In an 1842 editorial, the New York monthly Arcturus lamented the American appetite for literature steeped in violence. It yearned for more uplifting stories and looked forward to “the time ... when the readers will no more devour, with ghoullike appetite, the blood and murder of Jack Sheppard, than they will eat raw pork steaks with treacle; and ... Harrison Ainsworth will go out of fashion” (“Criticism” 402). Unfortunately for the editors, it seems that time never came. More than forty years later, there was still concern about the influence of such fiction-and the metaphors had shifted ominously from food to disease. The Presbyterian preacher and social reformer Thomas Talmage, in Social Dynamite; or, The Wickedness of Modern Society (1888), declared that sensational literature “has helped to fill insane asylums and penitentiaries and almshouses and dens of shame. The bodies of this infection lie in the hospitals and in the graves, while their souls are being tossed over into a lost eternity” (172). The exaggerated tone of this jeremiad lends it a ridiculous air, but Talmage’s conflation of sickness and sin makes it a potent warning, linking the objectivity of science to the stern morality of religion. According to him, such literature deals a death blow to society, leading inexorably to moral degradation and death.