The Review and Herald


October 8, 1867

Questions and Answers


Bro. Smith: I have received from the hands of the Wisconsin and Illinois Conference Committee the following questions. I append a reply to each of them, that both question and reply may appear in the same number of the Review for the benefit of the brethren and sisters of the Wis. and Ill. Conference, and all others who wish to learn the facts in the case. RH October 8, 1867, par. 1

Question Number One

Did you receive your views upon health reform before visiting the health institute at Dansville, N.Y., or before you had read works on the subject? RH October 8, 1867, par. 2


It was at the house of Bro. A. Hilliard, at Otsego, Mich., June 6, 1863, that the great subject of Health Reform was opened before me in vision. I did not visit Dansville till August, 1864, fourteen months after I had the view. I did not read any works upon health until I had written Spiritual Gifts, Vols. iii and iv, Appeal to Mothers, and had sketched out most of my six articles in the six numbers of “How to Live.” I did not know that such a paper existed as the Laws of Life, published at Dansville, N.Y. I had not heard of the several works upon health, written by Dr. J. C. Jackson, and other publications at Dansville, at the time I had the view named above. I did not know that such works existed until September, 1863, when in Boston, Mass., my husband saw them advertised in a periodical called the Voice of the Prophets, published by Eld. J. V. Himes. My husband ordered the works from Dansville and received them at Topsham, Maine. His business gave him no time to peruse them, and as I determined not to read them until I had written out my views, the books remained in their wrappers. As I introduced the subject of health to friends where I labored in Michigan, New England, and in the State of New York, and spoke against drugs and flesh meats, and in favor of water, pure air, and a proper diet, the reply was often made, “You speak very nearly the opinions taught in the Laws of Life, and other publications, by Drs. Trall, Jackson, and others. Have you read that paper and those works?” My reply was that I had not, neither should I read them till I had fully written out my views, lest it should be said that I had received my light upon the subject of health from physicians, and not from the Lord. And after I had written my six articles for How to Live, I then searched the various works on hygiene and was surprised to find them so nearly in harmony with what the Lord had revealed to me. And to show this harmony, and to set before my brethren and sisters the subject as brought out by able writers, I determined to publish “How to Live,” in which I largely extracted from the works referred to. RH October 8, 1867, par. 3

Question Number Two

Does not the practice of the sisters in wearing their dresses nine inches from the floor contradict Testimony No. 11, which says they should reach somewhat below the top of a lady's gaiter boot? Does it not also contradict Testimony No. 10, which says they should clear the filth of the street an inch or two without being raised by the hand? RH October 8, 1867, par. 4


The proper distance from the bottom of the dress to the floor was not given to me in inches. Neither was I shown ladies’ gaiter boots; but three companies of females passed before me, with their dresses as follows with respect to length: RH October 8, 1867, par. 5

The first were of fashionable length, burdening the limbs, impeding the step, and sweeping the street and gathering its filth; the evil results of which I have fully stated. This class, who were slaves to fashion, appeared feeble and languid. RH October 8, 1867, par. 6

The dress of the second class which passed before me was in many respects as it should be. The limbs were well clad. They were free from the burdens which the tyrant, Fashion, had imposed upon the first class; but had gone to that extreme in the short dress as to disgust and prejudice good people, and destroy in a great measure their own influence. This is the style and influence of the “American Costume,” taught and worn by many at “Our Home,” Dansville N. Y. It does not reach to the knee. I need not say that this style of dress was shown me to be too short. RH October 8, 1867, par. 7

A third class passed before me with cheerful countenances, and free, elastic step. Their dress was the length I have described as proper, modest and healthful. It cleared the filth of the street and side-walk a few inches under all circumstances, such as ascending and descending steps, &c. RH October 8, 1867, par. 8

