Ellen G. White and Her Critics

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Amadon’s Article in the Newspaper

One such article, seeking to belittle Mrs. White, discussed her book on Paul with such vigor and venom that George W. Amadon, loyal former employee of long experience in the Review and Herald publishing house, made reply. This reply, which was published in the Battle Creek Daily Journal of May 27, 1907, was entitled “A Few Facts,” and subtitled: “Concerning Mrs. White’s Book, ‘Sketches From the Life of Paul.’” The article opens thus: EGWC 430.2

“About three weeks since there appeared in a sheet printed in Battle Creek, a quite lengthy article concerning Mrs. E. G. White, calculated to injure her reputation as an author, and to humiliate the Seventh-day Adventist people before the public. More than probable the article in this respect was something of a success, and so its inspirers have had a brief space in which to gloat over what they have achieved.... EGWC 430.3

“And first, in reference to the book ‘Sketches from the Life of Paul.’ This little work of 334 pages was not gotten up by the Review and Herald, but was written, planned and printed at Oakland, California, in 1883. A set of the stereo plates were shipped to Battle Creek, and from these a small edition was soon published. But hardly had the covers been placed on the books when it was discovered that an unfortunate mistake had been made in the publiction. In preparing the volume, free reference had been made in the publication. In *” above, but it was mistakenly substituted for another line, which of course was discarded. Just what the original wording of the passage might be we have no way of knowing. However, with the opening word “In” deleted, the sentence makes sense. but by some unaccountable oversight, while numerous passages had been made use of, no credit was given for the same. This should have been done in a suitable acknowledgment in the preface, or by marks of quotation, or by footnotes, or by all. EGWC 430.4

“Now what did the publishers at this juncture do? They promptly withdrew the volume from the market, and no more books were printed. The demand for them was great, very great, but the books could not be had. As an illustration of this the writer had a daughter, a missionary in Cape Town, South Africa, for a number of years. She had a copy of this book. A young English lady wanted the same for her father, and she got a copy of it in this way. Being expert with the pen, she transcribed the entire volume from the title page to the last sentence in the work. That was certainly a unique edition of just one book.” EGWC 431.1

The remainder of the article presents Amadon’s views about Mrs. White’s being an honorable woman, the writer of many helpful volumes, et cetera, but contains nothing further that is really relevant to the charge before us. Note carefully what Amadon wrote as to how soon the “mistake” concerning quotation marks was discovered: “Hardly had the covers been placed on the books” when the discovery was made. What does he say the publishers did: “They promptly withdrew the volume from the market, and no more books were printed.” EGWC 431.2

When publishers speak of withdrawing a book they mean only one thing, taking it off the market. This is done, first by refusing to sell further copies, and then, of course, by making no further printings. Now Sketches From the Life of Paul was published in June, 1883. Amadon’s statement would demand that certainly no later than the opening of 1884 the book would have been withdrawn and no more copies available for anyone. But is there any evidence that this was done? None whatsoever! EGWC 431.3

If this book was thus summarily withdrawn, the fact would have been common knowledge to no small number of the Review and Herald workers. The books would have to be disposed of in some way, probably as waste paper, and workmen would have to do the disposing, which is another way of saying that the incident was one which could not, in the very nature of the case, have been kept quiet. Canright, who wrote so critically from 1889 onward, certainly would have known the matter as promptly as anyone. We have already noted his silence, at least up to the year 1914. EGWC 431.4

But is it a fact that the publishers “withdrew the volume from the market” before the covers were hardly placed on the books? No, it is a fact that the book was sold for several years, just how long, is not certain. A present-day critic says that it was sold until the edition ran out. He gives this date as 1893-94. Amadon speaks of his daughter who was a missionary in South Africa and of her acquaintance with a young English woman who wanted a copy of this book, which could not be secured. But his daughter did not reach South Africa until early in 1894. * How long after that she met the woman from England we do not know. Hence Amadon’s reference to his daughter is irrelevant to his statement that the book was “promptly” withdrawn from circulation. How “great” was the “demand” for the book will be reasonably clear when certain letters of the 1880’s are examined. EGWC 432.1