“Father," said Albert Leigh one evening, "will you give me the key of the bookcase in your study? " 

"Why, my son?" 

"I want to get a paper." 

"What paper? " 

"A paper that is on the lower shelf."

"That is not answering my question."

"A weekly paper, father; I am not sure of the name. I want to read it this evening."

"Who gave you that paper, Albert?" 

"One of the boys at school. A great many of the boys buy them. He said there were nice stories in it, and I began one of them. Did you lock it up, father?" 


"Why, can I not read it?" 

"I put it away because I did not wish you to read it. I have not read it myself, but I know its character and the character of the men that publish it. They are bad men, who fill their papers with things that it would be wrong in me to allow you to read."

Albert looked very much disappointed.

"I am sure, father, that was a very interesting story I began last night, and I want very much to finish it. I will pass over all that is wrong."

Mr. Leigh smiled. "And how will you know what to pass over till you have read it?"

"Well, father, I am sure just reading it once very quickly would do me no harm."

"Albert, why is your mother always very careful to keep the bottle of laudanum locked up?"

"Because it is poison, and she is afraid the children might get it."

"But is that the only poison?"

"No, there are a good many others."

"Yes, and of many kinds, which may hurt a man in various ways. Some will put you into a deadly sleep; others bring violent pains and convulsions. You may die from swallowing one kind, or by breathing another kind into your lungs, or by allowing another to touch an open scratch and so get into your blood. A sensible man will handle all most cautiously; a sensible child will not touch them at all. But there are worse and more deadly poisons than any sold at the druggist's. Which is of most importance, Albert, to you and to me, the soul or the body?"

"The soul, of course."

"Then, is not the poison which would destroy the soul to be dreaded and avoided more than what would merely injure our bodies?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, I believe that fatal poison is contained in many weekly papers which are published and made attractive for boys and girls. So I locked this up just as your mother locks up the laudanum. The writers of these stories are wretched men and women, who are poisoning the souls of their fellow-creatures. They are doing this in the most dangerous way by interesting and exciting stories. Almost daily we read of men committing crime, and even boys, who say they were first led astray by just such papers and books.

"When you are older, and your character is formed and your principles established, if you ever see such papers you will notice and despise their errors. But now, my dear boy, be as much afraid of reading poison as of swallowing it. Never begin a book or take a paper until you have asked me or some friend whom you can trust whether it is safe and proper for you. 

There are so many good papers and books, interesting and instructive, that you need not waste your time and ruin your soul by reading such papers as the one you desire.

"And now, my son, I want you to listen to this statement found in today's paper, and said to have been made by Mr. Campbell, Superintendent of the House of Reception of the New York Juvenile Asylum: 

'I wish to enter the strongest protest against the evil that sends seven-eighths of these boys here. Almost the first question I put to the unfortunate lads is, "What have you been reading?" and the answer invariably shows that my surmise was right. The horrible, trashy literature these boys feed on is what corrupts their minds. 

The other day a boy was brought here in whose pockets were found a toy pistol, three revolvers, three boxes of cartridges, a gold watch, and three large new jackknives. With this display before me, I asked the usual question, and the answer came promptly, "I read” The Boys of New York.  '"The boy had an uncle in Connecticut, from whom he had run away after stealing his money and the watch.'" 

Child's Paper