As I have before stated, the length was not given me in inches, and I was not shown a lady's boot. And here I would state that although I am as dependent upon the Spirit of the Lord in writing my views as I am in receiving them, yet the words I employ in describing what I have seen are my own, unless they be those spoken to me by an angel, which I always enclose in marks of quotation. As I wrote upon the subject of dress the view of those three companies revived in my mind as plain as when I was viewing them in vision; but I was left to describe the length of the proper dress in my own language the best I could, which I have done by stating that the bottom of the dress should reach near the top of a lady's boot, which would be necessary in order to clear the filth of the streets under the circumstances before named. RH October 8, 1867, par. 9

I put on the dress, in length as near as I had seen and described as I could judge. My sisters in Northern Michigan also adopted it. And when the subject of inches came up in order to secure uniformity as to length everywhere, a rule was brought and it was found that the length of our dresses ranged from eight to ten inches from the floor. Some of these were a little longer than the sample shown me, while others were a little shorter. RH October 8, 1867, par. 10

Numerous letters came to me from all parts of the field, inquiring the length of the dress shown me. Having seen the rule applied to the distance from the floor of several dresses, and having become fully satisfied that nine inches comes the nearest to the samples shown me, I have given this number of inches in No. 12, as the proper length in regard to which uniformity is very desirable. If it be said that a lady's boot is not nine inches high, I would say I wear a boot eight inches high, and when I have walked before my sisters with it uncovered as those properly dressed passed before me in vision, they could not see the top of my boot. RH October 8, 1867, par. 11

Question Number Three

In Testimony, No. 11, you say: “my apology for calling your attention again to the subject of dress is that not one in twenty of my sisters, who profess to believe the testimony, have taken the first step in the dress reform.” How long before writing No. 11, had you worn the reformed dress? RH October 8, 1867, par. 12


I put on the reformed dress September, 1865, when I visited Dansville with my sick husband. It was the same length I now wear, and I was distinctly given to understand that it was not the “American Costume.” I have worn this style of dress ever since that time, excepting at meetings, in the crowded streets of villages and cities, and when visiting distant relatives. Since I commenced to write No. 11, in January, 1867, I have worn no other than the reformed dress. My reasons for pursuing the course I have are as follows: RH October 8, 1867, par. 13

1. I put on the reformed dress for general use more than two years since, because I had seen that it was a convenient, modest, and healthful style, and would, in the providence of God, as Health Reform should lead the way, finally be adopted by our people. RH October 8, 1867, par. 14

2. It was my duty to avoid raising prejudice against the dress, which would cut off my testimony if I wore it, until I had fully set the matter before the people, and the time came, in the order of events, for it to be generally adopted. RH October 8, 1867, par. 15

3. The dress reform was among the minor things that were to make up the great reform in health, and never should have been urged as a testing truth necessary to salvation. It was the design of God that at the right time, on proper occasions, the proper persons should set forth its benefits as a blessing, and recommend uniformity, and union of action. RH October 8, 1867, par. 16

4. The issue came too soon. The defence of the dress was forced upon us by those who opposed it, who at the same time professed full confidence in my testimonies. When the Health Institute was opened at Battle Creek, and the dress adopted by female patients, as directed by the physicians, then came the opposition, chiefly from brethren at Battle Creek. The physicians having full confidence in my testimonies, stated to them that the style of dress they recommended for their patients was the same as I had seen would be adopted by our people. Then came the general inquiry, and a strange spirit of blind and bitter opposition arose with some who professed to be among the firmest friends of the testimonies. The general inquiry spread everywhere, and in the autumn and winter of 1866, letters came in from all directions inquiring in regard to what I had seen, asking for immediate answers. I therefore determined to hasten out No. 11. We visited the church at Wright, Mich., December 21, 1866, and labored with them six weeks. I there wrote most of Testimony, No. 11. The first two Sabbaths and first-days I spoke to the people in my long dress. But when I had fully set the matter before the people without raising their prejudice, I put on my present style of dress, which was immediately adopted by the numerous sisters of that church. I have worn it since that time. At Greenville, Orleans, Orange, Windsor, Bushnell, Greenbush, Monterey, and Ithaca, I have, in speaking upon the great subject of health, mentioned the dress reform as one of the items of least importance which make up the great whole. With the dear sisters of these churches I have had no unhappy conflicts. I have presented the claims of this new and unpopular style of dress to them, while I set them an example. They have received my testimony, and have followed my example from principle, and not as the result of being urged. Those who, by their blind opposition, brought the issue too soon, caused confusion and prejudice, especially in the church at Battle Creek, must settle the matter with God and their brethren. I am clear in this matter, having done the best I could in standing in defence of the truth, and in laboring to save our people from confusion upon the subject. RH October 8, 1867, par. 17

