Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900)


Ms 88a, 1900

Caution Regarding Over-Illustrating of Books


January 20, 1900

Portions of this manuscript are published in 1Bio 91-92.

I have a strong burden upon me. I cannot define it. I was instructed that the enemy would make every effort possible to work with human minds that can be worked to hinder The Desire of Ages coming to the people. There have been delays caused by various circumstances in the preparation of the book. Then there have been delays in the handling of the book. The great efforts to make it a book that would be salable have added to the cost of the book. All these illustrations cost more than they should have cost. Illustrating must not be entered into so fully. 15LtMs, Ms 88a, 1900, par. 1

The cautions given in reference to bookmaking are not a reproach upon those who have tried to do their best, but are to guard the matter so that there shall not be in the future a consuming of means on a book that the Lord desires should come before all classes of rich and poor. Fewer illustrations in our books would limit the expense, and the books would be sold nearly as readily. 15LtMs, Ms 88a, 1900, par. 2

The planning for this book has carried matters to extremes and so many propositions have made great expense without any prospect of returns. This matter was presented before me. Why? Because our people were in danger of carrying the bookmaking business to an extreme in illustrations and in the fanciful covers, when it was not essential. The books should all be tasteful and nice, gotten up with skill, and durable; and the illustrations should be of the best quality and not, as in The Mount of Blessing, without artistic skill. 15LtMs, Ms 88a, 1900, par. 3

The light was given to instruct our people, not to condemn what had been done, but to prevent more—that which was in anticipation, which could be ill-afforded. Illustrations are not to become a piece of idolatry and an expensive matter so that the cost of books will hinder the poor from obtaining them. The simple illustrations will be a help to many minds, especially in families where children can have free access to the books and can be educated in reference to the subjects treated upon. But this difficulty is not to be exaggerated. 15LtMs, Ms 88a, 1900, par. 4

The cost has been entered into and the book, grand and beautiful, is presented to the public. Whereas this is done in all good faith, the Lord does not condemn, but presents the danger of the minds of authors, artists, and publishers so managing the important books that there will be more ambition to excel other books, and in this endeavor the appearance and embellishments of the books will be dwelt upon, and the representations in the notices and description in the advertising of the book will not be wise. 15LtMs, Ms 88a, 1900, par. 5

Well, now let all our canvassers handle the book as something that is from the Lord, and according to the Lord’s methods. Sister White takes not one iota of the glory of the presentation of the subject matter of this book. The Lord Himself instructed her in various ways, and then has given her, through figures and through words, these things to come before the people. The Lord has said, “Write out the things which I shall give you,” and I commenced when very young to do this work. My hand, that was feeble and trembling because of infirmities, became steady as soon as I took the pen in my hand, and since those first writings I have been able to write. God has given me the ability to write. I claim nothing. I know the good hand of the Lord has been with me. That right hand scarcely ever has a disagreeable sensation. It never wearies. It seldom ever trembles. 15LtMs, Ms 88a, 1900, par. 6

After my severe accident that marred my features so decidedly, I was not expected to live, and few thought it possible that I could live. When I attended the academy for youth in the second grade in Portland, Maine, a teacher was appointed over a section of seats to give us lessons in writing. I occupied one of the seats that this lady teacher was appointed over. But after my terrible sickness, when at twelve years old I began to attend school, I could not learn to write because my right hand was so nervously weak and unsteady. The teacher who was appointed as overseer over my section was the very one who had thrown the stone that nearly cost me my life when I was nine years old. Some time before, I had attempted to attend school. With all my efforts to hold my hand steady, I could not possibly write. After many times, trying my best, the teacher who cast the stone was instructing me and encouraging me in every way. Tears were often in her eyes, for she knew who had spoiled my features. After trying her best she said, “Well, you will have to wait until the muscles of your right hand can hold a pen steady.” 15LtMs, Ms 88a, 1900, par. 7

I still remained in my reading class and was surprised to be placed in the class with much older students, right where I was many months before. They all encouraged me that I should after a time get stronger and be able to take my writing lessons. But sitting confined at a desk proved too great injury to me, and I was not gaining healthwise. I tried this a short while and the decision was made by an understanding physician that no school taxation of mind or body should come upon me until my health was confirmed. Encouragement was given me that as soon as I was strong I could attend school again. However, though I tried hard to continue at school, I had to give it up, and never entered the schoolroom as a student after I was twelve years old. This was one of my greatest trials. 15LtMs, Ms 88a, 1900, par. 8

My first writing was afterward under the direction of a Higher Power. I was instructed, “Write the things I shall give you.” I wept, and said, Impossible, impossible. The words came, “Nothing is impossible with God.” [Luke 1:37.] The effort was made and my hand commenced to write the things that had been given me in the night season. What gladness of soul to find my right hand at the first attempt firm and able to write! I have kept a diary of our experience in our travels and the Lord God of Israel shall have all the glory for the exercise of the power He has given me. 15LtMs, Ms 88a, 1900, par. 9