Thursday, 19 December 2013

Stereoscopic amusements

This is nothing to do with beer. Just something I spotted in a sweep through the newspaper archives.

There so many things to love about this short letter. The language, for one. It reminds me of a spoof in Viz, with its complicated grammatical structures and clunking phrases.


GENTLEMEN, - I wish to call attention to the indecent nature of some of the stereoscopic photographs exhibited in various windows in this and other towns. For some time I have thought that the artists who prepare stereoscopic amusements for the public were allowing themselves considerable license in the choice of subjects; but now that a respectable tradesman in the centre of this town can expose in his window a stereoscope exhibiting a young lady (?) in her bedroom more than half undressed it is quite time to ask how much further we are to be led in this direction.

I have no prudish horror of "the nude". reverently admire the beauty of the human body; and presume that its Maker intends it to be admired; but I therefore object to those profane pictures which by meretricious arrangement of dress, and cunning semi-concealment, are obviously designed to awaken, not a pure and holy pleasure, but prurient and unclean imaginations. It is an easy thing in any picture, to detect the idea of the artist.

Who the young women may be, who sit for these photographic publications, it is not hard to conjecture.

I am, Gentlemen, yours faithfully,
Leeds Mercury - Tuesday 10 August 1858, page 4.

These are my favourite phrases: stereoscopic amusements, meretricious arrangement of dress, prurient and unclean imaginations, expose in his window a stereoscope. People just don't write stuff like that any more. And that whole final sentence. I wish I could write like that.

The slightly odd use of italics is equally charming.

I wonder if V.C. was able to prevent artists exposing such stereoscopic amusements?

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