Question Number Four

Is there not danger of brethren and sisters taking extreme views of the health reform? RH October 8, 1867, par. 18


This may be expected in all stirring reforms. The devotion to the subject manifested by our preachers and by the Review, and the unqualified, stirring appeals for large sums of money without giving proper cautions in the matter, has given the impression to many that Health Reform is that which demands their attention above all others, and some who need to be taught the first principles of righteousness, have urged it out of season, and have thus disgusted the people. It is God's plan that persons who are suited to the work should prudently and earnestly set forth the Health Reform, then leave the people to settle the matter with God and their own souls. It is the duty of those every way qualified to teach it to make people believe and obey, and all others should be silent and be taught. RH October 8, 1867, par. 19

Question Number Five

Is there not danger of urging the health reform upon others before they are prepared to receive? RH October 8, 1867, par. 20


There is. This is especially true in the matter of dress. When we first received the third message the Lord had many things to say to us, but we could not hear them all then. He has led us with a gentle hand and tender care, step by step, till we have reached the reform in health. When young disciples have learned what we had learned up to the time of the introduction of this reform, let this also be prudently set before them. RH October 8, 1867, par. 21

Question Number Six

Your last vision was given December, 1865. Many inquire, “if the visions are so important for the church, why so long before the subject of health reform was brought out?” RH October 8, 1867, par. 22


I had, before I had the last vision December, 1865, spoken quite fully upon the subject of health. My last vision related mostly to individual cases. I have written thousands of pages since that time of personal testimonies which most of our people know nothing about. I have written hundreds of letters relative to the establishing of a Health Institute of which still more are ignorant. I have been pressed with cares, labors and grief by reason of sickness in my own family. Yet I have done much in further bringing out the subject under most unfavorable circumstances. It may be that I have done this, especially on the dress question, as fast as the Lord would have me. It has certainly been brought out faster than some who raise this question have been ready to receive it. RH October 8, 1867, par. 23

Question Number Seven

Shall we understand by what you have said in your testimonies in favor of recreation, that you approbate such vain amusements as chess, checkers, charades, back-gammon, hunt-the-whistle, and blind-man's-buff? RH October 8, 1867, par. 24

It is generally reported in this conference that you have taken an interest in the amusements which have been practiced at the health institute at battle creek, that you play checkers, and carry a checker-board with you as you visit the brethren from place to place. RH October 8, 1867, par. 25

[Isaac Sanborn,]

[H. C. Blanchard,] CONF.

[R. F. Andrews,]COM.


Since I professed to be a follower of Christ at the age of twelve years, I have never engaged in any such simple plays and amusements as named above. Neither have I at any time given my influence in their favor. I do not know how to play at checkers, chess, back-gammon, fox-and-geese, or any thing of the kind. I have spoken in favor of recreation, but have ever stood in great doubt of the amusements introduced at the Institute at Battle Creek, and have stated my objections to the physicians and directors, and others, in conversation with them, and by numerous letters. RH October 8, 1867, par. 26

On pages 24-26 of Testimony No. 12, I have spoken of “Recreation for Christians,” as follows: RH October 8, 1867, par. 27

“I was shown that Sabbath-keepers as a people labor too hard without allowing themselves change, or periods of rest. Recreation is needful to those who are engaged in physical labor, yet still more essential for those whose labors are principally mental. RH October 8, 1867, par. 28

