It looks more like a picture of the great deceiver, Satan, after he had lost Paradise. 12LtMs, Lt 28a, 1897, par. 5

Page 52, same book—The Ark Standing in the Midst of Jordan—see the cherubim on either end of the ark. What a misrepresentation of the heavenly angels looking with reverence upon the mercy seat, the cover of the ark. A child might take the representation as a bird hunched up. But when the ark was removed from the sanctuary, the cherubim were never exposed to view. That sacred ark, which represented Jehovah amid His people, was always covered, that no curious eye might look upon it. Let it ever be covered. 12LtMs, Lt 28a, 1897, par. 6


Brother Reaser speaks of the need of new illustrations for Patriarchs and Prophets. I am not decided, but fear it is not best to expend a large sum of money on new pictures for this book. Again, suggestion is made in regard to sending Brother Reaser to Jerusalem to obtain sketches for The Life of Christ. This will not be done at my expense. The Lord has presented to me that the time and money expended by our people in making long journeys around the world was spent for naught. Whatever may be the opinion of the canvassers upon this point, I cannot sanction the sending of anyone to Jerusalem to obtain cuts for my books. O, if we only had the money that has been no better than thrown away in many, many such enterprises, I would bless the Lord and take courage. 12LtMs, Lt 28a, 1897, par. 7

My soul is sick at the mismanagement of means when I see in this country how much good could be accomplished with it. If you choose to have a few pictures and good ones, I do not object. Let illustrations be choice rather than numerous. 12LtMs, Lt 28a, 1897, par. 8