Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Things Impure.
    "Let evil alone-- do not think of it or talk of it, and it will
die of neglect.  If no one talked or thought of sin, it would
soon cease to exist."
When women of secretly immoral lives who
yet retain the respect of the public meet in
friendly converse, they are exceedingly careful to
steer away from any discussion of vice.  They pre-
fer to talk of the new minister, and their private
charities, and the opera, and the latest fashion.
    Herein they are more wise than perfectly moral
and pure-hearted sisters sometimes are.
    To the really innocent woman possessed of any
temperament or imagination, there is a certain fas-
cination in learning a little about the doings of vice.
It is the same sort of quality of mind which makes
the timid child want to hear about Jack and the Giant-
Killer, Little Red Riding Hood, and Bluebeard.
    The child is all affection and tenderness, yet he is
stirred with a creepy sensation of delight and horror
intermingled when he hears these tales of slaughter
(stories, by the way, which no child should ever be
permitted to hear during his nursery days).
    It is quite in the same way that perfectly good
girls and pure-hearted woman are led through their
curiosity to listen to stories of human depravity and
vice, and to repeat to one another the tales of wick-
edness which they have read or heard.
    Had they taken part in any of these immoral
phases of life, they would not want to talk about
them unless they had become utterly depraved and
indifferent to public opinion; yet even with the
excuse of the curiosity, which often accompanies vir-
tue and inexperience, it is a step in the wrong direc-
tion when a good woman with noble and worthy
aims allows herself to talk about unwholesome sub-
    It is possible for a woman of intelligence to
live in the world a score of years and not know that
vice and depravity exist.  It is necessary that she
should know it if she intends to be a factor for good,
and not a mere lay figure.  Innocence does not need
to be ignorant, nor does the moral-minded woman
need to assume an offended or insulted air if immor-
ality is mentioned in her presence.
    We can increase and intensify anything we think
about persistently.  If we permit our minds to dwell
upon evil in the world, even to regret and
bemoan it, we increase the power of evil, besides
coming closer in touch with it ourselves.  Let evil
alone-- do not think of it or talk of it, and it will die
of neglect.  If no one thought or talked of sin, it
would soon cease to exist.
    As our country grows older we hear much of the
"abnormal" and the "degenerate."  Almost every
day I hear those words used carelessly by sweet
    Stop talking about them; stop thinking or won-
dering about them.  If you chance to know such
types, steer clear of them, giving them thoughts of
healing and illumination as you pass, commending
them to be clean, and then go upon your way and
forget them.  Do not defile your mind or that of
another by conversation about them.  If a subject
of this kind is introduced in your presence, you do
not need to appear shocked or assume an "I-am-
holier-than-thou" air, for, remember, it is not the
worst people who speak of such things to each other!
But you can get away from the unpleasant topic as
quickly as possible, and let the fresh air of some
wholesome thought blow through your mind.
    Don't be a prude; don't affect false modesty; don't
claim an ignorance of evil, but rise up and over it
to purer realms of thought, and help yourself and
humanity by thinking and talking of the good things
which exist all about us--beautiful loves, pure
friendships, noble charities, lovely unselfishness,
sincere motives.
    Look for them, and you will find them.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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