“I was shown that it is not essential to our salvation, nor for the glory of God, for us to keep the mind laboring, even upon religious themes, constantly and excessively. There are amusements which we cannot approve, because Heaven condemns them,—such as dancing, card-playing, chess, checkers, &c. These amusements open the door for great evil. Their tendencies are not beneficial, but their influence upon the mind is to excite and produce in some minds a passion for those plays which lead to gambling, and dissolute lives. All such plays should be condemned by Christians. Something should be substituted in the place of these amusements. Something can be invented, perfectly harmless. RH October 8, 1867, par. 29

“I saw that our holidays should not be spent in patterning after the world, yet they should not be passed by unnoticed, for this will bring dissatisfaction to our children. On these days when there is danger of our children partaking of evil influences, and becoming corrupted by the pleasures and excitement of the world, let the parents study to get up something to take the place of more dangerous amusements. Give your children to understand you have their happiness and best good in view. RH October 8, 1867, par. 30

“Let families unite together and leave their occupations which have taxed them physically and mentally, and make an excursion out of the cities and villages a few miles into the country, by the side of a fine lake, or in a nice grove, where the scenery of nature is beautiful. They should provide themselves with plain, hygienic food, and spread their table under the shade of a tree, or under the canopy of heaven provided with the very best of fruits and grains. The ride, the exercise, and the scenery, will quicken the appetite, and they can come around a repast which kings might envy. RH October 8, 1867, par. 31

“Parents and children on such occasions should feel as free as air from care, labors or perplexities. Parents should become children with their children, making it as happy as possible for them. Let the whole day be given to recreation. Exercise of the muscles in the open air, for those whose employment has been within doors and sedentary, will be beneficial to health. All who can, should feel it a duty resting upon them to pursue this course. Nothing will be lost, but much gained. They can return to their occupations with new life, and new courage to engage in their labor with new zeal. And such have gained much, for they are better prepared to resist disease.” RH October 8, 1867, par. 32

I will here give extracts from Testimony No. 12, pages 77-79, in regard to vain amusements: RH October 8, 1867, par. 33

“Those connected with the Health Institute now located at Battle Creek, should feel that they are engaged in an important and solemn work; and in no way should they pattern after the physicians at the institution at Dansville in matters of religion and amusements. Yet, I saw that there would be danger of imitating them in many things, and losing sight of the exalted character of this great work. And should those connected with this enterprise descend from the exalted principles of present truth, to imitate in theory and practice those at the head of institutions where the sick are treated only for the recovery of health, and should they cease to look at their work from a high religious stand-point, the especial blessing of God would not rest upon our institution any more than upon those where corrupt theories are taught and practiced.” RH October 8, 1867, par. 34

“I was shown that the position of Dr. Jackson in regard to amusements was wrong, and that his views of physical exercise were not all correct. The very amusements he recommends hinder the recovery of health in many cases, where one is helped by them. And physical labor for the sick, is to a great degree condemned by Dr. Jackson, which proves in many cases the greatest injury, while such mental exercise as playing at cards, chess, and checkers, excites and wearies the brain, and hinders recovery. Light and pleasant physical labor will occupy the time, improve the circulation, relieve and restore the brain, and prove a decided benefit to the health. But take from the invalid all such employment, and he becomes restless, and, with a diseased imagination, views his case as much worse than it really is, which tends to imbecility. RH October 8, 1867, par. 35

“For years past I have been shown from time to time that the sick should be taught that it was wrong to suspend all physical labor in order to regain health. In thus doing the will becomes dormant, the blood circulates through the system sluggishly, and grows more impure. Where there is danger of the patient's imagining his case worse than it really is, indolence will be sure to produce the most unhappy results. Well-regulated labor gives the invalid the idea that he is not totally useless in the world, that he is, at least, of some benefit. This will afford him satisfaction, give him courage, and impart to him vigor, which vain, mental amusements can never do.” RH October 8, 1867, par. 36

I have answered these questions as fully and as well as circumstances would admit. If other brethren have similar questions to propose I shall be glad to answer them also, as I can find time. RH October 8, 1867, par. 37

Pilot Grove, Iowa,

September 26, 1867.

Ellen G. White.